Thursday, April 22, 2010

Closure


Did you ever have one of those mornings, or whole days, where it's like your music collection knows exactly what's going on in your head and plays 10 million songs in a row that remind you of whatever it is? I'm having one of those days, and it is simultaneously uplifting me and breaking my heart.

I got some news last night that I've been expecting for a while, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Because I've been anticipating it, I don't really feel any different. I feel like I can finally let go, say goodbye, really and truly move on. That at this point, goodbye is a formality. Which is good, because I'm at a place where I want to do that, am ready to do that, have a way to do that. I'm at a place where I'm excited about the future instead of buried in the past.

On the other hand, my ipod and pandora have both decided that today is a good day to play me songs that remind me of the thing I'm saying goodbye to, and I'm both thankful for that and hating it. I hate that I'm reminded of it and that I'm having this huge, emotional experience, literally as I type. I even cried on the train this morning. I hate that I can't really think about anything else, that all of these fears and desires are resurfacing. That they still exist. I don't really want to dwell on it- I've got a good life, and it's not really helping to think of something I don't have anymore that I, at one time, badly, sorely, strongly wanted. But I'm also thankful for it, because I feel like I'm getting the chance to honor that time in my life. By reliving it a bit, I'm getting to look back on all of the amazing things I got to experience. And the not so amazing things- what is one of the best and bravest things I've ever done is also arguably one of the stupidest and most self-damaging. But I learned so much, and all of this music is reminding me of that.

I'm of the opinion that we never really truly have closure from something. I guess to make that claim means I need to define closure. Dictionary.com defines it as a sense of psychological certainty or completeness. I think that sometimes we can go through an experience that makes us feel that: for instance, last night was kind of the final that's enough, now of the whole thing. I may have certainty, but I don't have completeness- I will always come back to think about the experience as a whole, how I felt, what I learned from it. Reflection is such a huge part of who I am that I will never fully leave something behind.

But maybe that is completeness. Maybe my ability to put it in the category of something that happened versus something that is happening means that, at least in my world, it's complete. It's closed.

But with all this music reminding me of the sun streaming through the windows, the craziness of my heartbeat, the unexpectedness of it all, it sure doesn't feel that way. I guess I need one more think about it before I say goodbye. Bring it on, iTunes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Expectations

Our ability as humans to focus on the negative is amazing. More often than they should, little things preoccupy us; interactions or actions or moments playing themselves over and over in our minds like a really annoying song. And it's not always a two-way street- sometimes, no matter how great they are, positive moments just don't get lodged in the way negative ones do.

This morning on the train, I had an interaction with a stranger that's been bugging me all day. A woman with a cane got on, and the man sitting next to me immediately turned to me and said "You should give up your seat for her, that's an older woman with a cane." I do that as often as I can - give up my seat - and I think that's part of why I got annoyed. Who's to say I wouldn't have given her my seat if I'd had a second to think before he jumped down my throat? Also, the fact that he seemed to single me out pissed me off. I felt that he assumed that because I'm young, I don't have any manners, which bothered me a lot. Because I do. And the fact that it was so hypocritical- I know this is New York, but the audacity of telling a complete stranger whom you have no authority over whatsoever what to do was appalling, especially when you're telling them to be polite.

I stood up, made eye contact with the woman, and smiled as she thanked me and took my seat. I turned back to the man, and - I'm not proud of this - told him he could have given up his seat too, with a little bit of attitude. He held up a cane that I hadn't seen before and said, "I have one, too, smarty." I apologized and told him I hadn't seen it, then moved to the other side of the train until I got off at my stop. I'm sure he probably said something else to me as I was standing up, but I can't remember it if he did.

At first, I was upset at how he spoke to me. Who wants to be told how to act by a complete stranger, especially as an adult? I felt attacked and belittled by a person who had no right or reason to make me feel that way (nor do the people who know us, but that's a different story altogether). It bothered me that I was judged. It bothered me that I was bothered.

And then I realized, I was really upset because he was right. While I try to be continually considerate and polite, I wasn't either of those things this morning. And this man, though I don't agree with how he did it, called me on it. I didn't really think about giving that woman my seat, because I didn't even look up when she got on the train. I was focused on getting ready for my day. And I was rude to that man when it wasn't really called for. I didn't have to talk back, but I did.

I have this continual struggle between selflessness and selfishness. Neither is fully bad, neither is fully good. I was trying to spend my commute this morning getting ready to deal with teenagers. It can be a struggle some days, so I always try to give myself some quiet time before and after school, which usually happens on the train. I was being selfish in order to be selfless, you could say. But on the other hand, I didn't come through like I normally would, and that lapse is upsetting. Ad told me once that I have high expectations of people and of myself, and that I shouldn't always have those. And part of me thinks that he's right. We're human. We fail. Sometimes it's inconsequential, and sometimes it's catastrophic, and sometimes it's everywhere else in between. I didn't live up to my own expectations, and while it's not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, I acted poorly. I may have made that woman's day better, but I sure didn't improve that man's.

Expectations are a funny thing. I generally don't know what mine are until they are either met, or not met. Sometimes I know them if I'm forced to articulate them. I had the experience recently where someone didn't meet an expectation I had for them. What disappointed me wasn't just that it wasn't met, but that the expectation had been cultivated because of past experience. I had come to trust and respect this person, and I felt that those things were betrayed. I chose to spend my time with them, but I felt that they did not honor my choice to do so. That's the piece I think Ad was missing when he said what he said. In a way, he's very right. People don't always act the way we think they should. But on the other hand, many of my expectations are built on what I know of them. Maybe that's unfair of me, but if I know you are a considerate person, I expect you to act that way. In the same way that if I know you're always late or tend to flake out, I expect that.

I'm also experiencing having my expectations met regularly. I didn't really have any for this person when we met, but he continually treats me with consideration, care, and respect. And if there is ever a time when he doesn't - which is rare - he lets me voice whatever I need to, and then talks with me about it. And if I disappoint him, I do the same. We are building, and growing into, something that I'm proud to be a part of. Part of that is living up to expectations. Another part of it is admitting when we don't. Because as the man on the subway showed me this morning, nobody's perfect. Even when they're trying to do the right thing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

You're Still Right

You said, "we need to mourn it"
The end of our sleepless nights
I hate that even when you are wrong
You're still right

I tried closing my eyes, but that just made you clearer
I tried getting new sheets, but I just missed your smell
I tried other boys, but I just missed your skin
I tried flying to you, but I just fell

If I stopped being there would you know I was gone?
Would you care if I just slipped away?
Every time I keep thinking "I will be first to leave"
But I just stay until you say goodbye

We don't talk much these days, I guess you're busy with work
Still I wait for you almost every night
I hate that I know this is wrong
But you're still right

If I stopped being there would you know I was gone?
Would you care if I just slipped away?
Every time I keep thinking "I will be first to leave"
but I just stay until you say goodbye




listen

By the Sea

When I am old, I'm gonna live by the beach
And swim each day in the sea
If the waves should take me
Down to Mephestopheles
Well I will see all the things I've done
You will be the one I will come back for

He'll offer me some pomegranate seeds
But I will be careful not to eat a thing
And if he tries to trick me
Well baby I'll just up and leave
And I will see the light of day again
You will be waiting for me at the end

We'll spend our days skin to skin
Curtains drawn, windows open
On our naked backs we will feel the wind
I will know this is it
We will see our lives laid out before us
You will be the earth below, the sky above




listen

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ready For Summer

My brain has been buzzing lately. Adam asked a month or so ago if I'd be willing to teach the middle schoolers at camp this year - at once one of the most difficult and most rewarding ages. My reaction was a quick succession of feelings; first I felt honored and proud that he thinks I can meet the challenge. Secondly, almost immediately, I began thinking about the kids in that group and how I would structure it.

And I'm still thinking about it. There is so much that goes into this job, and it's not even just a job, it's a calling. I keep thinking about the peer pressure at that age, how hard it can be to be an individual, how you're constantly changing and forging a new identity and how uncertain that can make you feel. I felt daunted, but I've kept the ideas floating around in the back of my head, silently becoming a more solid plan. Every once in a while, my brain interrupts whatever I'm doing with an idea - how to respond to a situation, a routine, a rule I need to create outright - and I jot it down in the notebook I'm carrying around for that express purpose.

I know that come June, I'll be able to look at it and be able to impart to my kids the essential things I want them to learn: that they are no one but themselves. That every emotion, reaction, and even discipline I give them comes from a place of love and hope. That they have the power to positively change this world and just need to learn how to use it. And I'm not talking huge undertakings, either, though I will encourage them from the bottom of my heart to take those on. I want them to learn that the little things like kindness, considerateness, regularly coming through for those in your life, and loyalty can sometimes have a stronger impact than one big change.

I've been thinking a lot about Kids Creative, and the impact that it's had on my life. It's changed so much- I've noticed that I never playfully hit people anymore, that my jokes aren't usually digs at people but are instead riffs off of what one of us said. I'm calmer, I'm more patient, I'm more considerate of other people's feelings and time. I'm by no means perfect, and I still mess up or flake out or am not as forthright as I should be. But when I look at how I'm living, how I'm feeling, how I'm behaving, I see threads of Kids Creative in it, weaving in and out with ones from my parents and my friends and my relationships. It's given me a place to grow in a different way from other places I've been, and for that I am forever grateful. It's my mission this summer to provide that for my kids in any way they need it.

And of course, to have a blast.