On Being Recognized

It’s happened a couple times before, but it never fails to take me by surprise. There’s nothing as flattering/unsettling as being recognized by a total stranger. For a split second, I feel like a rock star.

I stepped out of the bridge tower just as two women were walking past.

“Are you the one that operates the bridge?”

“Yes I am.”

“What’s that like? Is it a good job?”

“Best job in the entire world.”

“But don’t you get bored?”

“Well, I write a daily blog called…”

“Oh! Is that you? I read that! Can I shake your hand?”

Like I’m somebody, or something. It made my day.

It’s really strange to realize that your anonymous little life isn’t nearly as anonymous as you think it is. I work in isolation. I blog in isolation. And yet people rely on me to get from point A to point B, and people read what I write. Go figure.

It’s so easy for me to forget that. I spend so much of my time being silent that I forget that I am making an impact in my own way. A quiet little noise.

And so do you, dear reader. Always remember that it was tiny drops of rain, imperceptibly, over time, that carved out the Grand Canyon. We all matter.

Isn’t it great?

http _i.huffpost.com_gen_1585786_thumbs_o-GRAND-CANYON-RIVER-facebook

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Letter to a Future Love (In Hopes That He Exists)

I’ve been looking for you for years. I often wondered if you were right under my nose and I just wasn’t seeing you, or if I wasn’t looking in the right place.  More than once I thought I saw you, and you just couldn’t or wouldn’t see me. I always wondered if you were reading my blog, which was the only way I knew how to show myself to the world.

Did we pass each other on the street without recognizing each other? I’d look into the faces of strangers, hoping they’d see me, really see me, and consider me worth the effort. I’m sure I looked like every other face in the crowd, but inside my head I was screaming, “Where are you?”

It’s been a long, lonely, painful slog. I know you’ve been looking for me, too. If you’re reading this, I’m just glad you’re finally here. All during the search, precious time was passing; this was time I could have been spending with you. It felt like such a missed opportunity.

Every time I saw something new, I wanted to share it with you. Every time I got good news, I wanted to tell you. Every time I hit a rough patch, I wished you were there to comfort me. And there were a lot of amazing experiences I passed up, simply because I didn’t want to go it alone. I hope we still have time to do those things. I hope you’ll want to.

All I’ve ever wanted, really, was someone to travel with, and take naps with, and be playful with and have intelligent conversations with. I’ve wanted someone brave enough to win over and love my psycho dog as much as I do (that alone will weed out the vast majority). I’ve wanted someone who looks forward to seeing me as much as I look forward to seeing him.

I wasn’t looking for glamor or perfection, just mutual acceptance. I want us both to be able to be ourselves. I want someone who gets me. I want us to be able to count on each other. I had that once, and it was abruptly taken away. (I just hate mortality, sometimes.) I miss it.

I want to create a safe and peaceful harbor, together. So if you’re reading this, thank you for showing up. I’m sorry for almost having given up on you. I should have had more faith. But having said that, what took you so long?


By reading my book, you’ll know me. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Generosity Breeds Abundance

It seems rather simple to me. The more you give, the more likely you will be to receive. And even when I don’t receive, I just feel better when I give.

One of the things I try to do regularly is send out kudos e-mails here at work. I don’t know why people find it so hard to recognize and compliment the good works of others, but since I know I appreciate it when people do that for me, I try to do it for others as well. I’ll write the e-mail to their supervisor, my supervisor, the division head, and the person in question. I’ll simply state the good work that was done and how much it is appreciated. I’ll only do this if I sincerely feel it. (People can tell when you’re being fake.)

I also try to keep in mind what people find interesting, and then when I hear something new about that topic, I share it with them. People genuinely like being thought about. I know I do. When someone says, “This made me think of you,” it feels like a hug to me.

I’ve known plenty of selfish people in my lifetime. What I’ve observed is that when you turf guard or hoard the good things for yourself, or put your needs ahead those of everyone else, people stop trusting you. They don’t like you. They’ll hesitate to help you in your time of need. And you will therefore become even more bitter, selfish and angry. It’s a downward spiral.

The best way to stay off that spiral is to give, even if you’re fairly certain you’ll get nothing in return. Give, even when it doesn’t feel pleasant. Give, and let the universe take care of whether that giving was deserved. It’s not always easy. But in the end you, and everyone in your circle of influence, will be much better for it.

Give a Flower by Shichigoro756 on deviantart.com

The Crow from Hell

I used to think crows were pretty cool. They are confident. They know what they want, and they get it. And they’re smart. Scientists have discovered that crows can recognize individual human faces. I could have told them that. I was once stalked by a crow.

One day, after a long, particularly horrible graveyard shift in which everything seemed to go wrong, I was walking to my car and there was this crow sitting on a lamp post, squawking at me. Since I was in a foul mood, I replied, “Oh, shut up.”

The bird dive bombed me! I could feel his wings hit my head.  Chalking it up to just one more annoying thing about the day, I got into my car and drove home.

The next morning I was leaving work again, and there was the crow. Same lamp post. This time he was silent, and so was I. But when I got closer, he dive bombed me once again. Great.

But here’s where it gets really weird. I had the next day off, and my coworker said that the evil creature didn’t show up. He never bothered anyone else. But he was waiting for me every day I worked. Surely a bird can’t grasp the concept of days of the week? Could he be recognizing my car?

This went on for weeks, which to me seems a little petty. Surely there must be something better for a crow to do. It got to the point that I was half afraid to walk to my car.

Then one day he wasn’t there. He never came back. Perhaps he moved on to someone else. Perhaps he felt that he had made his point. And in actual fact he did, because I won’t ever mess with a crow again.

[Image credit: kpbs.org]
[Image credit: kpbs.org]

Anagnorisis and Peripeteia

I suspect that very few people outside of those who are serious literary scholars are familiar with these two terms, but we all should be, because most of us have experienced them at some point, and when we do, our lives change forever.

Let’s start with definitions courtesy of dictionary.reference.com:


[an-ag-nawruh-sis, –nohr-]

noun, plural anagnorises 

  1. (in ancient Greek tragedy) the critical moment of recognition or discovery, especially preceding peripeteia.


[per-uh-pi-tahyuh, –teeuh]


  1. a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work.

So, to oversimplify things, anagnorisis is that moment when the scales fall from your eyes and you realize something for the first time. As a New England friend of mine likes to say, “Dawn breaks on Marblehead.” And that “whoa “moment, that anagnorisis, is what often throws you headlong into peripeteia, a turning point in your life.

Here are some examples:

Anagnorisis: Holy cow! I have the winning lottery ticket!
Peripeteia: Take this job and shove it!

Anagnorisis: My husband just allowed his boss to steal my life savings and has absolutely no intention of doing anything about it.
Peripeteia: Kindly sign these divorce papers. Now.

Anagnorisis: Being told the love of your life has died unexpectedly.
Peripeteia: Quitting your job and moving 3000 miles away to start your life over.

You might think of anagnorisis and peripeteia as the cruel handmaidens of fate, but often when you look back upon your meeting with them after the blessed passage of time, you will discover that they can be the best things that have ever happened to you. You never know when you’ll cross paths with them, but speaking from experience, I owe them a debt of gratitude, and will make an effort to embrace them from now on when we cross paths. But I’ll ask them politely to keep their visit brief, because their company, frankly, can be a bit draining.

hot dog

The Thin Veil of Fame

I just had a rather surreal experience. I was bored and in need of something to do while I procrastinated, so I went on Youtube and stumbled upon a short series called Celebrity Big Brother UK 2002. I’ve always been a Big Brother fan, and this series was only 10 days long, much shorter than a typical Big Brother season, which usually lasts for an entire summer, so I thought, why not? Here was an opportunity to be a voyeur but without the long term commitment.

To summarize, 6 celebrities entered a house where cameras watched them 24 hours a day, and the public voted them off one by one. It was all to raise money for charity. But what made the experience so strange for me was that I didn’t know any of these people. They are celebrities from a different country, and removed by more than a decade. If I passed one of them on the street, I wouldn’t even look up, most likely.

Some of them desperately wanted the world to see what they were really like, while others were more interested in closely guarding their personal character. They were all very conscious of public perception. Several of them talked about how they didn’t have a private life.

But I can’t emphasize this enough: I did not know these people at all. So really, it was pretty much like watching a regular Big Brother season, only at an accelerated pace. To me, they were just people on a reality show.

That must be a really strange feeling. It is all to one extreme or another. Everyone they meet is either a fan or a total stranger. How do you live your life when you’re constantly crossing that border from celebrity to anonymity? What does that do to your ego? How do you approach people when you don’t know which side of the spectrum they will fall on? What’s more shocking, being recognized or being ignored?

If I didn’t know it already, this experience convinced me of the artificial nature of fame. It must be awfully stressful to spend so much time trying to cling to something that is as insubstantial as smoke. It also reinforced the fact that there’s really no need to worry about what people think of you. In the overall scheme of things, we as individuals aren’t really that important, and we need to get over ourselves.

Next time I cross paths with a celebrity I won’t be nearly as intimidated. Actually, I’ll probably feel kind of sorry for them. I may not have much, but I do have a stable sense of my own identity, and can rely on the fact that most people won’t remember me three minutes after I’ve left the room. To be honest, that sure beats the alternative, as far as I can tell.


Famous people or total strangers?

[Image credit: thisisbigbrother.com]