1) “I didn’t mean to just yawn loudly into your ear. Sorry!”—Jane, in a text right after a call.“(cough)(cough)”—Jane, in not realizing I’d picked up the phone on the first ring and that she was coughing into my ear. “I’m sorry, that was RIGHT into the phone too!”Yawning, coughing, laughing. Every day we erupt within one of these emissions and it’s often difficult to tell just how loud they can each become, especially through a telephone. I know that the majority of people think that loud phone talkers are perhaps the most annoying humans around. I do. Yet we still see and hear them--‘tittering in the high faulting console of the self--especially in bigger cities and while traveling; and this makes me wonder—when complaints become cliché, do we live with that which makes us complain, or move innstinct into an action and do something about it?For example, a few nights back, while at my local bodega, a man was carrying a conversation on his phone with someone he was “sweet-talking.” He even managed to say,“you’re the only baby I think about and we can make our two one.” His next sentence was directed toward an employee of the bodega and was a concoction of sharp cursing and blank insult, milked into a an ether of reasoning that made so little sense I couldn’t help but laugh. Then he turned to me, asked me what my problem was but before I instinctually said, “it’s how loud you’re talking on the phone, that’s my problem” (I’ve gotten better with these instinctual retorts so I didn’t say anything), he’d already returned to the phone call (as he was on the phone) and forgot about me rather fast. He managed to leave having offended everyone in the bodega and while doing so had left with the impression that he’d perhaps acted tough and proved this toughness to the voice on the other line. Have you ever answered the question, “what is your problem” when you really didn’t have one? Or maybe you said, “it’s you pal,” and then you were clocked in the face. I ask because actions close to the latter have happened when I’ve used versions of the, “it’s you pal!”2) “I know what I want for my birthday. I want trapeze lessons and I want to learn how to kite surf.”—Jane Jane turns 50, today in fact. Wish her a happy one and if you want to give her free lessons for the above let me know. When she asked for the lessons I asked her if this is a midlife-crisis thing and if she’s expecting other crisis-members to show up to lessons on new gold motorcycles with fresh tats. What I find fascinating about the birthdays that end and mark a new decade—of the self—is that the connotations strung along with each can be seen as challenges, as opposed to stereotypes: “your 20’s are a great time to experience as many cities and job options as possible”—so go for it!; “in the 30’s you get your shit together and know what you want”—so ask yourself what you want; “in your 40’s you know who your real friends are and if you want a family”—so keep in contact and spend time together!; etc. By no means am I saying that these statements are true and must be abided by—they are, in fact, just variations of what one hears in relation to what each decade is about—instead, I’m thinking that we can take these stereotypes and reverse them into a challenge, to shake up their path(s). I think that clichés are often instigators and should be treated as such, motivators forr action, reaction. In a way I think this is a way of saying, “own your birthday,” but I can’t ask that of everyone. I turn 30 within the month and Charlotte, Jane’s daughter, turns 10. We are all entering new decades, presumably with different visions, though I too would like trapeze lessons and Charlotte might too, if asked. What makes me most curious is how we enter what we consider newness. Instead of taking a wild trip with close friends (something I’d love to do) to celebrate my 30th I made a vow to myself a year ago that I’d enter my 30’s by spending a week in relative seclusion, maybe to “prove” to myself that I can get things done with time, instead of time getting things done with me. Which leads me to ask, what demands do you make of yourself with numbers and turning points—resolutions and celebrations?
3) “Deep breath. Don’t stress about this at all.”We tell one another to take deep breaths a lot and I think this always helps a situation. No matter how frazzled we are at times, there’s something about a friend, colleague, or family member saying, “take a deep breath” that always assuages the nerves. The thing is, you have to make sure that they/you take that deep breath, you can’t just say it. I think that why this helps is because in the space of a deep breath, no matter how small it is you are actually taking a break from thinking about what may be worrying you. When worry sets in it is all-consuming, so even the short breath is of great assistance. What’s amusing, in the scenario in which Jane’s instructions arose above, is that she was telling me not to stress about how to help her deal with bed bugs and being evacuated during Hurricane Sandy. This is because Jane cares about that deep breath, and that others get it is one of her instinctually kind traits. I’m always curious about the ways people do find ways to relax, and I don’t mean larger forms of relaxation, like taking vacations—which doesn’t really exist anymore—but the smaller aspects, like taking walk breaks on your lunch break or … whatever—that’s the curiosity. And I also don’t mean meditation, cigarettes, watching old shows. I’m curious about particulars; because it’s so easy to shrug off the value of these breaths, especially in youth—mostly because taking on many tasks and deep thoughts feels possible but just because you’ve taken them on doesn’t mean they are assisting you in the health spectrum—we often forget that they are possible, that we can in fact stop for a second and take a breath. And it’s not that we even need to associate relaxation with health, this isn’t purely about yoga and kombucha—both of which are great in their own right. There are smaller ways to do this. An optometrist recently told me to take 25 “staring” breaks a day, to stare at different distances to give the eyes a break. Now, I can’t do 25 but if I get a couple in that’s kind of like a breath. These curiosities and questions become increasingly more significant aw we get older, and start dealing with stomach problems or migraines. With age we become more aware of what happens without the good breath. With that said, what are the minor ways you cut a quick second of relaxation into your day? We’ll try anything here.Wish Jane a marvelous birthday!