Monday, September 30, 2013


Beansie Boo wasn't technically a rescue in that I didn't get her at a shelter. However, since she was near death at the time I got her, I consider her to have been rescued. And, like all rescued animals, she saved me every bit as much as I saved her -- she made me smile when I didn't really feel like smiling, she made me laugh when I was crying, and she made every day of my life better. When I was at my lowest points, she gave me someone to focus on and care for so I had a reason to drag myself out of bed in the morning.

When I lost Bean, I pretty much decided I wouldn't get another cat because I would want a new cat to be Bean 2.0, and that wasn't fair to anyone.

No more cats.

Okay then.

It was very quiet in the house. My pants were free from cat hair for the first time in years. I didn't have to clean a litter box, or smell stinky food, or step on squeaky toys in the middle of the night.

It sucked out loud.

Because I didn't have all of those other things? But I also didn't have someone joyfully greeting me at the door when I came home. I didn't have a warm, purring, fuzzy bunny curled up with me in the night. I didn't hear any curious chirping noises when something new and previously unexperienced was discovered in the house. I didn't have someone curling up by my shoulder to fall asleep while I sat in my favorite chair and read a book.

Cat hair on my pants, as it turns out, isn't nearly enough to make not having a cat worth it.

So over the weekend I went to Another Chance Animal Rescue in North Berwick, Maine (and you should go there, or donate, because they're amazing) and ended up with Miss Elizabeth Bennett (or, as I like to call her, Lizzie B). She's a tiny little kitty with extra toes, tiger stripes, and my heart in her fuzzy paws.

The thing about rescuing an animal? Is that they rescue you right back. I will always miss my Beansie Boo, but Lizzie made me remember that love is not a finite resource. I've got more to share, and now I have someone furry to share it with.

If you've been thinking about rescuing an animal? Please do. It won't be only the animal that will be blessed and thankful -- it will also be you.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Not So Random

"I feel like everything in my life is negative. I can't find the positive."

"Create it."


"Look, I've had a kind of shitty year. But I learned something and that is this: people and circumstances sometimes suck. We've all been down in the hole. But when you're down there, you need to decide how much power you're willing to give people and circumstances. You need to decide if the person who is determined to eff up your life is ALLOWED to do that. Usually? They're not... But if you give them permission, if you give them the password to your psyche, they're going to do whatever they want. So stop doing it. Take your life and your joy away from them and hold it in your own hands. You get to own it. They don't."

"But it's hard."

"Is it harder to say, 'I am the writer of my own story, you don't get to dictate it' than it is to look around and see nothing but bleak negativity?"

"I guess ... No?"

"I mean, it IS hard. Life can be pretty fucking brutal. But also? It can be beautiful. You have to see the sparkly and the pretty in the middle of the ugliness. Think about it this way: sea glass was once just broken, jagged shards that could cut and wound. It became lovely through time. Life's like that. Just decide: is this broken? Or can I make it something amazing?"

"But. I don't know how."

"You do."

"I don't."

"You will. You just have to try. You have to remind yourself that you own your life. That other people who want to hurt you don't get to tell you how to feel. That circumstances that suck are just a hash mark on your life's timeline and they are surrounded by hashmarks that make you smile and laugh and sing. You have to remind yourself that you deserve to see light and that, when things are dark? You can carry a flashlight and surround yourself with other people who have lights and candles and who believe in you and want to help.

It's not always easy. Life isn't. But it doesn't have to be so damned hard either. Just remember: your story. You write it. No one else."

"I think... I feel better."

"Better is better."

"Better is always better."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Best and Brightest

Sometimes when I'm at work I think, "I wish I had a useful skill."

I mean, I have a ton of useless skills. For example, I can accessorize within an inch of my life. I can tie a scarf about 20 different ways. I have a head that's full of trivia. I can read a text critically and I can write a hell of a paper in which I analyze a text from different critical standpoints.

These are not useful skills.

Fixing things, that's a useful skill.

My ... uselessness, shall we call it ... became readily apparent when I was looking for a job because almost every job listing was for trade related employment. If I was, say, a machinist? I would have had a job in a jiffy. If I had any medical training? I would have been employed instantly. If I knew how to operate a CNC machine? BOOM EMPLOYED. (And, I might add, I'd be making more than I make now.)

But I don't know how to do any of those things.

I've got a bee in my bonnet right now because I've been thinking about two things that happened when I was a teacher. Two solid examples of how we like to overvalue a college education and steer students away from paths that aren't college oriented, and how we are undermining our future as a country and also, the future of our youth.

Example one: I was talking with a guidance counselor during my first year of teaching, and she was telling me that she was frustrated with a mutual student -- a senior -- because she was not planning on going to college. "She wants to go into the MILITARY," said the guidance counselor with a sneer. "It's RIDICULOUS. She's graduating fourth in her class, and she could EASILY get a scholarship."

Two things about that bothered me then and, to be honest, still bother me. First -- why wouldn't we encourage our best and brightest to join the military if that's their dream? Don't we want our military forces to be staffed with intelligent, inspired, driven people? I'm pretty sure that I think I want smart self starters in our military forces. I'm also pretty sure that going into the military is an honourable thing to do, and that shitting on this kid's dream and trying to talk her out of it was NOT an honourable thing to do (especially since the young woman in question came from a military family and she wanted to follow in the footsteps of people she loved and admired).

Second -- her class rank was -- and is -- NOT a guarantee for financial aid. I would know, because I graduated fourth in my class from the same high school, and no one was beating down my door to hand me cash. Well, that's not true. Loan companies were DEFINITELY drooling over the opportunity to hand me money for fancy, expensive schools, and could not wait to make me their bitch.

Example two: I had a very bright student who was interested in vocational courses, because he'd always wanted to be a chef.  Not only was he not encouraged to pursue this, he was actively discouraged, because vocational training wasn't for "smart kids" and he should be thinking about going to college. Basically, we told this young man that vocational training and trades were for "other people" -- not for him.

We undervalue trades and skills in this country. At my current job, I work with people in trades and I have to tell you: not only do they make a hell of a lot more than I do, but they're also more easily employed because they have SKILLS.

I'm not saying that every student in this country shouldn't have educational options before them so that they can go to college if they should choose to -- they should. Everyone should have the chance to go to college -- if that's their dream.

The problem that I have is that we value college educations as the only option, as though that's the golden ring for which everyone should reach, and in doing so, devalue all other options. As though trades and skills are not important. As though a degree in, say, English, trumps all other things.

It doesn't.

I don't know if that young woman joined the military. I hope she did. I don't know if that young man became a chef. If that remained his passion, I hope that he did.

And I hope that we evolve to a place where we value all positions, skills, and ambitions in this country, and don't continue to tell our young people that their dreams are invalid and unimportant because, as long as we do so, we're doing ourselves and our students a tremendous disservice.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Things We Don't Say But Passive Aggressively Blog

Dear ------,

Remember last year, when you asked me what I was looking for and I acted like I didn't understand the question? I knew what you meant. But I also knew that, like the song goes, "it was just that the timing was wrong" and that everything about who I am is the opposite of who you are and what you're actually looking for, sooooo... Yeah.

Love you (even though I know you don't believe it, and it doesn't look like it from afar),


Dear ---------,

I know that you don't understand why I was -- and sometimes still am -- angry with you. After all, other people have done more horrible things to me, right?


But those people? Didn't beg me to trust them. Those people didn't make a point to tell me that they were on my side, that they loved me, that they needed me to count on them.  Those people didn't insist that I let them in.

You did.

So I did.

And then you fucked me over.

I don't know if it was intentional; I think it was not. I think you're careless. Careless, and you think the world owes you something, so you toss aside what you have in pursuit of that elusive "something better" and don't realize the friendships and opportunities you have left in your wake.

I was married to someone an awful lot like you.

(I know you know that's not a compliment.)

I will eventually forgive you. More importantly, I will eventually forgive myself for letting you in.

I will eventually want good things for you.

I'm not there yet.


Dear ----,

You know that song that goes, "I got the call today that I didn't want to hear but I knew that it would come"?


I get it though. You do you, and when you need to shoot the shit? You know where to find me.

Hugs (so many hugs!),


Dear ------,

Loved you then, love you now. We're both going to be okay, you know. Would I lie to you? (hint: NO I would not!)

Don't forget. You know where I am if you need me.

~ Yellie

Dear -----,

I wish you joy, Journey on the radio, and jam sessions around the campfire. You won't see this, but I wish those for you anyway.

~sweet Caroline aka me

Dear ----,

I'm a mess, but you seem to be okay with it. Not sure what's up with that, but ... Thank you. For your big heart, unwavering belief, patience, and conviction. Me? I'm a sideshow. You? You're amazing and the real deal.

Biggest hugs ever,

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death." 
-- Robert Fulghum

Monday, September 9, 2013

Things We Lost In The War

I was sitting on the back of a motorcycle for the first time in years. The beauty of being on the back of a bike is that for all that you can hear of the world around you -- the bike, the other traffic, the wind and the birds -- your thoughts are also fairly loud. It's not a good place to converse, so you just have yourself and all of the things around you. If you're me, that means you had the smell of the ocean in your nose and the sense that you were finding something you had lost long ago, and the sense of it is so sharp, so real, that it makes you want to cry a little bit but you're not sure if the tears are happy or sad, but you suspect that they might be both.

And that would be okay with you.


I am a bizarre blend of caution and impetuousness. There are areas of my life where I run to the edge of the cliff and jump without ever looking down; there are also areas where I will refuse to acknowledge that the cliff even exists and spend days clinging tightly to a solid rock a good mile off. It's how I roll.

I know it's weird.

Because of this, I have entered a phase in my life where I don't let anyone tell me what to do. I lived in a very structured environment for a time, one where I was -- or wasn't -- allowed to do, say, or be who I want. This? Doesn't fly with me now. You think you're going to tell me who to be, where I can go, what I can wear, who I can see? Feel free to fuck off.

And yet.

There were things I used to do... Things I loved to do ... That I stopped doing after a relationship ended badly. They had too much emotional weight, so I didn't trust them anymore, and I didn't trust myself to do them. There were places I stopped going and things I couldn't bring myself to do anymore. They were surrounded by the sharp barbed wire of memory and I couldn't bear it so I let them go.

I missed them.

I'm the one who dictates my life now.

So... The person who was keeping me from the things I used to love was ...


The voice in my head telling me what I could do or not do? Was only mine.

And when I told it to shut up?

It did.


I realized this on the back of the motorcycle, as we drove over back roads that I'd travelled many times in the once upon a time but hasn't seen in years. The sunlight danced over the ocean. The trees cast gentle shadows over the road. I sat on the bike and felt the wind in my hair and took back something that had been taken from me, that I had allowed to be taken and had been too frightened to reclaim. I held out my hands and accepted it like a gift, because it is a gift to regain joy in the things you loved, and to find the clippers that will break through the prison of pain and past history.



I rode on the back of a bike, down past the bay and to the ocean. I smelled the salt marshes and the beach roses and exhaust and, maybe, my own tears, and realized that you don't lose what you've loved. You just have to find it again.

You have to find it, and find the strength to hold onto it.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Randoms


"Isn't the rat sometimes supposed to get the cheese?"

"All I can think now that you've said that is MMMMMMMMMMMM CHEESE OMNOMNOM."


"I mean, yes, sometimes the rat is supposed to get the cheese."


"Those shoes are super cute."

"Yes, they're sassy little instruments of torture."


"... so then I was all, 'Don't make me throw this at you' and he was like, 'Whatever' and I thought, who does that?"

"I can tell you're not from New England."


"In New England, we chuck things at people. And then they huck them back at us."

"You guys are weird."

"Don't make me chuck this at you."


"She's crazy. Like, CRAZY. Like when everyone was in line for some crazy dust, she got a big assed helping of it."


"I am tired of being abused by my job. I mean, don't get me wrong. I like some abuse. Like, tie me up but don't, you know, burn me."

"I feel like that may have been too much information."

"Sorry, my filter's down."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

And We Can't Stop

As I've mentioned, I don't have a television; as a result, I did not see the recent VMAs, but that didn't keep me from hearing ... And hearing ... About Miley Cyrus's performance.

So I YouTubed it.

I wasn't shocked, or horrified. Instead, I felt relieved. Relieved because I remember being twenty-something and doing things that I thought were a GREAT idea and that in retrospect were extremely questionable but which, thank The Lord, were not caught on camera.


The buzz and the brouhaha over this performance is problematic to me on multiple levels, but the issue I'm going to focus on is -- as usual -- the conflicting messages we give young girls regarding sexuality in this country. Specifically, our media and popular culture value and promote women who look "sexy". There  is an element of sexuality evident in almost every level of mass marketing. We also value youth; many of the models used in advertising can be seen, scantily and sexily clad, in photos, commercials, and editorials, at the ripe ages of eighteen to about twenty-two.

We're apparently okay with that. 

That's not okay with me. 

Here's why: sexy young models in photo shoots seem to be acceptable because they don't have agency. They are sexy and beautiful because they are motionless, captured for viewing but not active, making this entire debate a literal example of the notion that female sexuality should be seen and not heard. If Miley Cyrus appeared in a sexy photo spread, I would venture to guess that there would have been significantly less condemnation than there was when she was onstage performing in a way that was overtly sexual.

The outcry "Miley Cyrus is a role model, what was she thinking?!" is interesting to me as a result of the above. I'm not sure what the decision making process was that resulted in that performance, and I'm  not certain that celebrities should really be held up as role models. I am certain, however, that women who are assertively, aggressively sexual are judged and pointed at in ways that their male counterparts are not. Do I think that our society puts too much emphasis on sex, especially for young girls? I do. But do I also believe -- and quite firmly -- that if we're going to put that emphasis on female sexuality, we need to make sure that women are not expected to be passive objects who should be viewed and who are not allowed to act and assert who they are?

I really, really do.

I will say that this argument is somewhat problematic because it does deal with a celebrity. How much input Miley Cyrus had in that performance is unclear (which puts the notion of agency in question), and because this was a public performance and intended to be attention getting, it seems likely to me that it was calculatedly over the top.

Problematic or not, however, what I do know for sure is that women should not be viewed and not heard. If we're going to obsess about, market, sell, promote the sexuality of young women, then we should not be surprised or shocked when they behave in a sexual way, and we should not condemn them for it; if we think that the specialization of young women is a problem, we need to actively condemn a media market that continues to sell sexuality.

Until then? Well, I'll keep writing about it.

And I won't stop.

Monday, September 2, 2013

TV or not TV

It's actually not even a question.

When I tell people that I don't have a television, it kind of freaks them out and then they do one of two things: they either give me a withering "you're an intellectual snob who thinks she's too good for television" look OR they give me the side-eye as though I may perhaps be the Unabomber, but with pink hair.

Neither of those is accurate.

I used to have a television. There were some shows I really loved (NCIS, you know I'm talking about you!) but I noticed -- again and again and again -- that I would be sitting on the couch on Sunday afternoons, flipping through one hundred plus channels, and not finding anything that remotely resembled something I wanted to watch. If you want to call that intellectual elitism, go on ahead, but I dare you to tell me that you haven't experienced the exact same thing more than once.

It got me to thinking: why am I paying for cable if I don't actually enjoy watching television? Why shell out cash for something you don't really use or want?

I stopped. Then, because I can watch DVDs on my computer, I just got rid of the tv altogether. It was just easier.

Here's how often I miss it:


Here's how often people tell me that I should miss it, that I need to buy a tv, that I'm opting out of popular culture: at least four times a week.

It's very odd.

Listen, if you're a person who loves tv, you should totally own a tv. Perhaps a really large, fancy one. Whatever makes you happy. Have at it. Go nuts.

If you would rather NOT use your time and resources on televised entertainment, you don't have to. It doesn't make you weird or freakish. It might be unusual, but there's nothing wrong with doing what works for you.

I don't tell people with televisions to chuck their TVs if having a tv makes them happy, but they keep telling me I need to have one even though having a TV does not make me happy, which makes me wonder if there is something about choosing not to have a TV that is transgressive; if I'm not Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and everyone else is, does that make an active statement about what I think about pop culture and mass entertainment -- does it seem like a rejection and a judgement about what other people enjoy?

I think it must, because people get so weirded out, which in turn weirds ME out.    

But not enough that I'll buy a TV.