A Brief Thought on Self-Worth

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Baggage seems like such a hackneyed metaphor, until you’re busy lugging your own around. Some days I feel charged by the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure that is my life. Today, I woke up weighed down by the disappointment and flaws and anxieties that have broken every relationship I’ve had up to now. Today, I had baggage.

I once believed a man when he told me I wasn’t making enough of my life. I spend the last year, to some extent, believing that I was the sum of my flaws.

But tonight, I’m reminding myself how reckless that is. Having a bit of a WWRD (“What would Rihanna do?”) moment of trying to reframe the narrative. I’m not trying to go all Eleanor Roosevelt “no one can make you feel inferior” here. It’s just one of those days when I needed a little reminder that giving anyone else a say in my self-worth will be a lifelong exercise in futility.

I’m excited about the world has to offer. I’m excited about the possibilities I’m exploring in my own life. I’m excited to be in the driver’s seat.

I’m ready. Bring it on, world.

Seven thoughts

Today has been a day. This week has been a week. Fully-formed ideas are just not happening for me. So here are seven thoughts too small to broadcast and too big to quell. Consider this a peek straight into the parts of my brain that have been overactive since the day I uttered my first word, and that have been working on overdrive recently.

I’m cheating and calling this my #100DaysofPhotoshop as well, and saying that today I worked on organizing my layers and rediscovering the tedium of text. Layouts are not my thing, so design-minded individuals please forgive me.

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Love Letters

I’m hardly the first to point out that this age of texts and tweets, pins and posts, status updates and endless check ins has had a profound impact on the way we communicate. Hell, I practically majored and in texts and tweets, forced to consider the ways our communities have changed because of them. Our words can be amplified beyond our own safe worlds, with the power to inspire or incite. They can also get lost in the chaos and noise. Even as I sit here in my bed I know this will be safely read by a select few, but with the powerful potential to live on in unimagined places. Digitized, our intimate becomes impersonal, and our impersonal public.

So in all that noise, there’s one bit of magic that remains: a letter. To be more specific, a love letter.

I don’t mean the romantic musings that kept soldiers at war attached to home, or that make their way into literary archives. I simply mean the act of putting a pen to paper, and letting the love you have guide your hand.

Even as I write the words they sound rehearsed and saccharine. The cynic in me is laughing at how silly I sound. But the cynic isn’t the part of me that becomes elated at every hand-addressed envelope that winds up in my mailbox. It also isn’t the part of me that keeps all the best letters I’ve gotten in a box, stashed away.

Every letter I write, excepting maybe the obligatory thank you card or the quickly dashed off birthday note, is a love letter, some more so than others. There are the undeniable love letters, the confessions that my heart might burst if I loved any more, penned late at night in dim light. The soul-rending admissions of guilt and past wrong-doing, the vows to always be there, the pathetic attempts to soothe a deeply felt grief. They all fall into the conventional category of “love letter,” so expected.

But my love of love letters started long before I knew what it was to be in love. When I was little and my mom had to leave town she would leave a postcard for every day she was gone, a small handwritten reminder that she was still out there somewhere. As I grew up the notes became fewer and far between, but still just as important to me. After a particularly devastating heartbreak from a particularly life-changing First Love, she snuck a postcard in my bag. “In the great adventure of life,” it read, “you have hit a tough spot.” It’s hard to remember truer words being spoken to me, and I still sometimes pull that postcard out to rub the small bit of seaglass taped to it: good luck for bad times.

That doesn’t even begin to touch on the countless letters, less profound but no less wonderful, that fill my little box: letters to and from my Grandma, exchanged every couple months like pen pals; letters at camp bringing bits of home when I needed them most; letters this Christmas that made me giggle and snort thinking of the friends they came from; letters from Africa that have travelled far and long carrying tales of red-headed adventure. All love letters in their own way, and all treasures I’ll hang onto.

I will sappily admit I just finished a love letter to Patrick (and have now ruined the surprise), a little habit of mine that I hope he hasn’t gotten sick of yet. It used to be that the distance made it feel important, a way of sharing an intimate moment from 3000 miles away. Now it’s just habit, and when the words start to bubble out I put a pen to paper. The cynic in me sometimes loses out to the dreamer. And then some bad TV comes on and the cynic wins.

After I write this I’ll go bad to my day-job as a snarky and guarded purveyor of pop-culture knowledge and not-funny jokes. But every now and again I like to escape into a love letter. For a sometimes comical escape into love letters (and their spiteful counterparts), check out Letters to Ex-Lovers. They range from the short and sweet and strangely earnest to the hilarious (sweet Norah Jones quote), the odd, and everything you’d expect from the internet. I can’t help but feel like every letter is accompanied by that little bit of wishful thinking that maybe just maybe that one ex will read it, which is a little heart-breaking.

If you like a little more variety in your love letters, Post Secret is a good standby. From the laugh-out-loud to the unbearably sad, it’s hard not to think of every secret as a love letter to the project itself. I also stumbled across Other People’s Love Letters. So maybe I was wrong, maybe the internet is a wonderfully magical place for love letters. But I’m thinking not.

Falling in Love: San Francisco Edition

My very San Francisco day in a nutshell

My very San Francisco day in a nutshell

Oh me, oh my, hot damn. Guys, it’s been 2 months since I’ve updated anything on this blog. Sad face. I could sit here and make excuses (but I’m busy, when I get home I’m tired, writing means thinking, I didn’t wannnnnnnna), but really I don’t have a good one. The honest truth? I just didn’t feel like it. I’ve been trying to get my footing in a new city, getting adjusted to a new job, getting used to how shockingly cold my apartment is.

But it’s a new year and I’m determined to make as many resolutions as possible ’cause then at least one of them’s gotta stick, right? And among my many resolutions is a fixed determination not to abandon the blog. I like the act of making myself write, and I like being able to update people on what all I’m up to, especially now that I’m living across the country from almost all of my best friends.

Which brings me to the topic at hand–this strange city I’m living in on this strange coast. I’m the first to admit that it’s taken me a while to adjust to San Francisco, and that I’m a little hesitant to embrace it. I’ve already given myself over body and soul to New England and her bold seasons, to the vibrant whir of London life, to the buzz and hum of New York streets. Do I really have it in my to give myself fully to a new city, and one with such terrible public transit at that?

If I’m being honest, I don’t want to have to bike everywhere, to dodge this terrible city traffic. I don’t want to have a jacket with me at all times, even in the summer. I certainly don’t want to have to tune in at 4pm to catch a Celtics game, and to stay late at the office so I don’t miss the very end. And because of those things I haven’t embraced the city as fully as I could. I love the parks and the food and the attitude, but guess what? I loved those on the East Coast too! And I think at times the  join-our-quirky-and-unique-city-but-don’t-you-dare-dislike-any-of-it-and-you-better-be-quirky-and-unique attitude gets tiresome.

But like I said, new year! Today I set out to explore more of the area around me in an attempt to embrace this odd city as my own. I’m living in Haight-Ashbury right now and I wanted to get beyond the pipe shops and vintage stores of Haight St to see what else is around me. I set out for Buena Vista Park on what can only be described as the most beautiful and mild January day I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Buena Vista doesn’t seem to have the same name cred as Golden Gate or Dolores parks, but it does boast a beautiful view for those willing to walk some stairs and hills.

After about five minutes in the park I claimed it as my own oasis. Fresh tree smell. Dogs everywhere. A place to sunbathe while reading a book (in Januray!). I was in heaven. And as I sat on top of the hill feeling the grass on my neck and the sun on my arms I think I finally got it: this is why people love San Francisco. Or at least why I will love San Francisco.

I spent a good hour and a half in the park, moving from there to Alamo Square where I once again sat myself down and read in the warmth of the January sun. A quick stroll over to Hayes Valley, and then I made my way back to my neighborhood, basking in the glow of a great day. It turns out all it took was some nice weather and a few trees to sell me on San Francisco.

I don’t know how other people have come to love the cities they’re in, particularly for those of you who didn’t always call that city “home.” I’d be interested in knowing if other East Coast transplants have had the same reservations that I have. And I still wonder if the constant refrains of “You’ll never want to leave San Francisco” will ever start to feel true. But at least for now I can honestly say that I’m starting to fall for this city on the bay.*

*Full disclosure: even writing “the bay” made me think of Narragansett bay. Apparently you can take the girl out of Rhode Island but you can’t take the quahog out of the girl..