Monday, March 25, 2013

be missing ya.

New U end-of-the-year banquet 2011
Confession: Even though it hurts to miss people, I love that my heart aches for handfuls of individuals because that means they've affected me in a really profound way. Missing them means we had amazing times that make them worth missing. How terrible it would've been to look back at a time and think, "Thank God I'm not there anymore!"

Someone once told me nostalgia was a sign of weakness. If having your life so full of memories of love means being weak, then I'll take the label any day.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

dissecting the details.

After Joan Didion's husband died, she knew she wanted an autopsy. Not just wanted one--she actively wanted one:
"If whoever it was at New York Hospital who asked me to authorize an autopsy experienced such anxiety I could have spared him or her. I actively wanted an autopsy. I actively wanted an autopsy even though I had seen some, in the course of doing research. I knew exactly what occurs, the chest opens like a chicken in a butcher's case, the face peeled down, the scale in which the organs are weighed. I had seen homicide detectives avert their eyes from an autopsy in progress. I still wanted one. I needed to know how and why and when it had happened." 
 -The Year of Magical Thinking
Perhaps this is simply the trait of being a writer, or perhaps it's because Joan was an anxious person by nature. I think it's the combination of being an anxious writer. Life is about the details--about picking them apart and figuring out the who, what, where facts of every second. That job interview, that argument with a parent, that first kiss, that first heartbreak, that moment when you said you wanted to talk about love in a letter two years ago.

I feel like I'm always dissecting every aspect of my life. In every sequence of events, I feel compelled to separate the parts into petri dishes labeled with an appropriate title. What was said? What was meant--or, rather, what did mean? All this, in hopes that I will discover what I missed, and can say, "A-ha! There's the moment."

There it is. The moment. The moment after replaying every second in your head and every instance of woulda, coulda, shoulda, you realize what it is that really happened because you've finally stepped back far enough to see the whole line, not just a dot:

There is a part of me that believes I have done the wrong thing all these years by never walking away when my instincts demanded it, but I know if it were not for the pain, I would never have the strength and the courage to be where I am today. I would not have the conviction to stand confidently for my beliefs. I would not have the patience to open my heart to anyone--friendship or beyond.

And yet, right now, the hidden box full of letters from over the years still exist as a reminder of my failures thus far. I wish I could trace the lines back far enough to pinpoint that moment I missed, because I will never know. (You will never tell me.) I don't know if it would help or if it would change anything; I doubt that it would. Did knowing how her husband died make life suddenly better for Joan? Does knowing the reasons anyone disappears or anything falls apart help us gain closure and move on with our lives? Does anything?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the way i see it: sometimes you need a reminder.

In any compelling interview, there's that one moment where you know you've reached a place in a person's story that isn't often told. The person's voice may quiver and break, and they will get this look in their eyes as if they were seeing one memory in their mind as if it were just yesterday. They tell their story as if they've told it many times before, but they haven't because their stillness signals a pain that can't be removed from that one moment in their narrative.

It comes as a result of a bond of trust and an ease that's flowed throughout the whole conversation. I studied it as a teen and as a journalism student when I would watch and listen to veteran reporters do their thing. It's easy to forget that this moment exists when surrounded by the 24 hour news cycle, though sometimes you do get those rare moments in the prime time hours. As a student of literary journalism, the importance of unearthing these moments is embedded at the front of our minds every time we begin an interview, but I've found that they only emerge when you don't push it, when you let the interview transform into a real connection. Some call it manipulative or soft, arguing that hard news writing is the only kind of interviews that matter. I've done my share of hard interviews, don't get me wrong, but I think I'll always prefer the boldness it takes to produce a long form feature.

It's after these kind of interviews that I remember exactly why I fell in love in college with storytelling. I don't want to keep living without those moments.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

24.

Oh look, I grew up.
I won't pretend that being 24 makes me older or wiser in any way. I remember, as a child, thinking that each birthday meant some big change: I would suddenly gain some knowledge I didn't have before right at the stroke of midnight, and it would be what separated me from the age I had been to the age I had become.

Of course that isn't true, and so now having been 24 for just a blink of an eye, I can tell you what I've really learned over the course of the last year or two:

I've learned how to have faith in the midst of a crisis, and how to find joy despite the heaviness that may sit on your shoulders. I've learned how to step back and see the bigger picture, and how to hold my head high and move forward. I've learned about the people in your life who truly matter, and have learned to understand the importance of forgiveness and unconditional love. I've learned that life can be the fullest at the quietest moments, and that you should never take the small things like a handshake or a laugh for granted.

Rather than come up with resolutions or a list of things I want to accomplish between now and 2014, I think my goal will be to just keep going. That notion seems so simple and so obvious, but for those who know me, you know what a struggle that itself has been.

So...onward!