Thought Catalog


21 Things Only People Who Moved Around A Lot As Kids Understand

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 01:49 PM PDT

jeinhard
jeinhard

1. You don’t enjoy uncomfortable or new situations, but at this point, they’re so second-nature to you that you usually just dive right in and try to get them over with.

2. College was a much easier transition for you than it was for a lot of people. Name games, introducing yourself over and over and over, getting lost, asking for help, having no clue what you were doing – that was your entire childhood.

3. Your wedding was or will be a destination wedding for at least half the people you know, regardless of where it is. After a life of repeatedly moving around, your friends from grade school, high school, college, and beyond are all over the place, as are your parents’ friends. So at least fifty percent of the group will be traveling to get to wherever you are.

4. When people ask you where you’re originally from, your go-to answer is just to state the last place you lived before you went to college. It’s just easier than saying Well, technically here, but also here, and a brief time here, and here for a couple years before we moved to here, etc. 

5. So when you tell someone where you’re “from,” they’re always surprised that you don’t have any kind of accent. To which you just shrug your shoulders. Because you’re too lazy to explain anything further.

6. You’ve lived in so many houses over your lifetime that when your family is reminiscing, they have to refer to specific street names to keep things straight. “Remember the Christmas at Cedar Lane when everyone had the flu?” or “Nothing beats that one Halloween party we had on Washington Street.”

7. Everyone always assumes that your dad was in the army, and if he wasn’t, you have to explain to people exactly why your family moved such a baffling amount of times.

8. When a relatively new friend finds out where you were born, they typically follow it up with “What? That’s so random.” Which inevitably leads to your two-minute, automated explanation about your insane, all-over-the-place childhood.

9. The anxiety you felt for Cady Heron in the beginning of Mean Girls was unbelievably intense. You felt like a nervous parent watching their child in a soccer game for the first time.

10. Your childhood in one sentence: “Class, we have a new student joining us today.”

11. Your bonds with your siblings are still unbelievably strong to this day, because they were your only constant, guaranteed friends when you were a kid.

12. Move-in day always felt like Christmas morning as a kid, because you got to unpack all the toys and clothes and trinkets that you hadn’t seen for weeks, never knowing what you were going to find in each box.

13. Chances are you went to a college that was over six hours away. Even if you loved your high school (or high schools), your lifetime of constantly undergoing change planted a seed within you that led to a constant need for new environments.

14. As a child, you were always baffled when your friends either had grandparents living with them or got to see their grandparents on a regular basis. For you, seeing most of your relatives always involved hopping on planes or driving long distances.

15. Often your personal self feels like a bunch of different pieces – the you from North Carolina, the you from New York, the you from Texas, perhaps the you from abroad. At times your life feels very segmented, as opposed to being one long, continuous story. Sometimes you hate that. Sometimes you love it.

16. You’re either an expert at packing a bag smoothly and efficiently, or you’re great at messily stuffing everything into one suitcase under severe time constraints.

17. While you love traveling around and exploring different parts of the country and the world, it also makes you sad sometimes. Because you know it’s highly unlikely that you, your siblings, and your parents will all ever live in the same city at the same time again. It’s just not in your nature. And while you love being in a family with a sense of adventure, you can’t help but occasionally envy the friends you know who have a strong circle of people all in one place.

18. …And then you remember that this just means you have an excuse to travel and visit new places. Being separated doesn’t make your family any less strong.

19. Your license almost never matches the current place in which you actually live. It just seems like – what’s the point? 

20. Your brain typically goes into auto-pilot mode when you get to the airport, because you’ve spent your whole life flying. You’re so used to it that you honestly forget that going to the airport isn’t commonplace for a lot of people.

21. If you don’t make friends right away when you’re in a new situation – be it a new job, a new city, etc – it never worries you. You’ve had to press so many reset buttons in your life that at this point, transition periods of loneliness and uncertainty feel perfectly natural to you.

What I Learned From Reading Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Hate Mail

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 06:04 PM PDT

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Martin Luther King, Jr. is often positioned as this happy-go-lucky civil rights leader who sang Kumbaya to the White, American public, and this was the reason why Black Americans obtained their civil rights in law. But this history is distorted and dishonest.

All too often people forget that the civil rights movement was not free from the use of violence or the use of the threat of violence. People forget that even King’s philosophy of non-violence was met with a great deal of physical violence by the state, and rhetorical violence by many in the American public.

But perhaps what is most irresponsible and quite plainly annoying, many (White) Americans have a penchant for reducing King to seemingly honey-filled, buttery speeches. And oftentimes in doing so, juxtaposition such speeches against other Black American activists in the past and in the present, whose methods and philosophies were different from King’s – who they deem are people he would be ashamed of.

Notably this is done most when people compare King to Malcolm X – even though the two leaders had a mutual respect for each other even if they did not agree or become allies. But it is also done a lot in the wake of Black Lives Matter – the non-traditional social movement that has emerged in the time of heightened awareness of police brutality.

But even while King was alive, and as much as history has attempted to reshape White attitudes to him at the time, we know that he was a divisive figure.

Everyone from 2016 Republican Candidate, Mike Huckabee, to the White moderates or liberals on your Facebook who are “down” for the cause, but often seem to demand that the oppressed free themselves from oppression only in ways they approve of – all claim to know what King would say or think or believe during these times.

I find myself skeptical. Not only because King was often skeptical of the White moderate. But if there’s one thing that is hopefully indisputable, it is that despite King’s notable respectability in the problematic White, American gaze at Blackness, he was still murdered in cold blood. His non-violent approach to civil rights didn’t matter. This is racism, of course, at it’s worst – the taking of a human life.

But even while King was alive, and as much as history has attempted to reshape White attitudes to him at the time, we know that he was a divisive figure. We know that he was still hated.

beetlejuice

How do we know King was hated? Aside from plenty of alternative histories (to the ones taught in many a high school history book), plenty of accounts from those who knew him, and plenty of analysis on his less whitewashed, less “quotable” words, we also have this fun thing called the Internet.

And in this vast space of the Internet you can find some pretty cool things – such as the hate mail King received. As one writer has already observed, the hate mail and criticism King received, eerily resembles criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement.

An excerpt from my personal “favourite”:

What about the violence by blacks in these cities?

What is this Black Power business? If it is a threat to Whites– why should Whites not retaliate? Why should Whites hire Blacks?

In these modern times, the person might ask, “What about ‘Black on Black’ violence?” Or, “Why Black Lives Matter, why not All Lives Matter?” The irrational thinking in the thought process of either question, entrenched in the most oblivious kind of White privilege, often escapes those who ask these questions.

The comparison calls for a cliché: The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same.

beetlejuice

I’ve learned a lot from writing about race to a very White audience for the last few years. I’ve learned that White people – more often than not – really, really don’t like it when you talk about race. Even when it plays a significant role in how you experience the world, and most certainly the culture and space you currently live in.

I have learned that it would be a crime to stay silent and not speak on the racial inequalities that I observe and sometimes experience

I’ve learned that many White people are not only disinterested in how race still greatly affects inequality in this country, you are a villain if you reveal the facts, the observations, the social realities that are the consequences of America’s racial history that affect its present.

I have learned that many White people would rather I live in a dehumanizing silence than make them uncomfortable with my reality for one minute, one second, one moment.

But through this all, I have learned that it would be a crime to stay silent and not speak on the racial inequalities that I observe and sometimes experience – most notably not to the extent of many others – but in a different way.

King’s hate mail depicts the irrationality of racism, a certain absurdity of those who refuse to open their eyes to see the social experiences of others, the hardened hearts who cannot at the very least show empathy to those who are by their very existence marginalized, and must resist. These realities exist today too – albeit in different ways. Indeed, sometimes on this fun thing we call the Internet.

King’s hate mail – though hateful – is transformed into the reason to continue advocating for racial justice anyway, and to do so fearlessly. And perhaps with a better understanding of how detractors and distractions operate – sometimes so obviously, transcending generations.

Personally, this means continuing to write and doing so fearlessly. Because my humanity – and the humanity of others – is more important than your discomfort. TC mark

There’s A Place In St. Louis Called ‘Zombie Road’ And You Should Never, Ever Go There

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 03:46 PM PDT

Flickr, simpleinsomnia
Flickr, simpleinsomnia

It was supposed to take people to the train tracks by the river. That's one of the only things I know for sure.

Supposedly, workers who died on the railroad would rise from their graves and wander the around. Or maybe it was the pioneer who lost his wife in a poker game and blew his brains out haunting the place. Or maybe it was the mental patient who escaped an asylum only to be hit by a car and killed, leaving just his bloody hospital nightgown behind. Or maybe it was the kids in the 70s, the ones who played on the tracks until they were obliterated by a screaming train, scattering their ruined body parts for miles.

See, that's just it. No one really knows why it's called what it is or what makes the off-limits crumbling roadway so spooky, but anyone who grew up in St. Louis has heard of Zombie Road. It's one of our very own urban legends, like the guy with the hook for a hand or the mysterious call coming from inside the house, but this one's special because it's a real place and regardless of the stories people really did die around here.

The Meramec, the river the road takes you to, they call it "The Bitter Spring". They say it's the Native American word that means "River Of Death". Beside it, those train tracks have taken lives as far back as the 1950s. The teens in the 70s. A mother and child in the 90s. A couple in their early 20s who slipped on the bluff overlooking the river and fell to their doom.

At least, that's what they say.

They also say you're never supposed to go there. So —


"So what the fuck are we doing?" I demanded in a harsh whisper. We weren't even a few steps down the road before I felt it, the prickling goosebumps on the nape of my neck. The leftover instinct from our cave-dwelling ancestors that says 'something is very wrong'.

Nicky swung his flashlight back towards me in an impatient, jittery arc.

"C'mon, man, don't be a pussy. You said you'd always wanted to check this place out. You wanna back out now?"

I looked at the high, craggy hills that surrounded us. It was like the road had cut straight through the land. Trees towered overhead, bare branches reaching like grabby fingers for the blue-black sky. Whiskey had made me brave but now both the buzz and the bravery had worn off.

"Yeah, kinda."

He sighed.

"Seriously? Just, like, 15 minutes ago you were running your mouth about how this place probably wasn't even scary."

"Yeah, well now I'm here—” I waved the beam of my own flashlight around, highlighting the tangle of woods. "—and I've changed my mind. It IS scary. Let's just go back to your place and drink more and order a pizza. Doesn't pizza sound good?"

"Pussies don't deserve pizza," Nicky said grimly, and set off down Zombie Road without me.

I stood there for a moment, skin prickling with goosebumps, thinking about escaped inmates and undead railroad workers and reanimated body parts of teens from the 1970s, and for that moment I considered letting Nicky go alone. Wait in the car until his fool self decided to turn back. Then I thought about the next poker night with our buddies and how Nicky would never let me live it down, how he'd be able to brag and laugh and say that I was a pussy and he explored Zombie Road while I pissed myself in the front seat of his Mustang.

I pointed my flashlight straight ahead and jogged to catch up to him.

The beam of light caught the back of Nicky's green hoodie and he turned towards me, grinning.

"I knew you were no pussy, Dave."

"Keep your voice down," I said glumly, mad at him for goading me into this and irritated at myself for bringing up Zombie Road in the first place. "There's probably nothing out here but it's still private property, I think, and you're definitely not supposed to be out here after dark. We could get, like, a fine or something."

Nicky made a spooky, taunting gesture with his fingers.

"Oooo, a FINE or something! Big Brave Dave doesn't want to get a FINE or something! Jesus, maybe I was wrong after all. No pizza for you."

I didn't respond. I was pouting and scanning the treeline above us for movement. It had occurred to me suddenly that Missouri might have cougars in the woods but I didn't tell Nicky that; it would've just given him more ammo.

We walked along in silence for a few minutes before Nicky turned towards me, walking backwards and blinding me with the beam of his flashlight.

"How old were you when you first heard about this place?" he asked. I shrugged, trying to keep an eye on both him and the tree-lined ledges. Nicky had a mean streak in him. Couldn't put it past him to screw with me while I wasn't looking.

"Idunno, like, 10? About the time you start hearing the local scary shit. But none of it adds up, it's not like Lemp Mansion where there's one story and that's it. Everybody tells you something different."

"Yeah? Like—”

Nicky's light suddenly faltered. He cut himself off and went down, hard, with a yell.

I broke into a run. When I caught up to him, Nicky was on his ass, one foot sunk deep into what appeared to be a pile of mud. His flashlight had rolled several feet away and cast a ghostly beam towards the continuation of the road behind him.

"What the fuck is that?" I asked, bewildered. Nicky tugged at his foot with both hands around the ankle — no dice. It stayed put.

"Idunno, like a fucking mud puddle or something? Shit, it's thick, man." He pulled again.

That sensation spread across the back of my neck again.

"It hasn't rained in like, a month, right?"

"Who gives a fuck? I don't wanna lose my shoe, man, help me out."

It took us almost five minutes to get his foot out of the mud puddle — now that I think about it, maybe it was more like quicksand — and finally succeeded. With a great wet sucking sound, Nicky pulled free… minus one shoe.

"FUCK," he said, and stuck his right arm into the puddle.

"I feel like that's a bad idea," I said uneasily, eyes returning to the trees. It seemed like it had gotten darker since we started walking; I could barely see anything beyond them without help of my flashlight.

"What, like something's gonna bite my arm off or something?" Nicky demanded, twisting to look at me. "Grow up, there's nothing out—” And for the second time that night he cut himself off.

"What?" I asked, then turned behind me to look further down Zombie Road where Nicky's eyes were fixed.

In the beam of his flashlight sat a huge owl. If I remember right from all those trips to the zoo, it was a Great Horned Owl, to be exact. Its yellow eyes shone eerily. It was just fucking sitting there in the middle of the road, staring at us.

"Is that an owl?" Nicky said, still up to his elbow in mud. Before I could answer him, a quick scampering movement made us both shriek like girls.

We shut up when we realized it was just a mouse — to be fair, it cast a huge shadow as it scurried past the flashlight — but what happened next made our breath catch in our throats.

The owl sat there, staring intently both at and through us. The mouse kept scuttling straight toward it, like it had no idea what danger it was in.

The mouse stopped when it was about two inches away from the owl. The owl, never moving its gaze, calmly reached out with one hooked claw and pierced the mouse with its talons. In one unnaturally smooth motion, it swallowed the mouse whole.

Then it just sat there.

"The fuck?" Nicky said dumbly.

Before I could agree with his sentiment, another movement caught my attention, behind the trees above us. This one was no mouse.

I swung my flashlight slowly up towards the treeline surrounding us and my guts went cold.

"Nicky," I said, keeping my voice very quiet, "we should go."

I couldn't see what he was doing but I heard the sloopy-slurping sound of what must've been him retrieving his lost shoe.

"The owl is gone, man," he said in wonder, but I didn't give a shit about the owl anymore.

"Nicky," I repeated, "we need to go. NOW."

"What are you talking about?" he said, but then he saw them too.

On either side of the craggy hills that surrounded us, threaded through the trees in stark silhouette against the night sky, were the shadows of people. Maybe there were 20, maybe there were 50, I don't know. They lined the hills. They stared down at us.

"That's not real," Nicky said in a thin wavering voice that sounded wholly unlike him.

A chorus of high, childlike giggles broke out, echoed through the woods.

"Put your fucking shoe on and let's go." I was already walking slowly in the direction that we'd come from. I kept my flashlight trained at the shadow figures as I did so. There was a squelching noise as Nicky did as I asked, putting his shoe back on, and a series of more squelches when he began to follow me.

The farther we walked — slow as not to urge any of the figures into action — the more of them we saw. They didn't seem to end. There were so many of them.

We just needed to get to the spot where the ledges fell away and opened into the vacant gravel lot where we'd parked, we could make a break for it then. I was thinking how it seemed like it should've happened already, we hadn't really walked that far, when suddenly an unholy shriek cut through the still night air.

A fox, my panicked brain insisted, a lady fox, they do that all the time, they make those screamy sounds sometimes but I knew it wasn't a fox just like I'd known from the beginning we shouldn't have gone down this road.

I whirled, jabbing my flashlight around the road to make sure nothing was near us before realizing that I'd taken my eyes off the shadows above. When I couldn't see anything nearby I jerked the light back towards the treeline.

They were all gone.

"My mouth tastes funny," Nicky said in a strange, heavy voice. I turned to look at him, he was a mess — thick black mud on both hands, covering his right arm and right leg — and there was something on his face.

When I swept the light back over to him, his face lit in brilliant clarity, I saw that he had blood pouring from both nostrils.

"Jesus, Nicky," I blurted, and could say no more because behind him out of the darkness came lumbering something with long, spindly limbs. It was on all fours and it was moving fast.

Nicky didn't hear it. He was swaying like a drunk.

"RUN!" I screamed.

I don't know if Nicky did because then I was gone, legs pumping, flashlight stuttering back and forth like strobe lights in a rave.

I ran for much longer than I should have. I ran until my chest burned and my legs ached. We'd walked less than a mile, I was sure of it, but I kept running because I could hear that thing behind me, breathing heavy, snorting, snarling. Occasionally I'd hear the laughter again, or the fox-scream, or a low muttering rumble of conversation. Sometimes, a train whistle. Once I heard my name wavering through the trees: "Daaaavid. Daaaavid."

I think that was the worst part, the fact that something knew my name.

It wasn't until dawn's first shreds of light began to touch the edges of the sky that I caught a break. Something about lifting the darkness a little, maybe? Suddenly the road didn't seem endless, I thought I could see the clearing, and as I tumbled out of the forest into the lot I thought I felt something brush against the back of my neck and then—


Then the next thing I remember is the police officers who woke me up.

I'd been found face-down in the gravel, my spent flashlight lying dead beside me. They had to take me home in a squad car because I didn't have the keys to Nicky's car and Nicky, well.

They never found Nicky.

I did research after that night. Lots of it. But it doesn't help. There aren't any answers. Some people say they saw an owl, too. Or got stuck in mud. Or were surrounded by the shadow people.

What good does that do, in the end?

We'll never know why Zombie Road is the way it is. If it was one instance of death, or scores, or if it's just the land itself. But I can tell you this: if you're ever in St. Louis, you should never go to Zombie Road.

Ever.

That, I know for sure. TC mark

12 Struggles Only Anti-Cool Girls Can Relate To

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 08:33 AM PDT

Gone Girl
Gone Girl

1. You don’t understand the appeal of being cool with leaving relationships open-ended and ambiguous. “We’re just hanging out” is such a massive turn off for you. (*Petition to end the "Netflix and chill" movement.*)

2. You get incredibly frustrated making plans with large groups of people because the responsibility always lands on you to figure out what you’re doing, where you’re meeting, and at what time.

3. And speaking of time, you compulsively add on 30 minutes to whatever time people initially text you. You know that when they say to meet at the restaurant at 10pm, they really mean meet at 10:45pm and oh, surprise!, their ride dipped out at the last second so could you also pick them up too?

4. People telling you to relax or calm down makes you want to set your hair on fire.

5. You're seen as "weird" and "neurotic" because you DO give a fuck. In relationships, how people view you, work ethic, etc. Why is it cool to not care about anything???!!!

6. At the same time, you’re also viewed negatively when you make it clear that you don’t give a fuck. Because you’re not the type to pretend to be into something to impress people, and that can sometimes come off as intimidating.

7. You’re never “whatever.” If you have an opinion, you’ll say it. Chillness is synonymous with vacant and unopinionated— you’re much more passionate and enthusiastic.

8. You completely resent the "you’re not like other girls" line. How and why is that a compliment??

9. The thought of having free time to “relax” is an utter nightmare.

10. You can't and won’t just "leave things alone" or “go with the flow.” You will make a fuss if the dishes have been piled up in the sink for over a week. You will get irritated when someone fails to follow through at the last minute with what they promised to do.

11. But just because you’re not ~*~cool~*~ when things go awry doesn’t mean you can’t handle it. You won’t play dead when things go wrong, you’re certified (and usually immediately depended upon) to take care of business and fix the issue.

12. No matter how much easier life would be if you faked it, you would never pretend to be a Cool Girl. You’re not going to engulf 3-5 cheeseburgers at a barbecue to show off. You’re (painfully) aware you’ll projectile vomit if you try drinking shot for shot with The Guys, so you’re not even going to try. Dirty jokes have their moments, but if they get weird, you have zero qualms shutting them down. TC mark

Here Is Which Workout You Should Try Based On Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 09:43 AM PDT

Michael Pollak
Michael Pollak

INFP: Yoga

You're in touch with your spiritual side and you need a form of physical exercise that mirrors that. Various disciplines of Yoga allow you to challenge yourself in various mental and physical ways. You enjoy the chance to disconnect from the never-ending 'noise' of everyday living and retreat to a calm, quiet environment where your mind and body feel in synch – and yoga offers the chance to do just that.

ISFP: Dog Surfing

You heard that right. It's a new workout that's sweeping the nation that combines all your favorite things – interaction with nature, physical exhilaration and your favorite adorable pet. While the majority of dog surfing competitions involve the human controlling the board, some disciplines of the sport allow the dog to surf alone – just make sure your pet doesn't get so good that you get ousted as their surf partner!

ESFP: Zumba

You're a ball of energy and enthusiasm and you need a place to let it out! Zumba offers a fun, social form of exercise that brings out the absolute best in you. It's impossible not to smile while you're cha-chaing across a dancefloor with a group of other enthusiastic dancers who are there to let loose and have fun!

ESTP: Any Team Sport

Let's be honest – you're a natural when it comes to just about every form of athleticism. And you're as socially dominant as you are physically. Picking just about any team sport that exists is going to put you on the fast-track to success – you'll pick up the nuances of the game and then you'll pick up the nuances of the team. Your rapid-speed reaction time and your ability to analyze the opposing team’s strategizes are a killer combination.

ENTP: Base Jumping.

You're attracted to the unusual, the impressive and the extreme. BASE jumping offers all of these things rolled into one surreal yet incredibly dangerous sport. Every jump offers a new set of challenges – and we all know you love a challenge.

ENFP: Adventure Racing

Your relatively short attention span means you struggle to commit to just one form of exercise – and with adventure racing, you don't have to. This multi-disciplinary form of racing keeps you training for various sports simultaneously – every race provides a unique new challenge for you to rise to.

INTJ: Martial Arts

You are all about precision, self-improvement and optimizing both your mental and physical energy. Martial arts allow the opportunity for you to engage all of these desires simultaneously. You can narrow down the Martial Arts discipline that appeals to you and then capitalize on your mental prowess with this strategy-focused form of exercise.

INFJ: Cross-Country Running

Any exercise you engage in must have a highly mental component to it – and what people don't realize about long-distance running is that it's a highly meditative sport. Being out in nature sooths your mind and allows you to get in touch with your thoughts in a clear, uncluttered fashion. You can disconnect from the noise of everyday living and experience a pure physical release that refreshes your mind and your body alike.

ESTJ: Rowing

You're naturally inclined toward team sports – specifically, ones that require endurance, precision and cooperation. Rowing offers the opportunity to demonstrate your own physical strength alongside a group of similarly disciplined athletes who value perseverance and cooperation as a means of dominating the competition. Because let's be serious – the participation medal isn't going to cut it for you.

ESFJ: Sailing

You enjoy getting acquainted with the technical aspects of a sport that also allows you to be social and enjoy yourself. Sailing engages you with nature and often provides you with a community of likeminded people who want to come together to enjoy a physical challenge!

ISFJ: Scuba Diving

Your ideal physical activity involves being in nature, learning new technical skills and engaging in some much-needed quiet time. And is it ever quiet underwater! Scuba diving is a sport that requires a high degree of precision and the ability to make smart, informed decisions in the moment – both of which you are adept at. Plus the breathtaking beauty of the world underwater leaves you feeling refreshed each and every time you submerse yourself.

ISTJ: Cross-Country Skiing

Your ideal sport is strategic, focused and independent – allowing you to take full responsibility over your workout. Cross-country skiing allows you the chance to disconnect from the world around you and fully indulge in the sensory aspects of the sport. You can clear your head by getting out in nature and consistently push your own physical limits – something that someone as self-disciplined as you is able to focus on without external encouragement.

ISTP: Mountain biking

You're an adventurer through and through – and you answer to no one but yourself. Mountain biking allows you the opportunity to get out in nature and explore at your own will. You enjoy the meditative quality of the sport – but your quick reaction time also makes you a natural at it, should you ever decide to go competitive.

INTP: Mountaineering

You prefer mental exercises to physical ones – but if you are going to engage with the physical world, you want to do so in a way that challenges and stimulates you. Mountaineering provides a constantly changing landscape with new challenges to be overcome left, right and center. It'll keep you focused, engaged and on your toes – literally and figuratively.

ENTJ: Chess Boxing

Yes, you read that correctly. Chess boxing tops the list as one of earth's most bizarre sports, combining the mental challenge of chess with the physical challenge of boxing. For the ENTJ, who wants to be the Alpha of every discipline, this sport gives them a chance to show off both their mental and physical dominance. Win-win.

ENFJ: Indoor Cycling

Let's cut to the chase – you have people to see and places to be. You need a workout that is challenging, intense and social all at once. You enjoy exercising in a clean, organized environment where you're engaged with a group but still have control over how much you're pushing yourself physically. Cycling ticks all those boxes and doubles as a convenient activity that you can fit into your lunch break. TC mark

8 Gay People Answer The Question ‘Would You Want Your Child To Be Gay?’

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 08:05 AM PDT

via Flickr - LGBT Uniandino
via Flickr – LGBT Uniandino

1. “If there's something I can assure my hypothetical children will have, it's unconditional love and freedom of choice. So, it really would be up to them.”

—M, 27

beetlejuice

2. “No, I would want my child to be happy and life is hard enough as it is; why make it harder for him? I definitely would love him no matter what: straight, gay or whatever; but if I could magically decide for him I think I would rather him to live a life free from haters and bullies.”

—M, 29

beetlejuice

3. “Well, I love being gay and I truly enjoy my life now, but I had some rough years growing up, so I think that if it was up to me, I would spare my kids from those worries.”

—M, 31

beetlejuice

4. “I do want to have children and I do not care if they're straight, gay, bi, or trans; I'm gonna love them with all my heart. Also, I really don't need permission from anyone to do that, there's no law against me getting pregnant right?”

—F, 25

beetlejuice

5. “I don't want kids. I want cats, lots of cats! Do cats count? If they do, I'd prefer gay cats, gay cats sound fabulous!”

—F, 27

beetlejuice

6. “That's ridiculous, you can't choose your kid's sexuality, I mean, you can't even choose your own. You are who you are.”

—F, 27

beetlejuice

7. “Is that a real argument against gays adopting? Don't all these people think that if you could raise someone to be gay or straight, my mother (and lots of mothers) would have chosen straight? It's not that simple, it's like winning the lottery!”

—M, 22

beetlejuice

8. “I hope that when the time comes for me to decide if I want children or not, people will be no longer thinking this is a valid point.”

—F, 19 TC mark

Confessions Of A (Former) White Savior

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 10:38 AM PDT

Volunteering with kids of color didn't make me less racist. It just made me differently racist.

1. My Very Own Personal Blind Side

"The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege." – Teju Cole

I was in my early thirties when I started volunteering at the youth shelter.

"What are you hoping to get out of this experience?" asked the volunteer coordinator.

This was a question I was eager to answer. "I was a resident here for a few months, back in my teenage years, and I want to give back to the place that helped me when I needed it."

"Giving back," she noted, nodding. It was obviously a phrase she'd heard many times from people like me: white, wealthy, grad school graduate, lefty. "Anything else?"

Yeah. I wanted to feel good about myself. I wanted the right to brag: Look at me, saving the world. I wanted street cred and the latest slang and the chance to be an ally. I wanted to feel less guilty for having so much when others have so little. I wanted to absolve myself of the sins of my country. Any misfortune I'd suffered was long in the past, and I'd become comfortable and spoiled, so I wanted to put myself in proximity to misfortune so I could talk about it as though it were mine.

I just didn't know that yet.

I was accepted as a volunteer, and assigned to come up with a creative, recreational activity for the girls during the afternoons and early evenings. I brought beads and jewelry supplies. This made me relatively popular for a volunteer, most of who were regarded with suspicion by the residents.

Looking back, I can see that I was condescending, micro-aggressing, and "othering" all over the place – not just to the girls, but to staff members, too – and I had no idea I was doing it.

I was suspicious of the other volunteers too, especially the group of professional white women in heels and suits who came in to lead a nutrition workshop, and were disappointed when it was sparsely attended. I heard one say to another as they were packing up, "That was a waste of time. You'd think they'd be more grateful."

But I wasn't like those other white ladies. They were tourists in this world, a world I'd inhabited briefly twenty years before and could therefore claim permanent citizenship in. Even the girls remarked on the difference between me and the other volunteers – I wore sneakers, I alluded to smoking weed, I had a firm grasp of African American Vernacular English. I was, as the girls said, "down."

It was during this phase of volunteering that I saw a trailer for the movie Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Push told the story of a badly abused, illiterate, pregnant, homeless teenager who found community and hope in a writing class led by a teacher who Got It. Push was one of my favorite books; it was also one of the only books that the girls at the shelter were familiar with. I posted the trailer to my blog and said, "Can't wait!"

Two prominent authors, both women of color, responded with polite eye rolls. "If you read Push, please follow it up with Percival Everett's Erasure," said one. "Please."

I was surprised at their slightly admonishing tone. Didn't I get credit for having read Sapphire? I mean, I posted a trailer for a movie about a black girl with black issues. Surely that showed my exceptional non-racist-ness. But I read Percival Everett's Erasure, which centers around a stereotypical "urban" novel much like Push, and features the following line of dialogue from a white book reviewer:

"This book meant so much to me when I read it. It opened my eyes to ways of black life and helped me understand the pain of those people."

Oh my God, I realized, nauseated. That's me.

2. The Intersectionality of Being An Asshole

"The 19th century saw the rise of a pious, middle-class feminism, devoted to the moral uplift of the poor. By ministering to prostitutes, middle-class women got both respectable jobs and the frisson of proximity to vice." – Molly Crabapple

Me again.

A few years later, I'd moved on from the shelter, and was now offering a writing workshop at an organization serving young women who'd been commercially sexually exploited. Some of these girls were as young as 13 – middle-school children who'd been recruited by rapists to be sold to other rapists.

As you might imagine, some of the things these girls wrote about were hair-raising. I'm not going to describe those things, because they are not mine to describe, but I can tell you how they made me feel: Homicidal. Righteous. And very, very feminist.

Girls of every ethnicity are targeted and trafficked by men, so my writing workshop was a diverse and ever-changing group. Here there were black, Latin, Asian, and white girls, all sitting around the same table. It didn't matter what anybody's skin color was; everybody had been through the same hellish experience. In that sense, they were all equals.

Except for me. I had no experience being commercially sexually exploited. My two months of homelessness as a teenager did not qualify me to speak with any authority to exploited girls. My understanding of the girls' slang did not translate into understanding of their experiences. Looking back, I can see that I was condescending, micro-aggressing, and "othering" all over the place – not just to the girls, but to staff members, too – and I had no idea I was doing it.

I was trying to provide empathy. Instead, I provided pity.

And feeling sorry for someone is often another way of diminishing them. The exploited young women I worked with didn't need me to weep for them. They didn't need lectures on the patriarchy and gender oppression and White Feminism 101. They didn't need to "tell their story" again and again for the benefit of outsiders; they needed to know that they were more than just survivors, more than just their story. They didn't need pity. They needed language and writing skills.

I'm lucky that I was allowed to volunteer under these circumstances long enough for reality to seep in: If I was actually going to be of service to these girls, I was going to have to get over my concept of myself as a White Savior.

I started to look around at my overwhelmingly white, middle-class world. With few exceptions, the majority of the black people I dealt with on a regular basis were underprivileged. They were "needy," they were "at risk," they were "in crisis" – they were, as Ursula the Sea Witch sang in The Little Mermaid, "poor unfortunate souls." I didn't often deal with black people who were middle or upper middle class; I rarely related to people of color as peers or superiors.

I'd arranged things so that the black people in my life were the underclass. That's how I was comfortable seeing them.

So what if I spent a few hours a week in the company of people of color? It only made it easier for me to close my eyes to the whiteness of the rest of my week.

So what if I could speak a few phrases of Patois? Patois was a language specifically developed to be unintelligible to white outsiders. If I truly wanted to respect the people and the culture of the Caribbean, I had to accept that I had no business trying to speak Patois.

Doing the chicken noodle soup dance and rapping along to Nicki Minaj didn't make me less racist. Giving and receiving dap didn't make me less racist. Volunteering with kids of color didn't make me less racist. It just made me differently racist.

3. We Are Not the World, Nor Are We the Children, Nor Are We the Ones Who Make A Brighter Day, So Let's Stop Bullshitting Ourselves

"The white savior complex is about assimilation. It's about feeling superior to another culture. It's about validating your own personal, individual experience through the lives and experiences of other marginalized peoples. It's taking their struggle (even if it's a sometimes imagined or exaggerated struggle) and making it about how much of a good person you are." – Uncredited quote on Tumblr

Imagine a picture of a young white woman standing in a dusty field in Africa. She is surrounded by little kids with black skin and school uniforms. They are all smiling. Maybe she brought them sports equipment, or school supplies, or medical services. Maybe she helped dig a well. The equipment, the supplies, the services, the well – these are all things that were needed, and she helped provide them. Isn't that noble?

Maybe.

The term "voluntourism" was new to me, but it's not a new phenomenon. There's a long-standing American tradition whereby privileged people travel to impoverished areas so they can "help." This imbues the privileged person with pride, satisfaction, and what they hope is a lifetime pass on confronting issues of racism or racial inequality.

It also reinforces the pernicious assumption that brown-skinned people need white-skinned people to help them. It facilitates the fetishization and exotification of African people. It may bring people together physically, but it also fortifies the divide between them: One person is the have, the other is the have-not. Those roles are rigid and can't be recast.

I don't want to discount the motives of every white volunteer, and I certainly don't want to cast aspersions on the people working for non-governmental aid organizations who do life-saving work under impossibly dangerous circumstances (though NGOs often come with their own imperialist agendas). I think it's possible for a white person to be of service to people of color without automatically reinforcing their racist assumptions. I think it's tricky, but I think it's possible.

Obviously, it's not for me to say what's "good for" Africa or African people. If a young white person really wants to go to Africa to help people – not just to spread Jesus or to pad their resumes – in my opinion, they should probably go. They can support the local economy and the tourism industry. They can open their eyes to the consequences of colonialism, the reality of environmental racism, and the paradox of the impoverished resource-rich nation. They can bring all the equipment and supplies and wells they can carry. A soccer ball is, empirically, a good thing for kids to have.

But volunteers and voluntourists can also avoid using people as props for their egos or Instagram feeds. They can remember that volunteering is easier for the economically privileged, and stop spraining their shoulders while patting themselves on the back. They can do less talking and teaching, and more listening and learning. This, I hope, is the stage I'm at now, a mere ten years after I started this work.

The only thing I can save other people from is my own misconceptions. The only person I can save is myself.

I'm still volunteering – I'm too selfish to give it up – but the circumstances have changed. For the past nine months, I've been working with an organization that serves a disadvantaged population, but this time I'm working behind the scenes, in a warehouse, where I have no contact with the clients. Most of the people I work alongside are low-paid employees, most of them people of color.

I'm not above anybody on the food chain there. I have no authority. I'm a worker bee. My peers and my managers are black and Latin – they're the ones who tell me what to do, how to do it, and when I'm doing it wrong. Inside that warehouse, the power dynamic is not tipped so radically in my favor. When I'm there, I can challenge my assumptions rather than reinforce them.

Nobody at my volunteer job is asking me to rescue them. They're just asking me to make sure I properly execute my menial tasks.

It's an improvement, but there's still a lot of work for me to do. I grew up under the pervasive influence of a culture that taught me that black-skinned people were lesser than me, and the years of brainwashing I accepted without question will take years to overcome. But I'm doing my best to drop the Benevolent White Savior act, and to relate to people as the individuals they are.

The only thing I can save other people from is my own misconceptions. The only person I can save is myself. TC mark

For the trainwrecks, for the borderlines, for the girls who are "too much" for everybody else: This is for you.

I,LIAR12

Featured image – Flickr / Paul Williams

Don’t Be The Type Of Person Who’s Afraid Of Love

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 06:16 AM PDT

Flickr / wilB
Flickr / wilB

I know you, I know your type. You tip-toe around the people who show potential interest. You keep a fair distance from the people who brush their fingers against yours and the ones who look at you in the way everyone wants to be looked at. You do all you can to push away the people that could love you and you keep close the ones you know that don't care.

You're afraid, and that's okay. It's not a secret that people are fickle. That people will tell you to leave with the same mouths they used to press kisses along the length of your neck. That people will count your ribs with the same fingers they'll use to shove under the bones and pull.

And so, you stay away. You stay away because it's logical. because you've always been the logical person. The one that weighs out the pros and cons of being in a relationship. You're the person that wants to be independent, to have a career to not be tied down by someone who will hurt you and then leave you. So, you think that if you keep people at arms length and refuse to stay the night or to spill out of your mouth your darkest fears, that you won't fall in love. Here's the thing though, you don't have a choice in love. You'll fall in love and you'll fall hard.

One day, you'll meet someone who makes you feel things you never knew you could feel for another person, they'll make you build your dreams around them, make you count time by the way their heart beats and they'll make you feel like you're drowning but that you don't mind. They'll know your favorite songs by heart even though they hate it and they'll know how you don't like raisons in your bread.

They'll lie in bed with you till 3 am in the morning, listening to all your and aspirations and they'll say to you, in the cool of the night, you can do it. One day, you'll meet someone and you'll forget all the reasons you've given yourself not to fall in love. You'll let your guard down, you'll stay the night, you'll begin to shift your schedule around for that person and later on, they'll break your heart.

They'll break your heart and that's okay. It's okay because you'll learn that you lived more in the 4 months that they loved you than you've ever lived in your life. You'll learn that opening your heart doesn't mean only opening yourself up to heartbreak but also to the the wonders of love. It opens yourself up to 4 ams drinking wine and giggling at them trying to impersonate The Godfather. It opens yourself up to having someone other than yourself, if only just for that moment, to tell you that you are good enough for all your dreams. It's okay because them leaving you means you're one person closer to sharing your life with the right one.

They say it's better to have loved than to not and many people call bullshit. It's understandable because you've invested all this time into the other person; you've learnt the language of their face, what it means when they scrunch up their nose and when the mumble out the words 's'okay'. You've spent late nights talking about what could be and will be, you've met their parents and all their siblings love you.

You've created what could be the perfect future and they ruin it. They wake up one morning and tell you that they don't need you. You felt liked you belonged somewhere and then they went away. So yeah, it does seem like a big waste of time and a shit-load of unnecessary hurt.

But what they say is true, it is better to have love than not to because being in love teaches you the things your school and parents forgot to teach you. Love teaches you that you can be in love and still have a career. It's not one or another. It teaches you how to not restructure your life completely to fit someone in but instead to give them bits of yourself. It teaches you that all that heartbreak you felt over stupid hookups and people that used you will all be worth it when 3 or 5 or 10 years from now you're holding hands with the person you're meant for.

See the thing is, being in love doesn't mean you're weak or that you're not independent. It doesn't mean you're giving up on yourself or selling out or becoming every typical 20 something year old. Being in love is knowing that someone can and may hurt you but being strong enough to let your walls down because you know the real thing will be worth it.

I used to think that only the weak wear their hearts on their sleeves and fall in love. But now I know, it's not the ones that are in love who are weak but instead the ones who are too afraid to. So, don't be afraid of love. Fall in love, fall hard and when you're lying on the ground, bruised and broken, pick yourself up and repeat until you find the person who will tell you in the late of night I'm here to stay. TC mark

Thoughts On Love From A Love Addict In Love Rehab

Posted: 23 Aug 2015 06:31 PM PDT

StockSnap / Nirzar Pangarkar
StockSnap / Nirzar Pangarkar

Love.

The four letter word that offends more people than the F word. It strikes us all whether we'd like it to or not. The pessimists experience love, the racists experience love, and even Republicans experience love outside of voting day.

It is of my opinion that love is the strongest and most original force in the world, but it's energy attributes aside, I want to talk to you about the human pursuit of love. That is, the search for a partner, or a "happily ever after" as many like to call it.

I have been in many different types of relationships, and I have learnt a lot from all of them, but one thing that I notice as time goes on is that the relationships escalate. You go from one situation to the next thinking that you've got it right, just to learn that you put yourself in an even worse situation than you did before.

Love doesn't suck, but our attachment styles do.

beetlejuice

I have a negative attachment style. This is a consequence of having had a difficult upbringing and a negative experience with primary caregivers. I have studied attachment theory and can relay this to you: we replicate our relationships with our primary caregivers from early childhood throughout the rest of our lives.

I thought that since I'd uncovered this fact that I had fixed my issue with trust relationships, men specifically, but I was wrong. I went from one fucked up relationship, to a highly neglectful relationship, to a physically abusive relationship, back to the neglectful one, and now I am finally single.

It's dumbfounding, because each time we find that next person we often think to ourselves "this here is the one!"

Single to me is a state of mind, not just being out of a real relationship, but having your heart and mind be unison for yourself and not occupied by the clamor of another human being. Once you get the space back in your mind where someone else is no longer living there rent free, you open yourself up to a world of possibilities.

As someone who has been addicted to emotion before, and therefore it could be said that I have been addicted to love, I know that I need to take yet another pause from having a significant other in my life until I can be certain that I am in a good enough place to actually take on the role of being someone's one and only and having one as well.

It's dumbfounding, because each time we find that next person we often think to ourselves "this here is the one!" We delete old boyfriends numbers, erase cherished emails, and I am very guilty of getting rid of gifts or possessions acquired during that "lovey-dovey" time.

But let's face it, what we really want is for that person to be erased from our memory for having played us like the very instrument he plays for others (…I've got a thing for musicians). What we really want, is to get back our precious time that could have been spent building our empires. And what women really want, is to not get fucked around with by yet another testosterone driven male counterpart who's main goal is to just get in our metaphorically sacred and quite literally holy pants.

beetlejuice

My message to men is simple: stop playing us. In the end you're just accruing negative karma for yourself, whether you believe in it or not, it's real and you will see. My message to women is a little more complicated.

Ladies, stop ignoring red flags. I have done it way too many times, and most recently I did it when I was in a violent domestic situation and now I am 6 weeks out of the relationship and still immobilized because of a spinal injury acquired from love turned bad.

Love is a game of risk

If you're wondering why he hit me, the answer is I have no clue. My suspicion is he was jealous of a particular friendship I began with another musician, but he didn't give me a reason, he just hit. Regardless I haven't sat here for a second wondering why he hit me, because that's his problem. My question isn't why did I stay, I was scared. My question is, how do I prevent this from happening again?

Love is a game of risk, you let someone into your universe and just pray that they are going to help you build and not tear your life apart. Love is definitely a great part of our purpose, but I would argue that self-love is the most important love that you can nurture throughout your lifetime. For better or worse we are all confined to our bodies throughout this human experience, and it is all of our personal duties to try and make that experience as filled with joy and a sense of fulfillment as we can.

If you're in a place where you're ready to embrace love from another human being, then I would just ask that you be cautious. Don't be afraid to get wrapped up in the beauty that is loving another person, but just don't forget to love yourself first. And when those red-flags pop up, please, do not dismiss them.

beetlejuice

I am in love rehab. It's a place that does not yet exist in physical form but one day might. I put myself there, and would encourage you if you have a negative attachment style to possibly do the same. If we do not remove ourselves from the situations that lead us from our paths, then we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past over and over again.

I am not telling women or men to stop believing in true love, it's real. I'm not telling women or men to become cynical, for cynicism is yet another plague on the human condition. But what I am asking is that we try and stop the cycle of revisiting old relationships with new counterparts in the hopes that we can all experience love in all it's beautiful glory.

And sometimes that means taking a step back, looking in the mirror, and sending love towards the reflection you see instead of just towards the human being sitting to your left, asking you why you've been looking in the mirror so long. TC mark

12 Simple Things Couples Can Do To Fall In Love All Over Again

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 07:37 AM PDT

kirillvasilevphotography
kirillvasilevphotography

1. Exchange "This Is Why I Love You" lists.

There's no better way to remember exactly why you love someone than to sit down and write out a list of all the reasons why they deserve your undying affection. Healthy relationships require just as much thought and attention as any professional project, so brainstorm like crazy. When you put pen to paper for a love themed mind dump, the beauty is that there are no wrong answers. Plus, the process of conjuring all your partner’s wonderful traits and then reviewing their list about why you’re so awesome will leave you both exuding positivity. You’re bound to end up feeling pretty damn good about the world overall, and your relationship specifically.

2. Take turns asking each other a series of revealing questions.

How well do you really know your partner? Do you know what their most embarrassing memory is? What their greatest fear is? What their biggest hope for the future is? What inspired them to choose their career? What childhood memory they most cherish? No matter how long you've been dating, there are probably several basic pieces of information that have slipped through the cracks over the years. Sitting down with a list of questions with the express purpose of discovering (or rediscovering) your partner will thrust you both back to that intimate place that marks most lustful, romantic beginnings. If you don't feel like drafting your own questions, you can always use this questionnaire designed by scientists to accelerate intimacy between strangers.

3. Bury a time capsule.

When you create a time capsule representing your relationship, it encourages you to think about what makes your bond so unique and worthy of commemorating. Conceivably, the container you'll bury and recover a decade or so later will be relatively small, so you'll have to discuss which items make the cut, and which don't. As you debate whether to enclose a pack of matches from the bar where you met or a cigarette to symbolize how one of you quit smoking thanks to the other, you’ll feel closer than ever. And as you bury the capsule alongside each other at whatever meaningful sight you decide on, you’ll naturally start pondering the next ten years in each other's loving company.

4. Plant something.

You don't need a backyard big enough to accommodate a vegetable garden to exercise your green thumbs. A single rectangular planter is sufficient. With just a few seeds, you can revel in the process of nurturing actual life and watching something grow day to day. Parenting plants is a surprisingly joyous activity, and unlike actual children, flora are peaceful and obedient. If you go the herb route, you also get to tap your mini garden for fresh basil, mint and other goodies whenever you cook.

5. Reenact a memorable date.

Most long-term couples cherish the memory of their first date or some other evening out when they first realized just how strong their bond was. The very mention of a certain restaurant or mishap or joke probably has the power to make you both recall why you're still together. By recreating one of these nights, you can relive each precious moment while simultaneously making new memories together. Time well spent.

6. Read a book together.

Reading is generally thought of as a solitary activity, so when you make it a joint venture, it automatically feels special. Peruse the shelves together at a book store or online and select a title that appeals to you both. Then take turns reading out loud to each other for half an hour a night before nodding off, or invest in a splitter and listen to a book on tape with two sets of headphones. Sitting on the couch to binge watch Netflix with your significant other is far more passive than diving into a book, which promises fulfillment in an entirely new way.

7. Disconnect electronically.

Constant distraction is the downfall of so many relationships in the digital age. Unless you're saving lives by picking up the phone instinctively every time it buzzes, you might as well save your relationship by being more attentive to your boyfriend or girlfriend. Block out stretches of time in your calendars to disconnect electronically as a couple—and to reconnect as human beings. Giving and receiving undivided attention is so much more rewarding than the instant gratification your social feeds provide.

8. Agree not to masturbate for a week.

No matter how strong your sex life is, it can be surprisingly impactful to establish a temporary no-masturbation pact. By refraining from solo sex, you set the stage to thirst for each other's naked bodies even more than usual simply because you'll need each other to fill your respective orgasm voids. Everyone likes to feel needed, especially sexually. If you're competitive by nature, you might as well turn the no-masturbation thing into a fun contest a la Seinfeld and see who caves in first.

9. Spend a few nights apart.

When you truly love someone, separating even for one night can suck. But there's a reason for the cliché about absence and the heart. By spending time apart, you position yourselves to remember why you enjoy each other's company so damn much. Even if it's just for a day, the deprivation will make you ache for each other and look forward to reuniting to a degree that’s tough to replicate otherwise.

10. Clean out your house.

Over the years we all accumulate a vast amount of crap. There are so many advantages to sifting through your belongings together and tossing out a solid percentage of them. As you uncover various relics and knickknacks representing past vacations and long forgotten memories, you'll appreciate your shared history. Plus, by getting rid of the things that don’t have any sentimental value, you’ll feel unburdened by the weight of junk. Whether your hold a tag sale or make a donation to a local charity, a good house cleaning is a great way to start fresh (and to save yourselves from becoming certified hoarders).

11. Redecorate.

Even the smallest change in your surrounding environment can have a significant impact on your wellbeing. That's why people buy flowers even though they're expensive and tend to die relatively quickly. A little DIY home décor project as simple as painting your bedroom walls or changing all the photos displayed throughout the house will give you something to focus on together. Plus, agreeing on a design change and tackling the execution together will remind you that you’re literally building a life together.

12. Do something new together.

Last but not least, the most straightforward approach to reigniting the passion so you can fall in love all over again is to channel newness, a shockingly effective way to trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. Novelty is always within reach—for individuals and couples. Doing something new doesn't have to mean bungee jumping or traveling to Egypt to see the pyramids. Sometimes, the simplest new pursuits can be wonderfully satisfying. So cook something other than the five go-to meals you typically rely on, buy tickets to the theater instead of the movies for once, or try a different exercise regimen like couples yoga. Whether you're learning French or experimenting in the kitchen, traversing new territory will prove relationship enriching. TC mark