Kelly’s Grateful and I’m…Expository

2014-11-28 14.09.18This won’t be the first Thanksgiving Kelly and I have spent without our parents. When I was studying abroad, Kelly’s birthday present was a trip to visit me during her Thanksgiving break from school. Instead of the usual turkey/mashed potato/stuffing combo, we went out for pizza together and ended up getting a free glass of wine because they felt they were taking too long to bring us our food.

Of course, because my family is nuts, when I got home a month later, my welcome back dinner was a full Thanksgiving spread. If a holiday involves food, you can be damn sure the Danvers will be making that food, and will be making it as complicated and delicious as possible. If a holiday doesn’t involve food, well, we’ll give it a meal anyway.

My parents, by the way, are still planning on making Thanksgiving dinner in Australia. They just have to wait to do it over the weekend.

This is the season of clichés. I could tell you that it still felt like Thanksgiving because I got to eat dinner in Edinburgh with my sister. I could tell you that Thanksgiving that year just happened for me a month later, when I got to sit around the dinner table with my family for the first time in months, eating a meal they had made because they loved me and wanted to give me things I’d missed out on. All those things are true.

I get all the complicated entanglements of the season. I get to love it because I am immensely privileged to have a family that I love, who loves me, with none of that weighed down by trauma or fear or conditions. I’m privileged to be safe, to have a home, consistent access to food. I am privileged in that none of the holidays of the season are an assault on my culture, religion, or heritage. I don’t have to Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be complicated or ironic for me because my land wasn’t stolen while my ancestors were murdered. Instead, I did the stealing.

Alright, so maybe Thanksgiving is a little complicated. But I have the privilege of not thinking about it.

Instead, for me, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a season of sincere expressions of love and gratitude, things I don’t practice often enough. It is a season full of delicious food, and warm memories, particularly now that I’ve grown out of antagonizing people into knock down drag out fights about Israel and Palestine on Christmas Eve (true story). It’s a season I get to spend warm and cozy and appreciative.

This year, Hannah and I will be hosting Thanksgiving for a bunch of our friends and family. We’re going to make our own turkey/mashed potato/stuffing combination, and we’re going to have twice the recommended number of bottles of wine. We’re going to celebrate our friends and the life we’ve cobbled together up here in the Northeast, a pretty long way from the multifaceted and dissonant Virginia we both left.

Also, my sister is visiting. So I’ll be happy ❤

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What am I thankful for?

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That’s a pretty good question. There are so many different things that I am grateful to have in my life, things I have talked about on this blog at length. My family, my job, my friends, are all amazing parts of my life that make it happier. But these are big things that are really great – but kind of operate in the long term. This year I’ve focused a lot on the long term so for right now I want to focus more on the short term – because sometimes things only last a moment and one should be thankful every chance we get. So in that vain, here are a few things that make me happy for just moments during my day.

My bodega on the corner of my street. The guys there are super nice and give me discounts on Diet Coke.

The cooking skills my parents instilled in me. I can pretty much make anything with a recipe and can improvise if things go awry.

Netflix. I know a lot of people say this, but Netflix is actually allowing some really great entertainers reach a wider audience because they don’t have to compete for time on regular networks (this is how I got super into Miss Fishers!)

In that same vain, I am really grateful for Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist. They handpick 3o different songs for you each week and it’s how I’ve discovered some of my favorite new music.

Wine. Gin. Craft beers. Alcohol in general is pretty great.

Over-the-ear headphones. They function as music carriers and earmuffs in the cold months!

Vacuums. I was cleaning my room this week, and what did people do before vacuums?? Use brooms I assume but that’s so much time lost. No wonder housewives collectively said “no” when the 60s and free love came around.

The new TV show Supergirl. I did not know that Supergirl’s alter ego was named Cara Danvers. This is AWESOME.

In that same vain, I am grateful for ancestry trackers. Being the history nerd that I am, I want to hear where my family has been and what experiences they might have gone through.Where did all the other Danvers go??

Sweatshirts and sweatpants. Anything that’s soft and fluffy and wearable is what we should be putting on our bodies all the time. Screw fashion, people 30 years from now will think you look ridiculous anyways.

Public transportation. We should make this available and accessible for everyone…but right now, it’s still pretty amazing to be able to travel miles without having to own a car.

Tumblr. This social media site holds some of the smartest jokes and satirists the internet has ever seen. Yes, sometimes it hosts terrible hate-ridden people – but so do most corners of the internet. Overall, it’s my favorite thing.

And finally, I am really thankful that I have a place to go for thanksgiving even though our parents are down under. And not only that, the amount of people whom my sister and I love who offered us their place for the holidays means so much to us.

Click, Click, Boom

paparazzi

“But remember, there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them.” –David Wong

About a month and a half ago I was dog sitting for some family friends down in SoHo. I went out to take a walk and as I headed down West Broadway I saw a woman walking toward me with two of the largest great danes I have ever seen. Seriously they probably came up past my hip. Anyways while she was taking a morning walk with her dogs in her own neighborhood, this other woman was filming her and her dogs as she walked down the street. The impulse wasn’t lost on me. When you see something that should seemingly defy nature like these massive dogs, you want to document it. But as I got closer I heard the dog-walker politely asking the other woman to please stop filming her. And suddenly I was horrified at what was happening.

This dog-walker had gone outside to give her enormous dogs some fresh air and was minding her own business while this other woman completely invaded her privacy. This dog-walker had not consented to her picture being taking and would have no control over her image or the images that were taken. And considering internet culture today, once those images are uploaded, that’s it–they’re out there forever. And this made me think about people who go through this everyday.

Celebrity culture has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I grew up with social media, so easy access to my favorite personalities was never hard. I mostly remember keeping up with the Harry Potter trio (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson) during the moment they were cast through my formative years as they made each movie and grew up in front of our eyes. I wanted to know what they did in their spare time, what music and books they liked, what projects they were working on. They were a part of something that I was really invested in and I wanted to be a part of their lives too. Because of this, I used to search the internet for every picture or weird piece of info I could find so I could piece together their lives. But I never stopped to think how I got this information or how it found its way online in the first place.

Everyday celebrities walk out of their front door with the risk of their picture being taken without their consent. They fight through crowds of rude paparazzi who ask them questions they have no right to ask, all while trying to seem friendly, and frankly, human. And then when those pictures or out-of-context answers make their way to the media, they are interpreted over and over until any original meaning is lost and they become caricatures of themselves, where a dim shade of their actual personality becomes their defining characteristic.

This is very hard to wrap my head around. I sometimes have a problem imagining the people I am close to complexly, let alone a star I have never even met, let alone personally talked too. I can’t imagine the type of work they have to put in to appear normal when there are a million flashing lights and screams are surrounding them. And god forbid if kids are involved as well. These children, who have no context for what’s happening to them, are exposed to these vicious people who have no regard for their well-being, who only want to get paid for their shot. And that’s no way to grow up and no way to live a life. Celebrities and celebrity parents can choose to show pictures themselves and of their children to the public, as can any parent, but there are boundaries that we all need to respect.

Seeing this dog walker have her picture taken without her consent was not the first time I thought about celebrity and paparazzi culture, but it was the first time I could really put into context the experience of being hunted simply for your picture. It really hit home the harsh reality that these celebrities live in. We say we worship them or look up to them – but at the end of the day, they are just people, trying to live a life just like us.

I guess this experience just really made me think about what it would be like to have such a public life. Some of my dreams for my future career could involve that type of attention for myself one day and I sometimes wonder if I could handle all the time or if at all.

I’m sure like most celebrities–and every other person on the planet–I would have both good days and bad.

Blood Red Leaves on Blood Red Streets

IMG_0576This weather is really freaking me out guys. For those of you who don’t live in the Northeastern part of the United States (Hi mom! Hi dad!), you’ll just have to trust me. Its November – the month that was made for Pumpkin Spice Lattes, scarves and sweaters, boots, tea and pie and blankets reading in a comfy chair while the wind rages outside.

Except its been too warm to really enjoy a hot PSL, I haven’t used any of my scarves in the past two weeks, and I’ve been doing most of my reading on the bus. Today, the first thing I did when I got up, after I turned off my window unit air conditioner, was step outside onto our balcony. It’s been in the mid 60s and my Toms have holes in them and the wind is sharp and warm with anxiety.

It feels like middle school, or the last few weeks before graduation. It’s a holding pattern. A waiting game. I spent all summer in a state of stillness, too hot to get worked up, to uncertain to make any decisions. June was a month of cocktails, and July a month of working. In August I was supposed to learn how to be an independent person. Perhaps the nervous wind and the sly warmth in the air are trying to remind me that I haven’t figured it out yet. All fall I’ve had this song lyric stuck in my head – they say that autumns in New England are the greatest of them all, but give me sweet Virginia for the fireworks of fall. I miss home a little. And I keep having to remind myself that I really, really don’t live there anymore.

There is a strong part of me that is desperate to enjoy this extended transition from summer to winter. It’s the same part of me that remembers the sheer absurdity of last winter’s snow. I like having the windows open. I’m secretly outdoorsy and I like that I can breathe fresh air, that the world is bigger than my admittedly large apartment.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, however, then so must be whatever aesthetic quality I’ve assigned to this odd, unsettling autumn. Maybe it’s that I am also in the world’s longest transition period, and I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do when I get out of it. It’s not bothering me, per se, but its there, and it feels like an opportunity that I have a responsibility to make the most of.

So the weather and I wait together, holding on to comfortable temperatures and comfortable patterns as long as possible, but always with change and decisions and upheaval hovering on the edge, waiting for us as we wait for them.

Or maybe its just global climate change and the world’s gonna end before we get there.

Who knows.

Another list, if you will

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“If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.”

-John Kenneth Galbraith

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A grey winter morning makes for the best thinking weather. As the world becomes less vibrant and the grey hue settles on every stale corner of the city, my thoughts become flat and I turn on autopilot. I have no need for inspiration. I am not aroused nor are my interests piqued. I simply process information, allowing my mind to wander as it pleases. This is when I start to remember things. One memory leads to another like word association. I challenge myself to recall instances as perfectly as I can. I string events together chronologically to form full years worth of memories. I wish I could go back and feel some of those feelings for the first time again. So many things were so important and so influential to me when they happened. And now there is no point in mentioning them again. I’m heartbroken that so many seemingly important things will remain forgotten.

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Look at where you are

Look at where you started

The fact that you’re alive is a miracle

Just stay alive, that would be enough

And if this child

Shares a fraction of your smile

Or a fragment of your mind, look out world!

That would be enough

I don’t pretend to know

The challenges you’re facing

The worlds you keep erasing and creating in your mind

But I’m not afraid, I know who I married

So long as you come home at the end of the day

That would be enough

We don’t need a legacy

We don’t need money

If I could grant you peace of mind

If you could let me inside your heart… Oh, let me be a part of the narrative

In the story they will write someday

Let this moment be the first chapter:

Where you decide to stay

And I could be enough

And we could be enough

That would be enough

That Would Be Enough, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

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We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that, in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.”

-Francois de laRochefoucauld

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I don’t think we give people enough leeway to change their mind. Changing your mind is one of the most human and important things you can do. It tells the world that you are able to learn and understand new information and apply it to what you knew before. Sometimes this new information will mean nothing. And sometimes it will mean everything.

Society teaches a lot of really, really good ideas and lessons about each other, such as politeness and the importance of sharing your knowledge. But it also teaches us some pretty horrible things too, like body shaming and misogyny. We must, as individuals and as a community, fight against those bad ideas. And this is going to require a lot of people to change their minds.

So the next time we accuse someone of flip-flopping lets first take a look at what their morals were before and what they are now, and judge them on their ability address new information. Changing one’s mind signals progress and development – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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“Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad; whether from great personal success or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.”

-John la Carre

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I have way too much stuff. Today I threw out two garbage bags full of clothes. I’ll throw out another one in a few days. I still have boxes of things my parents gave me when they moved. The passage to my closet is layered with clothes and I am not sure I want to venture into the depths of black and grey cotton. I think instead I will wear the same thing I wore yesterday.

I want there to be meaning behind every possession I have. I want to be able to tell the story or the memory that each object holds. I wish, “I like it” was good enough for me. But then again I don’t know what’s good enough for me.

It’s hard to throw away things until they are gone. Then it’s the easiest thing in the word.

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“It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.”

-G.K. Chersterson