Monday, September 22, 2014

Guesswork (TRIGGER WARNING: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE)

I don't know if I'll post this, but I want to write it.

I hate it -- I HATE it -- when we as a society look at a victim of abuse and question her. When we make it her fault that she has been or is being abused because she doesn't leave. When we heap additional abuse upon her by making her the reason for the abuse -- after all, if she'd leave, she wouldn't be getting hurt, so it's her fault.

If you've never been in an abusive relationship, then I guess that it might be easy to judge. If you've never had someone who claims to love you tell you, again and again, that you're worthless and useless and that no one else will ever love you, so you need to make sure that you do what they say because otherwise you'll be alone and a failure, if you've never had someone who has promised to cherish you punishing you for real slights and imagined ones, if you've never had someone who claimed to adore you cutting you off from your friends and family until you have nowhere to turn and no one to go to? I guess that then, it's easy to look at a video of a woman who is having the shit kicked out of her and blame her.

I guess.

I guess it might also be easy to ignore the amount of shame that you would feel if you were being abused; you're a modern woman, and finding yourself in a relationship that is literally painful and frightening would be completely embarrassing if you even had anyone left to talk to -- which you might not, since you're not allowed to see the people who actually do love and support you. But I guess it would be easy not to think about that if you haven't been there.

And I guess that it would be simple to ignore the fact that the person who is hurting you might be stronger or, in some cases, trained to hurt people far bigger and stronger than you are and who might keep weapons around to remind you that, if you fight back? You could end up much worse off.

I guess it's easy to forget that leaving can be more dangerous than staying. 

I guess it's easy to forget that no one wants to be abused.

I guess it's easy to forget that the victim of abuse is ABUSED and so deserves for society to ask why abusers hurt their partners and not why victims of abuse deserve to be abused -- because no one deserves to be abused, ever. Period.

But I guess it's easy to forget that.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's a Lifestyle Change, Part Three: The Beet Goes On

"I roasted fennel and parsnips and carrots and asparagus," I said. "My house smelled like heaven. Seriously. If heaven doesn't actually smell that good? I don't want to go there. And they got all caramelized and glorious and ohhhh myyyyy it was awesome."

My friend shook her head. "You? Are losing it. But in a nice way."

*****

Two years ago? I'd never eaten a parsnip. Now I feel cheated for every parsnip-denied opportunity. Parsnips are delicious.

Two weeks ago, I'd never cooked or eaten fennel. I could pick it out of a crowd -- like a friend of a friend that you sort of know -- but had never invited it over.

Two DAYS ago, I'd never cooked or eaten spaghetti squash. 

Now I'm looking for things -- savory, glorious things -- to try. Because the old Yellie, the pre-lifestyle change Yellie? She didn't always like to venture out of her carefully constructed comfort zone. There were really good reasons for that, so I don't fault myself at all for wanting to sit in a space where I felt safe. That was necessary and important.

But not always super healthy in any way. 

So when I got a little shove, a little encouragement to do it differently, to be different? 

I decided to go with it.

*****

It's not about quinoa or squash. Or, at any rate, it's not merely about those things. It didn't start with a medical mandate either. It started in the spring when a moment came where I could leap without a safety net and take a chance on changing my life or I could safely remain alone. 

I made a choice. I decided to try. It's a decision that makes me stupidly happy every day.

There are all kinds of lifestyle changes. There are all sorts of ways to take control of your life and to hold on to adventure and exploration and joy.

The quickest way to change your life is to embrace the possibilities that it holds.

*****

"The market had this really lovely selection of beets," I said. "Purple red and with the greens attached? I can't wait to cook them!"

"You've never cooked beets," she said. 

"Nope! But I know I like beets, and I know that it doesn't hurt to try."

"You're really into this lifestyle thing," she said.

"Well. Yeah? Because life is the point!"

*****

Life IS the point. 

Living well, and getting excited about it is the point. If you can't get excited about your life, if it doesn't make you happy? Change it. 

You can start with something big, like love. 

Or you can start with something small, like cooking a pile of beets.

But you have to start.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's a Lifestyle Change, Part Two:Chopped

Back in the day when I had cable, I used to watch a lot of Food Network. * There was -- and likely still is -- a competitive cooking show called Chopped that ... well. I was going to say I enjoyed it, but my relationship with this program was more complicated than that.

You may be wondering to yourself, how WEIRD is it inside Yellie's head that she would develop a complicated relationship with a tv show? Oh, you. The answer, is of course, that it's deeply weird in here, and this is but one instance of the weirdness.

I have no pride, dignity, or shame. I've mentioned this multiple times. However, I have a VERY low embarrassment threshold for other people. Because of this, I do not watch competition shows. ** I can't. I get MUCH too anxious on behalf of the people who are competing, especially if they are being actively mocked or put down. I can't take it. It makes me feel sick.

So. Chopped.

If you've never seen Chopped, here's how it works: four people who are chef-types are presented with picnic baskets of mystery ingredients and forced to make a course out of those ingredients within a specified time frame. After each course, their offerings are judged and eliminated.

No big, right?

Riiiiiiight. You'd think so. Except for the fact that the baskets are sometimes diabolical. Sometimes, the contestants hear the fabulously terrifying Ted Allen say "Contestants! Make an appetizer of Bubble Gum! Motor oil! This poisonous thing I found in my shoe! And ... LETTUCE!" and then they have to do it.

Sometimes, the contestants -- who are FOOD PEOPLE -- don't even know what some of the ingredients ARE.

When this show first aired, I couldn't watch more than ten minutes of it at a time. I couldn't take the stress. It would literally cause me to have a panic attack. But then my mom fell in love with it, so I tried to watch it with her.

And I started to love it.

*****

The stress of the show was not lessened  in any way. Instead, I started seeing the show as a metaphor for LIFE.

Here's a basket. It's full of some shit. Some of it is awesome and you'll know EXACTLY what to do. Some of it is complete rubbish and you'll have to figure it out. And some of it? Totally unrecognizable. Oh well. You'll have to learn to deal with it.

All of the people you know? They're also in this kitchen, with their own baskets. They'll need to figure their stuff out. Some of the shit in their baskets is just like yours. Some is different.

Some of them will give up. They will decide it's too hard and walk out of your kitchen. You should probably wish them all of the best and keep sorting through your basket.

Some of them will be super friendly. They'll let you use the ice cream machine for some of your ingredients. They'll pass you a pan if you need one.

Some of them will try to stab you in the back. They'll want to steal the good stuff out of your basket or sully it or give you bad information about what to do with it.

Some people, as I said, will leave voluntarily. And some will need to be chopped. You'll need to have to ask them to go as you continue to cook through your basket.

Yes, it's stressful sometimes. But it's also fast paced and exhilarating and glorious and a constant dance of movement and choices and emotion.

*****

If I'm going to bother to make a lifestyle change, it should be a real one. Not just about diet and exercise but also about globally healthy living -- it should be about choosing asparagus over onion rings (most of the time) but it should also be about choosing joy and support over sorrow and doubt. It should be about choosing the positive over the negative.

It should be about deciding who gets to stay and who gets chopped.

And then it should be about focusing on the next thing I find in my basket.
*I question this habit now. I mean, I have acknowledged food issues that make watching hours of television dedicated to food-centric programming problematic. But I digress.

** Except The Sing Off. Because Holy Awesome Batman.

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's a Lifestyle Change: Part One

So. I went to the doctor because, well, you're supposed to and stuff.

Results were varied.

I mean, on one hand, my blood-pressure is textbook perfect. This makes my nerdy soul very happy, as though I got the correct answer on a test.

On the other hand, everything else? SHOT TO HELL, kids.

But I got 100% on the blood pressure thing! WHEEEEEEEEEE!

And I ALSO got a lecture and more appointments and a handout on lifestyle changes.

Which. Well. I don't know what the opposite of "WHEEEEEEEEE!" is, but that was my response.

*****

I've gotten the lifestyle change (as in, "It's not a diet! It's a lifestyle change!") lecture before. Based on the fact that I'm still getting said lecture, it seems fairly obvious that I am paying no attention at all.

Well, that's not true. I DO pay attention. I pay attention and I feel bad about myself for a few days and then I eat a box of cheezits and decided "Whatever, with your medical degrees and stuff Mrs Doctor Lady," and go right back to what I was doing before. And then I would have to go back to the doctor and have the lecture again -- omnomnom, weigh, repeat.

THIS time, though, it was different, because I noticed how happy it made me to ace the blood pressure test. I felt good. I felt like I was doing something right.

I felt like I maybe would want to do MORE things right.

I felt like maybe I would want, you know, not to get The Lecture again.

*****

I decided that I would embrace said Lifestyle Change ... once I did some research. In typical Yellie fashion, I decided that until my research was complete I would do the OPPOSITE of changing my lifestyle. In fact, I would eat all of the things. All of them. All of the delicious noms would go into my face.

I'm fairly certain that medical professionals do not suggest this approach.

I'm also fairly certain that this approach will give you heartburn. A LOT.

*****

Lifestyle changes, by the way, require that you CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE.

*****

(You probably already realized that. I was a little slower to clue in.)

*****


So, research completed? I jumped in headfirst.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

This Above All

I'm a writer. 

The thing about being a writer is this: it's always tempting to make the story better. You look back at the way events unfolded and think about describing them. You realize that the real story, the true story, doesn't work despite the fact that "it happened that way" so you, you know, fix it -- because the narrative is more important than the facts. The story. That's what is important. The rest is just nitpicking. 

Having said that? I try not to do that here.

But I'm a writer, so I know I'm prone to what I like to call "editorial enhancement." Which is to say, sometimes things didn't happen exactly the way I tell them? But the story is so much more interesting the way I told it. 

I'm saying this because sometimes, I write things here in an attempt to convince myself that they're true. When I say that everything happens for a reason and that the journey is the point and that scars are places of strength? I am trying to reconcile my belief that those things are true. And, for the record, I believe that they are. 

But sometimes? We all need convincing. Even the storytellers.

Last year -- more than any other year, I think -- I felt challenged. If you follow this blog, you saw me go from posting daily to posting ... well ... the kindest thing you could say is "irregularly" ... as I adjusted to a new job and a new living situation and then homelessness and then life without Bean and then another new living situation. 

I could post ... I always had access ... but I couldn't figure out my own narrative. To be blunt? The story sucked. Despite the fact that I did -- and do -- believe that things happen so you can get from point A to point B? I couldn't figure out where point B was or, in all honesty, why the hell I'd want to be there.

I was thinking about this today as I realized that in the last year: I got promoted. I found Lizzie B. I'm becoming financially solvent. I re-discovered the love of my life. I know who my friends are. I am supported and supporting and HAPPY and NONE of those things -- I repeat, none of them -- would have happened if I hadn't followed the path that last year? Nearly ruined me. 

As a storyteller? It's an implausible narrative. It needs work and adjustment. 

As a human being? It reminds me that following your heart is the base of every great story. 

All the rest is details.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rearview Mirror

Sometimes, she said, you turn a corner and when you do, you realize that the people who were by your side just a moment before are gone. They're not with you anymore. And while that's okay? It still hurts. But baby, she said, you have to learn to let it go.

It's hard to do, though.

I know. 

I guess I just don't get it.

Remember when someone told you that your biggest problem is that you think people will act like you?

Yeah.

Still true. You love unconditionally. You have a big heart. You support and don't judge. You think everyone will do that.

I think the people who love me should do that.

Sweetie, people don't always do what they should. 

I feel ... Awful.

I know. Oh, buddy, don't cry. Don't cry! One kind of journey ends here. An entirely different one starts. New faces. New adventures. And that's the point. That's what life is FOR! You need to wave goodbye -- and do it with freaking JOY for what your companions once brought you. Wish them well. And then hug the one you're with and keep going.

We had some good times.

You had the best times. 

I can hold on to that.

We all can, buddy. We all can.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fair

"All this life and work and choice took far too long" -- Remy Zero

We all learn at a pretty early age that the world is an unfair place. Some of the things that are not fair are things I find myself able to live with, such as the fact that there will never really be a way to slice a pizza into perfectly equal triangles of deliciousness.* I'm okay with that. 

As you, Dear Reader, have probably noticed, social injustice keeps me awake at night. 

But this isn't really about either of those things, as trivial (pizza) or important (equal rights for all people) as they are.

It's about the moment that you, as a person, look at your life and realize that the person causing the imbalance, the person who isn't being fair to you? Is you.

This realization struck me one morning as I sat in my robe, drinking coffee and listening to the waterfall outside. The Fella was sleeping. Lizzie B was nestled in my lap, purring, and I thought, "I am so content right now. I should have more of these mornings. I hate that I don't."

Then I thought, "Wait. Why don't I?"

The answer? 

Because I run around like mad, getting this done and that finished and those things managed. 

Because I prioritize a zillion other things first. 

Because I listen to the voices of other  people instead of my own voice. 

Because I'm not fair to myself. 

Because I don't honour my own choices or needs.

My immediate reaction to these thoughts was shame and embarrassment, as though the desire to take more time for morning quiet was terribly selfish when I could be working or doing something more productive; it didn't seem okay to take time just to be. 

(Guilt. I have it.)

But that's not a fair way to live. It's not fair to put work and chores and everyone else first all of the time. It's not fair to deny yourself small pleasures that feed your soul because you're so busy trying to make everyone around you happy that you can barely remember what makes you happy.

You have to be fair to yourself. Take the time to find the balance. Don't deny yourself what brings you joy. 

The world is an unfair place, but you don't have to add to it.


*pssst you. With the math and equations. Just... Yes, I know it's theoretically possible, but ... No.