Saturday, June 30, 2012

strangers or not, we're in it together

i said this twice today, and meant it more each time i thought about it:
we are not meant to be here alone. life is about the journey, but it is also about the community that we are meant to find along the way. we are not in it for ourselves, we should not be out to choose ourselves day after day. life is beautiful because we can share the joys and share the sadness. 
if we weren't meant to wrap our arms around our fellow travelers, then they would not be so welcoming or soft. conversely, when we are in need, we would not have our hands fit so perfectly with another's hands.

if we believe that we are here to serve ourselves, we are grossly missing the point.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

the art of self-interviewing

somewhere near Albemarle, NC
what do you get when you take a country drive with yourself? when you look at the map and purposefully detour yourself with no where to be, no where to go, and no one in your passenger seat... as a single woman, this adventure in the countryside of NC makes a great parallel with my life.

of course there are times when you wish you had a co-pilot. a navigator to keep you from looking at your phone while driving. because adventures are better when they are shared. a companion who will help you pick wildflowers on the side of the road. someone who will romp on a stranger's property, even though you are convinced that the owners are home and they have loaded guns. you find yourself wanting someone who will smile when you pull the car off the road; someone who was already unbuckling their seatbelt to grab the picnic blanket and beat you to the top of the hill. when you're driving down a country road, you may wonder if your hair is the same color as the fields of wheat, and you wish there was someone in the car to confirm it.

there are times when we all want someone to go along with us. someone who willfully chooses to be next to you on whatever adventures you choose. and maybe you remember that you are not traveling with a companion, but that  doesn't mean the trip isn't worth the drive. it doesn't mean that the time alone isn't valuable, it just means that you have to think for yourself. agree with yourself about where you want to go [the long way home!], or pull over [look at this cotton field!], or what song you want to belt out [Jenny by Walk the Moon], or whether the windows should be down or up [down!].

when you go down a long highway, alone with your thoughts, you get to have a self-interview.

my drive in the countryside wasn't a pointless way to waste time or gas. my drive in the countryside was an indulgence. not in the way that dessert after a big meal is an indulgence, but in the way that you can surprise yourself. you can always choose monotony, predictability and comfort, but every now and then, you will get a grin that spreads across your face and you feel and know that you can do whatever you want. this mood struck me as i headed back to Raleigh.

i felt as free as a feather floating on a breeze. it was just what i needed.

i hear my own voice as i harmonize and sing along with the songs that i choose (Brandi Carlile, Avetts, Norah). i hear myself squeal and apologize out loud to a snake that i accidentally ran over (shiny and black, it was too late before i had already hit him). i find myself daydreaming about how differently the people who live in Richfield, NC live their lives. i appreciate a slow drive where there are no stoplights, a road where a slow tractor goes 20mph and makes you wait to pass him, but i didn't pass him because there was no rush. a stretch of highway surrounded on both sides by green fields. these people grow their own food, they do not wait for it in a drive-thru. they do not have a data plan on their phones, because they still have landlines, and my 'smart' cell phone would stress them out.

i found myself planning things in my head, even though i knew i would forget them because i wasn't writing them down. "i want to have a garden! i want to have a greenhouse! i want to have a tree house for my FUTURE children! [etc]" i waved at strangers in the small town of New London not because i knew them, but because i wanted to brighten their day [and mine!]. to acknowledge that i saw them, and in hopes that i could give them my smile. a smile between strangers is one of life's littlest treasures, and i'm saving up for the laugh lines i will have earned.

as i drove, i chuckled when i thought about how a single woman would not have been on a leisurely drive in the Carolina countryside just 100 years ago. both of my grandmothers would be shocked to know that i willingly drove a car, by myself, into a National Forest, with no phone signal. a wilderness where no one knew where i was, on a dirt road, just to talk to myself.

i drove down unnamed US Service roads in the Uwharrie National Forest, not to be dangerous, but to invest in myself. to develop my character. to do something that makes me SMILE. to be alone with my thoughts and to kick them around a little. to try new thoughts on for size, to release old thoughts, and to flesh out my own ideas about why i am here and what i want from my life. i basically did a long-version of sitting down with my journal. this 'journaling' exercise was all out loud and not recorded.

i will freely admit that there were long stretches of time in and after 2007 until about 2010 wherein i was terrified to be alone with my thoughts. the idea of any amount of time without 1-music, 2-tv, 3-chatter among friends, 4-a phone nearby, or 5-my computer, was NOT welcome to me. i hated to be alone with my thoughts because i was stuck in a cycle of kicking myself for mistakes i had made. the long car ride from Raleigh to Charlotte started with crying, and ended with crying, and there was a lot of crying in-between. i habitually cried in the shower because no amount of reading the shampoo bottles could keep my thoughts from circling me like a vulture over roadkill. the darkness would creep in. i would lie on the shower floor with the water as hot as humanely possible, water drops falling on my face as i cried, unable to stand. i did not relish talking to myself. i avoided it. i wouldn't say i hated myself, but i didn't trust myself. i was brokenhearted and discouraged and at rock bottom.

in the time since mid 2010, i've been able to focus on the things that bring me joy. i have been able to scale back on what i commit to, who i commit to, and i slowed down to be more gentle on myself. i worked at forgiving myself. i worked at understanding myself and my decisions. i didn't ask for much help, but i finally asked for help. and the people around me have lifted me out of where i was in a way that can only be described as miraculous. people truly are amazing, and i have been blessed to know the people who have helped me climb out of my wallowing pit.

nowadays i spend so much of my time meeting new people, (retail job) that i will freely admit to being a little burned out on my own great idea of interviewing strangers. i am starting to get to a point where i want to sit with the strangers in coffeeshops again. to ask them what is going on in their lives and learn some of their life lessons vicariously through their eyes. recently, i've been digging into my customers again, hoping to learn what they do when they aren't at my store, and they respond. they look at me like i am not just a sales-girl, they look at me like i am a real person because i remember that they are real people.

i'm getting back in the practice again. people are finding their ways to me: a novelist, an escape artist,  a blogging/traveling family. customers who smile at me and tell me that they are glad to have met me. there are stories to tell, stories to experience, stories to create.


who's next? maybe you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

hello stranger

would love to cut their strings
and see them fly away
It has been over a year and four months since i last wrote anything down for this blog. It should be mentioned that in lieu of writing here, i have been keeping myself plenty busy with working, playing, laughing, working, driving, and more working. Recently i've been able to reconfigure my schedule so that i can afford to do what i want to do again: meet more people, have more adventures, be outside more. In essence, the exact opposite of what i've been doing for the past year and a half.

i am juggling two jobs and real life.

One job is full of adult conversation and email troubleshooting and password troubleshooting, and some sales. OH, and a WHOLE lot of sarcasm. It is a retail job, and i am thankful for the lessons i am learning and have learned there, and especially for the friendships and connections that i have made since i began there in September 2010. It is an all-consuming job, with its fair share of ups and downs, and plenty of strangers, but not a lot of depth with them.

tangible letters
The other job is full of ABC's, 123's, animal sounds, reading the same books over and over again. Oh, and Taylor Swift. More Taylor Swift than any grown 27 year old woman should ever admit to singing/reciting/rehearsing. i am thankful for this job and the rewards of motherhood without the permanence of having my own kids yet. i love that i get to be there for the happy moments in a toddler's life and a 7 year old's too. It is nice to be needed, to be the one who kisses the skinned knee, to be the one who helps them softly pet a beetle on a branch in the woods, to be hugged with sticky hands and messy faces. It is a treat to be a part of someone else's childhood.

Yet, i have felt part of my soul fall to the wayside as i take on the demanding roles in both of these jobs. Over time i have gotten exhausted with asking questions about emails or poopy diapers. i have started to glaze over when i meet someone new. i think to myself: Will they ask me to help them with their iDevice? Will this child be full if we only eat a little before nap and a little after? i have stopped looking for the bigger story that is going on in my life and in the lives of those people that i meet.

i think that it is because of this exhaustion, that my interest in strangers hits a peak and i come across like a dehydrated person in the desert. In my head i think to myself "SOMEONE NEW!!!!!" and promptly come on too pushy and too strong to someone who has never had more than a 5 minute conversation with me. Or in the opposite direction, when i do have down time, or when i am alone, i withdraw. i spend the afternoon in my home with the curtains blocking out the world and i sleep, or i languish in front of my internet distractions.

So, as i re-gear my life and attempt to focus on sitting in coffeeshops to people watch, and being outside to reflect on life and all of nature's beautiful things, i want to thank You (universally) in advance for the life lessons and laughter that we are embarking for. i am resolving to be a better friend, invest deeper in the people who invest in me, and to make a difference instead of coming up short. There is always hope for change, for maturity, for growth.

it's a brand new day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

people like me

i love when i get to meet someone who is wired the same way that i am.  We're almost drawn to one another, like magnets.  We interact.  Our eyes meet.  We grin:
You love to talk?
You love strangers?
You believe in the greater good?
You don't believe in coincidences either do you?
We were meant to meet each other weren't we? 
We relish in it. Sometimes we embrace like old friends. One of us may even get a tear in our eye because we know that we're about to hear something from the Man Upstairs. We sit down, we settle in for a long talk, we brush off surface level talk.  i am still mulling over a lunch-date with a complete stranger from last week; planning to write about it tomorrow here on the old notebook.  Talking with strangers is a gift, one that i do not take lightly.

These interactions aren't intimidating.  Although, most people might say that rehashing a divorce, or unloading your childhood phobias with a stranger would be, they aren't.  Well, at least, not for people like me.

We understand that there is something greater at work in our exchange of words.  We recognize the need to share our human experiences with each other so that we can learn and grow and help one another.

At one of my favorite coffeeshops in town, the credit/debit minimum purchase is $4; the man behind the counter, Mark, tells me this when i whip out my debit card to pay.  i decide to tip $2 on a $2 coffee so that i can meet the minimum AND make Mark's day a little brighter.

Mark, who is a person like me, says "You didn't have to do that", and i say "i didn't have to, but i wanted to".  He grins, smiles and then says "Well, I wasn't implying that you should tip in order to make up the difference."  i shrug and laugh at him, assuring him "But i wanted to.  Thanks for the coffee, i need it today."  He's already reaching for something, i'm not sure what.  He says, "If you insist to overtip, then i insist that you eat this double-chocolate muffin cap because it's become separated from its bottom.  And don't mind the powdered sugar on it, it just makes it sweeter."

Nope, the powdered sugar isn't what made me smile to myself as i sat down to write, it was this whole interaction.  The banter like we were old friends, insisting on one-upping each other with kindness.

the spoils of conversation

It's the same feeling that i get when i push a shopping cart back to the store for a woman with children.  i don't even need a shopping cart, but it helps her not to have to decide between leaving the kids unattended in the car and holding their hands in the parking lot.  Or carrying groceries for older ladies.  Maybe the women of previous generations weren't as helpful, or maybe they are counting on non-existent Boy Scouts to come and escort them.  But there i am, a 20-something blonde woman asking if i can walk them to their cars: "Yes, why that is awful sweet of you."  "It's the least i can do. Have a super night!"

Or when i call the cashier in Target by her name, Pearl, because it is a lovely name and i wanted to address her as a real person.  Pearl gasps, grins: "Do I know you?"  "Nope.  But you have a lovely name."  She is blushing, and i go on to ask her why her parents picked it.  "I was named after my grandmother."  Delightful.  So much more than a grocery bagger or coupon scanner, you cannot replace Pearl with a machine.  "Thank you Pearl, have a wonderful day."

She waves Goodbye to me as i leave.  i look around.  None of the other cashiers wave at their customers.

i like knowing that the world is feeling like a much smaller place because i'm starting to get to know the people in it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

the year of the stranger

i invite strangers into my home on a regular basis. i even invite them into my bathroom, to snuggle up with me on my couch, and into my bed. i’d be willing to bet that you do the same exact thing. You probably curl up with a good book on your couch, lug it to the bathroom [dang page-turners!]; you let it lull you to sleep, ignoring the slow blink until you suddenly realize it’s 7am and your book is resting on your pillow next to you.

strangers in my room
These are the strangers that we invite into our daily consciousness. So far this year, i’ve let quite a few strangers speak to me about a variety of things: the facelessness of email, the Wicked Witch of the West and her son, stories about lurid family affairs and childhood lore. Currently i am reading about faith from a dread-locked hippie in California and short-fictional stories from a stranger who wrote the book when she was my age.

It wouldn’t be the same if i were to invite the dirty homeless stranger from the corner to come and sit on my couch under my blanket with me. i saw her on Thanksgiving, in a predictable spot on the side of the road. i think she had a sign, but it didn’t matter. Just seeing her there destitute, malnourished and cold while i was warm and bundled, headed for Thanksgiving lunch with a piping-hot dessert cake beside me on my seat. i got $4 out of my wallet and smiled as i handed it to her.  i gave myself a mental pat-on-the-back for blessing her.  She said “God bless you”, i said “you too” but was immediately choked up with tears. i’d been blessed by this stranger in 3 short words.

When i look back over this year and reflect on all of the changes that have occurred and all of the aspects of my life that differ from this time last year, i quickly find that i am at a loss for words. i have had eight jobs in the past year. EIGHT. i was single and lonely this time last year, crying as i drove home for the holidays, crying as i drove back to Raleigh. This year i have a man in my life who gives me comfort in a way i could have never imagined. i’ve gained friends, lost friends, witnessed life-changing moments, had life-changing moments, and missed life-changing moments.

My year has been chock full of strangers. not the strangers that recite to me from their books, not the strangers who sing to me as i drive. Real, bonafide, strangers:
-Strangers who invited me into their homes while i inquired for the Census. i was always cautious about actually going inside, but even just the gesture alone was nice to witness.
-Strangers who encountered me when i drove [PEDALED!] a pedi-cab in downtown Raleigh. Besides the drunk people who would never remember the things they divulged to me, there were other folks who rode in my cart who encouraged me to be the best me. Aside from literal high-fives, these strangers were a boost to my self-esteem. They told me that i was awesome and that i’ve got the right kind of attitude to go far. i had strangers give me hugs and kiss my cheeks; strangers that gave me $100 tips and offered to buy me dinner.  Every night was an adventure filled with a menagerie of road-companions. i met homeless people, divorced people, 50th wedding-anniversary people, drunk people, awkward 14 year olds, foreign people, elderly people, birthday-people, bachelorette people, dancing people, screaming people, laughing people, quiet people, bored people, happy people, outrageous people; all of whom i could identify with directly.
-Strangers who i have talked with over the phone, like Kay in my former post. but others too: like the elderly man who sounded like Foghorn Leghorn who proposed to me after an extensive computer-technical troubleshooting session. i believe his exact words were “You sound real ‘perty’”. You gotta love that. Or the strangers on the line who said “you’ve been such a help to me, thank you for your patience through my frustration”.
-Strangers who i’ve met in person in the retail store that i work in now. Like Debbie, one stranger who i worked with on two occasions, when she asked how i’ve been and i blurted out “i’m broke” and she held my shoulders and said “It’ll get better. I’ve been there too.” Or the strangers who show you that you take things for granted. One customer of mine had an accident over 10 years ago, but he is one of the happiest people i have met in the store.  He knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to try new things. The interactions i have had with him have been inspiring to me; i replay them in my mind before bed or while i get ready for work.  He makes me want to do my job better and to be a better human-being in general.
-Strangers who have become family to me. Babysitting has been a job that i ‘moonlight’ in on the side during the regular school-year.  It usually goes like this: “HI! Welcome! Food’s in the fridge, bedtime is 8! We’ll be home by midnight! bye!” But this past year has been different. i’ve been part of a family: i have my own key, have my own nickname, it’s like i’m the big sister and the 26 year old daughter they never had. i’ve learned some of the in’s and out’s of parenthood. i’ve seen the first steps of the 2 year old, seen the first wiggly teeth of a 5 year old. i was a stranger to this family, and now i am a daughter.  i cannot begin to describe how much this means to me.

Not all of my interactions with strangers have been pleasant. There are always those interactions with people that are rude or careless with words. There were learning experiences with strangers who, in sheep’s clothing, tried to take advantage of me. These interactions taught me that i am much more capable than i give myself credit for. There were strangers who hung up on me, slammed the door in my face, cut me off in traffic, swore at me. But if i’m honest, there were times when i was the stranger in the other car honking at them, hanging up on a bad call, storming out of an interaction.

we're all in this together
There were times and interactions this year that turned strangers into friends and friends into strangers. This is the ebb and flow of relationships, i suppose.

i am sad to see some relationships end, happy to bid ‘adieu’ to unhealthy others, and encouraged to find myself in stride with new unions too. It’s easy to get wrapped up in drama and gossip; to call it quits and walk away.  It’s hard to maintain friendships as marriages start and end, jobs take us to new states, depression lurks in the economy and in our present psyche, pride and envy root themselves as barriers between friends. It is hard because it takes work, dedication, loyalty and elbow grease to remain friends and not become strangers; and we are all broken people prone to states of decay.

New hairstyles this year might make the ‘present me’ a stranger to the me that i was a year ago. Beyond the surface, new lifestyle and living arrangements would add to that strangeness. Different life-goals and orientation, morals and religious conviction, church affiliation, this me is different than the me a year ago. i still love me, and i still recognize myself in the mirror. But i am embracing the daily recognition that the ‘strange’ is part of my ordinary.

i’m loving that there are daily opportunities to learn and be taught, as well as teach and help others learn. i really do get the sense that we are all in this together; so why not smile and laugh and learn along the way?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kay on the phone

She called to get my help.

Her name was Kay and she needed help transferring a load of files onto her new computer.

My new job is to help people like Kay troubleshoot the issues on their computers over the phone.

Before you go congratulating me, know that this job thrills me about as much as any service industry job can thrill you. Some days are reminiscent of waitressing endeavors, when all the regulars came in and asked how i was doing or left an extra tip because they knew my rent was due soon.

Other days are like when there would be a big lunch rush, the restaurant slammed with hungry patrons, tables pulled and pushed around to fit the needs of the people. i would be walking as fast as i could to keep glasses filled, tables wiped down, incoming guests greeted, and over the din of all of this, a woman in a too-small sweater snaps her fingers at me as if i were a dog being told to ‘Sit’. She pantomimes for me to come and wipe down her table, my ears and face burning with shame, i quietly acquiesce to her demand.

Except, now the pantomimes are through the phone line, and i have one defense in my arsenal: the caller (angry or naive or rude) cannot see me roll my eyes or grind my teeth in annoyance.

But i wasn’t rolling my eyes at Kay. No, i was nodding and grinning while fighting the urge to cry. willing my eyes to suck in the tears that were welling up in the lower lids.

Luckily, the process we walked through in the moving of her files was a long process. We got to talk for over an hour. Throughout our conversation, i found out that Kay was a writer (she didn’t want to lose her Final Draft application). i asked what type of writing she does, and she modestly responded “for television, but that was a long time ago”. when i asked for a little bit more information she casually says, oh ya know, “Cheers”, as in, Danson, Long, Harrelson, Alley, Grammer and so forth.

Wow, this woman wrote for HIT television shows. i tell her that i want to be a writer and that i want to have a book in Oprah’s Book Club one day and i laugh at my silly notion.

Kay cuts me off mid-laughter. She is not laughing. i sit up straight in my chair and grab my pen to write down what she was saying to me:

“Make life choices to reach your goals, and NEVER be embarrassed of your goals”.

If i want a book in Oprah’s Book Club, then Kay thinks i should aim to do so. but whenever i think about doing what i’ve always dreamed of my head starts swimming with all of the possibilities and all the ‘right steps’ to get there.

i don’t know much about Kay other than her friendly speaking voice and the state of her migrating files, but i hear exactly what she is offering me, she is offering me hope and faith through the phoneline.  Kay has never met me and yet, she is willing her optimism to me.  i needed it, and she knew it.

Kay wanted me to understand that life isn’t about figuring it out, it’s more about showing up and doing whatever it takes everyday.

Before we were finished, i told Kay that it had been a blessing to speak with her. it was a pleasure and a gift to speak with someone a few states away, a stranger who invested in the nameless call-center operator on the other end. i was encouraged to dream again, even if it means reading and writing in the 15 seconds i get between calls at my job.

Now, everyday at my desk, in my stack of work notes and bulletins, i bring in my red notebook. the one where my Oprah’s Book Club novel might start.

Maybe one day i will dedicate that book to Kay.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

in between interviews

Although i have been on a slight hiatus from posting interviews, i have been interviewing people.  Between my 3 jobs, i just haven't had very much down-time to write up anything about the interviews. 

It appears that i have some time this week [time will tell] to sit down and write, so please look forward to Richard from Scotland, and Margaret from Raleigh.  they will be posted before the end of the week and i plan on interviewing more and more and more and more people!  So prepare yourselves!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Chelsea from Louisiana

True, she is not a total stranger, but as far as knowing someone, my roommate’s sister isn’t someone that would count as more than an acquaintance. So she counts.

The younger sister of my roommate, Chelsea was in town for a week, away from where she attends college at Southeastern Louisiana University. Soon to be 21, Chelsea has a remarkably mature spirit about her. Whereas i, myself, can often feel like i’m still 14, Chelsea acts more like a 25 year old than i do; and while my roommate had to go to work at her 8-5, i got to hang out with Chelsea quite a bit.

First impressions of Chelsea are somewhat misleading, and she knows it. She says that she often holds herself back from initial interactions with people because conversation doesn’t come easy with people she doesn’t know. But when she is around people she feels comfortable with, she is sarcastic, bubbly, outgoing. In order for Chelsea to feel comfortable, she has to know that she has something in common with the other person. i told her that i am quite the opposite.

i told her that i’m totally comfortable talking to everybody initially. In my experiences, i find that it’s easy to strike up a conversation about the weather, recent events, or to pay someone a compliment. It’s the latter part of the conversation that trips me up, the part where you run out of steam; when you find out they are really into fly-fishing and you know nothing about it. How do you connect with someone when your specific interests are not specifically the same?

i digress. Chelsea is an extremely good listener. After spending time with her for a few days, and of course, unabashedly wearing my heart on my sleeve (i spill, you don’t even have to dig), i asked “do you have any advice for me?”

She says “No. Usually I am good at giving advice because I am a good listener, but I am not inclined to tell people what to do.”

She paused and smiled, looks at me:

“Go to Ireland. DO IT.”

That’s the advice i’ve been avoiding. That’s the advice that puts bricks in the pit of my stomach. i have a great opportunity to go overseas and work with teenage youth in Bangor, Northern Ireland. Unwittingly, i have been stalling on making this happen. Why? Because of money. If i am to go and do a year in Ireland, i am going to have to raise my own funds and fundraising petrifies me. It makes me uncomfortable to ask for money, as i am sure many people are nodding in agreement, but the opportunity to go would be an incredible adventure and a huge risk in today’s economy.

me: What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken, and did it pay off?

Chelsea: The biggest risk I have taken is to trust God 100% on going into ministry in NYC for the Here’s Life Inner City program. I have a heart for the needy, but I had to surrender to His plan and not my own. We were homeless on the streets of New York for 3 days and nights as part of the project! But the risk paid off because I learned a lot about God’s love for the needy, and about God’s heart for us to be serving the needy. It taught me not to take things for granted, but to appreciate the luxuries we enjoy like coffee or dessert [or a warm bed!]

me: Why is it so important for you to serve?

Chelsea: Because I am trying to be as Christ-like as I can be. We are called to serve people, and it’s about learning to surrender to what that means.

She told me that it is hard for her to understand how there are individuals who claim to be a ‘believer’ but they aren’t serving anyone. She does not know how one can read the Bible and not be challenged to help the needy and the poor. She said that we all serve somebody and that we shouldn’t look for the praises of people, and that there are often no rewards for serving others, besides the service itself.

i enjoyed talking with Chelsea. No, not just because i can talk my head off about my own life and thoughts and problems and triumphs ‘til the cows come home, but because Chelsea is a gorgeous girl with an amazing spirit. She may consider herself shy and reserved, but all i see is a girl who is blossoming. A humble girl with a heart to serve others; which is often, i am sure, a burden to bear as one considers all of the suffering in the world. A girl who is learning to love herself as much as the plights of the needy, a girl with the potential to change a lot of lives for the better.

me: Are you happy?

Chelsea: Uh, yeah I guess. More often recently I have had unhappy days. But I have family, friends, a place to sleep and food. So at the end of the day, I have everything that I need.

me: How do you want to be remembered?

Chelsea: For loving people. Not just the homeless, but all people. For giving even when I have nothing. I want to be remembered for being a mother and a wife, or an artist, you know, for great stuff.

me: Are you headed that way?

Chelsea: I hope. I don’t know. I do my best to love people. I do my best.

It was refreshing to talk to someone who has hope for the future. i can’t say that i am always so optimistic about the future: having not had a steady “real” job in quite a while, after failed relationships and various estrangements, in light of a looming fundraising endeavor, or the fact that i may be hopelessly single for a long time. Talking with Chelsea was a breath of fresh air, a reason to hope, a reminder for hope, and a memo for me to ‘take heart’.