Earlier this month I spent a week talking to people about their goals. I think it was therapeutic for them to kind of discuss their goals and really think about the root cause. I mean, how many times do you really get the luxury of talking and being listened to for hours? To articulate your motivations and your vision for your future? And there’s also something great about getting to spill your guts to strangers who you can trust not to tell anyone and who will take you at your word because they don’t know you well enough not to.
Continuing a tradition that seems odd for someone with basically no heart, my third annual Valentine’s Day cards!
Avoid the doghouse this February 14th and let your special someone know you’ll always be loyal. Come on, you shy love birds, you!—Don’t miss your chance with that one cool cat.
A This I Believe episode that’s always stuck with me is “Always go to the funeral.” Going to a funeral is a life event you go to not for yourself, but for others. Especially if you’re close to the deceased. It’s an act of generosity for you to attend something that might be sad, painful, and uncomfortable. But you’re doing it to celebrate life of someone else and to support those left behind. I think about this maxim a lot when I have to go somewhere I don’t want to. A friend has invited me to something far away or it’s raining or I’m tired or a million other little excuses. I don’t want to go, but I muster my introverted body onto a bus and shuttle myself over because I know it would mean a lot to them. It’s a small effort on my part—a negligible sacrifice of the quiet evening at home I pine for—that is impactful to my friend. It’s this lost art of being reliable and the maturity to do things that you might not be over-the-moon excited for.
I hope you, especially my male friends, will consider attending the Women’s March on Washington this Saturday, wherever your call home. To be honest, it’s not something that I thought I would participate in even a few weeks ago. I don’t really want to go, but I would regret not doing it. I would regret not taking showing my support and taking a stand on women’s issues. It’s like…I don’t want be a feminist. I really don’t want to be a feminist. Until the passed couple of years I’ve resisted all things feminine. But feminism was forced upon me. The older I got, it wasn’t just being aware of bad things that happen to other women or unwittingly to me (unrealistic standards of beauty, unequal pay, or violence), it was confronting it myself over and over again. Listening to my co-workers undermine my authority in front of clients, listening to them sexualize women in front of me (I had to look up what motor boating meant), and once, when he was drunk, my manager mentioned my weight gain like he was trying to warn me I shouldn’t be so confident. There was getting harassed and cat called on the street over and over again. I remember one week in Pittsburgh something uncomfortable happened nearly every time I left campus. Someone slowed their car down to shout acts of sexual violence at me. I felt so angry and powerless.
And then there’s the literal cost of being a woman, the clothes, the makeup, the time we are expected to put into looking nice otherwise we’ll get asked “Are you sick? You look tired.” My beautiful friends with self-esteems that are torn apart not just by the the images of beauty in magazines and movies, but by their own friends who are fret about diets, weight, hair, and skin care until it becomes a just normal culture to feel bad about yourself. Which I do, still, all the time.
It all really wore on me.
I can’t be aware of what’s happening and do nothing. I can’t say nothing. Because we live in a country where a man can get caught in the act or raping a woman and get a boys-will-be-boys slap on the wrist. Where being a famous woman means also getting tweets, messages, and comments about your looks, your voice, or just flat out threats and sexual harassment. And now more than ever I have fear of this anti-feminist culture where our president-elect boasts about sexual assault, demeans women beyond their looks, and represents a movement that is taking aware our access to healthcare. I wish we didn’t need feminism, but we do.
Yes, it’s just a march. By participating, things won’t magically change the next day. Unfortunately it’s not that easy. You show up because you care. You show up because it matters. You show up because you want to teach others that you think it matters. It one day and one distance in your life, but it means a lot to others.
I hope you’ll give it some serious thought.
I met you briefly last night after dancing in the new year at the Nema’s party under some beautiful (but uncomfortably close fireworks). We ended up hanging out longer than either of us expected because I forgot my phone on the bus back to the hotel and stayed up until the next bus came at 3am with Vinita. It was not the best first impressions, but I have the same problem so it’s ok.
I have stopped having resolutions because one year I realize I am constantly resolving to improve myself anyway. But, 2017, I hope you’ll find me more patient with others, a better friend to the people I’m privileged to know, less of a procrastinator more of an instigator. I hope you’ll know me as relaxed and content rather than anxious and sour.
Likewise, I hope you are kind to others, especially those who are different or less fortunate. I hope you incite more informed and responsible communities around the world. I hope you listen much more than you talk—and that when you do talk, that it is honest and good. I hope that foresight is exercised and we help support a better future for everyone.
Cheers to getting to know each other,
Last week my friend Carissa visited me here in San Francisco and I’ve felt in a little better mood ever since. Not that I was I was grumpy beforehand (but I was). Now I feel a little more hopeful about the people I meet and my place in this city.
When I travel to see my friends I’m always glad to see them, but there’s always this bittersweetness to the interaction. “Yes, New York is great because all my friends are here, now back to California.” Repeat for Chicago or Wyoming. But it was the first time a friend had come to visit me in California and it happened to be my best friend from undergrad.
Oh, this is what San Francisco would be like if I had a really good friend who lived here…
I have met some really great people in the city and I have good friends in the bay area, but there’s something so much richer about having that friend that really knows me that I can see on a whim. I know it’s going to be nearly impossible to meet friends like her again in this new place. Instead I’ll get some mismatch of people I see on a monthly basis. I do envy those folks who never leave their home- or college- town in that respect. Otherwise you only end up seeing people you date regularly—UGH ?.
To excess, I encouraged Carissa to move to San Francisco so that we could eat pastries and yakitori e’ry week. Alas, after the loveliest of times where both the mundane and the eventful were memories for me, I was back to a party of one in the restaurant waitlist of life. We both had to go back to real life.
But instead of returning back to California this time, I was already here. So maybe, I thought, just as good of times could be had here?(!). Carissa and I had a long talk about our role in friendships. We’re both reserved in different ways, I think. She’s absolutely charming and wonderful and everyone wants to be her friend immediately. But then she’ll disappear out of not wanting to bother people (which is false, Carissa. Never has happened, never will). I’m standoffish for an exceedingly long time and then when you finally get past that, I’m perpetually salty with occasional bursts of niceness so that you’ll remain my friend. Maybe, thought I, I should be less reserved? I don’t know. I’ll do some testing on this in the new year.
What has also made me feel more optimistic is that I moved into an apartment (read: small studio) by myself. I knew this would make me happier, but I didn’t expect just how settling…settling would be. It feels like I have a place in this city. One that I can invite people to!
But on that note of settling, I am about to leave in less than an hour for a two-week trip to India for my friend’s wedding. And for the rest of January I won’t be home a weekend at my little apartment as I go to Nebraska, Boston, and Durham, North Carolina. But it’s good to leave the old year hopeful for the next*. I will write more again, I almost promise.
*except about our garbage president-elect
What does it mean and what do we do next? I’m trying to figure it out this morning.
I’m not writing because I want to say something to you, I’m writing because whenever my mind is overwhelmed, I have to write to untangle the thoughts.
I had actually dreamed that the results were different this morning: Stephen Colbert had the winner of the election on the phone and she was crying and he started crying too, with happiness or relief. But it didn’t happen. Today I woke up and got ready for work. I walked 15 minutes to the bus where I am now.
The whole time I committed these calm daily routines, my mind was racing. I was wondering if it was ok to do the mundane in a morning that felt so weird. Like when you have traveled to another place and none of your things have a spot where they belong. I was wondering if the world was going to fall apart. I studied the streets and people I passed to see if they would some how be different. I felt suspicious of this foreign world. I thought more people shared my values and I am shaken to realize they don’t. I wonder if I’ll be the target of prejudice now, or my parents in Nebraska. What does it mean when a country is presented with the morally reprehensible side of history with all the knowledge at their fingertips and still says ‘yes’?
I believe it means people felt unheard and other people aren’t listening. Some of us are in our echo chambers where all our friends feel the same way we do. “I’m uninterested in hearing their justifications and excuses in my newsfeed”— as someone told me on Facebook this morning. It’s really frustrating and annoying when someone can’t engage in conversation with you in the way that you want, but it’s also part of human dialog and community to do so. This is what I believe. My white male friend has to go through diversity training at work and doesn’t understand it. He gave some of the common excuses to why he thinks it unnecessary and we talked about it for a long time on several occasions. He told me it was the first time he’s ever talked about it with someone because know the way he feels is ‘wrong’ or unpopular. Maybe I wasn’t able to change his mind, but what I could offer was my honest dialogue and let him tell me how he feels to so that I can understand it. That’s how I can try.
I believe there is a misunderstanding on how to affect policy. I’m not as political as I’d like to be or as it is my civic duty to be. I spent hours Sunday researching the bills and the candidates instead of following along like I should have. But I believe this has gone past issues and people were voting what they felt. This is wrong because how you feel is not always what the issue represented at the hand is. How you feel about gun control doesn’t mean all issues on the ballot are good or bad. It means you should look at the particular policy in front of you and with the power that comes with research, decide what’s best for your community now & in the future. I’ve been a guilty child of complacency as well. It’s effortless to feel something and difficult & unglamorous to do the work of educating myself and making hard choices to vote on something. I thought about ways we could fix this misunderstanding and I think it would be a worthwhile exercise to teach children in school how to research the issues on the election and form opinions on them. This is not the teacher telling them what side to vote for on the issues, but teaching students themselves they can impact their government and giving them a valuable process for being active in the system. Maybe a group of students have to present the pros and cons for each of the issues on their local ballot. I’ve heard everyone say ‘I can’t wait for this election to be over.’ I know what they meant, but I guess now we’re reminded that democracy is continual work.
I believe there was willful ignorance. Voting with your feelings has meant being blind to so many hateful actions. If you feel like you want change and voting on one election isn’t going to make it (which is true, you should be voting more of your local elections)….then you might have been pushed to vote for something different. Anything different. If it means ignoring racism, bigotry, selfishness, lies, and more—than you would. And to me, that’s deeply sad. It’s what makes me feel the people who are ‘conscious voters’ consciously decided to be support such hate in order to vote the way they did. I have no words for this scenario because I don’t understand the logic it took to get there.
I believe there was cowardice. It takes a lot to stand up, go out, and become a target. It takes little update your status to some mocking jibe. I’ve mentioned this before, but satire is complex. I worry we—I—was too quick to make fun of something and too slow to offer solutions and educate myself instead. I would like to be more direct in the future.
It doesn’t mean we can’t overcome these wrongs. It doesn’t mean we’re less of the good people we were yesterday (or better people because of how we voted, mind you). We don’t have to accept prejudice or lies. But I needed to acknowledge what has happened and think about why it did so it doesn’t happen again. I was jarred by the results. I was not fearful enough of how different my sentiment is from that of the country and I shouldn’t be so out of touch again. I guess now it’s back to work.
In 2012 you might have remembered an introversion revolution with Susan Cain releasing a book and giving a pretty good TED talk on it. If you were like me, you might have also read a lot of the “introverts are great!” articles that arose afterwards and have still been trickling in. Had it been another group of people, I might have even labeled it was a ‘revolution’—but the people being what they are, I would say it was more of a ‘suggestion.’
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking has been on my to-read list since it came out and I was in Denver. I finally saw it in a used book store and picked up and, thanks to a round trip to the east coast, I finished it this weekend. It was like reading all the different pieces of myself put together and backed by science. I feel like I know how to better spend my time, make myself happier, and work more effectively. I’ve never been so excited to read about how un-unique I am.
//Two of my closest friends coincidentally have birthdays a week apart, this isn’t going to be a recurring thing//
You have to meet all the good friends you can when you’re in college, I think, because afterwards, it’s pretty tough. (Like, how even do introverts find each other outside of school!?)
I feel lucky, then, I was able to meet Katie before my senior year of undergrad.
How did you meet?
I guess how we didn’t meet was at the introductory meeting of our summer study abroad trip. Katie was the only person missing. I remember thinking “I can’t believe someone is missing the pre-travel meeting about an international trip a couple of days away!”
Katie & I both did a three week study abroad through the English department to study Shakespeare. I was filling my Shakespeare requirement as an English major (in the best way possible) and Katie was studying acting & directing and loves Shakespeare. We would spend two weeks in England watching plays and one week in Italy ‘taking in the country’ that Shakespeare wrote about. (At the time I this made total sense to me; retrospectively, I think our professors wanted to go to Italy for a week every year).
Before our flight, one of the two professors leading the trip also hosted a little get-together at his house. So this was actually the first time I met Katie. (And notably, the first time I had smoked salmon with a boiled egg on toast—thanks, Dr. Parolin!). She looked like one of the cool kids. I remember she was wearing purple flats that I thought looked nice. I vaguely remember introducing ourselves to each other. Maybe. And I if that is a true memory, I think it went something like this:
“Oh! You’re the Katie that missed the introductory meeting!” (real tactful, Jacklynn).
Slightly embarrassed Katie: “Yeah…That was bad, wasn’t it? Did he say anything? Was he mad?”
“No, I think he was more confused.”
What was your first impression of them?
Besides the small talk that may or may not have happened, my real first impression of her was at the airport gate. And it still wasn’t even really talking to her. I was sitting next to my professor, my department head, and she was sitting on the other side of him. We joke about this now, but I have the utmost respect for my professors never attempted to treat them like equals. I clam up and am even more shy and awkward than normal. When my professor sat down next to me, I immediately stiffened and filled with anxiety like: “HOW CAN I BE THE BEST AT WAITING FOR AN AIRPLANE?”
Katie joined us on the other side of my professor, there was bubbly”good to see you again!” excitement from both parties. They immediately launched into best bud conversation. Not even just chatting, but personal chatting. I was completely baffled. Katie was talking about a previous relationship and my professor was giving her comforting advice based on his past experience.
What?Waht. This was a completely foreign interaction to me. Who was this woman who knew my professor so well? Was she even our age? I questioned whether she was even a student or not. I wanted to meet someone who could be friends with a person of authority.
What stood out to you about them?
We didn’t hang out constantly on the trip, but when we did we got along well. When we hung out there was always a lot of laughing. Katie is very sweet, eager to make friends and get to know people. Like really get to know them. She is infamous in my mind for immediately asking personal questions (and of course being ready to offer her own story in detail too). She is so much more out-going than me and was prepared to actually follow up with “let’s hang out sometime’s” when we got back to the United States.
Katie is unlike most of the friends I’d ever had up into this point. I usually hung out with other shy artistic introverts, but Katie is energetic, open, and bold. She is more socially sensitive and more feeling than the people I’d met up into this point. She is a very good and thoughtful friend who has made me a better person for knowing her. She taught me to be kinder and more generous. She’s always thinking about her friends and family and how she can make them happier or support them.
How did you become good friends?
I am most comfortable with one-on-one interactions. It’s a must if you ever expect to really get to know me. I remember just going to her apartment in Laramie to after we got back to talk about my then-relationship. Katie was the first friend I met outside my undergrad friend circle. I knew she would be an understanding person to talk to and an unbiased third party to advise on the situation. And she was. Anyway, that was my attempt to test the friendship waters. Although, was I mistaken that she had a Gilmore Girls DVD boxset? Small red flag there. :)
We had a good post-graduation summer. We almost moved to Portland. I think we lived in New York together for about 4 months. We have a group chat where we talk to each other nearly every day. There was no choice but to be good friends.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy birthday, Katie. You know when it was.
When I was six or seven, there was a boy in my class that already looked like a 30 year old young professional. He had fluffy blond hair that stuck up evenly so that it looked like he had styled it, silver glasses, and was always dressed in tiny adult outfits: When I think of him, I picture him in fall-colored corduroy pants, a light blue button-down shirt, and and a deep pine tree green sweater vest. Howie was the first young person I’d met that wore a sweater vest. Igor, roughly 11 years later, was the second.
Igor’s birthday was this week and I thought it would be fun to do a feature article on him. You know, like I how I said hearing someone tell you about their best friend is a good way to get to know someone.
How did you meet?
For my freshman year I went to a small, public university in Missouri. I lived the biggest dorm. During the first months there were activities for freshman and college kids to meet other people. Just a few doors down the hall from me there were four boys, Jeff, Sean, Igor, and Nate. I met Sean & Jeff first in the cafeteria, and they introduced me to their friend from high school, Igor, and his roommate Nate.
What was your first impression of them?
Since my first contact into the group was Jeff and Sean, I tended to lump Igor and Nate together. They seemed much more calm. [Slash], they seemed to both sleep a lot. I didn’t know this at the time, but Igor is a night owl and so would end up sleeping in pretty late. From my impression, it just seemed like he was asleep for half of the day. But Igor would more frequently hang out than than Nate so I got to know him better. Igor is very tall, was always well-dressed, deliberate in action, and soft-spoken. His hair was longer than it is today. It was a dark brown shaggy hair cut that hung over his forehead and curled around his ears.
What stood out to you about them?
Igor is exceedingly kind and well-mannered. This demeanor continues to stands out when compared to all the people I’ve met, but it is radiantly clear when compared to other 18-year-old dudes. While other guys I met were kind of fidgety, teasing, concerned with being cool, and had a hard laugh they used to assert themselves and let everyone know they had no feelings—Igor was a calm water. He would ask about my day, we would have conversations, he would say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’…A bunch of small considerations that I hadn’t really experienced before from a peer. I can’t emphasize enough how rare it is (for me at the very least) for someone to actually be as polite and sincere as Igor is naturally. He’s not doing something extreme, but he’s just reliably a thoughtful person.
I remember over one long weekend when one my roommates were away and I was sick. I was laying in bed, and someone knocked at my door. I didn’t really want to see anyone. I can’t remember how it played out exactly anymore, but Igor communicated with me through the door that he had brought tissues if I needed them. I didn’t. I think I had a cough or a head ache and didn’t actually need them.
“Ok, let me know if you need anything.”
I waited until heard him walking off and after a while, I quietly opened the door and peered down the hall. It was empty, he’d already gone back to his room.
This was a completely foreign interaction to me. It was like something you see in movies that I had never experienced before. Someone is sick. Friend offers them help. I wasn’t even that close to Igor. I asked him about it last week and he didn’t remember it at all. Probably because he did it without thinking or wanting something in return. That’s the kind of person Igor is.
How did you become good friends?
By the end of they year, the five of us plus my roommate Laura were hanging out pretty regularly. We would play Super Smash Brothers on their Wii pretty regularly. I got text messaging on my cell phone halfway through the year so they would actually ask me to meals. Despite getting closer, I ended up transferring schools at the end of the year.
We planned trips as a group to go to Chicago that summer (Igor refused to go/was in Israel). The next year I visited them over spring break. The year after I came in the summer. But it was always kind of as a group unit. With very occasional conversations in between. I kept in touch with Igor the most because we could talk about design programs every now and then. He would call me on my birthday.
I graduated from the University of Wyoming and was living in Denver. During his birthday phone in the summer of 2012 we caught up and he told me he was going to New York to look at a school. I invited myself because I was kind of interested in moving there. We talked a lot leading up to the event, which was different. Ever since then we just stayed in touch. He’s become one of the most important people in my life. There was about a four month overlap when we both lived in New York pretty close to each other and we ended up hanging out really regularly to just wander around the city. He can make me laugh more than almost any other person. He’s always interesting to talk to and I never get annoyed. He’s a good person.
Hope you have a good birthday year, Igz.
Sometimes there are big gaps in between posts because I’m busy, yes (or lazy), but sometimes there are gaps because there are things I don’t want to write about. Yes, I too am a participant of social media curation culture! But I have your interests in mind at heart, dear reader.
Here, briefly, are the five topics I generally don’t write about.
When something really good happens. It feels boastful and like it’s ruining the moment to me. Or that I’ll jinx it. I have this fear that anything good that happens to me is a mistake and if I broadcast it, people will find out sooner and take it away. I might quietly post a picture of something for me to remember later instead.
When something bad happens or I’m generally sad. Snoozefest. Awful. Melodramatic. Would be terrible.
These two things combined mean that I generally only write about medium-positive things. Even if I did talk about them, I feel like they’re so personal that even if they really expressed my happiness, they don’t have a positive impact on other people. It’s like always talking about inside jokes.
Relationships. Relationships are inherently a lot of upper-ups and downer-downs, so that’s out. There’s also general discretion policies. And the vulnerability of telling a story you don’t know they ending to. Sometimes I neglect to tell real human friends I’m dating someone, so of course I wouldn’t to carve it into internet stone. I will admit that this would probably at least tickle into the readers’ gossip itch if I did write about it. But I probably won’t.
Work. I don’t think it’s very professional to talk in detail about what I do at work. It’s putting your co-workers and clients/company on display without their consent. And I’m just one perspective.
My family. This is actually just because I’m not very close to my family. I’d hardly have anything to say on a regular basis.
My mom, aunt, and uncle came to visit me this April. I took them around the city and use their car as an excuse to go to the redwood forest.
When my mom and my aunt were trying to take pictures on their phone
So you see those are pretty huge categories in most people’s lives. I tell very little but I talk a lot.
I think it’s nice to remember that people aren’t as clear cut as they seem. So take the time find the ones worth living in complexity with.