On jumping in - or something like that

On jumping in - or something like that

Why is it that we humans have such a hard time expressing our feelings – in the moment, as we feel them, to the people we desperately wish we could express them to?

 

I just watched a sweet Netflix movie that recently came out, To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved. Depending on your taste it might make you want to throw up a little or feel more depressed or feel more lovey-dovey about the world. I would say that, like most romantic comedies set in high school, it made me feel lovey-dovey; a little sad when it ended. Perhaps it’s because that time in my life held a certain hopefulness in it about love; one that I find it a bit hard, sometimes, to get back in touch with. There is something so fun about sneaking around, or fantasizing about it, and having those quintessential crushes that never quite materialize but hold so much power in your heart and mind that you just KNOW if that person only somehow indirectly found out how you felt you might have a shot at a sweet, rom com-worthy romance. Right? But you would never tell them you thought they were sexy because then you would be deemed a total freak and the entire school would think you were untouchable (this extreme thought might be slightly skewed by the insular experience of boarding school..).

 

In the movie, a shy, happy-to-stay-home-and-watch-a-move-on-a-Saturday kind of girl (like me!) has a box of letters that she has written to the objects of her massive, gut-wrenching crushes over the years.. that she has of course never sent. And I will not spoil the movie for you – go watch it, it’s adorable – but basically it plays with this theme of saying how you feel; why we don’t; what the worst thing that could possibly happen might be if we did…

 

The only way that one could initiate a relationship in my high school - and I will get off of the high school theme soon - was to somehow get close to them in the sweaty mosh pit of a high school dance, rub your body up against them, and hope that they responded well. And that might lead to a hook up which might lead to a number exchange and texting and further hookups and then some semblance of a relationship - of course, I assume, with all of the lovely conversations and moments that came along with it. Anyone who went to high school with me and actually managed to pull off a relationship there is more than welcome to correct me if I am wrong. I stuck to the sidelines at high school dances and avoided boys like the black plague.

Thoughts on female power & my grandmother

Thoughts on female power & my grandmother

I never asked my grandmother what the words “powerful woman” meant to her. I suppose I never thought to. In her own way, she was as powerful as they come, a fierce independent and the matriarch of our large family. She was by no measure a modern woman: she might not have survived, with her lifestyle, as a member of my generation. My father joked, always, that she hadn’t cooked a meal for herself in her life – that, in fact, she didn’t even know how to boil water. When my sister and I (and any member of my family, or friend of hers) would visit her for cocktails or dinner at her apartment in San Francisco, she would invite us to sit around her in her living room (she always sat in the same big red chair). She would then use the little bell to the right of her chair to signal to her staff (which, in her lifetime, rotated every few years – she had high standards) that we were ready to place our drink orders. She would ring several times though the evening, when we were ready for more coca-cola (we only graduated to alcoholic drinks toward the end of our relationship, and it never felt quite right to drink with Nana), or when we’d run out of Macadamia nuts (always on her table during cocktails), or when we were ready to head into the dining room. My grandmother didn’t wash her own hair – in the style of many ladies of her generation, she got it done once a week at the hairdressers’. And, of course, she had never had a career – had never even considered having one. Each of these qualities of her life – being taken care of, really, through marriage from a young age, by her staff, her hairdresser, and surely others in the smallest of ways – were the expectations of her generation and of her social class. She was not raised to take care of herself; and yet, in so many ways, she did. And she took care of those around her as well.

Home, Sweet Country Home

Home, Sweet Country Home

An Ode to Undying Routines, Falling-down Barns, and the Sweet Smell of Hay in the Air as I Drive Home from a Day that Has Left Me Creative

I have always been a city girl. But, boy, am I glad that my parents live out in the middle of nowhere. Whenever my life feels a little bit too messy to handle (which, honestly, New York tends to do to my brain a lot), their house in the boondocks of Upstate New York provides the perfect escape. Something about waking up with no one across the street and only my dogs to answer to allows me to settle more clearly into my routine: a ten-minute drive, around 8am, along the lake to my favorite coffee shop, where I’ll spend the next four hours, writing idly. Where, at some point, I’ll happily gulp down some iced coffee and a perfect sesame bagel with cream cheese for sustenance, and I’ll feel completely at peace - as the coffee shop regulars come in and out and as the coffee shop owner roasts coffee beans about five feet away – knowing that I’m getting things done on my own deadline.

The Little Leaps We Take

The Little Leaps We Take

A few Sundays ago, on a grey morning in upstate New York, I jumped into the cool water of Lake Otsego right behind my house. “Jumped,” actually, is a strong word for what I did. I waded up to my hips. Then I waited for courage to take hold. And then I almost turned back, twice – halfway in’s good enough, I said to myself. I don’t need to put my entire body under this unpleasantly cold water. I’m refreshed from the hips down, good enough. And then, in a moment unexpected, without thinking (and thoroughly surprising myself), I dunked. And I swam as far out as I could convince myself to – long before the place where the water suddenly gets deep enough that I can’t feel the bottom (which freaks me out and induced panic attacks in my younger self).

Why College Was Less Than Perfect; and also why it was important

I am sitting at my desk in New York City, the very desk I sat at every day my senior year of college in Charlottesville, Virginia. I am drinking tea. I am looking out of the window at a drastically different view than this desk used to offer – instead of looking into an idyllic garden space (which none of my roommates or I ever used; take me back), I now stare face-on at another building that feels disruptively close to my own window. No, this building can’t even offer me a creepy-yet-comforting view into my neighbors’ domestic lives – the windows are too small. So here I sit, unaccompanied but with the knowledge that there are bodies all around me – above me (two floors), below me (four floors, or five if you count the basement), around me in all directions (I can see six huge buildings just from this one spot). They’re all full of people I don’t know, people I will never know - what is universally accepted as odd about New York city is the stark contrast between the number of people and how impossible it feels to actually meet anyone new. We are stuck in our fears of rejection, which are no doubt reinforced by the masks - hollow looks and dismissive retorts - that New Yorkers build up over the years.