More Than Just Running

I know I sound like a deranged lunatic with all my running updates and sometimes am less than coherent about it. But it’s because for me it’s more than just running. I’m not doing this just because I want to run a marathon. In fact, I totally made fun of both of my group-mates in my econ class just a year ago because they were training for the marathon and were clearly on their way to injury but still running anyway. I just didn’t get it at the time, I do not have that desire to run. And while I like running. It keeps me in great physical shape and I’m happier and healthier having it in my life, it is not my passion. By a long shot.

Let’s be honest, I’m happiest curled up in bed with a good book doing absolutely nothing. I love sports, I enjoy running and I enjoy being physical but they are certainly not the first things that I think of when I think of things that make me happy. I am one of those people where it requires some amount of effort to do those things. So this whole fitness regimen has been a challenge for me. Mentally and physically. Actually I think more mentally than anything else.

So the real reason I’m running… because cancer has touched my life by affecting several people that I love dearly. And when I say family it’s not just about being related by blood there are so many people that have touched my life that aren’t related by blood. It’s my friends, exes, people I’ve known forever and those I haven’t known for very long. It’s the people who touch your life regardless of whether they stay for a long time or are a brief glimmer of light; it’s those people who change you, who will forever be a part of you, that I consider to be part of my “family” too. So I run for Team in Training as a part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society because in some small way I feel like I’m doing my part to help. And at the end of the day there is so little I can actually do that this is my way to try and advocate for a cause I believe in desperately. So I babble about my shoes and my injuries and how much all of it irritates me. And how I got a tattoo in the middle of my training because that was a brilliantly well thought out plan. (I know, sometimes I’m an idiot). Because I have to keep running. I simply do.

A TV Show Should Not Define My Life

However sometimes it does make me question my own thinking. So I was watching “How I Met Your Mother” this evening, let me preface this by saying I’ve never seen it before but it comes highly recommended by my friend, D. So anyway D is always talking about Ted and how much she loves him etc. That’s not really the point. Anyway, as I’m watching this show about Ted who is pretty much just looking for love through this whole show and I wonder how long you can hold on to the hope of meeting someone perfect.

Perhaps it’s some combination of my cynicism coupled with my hopeless romantic side that keeps me in a constant state of being torn over this. I truly believe there is someone out there that is right and it just takes time to find that person. And no matter how many times you break up or how many things go wrong that if it is meant to be it will be. But how do you know which one is right? I’ve seen so many relationships that I would kill myself if I were in it. However, I’ve also had my own fair share of unhealthy. And I’d like to believe that I know better than that but sometimes I question myself. When do you know that someone is right or wrong? How long does it take? And is it ever too late? I get torn by all of these questions because I know couples that are perfect for each other that broke up for years and are either married now or are getting married. And then there are those couples that broke up and should’ve stayed broken up but didn’t or the ones that never should’ve gotten together. How do you know which side you fall on?

I guess the moral of this post is… ok maybe there is no moral and I’m up later than I normally am thinking about things I shouldn’t. That said, cynicism and all my inner hopeless romantic always wins. I do believe that when you know, you just know. And the right person is out there. Sometimes you just have to wait it out and make a lot of mistakes before you get there. At least my life is more interesting for all the chaos that persists in it because of my mistakes.

Reclaiming Cynical Island

So for the longest time I have been Dictator of Cynical Island. I gave up the title when I was happily (and even for quite a good bit of the time when I was unhappily) in love. However, if you know me well, you know that I am a hopeless romantic. I believe in love at my very core… probably more than I believe in anything else in this world.

Recently, I’ve become slightly obsessed with reading the Modern Love column in the New York Times. I think it’s some form of masochism because more than anything it makes me sad to read about so much of modern dating. I know I can’t possibly be the only person in her 20’s that is tired of the push and pull of modern dating and the various forms of commitment phobia that manifest themselves in our social interactions these days.

I have to say I’ve been lucky. I mean my ex and I are obviously not together. However, at least she had the decency to actually date me. In fact, all of my actual exes have been good like that. But I’ve found that it’s increasingly difficult to find anyone that actually wants to date anymore and I simply don’t understand this concept. Or even better ones who think that dating consists of “hanging out” but “not defining” the relationship. Personally I call that “fucking around”. But hey, what do I know? I mean I am “romantically challenged” after all. Perhaps I’m too demanding or it’s just intimidating to meet a girl who knows what she wants. But if I’m into you, don’t expect anything less than to be truly courted and I will not be ok with just “fucking around”. However, meeting someone that I’m actually into is excruciatingly difficult. So I’ll be honest, I don’t often meet anyone I’m interested in more than just sex with. And it’s not like I won’t tell you if I don’t want the same things as you do (as nicely as possible, I hate hurting people’s feelings but I hate leading them on more). And don’t try and convince me that it’s ok to just continually float from person to person “hooking up”. Been there, done that, have the postcard. It’s honestly, not that satisfying. Sure it does pass the time but if you’re looking for a real connection, hooking up is not the way to go. Perhaps taking a chance that love might exist and going on a real date is the way to go.

Maybe it’s just that the “hooking up” culture was in its nascent form when I hit high school and college so out of my friends group a significant number are either married or in a very stable couple or at the very least in some way want that someday. We believe in dating. We believe in love. And we believe in forever. Ok, maybe not *all* of my friends do but I’d say there’s a large majority of us that do.

Having said that, I’m still confused why so many young people are addicted to this culture of no-strings when that’s not what I think anyone is actually looking for. While I was reading Modern Love, I stumbled upon this series they did a while ago about how college students feel about love. There are two pieces that break my heart. One is written by a woman who is talking about how even though she tries to keep herself detached what she really wants is something more permanent. The other is written by a young man who talks about how insecurity keeps so many people from finding something more real but how in the back of your mind you still want that real connection.

So I think it’s about time I reclaim my dictatorship and as my friend B says, “all we need are a few good guinea pigs :)”

scratch any cynic and you’ll find a disappointed idealist

If I Were Doing Windows Updates On My Birthday, I’d Be Doing A Meme…

as I wait for them to install.

I took this meme from D, of course.

If I were a month, I’d be March. (you know, March in Texas is just incredible because it’s when the wildflowers are in bloom and the weather is just gorgeous)

photo source

If I were a day of the week, I’d be Sunday.

If I were a time of day, I’d be afternoon when the sun is highest in the sky.

If I were a planet, I’d be lush and green, with seasons but a short winter and a long fall, lots of colors and beautiful weather, with just enough cloudy, rainy days to make you appreciate the beautiful ones.

If I were a sea animal, I’d be a dolphin.

If I were a direction, I’d be moving forward.

If I were a piece of furniture, I’d be my bed, it is the comfiest place on earth (and I am not the only person that agrees with this statement).

If I were a liquid, I’d be the ocean.

If I were a gemstone, I’d be chrysoberyl.

If I were a tree, I’d be a Live Oak. (reminds me of growing up in Houston).

photo source

If I were a tool, I’d not be.

If I were a flower, I’d be a Sunflower (one of my dearest friends and teachers described me as one and while it is not my favourite flower, I think her description was lovely and so I still cherish it to this day and like to think of myself as one).

photo source

If I were a kind of weather, I would sunny with a chance of meatballs.

If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a flute.

If I were a color, I’d be green (probably apple green).

If I were an emotion, I’d be butterflies.

If I were a fruit, I’d be a kiwi.

If I were a sound, I’d be running water.

If I were an element, I’d be fire-water.

If I were a car, I’d be a porsche.

If I were a food, I’d be chocolate covered strawberries.

photo source

If I were a place, I’d be a tropical island.

If I were a material, I’d be linen – looks good with anything, easy to dress up or down, hard to break but easy to get dirty and made for summer.

If I were a taste, I’d be expensive.

If I were a scent, I’d be a mix of Chanel No.5 & Drakkar.

If I were an object, I’d be a book.

If I were a body part, I’d be eye-lashes.

If I were a facial expression, I’d be a smile.

If I were a song, I’d be Taking The Long Way (Dixie Chicks – totally Texas and totally my life).

If I were a pair of shoes, I’d be these:
Dior Heels

If you know me well, you know…

So my lovely friend D wrote this post the other day that I thought was really interesting. Apparently she found it here, and I also loved that post too. So here I am playing along… on my not-so-personal-but-getting-to-be-rather-personal blog.

If you know me well, you know that all my tattoos have significant meaning to me but my piercings were done on a whim, i love physics (and philosophy), am a super liberal feminist but I totally use the “I’m a girl” card to get someone to change a tire or the oil for me even though I’m perfectly capable of doing both myself.

If you know me well, you know I am a sucker for romantic comedies, I live for chocolate and I have the willpower of a gnat when it comes to things I want.

If you know me well, you know I *love* cooking (seriously, I have a slight obsession with food), decorating (and redecorating) and arranging flowers. Seriously every once in a while I contemplate putting myself up for sale: “Fantastic housewife available to a good home. Will cook, decorate and keep a lovely home. Contingent on a large budget. (Let’s not lie, I’ve got expensive taste).” or you know changing careers to be an event planner… or wedding planner.

If you know me well, you know I’m so obsessive about my hair that I cut it myself because I don’t think anyone else can do as good a job, I love chai (the fake Starbuck’s kind even though it’s totally not right) and I hate running but love soccer.

If you know me well you know that despite being a jeans and t-shirt girl, I love love love dresses and skirts and makeup, and if you make it past the tattoos, piercings, sarcasm and cynicism, I am a hopeless romantic and I view the world in hearts, stars, rainbows and puppies.

If you know me well, you know that despite my self-professed geekdom I am really not that geeky. I mean I work in IT but I have never owned a gaming system, nor do I play computer games and for an extended period of time I thought WoW was just people spelling wow rather enthusiastically. Apparently one shelf of fantasy novels does not equate to actual geekdom.

If you know me well, you know I love playing sports but can’t watch them to save my life, I am in a serious long-term relationship with Grey’s Anatomy, I move cities like it’s my job (though Chicago does seem to be sticking pretty well so far) and I desperately miss Texas.

These Boots Were Made For Walkin’

So I was just asked the question: “What do you think about dating a married man?” I know that the normal gut reaction answer is NEVER, it only ends in heartbreak!. But humor me because I’m going to actually look at it from a less traditional perspective. Then again, I’m not exactly a traditional girl so what else would you expect.

So firstly, I’d like to mention that my perspective on marriage is a little skewed being part of the queer community because I know more than a few people who are in “Marriages of Convenience”. And quite frankly if I don’t have the right to get married regardless of how valid my relationship with my partner is I simply don’t believe in it. I don’t believe in something that isn’t a reality for me or for a good number of people that I love.

That being said, I don’t think dating a married man (or woman for that matter) is necessarily the greatest idea. I’m not one to judge, I clearly lead a life of chaos and mayhem, I just think there’s enough heartbreak in this world that getting involved with someone who is already attached (especially in a legal way) is just asking for trouble, especially in the straight world. Yes, love makes us do crazy things and no I don’t believe that one can have absolute control over your emotions. You fall for who you fall for and it sucks/is awesome all the same, but you do have control over getting into something that could be complicated and messy. What it really comes down to is whether you think it’s a good idea for you. I generally believe all is fair in love and war and have acted as such most of my life. I mean I really can’t judge since I met one of my exes while she was on a date with a boy. That being said thus far I haven’t dated anyone that I knew was actually attached (legally or otherwise) at the time. Part of it for me (especially in a heterosexual context) is that if the person I want to date made a commitment to someone else and is stepping out on them, then what makes it so different that I think they won’t step out on me? I mean I’d like to think that I’m fabulous and unforgettable and no one could ever bear to step out on me but at the same time, isn’t that what the other woman (or man) thought?

Certainly I’ll give pause for the situation that I was recently introduced to where a friend of mine was dating this man who was married to a woman because of his family but he was in reality quite gay. This complicates matters because the way he lived with his “wife” was essentially as roommates. So my friend ended up dating him. In essence, I guess what I’m getting at is that it isn’t a black and white issue. None of these things are. Whenever emotions are involved things get messy and weird. And when social norms get mixed up with civil rights and morals and whatnot it gets even more confusing. I’ve even encountered the well what if they’re only married for the visa question before. And you know what, it really comes down to what you are ok with. You have to consider what it will do to you and if you’re ok with the consequences. I think most of it comes from being really honest with yourself and knowing what you want and what you can or can’t live with.

Thing is I’m a little out of my element talking about any of this because I’ve never been in a relationship where I’ve had a lover outside of my relationship or to my knowledge where one of my partners has done so to me. So I don’t really know what it entails. Nor have I been in a situation where I am with someone out of convenience or necessity. I’ve always been very much infatuated if not actually in love with my partner at the time so that’s the standpoint where I’m coming from. And when I’m in love with someone, I don’t step out on them. No matter how angry I am or how much I would like to prove a point and be a bitch because I’m mad. (Yes, I’ve thought about it and had opportunity to act. But No, I’ve never been able to or even wanted to follow through.)

So the short answer is I think there’s also a lot of grey areas when your emotions are involved. I don’t think it’s an ideal situation and I would be fairly hesitant and quite cautious. However, I think what is right is on an individual basis and you have to figure that out for yourself.

What Happened To Being Courted?

You know, I’ve always wanted to be courted. Truly courted. The way that I’ve courted my girlfriends. It’s not just silly little things, it’s big things too. I mean how many girls don’t dream of someone just showing up at the airport to pick them up with flowers in hand. Especially when you weren’t expecting it. How many girls would just die if you showed up and managed to find out when they were coming home and you were a long lost lover that they were just dying to see? Yes, it’s scary. It’s putting yourself out there in a way that may just be rejected. Or flying across the country because you let them leave and you realize that this is the person you want to be with. So you show up anyway not knowing what would happen. Ok, it’s a little storybook like, but who wouldn’t want that? Sure, it’s terrifying to do. But let me tell you, that’s the kind of courtship I would kill for.

And ok, I can be an intimidating girl to date. I’m finally starting to get that memo. 10 years later, I get it (sortof). I’m not easy to date. I’ve been told this since I was 16 by quite a few of the boys who tried to ask me out (generally a couple years after my interest had faded and I categorized them as “friends”). Yes, I know boys love it when that happens. You finally have the nerve to ask a girl out and she’s like, “um yeah I really only think of you as a friend.” Trust me, it happens to lesbians too, it’s not fun for us either. But that’s why I believe you should really court a girl you like. I mean ok, don’t stalk the girl that’s not what I’m saying. But romance, I swear, is a dying art form.

I have always courted my lovers. It’s little things. Like one of my exes was having a bad day and I knew it but it was finals and I knew she had to study. So being the IT geek I am I noticed she was online in her dorm room so I stopped by with a latte and cigarettes. I didn’t know what kind of coffee she drank but I knew the cigarettes she liked and I just took a chance. And the look I got and the following date we had were so worth the effort of just a little bit of thoughtfulness and courtship. Or you know, there was one time, I brought flowers to a club because all of the dates my flame at the time and I had just weren’t working out. She was so stunned by the arrangement and the gesture that she pinned me up against my car to kiss me passionately. Turns out later that she was a little crazy but it was worth it at the time. Real romance is something everyone craves. And it is so very hard to come by.

So girls (and perhaps boys, too) if you want to date me, this is what I’m asking for. To be courted. Truly courted. Not just taken to dinner. Not something boring. I want someone who will stand outside my doorstep with a rose just waiting for me to come down so it’ll be a surprise. I want someone who will write me notes about the week they spent and all the things that made them think of me and put it in a jar. Just to share it with me the next time they see me. I want someone to write me a card for every day we have to be apart when they know it’s something neither of us want to do but is being forced upon us. I want someone to make me a mix cd just because they thought of me and they want me to know the music that makes them think of me. I want someone to write me love letters. Just because. I want someone well versed in the art of romance. Actually scratch all those suggestions, those are mostly things I’ve done before. What I’d really like is something that is uniquely you but equally thoughtful (or I mean if those things ring true for you then by all means do those too but do something that’s really you). For example, to this day my absolute favourite birthday gift is the t-shirt my ex made me that was of string theory but the picture she drew starts with a Texas instead of an apple. And the back said “did you know 2005 is the world year for physics?” I remember she and her friends were doing this big secret project behind my back and I had no idea it was for my birthday. It is still one of my happiest memories. The back has all but fallen apart. But the front is still just as awesome as the day I got it. And I still love it. Because it was truly thoughtful, it was all of my favourite things on a t-shirt. For my birthday.

(Oh and the courtship, while I am serious that that is what I want but not really right now. Let’s be honest, I’m not really over my most recent ex. I hate admitting that but it doesn’t make it any less true. I’m just finally ready to think about romance again, which is where all this came from.)

I wish the world had a little more space for romance. I feel like in this modern age people have all but forgotten what real romance looks like. Sometimes it is big dramatic gestures but other times it’s just showing up in a goofy outfit just to make your loved one laugh when you know they’re having a bad day.

Do You Believe…

… in love at first sight? I do. I believe that one person can make your heart stand still when they walk into a room full of people. I believe that every once in a while you can meet someone special and you just know it in your bones. I’m lucky. I’ve had this happen to me twice. Neither one of them have necessarily worked out as I would’ve liked but I still believe that it exists.

I also believe in things that are just simply meant to be. I think that there are things outside of our control and love that doesn’t fit into the boundaries of what we are used to. Sometimes I think there are connections so strong that you just can’t shake them.

Typically I’m a ridiculous optimist and I never question any of these beliefs but recently I’ve had to. And it makes me wonder if sometimes even though the connection is there if it is actually meant to be. With time, I’ve learned that life can surprise you with the way it works out. Even though you thought something should have worked out perhaps there’s something else out there that is a better fit. And so I do still believe that life works out the way it’s supposed to. I guess I just wonder how much of it is a fairytale and how much real life hardship we all have to go through. When do you decide whether it’s worth it or not? How do you know? Is love really enough?

It’s Complicated Facebook…

So my friend, Deidre (of Decoybetty) was writing about the phenomenon of “relationship status” in a guest post she recently did called You’re A Lot More Than Your Relationship Status and I have to agree with her. I am constantly flabbergasted at all the people who define themselves as single, in a relationship, it’s complicated or whatever. We’re only in our 20’s, whether I’m dating someone or not really doesn’t define me.

If you want to know if I’m single or taken, you should ask because that’s not who I am. If you ask me who I am, I’d still say I’m a renegade physicist even though I haven’t done physics in years. I’d say that I’m a confused 26-year old grad student trying to figure out her consulting gig the best she can and get to where she wants to go on that crazy corporate ladder. I’d say I have a very serious relationship with Grey’s Anatomy and that I could dance all night long. I’d say that I have a penchant for wearing ties but I’ve recently discovered that wearing dresses and fitted clothing is awesome since I’ve worked really hard to get in shape. I’d also say that I love soccer even though I think I suck at it and that I’ll keep going to ballroom classes until I can some day afford to compete (at least as an amateur). I’d say that I’ve had my heart broken but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in love and fairy tales and happily ever after. I’d say that I believe the best in people and am constantly disappointed when I get let down but I never learn that lesson and I like myself for always giving people the benefit of the doubt. I’d say that I am thoughtful and a fierce friend which are the characteristics that I value most in my friends too.

Here’s the thing, none of what I’ve described above has anything to do with whether I’m in a relationship or not. And perhaps I am a little more fierce about some bits more than others because of the fact that I very recently got my heart broken but I don’t define myself as single. I just happen to not be dating anyone, it is not a defining characteristic of my personality or even remotely who I am. In fact even when I was dating I never thought of myself as being not single. It’s just not something that I identify with. I am my own person and I would hope my partner would be as well. Perhaps when we’ve spent half our lives together I may start to consider my relationship as a defining characteristic of myself but at the moment I think my friends and my family have far more influence on who I am today than anyone I have ever dated has.

I mean I’d say I’m a feminist because I grew up with extremely strong matriarchs in my family and going to a women’s college just ingrained that further in me. I’m a cross-culture kid and I often forget this because at 26 it’s pretty much just who I am and I don’t even think about it anymore. The person I am today is made up of the environment I was brought up in, which was the huge sprawling metropolis of Houston, Texas. It’s in the Bengali that my family speaks at home and the way we flip in and out of this weird mixture between Bengali and English; as if everyone speaks both even though we live in the US. It’s in the conversations with my friends where I talk about how marriage is a “patriarchal construct” and this is “normal” because we went to a women’s college.

Quite frankly the excuse that society puts so much pressure on this is a cop out to me because aren’t we a part of society? I mean I don’t believe that who I do or do not date is really anyone’s business but my own. If I want you to know I’ll tell you, trust me. It’s pretty similar to how I feel about people asking whether I date girls or boys. If I wanted you to know, I’d tell you. I mean I don’t understand why people have this desire to be defined by whether they are in a relationship or not. Actually that’s pretty similar to how I felt in college about everyone making a big deal of coming out. I mean yes I understand it can be an empowering experience and all but there is so much more to who I am than who I date. At this point in my life I define who I am and no one else. Sure there are people who have touched my life and changed me but I’d say that my friends who I’ve known for 8+ years have probably had a more significant impact than any relationship I’ve been in.

I hear so often how we hate how the world views people who are single as if there is a stigma attached. Well, folks, we are part of society, it’s up to us to change it. If you don’t want your relationship status to be a defining characteristic then don’t let it be. I don’t talk about mine. I rarely ever have. I mean recently I was with someone long enough where I did start talking about things in we’s but I’m not there anymore and I’m ok with that. Am I going to let it define who I am? No, certainly not.

So do you like physics? Have you ever watched the sunrise over a river? Can you quote “the little prince”? Do you love 80’s music? Can you two-step (cause I might just fall in love with you in that case)? Who are you? Because I’m sure it’s more than just “single” or “in a relationship” or “married” or “it’s complicated”. At least I certainly hope so.

I Believe…

Well, ok, so I tend to try to keep this blog relatively impersonal but due to my life being a crazy mess at the moment. But this is about things that I think are really, really important to remember.

I believe in love at first sight. I believe in fairy tales. I believe in miracles. And I believe in “meant to be”. I believe in rainbows and fairies and kittens. I believe that life works out for the best even though sometimes it feels like it just can’t get any worse. I believe that sometimes the world just doesn’t know what’s good for you. I believe that the best things in your life could be something that at one point you thought was horribly wrong. I believe that something good can be taken from any situation. I believe in hope. I believe in looking at the sunny side of the street.

I realize that a lot of this sounds ridiculous and excessively perky but it’s how I make it through the hard times. Cynical as I am about the world at large, I have to believe the best in people because otherwise I don’t think I would be able to get out of bed in the morning. I believe that the world is a beautiful magical place and it’s up to us to find the beauty in it. I think that so many people forget that. Especially during the hard times. I know I certainly have struggled with it at times.

In fact, recently I forgot how much these things meant to me, which is why I’m writing them down here. I think that often people overlook the power of positive thought and optimism. Just because you’re an optimist doesn’t mean you aren’t in touch with reality at all. I think I have a pretty decent sense of reality, I just happen to think that taking the good things out of any situation is just far more pleasant than remembering the bad. I guess I just wonder about pessimists because if all you ever notice are how wrong things can go then what is the point of living? For me, I think even in the worst of times there is something out there that can make you happy. And if nothing else there is the hope for the future and all the possibilities that may bring.

And so, I believe. I believe that everything happens for a reason. And that life always works out for the best. I believe in hope and possibility but also in reason and science. I believe that rose colored glasses make life a little more bearable. I’m sure many people will think it’s weird that I consider myself to be a physicist and still say that I believe in miracles but I do. In fact, I think many of the things that physics proves are little miracles and that progress in and of itself is a little miracle. I believe there is magic all around us, if we just keep our eyes open we might just catch a glimpse of it. And I believe that the world is full of love, we just have to open our hearts and you’ll be amazed at what you can find.