Goodbye for Now

1stphotofromspacejpg__600x0_q85_upscale.jpg__800x600_q85_crop

Today is the third birthday of this site. It started as an outgrowth of our career group, and turned into a place to talk about the personal backstories behind big life choices. We’ve devoted hundreds and hundreds of happy hours to it in that time, writing pieces, recruiting and editing guest authors, and making it into a site we were proud of. And now we have some news to share, which is that we’re going to stop publishing Small Answers (at least for now). (read more…)

ABCs for a Happy Life

ABCs_allAt the age of six, my sister told a stranger, “Don’t have a lugubrious day!” Even at a young age, she knew big words. She and my mom would practice vocabulary and would always stop to look up unfamiliar words when reading. They enjoyed distinguishing shades of meaning between similar words.

This was their thing; I didn’t bother. I read for plot, easily skipping over gaping, unfamiliar words. If I could understand the general meaning of the sentence, I wasn’t bothered by a quick skip over a missing word here or there. When it came time to study for the SATs, this attitude showed. I spent a bit of time with flash cards to make up for this. I learned the meaning of obdurate and lachrymose (words that my mom was shocked that I hadn’t known by then). Yet, even with new this new vocab, I didn’t fully understand the importance of words and their power to shape how we see ourselves and the world. (read more…)

Perfection is Not the Goal

Two Cubes

No one would mistake me for a perfectionist.

When I think of perfectionism, the garden variety perfectionism that comes to mind has to do with completing tasks exactly right, redoing what isn’t perfect, endlessly researching a new gadget in order to make sure that you get the exact right one. This perfectionism is an exacting and unforgiving search that typically leaves the practitioner dissatisfied.  

This isn’t me at all. If you’ve been reading this blog, I’m sure you’ve noticed a number of misspellings and missing punctuation in my posts. Leda and I often use the motto, “done is better than good!” We apply this attitude liberally to our writing, a great number of sloppy craft projects, cooking, buying a new shirt; anything that can suffice will do just fine. (read more…)

Oops, I Did it Again. Or How Life Circles.

merry-go-round-nahant

Yesterday, I realized that I used to be smarter. You see, I found a letter I’d written to myself last October. It was tucked in a stack of papers on my desk, a pile of things that I want to keep handy, but don’t have a good place for. The letter felt like it had been written by a different person.

In October, less than three months into a new job, I’d had a realization. I had been feeling upset about my role, frustrated with my day-to-day tasks, and sometimes frustrated by structural issues in the organization. But I realized that much of these feelings were coming from things that I’d known about the job (especially the boring day-to-day tasks) before I had accepted it, but I had forgotten that and the reasons that I’d taken the job in the first place. (read more…)

On Money: What’$ It Worth?

waking-up-1989

When I was growing up, my family had a tradition of challenging the kids generation to not smoke until they turned 21. If the kid won, she would receive $1,000, and if she lost, she’d receive nothing. When my older cousin turned 21 and collected, she described all of the things she bought to me: a new bed, a weekend trip, a ring, maybe something else too. I would have been eleven at the time, and I marveled at how much fit into a thousand dollars.

I remember describing the family bet to a high school classmate. She was a big pothead and I had assumed that she would tell me that it wasn’t worth it. Better to have fun now. She surprised me by saying, “$1,000?! I would totally not smoke in order to collect a thousand dollars. That’s a good deal.” Apparently this didn’t have much impact on me. At nineteen, I abandoned my cash payout for a joint in Amsterdam after diligently not smoking through all of high school. (read more…)