Tag Archives: family

….But You Gotta Have Friends (and Family)

imageSo I’m kind of an “independent woman,” whatever that means. Like I’ll go eat a meal by myself at a restaurant if I want to so I’m told that makes me independent. Whoop dee doo. And I like being like that. I like being able to say – hey, I’m going to hike to the top of that hill tomorrow morning, and then doing it. If someone wants to come with me, that’s awesome. If they don’t, that’s okay too.

Then I took this really long trip, and I was traveling mostly by myself for an extended period of time. Though I visited friends in all the cities that I traveled to, I spent a lot of time alone while my friends were working or while I was in between places.

Sometimes it was awesome, like when I discovered this secret park next to an Episcopalian church in downtown Charlotte on a Sunday afternoon. It was sunny outside and I just sat under a tree, ate an apple, and watched water coming from a fountain with a statue of St. Someone. Or when I was traveling on the night bus to Boston from D.C. and I was looking out the window at the signs all lit up as we were going through some random town, and I thought that I could do this forever, just never get off the bus and go through towns at night when they’re all deserted and that would be my life.

I did a ton of reflecting on the trip, which was great. How often do you get to flip back through the pages of your life and try to get some perspective on your own story and what it sounds like when you play it back? I’ve also had time to do some reflecting post-trip on the trip itself, which has also been good. In fact, I’m about done reflected out. So I realized something, and I think I’ve known it before, but I think I know it more viscerally now than I have.

Without my friends and family, my trip would have been pretty lame. Those relationships made everything worthwhile. Sure travel is awesome, but after a while it’s just you in a different city sitting at a different coffee shop and you’re wondering why you wanted to do this in the first place.

Before this trip I was seriously considering moving to New York or Chicago in a year, kind of to pursue acting and improv, but mostly because I felt like I was “done” with San Francisco and getting  bored here. Or I thought of moving to Portland or Austin or Asheville, anywhere to see something different, to be someone different. Then on my trip I saw a lot of places and recognized those kinds of thoughts for what they were: a chasing after the wind, an external solution to an internal problem, which was my fear of missing out on something “better” and my fear of commitment.

People, community and relationships are what give places depth. And community takes a while to build, and it can be difficult, and there’s a lot of fear. There’s always fear.

That said, I believe that community, relationships, and love are the best and highest pursuits in life. Without this, everything I do or want is empty, a chasing after the wind.

I am extremely grateful for my community and I feel undeserving of their support and love. My friends and family housed, clothed and fed me while I was traveling and I am lucky to have such incredible people in my life. I’m also extremely cognizant that I didn’t get here by myself, and by here I mean in San Francisco setting off to pursue dreams of improv and comedy and God knows what else.

At every piece of my journey, step for step, someone supported me. When I wanted to go out of state for college, my parents said “Right on.” When I went to Egypt, they were like, “You gotta do you.” When I got lonely or sad, my friends were like, “You’re going to make it.” When I moved to San Francisco, I stayed with my friends for almost two months without paying rent because I had no money. When I felt like I was failing because I wasn’t following my dreams, my then boyfriend had more faith in my abilities than I did. When I thought I couldn’t do it, my friends and family said that I could. I owe them more than I’ll ever be able to repay, and the thing is, they don’t expect me to.

This is the kind of love that no one deserves. I don’t know what the rest of my life holds for me, but I do know this: that I have been blessed beyond anything I could imagine, that love has fueled any kind of success I’ve had and that my claim on it is so small as to almost be negligible.

And I am also extremely conscious of the fact that so many other people have different stories than this. In place of love and support, they’ve had abuse and negligence. They’ve been told they couldn’t do it. They’ve been told they were unlovable and unworthy. They’ve been cut off from the kind of resources I’ve always had access to because of situations outside of their control.

So I look at my life and what I’ve been able to do, and I see now that I’ve been set up for success where others have been pushed towards failure. Like I said, I don’t know what my future holds but I want to live to see a different world, one where so much doesn’t depend on whose womb you come out of.

That’s what I want.

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Dear God I’m Becoming One of Those Crazy Dog People

imageThe only living thing I own besides the millions of bacteria in my gut is my plant Deb, who is a succulent. She prefers to be watered about once a month but can live forever without any moisture whatsoever, because she’s a badass. She’s not like other pets.

In contrast, Rosie – my sister’s dog who I’m taking care of for the weekend – needs to be watered daily, even multiple times a day. She’s an English Springer Spaniel puppy that is part demon, part beauty queen and completely adorable.

I’ve enjoyed spending time with her and cuddling with her and all of that, but I’ve noticed that I’ve taken on some of the more annoying mannerisms I see in “dog people,” the kinds of people who throw their pooches birthday parties and refer to themselves as the dog’s mom or dad, which I find disturbing. Here are some of the most pressing ones:

1. Referring to my sister and brother-in-law as Rosie’s parents i.e. “Rosie, do you miss mommy and daddy?”

2. Talking to Rosie is a high pitched sing song voice and saying thing like, “Rosie, do you see the birds? Do you know what a crow is? I bet you wish you could fly.”

3. Taking bad pictures of Rosie and then posting on social media.

4. Telling family both what you did during the day and everything that Rosie did and ate and how cute she was and wondering why they don’t care that much about Rosie.

5. Bragging about how pretty Rosie is at the dog park in an underhanded way. “Is that your dog? She’s beautiful!” “Yeah, Rosie’s my sister’s dog. I’m just the dog sitter, but yeah she is gorgeous. Purebred.”

6. Planning my day and life around the dog, avoiding staying out too late because I need to go back and give Rosie night cuddles.

7. Picking up dog poop and forgetting how disgusting / weird it is.

8. Thinking life with a dog is better than any other life that could possibly exist.

9. Feeling very proud for very small things, like if Rosie plays with another dog at the park, or does a good job fetching. Telling family members about her small accomplishments.

10. Obsessively try to get Rosie to make friends at the dog park and talk to her in that high sing song voice, “Rosie, go play with that dog! She’s the same size as you. Be friends!”

11. Talk to Rosie even when there are other humans around. Ignore the other humans.

12. Thinking Rosie and I have a spiritual connection that spans species and life expectancies.

All in all, it’s been fun. I’m not ready for a furry pet yet, but I’m sure I’ll overwhelm Deb with attention when I get back to SF next week. She’ll need strength.

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Growing Up is For People Who Have No Imagination

Can't wait to be on conference calls one day!

Can’t wait to be on conference calls one day!

I turned twenty five today. There was no surprise birthday party, few gifts and less Facebook notifications than there have been in years past. This birthday just lazed in, almost unnoticed, like bread that looks normal but when you open it up it’s got mold all over it.

Growing up, twenty five seemed like the pinnacle of adulthood. By the time I turned twenty five, I thought I’d be married, have a career as a world-renowned neurosurgeon or something equally remarkable, wear makeup and shave my legs, and pretty much have figured it all out. The world, formerly known as my oyster, would now be a pearl that I’d wear around my neck as I laughed gracefully over a meal at a fancy restaurant with my best girlfriends. I would be wearing heels.

This has not happened. Life as I’ve lived it has had more surprises and twists and turns in it than I could have imagined, and it’s not at all simple. In fact, it’s only gotten more complicated. Where I once imagined that everything had a correct answer, I now believe that decision making is mostly a crapshoot. Also, laughing gracefully is for people who have no imagination.

Adulthood used to seem so well-defined. One day you would wake up and find your family in a house that you’ve purchased with a mortgage and have potted plants outside, and you would take certain things more seriously and not act silly with your friends. And that’s how you knew you were an Adult and that you’d done growed up. You were a Grown-Up.

Now I don’t believe in any of that. I know that adulthood is something else entirely from what you own and your relational status, and that I would rather never eat ice cream again than stop being silly. And I pretty much live for ice cream, so that’s saying a lot.

Now I know there is no handbook on any of this stuff, that there is no right answer, that there is no well defined path, and if there is one, I probably want to steer clear of it.

I used to think twenty five was the end of growing up, but now it’s clear that it’s just the beginning of a journey that will probably never end. And that’s fine with me. Here’s to one hundred more years of confusion and slow realizations!

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14-ish Things That Happen When You Return to Your Hometown

i am!

i am!

After leaving, can we ever really go home again? The question has been posed time and again by singers, writers and poets of many generations. It’s kind of silly because the answer is obviously yes. We can definitely go home, but it’s usually a little weird and can even be uncomfortable.

If you’ve ever gone through the experience of living away from home and then coming back after a while, you’ll probably relate to one or more of these.

1. Your parents have done something new with their house. It might be a new couch, or a new door, but whatever it is, it reminds you that nothing is sacred and nothing stays the same.

2. A business that you loved and / or saw constantly will be gone. “Why, Homeplate hot dogs, why?! I never got to try your savory dogs!”

3.  You remember all the reasons you left your hometown in the first place. “Really, camo-vest, man? Do you have to take up two parking spots in your Ford 350?”

4. Certain places become “minefields” where you’re doomed to run in to people that you went to high school with, and we all know how much you loved high school. Not.

5.  Inevitably, you’ll run in to someone you know, and then both of you will either fight the urge to or wholeheartedly engage in “catching up,” also known as “dick measuring.” Recent trips, relationship statuses, current jobs and apartment sizes must all be covered and compared.

6. Your hometown will surprise you i.e. “Where did that Moroccan tea place come from?” “Wow, vape places are really popular.” “Interesting, didn’t know that Shepler’s Western wear had a store here.”

7. You’ll go to a bar, see one of the popular kids, and freak out a little bit. You’ll try to reason with yourself and be like, “Nah, it’s cool. I live out of state now,” but beneath that pscho-babble there is real fear and an acknowledgement that this is not your turf. It belongs to the polo shirts.

8. You’ll resolve to never go to the aforementioned bar again and give another excuse for not going besides cowardice i.e. “the vibe wasn’t really for me.”

9. While grocery shopping, you’ll feel like a complete jackass for looking for Belgian endives.

10. Occasionally, someone will mention a person or place to you that you’ve kind of forgotten and they will be surprised that you don’t remember what you’re talking about. Secretly, you like when this happens. It means your brain has been filled up with more interesting things.

11. Someone you used to know will see you and enthusiastically comment on how good you look. This will happen regardless of your appearance. You know this, but you’ll still leave the conversation wondering if you really look that good. You hope so.

12. When you get off the plane, you look around wondering if there are any old crushes or enemies lurking about. There never are.

13. Despite your best efforts, you will compare your hometown and the city where you now live in front of other people. Whatever you say will be boring and kill the conversation and you’ll hate yourself for doing it, but you’ll do it at least three more times before leaving town.

14. If you’re staying with your parents, you will revert to childhood and find yourself roughhousing on the couch with your sister with your mom in the kitchen yelling, “If anything happens, I’m not paying for it.” This will mean more to you now that you have your own health insurance (or lack of it.)

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What’s a Landline? And Other Intergenerational Differences Highlighted by My Trip to Wichita

On the way back from Wichita

On the way back from Wichita

My grandparents are wonderful. They were born in Kansas (I think.) They moved around a bit in the middle of their life, but now they’re back in Wichita and living in the same home that my father was reared in as a little blonde devil.

Mom and I went up and visited them today for dinner since I hadn’t seen them for a while. The trip got me thinking about intergenerational differences and how we respond to the same phenomena. Things like technology can be particularly divisive.

I’ve put together some topics and the different generations’ reactions to them below. Perhaps you’ll see some of your own family’s truth reflected here.

On telecommunications: 

Grandparents: We still answer the landline and have lots of trouble with solicitors and politicians. Yes, we have a cellphone but only use it when we need it and turn it off afterwards.

Parents: We just got rid of the landline after years of just letting it ring in fear of talking to a phone solicitor. We also use smart phones but some people (hint, hint) use them too much to check CNN.

Me: What’s a landline? Also, smart phones are destroying society and lives because we’ve not yet learned a way to use them that doesn’t disrupt natural human patterns. I’m a radical. Sue me.

On Facebook: 

Grandparents: We don’t use Facebook because it’s not safe to let people know where you are all the time. That’s how the thieves find out when you’re out of town and come to rob you.

Parents: We like using Facebook to keep in touch with family and see who our children are dating. Sometimes the games are fun too.

Me: I use Facebook still even though it’s super boring. Really, I just recognize it as my technological overlord which manages events and less important friendships. Instagram is where it’s at.

On the state of the world:

Grandparents: Everyday there are more shootings on the news. It’s just terrible.

Parents:  A strong leader in Washington could solve most of our problems.

Me: Our government is entirely unequipped to handle the problems of today. We live in a post-governmental society that operates by the rule of mass organizations  and armed bodies, and the faster we recognize that the better. All states should be abolished in favor of regional governments that answer to a global governing body that is located on the International Space Station. I never read the news. I’m a radical.

On Kansas: 

Grandparents: Kansas is the best place on earth.

Parents: Kansas is where our parents live.

Me: Kansas exists.

On life choices:

Grandparents: We’ve made difficult choices in our life, but always sacrificed for the good of our family. Though we may not have always had a lot, we knew that with hard work and determination (and by the Lord’s will), we would survive and be blessed.

Parents: Our parents worked hard to give us better lives than they had. We went to college and got professions helping people and stayed close to our parents geographically to be there for them in their times of need. We recognize the needs of the family are above our own.

Me: The world revolves around me and my dreams. I will go wherever I need to go in order to fulfill them. Hopefully I’ll be able to see my family twice a year or so.

On how dessert should be served:

Grandparents: After dinner, Grandpa always scoops out the ice cream for everyone onto their plate to go with their brownie. It’s his job as patriarch to give everyone their ice cream.

Parents: We let Grandpa serve everyone ice cream because that’s how it’s done and we know it’s polite to let him continue doing it even though it’s obviously inefficient.

Me: WTF is this? Why can’t I just get my own ice cream? It takes so long for him to dish it out to everyone, and everyone wants a different amount. OMG this is so painful. WHY GOD WHY. And now I need to eat more ice cream than I want? Great, gramps. How am I going to get a bf with my ice cream rolls?

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