You know those times in life that try as you might, it seems like the universe is working against you? Life feels a little like that right now. I can’t really complain — I’m healthy, (still) employed, and manage to find joy in every day. I suppose the frustration lies in how the effort I’m putting into things seems to prove a little fruitless. Things will turn around eventually, I’m certain. I wouldn’t have made it this long if it weren’t for that firmly held belief: that even though I don’t know how or when, the dust will settle. I will be OK. Waiting patiently for that dust to settle can be a tall order at times, though.
I listened to a podcast a while back (it could’ve been 6 months ago, for all I know) about relationships. Not just ~relationships~ but all relationships — friendships, parent-children relationships, significant others, etc. The main takeaway from the podcast was that the key to relationships is understanding one another. It’s not about intimacy, trust, love — all the conventional foundations of relationships. Literally, if you can understand one another, the relationship will have a solid foundation.
I had written down this little tidbit to write about long ago, but until now, I felt uninspired to expand upon it. In my current life, however, this idea rings more true than ever. As I find myself increasingly perplexed by the behavior and decision-making of some of my friends, I recognize that those friends are also becoming increasingly distant from me. Concurrently, those friends and family who are on my wavelength — those are the people I gravitate toward.
I think I spend a lot of time considering how I’ll explain myself to others, and for what? The people worth being vulnerable to are those who won’t require an explanation. They’ll just understand.
As a middle child, I never knew what it felt like to be the “baby” — to have people just naturally take you under their wing, to care for you not because you needed them to, but because it seemed like the proper thing to do. Then during the pandemic, I befriended a bunch of folks a solid 5+ years older than I am, and suddenly, I found myself being cared for unexpectedly. I had always been the mom of my friend groups, so it was refreshing that I had people in my life now who would offer to drive to that brewery, who’d cover our appetizers at this restaurant, who’d loan me their iron or their foam roller, etc. Really, it was refreshing to have friends who had their sh*t together, more than I did.
Now a couple years have passed and I feel that I’ve progressed to an in-between phase. I no longer need to play the baby card anymore, but I’m not quite positioned to take anyone else under my wing. I’ve always been decently self-sufficient, but now there’s a dignity to being self-sufficient, rather than it being a burden. I make enough money to cover all my expenses; I aspire to buy a home this year; I can splurge here and there. I feel (in these respects, perhaps ONLY these respects) like a grown-ass woman.
That said, my dad visited me in Colorado last week, and among many things, he paid for my gas, groceries, and car wash. I’ll always play the baby card for that. (Love you, Dad.)
When I studied for my Spanish minor in Havana, Cuba, I quickly became accustomed to waiting. Waiting is a fundamental aspect of living in Cuba. It’s a third world country, resources are limited, and you just can’t expect immediacy that way you can in the U.S. I believe that this time spent in Cuba made me far more patient than I ever thought possible for myself. Though I certainly become impatient still (especially when I’m tired, hungry, or both), I have improved at just letting things take the time that they do, and not fretting about lost time in the process. This is a conscious effort, though — not a natural tendency.
This conscientious patience has made me a little philosophical, recently. I start speculating about how much more I could be getting done if I wasn’t waiting all the time for others. How much I should’ve done while waiting, in order to improve efficiency. This philosophical exercise dies pretty fast, though, when I determine that regardless of the answers, I’m still just going to wait. And wait. And wait.
Ryan frequently punches me in the butt, which sounds odd, but he does it to literally anyone he’s close with — his high school buddies, his cousin’s girlfriend, his mom, etc. — so I’ve just accepted it. He gets burned sometimes, though, when I have my phone in my back pocket.
The first time this happened, I was surprised that it had never happened before, and he responded, “Well, Lance or Kyle would never have their phone in their back pocket. If they did, I’d be like ‘Dude, why are you storing your friend like a girl?'”
This statement actually blew my mind, because I realized that not only is it common for women to put their phones in their back pocket and men in the front pockets, but it’s necessary. Women’s pants often don’t even have front pockets; they’re just an illusion. We are literally forced to put our phones in our back pockets, or in a purse — which I can’t ever imagine myself carrying (what would I carry in it? Snacks are the only thing I can think of.) I was just so shook by this realization, I decided I’d write about it.
Why are all grandparents’ houses the same? They have that specific smell of soap and old books. All of the furniture is clean but dated. There’s always a jar of some candy long expired. And yet you feel comforted, even if it’s not your own grandparents’ space. Is there some sort of elderly guide book that instructs you how to make your home this way?
Ryan showed me an earth-shattering hack to skiing last month.
I’m always blasting my tunes while I shred (in my very mediocre way) down the slopes. Usually my friends are doing the same. But what if you were listening to the same song while you shred?
Ryan told me how he and his best friend Lance will choose 2-3 songs at the top of the hill to listen to. They’ll queue the songs, then count down from 3 to start them as they head down. As such, they have an identical sonic experience as they ski/snowboard.
We did it at Snowmass back in January, and I cannot properly describe how incredible it was — to watch the snow falling, the trees gliding past, the snow carving under your feet while hearing the same exact words, feeling the exact same energy as someone else. My face hurt from smiling so much that day. Do yourself a favor and grab a buddy to song-sync-ski with.
Some podcast quotes that really resonated with me (1 and 2 from Rich Roll’s interview with Malcolm Gladwell, 3 and 4 from Ben Greenfield’s interview with Gary Brecka):
- The great privilege of being a journalist is that you learn — in the best possible way — how large the gap is between lay understanding of some field and expert understanding.
- [Journalism] is a discipline that reinforces humility at every turn.
- The presence of oxygen is the absence of disease.
- Aging is the aggressive pursuit of comfort.
In a visit to Vegas last month, Ryan and I stayed with his family friend (and just legendary human being), Kevin. Very early on, we discovered Kevin had a box of HoHos in his pantry, and he pleaded that we eat them all so he’d stop. We promised we’d make a dent.
At the end of our visit, there were two HoHos left, so we packed them in our bags for the airport. Our flight was at 9 p.m., so I promptly fell asleep and landed in the Springs at midnight, groggy.
After asking how I slept, Ryan proceeded to tell me, “I had that HoHo mid-flight. Phenomenal decision. I realized, I should always have a really delicious dessert with me when I take a flight. That way, if that thing goes down, at least I can have a really excellent food experience right before I die.”
It’s now become an inside joke for us that in some situations, you “need a HoHo fo sho sho.”
You know how certain jokes can really kill you, almost for no reason? How some facts melt your heart, inexplicably? One of those for me is knowing that Ryan likes to listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack as he reads the book. So he can feel really immersed in the story.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I can craft a really solid letter. As evidenced by this blog, writing is my favorite medium to express myself, and in a letter to a loved one, I can really hone in on this skill. I’ve been told by countless people that my letters have made them cry, which is certainly not my intention, though it does make me feel a little proud of myself.
Not all letters are an expression of gratitude or congratulations. Some are really difficult to write, mainly because I’m confronting something that’s been trapped on my chest, desperate to get off. Once it’s out on paper, I feel fine. Relieved. But I recently realized how strange that following period is — the space in time in which you’ve expressed a hard truth on paper but the recipient has yet to know it.
In that space, though I’m relieved, the letter lies there, the words unread by anyone but me. The recipient doesn’t know that in my mind, I’ve said something to them that has really troubled me. They carry on with their life, unaware that they’re going to be hit by the emotional baggage of a couple lines on stationary. That’s kind of mind-blowing, no?
Recently I was having dinner with my dear career counselor, “Chief,” and his badass wife, “Dottie.” We were talking about how women in the workplace who are assertive are often labeled as bitches, whereas men who exhibit the same behavior are considered strong and decisive. Dottie responded, “Well, of course. BITCH really stands for ‘Because I’m taking control here.'” People don’t like it when women take control, so they have to put a derogatory term on it.
I absolutely loved this summary because it made so much sense.
The following day, I was out on a run and my shuffle introduced me to a song called W.I.T.C.H. The title lyric? “She’s a Woman In Total Control of Herself.” Damn, that’s good.
One conversation I have with Ryan on a weekly basis is how unwilling people are to admit their errors. As if making mistakes weren’t a natural part of life. For me, it’s kind of impossible to imagine a world in which I think I have it all figured out, to the point that I reject any indication to the contrary.
I am constantly reminded of the scene from the movie Land of the Lost, where Danny McBride is trying to throw a rock at Will Ferrell to knock him out, thinking that Ferrell’s character has lost his mind. McBride looks around and realizes Ferrell’s hypothesis was, in fact, correct, and drops the rock. He says something to the effect of, “Well, what do you know? Marshall’s not crazy. I’m man enough to say that’s my bad.”
Weekly, I will say that exact line — “I’m man enough to say that’s my bad.” I just wish more people would, too.
Often when we’re prepping dinner, Ryan and I will be eating a snack (usually hummus and vegetables). Last night, while chopping up some onion, I said, “I just want a smackerel.”
“Smackerel?” Ryan asked. “What does that mean?”
“You know, like a bite of something. A bit of something to eat.”
“Where did that come from?”
“I don’t know, really. Let’s see what Google says.”
Turns out, smackerel isn’t a real word. It’s a Poohism — a term Winnie the Pooh uses for a small snack or taste of honey.
Ryan: “You’re kidding me.”