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on the downright religious interference with my love life
Monday. 7.1.13 12:24 am
"I like the idea of you and Evan," my porch swing companion mentions casually. We aren't on the topic of Evan (as usual--I don't bring him up, because there's nothing to say), but that seems to stop no one from saying those exact words to me, when I mention dating, romantic interests, and other topics along the general romantic theme. They like the idea of us. Apparently it's a universal OTP.

I look to the left and forward at the storm clouds coming in. It seems like I always find myself back on this particular dock during storms. I often notice it reflecting my mindset--the sunny, warm day accompanying my first date with someone incredible, freshman year; the cold rain of my journal writing on the outer dock, stretching out into the vastness of the sea; the distant lightning of my frustrated brooding, gusts of wind unsettling my hair.

"Everyone likes the idea of me and Evan," I respond dryly, still staring into the emptiness of space (somewhat obscured by charcoal clouds).




It's February and I'm conducting another set of group interviews for the internship. The boss is a little behind, so I wander quietly into the lobby to do a tap dance, or something, while she sorts everything out and gets the conference room ready for the interviews ("Nope, all I need for you to do is give me a couple minutes to get some e-mails sorted out," she tells me, when asked if I could help her). I've been told it's only two students, and that this is a special session scheduled just for them, because they were too busy to take a normal slot. Weird. So just me and the boss interviewing them. Okay.

They seem normal enough, and I wonder passively if I look normal at all, leaning awkwardly against the opposite wall, quite possibly the farthest distance from them I could maintain without actually leaving the room. I ask some basic questions to burn some time and distract them from their impending group interview doom...and the fact that we're late starting. The one is a psychology major, and I rip into psychology with him without a second thought about how I tend to come off as an excessively passionate individual (to put it kindly). He opens fire back, and I'm completely filled with glee...but on the down low.

The entire interview with him is like this. He lists his clubs and organizations and I can pick out several that I've wanted to join. He gives a likable and relatable speech "to new students" (read: my boss and me)...better than I'm able to, today. During the individual Q&A portion, my boss leaves the room with the other applicant, and he answers every question perfectly with a humored smile, alternating polite responses for parent-simulated questions and curse words for the students.

After the interview, I can't leave the conference room for a good minute. My boss shuffles quickly out of her office and stops to see me still standing in the doorway, eyes surely saucers in the wake of this total destruction of my entire universe. How could there be someone with so much energy and life, out there, sharing a whole BUNCH of my interests and beliefs, and, more importantly, how have we never met?

"Yeah," she says, smiling at my stunned expression.

I take the cue, and ask slowly: "What was that?"

She laughed, understanding exactly what I meant.

"That was Evan."

Apparently.

"He'll be your special project," she said matter-of-factly, before slipping back into her office. "I like you two as a team."

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back to basics
Saturday. 6.15.13 2:33 am
The other night, some of us walked a group of students to the huge dock overlooking the bay between our peninsula and the area across the bridge. We were supposed to leave at 7:30 and return around 9:30, but we ended up staying until 11:30, instead, after feeling this great connection with everyone and giving a multitude of chances to leave. Near the end of the night, Rashad suggested we play the ABC game.



It's a cool night in May, and we all come into the library, tense, scratching at mosquito bites from the unsatisfying outdoor debrief about a "simulation" that left some downright hostile, and many others upset, to say the least. Jason asks us to go around in a circle and talk about how we felt, starting to his left and ending with me, directly to his right. These people I held so dear talked about how frustrated they still were, about the injustices of the simulation, about the secrecy behind the point of the whole exercise... All the while, I had time to think. None of this is what's bothering me. What's bothering me, really?

Once again, the psychology came in handy. I settled upon the answer quickly and tried to come up with its matching solution, because that's what orientation interns are trained to do, to the point where a problem without a solution is a major source of stress and frustration.

I knew what it was, and couldn't wait to have my turn to talk. We were all so tense and so low, emotionally, that it was searing through all of us like venom, and I didn't want to feel that way, any longer. I didn't want anyone to feel that way.

"And...Katie?"

I paused, staring at my bare thighs under the soft light of the lamp beside me, collecting myself. My anxiety was rampant, and suddenly this was twenty times harder to get out.

"The point of a debrief," I said, my voice shaking, "is to get your participants back down to their original emotional state. They didn't do that. We haven't debriefed, really. So can we please get back to center and play the ABC game instead of thinking any more about things we might never know?"

I looked up to several surprised pairs of eyes, none more surprised than that of our fearless leader, Jason.

A minute later, we were standing in a circle, shoulders touching tensely against one another's, eyes closed. The energy in the room was palpable and thick, a rubber band stretching to its limits to encase our emotions.

There was a moment of nauseating silence.

"A," Ian started, so loudly that it sent a twisting sensation through my stomach.

"B."

"C."

"...D."

Then, simultaneously: "...E."

We all groaned a little, but Jason had by then figured out what my point was in playing this right away, and with all his intensity demanded, "Again."

Ian, again: "A."

"B."

Together: "...C!"

And so on, every time ending in a more humored groan and Jason's ever-insistent "Again." Eyes closed, we felt the energy in the room return to its normal state, each of us too focused on one another to entertain any more silly thoughts about a stupid simulation that failed to matter either way. When we managed to finish the alphabet without two people saying the same letter at once, we cheered so loudly that it left an etching in my emotional memory bank. The relief that came from such a simple thing--I can still hear our joy, coming from such a small victory and such an enormous connection.

We were the only group to come out of our family session completely at ease.




I smile over at Rashad, and the group we're with makes it to Z much more easily, being three times the size of our tiny family. The four of us--all interns--are surrounded by the potential of these new students, sitting on a dock encased in darkness and swaddled in the sounds of the ocean. Everything is okay. Nothing hurts.

Heat lightning turns the distant sky a beautiful purple and I remember the way the stars looked especially beautiful, that night.

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on dating yourself
Tuesday. 6.4.13 12:42 am
"If you're not dating yourself," I told him, leaning against the opposite wall, "you're doing it wrong."

He looked at me like I was crazy. He, the person who just told me that going to the beach alone and relaxing was "weird." The person who told me he never considers enjoying a night filled with solo pampering.

This is not a woman thing. This is a human thing. Love yourself, date yourself.

I've been doing that. I spend time with my friends often, and really enjoy my day, but then I make sure to come home and check in with me. It's a growing thing. A lot of body positivity has come from it; just like falling for anyone else, I'm suddenly finding the peculiar, disproportional largeness of my hips to be endearing, rather than aggravating and disheartening. They've even started to become...my favorite body part on myself. I'm starting to love other people a lot more, too. Out of nowhere, the other day, I saw a photo of an old friend I'd lost touch with, on Facebook, and on a whim messaged him to tell him I was happy that he seemed so happy and in his element, in his new town. We're having coffee and catching up, this weekend. Sweetness is contagious and a reward in itself.

Funny how I embarked on this journey to loving myself, and how, after a while, it's entirely perpetual.


One week after a rather emotional loss of trust (the usual for me, someone who doesn't trust easily), I decided to lay it all down again and message someone who was giving me mixed signals, to tell him I was back in town. Today, I found out that he's quite glad, and we're getting together, later this month. Tonight, one of my very closest friends on this earth asked me to trust him not to do something that was really spooking me, and I just agreed to it. My mind was swirling with all the possibilities. "Make it worth my trust." "Should I trust you?" "Do you promise?"

Instead, I just agreed. Brain, shut up. Either he messes up or he doesn't. Whichever way this goes, just give him the dagum trust.

And hey, that's new. It's constantly new. These days, it feels like I'm constantly rediscovering myself.

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proper lane change
Saturday. 5.25.13 1:14 am

I think the big difference between now and before is that, before, I would have felt the flags going up and done nothing. Now, when someone doesn't seem right, when they hurt me, when they don't want what I want, I tell them and I make sure it's fixed and that I'm where I want to be...or entirely without them, in some cases. I lived with the same burden for two years, and it cast a freezing shadow over what could have, otherwise, been a passionately academic and exciting friendship. Now that whole world is dark.

I'm not going through that again.

There are people in my life that I'm unhappy with, and it isn't their fault. This is the cost of silence--disappointment. I let people push themselves into parts of my life, where I don't want them, and I let them get comfortable--or, conversely, I let them stay put, just wishing they would move forward. I let people say things that hurt me, rather than risking telling them who I am and why I don't want to hear those things. If you don't communicate and ask for what you want, it 100% won't be on your terms, when you receive what people are willing to give. There's a difference between neutral and passive.

The fact that I'm passive is new to me, but probably ancient news to everyone else. I never saw it, but it's this huge, malignant aspect of my personality, when it comes to relationships, and I don't want to live like that, anymore.

Initiate the conversation. Set the mood for the discourse. Be the first to express expectations, and express them honestly. Approach problems as they arise. Engage.

We made fun of the whole "sit in the front row of your life" thing, but now I'm starting to wonder whether I'm actually at the wheel in my life, or if I'm subject to a string of chauffeurs in my place.

Keep changing, says my brain.

You've still got a ways to go.

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