Pranking Myself

Friday, November 30, 2012 | 0 Comment(s)

As a psychologist, i worry about self-fulfilling prophecies.  When naming our dogs, we were even neurotic enough to make sure the names weren't "aggressive sounding" and didn't have negative behavioral connotations.  We are admittedly a little kooky, but i've seen enough self-fulfilling prophecy literature to back up said kookiness.

It's hard to go wrong with "Grover" (our first dog's name).  I mean, the muppet it harkens back to is fun loving, honest, and amazing at nailing simple opposites (nearrrrrrrrr.  farrrrrrrrrrrrr).  And at worst, people just think of Grover Cleveland, who no one really knows anything about.

For our second pup's name, we delved a little further into the preverbal rabbit hole.  So far, in fact, that we arrived at yet another puppet: Falkor, from The Neverending Story (we altered the spelling a bit to Falcor).  

I'm not entirely sure why picking a flying dog-like dragon didn't set off any of the aforementioned warning sirens.  Probably cause Falkor is so darn cute and mellow that you don't even think of the flying as lack of restraint.  And so, inevitably we got a mini-blue pit who can sky when he jumps.  Hops his brother with ease.  he can even land himself on our slick kitchen table if it means a better view out the window.   And our Falcor knows very little restraint.  Flying across the neighbors' yards like a blueish-grey blur of kinetic energy.  He is . . . unbounded.

Thankfully, we left ourselves an insurance policy in the event that this name backfired and did, in fact, create a (adorable, puppy-faced, munch muffin) more monsterable version of luck dragon.  And we did it by pranking ourselves.  

Now, when Falcor, semi-predictably, at 2 am in the morning, bolts full speed to the backyard in order to explore (even though i was just opening the door for him to take a quick pee), i am left with three options.   Call him.  Shake a bag of treats.   Go and retrieve him in my t-shirt despite the frost of the early morning.  I go through my options in that order.   I scream, "Falllllllllcorrrrrrrrr.  Falllllllcoooorrrrrrrr."  

And then.  I laugh my ass off at myself.  Pranked again.  I am transformed into Atreyu, waiting for my mount to swoop down from the clouds.  I am in the movie, shouting the line.  I find this the most hilarious consequence of our name choice.  Usually, the laughter is large enough to motivate me on to the treat-bag shaking and eventually puppy reconnaissance that at some point becomes inevitable.  Thankfully, the frost doesn't bite quite as hard with a smile on your face.

Do Tattoos Hurt?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 | 1 Comment(s)

I hear this question thrown around a lot.  Most of my friends have some sort of tattoo, and those who visit from say, the Midwest (generally), are often startled by the sheer ubiquitousness of tattooery here in central Massachusetts.  And, often the inroad to conversations on the subject begin with the most naive of questions, "does getting a tattoo hurt?"

Well, I sat for the second session of my octopus tattoo on my lower left leg and foot yesterday.  For five hours.  And, if i may, i would like to definitively answer the question today, while the memory of the experience is still fresh in my mind.   

Tattoos hurt.  Every single one of them.  They do, however, hurt various amounts. Like, for instances, if you get a simple, black and grey piece on your upper arm, I imagine the pain sensation would be filed under, "manageable".  The scale then grows in threshold amount depending on the size, complexity, and colors involved.  Oh, it's also just like real estate: location location location.  I don't care how simple the design, you put that outline of a rubber ducky on your upper inner thigh, and you are gonna pay for it in towel biting, grunts, and blood (and/or tears).  Another horrible place to get tattoo'd is your ankle bone.  Don't get a tattoo on your ankle bone.  It hurts like the needles are actually penetrating your skin and entering straight into some lower level of hell.  I, currently, have both of my left ankle bones tattoo'd.  Which means i twice delved into a pain that reached past searing and into a more ludicrous level of torture.  Fittingly, I broke out into uncontrollable laugher.  Truly.  The pain climbed so far past reasonable that my body reacted instinctively by guffawing at the joke of it all.  

At the five hour mark, as my tattoo artist was just putting color to the suckers on the last 3 of the 8 octo-legs, his next client walked into the doorway.  The guy was big and strong looking with huge well-defined arms.  He smiled sympathetically at me, as i lay on my front,  my achilles being violated by a needle and ink.  He tells me that he doesn't have the balls to get tattoo'd where he's watching me get tattoo'd.  I reply that i didn't realize how stupid it was until the ink was already going into my skin.  Ignorance had not been bliss in this particular case. 

My tattoo artist, obviously friends with his next client then tells me this gem as he puts the final excruciating touches on my current session:  He says, "Oh, Calvin here (Calvin being the dude i was chatting with) takes his heavy duty sleep medication before the session and he literally sleeps through it.   It's kinda weird though, tattooing someone while they are out cold . . . I don't really enjoy doing it."

Me response:  "THAT WAS AN OPTION!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I am fortunes fool once again. 

(pics to follow)

Let's Hear It For the Boy

Sunday, November 25, 2012 | 0 Comment(s)

My personal family-of-origin tradition regarding thanksgiving revolves around the break taken after the turkey day meal, but before we indulge ourselves in devouring the awaiting rice pudding and chocolate mousse.  In my family, we go around the table and say what we are thankful for from the year past.   It can be intense.  Often, upon honest reflection of your year in front of your family, there are tears.  There are also laughs and most importantly, the process of being honest together and sharing thanks and love as a group creates a tangible family bond.  A feeling of closeness across a group that allows such raw emotions, mostly hidden in our public lives, to exist and be heard in a non-iudgmental way. It is a gift.  

This year I spent thanksgiving as the outlaw in a large group of my in-laws (both my wife's mother's and father's side of the family joined together for the epic feast).  All up, there were 23+ of us across four tables.   One huge turkey and two hams.  We did not (and i, in this case, am thankful) go around the tables and say what we were thankful for.  

Pre-wives (my brother and mine), my extended family, at its most extended, stretched about 10 or 12 strong.  In general, the jews have not been blessed with long and thriving family lines.  While the ultra-orthodox may be fruitful and multiply as much as possible, modern jewish families don't tend to have kids as if they were trying to stock their own minor league farm system.  I digress, but all of this is an extremely long-winded way of saying that being surrounded by such a huge number of family members was a bit daunting going in.  I'm pleased to say that the experience itself, minus all the ham, was communal and accepting and jovial and a lot of fun. 

But, as you can probably already tell, this blog is about having "missed out" on giving thanks.  the guilt of it.  The lapse in this purging tradition.  i must have satisfaction!

but here is the crazy thing.  i didn't go to facebook to say what is meaningful to me (which many others did).  I didn't even give my 140 characters of thanks on twitter.  and, when i thought about it more, i didn't really feel like giving thanks this year. 

I immediately hear my inner Jewish grandmother saying (not unlike Kyle's mom on South Park), "What what what what!/!/  Not thankful! Have you ever heard such a thing! *spits on the ground twice* You ungrateful meeskyte!" 

So let me immediately clarify.  It is not, in the slightest, that i do not feel thankful.  Quite the contrary, i feel almost a soul wrenching amount of thanks for the sheer luck that has provided me with a virtual unending number of possibilities.  What i do not feel this year, is whatever motivation or impulse that leads us to purge ourselves by making a public declaration.  

Now, if you were to ask my family, they would tell you that this is incredibly unusual. I am a bit infamous for my semi extended-cut thank you's.   I don't think i'm the longest per say, but I definitely feel like i have a pretty high average length.  As i said, I feel incredibly thankful on the whole. 

But this year, im just not feeling it.  And i think it mostly has to do with the perseverance that brought me to this thanksgiving.  The past year I graduated out of a miserable graduate school experience, and walked away with both my doctorate and my integrity.  While it has taken the following 5 months, i have also begun rebuilding the tower of joy that used to reside inside me before the wrecking-ball of graduate school took its toll.  And the new tower not only comes equipped with all of the integral friendships of the previous version, but now it also has the bling bling feel of luxury created by a newly minted loving wife, two ferociously adorable doggies, and the freedom of forging my own path.  It's super hype yo.  

And this year I, with my partner in crime, threw a flipping fantastic wedding (best wedding ever?), which captured both our love and our zany giddiness for getting a forever together.   And in pulling off this colossal party, almost every pillar of strength in my life (both literal and metaphoric) were tested for structural integrity.  Through the danger of some pillars' crumbling foundations, i was forced to choose which structures were worth fighting for, with the knowledge that collateral damage was a certainty.   Some pillars fell on me.   But these battles became less about the wedding we were trying to have, and more about the man i wanted to inhabit.  the principles i wanted to live my life by.  

And, come this present November, I am thankful to say that I am proud of both the wedding, and the skeletal decisions I made in laying down the framework for my married life.  

So perhaps, upon reflection, my muted impulse to sing the songs of my thanks, has more to do with the fact that this year I am thankful that I persevered.  I am thankful i walked and ran and crawled and clawed and was carried and then still kept on moving forward until this moment.  This present of pregnant possibility and no game clock.  I am proud of myself, and thankful to be a person i am proud of.  And, while i play a wonderfully ego-maniacal narcissist online, getting up in front of my favorite people and being thankful for myself isn't really my thing.  

Unless you consider that I am a product of all those people and puppies who care about me.  Which I do.   And then, in essence, i am just being thankful for everyone around me.  Which i am.   And if i follow this rationalized line of reasoning, i can almost flip myself through the mental gymnastics necessary to take myself to the precipice of declaring how eternally thankful i am for my continued persistence and overall kicking of life's preverbal ass this year.  

But as i hear the words form in my head i immediately let out a reflexive, "WHAT a friggin dickhead."  And i decide that i'm more than happy to just wait for next year.  

Happy Familysgiving

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | 0 Comment(s)

As we pull up to the driveway of another thanksgiving, i am once again left thinking about the imprint family makes on us all.  This past year has been critical in my own personal development of what family is and what it means to me personally.  In the process of executing a wedding, there is internal pressure to surround yourself with those people who have most brought you to that moment.

and inevitably, they can't all be there.  some are missed because they live across the country and have far too many children (i kid [pun!]).  Others are missed because their candles blew out long ago.  Others less long ago.

as we come upon the one year anniversary of my uncle's passing, i still revel in the happy memories of the "outlaw in-law" who dazzled us with knowledge ranging from fix-it man to culinary expert.

but in order not to depress us with its cruelty, life also springs up anew, and shines it's big-eyed glory,  hope, and promise of good yet to come.  And when you're lucky, this life looks like this.

my niece Sheriff Myla

And with this adorable cowgirl, i am transformed into the uncle i miss.  I am put in the position to be the family i have lost.  And i am reinvigorated. 

I've also thought a great deal about the dotted line between friendship and family.  The baby boomer generation defined family by blood -- or rather genetics.  Descendants were paramount, outsiders secondary.  Thats not how it has worked out for me.  My closest friends have been around me more than 15 years, and i would gladly put my fate in their hands.  I am honored to call them my family, and it would insult our relationships to pretend that they were anything less.  They are the ones who rally to my side in the worst of times, and they are the same people I want around to share my best times with.

and those instances where the family you are born into happily overlap with the people you love the most, are phenomenal.  however,  it seems as important to recognize the people that have filled up the voids left by the imperfection of how real life families of origin actually work.  the family we choose because we are driven to make ourselves feel whole.   This is a time to be thankful to the family we were given, and the one who gives us everything else.

An Atheist's Dilemma: When Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Monday, November 19, 2012 | 0 Comment(s)

When I came back from living abroad in Australia the first semester of my Junior year in college, i briefly lived  with a close college friend who was a studio art major.  Briefly, as in, 2 weeks.  I then moved, as semi-scheduled, into the extra room of the senior year house of my best guy friend.  But i already digress.

Now, first some facts about this early living situation.  This woman i moved in with is still an incredibly close friend of mine.  She was also (and IS also) an incredible artist (and now also an architect) .  And finally, I was moving into an apartment that she had already been living in for 6 months.

All of these bits of flowery potpourri are just to dull the blow of what's coming next, which is the living "situation" that i returned to find.  Here I come, bags of college-ready crap in hand, to find a living room . . . . oh wait, i couldn't find the living room, because it lay there, trapped and obscured, by a cacophony of paint and life supplies.  I seriously couldn't see the floor anywhere under the thunderous mess.  As i high-stepped my way across the "living space" i would focus in on tiny little tableaus of homemaker grotesquery: Two gleaming pools of red and blue paint, purpled in the middle, being held in tiny cups made out of the shag carpet they rested on/in.  The overall feel of the apartment was one of living inside a giant piece of modern art with WET PAINT sign still hanging on it.  

I moved, because i wanted to live with "my boys".  But if I'm being completely honest with myself, i also moved to remain friends with my goddess of an artist friend.  I didn't want to have to kill her.

This story is important as it was the first, and perhaps the only time, where i found myself in a living situation that was just "too dirty" for me to be happy in.  And a lot of it was the "wet mess".   As i've said before on the blog, clothes on the floor don't bother me, cornflakes and milk on the floor, however, does.

My personal line of tidiness concerning my living space says a great deal about me as well.  If it takes a palette-like rug to phase me, i am probably messier than the average human being.  Or at least, my tolerance is higher than most.  My sensitivity to this particular measure has been skewed by years of co-habitating with a best friend who is more on the OCD side of the cleanliness spectrum.  Thus, i have felt slovenly by comparison most of my young adult life.  And now, having a wife who also finds safety in wide swatches of dusted and polished surfaces, i fear i may be the "messy one" for my adult adult life as well.  I have accepted this.

But more and more as I get older, i have found that many of the people in my figurative neighborhood have formed an altogether new relationships with cleanliness around the home.  (I am not saying that what follows is a new phenomenon, but rather that it is new that i have given it much thought).  Somewhere along the line, the cleanliness of one's house became a proxy for:

1) how together you are as a person.
2) how matured you are.
3) how well your relationship is going.
4) your mental health.
5) if you actually qualify as an adult.

This is where i have a problem with cleanliness.  Put simply, if cleanliness is next to godliness, what does that mean for an atheist?

I admit that having things in order provides a calm of organization and knowing that everything both has a place and is in it.  But i can't understand how not feeling this way is at all maladaptive.  And we aren't talking hoarders either.  If you house is cluttered, and it's all coupons, or box tops, or cats, or doomsday supplies, i encourage people to judge away.  But when i walk into my friend's mother's house in western Mass and find a great room with murals haphazardly coating the walls and piles of interesting papers and magazines stacked across old wood tables, i see beauty.  It looks like a room you would find at Hogwarts.  A room expectant of wonder and encouraging exploration.  A room pregnant with possibility.

Others would call this women a pack-rat.  The room gets plenty of natural light, and so you can see the dust that has landed on the tops of the tallest stacks of records.  The room is unclean by the standards of  respectable mothers and fathers everywhere.  Were my parents to walk in on this room in the center of my future home, they would be forced to expend great energy NOT commenting on how the room looks.

Again. I don't get it.  I mean, couldn't you imagine Gandhi not caring where he put his robes down after a few days of hunger fasting.  What about Napoleon?  You think that little shit ever picked up for himself after conquering a new land.   No way in hell.

And the Napoleon example (more-so than the Gandhi one, which was mostly meant for humor) actually gives away what i think is at the root of this bias to believe that what is clean is what is good and right.  Napoleon didn't pick up after himself because he was rich and powerful enough to have people do it for him.    Hmmmmmm.  This sounds familiar.  It sounds familiar because in the history of feeling judged about my cleanliness by folks, almost all of the "worst offenders" of person-centeric judgements based on home cleanliness have had outside help in managing the cleanliness and upkeep of their homes.  Once again, the bias come from the "haves" and is projected onto the "have-nots"

And i feel ridiculous calling myself a have-not, because of the ridiculous amount of privilege i was both born into and live amongst -- but in another way this emphasizes my point.  Even with a wife, two jobs, and a manageable sized living space, my wife and I simply don't have the extra income laying around to hire someone to dust and do the laundry for us.  I assure you that if we did, our house would always be a ton clearer.  Obviously.  But somehow it gets lost that having a personal cleaning service is so far across the privilege spectrum, that most people can't even fathom its size and shape all the way over in "trying-to-meet-their-familys'-needsville."

And that's why, when adults from privilegetown visit their kids in needsville, it almost never goes well.  "What aren't you older, making more money, and living in a style of life we've grown accustomed to?"  "Mostly because we work full time and we don't have Sally coming over on Thursdays to strip the sheets, wash the towels and vacuum the carpets."

But we don't talk like this.  We don't talk of privilege or responsibilities or priorities.  The actual conversation goes like this,  *parents scans the room* "Well, your place looks (scan around a bit more) nice.? (it is half statement half question)  *kid reading the insincerity loud and clear* "Um . . thanks Mom and Dad." (there is no thanks in his/her thanks)   And they both walk away feeling bad.  The older adults wondering where they went wrong that their child either is forced to live in "such squaller" or, even worse, chooses to live like this.   The young adult walks away wondering why he/she was just subjected to such uninvited and unnecessary insult -- and the distance of age and mutual misunderstanding somehow widens unnecesarily.

It all seems like much ado about nothing.  No one has won or lost a Nobel prize based on the number of sweatshirts they left on the floor.  I certainly haven't seen any studies linking picking up after oneself with success in computer programming (i bet we would find that more mess is actually correlated with more success in the computer sciences -- but i digress again).

I mean, does everything have to be right or wrong.  Black or white.  Does clean have to equal good?  And if so, does that leave messiness as bad by default.  Why can't we, like the dust-bunnies that have  grown into a warren behind my couch, live in that middle space between Comet and vomit.  A place where our relative neatness is just another compatibility factor like snoring, or shared extra-curricular activities.

I'm not saying we have to give a voice to mess-loving Americans, we just need the godliness of cleanliness to be more humane.

In the Stye of the Beholder

Saturday, November 17, 2012 | 1 Comment(s)

Ok.  Let's get the spelephant in the room out of the way right away.  When writing an advice column, it is important to spellcheck.  especially the word "advice".  Especially if that word is in the title of your post.   Message received.

*warning.  from here on the post gets graphic.  end warning*

i have a sty.  and it is wondrous how a small ingrown hair under my eyelid has the ability to physically and psychologically break me down. i have been soaking my eye--with a washcloth, in the shower, with homeopathic anti-sty drops-- for the better part of 48 hours.  So much so, that now, in addition to a swollen eyelid, i have my own red badge of courage circling round the entire eye-socket.  I may have even burned the eyelid itself with the constant cycle of hot compresses.  The sensation is one of having a minuscule piece of fiberglass embedded, sword-in-the-stone style, adjacent my tear duct.  the human inclination is to try and kneed the enlarging bubble of puss out the duct.  My slightly more OCD approach is very similar except the manner in which i attack the problem more resembles an animal with it's paw catch in a trap.  in my attempt to kneed the lid, i am half-peeling it off my face.  The red zone around my eye deepens to a more crimson hue.

I try to ignore it.  go about my business.  play some video games. write.  talk on the phone.  but none of it is normal.  i do all these things distracted, always half-paying attention to the scratch scratch scratching against the back door of my corneal lens.  99.9% if my body is operating at maximum capacity, and yet the entire machine is incapacitated by this well-placed ingrown invader.

 It has me collapsing in on myself.  Doubting my ability to help others as i act out my Möbius strip of obsessive compulsiveness, like a glass cleaner seeking the perfect spit-shine from the tinted windows of my soul.  And the whole process leaves me feeling weak.  Weak, as this tiny non-sensient invader has taken over my life without permission.  Weak, as I awake beaten, as a boxer, eye swollen shut with the crusted over reminder of yesterdays defeat at my own hands.  the hands of my enemy.

a man and his dog

Saturday, November 10, 2012 | 1 Comment(s)

When i hug my dog.
i hug him with my worries.
i hug him and i tell him, "holy shit.  i am going to die some day."
i hug him and tell him how weak i feel.  how worried i am.  and how fast it all seems to be going.

and he lets out a soft sigh that is his version of a purr.  a sign of total contentment.
he sighs at me and says, "it's all ok."
we have this moment and we are together and that is enough.
he sighs to remind me how frivolous my worries are.
he sighs to remind me that he is mine, and i am his.
and that promise deserves a tomorrow.

this is the love between a man and his dog.
while he was the one abandoned,
i am the one left fearing abandonment.

Trying to find solutions . . . and my winter clothes

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 | 1 Comment(s)

Dash-point wednesday.  Do the Dash.

- Today I am wearing a sweatshirt over my sweatshirt.  While the first reason for this is that it is incredibly cold outside today, the larger reason is because my wife has not shown me where she "packed up my winter clothes."  This includes all of my coats.  Of note, the container with all of her winter clothes in it was miraculously left resting comfortably in our guest bedroom -- and not in the attic with my stuff.  The Sneak sneaks again.

- Obviously the election is in the forefront of people's minds.  There is a lot of discussion in my facebook feed regarding the number of political posts on Facebook.  Whether or not this is: annoying, the correct place for discourse, shouting into the wind, etc.  There was another strain of conversation concerning the vitriol expressed by both supporters of the President's victory, and by Mitt Romney lamenters.  Here's is my takeaway from all of this discussion:  I think that its all good (as long as there is no violence).  Let's indulge people with the feeling that they are wrapped up in their countries political process.  Let people use their voice, in whatever form they might have it, to express their beliefs.  And of course we won't agree with all of them.  Some are going to be friggin bonkers (we are ALL looking at you Donald Trump).  But better we have a cacophony of citizenry fighting to make themselves heard than an apathetic populous, unconvinced of their personal power to enact change.

-New York and New Jersey are still in severe disaster mode, and with a new storm coming tonight, the danger and devastation in that region can not be understated, so please don't think my next comment has anything to do with the seriousness of the current situation in the Northeast.  But.  and you knew there was a but.  I am struck, when watching news coverage about the situation in NYC, how different the tenor of the newscasters is.  And potentially it is due to the fact that they are reporting from New York in many cases, and therefore this disaster is quite literally close to home than say, Katrina.  But I keep getting this feeling that there is a subtext to their pleas for help and contextualization of the disaster that says, "The devastation and suffering is still ongoing tonight in New York . . ." [*begin subtext* and these are white people!]  It's as if it location of the hurricane affects its interpretation.  Or perhaps it's just the first time in awhile a hurricane has hit an area that believe global warming is real.

- I saw a figure a few days ago that 25% of soldiers who return from active duty have some form of PTSD.  That is CRAZY (... and some of them are white people!)!  One in four.  If you are trying to construct an argument for how inhuman war is, start with this.  At a minimum (remember that PTSD is only one condition that can result from disturbing experiences) one in four brains is traumatized from the experience of going to war.  Our humanity rejects it.   This number also reinforces the responsibility we owe to the men and women who selflessly put their own lives at risk for this country.  Whether you believe in the job or not, unless you'd rather do it -- give some massive props.  And certainly don't leave the population who defended this country with the promise of an education and health care upon their return, left bearing the financial AND emotional scars of this war.  Here is my idea on this topic.  America spends more on our military than all of the other next biggest militaries combined.  How about we put veteran benefits et al. under the umbrella of the military budget.   That way, without cutting military spending (which some find taboo), we can use that money to ensure our military's future (including veterans) is secure both on and off the battlefield.

On Giving And Receiving Advice, Part II: Giving

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 | 0 Comment(s)

to be honest.  i've kinda of painted myself into a corner with this whole advice giving post.  Don't get me wrong -- i've got at least ten things to tell ya'll, but it is a bit daunting to say that these are the "10 best pieces of advice i've given or received."   So, because it's my blog and i get to change the rules to suit my needs, i'm gonna say these are 10 top pieces of advice i've given or received.  What a world of difference a little word rearrangement can make.

oh, and, these are just the first 5.

1) "In love (and often sex), it is not about your batting average, but rather your number of at bats."

this one is mine.  and it's wildly true.  People spend entirely too much time fretting about rejection.  Or worrying about the potential for rejection.  Rejection needs to be considered more and more like a glancing blow.  you have to embrace rejection, drink it in and let it fill you.  Realize your ability to survive it, and then move forward less encumbered.  The other option, is that it paralyzes you.  slows your confidence and forward momentum until you find yourself staying on your couch more, and experiencing others less.   And thats where it can really hurt you.  Cause love and sex is a numbers game people.  The more people you meet, the more your dating pool grows, and the chance of a compatible mate rises.  Also, by interacting with more people, you gain a finer understanding of what you want from a relationships/sex.  So, as my staying goes; Don't worry about striking out, just make sure you get out there and take your swings.

2)  "I have learned to accept the fact that we risk disappointment, disillusionment, even despair, every time we act. Every time we decide to believe the world can be better. Every time we decide to trust others to be as noble as we think they are. And that there might be years during which our grief is equal to, or ever greater than, our hope. The alternative, however, not to act, and therefore to miss experiencing other people at their best, reaching toward their fullness, has never appealed to me. " -Alice Walker

My friend Mia gave me this quote handwritten on a piece of paper when I was struggling my sophomore year in college.  My best friends were abroad, my gf had broken up with me, and my family was having communication issues of its own.  Additionally, on of my very best friends had seemingly fallen of the face of my earth.  This confluence of even left me lonely, depressed, and not feeling very hopeful.  This quote (which i still have), hung next to my bed for that year, and in its multiple rereads, i found a supportive voice.  A wisdom that aligned with my worldview.  And in its internalization, i believe i became a better human being.

3) There's only one thing that I know how to do well
And I've often been told that you only can do
What you know how to do well
And that's be you,
Be what you're like,
Be like yourself.

-they might be giants

This one is pretty self-explanitory.  It's from the song "Whistling in the Dark."

4) Speak truth to power   4.5) This too, it shall pass.

these are my two favorite cliché pieces of advice.  Both have served me well at various times.  Because they are fairly ubiquitous, i won't go into a lot of explaining.  

5) i will end with the advice that i give my classes on their last day with me.  This is the message i try to float along with them along the current of their individual streams:

"Whenever you do anything truly remarkable or worthwhile in your life, someone will ALWAYS try to diminish your accomplishment or tear you down with rejection.  Always.  And they may even be people close to you.  You must resist their negativity as if your life depends on it.  Put your faith and trust in yourself over giving weight to the voices of naysayers.  Cause the doubters will disappear, and you have to live with yourself forever.