Make Like an Electron & Be Repulsed

elevator-meme

If you’re like me, you may have watched some cheesy hallmark movies over the holidays, and if you did, you probably discovered that magical things are supposed to happen in elevators, like Christmas kisses under mistletoe, resulting in the blossoming of true love and lifelong companionship.

Of course, we know that in real life, only terrible things happen in elevators – like strangers attempting to make small talk. Or acquaintances trying to reconnect. Or close proximity with people who forgot deodorant. Or over-applied Axe body spray (and let’s be honest; any application of Axe body spray is an over-application).

I work on the twenty-first floor of a fifty story building, so I tend to be trapped in an elevator with other humans at least twice most days of the week. I know it’s going to be a good day if I get to ride alone in the elevator on my way up to my cubicle, but this is rarely the case.

What I have discovered during my frequent studies of human behavior in elevators is that socially adept individuals act like electrons in an elevator; they spread out evenly so as to give everyone the optimal amount of personal space. But unfortunately, most people do not seem to be familiar with VSEPR Theory and the fact that humans should follow this principle when in a crowded elevator (a crowded elevator, of course, meaning that there is someone in there other than me).

Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion (VSEPR) Theory is used in chemistry to determine the geometry of individual molecules based on their electrons pairs. Put very basically, valence electron pairs tend to repel each other, and the closer they are, the more they repel, so molecules take on a shape that minimizes the electrons’ repulsion.

Or, in the case of the elevator, people (electrons) tend to repel me the closer they are to me, so when we are stuck together in an elevator (molecule), we all need to spread out so that we are the furthest distance away from one another, thereby minimizing our repulsion of one another.

For instance, if there are two people in an elevator, we need to take on a Linear shape:

2-linear

For a grouping of three people in an elevator, a V-Shape is needed:

3-vshape

When five people are gathered in an elevator, they should assume the Seesaw shape:

5-seesaw

You get the idea.

Bottom line: Elevators would be much more pleasant if people understood VSEPR Theory and how much they repulse me.

Authentically Aurora

 

Advertisements

Lessons from Bryan – Part III

Maze“You like to know where things are going to end up before you even take the first step.”

It was a statement, not a question. Bryan has been encouraging me to live more in the moment, rather than constantly filtering the present through my knowledge of the past and aspirations for the future. But I’m a strong “N” – a Myers Briggs Intuitive type – so I naturally focus on the future and possibilities. I process information more through abstract patterns and impressions than what my senses take in about my current surroundings. Still further, I tend to get bored with the present moment – there is only so much moment to live in! But our life is like a mist that will soon vanish, so I suppose I can admit that I would do well to really be wherever I am.

In the MomentWhenever he asks me a question, Bryan likes for me to answer immediately with my first inclination, rather than thinking through my answer first. He has suggested that I spend too much time in the back of my mind, developing the persona I want to project to whomever I happen to be speaking with at the moment, rather than speaking freely as I process my thoughts and feelings. But I’m a strong “I” – a Myers Briggs Introvert – so I prefer to take time to reflect and solidify my stance before speaking, and I believe there is much benefit to thinking before you speak. And yet, I will openly acknowledge my propensity to over-analyze and get stuck in my own head.

People are Puzzles“You like solving puzzles. People are like puzzles to you,” Bryan observed recently.

“Yes,” I admitted. “Some easier to solve than others,” I added with a slight smile.

“And you tend to use your Intuition to direct the flow of conversation in order to gather clues that will take you closer to solving their puzzles.”

I nodded, no longer surprised at his keen insight into who I am and how I think.

He continued our discussion, “What do you think it would look like if you let conversations flow freely instead of trying to silently direct them? Is it so important for you to solve the puzzle?”

People are puzzles that couldn’t be solved in a lifetime,” I answered instinctively.

His face broke into a smile, pleased at my revelation, and he quoted Psalm 8, “Out of the mouths of babes…”

Bryan understands that I am better shown than told. He doesn’t tell me what to do or who to be; he asks good questions to challenge my thinking. He spurs me on toward righteousness and coming to my own conclusions based on what I know, deep down, to be true.

This man is good for me.

 Authentically Aurora

Lessons from Bryan – Part II

Wall of Thorns“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

Christian colloquialisms come and go all the time. Remember WWJD? And the “Relationship, Not Religion” movement? Anyone who has been in a youth group or gone on a Singles’ Retreat in the past decade has probably heard about the importance of Guarding Your Heart. But what does this even mean?

Don’t get me wrong. As a Vulcan-like INTJ who has been wounded and rejected more than I care to remember, I’m all about guarding my heart. Especially if that means not letting people in, not really caring about people and generally being a hermit with barriers so thick and vicious, they put Maleficent’s wall of thorns to shame. I’m all about emotional walls. And physical walls. And avoiding human interaction as much as possible.

Only, I’m pretty sure that’s not what God had in mind with this whole guard your heart thing. A lot of Christians define guarding your heart as being slow to emotionally invest in relationships (particularly romantic relationships) until you know the person really well, some level of commitment has been established, etc. It can be interpreted as suppressing emotions so that one doesn’t get swept away by feelings, which come and go and change. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9) – so don’t trust it. Trust your brain; reason; logic.

Again, as an INTJ, I’m all about discarding my feelings and relying on my mind, especially since I’ve been hurt. But Bryan has been challenging me on this. He recently asked me, “Did Jesus guard his heart in the way you describe it?”

No. No, he didn’t. 

Jesus loved unconditionally. Unreservedly. He ate with tax collectors and prostitutes – the perceived scum of society – even though they could offer him nothing in return and rather, this action put him at odds with the influential Pharisees. Jesus healed a group of ten lepers, knowing that only one would even come back to thank him. He invested time and energy and his legacy to a group of disciples who would betray him, abandon him, misunderstand him and deny ever knowing him. Was Jesus foolish and unwise? No, he is omniscient. But he chose to love and serve the unlovely and ungrateful not because of what it would do for him, but because of Who He Is. Because love is the better way.

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul prayed for the church at Philippi, “that your love may abound more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may discern the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Phil 1:9-10).

When we talk about the intensity of love, we tend to contrast it with intellect; it’s just crazy, indescribable emotions. But this is a naive perspective. Knowledge fuels the affections. Love seeks increased knowledge of the beloved. And Paul prayed that the Philippians would have an informed love – love that would abound more and more with knowledge.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and love people. God wants to simultaneously appeal to our intellect and to engage our emotions. God cares about what we do, based on how we feel. God cares about the motivation behind our actions. Some people would say that love is a verb; love is actions. But these actions are not love; they are simply vehicles through which love is expressed. Love is the motive behind what we do. And the motive matters. Imagine a husband who is faithful out of duty, versus a husband who is faithful out of a passionate love for his wife. This is the difference between suppressing our emotions and engaging them.

So how do we reconcile guarding our hearts and loving unreservedly? In the original Hebrew, the word used for heart (leb – לֵב) actually meant the seat of decision making. This word for heart encompasses all of the inner man: the mind, the will, and the heart. So we are called to love, but to engage in an informed love; to engage our emotions in living out a love that abounds more and more with knowledge.

“I have been challenged and changed, reminded that love is that simple answer to so many of our hardest questions… We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue… We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won’t solve all mysteries, and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home.” -Jamie Tworkowski

Authentically Aurora

Little Black Book

Punch2I thought going through a season of trials was supposed to make me better. You know, have a refining influence on me and all that. After all, trials develop endurance, which builds character, which strengthens our hope of salvation. “And this hope will not lead to disappointment, for… [God] has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Hmm… my heart is supposed to be filled with love? Mine must be broken. Grinch-like. Two sizes too small. Because instead of making me a kinder, gentler person, all of these punches that keep coming are just making me a more bitter, cynical person. Instead of making me a sweeter, more compassionate person, the amount of suckiness of 2014 has only resulted in making thicker my book of people I want to punch in the face.

Maybe things get worse before they get better. Maybe I’m still in the anger stage of the grieving process and have yet to get to the final stage of acceptance. Then again, my “grief meter” keeps getting reset as more and more unpleasant situations enter my life in seeming perpetuity.

In any case, here are the Top 10 Posters to hang in my cubicle before I either get laid off or quit the maddening bureaucracy that is Corporate America:

10. Work1

9. Work3

8. Work2

7. Woman1

6. Woman2

5. Woman3b

4. Ppl103.

Ppl1b

2. Ppl7b

1. Ppl4

Authentically Aurora

Adventures of an Introvert

Alaska log cabinI don’t want to disdain the general public. I really don’t. I want to be a kinder, gentler version of myself. But people are generally so irritating and lacking in both situational awareness and common courtesy that I can’t help but want to move to a log cabin in Alaska and cloister myself from society with nothing to keep me company but books and hot chocolate.

I went down to the office cafeteria for lunch today. That was my first mistake. I should have known better than to leave the safety and comfort of my solitary cubicle.

I got into the salad bar line behind an elderly Chinese man who apparently thinks the best way to communicate what you want on your salad is to stick your fingers into each of the topping choices as you point to them. You know those slanted, clear glass walls that are supposed to act as germ barriers in buffet lines? Well the one in our cafe has about a 12″ gap along the bottom – just enough for Mr. “Free-E.coli-For-Everyone!” to stretch his hand underneath to point very specifically at which vegetable he wants added to his salad next.

DisgustedWhile I was trying not to make this face at his dandruff covered fingernails in my cucumber slices, the girl behind me kept bumping into me. At first, I thought she must be looking down at her cell phone and not paying attention to where she was going. But the fourth time her hand grazed my buttocks, I turned around and discovered that there was no cell phone; she’s just one of those people whose “personal space bubble” is essentially nonexistent.

Personal spaceIt’s true that I have a very firm, round derriere, but that is not an open invitation to cop a feel. So the fifth time she bumped into me and murmured, “Sorry,” I just about turned around and said, “Don’t be sorry. Either back it up or man up and ask for my number.”

I joke about her trying to touch me intentionally, but the sad part is, she wasn’t actually that sly. She was just severely impaired in regard to spacial relations.

I finally got to the cash register, paid an exorbitant amount for my dressing-saturated salad, and escaped back to my desk after being run into by another oblivious man and sharing the elevator with a woman who spoke so loudly that she caused my ears physical pain.

Tomorrow, I’m bringing my lunch.

Authentically Aurora

Gorgeous Goliath (the timid)

Gladiator - are you not entertained

A frozen yogurt shop just opened on the first floor of the office building where I work, so last week, two coworkers and I went down to stretch our legs and check it out. When I opened the door to the shop, my eyes immediately went to the man at the back of the line. He was about 6’4″ and broad-shouldered; built like a tank. This goliath of a man turned around when we walked in, and I estimated him to be about thirty years old. He had pleasant features, intelligent eyes and a kind face, so I mentally renamed him Gorgeous Goliath.

hopped into line behind GG, and when the server asked what I’d like, I thought, “I’ll have a scoop of that, please,” but of course what I said out loud was, “I’ll take vanilla with Reese’s” (clearly an excellent choice). Goliath was well-dressed, so I figured he worked for one of the oil companies in the area, and I caught him looking my way a few times, but every time I glanced over, he looked away.

I  decided to make life easy on him since he was clearly interested, so when we made it to the register, I gestured to his cup of froyo and asked, “Oooh, what’d you get?” He smiled and nodded at a cup of vanilla froyo topped with fresh fruit and granola. I laughed lightly and said, “Wow, that looks a lot healthier than mine!” He looked down at my peanut butter concoction and grinned at me. I could tell he wanted to say more and engage in conversation with me, but he stood awkwardly for a second and then fled the scene.

My married buddy Shawn (who is a former football player with a build like Goliath’s) missed the exchange, but as we walked out with our treats, he teased me, “Hey, somebody was getting checked out back there!” He wiggled his eyebrows at me.

“What do you mean?” I asked. I looked around for another young guy who may have been interested.

“That tall guy,” Shawn pointed to the back of my Gorgeous Goliath as he walked away.

“Oh, him,” I said. “Yeah, that’s why I tried to flirt with him. All he had to do was ask my name, and I would have handed him a business card.”

Shawn chuckled. “He seemed kind of skittish to me. I wondered why he looked away and left so fast. Pretty timid for such a big guy.”

I agreed. I’m not sure what’s so intimidating about a 5’3″ brunette. What has happened to all the manly men; the heroes; the gladiators; the warriors? Oh yeah. They’re all either dead or already married.

Authentically Aurora