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Discomfort

The tattoo on my back is a symbol for wisdom. The wisdom books in the Bible are my favorite books (along with 1 John). It’s a quality that I hope to possess, but one that I am realizing is the product of tougher and tougher lessons. I am much better at dispensing wisdom for others than listening to it for myself. Because listening to such wise words usually means that I am in the process of doing the opposite of whatever I should be doing.

“Baby, don’t spend your whole life waiting to be happy in the future.”
I typed these words to Brandon today. Though his dedication and faithfulness are things I admire and cherish in him, sometimes I worry that he puts up with too much sorrow now because he hopes to be happy later. In this, he and I are two peas in a pod. A former friend used to joke that I am the Queen of Delayed Gratification, suffering through an endless sea of garbage because I have this absurd notion that it will pay off, that some day, I will be able to enjoy the product of such hard work and misery.

I’ll spare you the details, but lately, life has sucked and I have lost sight of the good things. I’ve let myself get caught up in all that isn’t going right that I have a hard time seeing what is good. So much so that I haven’t taken much time to do the things that make me happy.

Right now, I have to trust that all this crap is temporary and is going to pay off. But I don’t have to wait until someday to figure out some measure of happiness, as impossible as it seems right now.

“I’m trying to find the line between hope and foolishness, and I’m not so sure there is one. Hope, by its very nature, is foolish.”
I tweeted this earlier today when I was thinking about relationships, but the more I think about it, the more it seems true. I’m (usually) a rational person. I like evidence, statistics, probability, and facts. At the same time, I’m a romantic, and cannot help but believe in the long shots. For every 98 times something happens, the opposite happens twice, and I hold out hope that someday, I’ll benefit from the 2%. I sent my resume in response to a job posting that, in many ways, sounds like the best possible combination of my education and experience. I don’t think I’m fantastically likely to even get an interview, but still: there is hope.

Not that a job would make me happy, specifically, but a different one would make happiness a little easier. Stupid Face is back, and when I saw him a few Fridays ago, he said something about how if he could have really spent time in “the mission” (meaning serving people, helping them grow, that kind of altruistic crap that suckers like us can’t help but buy into), he would be happy. It’s what he does now, in a different setting, and it’s what I desperately miss. I miss having a real purpose to my work. As it is now, I work in a place with little purpose, in a schedule that makes outside work kind of impossible. It also keeps me from being able to attend church, and it is really hard to miss out on church week after week after week.

So I hope. Foolishly. And I am trying to figure out how I can manage to be happy even in the midst of hating some parts of my life.

Invention and Discovery

About a year and a half ago, I started a sort of new phase in life, though I didn’t really intend to. All I was trying to do is recover from the darkest season I’ve ever experienced. I adopted some new disciplines and tried to unlearn years of unhealthy habits. Some friendships ended and new ones started. I started losing weight, and right now, I’m about ten sizes smaller than I was a year ago.

Now, it seems like the decision to resign and start a totally new chapter was inevitable; the person I was becoming was increasingly incongruous with the role I played and the denomination I was in.

It’s hard to say, though, whether it has been a journey of invention or of discovery. On one hand, the new habits and ways of thinking make me feel like I am creating a Cindy that didn’t exist before, but then again, it also feels like this “new” Cindy is someone who has always been there but was afraid to exist. I always had opinions, I just kept them hidden for fear of punishment for disagreeing with people higher on the ladder. I always thought of myself as a good friend to others, but I didn’t have enough confidence to think that people would actually want to be friends with me.

I’m sure it’s some mixture of invention and discovery.

As I fill out all of these applications, send in resumes, talk to recruiters, and go on interviews, I am being asked questions I am not sure how to answer: What am I looking for? What do I require from an employer? Where do I see my career in X years? Good grief, I don’t know… Change was inevitable, but going from a construct in which all these questions are invalid to having to answer them over and over is a bigger shift than I thought it would be.

It’s a shift that is really from one extreme to the other. A year ago, the expected, socialized response to questions about my own career path was to assume that leadership would make the best decisions for me, and the highest measure of success was the extent of obedience and my willingness to invest myself entirely in the role and location in which they placed me. I could provide some kind of feedback, but ultimately, I, like others within the organization, were moved like chess pieces, and sometimes, it seems like some were sacrificed (or at least endangered) in the interest of protecting the king. The underlying response to people indicating that they had a particular view of how they wanted their career to progress was that the individual was prideful.

And now, here I am, having decided to make such a huge change in the interest of my own health and sanity, and I’m stunned by such basic questions as “what do I want?” How do I undo years of thinking that answers to that question are prideful and therefore wrong?

I know how the old Cindy would have responded. I kind of have an idea of how the present Cindy wants to respond. I’m just struggling with feeling like it’s OK to be so “selfish” or “prideful.” I have a hard time imagining what life will be like in a year – a year ago, I certainly didn’t think I’d be where I am today.

It’s uncertain and weird and scary, this process of inventing/discovering myself, and I’m sure I’m making mistakes along the way, but it’s where I am, for the moment anyways, and I’m starting to be less anxious in letting things unfold.

Five Man Electrical Band and Me

I’m not a superstitious person, for the most part. I don’t believe a lot of old wives tales or fear urban legends.

But I do think that sometimes, God has interesting ways of getting our attention, and today, it seems like from the minute I woke up until just a few minutes ago, I am seeing signs everywhere. Little random accidents that just don’t seem to be quite so random.

I woke up thinking about an old friend early this morning. Fell back asleep and he was in my dream, and then when I woke and looked at my phone, his Facebook post took up the whole screen. Then, all day long, for reasons I don’t understand, his name popped up on my phone over and over in a bunch of weird contexts, as well as hearing his name (well, first name) said on the radio. And while I was in the van, the song that reminds me of him was played, a song that hasn’t been on the radio in a while.

Probably as a result of the last eighteen months of ridiculous introspection and intentional efforts at self-improvement, I can’t seem to shake the feeling lately that there are barriers between me and who I want to be, and it has felt like I’m struggling to get out of a sweater that is three sizes too small. Confined and hemmed in, I can’t even move the way I need to in order to shed it, so instead, it’s a weird kind of wriggling to see if I can get it to a point that I can finally be free.

Today, though, there has been an endless series of comments, posts, and songs about change, new chapters, and risk. I’m not sure what to make of it, but the general consensus is to be bold and go with it. I’ve taken some risks lately, but this seemed to hint at a bigger one. I was about to dismiss the signs when I accidentally hit the wrong button on my iPod and suddenly a song from the animated movie Anastasia started to play: “Heart don’t fail me now. Courage don’t desert me; don’t turn back now that we’re here. People always say life is full of choices. No one ever mentions fear, or how the world can seem so vast, on this journey to the past…” I am certainly a far cry from an orphaned Russian princess, but it really does fit the rest of the day.

Not exactly a string of burning bushes, but noticed nonetheless.

I couldn’t help but hear the refrain from Five Man Electrical Band’s Signs running through my head: “Signs, signs, everywhere signs. Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the signs?

Well, no, actually, I can’t. I don’t know what to do with this mess of things. I’m good at over thinking things. Really good at over thinking things. When I over think things, I tend to get my brain into trouble. So I decided that I would try to not over think them and respond with “Ok, God, I’m listening.” And wait to see how God answers.

That’s dangerous.

 

A Brave Baby Step

Tonight I said words I am afraid to say. I said them to someone who didn’t ask to hear them but graciously listened. He gets it better than anyone else could.

Having said them – or, rather, messaged them – makes them more real. Like now that they’re out there and not just locked in my head anymore, they are stronger, truer, and scarier. I don’t know what to do with them now.

I can’t say them here. I’m not ready.

But I did say them. And someone heard them. Right now, that’s all the bravery I can handle.

Shapes

Did you ever look in the mirror so long that your face doesn’t make sense any more? It just becomes all these shapes. Just shapes. Not good or bad. ~Noelle; The Truth About Cats and Dogs

Just... shapes.

Just… shapes.

Some days, I don’t know that I recognize myself. CS Lewis once said something about how it feels like nothing ever changes but when we stop and consider things, we realize how vastly different they are. I don’t know what the exact quote is, but you can google it if you want.

See that? The old me wouldn’t have thrown a paraphrase out there and left you to figure out if I’m BSing you or not.

The me from two weeks ago would not think that I’d have gone on and blogged about a weird date on Friday. The me from three months ago would not have bought jeans with tiny, classy sparkles on the butt pockets (nor would she have thought that sparkles on butt pockets could ever be classy, but Jones New York proved me wrong on that one). The me from four years ago would never have thought that I would lose 70 pounds without amputating a leg or getting tape worm.

The old me didn’t wear bright red lip stain, or speak up for myself, or successfully keep a houseplant alive.

I am occasionally sure that I like the me I am today. The old me didn’t think much of herself.

But sometimes, the new me and the old me collide. The new me does something brave and then the old me gets instantly anxious about it. The new me does a really good job at being consistent with the gym and eating better and then the old me takes the one “bad” day and tries to undo all my progress. Or I get excited about buying a cute dress and then old me freaks out about the fact that it touches my skin. I make new friends and open up to people while old me is certain that they’re fake and just waiting for a chance to betray me.

It makes me wonder which me is me. Is the new me a facade? Am I capable of all the changes I want to make? Is the new me any better, or am I just fooling myself? All these months of introspection and evaluation and all I can say is that right now, I am. And I don’t have to make sense of all of me tonight. I suppose that that’s an act of being kind towards myself.

My Deviant Little Pride Tree

When I was in seminary, there were two buildings for student housing: one for those who had families, were single men, or older single women, and one for the younger single women. There are a bunch of practical reasons for doing this, but one of the underlying reasons was to keep the single women separated from the single men and families. Even though we all had apartments, there was concern over whether or not we would get too close and cross too many lines. Even as adults who had undergone an incredible amount of screening before admission, we weren’t trusted. Nevermind the fact that single men and married individuals were capable of having affairs; it was very important to keep the younger, unmarried women separate. Unless they had kids, in which case, they were housed in the family building.

This is the case with one of my best friends at the time. She was a single mother, so when we hung out, it was most often at her place so that her daughter could do homework and be at home. She is a person of big ideas, and I was happy to go along with them. One Saturday, I took her, her daughter, another seminarian, and her son to the pumpkin farm that I had gone to while growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. We decided that since we had never made pumpkin pie from scratch before, we would get a few pumpkins and give it a whirl, and the next afternoon, we looked up a recipe and got started.

Holy buckets, Batman, I had NO IDEA how long it would take or how much pumpkin you can actually get out of a pie pumpkin! We carved and we roasted and we mashed and we baked… for HOURS. Neither of us could bear to even look at pumpkin anymore when we pulled the last one out of the oven at about 3:00 a.m. We were both exhausted, and at some point, I fell asleep on her couch. A few hours later, she woke me up and I walked back across campus in the same flannel pants and hoodie that I’d been wearing the night before, to get showered and changed before morning prayers. As I was walking back to my apartment, my path crossed with another friend’s, and he made a joke about me wearing my pajamas to prayers. I told him that I’d been baking all night, eventually crashed on a couch, and was on my way to change. He said OK, and we made more small talk as I walked back to my apartment.

I could not have imagined the kind of crap storm that that night set off. Later that Monday, I was told to go to what is essentially the dean’s office. When I got there, I was totally shocked to be told that my behaviors had been reported, and that I needed to watch myself. Apparently, the time I spent at my friend’s apartment doing homework, watching movies, and baking, was sending out the impression that I was a secret lesbian. I explained that there were usually other people there, but since they were people who already lived in the family housing, it wasn’t as obvious that they were there. I tried explaining that she was one of my best friends, and since we had both just moved hundreds of miles to get there, it was understandable that we would depend on each other for support. It didn’t matter, though. No matter what I said, they weren’t sure that I wasn’t a lesbian and I needed to be careful.

I was floored. I was furious. I didn’t see why it was any of their business, and why the assumption would be that two women cannot be very good friends, but instead, have to be romantically involved in order to spend a lot of time together. We lived in a community of about 100 people, surrounded by a tall brick wall, so we didn’t have a lot of choice but to spend time with one another.

I left the office and called my friend to give her a heads-up, in case she was asked about it. I called my other friend and asked if he had thought that I wasn’t truthful, and he said that he would have come to me about it, not reported it.

My Deviant Little Pride Tree

My Deviant Little Pride Tree

A few days later, my little sister and I were walking around a Borders on State Street in Chicago when we walked past some of their Christmas kitch. I’d told her about what had happened, and on the top of one of the displays was a rainbow foil Christmas tree that stood about a foot high. I commented that I should get the rainbow tree for my apartment since they thought I was a lesbian anyways. My sister, always one for egging me on, agreed, and I bought one. Because I had an weirdly massive bathroom counter in my apartment, it ended up being stuck there.

It stood there every day, long past the Christmas season, long after they told me to “finish taking down my Christmas decorations,” in a small act of defiance. I never took it down. In fact, when I went on my summer and Christmas internships, I took it with me. When I moved into my first and second parsonages, I unpacked it and placed it on the bathroom counter where it belongs. It’s my reminder every day to not let them push me around. It’s my reminder to be who I am and not let them force me to hide. It’s hard to miss a rainbow foil Christmas tree; it demands to be noticed.

About six months ago, I was at a regional event where another minister used the word “gay” to insult a kid right in front of him. It’s a knee-jerk reaction for me to call someone on using “gay” as an insult, and when I did, the minister informed me that she was going to say whatever she wants and I can’t stop her. That didn’t sit well with me, so I went to our regional leader about it. When I got done telling the leader what had happened, her tone changed a little and she said “it’s OK, Cindy, I think I know why it upsets you.”

Um. It upsets me because I witnessed a minister insulting a kid. It upsets me because I have an awful lot of friends who aren’t straight and I don’t like the implication that it means that they’re somehow lesser.

Her tone, though, and a few other comments she made, led me to wonder if she thinks that I’m a lesbian, but I didn’t call her on it then.

Three months ago, when I got to my new assignment, I was talking to one of the other ministers, and in the course of our conversation, she let me know that a significant number of other ministers in our region think I’m a lesbian. Apparently, having gay friends, supporting marriage equality, and a rare ally-ish post on Facebook meant, to them, that I must be gay, too. Then, she told me to “tone it down” so that people don’t get the wrong impression.

Tone it down? Mmm, nope. I can’t. I can’t because there’s no need to. I’m not going to stop having gay friends. I’m not going to stop encouraging marriage equality. I’m not going to stop being an ally.

I can’t because all of these moments have given me a teensy glance into what I imagine some of my friends have experienced: uncomfortable meetings with people who get way too far into your business, having the intimate parts of your life serve as gossip fodder for people who are supposed to be your friends, feeling like life would be easier if you did certain things or didn’t do certain things while also knowing that being anything other than yourself would be hell, pressure from religious leaders who are praying for your salvation despite the fact that you yourself have already been forgiven and given grace, feeling less-than-welcome in church despite it being the place that is supposed to welcome everyone… It was nowhere near the stories my friends have shared with me; their stories are heartbreaking and many of them have been able to show much more grace to their oppressors than I think I could muster.

Because of them, I can’t tone it down. Because I admire their faith, kindness, and goodness, I can’t tone it down. Because they’re smart, funny, fantastic people who make every day of my life better, I can’t tone it down. In the last few years, I think I’ve become kind of like my little pride tree: unobtrusive, not shying away from who and what I am, and not going anywhere. And sometimes, like my tree, when the light hits just right, I sparkle.

Cool by Association

Ohmigosh, you guys. And girls.

The Bloggess commented on my blog this morning. Not this blog, my other blog.

My favorite blog on the whole internet.

My favorite blog on the whole internet.

I’ve gotten comments on the blog before, but really, nothing has made me so excited.

Because The Bloggess, otherwise known as Jenny Lawson, is my favorite blogger in the whole internet. She is weird, funny, honest, brave, and a kind of cool I could never, ever be. Her blogs are sometimes random, like when she is debating whether conjoined Popsicles should be considered one Popsicle (because they’re seamlessly together) or two Popsicles (since there are two sticks, and you generally eat them by breaking them apart). Sometimes, they’re serious, like when she writes about depression, anxiety, or other real life stresses. She also wrote a really, really funny book.

Oh my funny! Get it. Read it. She's like the best friend you wish you had.

Oh my funny! Get it. Read it. She’s like the best friend you wish you had.

I also follow her on Twitter, and yesterday, when I posted a photo of a box of raccoon penis bones for sale at a flea market, I put the link on Twitter, too. Jenny has a well-known affinity for strange taxidermy, and on a whim, I tagged her in my tweet.

I wasn’t confident that she’d click on the link. In fact, I was pretty sure that she wouldn’t. But she did. And then she commented on it!

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know that the cool thing to do is to just be like “eh, whatever.” I don’t have to be cool, though – I couldn’t be cool if I tried. Instead, I will embrace the geeky excitement and do my internal happy dance because this morning, The Bloggess commented on my raccoon penis blog.

And that is the closest to cool I’ll ever get.

P.M.A.

Tonight, I heard that my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Kyle, is retiring, and I cannot believe it because 1: she cannot possibly be old enough to retire, and 2: it seems a little sad to me that there aren’t any more kids who are going to get to call her their teacher. Even into a few grad school classes now, she remains one of my most treasured teachers. Even now, as I’m about to turn 33 tomorrow, I am still learning the lessons she tried to teach me.

Me and my sixth grade class under the brave soul of Mrs. Kyle.

Me and my sixth grade class under the brave soul of Mrs. Kyle.

To be honest, I cannot tell you which science units we studied that year, and the only book I specifically remember from that year was Over Sea, Under Stone, but as I finish the hardest year of my life, I do so holding onto a few lessons she imparted when I was just 11 years old:

  1. P.M.A., which stood for “Positive Mental Attitude,” was one of her “keys of success,” and I can still hear her saying “PMA!” in her cheery-teacher voice when we were all grumbling about something. This is the biggest, hardest, longest lesson she taught me – the one I’m still learning – probably the biggest lesson from any teacher I’ve had. It’s what rings in my ears when I am somewhere where people are griping about everything, or complaining about not wanting to do something. Even when I’m one of the people complaining. This year, I feel like I understand better than I ever have before that attitude changes everything. Not only how I feel about it, but how successful I will be in my endeavors. It’s humbling to admit that it took 22 years for that to sink in, but better late than never, right?
  2. I can do things that are weird, different, and scary. Like dissect a squid with my bare hands, no tools allowed, even with a moderate fear of all water dwelling animals. It was every level of gross and more than a little scary, but I did it. My last six months or so has been a lesson in bravery and determination, but if I can use my fingers to rip apart the slimy carcass of a squid on my laminate school desk, I can handle almost anything.
  3. Life is beautiful. In addition to being my favorite, Mrs. Kyle is hands-down the most beautiful teacher I have ever had, not only because she is objectively beautiful, but because she was full of life. She probably smiled more than any other teacher I had. She seemed to believe in teaching for the love of learning. Yes, we had standardized tests, but she also taught us to sing “Happy Birthday” in Italian, and bits of French at the start of reading class every day, and knew how to laugh at herself when she made an accidental PG-13 comment after our trip to the Art Institute. It’s the kind of beauty I want to have, that I think I am starting to have.

I was one of thousands of kids she had over her teaching career, but she was one of a few dozen teachers to me. Occasionally, I modify a familiar African proverb to say “it takes a village to raise a person,” because the need to learn and care for one another doesn’t stop when we reach adulthood. I am overwhelmingly privileged to have been raised, in part, by Mrs. Kyle.

Just a couple days shy of 33, I feel a little bit beautiful.

Just a couple days shy of 33, I feel a little bit beautiful.

Tomorrow, I will wake up another year older. Like I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t looked forward to a birthday so much in decades – my attitude is most definitely positive. I’m going to do my first 5K tomorrow, which is scary to me because I used to not think I could ever do one. When I turned 32, I didn’t see a lot of beauty in the life in or around me, but now, I can’t help but see it. I see it in the faces of people I love, in new experiences, in hugs from old friends and smiles from new friends, in art and music and poetry and cooking and lilac bushes. I see it in me. For the first time in maybe ever, I feel a little beautiful. Not a lot, but a little… and that’s an awfully good place to be in at the start of 33.

One Tough Broad

Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things. ~Robert Frost

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my great-grandmother called The Woman I’ll Never BeI told you a little bit about her, and why I admire her so much. I still don’t feel like I am ever going to be as admirable, but, like I said in the post, she, along with a long line of praiseworthy women, is my heritage, and lately, I have come to see how one of the characteristics I mentioned is one that I see in myself.

I am tough.

This isn’t something I say easily, because it feels a little arrogant and unfeminine. It’s not something that I ever aspired to be, or that I would have claimed for myself a few months ago, but here I am: one tough broad.

There are kinder and more sophisticated synonyms, but they all fall short.

  • Resilient: This is a passive word, and one that only tells part of the story. Yes, I have weathered some pretty big storms, but it’s not just that I’ve survived them, or that I held on enough. My life is not only a series of things that happen to me.
  • Tenacious: Alright, so this one isn’t a far stretch of the truth – I do keep at something when I believe in it, and I’ll fight when I need to, but I like to think that I usually know when to step back, and when to decide that a hill is not work dying on.
  • Seasoned: I am neither old nor a pork chop, so thank you very much, but please don’t call me “seasoned.”

Other synonyms are less flattering, and perhaps why I don’t always think of myself as “tough:”

  • Hard: I try to be gentle, to be vulnerable. To be hard is to keep people out, and that’s not what I want.
  • Solid: One look at my thighs and you’ll know that this isn’t it. Hehe
  • Unyielding: To be unyielding can be lonely, and though occasionally my role as a leader requires me to “dig my heels in,” I’m not someone who is only happy when I get my way, or who doesn’t think that the thoughts and ideas of others have merit.

I am tough.

When I was scheduled to move to Minnesota, is wasn’t uncommon for people to shudder and tell me about how brutal the winters are up there. I told them that I was ready – years of winters in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (a.k.a. “UP”) are not for sissies. I know how endless and ferocious winter can be, but I also know that I’m tough. Now, telling people that plans have changed and I’m moving to Iowa instead, I get told “well, it won’t be as tough as Minnesota!” I wouldn’t count Iowa out just yet, though.

The other day, I was talking to a seminary friend, and she said “man, it’s like we’re in a war zone. Like we walk into these burnt out buildings with bodies everywhere, and we have to check and see if there’s any life left, and then handle it.” I don’t pretend to think that I do this on my own. I know I can’t do it on my own strength, but I also know that it’s a tough job that not everyone can do. Those burnt out buildings can be dangerous places and I stumble, get cut, bleed, and end up with scars, but so far, I’ve been tougher. More stubborn, maybe.

I’ve got sisu.SISU

I had enough obstacles growing up that it would have made fine excuses for not finishing college (being poor, my dad having cancer during senior year of high school/freshmen year of college, undiagnosed/untreated anxiety, and on and on), but it never felt like an option to just stop. I knew that these things stood in my way, but I honestly never considered stopping. It just meant that there was a recalculation in order.

I just don’t know any other way to be. I come from a long line of people with sisu. I developed it without intending to, or without even realizing it.

Until now, not only did I not think of myself as tough, I would have shied away from saying it. But that was before I started to understand what I am capable of, and started to see how many people sadly lack it. It’s against the awkward Midwesterner in me doesn’t like saying so, but the new-and-improving me says “so what.” At the risk of being a little prideful, I straighten my shoulders, lift my chin, and look the world straight in the eye and tell it that it can, and likely will, keep throwing whatever it can at me, but in the end, it won’t win. Because I’ve got sisu. I’m one really rough broad.

Confessions

First confession: I see a therapist a few times a year to keep tabs on my anxiety (confession 1.5: telling you that makes me anxious enough to break out in hives). In my last visit, I figured out that because I’ve been so guarded for so long, I feel like most of the people I know don’t actually know me. In my recent attempts to be braver, people have been encouraging, surprised, and maybe a little confused, but there hasn’t been much of a kick-back.

So I decided to start a crash-course in me, to just start writing and see where it takes me, in an attempt to be better at being brave. Some of these are more profound and personal than others, but not everything has to be enlightening.

– I don’t cry very often, but when I do, it’s over something stupid.
– However, Christmas songs make me cry almost every time. I can’t hear Judy Garland sing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” without white-knuckling against tears.
– I don’t care if patterned socks don’t match, but I’ll buy new socks before wearing mismatched white socks.
– Late 80s/early 90s hair ballads get turned up reallllly loud if I’m alone in the van when they come on the radio.
– I think I make better scrambled eggs than my mother – and that makes me feel guilty.
– I know I make better chili, and I don’t feel guilty about that. It’s my best dish.
– I think that you can be in love with someone more ways than just romantically, that there is a different kind of falling in love that happens between friends.
– I’ve fallen in romantic love three times.
– At least up to this point in my life, I’ve never wanted to be a mother, and the thought of giving birth is very nearly as terrifying as drowning or being burned in a house fire. I get a lot of flack for this.
– Despite not wanting kids, I know what I’d name them, and I’d be furious if you “used my names.”
– I’m lonely almost every second of every day.
– I have a terrible habit of leaving socks everywhere. And water glasses.
– I believe pretty underwear can change your whole day, even if no one else sees them.
– I don’t really like bacon all that much, and I will almost always pick a flavor other than chocolate if given the choice.
– I love stand-up comedy, but almost all my favorites are dead and most of the current ones aren’t funny.
– I don’t believe dead people become angels or are “watching over us,” and that makes it harder when I wish I could still talk to my grandparents.
– Sometimes I have to fight so hard against the tendency to judge people.
– Simon & Garfunkel is probably the best musical mood-changer I will ever have.
– I love high art: opera, classical music, Shakespeare, impressionist paintings, etc. It makes me feel alive.
– My favorite painting is Pissarro’s “The Crystal Palace.” I have to see it every time I go to the Art Institute in Chicago.
– My favorite songs are tied: “Silent Night” and Amos Lee’s “In the Arms of a Woman.” I listen to the latter just about every night on the playlist I use to fall asleep.
– My favorite movie is “The Matchmaker,” which most people have never heard of or seen, and it’s just a rom-com from the mid 90s, but I LOVE it.
– I hate “Les Miserables.”
– My high IQ means school was almost never challenging and I got lower grades than I could have because I was so insanely bored and underwhelmed.
– I think less of myself for not being as well-read as many of my friends. I start hundreds that I don’t finish.
– I have read an embarrassing amount of chick lit because it’s how I turn my brain off when I need to escape.
– I read poetry because I absolutely love words, but the only poems I’ve written in the last twenty years are the two on my blog because I feel like I love poetry too much to ruin it by writing my own.
– I am allergic to blue dyes, which makes life more difficult than it should be.
– I love going shooting with my uncle Curt and cousin Marky.
– I love having nicknames for people. It’s not just something silly to me; it’s the highest form of endearment to me, because it implies intimacy and usually a longer relationship than others. So no matter how old we get, they’ll still be Noonie, Fran, Branoh, Stevie, Marky, Pokey, Calebaleb, Sarahberry, and Eedle.
– There is one secret I never told anyone until I told Brandon last December, and while I’m not sure if anyone else will ever know, knowing that he knows is a kind of freedom I didn’t know I could have.
– When I’m running at the gym, I am often screaming obscenities in my head (studies show swearing lessens pain). The only thing that keeps them from coming out is that I’m usually wearing a camp t-shirt and I don’t want people to see scripture on my shirt and hear obscenities from my mouth.

If you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed!  🙂 I’m not sure if there’s anything new here for you, or that it was so fascinating to read, but writing it was good work for me. A few things on there were kind of scary to share, but I share in hopes that it will help me feel less misunderstood and help me feel braver next time.