A.M. Pick-me-up.

It’s early, and it’s rainy, and it’s a day made for staying in bed. But I must say that things just significantly improved because of breakfast. Initially annoyed at my refrigerator and cabinets void of anything edible, breakfast recovered nicely with a delicious bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon and a well-brewed strong cup of hot (mango!) green tea. Thank you to Pret a Manger and The Spice and Tea Exchange for making getting out of bed not such a bad idea after all.

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Gobble. Gobble.

As the years go by and I get older, Thanksgiving has made a move to nearly overtake Christmas as my favorite holiday. There is the obvious love of food that comes into play but even more than that I love how it is such a universally American holiday. No religious considerations needed, and if you don’t count Black Friday, it has not yet been corrupted by commercialism. Putting aside the varied false impressions of the Pilgrims and Indians we’ve been fed since infancy, I think that its a tradition steeped in good intentions. It’s about giving thanks for what we have and who we are. I love how people open their doors and set their tables for anyone without a home to go to for the day, cobbling together families of real family, friends, neighbors, and sometimes even strangers. And while we should always keep in mind what we have to be grateful for, I appreciate this day to remind me to reflect and say thanks. And then of course there is the stuffing. I love this day because I get to eat ridiculous amounts of stuffing–Grandpa Tworek-style. And while I know everyone thinks his or her family stuffing is the best, I promise that without a doubt ours is better. Promise.

As Is.

Today I survived work–and the tedious data entry/paperwork du jour–only because of the following three things, which if you don’t know about yet, you really should:

1. Fresh Air with Terry Gross podcast. All episodes offer something great, but highlights included  interviews with Jon Stewart and Willie Nelson.

2. This American Life podcast. Whenever I take a hiatus from TAL and then come back, I smack myself for having ever left. Ira Glass and his team can make an hour go by in a heartbeat. Today I searched the archive for Mike Birbiglia stories. Mike Birbiglia is a comedian–and he absolutely cracks me up. It’s a good thing I have my own office or my random bursts of laughter might frighten fellow colleagues. I recommend these two. You won’t be disappointed: Error at First Base and Tragedy Minus Comedy Equals Time

3. Pandora.com. But specifically the Patty Griffin station (thanks for that heads up Keggers!). Pretty much a station made for me. And today it was throwing me love affair after love affair. And even brought me back to an old favorite Ani DiFranco song, “As Is.” This song includes one of my all-time favoritelyrics. Like a lot of Ani’s songs, they are words to live by:

“When I look around I think this, this is good enough. And I laugh at whatever life brings. ‘Cause when I look down I just miss all the good stuff, and when I look up I just trip over things.”

The song made me think about a conversation I had with a friend the other night about how our generation is caught in a trap of having so much, yet always wanting more. And I know that pattern of thinking is–in the big scheme of things–where a lot of my anxieties stem from. Lots of “this is fine–but what if it could be better/more interesting/more challenging/more fun, etc.” It’s a disease.  And it’ll kill any chance I have for contentment, if I let it.  As Ms. DiFranco predicts, I miss a whole lot of great stuff or fall flat on my face when I live life looking everywhere but right in front of me.

Cream of the Crop.

There are friends, there are best friends, and then there are best friends. This weekend, I went up to the Big Apple to spend a weekend with my italicized two. It was a much needed breather from life as I know it, as spending time with Olivia and Heather is like a refresher course in what it means to be me.  And whether dining at Dos Caminos or standing in line for about an hour–twice–at TKTS, I enjoyed every.last.minute of my time.

These two ladies do not fall into the italics category because Heather knows what I looked like in a plaid stirrup pant ensemble, and Olivia could tell you what I wore on the first day of Freshman year. While knowing people throughout most of your life certainly can bring you closer to people, it goes a whole lot deeper than that.  I am my best and most authentic self around them. I know, with certainty, that I can be 110% me, flaws and fabulousness, in all my glory. We are critically kind of each other’s personality quirks, while simultaneously laying out every last reason why we are all remarkable women. We’ve been through high-school drama, family drama, boyfriends and lack thereof, a wedding, and a baby, and everywhere in between with so many of life’s challenges and joys still ahead.  

We each reside at different spots on life’s path, but it makes no difference. We see each other far less than any of us would prefer, but it makes no difference. I know for certain these are italic besties ’til the end. They have listened to me whine for nearly 20 years and still love me anyway–those aren’t people you let go easily. My respective relationship with each of them has gone through changes and little bumps along the way, but we’ve always just worked past, through, over, and above them and come out better friends on the other side.

I am who I am in part because of these two amazing women, and I know that not everyone in this world gets lucky enough to have even one friend of this magnitude. There are a lot of things I know I take for granted in my life, but these friendships I do not.  So, Heath, here is your blog shout-out! All my love and thanks to my longest friend and my forever friend for being exactly who you both are. And for allowing me to be me.

Song du jour: “Last of Days,” A Fine Frenzy

A Little Look-See.

Do you ever think about how much you look at in a day and how little of it you actually see? This week at work Amy Herman came to the office to present her “Art of Perception” workshop. You can read all about her work with cops, medical students and the like here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Teaching-Cops-to-See.html I should add that Amy (lawyer-turned-art historian) is a great example of how following a passion can lead you down roads you could never imagine. Roads that lead to workshops with the NYPD and Scotland Yard. And a 2-minute segment on the CBS Nightly News.

The basic objective of the workshop is that she uses art to help develop and sharpen observation and communication skills.  She flashes a painting or photograph and we describe what we see. Just the facts. It was amazing how even with instruction, many defaulted to adding to his or her description assumptions or inferences that weren’t based in the facts. We all see the world–and art–slightly differently, and these exercises were a healthy reminder of that. In fact, she disallows use of the words “obviously” and “clearly” because, as she proved again and again, what is obvious or clear to one person is often very much not so to another. We get caught up in our own little bubbles, our reactions and assumptions tinged by our own life experiences. It is worthwhile to take a step back once in a while and really observe. What do I see? What I am missing? How can I best relay this information to someone else?

Communication is so often marred by misunderstandings born from assumptions. To present a full picture will always require attention to detail while maintaining perspective of the greater whole. And her workshop tries to teach just that.  Practice makes perfect–and what better way to practice than with art? Since her presentation I have been trying to pay more attention to the details of my daily life that too often are just a blur. This morning I studied people on the metro–their outfits, expressions, body language. It’s really kind of fun and helps pass the time. And who knows what you can discover? Just think of the possibilities that may have been missed in those things we’ve looked at but never taken the time to see.

Rainn-y Day.

I am not a tweeter. But I now personally know some who do–so I follow @etgallagher daily on my GoogleReader. Today, she enlightened her followers with a piece on the Huffington Post that Rainn Wilson (aka. Dwight Schrute of The Office aka best character on television) wrote. As I told ETG in thanking her for that post, I’ve always liked him, but now I love him. And will likely start following him, too. Check out the article. Then  SoulPancake. Then  how I would answer the six questions he presented:

What’s one tiny change you want to make today? Drink more water.
Soulmate in Seven: Describe your soulmate in seven words. His imperfections mix with my imperfections, perfectly.
Scribe to Skin: What quote, lyric, poem, or piece of prose do you love enough to want permanently imprinted on your body? Hmm. It changes too often for me to commit to any one, permanently. Sorry, Rainn.
What personal dream have you totally given up on? Getting married at 27, and having  babies evenly spaced at 30, 32, and 34. That one kinda fell apart when I turned 28.
What’s your two-word poem? Let. Go.
Why is talking about God so dang awkward? Because proving his existence/non-existence is impossible. And the vast majority of the population is not educated enough about religion–in all of its forms–to properly argue either case. Conversations thus spiral into a black hole of awkwardness.

The 5 Questions I Hate Not Knowing the Answers To:
1. Who murdered Robert Wone?
2. Can you ever fully know yourself or someone else?
3. Will we figure out a way to produce enough energy to keep our current pace of living and not destroy our planet in the process?
4. Will I find a way to really live in the present?
5. What did come first–the chicken, or the egg?

That exercise is harder than it looks. I’ll probably think of really good ones right after I post this (see, #4 needs a ton of work). Anyway, thanks, Rainn (and @etgallagher). Keep up the good tweets!