Inspire the Uninspired.

January 31, 2012 § 1 Comment

It’s no secret that one of my biggest fears in life is to be uninspired, to live uninspired-ly.  I’m not exactly sure what that means, or what that looks like in the big picture, but I can tell you what it feels like in the smallness and tangibleness of day to day life.   Feeling uninspired feels a whole lot like apathy, and really, there’s no better way to define it than by a lack of desire, a lack of striving, a lack of passion, and a general lacking of wanting to do anything.  

When I’m having a particularly inspiring day, I see it from all fragments and pieces of my life.  A good conversation with a friend can spark thoughts and emotions.  Watching a great film or reading a great book can excite me about the idea of writing and perhaps drumming up the next “Desendants” (best film I’ve seen recently).  Coming across a good article on the web can invoke a desire to blog and share thoughts with the world.  Having a good work out session makes me want to make all sorts of resolutions to never eat sweets or drink alcohol again.  Spending a worthwhile hour on Pinterest can make me craft my visions of my perfect home and add pages and pages into my mental recipe book.  When I’m having an uninspired day, I do all of the above, and it just ends there – there is no added wanting or striving to do anything more.  The reading ends at reading, the watching ends at watching, the time spent talking with friends leads me to wonder why I’m spending so much time talking with friends.

I think I’m beginning to understand why I fear living an uninspired life so much.  Who wouldn’t fear living a life that is lacking in the motivation that each of us draws on to make it through the day, the months, and ultimately, the years.   Truly, that is what inspiration is.  Inspiration is motivation.  Inspiration is the fire that lights our dreams that actually makes us want to accomplish things, do things, be things.  Maybe I’m finally starting to feel a little more inspired now.

Yes, I realize that uninspired days are not impossible.  I will still treasure certain days when spending an afternoon on the couch snacking on Nut Thin Crackers (my new favorite munchie) watching NFL Football (my new favorite sport) will be a heaven of an afternoon for me.  But when I’m not happy feeling so uninspired and lack of feeling and will, I think what I need is a healthy kick of forced inspiration.  What is that forced inspiration?  Well, right now, at my desk, the only thing I can do is peruse around the web and read things and see things – and do my best to take inspiration out of what I read and see.  It’s okay sometimes, to force yourself to dream a little. 

My pieces of inspiration around the web:

1.  A funny article about a woman who hated running, but ultimately embraced it.

2. A conversation with Courtney Clevenger over gchat. 

3. Reading reviews for Richard III.  Tickets still available I think!

4. These photos from Pinterest:

5. Knowing that tomorrow is a new day full of new things that could inspire.

 

 

The Oxford Comma

January 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Yes, I know.  A post dedicated to the Oxford Comma – the singularly most commical, necessary, and distinguished part of the practice of correct grammar.  I find it particularly amusing that I am so intrigued by this punctuation, but I think the following pictures will explain why.

I mean… what’s not to love about a piece of punctuation that you can have so much fun with.

And my friend Kelly really enjoys it too…

“I just had a lawyer walk in :
“look at this hard working industrious group. and then Kelly on facebook”
“I’m not on facebook. I’m researching the oxford comma”
“oh ya, is that part of a very important research assignment?”
“…….no….. I just like them””

 

Choosing Difficult

January 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

While I’ve only been a resident of fabulous New York City since May of 2011 when I moved here with after graduation from law school, it feels like I’ve been here much longer.  I think I’ve had the experience of most New Yorkers.  I’ve lived on the upper west side; I’ve lived in the lower east.  I’ve lived (albeit temporarily) in my own cute little studio apartment; I’ve lived in a rodent infested shack with five people, in space too small for even one.  I’ve worked for a major fashion magazine; I’ve worked as a nanny to one of the few wealthy Jewish couples in Harlem.  I’ve gone on dates with bankers, lawyers, and hell, even had lunches with men old enough to be my father.  I’ve been spit on, cussed at, and shoved while trying to go get around this damn town, but I’ve also built a loving relationship with the sweet Korean couple that do my laundry on 2nd and B.  This December they gave me an awesome lint roller as a Christmas present.  It was the only time I felt genuinely remorseful I hadn’t thought of someone on my holiday shopping list.

I love New York because of how diverse it is; because of the sense that anything can happen here.  Yet, the truth is, when I was at home in Austin, TX this past Christmas break, I didn’t love New York and it’s possibilities so much.  In fact, all I could think about was why I hadn’t move back to Austin yet.  Now, my relationship with Austin is complex and has evolved a lot over the past 14 years.  At first I begrudged Austin because it wasn’t Tulsa, Oklahoma where my parents had viciously uprooted me from in middle school.  (My moving experience was both that evil and that painful, that in my eyes, it distorted Tulsa to be a little bit like heaven).  Not only did my twelve-year-old self begrudge my new home, I loathed it and frequently made solemn vows late at night that I would run away whenever I could.  Running away soon equated to going to college, and in high school, I only applied to out of state universities.  Still, despite my solemn vow to “get the hell out” – I somehow wound up at the University of Texas, and it was there that my bitterness towards Austin as a town, as a home, changed dramatically.  The city worked on me slowly.  From its small town charm, to its collegiate air of self-importance, to its daring attitude towards music and art, Austin and it’s unique vibe changed my attitude.  I started liking it, loving it, and frankly, becoming at home there.

So of course being in Austin over the holidays made me question a lot as to why I’m still in New York.  Yes, I love New York City, but it’s clear to me that the reasons I love New York are different and somewhat incomparable to the reasons I love Austin.  You can’t really compare loving a place because it’s diverse to loving a place because it’s home.  Is it pride?  Is part of me afraid to call it quits so soon?  Am I just holding out for that five-year mark when it is more okay to move?  I have a good friend Julie who moved to D.C. soon after college graduation, and before a year was out, she was packing her things and heading back to good ‘ol ATX.  She wrote all of us girlfriends an email sharing with us her decision on moving back so quickly, and she simply said, “I realized the only thing holding me back was pride, and that is a stupid reason.”  Turning the tables around, if pride is my reason, then that is an equally stupid reason.

But tonight, as I climbed my five flights of stairs to my apartment that isn’t in the East Village, isn’t in Alphabet City, and not exactly in the Lower East Side – I realized that the reason I’m still in New York, the reason that I’m not moving back to Austin (or anywhere else for that matter) is because New York is difficult, and right now, I need some difficult in my life.  It’s clear that the comforts of home don’t shape you into the person you want to become, New York does.  New York forces you to make decisions, it forces you to figure out who you are, what you want, and what kind of person you are pushing yourself to be.  The abundance of opportunity, possibility, potentiality in New York is what makes it both exciting and difficult.  In this place, you either find yourself, or you lose yourself.  Every day, every moment, you are faced with a multitude of options.  Do you take off your ugly mono-chromatic sweat pants, brave the cold and meet up with some friends at a bar or do you sit at home and pin your night away on Pinterest?  (I often choose Pinterest if anyone is concerned.)  But seriously, it forces you to decide on what and who is populating your life.  Which friends do you make effort for?  What functions and meetings do you attend?  What do you spend your hard earned money on?  New York forces you to decide because it is a city where everything is possible, yet it only offers you limited amounts of time and means to conqueror it.  It’s not easy for me to be here, but it’s just so right because I know I will look back and see that I became more myself because I was here.

Not just me

August 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

I imagine that most people’s relationship with their parents follow a somewhat similar cycle.  You begin in a state of adoration where it seems like your parents are God, or something close to God.  Then as you grow up, and lose a bit of yourself through the challenges of adolescence, you lose a bit of that adoration as well.  But finally, likely through a combination of growth, maturity, and equal effort to meet in the proverbial middle, the relationship usually springs back into one of love, respect, and mutual understanding.

For my parents and I, that period of discord lasted from the latter years of elementary school through the early years of college.  While much of what we argued about (curfew, boys, and school work) seemed too typical – our misunderstandings towards each other were not only brought on by a generation gap, but by a cultural one as well.

During many of these heated exchanges, I was very fond of saying, “This is my life!”  These four simple words didn’t seem so special, nor did they seem particularly spiteful – we can all think of more colorful phrases in the English language.   In fact, these harmless words were probably uttered by many teens before me and will be uttered by many after me, but those four always angered my father greatly.  It wasn’t until my later years, when I became more observant towards the nuances of human emotion, that I would realize how it would also shatter him a little as well.  My father didn’t understand the separation of “my life” and “his life.”  To him, we were a family, and therefore, my life was his life, and his, mine.  To him, the four words weren’t harmless; rather, they signified a desire to see my life and their life as separate.

In fact, my father had lived his life for his family.  Whatever burdened my mom and me, burdened him.  Whatever we rejoiced in, he rejoiced in.  He had never lived his life for himself, but always thought of us as an inseparable whole.  When we had little to spend, he would skip lunch so our family could eat nicer dinners.  When I was going through the critical years of high school when what you wore defined where you stood on the social totem pole, he would buy clothes at a discount so I could buy something new off the rock.  And even now, as a 25-year-old woman, my family has decided to help me carry the heavy burden of my graduate school loans because to them, we will always be a team.

There is a lot about my parents that I do not understand, but if there were one thing I could hope to emulate from them, it would be to live with the mentality that my life is never just mine.

Greatness

August 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

I love the use of Ingrid Michaelson’s rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”  I love the beautiful, yet somewhat tragic notes of the song that weave in and out of the clips of the movie.

I absolutely hated growing up with the name Rodan.  I despised it because when you are in elementary school and everyone is trying to be the same and wear the “Gap,” I just wanted to have a “Gap-like” name and wear the “Gap” as well.  Rodan is definitely not a “Gap-like” name.   One day, I sat down with my mom and she told me that my father and her had chosen that name for me decisively because it was not normal.  It wasn’t common, it wasn’t ordinary, and in fact it was the namesake of someone who had been great (the great modern sculptor Auguste Rodin).  Thus, it was their hope that I wasn’t to be common, I wasn’t to be ordinary, and perhaps I could even be something great.  It didn’t take long for me to take the aspirations of my parents to heart.

But what does “great” mean?  I think on one side, great can be an objective standard.  It is a standard that is measured in terms of fame and success in the likes of perfect movie stars or diva sirens.  To my friends that work in finance, a great investor means someone like George Soros or Warren Buffet.  Surely there is greatness in the millions and billions they have raked in.  But great can also be a subjective standard and take on an extremely personal stance.  This kind of greatness is more a feeling than any certain objective measurement that can be equally difficult to achieve  and is more personal than the objective greatness mastered by the aforementioned brilliant investors.  It was this subjective greatness that I started yearning for in my own life.  I began dreaming that my job would be a great job that would provide joy to my life – and not just a means to make money and survive.  I yearned for a relationship where I would be madly in love  – and not merely dating someone for companionship.  I desired to cultivate friendships would be deep and significant – and not just looking to spend time with people so I’m not lonely and I don’t look friendless.

I think this is the kind of greatness that human kind gravitates towards and it’s the kind of greatness that can be found in the smallest and most simple situations.  For example, the love story in that movie above isn’t “great” by any objective standard.  It’s a story about two students, one who is studying abroad from England and one who is an American.  It’s a story about the two of them falling in love for the first time, and the inevitable heartache that must come when she must return home.  It’s a sad story, but on the surface it’s not a great story because it’s an ordinary story.  Yet, despite all measures of objective greatness, the film captures a sense of personal greatness.  He’s not just another ordinary boy with a thousand other ordinary boys out there – he’s the love of her life.  That by definition makes him important to her.  Makes him great to her, and makes their struggle relevant and great.  The greatness of their love is something that we can all relate to and identify with because we have all had great love at one point in our lives or have come very close.

We are all unique and diverse people with our own objective standards of greatness.  My friends in finance don’t quite understand the nuances of what it takes to be a “great” film maker and vice versa.  My friends in fashion and film don’t understand the bits and pieces of what it takes to be a great investor.  However, I do think they all have a sense of what a great relationship should feel like, the sense of purpose a great job should provide, and the kind of fulfillment great friendships bring about.

Supposed-to-be

August 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Lately, but particularly today, I’ve been having a serious case of the “supposed-to-be’s.”   I think it started with reading this email chain that I have with my college girlfriends, appropriately titled “Texas Girls Group.” – we all went to The University of Texas after all.  Reading through the brief updates on their busy lives I am simply in awe of all the things they are doing: one is starting a production company and planting a church while she’s at it, one is counseling physically abused women, one is dreaming up start ups, one is getting married, a few are falling in love, and the originator of the chain is growing her own cake baking business by stepping over into sweet and salty territory… yes, these are my friends.  These are the same girls I used to make Taco Bell runs with on a Tuesday night.  These are the same girls that I would sit with in our modern yellow house, around the large kitchen island, talking for hours.  These are the same girls that I would lounge with in our living room watching chick flick after chick flick, indie film after indie film.  These are the same girls that I would eat my breakfast with, grab my lunch with, and sometimes cook my dinner with (cooking meaning pouring a bowl of cereal and adding some milk.)

I can’t help but feel that they are out conquering the world – their world, and I’m over here baking crappy vegan treats.  While I read about  all their endeavors, I can’t help but look at my endeavors and think that I should be endeavoring things other than how to make my vegan raspberry brownies less crappy.  Shouldn’t I be embarking on a new and exciting career?  One that will make me happy and gratified that I went to law school?  Shouldn’t I be feeling settled and rooted in a cute apartment?  Shouldn’t I be as eager about marriage as everyone else seems to be?  I do want to get married one day, but eagerness, I do not have.  Shouldn’t I be dreaming of things and actually taking steps to accomplish them?  I read about people – fiction and real – doing such big, bold things and can’t help but wonder if I am not supposed to be doing something big and bold myself.  I look at my sad, not fudgy, not wudgy brownies and I just want to heave a sigh at all the “supposed-to-be’s” that stand hovering over me and my brownies.  (Let me pause for a moment and just say that you have not stumbled upon my own personal pity party.)

It’s not that I’m not happy learning how to make things in the kitchen.  In fact, it’s one of my life long dreams that I would be described as “crafty in the kitchen” one day and surely learning how to make good vegan raspberry brownies will give me a boost in that area.  However, it’s the hovering of the “supposed to be’s” that are currently sapping out any joy I could find in between the 1 1/2 cups of flour and the 1/2 a cup of cocoa powder.  It’s the worry that I may never actually accomplish anything big and bold that keeps me from getting lost in the book I’m reading about how math nerds brought down the financial world (see “The Quants”).  It’s the nervous anticipation of actually putting my law degree to use that keeps me from indulging in the fact that I have nothing but free time to do things I enjoy these days.

I wonder if this is just my nature, or perhaps this need to feel productive, this need to feel like “I’m going somewhere” is something that my parents and society at large has bred into me.  Last summer when I was traversing around Thailand, I met so many people that had quit their jobs, and were taking a break from life with their new found time and all their savings.  I marveled that they could just step away from all the commitments and guarantees that life at home provided them so they could experience a sense of unbounded freedom.  There would be no job waiting them when they returned, there would be no guarantee of stability.  A year from when they left, they would return to nothing with nothing.  Yet I’ve never met people that were more free and happy.  I think if they were to look at me now, they would say “Bake!” “Read!” “Write!”  They will surely turn to me and tell me that a moment will come when I will find my way, when the chips will fall in line and I can go along my worker bee lifestyle, but until then, I should enjoy where I am.

Oh how I wish I could listen to their unspoken words.

Nothing but Time

August 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yes.  I just made my second batch of vegan raspberry brownies.  Yesterday, for one of my friends birthdays, I decided to make her a special vegan treat.  It had to be vegan because  she was recently ordered by her doctor  to lay off dairy for a while.  This was no doubt upsetting since she has a certain affection for chocolate, but I was convinced that I could make her something that would take her mind off of her current dietary limitations.  After perusing a vast array of vegan dessert recipes (mostly found on findingvegan.com) I finally settled on raspberry brownies, partially for the abundance of chocolate the recipe called for, and partially because most other things were too difficult as I am still a novice baker.

I actually came upon two recipes and they were very similar but one was easier and seemed healthier – meaning that recipe, and the one I ended up choosing, used no butter.  No butter, no oil.  Just some flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, raspberries, and some semi-sweet vegan chocolate.  No butter and no oil though.  I thought to myself that this was strange since I’ve never seen an oil-less, butter-less recipe, but I figured it was a trusty blog with gorgeous pictures and I would be able to make the yummiest, healthiest, most delicious batch of vegan raspberry brownies.

Can you guess what the result was?  Needless to say – the best part of the brownie was the layer of chocolate on top.

So today, I thought I’d conquer the other vegan raspberry brownies and see how they turn out.  There is a bit of canola oil, a lot more semisweet vegan chocolate, and some almond milk (as substitution for the soy milk the recipe uses)… I will give an update as they are baking and will be done shortly.

All this baking lends me to the conclusion that I am officially… a stay at home non-wife, wife.  No, not really, but I’m at a very curious stage in my life where my days are completely undefined and that is something that I can only imagine stay at home wives can understand.  Now, to be clear, a stay at home wife is not the same thing as a stay at home mom.  A stay at home mom has to fulfill the important tasks that is required of being a mom.  Tasks that I don’t have a full grasp of but something along the lines of changing a million diapers, making a million peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and driving your kids from here to there to here again.  A stay at home wife, on the other hand, doesn’t really have anything that she MUST do on a day to day basis that is so time sensitive.  She definitely has tasks to accomplish, she has to-do’s she must cross off (like laundry, groceries, and cooking, etc.) – but she also has a nice chunk of time that she can fill with whatever she wants to do.  That is me.  I have recently been filling my time with baking vegan desserts.

Sure.  I have many things I have to do.  I have to look for a job.  I have to look for a temporary job while I look for a full time job.  I have to work on this “writing” thing that I both love and am possibly trying to turn into some kind of a “job.”  But then it kind of just stops there.  Then there are the other countless hours I have to do things that make me feel productive and good.  Countless of hours that are undefined and unmarked – for me to do whatever the hell I please with.  Can you feel I am not used to this kind of … freedom?

To be fair, I’ve been a student all my life.  There is a lot of freedom in the schedule of a student especially in your later college years and my law school years when I could schedule my classes just to give me 4 day weekends.  My junior and senior year of college, I pretty much only had Tuesday / Thursday classes which meant I had 4 day weekends with a nice break on hump day.  In law school, I endeavored to only have Monday – Wednesday classes so I could maintain my wonderful long weekend life style.  Still, I had things to do during those days where I wasn’t attending classes.  Those days were filled with many hours of studying (many many hours of studying), hours in meetings for various organizations I was a part of.  Hours of planning and being with friends who had the same student life that I did.  And now it’s entirely different – I’m an at home non-wife / wife with no real solid plan to my day.  What a strange, new, and slightly scary time in my life.

So here I am, pondering the next few weeks before me, and I’m intimidated.  Intimidated at the lack of structure in my life, intimidated at the lack of cohesion, and mostly afraid of feeling like I’m wasting time doing a lot of little things which leave me feeling like I’m doing a whole lot of nothing.