The Feeling of Sonder

SonderThe profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.

I feel like everyone is a little self centered.

Now, I don’t mean selfish. Selfish in my mind means lacking empathy toward the people around you. Self centered on the other hand means that you think of life as a story in which you are the main character, which is fine. I feel like if we spent all our time thinking about the big picture and how we’re just minor characters in a big chaotic story that has absolutely no direction, we’d all be in bed having an existential panic attack 24/7.

It’s okay to be self centered. That just means that once in awhile you’ll experience sonder.

According to Wikipedia, sonder was a word created in 2012 as part of the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. I absolutely love this word because it’s definitely weird to think about how other people, people who have nothing to do with me, have lives just as fantastic and weird as mine. To them, the story is about them and that is just bizarre to think about.

There is a teenage boy who rides the bus right around the same time I do and he recently discovered Stephen King. He’s reading the Green Mile and we got to talking about King after he noticed that I was reading the Long Walk. I see him all the time, but never ask him about anything other than his current book. I sometimes think about him when I’m at home sorting through my bookshelf. Has he read this book? Does he like this author? Things like that.

Another familiar stranger in my life is a man and his four or five year old son. They will sometimes ride the bus with me in the mornings and they always stick out to me because of how cute the boy is. He always says goodbye to the bus driver and he loves to pull the cord when it’s time for them to get off the bus. Sometimes I think about them. Will the boy be going to school soon? Where does his dad work?

I know that I’m a familiar stranger in their lives, too. One day, I wore contacts to work and the little boy pointed it and told me I looked very nice. Another day, I stood up on the bus before it came to a complete stop and the little boy told me we weren’t supposed to stand up while the bus was moving. I sat back down immediately. When a little kid tells you you’re breaking a rule, you don’t argue.

It’s encounters like that that get me thinking about all the different versions of me out there in the world. Like you said, Daniel, there are people out there who remember us and probably wonder where we went when we leave. Those little kids at Big Al’s will always remember you as Dan the Man and nothing else. The woman at Petco will always remember you as Kyuzo’s dad. And, because of their memories, those versions of you will always exist, despite the fact you’ve moved on.

There are so many versions of each of us out in the world. It’s crazy to think about.

A few years ago I made the mistake of having a few too many beers at a bar and got sick in the parking lot. It’s very likely a stranger saw me and now I exist in that person’s mind as that drunk, party girl. They might never see me again, but a version of me lives on in their mind. Hell, I might even be an anecdote they share when the topic of alcohol comes up in conversation, despite the fact that I’m really not a party person at all. 

But I am in their mind.

Another example would be my third grade teacher, Mrs. McCoy. She knew me for an entire school year so, of course, she got to know me a little better than the stranger in the bar parking lot. However, after I left her class, that version of me became stuck in her mind. Somewhere out there in the world, there is a woman who only knows me as a little seven year old girl who likes to read and doesn’t speak up a lot in class. If she met me now, heard how much I swear and saw all my tattoos, it might blow her mind.

It would also kill the version of me that lives in her mind. Kind of morbid to think about, right?

There must me hundreds of thousands of versions of me out there, living in people’s memories. Someone saw me slip on ice and now an incredibly clutsy version of me exists. Someone saw me crying on the bus and now a very sad, helpless version of me exists. Someone saw me out for a run and now an athletic version of me exists.

It’s bizarre to think about, isn’t it?

-EMS

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What a Terrible Week

Obviously my post this week is going up late. I wish I had a decent excuse as to why, but it really all comes down to the fact that I’ve had a crappy week.

It all started on Monday when I was dropped off at the airport.

The morning had been pretty easy. I got up, packed the few things I would need for my work trip, and then had a friend drop me off at the airport. We left about thirty minutes earlier than we needed to because I wanted to buy him a cup of coffee as a ‘thank you’ for driving me to the airport. Michael had a pretty nasty cold so he didn’t want to get up early and take me, which was fine. However, that side trip to the coffee shop took about a third of the time I had thought it would, so I ended up at the airport an hour and a half before my flight.

Now, you might say, “An hour and a half? That’s barely enough time to get through security!” Well, that is one of the many benefits of living in a small town like mine. Our airport has only one security gate and it takes like five minutes to get through it. You could get to the airport thirty minutes before your flight and still have time to use the restroom and get a snack.

Anyway, I wasn’t too worried about it. Being early is better than being late, right? And that just gave me more time to work on my laptop. No big deal.

Well, the WiFi wasn’t working and I did have a few urgent emails to send before we got to our destination. I thought to myself, “well that’s crappy, but oh well. I can work when we get to our first layover.” Little did I know that the day was only going to go downhill from there.

About twenty minutes after I arrived, I found out the flight was delayed by an hour so I was actually almost three hours early to an airport that had a grand total of two gates. Did I also mention that you walk directly out onto the tarmac to get to your flight? That tiny.

So I settled in to do some reading while I waited on my flight and then noticed something interesting on my flight itinerary. My first layover was only about forty five minutes, which meant that this hour delay in my first flight was going to make me miss my connection.

Well fuck.

After some finagling, the flight agent managed to find me another connection down in San Francisco. However, the flight was a red eye and I would be getting to my destination at 6 a.m. the next morning. My meeting started at 8 a.m. the next morning so, if everything went as planned, I would get a grand total of two hours to get to the hotel, shower, change, drink as much coffee as humanly possible, and then head right to my ten hour meeting.

Well fuck.

Everything did end up going as planned from there, but I’m not going to lie and say Tuesday was a good day. It sucked. It sucked so much. I was able to sit through my all day meeting, but I had to get up and move around every twenty minutes or so to make sure I didn’t fall asleep where I was sitting. I also hadn’t thought my wardrobe through and brought heels to wear to my meeting. Thankfully, I did not fall on my face.

The meeting was two days, so I did manage to get a decent night’s sleep at the hotel. However, the next day I had to pack up and head the airport right after the meeting because I had another late evening flight to catch. If I had known I was going to end up taking a red eye in the first place, I would have never agreed to such a late flight.

So, in conclusion, I got to my destination at 6 in the morning and spent a grand total of about thirty six hours there before I had to fly home.

Well fuck.

So I got home and slept for about ten hours before heading into work to catch up on emails and check in on a few projects. During my very brief day, I got a phone call saying I had been denied on a very awesome opportunity, which I will tell you about later, Daniel. After that I went home, opened a beer, and climbed into bed to rewatch Gilmore Girls for the hundredth time because when you’re depressed, there’s not much else you can do.

After a few episodes, Michael managed to cheer me up and I finally felt energized enough to write my post. And then, boom. I got hit by a migraine.

Well fuck.

After taking aspirin and sleeping for another ten hours, I was able to get out of bed and go to work this morning, where I frantically tried to catch up a project I missed before I was kicked out of my office for an event. Still have a bit of a headache, but at least it’s manageable, right?

Right.

Anyway, here’s my post. It’s a little pointless and has no deeper meaning, but at least I got to bitch about my weekend. Maybe next time I’ll have something meaningful to write about.

-EMS

 

I’m Never Prepared

Dude, I feel like I’m never prepared to write for SDoS. No matter how well I plan out my week, I always end up writing my post during my lunch break at work, struggling to brainstorm a topic in between my meetings and work projects. Logically, I know that if I just take a few hours to brainstorm and outline my thoughts, my SDoS posts would be so much better, but it’s hard sometimes to find the motivation to put a lot of effort into something when I’m not feeling particularly inspired.

I think that’s the root of my problem. I think I’m in the same place that you are, Daniel. I’ve run out of ideas and it’s hard to find more things to write about when all I do is work, crochet, and chill at home. I’ve written about all of those things. I need something new.

Earlier this week you asked me to teach you how to be inspired and I jokingly said you need to stand on your head and drink kombucha, neither of which I will willingly do. But the more I think about it, the more I like the analogy. Finding inspiration is like standing on your head and drinking kombucha: physically tasking and not appealing at all.

A lot of people seem to think that I’m a creative or inspired person, but in reality I rarely feel “inspired” anymore. Yes, I crochet and I write and I sometimes craft things, but in reality all of the things I create don’t magically appear, conjured by a flash of magic inspiration. In reality, I crochet things I see on Pinterest, write things based on parameters given to me by my boss or a writing prompt, and make things to fill a need in my life rather than to satisfy a whim.

My creativity isn’t spontaneous, romantic thing that sweeps me off my feet, it’s more like a task on a to do list that takes time and energy.

Inspiration is like standing on your head and drinking kombucha. You’ve got to take some time and get yourself into a headstand and then you have to force yourself to do something you really don’t want to do, like drink gross kombucha or write a bunch of garbage until something wonderful happens.

There’s a quote from Stephen King that always comes to mind when I finally force myself to sit down and write my SDoS post:  “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Sometimes I wish Stephen King could just follow me around, poking me with a ruler and reminding me over and over that if I want to write I just have to sit down and do it. Don’t loggy gag, don’t sit around and use the “I don’t have any ideas” excuse.

Obviously this post is more a reminder for me than it is for you, Daniel. You are a very inspired person and just listening to the way you talk about the blogs and your roleplaying campaigns, I know that you’re a way better writer than me. I really should be asking you to teach me to be inspired, not the other way around.

I guess I’ll end this post with another reminder to myself and any other writers out there on the internet who stumble upon this post. It doesn’t matter how good your writing is, what matters is you wrote something.

Writing is like going for a run. It doesn’t matter how fast you go or how long you run for, what matters is that you went for a run. Same goes for writing. I hated my last three SDoS posts and my last two WMR posts, but at least I sat down and wrote them.

-EMS

 

I’d Like to Call this my Rebellious Phase

As you know, Daniel, a few weeks ago I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do since I was a teenager.

I finally got my lip pierced.

When I was in middle school I wanted to be a cool punk kid so bad. I wanted to be dark and mysterious. I wanted to wear all black and die my hair a funky color and pierce my face, but a lack of money and fear of authority kept me from living my dream. The closest I got to being a rebellious teenager was getting a ‘C’ in a science class and piercing my ears twice. Not the most effective way to show that I’m edgy and cool. After a few years of trying, I gave up and went back to being a nerdy, advanced placement student with perfect grades and glasses.

Well despite the fact it’s been more than a decade since middle school and I spent all of college as the same nerdy girl, I still dream of being a cool and edgy person.

Of course, over the years the dream has changed a little bit. My ideal self wears less black and no longer has an eyebrow or nose bridge piercing, but the idea is still the same. Basically, I want to stand out. I’ve spent most of my life trying desperately to fade into the background for fear of ruining my life. The idea that my appearance could keep me from getting jobs or making friends loomed over my head and kept me in place.

Well now I’m ready to be seen for who I am. And I’m ready in every sense of the word.

Now that I’m an adult, with a stable career and now parental supervision, I can do whatever I want. I cut my hair short, I pierced my nose, I got more tattoos, and I finally pierce my lip. I still worry a little about my work superiors getting upset about my appearance, but I’m also confident enough now in my professional abilities to know that it would take more than a lip stud to get me fired.

Anyway, I feel like piercing my lip was the start of my second rebellious phase. I had a very mild one in middle school and now I’m really going at it in my late twenties. Took me fourteen years to get my shit together, but I finally did and now I’m trying to make my middle school self proud.

If I met my thirteen-year-old self, she would either be very impressed or very intimidated by the way I look now, which is exactly what I’m going for.

Now I just have to wait for it to heal up so I can drink beer again. It’s tough being this cool. Sacrifices have to be made for the sake of looking punk.

Sorry for the short post, Dan. Been a busy week.

-EMS

 

I Need a Back Up Plan

A few weeks ago I talked about my slow descent into bro-dom. I was training for a half marathon, I was drinking daily protein shakes, and I was tracking my nutrient intake. I was so excited and ready to take on the world.

Well, the descent has stopped. Last week, I injured my shoulder and upper back. No, I didn’t hurt myself during a workout or on a run. I am pretty sure I slept on my neck wrong, which makes this infinitely more infuriating.

Anyway, I went to the doctor to get some painkillers so I could actually sleep and she told me I should take it easy for a while. If I kept working out, I might just hurt myself worse.

I was on the verge of having a toddler-esque tantrum when she said that. I didn’t want to stop running and working out. I was just starting to get into a good rhythm with my running schedule and suddenly I have to stop because I accidentally slept the wrong way.

This fucking sucks.

Since I got the news I’ve been complaining a lot to my friends. Most of my friends are sympathetic, but a few have said things like, “Look on the bright side! You get a break from running!”

No, shut up. There is no bright side to this.

Of course I understand they’re trying to lift my spirits, but it’s obvious that they don’t understand why I run. Yes, I run to maintain my weight and stay healthy, but underneath all of that my real reason for running is because it helps me cope with my anxiety.

I am an incredibly anxious and controlling person. I constantly worry about the future, what I’ve done in the past, and everything in between. I’m also the kind of person that will completely take over a project because someone else isn’t doing it right. It’s my way or the highway. Yeah, I’m that asshole.

b51e77d55d22be79491f98404e6d1989Over the past few years, I’ve been getting much better at handling my anxiety because I’ve found a healthy way to work off my nervous energy: running. I like to run because it redirects all of the energy I put towards worrying towards something mindless and calming. When I’m working out, all I’m thinking about is how my body feels and moves. For a few hours, I’m not thinking about all of the things in the world I can’t control.

Well, now I can’t run and I feel like a volcano that’s about to erupt and spew crazy all over the people in my life.

Yesterday I had a crazy day. I had a lot to do at work and I had to take our ferrets into the vet and it just felt like everything was against me. I could feel myself getting tense and panicky and I couldn’t do anything about it. Michael tried to calm me down, but I wasn’t having it. All I wanted to do was go out and run or lift up heavy things or climb something, but I couldn’t.

Did I say this fucking sucks?

Yesterday evening, I kept trying to think of other things I could do to redirect my nervous energy and kept coming up blank. I’ve tried crocheting, cleaning, reading, and yoga, but nothing seems to be working. I need a back up and I don’t have one.

a4a952aa79bd0e37775e715541bd93efBasically, I just want to feel normal again. I want to go back to my normal routine. I’m tired of people telling me that I need to take care of myself. I was taking care of myself! What do they think I was doing when I was out on my runs? I was taking care of my mental state and now I can’t do that anymore because I have to take care of my body.

This sucks!

So my plan for the next few weeks is to look for something I can do that will help me take care of my mind and body. I need something that will help me work off my anxiety while not tying more knots into my back muscles.

I just want to go for a run.

-EMS

 

Who I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen Parks and Rec, Daniel. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. The characters are genuine, the humor is funny without being offensive, and somehow the story is both hilarious and deeply moving. I am not exaggerating when I say that watching this show has changed my life. This show taught me how to love myself and how to love the people around me.

It also gave me a new role model. When I grow up, I want to be just like Leslie Knope.

giphy

Leslie Knope is a wonderful woman who spends her energy trying to make the world a better place for the people around her. She’s kind, she’s supportive, she’s ambitious, and she’s always excited about her next adventure.

I know I’ll never be exactly like Leslie because I don’t have an endless reservoir of bubbliness inside me and I’m definitely not assertive enough to be a leader. But I can be generous and ambitious in my own way.

Recently, I’ve been planning out elaborate parties and making things for the people around me just because. I’ve been crocheting afghans, planning surprise parties, and buying tiny gifts for my friends because I want to see them smile. While I’m still nowhere near Leslie’s level of generosity in the show, I feel like she would be proud of me because instead of focusing on myself, I’m thinking of the people in my life. I’m showing them that I care about them without being ashamed of my love.

I’m also continuing to push myself to try new things every day. I know that I can sometimes get complacent, especially now that I have my degree and a comfortable job. It’s so easy to lose focus sometimes or forget that there are still things to work for. So everyday I remind myself that Leslie never lost focus. Everything she did, she did to reach a goal and that’s how I want to live my life.

As you know, I’m training for a half marathon right now. Lots of people have wished me luck. Others have asked me why I would do this to myself. I’m doing this because I want to be able to say I ran a half marathon. That’s it, that’s the reason I’m working so hard. Sometimes people won’t understand why you’re working for something and Leslie Knope taught me that, despite what they say, you keep going. Don’t give up.

tenorOf course, Leslie does have her faults. Except, instead of being ashamed of her faults she embraces them. Instead of stubbornly ignoring her flaws, she understands that sometimes she needs help and she reaches out to her loved ones for it rather than pretending she’s perfect. Leslie can be controlling, anxious, obsessive, and self-centered, but none of these things make her an unlovable person because she works every day to make sure they don’t define her.

Damn. Talk about #goals, am I right?

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be perfect. I rarely challenge myself because I’m afraid of failing and I never talk about my fears with the people around me because that would mean I’m flawed. For a majority of my life, I’ve equated being flawed with being unlovable.

giphy1Watching Parks and Rec helped me realize that wasn’t the case. Seeing Leslie Knope struggle with her own flaws and still succeed helped me realize that I can still be a good person without being perfect 100 percent of the time.

Basically, what I learned from Leslie Knope is that sometimes it’s better to be remembered as a fun, generous person rather than a perfect human being who can do no wrong. I want my friends and family to think of me and smile or be inspired or just feel warm and fuzzy rather than remember how skilled or smart I am.

When I grow up, I want to be Leslie Knope.

-EMS

 

My Slow Descent into Bro-dom

I have some very, very bad news to share with you today, Daniel. Something terrible has happened to me and I just realized the gravity of the situation earlier this week. I don’t know how this happened, but it has, and it’s time for me to admit it to the world. I must also say farewell to my spare cash and spare time.

This week, I realized I am slowly becoming athletic.

I know you must be very shocked. How could this have happened? I was so careful!

As a child, I took all the necessary precautions to avoid this horrible fate. I cheated on the mile tests in gym class, I waived all of my physical education requirements in high school, and I even went so far as to avoid the outdoors as much as possible.

But I caught it. I caught athleticism and now there’s no turning back.

I just realized my fate this week, but looking back this really started after college. I was looking for new hobbies to fill the void that school had left in my life and I foolishly decided to sign up for a 5k run. After I crossed that finish line, I placed myself on a very slippery slope to being a true bro.

Over the years, my urge to be athletic has come and gone. I’ve run 5ks, 10ks, 12ks, and regretfully one sprint triathlon, but up until this past month it had been very casual. I was a jogger at best, nothing more.

Well last month I ran a 5k and at the end I was given a flyer for a half marathon in October. I don’t know what came over me! Suddenly, I had signed up for it! I had plugged a half marathon into my new Nike training app!

I was training for a half marathon.

*cue dramatic music*

It got even worse this week. This week I ran 3.75 miles as part of my training program and afterwards I felt very tired and sore. I decided something had to be done, so I went to my friend who has been afflicted with bro-dom for some time now and asked for advice. She suggested looking into protein supplements.

Instead of scoffing and telling her I didn’t need anything like that, I agreed. I went out a bought a blender bottle. I’ve purchased samples of protein powder in multiple flavors. I have done a ton of research into runner supplements and the proper way to recover from a long run.

This was the final nail in my coffin, Daniel. I am officially an athlete. I am officially a bro.

Soon things will begin to change. The transformation into a true bro will start. I will start wearing snap-backs and baggy tank tops that show off my arms. I will start lifting weights and planning out my week based on what part of my body I need to work on. I will never again be able to skip leg day.

Let my story be a cautionary tale to all. Never exercise, never go outside, never let a protein shake touch your lips otherwise you will fall victim to the same fate I have. My spare time and spare cash are gone, devoured by my affliction. I will spend my days chasing that next endorphin high and the perfect running form.

There’s no hope for me now, Daniel. All I ask is that you think of me while you’re enjoying a nice movie or video game from the comfort of your own home. While you’re relaxing, I’ll be out there somewhere sampling new athletic supplements and buying fancy runners’ socks.

What a terrible, terrible fate.

-EMS