Happy Birthday, Michael Phelps!

636028299284250583-USATSI-9362485It’s the Olympic trials for swimming this week. For those of you who haven’t suffered through my endless Michael Phelps trivia over the past 16 years, here’s your chance. I imagine that this is how everyone else feels during football or baseball season. I don’t know how you people deal with this once a year. Once every four years is more than enough for me, thanks.

I’d like to say that I’ve always loved watching the Olympics, but I’m pretty sure “always” means “since 2004,” which is the first time I watched Michael Phelps swim. In those Olympics, he won 6 gold medals and 2 bronze and Kelly and I were fascinated. And by fascinated, I mean obsessed. We may have made a scrapbook. Believe me, I wish I knew where it was now.

In 2008 Michael Phelps became the first person to win 8 gold medals in a single Olympics. Person, of course, should read “swimmer” because it’s pretty close to impossible to do that in any other sport, but nevertheless. Time zones meant that Kelly and I could watch most of the races live, late at night, jumping around our TV room as he racked up gold after gold after gold.

And then in London, Michael Phelps became the most medaled Olympian athlete. Ever.

By that time it’d become clear that while Michael Phelps was great at swimming, he was not that great at being a person. I imagine that when you’ve been nothing but a swimmer for your formative years, it can be hard to know who you are without that. This obviously does not excuse bad behavior. DUIs kill people, and Michael Phelps, and the other people on the road that night, are all extremely lucky that his poor judgment did not result in grievous injury or death. You don’t get points for doing the right thing, either, but I think it is notable that went to rehab and accepted his suspension from swimming with some degree of grace. And since then, he’s worked his ass off to make this comeback.

michael-phelps-sports-illustrated-720x500A comeback I’ll admit, I was not looking forward to. I get very invested, very quickly. It takes me all of four seconds to get invested in a sporting event (except basketball. I cannot care about basketball) and that’s part of why I avoid them. Imagine what the past 16 years have been like. I was not looking forward to watching Phelps be disappointed, whether by his own mistakes, or by the unavoidable consequences of age.

But so far I have been happily surprised. Not just by Phelps’ performance, but also by how easy and happy he seems in comparison to the single-minded focus and frustrated distance we’ve seen in the past. He’s been up in the booth and doing interviews and making Facebook live videos. His fiancé and his baby have been sitting in the stand with his mom and it’s really nice to see. Because it’s been incredible watching his swimming career, but I’m finding it even more fun to watch him become a person.

I have a bit of a competence kink. I like watching people who are the best at what they do. I don’t really know why this is. It’s not like it serves as inspiration to me to overcome life’s great difficulties, of which I have none, though there is something to knowing what you can make yourself do if you just sit down and do it. I pretty much never know what I’m doing – it’s nice to watch people who do.

And every four years I get to watch Michael Phelps break a record. This year, he already has one (first male swimmer to make five Olympic teams) so the pressure’s off. Would I like him to win one more gold, thereby having more gold medals than anyone else in the world has medals, period? Yes. But if he doesn’t, he will still have his fiancé and his kid and his foundation and his Facebook live videos. Unimportantly, that’s good enough for me.

I hope it’s good enough for him too.

photo credits: Erich Schlegel USA Today, Sports Illustrated 

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Returning from a Great Perhaps

Did anyone else have to google mea culpa? No? Just me? Cool.

Though my immediate reaction is to allow Sara to take all the blame for our blogging hiatus (mostly because I’m the little sister and that’s just my instinct), at some point I must shoulder some responsibility. My last few weeks/months/years have been filled with mostly normal, everyday routines. I get up, I go to work, I come home. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Though my job is varied enough that I am kept well on my toes, at some point you pause and realize that it’s been three weeks/six weeks/twelve weeks and you aren’t quite sure what’s happened.

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I have to admit that maintaining a blog is a lot harder than I imagined it would be. There’s an inspiration and a beauty to the everyday that I sometimes fail to see. I want to write about things that matter and I want my writing to connect to everyone in some little way. And thinking about achieving that can be quite exhausting. Because my minutes are not always filled with some great purpose. Sometimes a day is just a day.

Personally that’s a hard concept for me to grasp. One of my greatest fears is me lying on my death bed, realizing that I’ve run out of time. Time to create, time with friends and family, time alone. I want each second to burst with some kind of life, I want to be aware and a live every second of every day. I want what I say to be meaningful, I want my life to be meaningful. I want to try and learn and to experience everything.

So when I sit down after a brutally long day and I open my computer to write a blog post and I realize I have nothing I want to say (or even worse, I want to say everything and cannot find the words) I get frustrated. And sad. And it makes me want to quit. So when Sara suggested a slight break from blogging so she could concentrate on moving, my immediate feeling was relief.

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But this is of course silly. Just because there are moments that are not big and beautiful, doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of remembrance or thought.  We see something we know a friend would love and we share it, or we take the perfect picture that needs #nofilter, or we find a song or a book or a quote that breaks our heart. Maybe these moments are ephemeral and nothing to write home about. But my job from now on isn’t to try and find the meaning in every moment. It’s going to be to live it–and hopefully write about it.

Because being alive does not mean that our hearts must be full every minute. It means putting one foot forward, again and again and again, until we are where and who we want to be. And hopefully we will find inspiration along the way. So welcome back to the trip friends. It’s gonna be one great ride.

We’re Baaaaaaack

IMG_1366Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Consider this my mea culpa – for all of you who desperately missed our blog (and I’m sure there are many of you), it’s definitely my fault that we took an exceptionally long hiatus. A while ago, at the beginning of March I had a whirlwind trip to New York City in which I had an impromptu job interview followed by an impromptu job offer followed by an impromptu move followed by, followed by, followed by…

Suffice to say I’m bad at multitasking. My parents would probably disagree with this. Many a night in high school found me with schoolbooks propped up against the computer desk in the basement so I could talk to my friends on AIM while I did my homework. There was inevitably a television show playing in the background. I had a tendency to live blog Iron Chef to anyone and everyone regardless about whether they cared about champagne mixed with asparagus puree.

But as I’m sure most of you have realized, that’s not the type of multitasking I’m talking about, although I’ve gotten worse at that too over the years. But mostly what I mean is that when I’m stressed about something, be it emotional or situational, I become one of those machines that take themselves offline. Nothing but vital functions allowed. And as a creature of habit, a person who takes great pleasure in her routines, moving was about the most stressful thing I’ve done in a long while.IMG_1231

And yet – now I’m here! And just like I told myself, and just like everyone else told me too, the months flew by and I’m settling in. It no longer feels overwhelming just trying to figure out what my day-to-day looks like. I know where my grocery store is, what my paychecks look like, what my commute looks like. I know how to do my job and how I’m likely to spend my weekends. I feel like, at least at the basic level, I know how to be me in this space.

Now I’m slowly but surely adding things back in – writing more, eating better, responding to text messages (most of the time…), reading books instead of fanfic. And of course, writing blog posts. And for all of you sitting out there thinking “is she just going to quit this thing every time day to day gets a bit rocky?” well the answer is that I hope not. Hopefully I get better at this. In the mean time, things are definitely good now so you have plenty of ramblings to look forward to.

Coming up next – god only knows, but I’ve got a ton of TV to catch up on, a dangerous obsession with America’s Test Kitchen, obvious thoughts about gun control for anyone who is seeing this on Facebook, and publishing thoughts and the ever growing pile of book thoughts and THERE ARE ISLANDS DISAPPEARING IN THE WORLD GUYS??

Yeah…there’s a lot that keeps me up at night. But first, Kelly!