Take Care Now

I have this black trench coat that I like to wear, especially when traveling.  I’ve realized there’s a couple of problems with that; the first being, who the fuck wears black trench coats?; the second being, airport security doesn’t quite like it when their passengers look “sketchy.”  And nothing says “sketchy” like a black trench coat.  In addition to the coat, I have dark hair, bangs, and beat up black leather Doc Martins. 

I was fully aware I was trying to get on a plane looking like some criminal from the late 1800s, but there was not much I could do about it.  My coat and boots were too big to fit in my small suitcase and I wasn’t about take my large suitcase as a “checked bag” and have to go through baggage claim when the plain landed.  Also, my dark hair was just a part of my personality and I wasn’t about to lighten it for the sake of a week-long trip to Portland and a few hours in an airport.  

So, I stood in the line before security, hoping my flowy, flamingo-printed button-down, blue jeans, and earnest doe eyes would make me appear as minimal of a threat as possible.  

I showed them my I.D. (my passport, because I had mo state-issued driver’s license to flash) and boarding pass, and I was told to “take care now” by a nearby TSA agent.  

What did I think I had to be worried about?  They totally didn’t see me as a threat!  For all I know, they probably thought I looked like a lost 12-year-old.  All would be well, and I could calm my anxiety.

The actual security check, however, proved my fears correct.  I had to be pat down- only my right arm and left ankle, though, but still! My shirt was short sleeves and practically see-through if one looked close enough, in the right lighting, so what did they think I could be hiding in the few inches of a sleeve that existed?  The ankle check I understood.  My jeans were tucked into crew cut, black socks, causing a lumpy appearance around my ankle.  I get how that’s a bit questionable.   However, they also had me turn around to check the back of my head and neck and I still don’t understand what could have been suspicious about that.  My hair barely touches my shoulders, so there’s nothing I could possibly be hiding with it.  

Whatever the case, I made it through the swift pat down and began collecting my items off the security belt.  My messenger bag wasn’t there.  They were holding it aside.

“Is this your bag, mam?” 

“It is, yeah,” I responded.  

“we’re just gonna have a quick look through it over there.”  He pointed to a small metal table equipped with some small x-ray machine.  

Oh, I thought, I wrapped a spare camera lens in a fuzzy sock and a candle in the matching sock.  It’s weird to have things wrapped in socks…I get why that’s suspicious…oh shit.  But how else was I supposed to transport them safely??? The candle was in a glass container and the sense, well, it’s a lens- expensive and fragile.  

After a quick look, the security guard saw that it was just that- a lens and a candle.  He didn’t take anything away or tell me anything else was a matter with my bag.  

I said a thank you and a quick “have a nice day” before heading to my gate.  I was a tad shaken and ridden with anxiety, but when was I not?  

I sent a text to my mom that read:

made it through security and to my gate okay

She responded:

everything go okay?

To which I said: 

yep 🙂

The full story was superfluous.  

Maybe I’ll blog about it, I thought to myself.  

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In defense of Parentheses (Why they should be acknowledged as important by educators everywhere).

 I use parentheses a lot.  Too much, my journalism and english professors would argue.  But there’s a reason for my “overuse” of parentheses.  They’re quite essential if my writing is to have a voice or any chance at life off the page and in the mind of the reader.

Let’s pick this concept apart piece by piece, beginning with the definition, shall we?

Parentheses (n.)- a word, clause, or sentence inserted as an explanation or afterthought into a passage that is grammatically complete without it, in writing usually marked off by curved brackets, dashes, or commas.

I think we can all agree that clear and thorough communication is of the utmost importance.  Whether or not a person understands you or relates to what you are saying could depend on just a few words that rephrase or add context to a concept.  The definition of parentheses clearly sates that they are “inserted as an explanation.”  And I think we can agree that explanations are important- essential even.    

I know what you’re thinking- “well, Summer, it also says ‘or afterthought’ and into ‘a passage that is grammatically complete without it,’  so, if the sentence is complete without it, it clearly isn’t important.”

To that, I have two points to discuss.  Let’s begin with the value of the “afterthought.”

Picture this:

You just picked up an avocado to cut.  You’re holding it in your left (non dominant) hand, palm facing upward, and cutting with your right (dominant) hand, blade facing downward.  You are about to cut into the avocado, but then you stop, think, and hesitate a beat, before setting down the avocado on a plate and using your left hand as a stabilizer rather than a holder.  By doing this you prevented the possible slicing of your own hand, had the knife slipped.  A painful, bloody situation avoided.  And all because of an afterthought.  An afterthought can be of great importance (parenthetically contained or not).  

Additionally, just because a sentence is grammatically complete does not mean that it is a sentence also complete in meaning, or potential, or message.  

I have trouble seeing parentheses as unimportant.  

Also, it’s just the way people think- in afterthoughts and interrupted ideas that get clarified as the mind processes.  parentheses are the most human- most natural– of all grammar marks…

How educators don’t see that, I do not know.

The Best Kind of Success Story

I’ve had to talk to some people (in a journalistic/reporter context) recently, and I’ve realized a few things.  

  1. I actually enjoy interviewing people and writing stories.  It’s just the set-up process that I hate.  And the initial getting-started-on-the-story part.  Maybe I’ll actually grow to like journalism?(….TBD).  I’d say it’s getting more likely that I’ll actually be able to enjoy what I’m studying to become.  Right now could just be tough times that’ll pass…
  2. I’m most interested in learning why a person got where they are today, rather than specifically what they’re doing today.  I like the Personhood of happenings more than the happenings themselves.  (*More on this topic in a future post.)
  3. The best kind of success stories are the ones where people abandon an unsatisfying career/life choice to take up something that brings happiness and meaning to their life.  

It’s usually something simpler, like abandoning some corporate office job to make granola and sell it at a local farmers market.  It’s usually riskier, like abandoning a steady income and financial security for the dream of starting a business from the ground up.  But it’s centering. And it’s reacquainting people with what matters to them so that they could improve and enrich their lives.

I interviewed a local coffee shop owner in the city I live and asked her what inspired her to start the business.  

She told me, “I really enjoy coffee and tea, and-” She paused before adding, “I was kinda at a point where I was just unhappy in my job and needed to evaluate what made me happy.  And I liked being behind the counter and getting to talk with people and nerd out a little bit on making them the best beverage possible.”   

Two days earlier I interviewed a general manager at a hydroponics and gardening supplies store.  He had only lived in the city for a year, and when I asked him what made him move and join the hydroponics and gardening industry he responded with:

“I hated the corporate life.” He went on to say that he wanted to make a greater impact with a new focus. “I think that anybody in this industry, that is going into a store, is not only looking for good products but also good knowledge, and I appreciate teaching,” he said.  

These stories just make me so happy! For a simple reason-

So often we’re told what is expected  of us in life and what a “quality” career and life looks like.  But that cookie-cutter standard isn’t always what’s best for people. And it’s so easy to forget that we can still do anything!  No matter our age- no matter how simple or unconventional- we can make our lives be our lives!  Honestly-

we can do whatever the fuck makes us happy.  Just think about that! 

And I think an important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to make a ton of money to be “successful.”  Success is simply finding out what adds meaning and joy to your life and then just maximizing that meaning and that joy.  

        4. I think I’m going to be okay.  

I think we’re all going to be okay.

Let’s Start Analyzing Our Happiness

 If someone you’re reasonably close to asks you how you are and you say “good” they are likely to say something along the lines of “oh that’s good” and the conversation will move on to things that are bigger or better or just plain ‘other.’

If you answer “I’m not that great today” they are likely to ask why and the conversation will center around trying to ‘fix’ your sadness as if sadness is clearly an emotion that no one should ever feel if at all possible.

But sadness is not wrong just as happiness is not right.  Feelings are neither right nor wrong- they simply are.  And we need all of our emotions to live a full and enriched life.  And isn’t that the goal, really?  To live a full and enriched life.  

I’m not suggesting we need to stop trying to cheer up the sad. I’m only suggesting that we need to stop treating happiness like the expected-

like the default-

like the “correct.” 

Happiness is certainly nice and more of it in life is nice, too.  But I don’t think we’re going to get more of it in life if we dismiss happiness as the default emotion that everybody needs.  It’s not an inherent trait so much as it is a choice.  I think the way to get the most good out of life is to analyze happiness just as we instinctively analyze sadness.

What is it that makes you happy?  Why does it make you happy?  How can you maximize the experience of happiness?  

If someone you’re reasonably close to asks you how you are and you say “good” I propose that the ideal response is “Oh, that’s great to hear!  Why?  What do you define as ‘good’?”  

Now, I understand that ‘good’ is something you have to often say in passing to avoid concerning the polite individual who asked you how you are, purely out of the curtesy of smalltalk.  In that case, there is no time to dwell on why you are good.  Neither of you two have to time to truly talk about your individual emotional well-being.

However, if you have the time- next time someone says they are good- try asking why.  Find out what makes them happy.  

Look inwardly next time you are happy and ask yourself why you feel so happy.  How can you maximize that feeling and transfer it to other areas of your life?  

Just give it a try.  Be meditatively happy.  You just might find yourself reflecting on the good in life more often than the bad.   

The Minimalist Aesthetic and Color

There’s something appealing about a blank canvas. Neutral tones and a simplistic backdrop for life.  The minimalist aesthetic.  It’s clean.  It’s idealistic.

If one surrounds themselves with neutral colored home furnishings and neutral colored clothes, it allows life’s colors to be introduced through experiences, feelings, and lavish cuisines. It’s a nice way to live- in black and white, the color within.  Then you are in control of what colors you live your life in.  I think that’s why the minimalist aesthetic appeals to so many people.  

It’s as close to fictional as a person can live.  Because life doesn’t let you choose what colors you live in.  Have you ever seen a painter’s pallet after they’ve finished their masterpiece?  It’s chaotic.  Every shade from every area of the color wheel mingling on the pallet.  Colors that should never be near each other are mixed and muddled.  That’s what life is.  And we’re just thrown on the pallet with all of the othe-

I’m not articulating this the way it needs to be articulated.  

I honestly don’t-

I can’t-

I’ll just stop here. 

Quotes From “The Importance of Being Earnest,” My Favorite Satire

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.  Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!”

“More than half of modern culture depends on what we shouldn’t read.”

“The very essence of romance is uncertainty.”

“You see, if one plays good music, people don’t listen, and if one plays bad music, people don’t talk.”

“In any case, she is a monster, without being a myth, which is rather unfair.”

“Relations [family] are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.”

“All women become like their mothers.  That is their tragedy.  No man does.  That’s his.”

“I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets of my life.”

“Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

The Planets- Sleeping at Last

Pieces of songs by the band “Sleeping at Last” (I like to call them “blanket songs,” because I just want to wrap myself up in the music and sit there like that forever)

Sleeping at Last has a song dedicated to each planet and they’re all so beautiful…all of the ones that I have heard.  I haven’t listened to them all yet, but I look forward to doing so…  Here are pieces of some that have struck a chord with me (no pun intended):

From “Saturn”

“How rare and beautiful it is to even exist…I tried to write it down but I could never find a pen…I’d give anything to hear you say it one more time- that the universe was made just to be seen by my eyes.”  

From “Neptune”

“It was a stained glass variation of the truth..”

“I’m only honest when it rains.  

If I time it right, the thunder breaks when I open my mouth.  

I wanna tell you, but I don’t know how…  

I’m only honest when it rains-

an open book with a torn out page, and my ink’s run out.  

I wanna love you but I don’t know how.  

I don’t know how.”

From “Mercury”

“I am dissonance waiting to be pulled swiftly into tune.”