How To: Enjoy a Long Weekend in Texas

Step 1 – Meet old friend at baggage claim and awkwardly skip-run into each other’s arms. 

Step 2 – Use two different phones and absolutely no knowledge of Dallas to get lost for hours, venturing onto toll roads, back roads and m****rf*****g commerce way, until finally finding and touring Dealy Plaza. 


Step 3 – Stay in a fancy hotel for the night, planning to drink numerous a’Rita’s from the gas station, only to stay up late talking and fall asleep mid sentence. 

Step 4 – Enjoy continental breakfast, steal everything they won’t charge you for from the room. 

Step 5 – Go to friend’s house in Wichita Falls, see improve show, get drunk and talk about politics after being called a yankee and responding “my state wasn’t involved in that war…”

Step 6 – Go to friends hometown, meet her hilarious friends, go to lake to cool off and drink all the drinks. 


Step 7 – Wake up the next morning wondering why you are still wearing a swimsuit, why the words ‘crown royale’ make you nauseous, and where your toothbrush is. 

Step 8 – Go kayaking hungover. For five hours!

Step 9 – Drive a car for the first time in two years but just briefly. Feel 15 again and decide driving is still not for you. 

Step 10 – Go back to Wichita Falls, take a Benadryl because you are insanely allergic to Texas and konk out for the whole ride. 

Step 11 – Go hiking in Oklahoma on this trail, oh wait is that a snake, never mind, this trail nope that’s a snake, no, this trail, no snakes, awesome, wait where’s the trail?


Step 12 – Head back to Dallas for the flight home but magically find extra time and a Buccee’s. Buy tourist-y goods and delicious salsa. 

Step 13 – Say goodbye, promise to come back soon, know you will. 


Best of luck.

A Soul Cleansing Moment

I sat on the train this afternoon, I’ve been sitting on trains a lot lately, in a frantic rush. I didn’t want to be late, to waste one precious moment I could spend talking to this woman who has meant so much to me, on this dumb train.

It was cold on the train and hot on the platform. I didn’t feel like putting make up on on the train so I listened to music instead. Chambers street, right? Right. Then the path and my first time to New Jersey. On the other side of the river, a breeze existed; cool air and suddenly it smelled like the ocean. It only ever smelled like city in New York. It was chilly in the breeze but warm in the love of my friends embrace.

Friend? Mentor? What do you call someone who inspires so much in you, who believes so deeply in you, who you admire so fiercely. She taught me how to be imaginative and creative in education. She taught me to think outside the box. She taught me things I’m only just now learning that she taught me.

Seeing people from home in this big, bad city feels like a deep breath after months underwater. I tell people I miss hiking, that the train is hard to navigate. I tell people I miss fresh air, that there are too many people. I laugh it off, New York is great sure sure sure. But this glimmer of hope from home brought me to life again. She breathed into me and renewed my entire being. She told me I was great, in real, human words. It wasn’t implied or alluded to. It was said. When so rarely these words are earnestly spoken.

Everyone should be told that they are honestly, perfectly, entirely great and that they should let their greatness flow. Have you heard that yet?

Yes you have, you just did.

giphy

Best of luck.

Becoming an Alpha

As I journey further into the deep dark cave of adulthood, every day seems to be an exercise in struggle, confusion, and second-guessing. I have tended to shrink away from the unknown, waiting for someone else to go first down the new path. In times of conflict I’ve tended to shrink away from the fight. In fear of sounding self-obsessed, I’ve tended to shrink away from announcing good news or congratulating myself on a job well done.

no-words-homer-into-brush

I have made myself a beta.* Oh and don’t be fooled, I had logical reasoning: I’m an introvert. I’m moderately shy. I dislike conflict.

But I’m coming to realize that none of those things have anything to do with me becoming an alpha. I can be a powerful and unwavering, shy, introverted pacifist. I can be the wind and the leaf.

A couple of weeks ago I officially accepted a job as a High School history teacher in Brooklyn. I was one of the first in my department and it’s a school I’m in love with. A week later I was offered a job at another school and even after I turned it down, they continued to fight for me. I honestly believed that both of these were somehow wrong, not for me, how could anyone push so hard for me?

giphy

I was afraid to tell people. I hesitated. I was scared it would make me seem conceited. What happened instead was that my colleagues, friends, family, and classmates were purely joyous for me and the stress that lifted off of my shoulders has allowed me to help those around me in their struggles.

It took a while but eventually, I defied what I believed about my abilities. I didn’t think I would be able to find a job at all; that I would be the only fellow in history to fail to find a job by fall. But that didn’t happen. I got a job, just like I got into grad school and pulled straight As first semester, just like I did Peace Corps, because I am an alpha. I just had to believe it.

yonce

I felt powerful in that moment. I felt big, and for once that wasn’t a negative. I was this force, and I still am. I don’t want to hide anymore, behind fear and logical reasoning (coughexcusescough) and worry.

I will stand, big and tall over my fears, and be an alpha.

Best of luck.

 

*Not the fish, please don’t be concerned that I’ve climbed into fishbowls and hidden in the dorms of college freshmen. I haven’t lost it yet.

Thanksgiving in Photos

This past weekend I had the enormous honor of spending Thanksgiving with Boyfriend’s family for the first time. I’ll post more about family, relationships and a sense of welcome later this week, but for now here are the photos.

We spent a few days wandering on the beach, hanging out with family, hiking around the Southern Washington coast, exploring lighthouses and old bunkers, running away to Oregon for a second, enjoying the sunset, eating too much and just relaxing.

IMG_3791IMG_3801IMG_3811IMG_3813IMG_3819IMG_3816IMG_3824IMG_3829

Continue reading

Interviewsday: Love Edition

This week’s Interviewsday is a panel interview about love, dating and relationships with some of my favorite human beings:

The Best Friends: Shawn and Jess

The Parents: Doc Wad and Mama Bear

The Boyfriend

So if you’re looking for relationship advice from incredible weirdos, look no further friends. Enjoy:

Dating:

How do you feel about Internet dating vs. traditional dating?

Doc Wad: It matters not how two find one another. The proof is in the giving.

Shawn: I think both forms are valid. Internet dating has serious advantages as it lets you screen people better. Sure, they may lie on their profile but if you’re careful and ask the right questions it can help a lot.

Mama Bear: It’s not easy, no matter how you do it.

Jess: I’m not a good judge on this one since I’ve never gone out on a traditional date. All the guys I’ve dated I’ve met on line which might make me a freak…I always seem to develop crushes on guys I’m friends with and there is that whole worrying about messing up the friendship thing. With internet dating I don’t owe this guy anything. I can tell him exactly what I am interested in and looking for and he can take it or leave it. Then we move on. Its less stressful.

Boyfriend: I can’t say I’ve ever dated on the Internet, but I’m not opposed to it. Internet dating has come a long way, dropping the stigma.

What are some red flags for a first date?

Shawn: Being on their phone, treating servers poorly. Talking about their exes or animals too much. If they haven’t at least heard of certain pieces from classic literature. If they like The Eagles or hate hip-hop.

Boyfriend: Giving the waiter shit, basically just not being nice to people they don’t have to be nice to. Also, If they’re not weird at all. Everyone’s a little weird, but if they’re like super crazy-ass normal, it’s a bad sign.

Jess: GET OFF YOUR PHONE!!! If you can’t have a beer with me without checking Facebook this is going no where.

What’s an ideal date?

Mama Bear: Whatever the two of you like to do together. Don’t try to impress each other or it will probably fail. Continue reading

It’s Not All or Nothing

Lately I’ve been diving into “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” a book about Dr. Paul Farmer who works with TB patients in Haiti. In Haiti, TB has been blamed for centuries on sorcery and Farmer finds himself frustrated, assuming that these patients will not trust modern medicine due to their conflicting beliefs.

He realizes his mistake in talking to one elderly patient. She asks him “honey, are you incapable of complexity?” and he stands aghast at his ignorance. Because people can believe in two seemingly conflicting ideals.

My father is a scientist, through and through, a man who looks for reason in everything. My father is a Christian, through and through, a man who lives in the undying faith of everything. They are different and sometimes conflicting but the two ideals can live in the same house.

In Peru there are many non-medical beliefs that made my job with the Peace Corps difficult. I would tell a mother that her child was sick because of poor hygiene, she would say “no, no, he stood in the breeze for too long.” I would say he has a parasite because of bad water, she would say “no, no, no he’s been eating too many sweets.” I became frustrated, she became frustrated. No one did any good for anyone else.

DSC04849

I had a training a couple of months in to working in my community where we talked about these issues.

How can I tell a mother than an egg rubbed on the skin won’t cure a skin infection?  No one believes what I tell them. 

The answer came from a technical trainer: you don’t believe what they tell you either. Continue reading