“A simple little kind of free…”

a·lone [əˈlōn] adjective & adverb 1. having no one else present; on one’s own.
lone·ly [ˈlōnlē] adjective 1. sad because one has no friends or company.
These two words are talked about a lot. People keep on talking about how millennials are not getting married or buying houses. People are just starting to figure out the value of introverts. We talk about how more and more, people spend time in front of a screen instead of in front of a person. We blame acts of violence on “loners.” But, for what it is worth, I have more or less enjoyed my solitude.
I loved my roommates in college, it was great.  It was like having siblings for the first time, something I had always wanted. But once I was done with grad school, I was also thrilled to live by myself. People have asked: “aren’t you lonely? don’t you get bored?” And the simple answer is “no.”  Eighteen years of being an only child conditioned me to spending time alone, finding ways to keep myself entertained. I don’t have to share a remote. I can organize my cabinets the way I want. I don’t have to live life by anyone’s rules but my own.  Now, that is not to say that I wouldn’t mind company every once and while. Or that I am not interested in eventually sharing my life with another person. I am. Not gonna lie though, it will probably take some time before I am willing to give up my own space.
It is the not the act of being alone that necessarily makes a person lonely. I feel lonely in crowded places all the time. I have chosen to attend concerts and musicals alone because I refuse to allow my single-ness and small friend circle prevent me from doing things that I want to do.  But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t lonely while doing these things. As I walked up the steps to my balcony seat at the Providence Performing Arts Center through crowds of people, I felt so lonely. I had chosen to do this; and, I wanted to see the show, but I also felt so judged. Other people’s judgment, in fact, may be a significant source of the feeling of loneliness.
Particularly around the holidays, “all of the things” have a way making people (specifically me) feel less than if we are not paired up in order to attend parties and holiday events. I wish I could say this was all in my head, it might be easier to deal with if that were the case. But I feel confident that I am not the only person experiencing this. Between the jewelry ads and the “first tree together” photos there is a remarkable amount of messaging that indicates: “you better find the one or your holiday will be incomplete.”
This post is wandering, but to bring it back to the most important point, I just need to remind myself and everyone else that being alone is not the worst thing a person can be. To summarize Robin Williams, the worst thing is to be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. So choose your people carefully. Choose people who will show up for you when you are least deserving. I have a fear that I will choose a person to be my partner simply because they showed up once. I need to be sure that this person will show up repeatedly so that I don’t feel lonely in a crowded room.
Until then, do not judge or pity me because I am alone. I am not lonely until I feel your judgement.
*disclaimer: It took me over a year from start to finally finish this post. It was too difficult/painful for me to finish it when I first started managing this idea of alone v. lonely. I think I’ve finally got a handle on it. 🙂

Dear President Obama,

You’re probably very tired. I know I would be if I were you. You have had to stand in the White House Press Briefing room and share condolences with too many families, communities, and towns. You urge Congress to act, and you promote sensible gun control legislation to no avail. Willie Geist put it best this morning on MSNBC: if 20 6 year olds did not move Congress to act, nothing will. Today, people are fighting about the gunman’s causation, they are fighting about next steps, they are fighting about freedoms, and bathrooms, and continue to try to legislate love. I don’t agree with you on everything, it would be weird if I did. Too many citizens seek a politician that matches them perfectly and can get elected. That doesn’t exist. But, I empathize with the struggle you have endured with Congress, the media and the American people for the past eight years, yet I can never fully understand it. I am a 28 year old straight white woman who voted for Bernie. I know nothing about the struggles of a biracial man who holds the highest office of our country and is the leader of the free world.

I write to you because I woke up this morning feeling the weight of yesterday’s tragedy on my shoulders. I work in student affairs on a college campus, and thankfully, students have left campus for the summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Oftentimes, my office becomes a space for discussing current events and I am usually happy to host, but I don’t know that I have any more words; of comfort, of explanation, of rationality. Today would have been even harder than it was if the students had still been on campus. I advise our student government and this year I helped them to draft a statement of equality and social justice. It was important to them to make a statement after Mizzou and other campus incidents, but even these young adults squabbled for weeks over the wording. If college students are supposed our future, I am trying my best to prepare them to be good citizens and more importantly, good humans. I no longer have faith in Congress, but I have faith in them. Certainly, you can relate.

I apologize for the delay in reaching my point but here it is.  Please don’t stop fighting. For sensible gun control legislation. For our disenfranchised communities. For future generations. I know the clock is ticking on your Presidency, but please don’t give up.  Your persistence in the face of terrible discrimination is what provides hope for those of us who are working for a better future. Your persistence is admirable. And while I truly believe that future historians will “tell your story” well and kindly, please remember that our new favorite playwright reminds us that “history has its eyes on you….” You have done so much for this country and I just hope that you keep fighting until your very last day in office. America needs you to lead. Thank you for answering the call. Ribbon LGBT

Train Travels

I have to start by saying I think I forgot the golden rule of NYC.  Don’t talk to strangers.  That’s the rule, right? I have stopped talking to the random people in Times Square, I outgrew that rookie mistake after my first few trips to the city when someone tried to sell me their mixed CD. My best friend had to practically rip my arm off to get me to keep moving when I was just trying to be nice. Oops. But I was young, I didn’t know any better. Here I am, almost 28 years old and I just accidentally eavesdropped on a conversation in a coffee shop and couldn’t help but add my two cents.  I think she was grateful for the shared opinion but weirded out that I actually talked to her.  My bad.

I literally arrived here on the train no less than 30 minutes ago and after a year hiatus of visiting the city and I have already broken the rules. But, that is not what this post was supposed to be about.  Like I said, I just arrived on the train and while everything else in the world seems really scary right now: the presidential race, North Korea, my ever-increasing realization that I have to be an adult every day; my train ride was a reminder of calm and simplicity.  I love the train.  If I could take a train everywhere I would. No road rage, the ability to do other things, and a decrease of all things relating to an automobile.

When I boarded my train this morning, I realized that my train was really bound for Washington, D.C. and a I had a pang of jealousy that I was not bound there myself. About eight years ago to the day I was taking that exact trip to Powershift and a piece of me wishes I could do it all over again.  On that ride, there were about 7 of us traveling together and we had a great time.  I don’t mind traveling alone, but that trip was just a tad more fun. We also had purpose.  We were fighting the good fight. We were learning how to lobby for green energy, and lower carbon emissions, and a sound energy plan.

My trip to NYC this weekend has no such purpose except to remove me from my normal day to day and bring me to a city where I can literally just melt into the crowd. Now at the mid-point of the semester, all I needed right now was to get away and so I decided to hop on a train to the city. My coping skills are impeccable. Ha. But the city has a rhythm that makes my heart happy and makes me feel a little less alone in this big world. And so my eavesdropping was even more perfectly placed this afternoon. The twenty-something in the coffee shop was posing the question of “why do we have to be married to be complete? and why can’t we all just live in a house with our closest friends? why can’t that be our full life?” and I couldn’t help but jump in with a “yes, that. all of that. I agree” and then laugh embarrassedly that I had just outed myself as eavesdropping. whatever. I’ll never see her again and I think we both felt a little better knowing that someone else felt the same way we do about societal expectations.

It was a pleasant, if slightly awkward, moment. But that is pretty much the epitome of every trip I take to the city.


or “Why the 27 year old women wants to vote for the old white guy from Vermont.”

I am not enrolled in a political party. I am usually moderately leaning left. I hate the political party system that we have in the US of A. I hate that it costs millions and millions of dollars to run for political office, specifically when you are trying to land in the oval-shaped one.

I want a woman president as much as the next feminist, but I don’t want Hillary. I don’t want Hillary because she is part of the system; she is part of the problem.  When you start seeing the same names over and over in the office of power that is called a monarchy, not a democracy. Now instead of just a two-party system, we are moving towards a two-family system: Clinton and Bush. Can we not find a candidate that is not a part of those two family trees?

Now that is not the only reason I support Bernie Sanders. I actually believe in his campaign and what he stands for, mostly because I actually know what he stands for. He doesn’t pander, he doesn’t waffle.  He stands behind his convictions and is willing to challenge his colleagues to real conversations and dialogue. And no, I don’t agree with him on everything, but I don’t think you can ever really find a candidate that you can agree with 100%.

However, I am realist and I unfortunately know that this game show is rigged.  Unless something dramatically changes in the next year and a half and we have a major grassroots movement in this country, Bernie Sanders will never make it out of the primaries, he won’t be able to raise enough money. He won’t be able to raise enough money because the people who believe in him are too poor to donate to his campaign.  They are the recent college grads and the dwindling, blue-collar, middle class folks, and the environmentalists who likely aren’t making any money. And that is the saddest part of all, because the elections are not really in the hands of the voters, they are in the hands of the lobbyists and billionaires who can afford to pay for lawn signs and air time. It’s all very absurd.

And so, once again, I know I may be selecting a losing candidate.  I know I am backing the underdog. But, I am hoping beyond hope that this time is different. That this time my generation gets off its ass and gets to the polls and makes an informed decision. I am hoping that Americans realize that politics as usual is going to give us “results” as usual. I am hoping that people realize that we should leave the religious teachings to the rabbis, preachers, priests, and imams. I am hoping that voters realize that scientists should be trusted, not censored. I am hoping that Americans realize that we deserve better and that Bernie Sanders could be that candidate.

And so I will support the Sanders campaign however I can, until he is sitting in that oval room or until he has withdrawn his candidacy. But I refuse to jump onto a campaign just because that candidate is the front-runner.  Being the front-runner doesn’t necessarily mean you are the right person for the job, it usually just means your donors’ pockets are deeper.

#IBelieveinBernie #Sanders2016

Discovering distant shores.

Like any self-respecting twenty-something, I’ve decided to start a blog. I’m not sure where the thought came from or why I think anything I write will have any relevance for anyone but me. Maybe I am finally falling into the stereotype of my generation: that we are over-sharers who believe our thoughts are of the utmost importance to everyone else in the world. Whatever the exact reason, I realize that I just need a place to articulate (somewhat clumsily) my thoughts about things that I find important.  When I was still in school, I managed to work these thoughts into my assignments and class discussions. Now that I live alone and have joined the workforce, I have little outlet for such thoughts, so I’ll put them here instead. I also think that I am on precipice of some big changes in my life, a shift in my circumstances if you will, and a venue to explore those changes is important. Please feel free to share your thoughts as well. I believe that debate and discussion are the best parents of better systems and ideas. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll all learn something in the process.