Friday, August 31, 2012

Embarrassingly true things

Reflecting on past relationships, I noticed that their demises were usually preceded by me finally standing up for myself and expressing what I wanted or needed. I didn't want to live with an alcoholic. I couldn't tolerate cheating. I wanted passion, not just friendship. I needed support/affection/help around the house while I was going through a difficult time. Was I asking for too much? Are these terribly unreasonable desires? It took me a while to say those things because I was afraid. That I wasn't good enough. That I didn't have anything to offer. That no one else would like me so I couldn't be greedy and ask for what I wanted.

So there it is, all the embarrassingly true crap from the ridiculous relationships of robot.*

T.E. told me that I have all the skills I need to be in a great relationship and he would tell me if there was something I needed to work on. But I don't know if that's true. Clearly what I've been doing hasn't worked out for me. So maybe it's time for a different perspective.

If I'm ever in another relationship, I'd like to feel safe to express my feelings without negative repercussions and I'd like to feel heard and understood. That has to be the deciding factor for me. If someone can't acknowledge and accept that my thoughts and feelings are valid too, then I have to walk away. If someone isn't willing to invest as much effort as I am into creating a happy and healthy life, then I have to say so long and on to the next one.

I'd like to think that out of the billions of people in the world there are at least a few who could feel as lucky to know me as I feel to know them. But I'm making peace with the possibility that it may never happen for me. Maybe I won't find what I'm looking for, maybe I don't even know what I'm looking for, maybe something completely different will find me instead.

I've learned a lot from the past. I'm thankful for every experience because it made me who I am today and I'm looking forward to the new experiences that will make me who I will become. But it's time to let go of everything I've been holding on to so that I can be truly open to what's next.

*I wrote this because I needed to get it out and let it go. Sometimes I think I shouldn't say certain things here where anyone can read them. What if they think I'm crazy or weird or a terrible, awful person? But then I thought that's not what this is about. It's not about what other people think of me. It's about my life, what I do and what I love, how I feel and what I learn, the stumbles and victories, the sweetness and the suckiness. It's honest and it's real.

Lyric of the moment: "Hold my head inside your hands. I need someone who understands. I need someone, someone who hears. For you, I've waited all these years. For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come. Until my day, my day is done. And say you'll come, and set me free. Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me..."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How it's supposed to be

Someone said to me "It will work out how it's supposed to." I believe life does have a tendency to do that. But I also believe in being an active participant in your own life. Even if you're "supposed to" be a doctor, you still have to go to medical school. Even if you're "supposed to" be with someone, that person is not going to just show up at your door and say "Hey, I heard we're supposed to be together. So let's get it on." If you sit around simply waiting for the things that are supposed to happen to you, you may be waiting a very long time.

Sometimes I get little glimpses of insight, little hints that seem to be pointing me in the direction of "supposed to." They're the ideas that pop into my head, from who knows where, the ones that for whatever reason I just can't shake. And if I focus my attention and effort on those ideas, things don't always work out how I expected or how I hoped, but usually there is much awesomeness to be found. I believe that effort is its own reward. I'll admit that sometimes my efforts are misplaced, sometimes I fail to realize that I am fighting for a lost cause. But I'd rather go down fighting than give up too soon. I'd rather show up and give my all to my one and only life. Sometimes I get lost, sometimes I make mistakes. But I like to think that those things are supposed to happen too.

I don't know how it's supposed to be. All I know is that I'm going to keep putting in the effort. In good times and bad times, if you love me or hate me. I'm going to keep giving my best and trying to be a better person.

Lyric of the moment: "She runs up into the light surprised. Her arms are open. Her mind's eye is seeing things from a clearer side than most can dream. On a better road I feel. So you could say she's safe. Whatever tears at her, whatever holds her down. And if nothing can be done she'll make the best of what's around..."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dear whoever is in charge of these things:

What is the deal with life, man? A lot of it doesn't make any sense. Until sometimes I look back and everything makes hilariously, ridiculously, unexpectedly perfect sense. Though I can never see it when I'm actually in it. Like now. They always gloss over this part in movies. Everyone wants to see the before and after, but everything in between is reduced to a 2 minute montage set to an emotionally evocative soundtrack. Sometimes I wish I could fast forward over these times myself so I could get to the good stuff. But it's here amidst the hard stuff where the real transformation occurs. It's the process of going through all that and putting in the necessary effort that leads to the good stuff.

Whenever I've reached a point where I didn't know what to do next, I did the thing I was most afraid to do. That's how I ended up leaving grad school, taking a totally random job at this weird and crazy and amazing place, moving in with the strangers who would become my roommates for several years, buying a house, running a marathon (and meeting some kick ass people along the way), letting go of something that was good but not great, falling in love - so basically, all the very best things I've done. So now I'm facing my current fears. That of being alone (and trying to believe that being single doesn't imply that I'm horribly ugly or fundamentally unlovable or fated to die alone). And that of putting myself out there and being open to whatever happens, despite a very real risk of failure, rejection or heartache.

So if my life were a movie, the montage would look something like this: taking a road trip to visit Emelyn and Jeff in Pittsburgh, playing mini-golf and eating ice cream, walking through Highland Park, sitting in coffee shops reading (where elderly people shake my hand and tell me they like my sandals when I hold the door open for them or they ask me to watch their purse while they go to the bathroom. Evidently I am a hit with the AARP crowd), going kayaking (and getting hissed at by angry swans), reading, going to the gym, listening to Bill's "pep talks" (as he keeps coming in to my office to hand me random $10 and $20 bills and saying "I just want things to go well for you, kid" and bringing me 2 bike locks and half a dozen slips of paper with combinations written on them and asking me which combination goes with which lock), going on a family trip to visit TJ in Boston. And I think probably Aimee Mann's 'Today's the Day' or Rachel Yamagata's 'Reason Why' would be playing in the background.

But still, President of Life or Fate/Destiny or whoever you are, maybe you could see it in your heart to send me a little clue, or a bit of help or some kind of sign pointing me in the right direction. Or one of those moments that changes my whole life for the better, only I don't know it at the time. Or maybe just enough hugs and cookies to get me wherever it is I'm supposed to be.

From Robot, with love.

Lyric of the moment: "I've been trying to do it right. I've been living a lonely life. I've been sleeping here instead. I've been sleeping in my bed. So show me family. All the blood that I would bleed. I don't know where I belong. I don't know where I went wrong. But I can write a song..."

Monday, August 20, 2012

A playlist for uncertain times

I don't know what life has in store for me next. I don't know where I'm going or what will happen. But I hope it sounds like this...

Ho Hey by The Lumineers

In My Life by The Beatles

Live and Die by the Avett Brothers

Video Games by Lana Del Rey

I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons

Til Kingdom Come by Coldplay

Under The Milky Way Tonight by Church

Throw Your Arms Around Me, the cover by Pearl Jam

I want to feel alive and happy and human and loved. I want to believe that all these things are possible. I want to be in that moment where I'm bursting with so much happiness that I can't help but dance. Even though I can't dance at all. But I'll be so content I won't care who's watching or how ridiculous I look.

Lyric of the moment: "And it's something quite peculiar, something shimmering and white. Leads you here despite your destination..."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It is the struggles that shape us

There is a saying: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." I try to remember this so I can do my best to react with compassion and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Everyone has difficulties. But I'm learning that it is those struggles that truly shape us. When times get tough you find out what you're really made of.

Will you run away from problems or will you face them head on? Will you take responsibility for your actions or will you blame others? Will you give up or will you give your all? Will you act from a place of fear or of love? Will you get stuck in the past or the future or will you embrace and accept the present?

I don't have any answers. I'm still trying to figure it all out. Sometimes I wish life was all ice cream and hugs, but then I think who would I be if everything always came easily to me, if I never had to struggle? I probably wouldn't be very interesting or empathetic or adaptable. And even ice cream loses its appeal if you eat it for every meal of every day.

I'm trying to remember that the times I feel the weakest are probably the times that are making me the strongest, that there are people who will accept me as I am, on good days and bad days, that even on the worst days, life is full of beauty and light and love.

Lyric of the moment: "I love the things that we should fear. I'm not afraid of being here..."

When things don't go according to plan, forget about plans & enjoy the adventure

Sign at the fancy acupuncture place my boss
sent me to. I thought it was a nice reminder.
Sometimes I feel anxious to have my life all in order and frustrated that things haven't really gone the way I wanted this year. But I know that life rarely goes according to plan and a lot of things that happen to me will be out of my control. I still don't know how to completely accept that, but this year I'm learning from experience that certain reactions aren't terribly helpful.

Such as, beating myself up for things that are out of my control and/or not my fault. I give my all to the things and people I love and as long as I keep living that way, I have nothing to regret. I don't want to feel bad about myself because I got hurt or because someone else didn't think I was worth holding on to. Sometimes these things happen. I know I'm nowhere near perfect, but I think I have at least some good things going for me. And if anyone disagrees, I'm certainly open to suggestions on how to improve.

I guess when things don't go according to plan, I should forget about plans and enjoy the adventure. I don't know what will happen or where I'll end up. I hope I make it to Awesometown, but I'm at least going to have as much fun as possible on the way. All I can do now is focus on the things that make me happy, spend time with friends and family and hope for the best.

No matter how many times I fall, I have to keep getting up and putting myself out there and being open to life's possibilities. I think I have a pretty strong foundation - physically, mentally, financially - which will hopefully put me in a good position to seize opportunities that present themselves.

Lyric of the moment: "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life. I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky..." (because I hope Pearl Jam is right and this will happen to me.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Things I learned while buying a new car

Sometimes I miss Bug, but he was unreliable and I've got places to go. Maz is a much better vehicle for adventuring. The whole car buying process taught me a few things about decision making and life in general that I can probably apply to other areas of my life.

When Bug first died, I took a mini break from the whole car experience. Luckily I've built my life in such a way that it wasn't a big deal to go without a car for a few weeks. This break gave me the needed space to avoid making a decision based on urgency or emotional reaction.

Lesson: Sometimes it's good to take myself out of a situation and give myself time to reflect before moving forward.

Then I had to figure out what I wanted next. My dad and I spent a few weekends driving around to car dealerships so I could get an idea of the options out there, what I liked and disliked and to go on some test drives. As I walked or biked to and from work, I also started paying attention to the cars parked on the street. If I saw something I liked, I researched the prices and reviews online.

Lesson: Remain open to life's possibilities and seek out alternative options, then focus on the ones that will work best for me.

I thought I had decided on a Nissan Versa, but when I went to the Nissan dealership, I had a bad experience. When I test drove the car, I found it had some features I didn't like. Plus the salesmen were pushy and I knew more about the car and the dealer's current incentives than they did.

Lesson: Trust myself and my instincts. When I get a bad vibe about something, it's usually for a reason. It's helpful to listen to other people's opinions, but I still have to do what's best for me.

In the end, I'm glad that things didn't work out with Nissan because otherwise I wouldn't have gone to the Mazda dealership where I ended up finding and buying Maz. I never realized how nice it is to have a new car and not feel limited in where I can go and what I can do. I'm hoping that with regular maintenance and some luck, I can drive Maz for the next 200,000+ miles of my life.

Lesson: Sometimes the things I think I want don't work out, but they usually lead to something even better.

Zoom Zoom!

Lyric of the moment: "I guess you're just what I needed..."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The boot. And other things I do for the love of running.

A typical rolfing session
Running, I must love the crap out of you because I've been putting everything I have into getting back to you. I got over my insecurities so I could put on a swimsuit and work out in the pool. I went to rolfing, which makes me feel like I'm being drawn and quartered. I've gotten x-rays and gone to a chiropractor, a sports medicine doctor, a general practitioner and a podiatrist. I have an appointment with a renowned foot and ankle doctor at the end of the month. The podiatrist taped up my foot and told me to keep the tape on for a few days, so I've been showering with my right foot outside the tub so the tape won't get wet. He also suggested that I stretch my calf muscles every time I go to the bathroom, which should be interesting when I have to use a public restroom. And now I've got big blue Dorsiwedge, the boot I have to wear to bed every night for a few weeks. I'm not supposed to stand or walk in it, so of course every time I put it on I immediately have to pee. And since I don't feel like taking it off and putting it on again every 3 seconds, I have to hop to the bathroom on one foot. And then stretch my calves. It's getting ridiculous up in here.
Sexy, right? My Dorsiwedge
brings all the boys to the yard.

Sometimes I question the sanity of giving my all to something that hurt me, but I can't help it. I'm a runner through and through. And I never give up on the things I love. I will try everything I can think of until something works. Even if it takes me 26 years to get there, I will run another marathon someday.

Lyric of the moment: "I’m never ever gonna quit. 'Cause quittin' just ain't my shit..."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Because the sun is shining somewhere

From an email I received today: "The beautiful thing is that somewhere the sun is always shining. And concerning your future it is very bright." It was from my new financial advisor, so I'm assuming he meant my financial future. I'm not concerned about that. I'd rather have people than money. But the sun is shining here today, so there's that. And my future has always been a great unknown. I've never been able to predict where I would end up, so I should be used to the uncertainty by now. But the older I get, the more I crave some sort of security, even though rationally I know security is an illusion. None of us know what's going to happen or how many days we have left. Maybe I'm just looking for someone to say "However many days I have left, I'd like to spend them with you." Maybe that is what everyone is looking for.

I read the most adorable book - Dave Isay's "All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps." It's a collection of interviews with real people about their relationships, stories of love found and lost and found again. I like the old couples the best, the ones who have been together for 50 years, through all the ups and downs. I think I just like knowing it's possible, an ultramarathon of love.

One of the stories included the advice that for a successful marriage, there are 6 things you should always say to your partner: You look great, Can I help?, Let's eat out, I was wrong, I am sorry, and I love you.

I'll have to remember that.

Lyric of the moment: "However far away, I will always love you. However long I stay, I will always love you..."

Monday, August 6, 2012

New perspectives

They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. This is what life's teachers are telling me today:

"You are a trapeze artist. You have to let go of one swing in order to grab the next one. There is that moment of being airborne in between when you are holding on to nothing, and trusting that the other swing will come toward you." (from Beth Howard's Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie. I'm a lover of both memoirs and dessert, so it must have been kismet that the library brought us together.)

"Love what you are doing, until you can do what you love. Love where you are, until you can be where you love. Love the people you are with, until you can be with the people you love most. This is the way we find happiness." (from

That sounds way easier said than done, but I'm going to give it a try. I know I have to let go, to stop wanting things to be a certain way, to stop wanting at all. I have to find a way to be in this moment, to experience the joys and the sorrows without judgement, without attachment, without fear.

I'm so lucky to have parents who love me and want the best for me, who came over with all new plants to replace the dying ones in my front yard and to have a boss who told me "We just love you so much. It breaks my heart whenever there is a tear in your eye." I'm so lucky just to be here at all, surrounded by all these amazing people.

Lyric of the moment: "Cause my head just aches when I think of the things that I shouldn't have done. But life is for living we all know, and I don't want to live it alone..."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

And I'm forever missing you

I am restless. I feel like I should be doing something, anything. But I know that sometimes the best thing I can do is nothing. I have done all I can do and now I have to let the chips fall where they may. So I'm feeling whatever I feel and not judging myself for it. It's not that I did something wrong, it's not that I wasn't enough. Sometimes the way someone treats you is more about them than it is about you. I can't control what anyone else does. But I can forgive and ask to be forgiven. And after that, it is out of my hands.

I don't know what other people think about love. But to me it is about acceptance - accepting another person completely, both strengths and weaknesses - and commitment - making a conscious choice to share your life with someone in triumph and tragedy and everything in between.

That is what I want more than anything, more than running another marathon or traveling the world or finding the most delicious ice cream sundae. And I don't care if that makes me sappy or naive or just plain stupid. I don't care if it makes me look weak or vulnerable. I'm not afraid to be any of those things. I'm only afraid that the thing I want most is the one thing I may never find.

Lyric of the moment: "And if you're in love, then you are the lucky one. 'Cause most of us are bitter over someone. Setting fire to our insides for fun, to distract our hearts from ever missing them. But I'm forever missing him..."

Friday, August 3, 2012


I have everything. But all I want is everyone. Maybe if I'm really lucky the universe will send the following people my way...

Friends who know how to play euchre or who like independent or foreign films.

A travel buddy.

Someone who wants to go skydiving. (I feel like jumping out of something again).

Frozen yogurt lovers.

Fellow adventurers.

And if miracles do exist, someone who thinks he's so lucky to have me in his life that he would never let me go.

Lyric of the moment: "I was staring at the sky, just looking for a star to pray on, or wish on, or something like that. I was having a sweet fix of a daydream of a boy whose reality I knew was hopeless to be had..."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Everything's not lost

Suddenly, and I have no idea why, I feel strangely content. For the first time, I'm alone in my house and it doesn't feel empty or lonely. I feel lucky and grateful for everything I have. I feel like, even if I never belong anywhere else, I belong here. I feel genuinely at peace with myself for the first time in probably forever. The most impossible of all the impossible things has found me when I least expected it.

I was down on myself for a while because I couldn't run and I thought that diminished my worth as a person. And I was making myself miserable because I didn't think I deserved to be happy. But that's pointless. Happiness is a choice, not a prize I have to earn.

Now I feel like, whatever happens, I will be fine. I even wear a bathing suit in public on a regular basis and don't feel bad about it. It's no Victoria's Secret runway show, but as far as I know no one has turned to stone at the sight of me.

I have faults. I fail. I make mistakes. But I try to learn from them, to make amends to the best of my ability and to keep making progress. I will try to give my best to every day, to do all that I can do in whatever moment I find myself in, and then hopefully awesomeness will ensue.

Lyric of the moment: "I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose, fire away, fire away. Ricochet, you take your aim, fire away, fire away. You shoot me down, but I won't fall. I am titanium..."