SarahKatKim & I are to hosting Reverb throughout 2016 as a way to share writing prompts and providing a space for writers via our Facebook group. In December of each year, we host a prompt-a-day to provide structure and a way to close out the year.

Resolutions // We don’t all make new year’s resolutions.  If you are making them, what is your biggest priority?  If you aren’t, tell us why – what is your experience or opinion on resolutions?

I am nothing if not goal-oriented. Last year, I made seven resolutions: to read more; to train smarter; to cook more; to practice patience; to work on dog training; to add things to my life and not take them away; and to buy running shoes for my new biomechanics.

I hired a running coach, and promptly went down the rabbit hole of a serious genetic disorder that derailed my running career for good. I have been resolving since 2013 to cook more and I definitely didn’t do that, since I spent more than 60 days out of the country this year.

I did practice patience – I started meditating more. I strongly recommend the Insight Timer app, and Positivity with Andrew Johnson as two great starting places. (Andrew Johnson’s whole series of meditation apps are excellent and I have a couple of them). I also bought an Apple Watch, and I find the periodic reminders to BREATHE really comforting. I finally admitted that even though I am a New Yorker, I’m deeply bothered by noise and I can lose it much more quickly in a sea of sound – so I bought good noise cancelling headphones and I carry ear plugs (including in spin class and anywhere I might be bothered by loudness).

I don’t know why it took me so long to do something about that – my family used to antagonise me as a kid because I’d ask them not to pound on my door or turn the TV up loud or yell and scream. They thought I was kidding around or being a princess. In reality, I just have really sensitive ears.

I also did a lot of training with Roo – we watched many YouTube videos and he took multiple cross-country flights; worked on his canine good citizen certification; worked on therapy dog basics; worked on verbal directionality commands. He’s still not the world’s best leash-walker – but he’s lightyears better than he used to be!

I wanted to add, not subtract from my life, and generally I did that, too.

But the main thing was reading more.  In 2015, I think I read maybe five books. As a lawyer, (especially with the type of work I do), I have to read A LOT, and pleasure reading isn’t always something that comes easily anymore. I have to TRY. So, by committing to TRY, in 2016, I read 30 books. Here’s what I read last year (which admittedly was a mixed bag of fiction, non-fiction, classics, contemporary lit, interesting stuff, and total garbage).

  1. Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen
  2. Grace – Grace Coddington
  3. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
  4. H is for Hawk – Helen MacDonald
  5. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
  6. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling (Again, I am admitting to reading this with the disclaimer that I read this for my book club, and it is a horrible, racist piece of trash. I walked away from this book with the impression that Mindy Kaling is a terrible person)
  7. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  8. After You – Jojo Moyes
  9. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  10. The Monster Within – Barbara Almond
  11. The Vitamin Complex – Catherine Price
  12. The Nightingale – Kristen Hannah
  13. How Brands Grow – Byron Sharp
  14. Kane and Abel – Jeffrey Archer (another book club pick; another piece of trash)
  15. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  16. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
  17. Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  18. Maus – Art Spiegelman
  19. 84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff
  20. Expecting Better – Emily Oster
  21. Skyfaring – Mark Vanhoenacker
  22. The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson
  23. Scandalmonger – William Safire
  24. Rust – Jonathan Waldman
  25. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
  26. Girls Like Us – Sheila Weller
  27. Stag’s Leap – Sharon Olds
  28. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
  29. The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher
  30. Cancer Ward – Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Of what I read, The NightingaleH is for Hawk, The Orphan Master’s Son, Cancer Ward, Beloved, and Skyfaring were my faves. The Orphan Master’s Son was the only book that my entire family has ever read that each one of us loved, and none of us has the same taste in books. I have also recently read a few of Helen MacDonald’s (the author of H is for Hawk) pieces in the NY Times, and her recent Magazine feature was particularly timely, poignant and…excellent.

For next year? I’ve got nothing particularly ambitious in store. I want to keep reading. I want to write more. I was in 16 countries in 12 months, and I may be the only woman in America who wants to travel less.

SarahKatKim & I are to hosting Reverb throughout 2016 as a way to share writing prompts and providing a space for writers via our Facebook group. In December of each year, we host a prompt-a-day to provide structure and a way to close out the year.

Travel // Where did you go this year?  What was your favourite?  Where do you plan to or want to go next year?

It wasn’t The Cake that put us over the edge.

The melodrama of How We Got Here played out over many hotel rooms and many arguments over the course of the Spring, Summer, and early Fall; many long waits at Passport Control on both sides of the Atlantic.

There is no One Way things play out the way that they do.  But this is what I know:

When I was a little girl, my father would only let us bring along what we could carry. My father – famous for his Life Lessons – would tell me that someday, I’d be on my own and I’d be travelling Do you want to bring more than you can handle – Meredith Ann, you have to carry it yourself – never bring more than you can lift.

The lesson stuck.

As an adult, I am (in)famous for travelling across timezones, climates and continents with only a carryon suitcase. Notably, I once went from a nine day holiday in India, to five more days of business in London and Amsterdam, and only brought a cabin bag and a backpack – slipping a packable shoulder bag inside the carryon for the business portion of the trip. My colleagues didn’t know whether to be impressed by or suspicious of me.

But this is relevant to the problems in my marriage, I promise, which is the subject I am still discussing – which is to say, the subject of Having Children or Not – albeit in a tangential way.

I’m not going to lie: Anyone who has ever met me, ever, could tell you that while I love kids, and I’m a nurturing person, I’m probably not motherhood material. When I was a little girl, I never really had barbies or dolls – maybe She-Ra action figures, and a few Cabbage Patch kids that I played school, and realty office, and corporation with. For a long time, even into my early twenties, I never thought I’d get married, and it certainly never crossed my mind to even consider having kids.

When you’re a kid and you say things like, I don’t think I’m ever going to be a parent, people assure you that you’ll grow out of it; that it’s a phase, that you have no idea what you’re talking about. At the time I was saying it, I didn’t know what monsters were lurking in my genes. But even as a young woman, I knew that I always wanted to be alone in my own head. When you have a child, as I understand it, even if you are physically separated from your kid, you are never alone from the thinking and the worry and the concern. I was never sure I wanted someone else in my head all the time.

I was at lunch the other day with a friend/colleague who was asking me about the kids thing and I said, without going into detail of the drama of the past six, nine months; without saying anything about grim waiting rooms or not being able to commit to uncertain years of injections, and those horrendous kinds of ultrasounds where they put a condom on the wand then stick it inside of your body like its not the most violating thing in the world, and endless genetic testing and all of that bullshit: No kids right now. I just wanted to be alone in my own head for a while longer.

She agreed, saying I’ve never met a man who understands that.

We nodded at each other, and ate our sushi, and talked about Lighter Things, and that was that.

And it’s funny, because the lightest I ever feel is when I am playing with my nieces and nephews or my fairy goddaughter, Lady H, with whom I spend an inordinate amount of time; or when I am holding the perfect form of one of my friends’ new babies. I speak fluent infant; one friend used to call me the Baby Whisperer for my uncanny ability to get her kid to sleep. My friend JRA often remarks how popular I am with the under-10 set.

But I also know this: Last summer, things just got too heavy. I couldn’t stand the prospect of needles anymore after I’d finally gotten permission to chuck the sharps container that had been on my counter for a decade from the endless injections of Rheumatoid Arthritis meds where the disclaimers on TV tell you they’re not certain of the mechanism by which it works. I couldn’t fathom sitting in those segregated fertility clinic waiting rooms for the next three months, or three years, hoping for something to work out, and pinning the future of my marriage on Just That Thing.

I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I am the kind of girl who is always going to be able to live lightly; who packs a carryon suitcase. I love children; but I didn’t love the prospect of the unknown more than I loved what I had, and I hated that my spouse was hovering over me, shouting in my ear that it was now or never. Because it wasn’t; it isn’t. In the end, I couldn’t do it – I simply wasn’t prepared to carry more than I could lift.

SarahKatKim & I are to hosting Reverb throughout 2016 as a way to share writing prompts and providing a space for writers via our Facebook group. In December of each year, we host a prompt-a-day to provide structure and a way to close out the year.

Unexpected // During the year, we all have had unexpected surprises that have thrown a wrench into our plans.  What was one of yours and how did you get through it?

I closed the box and put it in a closet.
There is no real way to deal with everything we lose.
-Joan Didion, Where I Was From

It is late, and I am placing the top tier of our wedding cake in the refrigerator to thaw before our anniversary dinner. We have been married a year, the cake has been frozen for a year, and our fury is simmering to a boil.

I have spent months trying to adjust to a new reality – one in which I am no longer a Rheumatoid Arthritis patient; one in which the problem is my genes – and Things Have Changed. For instance, in April and May, when this all came about, I sat in the austere, open offices at Cornell’s fertility clinic Reviewing The Options When You Have a Genetic Disorder. I had gone through the other, more complicated and solitary pieces of the Disease Journey on my own, quickly, and what was left was the part we were supposed to handle together.  The test results were not encouraging.

Fertility clinics, in my limited experience, are grim places. At Cornell, the main waiting room was divided into The Part for Newer Patients, and The Part For Ongoing Treatment and there was a palpable divide in the anxiety in the room.

It reminded me of the one Orthodox Jewish wedding I went to fifteen years ago, where there was no mixed dancing. But I didn’t know until I got there what I was in for, and much to my surprise and horror, I found a screen separating the men from the women. My then-partner and I were ushered to separate sides of the room, and I was left to sit in the mortification of shuffling through an evening with strangers in wigs. Cornell’s clinic was a bit like that, except there was no physical screen; nothing keeping the men from the women; just a metaphysical line separating the couples who still thought they could do this on their own from the couples who were in for a long and wild ride.

It is now The End of The Journey, and the options have been exhausted – primarily because I am exhausted; after four major surgeries in three years, I cannot tolerate any more Medical Procedures – and the anger is no longer Pit of Stomach, but Back of Throat, and here we are, preparing to share a cake that neither of us wants.

In the white, Christian, upper middle-class culture in which I live, you are meant to save the cake topper to serve on your first anniversary, or at the baptism of your first child – whichever comes first – a tradition that was slightly less gross in the Days of Yore when wedding cakes were fruit cakes and could survive a nuclear holocaust. Now, if you’re the Right Kind of WASP, you’re expected to freeze your cake for twelve months, and choke down the freezer burn, and pretend that it tastes just like pear and hazelnut, not open packets of niblets corn and vegetarian meat substitutes.

(If you’re really the right kind of WASP,  you’re smart enough to simply have your baker make you a replica topper, but I did not have that kind of foresight.)

I didn’t eat cake on my wedding night. I openly dislike cake; I always have. I forgot to order a cake until days before the wedding, and then the baker laughed at me; indulged me by topping the thing with fresh flowers and the fortune cookies I’d hauled in from my ever-present stash at home. We decided against making a spectacle of cutting the thing, too. I never saw it – cut or uncut – it just appeared in slices on the tables, and in photos in my email. Someone wrapped up the topper and presented it to me at the end of the party, then it sat in my freezer for a year, nestled in beside the Morningstar Farms “meat” and the endless packets of frozen veg.

Before I put the cake in the fridge, I changed out of my contact lenses and into my glasses, which I keep in the drawer of my nightstand when they are not on my face. There in the drawer, I keep my weirdest treasures – a handful of seashells from the North Sea shore; a volume of Kahlil Gibran poetry someone gave me when I turned 13; a scrap of fabric from some old trousers and sliver of an old dress. I also keep some bits of my wedding gown – my dressmaker had preserved them because she’d made my gown out of my mother’s, and she’d said Since this is an heirloom, you’ll want these to make baptismal gowns instead of cutting up the dress. At the time, I’d laughed a little – both at the idea of my mother’s silk-jersey 1970s wedding gown being an heirloom, and at the thought of ever needing baptismal gowns. It all seemed ludicrous and far away.

And now? Now what?

Now we will go and have that dinner, and we will eat the cake and it will be gone, and I will remember to take the scraps of dress and put them away – out of sight – in a box somewhere, so they can become a memory of a thing that never was instead of a hope for a thing that was going to be. Because there is no real way to deal with everything we lose, is there?

SarahKatKim & I are to hosting Reverb throughout 2016 as a way to share writing prompts and providing a space for writers via our Facebook group. In December of each year, we host a prompt-a-day to provide structure and a way to close out the year.

Holiday Eats // What dish do you look forward to each year at the Christmas party?  Share the recipe if you can!

I have told some version of this story before, but it bears retelling: Most people in my family think I cannot cook.

This is untrue, but my real skill is letting them think I cannot cook so at family holidays, I do not have to lift a finger. This played out most recently at Thanksgiving, where I voiced my preference for the Traditional Thanksgiving Vegetarian Lasagne, and crowdsourced recipes on social media. After selecting one, my mother and I went to Whole Foods to buy the ingredients, got into the Traditional Holiday Argument at the checkout stand, and went home to prepare it in advance of the main event. Since we spend our Thanksgivings in the mountains, some of the foods must be prepared in advance to save on prep and cooking time due to limited oven space.

As I anticipated, my mother cooked the entire lasagne. I did not do a thing except to make a suggestion here and there and throw shred cheese at a casserole dish when the time came. This was by design. While I am a competent and perhaps even a good cook, the myth circulating in my family is that I am rubbish at all things domestic, so expectations of me are sub-basement low. For many years, I found this insulting, and now, I find it hilarious and I find every way possible to shirk domestic duties because people expect so little of me.

With that context in mind, for many years, I used to host dinner parties where I would slave away over every detail – perhaps to compensate for my family’s low opinion of Me as a Traditional Woman. I would make fancy hors d’oeuvres and some kind of well-planned main dish. Now, when I have friends over, it’s more likely that someone insists we just order in Thai food (which, frankly, is awesome by me). But for years, I would have parties, and people would skip over all the fancy stuff and insist I make…chilli dip.

The dip came about as a variation on something a friend of my mother’s used to make – I made it once as a joke to complement a “cheesy foods” party I was hosting. There were piles of fancy cheese, and a brie en croute, and then this terrible dip. The dip is nothing more than a can of canned chilli and a brick of Velveeta melted together. That’s it. My mother’s friend served it with meat chilli and Fritos – since I don’t eat meat and I hate Fritos, I used veggie chilli and Scoops.

No one ate my fancy canapes. People ate two Costco-sized blocks of Velveeta that night. I was left with two pounds of Prima Donna Gouda that went bad in my fridge. It has been at least ten years since the first time I made chilli dip and I am still angry.

After that, at every party; every holiday – Meredith, can you please make chilli dip? Can you please melt together two horrible things in a microwave safe bowl and bring us some chilli dip, and bring it right here?

The indignity.

This is all to say, I really dislike holiday foods. I will grudgingly make you chilli dip if you ask me nicely. But wouldn’t you really rather I make something less horrible?

Or maybe we can just Seamless some Thai food instead.

SarahKatKim & I are to hosting Reverb throughout 2016 as a way to share writing prompts and providing a space for writers via our Facebook group. In December of each year, we host a prompt-a-day to provide structure and a way to close out the year.

White Elephant // What are the gifts you are looking forward to giving or hoping to receive?

Smplefy messaged me days before the NYC Marathon in early November and asked something like Are you sad that you’re not running? People had been asking me that all throughout late October and into November. People always ask me that. The year before, I had stood briefly in the middle of First Avenue as they’d cleaned up the Race and felt All the Feelings of angst and grief and failure. I had just had my knee reconstructed – there was no way I could have run even if I had wanted to – but the pile-up of injuries was breaking my heart and at the time, I had absolutely no idea what was causing my Personal Mess.

I had spent the Summer and Autumn trying to embrace my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome diagnosis; trying to say Yes to everything; however, this was a situation where I didn’t want to say Yes, but had to.

I’m sad, I admitted.

But that next day, I happened to check my New York Road Runners dashboard and realised I mistakenly hadn’t forfeited my marathon entry over the summer. I could’ve sworn I’d cancelled it around the time I had hip surgery; could’ve sworn I’d sworn off marathoning forever. But if I declined my entry for 2016, that would be The End – this year was the end of New York City Marathon deferrals. Historically, if you paid the fees, you could defer your entry in perpetuity. No more.

It was then that I sat with the heavy knowledge that I was physically healthy, largely untrained but in very good shape, and had a marathon entry.

The Friday before the NYC Marathon, I walked out of my office and went out to my colleagues. Do you guys think that I could, you know, run the marathon? I asked casually.

I was wondering if you were running, one of them said.

Have you been training? another one asked.

No, I wasn’t planning to run, and I haven’t been training. But I think I’m going to do it, I decided.

And that was that. I packed up my things and headed for the Javits Center to collect my race number. On the way over JRA called me (remember, I’m still a Phone Person so my friends actually call me on the phone as opposed to solely texting me).

What are you doing this weekend?

Saturday night, Paul and I are having dinner for our anniversary and Sunday I’m running the marathon.

Wait. What. 

Yes. I just decided. As in, I am at the Javits Center now. 

Does anyone else know? Are you sure about this? Do you want me to gather Team Merethon? Should we plan a party? 

I’m going to make a gametime decision on Sunday morning about whether I’m actually going to do it, but Yes. To everything. 

Oh dear.

And that was how I wound up running my final marathon.

I left on the morning of November 6th for a perfect, clear day and a slow race. I packed my bag and said goodbye to Paul, who never noticed I was leaving to run a marathon. I left the house wearing my 2011 Team Merethon shirt in honour of my friend Scott, who died by suicide a few years ago and who loved running; loved the team shirts. I stripped off my tearaway clothes at the start, left the shirt on top of the pile at Fort Wadsworth for Scott, a veteran himself, remembering the celebratory photos he and his wife would send me to cheer me on race mornings past.

Throughout the day, various friends figured out I was running, and came out to greet me on the course: Dorota and Michael at Mile 16 with signs; JRA, PB-BG and Lady H at Mile 20 with big cheers; RHJ at Mile 24 with a phone charger. I ran the slowest race of my life – a nearly a full hour and a half slower than my personal best – and arrived home to a house full of cheering friends and Thai food. I savoured every mile. I walked when I had to. I took on the Queensboro Bridge as a marathoner one last time. I put Harry Belafonte’s Jump in the Line as the “easter egg” on my playlist and it made me crack up when it came on.

I suppose there is some Big Takeaway or some Grand Life Lesson here. The gift I most wanted this year was to be strong enough and healthy enough to run my Last Marathon – to have the support of my friends and family to be able to do that. The real gift wasn’t the medal at the end – it was the truly unique experience of doing this in the first place; the unbelievable amount of support I got from everyone along the way. I got to say Yes to the New York City Marathon one last time, and I am forever grateful.

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SarahKatKim & I are to hosting Reverb throughout 2016 as a way to share writing prompts and providing a space for writers via our Facebook group. In December of each year, we host a prompt-a-day to provide structure and a way to close out the year.

Just Not That Into It // Everyone has their own tipping point. What do you hate about the Holidays?

The Holidays, I have realised, are like cilantro. Some people really like Christmas and some people are vehemently, violently opposed to it.

I don’t mind cilantro. But there is nothing I like about Christmas.

My family disputes that I actually feel this way because there is one picture of me from Christmas morning 1983 looking super delighted about all the presents under the tree. But being a child and being excited about Getting Stuff is quite a lot different than having a well-considered adult opinion about not wanting to celebrate the holidays. So about ten years ago, I stopped putting up a tree; stopped decorating; put all the ornaments in storage, and I have never looked back.

I’m treading lightly here, because this subject gets people riled up. But in truth, my holiday tradition is to happily attend other people’s events, and then to take a beach vacation at Christmas. My displeasure with The Whole Christmas Thing has nothing to do with YOU – it has everything to do with my own thoughts, and feelings, and values.

You want to put up four Christmas trees decorated with heirloom ornaments because it reminds you of your faraway family and your dead grandma? I love that. I love hearing about it. Your house looks beautiful. It’s just totally not something I would ever do. And that’s okay!

You want to do Elf on the Shelf, and buy your kids a pile of presents, and celebrate Western Commercial Christmas with zero reason for the season and ZERO regrets? More power to ya. I will just hide you on social media for December because I find the Elf on the Shelf extremely creepy.*

You want to set up a giant ceramic snow village with working ski lift and train, and spend hours gazing into it, wishing you were living inside that Christmas winter wonderland? Enjoy! Looks so pretty! That epic collection of breakable tchotchkes gives me so much agita, but that’s your problem, not mine.

The point is this: I am never going to convince people that not engaging with All of The Holiday Garbage and taking off for the beach is the right way to celebrate Christmas. When I discovered I could do that, it was a revelation. I finally got that peace and relaxation around the holidays that I was craving. And other people are never going to convince me that eating a bunch of foods I hate, claustrophobic seasonal decoration, and toys that make noise are somehow…a symbol of peace and love and brotherhood.

Likewise, some people are just programmed to like cilantro. They can tolerate it on pretty much anything, and the mere idea of it doesn’t ruin a dish for them. But others – cilantrophobes – can’t even entertain the idea of cilantro. They don’t get it. They are literally programmed differently (the ability to taste the “soapy” or “metallic” taste in cilantro is actually a genetic difference between people), and berating them and making fun of them, or challenging their perceptions of themselves and their senses, and calling them names to try to get them to eat it is not going to change ANYTHING.

In conclusion, me putting cilantro in my salsa is not a referendum on your $600 Christmas tree. People are just…different. There’s room enough for both this holiday season.

*The Elf on the Shelf thing should be banned and no parent or child should be subjected to it, but that’s another post for another time.

SarahKatKim & I are to hosting Reverb throughout 2016 as a way to share writing prompts and providing a space for writers via our Facebook group. In December of each year, we host a prompt-a-day to provide structure and a way to close out the year.

Cosy // Some of us live on the Tundra, while others live where the tumbleweeds roll.  Either way, we still have to nest when December rolls around.  What keeps you cosy through the wintertime?

We were in Scandinavia in September and recently, eee reminded me that we had intended to become hygge enthusiasts this winter. That we were meant to get together in each other’s homes, like we were doing while we were in Oslo and Copenhagen.

This reminded me of the moment the hygge conversation first came up: We were sitting in a mediocre Thai restaurant in Copenhagen the night before the Copenhagen Half Marathon. As we chatted, our friend Nat casually asked How do you two know each other? referencing me and eee.

Nat, Smplefy, eee, and I had run together all over the world – Oslo and Copenhagen were the latest in a series of races, and would likely not be the last.

We went to high school together, we said nearly in unison. Through a series of give-and-take questions, we soon discovered that not only had eee and I grown up together, but Nat had grown up in our town as well; had gone to high school with eee’s younger sister.

It had only taken us a number of years and several trips to Europe to discover that we were all from a tiny map dot in Los Angeles county.

Hygge, roughly translated, means cosiness. There’s no exact translation – it’s a Danish word for the simple and coveted intimacy of people and objects. The Danes are good at this. Danish life is uncluttered; slow-ish. The view from my last trip to Copenhagen showed that Danish life looks like a Le Pain Quotidien and a Design Within Reach had a baby.

And while most of the world romanticises this convivial Scandi happiness, there are a few among us who would burst that bubble and inform us that the Danes have no corner market on the concept of cosy: that happiness is “complicated,” and that hygge exists because “[Danes] are rich, sexy and don’t work very much; they also take more antidepressants than virtually anyone else in the world…”

I think, too often, we mistake “winnowing down” for “simplicity.” We mistake a lack of crowdedness for cosiness. We think a lack of clutter will bring us that peace we crave. That richness, sexiness, and a mostly-Danish living room will finally bring complete and total happiness (I may be projecting on that last point, but still…).

I am not sure these things are true.

Over the past year or two, I had a bunch of friends read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And everyone embarked on a Marie Kondo-inspired quest to streamline their possessions; talking to their cardigans to see if they brought them joy. I got like two chapters in and had to quit.

In truth, I am a champion thrower-outer. There is probably no one who likes to get rid of stuff more than me. But the book’s idea of simplicity and cosiness did not make a drop of sense to me. I like to entertain at home; to be surrounded by piles of books and blankets and dogs and friends. I had to admit that I like a little bit of comfortable clutterthat the road to comfort was not paved by paring my life down to spotless cupboard full of joy-inspiring grey cardigans.

We are still in the season of Advent – the season of expectation; the season of making room – but I think this Tidying Up is a mistake I have been guilty of during the season of Lent as well – and perhaps more obviously so then: Thinking that getting rid of things will bring me the clarity I’m seeking. As if giving up dessert will bring into my life that sacred comfort I’m looking for.

I once had a very wise person explain to me that the purpose of Lent was not to give something up, but to take something on. So giving up sweets is usually beside the point.

What I am trying to say is that during this season, and others, I am trying to be conscious of drawing in, taking on which is what eee had reminded me of during that trip to Scandinavia and afterward, not just making room. The clearing space is the easy part – the drawing in your friends; attracting people to your home and yourself – that’s a much harder thing to do, isn’t it?

After all, it took only a few years to make room to have the conversation with Nat about how eee and I had met; but once that room had been made, it took only minutes to draw us all in to discover our deep, shared experience; our same home town, and our rival high schools. That intersection; that cosiness; that comfort – that’s what I’m hoping to find more of and create.