All posts by DP

Facebook Quizzes

I don’t regret my past, I just regret the time I spent with the wrong people.

– Danielle Perry

I must confess my affinity for a good FB quiz.

I spend way too much time on FB as it is, so it’s no surprise that most of that time is spent reading articles and doing random fb quiz things. Today, I did a quiz where they made a quote based on your name. It was a great premise. 

The quote is funny because it seems half accurate but it’s actually pretty wrong. I don’t regret time spent with people, mostly because I don’t think I’d call any of them wrong. 

Right now I’m listening to the soundtrack of the Sondheim musical, Company. It’s a great musical that I watched on Netflix a few years back. Since then I’ve been a pretty big Sondheim fan and this show, along with Merrily We Roll Along (a show I’ll link to later) have been two of my favorites. Both shows are about friendship – one is about the necessity of the institution, while the other is about the loss of it – and that’s something I never thought too deeply about before watching these shows. 

It’s easy to go through life and convince yourself that your only regrets are the people you wasted time with. But those aren’t my regrets. Because it’s hard to feel like time has ever been wasted with people. Company is important – in good and bad times – and it’s good to go through life with it. The tragedy of Merrily We Roll Along is that the importance of company and friendship gets lost as life goes along and people gain or lose success. And people really do start to believe that time spent with people is time worthy of regret. 

I don’t have much more to say about the topic except that I really like Sondheim. And especially these musicals. Okay, I’m done. 

The Moment I Realized You Were Too Familiar

It wasn’t when we first met.

No, when we first met, I was excited. It was at large group and you motioned me over to sit next to you. I was confused (have we met?) but I quickly realized you were just nice and you thought I had a welcoming face. We were reading about David and Jonathan and you shared your desire for a friendship like that. I was more jaded, less enthusiastic, having just endured the highs and lows of that kind of friendship. But I was also impressed that you would so willingly share that with the group upon our first meeting.

It was when we first got coffee. We went to this chill spot in Harlem and talked about life (because, you know, making new friends is like dating). You told me about your time in TFA and I listened intently. You told me about your 80-100 hour work weeks, the sleepovers you threw for your students, the relationships you built with them. And then all the alarm bells started ringing. Your story was so familiar and so was your reasoning. And that scared me a lot.

Since then, we’ve gone for a few coffees, or dinners, or movies. But the time between each meeting grows. It’s not on purpose, but I’m not unaware of it either. Because after every hang out, I wonder to myself whether or not I should do it again. Because I know your type too well and I know that our types don’t work well together.

I would say it’s not you, but it is. It is you who focuses your energy on your work – your good work – at the detriment of your friendships and familial relationships. It is you who seeks authenticity and intentionality in romance but settles for far less than that. It is you who texts but doesn’t follow through.

But it’s me too. I’m the one who resists initiating so that I can resist rejection. I’m the one who keeps you at arms length so that I don’t make the same mistakes. I’m the one who stepped back from the game before it even started in earnest.

So yeah, you looked really familiar to me from the very beginning of our friendship. And that worries me a lot. But it’s also true that familiarity doesn’t imply a carbon copy. If I’m honest, I don’t know what to do about it.

But I think I should do something so as not to stumble into too familiar territory.

 

The Moment I Realized I Would Never Get Rid of You

I was on the phone with my dad today. The conversation was supposed to be a normal check-in (like all good daughters, I call my parents a few times a week). He asked me about my life, job prospects and the usual, and I was happy to tell him I had just been offered a position. I told him it could be interesting and exciting and worthwhile and then he told me that I was doing it wrong.

My conversation with my dad ended in tears and I couldn’t figure out why. That was until I realized it was because of you. You, the constant reminder of my ineptitude, the one whom I run away from as a child flees a monster, the ever-present fixture in my post-high school life.

When I was young, it was easy to get away from you. I excelled in school so I never had to encounter you there. And if I did do an event that forced me to deal with you I could quit because why play the game if you know you’ll lose?

But of course, the man who never let me win and yet always made me play was the same one compelling me to keep moving forward in spite of you. And like so many of those games 15 years ago, this interaction ended in tears.

I’m not good at running at the wall, forcing it to move. If I get hurt the first time, I’m not coming back again to see if things change. At least not anymore. I think it’s because I’ve let you compel me. There was a time when I’d wake up every morning anticipating the moment when I would play basketball against my dad. And when I lost, I’d go back and practice until it was time to face him again and lose again. But then something happened. I don’t know what it was. But somewhere along the way I got so afraid of you that I stopped playing the game.

Even now, I’m really afraid of you. And I don’t like you. And I’m really torn about what to do next and where to go. But I’m also afraid that I’ll look back on my life and see a series of unfinished plans. But I’m even more afraid that I’ll look back and convince myself that it’s okay that those things were unfinished.

I never beat my dad in basketball and I think it was because before I was old enough or good enough to beat him I had already quit over my frustration with encountering you. But I always encounter you. And I guess I’m starting to see that my fear of you has led me to make a lot of safe decisions.

So I don’t know. I don’t know what to do about you. I just want to play basketball with my dad.

At the Drive In

Over the years, I’ve learned that one of my favorite things to do is drive into a new city. So today (but actually way late/early in the day) I’ll write a post about a few cities I’ve driven into recently. You can also think of this as my first entry in a series of posts about my recent travels. 

San Francisco: I flew into SF and that created its own situations, but I also took the train and bus into the part of the city I’d be staying in. The flight in promised breathtaking views of the city and landscape and the Bay Area didn’t disappoint. The train + bus ride to my hostel was pretty uneventful but I got plopped in the middle of the downtown/financial area so that was pretty hectic. It was chaotic and lively and pretty fun. Since I grade lots of things on this blog, I’ll grade the ride in at a B+. 

Tokyo: I got into Tokyo at night so I can’t really speak to the view of the city I had. I can talk about the overall feeling though. When I first got to Tokyo I was super tired and ready to sleep at any moment. The trip was longer than I expected but the people were pretty nice and helpful. The thing about it is that I never really got a feel for the city. Tokyo is/was just too big for me to digest on a dark train but I do recall being surprised by how familiar it felt. 

Grade: B

Nikko, Japan: I went to Nikko one day based on the recommendation of a friend. The ride in was pretty epic. Nikko is only a couple hours from Tokyo but I still had to take a train to get there. I remember looking out the window and seeing Mt. Fuji behind me (I love mountains, so this was pretty great for me). The Japanese countryside wasn’t spectacular but it was very calming. So good job Nikko. 

Grade: B+

Istanbul: Oh my goodness Istanbul was amazing. It was vibrant and exciting and hot and wonderful all at the same time. Driving in I could see the water and the people and everything that makes a city great. I can’t think of any negatives to be honest. 

Grade: A+

Naples, Italy: This was a rough entrance. The bus from the airport was bad enough but the walk from one side of the bay to the other was the worst kind of icing on the cake. When you drive into Naples you can’t see any of its beauty, just the parts of the city that people usually try to hide away. Overall, pretty underwhelming. 

Grade: C+

Rome: My first entry into Rome was actually overhead on my way to Naples. Rome was gorgeous from up top. I could see the Tiber and I immediately thought of canceling the trip to Naples and just staying the extra night in Rome. I didn’t – because I’m not rich – but that’s how impressive the city is just from an airplane. I later took a train to Rome from Naples and I appreciated the hills and greenery of the Italian countryside. So good job Rome. 

Grade: A/A+

Venice: Venice is pretty legit. The city is sinking and the train ride in is surrounded by the marsh that is the sea which surrounds Venice. It’s a pretty crazy place. As cool as it was, Venice is docked a few points for the fact that you can’t actually even see the city when you’re traveling into it. All you see is water. 

Grade: B+

London: Sleepy, gray, left-sided London. The bus ride from the airport to the city center was pretty lackluster. In many ways, it felt like driving along the interstate. There wasn’t much to see (as far as I can tell London doesn’t have much of a skyline) so it was a pretty run-of-the-mill trip. 

Grade: B-

New York: Coming back to New York after almost a month away was supposed to be awesome and amazing. It wasn’t really. I ended up on the wrong train headed to Far Rockaway and didn’t get back to my apartment until 1AM. There are many exciting ways to enter NYC. This wasn’t one. 

Grade: C

Albany: As I write this, I’m at my friend’s place in Troy. But to get to Troy I had to drive past Albany first. Albany had a really impressive skyline and some beautiful buildings to round it out. Plus, I’ve never seen the Hudson look so good. I was immediately struck by how much Albany didn’t care to compare itself to NYC. Living in the city for long enough, you can sometimes start to just exude NYC pretension and superiority. Albany immediately struck me because I was impressed by it, but it didn’t feel like the city needed my opinion to continue to be cool. That actually makes the idea of grading it dumb but I still will. 

Grade: A-

Maybe next week I’ll edit this (or write another post) about the drive into Philly. That’s one of my favorite drives. Okay, good night homies. 

One Night Only

I’m listening to the Dreamgirls Official Motion Picture soundtrack and having the night of my life.

I first saw this musical with my mom, brother, and sister many years ago. A local park often did musicals and plays and my mom always jumped at the opportunity to take us to see them. Admittedly, I wasn’t that excited to go because who wants to sit in a park for 2.5 hours during the summer? You might say, “I do!” to that question and that’s how I know you’re not me. I definitely did not want to sit in a park on a warm summer night.

We went to the show and I was immediately impressed by how little the outdoor elements affected my enjoyment of the musical. It was great! The big number, And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going, came and there was rousing applause. And that’s all I really remember about the actual experience of going to see that musical. I remember unexpected enjoyment and gaining a tiny glimpse into who my mom was. Because my mom really likes theatre and art and the outdoors and moments that only have meaning years later. But I didn’t always know that.

Like many girls, I had a love/hate relationship with my mom growing up. Though in retrospect I can see that she was my greatest cheerleader, at the time she felt like my most insurmountable obstacle. Whereas my dad was fun and funny and generally care-free, my mom was strict and sarcastic and seemingly crazy. It wasn’t charming, it was just a thing I had come to understand about my mom.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate my mom. But if I wanted to have fun, I went to my dad. But a few months ago when I was at my parents’ house, that changed. I was chilling in the kitchen with nothing to do and I asked my mom to play FIFA 14 with me and she agreed. And I wasn’t surprised that she agreed. Because that’s who my mom really always was.

Even in the midst of working full-time and raising three kids (one of whom was a little terror), she took time out to take us to the Pizza Hut afternoon lunch buffet, or buy us subs and take us to the petting zoo, or drive us to a park so we can see a musical that she loved. My mom loves her family a lot. When I was a kid it felt stifling; now that I’m an adult it feels necessary.

So I’m thankful that my mom is willing to play a few rounds of cards whenever I ask, talk on the phone with me for hours, or convince the rest of the family to join our fantasy football league because she knows it’s important to me. And I’m glad that now I can appreciate your sarcasm and craziness as I see it manifesting in my own personality. And you have the best sayings. They don’t make sense at all.

 

If you haven’t seen Dreamgirls, here’s a taste. The movie’s great too:

The Moment I Realized We Weren’t A Perfect Match

Or rather, the moment I realized we weren’t who we wanted each other to be.

I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently. This is something I’d previously be ashamed about because I know you don’t like knowing that I think about you.  But I’m not (too) ashamed. I do think about you sometimes.

I think I’ve been thinking about you recently because “breakups” are never really a clean break. The thoughts aren’t nostalgic, as they once were. They’re more like ambivalent memories. Stephanie leaves soon and I find myself wishing for more black friends so maybe the friendship thing just brings you to my mind. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just remembering things because remembering is a part of life. I’m allowed to feel.

I’m remembering why things didn’t quite work out. Mostly from my perspective, because that’s the only one I have. I’m remembering wanting (maybe expecting?) more from you and being confused and disappointed when you couldn’t (wouldn’t?) give me that. I’m remembering time spent trying to understand the disconnect – talking and writing and talking again. I’m remembering the moments I gave up, deciding not to try anymore then switching to passive aggression then giving up on that then getting upset when the same dissatisfaction ensued. I’m remembering the trivia.

You probably don’t remember the trivia (though if you do that may prove the theory right). We were “roadtripping” around North Jersey, scouting apartments for our friend, and you found the box in the car. You proceeded to ask me questions about Africa, a continent I know almost nothing about except that my ancestors must’ve had crappy lives there because they were unfortunate enough to be sold into slavery by their African brothers and sisters.

Africa, a place as foreign to me as any other, yet fairly well-known by you. The same Africa you had contemplated revisiting. The same Africa I had no interest in seeing.

I didn’t know most of the answers to the trivia questions and that bothered me. Not because I thought I should, but because I thought YOU thought I should. Because you wanted me to be the kind of person who knew answers to Africa trivia. Because you wanted me to be not me.

But you weren’t alone. Because a few months later, I realized I wanted you to be not you. You asked if, after I got married, I might look back on our relationship and be disappointed that my relationship with my husband wasn’t quite like my relationship with you. I said no, because my relationship with you hadn’t been positive for a while and that would negatively affect my memory of it. But the real answer is “no, because you asked that question.” Because you didn’t get that it wasn’t about comparison or romanticism or a weird situation where I’d always want my future husband to be like my college best friend. Because you couldn’t help but be you and I couldn’t help but be just the slightest bit uninterested in befriending that person.

I sometimes wonder what good came of our friendship, but I know that’s a shortsighted perspective. I’m sure there were lots of good things. Other times I wonder how and why we chose each other to be the ultimate bearers of our disappointment. I have other friends, none of whom I place unrealistic expectations on, so what happened with you? I don’t know the answer to that and right now I don’t much care. To be honest, I don’t think I’d do things much differently.

Let me end with this: I’m sorry if you’re reading this. I assume you’re not because the chances are small but if you somehow are, sorry. I know you don’t like to be thought of, least of all by me. While on the topic, let me also say that I’m not actually that sorry. Because this was way more for me than it was for you. And losing your best friend is a big enough deal that it’s worth writing about more than once. I’m not sorry for having been emotionally invested in our friendship, though there are times I wish the investment had been smaller, less risky.

Sheila texted me about getting takeout and not responding to guys on a dating app. Steph texted about going to a rooftop bar and saying goodbye (again). They remind me how much I love my friends and how happy I am to be here, right now. I don’t say this to make you feel jealous or something dumb (you never seemed to be the jealous type). I say it because I’m always struck by the human capacity to span emotional continents. I’m thinking about you but I’m not, at least not fully. It’s odd but I guess it’s how life goes. Time ticks away, memories fade, and only the present seems important.

Or maybe I should just give up on philosophy.

Anyway, if you are reading this: don’t you have something better to do than read my blog?! Between all the obsessive posts about Adele and Tina Fey you’re probably losing so many brain cells. Go study or something. Learn a book. And good luck down there. Though you probably won’t need it.

I’m Leaving

3 years ago, there was a moment in time when I wanted to leave. I wrote about it once or twice on this blog and thought about it even more. And now, three years later, I’m finally going. 

Some of the circumstances surrounding my exit are similar. Last time, I had been recently heartbroken/crushed by the loss of a friendship. I had just graduated school and I had no idea what I was doing next. On top of all that, I was under intermittent stress from living with my parents and there was no end in sight. 

Now, I’m in a similar relationship limbo – though not as a result of a lost friendship – constantly reminded about my marital status. I’ve finished my MA program but I’m still jobless and wondering what to do next with life. And, of course, as I write this, I’m waiting for the train from my parents’ house back to NYC. 

Last time, I left. I went to Philly for a year and had one of the most important years of my life so far. I grew, I learned, and I became the version of myself I’ve liked the most in my short life. This time I’m leaving again. Granted, it’ll be a trip 49 weeks short of a year, but I find myself feeling some of the same things I felt before. Fear of going someplace new and living alone, residual anger over clipped conversations and a lack of control, excitement about entering into a new stage of life, and amazement at how twisty and turny life can be. 

I don’t know if this trip will be life-changing and important or just another few stamps on my passport. I’m trying not to expect much of either. But I do hope it’ll be a chance for me to relax and think. Because those are things I haven’t done in a while. I hope I can put the stress of 25-year-old-life, disappointment, and NYC away for a while and just enjoy the moment, not worrying about the past or the future. 
So here’s my official blog announcement: I’m leaving on June 14. Maybe I’ll keep you posted about all the stops I make. 

Graduation

After 25 years and 3 graduation/commencement ceremonies, I finally understand what it’s all for.

It wasn’t until yesterday evening, when my brother came up to hug me from behind, that I finally understood it. I always stress so much about graduation ceremonies. I imagine it’s the introvert part of me (though I recently took an online test and I got that I was an ENFP! Gasp!) that feels that social anxiety. I would’ve been content to quietly receive my degree in the mail and never go through any formal recognition process. I would’ve been happy to know I had graduated and move on with my everyday life. I would’ve been fine trying to figure out next steps, planning trips, applying for jobs, and just figuring out what to do with my life. But I would’ve completed missed the point of graduation.

A few days ago, I wrote about my fear of disappointing people. It’s a constant fear I have and it’s especially prevalent when I feel like I’ve failed in some way. It stems from self-doubt, not any actual disappointment I’ve perceived from family and friends. But it also stems from a deep-seated arrogance and self-absorption, so that when I think I’m unable to maintain the charade of accomplishment – when I’ve finally been found out as an impostor – I assume that everyone can see me as I am: an emperor without her clothes.

But I realized yesterday that, in fact, I’m not a naked emperor. I’m not walking through life attempting to convince everyone that I’m clothed in splendid garments. I’m the opposite. I’m the dream you have where you’re naked in front of an auditorium of people. My nudity isn’t real, I’m just convinced of it at any given moment.

I’m realizing that I’m actually clothed with the love and acceptance of my family and friends. And that’s what graduation is for. It’s so that they can see you be the person they know you always could be. It’s so they can acknowledge your accomplishments and celebrate them with you. It’s so they can keep adding on layers and layers of splendid garments.

I’m turning 25 tomorrow, an accomplishment (can I really call it that though?) I’ve felt ambivalent about over the past few weeks (I was just at a party talking to a friend about being single and 25 and unsure of life and living in NYC). And I’m glad I had this epiphany before I made it to a quarter-century. Because that’s the knowledge I want to take into the next quarter-century, if God lets me make it there. My family (and friends) are my constant reminders of God’s love for me. And sometimes it takes a graduation celebration to remember that.

Hopeful (Part 2)

*A continuation of yesterday’s post. Let’s dive right in!*

The other email I received was from a friend. A few weeks ago, she tried to hook me up with a job at her company but it didn’t work out. However, since then, she’s been pretty amazing at sending me emails about opportunities and job openings she hears about. Honestly, the mere fact that she does this is pretty amazing and impressive to me because she really doesn’t have to. It’s not her fault that I didn’t get the job at her company and I know that she’s just being a good friend, but we’ve only been friends for less than a year. I guess I’m actually more impressed by the fact that she has turned out to be such a good friend to me even in the short time that we’ve known each other. But New York friends are a topic for another post.

As usual, she sent me a job opening post. Sometimes the positions are good and I check them out while other times I just appreciate the fact that she sends them and mark them as read. But this one was a post I actually applied to. Because it actually fit my credentials pretty well. And there’s something about that that just made me really happy that morning. It made me really hopeful. Hopefulness increase: +2


I was listening to the podcast, On Being, (one of my faves) and this episode was an interview with the host herself, Krista Tippett. She has a new book out, Becoming Wiseand at one point during her interview she talked about the difference between hope and optimism. It’s a difference I never thought to suss out. But it’s real. Hope is more substantive. It has a sort of weight to it. It’s not a blind rejection of reality and circumstances, it’s the decision to look past reality and into something deeper. Optimism requires no trust or belief, merely the ability to imagine life differently. Hope calls us to step outside of ourselves. Optimism is often just a naive reaction to a minor setback. Hope is born through the pain of suffering.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

This passage (Romans 5:2-5) ends with what is easily one of my favorite verses from the NT. The verses following verse 6 tend to be more well-known and quoted, but verse 6 hits me hard every time. And to think, this most jarring, gut-wrenching, sacrificially-loving verse all begins with hope.

So yeah, I’m more hopeful now than I was at the beginning of the week. And nothing may come of it at all. I may not get the job I’ve applied for and I may never do anything with that pilot script. But there’s something beautiful about hope, isn’t there?

I’ll end with the words of the poet Emily Dickinson.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

 

 

Hopeful (Part 1)

*When I initially wrote this post, I realized it was getting uncontrollably long so I chopped off the back half and I’ll post that tomorrow. Stay tuned for the twist ending!*

**For the past few months I’ve been obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack and one of the songs from that soundtrack is “Helpless”. For some reason, I often end up wanting to call it “hopeless”. So when I went to write this blog post I thought, Oh yeah, like the opposite of the Hamilton song. Indeed, the title of this blog is not the opposite of the Hamilton song, but I’m going to link to the song anyway because it’s a great song, the soundtrack is amazing, and Hamilton is awesome. And I will argue that with anyone (I’m looking at you Vonny D)! I’ll link to the song here.**

A few days ago, I was feeling kind of low. There was no particular reason, just a few reasons piled up on each other. My sister just moved into my place with me for the summer, which is super fun, but also means I have the additional stress of another human constantly in a space that was originally just mine. My plan to connect with a professor was thwarted by my mother’s good intentions, leaving me in a place where I couldn’t be too mad but I also couldn’t do what I had originally planned either. Commencement is next week, a fact that is stressful in its own right because I hate all the graduation stuff about school, but it’s also stressful because it reminds me that I really should be thinking about what to do next. All these things and more have contributed to a slightly more on-edge version of myself. It sucks, but such is life.

So you can imagine how dramatically my week changed when I received two hope-inducing emails. But let me first provide the backstory for them:

I love TV. Most people know this about me. I watch a lot of television (and movies, to a lesser extent) and I have strong obsessive opinions about the shows that I watch. So last summer at a family reunion/barbecue, after being told a story about my dad’s childhood by my uncle, I decided to begin working on a pilot script. I don’t really know what the plan was – maybe I just wanted to see if I could do it – so I wrote the first 8 pages.

Some of you reading this might not find this to be a huge surprise. During my senior spring in college, I took a class on screenwriting. That was my first attempt at writing a script, though that time it was for a feature length movie. I never finished that script and it’s since been lost to history and the inability to back up files when changing laptops. It wasn’t good, but it would be interesting to revisit it to see if a three-year removal from the project would give me any new insights.

Anyway, I wrote the first 8 pages of this new pilot script and then I stopped. This time, it wasn’t because it was bad or tedious, but because it was a drama, and writing dramas takes a bit more thought and energy, resources I did not have in abundance when I began the project. Instead I decided to write a comedy pilot and that was pretty fun.

However, before I put the drama script to rest I emailed it to my brother. In March. So it was really surprising when I got an email in May, saying, “this is really good! I want to read more!” It was especially surprising because my phone shows me the text of emails in the banner up top, so I woke up one morning to those words from my brother, but I had no idea what he was responding to (the email had no subject line – my fault – and the banner didn’t show the message I had sent). In any case, when I found out what he had been referring to, I was pretty happy. I knew it didn’t mean much (my siblings are always pretty encouraging and non-critical of my work) but it still felt pretty good. Hopefulness increase: +3.