cheaper by the dozen.

You know, good friends are hard to find.


I’ve been trying to tackle the bad habit of comparison for quite some time, and one of the things I always seem to trip over is friends.


I don’t have a huge group of super close friends that I hang out with every other night.  This became more and more evident this year when I spent some sizeable time with a new friend.  He hangs out with so many people that he has known for such a long time.  It made my life seem bleak in comparison.  Because not only did he have that group, but each friend seemed to have his or her own group too, and so it was one huge friend family.


It was so much like a family that, as I spent more time with him, I began to realize it was too much like family.  They had familiarity on their side, but even my friend told me I’ve been his closest friend since I moved here at the end of summer.  And we just met.


How is it he could say that?  Well, maybe because it’s his situation that has become the bleak one, should any comparison be made.  Maybe mine is small, but mine is rich.  Rich in character.  Diverse.  United by qualities, not by quantity of time together (which still has its perks).


I think it’s easy to keep an old group of friends, but how can you expect to grow and still be as close by the time you’re in your 30s?  My opinion is that you rarely can, unless you stunt your growth or your friend’s growth.  I feel like growing apart is natural as you grow up and become you.


And meeting new friends can be hard.  We have developed and we know more what we want, what we need.  It’s less about sandboxes and more about support.  If his friends haven’t been providing him over the last several months in the way I have already, his friends aren’t very good friends.  It stings to realize that.  But really, what are friends for?


You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends.


This became all so clear to me yesterday on my birthday.  My real friends were the friends that took genuine care to remember my birthday without a Facebook reminder (which I removed), the ones who took a minute of their day to share with me how much I mean to them.  Even if some forgot, my real friends were also the ones inviting me or accepting invitations willingly to meet up with me, no matter how much of an inconvenience it may be at times.  My real friends are the ones giving me rides when my car breaks down and I have to be at work by 8am on the other side of the city.


And so I realized, wow, my friends are great.  The company you keep, right?


I may not have a family of friends, but I have more than I realized.  And my “family” is a Cheaper By the Dozen ordeal made up of a wide range of adopted children.  I pluck a good one like an apple from every tree I can reach.  They’re all good apples and they all have their best qualities.  And even if they’re from far apart, I can throw them in the same basket and it’s comparing apples to apples.


I will be testing that theory tonight at my party.


Finally, I am grateful that I am so meaningful to my friend because I am so grateful of him and all that he does for me.  Out of all the ones I’ve got, he is probably the cream of the crop.  Sure, he drives me crazy sometimes, but I have so much more patience because I see a little bit of me in the things he does.  He always takes the time for me and he always has me in his thoughts.


My friends are witty, smart, driven, caring, compassionate, active, and they’ll go the extra yard.  Thank you, friends; I love you.


judging a book by its cover.

You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, or so they say.  But is that always true?

Well I say – “that cover looks really interesting”.
Maybe the author designed it?  Made it?  That’s cool!
Or maybe the author just chose the design.  Or inspired it.  Or selected the person who made it.
Maybe the cover resonates with me the same way the book will.
Or the same way it did for the people responsible for the book.
The book filled with ideas,
of that same stream of thought,
which I will be reading with a similar resonation.

Of course, sometimes an author puts a lot of work into a cover because there’s no other hope of selling it.
The book wasn’t really up to snuff,
it’s not going to appeal to the right group of people,
there’s something lacking that we can compensate for by making the cover look like this…

In my experience, the cover can be judged – as long as you know how to judge it.
You can judge a cover all you want if you look for its underlying intentions, or message, or motives.

If the book is designed to demonstrate what’s inside,
to capture the eyes of those and only those who know how to respect it or dare to try,
or even if it’s simple, unimpressive, and quiet……
Those are the books that want to be picked up by the right people.
Those books aren’t trying to impress.

But those books that are trying to look better than they are,
the ones striving to meet some elegant standard when the content itself isn’t worthy of that status,
when the cover is tailored perfectly but the inside is empty, bleak, dull,
Those books are trying to impress, and they’re shallow.

JUST LIKE PEOPLE.

And I’ve thought about that a lot lately.
How we judge people by their covers.
And how it’s actually okay to do that – if you know what you’re doing.

If you can perceive why someone is dressing/decorated/mannered the way he/she is,
and if you can consider his/her environment, drive, and most importantly message,
then you might really start to see people in a different light.

True, some people have a lot of tattoos.  And piercings.  Or dress very strangely.  But there’s a reason why they do it, and it might not be so obvious to you, the judging eyes, the person hiding behind your thoughts who could never be as brave as to dare to be that different.

But I see so many people in collared shirts who scoff at others, who earned top grades at school and can’t admit when they’re wrong, who study straight out of the book and lack total creativity, who LIE to people’s faces to win their favor, who SCHMOOZE to work their ways up corporate ladders,… Sometimes I see these people as fancy book covers, the ones who meet all the criteria of being something they’re only pretending to be.

I’m not saying I condone being one way or another because I believe a person has a choice to be how he or she wishes, I just feel like there’s too much hatred towards people who are different because, in reality, they’re daring and unafraid and completely their unconstrained selves.  And that scares people.  It threatens them.  And it’s so much easier to put down those who think outside of the box and dare to be different than it is to accept that cookie-cutter people aren’t always the best, most honest, good-hearted people.

Because they’re often times not.
I’ve worked with enough of them to know.
Enough to see that I want the people I surround myself to be whoever they are.

Whether they look cookie-cutter like, or if they look like those little cookie dough tidbits all stuck together again that didn’t quite make a whole cookie…
Whether they’re intriguing silent book covers, bright and flashy ones, or elaborate works of art…
Whether they dress from only one palette that suits them or if they wear whatever fit their budget that week at the store…
Whether they wear their hearts on their sleeves and come to me or if I have to slowly earn their trust for them to open up…

I just want them to be what they don’t need to try to be, and I don’t want them to try to be something that they aren’t.

the least expected.

I really like things that are the least expected.

I’ve gotten accustomed to always expecting the least out of anyone.  I figure if I don’t have any faith in them, I don’t have to worry about ever being disappointed.  But what kind of life is it to have no faith in your friends?  To never have any expectations?  Admittedly, anticipation  keeps me moving forward.  Expectation must be a part of that anticipation.

But what about when the least expected isn’t a good expectation at all.  Like when I am in the most exciting moments of my life and the people who I want to actively partake just trudge on with their ordinary lives and think they’re making up for it by occasionally asking me how I am.  Like when I’m at Nationals for hockey and you don’t need to text me because there is online streaming, results, and a half dozen free apps that could keep you updated without asking.  And asking just proves to me that you’re not paying a damn bit of attention to something that’s important to me.

Yet what I didn’t expect was the numerous people who have texted me, messaged me, whatever-ed me and proved to me that they are up to date, that they are paying attention.  People who are so far away, too!  There is no one in my office at work who is paying much attention to my tournament, the people who see me the most and – in some cases – are the closest to me, yet I’m getting text messages from Colorado, SnapChats from Hawai’i, messages from Germany,… so many other people going out of their way to care about me.

I didn’t expect that.  And I know that part of being a long distant friend is taking a little extra effort to maintain that friendship, but when someone is close and takes advantage of that…thinking that means they don’t need to try as much, even if it’s subconscious,…well, forget that.  Just FORGET that.  You don’t mean anything.  Not in the long run.  And that’s the only run that matters.

“he’s just so nice”.

I have heard that so many times.  “He’s just so nice”.  Someone who’s just so selfless and does things for people all of the time, someone who goes out of his way for no reason.  Someone who’s just so nice.

Well, I used to think that.

I used to see all of the favors done, all of the thoughts thought of me or the prayers prayed to keep me safe.  I used to think the food handouts, spare change, and bought meals were just part of that perfect niceness.  But it’s not.  He’s not so nice, really.

What is it to be a good person?  Is it doing favors here and there, smiling, asking about someone’s day, and making materialistic contributions to others?  No, it’s not.  Not at all.  Being a good person is doing things for someone that often never get acknowledged.  And it’s NOT about donating money and things but more about donating time and making sacrifices.

It’s about staying behind after work – even if you have somewhere to be – to make sure someone makes it to the car store for oil, not about asking if they’re okay and handing them cash then going home.

It’s about telling someone else “no” to something you wanted to do, like sub in a volleyball game, so you can say “yes” to do something you know means way more to your friend, like be the only fan she’s ever had at one of her games and sitting the whole way through.

It’s about volunteering or going to church to better yourself, but it’s NOT about telling someone else what you’re doing in hopes that you can win them over in some way.

But most importantly, it’s about treating those closest to you the best.  It’s great that your mommy thinks you’re just an excellent, attractive good-doer.  (Part of that is she has to, she’s your biased mom.)  But does mom see how you treat those who are emotionally the closest to you?  Who rely on you to feel better about themselves?  Who invested trust in you and then you broke it fifty times along the way?  Mom only sees what you let her see, and you’re not letting her see that.

Why do people give money anyway?  Well, honestly, it’s a selfish act.  Donations make people feel good without having to really do anything.  Seriously, look it up.  Why we do things for others.  It’s actually centered around ourselves more than the people we’re helping.  So when he’s being so nice, isn’t he really just boosting his ego?

And when you give out money, ever considered how it hurts?  To feel so incapable of taking care of yourself that someone with a similar job has to be giving you handouts?  So there we go.  You boost yourself up, I bring myself down.  Who’s it really helping?

I don’t care how much money you give someone or how good you make your life look on a resume.  If you can’t make real sacrifices from your own life to be a true, supportive friend… If you can’t stop thinking about yourself long enough to keep from breaking trust and wounding someone… well then you’re really not such a nice person after all, now are you?

Think about it.

Whiteout.

There’s a whiteout outside of my window. There’s a whiteout in my mind, too, as I seem incapable of seeing through life clearly right now.

My nose is broken, my health is in question, my car is out of service, my money is tight, my patience is thin, my lack of sleep is nagging, my to-do list never shrinks, my friends stopped calling,… I feel like I’ve hit such a wall. If I had a résumé to life, it might look impressive, but my life off of paper is just plain exhausting right now.

I think not knowing where I stand with people lands me in that fog. It makes it even harder to get out of a bad streak when I feel like I’m always going to be doing it alone. It was rewarding when I took my first few independent steps – months – but years? I feel like it’s been eternity since I fit in with a group of people.

Today I was pretty torn up over some social situations. I walked into another office at work for some training we do periodically. A coworker that is too snobby for my liking was standing with some girls from that office. They watched me intently from the doorway to the landing beside them. When I started to introduce myself (I was on their home turf so I expected they’d introduce themselves first but they didn’t), they literally talked over me and then walked away.

All day I kept trying to make conversation with someone, someones in particular too, and I just felt awkward or shut down.

I can’t help but think it’s just me, I’m paranoid, everyone else thinks the same about me…but all the negativity from this month keeps stacking up. Not to mention my always miserable Valentine Days.

I guess sometimes it just feels good to feel sorry about yourself when no one else will comfort you. Especially when you feel as run down as I do this month…