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The Accidental Podcaster: All About Me
Years ago, in that weird adult-but-not-really transition time of being in college, there was a fad of sending insanely long chain emails under the header All About Me. The messages consisted of a list of questions - LOTS of questions - with the idea getting to know one's friends better. Most of the questions were pretty inconsequential (Coke or Pepsi? What's your favorite color? Do you have any brothers or sisters? What's the most recent movie you've seen at a theatre?1), but some of them got pretty deep. There was one I stumbled across recently from a letter that Baron sent me shortly before we graduated. It started with the question What is your dream? (note: I didn't say goal. I want your dreams.) My answer at the time was as follows:

Many of my dreams are goals in disguise, and I think the opposite works as well. But one in particular, something I'd love to do but never will for reasons that are pretty obvious, is I'd love to just run away and disappear for a while. Just get in the car early one morning and leave everything behind, run away to somewhere I've never been before, see where the road takes me. To me, that's the ultimate adventure: just go to some random place entirely different from anywhere you've been before, to strip yourself of the comfort of familiarity and really experience life. Obviously, this will have to remain a dream, just because people would go totally ballistic and panic if I actually carried through on this. I couldn't do that to the people I care about.

Interesting how so much changes in a decade, and how so much doesn't. *eyeballs Iceland*

My mind's been in about 15,000 places this week between day job, RCM, and trying to make progress on my story, but I keep finding my thoughts going back to those survey chains and one in particular which has stuck with me throughout the years. The respondent was someone I was dating at the time, and the question was Does the person who sent you this survey play by the rules, or relish in breaking them? While the exact reply was lost years ago, his response (to the best of my memory) went along the lines of this:

Jen doesn't really break the rules, but at the same time she doesn't exactly follow them, either. She just kind of assesses each situation and figures out her best course of action to make things a little bit better for all involved. If that means playing by the book, so be it, but if it means finding a creative solution, she finds it. What's interesting about her isn't the fact that she does this, or even that she does it well; what's interesting is that the rest of the world around her just goes along with it.

It was one of those responses that was completely unexpected, given the banality of the rest of the questions (What's your favorite ice cream? Toilet paper roll: over or under?2). And I wasn't really seeing things the same way he did - as I've stated before, there's a LOT of behind-the-scenes that goes into making the rest of the world 'just go with it.'

But at the same time, it was one of those one-off things, those little clues that stick with you and seem to give affirmation that in spite of whatever challenges you're struggling with, you're on the right track. 2016 has had a lot of that. Hell, the past few weeks alone have had a lot of that, and my virtual lunch table peeps can attest to my having several near meltdowns. The important thing, however, is to keep looking for those reminders of why you're doing what you're doing in the first place, and not forget who you are. Some things change all the time, but some things never do.

***

In the spirit of those college chain letters, I've decided to start something new at the ends of these posts: three things I'm listening to, and one thing I'm reading each week (I usually have at least three books I'm reading concurrently at any given time, but as those often carry over to multiple weeks I'm just picking the one that will be devoured as soon as I'm done queueing the post).

THREE SONGS I'M LISTENING TO THIS WEEK: Green Day, Waiting; Counting Crows, Hard Candy; Doris Day, Que Sera, Sera

TONIGHT'S READING: James Essinger, Ada's Algorithm: How Lord Byron's Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age

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1 Coke, green, yes, and that horror movie that had Tom Hiddleston and ghosts in it. Crimson Peak.
2 Ben and Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake, and under-rollers are godless heathens.
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