July 26, 2021 → Recharge
I love my planner. I keep it next to me at all times — whether I’m working or reading or sleeping. I even take it out with me when I go on walks outside. No exceptions.
One of my favorite things about this planner is that it has a little box at the top for you to put your word of the day. Well, actually, it’s supposed to be for your “Focus” of the day, but I like words and this faux leather volume is mine, so I do what I want.
Today’s word, which I’ve hand-lettered into the tiny black box, is “recharge.” I draw a little half-drained battery beneath the cursive. I’ve chosen this word because it’s precisely what I need to do today — relax and fuel up for the rest of the week coming ahead.
Last week was trying, to say the least. I juggled job interviews, group pitches, filming a vlog, hitting 15k on my writing project, catching up on my reading, and speaking at a panel. A part of me thought that I wouldn’t make it through Friday, never mind the weekend. I’m a little surprised that I’m here today, still functioning and not at all zombie-like (okay, maybe I am a little groggy, but I’m here and that’s what counts, I think.)
Anyway, the word “recharge” is funny to me because it’s something that you do for machines. Like when you use your computer too much, it starts to heat up, and maybe the battery indicator will flash red. You’ll know you need to find yourself a wall outlet before it dies. You can’t push it. There’s no question. it’ll die and it’ll be pointless and who wants to use a computer that can’t turn on?
Okay, maybe that’s not hilarious at all, but what intrigues me is that for some scientific reason, humans need to be recharged too. We get tired after a long day at work. We’re hungry if we don’t eat for too long, thirsty if we forget our water bottles at home, and are running too late to stop by Starbucks.
The difference between us and machines is that we don’t have some kind of indicator to help us understand when we’re about to (metaphorically) drop dead. We just keep working and working and working without knowing when to stop. Our bodies may tire, but without any of those objective signs, how do we know when to stop? We tell ourselves to push a little harder, to say yes to that last assignment, to stay one hour later at the job we thought was our dream one.
But what happens when we forget to recharge and our batteries give out?
July 27, 2021 → Pacman
Today’s word is “Pacman.” Not because I’m playing the game, but because of this song that I just can’t get out of my head. It’s not like I’ve ever met Jae or know who he’s singing about. But despite that, something in his music resonates with me.
So far I’ve replayed to it maybe about 30 times — a few while writing some drafts, a few more during my 10-minute screen breaks where I do nothing but gulp down a few sips of water, then lay in bed with my eyes closed and his voice filling my ears.
Whether you say you’re listening to music just to have something to fill the silence or because you’re bored and have nothing else to do, the universal truth is that good music makes you feel something. Good music is the kind that hits you in that spot right between your ribs, the kind that makes you want to pull out your notebook and create something. Good music makes you remember the two girls you saw holding hands on the commuter rail, the characters bickering in the book you were reading last week, how everyone in your city sees the same sunset on the drive home.
Music is a reminder that even if we are miles apart, even if we’ve never met, we still share the same universal experience of existing.
The heartbreak you’re facing? Someone else is staring out of their window and lipsyncing to Taylor Swift too. The triumph in your chest? Someone is pumping their fist because they just got into their dream school too.
You are never alone, not really.
Music might just be a recording of voices and instruments arranged together, but it’s also a reminder of our shared experiences. Our shared existence.
Now leave me alone so I can daydream about running outside and shouting the lyrics to Pacman when it rains.
July 28, 2021 → Business Casual
Today’s phrase is “business casual.” I recently landed a job, and like the good citizen I am, I read the employee handbook from front to back the day I got it. I saw the words “business casual” in the dress code. It brought up the age-old question of, what is business casual exactly? How can something be considered formal enough to be business, yet relaxed enough to be casual?
What I’ve learned, from dressing myself for copious amounts of class presentations, is that business casual is either heavy on the business or heavy on the casual. I’m talking summer dresses vs. full suits and ties. Like, fresh out of the box AirForce 1s or heels. There is no in-between.
So how am I supposed to shop for business casual if I don’t know what it means? I probably should have just taken note of what the managers were wearing when I visited the shop to interview. But then again, I was too nervous about what was coming out of my mouth to really take notice of anything else other than my brain running 350 miles a minute.
All of this struggling makes me wonder… who decided what business attire was? Who said that sweatpants couldn’t be a part of office uniforms, or that hoodies (the most comfortable articles of clothing on this planet) are too unprofessional to wear to work?
Not only do these divisions in fabric limit our ability to express ourselves (so what if I like Charlie Brown and Snoopy on my graphic tees?), they’re also just really silly if you think about it. Aren’t dress codes really just businesses playing into the capitalist scheme of trying to get employees to consume more clothing? Or are these policies really just a manmade notion about promoting those who have the funds to spend on expensive business attire while crushing the spirits of those who don’t have the extra dough to spend on a fancy pair of dress shoes?
Regardless of my plights with business attire, however, I’m certainly not going to be the first to show up in joggers and a hoodie on my first day of work. I have some shopping to do.
July 29, 2021 → Sentimental
Today’s word is sentimental. I draw a few Christmas baubles around the word, wriggle in a few string slights where the tiny space allows. My nose wrinkles out of its own volition.
For some reason, the word “sentimental” always reminds me of the holidays. Maybe it’s because as a kid, I always thought of “sentimental” people as those who spent way too much time drinking in front of the TV while their kids played tag in the backyard at family reunions. I’d been hauled from one occasion to another in the past — everything from birthdays to baby showers to aggressive Easter hunts to Thanksgiving’s with no turkey to Christmases where the youngest kids are smothered with presents while us older kids get the gift of sitting and watching.
Maybe that’s why I have an aversion to celebrations nowadays. Like how if you’re forced to eat too much broccoli as a kid, you start to hate it when you get older? (I’m not a scientist, but it seems pretty legit.)
Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m thinking about holidays now, at the end of July when there’s no big national celebration on the horizon.
Well, there is. Sort of. I’m turning 18 in a month and two days. A little less than that by the time you’re reading this. Or maybe I’m already 18 by the time you’re seeing this. In that case, hello. I’m an adult now, I guess.
But anyway, the reason why I’m having an existential crisis over my 18th birthday is that I don’t know how to celebrate it. I feel like I should do something grand — everyone says it’s a big occasion, and all year I have been seeing my classmates throwing big parties with gold “18” balloons in the background. Am I supposed to hire a party planner for this sort of thing?
Here’s the issue. The issues, plural.
One: I don’t really like having parties (as mentioned earlier). Rarely do I enjoy being the center of attention. I hate not knowing what to do with myself when people burst out in impromptu renditions of “Happy Birthday.” I don’t like faking my reactions to the presents people get me because I’m awkward and I don’t want to accidentally upset someone who probably spent hours searching for something to get my picky self.
And two: My first day of college is on the same day.
Hence the dilemma.
I hope no one’s expecting some big celebration. The reality of my birthday is probably going to be me alone in my dorm room, with a single cupcake and an unlit candle, since my college doesn’t allow open flames. I’ll probably be on FaceTime with my mom and my sister and they probably won’t sing me “Happy Birthday” since I’m the vocalist of this family.
It sounds depressing, but I don’t mean it to be. I’ve always been happy in my own company, and if my way of celebrating makes me happy, I think I should stick with it.
Happy birthday to me.
(And sometime in the next 365 days, happy birthday to you. I hope you get to celebrate it the way you want to.)