Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Randoms


“I’m having one of those moments where half of me is OUTRAGED and half of me is kind of ‘meh, that guy’s an asshole, what did you want?’ “

“Which half are you going to listen to?”

“The half that’s closer to having a beer. It’s been a long day.”


“So now that I don’t have a couch? I eat dinner at … the table.”

“Isn’t that why you HAVE a table?”

“No, that was mostly so I’d have someplace to put my mail.”


“And then I realized that we were essentially having the ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ speech, which is SO LAME.”

“That IS lame.”

“Especially since I know he’s going to call and want me to come back.”

“Yeah. You know what you need to tell him?”


“It’s not me. It’s YOU.”


“Danielle. I’m looking at this and I’m not seeing ANY activity for March of 2014.”

“Um. Because it’s 2013?”

“Oh.” Pause. “I should know that.”


“We’re not interchangeable! We’re not even CLOSE!”

“I know!”

“This is like saying, you know what? We hired George Clooney for this role and it turns out he’s not going to be able to do it. So let’s call Steve Buscemi. BECAUSE THEY’RE PRACTICALLY THE SAME PERSON.”

“I know… wait. Are you saying you’re Clooney or Buscemi? I’m confused.”

“They’re both awesome? So I’m cool either way. The point is that awesomeness aside? They’re not going out for the same roles. That’s just weird.”

“That would be weird.”

“What are we talking about again?”

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Ballad of Tommy and Gina

I was listening to Bon Jovi, and the following lyrics suddenly struck me as, well ...

...epic. And funny.

"Tommy used to work on the docks/Union's been on strike, he's down on his luck. It's tough. So tough."

Let's break this down shall we? Poor Tommy. I picture him as being early twenties, heavily tatted up (and so, probably, dreamy since I like 'em that way), with longish hair. And he'd be strong, right? In good shape, anyway, because working on the docks is, like, super hard work. That's physical labour. He's got the kind of build people go to the gym for, but he doesn't have a gym membership because, dude, his JOB'S a workout. And gyms are for people who have MONEY. Which he doesn't, because since the strike started, he's, like, SO broke.

And that's tough.

But it's not JUST tough? It's so tough that Mr Bon Jovi needed to tell us how tough it was TWICE. It's tough -- SO tough.

And that, my friends, is TOUGH.

"Gina works the diner all day. Working for her man, she brings home her pay for love. FOR LOVE."

I confess that I used to hear this as "working for THE MAN" and not working for HER man. In my head, Gina wears a light blue old-school waitress uniform and has blonde hair with dark roots. She aspires to cooking, though, and everyone she and Tommy have ever entertained in their studio apartment in Long Island City have been mad impressed with her skills -- not that she has the cash to do that anymore, though, because since the strike started down at the docks, they've been pretty much living on her tips, and she's not sure how they're going to pay their rent. But that's okay, because she believes in Tommy. And their love.

And those crazy kids are gonna hold on! To what they've got! It doesn't make a difference if they make it or not. Except that it sort of does, because ... well, if they give up, this song's going to kind of suck.

So I giggled to myself a little bit, because now in my head, Tommy and Gina were real people.


I realized that Gina's parents were Brenda and Eddie from Billy Joel's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant". You know, Brenda and Eddie? Who were still going steady in the summer of '75 and decided the marriage would be at the end of July?

Which is why it makes SENSE that Gina is holding on to what she's got. Her parents are divorced, and she doesn't want to lose Tommy over money issues -- especially since she KNOWS that when her parents got married, every one of their friends told Eddie he could never afford to live that kind of life. I mean, yeah, Brenda and Eddie got a divorce as a matter of course AND they parted the closest of friends -- which was nice for Gina because it made it easier on her -- but she's determined to stick it out.

That's also when I realized that Gina's best friend? Was Maria from the Blondie song. Walking like she don't care, smooth as silk and cool as air. That girl would NOT take a diner job for her man, that's for damn sure. She's a free spirit. She'd be all, "Whatever, peace out" but she's super loyal to Gina and comes into the diner when she's working to cheer her up, because she's a good friend like that.

I could keep going. I populated an entire universe with song people, all of whom had their own backstories. (Don't get me started on Iggy Pop's Candy. That woman is INSANE.)

Popular music. It's a soap opera.

In my head, anyway.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ants In My Pants

I'm trying to be patient.

The thing about patience is that, while I recognize that it's really important? I don't necessarily possess it in large amounts. I'd LIKE to. I recognize that impatience is a fault, I recognize that it's one of MY faults, but there it is.

I'm not always patient. This is why, if I buy gifts for people in advance of occasions, I end up giving them early and then having to buy another gift. I don't want to wait. I'm always going -- go go go -- and being made to stand or sit still is not natural to me. If I have to sit (or stand) and wait, I manage motionlessness for about five minutes. Then I start to do something like this:

Get out phone. Play with phone. Check email. Check facebook. Make a note -- something to write about later? Situational observation? Remember I need cat food. Start shopping list. Put phone away. Shift from foot to foot. Tap fingers on nearest surface. Start drumming with fingers. Get super into it. Finish drumming with a flourish. Look at watch. Pull out phone. Scroll, scroll, put phone away. Begin singing to self -- either along with ambient music, or just whatever song is in my head at any given time. Do a little dance. Pull out phone. Check facebook again. Put phone away. Look around. Keep doing little dance. Realize that I'm dancing. School myself into stillness. Remain still for about five minutes. Repeat.

As you can imagine, I'm VERY fun on road trips. Or long flights. You do NOT want to sit next to me.

The thing is, though, that all of this is kind of exhausting. It also doesn't make anything happen faster.

So. I'm waiting for something to happen. And I'm trying to be zen about it. I'm trying to sit with the anticipation. I'm trying to be patient.

Okay, and maybe I'm drumming on my desk. But only a little.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In Which I Consider the Gay Marriage Issue (originally posted on Facebook, November 4, 2009)

Background: This was the first thing I ever wrote that went viral-ish. It's how I felt that day, and it's how I feel today, and it's how I'll feel tomorrow.

Part One: Everyone is Someone’s Child

I do not have children.

I have a cat. I adore her – she’s my furry sidekick, my perpetually befuddled but always adorable buddy. When she is sick, I am beside myself. If she gets hurt, I can’t stand it. If I saw someone treat her meanly or torment her, I would be hard pressed not to harm them.

And she’s a CAT.

So I can only imagine how it would be if I had a child.

I can only imagine if I had a child and someone told her that her very existence were wrong.

I can only imagine if I had a child and someone told him that he was vile and evil.

I can only imagine if I had a child and someone told her that she was an abomination.

I can only imagine if I had a child and someone told him that the family that he was creating was shameful and useless to humanity.

The thought of someone saying any of those things to anyone’s child leaves me shaking, angry, and sad.

Part Two: The Question of Religion

As I have recently pointed out on a friend’s wall, I was raised Baptist. The views of the church on homosexuality caused me to feel conflicted. It is hard for me to reconcile a message of “Jesus loves everyone” with signs proclaiming “God hates fags”.

I lean towards “Jesus loves everyone," myself. EVERYONE. That would be you and me and my neighbors across the street and cab drivers and the lady who yelled at me in the grocery store yesterday and even Yankees fans, bless their hearts.

It means He loves people who are straight and people who are gay and people who are undecided.

So I’m sorry, but I don’t think that “God Hates Fags” – however, a sign proclaiming that and hate rhetoric in His name probably makes Him cry a little.

Part Three: The Legal Question of Marriage

Here’s all I have to say about this: our culture treats marriage licenses like Kleenex. You get one when it’s handy – look, we’re married. You toss it when you’re done – look, we’re divorced. You get another one when you want to – look, married again.

It makes me laugh that anyone justifies keeping a gay couple from marrying as preservation of the state of marriage.

It also makes me laugh when I hear that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman, for the creation of children and a family. When my ex husband and I were married, we were pretty firm on not having children. So … should we not have been allowed to get married? Was ours a legally invalid union?

I would also like to say this: that church I grew up in would not allow me to get married there or marry us for religious reasons. That was their right.

We had a civil ceremony in which we exercised our civil rights, having gone through the proper legal channels – and I’m thinking that those civil rights are supposed to belong to all people. Also, I’m a little hazy on this, but I think there was a fee for the license… and I’m thinking that legally you couldn’t bar two people from purchasing one without being guilty of discrimination.

Part Four: Everyone is Someone’s Child (revisited)

Children become adults.

Every adult in this country deserves the same legal rights.


The Sound of Being Wrong

I woke up to a message on my phone that simply said: “Did I do anything to upset you?”

Then I saw another one, asking if I was okay. And then another one, wondering where I was, and letting me know I should get in touch.

And that was when I realized I’d done something that I’m absolutely dead-set against people doing: I’d gone off the grid.

Now, for the record, there’s going off the grid as in “I’m unplugging from facebook! I’m leaving my phone behind! I’m going to read all of the books and take walks and be present in the physical world!” and I think we all need to do that from time to time. Going off the grid in that way is completely healthy. Everyone should do that sometimes.

That’s not what I did.

I was upset about something, and so I burrowed into my apartment, staying off my social media sites because I didn’t want to have to talk to anyone. When people texted me, I either didn’t respond (and I apologize for that) or responded with very short answers so as not to have to have a conversation (and I apologize for that, too).

I know better than this. I do. I know that when I have friends who are having a hard time, I get very stressed out when I can’t reach them, or when they unplug from the world. I KNOW THAT.

I did it anyway.

And I’m embarrassed.

I’m embarrassed because no one can give you a hand up if you don’t reach a hand out.

I’m embarrassed because I forgot that the only way out of a downward spiral is to climb up and out.

I’m embarrassed because it’s not fair to ask people to lean on you if you refuse to lean on them.

I have a friend who always says that when you know better, you do better. I wish that were true, but sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we know better but still do badly, because we can’t cobble together the fortitude to get the better done.

I’m going to try not to do it again.

We’ll see how that goes.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Better Homes

So. The Great Apartment Purge of 2013 ended with getting rid of a couch. A couch-ectomy, if you will.


First, let me tell you this: last week? Started badly and ended on a sour, sour note. You know the face you would make if you put seven green Sour Patch Kids in your mouth all at once? (Or the face you're making right now, thinking about doing that?) It was like that, only you'd have to make that face both physically AND emotionally.

And then keep making it.

I knew I was in a funk when my new, pretty, fabulous office/library was failing to make me smile. I've been smiling since I finished this project. I mean, look at it:

This is a room that makes me HAPPY.
I knew I was in an extra-large funk when I realized that I didn't want to talk to ANYONE. Not even myself. I didn't spend time on facebook. I didn't want to answer text messages. I just wanted to hole up. (Which lead to me getting messages from my friends wanting to know if I was okay. Because my friends are awesome.)
Sometimes, when you're in an extra-large funk after the end of a miserable week, the universe tosses you a little gift. Or two.
It tossed me lunch with a former student who has become an outstanding man and educator. A breath of fresh air, I must say. You know how sometimes you're so proud of someone you can't even stand it?
And THEN it tossed me the opportunity to get rid of a piece of furniture that I have grown to loathe.
To be clear, there wasn't anything WRONG with my couch -- except, of course, for all of the things that I hated about it. I didn't like the fabric. I didn't like the size. I didn't like the shape. The couch, it plagued me.
I realize -- in case you are wondering -- that none of my issues with the couch had anything to do with the couch. My issues with the couch -- which began the day after the couch was delivered, seven years ago -- were about a million other, non couch-y things, starting with the circumstances under which I found myself buying a couch (which weren't happy), and the fact that the couch I had researched and wanted wasn't availble for sale anymore. I didn't wait and find something else because I felt like I couldn't. I didn't have FURNITURE. I needed a freaking couch.
(I also needed some self worth, and some belief in my future. But since I couldn't buy those things, I bought a couch. Because that's what you do.)
The couch -- which is perfectly serviceable, and which many people profess a liking for -- has irritated me for years, like an especially itchy wool sweater. Despite that, I've moved it up and down the coast more than once, because even at my craziest, I realized that no one gets rid of a really nice couch simply because she's grown to loathe it for no clear reason except that she was in a bad place when she bought it.
But then -- THEN -- came the Great Apartment Purge of 2013.
And the realization that I am not married to this couch.
I asked my friends if they wanted it. They said they did.
Great, I said, come and get it.
They came and got it yesterday.
"But will you get a new couch this week?" they asked.
"You know?" I said. "I don't even know."
And I don't. I have said, in the past, that I am not the sort of girl who buys a house -- and it's true, I'm not. I may have discovered that I'm also not the sort of girl who even wants a couch. You might think that's weird (and maybe it is) but I think -- hell, I know -- that what I really want? Is a nice servicable bench. Something sturdy. Something functional.
I think I always wanted a bench.
I also think that wanting a bench is the reason for both the funk and the loathing of the couch. I think that I'm still learning that I don't have to want what I'm supposed to want. I think that I still struggle with the realization that there are a million and twelve ways to live and live well, and that my particular way doesn't need to look like the way anyone else manages it.
It just needs to work for me. In my apartment. Without a couch.
And with -- or without -- anything else I choose.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Randoms

"And it was weird, like suddenly my body demanded vegetables. When does that happen?"
“Yeah, your body usually only demands things like martinis and French fries.”
“I know! So I didn’t even know what to do when it was all Oliver Twisty ‘Please, mum, may we have a salad?’ “
"Did you get a salad?"
"I had to. Have you ever had your body speak to you in a sad, orphaned British accent? You'll give it whatever it wants. Even lettuce."
"You need a hobby."
"I have hobbies."
"Dee, I love you? But accessorizing isn't ACTUALLY a hobby. I mean, if it was a real thing people could be good at? Like an Olympic sport? You'd WIN. You'd SO win. But it's not. You need a hobby that's like, a sport. Do you like any sports?"
"Pretty soon, punching you in the arm is going to be both a sport AND my new hobby."
"That won't work."
"Why not?"
"Because my hobby is running." (sprints away) "Later!"
"That was when I looked around and realized: everything is just right. There's nothing left for me to do with this room except enjoy it."

"It's freaking you out, isn't it?"

"Good LORD, yes. What am I going to obsess over now?"

"Oh, I'm SURE you'll think of something."


"That's the problem with the playlist."

"What is?"

"You listen to it and you're all 'OH! I LOVE THIS SONG!' and then the next song comes on and you're like 'OH MAN! I LOVE THIS ONE TOO!' and then your brain says 'No joke, jackass, YOU MADE THIS PLAYLIST. You ONLY put songs you like on it!' and then you feel stupid."

"And by you? You mean YOU. Because NO ONE ELSE DOES THAT."

"Never ever?"

"Let me think -- NO. Just you."

"So you're saying I'm SPECIAL."

"Oh, you're special all right."


"I just bought salt and pepper shakers. AND an iron."

"Wow. You're, like, finally a grown up."

"I know, my inner 12 year old was traumatized, so I bought her five bottles of sparkly nail polish."


"If I have to be an adult? I'm gonna SPARKLE."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Occupational Hazards

The problem with writing a blog -- if there is a problem with it -- is that writing, especially the kind of writing I do -- generates a sense of intimacy. This isn't a bad thing, necessarily, but it is a thing that needs to be understood. I guess it's a little bit like being famous -- people who don't actually know you feel like they know you.

I don't mind this, as a rule -- mostly because I'm thankful that anyone, ever, reads my blog (seriously, if you're reading this? THANK YOU!) -- and mostly because I feel as though I'm doing something very right if I'm making connections with people and they are enjoying those connections. I think that's the best thing about the internet, actually; the ability to reach beyond the people you know and make connections with the people you don't know and might never get the chance to know.


Sometimes it's just WEIRD.

How weird, you might ask?

1.Number of times I have received serious messages related to my blog that indicate that the person who is writing the message has read my blog and decided that we are soul mates and should be married: 2

2.Number of times I have received rant-y, "I hate you and everything you stand for" messages related to my blog: 2 (So I think the hatred and the marriage proposals cancel each other out. No?)

3.Number of times I have been out in public and someone I don't know has gasped and said: "You! You write that thing on the internet!": 5 (which is impressive since I so rarely go out)

4.Number of Facebook friend requests I've received from people I don't really know, but who read my blog (and who send me messages that say: "You don't know me, but I read your blog"): 15

5.Number of times I have been hanging out with someone who then says, worriedly, "You're not going to blog about this, are you?": 7

6.Number of times I have been hanging out with someone who then says, hopefully, "You're going to put this in your blog, right?": 9

For the record -- I mean, just so it's out there:

1.I'm flighty and all, but I'm very unlikely to marry anyone I've not actually met and/or dated. However, thanks for the love.

2.I'm sorry if anyone reads my words and hates me as a result of them. OH WAIT, NO I'M NOT. If you hate me, why are you reading? WHY BOTHER?

3.This is awesome and surreal. As long as you don't feel compelled to hug me, we're good. (I only hug people I actually know. It's a thing.)

4.I will always accept a friend request from someone who says "I read your blog and I love it." However, if you follow that up shortly thereafter with "DIE LIBERAL SCUM" I will block your ass faster than you can say "Mark Zuckerberg". (Yes, this happened)

5. If you ask me not to blog about something, I won't. I will REALLY want to (mostly because you asked and now I think it's going to be a wicked good story), but I won't. If it's a sensitive topic/issue/whatnot and I want to write about it and you haven't forbidden it, I might ASK you if it's okay, or change the names and identities enough so know one knows it's you. (I'm a writer, y'all. I have skills!)

6. If you ask me to blog about something, I MIGHT blog about it. Specifically, if you suggest a topic, I'll consider it. If you just want to appear in the blog and it's not that interesting, I might mention it. Or not. It depends on where I'm at. However, if we're out and about and you snork some kind of beverage out your nose from giggling? Yeah. I'm probably going to mention that.

I know I've said it a million and twelve times, but I'm about to make it a million and thirteen: to everyone who has ever taken a couple of minutes out of their day to read my silliness: THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

You're the best.  Even if I won't marry you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Telling Stories

When I stopped teaching in 2005 (you can read about that here), my students were awesome about it. They were upset -- it's hard to make that kind of change in the middle of the school year -- but they were really cool.

One of them was a boy I called JimBob.

Why I called him JimBob, I honestly couldn't tell you. Sometimes nicknames are just like that. He sat down in my classroom and my brain said, "That guy shall be known as JimBob from now until eternity, amen," and that's how it was.

JimBob did not mind. He also appointed himself my secretary -- so if, say, the phone in my classroom rang in the middle of his class (it wasn't supposed to, but it did with some regularity) he would answer it. "Ms Balentine's room," he'd say, smoothly. "What is the nature of your call?"

It made me laugh every time.

When I tell you that my students were cool about the fact that I was going? They were. But this is how cool JimBob was: he went home and talked to his parents about why I was going, and how he thought it wasn't okay. He knew that it was one thing for me to have my students with me, but it would be something else entirely for me to have the support of their parents.

Which is how I came to be having a conversation with JimBob's mom about speaking out about what happened. I eventually chose not to do anything at that time (which shames me) but the fact that this young man and his mom wanted to make sure that I had a voice and that I knew if I wanted to go out swinging (so to speak) they would stand with me?

It was one of those moments that you look back at and cherish.


I got called on the carpet once because of JimBob's class. That group met at the end of the day and I would frequently lead off with a story about something in my life -- it could have been something that happened that day, or something that happened when I was in high school, or whatever -- and I think it was everyone's favorite part of our routine, except that my dean received word that I was telling stories (in an ENGLISH CLASS. SHOCKING) and not, say, devoting every second of our 90 minutes together to Shakespeare or some such.

He called me to his office."No more stories," I was instructed.

"No more stories," I dutifully reported to the class.

There were protests, but JimBob looked thoughtful. "Maybe," he said, "you should write them down."

That was when I started to blog.


On my last say of teaching, my students gave me a book that they had made for me. JimBob wrote this:

"Ms Balentine: You're the best! I had lots of fun in your favorite class and being your secretary. Good luck -- I'll miss you tons! -- JimBob"

Yes, he actually signed it "JimBob".

When I read through the book, I said, "JimBob. You know you're going to be in a story at some point, right?"

"Make sure everyone knows I'm awesome," he said, and he laughed.

JimBob passed away over the weekend.

He was 23.

The story of his death, like the story of most of his life, belongs to his family and the people who loved him.
But the story of the time that I knew him, and the impact he had on me, is mine to tell, and that story reminds me that you can make a difference in someone's life even if you only know them for a short time.
I knew JimBob for seven months. But if you asked me, of all of the time I spent teaching, who and what stands out? One of the stories I would tell would be of JimBob, talking to his mom, trying to make sure that something he thought was wrong was made right.
And reminding me that there are all kinds of ways to tell stories.
Rest in peace, JimBob. Sleep well, sir. You are still awesome.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sorry Not Sorry (warning: This may contain triggers)

I am ... incensed.

Let's talk about coverage of the Steubenville conviction for a moment, shall we? (You knew this was coming, right?)

In my other life, the one that's not online, I sometimes talk about rape culture and I usually get the following responses:

1) You're too sensitive.

2) Are we talking about this AGAIN?

I don't think I'm too sensitive, and yes, I'm going to keep talking about it, because I think that the Steubenville conviction and the media response to it shows us all that rape culture is alive and thriving here in the US of A.

So. Steubenville. Two boys were convicted of rape, and upon announcement of their conviction and sentencing, they cried and said they were sorry, at which point multiple media outlets proclaimed how tragic this conviction is.

Now, I suspect that the boys in question are sorry because they got CONVICTED, and not because THEY'RE RAPISTS, but it's possible that I'm wrong. (I'm not wrong.)

And the media lamented the fact that the future of these two young men would be tainted by this conviction and bemoaned the fact that they are now registered sex offenders and, you know, "that's going to follow them all of their lives."

What. The Actual. Fuck.

The media, however, didn't seem sorry that the boys had COMMITTED A RAPE. That wasn't the sad part of the story. The sad part of the story was that Joe King of the Prom got busted raping and photographing and trashing the reputation of his victim, that Mr Stereotypical High School Jock and All Around Awesome Dude was CONVICTED of raping a girl... but apparently, the sad part of the story, the part that was worth lamentation, was not the rape. Very few, if any, of the reporters who spoke on the trial seemed to regret the fact that a young woman was raped and victimized and will carry this with her every day for the rest of her life in a way that is more scarring and brutal than being a registered sex offender will ever be for the sex offenders.

Maybe this makes sense in a disgusting, "rape culture means every woman is asking for it" way. I mean, she was drunk, right? So her inability to give consent when she was grossly violated by her classmates probably means she was asking for it.

So when a reporter says "The lives of these boys, with their promising futures, have been ruined by this conviction" s/he is basically saying: "If that bitch had kept her mouth shut, this all could have gone away and we all could have gone on as though nothing happened lalalalalala."

Or "If that slut hadn't passed out at a party, they wouldn't have had to RAPE her, and then we could all have gone on as though nothing happened lalalalala."

When the reporters should be saying: "Hey, guess what? DON'T RAPE."

So I'm talking about this again. And here's what I'd like to say: There is never, ever, EVER a reason to sexually assault or violate another person.


And the problem isn't that a person is in a situation where she (or he) "could be" assaulted. The problem is that on some level our culture thinks that it's okay to assault people. The problem is that we get wrapped up in victim shaming and removal of responsibility so that the person who is raped bears the burden of being responsible for the fact that s/he was raped, and the person who is doing the raping? Becomes a victim.

It's not okay.

If the boys in Steubenville were such great guys? They wouldn't have raped their classmate.

If someone doesn't want to have her or his life ruined because they've been convicted of rape? THEY SHOULD NOT RAPE SOMEONE.

And when rape is committed? We need to stop asking what the victim did to deserve it or how s/he was complicit in the assault.

When all of that happens? Maybe then I can stop talking about rape culture.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Still Fighting It

We lost some good ones over the last week and the weekend. I wanted to have something to say about it, but I don't.

It's too sad.

Instead, I will let the below speak for me:

Making a Fist

By Naomi Shihab Nye 

We forget that we are all dead men conversing with dead men.

Jorge Luis Borges

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

“How do you know if you are going to die?”
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
“When you can no longer make a fist.”

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.

(or you can view it here )

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Randoms


"So what did you do today?"

"Drank 3 bottles of ginger ale. Thought about getting dressed. Didn't. Took a nap. Thought about showering. Didn't. Went to the grocery store in my jammies."


"Saw the cute guy while I was there. He gave me the reverse 'How YOU doin'?' nod? Like a reflex? And then looked horrified when he really got a look at me. How was I doing? I had jammies, crazy hair, and a cart full of kleenex and ginger ale."


"Who doesn't want to get with the girl in sock monkey pants? I mean, what's hotter than THAT?"


"I want to sing the 'I'm a GENIUS' song."

"You have a song for that."

"Yep. It goes: 'Whoooooo's a geeeenius? WAIT! That's ME!' and then there are jazz hands."

"It's the jazz hands that make it."

"They make EVERYTHING better. 'Cause they're JAZZY."


"How much coffee have you had today?"

"I dunno. Four cups? Five? Why do you ask?"

"Your HAIR is vibrating."


"About what?"

"Um. Life?"


"Oooh, look at this eye shadow! I love this stuff. It's the BEST. I used to buy this all of the time. But in, you know, whacked out colours like ... gold. Pink. Red."

"That's ... so surprising."


"You? being or doing something whacked out? I can't even IMAGINE."

"I know, right? ... Wait a minute. My sarcasm dinger just dinged."


"All of your clothes are black."

"I know. EVERYTHING MATCHES. It's the best."

"Sure. If you don't mind being called Morticia."

"Morticia Addams was a babe. And super happy."

"So you're saying you aspire to be a member of the Addams family?"

"... I'm not saying I DON'T aspire to that ..."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Getting Over It

I've been sick this week. Here's what I had forgotten about strep throat -- it will knock you OUT. I mean, it sounds fairly weak and innocent, unlike, say, pneumonia, which sounds dire (and which I've had more than 10 times in my life? I kid you not) but ... oh man. I have been struggling to resemble a functional human being.  (And by "functional" I really kind of mean "having the ability to sit upright and/or go to the store for the 100th time for gingerale and kleenex" which is, really, not super functional but you get the point, I'm sure.)

However, I'm getting better. I knew for sure this morning that I was getting better because I glanced in the mirror and saw a face that has some colour in it rather than the pasty/transparent complexion I've been sporting (vampire chic? Not even) and thought "I don't look so much like hell. I look like ... erm, heck."

(You know, hell's friendlier neighbor. )


I sat down with (yet another) glass of ginger ale and thought, I look a little better. I feel a little better. Baby steps. I'm getting over it.

Which is really how we get over everything, isn't it? We all want an instantaneous cure, as though the Genie in Alladin can show up and grant us recovery like a wish -- poof, you're all better! Poof, you're recovered! Poof, you're over it! -- but it doesn't happen like that. It doesn't happen like that with illnesses (says the woman who is still looking at seven days of antibiotics) and it doesn't happen like that with anything else, either.

But we want it to.

And -- perhaps more importantly, we act like it should.

Maybe not so much with illnesses. We seem to be tolerant of people who are recovering from germs, surgery, conditions, because we've all been sick and know that it takes more than a day of medicine or whatnot to get better.

But with other things. Things that are just as impactful to us as physical illnesses in the "knock you on your ass" way. Like grief, and loss, and separation.

I have too many friends who are working through these things and beating themselves up, daily, because they're not "over it" as though there is a timetable for moving past and through what's hurt or damaged them. As though that taking the time to heal is a bad thing for which they should be ashamed. As though not immediately jumping back into the fray makes them weak.

This is ridiculous. Ridiculous and, I think, potentially harmful.  I think of it this way: if you have a broken arm, and it's not healed yet? You might want to wait for that cast to come off before you sign up for a boxing match. So if your spirit and heart are wounded and in need of some healing? You might -- just maybe -- want to make sure you're shored up and ready to go before you toss them back into the ring.

Which doesn't happen overnight.

Which sometimes doesn't happen over several overnights.

But which DOES happen, and it happens the way getting over strep throat or pneumonia or anything else happens -- a bit at a time. Slowly. One day you'll look in a mirror and see a face that you recognize as more your own and you'll realize you feel a bit better than you did yesterday, and you'll have hope that you'll feel better yet tomorrow.

And you'll know that you're getting over it.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat (and no, this is NOT about my hair)

... that's potentially the title of my non-fiction self help novel.

(The only problem with that plan is ... I'm not qualified to write a self-help novel? OH WELL. In the words of Dr Phil "Who the hell cares about qualifications?"*)

Anyway, here's WHY that would be the title of my self-help novel: because those are the world's easiest to follow instructions. I mean, think about it. When was the last time you tried to repeat BEFORE you lathered or rinsed?

Never, that's when.

And even if you mess up steps one and two (rinse, then lather) -- you are fine once you hit the repeat step. It cancels out the mistakes in one and two.


I think people need suggestions for their lives that are as easy peasy as "Lather, Rinse, Repeat" and as hard to screw up. Not like The Secret, which suggests that you can totally screw yourself by sending the wrong vibes to the universe (dude, I do not need to read a book that tells me that if I am concerned about getting cancer that I can GIVE MYSELF CANCER -- wtf?) but -- easier than that.

Easy like lathering, rinsing, and repeating. Order optional. Except, again, you have to repeat last but EVERYONE KNOWS THAT.

"Okay, hotshot," I can imagine you saying, "what kind of things would you be telling people in this book that you are in no way qualified to write?"


Here are my simple instructions for life in a complicated world (order optional):

Seek. Work. Laugh. Learn. Love. Repeat.

(The "repeat" is just there so that you remember not to stop doing any of the other things.)

In case you think this post is a joke ("She's not seriously writing a self-help book, I mean, she's kind of a mess") -- it's ... not. This is hardly the weirdest thing I've ever done, y'all.

But just remember -- when in doubt:


I should get that printed on a t-shirt.

*I don't think he actually said that? I think someone I know said it ABOUT him. Whatevs.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Well: It's a Deep Subject

I was half asleep on the couch yesterday when it suddenly occured to me:

I've been here before.

I had LITERALLY been there before, obviously (it's my couch, after all, and it's not like this is the first time I've napped on it), but I had also been there before in that: this is not the first time I've been sick and totally exhausted.

"This stinks," I croaked out. The cat chirped in agreement and put a paw on my head.

Why do I always get SUPER sick? I wondered. How come I never get, like, the sniffles?

And then I realized:

This? Is my fault.

I mean, I can't control my exposure to germs, obviously, but the fact that my immune system is shot is kind of my fault because (and here's my confession):

I don't take very good care of myself. I eat very randomly, and it's not always the most nutritious things. I don't get enough sleep. I carry ridiculous stress and work a grillion hours a day (true story: I now DREAM about work, which is not how you want to spend your dreaming hours). I have been trying to find the time to exercise (and actually exercising) but if you're going to exercise? You need the nutrients and sleep to support that in order for it to work properly.

And then I'm surprised when I fall off the hamster wheel in a hacking, sneezing, feverish heap.

But probably no one else is.

I realized, between glasses of ginger ale and intermittent naps (and responding to work emails): I need to think about what it means to be well. How to live really well, emotionally AND physically. Because this whole thing where I need a round of antibiotics and steroids and whatever else in order to function once I run myself into the ground?

It's ridiculous.

None of this is to say that I won't continue to get sick now and again. I'm pretty sure that's going to happen. But -- and I'm no doctor, but I feel pretty confident about this -- if you start out with a baseline of being well, of taking care of yourself and making sure you have what you need to be healthy and happy?

You might not get sick quite as often.

I guess I'm going to find out.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Meh

Hey all. This post comes to you from an Urgent Care, where it is being determined what, precisely, is wrong with me... Just kidding, that could take DAYS. I have strep throat. So, antibiotics, liquids, sleep, and I'll be back here tomorrow, blathering on per usual. The good news is this facility is really nice, and except for someone blurting out that I look like death (guess I shouldn't have bothered with the lip gloss, oops) everyone here has been really cool.

So there's that.

Hope your Monday is fabulous, darling!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Randoms


"So then I was having a Queen marathon in my office, and I realized that a big chunk of real estate in my brain is filled with Queen lyrics and not, say, algebra."

"Pfft. No one uses algebra. You're putting that space to good use."


"I need a black shirt."

"All of your shirts are black."

"I don't have a nice black shirt. Like, a fancy one."

"What exactly would constitute a fancy shirt?"

"Ruffles. And buttons."

"As opposed to the one that you have that ONLY has ruffles, and the one that ONLY has buttons?"

"You say that like it's weird."

"Goodness, what AM I thinking?"


"What did you do during lunch?"

"Put on makeup."

"Why would you do that?"

"I was having a craptastic morning. Nothing lifts a mood as quickly as black mascara, red lipstick, and big ass earrings."

"Some people do yoga."

"And some of us get FANCY. Whatevs."


"Dear God in Heaven, what happened to that Transformer?"

"He was. Um. Attacked by Decepticons. Decepticons with a giant laser? That trapped him in a state between robot and machine. VERY UNFORTUNATE."

"You threw away the instructions and can't transform him."

"What do I look like, an engineer? HOW ARE THESE TOYS FOR CHILDREN? I can't figure it out and now he's stuck."


"Were you just singing 'Every Rose Has Its Thorn' into a HIGHLIGHTER?"

"NO! ... Yes. It's not a highlighter. It's a very yellow microphone."

"You are so weird."

"The imaginary crowd LOVED it. I got a standing ovation."

"And whatever will your encore be?"

"I was thinking 'Fallen Angel' but I'm willing to take requests."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

When Your Mind's Made Up

Lately, I have been making choices in my personal life that I am well aware some people have found ... let's say questionable, because it's preferable to "batshit crazy."

(But let's also acknowledge that I'm aware that there are people who think I'm batshit crazy.)

There was a time -- even fairly recently -- when this would have bothered me immensely.

It doesn't anymore, though.

At some point within the last year it finally dawned on me that this? This life? This is what I get. So I can either do the things I really want to OR I can not do them. It's up to me. The ramifications of those choices are also up to me.

I mean, duh.

And also?

REALLY? She asked, rubbing her hands together in glee. Oh honey, there are going to be some CHANGES around here.

It's sort of like this: I was talking with a friend of mine and he said, "You know what? Who cares if no one gets it as long as it makes sense to you."

It used to be really important to me that I not make mistakes. When someone (ahem) told me that blogging was stupid? I stopped blogging because I didn't want to be the weird girl with the blog. When someone (ahem AHEM) told me that I wasn't a very good singer, I stopped singing in public. Not because I didn't love doing those things, but because I wasn't certain enough of myself to have the courage to keep doing them if I was going to be heckled for them. I couldn't hear anything over the negative messaging, and those negative messages told me not to do, not to try, not to be.

Here's what I've come to realize, though: listening to negativity? Doesn't make it go away. It's going to be there whether you are the weird girl who writes or the weird girl who simply wants to write but doesn't dare because someone might think it's stupid. It's better to put yourself out there and be stupid than to wish and not know.

It's better still to put yourself out there, risk being stupid, and not give a good goddamn.

It took me a while -- obviously, I'm 37 and I'm just figuring it out -- to realize that the voice I most need to listen to is MINE. And that while I value input, and can continue to ask for it, I need to make sure that I'm doing what makes me happy.

Just me.

Making up my own mind.

It's about time, don't you think?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Myth of Once Upon A Time

When my Wasband* and I split up, one of the reasons (as in, one of the real reasons and not one of the stupid ones like "You don't know how to ski" because ... WHO SAYS THAT?) was that he wanted the fairy tale, and we weren't living that anymore.

So let me put this out there right now: Life? Not a fairy tale.

I mean, sometimes it sort of is. There is that dreamy, montage period at the beginning of every relationship that is like every happy love song on the radio. Like, Neil Diamond singing "Forever in Blue Jeans" while you dance in a field of dandelions, with butterflies flitting about and a perfect, just right shade of sunshine reflecting in your hair (maybe this is just MY picture? But you know what I mean, right?) as the day wanes and life is so amazing that you're practically a Disney Princess (or, you know, Prince if that's how you roll).

But those moments? They come and go. Honestly, mostly they go, and what comes is daily stuff like laundry and grocery shopping and isn't it someone's turn to make the bed or take out the trash? Which isn't to say that you should STOP dancing in grassy meadows, but which IS to say that the daily stuff is, well, daily. And the Disney moments are less frequent.

And that's okay.

The problem, I think, is that my Wasband -- and so many of us -- think that every day should be magical without realizing the following:

The ability to make it through the laundry, grocery shopping, and bed making on a daily basis IS kind of magical.

Look, I'm a firm believer in grabbing (or you know, creating) amazing, romantic, fabulous moments whenever you can. Do it up, my friend.

But don't expect to live there. Because -- and trust me on this -- the Disney stories? After the Princess marries her Prince? They have EVERYDAY LIFE. What you see of those stories -- the magical, mythical part -- ends at the beginning. Which, as I've already mentioned? Is the special part, but not the magical part.

The magic? Is looking at someone every day across the dinner table and thinking, You know? I'm pretty sure I want to see that face there again tomorrow. And the day after that, and the day after that, even when the brain behind that face has done something annoying or goofy or, let's face it, pretty freaking stupid.

That's the magic.

The rest? Are moments. And I'm not going to lie -- some of those moments? ARE FANTASTIC. Never stop creating those moments.

But don't give up on the everyday because you forget to see the magic of that.

While I'm on this topic -- which I am, by the way, because I'm surrounded by people in every stages of relationships and choosing to be a relationship tourist (I know, I should participate, please don't start) -- here are some other observations regarding the Myth of Once Upon a Time:

1) Love does not mean taking someone's burdens from them. You are not anyone's fairy godperson. You are not responsible for taking their problems from them, no matter how much you love them. You can put a shoulder under one end of it and take some of the weight off. You can help solve for X. You can HELP. You can't CURE. If rescuing is your thing? Go to an animal shelter. If a partnership is your thing? THEN you can date. (This also means that it is not your partner's responsibility to take your problems from you, though I do ... FIRMLY ... believe that they can help you to carry and work through them.)

2) If you only want those magical beginning of a relationship moments? Write romance novels. Or read them.

3) If you want special moments -- and you should, we all deserve them -- don't expect that someone will create them for you if you can't be bothered to create them for your partner. And if you can't be bothered to create them for your partner (and they can be very small and silly, they don't have to be elaborate)? You need to reconsider what you're doing there.

But be honest. Don't tell them you're leaving because they don't know how to ski. I mean, really.

"Once Upon a Time?" That's ... a moment.

Happily Ever After, though ... that's a long haul.

*I didn't come up with this. BUT I WISH I DID IT'S BRILLIANT.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Focusing on the Wrong Part of the Story

I have mentioned -- a time or two -- that I have a cleaning/neatness thing. Order is important to me. Maintenance and cleanliness are important to me.

Sometimes, though, they have to fall by the wayside.

Thing that happened (short version of the story, because ain't nobody got time for the long version): broken glass is WICKED sharp and stabby. Which, duh.


And also also? Bloody.

Know what happens when there's bleeding? You don't have time (or, you know, inclination) to clean. Because ... did I mention? BLEEDING.

And you can't freak about the mess. The mess? Isn't the problem. The wound is the problem.

I had not forgotten that life is messy. I think about that daily. But I also -- with some regularity -- get wrapped up in the wrong part of the story. When your hand is bleeding, taking time to fret about the carpet isn't just ridiculous, it's simply WRONG. You can't care about that. People first. Carpets second. Because honestly? WHO CARES. 

(Which isn't to say that I didn't clean the HELL out of that carpet later. Of course I did. I'm ME.)

The thing is, though, that I think I -- we, people -- tend not to make the people the central part of the story. I think the bloody carpet often gets the attention first, as though that needs to be addressed before a hand gets stiched up, or as if the person who is bleeding is less important than something that cannot bleed and does not have needs.

On a scale that's larger than a sliced up hand? I feel like we have an entire nation of people who are bleeding while policy makers and politicians are working on cleaning a carpet. And it BOTHERS me. It bothers me that so many people are struggling and instead of working to make it better, make it right, make it work, we have paid officials who want to make sure that the plan has the proper labels on it.


Focus on the right part of the story.

At any rate -- everything in the house is fine. Glass cleaned up. Wounds attended to and healing. Bloodstains eradicated. Nothing broken that can't be replaced.

In terms of the bigger picture? I guess we'll have to wait and see. I wish I had more hope.

I wish.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pot Calling Kettle

I had a conversation with a friend over the weekend that included the following:

I said, "The thing is, if you need help? Or if you are hurt and need something? You have to tell me."

My friend said, "Oh, right, because that's what YOU do."

Friend: One. Me: Zero.

People like me love the internet because it both is and isn't public. I spend quite a bit of my life in my own head, which can be both awesome and intensely uncomfortable. Online, I can puzzle things out or talk about the things that are happening and reach out to people without having to, you know, reveal more than I want to. That's the problem with interacting face to face -- you might accidentally confess more than you intend.

It's not really a problem.

It's a problem that I think it's a problem.

And it's a problem when you expect the people you love to rely on you, to know that they can, if you don't trust them enough to rely on them. It makes them feel useless or, worse, like a project. If there's one thing I hate, it's someone who wants to "fix me" -- and if there's another that I hate, it's the notion that someone might think that I'm trying to "fix" her or him.

People are not machines. I am not a mechanic.

But my friend was right. For our friendship -- for any relationship -- to work, you have be worthy of the receipt of trust? And you also have to extend it. If you're going to extend a hand to help? You also have to be able to reach out FOR it. Especially when your friend is saying, very openly, that it makes her/him feel useless when you don't. Especially when they tell you, flat out, that they need you to trust them as much as they trust you.

I think that, before that conversation, I missed seeing how arrogant it is to believe that you can solve all of your problems AND everyone else's, and never to ask for or accept help, and how small people feel when you brush their kindnesses aside -- not because you don't love them and appreciate their gestures, but because you don't know HOW to accept them.

This all makes me feel like an idiot.

I HATE feeling like an idiot.

I promised to try, though. My friend also promised to try. I guess trying is all we can do and keep on doing.

We'll see.

And maybe next time we talk, our conversations will be about what lifts us up, and not what holds us down.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Randoms


"So, what would you do if, like, you actually became a famous writer and had to give talks and stuff?"

"Um. What?"

"It could happen."

"No it couldn't."

"It totally could. Like, you could win an award? And then have to have, like, a panel discussion or some such. And people would ask you questions and you'd have to answer them and it would be the coolest."

"That's never gonna happen."

"If it does? You're going to need to dress like a grownup."

"And that's DEFINITELY never going to happen."


"I saw a picture of myself with long hair the other day."

"Did it make you want to grow your hair out?"

"No, it reminded me what a pain in the ass long hair is. So if I say I want to grow it out? Poke me wicked hard in the forehead."


"No. But remind me of this conversation."


"So, you're sick."


"And you're ... taking the day off?"


"You're working."

"I have to. Gots to earn Beansie's kibble."

"Maybe she should get a job."

"She's not a good employee. Too mouthy."

"The fact that you didn't even have to think about that answer is weird."

"What? I talk to her all day! She's SASSY."


"I mean, does she get that I'm pretty much broke and don't just eat ramen because I think it's delicious?"

"You DO think ramen is delicious."

"That is so not the point I'm trying to make right now. But yeah, I find it strangely yummy."


"I walked into the store and there was this skirt. And it spoke to me. It said 'Yellie.' And I said, 'I can't talk to you, pretty skirt.' And it said, 'No, see? I'm on SALE. It's cool. Come over here!' And I said, 'No, that's a terrible idea.' And it made a sad little noise, like 'Okay, sniffle sob' and then I FELT bad so I had to go see it. And then, you know, buy it."

"How much is your copay for therapy?"


"I feel like whoever you're seeing can't be making NEARLY enough."