Category Archives: A Year of Transition

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.

 

 

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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.

 

Anger

I’m so… angry. 

I realized it yesterday on the bus ride home from Boston. 

Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe it’s my impending birthday. Maybe I’m just disappointed in how life has been. 

I guess this is the point in life where you start to look back and see if you’re where you expected to be. And you look forward to see if you’re on the path you hoped for. I guess it’s the quarter-life crisis. 

If I’m honest with myself, I am upset at the lack of direction in my life. I’ve never been much for a Plan B, but sometimes the lack of a backup can be stressful. I’m trying to trust God but I’m also trying to not be another deadbeat college grad millennial statistic. 

But that’s not where the anger comes from. At least not directly. The anger comes from fear. Fear of even more failure. Fear of even more disappointment. Fear of being a disappointment. 

A friend texted me this morning telling me she was disappointed at my lack of curiosity. That upset me a lot. And I don’t think it’s because I’m insecure about having the appropriate level of curiosity. I think it’s because I’m scared of being disappointing. Not specifically to her – that doesn’t really matter much – but to the people who have actually invested so much in me. I’m afraid of disappointing the people who’ve always expected me to do well. I don’t know how to NOT be disappointing to them. 

So I guess I’m not really angry. I guess I’m really just sad and afraid. And I don’t know what to do about that. 

Slavery, Malcolm X, and Black America

The more I read about Malcolm X, the more I like him (though I do disagree with a lot of his beliefs and opinions about racism). I’m especially a fan of this quote of his:

If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.

It’s a good quote. It’s true, too. And it creates such a great image for the problem of slavery.

Slavery is a problem in the US. I’m not talking about sex slavery, though that’s a huge problem, too. I’m talking about race-based slavery.

I know, slavery ended 150 years ago! How is it still a problem?

Anytime I’m in any place and the conversation goes to slavery, I become uncomfortable. I imagine this happens to other people too. And I don’t just get uncomfortable when people start talking about race-based slavery. Nope, any talk of any kind of slavery becomes awkward because I’m acutely aware of the fact that my very presence makes me a physical reminder of America’s past to everyone around me. In fact, my presence makes me a reminder to myself.

Usually it’s awkward. Sometimes I try to pretend like it’s not awkward. Other times I wonder how non-black people feel when they discuss slavery (again any kind of slavery) outside the presence of a black person. Is it this awkward? Is the tension as palpable? Or does everyone there just forget that we’ve all inherited this horrible stain that has yet to be fully erased?

I think one of the reasons that conversations about slavery are so awkward is that Malcolm X quote. I won’t get into talk about reparations, but let’s look at the history of black people in America right after the end of slavery.

First, there were no reparations. Even though people were free, many had no land, no way to accrue wealth, no job, and no education. A lot of slaves went back and “worked” for their former masters for, excuse the pun, slave wages. This happens, and during this time Jim Crow laws are starting to pop up in the South. Yay, new slavery! Lynchings happen constantly, integration is heavily contested, and black Americans still don’t really count as citizens. Now we’re in the middle of the 20th century. Dr. King and Malcolm X are the biggest Civil Rights activists (or at least, in retrospect) but many people are still fighting for black people to be treated like human beings.

Next, we get to vote in the mid-sixties. A few years later, blacks and whites can legally marry (isn’t that crazy/sad/ridiculous). And finally, in 2015, a white female Oscar winner (at an award ceremony that was soooooooooooooooo white (and male)) tells the LGBT community and POCs that they need to be more willing to fight for women’s rights. Only 50 years after the voting rights act! Less than 5 months after Grand Juries failed to indict!*

For whatever reason, America wants to shift the conversation away from 150 years ago without addressing everything that happened in between then and now. More than that, without addressing everything that didn’t happen but should have all those years ago. Unfortunately, the wound of slavery hasn’t yet been healed – I know because I carry it – but it hasn’t been dealt with either, so that the wounded ones feel shame at the pain. How is it ever OK for the people who’ve experienced an injustice to feel ashamed about having experienced it?

Maybe it’s just me.

Still, I think Malcolm’s quote still holds for today. I think America has yet to pull the knife out. Maybe she’s acknowledged the wound but acknowledgement isn’t enough. But I don’t think it’s too late. It can’t be. Because generations of black Americans should not have to walk around feeling uncomfortable or ashamed about their history in this country.

#BHM

*I don’t think we shouldn’t fight for women’s rights (I am a woman) but I think the issue is a bit more nuanced and intricate than she lets on by simply urging persons of color (half of whom are women) and LGBT members (probably around a quarter of whom are women) to fight for women’s rights. As if the only women who exist are straight, white women.

First Date Woes

In the weeks leading up to my blind date, many friends have been chiming in on my love life. Sometimes it’s in the form of, “I really don’t get why you’re single”, which, the more I think about it, seems like both a compliment and an insult. Other times they give me dating advice.

The most interesting dating advice I’ve gotten was from a friend and then reiterated by my brother’s girlfriend.

You should dress more girly.

When my friend first said it, I asked what she meant. She told me I should be more frilly, less comfortable. I still didn’t really know what that meant so I left it alone. The next day, I couldn’t help thinking about what my friend said and whether or not I agreed with it.

I won’t get into all the reasons this is somewhat problematic from a feminist perspective, I’ll just talk about what went through my head. Most of the women I know dress like me in that they wear a nice shirt, pants (sometimes jeans), and shoes. I actually thought I was going the extra mile by wearing perfume and earrings almost everyday. I won’t argue with the fact that in college I was pretty lazy with how I dressed. Most days I wore sneakers, a t-shirt, and jeans. I didn’t care much about how I looked (clearly). But nowadays, I do make an effort. I try to look nice when I leave the house. I care a little bit.

So it was weird for me to hear that I should dress more girly and it was even weirder to hear it twice. But the weirdest part of the whole thing was to hear that it somehow related to my singleness.

At first it’s kind of endearing to hear people care so much about your singleness. It’s like, Wow, these people really want me to meet a nice guy! They’re so selfless! Then, when people start to have diverse opinions as to why you’re single, it gets kind of annoying. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind critique/constructive criticism. I usually welcome it. And in the conversation I had with my friend, she gave a lot of it and a lot of good advice.

On the other hand, I don’t like feeling like there’s some fundamental flaw with who I am and how I dress and present myself. I guess that could be the case, but if so, that’s really disheartening.

Overall, I think it’s a question of femininity. What does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to be feminine? As I grow up and continue to figure out exactly who I am and who I want to be, I find myself asking those questions.

Maybe I’ll save those answers for a ‘Part 2’.

Vomiting, Code-Switching, Other Miscellaneous Things, and Growing Up

I haven’t written in this space for a few weeks – partially because of busyness, partially because of not having the words to say – and so I wanted to write something now. Or better yet, somethings.

The other day, we took my dad to a restaurant for his birthday. It’s not my fave restaurant – nor my dad’s – but we went partially because my mom had a coupon and my dad knew she wanted to go there. Last time I was there, I got food poisoning (or at least I threw up after eating my meal) so I wasn’t too excited about going back. I didn’t throw up this time but the whole experience got me thinking about vomiting.

Up until the summer before my freshman year of college, I hadn’t vomited in many years. I had forgotten the sensation. That summer (and the preceding spring, and following fall, and winter) was pretty different for me. I was in a lot of hospitals and doctor’s offices for lots of different reasons and there were periods of my life when I was just in pain. It was interesting. Anyway, one of the things that started happening around that time was my strange case of random and unexpected vomiting. That sounds so nasty. It was.

I always remembered that vomiting was nasty. Duh. I just hadn’t remembered how painful it is. How your body is trying to force something up when it should stay down. How your stomach is tightening, your mouth fills up with saliva and you can’t do much to keep from embarrassing yourself in front of a classroom full of your peers, all of whom you’ve just met. I had forgotten that feeling. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it again though.

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Code-switching is an interesting phenomenon. I don’t know why I was thinking about it a few weeks back but I did promise I would write about it so here goes. It’s an interesting remnant of the Civil Rights Era, which was an interesting remnant of Jim Crow, which was an interesting remnant of Slavery.

Granted, it’s not specific to the black community – people code-switch when they go from interacting with friends to interacting with colleagues to interacting with superiors – but it is weird when it happens in the black community. There’s a video of Kanye West doing it. I have nothing more to say about that.

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Making new friends is always pretty exciting but it’s also pretty hard. Well, not pretty hard, just more difficult than expected. Mostly because you don’t yet know the habits, tendencies, likes and dislikes of the person you’re trying to be friends with. Just some thoughts as I begin making new friends. Important stuff.

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“Growing Up” shouldn’t be the title of this last section because that makes it seem as if what I’m about to talk about is somehow immature or not grown up. Anyway, I’ve found writing in this space much more tedious than it once was. It’s not surprising. Before I started this blog I wasn’t good at writing in journals or diaries. In fact, I had this blog for two years without writing on it. So now, two years (or has it been three?) later, I think I won’t be writing in this space much more. Not because blogs – or journals, or diaries for that matter – are for children, but because they’re not for me right now. That doesn’t mean I’ll never come back – I might come back next week! – but it does mean I’m done for now. I think ‘growing up’ in this sense is just meant as doing new things and experiencing life differently. I don’t think I’ll be less introspective – at least I hope not – I just think I’ll probably have more thoughts floating around my head or only existing in the shower. Something like that.

 

As far as final posts go, I could probably do better but, let’s be honest, I probably won’t.

 

Until next time!

DJP

Looking

Sometimes, you go through periods in life where you’re looking for something. I realized today that I went through that period 3.5 years ago.

it’s cool to be where I am now and see the result of that process. It’s cool to look back and recognize what you’ve gained.

I once heard someone say that every good thing in your life is the result of an answered prayer. I confess, there’s a big part of me that doesn’t quite like that saying but there’s another part of me that can see some validity in it. I can only imagine how much high school and freshman Danielle wished, hoped, and prayed for a really good friend. And now that prayer has been answered many times over.

I can really empathize with those people who ask, seek, and knock. It’s so beautiful when you find what you’ve been looking for. It’s even more beautiful when you write that last sentence and you get a text from the person you were writing about :D.

Phone Calls

People never call each other on the phone anymore.

That’s not exactly true. I call my family all the time. But when it comes to talking with my friends, we never spontaneously call each other. I guess life is a little harder when people have really different schedules but I like calling people and knowing they’re gonna pick up and have a few minutes to talk to me.

When I was in middle school and high school I would sometimes call my mom at work and we would chat for a little while. For some reason that’s making me a bit teary-eyed (idk, I just love my mom). Usually I would call her for some reason (we didn’t just talk randomly), but I never realized until now how cool it was to be able to just talk with my mom.

I would say the same about my dad, but he’s not very good on the phone. I think it scares him.

Anyway, I wish people just called each other more. I guess now the equivalent to a spontaneous call is a spontaneous text. Don’t get me wrong, those are fun, it’s just not the same. It’s not the same as hearing someone’s voice and wasting hours talking about everything and nothing.

Sometimes, I think my ideas of fun are too fanciful for my life. That doesn’t make sense. I just wish…

Vacation

This summer, I want to take a vacation.

I haven’t been on a real vacation in a while. I’ve visited different places, and my soon-to-be 20 year-old sister forced us to go to Disney World last year because she still believes it’s a place “where dreams come true” (her words…and the words of all those commercials). But since college, I haven’t really gone on a Danielle-approved vacation. Here’s a trip vs. vacation:

A trip is when you go somewhere, you wake up at a certain time, you do set activities, you see things and you have fun. I like trips. I’ve been wanting to go on a road trip for years.

A vacation is when you go somewhere with no set itinerary, luxuriate, get lost in a new and unfamiliar city, eat foods you’ve never eaten before, go sightseeing and have fun.

Both experiences involve fun but vacations are so much more carefree.

Right now I have a Kayak price alert for <$500 plane tickets to any city. It’s funny because I don’t have $500 but I figured if I put in a lower number, I wouldn’t find anything.

At the rate I’m saving, in a year, I’ll be able to fly to any place in the world (that costs less than $500) and presumably sleep and eat in the airport since I wouldn’t have any money left over for a hotel/motel. But a girl can dream.

Maybe this summer, in the month between weddings, I’ll go somewhere awesome and be unreachable. That would be so amazing.

Palm Sunday: Man of Sorrows

I meant to write a post about Palm Sunday on Palm Sunday but then time slipped away from me. Then I was going to write about something yesterday, but time did that sneaky little thing all over again. But now, finally, I can write my Palm Sunday post. This post is about my umbrella.

Yesterday, it was raining. As I walked back home from class, I pulled out my huge, orange and black, Princeton umbrella to brave the drizzle. Since my umbrella is so big, it tends to catch more wind than a smaller umbrella might which means I have to constantly be wary of the wind, its direction and its force. Wind can really screw an umbrella up.

As the rain picked up, the wind did also. Of course, this wasn’t good. My only options were to close the umbrella and have rain fall all over me or keep fighting against the wind. I chose the latter. Eventually, my umbrella gave up the fight. It was funny, because it got turned completely inside-out. Now, instead of an umbrella, it was a bowl for catching water.

Of course, I didn’t use it that way. I tried to close it, even though it was completely inside-out. I was unsuccessful. Then, something amazing happened. A strong gust of wind turned the umbrella right-side up. It was amazing. In that moment, my umbrella was my best friend.

I walked with my newly trusty umbrella for about 20 paces until the wind picked up again. This time, instead of trying to wrestle with the wind, I decided to close the umbrella. Moreover, because the weather (and God) has hilarious timing, the rain turned from a drizzle to a downpour. But my umbrella couldn’t help. It couldn’t stand up against the wind. I was disappointed in my new best friend.

As I walked the last block and a half to my apartment, I thought about Jesus and Palm Sunday. Jesus started off with a huge umbrella of supporters, people who welcomed him as the Son of David and the Savior. But soon, the wind blew hard and the supporters were gone leaving him to walk home in the rain alone.

It sucks to get drenched on the way home from class but it sucks infinitely more to take the trip to your death. I think sometimes, I just figured, since Jesus knew he had to do it, he wasn’t really upset or surprised or disappointed or sad. But as I get older, I’m starting to think otherwise. Jesus was fully God. He was also fully man. And he felt the things men feel. Just because you know the ending, doesn’t make the process any less emotional. I wonder what it must have been like to feel that. To know the betrayal was coming but still have to endure it.

It’s not a feeling any song can fully describe. It’s just something you have to sit with, contemplate.

Isaiah 53

Who has believed what he has heard from us?

And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he opened not his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;

and as for his generation, who considered

that he was cut off out of the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people?

And they made his grave with the wicked

and with a rich man in his death,

although he had done no violence,

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10  Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;

he has put him to grief;

when his soul makes an offering for guilt,

he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;

the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11  Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;

by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,

make many to be accounted righteous,

and he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,

because he poured out his soul to death

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and makes intercession for the transgressors.