Sunday, July 5, 2015

A mid-summer report.

[Note: This is kind of a follow-up to this post.]

Eight weeks of summer have passed and they completely flew by for me. Here are some key takeaways:
  • I've moved from my dorm to temporary housing and to the townhouses and to a professor's house and back to the townhouses again. The next major move will be in two weeks, when I head home for the remaining four or five weeks of summer.
  • Thanks to my roommate, I've become exponentially better at feeding myself (proof is on my Instagram) and I'm no longer deathly afraid of kitchens. When I was on my own for dinner on Thursday, I decided I was going to make "something simple" - which turned out to be seared zucchini in tortillas with homemade avocado salsa, along with two semi-cooked eggs with soy sauce (it's a Singaporean thing, I think. or at least, a Toast Box thing. it sounds weird, but it's really good) as a side dish. I sat there, ate what I made, did the dishes after, and it was only then that I realized how far I've come. If I was in this situation before May, I would've had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or gone out to eat. In the past month, I've made all sorts of dishes, expanded my tastes, and used spices I previously didn't even know existed. I still have a long way to go, but it's been really cool recognizing that there are so many more options when you have the determination to learn how to cook.
  • Another thing about food - I work in Utica, NY, where there are way more restaurants than in my small college town. Though it's kind of not the smartest fiscal decision, I've been trying out a lot of different places and indulging the foodie in me. I was told that chicken riggies and steamed clams in butter are both "Utica things", so I tried them. Other memorable dishes include Asian-style calamari, the best grilled portobello sandwich I've ever had, and greens (they look so simple, but they're strangely addictive). I'm also told that there's great Lebanese food nearby, so that's something I'll have to try within my last two weeks of work. Through all this, I've become good friends with a coworker who's a law student and also loves food; we go for lunch together and we probably wouldn't have gotten to know each other on such a personal level if not for being foodies.
  • I did a lot of thinking (when do I not? do I ever?). I know that my rarely-quiet mind and need to constantly reflect internally form one of my biggest strengths and also one of my biggest potential source of problems. It's been interesting beginning to try and objectively analyze whether my overthinking in each specific situation is constructive or not before moving forward; I can't tell whether I'm just less stressed because school isn't in session and I feel better in general (but I generally feel pretty good all the time?), or maybe I've gotten better at letting go of the things I know I can't control and just "going with the flow" (an expression I normally despise because it's like, we are conscious beings, why be passive when you could be in control of the outcome) with things that I realize won't matter that much in the grand scheme of things. So, lots of thinking, but also lots of living in the present (not that these two are completely mutually exclusive, but you get what I mean).
  • I had this image of myself living in a nice apartment with a cat as a grownup. I guess I thought having a cat was like, an alternative to having children. Living with two cats for a month in the professor's house made me decide that I don't actually want this; I've been scared of/never really been crazy about animals and I was silly to imagine having a cat despite knowing this. (I guess I just wanted to copy Taylor Swift.) This makes me sound awful, but they were just kind of there at best and a minor burden at worst. I followed the instructions that I was given for feeding and litter, but that was pretty much it. No cats for the girl with the green glass heart.
    • Yet another thing - I have pretty strong feelings for when people insinuate (or flat out say) that not liking children or animals is not normal, or is an indication of being a heartless/bad person. I might be biased because I don't think of myself as a bad person and don't want to be perceived that way by others, but sometimes I feel like society has dictated that it's unacceptable to dislike them - we're all supposed to find pictures of kids or animals super cute and be super warm towards them. I think that some people - as a result of nurture and/or nature - just simply dislike children and/or animals; that's just how it is and everybody should accept that without judgment as long as these people still treat children and animals respectfully.
  • A word about my work - I love it. I'm a student paralegal at a nonprofit legal organization that provides pro bono legal services to a certain demographic in the region. I finalize bankruptcy cases before they are referred to private attorneys who then represent the clients in court for free. So in everyday terms, I write memos, do research, piece together a greater picture of a client's financial situation from all their letters and bills, and use a certain software to produce bankruptcy schedules. I'm learning a lot everyday and I've gotten to know a number of the staff well. This is quite different from my teaching job last year - for one, I carpool with four other kids working for organizations in Utica, so there's no staying back late (I always say that I don't think I ever worked as hard as I did last summer, especially in terms of time) because it's not like I could just hold everyone up. I was surrounded by other college kids last summer, and this year I'm clearly the youngest person at the firm. Other than the coworker who's in law school and is five years older than me, everyone else is between their late thirties and their seventies. I think that leads to a different dynamic in interactions. It's really crazy how only a few months ago I thought, "hey, maybe law might be a path for me" and it quickly became one of my driving forces to do much better. I also can't believe I managed to get this particular internship, so I'm grateful for that.
  • Something memorable happened a few days ago. One of my favorite people at the firm who's this super-sharp old man and lives right outside my college town said to me, "Don't let this get to you, but you have a great personality. You're so extroverted, and you just have this passion for life that shows. It's not something that can be taught." I didn't know how to react because:
    • I've self-identified as an introvert (even if my MBTI result says otherwise) since my early teens. Though I've definitely become much more outgoing in college (wasn't crazy about many people in high school), I know I derive my strength and energy from within, and I prefer to be around a few close friends instead of being at a huge gathering of people I don't know too well. Sometimes I feel like I have to consciously flip a switch in order to get out there and talk to people because of a vague notion that it might be good for me. (How selfish?)
    • Which brings me to my second point - I feel like there are introverts out there who feel this way too. Sometimes I think about how extroversion is valued in a lot of situations and whether that's necessarily justified. 
  • I've also been having a ton of good times. I'm now several shades tanner after a few books (and naps) under the sun. I've gotten to row and cycle a bit. Once, I curled up under a blanket on a sofa on a porch, watched the rain, and said out loud, "This is a Tumblr dream come true." The other kids who are also staying this summer and live nearby have all been nice - I've made some new friends, so that's cool.
  • This post is now just a wall of text and I'm not sure what to do about that, but basically my summer's been great :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"I remember more (about you)"

[This poem can be read 1) straightforwardly, 2) by taking just the text outside the brackets, 3) by taking just the text inside the brackets.]

I will (make the first move)
Take this picture of us – (we are sitting next to each other)
Capture this moment because (your arm is around me)
You said goodbye before I said hello but (right now, you’re holding on tightly)
I want to forget that you may (kiss me and tell me how much you want me),
Then meet someone else (fall in love)
And feel (no doubts);
Like what you cherish (because alcohol is involved)
Is also worth reaching for (in daylight).
You and I (we are just friends, we)
never last long enough to (want the same things)
Make it past a few nights, a few moments; (but I keep looking at)
The history we pointedly strive not to mark - (the way it is all in my head)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"Things are not what they seem at first"

you did not catch my eye at first, but you had the
lost look and clearly my priorities were in the right place.
the sun stopped hiding when I suggested we break up. you and I might still be
best friends, but last night I fell asleep wondering why we couldn't fight this
thing, this burden - I never wanted to be with someone who thought
that it would be unrealistic to be happy with me everyday,
ever since I realized I wasn't afraid of being alone. the start and the end
happened for a reason, so I choose
to believe that the playwright looked at
you, then at me, and said, "not now. not yet."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Why I like guys who look lost: the end of a decade-long mystery.

For literally a decade, I've been aware that I'm attracted to lost-looking individuals. Like, that's what I tell people when I'm asked what my type is. That's not the only thing I look for, but it has played a pretty big role in some bad decisions my immediate impression of a person's level of physical attractiveness. If a person is completely not lost-looking, it usually takes me longer to reach the conclusion that he or she may not necessarily be my type in this regard, but that he or she is pretty attractive nonetheless.

I can pretty much predict the four reactions that people usually have to that:

1) "Why?"
2) "What does that even mean?"
3) "You're so weird."
4) "Oh! You'd like my friend ___________."

So, dealing with these responses in reverse order:

4) (Insert links to all my previous posts about liking people. That's way too complicated of a topic for me to contemplate right now.)

3) Because clearly nothing else about me - creepy, overly curious, neurotic - gives that away, right?

2) It's hard to narrow the lost look down to specific criteria, but it's generally when someone looks like they're unsure of where they're going and/or behave like it. So someone can look lost in a specific moment, or kind of all the time.

1) Before I get to what I think is the correct answer, here are two theories that my friends have put forth in the past:
  • I like lost-looking guys so that I can "show them the way" (whatever that means).
  • Lost-looking guys tend to be more passive (this is not a proven claim) and I like being the one to initiate things (also not necessarily true).
(Not a theory - but here's a joke: a friend said that he would refer all the lost-looking guys he saw to me, but they would never be able to successfully find me.)

I was playing soccer just now with a bunch of kids also staying on campus over the summer. This guy whom I've found so attractive since the first time I saw him in freshman year because he looks really lost all the time walked onto the fields carrying a pillow, a huge bag, and his soccer cleats. It turned out that he just retrieved all of those things from storage (so maybe he didn't have a pillow to sleep on originally?)...and actually, not quite "soccer cleats" because somewhere along the way, he lost one of them. 

"I dunno, I mean...I had two just now..." he said.

I giggled a lot and suddenly, things became SO CLEAR. So here's my explanation: I feel like there's social pressure to present a very put-together version of ourselves when we're out (or at least I'm talking about myself; I don't know about you), so when someone appears to unintentionally reveal that maybe they're not as put-together as others in a specific moment, I've subconsciously interpreted that as the person being "real" and it's like, they're so lost that they don't even care about trying to conceal it or they're so lost that they don't realize how they are coming across - they're owning their current status without embarrassment. I find that realness (I want to say "imperfection" but that's not quite the right word) very endearing. It comes across as an unintended reveal of self-confidence, or the idea that there are more important things in life than the impression you're making to others. It's super attractive.

It's also always a huge reminder that I take myself really seriously really often. I feel like I have to be able to articulate my position on the different relationships and issues in my life in a given moment, and I even have to be serious when I decide that I don't want to come across as serious. I don't think I'd be able to just randomly lose one of my shoes and appear cool about it. It's weird, but yeah, I think that's why I find lost-looking people attractive. And understanding all this has been kind of cool; I think there are implications on my perceptions of myself and other people, going forward. (Because again, everything is serious and needs to have implications.)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A legit paradigm shift - part two?

I think I'm just constantly questioning what I know.
-Myself, because I somehow think it's okay to quote myself. Taken from this post.
Not too long ago, I wrote this especially long-winded post. tl;dr - I struggle with a sense of insecurity that is specific to my love life. I am terrified of getting hurt and I fear that someone I fall for isn't going to feel the same way about me. I've had a history of being with people I thought could provide that sense of never-ending stable commitment and mostly falling for them because of this factor, as opposed to anything specific about their character or how we are together.

Because of this insecurity, I sometimes wonder whether I've really liked anyone in the way that romance should ideally be; it's one thing to come to care for the person I'm with, but I imagine that it's another thing to really believe that this person is also more perfect for me than absolutely anyone else. So far, I've had a number of "not bad" foundations; the person is good-hearted at the core, we mostly respect each other, we have good times - but I am very mostly in love with their commitment and as soon as that is shaken, I retract all my feelings and it is then that I realize all the gaps that "not bad" has. Do I just rarely (if ever) actually romantically like people? Or do I just subconsciously suppress how I feel if someone doesn't have a high "estimated committing potential"?

I've also thought about how I've not been very good at being in relationships:

  • as soon as I'm in one, I devote way too much time to it
  • I really resent how relationships can create ups and downs. I much prefer the stability that comes from being on my own - I'm a pretty happy person
  • part of me is always resenting the relationship because I see it as a distraction from school, my friends, my independence, and the other things that I want to do
  • I feel like I lose a bit of my personality when I'm in a relationship
These are all generalizations from a handful of experiences, so of course there are limitations to my assessments. I'm not sure I really know how to overcome these things right now, so it's weird - it's like I don't actually really want to be in a relationship and I'm happier when I'm not in one, but I frequently think that I might eventually want one, and when that happens I might get hurt, so it's better to just hold on to whoever's passing by at the moment if he seems like the serious, committing type. It's not very logical, and I can totally see how this does not bode well for a solid, legit relationship. 

I think that moving forwards, it's important for me to be aware of the distinction between my feelings and my insecurities before making any moves that I don't wholeheartedly want. I guess that's the plan for the near future - if I follow it, I have a feeling you won't be hearing about me dating anyone for a while.