Monday, July 10, 2017

Encyclopedia of Me - T (Stacy)

Pictures from my own collection, Youtube, New York Times, Forbes, and Pinterest  

Transcendentalists - So this was one of those things I learned about in college and just fell in love with nearly immediately. One day, I was walking through my college bookstore when I picked up a book of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I started flipping through randomly and was blown away at how much resonated with me. It was as if he were in my mind, reading my thoughts. Things I had considered, views that seemed right to me . . . Emerson expressed them so beautifully and we were on the same page about so many big things. The transcendentalists were a group of people who were into self-empowerment and trusting themselves. They loved to learn and did so often as a group. They wrote essays. They believed in the interconnectedness of people and nature. They were big on intuition and cared more about individualism and authenticity than conforming to society's expectations. They were anti-orthodoxy and believed in equality. They felt that we all have knowledge that transcends the palpable (that "trust yourself" thing). They believed these ideas not as religious beliefs (remember, they're anti-orthodoxy), but rather as a way of understanding life and relationships. I love so much about this time period. Mark and I got to visit Concord and Lexington as newlyweds; and a year ago, we were able to visit there again with our kids. Emerson, Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott, Walden Pond, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, plus all the historical revolutionary war stuff ("Shot Heard Round the World," the Minutemen, etc.) . . . it's a perfectly lovely area to visit.

To Kill a Mockingbird -  I'm not generally one to reread books (there are so many good books out there to be read!), but this book (and Harry Potter) is an exception. I've read it at least a half a dozen times and I think I fall more in love with it each time. Scout is so spunky and scrappy! She makes, in my opinion, one of the best narrators of all time. I laughed with her and I cried with her. Who doesn't melt at her quick fist and big heart? Her good brother and Dill, their sweet sensibilities at the sick injustices of the world. And Atticus! Dear Atticus. Is there a better father in all of literature? I love this book so much. To me, it is a living, breathing thing. I have feelings for this book similar to the feelings I have for people I love. I'll always be grateful to Harper Lee for this treasured, timeless gift she's given our world, a world, sadly, still desperately in need of its message.

TV - We are living in the golden age of television. The shows are quality. The writing is excellent. There's so much good stuff out there! I really do have simple tastes and pleasures, and one of my very favorite things is cuddling up on the couch with my family (Scout included, of course) and snuggling with blankets and one another while watching shows together. We watch all kinds of sit-coms and dramedies. We watch SNL (Tina Fey!) We watch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. We binge watch shows on Netflix or DVD, like Freaks and Geeks, Gilmore Girls, Friends, New Girl, Parenthood, and The Office. We get excited when our shows come back every fall. Even with stuff I don't watch personally, I get excited for people in my family who I know love those shows (Dr. Who, Supernatural, Gravity Falls, etc.). Our current favorite also fits the letter for this post - This is Us. I've never been so blown away by a pilot before. That show is truly phenomenal. Oh, and I should add that we love, love, love Tivo.

Therapy - That may seem weird to list, but it's something that describes me in two ways: one, I am a therapist and two, I've benefited from seeking therapy myself. I detest that there is a mental illness stigma in this country. Therapy is the kind of thing that can benefit absolutely everyone. And the things one learns in therapy should, in my opinion, be taught in kindergarten and throughout school to all children and teens. Mental health should be covered so people can have access and not have to spend so much trying to pay for it. Just imagine for a second how our country would fare if everyone could get the care they need for the emotional struggles in their life. Not a doubt in my mind, there would be more *thriving,* instead of just surviving, in this country, and everyone would benefit. We are, after all, interconnected. I earned my Master's in social work over a decade ago. I've worked as a therapist online (typing!) and in person. I've taught classes (teaching!). I've facilitated summer camps. But the biggest benefit of all for me personally has been the help it's been for me as a person and also the skills I'm able to pass on to my family. Life is hard. Tools to help us navigate life definitely lighten the burden and empower us as people.

Theatre - So this is one I've always enjoyed on some level, but thanks to Kate's growing interest in it a few years ago, we've really gotten into it even more. Some of her online friends were making lots of musical references and she wanted to understand better and know more, so we started Musical Mondays, where the kids would watch/study a musical each week off of a list they made of musicals they've been interested to see. "Hamilton" is a big part of what really got the theatre ball rolling here, but it's definitely expanded into so much more. We live close enough to NYC that we can go in for the day by car or bus or train and catch a show. This past spring, we were able to nab "Hamilton" tickets for the following December. Boy, was that a big deal! In the meantime, we got to see other shows. I was able to take Kate to New York this past summer to see her first show on Broadway - "Les Miserables." Then, in October, Mark surprised me with an overnight getaway and we saw "Waitress" (which has a very special place in my heart) and "Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812" with Josh Groban. Both were amazing. Then in November, Mark's parents came to visit and took us all to see the very hilarious "Something Rotten" in NYC. We all loved it and Max and Grandma got to see their first NYC Broadway show together. In December, our family got to see the amazing "Hamilton." Worth all the hype and more. And then this past spring, Kate and I returned to NYC to see "Waitress," this time starring Sara Bareilles herself. It was fantastic! Mark is taking the kids to see "Comet" this summer as well. Pretty exciting stuff. We also live really close to Hershey Theatre and get to see lots of the touring shows there. We've got season tickets for the upcoming shows because they're all so good (including "Something Rotten" again!!)! Kate also volunteers there and gets to see a lot of shows for free. It's great. Oh, and we got to see the touring company of "Rent" in York a couple of months ago, too. Loved it! I'll toss in one more "T" word here, because it fits - traveling. We enjoy traveling. It doesn't always have to be extravagant - even simple beach trips or visits to NYC or DC are just FUN for us. We simply enjoy being together and exploring and relaxing and having fun.

Trustworthiness and Thoughtfulness - Over the past several years, I've come to appreciate these two traits as hallmarks of a good friendship. As you get older, you begin to notice the difference between one-way and two-way relationships. Thoughtfulness doesn't need to be extravagant. It's checking in. It's remembering what's going on with others and asking them how they are. It's responding when they're hurting or having a hard time. I think it's actually fun to be thoughtful. I have always loved "just because" gifts/notes or surprises or just someone wanting to spend time with me. I like to be on both the giving and receiving end of that kind of thing. We've lived in several states/countries/continents and value our friendships from all those different times in life. I love meeting new people, too. Isn't that part of what life is all about? I especially appreciate and feel safe around people who are thoughtful, but who are additionally trustworthy. Trust, once broken, is very difficult to repair. I have far more lasting friendships than I have damaged ones, but for the ones that have suffered, broken trust has been what did them in - lack of honesty, gossip, two-facedness . . . those things are poison to relationships. And when I think of my absolute best friend, these are two *major* qualities that he has - he is trustworthy and thoughtful. I feel lucky to be married to someone who always looks out for me and is always thoughtful. He has had more than one experience talking to other men who have felt way too at ease badmouthing their wives. I have never, ever once worried that he would do that about me. He is completely trustworthy. This guy has my back and I know it. He is my best friend. A recent example of his thoughtfulness is that after the past few weeks of stress around here from his surgery and colitis, he surprised me with an appointment for a massage. It was so thoughtful of him and it was perfect to go and get one. I'm so grateful to him and for him. I love this guy!!

So, a few other "T" things. Taming of the Shrew is one of many Shakespearean plays that I enjoy and Kate's name comes from it. Another great, more current novel that is a big hit with most who read it (and a big favorite in our book club) is The Thirteenth Tale. I've literally bonded with a now friend over this book and because of that, she joined our book club and has found it to be a perfect fit (and we love having her in our group)! I like tea and street tacos. Many of my favorite games start with the letter T, including Ticket to Ride, Takenoko, Trivia games, Ten Days, True Colors, Timeline, and Tokaido. A lot of music I've liked for different reasons over the years and/or that are musical memories for me also start with T, like Take 6, Taylor Swift, They Might Be Giants, Train, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Trombone Shorty. And I'll add a person, too. TJ. He is such a sweet and thoughtful friend to Kate and, because of her friendship with him, she's getting to have so many cool experiences. I have a soft spot for him because of how sweet he is toward Kate and how he looks out for her, makes her laugh, and treats her so well. And I'm still grinning over his beautiful birthday tribute to her, too. Luna to his Harry. I'm very grateful for TJ.

Encyclopedia of Me - T (Mark)

J.R.R. Tolkien: I'm a big fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I remember my mother reading The Hobbit and telling the story to us chapter by chapter when I was way too little to read a book like that by myself. I remember finally picking up LOTR and reading from beginning to end in college. In the middle of a busy semester with all kinds of Japanese to read and translate, and papers to write, and pre-med classes to pass, I decided I needed to read those. Reading those stories, and seeing the movies, and sharing all of that with my family has been something really fun. I know many people have criticisms of Tolkien's exhaustive style, but without him, modern fantasy would look a lot different.

Trombone: When I was in 3rd grade I lived in Canada, and the Canadian Brass came to our school to do a concert. I loved it. From that moment I knew that I wanted to play the trombone. When we moved back to California and I had the chance to join band in the 4th grade, the teacher told me that he only had experience teaching the flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, or drums, so if I wanted to play the trombone, there would be a lot of working on my own. I knew what I wanted, so my parents rented the trombone and I learned. I couldn't even reach the last position on the slide because my arms were too short, but who plays that many B-naturals when you're starting out on the trombone anyway? I went on to play for many years (and I really should be playing more right now) and it's been a source of a lot of fun times for me. I still have the Bach trombone I received as an eighth-grade graduation present from my parents, and which my middle school band director helped us pick out by going from store to store all over Oakland, so we could get her educator discount. Big props to my parents for letting me take a chance on an instrument that 4th grade teacher didn't want to teach.

TSR: This is the game company started by Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons & Dragons. D&D is one of those things I've played off and on for many years, and each iteration is fun for different reasons. Also, TSR made a role-playing game called Top Secret/S.I., which is an RPG all about espionage. I played it less frequently, but really enjoyed that as well. TSR was purchased by Wizards of the Coast several years ago, so it's no longer around, but I have fond memories of any game or book with that TSR logo on it.

Thelonious Monk: Here is one of the great names in jazz. He's also a great musician. Somewhere in high school I came across his music and became intrigued immediately. He took the rules and twisted them all up in a way I hadn't experienced before. His dissonance and simplistic piano-playing style really spoke to me. At the time, I was probably looking for ways to break free from norms and expectations, and playing some very different jazz music filled that need. I still frequently go back to albums by him when I'm looking for something familiar and pleasant to the ears. Many people will argue about what's pleasant, but that's OK. There's room for everyone.

Tokyo and Takasaki: Here are two "towns" in Japan that shaped a lot of my first impressions of the country. My first night in Japan was spent in Tokyo. I remember being blown away on the ride in from the airport. It was so huge. We drove right through the downtown area and I couldn't believe so many people and lights could be in one place. I was soon shipped out to Takasaki, a fairly big town about 2 hours by train from Tokyo. It was my first taste of how blended agricultural and urban life are in Japan. It was a short bike ride from the huge city center to rice fields and little homes. I lived there for 4 months and it was the perfect place to learn the language and customs. Soon after that I moved to Tokyo for 7 months. Within days I learned to ignore the city sounds and find peace amidst the chaos. I drove in Japan for the first time in Tokyo. That was an experience and a half! And I was blown away with how a city so enormous could still have room for beautiful parks and shrines and temples and tiny little ramen shops. It's still one of my favorite cities I've ever visited.

Trains: I have to go back a lot of years to find a time when trains weren't a part of my life. I rode the BART in the Bay Area plenty of times growing up. Stacy and I took the train home for a surprise visit during our freshman year in college. And since getting married we've always lived close enough to the tracks to hear the sound of the train. Max was a train nut when he was a little kid and we watched a lot of Thomas, read a lot of train books, built many train tracks for Thomas and his friends, and drove toward train crossings to catch a glimpse of a night train. We can ride the train in and out of NYC to catch a show or spend some time in the city. I rode more trains than I care to count in Japan, including the Shinkansen (Bullet Train). I like climbing on a subway car or other train in a big city. There is something relaxing about traveling by train, wherever it is.

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