When I Flunked Out of Harvard

When I was about twenty-five, I took on the first extracurricular of my adult life. Every Monday, I hurriedly left my spreadsheets and analytics, jumped on the one bus, and followed Massachusetts Avenue over to Cambridge. There, I swallowed my Yale pride and took the only Harvard class of my life: an introduction to writing poetry. While I found the content interesting, I quickly realized that producing new content on a weekly basis was 1) a faster pace of production than my insight generation warranted, and 2) tough to do with a more-than-full time job. Collectively, this meant that, while I learned a lot, I didn’t have the breadth of a portfolio required for the final exam and withdrew from the extension school class. In some ways (my Cantabrugian friends will laugh to hear), after graduating with honors from Yale, I flunked out of Harvard.

I still like to write poetry, but only when it comes organically. And weirdly, after a long hiatus, poetry started coming back over these last few weeks. And so I give you my first work for a long time below.


Lightly Tied
Here I am: a balloon in Macy’s parade,
Connected to my people through thinner and thicker cords.
They hold them each lightly, though they hold me tight.
Wiry relationships bend and twist in the wind.
Every tie made manifest in the sparkling parade lights.

Sometimes I want to rear up
(I think “CIRCUS ELEPHANT ON THE LOOSE!” though I am but an inflated mouse)
and float/stomp away – a line of
relational carnage
in my airy path. More often
my ties are friendly; I snuggle into my bindings.

This is what happens to all old balloons:
They lose their anchors.
One-by-one their ties are clipped.
If they do not find new handlers, they float away: lost balloons.

If they have found their helium brightness, they take to the sky.
You think they narrow to a pinprick. You use physics. You are wrong.
They expand away!
They become
the all-encompassing blue
of the firmament.

If they have found no levity, you know the answer too well.
They bump along the ground and impale upon a stick.
A child happens upon the rubber carcass and shrugs as he adjusts his bindings.
It makes no sense anymore.

95% of Your Behaviors are Unconscious and Automatic

Sometimes I run into a description of intentionality that illustrates the topic far better than I ever could.  This happened recently when I was reading an interesting book called Sink, Float or Swim.  Here’s the quote, illustrated:



fraction of


I love the vivid examples of living unintentionally (or paraconsciously) as they ring true.  I hate when people use their phones while having a conversation, and yet I find myself slipping and doing it as well.

I’m not fully successful yet, but I’m just trying to keep myself a bit more in the conscious sphere and heading towards that ‘much better way.’  And I’ll recommit by putting my phone down right now.

Onward and upward,

The Values You Eat

Between the Wedding Diet and my more recent approach to counting calories, I’ve obviously been thinking a lot about food.  Part of the point of The Wedding Diet was bringing consciousness to certain foods and figuring out how I reacted to cutting each one out.  But as I’ve moved past that approach, I’ve started to think less narrowly (i.e., what happens when this one thing goes away?) and more broadly (i.e., what happens when I eat anything?).  Physically, emotionally, and otherwise, what life do I create as I ingest each bite?

A good friend told me that “food is the place where we develop and exert our integrity.”  This is not just integrity in the sense of following through on our commitments – our ability to stick to a diet or maintain our veganism over time.  Beyond that, our food choices also reflect our integrity of living in alignment with who we are and what we value.  I, for example, variously value health, convenience, appearance, social connection, cultural experience, tradition, sustainability, and frugality when I decide what to eat.  Not all of those values are reflected in this morning’s espresso or my mid-day fried rice (real-life menu choices for today), but my choices are the more-or-less successful reflection of a constellation of values I strive to honor.

I am what I eat – from the molecules that make up my food to the values which my food reflects.

And you are too.  You can imagine that we all eat from a veritable pu pu platter of values every day.

values we eat
But here’s the thing about values.  You can’t honor all of them all the time.  It’s tough to find the afternoon snack which is at the same time frugal, healthy, and communicates your sense of adventure.  So we make trade-offs.  We give up some things to accommodate others.

I know that I won’t always be the perfect reflection of my values.  But my hope is that I can keep on consciously choosing what I eat.  I’ve learned over the past months that I don’t live better by excluding sugar or including dairy.  I’ve learned that I eat best when I eat consciously – conscious of not only the basic gastronomical dimensions of what and how much, but also the why and the how.

And with that, I am finishing defrosting the ratatouille – the most tangible manifestation of my values of health, appearance, and frugality you’ll see from me all day.

What values do you aspire to eat?  What values did you eat today?

With love,