Three Questions

My morning commute lately has changed slightly lately. Not in the actual commute itself, but in how I’ve been passing the time. Normally I throw on one of my many well-curated Spotify playlists and space out while playing Solitaire, or staring out the window making awkward eye contact with strangers on the platform, but lately I’ve been into podcasts, and specifically, the TED Radio Hour from NPR. It’s been a nice burst of inspiration in the mornings and after work, hearing from these powerful visionaries on everything from how humans and technology will merge in the near future, to how there’s no such thing as original anymore.

There was one episode I played recently that was about listening, and how something so powerful is taken for granted in so many ways. The point of the show wasn’t to make us appreciative for the general ability to hear, but to point out how inactive listening really has become. The man behind StoryCorps (click the link, I’ll wait) was interviewed at one point, and he mentioned the three questions that he suggests people use to start their StoryCorps interviews with each other. The questions are so simple, and yet as he continued talking about them, I found myself really listening to some of the answers, and starting to listen internally to my own answers to these questions.

I ended up grabbing a pen and scribbling down my thoughts to these simple questions as my train rolled into my station, still writing as I climbed the stairs to the outside world. It’s not quite a StoryCorps, but I felt like sharing my own answers, my own piece of mini-history immortalized in this blog. I don’t even know if anyone is listening to this space anymore, but in the event that there’s anyone there paying attention, I’d encourage you to write down or speak aloud your own answers to these questions, and really, really listen:

Who are you?

I’m LB. I’m almost 27 and I live in New York City (for now). I like tattoos and red wine and my cat more than most people. I live alone and my neighbors have definitely seen me naked like, many times.

I’ve been so many people since moving here in 2010 – the one in a relationship and the crazy single friend, the one who lives on the east side and the one on the far upper west, the blonde chick who doesn’t work out and starves herself to feel something, and the strong redhead who’s entire life has been shaped by a steady yoga practice. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which one is the real one. Maybe when I grow up that will start to make more sense.

What have you learned in life?

Don’t drink vodka or you will absolutely cry and lose something.
Sidewalk puddles are almost always pee.
It takes way too much energy to be negative, even just for a minute.
The kindness of strangers will surprise you when you least expect it and most need it.
Life has a funny way of working itself out.

How do you want to be remembered?

As someone who lived and loved really well.

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“Unsubscribe”

The Nickname Posse loves sending group emails that are something like 37% helpful and 63% useless jokes and conversation that probably doesn’t need to happen. Despite the fact that there are two couples who live together in the core group of 6, everyone responds to every email, meaning our chains frequently top 20 responses or more. This also applies to the group text, which is actually worse. Once I came back from a 45 minute work meeting to 30 texts. That is not an exaggeration and may actually be an underestimate. Personally I love reading the conversations, the silly jokes and irrelevant banter when trying to plan a night out or the upcoming Atlantic City trip, but not all of us appreciate these ridiculous conversations. In fact, almost every single Posse chat, regardless of medium, ends the same way: N finally gets sick of us and sends “Unsubscribe.”

This response has become a huge joke in the group, used in live conversations all the time, like when someone doesn’t want to take a shot of Patron or can’t keep listening to a conversation about America’s Next Top Model. Lately though, I keep thinking how convenient it would be to have an unsubscribe button for moments in life outside of Posse chats. The guy you met on New Year’s Eve is texting and wants to take you out? Unsubscribe. The office kitchen has leftover cheese and cookies during the week you stopped eating dairy and sugar again? Unsubscribe. Subway preachers? UNSUBSCRIBE. It’d be like an easy button for cynical people, giving you the option to remove the general frustration of dealing with people and tailoring your day in a way that makes you content. Sure, you can choose not to respond to the guy, not to eat the food, or to turn up your headphones to drown out “JESUS KNOWS YOUR SINS,” but simply removing the choice and distraction instead is such a delicious idea.

Maybe it’s the winter weather, but I am feeling particularly uninspired lately. Selective writer’s block means I’ve started at least 10 new drafts for posts in the past two weeks but haven’t figured out how to finish any of them. This morning I stared at the same food I’ve been eating all week in my fridge and could not get myself to make eggs for breakfast again. I tried to mix up my breakfast routine with a pumpkin muffin from Grey Dog but it made me feel sick, plus I threw half of it out because I found myself bored chewing it. Even in yoga this morning, I was holding a pose that I usually love, and before I’d reached five breaths I just sat on the ground and sighed. I’m not suffering from a lack of drama or interesting conversation topics in my life, and certainly given this is the Month of No, I should have all this free time to force inspiration by trying new things instead of finding myself glued to the couch ingesting hours of Netflix like a medicine, but I’m just in a funk and I can’t muster the enthusiasm to get out.

I have a three day weekend this weekend, as many of us do, and did manage to make a few plans – dance class on Saturday, my brother’s birthday/Sunday Funday/Football Funday celebration and yoga with my favorite instructor in between. Earlier this week I had this grand plan that in between those activities I would do nothing, take the time off to clean a little around the apartment and enjoy said Netflix. But as I started to convince myself today that I could “use a few days off,” it hit me that I just had two weeks off going into the New Year, and if I’m already telling myself I “deserve a break,” that’s a problem. I immediately went to the Interwebs and signed up for an inversion workshop on Valentine’s Day, hosted by my favorite Instagram yogi who’s traveling to NYC next month, something I’ve been putting off doing for nearly a week. It’s a small victory to motivation that I want to impress her, something to make sure I’m practicing regularly, and a potential first step in climbing back to my usual state of unfettered and idealistic optimism. Maybe it won’t keep me from continuing my Parks and Rec binge on Monday afternoon, and maybe it’s not the easy fix I’m telling myself it will be for this funk that I’m in. But if nothing else, it’s the first of hopefully many times this year that I look boredom straight in its uninspired eyes and simply say “Unsubscribe.”

Just a little, oh, little

Everyone gets perks of a kind at their job, whether it’s a free lunch on Fridays, a break on your data plan or the promise of an annual bonus. In New York City, those perks exist, of course, but every once in a while you get an opportunity for something amazing, like the chance to see a Tony-nominated Broadway musical with as many people as you’d like for free. This is how my lovely friend M, my fashionista C, my dearest K and I found ourselves right outside the hellhole that is Times Square on Tuesday night, smiles on faces and orchestra tickets in hand for If/Then, a wonderful show I highly recommend. For anyone unfamiliar, the general plot is about how a single decision can shape your life, but it doesn’t necessarily change your path. The show is hilarious and poignant, somewhat predictable yet surprising at the same time, and the constant comments about bad decisions and wrong decisions had us all rolling in our seats with laughter, miming “Preach” when the main character stares at herself in a mirror and just belts “What the fuck?!” M turned to me in a particular funny song and commented “This show is like reading your blog!” which prompted another round of silent laughter, because honestly, the thought may have crossed my mind once (or twice) as well.

Now, unfortunately for me, I don’t actually have that much in common with the main character. She’s got a PhD, works for city development, dates a hot soldier (who can SANG) and takes a really wild journey on both paths she forged for herself. I, on the other hand, almost left my apartment without a shirt on this morning, recently determined that going on a fourth date with someone who really likes me isn’t worth giving up a weekday plan of sweatpants and leftover pizza, and I don’t know if I’m forging any paths for myself, save for the clean line in my living room amid laundry and shoes leading from the couch to the fridge. She’s also a pragmatist, making decisions based on facts and stats, to my idealism, with the constant wonder of what might be, if only everyone else could see inside my head. Yet the biggest thing that stuck out to me, is that through both her paths, she never allows her self-worth to be defined by a man, regardless of whether he’s her boss, her best friend, or her really, really hot soldier (who can SANG).

I probably wouldn’t have been watching for her to melt into a puddle of man-related mush had I not been on the receiving end of a stinging comment recently from an old friend, after I mentioned I was going on the first of the aforementioned dates a few weeks back. “You’ve got a new guy every time I see you!” he told me, shaking his head theatrically. “I don’t want you to keep putting self-worth in someone else.” I tried to argue with him that none of that was true, and followed up by complaining to M, trying desperately to insist I’m not that person. She let me talk for a little while, venting out my frustrations, and then hit me with a truth bomb, like she always does: my greatest virtue is my greatest flaw. I don’t give up on people unless absolutely forced to. So even as things are clearly falling apart, I’ll cling desperately to the idea that I can fix it, that I can make it all better, and I’ll lose myself in the idea of someone else rather than facing the reality of the situation. She cited a day last year that I haven’t forgotten either, where a short phone call from her bedroom with my then-boyfriend ended with me hanging up the phone, dropping to my knees with my hands on my face and starting to cry. Shaking, jagged-breath, ugly crying, asking why he couldn’t just meet me halfway, why I just couldn’t have a day with my girlfriends without drama, and why, why couldn’t I fix it. “You looked so broken,” she told me, as I realized she had a point. “It was like watching you finally give up. And it was so, so hard to watch.”

I was so frustrated after the initial comment from my old friend, while convincing myself to go on that first date, because he kind of had a point. I have met a lot of people in the past year from all over the city, allowing myself and self-worth to get lost in the colorful high of meeting someone new and clicking instantly. The frustration here came from the fact that despite an actual date with someone cute and sweet, someone else kept showing up, uninvited, into my mind, every time I started daydreaming of possibilities; it felt like drowning in my own thoughts, gasping for breath as I tried to push down the memory of his smile, using the distance and bad timing as reminders that life isn’t a series of What Ifs. I think I’ve had too much experience with fireworks now, people bursting into my life with a flash, mesmerizing me with the colors and the light, before abruptly disappearing, leaving me with a memory of something beautiful and a scar from getting burned. M made a great point above, that giving up is something I don’t do quickly and I don’t do it well, and it’s probably what prompts me to fall into a low kind of love with the fireworks, despite knowing the scars are ugly, twisted and tough to crack. It’s the part of my personality that resonates with a song where the main character smacks herself in the mirror and just says “What the fuck?!”

I’d like to say that the show last night inspired me to get my head out of the clouds for a little while, stop dreaming in these grand scenarios where someone takes my breath away and holds on to it, rather than blowing it like chimney smoke back in my face. It was just a Broadway show, though, and I’m just a girl who puts her head in the clouds, come hell, high water or another fireworks display. The show did, however, made a great point that things happen sometimes, and it doesn’t matter if you dreamed them, expected them, or planned for them, because they’re going to happen no matter what. It’s a lesson I’m hoping to remember the next time I’m feared up about returning to reality after dreaming about someone impossible with a wistful sadness of the What Ifs. And if I start to tie my happiness or self-worth into someone else again, it’s a great reminder to look at the person I don’t want to become straight in the mirror, smack her in the forehead and tell her loudly “What the fuck?!”

#bloggerproblems

While I’m sure it was absolutely NOT obvious by recent tone in content here, things have been a little all over the place for me. I feel like I’m waiting for things to return to normal, but I haven’t figured out what “normal” entails yet, necessarily, so the waiting continues. Though I can quell whatever’s bubbling under the surface here with long runs after work and a glass of wine or two, an unfortunate side effect of an as-yet-undefined state of being is a lack of inspiration for a space like this one.

I'm trying not to be boring sad blogger all the time!

I’m trying not to be boring sad blogger all the time!

Sometimes you find inspiration in the good, many times in the bad. Sometimes I’m inspired by things I can’t wait to share, and other times I’m inspired by things I can’t share. There’s an unpredictability in sharing stories from single life, ebbs and flows of interesting and funny moments peppered by nights alone with little miss, one after another after another. It’s certainly not the worst place in the world to be night after night, but it doesn’t bode well for stories on a public forum, sadly.

I’m going to try and find some trouble tonight so I’ll have something fun to write about the next time I’m back here. But if things go quiet for a little while, just know that I’m out tracking PLDs like truffles, hoping to find a few gems in the muddy surface of June So Far.