Tag Archives: life

Things to love about love

Dear everyone,

On a really nice April day in 2012, Raven and I did something really fun – we got married.

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In the months since, we hit a few rough spots. I’m sure you picked up on that if you’ve read, oh, any of my posts since August.

But here’s the thing – and a thing I have never written about, because we always pledged not to be Those People. But the thing is – I really love this man. He has taught me so many things, and the wisdom has come in so many forms. In addition to the things I have learned from him, there are things I’ve learned because of him. Because of him, I decided to do better at life. I decided not to let myself drown forever. For whatever else we have or haven’t done for each other, this is a pretty big thing. I’m grateful for it. I know I’ve referenced Origins of Love before, but every time I listen to that one song, I am forcibly reminded of all that we have, and how lucky I’ve been.

Like stupid Adam and Eve 
They found their love in a tree 
God didn’t think they deserved it 
He taught them hate, taught them pride 
Gave them a leaf, made them hide 
Let’s push their stories aside 
You know the origin is you 

From the air I breathe 
To the love I need 
Only thing I know 
Is you’re the origin of love 
From the God above
To the one I love 
Only thing that’s true 
The origin is you

So there, now I am Those People, the ones who post pictures of themselves being happy. I never understood that, not until recently, when I started understanding the true value of happiness, of contentedness, of being… ok. Just fine. Dandy. When you are ok, there is room for things to grow. And room to be a person that I might have laughed at before – a person who says gosh, I love that man I married. We see each other for who we are, and for that, we are very lucky.

For you, everyone, I hope you are rich in the kinds of luck and love that you crave. I hope that you can be ok, that drama isn’t rocking your world too hard. In storms, I’ve learned, the even keel is the best keel.

XO,

KW

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What is Kelsi reading?

And now it’s time for an episode of “What is Kelsi Reading?” (And just like that, I decided to give up total anonymity. I may have made better decisions at other points in my life but OH WELL.)

At the moment I am reading:

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham – Because it is true, I have turned into your dad. I’ve been molto into U.S. presidential history for the last year or so (ok, well, molto is relative, since I have what you might call a LOT of interests.) But I have made it a long term goal to read biographies of all the presidents; thus, it is a little weird that this is the second Jefferson biography I’ve read in the last year. I have a lot of ground to cover, so why spend so much time on one dude?

Well. WELL. The first Jefferson biography I read was American Sphinx, and I came away from that with the thoughtful, well-reasoned opinion that “Thomas Jefferson was kind of a douche.” Although clearly brilliant, determined, thoughtful, literally revolutionary, popular, history-making, absolutely genius, American Sphinx also revealed him with all of his character flaws in a way that made them nearly inexcusable.

But then a very good friend gave me The Art of Power for my birthday, and I am weak in the face of tomes of history. And it turns out that The Art of Power is (prepare to be shocked) worthy of its accolades. Not only is it well researched, well written and absolutely compelling, but I think Jon Meacham actually likes Thomas Jefferson – something that, in retrospect, I don’t believe Joseph Ellis (who wrote American Sphinx) particularly does.

It was rare, in my formal education, for history to be drawn together in tight little bows, and for the sketches of icons on dollar bills to turn into real men with real relational issues. It’s fantastic when it does happen – when I can picture Jefferson being torn between his responsibilities to his daughter Patsy and his passionate love of France, or when I understand that Jefferson and Adams were buddies the way I am with some of my friends I don’t agree with but still love to drink beer with  – and books like this are the only way I’ve ever gotten there.

Assholes: A Theory by Aaron James – This is a fantastic, please read it and then we can talk about how everyone is an asshole. I thought it might be a frivolous read, but it’s actually a scholarly, philosophical little book with strong ties to a variety of schools of thought. I read The Psychopath Test last summer, and I will say that there seems to be an overlap in the way James describes assholes and the way Ronson describes psychopaths – but either way, it’s fascinating to read about what makes people tick. Even horrible people.

How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton – This was given to me as a gift, along with Cloud Atlas. I was crazy excited to get Cloud Atlas and didn’t realize that this was the book that was going to get all up in my heart.

I have a feeling that it is fodder for several posts, since Botton and Proust cover all sorts of topics, from happiness to sensitivity to overly-attached families to socializing, many of which are things that I’ve spent hours and hours paying someone to help me figure out.

But I was immediately and completely drawn in by the first anecdote. A 1920s Paris newspaper, L’Intransigeant, posed questions for celebrities to answer. One of the questions they asked was this:

An American scientist announces that the world will end, or at least that such a huge part of the continent will be destroyed, and in such a sudden way, that death will be the certain fate of hundreds of millions of people. If this prediction were confirmed, what do you think would e its effects on people between the time when they acquired the aforementioned certainty and the moment of cataclysm? Finally, as far as you’re concerned, what would you do in this last hour?

Many of the celebrity responses were exactly as you might expect. They suggested that people would go to church, go to the bedroom, do those things a person might do if there are no long-term consequences. Proust’s response, though, was a perfect example of modern stoicism:

I think that life would suddenly seem wonderful to us if we were threatened to die as you say. Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies it – our life – hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly.

But let all this threaten to become impossible for ever, how beautiful it would become again! Ah! if only the cataclysm doesn’t happen this time, we won’t miss visiting the new galleries of the Louvre, throwing ourselves at the feet of Miss X., making a trip to India.

The cataclysm doesn’t happen, we don’t do any of it, because we find ourselves back in the heart of normal life, where negligence deadens desire. And yet we shouldn’t have needed the cataclysm to love life today. It would have been enough to think that we are humans, and that death may come this evening.

This is exactly a thing that I’ve been trying to work into my life, to believe on a fundamental level, and every reminder that comes from the outside is precious and useful.

So those three books are my current companions. What should I read next? Suggestions welcome every second of every day.

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Birthdaying

So much has happened!

Well. Ok. Not really.

I had a birthday. This is what I look like at thirty three:

So, basically the same. Perhaps a little more tired than I’ve looked on recent birthdays, but to be real – I am a little more tired. A better word might be “defeated” – except I’m not quite that, not quite yet. But certainly close.

I had some good news yesterday – I got a job I’ve been interviewing/waiting for for two months, a job that is a good and realistic foundation for a future career. My current job is not that – my current job is perhaps a good and realistic foundation for this new job, but not part of a career path.

Unfortunately, instead of being allowed to be quietly excited about it, I had to launch into telling some of my various bosses that I’ll be leaving in three weeks, and the reactions were enough to send me back toward despair. One, in particular, treats me (often) with equal parts guilt trip, over-reactive anger and effusive praise. It’s like working for a really exhausting mother. That response was, unsurprisingly, an arduous affair of explaining from several different angles why it is that I might be moving on, and why it is that I can’t just wait another two years in my current job in case something more appropriate comes along. I can’t wait because I don’t want to – life is slipping past, and I don’t want to fail at everything. I have an opportunity, and I’ve learned that opportunities should be taken.

Usually.

Sometimes.

OK, almost never.

My birthday, though, was lovely. Raven made fresh ravioli, stuffed with spinach and almonds, and a pumpkin pie from scratch. He’d never made pumpkin pie before, so it was doubly fun to try it – it was awesome, rich and spicy and perfect. I suppose there’s something telling in the fact that I prefer pumpkin pie to birthday cake – I don’t typically choose sweetness in life, I typically choose spice. The things I carry tend not to be the easy ones.

Sometimes, I would like to have it another way.

For now, though, I take them as my own.

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