real love is 4 a.m.

[hey y’all. real quick. you are the earliest readers, the original posse for my little blog, and you are why I write the thing. 2017 is going to be about writing for me, so you can expect regular new posts and other exciting stuff at my new home,, coming in February. If that makes you even the least bit happy, I’d love to get your thoughts about the future of the site: fill out as much or as little of this survey as you’d like, and after you click “submit,” you’ll get a link to the (raw, messy, homespun) inspiration board that’s guiding the site visuals! I promise I’ll read your answers and do everything you tell me use these responses as a guide to launch this big thing the right way. Click here to take the survey!]

commence post.


it’s a deeply spiritual post AND a photo dump of my dog!

I am sitting in a coffee shop in a somewhat unconscious effort to avoid my puppy.

I know this entire post will be laughable to any actual parents reading it, but THIS IS MY TRUTH. Miya just has so many needs—mostly needs to bite things. And working from home, spending 24 hours a day with her, sometimes makes me just a little bit COMPLETELY INSANE.

Poop time or play time can strike at any moment.  I’m always on alert for the sounds of way too quiet. And to be completely honest, I’m sometimes a bit frightened and ashamed by how angry I can get (When have you ever been allowed to bite my sweater or my toes or my sofa? NEVER EVER ONCE HAVE THESE EVER BEEN ALLOWED is the answer NEVER EVER).

img_20161116_153048713.jpgOf course having a puppy makes me the luckiest girl in the world and I love her and I’m also frightened by how happy she makes me and she is so perfect I would never give her up to anyone for anything. But also, she’s exhausting. And the main reason is because I’m selfish.

In your early twenties, you know you’re selfish. But you don’t really know until you find yourself enraged at a puppy for wanting to play. You got this puppy so it would cuddle with you and do cute  things, not to play with it at inconvenient times! You got this puppy so it would make you go for walks on days you felt like it, not on days when you have too much to do.

For a long time, my life has been full of somewhat external forces—school, work, travel, a long-distance relationship—that made it easy not to accept responsibility for others. Even more, my school environment and my own past were full of warnings against doing so too readily. Indiscriminately taking on other’s pain or mistakes or even their very real needs is never truly wise or loving. There are volumes to be written about that. But at the same time, whenever these warnings rolled too glibly off the tongues of certain twenty-two year olds, I sensed bewilderment if not real frustration from the people in the room with young children, aging parents, or desperate neighborhoods. These are the people who know inescapably that love doesn’t have an “off” switch. Love takes chunks out of you.

When you’re in your twenties, you’re supposed to enjoy having options. You can settle in to enjoy life, calibrated perfectly to allow for work, hobbies, fitness classes, Netflix, sleep, reading, and lots of dinners out. You don’t have to choose to let anybody into your life beyond the boundaries of what is comfortable, beyond a sad-face text when they are sick, beyond friendly chatter in the apartment vestibule. Letting others need things from you is nobody’s definition of success. Needy friends and dysfunctional family members are the kind of thing you tell people at work about with an air of chagrin and a hint that you won’t let it happen again.

When we’re in our twenties, we’re supposed to try to make something of ourselves. We’re supposed to invest in an education and then move around from city to city for a while, making strategic career moves and wry comments about how much money we spend on cocktails. Then maybe after a while, we buy a big house somewhere so we can have kids and dress them up in bow ties and teach them to be like us.

And a part of me really wants all that.

Another part of me is remembering these days that prosperity without roots is just another sick addiction, and love without sacrifice is just another cheap good on the market. We’re supposed to think the upwardly mobile life, devoid of unnecessary attachment, obligation, or debt, accomplishes happiness, but that life’s greatest accomplishment is looking good on the outside. Happiness is getting up in the middle of the night with your puppy. Happiness is making a double batch and bringing half to a friend who’s sick. Happiness might not be the phone call that ruins your peaceful evening; but it is knowing you brought some peace to someone else’s.

Lots of people, including me, are talking about self-care after the election. And it’s true, we need routines and strategies to deal with our feelings so that we can respond to things like Trump’s comments yesterday about immigrants with strategic resolve and not with rage and despair. But we also need something deeper than strategic resolve. We need radical love, the kind that will be up in the middle of the night when ICE arrives to separate a family.

Miya is reminding me what it costs and what it gains to get attached. To join your life to someone else’s. She’s gently reminding me what it means to put aside my own convenience and shift my time and attention to another. I think she’s a gift of grace that way, easing me from a phase of self-improvement back into the rhythms and attitudes of other-care. Am I going to drop everything and become a dreadlocked Shane Claiborne type and vow to never move again and never go on vacation again and only be friends with homeless people? Maybe No Not yet. But in using my privilege to make choices about my life, I don’t want to shy away from the hard things. I want to be open to callings besides “make more money” or “chase down this career,” callings like stay when it’s hard and love the stranger and don’t look away. I want to be a part of Charleston, not a consumer of it. I want to walk with people, not around them, even if Miya turns out to love them better than I do.


Hey. Want a sneak peek of my new website, coming in February 2017? Help me make it the best it can be by filling out as much or as little of this survey as you’d like. Once you hit “Submit form,” you’ll get a link to a jumbled-up mess of an inspiration board for a hint at the aesthetics of my new bloggy home.

Click here to take the survey and help make a reality!

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1 Comment

  1. jacquelineinatlanta

     /  December 5, 2016

    That cute puppy is almost as cute as you are


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