You don’t need to explain yourself

This title is from a fortune cookie I opened last night at Charlie Chow’s Dragon Grill. It’s a pretty great establishment. They have three different types of noodles and they’ll even crack an egg in your stir fry upon request.

I was thinking about how some people are born into the world with naturally questioning minds. The stereotypical rebellious teenage kid acts out, rejects the status quo, refuses to care what other people think. His parents use force and dish out tough love to keep him in line.

I was the opposite. I was a weird, sensitive kid. For the most part, I was wholeheartedly compelled to please authority. My parents, my teachers and leaders, my friends’ parents. I didn’t need much discipline. For me, there was no worse punishment than simply disappointing someone I looked up to. I’d break down when facing a teacher with forgotten homework assignments, spend weeks in a silent guilty depression when a church leader reprimanded me for being chatty, beat myself up over A-minus grades. I rarely pushed boundaries on any of the rules and expectations put on me from the day I was born.

And it was great for me. I was a “good kid”. The system I was born into worked like a well-oiled machine. Good grades, good college, good job, good habits, good functioning member of society. I am thankful for all of this and thankful for my upbringing in every way.

But all those things that made me a “good kid” are still residually part of my adult self, and it turns out they’re some of my worst qualities now. I’m a serial people-pleaser. No matter how capable I’ve grown to be, still I stress out over how I will frame my intentions and justify my choices so that the metaphorical grown-ups of the world will approve of everything I do. I think too much about what other people believe is right and good rather than what I believe is right and good, and it seeps into almost every aspect of my decision-making. If you’ve ever read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: I am more of a Peter Keating than a Howard Roark.

As an adult, I find myself wanting and trying to be a little more like the rebellious teenager. Maybe he turned into a critically-thinking adult with a strong sense of identity and integrity. He lives life on his own terms. He does what’s right because he knows what’s right and he deeply believes in it, not because it’s expected of him by some third party. It seems like a good way to live.

I guess I just really liked this fortune cookie. It was a good reminder. You don’t always need to explain or justify yourself. The main person who has to live with the consequences of your decisions is you, assuming you don’t choose to directly harm — or make yourself dependent on — someone else. You are allowed to do things because you feel good and right about them deep in your core. Nobody else has to understand, and you don’t have to make anybody else understand, and that’s okay.

I’ve worked a lot lately to internalize this and let it influence my actions. It gives me confidence. It makes living better.

As it turns out, being alive and experiencing consciousness and existence is actually pretty absurd and incredible. Like those cats with tiny legs.

I just want to run trails and eat nectarines

On Saturday morning I ran a trail half marathon and I got home and showered and put on this stupid shirt and ate a nectarine. I sent a stupidly grinny snapchat selfie (bc am millennial af), half-eaten fruit in frame, to my friend with this caption: “ASK ME HOW MY SATURDAY IS GOING.”

Trail running is the best. It’s like hiking, but a little faster. There are hills to climb and branches to trip over, but nobody cares how fast you go and you can’t compare any two different routes anyway.

I’ve always always been a road runner, but I think I’m over it. It’s still fun but why would you choose repetitive pavement-pounding over bouncy rock-dodging and stream-hopping and pinecone-squishing? While also seeing some of the most beautiful scenery in the world?

Other nice things that happened this weekend:

  • I bought a gaming laptop!
  • I walked to tower theater and watched some short films from Sundance this year since I didn’t make it to the festival!
  • I had a frappuccino!
  • I made hash browns!
  • I hung out with a very beautiful and elegant poodle!
  • I went to a mexican restaurant and got a drink with a rubber ducky floating in it!

 

I like these people

Here are two very important people looking serious at my company’s summer party. We did our part to rep the rare “unmarried adults without children” demographic. Even if they only came to this thing for the free food, I appreciate them a whole lot.

Weekends in my city

A few times a week I get smacked in the face with this weird feeling of satisfaction and real actual joy to be existing.

For starters, my typical weekdays are very good. I get to see the sun poke through my blinds every morning, go running, cook food, ride the train, write code, read books, pet my dog, be with great people. And then, on top of all that, every week for two days I don’t have to work and I can do absolutely anything I want. Weekends. They are marvelous and mysterious and I don’t know why we are allowed to have them because isn’t life supposed to suck and be difficult?

(I’m oversimplifying. Of course life is hard sometimes, but honestly, those times are easy to forget while at a late Saturday morning brunch being served crispy hash browns by a tattooed waiter.)

On those two special days, I can sleep in or I can wake up early and go running at Liberty Park. I can go to a museum or outdoor concert or on a motorcycle ride or pub crawl. I can run errands on my bicycle or catch a movie at the Broadway theater or clean the bathroom or practice drums or get my car washed or aimlessly walk around Costco. I can go to Caputo’s for a sandwich with the freshest mozzarella or Purgatory for fried cauliflower tacos. I can go rock climbing or hiking or river rafting. I can buy peas and bok choy from the farmer’s market and make a stir fry.

I know things won’t always be this way. There will probably come a time when I choose to have more actual responsibilities, and I hope I’ll cherish that time too. But for right now, I have the luxury of free weekends, and I’ll run with it.

This past Sunday I woke up wanting to be in water, and decided on a tube float at the Weber river. I was thinking it’d be a relaxing activity perfect for snacks and drinks and less-than-practical swimwear. The class 2 and 3 rapids had a different idea. I ended up with a Pringles can full of river water, missing sunglasses, and a lot of scrapes and bruises. Falling into a rapid while trying to eat cubes of watermelon from a tupperware was terrifying and hilarious and I would definitely do it over again.

Maybe this is turning out to be more of a love letter to Salt Lake City than to weekends. Or maybe a love letter to summer in general. Whatever the variables are, life is above average right now and I hope it stays that way.

P.S. I took exactly zero photos this weekend, which is weird for me. Also, I recommend watching the movie The Big Sick. Laughed, cried, was charmed, 10/10.

Power tools and a planter box

I bought some power tools: a drill (with bits!) and a jigsaw. A friend had offered to lend me his. I told him I just wanted to have my own. Also, maybe this is weird, but I thought it would be nice to be the one lending my drill to somebody else.

Sometimes, you want a certain thing, and then you find a way to make it. Other times, a vague need to make a thing happens, and then you have to figure out a thing to make without filling your house with useless garbage.

My tiny patio was empty and fresh herbs are always useful, so a planter box seemed like a good enough idea. I drew up some plans loosely based on these instructions and bought lumber from the Lowe’s where I bought my tools.

On a weeknight after work, a couple of friends watched and fed me pizza while I put it together inside my apartment. At first I was clumsy, but by the time I finished, I was fast at switching drill bits and confident with my high-speed saw (and also pretty sweaty). I celebrated my success by vacuuming little piles of sawdust from the corners of my cramped kitchen. A coat of sealant and a bag of soil later, the box was ready for my tomatoes and herbs.

I’ve never had such a good excuse to constantly make tomato basil pasta and mint mojitos. Which reminds me: this summer has kicked ass, to be honest. I’ve been in a funk for a long time, but this season has been so good and normal and easy and relieving. (I am sounding extremely eat pray love)

Also, this is the first time in my life I’ve successfully kept herbs alive for more than a few weeks. I can care for dogs and cats and even human children, but the daily water needs of a basil plant have, in the past, proven to be too high maintenance for me. This time I’ve been diligent. It’s probably because I don’t want dead plants in my pretty box.

Hi blog

I’ve been “blogging” in some form or another since the days of Geocities and Neopets. Social media exploded right in sync with my own coming-of-age. Oversharing on the internet runs deep in my veins.

We’re supposed to feel silly about it. And I do! I cringe hard thinking back to my early MySpace bulletin posts, with only the deepest song lyrics and artsiest webcam selfies of course. But I actually think it’s pretty cool that we were trying to reach out and create things and make connections. Humans have been doing these kinds of thing since… ever.

Also, a surprising amount of actual opportunity has come from my years of writing on the internet. Community, friendships (even a few of the kind you’d fly across the country for), internships, jobs. I’ve learned that the world is bigger than I thought and smaller than it seems. And I’ll always believe that formulating ideas and stories in writing is a valuable outlet for anyone.

So hi! I want to blog again. I hope I can make this a nice place to be.