On battered & shattered expectations.

Honestly, I sometimes dream about making this blog less hygge. For those living under a rock, hygge is the Danish word for cozy and this funny obsession that many writers and shows have mocked as people have flocked to build a “hygge lifestyle” … Continue reading

What do writers do all day?

I grew up as a competitive cheerleader. (I know what you’re thinking. Do they even know how to write? Fight the stereotype and stick with me.) For almost 15 years, I traveled around the country to compete in large arenas in front … Continue reading

Man Jogging.

He jogs—every day. Some days it seems like every hour of every day. On days when I need a mental health day and I go for a walk around 9 am, I see him jogging. On days when I work from home and I go for a walk at lunch around noon, I see him jogging. Just today, mid-day Sunday afternoon, I saw him jogging. With a plastic bag in his left hand, I suppose to avoid dousing his iPhone in sweat, his glasses fog and his salty triangular-patterned back serves as an indication of his dedication, or perhaps perfectionism.

I wish I could show you what he looks like when he jogs; with not an ounce of hurry, the light, slow bounce reminds me of ice cubes when they decide to float to the top of the glass. He wears a smirk, always a smirk, and his methodical strides in his lanky body make me wonder if a chart hangs in his house with tally marks of how many times he goes up and down the street. Exactly how many pairs of sneakers has he worn out the soles? And what does he listen to in his headphones? Is there only one song playing as he counts the strides back and forth, like the Rocky theme song hiccupping on a scratched record? Now I really wonder what happens if he can’t get outside to do the ice-cube bob? Maybe his throat closes up and he paces in circles because he must add a tally mark to the chart.

The most puzzling part: if you saw him in the grocery store, you would not think to yourself, “Now, there’s a jogger.” And if you see him in the grocery store, then he must eat, right? I bet he has the same breakfast every morning, like wheat toast and egg whites. Does he drink a lot of water? He must to produce that salty isosceles.

At night, he walks with a woman and a dog. He ditches the plastic bag and the Rocky tune (or whatever it is) all together. He wraps the leash around his hand to keep the dog close and he always walks one step ahead of the woman who I hope wears a ring, if I could ever get close enough to see. She looks a bit sad that he walks one step ahead with his head up and a plastered smirk. I like to think he still counts his strides on the evening walks and that the song still plays in his head. Did she dream of a man who would walk by her side and strike up an evening conversation about how her day was, but settled instead for a man who counts his strides and must jog back and forth every day? I bet she wants children and I bet she wants to leave this starter home when their family grows too big. But he must jog, every day, up and down Rowanberry Drive.

Today though, and only today, I saw him turn the corner down a side street where the larger homes live with two-car garages waiting for him. I hope he heard her say she wants a family over all the bobbing and the counting and the getting strong now…won’t be long now…

Career Counseling.

Tell me about your three earliest memories. Tell me about your three favorite magazines or TV shows. Tell me about your three childhood heroes. Tell me the quote that you live by. 

It seems like you enjoy telling stories. 

It seems like you look up to people who are adventurous and you want to be adventurous, but what’s stopping you?

It seems like you want to “Live. Love. Laugh.” but what’s stopping you?

Career counseling is a process. You sit still and you answer questions and you remember things that you hope you can remember and you are told not to make sense of the process along the way because you can’t possibly relate your childhood heroes to your ideal career. And when your best friend is the one doing the counseling, you rely on her for the answers because your brain just can’t hold all of those memories and sometimes it’s as if you weren’t even there because she remembers everything and you remember nothing.

Where exactly was I when she was remembering and I was erasing?

Amelia Bedelia and Junie B. Jones. Total confusion in my mind. Here I thought Amelia Bedelia, the “literal-minded housekeeper” was my childhood hero when she was the one who put sponges in sponge cake and Junie B. Jones was the whimsical child who made everyone live, love, laugh when she ate “yucky blucky fruitcake.” In all fairness, they were both a hot mess. Why on earth did I ever aspire to be a hot mess?

Maybe when perfectionist is your middle name, being a hot mess seems adventurous.

A recent personality test literally lined me up perfectly in the perfectionist category. I can’t make this stuff up. It pins me as “restrained and cautious.” It says that I strive for stability and predictable accomplishments. Yet, I’ve always dreamed of pitching tents and climbing trees. Once in my life, I was on track to be adventurous. I built tree forts and didn’t care what time it was and I got dirty and my mom checked me for ticks later and I went snow skiing and I plunged down black diamonds.

I was on track to be little Junie B. and grown Amelia in the flesh.

But what’s stopping you?

Now instead of tree forts, I build grants. I check off boxes and I follow rules and I work in an office that often feels like a cage. I write plans in my planner and I consult my planner before I even make plans. I always know what time it is and I live my life with the ticking of the clock. I cross things off to-do lists and I follow rules and I cry when the state trooper pulls me over because my registration is expired because I’m baffled at how I never wrote that in my planner and I missed the deadline and I never did it and I never crossed it off my planner. “This isn’t me,” I cry. He gave me a warning — nothing but a warning.

Goal: stability; predictable accomplishments.

Every day I wake up at 6 and I get to work by 9 after dilly dallying in words and creeping slowly towards the day that awaits me with open arms. I go to work and I put my lunch in the fridge and my coat in the closet and my purse under my desk and I turn on the computer and turn on the monitor and fill up my water glass. Every hour I fill up my water glass. I check boxes and clean out emails and I file them accordingly and I write grants and I turn them in on time. When they are done and perfect, I send them in on time. When things are late or not done or not perfect, I cry, “This isn’t me.” I cross things off to-do lists. Every day, I write and rewrite the mission statement and I cross things off and send things in. I put away my notebook in the top left drawer and I turn off my computer and I turn off my monitor and I grab my coat and I grab my purse and search for my keys before I leave for the day. I like to leave on time because I believe that people who stay late just didn’t plan their day very well because you should be able to accomplish what you need to on your to-do list if you just plan out your 9 to 5 and stick to the plan.

I’m always searching for my keys. After locking myself out of my apartment and then closing my keys in the trunk of my locked car, my dad questioned, “How can you be so smart yet be so stupid with your keys?”

Maybe losing my keys is my only chance at being Junie B. and Amelia right now. I want to be the person who doesn’t care where they are and who can handle putting them in a different spot every time and who doesn’t care what time it is when it takes you time to find your keys. I want to be the person who finds it adventurous to lock yourself out. I want to be the person who likes the adventure and likes the search that takes you out of a routine.

I want to be the person who can tell you the story about that time when my hands were full and my friend’s hands were full and my mom’s hands were full and the car was locked and I opened the trunk and put the keys in and closed the trunk. And there we stood with a locked car and keys in the trunk. I want to tell you about the story when I called my dad for the second time in a week because I locked myself out and he said, “How could you have done this again?”

One day I’ll tell you the story. And one day we’ll laugh and we won’t cross off the to-do list that we laughed, we’ll just laugh and we won’t care what time it is.