Tuesday, February 24, 2015

500 Letters: An Office Man to a Parks and Rec Guy

I watched the show "The Office" for the first time as a freshman at St. John's University.  My friend Corey introduced me to the show the first day I met him. After lending me DVDs of the first two seasons, I was hooked.

About 10 to 15 of us would gather every Thursday to watch the Office in Corey and Joe's dorm room. We repeated lines from the main character Michael Scott, we joked about Dwight, and we emphasized with good-guy Jim Halpert and his quest to be with secretary Pam Beasley.

I have a tendency to think every tv show I get into captures my life perfectly. The Office wasn't any different. I thought Jim Halpert captured my essence and my eternal struggle to find romance and just be a cool guy.

A few year later, I realize I was wrong about the Office describing my life. It's characters are memorable, flawed, and lovable, but not quite like me.

The Office's NBC cousin, Parks and Recreation and its "comedy of niceness" better fits who I am and who I aspire to be. This summary by Chris Kopcow on Splitsider describes the show's intrinsic nature quite well.

The main character Leslie Knope is relentlessly positive and cares about her friends as much as her work. She finds joy in her job and is motivated by doing more good. Is it realistic? Probably not. But the thing that comforts me is that Amy Poehler, who plays Knope, is actually a pretty nice person in real life.

I read an anecdote by one of Poehler's Saturday Night Live co-stars who said Poehler took the new players out to lunch and she invited them to ask any questions to get their nerves out. I like that. I think we should treat a lot people in that way. People are scared, why make life any more difficult?

Ever since leaving Boston, I've had a lot of time to reflect on who I am and who I aspire to be. I'm not the cool, yet tragically unlucky in love early-season Jim Halpert.

I'm a nice person. I like to see my friends happy as much as I am. I like lending a helping hand. I like pancakes. I like chatting with friends about their day. I like checking in. I like making just a little bit more good in the world. #IamLeslieKnope

You know I like to write letters. If you want one, let me know.

Last letter: No. 89 to Shaker Heights, Ohio
Reading: Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott 
Listening: The Bobby Fuller Four
Watching: Friday Night Lights Season 3

Monday, February 16, 2015

500 Letters: Love what it Loves

As a self-professed hopeless romantic, I have mixed feelings about Valentine's Day. I like that we have a day to celebrate the act of love, being loved, and just being with someone. However, as someone who hates pressure, stuff, and forced obligations, I hate it.

I hate feeling like "this day above all days you should be in love." You need to buy someone flowers and have a fancy dinner. Even complaining about the day has become cliche. Being single on the day
doesn't help either.

But I'd like to do all those things, a lot. I like showing my love, whether it's been with a girlfriend, a friend, or any other connection in my life. I like telling people how much they mean to me. My catchphrase when I'd had a bit too much to drink is usually, "I appreciate the role you play in my life."

I haven't dated in a while and this is one of the few times in my life where I've been ok with it. I don't feel the pressure of needing to be with someone.

After writing No. 80, 81, and 82 today, I thought that maybe this exercise is an act of love.

I've been listening to the program "On Being" a lot lately. I like the nuanced, broad approach to spirituality it covers. They had the poet Mary Oliver on the other week and they recorded her reciting her poem "Wild Geese." Here's a snippet I liked...

"You do not have to be good. / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. / You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves. / Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 

I've tried to force things and walk through that desert because I think I'll come out on the other side smarter and things will work out how they plan. I don't need to do that.

Valentine's Day or not, I'll just keep trying to love what it loves. And right now that means writing letters. As always, if you want one, send me your address.

Last Letter: No. 82 to Cambridge, Mass.
Reading: "Love Illuminated" by Daniel Jones
Listening: The Mountain Goats
Watching: Boyhood/Friday Night Lights