The difference between us

We took a walk to explore a nearby park. I say “park” because that’s what the city calls it, but it turned out to be more like a rain forest, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. The trees form a lush canopy and many of them are covered in moss. A creek winds through the park and there are a few places where you have to walk through the water to follow the main trail.

I must have said, at least five times, how beautiful the place was. I said it would be nice to come back and run the trail sometime. I said all of that because I was trying to suppress a steady stream of terrifying thoughts.

If someone came up behind me in here, could I even hear them over the sound of the water? How would I get away? Jump into the creek? I wonder if any women have been abducted in this park. I wonder if any bodies—God, if something happened in here, no one would hear the screaming. 

There was a fork in the trail and I led the way down the pathway on the right. I knew that the trail would loop back around, so I thought it didn’t matter which way we went. But that path was not our trail. It ended a few feet from a wall, surrounding the backyard of one of the homes in the neighborhood. We speculated that the people who live there probably just jump over the wall to walk through the park.

The police would probably question those people, I thought.

We turned back around and eventually found the main trail again. On our way back out, we encountered two women, walking with a young boy. One of the women asked us if there was a place to picnic.

“There’s a bench up ahead,” he said. “You could sit there.”

“But other than that, no,” I added. “Really not much.” At least there are three of you. That’s probably safer. 

As we made our way back to the car, I spotted a driver’s license, lying on the side of the road. It was just a license—no credit cards, no purse, no wallet. I stopped to pick it up. It belonged to a 21-year-old woman from Pennsylvania.

“Maybe we can look her up online and try to send it back to her,” I said.

“But how did it get there?” he asked.

“I don’t know… She was walking home a little tipsy and it fell out of her purse?”

“Could be.”

“Someone stole her wallet and threw the license away?”

“That seems more likely.”

“She could also have just been out for a run, and then it fell out of her pocket.”

“But who goes running and just carries ID?”

“I do. Every time I go running alone, I put my driver’s license into a zippered pocket. Somewhere it won’t fall out.”

“Why?”

“In case something terrible happens, so they’ll know who I am. You know… if…”

“Oh…” he said. “Right. Male privilege, I guess. We never even have to think about things like that.”

Josie

When I first met Josie, I asked if her name was short for “Josephine.” It reminded me of The Wallflowers’ song by the same name, which came out when I was in high school. I’d see Josie around and in my head, I’d hear the chorus:

Josephine
You’re so good to me
And I know it ain’t easy Continue reading

Bob Marley and I were eavesdropping

“I could be Native American,” she said. “I mean, I like turquoise.”

It was Saturday morning and I was seated outside on the patio, at a small table in front of my favorite bagel shop, just down the road from my house. I had gone there to spend the morning writing in my journal, which was lying on the table in front of me, open to a blank page. I had just begun to spread low-fat cream cheese onto my lightly toasted onion bagel—that sweet, cherished indulgence I only allow myself on Saturday mornings after yoga—when I heard the voice of the woman next to me. I froze.

I must have heard that wrong, I thought.  

I grabbed my felt-tip pen and began writing in my journal, shaking off whatever it was I thought I’d heard. She wouldn’t have said that out loud in public, I assured myself. Not in Arizona. 

But the woman kept talking and I couldn’t tune her out. Journaling was going to be difficult.  Continue reading

The news

Today is a big day, and it’s been killing me. I have been counting down to this day for months.

In January, I applied to graduate programs at five different schools and today is the day that one of those schools promised to announce its final admissions decisions. I realize that this might not seem like a big deal. And in fact, writing it now–that one out of five decisions is coming out today–really makes it sound like today shouldn’t be a big deal. But my ego disagrees.

This isn’t just any school. This is the school where one of the professors wrote one of my favorite books, and it was a book that was hugely influential in my decision to go back to school and change careers. Continue reading

Random things

I haven’t been writing blog posts lately. I’ve been writing grad school application essays instead. Blog posts are much more fun to write, though, and I can’t wait to get back to them once this arduous application process has passed. That being said, there was one essay I really enjoyed writing—so much that it felt like a blog post. The prompt was to present a list of “25 random things” about myself. Here is what I submitted:

Continue reading

What a trip

Seventeen days ago, I moved from Denver to Phoenix. The move was a disaster and I am shell-shocked from it. Writing is the only way I can seem to process it.

Right now, in some parallel universe, there is a free-spirited version of me who is sitting in the backyard on a sunny day with a group of close friends. She is describing the 858-mile journey as a video game she has just beaten. Continue reading

Can’t help myself

I just spent my lunch hour looking at random shit on the Web. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. I have almost no filter when I do this; nearly any topic is fair game.

Side note: If I’m being honest, I have little patience for people my age who won’t admit that they enjoy spending hours looking at weird shit on the Web. That’s about like telling me you’ve never masturbated; I just don’t believe you and now we can’t be friends because I won’t trust you. Anyway, I digress. Continue reading

The challenge of now

“Our life’s work is to use what we have been given to wake up. If there were two people who were exactly the same—same body, same speech, same mind, same mother, same father, same house, same food, everything the same—one of them could use what he has to wake up and the other could use it to become more resentful, bitter, and sour. It doesn’t matter what you’re given, whether it’s physical deformity or enormous wealth or poverty, beauty or ugliness, mental stability or mental instability, life in the middle of a madhouse or life in the middle of a peaceful, silent desert. Whatever you’re given can wake you up or put you to sleep. That’s the challenge of now: What are you going to do with what you have already—your body, your speech, your mind?”

—Pema Chödron, The Wisdom of No Escape