Perpetually Unfinished
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
 
I keep thinking I'll write a whole post here any day now, when I've settled in here in DC, once everything has sunk in and I've processed the whole move and the new city and everything that goes with it. But god knows when that's going to actually happen... it's been nearly six weeks now, and there's still an air of unreality about all of it. Not that things are bad, because they're not; they're very good, in fact, at least so far. I'm happy. Also an oversized helping of crazy, stressed, awkward, unsteady, overwhelmed, and some other feelings I can't even name... but happy.

Anyway. I'll write something more soon, whether I suddenly manage to feel grounded or not. And pictures! I have all sorts of pretty pictures!
 
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
 
Item: I am so tired of my cell phone demagnetizing things. Hotel room keys, DC Metro cards, what have you. What is it in cell phones that does that? Is it possible that someone could invent one that doesn't? Or couldn't places just use some sort of scan-strip technology that doesn't go crazy when it gets near cell phones? I can't be the only one with this problem...

Item: So now I know why they call it a double-take. The other day I was sitting at my desk at work. I hear "Hi Britt" and turn around. "Oh, hi, Alicia." One of my coworkers, just saying hi, nothing out of the ordinary, let me hit send on this e-mail and then I'll talk for a sec. In the middle of turning my head back to my computer, I snap it back. Wait a minute, something is out of place, this is a coworker who left the office six months ago! Take two! "Hi, how've you been?!"

Item: I am totally jealous of little kids these days. Those sneakers with the wheels in the bottoms, that you can just roll on... so cool! Hey, I have small feet, you think they make them in my size?
 
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Saturday, December 30, 2006
 
Just checking back in with everyone. Hopefully by now my handful of readers have come to terms with the fact that it'll be awhile between posts, so I won't bother apologizing or explaining.

It actually feels like it's been much longer than two months since I last wrote, since before I went to Boston. It just seems like so much has happened in my life since then. Boston was... quite an experience (or more accurately, bundle of experiences), and I've been feeling the ripple effects ever since. I can't recall a time where I have been rethinking so many of my assumptions simultaneously-- about life, death, risk, relationships, gender, courage, responsibility, respect, organizational behavior, and human nature, and that's just a partial list! On the whole, I think this is a good thing... many of my assumptions were overdue for reexamination, and I don't want to get too set in my thinking regardless. But it does lead to me feeling quite a bit shaky and unsettled of late.

Adding onto that is preparing for a move to a whole new area in just a couple months. Yep, if you haven't heard, we're moving to Maryland in February. What, you thought I would mention actual news first, instead of navel-gazing? Clearly you don't know me! But anyway, aside from the stress of packing and the other logistical issues, there's also the elevated anxiety about all the upcoming changes-- at a relatively mild level, but always floating around there.

Despite all that, and despite the sadness about leaving the city of Chicago and my (few) friends here, I'm actually really excited about this time and this move. Besides being closer to family, closer to many old friends, and in what I think will be a much happier and less lonely work environment, it feels like a real opportunity for moving forward in a lot of ways for me. I mean, I know that the great Britt Self-Improvement Project has been going on for at least five years now, not always with appreciable results, so perhaps it's best not to get my hopes up. But with so much change going on, I'm hoping to seize the opportunity to reset some of my habits and patterns in a better mold.

I am tempted to put those into another laundry list of New Year's resolutions, but considering how little I've thought about my 2006 ones since last January, I don't think it makes a great deal of sense. Sure, I should exercise more and floss more and eat healthier and be more organized, and I will try to, and I think I'll be happier if I do. But what I really want and need to resolve is much deeper than that.

Because I think my central issue is still this: to take more risks, learn to manage fear and nervousness better, find a way to accept mistakes and embarrassment and keep moving forward with my head high. When I think small and act small because I'm afraid, it holds me back from happiness and from growth. I have truly made progress at this, I think, but I am still so far from where I want to be. I am still more likely to run or hide or find ways to wriggle away from things that scare me rather than taking a deep breath and plunging in and forcing myself to find ways to cope. But I'm at last coming to an important realization that I can't keep trying to solve the problems by getting rid of the fear itself. It's just who I am-- I am afraid of making mistakes and ruining things I work on, I am afraid of looking foolish and ridiculous and unintelligent, I am afraid of not being liked by the people I care about-- and trying to just switch that off has never been successful and probably never will be. I have to stop trying to be less afraid, and instead figure out how to live my life the way I want to despite those fears, through those fears.

So that's my real New Year's resolution, I guess, if it really counts as a resolution at all. Wish me luck and strength and happiness in 2007, and I wish the same for all of you.
 
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006
 


Originally uploaded by brittgm.
I've been busy. Physically busy-- I've been traveling a lot for work-- and mentally busy too, my mind always racing, pondering the next thing or four on my plate.

And we are back in that uncertain stage, where we don't know where we'll live a few months from now, how our futures might change. In January or February we might be moving to the DC area, or we might be here in Chicago for yet another year (or longer). I try to hold the two possibilities in my mind at the same time, envision two futures at once, two paths, so that I am ready for whatever comes. But it doesn't work well; instead, they both seem somehow unreal. Like Schrodinger's cat. (Sort of.)

I have a few months of reality left-- the rest of October, when I'll be out of town for 2-3 weeks straight; November, full of travel and of NaNoWriMo; December, preparing for the holidays and then celebrating them; and then a few weeks into January and a great big blank. Even January will either be full of packing and logistics and other challenges if we move, or my first month of real relaxation since the summer, if we don't. So it becomes fuzzy too, since I don't know what to expect from it. That's all I see ahead of me right now, busy-ness and then a blur.

I have noticed this problem before, in thinking about the future. When there are too many possibilities, I find myself disengaging from all of them. I have a hard time seriously thinking about life in my 30's (let alone beyond!) because there are so many variables-- it all becomes blurry, and I'm unable to take any of it very seriously. That doesn't mean I can't make plans for my future; it just means that it's hard for me to evaluate their ramifications, to think "What would that mean to me?" because it could mean so many different things in different entirely plausible situations. (And because I can't fully wrap my mind around the fact that the "me" is me, regardless of what events in the interim affect and change me.)

So, as always, I try to make plans that leave as many avenues open as possible. Or I delay planning, delay making choices altogether, which, as my mother told me the other day, "is in itself a choice." Decide has the same root as homicide, suicide, patricide, regicide. I have a hard time making decisions because I can't stand killing off my options, shutting down possibilities. Really, I think, I just don't want to have to accept the consequences of the road not taken.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth...

Yep, that's me, staring at my options, vacillating, and stalling. And I am just as ridiculous about it as Frost's friend, probably more so. But at least I know it. Self-awareness has got to count for something, right?

Okay, enough for now, before y'all start gouging your eyes out. "I waited two months for this?" you're asking yourself. Well, next time I will surely try to be more concrete. And maybe even throw in some funny anecdotes or something for flavor. Or puns maybe? The lines are wide open for your requests...
 
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Friday, July 28, 2006
 

Rocky Mountain National Park
Originally uploaded by brittgm.
We had a wonderful time in Colorado. It was a fun, relaxing trip, even including the 2,000 miles worth of driving. I didn't really realize until we were out there that this was the first full vacation that's just been me and Alex; we've had many 3- or 4-day weekends, and a couple longer trips that've involved family, but this was a whole lot of just the two of us, and it was very, very nice.

We camped, we hiked (although not as much as we'd planned; we didn't realize how much of an effect altitude has on your ability to exert even the slightest effort!), we-- okay, I-- took pictures (check out the ones I've got up on Flickr, and there are tons more, too), we saw baseball games in two different stadiums, we visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, we drove a lot, we got rained on, we plugged the hole in our airmattress with postage stamps, we saw cute little tundra creatures, we were taken aback by the cost of long-distance payphone calls these days ($10?!?!!), we listened to a 6hr 19min baseball game on the radio that covered 2/3 of our drive back from KC to Chicago, I ate at Sonic for the first and second times ever and Alex declared me very silly for caring, and all told, it was generally terrific.

Now we're about to go on vacation again. (This sounds less weird if you consider that the trip I was just talking about ended almost 3 weeks ago.) So I figured I should get in a blog post before I go. Also because I have a very crazy 6 weeks ahead of me (not that there's any guarantee it will calm down after that-- in fact, I have the sneaking suspicion it won't for months-- just that I don't have any currently scheduled craziness after those 6 weeks). After I get back from this 9-day vacation, I'm traveling for work, then out of town for a wedding for a friend of Alex's, then hosting my family's week-long visit to Chicago, then into DC for work, then possibly going on a Labor Day weekend trip with Alex, then traveling for work again, and then going up to Wisconsin for the wedding of another of Alex's friends.

Speaking of these weddings... have I ever mentioned that I've never been to a wedding before in my life? Well, I've never been to a wedding before in my life. (Unless you count the wedding reception for my aunt when I was 2, and even then, I wasn't at the ceremony.) I'm not sure how it worked out this way since it seems like every self-respecting 24-year-old has already been to a dozen weddings or more; I think I may be somehow cursed (or maybe just bad at staying close enough with friends for them to want me to share their special day). But suffice it to say that I have been desperately wanting to finally go to a wedding, so that despite the fact that one of these weddings is for a couple I've never met, and one's for people I've only met once, and at both of them I won't know any of the other guests, nonetheless it all seems extremely exciting and I'm very gung-ho about going.

But, believe it or not, neither of them are actually really weddings. In not just one but both cases, the couple has already been married for some time, and they're just getting around to having the ceremony/celebration now. (One couple got married before the groom headed off to Iraq, and are doing the wedding now that he's back; the other did it for health insurance purposes a few months ago.) I think in one case they're trying to make it as much like a normal wedding as possible, while the other is basically just a big hey-we're-married! party.

So while "attend something that at least appears to be a wedding" will probably get checked off my list this summer, attending a real wedding ceremony will remain on it until further notice. Along with, y'know, attending a wedding in which I have an actual emotional connection with the couple in question. But hey, that's got to happen eventually... right? Right?
 
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Nature attains perfection, but man never does. There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee, but man is perpetually unfinished. He is both an unfinished animal and an unfinished man. It is this incurable unfinishedness which sets man apart from other living things. For, in the attempt to finish himself, man becomes a creator. Moreover, the incurable unfinishedness keeps man perpetually immature, perpetually capable of learning and growing.
--Eric Hoffer





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