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David Sledge licensed under CC BY 2.0

There really is no panic quite like the panic of being belted into the backseat of a speeding, swerving car with a confident drunk at the wheel.

There’s the first sense of denial: “we’re not that far from home and we’ve made it there before.” Which works for about a quarter of the trip — until the car clips a mailbox.

The concussion of the minor crash, the hollow thump of the dented front quarter panel — these sounds work on the brainstem to load more adrenaline into the body. …

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Photo by Austin Distel

The title of this post is a paraphrase of a line from Season 4 of Mad Men where Don Draper listens as his niece tells him a version of the words above, but he doesn’t really hear her. After all, she’s just a college student and a girl, so what could she possibly tell him that he, an accomplished executive, needs to know?

“Who can see your face? Everyone. Who can’t see your face? You.” (Stone & Heen, 2014)

Draper, though he’s fictional, represents real men and women who can become convinced of their own ability to make all the best decisions yet find themselves tripped up by their own expertise, overconfidence, and recent successes. …

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In this 1901 board game, a magnetic spinner allows you to play three versions of the game. The “hand” of fate chooses answers for you; in another, your fortune is revealed from your birthday; and in another, true or false questions are answered by landing on odd or even numbers. NY Historical Society

The rent for all the anxiety that lives in my head is cheap, but I have to pay by the hour. Writing looks like work and it entertains the noonday demon well enough that it retreats for a while.

And so.

I am in this small room in this big city. It is so quiet that I can match my breathing to the click of the thermostat. When I go outside, it is so loud that the air brakes of the Montgomery County bus mute my headphones. Everywhere, there are bent heads. No one looks up from their phones.

Loneliness lives in my shoulder joints for some reason. Maybe it’s because I can only hug myself most days. It’s a temptation to turn on myself and remind myself that I chose this. I bet on this. I believed that in taking the harder way, I’d somehow be signalling the universe that yes, I am worthy of something bigger. It’s that something bigger, that something more, that vague, inchoate vision that I did this for. …


Shanna Peeples

Newly minted Harvard Ed.L.D. | 2015 National Teacher of the Year | Author: Think Like Socrates | Otter enthusiast

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