Dude, I’m just weird

“I’m fine with being strange, but I’m tired of people telling me I’m strange.” Carolyn Hax

So, I have some leftovers from my time out East, as I refer to it. (Despite growing up on the East Coast, I now consider myself a ‘naturalized Midwesterner’, as I feel more at home in the Upper Midwest than I ever have on the East Coast…) Anyway, I spent several years living in the Washington, D.C. area, and one legacy from that is my love of the Washington Post. 
I’ve read Carolyn Hax’s column religiously for decades now, I think. She’s an advice columnist, and she also hosts weekly chats. I am always behind on reading them – much like with reading blogs – but this quote was in one from early April. It was in reply to a woman who was married, but she and her spouse were going to rent separate apartments because they realized that they were happier when they weren’t in the same space all. the. time. 
And this was part of Carolyn’s reply (which, essentially, just said to do your thing and don’t worry about what others will think). 
This is me in a nutshell. I know I am weird. I know I am different, in many ways. I’m good with that. What drives me bonkers is when people call it to my attention. What, you don’t think I know I am weird? I do. I’m good with it. But why do you have to call attention to it? The best concrete example I can come up with is the people who comment on my lunch. Every week, it seems, someone says something like “Oh, that looks interesting. What is it?” It’s tofu, and veggies, and hummus. And yes, I mix it together. And yes, I love it.
I also know it’s not typical. But it works for me, and I don’t need other people commenting on it. 
The best one, though, was the woman who asked if my husband made it for me. 
I was so taken aback, I just kind of laughed and said “Um, no. He doesn’t live here. I made it myself.” Which, I think, shocked her into silence. 
But seriously. Just let me own my weirdness. I don’t need you to point it out. 

…books are as important as almost anything else on earth.

β€œFor some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

In a very simplistic way I was thinking of this last night, as my mind was spinning with work-related ideas, and I was trying to grasp them before they spun away into the ether and eluded me today during my writing time.

I knew that I needed to shut it down if I was going to be any good today – if I was going to make good use of those ideas that I had.

And so I escaped into a book.

A fluffy book, but one that I dove into and that took me away from my small apartment, quieted my mind, and reminded me to look up and out.

I spend a lot of time in introspection, thinking, reading. I don’t spend a lot of time looking up and out. Books are one way my mind travels, goes elsewhere.

As a child, I fell into books.

Or, as Rebecca Solnit more eloquently wrote, “…I disappeared into books when I was very young…” (from her essay Flight)

My childhood favorites are still my favorites. For the last … many years (I can remember at least 3 houses / apartments, so that means it’s been at least 5 years), I have been doing a sustained rereading of my childhood favorites. CS Lewis, Anne of Green Gables, The Dark is Rising, Harry Potter (of course), the Wrinkle in Time trilogy. I hope to move on to the Golden Compass next. Right now, I’m working through the Austin novels by Madeline L’Engle, as it’s her 100th birthday this year. 
Every evening, I am reminded of how deeply I can fall into one of those books, or one of countless others. 
I feel almost sorry for those who don’t have this escape hatch. My spouse is one. He’s not a reader – he’s a scroller and TV watcher. It’s just not the same. I cannot lose myself in the internet, nor can I lose myself in a show or movie. I know others can, but I cannot. 
Reading is essential to me… like water, like air. To me, they are a miracle. 
Related image

I started reading Grit last week and was immediately drawn in.

I’ve always thought of myself as a plodder. I’ve never been the best or brightest. Near the top, yes, but not at the top. Doing good work but not truly excelling. There’s something to be said for persistence and perseverance (why can I never spell that correctly the first time??). I, like many, feel less than when I compare myself to my more-accomplished peers.

And yet, I feel more comfortable with myself personally and professionally than I have in a long time. If I had pursued my initial passion and succeeded… if I had been a rising star instead of someone just plugging along, I might have missed what my true passion is.

It’s taken a fair amount of wandering around – not in the wilderness, maybe, but in the upper Midwest, which may be a form of the wilderness? I was sharing my “trajectory” with someone yesterday and realized that where I was with my ideas and thinking and conceptualizations when I started is nowhere near where I am now. And I like where I am now much, much better. I love what I do. I have a passion for it. So in a way I’m grateful that I didn’t succeed right away, as that might have shifted me onto a path for which I would have had less passion.

For me, having that passion and that drive is more essential than succeeding rapidly. I’ll get there. Eventually.

Surprised and humbled

Image result for quotes on surprising yourself
No attribution for this one, but it’s particularly apt for me this weekend. 
I rarely surprise myself. Mostly because I am a creature of habit and routine, as I’ve said many times. So when I do, it’s almost, well, even more surprising. 
I slept in on Sunday. I took it easy both Saturday and Sunday. I did not force myself to work. I… well, I kind of even… slacked off? 
This it not typical of me. I’ve written about how I suck at rest and giving myself grace. 
That means that “days off” don’t typically happen. I’m almost always working at least a little bit every day. 
But I went home sick one day last week, and I never do that. 
And then Saturday I felt like garbage again, but I pushed through and probably made it worse. 
By Saturday afternoon, I knew that my body was basically telling me that I needed to just. stop. 
So I slept in. I got 8+ hours of sleep. It. Was. Marvelous. 
I ran outside. I ran really really (really) slowly. But I was outside, listening to the birds, seeing the sun rise over the lake, and loving it. 
I didn’t even jump right into work when I got home. I took my time, showered, made some granola, read the paper (online, sheesh, it’s 2019 after all ;>), and even took a mini break to, um, organize the coat closet. (So, so needed…) 
Yes, I did get some work done. I sent emails. I worked on the “boring” documents for my grant. I got great comments and suggestions on the narrative for that from a colleague. But I didn’t jump right into making changes because I knew my brain needed to disconnect a bit, and that this week would be much better if I were able to do so. 
Still surprising myself in my mid-forties…what fun it is to know that I don’t know everything about myself yet…and I probably never will. 

Friday favorites (1)

Image result for practice gratitude quotes

Everyone seems to do this in the “blog world”, and I don’t consider myself a full-fledged member of that community. But still, it’s a great way to look back at the week and focus on the positive. So here goes…

1. Sunny and rainy spring days. Let me clarify here – not rainy all day, March-like days, but rather summer storms (which is what we’re having today and tonight). You can’t have sunshine all of the days – more than not would be nice! – but if I’m going to have rain, this is the kind of rain I like!

2. A productive week on the work front, thanks to summer break (ha, not for me…) and making significant progress conceptualizing and presenting my most recent proposal.

3. Coworkers who really care and who really help. Especially my next-door office neighbor, who has been just wonderful. It makes me realize that I am in the right place for me.

4. Good health care. From my therapist to my other docs, it’s just such a relief to have this. Of course, EVERYONE should have it, but I’m hopeful we’ll (eventually) get there. Just not in this administration…

5. Actually giving myself grace to shut it down Wednesday when I came home sick. I changed and laid on the couch and napped and felt so much better after just an hour down. I felt hideous Wednesday morning and wound up heading out of work about 10. Horrible stomach ache and pain and I just could not get it to go away. Usually I’d power through, but I actually did what was right for my body this time. Astonishing! πŸ™‚

6. OK, one more… anti-frizz air dry cream. So superficial, but so awesome. My suddenly wavy hair (what IS this pre-menopause stuff?) is grateful. So am I.

I’m working all weekend, but that’s life on the tenure track. Time to buckle down for my Friday working-at-home (plus some food prep and a doc appt, of course).