Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This year

It's New Year's eve.  I am sitting in my sunlit living room, gingerly sipping a very full cup of coffee (the way only a chronic spiller would) and ruminating on just how much has changed this year.

I've been scanning my inner lexicon for an adequate word to describe 2014 and the one I settled on--that most closely approximates all the things I've experienced and felt--is significant.

It's been a significant year.

Significant in some really wonderful ways and in some really terrible ways.

So many things that we had been anticipating for so long finally happened this year: Moses completing his PhD, getting engaged, moving back to the east coast, finding professional success.

And at least one thing that I never imagined would happen did.

And that eclipses everything else.

And I am okay with that.

Learning to sacrifice things that I wanted for my siblings was one of the best lessons I ever learned.  It's made me a better human, a better partner, and one day, I know will make me a better parent.

I don't mind that this will not be remembered as Wendy's year--this is my brother John's year.  The year that we learned just how strong and brave he was and how strong and brave he could make all of us.

John was the most significant part of my year and I will always cherish this year because of that.

I read an article not that long ago by a woman who had lost her mother and was surprised to find the experience, for her, was not transformative.  I've thought about that article a lot since and I've asked myself similar questions: was I transformed by the loss of my brother?  Am I a different person?

It's a complicated answer.  In some ways, I feel exactly the same.  In other ways, I feel like I will never be the same again.

The more I think about it, the less it seems that loss was the transformative thing: I think it was John who transformed me.  I try to be more kind because John was kind.  I try to argue less with my siblings because John hated it when we bickered.  I try to joke and laugh and enjoy my life as much as possible because that's exactly what John did.

Above all, John reminded me of what unconditional love is.  What a gift to be reminded of that, especially so soon before my wedding.

It's okay, John, you can have 2014 because 2015 is going to be allll about me me me.

Kidding.

A very happy holidays and a happy new year to you and yours...

From the Kozaks



And the Kozak-Wilkses

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hodgepodge

This post will be pretty on-trend for me: equal parts fragmented and sincere.  Don't you prefer your gifts uneven but lovingly handcrafted?  Good, me too.  (Not really.)

All things considered, I had a pretty good Thanksgiving.  How was yours?

That's nice.  But enough about you.

A couple weekends before Thanksgiving, Moses and I had a date night, which despite being together nearly all the time, we rarely have.  We saw Interstellar in IMAX--a movie I knew virtually nothing about other than it being directed by Christopher Nolan and that my brothers went to go see it and loved it--afterwards, we grabbed seafood and old fashions at Mare, an Italian Seafood restaurant in the North End, and we capped off the evening with cannolis from the famous Mike's Bakery, which boasts creamy ricotta fillings, long lines, and a spectacular tin ceiling.

And I would recommend all those things: date nights with Moses, Interstellar in IMAX, seeing a movie you know little about, seafood, old fashions, cannolis, and tin ceilings.

What I wouldn't recommend?  Listening to the asinine conversations of your fellow Interstellar movie-goers:

Wait, so, what's a wormhole again? I guess you must have missed that episode of Two and a Half Men when they explained it.

or There was too much pseudoscience!  Yes, too much pseudoscience in this science fiction movie. Or was it a documentary?  It was documentary, right?  Nailed it!

or Well, I think that Heidegger zzzzzzzzzzzzz.  I am sorry, I fell asleep during the last part of that comment because it was sooooo boring. (And probably wrong.)

Ugh, why must my talent be for insults?  Why couldn't it be something useful like french braiding or stylizing my instagram photos?

I'm not too proud to admit that I straight up w.e.p.t. at Interstellar.  Like harder than I did at the google chrome commercial but not as hard as I did at The Whale.  You can visualize my precise level of hysterics now, right?  Okay, great.  Anyways, I left the theater convinced that I, like a total pro, had successfully practiced the art of silent crying. Until I mentioned this to Moses who, the supportive partner that he is, assured me that: Oh no, it was quite audible.

I've noticed that in my family, we do this thing where anytime one of us expresses doubts about ourselves, be it imposed from an internal or external source, someone else instinctively chimes in with a line of positive reassurance:

You're not fat.

S/he's just jealous!

Maybe you're just too smart/pretty/talented/good clogging that they feel intimated.

That's how we Kozaks roll.  Just stoking each other's egos like a long burning fire.

Moses needs to get on that.

I think in this instance, the Spice Girls said it best: If you want to be my lover, you gotta get with my familial behavior of constant reaffirmation.

Hmm...let's see, what else can we talk about?

I recently discovered that listening to audio books while I am at work is incredibly pleasant and I would highly advocate doing this to anyone who can reasonably get away with wearing a pair of headphone while toiling away at their respective place of business.  Unfortunately, this counts you out waiters.  Sorry. Now stop reading this and get back to work. The terse businessman at table 12 isn't done shaming you for your life choices.

But Wendy, you say, what about just listening to the same podcasts over and over again?  Isn't that more enjoyable?  For sure but as it happens, being able to recite podcasts that no one else has ever heard or has listened to a grand total of once isn't as entertaining at dinner parties as one might think.

So, last Monday, I joined Audible and used my one free credit to download Amy Poehlr's Yes Please, which was really, really good: less funny but more substantive than I was expecting.

In addition to being endearingly effusive about all of her SNL and Parks and Rec castmates (heart by still), Amy Poehlr also doles out some pretty solid advice and manages to be unpretentiously thought-provoking.

Here are just a few things her book made me consider/reconsider:

-How and when to apologize: I apologize a lot. For things that are in no way my fault.  The polar vortex?  I am sorry.  Your mascara a little clumpy? Super sorry (mine too, perhaps I should purchase some more than just once every four years).  The fact that your husband bought the wrong kind of milk.  I am...actually not that sorry; men should never be trusted with those types of things. Anyways, you get the gist: it's like a tick and I know that some (most) people find it annoying but I just can't seem to help it.

Well, how about trying to help it?  Your apologies will mean more if you give them less.  Also, don't punctuate the apology with an explanation.  It doesn't matter why you thought you were right, you weren't.  Own it.

Thanks, Amy.  I will try and most likely fail at this but you know, unofficial new years resolution fodder fo' show.

-My relationship to social media: I realize I have a blog and everything and every now and then I feel pretty conflicted about that because do we really need to document everything?  I mean, I know I only post at most twice a month but, I check social media a lot.   Like a lot a lot.  Robotically, I will click into instagram, facebook, or other blogs I pretend I don't actually read (but secretly do) like an electrical socket, and it rarely serves any other purpose than for me to indulge my inner restoration-lit level voyeur.  And once more, it doesn't typically make me feel good: I will get annoyed at an ignorant article that so and so I met once or twice at a party posts on facebook or feel ashamed that I still haven't hung up my clothes from my Thanksgiving suitcase when so and so's house is looking so beautiful and luminescent on instagram.  How are your houses so luminescent?  I have at least three separate bbq sauce and chocolate stains on my walls from the last ten days and I don't have dogs or kids.  So...social media, why do I let you do this to me?  More importantly, why do I let me do this to me?

-You have to work for what you get: this is a big one for me.  And I really agree with what Amy Poehlr has to say on this topic because I do believe you have to work hard for what you want. Sometimes, by sheer happenstance, you will luck into something.  But those instances are statistical anomalies; those people are the exception and not the rule.

But I realized while listening to Amy Poehlr speak about the myth of "being discovered," as if landing your ideal gig was a spontaneous singularly occurring event like the alignments of the planets rather than a slow adjusting and edging toward.  I do sometimes think like that.  Not with my job but with building new friendships (and I guess maybe readership too?  Who knows.  Don't look at me.)

I am relatively introverted and I enjoy having a few meaningful friendships with people who inspire me over having more friendships than I could possibly sustain with people I marginally tolerate.  It's not elitism, it's just...well, elitism.  Although, I prefer to think of it more poetically as the soul selecting her own society and then shutting the door. (ED foreva.)

Of course, when you find yourself in a new city, cultivating friendships with people in your new environment is important. But I seem to somehow think that all it takes is me being clever in front of someone once and they will pursue a friendship with me because clearly I am brilliant and charming and everyone wants to date me.  Right?  Nope.  No one wants to date me.  It's like junior high all over again except with (much) better outfits and probably better hair (but only fractionally).

The fact is, you could be the most delightful person in the world but you won't really make friends unless you make an effort.  You have to go to happy hours (which, turns out, is not a thing in Boston) and you have to get to know people--you have to work at it.  And you probably have to save your dryer humor (or in my case, all humor) until you know the other person can handle it.

I take solace in the fact that my most valued adult friendships are with people who I maybe didn't have an immediate connection with.

So I will work on making friends by putting myself out there more.  I'll do it this afternoon, I swear.

-Care less about what others thinks: I don't mean be less insecure because that's not really my problem.  What I mean is that I am considerate to a fault.  If I catch glares from the people sitting next to me in the restaurant because of how hard and loud Moses and I are talking and laughing and generally enjoying each other's company, I will feel really uncomfortable and usually try to tone it down a bit.

This is all fine and good when you are dealing with reasonable people with reasonable expectations. Like, yeah, maybe if we were sitting next to someone holding a sleeping baby in an otherwise quiet restaurant (that probably doesn't exist anywhere) and Moses and I were being a little too rowdy, maybe then it would make sense to adjust our behavior in order to be kind to that person.  But if someone is just annoyed at you because you are having fun with your partner and they are sitting across from someone who thinks discussing different salad dressing flavors is good dinner conversation, than why should you do anything to accommodate these dum-dums?  The point is that you shouldn't.  So I will try not to.

And now our tangents have finally brought us to an awkward stopping place. Where I plan to leave you, bewildered and befuddled as you might be.  I guess I prescribe to the Hansel and Gretel method of blogging: lead you out into the woods and abandon you.

I'm sure you can find your own way out.

Oh and in case you are wondering--but of course you were--this is what 30 looks like.

Extra, extra! Stand next to the tree in the Prudential Center and you will looked photoshopped into the picture.

I moonlight as Roxy Heart on the weekends.
 At least on me.



 So, be thankful.