“You know, I hate Sundays because you’re just prepping for the hell of Monday. But you know what I’ve realized I REALLY hate? Tuesday. Because at least you’d prepared for Monday being terrible. But then Tuesday shows up and it’s f’ing awful and you didn’t even see it coming.”—
“I told you that writing was like boxing, but it’s also like running. That’s why I keep sending you out to pound the pavement: If you have the moral courage to run a long way, in the rain, in the cold, if you have the strength to keep going until the end, to give it all you have and to reach your goal, then you’re capable of writing a book. Never let fear or fatigue stop you. On the contrary: You should use them to help you keep going.”
-Joel Dicker, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair
“But everyone has been to the country, everyone knows what that’s about. Trees, screaming cicadas, sweet-smelling air, routine doses of astonishing ordinary loveliness that exhilarate and revive you like a drug.”—How much my novel cost me — Emily Gould (via redheadbouquet)
"I started thinking about who I want to be. About what’s working in my life and what’s not. About how great it would be if I ran my life instead of the other way around. But mostly I thought about my dreams—the things I bury under to-do lists, meal plans, budgets and paychecks."
You guys, my friend Danny is a Writer. Like, with a capital W. You should probably follow her blog, and you should definitely read this entry.
A few weeks ago I was talking to my brother about my frustration with my seeming inability to make big choices. He’d sent me a chapter from the book Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. It’d come at just the right time as I was trying to make about 17 large-ish decisions. The point of the chapter he’d sent was that we humans get so caught up in choosing the right door, we often leave WAY too many doors open.
I’d thought about that a lot—and then, of course, decided to leave all my doors open. (Did I mention I’m bad at decisions?) But then my brother made an off hand comment that really struck me. He said, “You know, you don’t actually have enough information—and no one could possibly have enough information in this situation—to know what the right choice is.”
This might be the best thing anyone has ever said to me. Decision making is my greatest source of anxiety. And I don’t necessarily mean the big moment of making a choice even—I mean the constants. Should I still be in this job? Should I continue to spend time with this person? Should I remain living in this city? They play on repeat in my head.
But this thought—that I might not have all the information yet (or ever) to make the “right” decision—it was a game changer for me. A few weeks later, I watched philosopher Ruth Chang’s TED Talk on “How to make hard choices.” It reinforced this idea—and added to it. Her point is that with hard decisions, no choice is necessarily better or right. But that with hard choices comes immense opportunity to shape who we are—we ultimately have the chance to become the person we choose to be. “The lesson of hard choices: Reflect on what you can put your agency behind—on what you can be for,” she says. “And through hard choices become that person.”
I’d imagine to a lot of people this is obvious life stuff—make the best choice you can and then embrace it. But I don’t think I’m alone (since, you know, these books and talks are awfully popular). And I like that part too. We all struggle with indecision. Which—if Chang is correct (and I think she is)—means we all have the chance to become the people we want to be. I like that.
In a bedroom in a townhouse near Amsterdam, Miguel Panduwinata reached out for his mother. “Mama, may I hug you?”
The research, reporting, and writing that created this article are remarkable. The stories are actually fairly unremarkable—and ultimately that’s what makes them devastatingly sad. It’s worth a read if you’re ok with crying at your desk.
When Frank was a puppy, his future did not seem very promising. According to owner Rafael Borges’ video description, when he adopted the dog, Frank was 5 months old, was not vaccinated and weighed about 7 pounds.
On Sunday afternoon I flew home from a weekend with family on a lake in Alabama. It would take about 47 pages of blogging to explain all the reasons I felt crazy stressed by the time I boarded that flight, but I did. And all I wanted to do was sit in silence with my thoughts for the hour and fourteen minute flight.
Then a guy sat down next to me. “This isn’t my seat. I’m supposed to sit over there, but someone else is in my seat.” I nodded. I liked his voice. You know how you can hear kindness in someone’s voice? I think I’m probably a terrible judge of character in general. But I get voices.
He began talking almost immediately. “I’m a therapist so I ask a lot of questions. Just tell me if you want me to stop.” “I’m a journalist so I’ve been told I ask a lot of questions too. We should be good.” I’ve also been told I ask questions to deflect the subject from anything actually personal about me. But I figured I’d let the therapist figure that out on his own.
We talked for an hour and fourteen minutes. Sixteen if you count the deplaning. I literally poured out my worries and concerns as if this was a legitimate therapy session. It obviously wasn’t. We also talked about him. And as the plane was landing he was like “So you’re pretty shady.” I laughed, “I hope you don’t say that to your patients.”
Actually though, therapists should probably say stuff like that. I mean, it’s got to be tempting. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff like fate and timing and random circumstances. I don’t exactly know where he fell in that spectrum, but I do know that I’m really glad someone took his seat.
“One of the things I tell people these days is that there is no perfect fit when you’re looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”—Padmasree Warrior (via vindikateor)
“I love the South. I love the drawl. I love the pork lard. I love too much salt and too much sweet. I love the humidity. There is a patina on Southerners. I think it is because of our very dynamic history. There’s a lot of pain that has happened in our history; a lot of mistakes made. But an unfortunate circumstance can turn into an opportunity for greatness. I think the South is great because of all the trying times—the tensions, hardships, wars, and riots. All those things really make a place… Well, for me it makes it home. There is grace in every sorrow. I think that is being Southern.”—
“Stop being a scaredy cat, realize that you’ll f**king kill it and be great at it, and chase this until you get what you want.”—This was part of a text from my brother this morning. After I got over the initial amusement regarding his use of the term “scaredy cat,” I decided I liked this quote in general for Monday morning inspiration. Practically Hallmark material.
“I sometimes believe that I don’t belong around people, that I belong to all the leap days that didn’t happen. The way light and darkness mix under my skin has become a storm. You don’t see the lightning, but you hear the echoes.” - Anna Peters
Tonight’s plans: Cold beers on a warm patio and seeing The Head and the Heart play live for the first time. I know it’s strange because I’m kinda an adult, but there’s something about summer that still makes me feel like a kid with my weeknights free for fun.
Last night I went for a run kind of late. Around 10 pm, I turned the corner near my house and because the streets were empty and we were just a few feet from my yard, I dropped Pawley’s leash and let her run ahead. It was a ridiculously humid night and so as I walked into my front yard, I pulled off my shirt so that I was only wearing my sports bra.
At that moment, Pawley took off at a full sprint and lunged into my front bushes. She’d spotted a cat. It’s important at this point that you know two things. 1) Pawley has a remarkable gift for killing things. She brings dead birds to my back door all of the time. I don’t even understand how that’s possible. 2) Pawley hates cats. With a passion most people reserve for like Satan. Or Justin Bieber.
So, as I heard the cat caterwauling (officially the first time I’ve used that word), I lunged into the bushes after Pawley. Which was how the three of us—the cat, Pawley, and myself—ended up rolling around in my flowerbed. Me screaming at Pawley, Pawley snarling at the cat, and the cat caterwauling (sorry, I wrote that entire sentence just so I could use that word again).
My neighbors’ lights switched on. Someone walked out on their porch two doors up. After all, it sounded as if WWIII was occurring in my front yard. And there I was. Shirtless. Sweaty. Screaming. And tackling an animal that looks like an overweight coyote. It’s funny how I hadn’t seen that moment coming in my life.
The cat got away. And was fine. In fact, I’m sure it will be taunting Pawley from the front yard tomorrow. Pawley ran inside happily panting about the fun wrestling match we’d had in the front yard. I casually nodded to the neighbors, put my shirt back on, and calmly walked into my home as if this were a perfectly normal Tuesday night. Because actually, with Pawley as my dog, it kind of was.
The title is a little on the extreme side, but the talk is great. And it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently—how people react to experiences. Solomon shares a story of a woman who was raped and became pregnant with her rapist’s child, and how it changed her entire life in a lot of painful ways. Years later though, when asked about her feelings toward the rapist, she said she pitied him because he’d never known his amazing daughter and grandchildren.
I’m reading a book right now by Ann Patchett called “This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage.” (To be clear, it is in no way a book about marriage. It’s a book about writing.) In it, she talks about the writer Grace Paley, who was especially full of life, and about running into her while she was in the midst of dying of cancer and how her description of fighting the horrible disease was to immediately bring up all of the nice people she’d met in chemotherapy.
Solomon ends his talk by saying that people should forge meaning from their hardest experiences, build their identity around that, and “then invite the world to share your joy.” I love this thought. Take your pain and turn it into the world’s joy. It’s a big—and tough—goal, but I can’t think of a better one to have.
“You silly little girl,
you think you’ve survived so long
that survival shouldn’t hurt anymore.
You keep trying to turn your body
bullet-proof. You keep trying to turn your heart
bomb shelter. Stop, darling.
You are soft and alive.
You bruise and heal. Cherish it.”—- Clementine von Radics
“What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”—Anne Lamott