Friday, December 9, 2016

Things I Cannot Teach My Cat

1. It is neither friendly nor loving for you to stick a paw in my open mouth while I am sleeping. And while we're on the subject of my face ...

2. I understand that you want to sleep with me because it makes you feel safe and loved. However, I like to breathe while I am sleeping because that makes me feel like I'm not going to die. Please stop laying on my face. No matter how happily you purr, there is a chance that I will suffocate. If I suffocate, I cannot feed you. This will make both of us unhappy.

3. While I am on the toilet, I would greatly prefer if you did not a) try to get in my lap or b) stand on the counter and put your paws on my head, peering over me as though you are the captain of a ship staring out into the horizon. These are both off-putting.

4. The bubbles in my bubble bath are fascinating to you. I understand. I enjoy them as well. If you put your whole face in them and breathe in, you will sneeze. This will upset you. We do not have to relearn this lesson EVERY TIME I take a bubble bath.

5. Your tail is attached to you. That is actually why it is called "YOUR tail". No matter how sneaky you try to be, no matter how stealthy you are, or how small a space you chase it in, you will never get any closer to it than you already are.

6. Your mortal enemies, the squirrels, are outside. You are inside. You will never get outside. Attempting to tunnel through a glass window will not aid you in your Squirrel Eradication Plan. The squirrels know this. They are taunting you. When they go low, go high.

7. Your humans love reading with you cuddled up in their laps. That is wonderful. Your humans cannot read if you climb between them and their book and bat them every time they try to turn the page. They love this a whole lot less.

8. You may have noticed that you like to change positions as you sleep. I also enjoy doing so. If you are laying on my person and I need to change positions, it is likely because you are cutting off my circulation and I am about to lose a leg. Because I find my legs to be useful, I will likely shift. This is not to be considered a personal insult that involves retaliatory action such as squawking, attacking said leg through the covers, or sticking a paw in my mouth.

9. You do not belong in the refrigerator or the freezer. I understand that you think you do, but you do not.

10. When I am in the kitchen trying to do something like "make a meal for the humans" and you are irritated because you are dissatisfied with the brand new food I just put in your bowl, getting underfoot will only make you angrier because I will inevitably step on you. This will be unintentional, though I know that you do not care. Please stop doing this as it is terrible for everyone.

It's a good thing she's cute.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Community

You guys.

My hope for you, reading out there -- my Christmas wish, as it were -- is that you live among people as giving and generous and wonderful as the people I do. (Some of you? Are the people that this is about, so ... it's gonna get schmoopy up in here and I just need you to accept it.)

When I lived in North Carolina, I was lonely. I'd put myself in time out (it seemed reasonable) and I got some really good things out of that, like an amazing relationship with my parents which, as an adult, is kind of a big deal. You don't always get the chance to dive into your emotional closet, pull out the ugly and damaged bits, and mend them, but I did; as a result, I don't regret that time in any way. It was amazing and necessary.

But I didn't have a lot of friends, which was strange to me because I grew up with a community of people who were just ... there. Every time you turned around, there they were. All through preschool and elementary school and high school and in some cases? College! And grad school! You were never without your secondary family.  So suddenly finding myself without that was weird. Weird, and unbalancing.

Fortunately, there was Facebook. People who are all "social media is bad blah blah blah" don't know how much it can save you when you feel alone. I didn't have friends that I could go to dinner with, necessarily, but I had people I could talk to in an instant. I could feel like I was a part of things, even though I was nine hundred miles away.

Finally, I decided that I needed to come back to New England, and settle in my neck of New Hampshire. I felt like I belonged here.

And y'all -- you welcomed me. People I didn't KNOW welcomed me. The community embraced me. They didn't have to, but they did. Here, when someone knows someone who knows you? They offer you the shirt off their back.

So maybe I'm crying again (it's the first time today, though, so I'm winning), because ever since I said "Hey, I lost my job" the community here has been falling over themselves to help me. I've had offers of money, I've had people helping me to network, I've had suggestions and job applications and kindness and love and hugs pouring in from every direction that I look.  I anticipated sympathy. I did not anticipate this level of love and assistance and involvement.

I have the best life, job or no job. I have the best friends. And I have the best community, which is mostly right here but also? Spreads down to North Carolina and Florida and Texas. It goes up to Maine.  It extends to Japan.

I can't thank any of you enough for the love and help you have sent my way, so I will just promise to pay it forward.

Thank you, my beloved community.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The First Day

It is a Wednesday. It is snowing gently outside, the radio is on, and there is a steaming cup of coffee by my side. I feel as though I am getting ready.

But for the first time ever I have nothing to get ready for. 

I have been going to school or working since I was fifteen. That's nearly twenty-six years of get up and get ready and go. But as of today, I don't have a job. As of today, I don't have anything to do next.

I would like to be stoic, but I am terrified. The demons of self doubt are perched on my shoulders and whisper in my ears: What if I can't find something else? What if this happened because I wasn't very good at what I do? In fact, do I even know what I do? Will anyone want any of the things I'm good at? 

Then the cat jumps up onto my shoulders and rubs her face against mine and purrs. The demons are chased away by seven pounds of love. Whatever else, Lizzie B thinks I'm pretty awesome. It helps.

The other thing that helps is the amazing outpouring of love and kindness. I worry about the state of the world on a regular basis, but I need to remember how amazing people really are. I have never felt so loved, so cared for, and had so many offers of help and promises of hope. It's positive, and uplifting, and incredibly humbling.

So my plan for today is to clean my house until it's sparkly and shiny. Maybe I'll put out some more Christmas decorations. Maybe I'll treat myself to an extra long bubble bath. I am going to keep busy and get through this first day. Because the first day of anything is the hardest day. I will wear comfy clothes and be kind to myself. There will be tea. There may be wine.

I will stop telling myself that this is failure, that I am a failure. This is a stop on a journey. It is a time to rest and to think. I will rest for a moment and think.

And then tomorrow,  after I've seen that I can do this, I can be this person, I will start to look around and see where my next steps will take me. 

I've got this. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

It's the Little Things

I sometimes get excessively excited about what are, in all actuality, silly things.  For example:

Target Temptation

Yesterday, The Fella and I went to Target.  I love Target. A LOT. I always go in there for one thing and then come out with a cart full of stuff, and I know full well that I'm not the only person who suffers from this affliction. It's just Target. They have everything I want. (So does Kohl's, to be honest, but Target has MORE of what I want and generally for less.)

But yesterday, when we went to Target? I ... I still can't believe this happened ... but ...

I only bought the things on my list. I needed two things and ... I swear this is true ... I BOUGHT THEM. ONLY them.

We were standing in the checkout line when I realized what I had accomplished. It was like winning an Olympic event, but instead of getting a medal, I was rewarded with my own money instead of the umpteenth bottle of nail polish I didn't need (or socks and a sweater or another Christmas ornament shaped like an owl).

SO EXCITING.


Moana Mania

The Fella and I also went to see Moana this weekend. (By the way, not that Disney needs my personal endorsement, but GO SEE MOANA IT'S AMAZING.)

This was a big deal for me because I've not been to the movies in years. I would have panic attacks in movie theaters.  I would have to wait for the movies I wanted to see to be available on iTunes or Netflix so I could watch them from the well-lit safety of my couch, because even though I love me some Captain America, my love for him could not compete with the terror and inability to breathe of a theater induced panic attack.

The Fella, who likes movies, has been incredibly understanding of my "um, no no no no" reaction to the idea of going to the movies, but he also knew that I ALSO had anxiety about not being able to go to the movies. (Anxiety disorders are so very, very fun, in case you didn't know.) He also knew that I really wanted to see Moana when it came out, because I've been talking about it for ages. 

"You know, they remodeled the theater," he said. "It's a lot different. Some of the things that you find triggering are gone. Look," he said, and got out his iPad to show me how the number of seats in each theater was smaller, how the seats were set up, and that you could reserve seating. He also told me the seats were bigger, and the aisles wider. 

So I agreed to try, knowing that if I couldn't stay through the movie? He would totally understand. (And can I say -- he's just the best, y'all. Everyone's partner should be so supportive!)

I won't lie -- I had a bad moment when the lights went down. An intensely bad, "Oh noo I should not have done this" moment. But then I remembered to breathe, and to close my eyes for a moment, recite the phonetic alphabet to myself, and then spell some things phonetically. Like Mike Ohio Alpha November Alpha. Or ... Yankee Echo Lima Lima India Echo. Tango Hotel Echo Foxtrot Echo Lima Lima Alpha. (By the way, I have no idea why this works for me. It just does.) 

The moment passed. I was okay. And the movie ... well, you need to see it. I want to see it in the theater AGAIN.

Just to revel in the fact that I CAN.


Getting Saucy Up in Here

I like to cook. I've mentioned previously that I not only didn't used to enjoy cooking, but I was also terrible at it. 

Then I got real and remembered that feeding yourself (and others) is something that needs to happen with some regularity, and as long as I followed recipes, I was pretty good. I was afraid to branch out, though. I measured everything religiously, afraid to stray because if I didn't follow the recipe exactly, it might be yucky, and I have perfectionist issues.

I don't know when it was that I realized that cooking is personal. For example? I love garlic. One clove of garlic is how much you put in a recipe that doesn't CALL for garlic. Recipes that call for garlic? Probably need twice as much garlic as the recipe says. I also like things spicy, so I'm going to need more red pepper than a recipe calls for. Also, if there's cheese? Yeah, I'm going to add more cheese because there is NO such thing as too much cheese. 

So I began branching out.

And then I realized that I didn't need recipes anymore for some things, like spaghetti sauce. I have my mom's guidelines for how to make good sauce engraved in my brain, but I don't need to write them down -- and I don't follow them exactly. I like capers. I also like to toss some red wine in there. She doesn't. That's okay -- both of our sauces are delicious.

I made a huge old pot of sauce over the weekend. I froze half, we used some, I saved some for pizza, and I had lunch leftovers.

This made me stupid happy. But when a coworker said, "What is that? It smells DELICIOUS"?

I was even HAPPIER.

May the little things make you equally as happy as they make me!




You Knew This Was Coming...

... if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I'm firmly parked on the liberal side of the political spectrum.  I didn't choose to define myself as liberal. I choose to define myself as firmly on the side of all people and making sure that they have rights, and choices, and are treated fairly, so that makes me liberal.

Because of that, the results of the election hit me hard. I don't feel as though the president-elect is a person who sees people as people. I don't think he sees immigrants as people, I don't think he thinks of Muslims as people, I don't think he sees women as people, and to be honest, I don't even think he sees his supporters as people. It seems to me that he sees the world as a his personal playground, a chessboard, if you will, and the people who live in it are just pawns for him to toy with, move around, and discard at will.

I'm concerned.

I'm concerned because the president-elect has suggested that people who burn the American flag should be stripped of their citizenship and deported.  America is more than its symbols; if the destruction of a single representation of one of our symbols causes someone to become so unhinged that they are willing to trump our fundamental constitutional rights in order to preserve that symbol, I become concerned about not only his understanding of the constitution but also of what it means to be American.

I'm concerned because he seems to have tapped into and released some of the ugliest parts of human nature. He has given people permission to be their worst selves at a time when we most need people to be their best selves. He has normalized sexual assault and sexism. He holds xenocentrism as a value. He doesn't have an issue with racism and is, in fact, racist. He uses language that is inflammatory, outrageous, and offensive.

I want to have empathy for the people who supported him in his run, because I very much believe that they will require that empathy when they realize that the president-elect doesn't actually have them and their interests in mind. He did not run for president to make America great. He ran for president for HIMSELF. He has no political experience, he has no ability to control his temper or his outbursts, and he reacts to criticism with less grace than my two year old niece.

The people who supported him are going to have a difficult time. And so are the rest of us, the ones who did not support him, the ones who were afraid of what his presidency might mean for this country. To me, that means being more liberal than ever because what we need now are MORE people who are deeply invested in people. We need more people who will reach out past ethnicity and religion and gender and sexuality and immigration status and offer love and help.

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to speak and hug and help as much as I possibly can, whoever I can, whenever I can. I will not hide. I will not be silent.

What will you do?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday Randoms

I

"That would be HILARIOUS. And by 'hilarious' I mean potentially causing death or injury and also highly illegal."

"Your definitions. They amuse me."

II

"So then I found out that when you have a tonsillectomy? They BURN THEM OUT. Did you know that?"

"Nope."

"Do you think they use lasers?"

"No, it's probably much more primitive. Like, they knock you out and then a band of villagers bearing torches shows up."


III

"Dude, when he comes out of there he's gonna be CRANKY."

"Yeah."

"He needs carbs. Let's just throw cookies at him until he calms down."

IV

"I've come to realize that my issues with lipstick are really about the fact that I have stupid lips."

"What?"

"I mean, being a pretty shade of red? Only accentuates their stupidness."

V

"He needs to calm down. He needs, like a hot bath and a good book and a cup of tea."

"..."

"Oh wait, no. That's me. I need that."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

That's It. Period.

I was going to start this post with, "Gentlemen, you may want to look away because I'm going to talk about menstruation" but then I realized that very notion is the impetus for this post. So hang on to your hats, y'all, because I'm about to give some real talk about periods.

As (hopefully) everyone knows, people who are born biologically female will likely eventually have a period. That's a thing. That's how the uterus works. Eggs get released, the uterine line thickens thinking "Oh boy! We're gonna have a baby!" and then the egg doesn't get fertilized so the uterus sheds the lining. It's actually not a huge deal, except for the fact that it can sometimes be painful, annoying, and somewhat messy. Big old whoop, right? A body doing what it's supposed to do.

So why do we treat it like it's secret and somehow shameful? I quizzed some of my biologically female friends* who are also members of the menstruation club and we came to the following conclusions:

  • We have all been at work and needed either a pad or a tampon, tried to make said pad or tampon INVISIBLE upon retrieval and also attempted to tuck it away while walking to the bathroom. 
    • If you have pockets, hide it in the pocket as unobtrusively as possible. Try to look completely innocent while you're doing this by somehow making a face that says, "Why NO, I would NEVER have a tampon in my pocket. What a CRAZY notion!"
    • If you do NOT have pockets, but have long sleeves, try to hide the tampon or pad in your sleeve by squinching your sleeve down over your hand and holding it there, again making the "NOPE, no tampon here" face.
    • You could bring your purse to the bathroom with you, but that's pretty much the same as announcing "GUESS WHAT IT'S PERIOD TIME" and no one wants to do that.
    • If your period is making a surprise visit (and isn't THAT fun), and you have to ask a coworker for a pad or tampon, you will WHISPER your request as quietly and ashamedly as possible.
  • After using the restroom, dispose of your feminine hygiene product of choice in a ninja-esque style by trying to cover it up with paper towels or toilet paper, so no one can see the evidence of your non-crime. 
  • When you are in pain because of menstrual cramps, smile big and try to look pretty. If you cannot pretend that you are not in pain, and someone asks what's wrong, you should lie. Unless it's another period-having person, in which case you may quietly whisper what's wrong and then ask for a painkiller. 
  • You can never, ever, ever tell a non-period having person about your period, because they will then blame all of your emotions on it, as though that's the only reason you ever have emotions. This will make you want to stab them, which will also be blamed on your period and not on the fact that the person you stabbed was being an asshole. 
We also came to the following consensus: this pisses us off. 

Where does it come from? Is it a holdover from separating the boys from the girls and having the sex talk? Why can't the boys and the girls have that talk together, by the way? All separating everyone does is make bodies seem scary, when let's face it: biology is not scary. Biology CLASS was occasionally a bit frightening when it came to things like dissecting an eyeball, but actual human biology, aka your body's going to do some stuff and you need to deal? Not scary. JUST LIFE.

I'm not going to be ashamed because my body is doing something it's supposed to do. So while I'm not going to make a banner for my office announcing my period, I'm also not going to hide maxi pads in my sleeves anymore, either.  It's simply ridiculous. 

That's it. 

Period.



*I understand that this is an awkward phrase, but I want to separate biology from gender, which is different.