Are We The “Slash” Generation?

Have you seen the new Toshiba laptop/tablet commercial, where they show a young woman in her 20s who they describe as a “Director/DJ/Designer/Advocate/Entrepreneur” as they show her in her various roles/jobs? The commercial was made  to sell their tablet product, and in it, they say their product is perfect for the “slash” generation. It’s been playing constantly when I watch Hulu, and it drives me nuts.

I had never heard that we’re considered the “slash” generation. Generally, since I’m 33, I don’t feel like a millennial but  demographically, I am considered one (Born in 1982 – 1996). Being part of the “slash” generation means is that your career involves being a hyphenate, as in “writer – director – actor” – that sort of thing.

If you’re interested to read more about this phenomenon, here’s a great NY Times article from last year called “The Lives of Millennial Career Jugglers.” They profile six people who have multiple careers.

Personally, I don’t want to have a multi-hyphenate career. I want to be known as an expert at one thing and have hobbies on the side. Perhaps I can become very good at these hobbies, but I wouldn’t want to consider them a money-making path. Maybe that would somehow taint them.

But while my ideal is to not be a hyphenate, I’ve realized is that it’s become harder and harder to find one job that can completely financially sustain you if you don’t work in a traditional field (corporate company, doctor, lawyer, etc.) I think we have also become desirous to find creativity and personal passion in our work – even if it’s just one of our many “jobs” – such as DJ’ing on the weekends for instance.

Do you have a “slash” career? If you do, would you prefer not to?

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The Stones Are Talking To Me (or What The Heck Are Those Things??) in My Thirties

The other day my theater company, Mission to (dit)Mars, ran a meditative writing workshop called Poetry in Stone. We do Meditative Writing workshops every summer with a wonderful mindfulness meditation guide named Emily Herzlin. She’s fantastic and always extremely calming.

Now, I meditate, and really like it- but I’m pretty new to meditation– I’ve only been practicing for about a year. The way I usually practice is at home alone with a guided meditation and/or or some music. It’s fairly rare that I practice in the outside world (read: not in my bedroom), but our meditation workshop got me doing just that.

One issue that arises while in a meditation workshop that’s both outdoors and with other people -plus involves writing -is that there are a lot of distractions. I was even distracted walking to the workshop. Thoughts kept crossing my mind like “I don’t know how to do this. I’m really scattered today. Where am I? I don’t feel peaceful. Oh no, I don’t feel peaceful! It’s ok! It’s not ok! No, feel how you feel! No, feel peaceful, goddammit!!” Those were all thoughts I had before I even got to the workshop.

This particular workshop was at the Noguchi Museum in Astoria, Queens. I’d never been there before and amazingly, neither had anyone else attending our workshop, other than Emily herself.

The Noguchi Museum is kind of like being inside one of those rock gardens where you scrape around sand with a tiny rake. Only there was no sand. There were only rocks. And us. And trees. And stairs. Stairs that led up to many rooms… of more rocks.  Huge rocks seemed to grow out of the ground.

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After all of us introduced ourselves, we spent some time in the outside (yet inside) part of the museum. Emily told us to put our phones away and attempt to not look at them throughout the 3 hour duration of the workshop. I felt both relieved and afraid.

We did a standing meditation. I rarely meditate standing up (by rarely I mean never). I became very aware of how much my feet ached. I became very aware of how my necklace kept hitting my collarbone. Then we finished our standing meditation and walked through the museum in silence, guided by Emily.

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The museum is puzzling because some of it is outside, some is inside, and part of it seems to float completely in an in-between world of inside out. There’s a room that is walled-off yet open ceiling. There’s a room that’s simply an outside garden. There’s a room that seems like a concrete garage. There are rooms that are very hot. There’s a room that is very cold. And then there are middle rooms…dare I say they’re more like ‘typical’ museum rooms…whatever that means.

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The stones confused me. They’re everywhere. I went into the museum with no preconceived notions about what the stone sculptures meant or why there were big abstract rocks all over the place. I didn’t know who Noguchi was or even that he was a person (he’s a person. But I thought Noguchi might be a place that birthed a collection of different sculptures). My mind wandered. I brought it back. My mind wandered. I brought it back. I felt myself walking. I felt myself breathing. I looked at the stones. They reminded me of people. They reminded me of old memories. They reminded me of nothing.

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We went off on our own. I sat for awhile, in the very cold room, by one medium size stone…the only one I found recognizable. It was in the shape of a foot. I stared. People took dumb selfies with the foot stone. My mind wandered. I brought it back. My mind wandered. I brought it back.

I wrote. Stream of consciousness.

Spaceship stone
Foot Stone
Surface of Mars
Music
Tin
Rhinestone
Granite
Music
Metal
Lead
Cold
Music
Whispers
Metal pieces in my hair
Tin in my ear.
Breath. Air. Foootsteps. Nerves.

photo 3I stared out the window behind the foot stone. My mind wandered. I felt proud of myself for coming to the workshop. I was amazed at my meditative skills. I felt mad at myself for thinking about meditation instead of being meditative. I brought my thoughts back. People took more dumb selfies with the foot rock. I became aware of a yearning to check my phone. I didn’t. Instead I wrote.

I don’t want to move
I want to rest my stone feet
Still with the air
Frozen over with warmth inside
There’s a foot rock
Bandaged over
Stopped
Dead
But behind the glass in front of it
and me
The warm tree world waves outside

Everyone loves the foot rock
After it worked so hard
and is now dead
It’s a funny corpse
Huge and lolling

I lost my inner battle and checked my phone. There were no important messages and I felt angry at myself for lack of willpower. I stalked to a different part of the museum and sat in a warm corner by an abstract desk sculpture. I stared. The desk sculpture was the only other sculpture in the museum that had a recognizable shape. People took photos of the desk and kept asking me to move my outstretched legs. I shifted and fumed at them..then I fumed at myself. I felt like I’d lost the peacefulness I had gained during the hour without my phone. I brought my thoughts back. I felt my breath go in and out. I wrote.

My warm living skin against the preserved wood floor
I am only a small corner
The desk just a piece
Sparkled metal, dusty
I am not home
Nobody’s home
The desk is empty
And I watch- close from afar
How it stands without me

I feel better here
Open space
Square window
Living flesh against wood

Phone’s warmth disappears
As my eyes open
A sickness comes from my bag
In my corner
Others come and go
Bending, filling, waving, capturing

By the end of the workshop I felt calm and in my body. I felt this way for a long time afterwards…even now I feel the calming sensation of that workshop. Of course, my phone still distracts me. My feet still ache. I still feel tense. I still chide myself for texting while walking.

But overall, the stones stay with me. Their solid masses remain mysterious, yet somehow familiar. I feel the strange relaxation of stones growing out of the earth. I feel the strange relaxation of writing about stones growing out of the earth. I bring myself back. I feel their presence. And then I feel my own presence once again.

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Trying Something Crazy and Unexpected in Your 30s

What are your hobbies? For awhile, whenever I was asked that question (not often, admittedly), my answers would be very internal activities like reading, writing, watching movies. I realized that my hobbies are mostly ways to retreat from the world – not engage in it. There’s nothing wrong with having internal hobbies, but lately I’ve wanted hobbies that connected me to other people and the world at large.

So, after hearing from friends for years that improv is a fun way to meet people and help with my writing, I signed up for a improv 101 class at UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) here in Los Angeles. I’m five classes in, and I love it so far. Since you have to come up with comedic bits and scenes on the fly, you have no choice but to be completely present and living in the moment. In a way, it’s like meditation. What’s cool about it is that you constantly surprise yourself. I love that about improv.

Since I’m a comedy screenwriter primarily, the class has helped me become more free in my own writing. The exercises we did last week were especially helpful – they were the “monologues” part of the course. We basically do 1-2 minute comedic monologues on a subject that is suggested to us by the audience. I found that I was really good at the monologues and could make people laugh. I left the class feeling somewhat elated.

More than that, the class is making me curious about adding a new component to my writing career…stand-up comedy. Is the idea of me doing stand-up comedy crazy? Maybe. Maybe not. The thing is, people don’t immediately meet me and think I’m “funny.” They’d say I’m “down to earth” and “genuine.” And I know that I’m perceived as shy – especially when I meet people in groups. In fact, my UCLA classmate and friend who I’m taking the improv class with told me after class that he was really surprised how funny I was, because he always thought of me as “shy” and “quiet.” Kind of a back-handed compliment, but hearing that kind of thing always motivates me, to essentially “show them wrong.”

So that’s that. I’m going to try stand-up comedy in the next few moments. I’ve already started writing a few jokes down. I’ll start checking out some shows and then maybe try doing an open mic.

If you had asked me in my 20s if I’d ever do stand-up comedy, I’d have said no way. I’d have told you it was way too scary and miles and miles out of my comfort zone. But now, in my 30s, I feel more fearless than ever.

Are You Working Too Hard On Your Relationship In Your Thirties?

“Relationships are hard work.”

I hear this a lot. And I think it’s kinda confusing.

Many things are hard work. Sometimes it’s hard work to drag myself out of bed when it’s really early. Or to figure out how to fix a laptop when it’s broken. There’s a good amount of work involved in completing a marathon. Or confronting someone when you’re upset with them. Or asking for a raise. Or building the Golden Gate Bridge.

I guess what I’m saying is that hard work is hard to define.

What constitutes hard work? What amount of work does it take… to build a relationship? Or to build an actual ship? To build the pyramids of Giza?

There’s a lot of different degrees of hard work. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I’ve come up with a theory. I think it’s possible you’re working too hard in your relationship.

Relationships definitely take work. Most things that need to be built take some form of work. But there’s work that fits well with you and is flowing from a place of natural strength, and there’s work that doesn’t quite fit- the work of getting that octagonal peg in that frustrating triangular hole.

Let me explain. Think of the worst possible career you can imagine having. I asked a few people this question, and got some funny answers…I heard everything from embalmer to physics teacher to construction worker. One person even said ‘heart surgeon.’ Now, heart surgeon is a pretty complex and difficult career, and I can’t imagine doing it. It wouldn’t be exciting for me to have someone’s life in my hands like that on most days. I don’t think I’d be very good at being a surgeon because I’d be too anxious. I would dread going into work every day. I’d be downright afraid.

Now, if someone put a gun to my head and said “You HAVE to be a heart surgeon for the rest of your life or I’ll KILL you and everyone you know!!” I’d make the best of it. I’d work hard to make myself into the best doctor I could be. And it would be really, really hard.

However, there are people who very much LIKE being heart surgeons. It’s a competitive field! Those doctors go into the hospital everyday and are happy to work at their chosen career.

And get this- the heart surgeons who love being heart surgeons still have to do WORK….they can’t come into the hospital and go to sleep. They can’t eat Doritos in the corner after opening up a patient’s chest cavity. They can’t say “Eh, I don’t feel like it today. No surgery for you. I’m gonna go watch the Yankee game instead.”

There’s still hard work involved for a happy heart surgeon! But the work’s much easier because it goes with who the surgeon is and the career that fits with his or her personality.

Now, that same happy heart surgeon might feel like they’d have to do a ton more hard work if they were forced into a career as a model.

Do you see what I mean?

So, although it’s totally possible that you’re not doing enough work in the relationship that’s actually the right one for you (are you the happy heart surgeon eating Doritos in the corner while someone’s heart suffers?) it’s also possible that you’re doing way too much work (are you a physics teacher working your darndest to have a career as an embalmer?) Haha, okay, that’s weird, but you get the point.

Perhaps you’re following the good advice that relationships are hard work and so you’re working hard. But are you working too hard on the wrong thing?

It’s not an easy question.

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A Great Essay on Turning 30

One of my new friends, who I have a feeling will be a lifer because she’s so damn awesome, is turning thirty this weekend. We’ve been talking about how that makes her feel and how I felt when I turned 30. I remembered back to the two birthday dinners I had, and how low-key and special they were. I just felt cozy being surrounded by a small group of people that I truly loved. By the time I hit 30, I had abandoned the idea of big blow-out bar nights in favor of quiet restaurants where I could hear everyone speak.

Anyhow, her birthday got me diving deep into an internet vortex searching for other women’s opinions on turning 30.

I found this gem of an essay, On Turning 30, by Molly Crabapple on VICE, and wanted to share it here. She tackles the idea that women lose value as they get older because they become less physically and sexually appealing. But she basically says that getting older provides women with great freedom, and that she herself felt liberated because she wasn’t constantly propositioned by men.

My favorite part of the essay was the end, when she wrote:

Like many thrilling things women do—fucking or hitchhiking, being demoniacally ambitious or telling an asshole to stick a chainsaw in his eye—society tells us that growing up leads to ruin. Yes, you get older, but you can also grow tougher, kinder, braver. You can claw out the life you wanted. But as you age, the world will tell you you’re less worthy, even if you know that’s a lie. If there’s one thing society won’t stand for, it’s for a woman to be content.

So to all the birthday girls out there, here’s to not thinking we’re in any way less worthy than we were in our 20s!

Temptation in Your Thirties (Or, What About Those Times When Only Nutella Will Do?)

I remember the good ol’ days when I had no idea what the heck Nutella was. Those days are fuzzy and feel like they happened in another life.

Then I went through a period where Nutella was my kryptonite. It’s so delicious and tempting, I could eat the whole jar in just a few days if it was in my apartment (ok, maybe more like 2 days…or maybe even 1. Eek!). I used to stare longingly at the Nutella in my kitchen cabinet. I wanted it so badly. I had to use every ounce of my willpower to avoid it.

But then I discovered a funny thing- if I didn’t buy Nutella and didn’t have it in my apartment, I wouldn’t eat it. I couldn’t eat it. It wasn’t there to eat.

In my thirties, the Nutella lesson has become a life metaphor for many things. I started making it a habit to keep my phone ringer on silent while meditating first thing in the morning. That way, nothing can come up and interrupt my meditation- it’s just the first thing I do. I also blog at least twice a week- and I have an accountability agreement with Jane: she writes, then I write, then she writes, then I write. It’s good to have that kind of system set up.

I think that by your thirties, you’re really beginning to know yourself- your strengths and weaknesses, what you can tolerate and what you can’t, where you can push yourself and where you cannot. If you work with your strengths instead of against them, and you take your worst weak points out of the equation as much as you can, your life will run smoother. There are ways to really start working well with yourself in your thirties the way you never could before.

Setting up habits is super helpful, and can help remove kryptonite situations from your life. It’s hard to remove your kryptonite until you know what it is.. but once in your thirties, you know yourself better. So you can set yourself up to remove bad temptations from the equation and make way for good temptations to come in and make your life way more fun.

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A Few Thoughts on Being in Your Thirties

Going about my day, I came across two interesting observations/stories about being in your 30s that I wanted to share here. Firstly, remember how I was venting about feeling like I was sliding backwards in my 30s? I was worried about needing to find a co-signer for my lease, and how I’d probably end up in a smaller, tiny apartment with no kitchen. Well, the bright side is that only half of that came to pass. I didn’t need a co-signer (thanks to stellar credit, woot!), BUT my apartment doesn’t have a  kitchen. It has a mini-fridge – like the ones they use in hotels to stock mini bars. In time, I plan to buy a microwave and add a coffee maker, and kind of hope for the best. We’ll see. I’m sure I’ll be keeping you posted on my journey with my mini-kitchen.

But the point of that story, was to stay I am not ALONE. And if you are in your 30s living in a tiny apartment with no kitchen, or sharing a place with five roommates, YOU are not alone. Because Amy Schumer Still Rents An Apartment With A Murphy Bed. How awesome is that? Also, the author of the article, Nicole Dieker, is now my personal hero because she admitted that she too has tiny living quarters, writing:

But I’m still exactly where I am: in a microapartment with no kitchen, filling a bus tub with water from the bathroom sink every night to wash my dishes.

That’s observation number one. That a lot of us are making due with situations that may not seem “on par” with our age bracket.

UnknownMy second observation is from watching an old episode of Sex and the City tonight. In the pilot of Season 4, Carrie talks about soulmates and what they mean. Do we each have one soulmate? If that’s true, what if we don’t find him or her? Or what if we have multiple soul mates? In the episode, it’s Carrie’s 35th birthday, and she’s going through some soul searching as to why she hasn’t found her soulmate, if indeed they do exist. But then Charlotte makes a sweet observation. What if they are each other’s real soul mates and the men in their lives are merely people to have fun with? I loved how sweet that thought was. I really think that friends can be soulmates. I sure know I have them.

Is There A Simple Solution to What’s Been Driving You Nuts for Years?

I’m gonna go on a rant about something that seems silly. But it actually may hold the answers to many of life’s important questions. Here goes.

For over 2 years I’ve been obsessed with washing my dishes using this sponge on a stick device. Not that I like washing dishes- in fact, I don’t like washing them, which is why I like this device. You can fill the sponge stick with dish washing detergent (which is refillable), and the sponge is a yellow and green brillo pad that attaches to the end. When the sponge/brillo pad part gets grubby, you just throw it away and attach a new sponge.I’m not a fan of holding sponges because I don’t really like the smelliness of them getting on my hands (I swear, I’m not a germaphobe…but dirty sponges smell gross!). This solved the hand-smelling problem. It was great.

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Except for one thing.

Because of the shape of the sponge, it was difficult to clean the inside corners of cups. The sponge just couldn’t get in there. It was so annoying because every time I washed a cup, it proved inadequate. Every cup. Every time. For years.

So I ended up having to clean cups twice- once with the sponge, and once with an annoying little brush that could get at the corners. I washed cups this way forever.

Then the other day I was at Target with my brother, and he picked up a sponge/brillo pad refill that I had never seen before. It had an angle to it.

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A sudden solution!

I watched in awe as my annoying little problem was solved in seconds. The answer had been out there all along. It was always close by. It had been around for years. I just never knew about it!

I bought the new sponge/brillopad refill and that was that. Problem solved.

Could there be hidden solutions to a bunch more dumb little annoyances ? It seems likely.

How about you? Have you ever solved a silly problem in seconds after it bugged you for years?

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Have You Ever Experienced A BFF Break-Up?

Losing a friendship can feel as traumatic as the breakup between a loving, long-term couple. Sometimes it’s almost more devastating, because we expect our best friendships to stand the test of time. We’re taught that romantic relationships come and go, but that our friendships last, especially friendships between women.

In my twenties, I went through a few close friend breakups. At the time, I couldn’t understand why, and that made me feel ashamed. I thought to myself – am I a fundamentally flawed human being who’s incapable of sustaining friendships? Am I an awful person who people don’t want to be friends with? Am I too selfish, flakey, etc.? Over time, I came to realize it’s actually quite normal to lose friends, especially when you’re in your twenties.

I had a falling out with one very close friend in particular that devastated me. We met in junior high school and stayed friends until our early 20s. She was a soul mate level friend, the kind of friend that comes around a few times in your life. Everyone else could see it, how close we were – we spoke the same language without speaking. I loved how smart and funny she was. She thought about deep things in the world – why we were here on the planet, what kinds of people we wanted to be, our deepest fears, and all those sorts of things.

Long story short, we fought and we didn’t recover. In hindsight, I would fight harder for the friendship. At the time, I was scared of her, of hurting her more than I already had, and since I’m a non-confrontational person generally, I tried to repair the friendship in small ways. But, looking back, I realize I didn’t try hard enough.

I can honestly say it’s taken me years to get over it, and I still don’t think I am fully over it. I hadn’t thought about being in touch with her again until last week, when almost a decade later, I got an email from her. I was so excited/scared/hopeful/nervous that it took me several days to even OPEN the email. When I did, I immediately started bawling my eyes out. I could hear her voice through the email and  I was flooded with memories. It wasn’t an angry or ‘bad’ email; I cried because I missed her and I didn’t realize how profoundly I did until I read the email.

I’m not sure what’s next for us. I wonder if there’s any way for us to get that friendship back. There are so many barriers to even getting back a new ‘starter’ friendship. We don’t even live in the same city anymore. We both lead very different lives.

Have you ever experienced a best friend breakup? Did you ever reconnect with that friend?

PS – For anyone interested in exploring the phenomenon of friendships ending and how to deal, check out Dr. Irene Levine’s The Friendship Blog. It’s a great resource for all things friendship.

Meditating Doesn’t Last- So What the Heck’s the Point?

I’ve been really into meditating every day in the morning, before anything has had the chance to distract me. It’s been a good habit, because if I didn’t make it a habit, I wouldn’t always want to do it.

You see, I realized something interesting about the practice of meditation.

Sometimes meditating feels great and strengthens me and makes me feel positive. Other times I feel distracted and jittery and distant. Sometimes I start out really into meditating and then get distracted by to-do list thoughts. And other times I start out with distracting thoughts and slip into a very peaceful state. Occasionally it’s a back and forth.

On the days that meditation feels good the whole time, or at least by the end, there’s never a guarantee that the next day’s practice will feel as good. There’s also not a guarantee that the meditation energy will “hold” and that I’ll continue to feel good the next day without meditating again.

In this way, I feel like meditating is extremely comparable to brushing your teeth or showering. You need to make a habit out of it. It doesn’t bring goodness that lasts and lasts without its own continuation. Showering once is great for the day- and it’s better to shower only a few times a week than not at all (though I’d still go with once a day). But it’s way better to shower every day or sometimes twice a day. Same with brushing your teeth- after brushing, you feel all minty and fresh. But your teeth get dirty again, and you need to be in the habit of removing the dirt.

I think sometimes when I get down and feel like meditating doesn’t work, I forget the simple fact that it’s more of a habit than a one time thing. You’ve gotta keep removing the dirt. Brushing your teeth regularly prevents tooth decay. Meditating regularly prevents soul decay- or more accurately, it enables soul growth. If I make it a part of my life, my life grows.

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Have You Ever Used a Pendulum to Access Your Intuition?

Until yesterday, I had never heard of the idea of using a pendulum to access your intuition in a stronger way. Have you? Basically, there’s a well-known practice of dangling a pendulum over your pulse (ideally, your wrist) and letting it adjust to your natural bodily rhythms and then asking the pendulum to give you yes/no answers to questions.

Before we get too far here, do you know what a pendulum is? It’s basically a weight suspended from some kind of pivot point that allows it to swing freely. Imagine a necklace with a crystal at the end of it. To make your own pendulum, all you need is a nice piece of jewelry (a ring works just fine) or a crystal, and some thread. You hang the jewelry or crystal on the thread and let it dangle naturally at the bottom of the thread. You hold it over it your wrist, STEADY, and ask to for its “yes;” what movement means “yes.” Then, you watch as the pendulum swings into a natural yes rhythm. While you wait for the yes, you have to consciously think “Yes, yes, yes…”, getting into the YES frame of mind. Then, you do the same with the “No.” You’ll see how the pendulum begins to swing in a new, recognizable “no” pattern.

And now, you’re set to ask the pendulum a question. You want to ask questions that clarify YOUR internal feelings. You can’t ask questions about what other people are thinking, but you can ask about feelings you may be having that you’re ambivalent about, or questions for which your body may have the answer to (i.e., am I deficient in iron?). Apparently, certain families use it to predict what a baby’s gender will be. The idea is that the pendulum taps into the “energy” within your body and it basically accesses what’s happening for you at a subconscious level.

This might sound a little (or, a lot) new agey, but it makes physical sense, using your pulse as a kind of mind reader – like a lie detector test.

My co-workers and I all used it, and I swear, it worked on ALL of us. We each had a distinct “Yes” and “No” and our questions were answered in a definitive way.

So, if you’re looking for a little guidance, why not try creating your own pendulum?

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Sometimes the Solution Isn’t to be Nicer

I struggle hard to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. I strive to do my absolute very best.  I hate regret. I hate it.

I try very hard to word things correctly, and to be aware of what I might have done wrong in the past so I can always do things right in the future. I think hard about people’s feelings. I try to be helpful. I try to be fair. I worry about people’s happiness. I hope I’m being nice enough. I hope that I’m not doing something wrong and upsetting someone. I strive to be the best possible friend. I strive to be the best possible family member.

I used to be slow to return texts and emails– I struggle to be faster.

I used to let friendships lapse a bit when I got into relationships– I’m now very aware of this issue and have sworn my allegiance to my friendships.

I used to let significant others do what they wanted, even when it made me extremely unhappy or suffer– I now attempt to communicate what I need early on. This is very hard for me to do. I sometimes feel awkward communicating what I want without being asked but I know I have to.

I used to be more outspoken– now I struggle to be careful with my wording… to the point that I’d almost rather be silent than say the wrong thing by accident.

I used to believe that being nice (and down to earth and rational) could solve almost any problem– I’m now starting to understand that it cannot.

Sometimes when people surprise me by acting in what I perceive to be a sudden cruel way- possibly by saying something mean to me, or flaking on me, or disappearing on me, or by not accepting me, or telling me that they’re upset with me but hadn’t let me know before, I freak out. I obsess over what I could’ve done differently. I look through my old texts or emails, and think about conversations. I wonder if I worded things incorrectly. I worry that maybe if I could have somehow been even nicer and more thoughtful, things would be better.

But then I think about all the amazing friends and family members who accept me even when I’m busy or don’t return texts immediately or say random things that come to my head without editing them. I think about all the people who I accept and forgive all the time…even when they’re slow to respond to me or jot down brisk silly texts, or seem distracted and don’t act the best they can all the time. I realize that the people in my life are imperfect. The same way I am imperfect. And I’m suddenly starting to realize that the RIGHT people, the amazing ones, will forgive the dumb mistakes or the slow emails or the days between seeing each other when we get busy.

Sometimes being nicer and nicer in an effort to make things work with certain people isn’t going to ever make things work anyway. Perhaps the answer is to have more respect for myself and for the people who forgive my transgressions because they know that I’m doing the best I can. Because they love me for who I am, however imperfect.

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Sliding Backwards in Your 30s

Do you mark your growth in external ways? By that I mean, do you think about your personal progress in benchmarks related to money, living situations, relationships, etc.? I certainly do – or, I did, until I realized what I was doing. Since I realized I was marking my life in somewhat superficial ways, I’ve tried to be more gentle with myself.

The thing is – as I started my post-college life, I naturally assumed that I would go from having a small, cramped apartment that I shared with roommates in my 20s to a bigger, spacious one-bedroom apartment by myself in my 30s. I didn’t think there would be big lows along the way. I also assumed the tags on my clothing would progress from H&M and Forever 21 to Banana Republic and Club Monaco.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I’m in the difficult position of trying to find a new place to live. It’s challenging since I’m a full-time graduate student and I don’t have a steady income, which makes landlords understandably  nervous.  I’m very lucky because I have a family member who has kindly offered to co-sign my lease, but still.

When I think about the fact that I’m 33, struggling to find the money to live by myself, that I need a co-signer to get an apartment, and that I basically get all my wardrobe from the Gap – it bums me out. It makes me think I am somewhat stagnant or sliding backwards, unable to gain the traction needed to ‘really launch me into my 30s.’ But it’s been bumming me out less and less. Because I realized that…

I did grow in ways that cannot be measured – in bravery for taking a leap of faith that perhaps I could make screenwriting and TV writing into a career, by uprooting my life and moving to a city where I knew few people, and by trusting my gut more and needing less input from outside forces to make decisions. These are huge steps in my internal growth. So while yes, I may soon be living in a cramped, tiny apartment eating frozen pizzas while watching Netflix on my laptop (just like I was in my 20s), I will take solace in the fact that I am a kinder, smarter, wiser Jane than I was back then.

Unfairness Ever After- Or ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding Divorce’

Tonight I just saw My Best Friend’s Wedding for the second time ever. The first time was probably back when it was in the theater, or somewhere around then. That was over 15 years ago!

I’m a big Romantic Comedy fan- chick flicks very much included. I enjoy their fluffiness and the guilty pleasure of them. Which is why I found My Best Friend’s Wedding to be very disappointing the first time I saw it. The ending was especially shocking. Spoiler Alert ahead! Stop reading if you want to watch My Best Friend’s Wedding and haven’t seen it for the last 18 years… It’s currently streaming on Netflix 🙂

Anyway, if you’re still reading, you know the end of the movie (or don’t care if it’s spoiled). Julia Roberts doesn’t get the guy! It doesn’t feel comfortable and fluffy at the end!

Even after THE WHOLE MOVIE is a set up for Julia (Julianne in the movie) to steal the guy (her best friend Michael) away from his sudden fiance (Kimmy- who gets engaged to Michael on a whim right when they first meet), Julia doesn’t get him to be with her! Julia spends the entire film plotting to tear the engaged couple apart and …fails miserably! What??! Even though it seems like Michael likes Julia and is secretly into her throughout the whole movie (there are A LOT of mixed signals from him…which I really noticed this time), at the end, when Julia FINALLY confesses her love to Michael, he’s just not that into her…even after acting like he was the whole time. He simply wants to go ahead with his planned wedding and marry Kimmy. WTF?

And Julia and Michael had been friends for 9 years and promised each other that if they weren’t married by 28 (!! That’s young!!), they’d get married! And they were 28! But he was marrying someone else instead..

I actually looked up “my best friend’s wedding ending” on google tonight and there are a bunch of articles going back and forth about the ending. Some people demanded a sequel where Michael and his ditzy new wife got divorced within ten years…some sequel ideas even called for Julia and Kimmy to become friends and forget about Michael. Approximately no one thought the marriage in My Best Friend’s Wedding was going to last. Michael was 28 and Kimmy was only 20 after all! And she dropped out of school to be with him!

However, both this time and the first time I watched the movie, I liked the ending, even though it felt somewhat unfair in Romantic Comedy world. I think the ending was ahead of its time… it didn’t pull the usual happily ever after story in the traditional sense, but may have set up an even happier life for the protagonist in a totally unforeseen way. This is true in real life. A lot of times the happiest endings come after a lot of heartbreak, are totally unforeseen, and aren’t really endings anyway….cause it’s not over till its over.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s what I took away from the ending of My Best Friend’s Wedding:

Lesson 1- You don’t always end up with the guy you love. (Or the girl you love). 

Sometimes they’re just not that into you. Even though they seemed to be.

Lesson 2- Sometimes you’re pretty sure someone likes you, but they don’t. 

Mixed signals suck. Additionally, it sucks to be sure your intuition is right, but then it’s actually wrong.

Lesson 3- Sometimes the one you love goes for the most random little hot ditzy person, instead of the amazing hot you. (Or maybe you’re the amazing hot little ditzy person, and you still end up with love unrequited. Damn.)

Lesson 4. Life is unfair.

Yep. Take a number.

Lesson 5. But maybe, honestly, when the person you love just wasn’t that into you and you ended up without them, you actually dodged a bullet and are ending up on a way better path. That guy (or girl) didn’t see you for the incredible, exceptionally hot person that you are. Your loved one didn’t appreciate you! Life’s too short to pretend to be someone you’re not, so find the person who is super into you. This is a hard lesson…

Lesson 6- “There may not be marriage, and there may not be sex, but by god there will be dancing!”

(Best line of the movie.)

Life’s more than just a search for romance. Enjoy life, enjoy your awesome time here, and everything is so much better. For this moment, there may not be requited love, and there may not be total fairness, but by god there will be dancing!

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The Significance of Turning 30

As I’ve mentioned before, my c0-worker and friend is turning 30 in two weeks and we’ve been talking a lot about that particular birthday and what it all means. There seems to be so much psychological pressure placed on us to have accomplished certain things and hit specific milestones. Sometimes we don’t even realize these pressures exist, they are buried deep in our sub-conscious.

One of our other co-workers and friends, who’s in her 40s, was giving us her own perspective on turning 30. She said that her real adult life didn’t begin until she was 30, and that everything prior to that was preparation for her journey. Hearing that was comforting; that she saw 30 as a starting point, as opposed to a kind of day of reckoning “What have you accomplished by now?!!?!”

As she’s a Christian, she also mentioned something fascinating that I did not know. Apparently, 30 holds a ton of significance in both the Bible itself and in Jesus’s life. Since I’m not religious, maybe this is obvious to those of you who are Christian, but apparently, Jesus started his ministry at age 30. Prior to that he worked as a carpenter and “grew in stature, wisdom, and favor with God and man.” Also, back in the day Priests trained until they reached their 30th birthday to join the Priesthood.

I love this idea that we can view turning 30 as a a kind of re-emergence of self, like we are coming out of our cocoons to become butterflies.

Are You Constantly Looking for the Extraordinary? What if You Stopped?

Yesterday I learned that one of my teachers from NYU died.  It happened last week, yet somehow I didn’t know about it. I was talking with my friend Kate from college, and she suddenly said “You know about Peter, right?” When she told me, I stopped in my tracks and couldn’t speak.

I’m a terrible dancer and he was my African Dance teacher. We were forced as drama majors in my school to take African Dance freshman year, and I always dreaded it. It was first thing in the morning and I was always exhausted. And there was so much drumming and jumping…and did I mention I suck at dancing?

Yet Peter, my teacher, always had so much energy. He was smiling and shining every frigging day…just beaming. It was insane how much energy he had and how much he danced in our classes all day. I remember feeling tired just watching him. Yet by the end of the year, I was African Dancing with the rest of the class. I was jumping and throwing my arms and skipping and bobbing my head and moving my back in funny ways. It was far from perfect. It was probably far from even sort of good. But it was.

And I was proud of myself.

So thanks, Peter, for giving me those moments of taking it all in- of forcing myself to do something imperfectly and to find joy anyway. For showing me that I can be terrible at something and still do it imperfectly but proudly. To find pleasure in my own ordinariness.

He posted a quote on his Facebook wall before he died, and it really stuck with me. I think it sums up a lot of what he taught me, and how I feel about those lessons. I’m posting it below.

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

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