7 useful (and not-so-useful) things I’d like to learn

drums

Here’s a fun game: I’ll list a few things I’ve always wanted to learn how to do, and you do the same in the comments. They can be useless, mundane, or strangely obscure and might range anywhere from this is something I could actually learn starting today to it’s cool in theory, but I probably won’t ever do it.

So here are just a few of mine. I’d love to learn…

How to play the drums. Or piano. Or  both. And the mandolin, primarily so I can play along as I belt out the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris”: And I DON’T want the wo-orld to see me /’cause I DON’T think that they’d understaaand /when EVERYTHING’S MADE to be broken /I just waaa-ant you to kno-ow who I am. Oh, 9th grade angst!

Web and graphic design. I say this with hesitation because customizing this layout here was a royal pain in the ass. But the reward (my pretty blog!) felt so so so good that I might just be masochistic enough to keep learning.

How to speak Spanish with some level of coherence. I mean, you’d think after eight years of Spanish classes I’d have some grasp on the language. And yet, it’s all I can do to correctly recall the conjugations for simple present tense verbs. Also, knowing the difference between the words sopa and jabón.

How to hula hoop. Seriously, I can’t hold that shit up for more than five seconds.

How to write using calligraphy. Guys, my handwriting is atrocious. You should see my 5 Year Diary! You may say the art of calligraphy is antiquated, and I would say that you are NO FUN. I’d love to have a signature that actually looks pretty. As opposed to one that looks different every time I sign a credit card slip. (My dad says this is a sign I might be a sociopath? Okay, dad.)

How to develop film. Another dying, outdated art? WRONG. Film photography is still going strong, and I’d love to be able to navigate a dark room and blow up my own photos.

Self-defense. For obvious reasons. My weak punch could use a little work, and literally no one (including babies) would be intimidated by my skinny arms. But we all know a woman’s physical strength is primarily in the legs, and I’d love to learn how to flip a potential attacker on his ass using lower body strength and pure adrenaline. (Kinda like this.) Don’t. Mess. With this.

 

All right, it’s your turn. What random practical or impractical things have you always wanted to learn? These days, with so many free resources available online, there’s kind of no excuse for not learning stuff you’re interested in. So I’ll be up in my room on YouTube learning the best way to kick a groin if you need me.

Be kind and move forward

trees in light

This week, be easy on yourself. Chances are, you’re often harder on yourself than you deserve. But last week was difficult enough given all the tragedy, fear, and drama that took place here in the states. We deserve to feel some relief and impart a little kindness not only on friends and strangers, but on ourselves, as well.

A few days ago, this photo of Syrians (mostly children) standing in front of a demolished building circulated the Internet. They’re holding a hand-painted sign that reads:

“Boston bombings represent a sorrowful scene of what happens every day in Syria. Do accept our condolences.”

It’s a sobering reminder that there is suffering always – even when we’re not hearing about it. But it is not hopeless out there. We saw the videos of the people rushing toward the explosions last week. We read the stories of heroes like Carlos Arrendondo and countless others who saved lives. The good people are out there.

I debated even bringing up this topic on WTH. Much like when the devastation in Newtown could be felt around the world, I felt like I didn’t need to contribute to the noise about the Boston Marathon bombings. I was processing it. I didn’t ignore it (in fact, I followed the story obsessively), but I simply didn’t discuss it at length in writing. Which is fine. I still don’t feel obligated to do so (even though I’m doing it now).

And while I’m not guilty about continuing to write about everyday kinds of things, it can feel awkward to move past such a shocking event and write as though life simply goes on. But, the thing is, it does. We’ve just had a good dose of perspective of what’s ultimately most important. Alexandra Franzen illustrated that beautifully in this post about how, despite tragedy, your work is not frivolous. So if you find yourself unable to get past some mental block telling you otherwise, remember to be easy on yourself this week. Combat hate by showing love to the people you care about (or with random acts of kindness to strangers), and by giving it to yourself.

So take a nap. Go for a walk. Eat a cupcake (or two). Cuddling with puppies or kitties helps, too. Take even just a few minutes to do something nice for yourself, frivolous as it may seem. You deserve it.

Interweb Finds: In her shoes, bizarre hotels & more

spring colors

As you can tell, I’m still very much on an Instagram kick. So much inspiration to be found with all this beautiful spring weather. Speaking of which, I should really get outside and enjoy it.

So here are this week’s web finds:

I JUST LOVE THIS. SO MUCH. Men walking a mile in high heels in support of the prevention of rape, sexual assault, and violence. (Side note: THIS is how you treat women. Being a nice guy trumps cat calls 110% of the time.)

More political goodness from Upworthy: Stand up and slow clap for this NY state Senator’s speech on gay marriage. It’s a couple years old, but still obviously relevant.

This round-up of gorgeous and strange hotels around the world is giving me major wanderlust. The Giraffe Manor in East Africa?! Yes, please.

National Geographic now has a Tumblr. Enjoy.

An overweight woman photographs herself receiving strange looks in public. What’s your take on this?

Your new favorite animal can see all the colors that our brains can’t even compute. Plus, it’s a total badass.

This playful Brooklyn brownstone is a-maz-ing.

That’s all from me today. If the sun is shining where you are, get yerself outside and soak it up. (Just make sure to stock up on Zyrtec if you share my misery with allergies… they’re hitting big time.)

Three sisters

sisters

Yesterday was National Siblings Day, according to Facebook and Twitter. (How else would I have known?) And this is how it goes: I come home from work tired and lethargic, preemptively admonishing myself for the workout I know I won’t do tonight, but feeling mostly upbeat due to the suddenly summery weather. The older of my two much younger sisters, Flannery, greets me as I get out of the car, and I can’t help but feel nostalgic envy watching her amble toward me barefoot in shorts and a tank top. She already has just a hint of sun, whereas this morning I debated whether or not I should wear a dress to work because damn my legs are pasty. Cherish these carefree afternoons, I want to tell this 13-year-old in front of me before reminding myself that I should do the same.

So I throw on my flip flops, and at Flannery’s suggestion, we spend the next hour taking pictures around the yard while my youngest sister, Elsbeth, does her impressive self-taught gymnastics routine on the trampoline nearby. The magnolia tree bloomed literally overnight and catches glints of the Golden Hour sun that so graciously stays later and later each day we get closer to summer.

spring

Summer. It seems to take forever to arrive in Maryland, and when it finally does, you’re taken by surprise. Despite the sometimes oppressive heat and humidity, your next worry is that summer will slip away too soon. And it will. It always does.

We compare pictures, and I notice Flannery has an eye for photography, too. I let her get my new, uninsured iPhone a little dirty and don’t yell when she holds it over a giant plastic tub filled with water to take a picture of something living inside. (I calmly ask her to stop it, please, though.) The dogs are chasing us and jumping at my legs—the fat one lets me take her photo before licking at the lens. Cherish these carefree afternoons, I repeat in my head, reminding myself that I will not always live with my sisters. They will go through middle school and enter high school without me as close as I’ve been for the past almost three years because I am 23, I’ve saved some money, and one day in the not-too-distant future I will move in with John, my boyfriend of four years. And as happy as I will be to finally live with him, I will miss my sisters, too.

trampoline

They fight. All the time, Flannery and Elsbeth. They fight over who gets the shower first. They get mad when the other has a look on their face they don’t like. They argue until they’ve forgotten what they were arguing about. And yet, they’re best friends. The relationship they have with one another is different than the relationship I have with each of them. Being the eldest by 10 and 12 years, I vacillate between being the cool, all-knowing older sister and the irrelevant, out-of-touch older sister. I play moderator when they fight. Sometimes I dictate who gets the shower first, and in these moments, Elsbeth reminds me that I am not, in fact, their mom. I remind her that I am aware, but get in the shower anyway. I have a job and benefits.

Soon, our age difference won’t seem so great and we’ll have shared more of the same life experiences. If and when I have kids, my sisters will be the fun, young aunts. If and when they have kids, I’ll be the fun, old one. My sisters will probably still fight sometimes, but they’ll always be close. We all will. I often think if I hadn’t made the decision to live at home for my last semester of college—instead of the apartment with my roommate which had a lease up for renewal—I would’ve missed out on so much of my sisters’ lives. I wouldn’t know just how good Elsbeth has gotten at gymnastics without any classes, or that Flannery kicked butt in lacrosse last weekend. Living at home didn’t just allow me to save money. It allowed me to cherish these carefree afternoons spent with my sisters. Who, hopefully, will look back one day and cherish them, too.

It’s not yet summer. Yesterday’s 90 degrees was a fluke. We’ll likely even have a few more chilly days—Maryland is unpredictable like that. But spring has sprung, and I’m acutely aware of how quickly it will lead to summer, when things will rapidly change. I can only tell my sisters that each year goes by quicker than the last, but they won’t understand that until they experience it for themselves.

Which is how it goes for all of us.

Depression in relationships

Last week was lighter than usual on the blogging front. You know how when life gets to be overwhelming, and then you distract yourself with blogs and social media, and realize those things are (shockingly) hurting rather than helping you deal with it? That was me. So I distanced myself a bit from all that and enjoyed a weekend of hanging with the puppies, visiting D.C., and soaking up the gorgeous weather that has (hopefully?) come to stay.

Moving on, today’s guest blogger is a former “Lucky” Ones interviewee, Sarah Greesonbach, who just launched an ebook on switching careers. It’s geared toward teachers who are second-guessing their path, but it’s packed with advice that I think could be helpful for anyone feeling stuck. Her post today touches on some of the overwhelming effects of a dark period in her own life, and how that affected her relationship with her husband.

witty title here guest post

couple shadow

Have you ever felt sorry for people who are in relationships with depressed people?

I have. Especially because often that depressed person was me.

Josh and I have been married since November 2012, so I thought it was about time to interview him about what I consider the darkest period of my life: a time when I felt trapped in my career as a teacher, stressed by our long-distance relationship, and overwhelmed by health concerns. Here’s Josh’s take on being in a relationship with me during that time.

Hi Josh, I guess it goes without saying that it’s kind of awesome we can talk about this stuff. But some guys seem put off by talking about depression. Why do you think you’re okay with it?

I’ve always considered myself more in touch with my feelings than other guys. It is very helpful when it comes to writing music and being a teacher, but most guys aren’t up for it. I like to think I’m above stereotypes. How humans act and feel has always been more interesting to me than the traditional dude stuff like sports and grilling.

That’s probably why I married you. Now, about that time a few years ago when everything seemed to suck to me. Did you know that I was depressed?

Yes. You would cry a lot and you didn’t want to do things. Things being anything that wasn’t being in bed and crying. I think I thought that us doing distance was very difficult so I didn’t know what to do about it. I thought that was more to blame than the teaching, so I looked for ways that we could be together more.

What made you feel better and what made you feel hopeless about the situation?

I would say being with you was nice, knowing that eventually we would live nearer each other and not do [the] distance anymore. Nothing really made me feel hopeless. I found ways to cope myself, by playing a lot of video games and developing a schedule like going to the movies, getting wings, that sort of thing.

What did you do to try to cheer me up that worked and didn’t work?

I left cute notes and things around the house. I also tried to text and call as often as I could… even though sometimes you would refuse to talk on the phone. We should have talked about that more openly, I think, too, to save some hurt feelings on both sides. It didn’t seem to work when I tried to talk to you about feeling better or to try to make fun, distracting plans. I like to have something to look forward to, but you didn’t want to feel obligated to go out and do stuff in case you were feeling low.

How did you feel when I told you I was considering going on anti-depressants?

I was worried it would change who you were. I grew up thinking that medicine like that makes people act differently and out-of-character. Now I think I understand that it allows people to be more themselves during a rough patch (or long term).

Were you ever depressed during this time?

Yeah, definitely. I was teaching at that time too, and I resented having to show up early and try to be of service to students who were often unappreciative when I wanted to be spending time with you. I would find myself staying up really late to be intentionally out of it for the school day. That way I wouldn’t really be conscious of the day and be in a dream state ’til I got home. I really lived for the weekends.

What advice do you have for dudes (or just people) in relationships with someone who is experiencing depression?

I would say to call them a lot. Even if you don’t feel like talking, making yourself stay in touch with friends and family is really important. You and I would have Skype dates when you didn’t feel like talking, and we would spend a lot of time just being together instead of filling our weekends with things to do. Focus on the fact that the distance won’t last forever, and if it will, consider fixing that. You should also consider seeing a counselor—the person who is depressed and the person in the relationship with them can both use some perspective, tips, and just someone to talk to to make sense of it all. I think it would have helped me a lot to go to church more regularly during that time, too.

 

I’m so grateful that Josh and I were able to get to the place that we could speak candidly about this time in our lives. It certainly wasn’t so easy at first—there were miscommunications, misunderstandings, and just plain arguments all through it! But open dialogue and focusing on our priorities allowed us to grow and blossom together. Especially in the case of long-distance relationships, this kind of rough beginning can make the first year of marriage (and hopefully the rest) seem like a piece of cake!

Have you ever dated someone who was depressed or been the depressed one? What would you ask your spouse or partner?

sarah greesonbach

 

Sarah Greesonbach writes and curates the lifestyle and personal finance blog Life [Comma] Etc. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter for commentary and hot links, as well as pictures of her husband and cat (both are super-cute). She releases her first eBook this month, Life After Teaching: The Hands-On Guide for Transitioning Out of Teaching and Into a New Career.

 

 

 

 

Want to be a guest blogger for Witty Title Here? Send your pitches to me at wittycassiehere [at] gmail [dot] com.