Saturday, January 31, 2015

Television.


I don't really like
watching television.

I'm no saint
who sits around
reading great works of literature
all day, either.
Don't get the wrong idea.

But I do like
Parks & Recreation
quite a bit.

Last year,
there was a solid month
where all I did
was go to work,
go running,
and watch Parks & Rec.
I was very happy.

Today,
I finally decided
to catch up
on the new season.

And from the first instant,
it was pure joy!
Like catching up with friends
I haven't seen.

Hearing about
what's been going on with them
for the past 3 years--
their families,
their jobs.

I love them.

But.

There was a moment
when I caught sight
of my own reflection
in my computer screen.

The moment you see do that,
the magic is broken,
and you realize
that you're actually alone
at your kitchen table.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Just the way you are.

Today,
I ended up watching
two full episodes
of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
while trying to figure out
how to do
my stats homework.

I learned
how construction paper is made
and I watched a guy
play the saw like a cello,
and I heard how the first day of school
isn't as scary as you think.

It was compelling.
It was compelling
because it was soothing.

Like playing with
the grandpa I never had,
while he points out
things about the world
that I haven't learned yet.

Here's the thing.
He looks at you
and says,
"You're learning.
You're growing every day.
I care about your learning.
I do.
I'm one of the adults
in your life
who cares about your learning
because I like you
just the way you are."

We should all
say that to people.

We should all
sit across the table
from people
who value us,
who are happy to listen to us,
who don't act like we're weird
when we show
the broken parts of ourselves,
whose eyes sometimes get big
when we say something,
but only because
they're waiting to know more.

I'm just glad
he did that
and he put it on television
so all children
could hear it.

So I can keep hearing it
no matter how old
I get.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

If you died tonight, would you be saved?

Today,
as I was walking onto
the train platform,
I saw two
normal-looking middle-aged women.

I think I looked right at them.
(First mistake.)
One smiled and said, "Hi!"

Of course,
my reaction was what?
But my body
was still pushing forward
(inertia)
and before I knew it,
she was right there
and I was right there
and she put a pamphlet
in my hand
and said,
"If you died tonight, would you be saved?"

Of course,
my reaction was what?
But somehow I said,
"Thank you,"
and inertia
kept carrying me forward.

I got on the train,
and then I pulled it out of my pocket
and read it.

It was called
God Will Forgive You.

Most of the things in there
were things I believed,
more or less.

There was a picture
of the author.
She looked nice.
Right?

And it is nice,
in a way,
isn't it?

That people take time
making pamphlets.
That they think
regular people
on a train platform
are worth it.

They don't know
which people on that platform
have giant pamphlet-sized holes
in their souls,
so they give one
to everyone.

They didn't know
what I would do
with their message,
but they didn't care.

They didn't know
that I stared off into space
and said to myself,
If I died tonight,
would I be saved?

The man across from me
on the train
was wearing a cowboy hat
with two University of Utah pins
pinned right to the front.

He had a mustache,
and was reading a book.

I looked at him and thought,
I bet
he never has occasion
to be shaken
by women with pamphlets.

I slouched down into my seat,
leaned onto the wall of the train,
and wished that its gentle rock,
like a great, cavernous mother,
might lull me to sleep.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Not Knowing.


Here's the thing.

Sometimes girls think I'm brave
when they hear
that I tell boys
that I like them.

But they're wrong.

I'm not brave.

I just
can't live
with not knowing.

I'm not brave--
I'm actually terrified.

Terrified
of
what
it
means
to
live
forever
and
never
know.

(This is a metaphor.)


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A List that Currently has Eighteen Entries.

Today, I read
some random guy’s blog post
about all the girls he’s loved.

I don’t even know him
or care about him
in any way,
but I was obsessed with it.

So I spent the drive to work
counting all the boys
I've had a crush on
in the recent past.

It was hard to determine
who I actually liked long enough
or well enough
to make the list.

Here is a
hopefully (obsessively) interesting
description of 18 of them.




(*Some of the 18 may well read this. If that's you, I hope you're okay with this. I'm not trying to make you feel weird. It's just the urge to share overly personal things on the internet, you know? It's inexorable. I hope you find a description that you think is you, but I hope you're not quite sure whether it is. And I hope I've done you justice. I just double checked, and there are only incredible people on this list.)

#1 was my first guy best friend. We did fun things together. Sometimes it felt like a competition to see which one of us could be nicer to the other.

#2 was 9 years older than me, I think. He’s important, because he’s the last boy that I liked from afar. Maybe I was a little old to finally be giving up I’ve-never-talked-to-you-but-I’m-in-love-with-you crushes, but at least it happened. And early on in the list.

#3 may, to this day, be the nicest person I’ve ever met. He was the first boy who had served a mission to ask me on a date, so that made me feel incredibly grown up.

#4 dazzled me because he talked to me about things. He was incredible. Just ask anyone. At first it was always me that did the talking; later on, it was always him.

I stopped liking #5 when I found out every other girl did. But they were right to. He taught me everything I know.

#6 was probably the first person who would have really dated me. At first I said, "Why not?" But then I figured out why before I did it.

#7 is the other nicest person on the earth. Wanting to talk to him is the most natural feeling in the world. He was the first person I said, "I like you," to, and I haven't stopped since.

#8 was as annoying as can be. I had a crush on him once, and then almost-crushes on him a hundred other times.

#9 is the other other nicest person that's ever lived. (Last one, I promise.) Of course I liked him. We made things together on our dates, and I loved that. I'm looking at one of them right now.

#10 and I talked for hours. He always picked up just where we'd stopped the day before. We both acted weird.

The first time I met #11, he made eye contact with me while I was talking. So when I had the chance to get to know him months later, I liked him. He told me not to be afraid of life.

I settled on #12 when #11 didn't share my feelings. We never quite made sense, but I'll always think he's the greatest.

#13 is the other other other nicest person in the world. (Whoops, I forgot that he was going to come up.) One time we were sitting next to each other at church, and he leaned forward when I did, and then he leaned back when I did. It was always like that.

#14 was a crazy dream that I realized I didn't want to come true.

#15 came out of nowhere, but not really. He made you want to dance. He unlocked the part of me that wanted to be happy. I think I'll say good things about him for the rest of my life.

#16 came out of left field. It was so unlikely. I still don't know to explain how it happened.

#17 is the guy in the room that you know you want to be friends with. My favorite thing was making eye contact and smiling about the same thing.

#18 is everyone's favorite human being, but that's not why I liked him. Everything felt inevitable from start to finish.

The end.

The end?

That's the thing.
It doesn't have an end
because I haven't
lived out the rest of my life
yet.

So here's to #19, I guess.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Can't be Contained.

I think we underestimate
the power we have
in this world.

Every couple
who becomes a couple
adds to the net joy
of this world.

It's easiest to feel
at the local level,
but it affects
the whole world.

Someone a few continents away
is smiling bigger
because you held a boy's hand.
And someone nearby
is watching
and is glad.
The joy of building
and of kindness
can't be contained, can it?
.
.
.
So it follows
that every couple
who breaks up
adds to the net sorrow
of this world.

It's easiest to feel
at the local level,
but it affects
the whole world.

Someone a few continents away
is hanging his head
because you only walk
with your hands in your pockets now.
And someone nearby
is watching
and is devastated.
The sorrow of entropy
and of undoing
can't be contained, can it?
.
.
.
We should all stop pretending
that other people
can't hurt us
if we don't let them in close.

We can all hurt one another
at any time.

It has to be that way
for us to be human.

Saul Steinberg, "Kiss"




Sunday, January 25, 2015

How could I not?

Today,
I was praying.
I told God
why I was mad.

When it came time to listen,
I remembered
that the most important
part of prayer
is not falling asleep.

So I got up from kneeling
and stood in front of
the bathroom mirror
and watched myself cry.

My nostrils flared
and my lips quivered
of their own volition.

I watched each tear
travel a different path
down my face,
like clips
on a Plinko board.

And I had
a conversation
with God.

Me: Why do I exist?

God: You exist
so you can experience
all the beautiful parts of life.

You exist
so you can help people
and bring them joy.

You exist
so you can create good things.

You exist
because I made you.
I made you,
and I want you to be like I am.

Me: Well, why did you make me?
Of all the infinite children
you made,
why me?

God: How could I not?
How could we not?


Saturday, January 24, 2015

"The Coatmakers."


I once had
a coat that I loved
more than anything else
I owned.

It was perfect
in every way.

And so I wore it
every day of every winter
for years.

My other coat
languished in the closet,
but my heart was taken.

As I noticed it fraying
at the wrists and elbows,
it pained my little heart.

I hadn't looked hard,
but I knew
there was no coat like it
in this world.

This coat
was my only exception.
.
.
.
When last winter ended,
I decided I had to let it go.

Summer came and went,
and then fall came.

One day,
we were shopping,
and I saw a coat.

I fell in love with it
instantly.

I tried it on right there.
It was perfect in every way--
too expensive,
and in a store
whose quality I questioned.

But it was perfect.
I bought it.
And I have worn it
every day.
.
.
.
Yesterday,
call me crazy,
but I took my old coat
out of the closet
and put it on.

It was the strangest feeling.

I loved this coat?
So much
that I thought
I could never love
another coat
ever again?

It suddenly seemed
so uninspired.

It was still
a nice coat,
to be sure.

And it still felt natural
to love it.

But the me that loved it
isn't the same me
that wakes up every morning
and goes to sleep every night.

That me is gone.

Now I can't decide
whether it's sad
or surprisingly freeing
to realize
that I will someday
love another coat
more than I love
the one I have now.

(This is a metaphor.)

This isn't
an actual picture
of either of the coats.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Everyone is Right.

I've never been interested
in politics.


That's not true.

I love the presidents
of the United States.
I love political history,
and learning about
how the pendulum
has swung back and forth
over the years
between conservative
and liberal.

But the part where
you pick a party
and make choices
about your values
and how you think
things should be done?

No thank you.
I always shied away
and said I was nonpartisan.

Really,
that's just because
I didn't think
I would ever have
enough information
to be able to say
what would be right
for everyone.

It's too big of a task,
so I politely declined.

When I started
my masters of public administration
last semester,
I was surprised by
how much politics
there was everywhere.

Everywhere.

People making choices
is politics.
So everything is politics.

And I had to learn
about the issues,
and why people felt
one way or another.

But this is what I discovered.

Even if you had
all the information
you needed,
it wouldn't be easy
to choose
which way to go.

Because
if your mind
is open at all,
you will soon learn
that
everyone
is
right
to some degree.

(This is a metaphor.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Radio.

There ain't nothing
in this world
like listening to the radio.

Shuffle mode is our best attempt
to counterfeit it.

Sure, you feel joy
when the unexpectedly perfect song
comes on shuffle.

But shuffle is still limited
to the music you've previously chosen.

It's not the same
as being handed a gift
from the radio gods.

With the radio,
anything is possible.

Literally anything.

Only on the radio
could get the guilty pleasure
of listening to
"Bad Day" by Daniel Powter
and "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri
back-to-back.

Only the radio
could be playing
(arguably) my two least favorite songs
of all time
on consecutive stations:
"Life is a Highway" by Rascal Flats
and "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson.

You can never realize
how much you like
"Hollaback Girl"
and "Hey Ya!"
until they come on the radio.

I only wish
there was a way
that my radio
could automatically
tune in
to any station
playing Taylor Swift
so I don't just catch
the last chorus of "Blank Space"
every
time.

I bet Hey Ya! just came on.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Will You Marry Me?

It all started
when I decided
that engagement rings
are sexist.

Why does a woman
wear an outward symbol
of her commitment,
but the man
doesn't have to?

You're both committed.

I think you both should
or neither should.
.
.
.
Then I thought about
the proposal.

It doesn't make sense
that one person should ask
and another should answer.

Shouldn't both ask?

"Will you marry me?"

"Yes.
Will you marry me?"

"Yes!"

If you're both in love,
you should both
want to find out
the answer
to that question.

The man
doesn't make
all the decisions
about when
and how
and how much.
You both do.
You're in love
with each other.
Both of you
at the same time.

Am I crazy?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Setup.

Today,
my friend
set me up on a date
with myself.

She gave me
a gift card to Jamba Juice
and a gift card to Barnes & Noble
and made me promise
that I'd do it.

I looked forward to it
all day.

And as soon as work was done,
I untucked my shirt,
and went on my date.

I got the pomegranate flavored one,
because I do that.

I listened to
sad jazz music
in the car.

I looked at every book
at Barnes & Noble.

I thought about getting
a little booklet
of self-scoring personality tests,
a book about astronomy,
The Feminine Mystique,
a coffee table book
of all the covers
of National Geographic.

I bought
Man's Search for Meaning
by Viktor Frankl,
but not before
I lamented to myself
that book stores
have more tricks than books,
that the Fiction and Literature section
is more fiction than literature,
and is smaller than
the teen paranormal romance section.

But, anyway.

It was probably
the most successful setup
I've ever been on.

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