Wednesday, June 24, 2009

if i were a boy

As I rode the train home last night from work, I couldn't help but get caught up in the conversation three twenty-something boys were having next to me. They were debating who was the most unique super-hero. Was it Batman because he put his super-hero costume on over his daily clothes, vs Spider Man and Superman who seemed to have it always underneath? And which one had the coolest alter-ego? (As if there's any question that it's not Bruce Wayne, right!?) And even which one had the best comic book background? In all honesty, I was sort of fascinated and it took a certain degree of willpower to restrain myself from jumping into the debate.

Now, if this had been three twenty-something girls, you can only imagine what they'd most likely been talking about. Boys. Boys. And probably more boys. Why Chris hadn't texted yet. What Matt meant when he said "I'll call you later". Why Jason was acting strangely. What outfit should be worn on the date with Nate. Whether or not Bryan would wait til this weekend to call. . .
I mean, I can't help but thinking that we're all a little crazy. Always talking about our feelings. Always overanalyzing what was said (and what it really meant). Always being expected to share every detail of every interaction with our twenty closest friends. Most of the time, being a girl is pretty darn amazing. But, girls, you have to admit it, sometimes it's just plain exhausting.

Which is why I guess I sort of pride myself on being a bit of both. It's the best of both worlds, I'd like to believe.

I mean, I'm a girl when I take two hours to get ready. Because I'm having fun trying out new make-up tricks. Or because my hair doesn't look quite right. Or because I just can't find the right thing to wear. Or decide between the three pair of black heels I have sitting in front of me. But I'm a boy when I throw on tennies, a t-shirt and a baseball hat and call it a day. Without thinking twice.

I'm a girl when I turn up the speakers and sing my lungs out to Britney Spears, Taylor Swift or (embarrassingly) Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana. But I'm a boy when I'd rather see the newest X-Men movie than a chick flick having to do with weddings. Or love. Or bridesmaids. Or feelings. Or relationships. Or Matthew McConaughey.

I'm a boy when I don't want anyone to interrupt me during the game. And when I start talking sports stats. When I'd rather watch ESPN than another E! special about Speidi or Jessica Simpson. And especially when I'm on the football field and my flag football team is down with 2 minutes left in the game. But I'm a girl when the camera zooms in on Tom Brady and I can't help but swoon.

I'm a girl when I flirt with the boys at the bar. When I'm secretly flattered that he's obviously a bit nervous when he asks for my number. Or when he eventually calls to ask me out. But I'm a boy when I meet someone that I find attractive and interesting and I just want to be the one to take the situation in my hands and call him up.

I'm a girl when I'm in the kitchen baking up a storm. And whenever I watch Casablanca or When Harry Met Sally. Or listen to sappy country songs. I'm a girl when I start to tear up at weddings. When I sit by a toddler on the train and can't help but think about being a mom in the future. And I'm a girl when nothing seems to help but a glass of wine and a good cry.

But I'm a boy when I go two weeks without plucking my eyebrows or painting my nails. I'm a boy when I order a bratwurst and don't care who sees me do it. And when I'm counting down the days until I leave for a camping trip because I love the idea of roughing it for the weekend. I'm a boy when I'm challenged to a dare and my pride won't let me back down. And when I'd rather drink a can of beer than a fancy martini. Even at a cocktail party.

I can't imagine always being girlie; I actually like being a tomboy most of the time. I like being tough enough to take whatever you're going to throw at me, but vulnerable enough to admit when I can't. I like putting on a fancy dress and being told I'm pretty, but I'd much rather put my hair in a ponytail and be told I'm fun. I like going out to a nice dinner every once in a while, but most of the time I'd be just as happy with ordering a pizza.

I'd like to debate the relative uniqueness of super-heros, but I'm probably going to spend a lot of time analyzing what my new guy's text meant. And why he waited two days to send it.

At the end of the day, though, I think Beyonce might be on to something.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

to do: update blog

Confession: I'm addicted to to-do lists. I mean, seriously addicted. I've even been known to, on occasion, have a to-do list that has, as a line item: "make tomorrow's to-do list". A to-do list within a to-do list! What sort of twilight zone world am I living in? There's just something so satisfying about crossing off items from the list. I get a sort of demented pleasure from it. I wish I was lying, but that's just the way I am. I'm a planner. I'm an accomplisher. I have an anal Type A personality. (I mean, I organize my closet by color and type - dresses, shirts by sleeve length, pants, etc - of clothing for crying out loud.) I like there always to be an order to things. If I can anticipate, I'll always be ready. I'll never caught off guard.

And that's reassuring. Sometimes.

A couple things have happened to me (well, rather, around me) lately that have me second guessing the validity of having a plan.  First, I got an email from a friend of mine who is in the middle of a 6-month trek with her husband through New Zealand.  Both had great jobs, close family and friends, a nice apartment; the works. But they pressed pause on their life in Chicago and decided to explore for a while. They went without a real plan other than to make their way around NZ and make any money that they could, picking up odd jobs along the way.  An approach that I admired when I first heard of it, but, secretly, it scared me shitless. And now every time I read their blog I can't help but be jealous.

Second, one of my dearest friends got into the summer publishing program at NYC. (Congrats, Lyd!) So, she's picking up in a couple weeks and moving out to New York for the summer to chase down her dream job in publishing. When she first told me she got in she was excited, sure. But she was also really nervous. You know that nervousness that sets in when you realize you don't know what you're doing or where it's leading? Yeah, that's the one. I couldn't help but commiserate with her. These things are exciting, but they're scary.

And, finally, I just said goodbye to one of my co-workers who left for Europe on Tuesday to bike around the continent for 6 months. He knows where he's flying into and he know when and where he's flying out of. The rest he'll figure out as he goes. And if he's got to sleep on the side of the road a couple nights? Well, he's looking forward to that. The planner in me was screaming: but you don't know what's going to happen!

But that's the thing. We have no way of knowing the end. We can't predict what's going to happen. We can't plan for everything. Life's just not like that. Sometimes we just need to leap and trust that the net will appear. Or, better yet, leap and believe that somewhere along the fall, we'll spread our own wings and take off. Take off to new heights we could have barely dreamed of before. 

And if it's a little bit scary? Well, sometimes that's the only way you know you're doing it right.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

bracketology

Alright, class. Pencils down.

After all the hemming and hawing. After all the scratching off and erasing. And after all the second guessing. It's time to turn in your brackets. March Madness has officially begun. Which means all across the nation people are sitting at their desks, ESPN.com set on automatic refresh, brackets and highlighters in hand, anxiously chatting with co-workers about their picks, ready (well, as ready as they can be) for what comes next. Ready for the madness. And as we sit anticipating the first tip off, we're enjoying that familiar feeling that comes each March. That feeling of mastery. That premonition that this year we got it right.

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but enjoy that feeling while it lasts. 48 hours from now (or for some of us 6 hours from now), you'll be staring at your bracket wondering how you ever got it so wrong. Seriously considering ripping your bracket to shreds. Wishing you wouldn't have listened to Barack-etology quite so intently. Wondering why you ever thought Michigan State could make it to the Final Four after nearly losing to the Hoosiers a few short weeks ago. Begging to get your $10 back from the office pool. But that, my friends, is the thing I love most about March Madness. The madness itself.

You see, when it comes down to it, it's not entirely about the team that's the most talented. Or the most prepared. Or the most experienced. Sure, it's a little bit of all those things, but (and here's what we tend to overlook when filling out our brackets) there's also an element of sheer luck. It's that luck - that on any given day, any team can win or lose to any other team - that drives us all, well, mad. Even the best and brightest of us can't predict what's going to happen. Not me. Not you. Not Digger. Not Jay. Not Bobby. Not even Dicky V. No one can. In fact sometimes (much to my dismay) it seems like when it comes to March Madness, the more you know, the less you know.

Everyone "knows" that at least one #12 seed always seems to upset a #5 seed. In fact, 31 times since 1985, they have pulled an upset in the first round. And, up until last year, everyone "knew" that all four #1 seeds never make it to the final four. But, really, what we know is the past. This year and this tournament is the present. This tournament is another chance to make history. To re-write what we all "know" about March Madness. And another chance for me to finally win the office pool.

Unfortuantely, I'll likely lose again this year. Lose to the woman in production who doesn't know a three-pointer from a technical foul. Lose to my roommate who will base her choices on school mascots. Or number of letters in the team name. Or the color of their jerseys.

But that's the best part. We all know that we could do just as well flipping a coin, but yet we fill out our brackets carefully each year. Each year we look with pride on our masterpiece. At least until tip-off.

And now, just so you can share in what I'm sure will be my misery, my 2009 picks:


Final Four: MSU, Pitt, UNC, Mizzou
Final Game: MSU, UNC
Champion: UNC

What can I say? Go HEELS!
?

Friday, March 13, 2009

happily ever after?

Over the last six months, on my way to and from the gym in the wee hours of the morning, I have had the following encounters:
  • A gigantic, disgusting rat ran in between my legs, mid stride. His enormous feet pitter-pattering over my gym shoes and his God-knows-where-it's-been-fur grazing my ankle. Skin to skin. I screamed.
  • A seemingly sweet bunny rabbit ran across my path, a couple yards ahead, stopping half-way over the sidewalk. He looked my direction and, instead of continuing on his way, stared me down and began to run directly towards me. I (after seriously considering a game of chicken with him) leaped out of the way.
  • A ferocious, vulture-like looking bird dive-bombed me, walking out of my front door, from the electric wires up above. I, no joke, dropped to the ground to avoid his aerial attack.
  • A owner-accompanied, typically mild-manner dog pounced up on me as I walked by. His head, literally, was face to face with mine. The nails of his front feet left (albeit very tiny) marks on my face and shoulders for the rest of the day. I've never walked by another dog without wincing since.
And, finally, this morning as I drearily walked my tired self to Bally's, I just barely missed a falling acorn thrown (I swear directly at me) from the squirrel perched on the branch above.

It got me to wondering . . . what kind of paradoxical fairytale world am I living in when animals are attacking me rather than helping me sing my morning song and do my chores?

And (I'm almost scared to ask, but) what does that mean for my Prince Charming?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

if a tree falls in the forest . . .

When I was younger, I really, truly, with all my heart believed that I was going to be famous. I wasn't 100% sure of what exactly I was going to be famous for, but I was going to be famous nonetheless. And so I put my heart and soul into every activity I thought would someday be my ticket to notoriety. When I was the only girl playing on my YMCA basketball team in 3rd grade, I thought I'd be the first girl in the NBA. . . When I was roller skating in my basement to my favorite Mariah Carey song, I thought I was going to be an gold medal-winning Olympic figure skater. . . When I was belting out my solo as Ms. Lana the Ladybug in our 4th grade musical, I thought I was going to be a pop singer. . . When I was sitting behind my makeshift news desk, reciting the news (very informative, I'm sure, as it was typically from yesterday's paper that I had pulled out of our recycling bin), I thought I was going to be the next Barbara Walters. . . When I . . . you get the picture, right?

Clearly, I didn't have a confidence problem as a child. Quite the opposite, actually. Maybe my parents instilled in me just a little too strongly that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. Or maybe I read "The Little Engine that Could" and took it's lesson to heart too many times. But, whatever the reason, I firmly believed that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. And, come to think of it, I still find myself wanting to hold steadfast to this mantra even as my 25 year-old, jaded current self. I mean, why not?

But there was one little problem with my plan to be famous. See, I could stand alone on stage in front of a packed auditorium and sing my lungs out. I could recite a perfect speech in front of crowds of strangers.
I could deliver a stellar sports report to a throng of stuffed animals. But, heaven forbid my parents wanted to hear me rehearse. Or my best friend wanted to hear me sing. I'd clam up. There was something terrifying to me about performing in front of just one or two people. Especially when those people were the closest people to me. What if I made a mistake? What if I didn't do my best? What if they didn't like it? The opinion of strangers never seemed to mean as much, or cut as deep, as that from people who knew me the best.

I actually thought I had overcome this fear as I grew up. That I had become comfortable sharing with those people closest to me. But starting this blog has showed me that I may not be all that different than my 10 year-old self. You see, I've been doing this for a month and I half now, but I've only told two people in the entire world that I'm doing it. (Thanks, LGC!) Not even my best friend has any clue. And it's not that I'm trying to hide it. I'm just terrified. Terrified that I'll share it and people won't like what they see. That it'll be a failure. It's like if I keep it to myself then it's success only depends on what I think about it. (Easy audience, right?) I can be famous in my own mind. But if I share it, I have no control over what happens next. Will they even read it? And, if they read it, will they like it? Or will they just tell me they like it because they're my friends and that's what they're supposed to do? Will they secretly wonder why I ever thought I had anything important enough to say to write it down? Much less post it for all the world potentially to see?

Those are all questions that I don't have the answers to. But I think that's okay. Because as the famous question goes, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, will it make a sound? If a girl blogs and blogs about everything on her mind and no one's there to read it, will it ever make a difference?

So, here goes nothing.

Welcome, friends, to my blog. To my mind. To my other third.

Monday, March 9, 2009

active > passive

I've always had a sort of fondness for the English language. For writing. For words. I just love how certain words just seem to spring into life the moment you write them on the page. Like you can't imagine them ever sitting still and waiting on something to happen. Regardless of their actual meaning, there's something about some words in the English language that just seems so alive. Demonstrative. Enigma. Superfluous. Abominable. Indubitably. They just make me think. No one could ever accuse demonstrative of being shy. Indubitably will never be lost in the crowd. These words have personality and pizzaz. Spirit and energy. They may be misunderstood, but they're never boring.

It's not just this (admittedly a little unique) fascination with words that got me so caught up in the English language. It's so much more. The Chief Creative Director at our advertising agency has always stressed to writers the importance of the active voice. As he ascertains, an active voice always beats a passive voice. (Insert a brief flashback to 3rd grade here: In sentences written in the active voice, the subject performs the action expressed in the verb. The subject acts. On the other hand, in sentences written in the passive voice, the subject receives the action expressed by the verb. The subject is acted upon.) And although he's usually using this mantra to teach some copywriter how to clean up his or her copy, I think he's actually on to something a whole lot bigger. Acting is always better than waiting. Doing is always better than letting something happen. Active always beats passive.

I must admit, that's much easier in theory than it is in real life. Living your life's moments in an active voice sometimes calls for a lot more courage than we think we have. It calls for jumping without knowing whether or not there's a net to catch us. It's following our heart, even when our head can't quite keep up. It's, quite frankly, sometimes really scary. Every time you act, there's a chance that your action can spin out of control. That your action can cause a reaction that you weren't prepared for. That your action may make it impossible to ever go back. That you may fail.

But I have to believe there's something beautiful in that. I have to believe that doing beats being done to. I have to believe that it's better to regret something you did than it is to regret waiting for something to happen. I have to believe that "I lived my life." always beats "My life was lived." That active always beats passive.

Sure, it's enigmatic. But it's never boring.

Friday, February 27, 2009

tying the knot

Us Weekly, ESPN and Perez Hilton are all reporting that the New England Patriots QB (and unarguably largest overall stud in the known world) Tom Brady and his uber-gorgeous, Victoria's Secret Angel girlfriend Giesele Bundchen were married last night in Santa Monica, CA.

Let's take a moment for all the single women in America . . . (sigh) . . . Tom, if you're listening, that's the sound of our collective hearts breaking.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

my favorite marvin

There hasn't been a phrase I've loved to hear more over the past 10 years than the sweet, sweet sound of "Manning to Harrison for the reception". And boy have we heard it over and over again through-out those years.

But, we've learned this week that Harrison and the Colts, confined by a strict salary cap, were unable to reach an agreement on his contract. The result? The organization granted his request for free agency. To be honest, it's the right call to make. Because, at the end of the day, a sports team is a business. And businesses have bottom lines. As the last two years have shown us, Harrison is past his prime. From a numbers perspective, he's not worth it. But that doesn't quite make it any easier to see him go. To imagine him not in the blue and white. Not quietly sitting on the sidelines or just as quietly receiving passes from Manning.


It's unique to find a duo like Peyton and Marvin. A twosome so in-sync, so methodical, so consistent that you can't seem to picture it working any other way. A pair that passed and surpassed many greats before them. And, what's more, they did it without batting an eyelash. While we, the fans, celebrated and cheered and screamed our lungs out, for these two, it was all in a days work. There's something respectable about that. Especially in today's society. While other players in the game are arrogant, flashy and self-promoting, Marvin has spent his 13 years in the NFL rather subtly, behind a veil of privacy. During the Colts last regular season home game against the Titans back in December, Harrison made his 1,102nd career catch, moving him into second place on the all-time list. While a packed Lucas Oil Stadium erupted cheers, Marvin simply made his way back to the sideline and over to the bench, with the ball tucked neatly under his arm.


And that has made him all the more intriguing to me. It's like the less he shared, the more I could fill in with my ideas about what qualities the all-pro possessed. Despite his recent attempted homicide suit, I still look at him as the same hard-working, respectful receiver I've grown so fond of watching on the field. I've transferred his game time persona to my reality. A reality that I hate to see leave the team. Even if I know it's for the better.

So this week and especially now, with the deadline to free agency just moments away, we've said goodbye to Marvin Harrison. Said goodbye to half of the greatest duo in Colts history. But I wish him the best of luck outside of the blue and white. No matter where he ends up in the end, he'll always be part of the Indianapolis Colts to me.

Go horse!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

mind if i tagalong®?

On the way into work this morning, I walked by a group of Girl Scout's selling cookies in the lobby. These girls had put up signs in attempts to lure passerby's to their table. (And, ultimately, to the irresistible taste of those iconic cookies.) One particular sign caught my eye:

People, you need to buy some cookies!
You'll love them!!
Even penguins love them.
(Insert picture of a penguin eating a Trefoil here.)

I think someone in this troop has a future in advertising, don't you?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

i like big buts

(yes, big buts. not big butts.)

I had been planning a girl's night out at the movies for weeks. I had emailed 30 of my closest girl friends and requested that they save the date. I had stalked Fandango religiously, waiting for tickets to go on sale. We were going to see He's Just Not That Into You. (I mean $11.50 is a small price to pay for therapy like this, right!?) Because whether we're married or single. In a relationship or in something more complicated. I knew we could all agree that we've had a HJNTIY moment. We've all been there. We've all hoped for a phone call. We've all made excuses for someone. We've all, despite our better judgement, thought that we were the exception to the rule. And we've all lived to tell the tale.

So, buttery popcorn in hand, I anxiously awaited what I believed would be a refreshing, albeit a little painful, look at modern day dating. What I got (spoiler alert) was a Hollywood-inspired romantic comedy where, overall, the boy falls in love with the girl in the end. But wait! Isn't this movie called "He's Just Not That Into You"? Yes, I thought so.

What I loved about the book (yes, sadly I've read a majority of the chapters) was that it was resilient. It didn't let up on the message that if a guy doesn't act interested, it's probably because he's not. And won't ever be. So move on, sister. The book stressed that you are too great to be wasting your time on a guy that isn't spending the time on you. You're not going to convince him that you're wonderful. You shouldn't have to! If he doesn't get it, then it's his loss. And while that's quite a dose of tough love, it's what we need to hear.

But that's exactly where the movie let me down. Instead of walking away with that empowering message of resolution, the movie sent all of us single gals away with the message that if you hold on long enough, he'll come around. The very antithesis of everything the book had taught us! What made the book so revolutionary was that it didn't make excuses. It didn't watch out for our feelings. And it absolutely didn't tell us what we wanted to hear. It told us the cold, hard truth. The truth we like to think we're the exception to whenever possible. But like Greg so rightly reminded us in the book: we are not the exception to the rule. Apparently in Hollywood, that message is better told as: if you try hard enough, if you believe in it enough, you'll eventually be the exception.

It was the same way with Sex and the City. I mean, Big showed Carrie in every single way imaginable that was just not that into her and yet somehow they ended up happily ever after in the end. And they wonder why we, as otherwise intelligent girls, seem to always have a "but" on hand when it comes to the boys in our lives. "I know he doesn't call until Friday night at 12am, but that's just because he's so busy with work right now." "Sure, he hasn't asked me out on a date yet, but that's because he's scared of ruining our friendship." "No, he says he can't date me right now, but I know it's because he's still hurt from his last relationship."

In the end, the movie wasn't awful and it did have it's moments of hilarity, but I certainly didn't get the therapy I was bargaining for. Far from it. So, if you're going to hold on to anything from HJNTIY, hold on to the saying itself. Sure, it's hard to hear at times, but the quicker you learn to accept it and move on, the healthier and happier you'll be. And remember . . . you are not the exception to the rule. I repeat, you are not the exception. You are exceptional, but you are not the exception.

Words to live by.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

the wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round

I was emailed a story earlier this week about a town in Arizona that was replanning and rebuilding its bus routes. During the process, a few bus huts were accidently placed on a street the bus didn't even travel down. Realizing their mistake, the city put up signs all over these huts informing potential riders that the huts were off course and the bus would not even be coming. Oddly enough, people waited anyway. The signs were right in front of them and they didn't see them. Or didn't read them. Or chose to ignore them. And it got me to thinking, how often are we just like these people? Waiting for something (or someone) that will never come around and choosing to ignore the signs right in front of our faces? How often do we see the signs and think that they are there by mistake? Think that the figurative bus will come eventually. And won't we be lucky (or, dare I saw it, deserving for waiting that long) when it does come! Probably a little too often than any of us would like to admit. Maybe we should trust that the city knows what it's doing and move on to the next bus hut before we waste our time waiting. Trust that we're better off moving somewhere, anywhere, than we are just staying still. Maybe instead of waiting, we need to start moving. Even it it's just on our own two feet. Because I have to believe that getting there the hard way is always better than just waiting. Always.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

mighty casey has struck out

Remember when you were in high school and your parents would come in your room for a talk? Not just any old chat, but "the talk". You know, the one that came after you did something wrong and got caught. From the moment they opened your door and walked in, you dreaded what came next. The words that did more than any punishment could. "I'm disappointed in you." If you weren't feeling guilty about what you had done before, you sure were now. (And then some!) I would have rather heard just about anything else. I'm angry. I'm upset. I'm furious. But disappointed? That one trumped any amount of wrath.

You see, the thing about anger is that inherently it's directed at someone. It's an outward emotion. It
goes somewhere. Yes, the person experiencing it can feel a little hot and bothered, but it doesn't necessary affect them internally. It doesn't hurt them. At least not the way disappointment does. Disappointment is different. Disappointment is felt deep within. It changes the person experiencing it because, inherently, their expectations of someone have just come tumbling down. What they knew as true, has just been revealed as false. It hurts them.

And suddenly something that was all about me would be catapulted into something that affected those who cared about me. Something I, as a teenager, didn't want to think much about. Quite frankly, I think it's something we all still would rather not think about at times.


When the first allegations of A-Rod's steroid use came out on Saturday, I expected to feel upset with him. How could someone so talented and fortunate risk it all by experimenting with illegal substances? How could he be so naive? So irresponsible? So stupid? I expected to write him off for the rest of his career, as someone who had every opportunity to be one of the greats, but instead chose to tarnish his reputation and his success. I mean first an affair with Madonna and now this? What a chump! But as I sat watching (and re-watching for the umpteenth time) his interview on ESPN last night, it wasn't anger I felt towards him at all. It was disappointment. It was as if his admission made me not only think about him differently, but made me second guess how I looked at all current "greats". Who else was lying when asked if they had ever used performance enhancing drugs? Who could I trust? Who was worthy of my admiration? Of my support? I was disappointed in him. I felt a little bit hurt to be honest. And I don't think I'm alone in this. All the articles I've read and broadcasts I've seen seem to all have an air of disappointment in them as well. I don't know if it's that we expected it more from Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. Or that A-Rod seemed like the poster boy for the current era of baseball. Or that maybe it's just spreading wider than we wanted to think it would. But no one seems angry with Alex, not even the commissioner, himself. We're, collectively, disappointed. Let down. Hurt. And I wonder if, like my teenage self, A-Rod's feeling like that's the worst punishment in the world right now?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

the graveyard of partially-read books

I've been trying so desperately hard to read Jane Eyre the past couple of weeks. And I'm on page 23. 23! Every so often I pick it up ready to dive in and be, well, inspired. Somehow moved. But instead I have a feeling that it will sit on my night-stand a couple more weeks, before it ultimately joins the other partially-read books in my bookshelf. Now that I mention it, the number of unfinished books in that shelf is becoming more and more daunting. And it makes me wonder why it's so easy for me to walk away, mid-story, from book after book? If I'm honest with myself, I think it all has to do with my reasons for reading them in the first place. For instance, I started reading Jane Eyre because of the movie Definitely Maybe. In it, Isla Fisher's character, April, owned numerous copies of the book and re-read it every year. Each year finding something new that fascinated her. That spoke to her. That helped her make a little more sense of her life. And something about that seemed so charming. So I chose to read it in hopes that it would speak to me. That it would help me make some sense of my life. But, instead, I find myself tripping over Charlotte Bronte's writing style and utterly bored with each passing page. It certainly isn't speaking to me in any special way. And maybe it never will. In all likelihood, it will remain a partially-read attempt at finding some hidden truth. A never quite what I thought it would be. An almost. And that's okay, too. Maybe my not liking Jane Eyre reveals a truth in and of itself. The things we truly enjoy are the things we appreciate for what they are. Not for what we want them to be. Or for what we hope they could be. And this isn't just books, of course. It's everything. We can't make something (or someone) into what it's not. We can't expect things to live up to our expectations. It just doesn't work that way. Maybe when we start to accept that, we become a bit happier. And maybe our lives, as well as our bookshelves, become filled with the things that are exactly right for us just the way they are.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Archibald Leach, Norma Jean Baker, Marion Morrison, Francess Gumm. . . Some of the most famous people in Hollywood history. But what's that you say? You don't recognize these names? Well perhaps these sound more familiar; Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne and Judy Garland. Could Marion Morrison have achieved as much fame as John Wayne? Perhaps. Could that name have stood for the epitome of Western allure and appeal? It's possible. But we'll never know. Somewhere along the line, Marion Morrison just wasn't good enough. And he became John Wayne. And John Wayne became the star. 

It brings to mind a question that's been on my thoughts a lot lately: who am I and who am I trying to become? It seems like you can't know one without the other. You can't possibly know how to get to the latter if you don't know exactly where the former is. e.e. cummings said that "it takes a lot of courage to grow up and become who you really are." It seems like we spend the better part of our "growing up" years trying to be someone else. Someone smarter. Someone prettier. Someone who's got it all together. Someone better than we see ourselves. But, I think when it comes down to it, you'll always be a better you than anyone else. 

So, in the end, growing up is learning to accept what you are and resigning with good grace all that you're not. It's embracing yourself for all that you are. The good and the not-quite-so-good. It's acknowledging the strengths as well as the weaknesses. And building on both. It's having enough courage to step out into the world and be the best Archibald Leach you can be. Instead of hiding behind Cary Grant.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

anything can be

Listen to the mustn'ts, child. 
Listen to the don'ts. 
Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. 
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . 
Anything can happen, child. 
Anything can be. 
- Shel Silverstein

who i am

I am curious.  About questions I don’t have the answers to.  About what’s happening in the cubicle next to me.  About the events of history, especially the mysterious and unsolved ones.  About affection and dating and soul-mates and unrequited love. About what’s in store for me.  About how the same piece of art can be inspiring or depressing, priceless or worthless, a masterpiece or simply colors on a page, all depending on how you look at it.  On how you see it.

I love making people laugh.  And I love-love being told I’m funny. I tease more than I should.  Especially when it comes to members of the opposite sex. But when it comes down to it, I just want there always to be something to laugh about, even if it’s at my own expense.

I’m a sports nut.  And a little bit (okay, in all honesty, a lota’ bit) of a tomboy.  I tried to convince our high-school football coach that he should give me a shot at quarterback.  He thought I was joking.  And I suppose I was.  Sort of.

I interrupt.  Often because I think I know what’s coming next.  Usually, though, I’m wrong.

I am strong-willed. I like to think it’s just a healthy dose of confidence, but I’m afraid it’s also a bit of stubbornness.  I have a tendency to want things my way.  And I usually don’t realize it until it’s too late.

I need at least two tries every time I parallel park.  Even though I’ve lived in the city for over three years.

I am na├»ve.  Sometimes this is the very best thing about me.  You’d be surprised how wonderful the world can seem when you forget all the things that make you jaded and, instead, approach things with a child-like innocence.  But, then again, sometimes it’s not a good thing at all.

I sing along to every song I know.  Regardless of who’s around to hear me.

I am a little bit strange.  And sometimes difficult.  But I am always going to be there if you need me.  I am good at giving advice and getting better at just shutting up and listening.  I am rarely late.  I am a firm believer in putting on pajamas as soon as I get home from work.  In being willing to share, but keeping some things to yourself.  And in the power of a hug.

I am still figuring myself out, although I like to think I have a pretty good start.  I am growing up.  Sometimes the hard way.  Sometimes against my will.  But always, always up.

Monday, February 2, 2009

the other third

I tend to believe that, much like baseball, life is predetermined in a way. You're guaranteed to have some wins and you're bound to have some losses. That's just the way it is. Black and white. But then there's this whole area of grey that's sort of up to us to figure out.

And that's where this blog comes in. It's not really about the catastrophic failures. And it's even less about the astonishing successes. It's more about the in between. The almosts. The not-quites. The struggles. The questions. The messiness. In a way, it's the other third, to quote Mr. Lasorda. Because I'd like to think that this, despite the often seemingly mundaeness of it all, is where our lives really happen. It's what determines who we are more than any given victory or defeat can.

So, I can't guarantee much of anything. I'd hate to promise defeat and I can't warrant success. But I will tell you that you'll find a little bit of everything in between here. It'd likely be a little messy. And it might not always make complete sense. But remember, it's part of a bigger picture. It's my grey area. It's my other third. And it's where my life is.