Friday, December 30, 2011

The 2011 Farewell Speech

So imagine this: you turn on your tv to see some kind of swanky year-end awards show being hosted by a distinguished announcer. Let’s call him Mark Harmon.

Mark Harmon: And now, to say some words as 2011 draws to a close, I’d like to introduce a fabulous woman, one with style, panache, and who speaks sarcasm fluently. Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in welcoming to the stage – Danielle Hayes Balentine.

(Danielle, who is having a fashion moment in which she manages to look amazing and who, miraculously, has managed not to spill anything on her dress AND doesn’t have anything in her teeth, holds her breath as she walks to the stage. She somehow doesn’t trip as she walks to the podium, which causes the audience to give her a standing ovation.)

Danielle: You all expected me to fall, didn’t you?

(Audience laughs.)

Danielle: I admit, that with my track record of complete klutziness, I would be expected to fall. Plus, I’m wearing these killer heels – you can’t see them, but they’re quite sparkly and wonderful – so I was a little nervous about walking onto the stage.  But then I realized – so what if I fall? You’d all gasp and I would get back up – or maybe Mark Harmon would have to HELP me up, woohoo (audience laughs) and it would make a great story later, right?

Because that’s what I want to talk about. That’s what I think 2011 was about. Falling. And getting back up, either under your own power or with the help of your friends.

This has, for the most part, been an amazing year.  I don’t want to sound like it hasn’t, because it has – a new nephew, who I adore.  Concerts with some of my best friends. An entire glorious summer of weekends spent at the beach. Moments with my family that I treasure, friends I love to see and laugh with… it doesn’t get much better than that.

And yet.

This has also been a very difficult year for me and for many people I know. There’s been grief and loss and sickness and uncertainty. On a personal note, in August my life took a turn that I was truly blindsided by. Without going into the gory details, let’s say this: one moment, my life – my finances, my career, my stability – were going down one path. In an instant, in the time it takes to exhale? All of that was gone and in its place was only uncertainty and a tremendous sense of betrayal.

However  -- at that moment, as now,  I was surrounded by people who were looking at me to speak, to act, to move forward.  I admit that I was frozen with fear – what would I do? How could I make this work?  If I stepped forward, what would happen if I fell?

But then, like now, I realized: falling is a result of forward motion. If you stand still, you don’t fall – but if you stand still, life and all of the opportunities it brings? They will pass you by.  You need to risk falling in order to get anywhere.  This is true in moments of professional crisis, which is what I was facing, but I truly believe that it is also true in moments of personal crisis as well. That we can be paralyzed by the things we face, or so afraid of falling – and failing – that we refuse to move and, in doing so, miss out on the opportunities in front of us because we simply won’t walk forward towards them.

However, as I began taking those small steps that would lead me to whatever happened next, I also realized this: I wasn’t alone. I had the most tremendous group of people who were walking with me.  If one of us stumbled, the others held out hands to catch and steady. Because of that? We have been able to take an event that was crushing and turn it into something that has triumphed, and that will continue to do so.

I think the lessons of 2011, then, are this: That life is, quite simply, beautiful.  It’s beautiful when it’s decked out all fancy-like in sparkly shoes,  and it’s still lovely when it’s wearing more somber, funeral colours. In fact, it may be more lovely at those moments, because it shows you what you have. It lets you see the hands that will hold you up, and it gives you a chance to put your own hands – and heart – to good use while you support others.

My wish for 2012 is this: that when I fall – and I will, because we all stumble now and again – that it will be with grace. Grace and the memory of the gifts this year has given me – though they came with adversity, I hope they will  continue to serve me well in this New Year and all those that come after it.

And I hope, as always, that those falls will continue to make great stories.

Thank you.

(Mark Harmon leads the audience in another standing ovation.  Music swells, and screen goes to commercial.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tea Time

There is a small green box that sits on my desk, near my computer monitor.

It says, “Keep calm and have a cup of tea.”

It’s good advice, I think.

I come from a long line of tea drinkers. It’s a running joke in my family that my mom firmly believes that a cup of tea will cure any and all ailments. Headache? Have a cup of tea. Stomach virus? Tea (and possibly toast).  PMS? Tea. Overtired? Tea. Car accident? I’ll put the kettle on.  Zombie apocalypse? You brew up some tea, I’ll gas up the chainsaws.

That’s how we roll.

Over time, I became more of a coffee drinker. (By “over time” I mean “when I was in college and sleep was a precious and rare commodity.)  Coffee seems to say to me “Take charge of this day and make it do your bidding” in a way that tea does not. Coffee demands ACTION. Tea suggests coziness and snugglies.

Which is, I think, the point of the box. It was a gift from a friend because, you see, she knows about my mom’s all-purpose tea cure. And also, I think that she wanted to remind me that there should always be a space in your day to relax, to take a breath, and to do something that comforts you.

For me, that’s tea. For you? It might be something else entirely. But whatever it is, I think you – and me, and everyone – need to make room in your day for something that feeds your heart and soul. We spend so much time running and doing and working and making sure this and don’t forget that and I’m going to be late and I have another meeting after this one that we forget to allow ourselves to be. To simply be, now and again.  There isn’t a lot of time or inclination for calm.

But there should be.

And if there’s no space for it out there? Out there in the world as it swirls around you?

Then maybe you need to make it in here, in your heart. Maybe if you start from that calm, centered place, then the hustle and bustle of every day existence won’t stress you out or make you forget how happy you are to be here, how lucky you are to have yet another day in this life.

So, find your calm.

And if it works for you? Have a cup of tea.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Once More With the Birthday Thing

As I mentioned, yesterday was my birthday.

Here’s what I think about getting older: I like it.

I like it for a million reasons, but the main thing, and the thing I want to talk about right now, is this: the more time I spend in my skin, the more comfortable I am in it.

That might sound ridiculous to you. If so, you’re probably one of those lucky few who have always felt pretty much okay, not out of place or awkward or as though you did not fit. (I know a couple of your kind, but only one or two.)

I am not a member of that tribe.

I am the kind of person who wishes that I could travel back in time and comfort my younger self.  And also, maybe, kick her ass a little bit. I’d like to go to ten years ago me and tell her that she should stick up for herself, not let anyone run over her, that having an open and loving heart does not mean letting someone walk all over your heart.

I’d like to go back to twenty years ago me and tell her that she is beautiful. That she is and always will be enough, just the way she is, that she is braver than she knows and stronger than she thinks.

I didn’t know those things then. I didn’t know that the thing that was the most wrong with me was the amount of time that I spent worrying about the things that were “wrong” with me and ignoring the things that were right with me.

I can’t go back in time. None of us can. But what I’m realizing I can do – and should do, in fact need to do – is keep reaching out to other people. Pinky swearing with an 8 year old, promising him that he is awesome, and worthy, and a good kid? That’s pretty amazing. It’s good for him and good for you. Telling people who are struggling that they are worth it? That they are strong, fabulous, wonderful, that you are happier because they are here? That you struggled and survived so they can, too?

That’s the point.

And that’s the beauty of time, stretched out over birthdays. The looking back. The seeing who you are and who you’ve been, and using all of that to help the people around you – and yourself, as well – become who they will be.

Best birthday gift ever.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thirty-Six (or, 29 plus 7 years of AWESOME)

When your birthday is squashed between Christmas and New Year, you sort of learn to make your own festivities, because people are:

1)      Tired.

2)      BROKE.

3)      Busy.

4)      Did I mention tired?

When I was teaching, I would have my birthday off. My mom and her friend Debbie and I used to go to Boston for the day. However, in my current career path, taking my birthday off is not an option, so unless it’s on the weekend, I will be working on my birthday.

Sort of like right now.

However, it’s not so bad. I mean, when you look at previous birthday events, a little work is a good thing.  For example, spending the day working beats the year I had mono on my birthday.

It’s also better than the year I got DUMPED on my birthday. (“You’re a great girl, but I’ve also been seeing someone else – I should have mentioned that – and I like her better. Sorry. Oh, and happy birthday!”)

Of course, when it IS your birthday, people inevitably ask the following questions.

What are you doing?

What do you want?

What I’m doing? Is kind of nothing except for working. I did make myself an “It’s my Birthday!” playlist. I’ll share it, since I’m feeling generous. (Yes, I know they’re a weird mix of songs. But let’s review: MY BIRTHDAY. MY weird playlist.)

Placebo – Running Up That Hill

Billy Idol – Cradle of Love

Florence + The Machine – Shake it Out

30 Seconds to Mars – Hurricane

Chris Isaak – Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing

Depeche Mode – It’s No Good

James Blunt – Stay the Night

Kelly Clarkson – Mr Know It All

The Killers – A Dustland Fairytale

Melissa Etheridge – No Souvenirs

Pentatonix – Love Lockdown

Lady Gaga – You and I

The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter

Sara Bareilles – Let the Rain

Good musical times.

What do I want for my birthday?

Honestly, I pretty much have everything I could want or need. I love and am loved. I have shelter and employment and warm clothes and food.  I’m happy. Every day I am able to find reasons to laugh and smile and sing.

So what else could I want?

To be honest, and completely serious, I want everyone else to have those things that I have. Love. Laughter. Happiness.

So my birthday wish this year? Isn’t for myself, but for others. That everyone I meet is able to find their joy. That I can find ways to help people who aren’t as blessed to be able to say that they have what they need. To give more than I take.

That’s my birthday wish this year. That’s what I want.

(and having a good playlist certainly doesn’t hurt either.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Christmas Up in Here, Y'all

Dear Readers (dear, dear, wonderful readers),

From everyone here at Gone To Carolina (which, okay, is just me and my cat, but whatever) come the happiest, warmest holiday wishes.  (Well, I’m sending you warm wishes. She’s trying to catch her own tail, which she’s convinced is a stalker with ill-intent.)

I’ll be back after Christmas.

With love,

Danielle (and Beansie too)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Worth Mentioning

"If you don't post about this," he said, "I'll be kind of disappointed."

Here's what happens when you write a blog: People read it (as is evidenced by my recent giveaway). So sometimes, people think that they know you when they don't, actually, know you in real life (which is kind of amazing, except for on a few occasions when it's been a little scary). Or, conversely, people find out you do write a blog and then they freak out. And sometimes? They think it's cool.

For example, a couple of months ago I went on a date with this guy (Hi, if you're reading!) who made sure to ask me NOT to blog about our (only) date. So I didn't. But I kind of wanted to, if only because he asked me not to. (And for the record, it was a perfectly fine lunch date, though not the most inspired afternoon I ever spent.)

Ah, the blog. Reactions have run the gamut from "omg, are you the one who writes that blog?" to "I read your blog and I HATE you" to "I read your blog and I LOVE you" to  the aforementioned "please don't write about this" but recently, I had my first -- the FIRST -- time someone said to me, "I will be disappointed if I don't rate a mention."

Here's the thing: I don't HAVE to write about every aspect of my life, and there are a few (granted, very few) areas that I keep off limits. But the blogging has gradually become an extension of how I define myself. I think we all have those things -- for some of us, it's our job, or our family roles, or our political stands -- and this is one of mine. When people recognize that?

It makes me happy.

Just wanted to say that.

And yes, sir, you rate a mention.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We Have a Winner!

Over 10,000 blog hits.


And you reader people? You're the best. So thanks for coming over here to play.

Oh yeah, I mentioned some PRIZES. I've got two here, waiting to go out (but to be honest? I probably won't send them until after Christmas because I went to the post office yesterday and OH MAN. UGLY).

Prizes will be going out to:


and Roxanne!

And to all of you -- thank you for reading. From the bottom of my heart.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Make A Difference Monday: It Only Takes A Girl

First? You should watch this (if it's blank, right click on it and choose show video info ... or refresh the screen. That should work for you.):

And now let me tell you how Make A Difference Monday came about.

That video? Was a link on a friend's Facebook wall. I watched it, and I cried.

And I realized that all of the things my friends and I complain about on Mondays? The whole "going back to work, not enough coffee, the weekends aren't long enough bleaaaah" routine?

It's ridiculous. It's elitist. And honestly? It's a whole lot of whining.

First world problems? You betcha.

So -- Make a Difference Monday. To remind you, and me, that to have the job, to have the luxury of a weekend, to have the luxuries that you -- and I -- and the people we know -- take for granted? That's a gift.

We can do better. We should do better.

Which brings me back to the link I asked you to watch.

If it moved you, there are things you can do to support girls in developing countries. One of them is shopping here:;jsessionid=9DDDB5431B497AF9DFC1F7120457D45E?siteId=344&site=&context=fair-trade-gifts

You can also go here:

Or here:

Or, obviously, here:

And if this doesn't move you? That's okay. Make a Difference Monday is all about presenting ways -- big ones, small ones -- to make a difference. Maybe one of them will strike a chord with you.

We can all make a difference -- any time, any day.

Perhaps today you'll make one for a girl.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lost & Found

I was buying Christmas presents online when it happened. Clicked “buy”, clicked “proceed to cart”, filled out the required fields, went to the bottom to fill in my account information, reached into my wallet for my debit card and …

… not there.


Ixnay on the ardcay.

Hasn’t this happened to everyone? And isn’t this what happens next:

Your heart makes that sad, sinking, fluttery feeling but your brain struggles to stay cool. In fact, your brain often refuses to comprehend the missing card and forces your hand and eyes to go back through every part of your wallet. Multiple times. As though the card MUST be in there, but you’re somehow just not spotting it.

The card, of course, isn’t there. You know it’s not there. But you keep looking until, after the 5th cruise through the entire contents of the wallet, you are forced to admit it.

Now there’s a mild sense of sideways-ness, as though your whole situation could slide into complete pandemonium if you let it, so you don’t. You might curse to yourself “THIS IS WHY MY MOM ALWAYS SAID TO PUT THINGS BACK WHERE I FOUND THEM,” as you look in the other likely spots: a pants pocket. That place on the counter where you sometimes toss things (but why would I put my card there? You ask yourself, knowing that there’s NO reason, but looking anyway, just in case). The top drawer of your dresser.

Not there.

Now you start getting random as the sense of panic increases. The bathroom seems like a perfectly natural spot for you to have been conducting financial transactions, so you look in there. You look in your bed. You look UNDER your bed. You check the insides of shoes, under your desk, through the stack of mail. You open the cat’s mouth and peer down her throat. The card! WHERE IS THE CARD?

Purse is dumped out, contents rifled through. Now, of course, you can’t think about anything but CARD I NEED TO FIND THE CARD WHERE IS THE CARD I NEED MY CARD which is kind of funny because 20 minutes ago, when you didn’t realize you were an idiot who couldn’t keep track of important things, you were feeling mellow and happy. Now you feel – and look – like an escaped psychopath.

You pause.

You retrace your steps.

Back to the wallet. Back to the desk. Back to the kitchen. And just when you’re thinking, “I’m such a moron, I already looked here, why am I looking here again” your fingers slip across a familiar piece of plastic. You snatch it up.

Equilibrium is restored.

You go back to your computer. You make your purchases. And you slide your card, not back into your wallet where it belongs, but into your back pocket.

To begin the cycle again.

Hey you guys! I'm THIS close to 10,000 views of my blog! I know, CRAZY! When that happens, though, I'll be giving away prizes! But, in order to get said prizes, you need to be a registered follower ON blogger. So if you're not on there? GET ON THERE! It's free stuff! Sign up!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

My toes are cold. I should put socks on. Or shoes. Or I could turn up the heat. Eh, I don’t want to turn up the heat. Electric heat is not cheap. When did I become a person who thought those thoughts “I’d rather be chilly than turn up the heat?” Where did THAT come from? Seriously, next I’ll be covering my furniture with plastic and crocheted blankets. Actually, a crocheted blanket would be kind of awesome. Good for snuggling into the couch. With a cup of tea. And a Jane Austen novel. And yep, it’s official – I am like 100 years old. Good grief. See, that settles it: WHO SAYS GOOD GRIEF? Me. Me and my cold toes do, that’s who. I should buy some slippers. Slippers would keep my toes warm. Except, would I wear them? Bet I wouldn’t. Because I have socks and I’m not wearing those. I have some cool socks, too. I did not appreciate the land of flip flops, aka North Carolina, when I lived there. Poor cold toesies. Oh man, look at those toes. I need a pedicure. STAT. Or at least I need to find my nailpolish so I can touch those tootsies up. They look sad. Poor, chilly, neglected feet. They miss the warm beach sand of the summer. Me too, toes, me too. Hey, I wonder where my toe ring went. Who even came up with those? “You know what would be awesome? Rings. FOR YOUR FEET.” Yeah, awesome. Except they kind of are awesome. They’re cute. I don’t know WHY they’re cute, but some things are inexplicably fabulous like that. Kind of like some people are attractive for no quantifiable reason. When I was a freshman in college my roomies and I made the Inexplicably Hot list. The only person I can remember who was on that list was Bono, though. Because, hello. Hot. But kind of not really. Maybe an accent makes everyone a little more attractive? Even when it’s being a little (or a whole lot) arrogant? Is someone conducting a study on this? Someone should. These are the things people want to know! Or maybe they’re just the things that I want to know. Right now, the biggest mystery is why I am still writing this post, when I CLEARLY need to put something on my feet. Guess I’ll wrap it up.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mmmmm Mmmmm Good

I'm eating soup.

You may be thinking, "Big deal, whacko. Everyone eats soup."

Well, yes.

But I MADE this soup. From scratch. (And in the interest of full disclosure? I have more simmering on the stove.)

This might not be a big deal to you. But to someone who spent most of her life being really very okay with not knowing how to cook?

It's huge.

So here's the story.


When I was in junior high, I had to take home ec. Everyone had to, actually -- home ec AND shop. I liked shop -- machines! Building things! Fun!

I did not like home ec.

I liked my home ec TEACHER. She was very nice. But my general cluelessness caused her despair because -- well, I was accident prone, clumsy, and hated to bake. HATED IT. And to be honest, was really bad at it. I didn't like measuring things (which, by the way, made learning to sew super fun), I've never really been a person who LOVES cookies and cakes, and I decided that it was okay not to know how to bake and, by extension, cook. In my 13 year old way, I imagined a flashy city life, comprised of reservations and take out. Whatever.

As I got older, I realized that ... um, that wouldn't work. I tried a couple of times to cook and became very proficient at lasagna, which was my "go to, fancy meal" and could make a salad and boil pasta. It wasn't much, I knew, but it would get me by.

Then the Food Network showed up thanks to my local cable provider.

I was mesmerized.

Those people could COOK. They looked like they were having fun. They could cook AND talk! And their food -- it was pretty!

I was jealous. Suddenly, not really knowing how to cook didn't seem like something to be weirdly proud of. It seemed ... sad. But by then, my not-cooking was sort of a thing. Like, "Oh, Danielle doesn't cook."

I would think, when people said things like that, "But I would kind of like to."

One fateful afternoon, I was at my mom's house and she said, "You have to see this new show on the food channel. It's this woman who makes meals in, like, 30 minutes."

Which is how I was introduced to Rachael Ray.

People hate Rachael Ray. She's too perky. She's too chatty. She's not a real chef.

Here's what I loved about her immediately: She looked like a regular person. She talked like a regular person. And at one point, she leaned toward the counter, looked directly at the camera, and said, "EVERYONE can learn how to cook."


Even a hopeless case like me.

I went into the other room, fired up the computer, and printed off the recipe for what she had made. Then I went home to stare down my kitchen.

"Okkkaaaay," I thought. "Everyone can learn how to cook? Let's see."

I cooked.

And it was awesome.


Which brings me to the soup.

It's been some years and miles between the first time I saw 30 Minute Meals and today. I've actually become a pretty good cook, and I cook a lot. However, until a few weeks ago, I'd never made soup.

My MOM made soup. My mother made (and makes) the best soup ever. It's so good. It's so -- Mom. I didn't know how to make it and was kind of afraid to ask. Until last Thanksgiving, when I finally realized that it would be fun to learn, and that learning to make Mom's soup? Didn't make it less special. It made it MORE special.

I have made the two soups she taught me to make abut 3 times each in the past four weeks. I eat a LOT of soup. My recent adventures and successes in soupland have also managed to reaffirm my love for cooking, because nothing tastes better than something you've made yourself.

Unless, of course, your mom makes it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Adventures in Gift Wrap

I love giving gifts. It makes me happy.

I hate wrapping gifts.

I mean, I REALLY hate it.

I appreciate receiving a well wrapped, pretty present, mostly because I know the effort that goes into it. I am not good at many of the skills that go into such a presentation, namely:

Making a bow

Um … yeah… anything else that you might need to do to a gift.
I have a gross tendency to underestimate how much paper I need (or I way overestimate it, and then have a rumpled lumpy mess). The tape. It does not go where I want it to go. The bows. They are problematic.

As such, I give thoughtfully selected gifts that look like they’ve been manhandled by Santa’s more psychotic elves.

I was DETERMINED not to have this be the case this year. I picked out pretty paper, matching bows, nice tags. This was going to be the year. The year of the pretty present.

(Please note the use of the word “was”.)

Because, you see, I failed to factor in one thing. One fourteen pound, incredibly curious, very vexing thing.

Her name is Beansie. And she never met a piece of gift wrap that she didn’t want to pounce on. Or chase. Or ribbon she didn’t think looked tasty. Or a box that wasn’t suitable for : napping on, gnawing on, sharpening her claws on, or shoving maliciously off the table and then staring at, in case it decided to start moving.

She was asleep when I started wrapping presents, so I was able to get a few boxes done. And then …

… then she woke up. Looked at me, yawned, and wandered off. I was amazed. I was going to get away with the wrapping? It was a Christmas miracle!

And it was.

Until I caught her eating paper on the presents I’d already wrapped.

“Noooooo!” I cried. I grabbed her and when I did? She got a piece of tape on her paw. That’s when the real shenanigans began. She gave me a startled look, one that seemed to say this:


That was when the zooming began. Up and down the couch. In and out of rooms. Under and behind the tree. All with me chasing her, trying to catch her so I could remove the offending tape.

I’ll give her this: she’s not smart, but she’s quick.

I finally cornered her in the tub (I turned the water on and the siren song of running water distracted her from the horror of the scotch tape) and got it off of her foot. Then I turned around to turn off the tub and I heard it.

The crinkling that could only come from a cat rolling on wrapping paper.

I’ll be buying gift bags this weekend.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Holidays

Yes, you read that right. I said “Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

So. Are you offended? Do I seem like I’m trying to steal Christmas from you?

Do you know what offends me? When people become outraged that some people – me included – have a tendency to wish a stranger Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas. You know why I’d rather wish someone Happy Holidays?

Because there are a lot of holidays in December, y’all.

There’s Christmas. There’s Hanukkah. There’s Kwanzaa. There’s Muharram. There’s New Year.

Just because I don’t celebrate all of those holidays doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t hope that those who do celebrate them are doing so joyously.
And while we’re on the subject, can we talk about the holiday party? “But it should be a Christmas party,” people complain. “Not calling it a Christmas party is WRONG.”

You know what’s more wrong?

Having a party that excludes people.

You know why they don’t have Christmas parties in schools? Because not every kid in the classroom is Christian. Because it wouldn’t be very much fun to be a kid of a different faith who couldn’t attend the classroom Christmas party because your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Because it’s not nice to make people – big or little – feel like they don’t belong and aren’t included.

Look, for the record? I was raised Christian. And because of that, it’s important to me to reach out to ALL people, not just people who believe the same way I do. I celebrate Christmas. If you wish me a Merry Christmas, I’ll wish you one right back – and I do hope you have a wonderful
Christmas, and that your holiday season is filled with joy.

But if I don’t know you, I’m not making assumptions about your beliefs, because I don’t want you to make assumptions about mine. So much of what is wrong with society right now is, I think, our willingness to make and act on our assumptions about one another – we let our stereotypes inform our actions and thoughts.

I don’t want to act out of a place of assumption. I want to act out of a place of understanding, and with that comes the realization that I don’t know everything about everyone I meet or see. Because of that?

I say Happy Holidays.

And I wish you, dear reader, the happiest holidays yet.

Friday, December 9, 2011

So Much For Being Subtle

Over Thanksgiving, a well-meaning relative who shall remain nameless decided that, since she didn’t know any nice boys for me to date, perhaps I should consider dating some nice girls.

Plus, she pointed out, I kind of have a butch haircut. So I’d fit right in.

I don’t know if I’m correct about this, but I have the sneaking suspicion that she thinks that I might actually be a lesbian, so she was kindly trying to give me a comfortable space in which to come out. Which, frankly, seems very thoughtful of her. I should thank her for that.

And to be honest, in retrospect, I’m fairly certain that there are a LOT of people who think that I am gay, given my frequent levels of outrage on behalf of the gay community.

So let me say it here: I’m sorry if it disappoints (or startles) anyone, but I do not identify myself as a lesbian.

If I DID, though, it would not be a secret. You’d already know. I’d probably have business cards that say “Hi, I’m Danielle ….. Aaaannnnd I’m a lesbian” because do I seem like the type that would keep that to myself? (And for those among us who are going to respond with “Why would you do that? I don’t announce that I’m straight,” I would say this: You don’t usually HAVE to announce that you’re straight. People make assumptions about heterosexuality and will accept you according to those assumptions. It’s often easy to “pass” as it were – it’s more challenging, and sometimes dangerous, to put yourself out there when you don’t identify as straight, but which is also why I wouldn’t compromise if I did identify as a lesbian.)

If my posts seem … vague … on the topic of sexuality, because I try to use words like “partner” and “significant other” and identify romantic relationships in multi-gender ways? It’s because I am aware that it’s a heterocentric old world, friends and neighbors, and I’d like to make sure that no one reads my blog and feels excluded, as though my ditherings about relationships don’t include them.

And let’s face it: my gay and lesbian (and otherwise identified) friends? They don’t need more exclusion. They already live in a world that, on a large scale, feels very comfortable telling them that they’re marginal and incorrect, that they don’t deserve basic rights, and that it’s okay to treat them poorly.

As I write this, I am uncomfortable with using the pronoun “them” because I don’t feel like this is a “them” issue. I said I don’t identify as a lesbian, which is true, but I do identify as human. As in, we all are. As in, it’s not okay to treat anyone badly, to deny anyone rights, to make anyone feel marginal or incorrect.

So if my language is ambiguous, it’s because I want to make sure that you, dear reader, and your partner – whatever gender y’all might be – feel welcomed in my house, even if it’s just an internet-y house made up of words and ramblings, and I will argue endlessly with anyone who says you’re not welcome, you don’t deserve those rights, and you don’t deserve respect and dignity.

You know what I think? I think it takes courage to love someone. It takes even more courage to love someone when you know that so many people continue to be fueled by hate and ignorance, and will feel justified in making your life miserable as a result.

Which is why I won’t support a political candidate who doesn’t support gay rights – because it’s not about “special” rights, it’s about EQUAL rights. It’s why I also won’t think kindly of someone who thinks homosexuality is a mental illness, a condition that can be cured.

I will, however, say this: Ignorance? Is a mental condition, and it’s EASILY cured.

Maybe we could get on that.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oh, Snap!

I got an email from a client that ended with the memorable and highly professional phrase: "Clearly, you are smoking dope."


And that, my friends, kind of sums up this week.

I'd like to say something clever about this -- something about what non-verbal, non-personal interactions do to communication, but since I spend a goodly chunk of my time communicating in non-verbal, non-personal way(though they often FEEL very personal or, at any rate, more personal than I might be if we were communicating face to face, because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't share a lot of this stuff if we were a couple of people drinking coffee at a cafe), it felt like meandering down that path might be artificial.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


It’s so easy unintentionally to hurt someone. Not because their feelings don’t matter to you, because they do, but because sometimes, your truth is not what they want or need to hear. It’s like we’re all wearing glasses that allow what we need to be in sharp focus, but what other people want or need is a little less clear, so while you reach for that thing – whatever it might be – you can’t necessarily see what it is you’re bumping up against, or who you might be knocking down.

Or, in other words: It’s hard when someone’s dreams and your dreams don’t exactly match up.

It’s harder still when you don’t even have to time to have a dream. Because honestly, if you asked me right now what I dream of? I would tell you that right now, I’m the one-day-at-a-time girl. If I am getting crazy, I might look ahead to the weekend. That’s how my life works right now and I’m finding peace with it, because I know it’s just right now. It’s not forever. It’s just for the next several todays, until I get to the other side of the mountain I’m climbing.

I don’t mind the climb. I do mind that other people mind it, because … I wanted to say there’s nothing I can do, but that’s not true. I could tell myself that it’s just a job, it’s not that important. I could back down or give up but I’m not going to because I don’t quit. I’ve seen other people – people I trusted, people I thought highly of – walk away.

This girl doesn’t walk away from a fight.

There are people counting on me. I’m not going to let them down. That’s the bottom line.

But by having such a narrow focus, I know that I have hurt someone, and I don’t know how to reconcile that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Good Life

So as you can probably guess from yesterday's post, I'm a little overwhelmed.

But then, of course, I remember this...

... and I feel a little bit better.

I have to make some decisions about my priorities. I've got some choices coming up and always, always, work to do.  However, the thing that I sometimes forget is that I took the steps that brought me to this place, and I am fully capable of taking the steps that will also lead me out of it, and that will bring me to the next destination on this journey.

It is a good life, underneath it all.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Balancing Acts

I am sitting at my desk. The skin on my face feels like it is stretched too tightly. My back already hurts, and I have a headache.

It's 7 AM.

I've been here for an hour.  I already know that I won't be going to trivia tonight. It starts at 8 PM and I know I won't be done with work.

I can't remember the last time I made it to the gym. I can't remember the last time I even went for a walk.

My relationships are suffering. I'm getting emails that say things like "Helllloooo? Are you still alive?"

My nerves are shot.

I'm beyond tired.

I constantly feel like I need to cry.

I think my coworkers are afraid of me at this point. I'm not usually cranky, but now I hear myself snapping at people.

For the first time ever, I'm relieved that I'm alone in my office and that I don't have a family of my own, because I don't know what I would do if I had to feed, clothe, converse with someone else.

Something has to give.

I just don't know what or how.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oops, I Did It Again!

Hey, guess who got so caught up in her work that she forgot to write a blog post?

Yeah, that would be this kid.

Forgive me? I’ll be back on Monday, I promise!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dear Al Gore

Dear Al Gore,

Some people think you invented the internet. I'm pretty sure that's because at one point, you said something crazy like "I took the initative in creating the internet" and the majority of the American public ran with it. I'm pretty impressed by this, actually, as I FREQUENTLY tell people things that are patently untrue (i.e., "I'm the Queen of the Universe and you must obey me!") and yet somehow, not only do they completely fail to believe me, but often give me odd looks and mutter something about the need to increase my medication.


I'll humour you for a moment and say that, okay, maybe you did invent the internet. Someone has to take credit for it, I suppose, and it may as well be you -- I don't see anyone else stepping up to claim it. I reckon that in your internet inventing head, there was some sort of noble cause, like using our new method of communication to connect people all over the world as a means of stopping global warming or pooling our collective intellect to solve world hunger and oppression.

If that was the case, than LOLspeak probably disappoints you. A lot. (I can haz punctation?)

However, Mr. Gore, I don't think that you should despair, because I truly believe that the internet has done some wonderous things. Vital things. Worthy things. You may not have developed the key to saving the ice caps, sir, but you have done something marvelous, perhaps without even realizing it, and that, sir, is why I am writing. I want to acknowledge what you have done:

You have created a space where dorks and geeks can come to play.

Some people might not think this is amazing.

Those people are not dorks or geeks.

As a card carrying member of the tribe, I can tell you this: at no point in the history of nerddom has it been so incredibly awesome -- and acceptable -- to geek out as it is in the internet age. At no point, ever (with, perhaps the exception of band and/or the AV club) has it been so easy to find a COMMUNITY of geeks in which to hang out.

Oh sure, before the internet, we had a tendency to find each other.  We knew how to read the signs. (I already mentioned band, right?) You know, the "college" sticker on the rear windshield that said "Starfleet Academy" or the vanity plate that says "TMLRD".  The sight of sneaky ducking into the sci-fi section at the public library, while muttering "I know there's a Dragonriders of Pern book I haven't read yet ... where IS it?" We would find each other on trivia teams and in libraries and other dork -specific events ("Going to Comic Con! Who's IN!?").

But the internet -- oh, my goodness. The internet has become the place to let one's geek flag fly. Where the dorktastic can reign in style and relative safety. Where one can proclaim an undying and potentially obsessive adoration for all things Portal, and not only will no one care, but a) other people will join you in your obsession ("The cake! it's a LIE!") and b) the likelihood that you'll get stuffed into a locker or given an atomic wedgie is actually very slim.

There are even special dating sites for us on the internet, Mr Gore. Granted, I kind of suspect that this is to keep us out of the general dating pool and may be for our own good, as being a geek does tend to limit the things one may have in common with the average Joe or Josephine. I mean, an ability to recite pretty much everything that ever happened in the entire Harry Potter series might not win the undying devotion of a non-geek, and because of said geekiness, one might -- kind of -- lack the ability to keep one's enthusiasm for such topics to oneself. However, due to geek-oriented internet dating, geeks don't have to hide anymore! Internet FTW! (That means "For the win" by the way... it occurs to me that invention of the internets doesn't necessarily equal being down with the lingo.)

Sure, we might not have used the internet to solve global warming, but we have used it to create communities and safe places for people to be themselves, dork and non dork alike.  This might not be climate changing, but can be life changing.

Now that is something to geek out over... and you know, we'll probably get to the global warming thing eventually.

Live Long and Prosper,

Your Geek Friends on the Internet