Choose Awesomeness

I am happy to report that I am feeling much better since the last time I wrote, thank you for asking. Things have settled down quite a bit: lovely large-bathtubbed flat, supportive emails and phone calls from fantastic people, and a robust social calendar have all combined to give me a more cheerful perspective on life, not to mention encouraged me to count my many blessings. (The brisk walking commute, the resumption of my non-special-kind-of-oatmeal habit, and the getting nine hours of sleep a night haven’t hurt either.) I’ve been pretty busy, but have spent more time alone in the last week than I probably have since it began and it turns out I still got it when it comes to being by myself. Monday I took off work early and immediately checked out five books from the library: I’ve read two and am in the middle of my third, and there have been not a few times in the past week that I have sighed the contented sigh of someone who barely managed to read four books in the past month, and who is deliriously happy to kind of get back to normal. The past six weeks at the Maple Lodge seem like a dream to me now, only a week later. A nice dream, of course. I might even go so far as to say a very good dream indeed. Still, though. Over now; nothing very much to do with me anymore.

I have been thinking a lot about awesomeness this week. I’ve been thinking a lot about awesomeness, in fact, basically since I got here. I feel that my decision to come to New Zealand represents one of the best choices I have ever made, ever in my life, because I finally decided that damn the consequences, I was going to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time, even if I didn’t exactly know why I wanted to do it. Carpe diem, living the dream, and all that. It was not a very practical decision and it brought about quite a lot of emotional turmoil, but still. I knew it was important to do. I still don’t really know what this year will bring…I’m still a little discombobulated about what the past seven weeks have brought, frankly, so give me a little time on that, but still. I know it’s the right thing for me. I love New Zealand, and Wellington especially, more than I thought would be possible, and I’m so glad I decided to come here, to stay here.

In fact it’s been pretty interesting to see how things have gone, since I made that decision. I started talking about it on the internet, which led me to correspond with some people who lived here, one of whom put me in touch with my current job and another of whom came over last night and shared trenchant wisdom and a Limbo-no-tomatoes-with-olive pizza with me last night. My predilection for obsessive research alerted me that I could go to Fiji, so I took a deep breath and paid the extra money and then saw a freaking octopus at the Octopus Resort. I felt very sad and lonely last weekend but due to a random conversation I had with a girl in Napier which led me to stay at the crazy Maple Lodge, I had people to meet me at the station and hold my hand. On and on and on. I’m not sure about fate or destiny or manifesting or whatever, but somehow, slowly, it’s all coming together.

Anyway, when I originally started thinking about being awesome I sort of conceptualized it as something that just sort of…happened. I mean, there were things that you could kind of randomly do to be awesome, you know, like go to bellydance class and make sure to pet your tortoise named Joachin if you had a tortoise named Joachin, and to hug and kiss your friends in a friendship-appropriate manner as often as they’d let you. But it was kind of haphazard. I wasn’t sure if people could get more awesome. I thought maybe they could, but I didn’t really know how to go about it.

And then, right around the time of prom, I began to think of awesomeness as a sort of project, and to think of myself as some sort of project manager or something, in my own quest for ever-increasing awesomeness. I have started to think that at any given time in your day or week or month or year or life, when presented with any sort of dilemma (“Jeans and t-shirt or feather boa and bodypaint? Crappy fast food or delicious penne pasta with zucchini, goat cheese and olive oil? Vicious silent treatment or conciliatory hand-holding?”) you can always choose to be a little more awesome.

Sometimes, as we know, life brings you to a fork in the road where the available choices are basically between Suck and Suck A Tiny Bit Less But Still, Frankly, Suck. This is not so great, and it often feels as though awesomeness is, uh, elusive, to say the least. But still. Still, you can choose. You can try. Maybe awesomeness, if you choose it, will not necessarily feel that good at the time of your choosing it. You may still cry a lot and you may still hate your life. You may think that there is nothing good for you in the world and you may wonder what the point of it all is. You may even take some sort of secret twisted pleasure in how horrible things are, just like they always are, just like you knew they would be. But isn’t it worth something, to know that you have furthered your project, that you have at least tried to be awesome, that you have made some sort of move towards awesomeness, and hence, away from suckiness?

I think that the more you choose to be awesome, seriously, even if just in tiny itty bitty ways (“Why yes I’d love to go bowling!”), the more awesome you get. Maybe the more awesome you get, the more awesomeness you can see around you, the more you can recognize it in other people, the more you can dedicate yourself to it. That’s got to be a good thing, right? That’s got to change the world…at least, if everyone did it, it might. You don’t know. Maybe if everyone was choosing to hug and kiss instead of fight and yell, or to go to fun dance parties instead of to restrict other people’s rights, or to go to the zoo and drink milkshakes instead of fearing and hating people different from oneself…well, right. You get it. (Although it does occur to me that clearly not everyone agrees on what constitutes awesomeness. It seems quite obvious to me that awesomeness equals stuff like hanging out with your friends and making fun stuff and dancing around in your underwear if necessary. Cooking a delicious dinner and eating it with friends before dancing around in my underwear and then maybe getting in the hot tub and having a little ice cream–wearing a feather boa, perhaps–is to me the epitome of awesomeness, but we can all think of people who would rather be mean and cruel and generally sucky. These people are to be avoided, in my opinion.)

I have been laughing at myself the entire time I’ve been writing this entry, because apparently I am some sort of motivational speaker now: Be all you can be! Try your very best! Love one another! La la la rah rah! Woo! You guys, be awesome, okay? Luv ya! It’s kind of annoying, and maybe for a lot of people it doesn’t matter or make sense. But I kind of don’t care because today I have a lunch date with three beautiful women with three different accents, and then I’m making orange and pink yams for dinner, and then tomorrow I am going on a coastal hike and to a party, and then Sunday I am going to brunch, to the farmer’s market, and to see my beloved kakapo video at Te Papa. I’m here, doing something I didn’t think I’d ever do, continuing to do it. All of this feels right and good.

But enough about me. What awesome things are you doing lately?


  1. Nice! Makes me wish I had a boa.

    Recent awesome attempts include: Chatting up TOTAL STRANGER MOMMIES in a class I’m taking and discovering (a) they’re also looking to meet people, and (b) will suggest that we get together outside of class before I have a chance to; Making wild mushroom and garlic pizzas on cornmeal crust and homemade granola; Strolling around farmer’s markets and fun shops with a friend; Generally being beyond goofy.

    Good to hear from you.

  2. I went to a strip club on Friday night and one of the strippers made me come up and pole dance with her and then I got tipped $6 once I went back down! That was pretty damn awesome.

  3. Okay, Jem wins. But don’t let that stop the rest of y’all from telling me about your awesomeness. Especially if it involves strippers. You know how I feel about strippers.

  4. Although I’m unemployed, and living in a swamp, I’m still working on the awesomeness. Last weekend I had a reunion party in an ER in Corpus Christi, Texas, complete with Mardi Gras sunglasses and snacks. I bought feather boas and princess dress-up clothes for my 2 and 3 year old nieces. I just bought a plane ticket to LA, so that I can look after my friend next week after she gets out of surgery.

  5. This week, I started helping Her Awesomeness Herself, Terry Sendgraff, write her memoirs! Like, OMG. Girlfriend had a midlife crisis, divorced her husband, left her job teaching at a university, and moved to San Francisco to “create her own dance.” Totally crazy, yeah? Except, here’s the thing: she DID it, and she revolutionized circus arts and dance.

    And like, now she pays me to watch her archival footage and read her writing and interview her.


    (her website is kind of hokey, but that’s because her web designer made it hokey. SHE, Terry, Her Awesomeness, is totally classy. )

  6. First of all, now I really want a t-shirt that says, “Choose Awesomeness”. I mean, as long as the 80s are back, right?

    In approximately 7.5 hours we will be on a plane en route to spend 11 exciting weeks in Germany. I think that’s pretty awesome.

    Finally, to quote two very awesome dudes,

    Be excellent to each other.

  7. Why do all my bestest favoritest friend people go away for so long?

    *sending super love*

    And I am ALL about a tee shirt that says Choose Awesomeness. We need to make that happen.

  8. i am not attempting to one-up jem, but i, too, went to a strip club on friday and had a lap dance (for free!) from a lovely and talented friend. i’ve started hosting a once a week scrabble game with some friends, and have recently turned my bedroom into the most amazing little den of comfort. you, chiara, are awesome, in all you do.

  9. “Choose Awesomeness.”

    I smell a Neighborhoodie in the making.

  10. I love the “Choose Awesomeness” shirt, and I want one. The past few weeks have ben sort of lacking in the Awesome for me, but after reading this? I think it’s time to make the awesome happen, instead of just waiting for it to happen. Onwards to Awesomeness!

  11. I have been awesome lately by reclaiming my health. I’m eating better, I’m dropping some weight – basically I’m actively trying to be a healthier person than I have been for the last ten years or so. My motivation is right, I’m staying strong and not giving up (I just completed five weeks of this change), and that is awesome.

  12. Holy awesomness, Batman! I feel the motivation.
    … that’s motivation, right? It feels kinda lumpy.

  13. Maybe if everyone was choosing to hug and kiss instead of fight and yell, or to go to fun dance parties instead of to restrict other people’s rights

    I live for this day.

    Also, “Choose Awesomeness” underpants may be in my future.

  14. I agreed to run a half-marathon in February with some awesome girls AND start “going public” with my new gentleman friend, which means, Chiara, yours is the first place online where I’ve made that fact known so go me and new beginnings!

    To awesomeness! I would wear clothing with “Choose Awesomeness” on it – you seriously need to do something, C!

  15. After 18 months in a pretty strict “Mommy-Baby” groove, I put on my heels, some make-up and a new suit to go to a real, grown-up, business conference where I got chatted up by a super cute student AND one of the directors at Banca di Italia. I feel like a total hottie once again. On top of feeling really clever, since I decided not to take the headphones for the simultaneous translation and instead trust in my newly acquired Italian language skills. A bit stupid since my head exploded somewhere in the middle of the morning and couldn’t understand anything more but also pretty awesome.

    I think that your idea of choosing the awesome path when given the choice is right on. Its like the way I look at losing weight: eating a carrot instead of a cookie is not going to change my life or make a difference in and of itself. But if I keep making the right choices, eventually some become habits and then eventually eventually I have developed so many good habits that things do change.

    So keep it up. It sounds like the awesome-ness has been sneaking up on you and you will soon be overflowing with it :-)

  16. I want a t-shirt, tooo!!!
    Oh Chiara, I have always thought your are awesome. I need to work on my own awesomeness, it waivers. But you have definately inspired me!
    Love ya!

  17. I’m so pleased you’re feeling better. I’m so pleased you like living in New Zealand, and we’re very happy to have you here.

    My awesome thing is that tomorrow I’m playing my first ever gig even though I can’t play properly and the band have barely practised, and we’re going to fall apart on stage and it will be a total joke, but we’re determined to have fun.

  18. Yay! It’s cool to know other people were at strip clubs too :)

  19. I went to Burningman alone and camped solo. I wandered around on foot, carrying a well intentioned burden of liquids and dispensed Joy, Memories, Ancestors, Truth, Rebirth and Madness. I witnessed a wedding of 32 people to the other 31 people, ministered by a whore. I kissed 6 of the brides at the reception on a 2 story art-bar-car called Martini-a-go-go while watching fireworks. I breathed fire helping to set a world record for most fire breathers in one place. I learned th breathe fire 24 hours before this. And last but not least, I met a woman my last night there who spoke naked truth with her eyes. Who came to visit me for 10 days four days later.. and who I went to visit for five days earlier this week.

    I chose awesome and became more me.

  20. Orange and Pink Yams!!!! Of course, I have come to love yams, but I really want this recipe for orange and pink variety.

  21. At a giant awesome work function last night, I introduced myself to a bunch of my authors instead of being shy and thinking that they’d think I was a dork and bothering them. And I talked and had a good time instead of hanging alone with only my work friends.

    And then this morning I’m going running, even though I haven’t been since Monday. But I’m just jumping in where I am instead of throwing up my hands and quitting.

  22. Greetings! Funny (well, not really actually) to read your last blog, I’m feeling FIVE WEEKS at the moment. Just checkin in to say “hi”

  23. “life brings you to a fork in the road where the available choices are basically between Suck and Suck A Tiny Bit Less But Still, Frankly, Suck”….
    this has recently happened to me. i had to make a choice to tell someone something or not tell them & do something i was uncomfortable with. so i told them. and it sucked. but it would’ve sucked if i’d said nothing & i feel better for having approached it in a mature way & just being honest. my ability to be honest w/ that person, even tho it had lots of suckiness involved, was pretty awesome. i did not back down.
    my other awesome thing is that i am going to try to buy a house. i found one that i think i can afford & i’m scared shitless but if i don’t just try i will never know!!!

  24. Friday is my 40th birthday, and rather than the wailing and gnashing of teeth that I have been indulging in for months, I have asked 3 friends to teach me the vital life skill called Poker. 2 of the 3 friends are cute boys. And CA! would totally be a tatoo option for me except that where I work, it stands for Correspondence Assistant.

  25. Maybe someone can do a Cafe Press site with Choose Awesomeness?