Projects

Some Suggestions on Saturday?

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

My birthday is now less than a month away. I have just a few short weeks left in my twenties, before the clock strikes midnight, and I join my fellow 3:30 girls in hitting 30. I admit, I’m still not really sure how that is going to make me feel. One thing I have done for a number of recent years in anticipation of my birthday is to create lists. For one thing, I love a list. Let me try this again…I LOVE a list. Arbitrary or not, they help me feel calmer because they allow me to create some semblance of productivity, order, and organization out of situations that seem overwhelming. A list doesn’t solve something outright, but it helps me articulate what I feel spinning around my brain in a way that feels more manageable. Sometimes lists are about organizing time. Sometimes lists are about remembering. Sometimes lists are even about giving language to hopes and ideals. I’m a firm believer that while by no means exhaustive, lists can range from the mundane to the profound in expressing the clutter of the human experience of having a monkey brain. I mean, c’mon, Moses came down from the mountain after meeting with GOD, and what does he bring back to explain how the Israelites should conduct their own lives and relationships? A list!!

Now that you are all firmly convinced of my Type A neuroticism, let me explain what I’m getting at. I started creating lists (with the exception of 1 year) after age 25 at my birthday, calling them “25 Things in my 25th Year,” “27 Things in my 27 year” “28 Things in my…” you get the picture? On these numbered lists would be ideas for the year ahead– ranging from activities purely fun to more goal-oriented tasks. I don’t really go in for “bucket lists,” but I like the idea of prompting and urging myself to try new things as I get older. It isn’t so much that I dread age the way some do, but that I want to counteract a feeling that with age, the more engrained becomes force of habit or stasis. I’d like to believe that continual evolution, innovation, and learning continue throughout life.

I add to these lists places to go, experiences to have, foods to try, books to read– a mix of things that can be done in an hour, a day, a month, and spread throughout the year– some things should be no-or-low-cost (in resource and effort), and others require something of me. Here are a few things (in list form!!) that I’ve done in the past few years:

*Read the entire Bible

*Ran a half-marathon

*Watched an opera at the Metropolitan Opera House

*Opened a Roth IRA

*Joined the bone marrow donor registry

*Knit two quilts

*Taken an African dance class

*Seen the Rockette’s Christmas show

*Tried chicken & waffles, New York egg creams, and whiskey sours for the first time

*Visited the Whitney Museum, Museum of the City of New York, and the Jewish Museum of NY

*Read Atlas Shrugged, War and Peace, Moby Dick,  Pilgrim’s Progress, and The Seven Storey Mountain, among others

*Done the balancing yoga pose “Crow” for 10 seconds

*Gone on dates via a dating website

*Seen classic films I’d never seen like Citizen Kane, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Vertigo

As you can see, there is a mix of fun and business, some things that are time consuming, and others humorously easy. I never accomplish all the things on the list, but there isn’t actually pressure to complete the list. Sometimes things roll over to the next year if I still have interest, and some just go away.

I’m telling you all this because I’m starting early this year to compile the list. This year it’s THE BIG 30. And I’m taking suggestions. Is there a book, movie, experience, food, drink, museum, location, goal, project, class that sounds interesting to you that you’d suggest I add? I may already have done it, no problem. I may not be interested, no offense. But this year I’d really love to have people help me brainstorm if they have any inclination! It helps me continue to expand what the list can be, which was the idea right? I may be turning 30, but my world and me in it, can still grow.

So throw ’em at me folks!! Any ideas?

Projects

Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

So one of the funny things about living in a busy city is constantly hearing snippets of conversation that are completely without context as you walk around the city. This frequently makes me smile, because you hear all kinds of things said, gathering a fun set of one-liners to take you through your week. Here are a few of my favorites from this week. Literally, these are things I overheard in my journeys through the city:

“I live in Vancouver, Everyone there is Chinese.”

“Can you imagine what it would be like if I actually liked drinking beer.”

“Hakuna Matata”

 

Projects

Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

Literally only this…this is my post for this week! Tonight (Friday) I made it through my very first preview at a brand new theatre in a brand new job on a new show and had zero notes from my designer and….whew. Now let’s do a two show day!

Projects

Sometimes there’s Sorrow on Saturday…

We’ve talked on this blog about what it means to be an adult. Do we become wiser and more knowledgeable? Better able to handle the inevitable sorrowful situations that are inherently, inextricably  part of the human experience? I’m not sure. I do know that no matter how long I’ve lived, it’s seemingly never easier to comprehend the presence of deep pain and tragedy in the lives of wonderful people. How can someone so full of life and positivity and compassion be taken out of her life, so quickly, so early?

In thinking what I wanted to write, I almost went to the phrase “my friend lost her battle to cancer this week.” And then I realized how ridiculous that was and how much I hated the sentiment. She lost nothing. Certainly she was fighting a battle, but cancer doesn’t get to win the field here and be handed some sort of victory. She fought her hardest and she lived while she fought. While understudying for Heisenberg, the show I wardrobe supervised this past autumn, she was actively undergoing cancer treatments. She was engaging in cancer advocacy. She was raising two beautiful children. In the midst of that, she even made time to listen to me tell her about my nephew or a silly date I went on.

I hadn’t know her for very long, but I’m so glad I met her. I will remember her life, and I am tremendously grateful to number among those who will– all these individual lives of her family and friends, people in the theatre community, cancer advocacy circles, former classmates, fellow parents, and beyond that were blessed to have encountered her.

Until we meet again, Karen, God grant you eternal rest, and bring comfort and hope to all who are left without your physical presence here with us any longer.


If you are interested in reading more about Karen, here’s a neat Playbill article from the Fall about the unique way she tackled the prospect of living with life-threatening illness and yet maintaining hope for herself and those around her Karen Walsh. And if you are interested in supporting her family with a donation, I encourage you to contact me directly and I can guide you on how to do so.

Projects

Commence the Commencements!

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. Close on the heels of prom, we move on to commencement season, so break out your heavily-creased polyester robe and gold tassels! This week, with so many people in our communities receiving diplomas, we explore the topic of graduation! 


Mary Margaret

Does anyone truly delight in graduation ceremonies?

PHD recipients? (woohoo! making good on my $600 investment in this Harry Potter robe and regalia I hauled out from the back of my closet!)

I’ve been dragged to all kinds of events and ceremonies in my life– my own, my sisters, my cousins— and truthfully, graduations rank pretty low on my list of fun-filled moments. At least when you sit through your sister’s dance recital, there’s the consolation prize of sequins and an eventual conclusion to the baby ballerina routines. Piano recitals? Less desirable, but still, somewhat entertaining. But, I diverge.

Considering why I almost skipped my own college graduation, ultimately opting in so my parents and grandfather could see me walk, I’ve decided to permit myself a list of grievances. But because I think the Internet too often becomes a mere gripe-fest, I’m also challenging myself to offer some remedies. I present graduation gripes, along with some helpful hints to survive your next ceremony:

The Gripe: Tedious reading of the names. This goes on and on and on… and if it’s your cousins’ graduation, you probably only know him anyway. So really you’re only left with the conscious awareness of your life draining away minute by minute.

The Remedy: Use this time as an opportunity to practice mindful meditation. Clear your mind of everything except the droning. If you’re lucky, inevitable AV problems will make most of the names unintelligible anyway, thereby easier to focus. Of course, if it’s your graduation, perk up, but otherwise, by the time they get to the Westons and Wrights, you’ll hopefully have achieved some sort of transcendental mantra state.

The Gripe: Mispronunciation of names. That’s right! You’ve made it through years of hard work! Your whole family drove cross state to sit in this football stadium, shirts and dresses sticking to their backs, all so they could hear YOUR name announced! And… the reader didn’t go through the list to make sure they had a grasp on any unfamiliar or unique names. It’s difficult, I know, but trust me school faculty, there are ways of learning how to say these student’s names.

The Remedy: See above remedy…your peaceful meditative bliss will hopefully shield you from over-annoyance that your classmates (especially those of other cultural backgrounds) haven’t been given greater respect in this moment intended to honor their accomplishments.

The Gripe: Wanting to sit with your friends, yet ending up on the opposite side of the field because none of them have a last name alphabetically close to yours.

The Remedy: No brainer- use this as an opportunity to talk to a classmate you don’t typically engage with. What will they miss about school? Where are they going next?

The Gripe: The inevitable platitudes and hackneyed quotes we’ve heard a thousand times. Would you like to inspire us with a little passage from Dr. Seuss ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go?” Yes, do go on.

The Remedy: Nope, nothing doing, Just deal with this one and buckle up for some Winston Churchill inspirational passages!

Truthfully, I’m nostalgic when I witness students clutching their cardboard hats and exuding their Graduation-Commencement Aura, remembering that particular feeling around this celebratory/fearful/proud/anxious moment. We use the words graduation and commencement interchangeably, though they aren’t precise synonyms. We graduate and receive our degrees but we also commence something; we finish and we begin! Few moments in life give us such a decisive sense of closure and possibility as completing school, so for all my griping, I think it’s actually incredibly valuable to mark moments and occasions in life. So go to your own graduation. But if you can get out of that other one you are supposed to attend? Yeah, maybe do that.


Jillian

“Now you’re on your own. Don’t screw this up.”

If the topic is graduation, I have to share Rhett & Link’s Graduation Song. Because if you just graduated high school, why aren’t you scared?

Just kidding, you don’t have to be scared. Well, not too scared.

My freshman year at Mercer I had to take a course called Scientific Inquiry, which was about, like, thinking like a scientist I guess? And how to apply the scientific method to real-world scenarios or something? The professor was an upbeat, middle-aged computer scientist who commented too publicly and enthusiastically on the “brightness” of my smile. But he also said something a few weeks into the course that really helped me understand what college was about, what I was meant to be doing there, and what might lie ahead.

It was something like this:

High school is for algebra and grammar. College is for learning how to learn. Graduate school is for becoming an expert in your field, and PhD programs are for you to add something new to the world’s collection of knowledge.

College is for learning how to learn. Partly he meant that college is for learning how to study, so that whatever you need to learn in your future, you’ll know how train your brain. That could be learning some new software or technique in your future career, it could be learning to understand a complicated medical diagnosis for yourself or a loved one, it could be learning about how to save for retirement.

But partly he meant something much bigger, too. College is for learning how to learn – how to observe, how to interpret, how to question, how to challenge, how to engage with the world and all of the diverse ideas and ideologies in it. How to find wisdom, and knowing where to look.

My advice to anyone going off to college is to learn how to learn. Study whatever makes you feel you’re fulfilling that goal, whether it’s English, like I did, or psychology, anthropology, African American studies, economics or ancient Greek. I know you need a job after you graduate, but for most entry-level jobs, there’s no major out there that will make you hireable. So choose something “impractical” if you makes you a better thinker and a better global citizen. And do some good summer internships with real work experience and you’ll be fine.

My husband likes the old adage that a wise man knows what he does not know. So go out and learn to learn so you can keep learning. Maybe you’ll go on to grad school and you’ll come to really know something. Maybe one day you’ll teach the world something new. But wherever life leads you, if you’ve learned to learn, you’ll be okay.

You’re on your own. Good luck!


Maggie

In 2014, Jim Carrey gave the Commencement address at the Maharishi University of Management. (The Maharishi and the form of meditation, TM or transcendental meditation, he developed and even Carrey himself each have their own fascinating background and baggage that I would consider separately from this speech)

Part of me wants to post a link to his speech and leave it at that. Carrey’s speech is so vulnerable – he asks questions like “would people still like me if I wasn’t being ridiculous?” It had never occurred to me that a man who would talk through his butt on camera might worry about what other people thought of him. Apparently, he has insecurities, too.

The line that has stuck with me, and continues to echo in my mind when I want to give up and “get a real job” is this:

“I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”

You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.

Owning a small business has been the most terrifying undertaking of my life. For the first year that we were in business, either my husband or I would have what we came to refer to as “the Monday Meltdown.” One of us would become irrationally convinced that we were doomed to failure. I would ask if I should just give up on this and apply for graduate school or go get a real job. My husband would listen. We’d think about it. We’d agree to give it a week, go back to work, and the feeling would pass for another week.

I constantly second guessed whether teaching Martial Arts – a career that I only had the courage to enter because I entered the job market during the Great Recession and I hadn’t been able to get a “real job” – was good enough for me. After all, I had graduated from Vanderbilt University (ranked #15 in the Nation in this year’s US News and World Report) magna cum laude with a double major. If I could do that, I could do anything. But…if I could do anything…why would I do this?

But Jim Carrey’s advice rang so true: You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love. He goes on to say, “so many of us choose our path based on fear disguised as practicality.” It’s true. On those days when I would feel consumed by fear, I just longed for the security of a paycheck where it was someone else’s job to face the bank account.

But as I saw layoffs, industries become obsolete and people replaced by robots, I realized – maybe the real risk was in believing that getting a “real job” was more secure than owning my business.

Would giving up on my little business really help? Should I go ahead and give up because I was afraid of failing? Because I was afraid my job title wasn’t impressive?

I’ll leave you with one of his final thoughts. One that has given me the courage to continue in the face of fear:

 “You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world. You will only ever have two choices. Love and Fear, and don’t ever let Fear turn you against your playful heart.”

Projects

Something Swell on Saturday…Memorial Day weekend

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

My something swell is very obvious this week because I am taking a very quick two-day trip home to Georgia for family time! This will be the first time my two nephews will meet, since they live in different states, and only the second time I’ve gotten to hold my younger nephew (who’s six months old now!!) plus I get to rub Emily’s baby bump (I need my niece to hear my voice for the first time!)….so, basically what could be more swell than any of these things? I’m only sorry the trip will be so brief, since I have to get back to work on actual Memorial Day on Monday.

But Memorial Day is another important and even positive thing to reflect on this week–though also sad since we are remembering people who have lost their lives. It reminds me, who lately often feels despairing and cynical about the state of our nation, that since its foundation, there have people willing to stand up and risk their lives in service to this country and the other people who live in it. Our ideals of of freedom and preservation of life and liberty, which I believe lie at the core of our nation’s values have asked of people to risk their very being. While I believe there is little glory in war, that victories of violence can scarce be labeled as victory,  I also believe there is great honor in what we do in the service of other people.  I believe that we do owe a great debt of gratitude to those who were willing to put our lives before their very own. The people we remember on Memorial Day believed in the preservation of this nation and it’s people, so I must also continue to believe in the worthiness of this pursuit of preservation.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…I’m gonna be super happy snuggling my nephews. Thank you to those who gave everything to preserve a nation where I could do that safely on a Saturday afternoon.

Projects

Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

This week, it’s time to share something that has been making me smile for a couple of weeks. I smile because I’m excited. I smile to hide the nervousness. I smile because I’m starting something new.

I got a new job. Starting at the end of the month I’ll assume the role of resident Wardrobe Supervisor at the Laura Pels Theatre for Roundabout Theatre Company.  Roundabout is the largest non-profit NY theater, operating  multiple theater spaces, and producing a season of new works and revivals each year. I’ve enjoyed seeing many Roundabout shows and known quite a few people who’ve worked with them over my years in NY, but this will be my first experience actually working for them!

The opportunity came about wholly unexpectedly– an email sent to me on a Tuesday by a friend and co-worker– an email inquiry sent by me to a designer I’ve worked with who often designs at Roundabout, an interview the following Monday–  basically from start to finish, learning about the job to getting it– was only a week! By Wednesday I had a job offer that I felt so confident about, I said yes immediately. I’m not an impulsive person, and this was not even a prospect I could have imagined three two weeks ago, so I suppose there was something in me truly ready to take a leap. I love Manhattan Theatre Club and the people I have been working with for almost six years there, so it felt like a huge decision to step away from running shows there. But I also knew that this was a unique opportunity, a great moment to take on more responsibility, and to really try something new. I had a moment (difficult for me as a habitually self-doubting and self-critical individual) of allowing myself to believe in my own capabilities. I want to do more. I can do more. Now I’m being given the chance to do it.

So, I’m smiling, because of the unexpectedness of life, for the blessing of opportunity, for wonderful mentors that helped get me to the place where I’m ready to step up to this. Smiling for whatever comes next.

 

Projects

Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

Ironically enough, given the timing of our post on healthcare, on Tuesday I suddenly got terribly dizzy and nauseated, and I had to leave my work call, make my way carefully home (don’t be that vomiting person on the train!!), and then attempt to not move my head for the next 24 hours. It was mercifully brief, but I hate, hate, hate having to not follow through on what I’ve committed to doing, no matter how compelling the circumstances. Having to leave work, take the day off, cancel on plans with a friend, and then sit still was painful for me. I’m not advocating this kind of guilt about being sick– actually it’s really something I should work on. As we wrote on Thursday, sometimes you just get sick, everyone does. Welcome to having a mortal body.

But what it allowed me to do, while I was feeling puny, was finish watching the HBO series John Adams, (streams on Amazon Prime video if you have it, and I’d say certainly worth your time). It stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney as John and Abigail Adams, and while I couldn’t help but wish that Lin-Manuel Miranda would pop up suddenly as Alexander Hamilton, I think the 7-part series is well-acted, well-designed, and also perhaps just what I needed in the current political climate. In the Internet Age, it was illuminating to watch dramatized the life of these earliest Citizens. Even though it was only a couple hundred years ago, how quickly we forget this moment when a relatively small group of people was trying to grapple with what exactly America even was. Emphasis on a small group of people; the series does an excellent job in certain moments of reminding you who was left entirely out of the conversation.

In an era of instantaneous “tweets” and 24- hour news cycles, I enjoyed being reminded of a time where you might have to wait months for a response to a political inquiry or treaty proposal, since that response literally had to travel across an ocean. In an era of “celebrity politicians” I enjoyed being reminded that our US President at one time could walk alone without a security detail through the streets, because he literally might not be recognized. I enjoyed being reminded of the ways things are exactly the same- Congress has always been rife with petty bickering, tunnel vision is inherent to politics, and the Office of the President is only ever held by an oh-so-human mortal, no matter how much we want to mythologize. (See also our older post about First Ladies)

Sure it’s just a mental exercise, but looking at different accounts of our history (it’s interesting to contrast the musical ‘Hamilton’ against this miniseries to really feel the impact of the musical’s lyrics- “you have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story”) helps us keep tabs on what we accept as normal and take for granted in our era.

So if you are in search of some well-produced edu-tainment to temper your intake of the evening news, acknowledge the historical inaccuracies, but take a look to John Adams. You might just feel a little more hopeful and less cynical about our Nation.

Projects

Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

tn-500_heis4

Last Fall I got the opportunity to wardrobe supervise the Broadway run of a show that I ran Off-Broadway the previous year. I truly never thought I could be so fulfilled and grateful working on such a simple show with only two actors and two costumes.  The play was written by an amazing British playwright named Simon Stephens, and starred two incredibly dynamic actors that I am now grateful to call my friends: Mary-Louise Parker and Denis Arndt.

This past week, May 2 to be precise, I was thrilled when Denis received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play. Yes, awards, like theatre reviews, are subjective and sometimes arbitrary or political. They certainly aren’t everything, and people do amazing work constantly without any kind of formal established acknowledgment. But when someone you know has done incredibly fine work, and it’s someone you know had an amazing time and fully lived every second of his experience, and it’s a person who you love, respect, and care for, it’s exciting to see this person recognized. Denis made his Broadway debut at the age of 77, and believe it or not he was a REPLACEMENT for the actor that initially got cast and then had to drop out.(Actually you can read more about his interesting life and the journey to Bway in this NY Times article: “At 77 He Gets to Woo Mary-Louise Parker” ). But now he’s up for a Tony,  being recognized for his performance, and I’m just as pleased and proud as punch for him. Sometimes there is justice in the world, you know?

3:30 Thursday, Projects

May the 4th Be With You…and Other Made-Up Holidays

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. May 4 has now become a sort of pop-culture faux Star Wars holiday, with a now annual tradition of people channeling their inner Yoda and flooding the Internet with punny memes saying “May the 4th Be With You.” This week we look at unconventional holidays—those created and recognized by the wider culture, or maybe just ones we’ve made up ourselves.


Maggie

One of my favorite writers is Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, Happier at Home and Better than Before. One of her tips for being happier is to commemorate minor holidays – St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. As I mentioned on Easter, I do not excel at celebration, gift giving, or any other holiday traditions. That may be why I love the low-pressure nature of a silly or unofficial holiday that you can commemorate with an action, movie or talking in a funny way. I find that Gretchen is right and that it does give me a boost in happiness to celebrate for no reason and have special days to commemorate things like Star Wars, pi, Aunts and Pirates.

Some of my favorites (I’ve included lots of hyperlinks in case you want to learn more about all of my favorite minor holidays and celebrations!)

Google Doodles – I love that google creates a fun illustration or game to honor a person or event that I may have otherwise overlooked. I usually take the time to look up the event, person or occasion when there’s a new google doodle. One of my favorites was the google doodle commemorating the 155th Anniversary of the Pony Express!

May the 4th – Today! A day to celebrate all things Star Wars! I love the enthusiasm and creativity the Star Wars Universe inspires in people of all ages. I love the fan fiction, the costumes, the lore. So, May the 4th be with you!

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Pi Day: March 14 (3/14). Pi (Greek letter “π”) is a constant that represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter. It’s an irrational number meaning it’s never ending, but thanks the the beauty of homophones, it sounds a lot like
“pie,” a tasty treat in the shape of a circle! As a lover of math, Pi Day is obviously one of my favorite informal holidays! To celebrate a little late, check out these math puzzles from my favorite math writer (yes, those exist!), Alex Bellos!

Aunties Day! The 3rd Sunday in July (which this year will be July 23rd) – I found out about this emerging holiday earlier this year. I know that my daughters have some very special aunts (and honorary aunts) for whom I’m so grateful. We have days to celebrate mother’s, father’s, grandparents and even siblings, so I love having a day to celebrate all the wonderful things aunts bring to our lives!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day: September 19- Argghhhhh Mateys! Okay, I know Pirates are actually really bad. They steal, kidnap and do all manner of bad things, and it is probably bad for our society that they’ve been so romanticized in our collective imagination. But, I’m a big fan of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” kind of swashbuckling pirate fun, and I love that there’s a day to celebrate it!

3:30 Day – on March 30th, we at the 3:30 project celebrated 3:30 day for the first time ever, but hopefully not the last! I love having a day to celebrate my wonderful friends and our collaboration is a great source of joy for me! To me, a 3:30 Thursday (if you haven’t noticed, we post on Thursdays!) – is like the opposite of Friday the 13th! A day when lucky things are bound to happen!

Another day I celebrate is October 20 – the anniversary of my first date with my now husband. This day doesn’t have the weight or pressure of an anniversary or birthday, no gifts or cards need be exchanged. But I can note the passing of this day with fondness and gratitude.

I love that on these special days there is no pressure to decorate the house, have a party, wrap a gift, send a card (things I really struggle to get myself to do), but these days mark the passing of time in a fun way. Today, “talk like Yoda I could” and it would feel festive and special, not like “problem I have and need a life I do.” These little holidays highlight that what makes something special is our collective celebration. It’s fun when everyone says “May the 4th be with you!” – but it wouldn’t necessarily feel special all the time.


Jillian

I’m not a holiday person.

I don’t hate holidays, I’m just not that into them. Take Christmas – it’s supposed to be a time when you gather with your family to be intentional about showing each other how you care. But I see my family all the time, and we’re good to each other year round. So I don’t appreciate all the pressure to make December 25th a profound and unforgettable experience. There will be another one next year, so just chill, okay?

If I feel that way about Christmas – the biggest holiday of the year for most Americans – you can just imagine how I feel about lesser holidays. St. Patrick’s Day flat out makes my blood boil. I will not buy and store special items of clothing in a horrid color just for one day a year. And if you touch me, god help you.

But there’s one holiday I love. In fact, I love it so much, I celebrate it every week. I invented it myself, and it’s called PLL Day.

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PLL stands for Pretty Little Liars (Tuesdays at 8pm on Freeform). Here’s how PLL Day got started. First, I fell in love with Pretty Little Liars. Then I got my mom hooked. Then I found some friends who were also obsessed with the show, and we made a plan.

Every Tuesday we’d gather at mom’s house for dinner. We’d rehash last week’s episode and all our theories and questions, then we’d watch the new episode, and lastly we’d spend at least an hour after the show talking about it.

The great thing about PLL Day is that it’s very flexible. It could be as casual as ordering a pizza, or if it was a season premiere or someone’s birthday or both those things on the same day, it could be a whole themed party with a cake.

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And an Instagram photo shoot.

But whether you plan something big or just order takeout, either way it’s always going to be a highlight of the week.

I wish all holidays could be like PLL Day. Not something to stress over, or make travel plans around, or cook a big meal for, or shop for – not something you have to make special, or worry about whether each person will have a good time. Just something to look forward to – a little time with people you enjoy, where the fun is built in. Something to get you through a week, or a month, or a season. And something it’s okay to change, or even to skip sometimes – there’ll be another episode next week.

pll invite
A hand-written invitation I made for a friend.

Just don’t ask me what I’m going to do when the series ends this summer. I can’t think about that yet.

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Mary Margaret

Anyone ever played the silly game whereby you take three people and then deem which  you’d Kiss, which you’d Kill, and which you’d Marry? Here’s my faux-holiday version!

KISS: Email Debt Forgiveness Day

There’s a technology podcast I enjoy called “Reply All,” whose hosts created a holiday called “Email Debt Forgiveness Day.” The premise, as stated on their helpful explanatory link for observers :“If there’s an email response you’ve wanted to send but been too anxious to send, you can send it on April 30th, without any apologies or explanations for all the time that has lapsed.” ( http://emaildebtforgiveness.me/ ) I only learned about their comical, yet grace-filled idea recently, so haven’t ever participated—one reason being that I try to be very responsive with email. That said, I once heard someone express that they felt “oppressed” by email. Not having a desk job where email is my primary form of communication, I can only imagine what it’s like to receive hundreds of electronic communications daily. It’s relatively easy for me to manage my inbox, but I know that for many in the modern world, email creates tremendous pressures and expectations. I’d like to kiss this idea because it opens up the idea of forgiving ourselves and one another for not being perfect users of our technologies, inviting us to break down some of the artificial rules we’ve constructed surrounding our communication via these technologies. Set aside awkwardness, guilt, and simply communicate- Just choose to reach out! I find this concept so appealing that although I may not greatly need it myself, I’d like to give it a smooch and pass it along!

KILL: Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Giving Tuesday

I certainly feel oppressed by email during this annual barrage from basically every company and organization in the country suddenly instructing us to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND! I’m sure there are economic benefits to this trifecta, and I’m not negating the positivity of Giving Tuesday as an antidote to the excesses of holiday consumerism, but I do find the timing and message utterly overwhelming. On the heels of a holiday of gratitude, we’re swiftly assaulted by the message that we do not have enough, are not giving enough, our loved ones don’t have enough; we must open our pocketbooks or miss out! The “holiday” also invokes an extreme competitiveness and covetousness between businesses and consumers both, which provokes strange anxiety in me. Nothing says peace on earth and good will to men like crowd-control fencing outside Target and people being trampled at Wal-Mart. Offering no solutions here; just saying these days make me want to hide out in a remote cabin somewhere until they’re over.

MARRY: Christmas Windows

Now that I’ve railed against Christmas commercialism, let me confess my beloved annual self-invented tradition of visiting the NYC Christmas windows with my dear friend Val. We’ve celebrated for six years, fanatically guarding our pilgrimage!We set the date, plot the route, choose a festive post-window unthawing spot…and in the precdeing weeks, we strictly observe the practice of “NOT LOOKING” in neighborhoods where the holiday decorations are. But the day is really only special because we make it special. Far more important than twinkling lights (which are awesome!) is this prioritizing of one another and time together, no matter how crazy the holiday season is. We give one another this gift that says: we do this each year together because we are family and love one another. I’d say any holiday based on that is worth committing to.