The Thing About Dick

Now before you get too excited, I do mean Nixon. And before you get completely turned off, this has nothing to do with his politics – or even politics in general.

There is plenty to dislike about Richard Nixon, and he certainly has his share of character flaws, but there is one thing about him that I can’t help but admire. Something that has actually been helping me through some extremely challenging decisions and obstacles. Shockingly, there are some things Beyonce can’t help with.



When doing some research I found myself at Nixon’s Presidential Library, which is both an amazing research facility and an interesting museum. Apart from the gifts from China, and the glitter-walled space room, there is memorabilia from his early life and political campaign. The thing I never thought to think about, the one thing that felt relevant and relatable was how many times he tried and failed before he became the President of the United States (which makes it all the more tragic that he screwed himself over – but that’s really not the salient point). He lost and failed and messed up constantly. And he still became a Congressman, and a Senator, and gave a really sweaty speech on television, and became the President for a while. I’m not saying that I would do anything the same as this man. The elections he did win were mostly due to somehow insinuating that his competitors were communists (this after serving on the House Un-American Activities Committee).

I’m not saying that it was to any particular person’s benefit that he was eventually elected to such powerful roles, but I’ve become extremely focused on the sort of person he needed to be to keep trying. To do things he didn’t enjoy, and fill roles that were a means to an end, repeatedly, when there was not often hope of success.

It’s easy to envy those who deserve great things, and to whom they come easily as a result. We create justice in our entertainment (punishment for the bad, reward for the good) and marvel at reality when it follows suit. But that trope is not of much comfort to me, or to anyone who does everything right and has arrived at the end of the tunnel only to find that light was a flashlight someone dropped – and now it’s out of batteries. But I can admire the patience and fortitude it took to cultivate something meaningful, where it wasn’t simply given, though I really don’t feel the need to blacklist everyone in my way to do it. I believe in taking the good from whatever you’re presented with, whether it be unethical former Presidents or very limited offers for future endeavors.

Right now I can count my lucky starts on one hand, but I have hope. Hope that my silver lining attitude will pay off, even if it’s not in the way I expect. Hope is enough, for now.

Falling with Grace

When I was thinking about writing this, I wanted to make sure I made it clear that I was talking about literal falling. That was until I realized that the advice you need to survive an actual fall is not greatly different from that which will serve you well in an emotional, professional, or metaphoric one.

I had the not-entirely-unforeseeable experience of falling right off of my five inch wedges and onto the grass in the middle of the memorial park of a Presidential library. I knew better than to walk on uneven surfaces in precarious footwear, given my weak ankles, having just completed a forty-five minute tour in said shoes, and my overall natural tendency to fall. However, I was in the middle of talking to a colleague, and most importantly, part of me was ready for it.


 The scene of the crime

The first thing you need to do to fall well is to expect to fall. If you fall on purpose, people will rightly assume something is wrong with you. But if you know falling is a possibility, then think about the best way to fall given what you’re wearing, what surface you’re falling on, and ways to limit the carnage. Before I set foot on the grass I knew I was wearing dark jeans, carrying a beverage, and had a bag weighing approximately forty pounds over my shoulder. When my shoe found the one divot in the otherwise perfect lawn I fell gently to my knees, balanced my drink, and stood back up in one fluid motion without pausing; my companion would never have noticed if the security guard hadn’t started laughing.

Remembering the benefit of a calm demeanor, and the motto of the women in my family, “Panic Later”, got me back on my feet in the pavilion, but more importantly back on an even keel emotionally when an opportunity did not go the way I wanted it to. I knew that the outcome may be unfavorable, despite the elaborate fantasy scenarios I had already constructed in accordance with a positive result. When things didn’t go my way there was already a plan in place. Physical or mental, you can’t fight the fall; it makes it so much worse- be upset and hit the ground- then stand right back up. In the latter case I also threw in cake, for therapeutic purposes.

Falling with grace does not mean that you should never fall at all. Making mistakes, whether the world media is present or just a bored security guard, is part of being human and relatable; perfection is sterile. Handling those hiccups with the right combination of composure, preparation, and humor is what determines the standard of grace.

A Tide Pen is also not a bad idea.