Break

It’s funny. My first post ever was about leaving my lawyer job for a “break.” I had no idea how long that break would last, but I knew without taking it, without that leap of faith, my already broken self would crumble into smaller pieces until I would just disappear. Take that as you will. That was on June 1, 2017.

The year and some change that followed was difficult, as many of you know, but full of many moments of.. just living. Of experiencing. Of being capable of feeling again- the good, the bad, the extremely ugly. All of the things that I had suppressed through my immersion into work and avoided through conscious avoidance. All of the things that are worthy of human experience and deserving of attention.

At the end of August of this year, 2018, I not only broke again, I crumbled. In an undated journal entry, I wrote:

“I don’t know why I’m on this earth any more. I don’t know why I exist. There is not much difference between my physical existence and the pen that is slowly moving in my hand. I am here to help others, but by failing to help myself, I have failed to help others and in turn, no one needs me or wants me. I am used to me not wanting me. But to not even feel like my perishing would be a disappointment to one person, this is new. I don’t need to be needed or need to be wanted, but I need to have meaning. Otherwise, why am I still fighting for myself? What is there to fight for? I am certainly not the light of anyone’s life at this point, and if for some reason I should become that, this overwhelming sense of darkness that inevitably overcomes me will make them walk away. It always does.”

I went on. I called a friend to come over that night and she did. I brushed it under the rug.

I joined the Beto for Senate campaign just a few days later. Everything turned around. I was needed. I was helpful. I was productive. And for a little bit, I was the light of some people’s lives.

For a little bit, the stress of the campaign was the fuel that kept my life going. Not always graceful, I pushed through with pride and joy. Somewhere along the line, however, real life… “real me”.. made my light flicker and other people took notice.

In the end I remember all of the beautiful faces of the campaign. The potential voters, the non-voters, the volunteers, and most of all the gorgeous faces of my teammates. The fellow warriors. The shared faces of confusion, love and determination.

I don’t know how much to write here or to not write here, because I think sometimes writing things down in a public manner seems like a “vindictive” thing to do. All I know is some of the highest highs I had during the campaign.. surrounded by people who I felt understood me. For the first time ever. Part of understanding me is understanding my lows. My failures. But also my deep empathy for others. I fuck up. A lot. I also trust that people are good on the inside. I know I am good deep down. I may not be great to myself, but when I can be, I am great to others.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my biggest struggles is understanding how someone so scarred could be lovable. I don’t mean always in the romantic sense, but in a more familial, friendship sense as well. I am beyond scarred. This is nothing new. When wounds have started to heal, somehow the stitches are ripped open. That being said, I have pushed and pushed to heal myself and move forward. I’ve done a pretty damn good job of it.

In the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the beauty of what was and will always be the Beto for Texas campaign 2018. We made something big. We created something beautiful. And by we, I mean every single person who is a part of the community that did this. It was an honor.

One thing I didn’t expect was the feeling I have right now. Feeling lucky to have made new beautiful friends, especially post-campaign, but also knowing that their gorgeous kindness is likely due to the beauty within them, and not because of a light within me. The light within me right now is flickering, and I’m at a loss of what to do.

During the campaign, when I lost grace, I also lost a friendship I thought I’d have for my entire life. I still can’t wrap my head around it, and I still don’t know why it hurts so badly. I think it’s because I let the friendship in and I knew I shouldn’t have. I know myself and I know better. I know I most likely did something to cause distrust, but I also know it was not intentional. I can’t be angry about it, but I am confused. It’s strange when you aren’t able to even speak to someone to express something. All I know is the worst feeling in the world is feeling silenced and helpless. I have a pit in my stomach every single day. I can’t shake it and I don’t know why. I’m “stronger” than that.

This friendship lost, other factors in my life right now, I am once again not much more than that pen I have now misplaced. Useful when those who need it need to get something done, express their feelings, or simply have a means of distraction. Aside from that, easily misplaced and of no use when the ink runs out.

On the night before Election Day, I told the out-of-state volunteers and the staff my story of how the election saved my life- win or lose. It did. Somehow during the election, with as much as I gained, I lost so much more.

Here’s to hoping.

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My Walden Pond

Growing up, there were two types of kids- the kids who opened their eyes under water and the kids who didn’t. These same kids also somehow seemed to be blessed with the immense and enviable courage it took to flawlessly master the high dive.

I, not surprisingly, was a didn’t. As a kid, despite my brother’s constant nagging to “just do it” I was the kid who did not open my eyes under water. Not even with goggles. I was too scared water would leak in. This led to a lot of near death experiences when my brother would confirm I did not open my eyes and subsequently try to “drown me” by holding me under in the deep end just to scare the bejeezus out of me. Additionally, this meant I was definitely not a swim team contender.

During the past few weeks, dealing with a break up has meant having a lot of time to refocus on me. I was focused before, but I think that’s something people who go through break ups say. “I’m finding me again.” “I’m putting me first”. “I deserve better”. “It’s better to be alone than with xyz.” For the record, I will never say these things about this relationship and never have. But life is life and things “happen for a reason.”

Anyways, with this free time I decided to invest a lot of my energy into working out. Working out has always been a way to cheer myself up when nothing else could, or at least clear the dark thoughts in my head. As part of my new exercise regimen, I decided I would learn to swim laps, and … I did! At first, I attempted to do the breast stroke in a way that could only be described as arms projecting out and about in sort of spastic Macarena and legs … scissoring? Either way, each day I added five more laps to my routine and with the help of some YouTube videos, was able to improve my technique just a bit and get up to 30 laps.

Despite my embedded sarcastic tone in the phrase’s last use, things did seem to happen for a reason, as I found myself being annoyed about having to fly to Boston for a continuing education course to keep up my law license. Somehow, however, my flight was just a day after said break up. So a day of continuing education turned into 2.5 week’s of Boston fun and escape. And it has been.

Most of my time during these past couple of weeks have been unplanned and spent spontaneously catching up with friends and wandering various neighborhoods and enjoying the beauty of Boston/Cambridge. The one must on my list, however, was a visit to Walden Pond.

Walden Pond, for most of you, is likely the physical written manifestation of Thoreau’s imagination and historic prose. For me, it is a beautiful escape that I never knew existed. Growing up in Houston, we did not have these natural beautiful ponds or springs to swim in. When I came to New England and discovered with awe the beauty of these natural treasures, I was hooked. I have visited Walden Pond several times over the years, and I knew it was a must during this visit.

Yesterday was the day. My beautiful friend who graciously let me crash with her for the past 2 week’s drove the 30 minute drive to Concord, where we finally turned left into the wooded parking lot and then crossed the street, walked down the steps and across the beach to our somewhat shaded (for her) and somewhat sunny (for me) spot we would claim on the beach. I laid down and it was just as beautiful as I imagined.

Now, I’m pausing here to tell you that there is no use of metaphors in the creation of what is to follow. Why, you ask? The experience was simply too beautiful to create a metaphor. It’s beauty was too true to be a metaphor. Too literal for comparison. It was the metaphor.

(Con’t…) I don’t remember the specifics of every time I have visited Walden Pond, but I do know that my time in the water is usually minimal and spent within the confined areas – not in the designated free swim area. The free swim area was where experienced swimmers could swim across the lake and back. Warning signs upon entry stated in no uncertain terms that those who ventured out were on their own. Well, yesterday when I grew restless in my half shade/half sun spot and read those words, only one word came to mind: “perfect.”

I walked into the water and kept walking. I kept walking until my toes no longer touched the rocky bottom and I was floating. And then I was “swimming” and then I wasn’t swimming, I was gliding. Flawlessly. I was being pulled towards what can only be described as the beauty of another world. Eyes closed under water, but open as I reached the surface with my eyes only on the beautiful clouded wooded horizon with the sun somehow coming through the trees in a way only seen in paintings. I now understood the term breathtaking.

Taking no notice of the distance I now was from the beach of the lake, I yearned with each scoop of water to bring myself closer to this masterpiece. It’s a freedom they write about in the classics and proclaim in the movies.

As I came closer and closer to the center of the lake, The most incredible thing was, I think, was the quiet. For the first time in my life, I felt peace. The only noise I could hear was the calming ripple of the tide interspersed with the sole voice of my own thoughts. There were no voices in my head but mine. No currents pulling me in different directions or pressure pushing me down. I was floating and I was soaring. For those minutes, however many, I was where I needed to be and it was majestic. I was floating towards the beauty of another world.

As the tide turned I noticed a woman about 10 yards away. I was no longer alone. There was an intruder. Without glasses I could not make out much of the contours of her bobbing face, but from what I could see, we looked eerily alike. No longer gliding, we both were facing each other with our confused heads bobbing in unison. My peace was gone and the beautiful moment though captured, was finite.

I suddenly became hyper aware of the fact that if I kept gliding, we would collide. She wasn’t moving, so it meant that I either need to change directions or stop moving myself. The tide quite literally turned and I turned with it. My eyes opened to the tiny figured on the beach and, struggling to find the energy, I swam towards shore. With each awkward stroke, more cries of babies could be heard and even worse, complaints from teenage beauties about their “flawed bodies.” My knee scraped a rock and I was forced to stand. My time, my moment was done. And I was incredibly sad. I am incredibly sad. And truth be told, this was this first time i had felt remotely sad since the breakup because I had felt it was the right thing to do.

My mind, just a few minutes before completely at ease was racing a mile a minute. That experience, what was it? How had it suddenly become so easy? Was this what the brain of a “normal” person feels like? Was this the outlook on life the prescribed tablet I take like clockwork every morning was supposed to give me but has failed to do so? Was this calm other people’s equilibrium or would it have been as incredible to them? You see, when you deal with mental illness, I think people forget that you have as many questions about how other people, the normal ones, experience life as they have about someone like me.

I sit here now, reading the notes I took right after the experience, full of hope that I could go back in the water and recreate the experience. I couldn’t. I didn’t.

I lied. But I came by it honestly, I promise. I did not set out to have a metaphor, but I suppose I’ve had a revelation in the midst of typing. Well, not a metaphor, let’s say a comparison. I can’t decide if I’m happy yesterday happened. I am filled with anguish today that I know that sort of experience exists and, though fleeting, I experienced it. Just as fleeting, it’s now gone. With my breakup, I am just as torn. Is it really better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all? I hate cliches, but seriously. Every other break up I’ve had, I’ve had so many major reasons to dislike the person, the relationship, etc. But this one, this person, we knew it wasn’t right in the end. But during it, the experience, it was beautiful. I might not have had perfect form, but I felt like I was gliding. I experienced a beauty and a peace that I did not know existed. And now it is gone and I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that again. With that experience comes new expectations and a different kind of unrest.

It’s easy to accept not having something when you don’t think it’s attainable. When you cannot experience it – never have, never will. Right now, wish I never experienced it. Wish I never glided towards the unknown without fear.

So what do you do. And please don’t tell me Bumble.

Arson

I had presented myself with warning labels, and even presented some malfunctioning activity to give signs of what may lay ahead, and for some reason, he still proceeded, albeit with caution.

I had been given reason to believe that I’m not good enough, and and hadn’t been, enough, from the beginning. He had not given me reason, but I knew it. It was preordained – I. Am. Not. Good. Enough.

Of course this is false and, of course, it is unreasonable, but throughout my young..ish life my truth has become clouded by perception. There were reasons to know it would not be, it never was and never could be.

The irony that this is my only truth I choose to believe is not lost on me.

And so, I cashed in on my insurance policy. Burning up the possibility before undoubtably my strike of luck would end and my profits diminish. Fraud, is the technical term.

Limping through my strut

Some days, most days, I can lift myself up nowadays. This day is not one of those days. I have fallen. Sure, someone may have stuck their toe out and tripped me, but that does not make the fall hurt any less than if I had missed my own step.

I don’t know how spilling that analogy onto the page (I hand write before I type this in) somehow is the only thing that made me smile today. Because it’s so true,right? People who care about you, or who, at the very least, have incentive to care if you feel like you’re under a dark cloud or not, are always very quick to tell you to not be too hard on yourself or it’s not your fault when you get screwed over or hurt and feel down on yourself. Sure, fine. But how does that make me feel back at that wonderful equilibrium I felt before? Just because someone tripped me and you point out that fact does not put me back at that equilibrium before the fall. My knees are still skinned and my hands cracked from trying to catch myself. Maybe I’m slightly less embarrassed or feel like a little bit less of a duntz, but if I get back to my steady strut, my skinned knees are there and most likely, I’ll have a little bit of a limp that I can’t just ignore.

It’s a pretty good analogy, I think. But of course, I can’t say that to those well intentioned ones who care. Instead I retreat and take a seat for a bit til I regain my balance.

It’s too bad human instinct isn’t to just invite someone out for ice cream or a tv binge after they fall and pretend like I don’t have an ice pack on and like you didn’t go out of your way to change your plans to just be there.

But I guess I’ve been an all-star at getting through things in the past, so It’s a given I can do it again. Right? After all, why do I need help picking myself up if I’m so strong to begin with? What was I thinking? The fall was yesterday. I should already be back to a full-blown Power strut by now.

How to go from SOLO to YOLO

(so sorry for the title…)

So, part of why I moved home to Houston was because I missed my family and friends here. While ultimately, I have many beloved friends from my time in the chilly northeast, that wasn’t always the case. Many days, when I finally would have a day off, I would find myself alone and without friends to necessarily look to to fill my time. This meant that (1) I had to find a way to be comfortable enjoying parts of life on my own that, in the past, may have felt uncomfortable doing solo and (2) finding ways to make friends and create my own social sphere. Sure, I had my undergraduate network and Penn Law crowd to lean on, but I would have to say that some of my best friends came from actively pursuing friendships and putting myself out there. I frequently am asked how I know so-and-so and my answer is just “around” or something of the sort, which oftentimes results in a look of shock. So, dear friends, I decided to put together a list of ways to not only be happy when you don’t have those friendships developed yet and want to enjoy a day outside of the house as well as unconventional ways that I have made friends outside of the work/school environment. For many of you, this may seem like common sense, but for us younger folk, some of this can be a challenge to do solo. You can do it!

Solo Activities and Adventures

  • Market Yourself. Always wanted to learn to cook? Already know but want to try that new recipe you found and have been putting off? Find a fun recipe that probably requires going to a specialty market and go on an adventure! There are so many amazing middle eastern/Asian/Italian/etc. markets out there waiting to be explored! Even if you are not cooking, heading out and perusing the aisles makes for a great afternoon and if you’re one of those millennial instagrammers I’ve heard so much about, it can make for some great eye candy.
  • Lose Yourself. At least for a couple of hours! Lose yourself and immerse your mind into the fabulous world of the cinema! Can’t find someone to see that movie you’ve been wanting to see? Who the eff cares. Go see it! I promise, after you try it once, you’ll never be scared to do it again. I especially love doing a matinee at smaller, independent theaters. In Boston, I love the Coolidge Corner Theater, the Philadelphia Film Society Roxy Theater in Philly, and the River Oaks Theater in Houston. These wonderful places are made for those who love the movies and can allow you to get out of the house. Yes, you can Netflix at home, but believe me, it’s not the same when you need a mental break.
  • Send Yourself Flowers. Or at least buy yourself some. Having something to add life to your home never ever hurts. I personally love going to Trader Joes and taking a stab at making flower arrangements.
  • Think it Out. Journal! Don’t know how? Just start writing. Best thing about it is, you can journal from anywhere. Home, coffee shop, subway.. great way to get out of the house and have some alone time! When I was particularly bored, I purchased this book which provides great writing prompts. Highly recommended!
  • Stretch it Out. The best solo yet surrounded by other people activity there is. Simply put. If you’re nervous about trying yoga, I highly recommend places like Black Swan in Texas, which focus on community atmospheres.
  • Get Lost. Go on a day trip on your own! In the city, in the country, wherever! By foot, by car, go on your own. You’ll see more than you could ever imagine!
  • Dine like You’ve Never Dined Before. Never try a place because you heard it’s impossible to get reservations or the line is too long? Well, if it’s just you, I bet you you can get that solo seat at the bar and dine like royalty.

So You’re Sick of Yourself and Ready to “See Other People”:

  • Be an Alcoholic. Just kidding. Go to your local bar on your own. Go just at happy hour or at a slower time of day where it’s quiet enough to talk but there will likely be others sitting at the bar. Nurse a drink. Keep your ears open and if there’s a break in the conversation or you hear something of interest, don’t be scared to chip in. A “pardon my interruption, I’m bored” mind if I join, surprisingly works. Just don’t say it in a creepy way. I literally have an entire friends group from doing this. Also, don’t be scared of chipping in in group conversations. If you get the vibe you’re not wanted, no worries. Back off. But, most of the time, people are more open than you would think. Just don’t be creepy!
  • Talk too much. This is a kill two birds with one stone scenario. For those who have always wanted to work on their foreign language skills, language exchanges like Conversation Exchange or Language Exchange Community offer a great way to meet someone new AND to improve your language skills. Here’s how it generally works: You sign up online and indicate what interests you have, what languages you speak, your availability, and your proficiency level. Then, most sites will help you match with someone with similar interests and proficiency level – but in the language you are trying to learn. You then meet up, you know you have something in common, and you talk about it! Half in your language, half in his or hers. Boom! New friend opportunity and learning!
  • Be a Book Worm. Join a book club. Just do it.
  • Be a Dog. Have a pup? Hit up your local dog park. Talk to someone! Human someone I mean. It’s a great way to have conversation, even if it ends at that.
  • Alumni Associations. Become involved with your local chapter of your alumni association. It’s a great resume booster, great way to meet people you have something in common with, and surely will keep you busy. No association in your area? Contact your alma matter and see if you can start a chapter!
  • Expand Your Network. Sure, most of us dread networking events. A lot of us bring a “wing man” so we don’t have to suffer through them alone. Don’t! Go on your own! If you’re not looking to change a job immediately, see if you have anything in common with anyone there. Whether it be a mentor or a new friend, no time like when you’re not looking for help to make connections and work on these relationships.
  • Add Some Sporty Spice to Your Life. Social Sports Leagues are a great way to meet people that are looking to make friends as well. Leagues like Better Off Bowling and ClubWaka are chalk-full of others who are ready to drink some beer and “play” sports. Teams are always looking for “free agents” and it’s a great way to get out of the house and have a weekly event to look forward to.

Some rules when it comes to trying to make new friends:

  • Never bond over negativity .I fall into this trap way too often. I’m at a party or event, not thrilled to be there and just want someone else to talk to and we end up bonding by either making fun of others or complaining about our surroundings. This is not making friends, it’s making negative energy. It will not ultimately lift your spirits and it certainly will not make for a healthy, long lasting relationship.
  • Show up.
  • Lose that Insecurity. I know I’m naturally an extroverted person. That being said, I get nervous doing this stuff too. But, when it comes to turning strangers into friends, the worst that can happen is you fail. You know what that means? They’re still strangers.
  • Follow Through. Just like with dating. Meet someone you like? Don’t be scared to say, “hey, it was great meeting you. Would it be alright if we go on a “friend date”” sometime?” And then call them! Make concrete plans. Brunch, meet at a dog park, whatever!
  • Don’t Settle. Most importantly, you know your worth. You know that even if you can’t find close friends, you can be happy on your own. If that isn’t true, work on this. If it is, don’t spend all of your time with “new friends” just because you finally met new people. If they’re not meant to be your friends, don’t force the situation.

I hope this list can help some of you get started! The point is, if you’re feeling down about being alone, there are solid, concrete steps you can take to better your situation. It is OKAY to enjoy being alone. It is also OKAY if you hate it. Either way, you.can.do.it.

29 Things I wish I could teach my 92-year old Grandmother

Aka my roommate

Aka my roommate

  1. The cashiers automatically print Powerball tickets as cash option, you don’t have to remind them three times, twice a week.
  2. You don’t have to use a cell phone to call another cell phone. You won’t be charged a long distance fee if you call a cell phone from a land line.
  3. It’s okay to go on a date once every fifty years. Or not. Dating kind of blows anyways.
  4. It is not polite to stare at someone’s cell phone screen and comment and/or ask about every single thing they’re doing on their phone.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help from those who love you. You’re not bothering us. We exist to help each other and we would never think less of you because you ask. It shows you trust us.
  6. You pet a dog, you don’t pat a dog. (Also, the “love taps” to my face kind of hurt)
  7. In the past when I haven’t been in a relationship with someone, it is not because I’m stubborn or there is a problem with me. It is not because I didn’t try or because I didn’t want one. It is because I am me and I owe it to myself not to settle.
  8. On that note, chivalry, as you know it, is kind of dead. (side note: just because I have a boyfriend that somehow defies this statement does not make it less true. But yes, you did “tell me so”. I found a unicorn. Shout out to that dude). Guys are not necessarily straight forward with their intentions. They won’t assume you are exclusive because they took you to drinks twice. On that note, I should not demand a full dinner-date the first time we go out. Most girls don’t get picked up for a first date or called on the phone when they are asked out. Texts, or whatever you call them, are our unfortunate new normal.
  9. I know you can move more. Walk more, you’ll feel better. I believe in you.
  10. I’m really not that fast at getting ready. I just don’t think you need an hour and a half to put on your makeup to walk to get your mail. Also, it’s okay if I forget to put lipstick on.
  11. You don’t believe it, but you’re my hero. Your kindness is overwhelming. Your words speak the truth. Your criticism is always from a place of love. Your wisdom is quirky and unparalleled. You are a maverick of your generation, but still the epitome of class. (One thing I don’t need to teach you: how to rock a pair of pants)IMG_6838
  12. Just because you can’t find something doesn’t mean the movers stole it during your move 6 years ago. They probably didn’t sell a picture of your brother on the black market.
  13. Wearing hearing aids is not a sign of weakness. No one even notices. If you are able to participate in a conversation, believe me, the only thing people are paying attention to are the hilarious things coming out of your mouth.
  14. 65 degrees does not warrant turning the heat on at 75.
  15. How to use on-demand.
  16. If I ever express feelings of hurt by any of your actions, you are not a failure. You are my favorite person in the world. If I get upset, it’s not because you have a fatal flaw. It’s because we are both human. And by the way, I notice when you listen to what I say and make huge efforts to make it better.
  17. Life could have always gone differently. It won’t go as planned. Forgive yourself if you think you messed something up along the way. I assure you, we all think you did a pretty damn good job. I mean, you gave us our existence, literally.
  18. They dropped the “the” from “The Facebook” over ten years ago. Similarly, I wouldn’t reference the internet as my internet. If anything, it’s probably Bill Gates’ internet.
  19. You look good for your age. But, you’ve looked good at every age. You were, you are, and you always will be beautiful.
  20. You don’t need to remind me, I do know you have the best fashion sense around. And yes, it’s all about having the eye and make sure it’s a good fit.
  21. You don’t need 37 extra bottles of detergent. If it’s been on sale that many times, it probably will be on sale again.
  22. The Bar Exam was really hard and it was not guaranteed that I would pass it, no matter how smart you think I am. But thank you for thinking that.
  23. There’s a mute button for the tv. It has the magical powers of allowing us to hear what we’re saying when we scream a conversation at each other.
  24. I know you’ve borrowed a few stories. Never stop telling them.
  25. You are as smart as I am and you are as capable. I grew up in a different time. I was given different opportunities.
  26. Physical therapy is not the same thing as working out.
  27. At some point, it is nice to sit on the nice furniture instead of just staring at it.
  28. Whenever I called you to “check up on you” every day for the ten years I lived away from home, it wasn’t for you, it was for me. Also, thank you for reminding me what I said the night before. I accidentally had 2 cocktails instead of the one I *normally* drink.
  29. How to make a foot of room in one of your four closets for me. Eh, you know this already. Nevermind. I’ll go get another hanging rack at target.

I have solely you to thank for allowing me to believe that my voice is worth listening to. That my accomplishments mean something and that I am loved. Thank you for being the encouragement that I didn’t know I needed, for expressing how proud of me you are when I think I’m just doing what is normal and expected, and for bragging about me to a point of embarrassment. Thank you for literally taking notes when I tell you about an accomplishment, so that you get every single detail right when you get to tell the nasty woman at the beauty shop about it. Thank you for crying when I left after visits home from Boston and Philadelphia and for showing me the purest form of love. You are my best friend and my favorite topic of conversation. You have filled my heart with your love and allowed it to open up to others’. Your sense of self is unparalleled, even if it means you offend people sometimes. We all know that “they should know”.

IMG_0802
Who’s grandma is awesome enough to commission an “L” necklace for law school graduation. I know you are “too classy for a poster”, so thank you for letting everyone know that Lollie graduated Penn Law in 2016. And you are her grandmother.