Categories, not a child’s game

February 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m currently in the midst of trying to put together my Google Reader – which I recognize, I tried to do years ago, and finally am back to actually doing it.  It all started when one day last week, my friend asked me to recommend blogs for him, and I was kind of stumped.  Even though I know I read a lot of blogs and I peruse a lot of blogs, for the life of me, I couldn’t really recommend any because my style of blog reading is based entirely on an illogical system of “oh yea.”  Basically, I’ll start off by going on New York Times, then I’ll read something that reminds me “oh yea” I love Thomas Friedman.  Then I’ll click over to Thomas Friedman where maybe something will remind me of (“oh yea”) the Huffington Post.  Then on my way to typing “www.h…” I’ll get distracted because my recent browser history will prompt me to instead go to Hilowbrow.com (a great site of uncompromising art and ideas).

Anyways, this led me to asking my tech savvy girlfriends which blogs they read.  I figured we probably read some of the same ones, and it would be a list I could recommend off of.  Of course, Brittany and Whitney shared their Google Reader with me.  Not only is it an intense list of everything they read, but the girls have efficiently organized their subscriber-ships into categories which can be easily browsed.  You want to read about fashion, wellness, and the latest new nail polish color?  Click on the “Girly Bundle.”  You want to read about recipes, food, and general wellness?  Click on “Food Blogs.”   Why  am I always behind on these life simplification technologies?

So here I am… organizing, categorizing.  And it’s not easy.  So far, I have these categories: Friend’s Blogs, The Dismal Science (my name for websites having to do with Economics/Business), General News, Be Innovative (for tech and entrepreneurship sites), and stealing from Brit , Girl.  But it’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s not so easy to categorize things – even things as uncomplicated as where to put my RSS feeds.  For example, Thomas Friedman’s blog on NY Times – where does it belong?  It surely isn’t general news because it’s opinion, but at the same time it hardly belongs in Friend’s Blogs as much as I would love to call him a friend.  He sure talks a lot about business and globalization – but he leans more towards politics, so should I put him in the Dismal Science?

Complicated.

What is more amusingly frustrating (than being unable to categorize certain subscriptions) is my desire to have things in the black and white.  No Mr. Friedman, you cannot occupy two categories – you must belong in one and only one so that when I want to read you, I know where to look.  So that when I want to read about some particular subject, I know that you will be there.  There’s no denying that (sometimes) it’s the black and whites in life that simplify life.  Sometimes, it’s being able to define certain bounds that you know where to live within them.  Sometimes, it’s knowing what is wrong and being certain of it, that you know what is right.

Bottom line, it’s all about expectations.

I was thinking the other day of the point of having a title to a relationship.  Title-ing your relationships to people are really a way of categorizing them in your life.  “Friends,” “Best Friends,” “Family,” “Boyfriend,” “Worst-Most-Hated-Enemy-In-The-World.”  Sometimes, a title feels so unnecessary.  If I’m in a “relationship” with someone that I care about and I know that they are committed and faithful to me, and they know that I am committed and faithful to them, then what’s the point of having a title except to explain to the world what we are?  Calling someone my boyfriend or not calling them my boyfriend really only affects how other people will view him in my life, but it doesn’t really affect the way I view him in my life – no matter what I call him, I will care about him in ways that exist already in spite of labels.

But – and here’s the but – titles become important when you become unclear internally, when perhaps your expectations of what the relationship is may not match what the other person’s expectations are.  When there is no internal clarity, titles become the effective and clear way that one can define their expectations of the other person to each other, and equally importantly, to themselves.  How I expect someone to treat me may often depend on how I think of them in my head.  If I think of them as just a friend, I will expect them to treat me as such, but if I should think of them as something more – then I will have expectations that may or may not lead to ultimate disappointment.  The beauty of titles are the way they help manage  expectations you have for the people around you.  (Whether or not this works, ultimately depends on whether or not you believe the titles you form.)

And no, this isn’t easy.  If I thought categorizing Thomas Friedman was hard, this is infinitely infinitely harder.  Sometimes relationships defy categorization, sometimes relationships tease you to attempt to title them and laugh in your face when you can’t.  But no matter how frustrating it can be, or how laughably impossible it could be – doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying.

Small decisions

February 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes, I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for how hard small decisions can be.  I’ve legitimately been in bed for most of the past three – going on four days – of my life.  Yesterday, I made my first valiant efforts to get out of bed – to get out of the comforts that sleep and not-feeling can bring.  Yet three hours out of bed, and I’m back in.  Today was even worse – today, because I had nothing to do all day, I just stayed in bed… all day.  I think I left at some point to get something to eat, drive around a bit, talk on the phone a little, move my car because I’m currently doing the two-hour shuffle because my parking spot is no more – and now I’m back.  I think my situation got a little desperate because my best friend Natalie just sent me a text saying, “Are you still in bed?”  “Yes.”  I replied… unfortunately.

I think sometimes small decisions are hard to make because we can’t seem to face the bigger consequence of those decisions.  We let our ability to make those decisions be ruled by whether or not we can deal with the consequence of those small decisions – our fates in the moment are decided by a larger picture of “potential” scenarios that aren’t even in front of us – but potentially scenarios that are so frightening, overwhelming, and down right unenjoyable that we can’t make a move forward at all.  I can’t get out of bed.  Why can’t I get out of bed?  I can’t get out of bed because I’m sad – because the thought of socializing with people, the thought of pretending to be okay, the thought of actually being okay with a reality that I am not okay with – terrifies me, frightens me, makes me feel like I’m drowning.  The bigger potential – impending, really – future that sits before me requires energy that I don’t have to give.  That means I can’t get out of bed.

Working out can be like that sometimes.  Sometimes I hate working out because all I see is how unenjoyable working out will be 20 minutes into my work out.  20 minutes into my work out, I’ll be exhausted, tired, really annoyed that I’m stuck working out and halfway sweaty, but not happy enough that I got a good work out to be glad I started working out.  We get so daunted by the idea of working out for 30 minutes or an hour, that often we don’t start at all.  I once read an article about how to get into shape is not to say “I have to work out for 30 minutes a day.”  Merely, start your day with 10 minutes of exercise, with 10 minutes of being in motion – 10 minutes of not being still… and then go from there.

So where am I now?  Still in bed.  Still scared of getting out of bed and what that means.  But … maybe it doesn’t have to mean all that it could mean.  It doesn’t have to mean I’m okay with pretending to be okay, it doesn’t have to mean that I have to socialize when I can’t fake a plastered smile, it doesn’t have to mean that I’m okay with this sad reality that I am in.  Maybe getting out of bed just has to mean taking a step forward.  Maybe getting out of bed right now doesn’t mean that I can’t get back in later – maybe it just means I have to take a step out of all the things that are making me unmovable right now.

I will let you know how it goes.

Where Am I?

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