Routine: monotonous, repetitive, predictable, tedious

Whenever I’m feeling less than enthused about going to the gym, I know I just need to get myself dressed and out the door and get myself to the gym. If I get myself there, that’s most of the battle, and I’ll do something because I’m there.

It’s kind of how I feel about writing. I want this to be a constant exercise. I want to make this a part of my daily routine. However, sometimes you just don’t feel like it. But if you sit down, turn off distractions, and begin typing (or handwriting), it begrudgingly eventuates.

I’ve had two months off from routine. It was a nice vacation from the real world. No work, minimal responsibilities, the way to live if a writer is to be inspired. Do I have anything to show for it, creatively? I’ve started a blog with 8 posts. Only 8. That’s not very much… But hey, it’s a start.

I have found myself less than inspired to work out lately, and by lately, I mean since early May, when I started living in limbo, not totally in Australia and not totally in my destination. That’s over 2 months for someone who used to work out every day for almost a year.

My stuff was collected and packed and shipped from Sydney in early May. Once it left my life, I was a nomad, homeless, in a way. My home suddenly wasn’t Sydney anymore. But it wasn’t San Francisco yet. Suddenly the gym wasn’t my top priority, that only thing I could knock out in any given day and feel like I accomplished something. It suddenly wasn’t enough. Maybe my workout routine was stale; maybe laziness took over; whatever the reason, that motivation left me.

I’ve been even less inspired to write – like, since I was a kid. I used to have a journal. I wrote in it everyday. Let’s face it, I didn’t have the most exciting life when I kept it. I think if I had kept one through my college years and living in San Francisco for the 7 years subsequent to graduation, that journal would 1) clear up a lot of confusion over fuzzy nights of lost memories, and 2) be a hell of a lot of stuff that someone may find entertaining and want to read someday.

Maybe someone needed my writing since those days, and I didn’t have it. I could have saved someone by sharing, but I didn’t. Maybe I withheld, and preventing expression of what’s in my head didn’t prevent the lesson to be learned by happening to the next girl, or the next gay person, or the next whoever. I didn’t have that writing in me to give then.

I know I’ve writing to share. I’m sick of not doing anything about it. I want to be motivated again. I need to find that something that sparks me.

I used to fear routine – as an auditor, everyday I go to work, and everyday is different. You have good days and bad days hurled at you faster than you know how to put out those fires. You catch a lot of crap, and you need to filter through what you have to escalate and what you can resolve yourself. In the corporate world, that’s a fine line. They assign roles at the start of a project to decide who gets the blame if something goes wrong.

When you do find things you can handle yourself at work, you then need to sort out the best way to handle that hot potato and hope it doesn’t land you in jail or fired. Sometimes you get a mumbled, half assed “thank you”. Most days you don’t get an ounce of gratitude or appreciation for your creative and spontaneous solutions where there is no manual or scantron with a correct answer.

Because everyday was different, I learned to abhor routine. It was never the same fire to put out (funny enough, except for when it was…) It kept me on my toes; it kept me fresh and prepared for whatever came my way. I figured trying to nail down a routine was a waste of time and energy.

Well, now, I think I’m going to change that. I want to try an experiment. What if I allowed myself to fall into a routine? In the coming weeks, I’ve rejoined a gym, I start work again, and life gets real again. No paid vacation. No time off to “sort my shit out.” What if I embrace the routine that comes to me, instead of working against the grain to avoid it?

I always thought in this line of work, I could never handle routine, rather routine could never handle me. There are going to be late nights at work, sleep deprived mornings, weekends spent reaching deadlines or “front end loading” (my favorite bullshit term which means “we’re never going to make this deadline working normal people hours, so start working round the clock now, and maybe you’ll make it by some miracle 4 weeks from now.” But I digress…)

Point is, maybe I should actually give routine a try, when it comes to health decisions, work, and writing, and any things I must do.

In a week, I must start waking up early for a morning gym routine, 6-7am. I need to grab a protein infused juice on my way home from the gym before a quick shower and head into a day of work that has as much chance of removing any hope for an evening workout, as it does to be that one day I do that great thing that gets remembered at bonus time in a year. I have a steep learning curve, coming back to the fast paced SF office, and a different work culture to re-assimilate back into. It’s definitely going to be weird, because I am a different person from when I left San Francisco 3 years ago.

So routine, we meet again. Don’t go all crazy on me, especially at first. Be gentle and I’ll follow you, and when I’m tired or unmotivated and I don’t want to follow you to the gym/work/writing, I’ll need to take the reins myself and lead myself to the gym, to work, and ultimately to a time to write at least once a day. I actually want the results of the time investment at the gym and in developing my voice, so I need to do the daily work that will get me there.

But I don’t have to like it.



Taking steps is easy; standing still is hard

4pm is the best time of day in my apartment. The sun has passed by my southeast/south facing windows and then the room really lights up. From within.

At that time, the outside light hits the TV, rendering it useless in comparison to the brightness of what else is happening outside. The TV goes off, mid episode of whatever it is I’m watching.

It’s a cloudless day in San Francisco. It’s pink Saturday, pride weekend, 2014. The hooting and hollering is audible all the way from Mission Dolores Park, which I can see in the distance through my kitchen window.

I happen to be abstaining from pride this year. The long and the short of it is a surprise oral surgery took place at 13:00 hours on 27/6/14. No, I’m not backwards; I’m writing that date in Ostrayan (Australian).

I therefore resign from SF Pride 2014 so my mouth can heal properly to someday regain it’s powers. I’m choosing to stand still this Pride. Abstain. Not take any steps, regardless of whether it’s left to the Civic Center festivities, or right, to Dolores Park, or the Castro and hub of Pride weekend. It is a hard decision to make, because one of the perks of coming back to SF when I did was being able to be here for Pride. I, by my very nature, was created to take steps, push boundaries, go somewhere. Standing still = decay and ultimate death for me. But I also really love standing still sometimes. When it’s just too fast. But that’s not SF pride. One does not simply stand still on pride.

I compare SF Pride in my mind to Sydney’s Mardi Gras. I am a clear fan of SF Pride over Sydney Mardi Gras. Like, no question. It’s like when you ask a New Yorker where you can find the best pizza, or when you ask a born and bred Philly sister where a goyl can get da best whiz widdout, it’s a conversation involving everyone within a 25 foot radius (that’s 7.62m for those who need metric conversion).

I can see Market Street. Horns are honking, dogs are barking and they’re dressed in tutus of rainbow. Voluptuous women (and really thin gay boys) in rainbow skirts made of tie dyed saris walk past in big crowds of Latina women. Men walk by holding hands, more horns honk. The Latina women have sunglasses on, hair whipping in the wind (or hair sprayed into tight ponytails high on their head). They are true girls of summer, and they sway and swagger, indicating proud lesbian women.

Somehow, it’s different this year. People used to only walk one way down Market Street when it was Pride. On Saturday, all the lesbians go to the dyke march at Mission Dolores Park. Dykes on bikes, gurl fins in turbans, hawking weed brownies and weed for your stashes, assless chaps on a cougar whom I think may have wings… These are a few of my favorite things. That means they all walk right.

On Sunday, the parade started at Civic Center, and went to the Embarcadero. They walked left. I think. Or, something like that. I never went on Sunday. I didn’t feel so family friendly on days starting with hangovers after an SF Pride.

I wanted my build your own Bloody Mary bar, a special glass with a generous helping of vodka on the rocks with a bay seasoning rim, bloody mary mix, celery, olives, pepperoncinis, pickles, not so much horseradish, lots of Tabasco, and lots of Worcestershire sauce. That my friends, is the recipe for a heavenly bloody mary that makes me a real human. My high octane fuel, my what-I-call-antikryptonite, if you will. Or used to be, anyway.

There are “babies with back”, weaves untouched in the Windy City, booty shorts on, cap flashin’ the SF Giants, the 49ers, or Halestorm, or whatever. They travel in packs, unscathed by the rest of the world (it is, after all, the most forward thinking city in terms of civil, human rights for all genders, blah blahs, and legalisation of all the things except the really really really really bad things. Even the really really really really bad things are up for debate at this point.)

This woman’s white pants and lime espadrilles scream east bay tunnel crowd lookin for some action. Rainbow socks and plastic Coke bottles I’m willing to bet are at least 30% rum.

This year, everyone is on their phone, texting who and who to meet up, not getting a signal because of the “major hubbing/swarming action” happening.

This year, the crowd goes both ways. There, you heard it from me first. The crowd walks both ways down Market Street. This year, Mission Dolores Park is a construction disaster zone, as are most pockets of the city these days; tennis courts torn up, dirt piles everywhere, a reticence to see that park at its worst. It has a nasty grade, being on the side of a rather steep hill – trust me, I walked it (climbed it, clinging for breath itself) drunk, and it still sucked then, maybe harder. That grade could cause some land movement in the tectonic environment here.

And they wanna make it more family friendly. Kid friendly! Am I the only one that infuriates?! A park is no place for kids… (Wait…) Civic Center was meant to be the new point of origin for the gayest party of the year (besides ChrismaHanuKwanzikah.). Or something. So they go left, too. Or they’re leaving early cause it’s lame. I wouldn’t know.

I disagree with the plans. I did not approve this. When I’m at that park, I’m not feeling particularly kid friendly. I shouldn’t have to watch my mouth, or put up with dog poo or children screaming. That park is like a bar. That’s where I get to be me and let a day go. Where the dogs go to be free and spend precious quality time with their hooman. You don’t bring kids to a bar. Unless their bar tending skills surpass that of the current 24yr old doing the job. In which case, I only want your girl/boy pourin’ my drinks and I’m happy to invest in (Your Child’s Name) Bartending School cause I could use 6 more like her/him.

That park has been a legendary site for the SF Dyke March, Dykes on Bikes, and Pride for the females and males and everything in between, and in the heart of the gayborhood in San Francisco for years. Like years upon years. Like when our forefathers and foremothers proclaimed that SF was the place of exile for artists and writers and musicians and teachers and lovers and healers.

Somehow, when I left San Francisco, I fell more in love with it, while being gone. I had to take some steps. Now I’m back, I’m standing still for now, and San Francisco is that thick warm comfortable blanket of fog that takes you by surprise but somehow, you knew she was coming tonight, anyway. She knows you. It is really nice to be back.

I’ve re-fallen in love with this city again, instantaneously. For what it is, what it can be, and never will be.

So this Pride, rock on wit ya bad selves. Fierce. And be safe.

Comfortably numb

When I was younger, I had my wisdom teeth taken out. I was lucky in that they had all broken the surface so it was merely an extraction and not cutting in to my jaw and yanking them out from the inside. Lucky? Hrmph. Arguable, at best.

I’d had laughing gas and a sedative. I was awake but completely out of it. I’m sure many of you have seen one of the original viral videos, “David After the Dentist”, the kid who’s completely messed up after being at the dentist. If not, I’m including the link here:

It was like someone injected a truth serum into me, a la Divergent, and I wrote after that surgery. Of all the things I could have done, I was inspired to write. I had a piece called “The Almighty Dentist” and it seemed to come to paper through me. It went along the lines of novocaine and numbing agents and being at the will of the dentist.

Dentists need to know how much you want or need to feel, and then you get a dosage that’s appropriate for you. Kind of like, life throws you lemons but you can handle these lemons? You’re equipped. I likened it to the only spirituality I had at the time – that old adage that God doesn’t throw anything your way you can’t handle.

I believed that someone was up there, with me in their chair. I knew I would face a lot of pain in what was about to ensue (what I’d guess would be a full/long life). I contemplated whether it was better to have something to numb the pain of life, or to have nothing to subdue the pain, but you feel it and you know it’s real. I don’t know that being impervious to pain is always the way to go.

There are some things you definitely want to experience; there are others you don’t. If you’re numb, how do you know if something even hurts at all, if you can’t feel it? How do you know how good you feel until you feel bad?

The dentist kid cracks me up, but it also strikes a very deep chord for me. Is this real life? (Cue music video “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.) If you aren’t feeling things, to know whether you’re in pain or not, how do you know what’s real or not? Perhaps it’s like floating through life immune to great highs of joyous events, those deep sorrows or fiery anger. Is that any way to live? Feeling less, or even perhaps nothing?

“I get no great triumph when I win and no tragedy when I lose. Without these it is meaningless.” Character of Tom Hamilton, in East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

We feel emotion like we hear a sound wave. It has amplitude, a frequency, and causes a reaction, a vibration, in us. You can feel it not so strongly and have a low amplitude. Or you can feel things very strongly. It resonates in you – rings true.

I tend to be someone who feels emotion like a sound wave that has a large amplitude and relatively low frequency. Rarely do things get me seriously down or seriously angry. I, like most of us, am prone to bouts of less than optimal feelings. When I love, I love hard. When I’m pissed off, hell hath no fury… When I experience loss or grief, it’s deeply affecting and moving.

I realized that I sometimes don’t want to be numb for my higher amplitude experiences. Going through a breakup, and getting back into the big sea to potentially meet someone who could be more than friend – for both of those, it’s a better idea to not drink or otherwise go through like a thick San Francisco fog in your brain. You need to see clearly, to protect yourself and to be able to share yourself.

So what I realized is that people take comfort knowing that the Almighty Dentist is there, and administers what you need as you need it. They take care of parts of you that even you can’t always see. Very detailed, complicated parts that, if not treated properly, can decay and hurt immensely. You need to trust they know what they’re doing.

Sometimes people are afraid of dentists because of the pain they can inflict. I am oddly not afraid. I have a weird form of selective narcolepsy where every time I get in my dentist’s chair, it’s the most comfortable seat ever and I fall asleep, relaxed. Every single time. I’m not afraid – the dentist is there to help – ongoing maintenance and periodic cleansing. Also, that dentist can provide preventive procedures to delay or deter cavities and little things that eat at you all together.

In my young mind, in that induced haze, I drew a parallel between that dentist and God. The only way to go into a procedure like that, or for that matter any major life event, was to trust that you’re in good hands, whatever is out there, on the other side.

If your dentist is as good as mine, they give you a goody bag when you leave of a new toothbrush, small toothpaste, and dental floss. They give you the tools to be better equipped for the next time you see them, to do your own preventive maintenance. It makes it easier if someone gives you the tools and removes that obstacle of you having to go out and get your own dental floss. No excuses, they gave you the dental floss, so floss more already, ok? They are watching out for you. The dentist helps those that help themselves. Or some such metaphorical tangent. Maybe we get mental floss, from time to time, so when given it, we should use it, right?

I don’t remember all the points my previous piece made – it, like so much of my other material possessions, is not actually in my possession at the moment. It’s in a box somewhere, waiting for the day it comes back to me.

I have a shipment from Australia coming home to mama in early July with a good portion of my things. I also have a friend who took many boxes from my parents’ garage while I was across the world and my mom needed to pack to move cross country. There are pieces of me everywhere and I feel like I need them to be complete right now.

I am not complete because of this, and I give away small pieces of me everywhere. However, I still manage to brush twice a day and floss at least once, take care of myself and leave the big stuff to that dentist. I’m trying here Almighty Dentist, I truly am.

The reason I share this with you is that today, I have to have minor oral surgery to remove a ruptured salivary gland from an accidentally severely bitten lower lip. I’ve had a similar issue on the other side of my mouth in 2010. You’d think I’ve been through this before and wouldn’t be nervous. Yet, I still am, very nervous in fact. So today I’m gonna trust that dentist. I have to. And today, I may need novocaine, or some local anesthetic. I don’t want to feel all of this kind of pain. To me, this isn’t the tough stuff/life lesson pain to learn a lesson from. So go ahead and numb me up for this procedure, Scotty. I don’t want to feel a thing.

If you know me at all, you know my father had me listening to Pink Floyd in the womb. This is the perfect opportunity to use the title of one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs for a blog and quote the relevant lyrics:

“There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves”

Ah, Pink Floyd, you always know just what to say… But, I digress.

Only but not lonely

I tried to think of a way to share what it’s like for us only children, not having siblings (biological or adopted). I considered the downsides, but I don’t feel disadvantaged being an only child so I quickly adjusted my perspective to a more positive spin. Join me for the journey thorough my thoughts? Typical only child – craving attention and a friend for the ride.

I guess the perspective I take is that of someone born without legs. If you were born with legs, and they were taken from you, there would always be a sensation of phantom limbs and you would miss them horribly once you lost them. You wouldn’t be complete without them. If you were born without them, you’re a complete person just as you are. You can’t miss what you never had.

I always wanted a brother or sister though. I always thought I’d make an amazing older sister (and probably a pretty pesky younger sister). I was born the first child to my parents, so being a younger sibling was never an option.

People always assume only children are spoiled and get everything they want. I am living proof that is not true. Sometimes, parents don’t have a lot of money. I would say the budget for an only child is actually less than if parents had to set aside a pool of money then allocate it amongst siblings. Psychologically, when there are multiple children, parents know they have to save more and the cost is thought about more frequently. When there is one child to think about, the cost is viewed more as an incremental or additional cost to that of the parents. When there is only one child to consider, setting aside money could be an afterthought and this results in less savings for the one child.

On one hand, there are downsides of not having any siblings. There’s no one there to keep you entertained or for company when playing on long summer days without school; no one’s bed to crawl into if you have a nightmare or it’s thundering something fierce outside. There’s no one’s juicy diary to read or older circle of friends to hang out with and annoy. There’s no one’s hand-me-downs to receive or awesome sweater to borrow and also ultimately, damage.

If your parents go through messy divorces, suffer from mental illnesses, or have medical emergencies, there’s a lot of responsibility to shoulder for one person. You end up growing up a lot faster than kids are supposed to. Siblings are allies who walk with you through life, being raised in similar circumstances. Usually, they know you the best, whether or not you get along. They have their own idiosyncrasies and attributes that drive you nuts, but without them, that sense of camaraderie in a family (that cannot necessarily be replaced by friends) just doesn’t exist.

I guess another way of looking at this, is I see definite pros in raising multiple children for strong family bonds, enhanced socialization skills, interpersonal relatability, and teamwork. I could argue that only having one child puts a lot of eggs in one basket when it comes to that child carrying on a family name, and there is a huge pressure to achieve hopes and dreams of the older generation. In the same fashion, if that one child is less than perfect, perhaps has a birth defect, is a black sheep, or doesn’t see eye to eye with his or her parents, there is potential for extreme reticence to go against the grain in the first place. It becomes an environment of trying to fit in and be what parents want him or her to be. Unless independence is fostered from an early age, conformity is an easy path to take to please parents and ultimately everyone with which they come in contact.

As for downsides of having an older sibling, usually mom and dad (or mom and mom or dad and dad) took a bunch of pictures of the first kid, not wanting to miss those big moments so by the time you come along and reach those same milestones, they’re a little less enthused. Unfortunately, your parents may also have worked out a system for raising kids instead of flying by the seat of their collective pants by the time you come along, so you may not get away with much.

If you’re older, it’s perhaps a blessing to not have an annoying kid brother or sister stealing or getting into your stuff. No one expects you to have to babysit or take responsibility for a tag-along. No one tattles on you or whines about a playful punch or for taking something they wanted to play with. Usually the older child has a lot of pressure to set an example and parents may unintentionally hold that child to a higher standard.

So I’ve considered downsides of being the only child, and the downsides of the two dynamics of being older/younger siblings. However, if you know me, I tend to be more of an optimist. I’d rather look at the upsides.

As an only child, since I can’t miss what I never had, I was afforded some great opportunities. I’ve never felt a need to call shotgun when riding in a car. In fact, I always loved the furthest seat back so I could be alone with my thoughts.

I always eat slowly because no one steals food off my plate if I’m too slow. This way I taste my food and chew fully before swallowing, to allow for optimum digestion.

Sharing a bed at a slumber party was a treat, never a pain in the butt, because no one ever shared a bed with me otherwise.

When we rented movies, I never had a sibling’s wishes to consider, so in that regard, I got what I wanted. But we could only afford 2 movies at a time, never more.

My grandmother still gave me granny panties 5 sizes too big for Christmas as a child, so I didn’t get spoiled by grandparents either. My other grandmother lived so far away she mailed money, but all the grand kids got the same, equal amount. Again, we weren’t a rich family by any means.

From an early age, I had an independent entrepreneurial spirit. I started my first business at 5 or 6, a lemonade stand. Then I had a housekeeping service where I’d rent myself out for a couple hours at a time to help moms in the neighborhood clean houses. I went door to door whenever we had a school fundraiser. I sold the crap out of books, wrapping paper, chocolate, enchiladas, magazine subscriptions, whatever. I became the go-to neighborhood babysitter, and spent the whole summer of my 15th year babysitting two boys and two girls all summer long. I opened a student organization and a non profit organization during college, and had my own bookkeeping business. Being an only child taught me to be self sufficient, find ways to finance and entertain myself, and work hard for what I wanted.

My parents had me IQ tested at a young age, and this past weekend my mother actually finally shared with me that score while she was inebriated some 25 years later. My IQ as a child was 153. My parents supported my education with unparalleled fervor. I was placed into a gifted and talented education program at a private elementary school, which taught 3 grade levels higher than the nearby public school system. I had a library card, and I read with such a voracious hunger, further fueling my desire for learning and growth.

Ultimately, I was raised with an expectation I would attend college. Being an only child, my far from rich parents were able to help me pay for school. I still took on a full course load, and worked part time to defray costs. I chose a field of study I thought was expected of me to financially support myself. Accounting jobs were always present, and I could quickly see a return on the costs of college. I didn’t need to take on student loans for debt, which was a huge blessing. I still paid my parents back when I could as I couldn’t stand the thought of being financially dependent on them for any reason.

While I very much identify as an introvert, harnessing my energy best when alone, I had to learn social skills. My mom encouraged me to call people and talk, reach out, socialize. I wasn’t encouraged to do sports, as my parents were extensively overprotective. I was their one and only, so I was to be protected. Of course this drove me nuts to no end, having boundaries I did not impose on myself. But that instilled an incomparable sense of adventure and always wanting to break down those boundaries. I learned bravery and inquisitiveness, I wanted to ride my bike one block further, climb a tree I hadn’t climbed yet, and find a new secret spot no one knew about in my suburban hometown.

I didn’t have anyone to rely on but myself if I wanted something. I was driven, motivated, and accountable for my own actions. If my parents found blonde hair all over our 70’s hunter green shag carpet one day, they knew I did the cutting, not the sibling, and I got punished by not being allowed to go trick or treating for Halloween that year. If they found liver and onions in crevices under the kitchen table, they knew I stuffed them there to not have to eat that wretched food, so I could run off and play outside and explore sooner, and I had to suffer the consequences.

The way I see it, I’m relatively self reliant, reliable, kind, and relatable. Raising an only child is hard work. But raising any child is hard work.

I don’t have kids of my own. I don’t know that I ever will. It is possible I will rob the world of passing on my smart but short genes prone to sunburns and far from perfect coordination/balance.

For my friends raising only children, I’ll always recommend giving that only child a partner in crime with whom to go through life.

In the later stage of my life, after losing my father from an already small family, I wish I had a brother or sister who had my dad’s mannerisms like me, to help me remember him. It would be helpful to have someone to deflect the affections of my already overprotective, worrying mother. I know if she lost me now, she’d lose her world. I can’t imagine that for a parent. As a parent, losing a child must be the worst kind of pain. So that means I have to take even more care of myself. I can’t let her down like that and cause that kind of pain. If I had a sibling though, at least she’d still have someone, even though losing any child is devastating.

I had to grow up way too early, and sometimes I was the adult with my parents. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though. It contributed to who I am today. And hey, I haven’t managed to stick my fingers in any electrical sockets or jump off any bridges just because my friends did, yet. I’ve made it this far and turned out relatively ok, so they must have done something right…

As a latchkey child, during those long lonely summers when both my parents worked all day, I perused the bookshelves in my house until I found a book that explained confidence rankings for female and male children based on birth order. The book postulated male only children had the highest confidence quotient with male older siblings being a close 2nd. Female only children and oldest children did not appear in the rankings until 5th. I found that absolutely absurd. One piece of advice I have for parents of only children, especially girls, is that women can be confident. Instead of telling your little girl she’s pretty, or a looker, or giving her dolls, try this: give her a telescope, binoculars, books/access to a library, and tell her she can be anything she wants to be. After the laws in China restricting the number of children to one, resulting in forced abortions and female infanticide, I can’t convey enough how much confidence and strength it requires to be a female lesbian only child in today’s world.

What you don’t see

For those who were not as interested in geological principles as I was in college, I learned about this amazing concept I want to share with you. I have found so many practical applications for its use. Sit with me for a moment.

In its simplest form, isostasy is the principle of buoyancy where an object immersed in a liquid is buoyed with a force equal to the weight of the displaced liquid. (Thanks Wikipedia – that was a great simplistic way of putting it.)

This is how any of us can float in a pool of water, why we float better in salt water (like the very saline Dead Sea), and how tectonic plates float on the surface of the earth’s lithosphere.

It also, in the way I learned it, was used to explain why when an iceberg is suspended in water, approximately 1/7th of its mass is visible above the surface of the water. Think about that for a second. That means that iceberg which collided with the Titanic had 6/7ths of its mass not even visible below the water. That’s HUGE. That’s a big ice cube.

My favorite application is the idea that isostasy is actually a negative feedback process which seeks equilibrium and balance. Stay with me now.

I maintain that any person may only share 1/7th of their personality or talent or self with the world, if that. The more they displace by being in the world, the more mass they have and will share.

That has profound impacts to me. Take Albert Einstein, for example. If he shared only about 1/7th of who he was, and we don’t know the rest of him, yet that 1/7th he contributed was so important to humanity and science, there was still so much more to him we didn’t see. So much beneath the surface. It makes me very curious as to what we didn’t know about him or his thoughts.

I like to think I’m an open book. But if I’m truly honest with myself, there is a lot I don’t put out in this world. There are lots of reasons for that. I like to leave some air of mystery sometimes, there may be shame about some thoughts or feelings, or using my filter to only allow appropriate behavior which keeps a lot of inappropriate comments under the surface and unsaid too.

Even in starting this blog, I’m attempting to put myself out there, have an impact on this world, and move people. I want to displace them. Maybe it pushes them outside their comfort zone, or they just shift within their comfort zone. But make room for me.

Isostasy truly does beg for equilibrium though. If I upset the balance even if temporarily, a force will exert itself and push back on me saying you are not strong enough or big enough to displace me. That might hurt. Dealing with backlash or the fact that I may not be able to move some people or thoughts, may leave me with feelings of futility or hopelessness.

The world will only let me push it so far at any given time. I must not let myself get discouraged. I must keep pushing to stay afloat.

Finally, when you make observations and consider evidence to form a conclusion, always consider what it is you don’t see that may exist. That’s a big thought. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In auditing, my current profession, this is described as testing the assertion of completeness. What isn’t there that should be or could be?

I’m here world. Watch out.

The space between spaces

“The Space Between
What’s wrong and right
Is where you’ll find me hiding, waiting for you
The Space Between
Your heart and mine
Is the space we’ll fill with time
The Space Between…”
– Dave Matthews Band

When I looked up these lyrics on the internet to try to interpret their meaning, some took these DMB lyrics to be a sad love song about star cross’d lovers who cannot be together. They spiral in a failing relationship. Perhaps the time is not right. Perhaps their love is wrong. But it does not stop one from loving the other.

When I think of spaces between spaces, I’m reminded of a line in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, regarding anticipation. There is time that must be spent apart as it is not time yet to be together.

“So tedious is this day
As is the night before some festival
To an impatient child that hath new robes
And may not wear them.”

There is a gravity, a pull, a force, exerting itself on that space. All the time.

That anticipation, that force, that longing that bridges the furthest distance – I feel it. I wonder sometimes if it’s the distance between me and a future partner, or me and my “destiny”… Or me in a daily struggle of what is right and wrong for me.

But when I think about spaces between spaces, I think about spaces I’ve inhabited – happiness, profound depression, anxiety, calm, ambivalence, love, as a state of emotion or being. So when one is between plot twists, is that what “the space between” refers to? Life is what happens in the small moments?

I believe in small moments. I observe a lot in my daily life. It’s something I learned from my father. My job requires careful examination of evidence – taking seemingly meaningless data, and finding meaning, especially when some may try so hard to conceal it.

Maybe there is nothing in the space between. Maybe we are all truly woven into a fabric, connected somehow. It’s comforting, to think we’re all adjacent and so close there is no obstacle between us. It’s romantic, even.

But even at the subatomic level, there is supposedly space between protons and neutrons in any atom’s nucleus, and the electrons orbiting, with a dedication I have yet to muster.

We call it matter. So I must deduce from all of this that the space between has matter, and matters. It has substance, and should not be ignored. It too, deserves attention.

I also think of a Women in Banking and Finance luncheon I attended when I first arrived in Sydney. Gail Kelly, the CEO of the Westpac Group, one of the big 4 banks, and a strong South African woman and mother, gave the keynote address. I don’t think she came up with the idea, but she is the first who imparted the story to me.

She told me to imagine my life as a bucket. You fill the bucket with the big rocks first – those that mean the most to you. A partner, an education, a career, perhaps children, community service, a pet, international travel. Put your big rocks in first.

Then, put in the medium sized rocks. You know, those things you need that are a priority, but do not supersede those things you cannot live without. For me, that could be gym time, reading, yoga, meditation, catching up with friends.

Finally, you put in the little rocks, those small details, and those take up the space between the big rocks. Pebbles. Sand. Clay. Water molecules. That is the mundane minutia with which we busy ourselves.

If we put in the little things first, we have no room in our bucket for the things that mean the most to us. Our relationships suffer; our careers do not advance; we do not feel we are enjoying the best years of our children’s lives.

I take it one step further. I never want my bucket full. I want lots of space between because that mundane minutia only serves to stress me out. Or it’s meaningless drivel I can do without.

I want the big rocks.

It was actually the movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where I heard the reference to “the space between spaces” tonight, as I watched it with my cousin. In that movie, the space between is meant to be the elusive 4th dimension where aliens transport a human to share the culmination of their knowledge.

I don’t know that I even have the ability to perceive and understand that thoroughly enough to do it justice.

I only know having some space between the spaces is important to me.

Going home

I’ve taken some time this summer to visit family I’ve not seen in a very long time in upstate New York. The last time I was here, I was 16 years old, and I was only 8 the time before that. In fact, visiting family in NY is the only reason I was exposed to airplanes at such a young age and do not have a fear of flying.

Life is slower here; in fact, I feel as if I’m in a bit of a time capsule. On one hand, the buildings are old, and history can be seen everywhere in abandoned buildings with glass windows missing, rust around the edges of cars from salt used to melt snow on roads and driveways every winter, and the dated homes and furnishings. However, the area also seems to be taking on that distinctly American feel: big box stores like Walmart and Big Lots, peppered with McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, and other chain restaurants.

My mom’s house is different too. It contains many of the things it did when she and my dad lived in California, but now the things are in different places, in different rooms, and my dad isn’t here. I still feel closer to him here with all these things around, though, despite being so far from my childhood home.

I’ve recently spent a lot of time traveling internationally, but going back to my family’s roots can be just as much of an adventure as traipsing across new terrain in a foreign land.

It hit me as I was telling my family stories of the snakes and spiders in Australia, the homeless people in San Francisco, and other oddities in some Asian countries, that I do have many stories to tell they haven’t heard. I’ve also a unique point of view and a humor/wit that tells stories in such a way that some of the family claim not to have laughed so hard as they have since I arrived. They ask me where I heard my material. The thing is, I’ve lived it. I didn’t hear it anywhere on TV or in movies – these are my experiences.

Perhaps I may be a story teller after all. Perhaps I have stories to tell.

I’m still figuring out where home is now. Home used to be the three bedroom house in Silicon Valley I was raised in for the first 18 years of my life with my small family. Then it was my rooms in apartments during college, the flat I bought in San Francisco with my ex, my very first apartment in which I lived by myself. More recently, it was that wonderful three story apartment in Sydney. Now, with a lease on an apartment in San Francisco, living on my own again, that will be home. But home for me is also inside. It’s where I come from, and what I’m trying to find at the same time. It’s where I long to be yet where I am.

In the night, there was a rainbow

I haven’t heard anybody articulate something I connected with in a long time.

Then I found this.

I just want to add, “Me too!” to all of this. Every single word of it. Except maybe the Sarah bit.

“Grow, explore, take risks; infuse yourself into life, even if it’s always changing.” In the creative process, sometimes I feel I have nothing interesting to say. I think being interesting isn’t at all about what others find interesting. It’s what’s interesting to you. What is interesting about me? Profound stuff, here.

“Rediscover wonder, reinterpret and create something from life.” You do need to spend some time reassessing and observing and just stepping back sometimes. Look at how you’re seeing it. In what context, in what mood, in what light?

“What proof is there I existed?” Right now, I have no idea how to answer that. My dad painted, for a number of years before he passed away. To me, the proof he existed is in what he created: beautiful oil painting of landscapes, wooden pieces built with his own hands, and photographs of things he saw, but most of all, photographs of me.

Probably my favorite line from this TED talk is, “Impossible is trying to connect in this world while everything is blowing up around you.”

Brilliant. Couldn’t have said it better myself. This past year, my world did blow up, as far as I was concerned. But I found through connection, not isolation, I made it through the hardest time of my life, ever.

I did the impossible and I connected with you, somehow. You need to know: you saved my life. The only way I can thank you is by proving I exist, creating something, infusing myself into this life.

So I’ll leave it at that. And… Happy Father’s Day, Dad, wherever you are.

My first post

Now I begin the first step on my journey of attempting to write. I officially know two people who write blogs. When I left for Sydney 3 years ago, my friends encouraged me to write a blog and share my adventures, as they may never get to experience Australia firsthand. I didn’t think, at the time, that I’d have anything interesting to share.

At that point in my life, I tried to stop saying no to things, and start saying yes. It was a simple idea. But I politely declined the suggestion to write about my experiences. What could I possibly have to say that would be interesting enough to share?

I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t write then. While my life became one new experience after another, 20/20 hindsight has shown me I really didn’t progress as a person during those three years. I steered my ship sideways.

Here is the lesson I have walked away with after these last three years (after long bouts of self reflection and trying to gather positive thoughts on my choices): there was a time in my life when admitting failure embarrassed and shamed me. I now embrace my failures, and I learned that it’s ok to fail. I’m lucky enough to be self sufficient, financially independent, loved by family and friends, and supported to no end no matter what I do. So it doesn’t matter if maybe the last three years were a failure of my personal life, career, and loss in my family.

Through a lot of pain, I have emerged. I’m strong, but only because I had to be. I’m happy because, despite what I’ve been through, I choose to be. I refuse to be a victim.

In my life, I will continue to fall down. I will do my best to gracefully get back up, and not cry for skinned knees and a bruised ego.

Just get up. And take another step. Some people don’t need to hear that. It’s ok if I do.

I’m still trying new things. The other day I tried riding a segway for the first time, and being the klutz that I am, I fell and landed on my bottom, legs splayed, disoriented and surprised. I laughed about it for a good day afterward. I fearlessly got up, brushed myself off, and climbed back on, giggling uncontrollably and none the worse for wear (despite mild back pain and sore legs and bum) and finished the ride.

I may not say yes all the time now – and I don’t think that is always the best option. It’s ok to say no, fail, and fall. I know I’m still me and people still love me. If only everyone could be so lucky. As long as I continue to get back up.

By idigres