Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime

Hey, y'all.

It's the Holidays! It's fabulous! There is lots of stuff going on!

(...and I am TIRED ...)

The Fella and I are going to be Gone to Carolina in just a few days, but before we go, I wanted to take a moment to thank anyone who has ever read and commented on or liked or said something nice about this blog.

You're the best.

In 2015, you should expect frequent and reliable posting. I have a fabulous new laptop, the internet, and the most supportive Fella, Family, and Friends a writergeek could have, and I still have lots and lots to say. Don't you worry -- I'll be back in a big way.

In the meantime -- I hope that the holiday season and the New Year (and every day, really) finds you blessed and happy.

Hugs all around,


Monday, December 8, 2014

Eau (de) Christmas Tree

There are about seven trillion reasons that I can't have a "real" Christmas tree. I'm using the quotes deliberately here because I think that any item designated a Christmas tree is a real Christmas tree, but for the purposes of this post, let's specify: I cannot have a once living, now-cut down (or still living and hanging out with a root ball in a plant pot) tree of piney goodness in my house. Allergies, OCD, space issues, and a cat who likes to nom things that aren't actually designated cat food all contribute to my inability to have a real tree.

I'm okay with this. I grew up with an artificial tree, so the Christmas tree made of synthetic pine needles, wire, and plastic has never bothered me in any way. In fact, now that almost all artificial trees come pre-lit means that the fake tree is totally my jam. I don't have to put up strings of lights after I check to make sure that if one goes out, they don't all go out.

Because I've had real trees in the past as well, I also know that the fake tree is my jam because I don't have to water the tree. I don't have to vacuum up pine needles. I don't have to wait for the branches to settle.

I love my tree.

There is, though, a benefit to having a real, once living tree in your house, though.

The SMELLLLLLLLLL. Oh the smell. The piney goodness smell.

I love the smell of Christmas trees. Real trees? Smell awesome.

Fake trees? Or, at least, MY fake tree? Smells like the cardboard box it is stored in and the inside of my storage space. An indeterminate, slightly stale odor that is in no way festive and does not scream holiday cheer.

It doesn't even faintly whisper holiday cheer.

Fortunately, we live in a world that doesn't just make it super easy to get a fake tree -- it ALSO makes it super easy to get "fake smell of real tree."


Because just as we learned from Charlie Brown that not all Christmas trees are created alike -- some are robust, some are less robust, and some are just single branches from which one hangs a bauble -- not all Christmas tree smells are created equally.

This was reinforced for me when I came home happily bearing what CLAIMED to be delicious Christmas tree smell in a jar to plug into my air freshener, mentally checking "make the house smell like joy and dancing" off my to-do list.

Plugged it in.

Hit a button.

My house was filled with ... well, it was a smell of a kind. There may have been a hint of Christmas tree smell in there. I'm not really sure. It was hard to tell as it had been obscured by a smell that can only be described as "a heavily discounted manly deodorant" or, as I quickly began to think of it, Cheap Chemical Funk.

It was perplexing. We live in a world where science has figured out how to land a spacecraft on a COMET but no one who worked in the lab that created this monstrosity had the olfactory skills to determine that their new Christmas-tree fragrance smelled like sightly pine-ish poop.

"That's bad, right?" I asked The Fella.

"Yeaaaaaah," he said. "What's that supposed to be?"

"Christmas tree!"

"Huh," he said. "Weird."

It wasn't just weird. It was infuriating to me. Had the inventors of this abomination never smelled a Christmas tree? Were they sampling mutant trees in radiation saturated forests? WERE THERE ACTUALLY PLACES WHERE CHRISTMAS TREES SMELLED LIKE THIS?

"I can't even," I finally said. "I just can't."

So today, I ventured into another store and smelled EVERYTHING in it that claimed to smell like a Christmas tree. If it had a picture of a tree on it? I applied my sniffer to it and took a hearty whiff. This was not, by the way, the most festive exercise ever because as it turns out? Lots of things that claim to smell like pine smell like feet, Lysol, and desperation.

Not awesome.

Finally, after smelling about twenty things, I found something that actually smelled like glorious, wonderful spruce-y evergreen-y goodness.

I'm not saying that I danced with glee in the store aisles?

But I'm also not saying that I didn't.

So, right now, as I type, the smell of Christmas tree lingers in the air. The tree -- assembled, decorated, and illuminated -- shines gently into the room. There are carols on the radio and there is happiness in my heart.

It might all be man made, it's true.

But it's as real as it comes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I work in a construction-based business. This, mostly, is awesome. My job involves a lot of talking on the phone. I'm a talker, so this is also mostly awesome.

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I sound young on the phone.

Young. Girly. On the phone.

This is occasionally problematic to the point that I've developed four or five different tones for work. They have names: Regular Danielle, Southern Belle, Chatty Girl, and the one we simply call The Voice.

The Voice is pitched several tones lower than my usual voice. It's a little bit breathy. My friend Skippy tells me it kind of freaks him out because it's so not me. But I find that I have to use it with certain customers because it's the only way to get them to listen to me.

The issue, I find, is that when people hear my voice? They make assumptions based on it... and those assumptions are usually that I can't possibly have any idea what I'm talking about because I'm a girl. I mean, I probably don't even OWN any tools, and if I DO own any they're probably pink and sparkly, and the few (pink and sparkly) tools I might own probably have never ever been used.

For the record? None of these are correct. I have tools. I have a BOX full of tools. Old, dinged up, NOT PINK OR SPARKLY tools that I love, treat carefully, and use regularly. I know how to fix things. I know how to build things.

I know how to discuss building and fixing things.

But people -- mostly men, to be clear -- hear me and think that I don't. Then they become ... weird. Some of them are patronizing and creepy-avuncular. Some of them become flat-out bullies. Some of them, bless their hearts, try to be helpful and are actually very nice.

It frustrates me every time, though, when someone won't listen to what I'm saying because they're too busy hearing my voice and deciding what I know based on pitch and tone and not content.

So I use The Voice. I hate myself, but I do it, and I do it because it works.

The thing that drives me crazy about this is that I know -- I KNOW -- that the menfolk with whom I work don't have to do this in order for people to listen to them... AND they think it's cute that I do. It amuses them that I have developed multiple job related personalities in order to have customers listen to me and actually hear what I am saying.

To be completely honest, there are moments when it amuses me as well. I sometimes enjoy a little acting while at work -- it means those years of theatre study were good for something! Wheee!

More frequently, however, I am annoyed by it and the perception that it's cute. I am annoyed by the fact that people hear my voice and assume a gender and an age and, based on that, become biased as to what I do or don't know. I am annoyed by the fact that it's acceptable for me to sometimes, despite The Voice, have to pass a call to a male co-worker because the fact that his voice is deeper than mine somehow makes him more credible.

While this bothers me on a so many valid feminist levels, it also makes me think of the 101 ways in which we all judge people every day based on the most trivial of things, as though they're relevant in anything but the most superficial ways. As though it's true that the guy in grubby overalls knows more about engines than the guy in the suit coat. As though it's true that the girl with the glasses knows more about books than the girl in the cocktail dress.

As though it's true that the man on the street is probably better at math than the woman standing next to him.

And as though it's factually accurate that the young-sounding woman on the other end of the phone knows less about building than the men in her office because she is a young-sounding woman.

Maybe we could all do each other a favor and instead of making assumptions about what someone is going to say, we could listen to what s/he is actually saying and make our decisions about what s/he knows based on that.

Stop assuming.

And listen.

And then the only voice I would have to use would be my own.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Greener Grasses, Better Things

I was going to say that today was sprinkled with an extra helping of crazy dust, but then I realized that described both some of the weekend AND today and THEN I realized that not all of the stories belonged to me so ... let's just say that there were shenanigans and I committed some of them and merely witnessed others and leave it at that.

BUT (come on, you saw that coming)...

If there's a something that sticks with me most from the past several days, it's this: I know a person -- or a couple of people -- who suffer from "the grass is greener"-itis. As in, the grass is always greener somewhere else. As in, they can never find joy in the place where they are but are constantly looking for something better, something more, something else. The better job. The better house. The better car. They never find their happy because they're never satisfied. Ever. With anything. They can't see what's around them -- and a lot of it is good, wonderful, valuable stuff -- because they're too busy worrying that there's something better and they're missing it.

They're kind of right. There is something better. They are missing it. That something is RIGHT NOW. This moment. The beauty that exists right here, where they're standing. The sunset in front of them. The kindness of a coworker.

Sure, we all want things. We all see things that could be better in our lives -- and better can mean "more expensive" or "more status-laden" or it can simply mean "easier". I know that there have been times in my life where I knew things could definitely be easier; I also know that there have been times in my life when I wished I could afford things that other people had. I also, however, know this: you can't wish your life away. You can only be where you are, and since you're there? You should try to enjoy it even as you move through to where you're going next.

I'm thinking about all of this because of Thanksgiving, of course. In our little neck of the woods, we had a big old snowstorm the day before Thanksgiving, which meant that the four day, glorious, extended weekend that I'd so been looking forward to was ... well ... a very cold weekend in which The Fella and I found ourselves in our tiny little apartment with no power.

This could have ruined our weekend. We couldn't cook. We didn't have the internet. There was no heat. Plans with The Fella's son (the Lil Fella) were shelved because ... did we mention that we didn't have heat?

It could have ruined our weekend. We could have groused and grumbled and talked about the kind of holiday we wanted, the kind we deserved, the kind we'd planned for and worked towards.

OR, we could do none of those things. Instead, we could relax because there was literally nothing that we could do. We could hang out, cuddle, play games. We could not worry about cooking. We could not run around. We could change our plans and just kind of go with it.

Let me say this as well: relaxing does not come easily to me or to The Fella since we are both prone to the stressies. I like things to WORK. He was really counting on having the Lil Fella over. None of this was what we would choose.

It was one of the best holidays I've ever had, though, because we were able to go with it and live in the day. With extra blanks and the cat on the bed and games and giggling. At one point there may have been a Weird Al sing along as we discussed all of the things that were wrong with the newest Star Wars movies (while hoping that the NEW one would make up for the sins of the previous ones and Yes, I know that doesn't seem like it would lead to singing Weird Al songs but it TOTALLY does) and there were hugs and hot chocolate and ... it made me really happy.

Could it have made me a maniac?


But sometimes the grass is green right here. And sometimes the best thing you can do is to notice it, and feel how silky is is beneath your feet, and just be glad to taking it all in.

Oh, and if you're lucky? You can sing Weird Al songs while you do that.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Love You, Mean It

We were standing in the middle of a ski shop. The ex was browsing through the aisles when the clerk came to me. "So, you ski?" he asked.

"Ah, no." I am accident prone and gravitationally challenged and have shit lungs, I thought. I don't ski.

"You board, then," he said.

My ex and I had been talking to this clerk before and it was very clear that we were there for ski stuff for the ex. I was just an accessory, a plus one. The person who held things when the ex passed them to me.

"No," I said. "I don't snow board either."

This irritated the clerk. "Well what do you DO all winter?" he asked, condescendingly, as though I barely qualified as human because I didn't strap anything to my feet and careen down steep mountainsides.

"I read, actually. A lot."

"You READ." He sniffed. "Whatever."

"Yeah," my ex said, finally coming over and standing next to the clerk. They smirked at each other. "I don't get it either."


For the record, a nearly perfect evening in my world involves warm socks, a comfy chair, a glass of wine, and a book.

A completely perfect evening involves all of those things while cuddled up to someone else. Said someone would also be reading.

Please note that in that relationship I had no perfect evenings.


Someone recently asked me if I had forgiven the ex and I realized that I forgave him a long time ago. It took me longer to forgive myself for tolerating a relationship that was so diminishing, where it was okay to mock me and the things that I am passionate about. However, the realization that yes, I forgive him and yes, I finally also forgive me made me think about the nature of love, and what it should look like.

It should look like support and appreciation. It shouldn't look like disdain. It shouldn't be all "let's explore everything you love and say everything I love is stupid."

It should be meeting someone where they are and loving them in that exact spot on the map of their life. It should not be looking at her as though she is a wax figure that you can mold into your idea of perfection.

If you love someone, then you give AND you take. You go to the ski store and then to a book store. You spend a day at the resort and some time in the lodge. It's not one or the other. It's both.


I get it now.  When someone tells you they love you, they need to mean they love you -- the things you are AND the things you're not. The things you've been and the things you'll become. Your hopes, your fears, your successes, your defeats -- they need to love all of those things.


I got lucky, by the way. I met someone who tells me that he loves me, and when he does? He means it.

And now? I have many perfect evenings.

I hope that, however you frame a perfect evening, whatever that would look like for you? You have them as well.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Spider Convention

Dear Spiders,

You may recall that when I moved into this apartment (to be referred to as "home"), I was on a mission to be a kinder, gentler human being, one who was more willing to appreciate all of the earth's creatures, even the ones that I considered to be madly frightening and in possession of FAR too many legs (to be referred to as "you"). While I have had no love or affection for you, I have many friends who really love spiders. Sincce I consider these to be (otherwise) sensible people, I reconsidered my stance on you and your presence in my home. 

Thus, the Treaty.

You remember the Treaty, right? It involved you, my home, and, well, me. 

Please allow me to refresh your memory regarding the Treaty.

You were allowed to be present in my home -- though you did definitely run the risk of gentle relocation to a friendlier space -- as long as you did not attempt to establish any kind of residency in what I call "The Forbidden Zones." The Forbidden Zones were VERY SPECIFICALLY stated as the following:

My  bed
My  person
The shower

Oh Spiders. We had a good thing going. But then you got adventurous and greedy and, frankly, bold and ridiculous. 

The first time you violated the shower portion of the Forbidden Zones I chalked it up to some sort of rogue agent who needed to be (ahem) squashed in his efforts to void the Treaty. That little guy was BRAZEN, I'll give him that. It was very sneaky to drop down from the shower head when defenseless, blind without her glasses Yellie was rinsing her hair , unable to tell if that was a GIANT HAIRY SPIDER INTERLOPER or, say, a tangle of said hair.  

He blew his cover by MOVING.

Actions were swift, immediate, and punishing but then the Treaty held.

At least, it held until today. Today, when I was once again rinsing my hair and discovered one of you. It wasn't enough that you were in the shower. OH NO, SPIDERS. Instead, you dropped down (again, I suspect from the showerhead area) and landed on my hand.

That's TWO Treaty violations at a single time (and, to be honest, a little impressive in its audacity) and I will simply not stand for this level of disrespect.

The Treaty is now dissolved. THAT'S RIGHT, SPIDERS. All of the zones in the home are now declared spider free. Even as I type, the cat is stalking one of you and, in all probability will not only eat you but will barf you up later for me to clean, allowing me to get rid of you twice. HAHAHAHAHA! 

I tried, you know. I made every effort to get along. THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, SPIDERS.

It's ON.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Eight years ago this month, I pulled the plug on my marriage by finally summoning the courage to move out. It was difficult for me to admit that it was a) past over and b) more abusive to stay by the minute, but eventually, I had to do it. You can only put a doily on the elephant in the room for so long before you're forced to admit that it is, in fact, an elephant and not an end table. 

So. I moved out of the house I loved and into an apartment that I most definitely did not love. Not even a little. I tried to tell myself (and Beansie) that I loved it, that it was great, but between the job I didn't love, the apartment that I didn't love, and the soon to be ex husband who, frankly, scared me, I was a miserable, sobbing, depressed wreck.

It happens.

When my folks were all, "Move to North Carolina and come live with us!" I fought it. I don't know why now, except that -- possibly -- when every day is a fight? You just get used to fighting. "No," I said. "I don't want to," I said.

The Flinkster told me to go. I still fought. "No," I said.

And then one day ... Tired, defeated, anxious ... I called my mom in North Carolina. "Okay," I said. "Okay."

The Flinkster refers to it as "when you put yourself in time out."

When I think about that time, I call it "when I unplugged."


The first week I spent in North Carolina, I slept. Really slept. For the first time in months. With the air conditioning on and Beansie curled up on a pillow beside me, I slept.

The second week, I realized that I could breathe without feeling like someone was standing on my chest. I found myself crying, but it was with relief -- for the realization that I was still alive, that I was still here. I played cribbage with my mom. I drank coffee with my dad. I practiced simple things: breathing in. Breathing out. Tossing things for Bean to chase.

I did that for three years.


I rarely left the house, except for business trips and shopping excursions with my mom. It was sort of monastic. It was a very quiet life.

It was healing. It let me heal.


I was thinking about this today, because The Fella did something unbelievably thoughtful and got us tickets so we can go home to North Carolina for Christmas. Make no mistake... North Carolina became home in spite of everything (the heat! The politics! The poisonous spiders!). I can't wait. I haven't been in ages, and am excited for my parents to meet my Fella, and to sit on the steps and drink coffee, and to stand in the office Bean and I used to spend our days (and sometimes nights) in and just think.

I am also excited because I want to make sure I thank my parents in person for giving me a place to go and unplug. If they had not urged me -- repeatedly -- to go to them, I wouldn't be where I am now. I might have made it through, but not like I did. I wouldn't have enough trust or love left in me for The Fella. I wouldn't have made it through losing Bean.

When I was on the phone with my mom earlier this evening, she said something about buying a birthday present for me.

I need to make sure that she and my dad both know that I appreciate what they gave me eight years ago, and that I'm thankful every day that they let me unplug then so that I can be plugged in now.

There's not much that's worth more than that.

Monday, October 27, 2014

On Beauty (Inevitable Renee Zellweger Post)

So, Renee Zellweger.
I have to confess that I saw the now-infamous photos of her "new face" and said something snarky, like, "WHAT WAS SHE THINKING" and then thought it was sad that she had to mess with what I thought was a perfectly lovely (and frankly quite adorable face) and then was all "bad surgery, too bad she felt like she had to do that, look at me being judgey mcjudgerson."

But then I started thinking about it -- and also? Feeling bad about my reaction.

Here's why.

1) If Renee Zellweger DID have surgery? That's her business. It's not mine. If she felt like she needed to have work done to feel beautiful and relevant? That's her duck, and I hope that -- if she did have work done -- that the result is that she feels amazing. She deserves that -- in fact, I think that we all do.

2) Also positing that perhaps Ms Zellweger had surgery? She had to look in the mirror and (hopefully after thinking "Hells YES! I look FAAAABULOUS!") know that she looks different, and that she'd have to take this face out and about -- and she had to know that people were going to talk about her.

Folks, I don't know that I would leave the house if that was the case. That's a lot of extra -- more than usual -- baggage for a person (even a famous one) with which to cope.

So kudos to Renee Zellweger for ROCKING that red carpet. Girlfriend is BRAVE.

3) If she did NOT have surgery? Then she's just doing that weird aging thing that WE ALL DO. It happens. It's a thing. People start looking different. Go figure. Maybe we're just not used to seeing celebrities age because they do so often have procedures and surgeries and that's why we're all confused and flabbergasted when someone starts to look different because they're letting all the years and love and learning show in their face.

And that? Is kind of also a shame. I'm all for "do what you gotta to feel pretty for you" but I'm also thinking "find the beauty that lives there and love it" -- I don't think we take enough time for that.

4) When I look at those photos? Renee Zellweger looks happy.

Happy is awesome. Happy is beautiful. Happy trumps "did she or didn't see" and "who's business is it anyway."

Happy? Is where it allllll should start and end.

And snarking on someone's happy? Is one of the un-loveliest things I have ever caught myself doing.

It won't happen again.

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's a Lifestyle Change, Part Four: Weighty

"You look great. Are you losing weight?"

"You know? I don't know."


As I mentioned, I am changing the way I look at food, exercise, etc. 

As I did not mention, I threw out my scale for the last time. 

There were multiple reasons for this. The primary reason was that my scale was broken. Broken-ish. The battery was dead, so I would stand on it and nothing would happen. No scrolling of numbers followed by immediate judgement and possible self loathing. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

It was useless to me. There's no point in having a scale in your bathroom if it can't help you to determine your value as a human being.

So I tossed it. 


I thought about replacing it. Without a scale, how would I know how to feel about myself? How would I know if I was pretty or worthy or valuable without a number in the digital readout?


And then I thought, why am I being such an asshole to myself?


Look. This isn't my first ride on this particular merry-go-round. I've tossed scales before -- and then bought new ones because my bathroom scale is like the most horrible security blanket ever. It's an INsecurity blanket -- it's what I rely on to make sure all of the worst things that I think about myself are true and, perversely?

I feel like I need it.

The problem with body dysmorphia, though -- and I know this as well -- is that the number on the scale will NEVER be small enough. There is no readout that would ever make me feel worthy or wonderful or beautiful.

And if that's the case?

Maybe I need to let it go. Even if it's scary. Even if I don't know what to do without it.


I don't know if I'm losing weight or how much weight or what. I do know this: I feel good. I feel happy and pretty. I smile a lot more.

That's a lifestyle change I can embrace.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I have asthma. People with severe, chronic asthma are probably nodding sympathetically right now; people who love people with severe, chronic asthma are probably wincing right now, and people who are lucky enough not to be a member of this particular tribe are thinking, well, you have an inhaler, right?



Severe, chronic asthma generally equals really shitty immune system. Which also means "gets catastrophically ill at the drop of a hat" and also "will be absolutely fine one moment and blue from a lack of oxygen the next."

I would love it if the above was an exaggeration. It's not.

Not even a little.

Just ask my poor mom, who once spent the night of my birthday sitting up with me because she was literally afraid that I was going to die. I'd been fine that morning. By ten that evening? My lips, hands, and feet were blue as I tried to remember how breathing worked and how to do it. 

It sucks. It sucks a lot. But that's life. That's MY life. 

Or so I thought.

I got sick over the weekend, and The Fella? Made working with me, making certain I was okay, and looking after me his priority. He took time off to make sure I would have help if things went south quickly. He stayed with me and checked in and made sure that I had what I needed when I needed it. 

My lungs might not have been working the way I want them to, but my heart?


I have asthma. It's a thing. But for the first time in my adult life? I have someone who gets it and wants to make sure that I'm okay -- and who will go out of his way to make sure that happens. 

My brain doesn't know what to do with this, of course.

But my heart?


Monday, September 22, 2014


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

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

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

I guess.

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

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

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

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

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

But I guess it's easy to forget that.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

But not always super healthy in any way. 

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

I decided to go with it.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Life IS the point. 

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

You can start with something big, like love. 

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

But you have to start.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's a Lifestyle Change, Part Two:Chopped

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

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

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

So. Chopped.

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

No big, right?

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

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

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

And I started to love it.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's a Lifestyle Change: Part One

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

Results were varied.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


So, research completed? I jumped in headfirst.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

This Above All

I'm a writer. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the rest is details.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rearview Mirror

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

It's hard to do, though.

I know. 

I guess I just don't get it.

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


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

I think the people who love me should do that.

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

I feel ... Awful.

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

We had some good times.

You had the best times. 

I can hold on to that.

We all can, buddy. We all can.

Friday, August 29, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer? 

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

Because I prioritize a zillion other things first. 

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

Because I'm not fair to myself. 

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

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

(Guilt. I have it.)

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 25, 2014

What It Is

There are always going to be people in your life who will tell you what certain things mean: what it means to be successful. What it means to be happy.

Feel free to listen to them and their definitions.

And then, if you want, feel free to disregard them.

The truest thing I know is this: how you define success is a highly personal thing. Some people are motivated by money. If your bank account makes you feel secure, successful, and proud? I am happy for you if you are happy.

See what I did there, by the way? I didn't suggest that someone who is financially motivated is wrong or ridiculous or in need of redefining the rules that he uses to guide the choices he makes. I'm not suggesting such a thing for a simple reason -- I don't live his life. The ways he defines success for himself do not belong to me because, in fact, there are many ways by which one can define success. The important thing, I think, is to make sure that you own your definition, and that you not let anyone talk you out of chasing what inspires you.

I won't be told what it means for my life to have success and meaning.

I'm through being instructed as to what I need in order to be happy.

What works for me -- what makes me feel successful, what I need in order to be happy -- will likely not look like someone else's definition. That's okay. That's actually great. If we all wanted and needed exactly the same thing, the world would be a very dull place indeed. Fortunately for us all, there are people who want to serve in missions and there are people who want to write blogs and there are people who want to be corporate masterminds. There are people who want large, fancy homes and there are people who want very simple ones. There is room for everyone here. There is room for all different kinds of success and happiness.

Mine might not look like what you think it should look like because it doesn't match yours, but that doesn't make it less real or valid.

Look around you. See the people in your life -- really see them. Know that their happiness and success for what it is: personal. Beautiful.

And rejoice in it the way you would want them to rejoice in yours.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I don't care who you are or where you're from: some days are just going to be hard to the point that your brain shivers a little in your head and refuses to cope with any other incoming information. It's the mental version of overeating at Thanksgiving but because your mind is not able to put on your stretchy pants to accomodate the emotional and psychological equivalent of  far too many mashed potatoes, you make room in other ways. Maybe you shut off. Maybe you start a fight with someone you're pretty sure will forgive you later when you're not so overwhelmed. Or maybe you just cry and go home where there are warm hugs and cuddles and tea.

I was there yesterday.

Because of course, despite the fact that I am the happiest in my life that I have ever been? I am balancing that out in my career with a difficult situation. I mean, why not? Of COURSE. Mostly I just go with the flow -- lalalalaaaaaa, I'm going to make this all woooooorrrkk -- but sometimes?

I need yoga pants and a blankie for my stressed out, anxious brain.

Sometimes we all do, actually. As much as I believe in hard work -- and I worship at the church of hard work, it's how I roll -- I also know that it's equally important to take the time to unwind and relax. My problem (perhaps the problem of many people I know) is that the relaxing bit doesn't come as naturally to me as the work myself into a sobbing mess part.

It's a problem.

It's a problem to the point that yesterday? I didn't think I could do it anymore. I wanted to walk away. I NEEDED to walk away. My manager (who is wonderful, I might add, and not the source of the difficulties I am encountering) encouraged me to take a break, stressing how much I've earned one.

I walked to my desk thinking, "I'll just go home early. It'll be great. I'll take a nap and regroup and be fresh tomorrow."

I sat down to set my out of office message. Stray tears escaped here and there. Not because of the stress and the crazy, necessarily, but because I'd begun to believe that I couldn't cope with them.

And I thought: you just have to try. Can you keep trying, Yellie? Can you try for five more minutes? If you can try for five more minutes, and then you still feel like you're done, you can go. But maybe -- maybe you could try.

I gave it five minutes. Five minutes spent breathing -- in. out. in. -- and thinking about how much I love my coworkers, how kind they are. I looked at the flowers that The Fella sent me earlier this week. I touched their petals. They were silky and cool.

Five minutes of trying.

I felt better.

So I gave it five more.

The crisis passed.

That, I think, is the beauty of difficult situations: they do pass. You just have to give them time. You have to give yourself the time. You have to understand that it's okay. You're okay. You will move through this.

You also need to understand that the other side could look like a variety of different things. Yesterday, it might have looked like going home. That would not have been a failure. Staying? Wasn't necessarily a success in and of itself. The important part -- the healing part -- was saying: try. Sit with how you feel. Think. And then give yourself permission to reassess how you feel and what you need.

No matter where you are.

It doesn't hurt to try.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Waiting for It

"Things happen," she said, "when you don't expect them."

"I know."

She sipped her tea. "This is true of good things and bad things, I think. We say it about good things, but it has to be true of bad things too. I mean, you can't walk around expecting bad shit to happen all of the time. That would be terrible. But you also can't wander the earth expecting unicorns and rainbows every day. That would just be weird."

"What should you expect?"

"You shouldn't spend your time expecting," she said. "Spend your time doing. And living! And being. And if you're doing and living and being your best? Things will happen. Some of them will be magical. Some of them will not. But they'll be real and they'll be yours."

"Even if I don't expect them."

"Look. The only person who should always meet your expectations is YOU. Everyone else? Gets to do their thing. Sometimes that will hurt you. Other times it will surprise and amaze you. It will be so wonderful that it will make you cry with happiness and awe.

"The trick? Is knowing that it all will come. All of it. The good stuff and the bad stuff and the in-between stuff. It all comes.

"You just have to wait. Be patient. And while you're being patient?

"Be amazing. Because you are."

Monday, August 11, 2014


Warning: this post is very, very honest and deals with mental illness and self-harm. 

The Fella and I were getting dinner ready when he said, "Huff Post says a Robin Williams is dead. He apparently committed suicide."

"That's not true," I said. "That's not funny." 

I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. As I type this, I feel like I need to throw up.


I didn't know Robin Williams, obviously. He was a famous comedian. A celebrity. While I frequently feel as though I should be a celebrity (such a pity that the world fails to recognize my fabulousness!), I am not, in fact, an A-lister. I am a Z-lister.

However. I am also someone with issues. I struggle with anxiety and depression and the stuff that comes with both of those.

So maybe I didn't know Robin Williams? 

But I know something about how he might have felt.


Some of the people I love most in this world have tried to end their lives. 

Some have succeeded. 

It never doesn't hurt. It never doesn't make me wish I could do more for them. Be more. Show them more love. Be more present. Offer more help and hope. 

It never fails to make me feel as though I've failed them.

And it never fails to make me think of the times I've been that low, that sad and desperate and afraid, but somehow managed not to hurt myself.


The truth -- the naked, ugly truth -- Is that I've been there. When I say there was a time when I wanted to drive off a bridge, I'm not kidding. I was so close. 

Too close. 

There were -- there are -- people who grounded me and kept me here, and so here I am, and here I am determined to stay; I want to convince other people who are struggling to keep fighting, to tell them: you are loved. You are NEEDED. Your presence here is required!

Because people did it for me, and because some of these folks? I really can't imagine living without.


A long time ago, my cousin Jay and I talked about the things that made us really happy. "Dolphins," he said. "They're like nature's Prozac."

"Robin Williams," I said. "Robin Williams always makes me laugh."

"What about a documentary on dolphins, hosted by Robin Williams? That would be, like, the best thing ever."


Two weeks later, Jay sent me a video and a note: "seriously, I couldn't believe it when I saw it."

It was a documentary on dolphins. Hosted by Robin Williams. 

At one point, he was swimming with them and clearly overcome with joy -- it was so gloriously, amazingly happy that it made me cry.

To be honest, it still does.

And I'm not sure what to do with any of this.


I didn't know Robin Williams, but I grieve for his family. I am so sorry for them, and I am so sorry for how he must have struggled. 

I do know people who struggle regularly. I identify myself as one of them. And I think ... I know ... That if we're all more honest and open about that struggle? It becomes easier. 

If you are one of those struggling: you are not alone. You are loved. You are needed. You deserve to be here. There is so much here and your part in it? Is so essential. 


Please, please stay.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Today marked the one year anniversary of moving into my apartment. 

I suppose that, technically? I was never homeless in that, due to the grace of an amazing friend, I had a place to stay when my housing situation fell apart through misadventure and mistaken belief in some friends.

If you've ever had a situation in your life where you don't have a mailing address because you sort of don't exactly live anywhere, though? You know what I mean when I say that I was homeless. My friend V took me into her home, but it wasn't MY place. I didn't have a place.

And then I got this apartment, and I was home. 

I was -- I am -- a different person when I moved in here than I was when I first moved back to New Hampshire. Some of that was losing Bean. Some of it was trusting people who I should not have. But some of it? Was a restored belief in the overwhelming kindness and love that people possess. What got me here was difficult, but what I found when I arrived was beautiful.

As I said, I am a different person now than I was then. Because of that, my life had changed in a zillion positive ways. I said I'd never have room in my heart for another cat, but now I have Lizzie B. I said I'd never make room for another person or subject anyone else to my blend of crazy (trust issues!) but now I have The Fella. 

I needed a place to live.

I found a place to LIVE.

Here's to another amazing year, and to everyone who's played a part in getting me here. Y'all are simply awesome, and I love you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On Goodbye

I lost Beansie a year ago last weekend. 

The last time I took her to the vet, I knew it was the end. I'd known it for about two weeks. I just couldn't face it. She was my  GIRL. How could I let go of her?

I had to be stern with myself. I had to have the "you're making this about you" lecture with myself. I had to pry my fingers off of my control issues and finally -- painfully, horribly -- say goodbye.

I've had lessons in grace and saying goodbye. The day before my grandfather died, he thoughtfully and carefully passed on to me the things he would want people to know: how he felt about them, how proud he was of them, how amazing he believed they were. He told me he loved me, and then -- beautifully -- let go.

I pride myself on my schoolwork.

But I never mastered this particular lesson.

When it's time to let go ... Sometimes long after it's time ... I want to hold on. I understand on some level that part of life is saying goodbye. I get it.

But I suck at it.

At this moment, right now, I think I am losing a friend I adore. She's woven into my life like my own nervous system. I don't know how to stop this and I don't know how to let it happen.

I don't know how to say goodbye.

I just know that I don't want to. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Roller Coaster

I used to tell people that I think life is like a roller coaster: big highs and lows with stretches of normal, so that you can appreciate the twisty, turny bits.

I still think that.

But I also think it's important to look at the people sitting in the car with you.


Some of the best memories in my life involve amusement parks, as it turns out. Going to Funtown, USA with my girls in high school. Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia with my mom. Canobie Lake Park with my friend Neha, zooming along a wooden coaster track in a rainstorm, laughing like a lunatic. The company you keep is important. Especially when things are all upsy and then -- suddenly -- downy.


There are people who want to be beside you for the entirety of the ride. Who can sit there with you in the rain and giggle madly with you. 

There are people who want to be with you during the good bits, the upswings.

And there are people who will watch your face for the moments that make you feel like you're going to hurl, and who can't wait to tell you "I told you so."


It has taken me some time (maybe more than it should have) to find my happy. There are people -- lots of people -- who are happy for me.

There are also people who are not; they are watching for the other shoe to drop so they can swoop in, dispense advice, and tell me where I went wrong. 


I don't know how to feel about this.


My previous statement is a lie. I know exactly how to feel about this.


If you are my friend? If you love me? Then you will get in this car with me. Oh sure, it's raining. This whole thing seems crazy. The track is wooden and worn, but we can all be brave. Laugh with me as we go hurtling towards what's next. 

Laugh, and know that this moment -- these moments -- are so happy and amazing and that, whatever comes next? This was so worth it.

And if you can't do that?


I will miss you.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


There are two sides to every coin.  There is no joy without sorrow, no love without hate. 

Sometimes the only way to find where you're supposed to be is to discover where you don't belong.  You can try to belong there, and maybe you sort of do, you belong-ish, but you don't really fit there. No matter how you try, you know that this is not the place -- but when you find it, you know. You know right away. 

It is difficult and ... Well, craptastic ... when your joy causes someone else pain. To put it (very, very) bluntly, it sucks.

It sucks out loud.

I realize, in the logical part of my brain, that I am mostly not responsible for anyone else's life. (Overachiever alert: it is not possible for me to write that I am not  responsible in any way. This seems problematic. But I digress.)

In the emotional part of my brain, though, the notion that I have hurt someone who cares about me is terrible. And let's be honest: I've done just that. I didn't mean to, but I did. I have the blocked social media status to prove it.

So. If there's a lesson, and I believe there must be, what is it?

There are three. (Which as any Schoolhouse Rock geek knows, is a magic number.)

1) be fearless. Say how you feel and what you think so that no one can call you a liar. This doesn't mean that they won't accuse you of lying, by the way, it just means that you'll know you didn't.

2) live so that you have no regrets about your actions. This probably sounds selfish? But I believe this: you can be sad that someone is hurt by the way you live your life? But if you're doing your best? You cannot regret anything. I'm sorry if the path that has brought me ridiculous, incredible amounts of joy has hurt anyone -- but I refuse to spend an instant being sorry that I'm happy. 

3) forgive the ridiculous ways in which hurt people act out. I'm sorry if someone is angry with me or needs to punish me by blocking me -- that makes me sad -- but I'm hopeful that it helps her or him to get to a better place. I want that. I want it a lot, actually.

And ... That's all there is, I think. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Love. Story.

The first time I fell in love, I was fifteen. There was a boy -- a lovely, amazing boy -- that I went to high school with who stole my heart.

He had no idea this was the case. He thought we were friends.

We were friends, but I loved him. I loved him in a way that I had never loved anyone before or since; it was wholly unselfish. I just wanted him to be happy. If I had learned that in order for him to be happy I would have to step in front of a moving vehicle, I would have done it. I simply loved him.

To this day, if you said this boy's name to my mom, she'd say, "Oh Yellie. You loved him," and everyone in the room would nod as if to say, it was so sweet and so ... not happening.

Because as it turns out? Life is not a love story.

Except, of course, for when it is.


The good thing about being fifteen (and anyone who's dealt with fifteen year olds on a regular basis will probably agree with me here) is that it's temporary. You grow out of it and move on to other, moderately obnoxious ages like eighteen and twenty-one and thirty.

The better thing about being fifteen -- and every age before or after -- is  that you carry pieces of that self with you. Sometimes those pieces are large and become major portions of your character. Sometimes they're little slivers and mementos that you take out of your pocket and run your thumb over. Either way, you have them.

As we all do, I outgrew being fifteen, but my sliver -- my lovely memento -- was the memory of loving that boy. I went on, of course, to fall in love with other people because that's what you do. Relationships. Breakups. Love, with all of its different faces. It's a thing.

If I occasionally took the time to remember that boy and my fifteen year old self, it was with a sense of amazement, that I had ever thought that love could be that simple, and the wish that maybe? Somehow? It could be that simple.

And then? I'd throw myself into the next thing.


That lovely boy and I became friends as adults. Twenty years had passed. Things had happened -- marriages, children, relocations, careers. Twenty years is a long time. He was actually more delightful than I had remembered him being -- funnier, more thoughtful.

This annoyed me a bit, to be honest, because it seemed that my fifteen year old self had more discernment than my adult self when it came to people.

Well, I thought, he's changed some. So have you.

So. Friends. Friends from afar, mostly, via the internet because -- you know, all of the life stuff and busy-ness that comes with it. We saw each other now and again, the way you do, but not often.

The thing was, though, that when I did see him, fifteen year old Yellie would tap me on my no-longer fifteen year old shoulder. "You totally love him," she'd say, flipping back her overly permed hair.

"Of course I love him, stupid. He's my friend."

"Yeah right," she'd smirk.

I'd think, I really can't do this again. Who does this?

Until the day that he told me that he was sorry, this might screw up our friendship, but he was in love with me.

Which, to be honest, made me want to punch him. That only lasted about three seconds, before I confessed to the same, but still.


The last time I fell in love, I was thirty-eight. In an unlikely chain of events, the first person I loved turned out to be the best, most amazing person I've ever loved.

Of course -- and don't think I don't point this out regularly -- I figured it out when I was fifteen. It just took him some time to catch up.

Life is a story.

Sometimes, it's a love story.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Run, Yellie, Run

The clock was ticking.

I double checked my purse before I left the courthouse. Social security form. Check. Newly obtained, notarized and official divorce documents. Check. Birth certificate (just in case). Check. Driver's license. Check.

Now I just had to get it done. 

I very carefully made my way back to the highway, windows down, singing along with 30 Seconds to Mars and obeying the speed limit because I did NOT have the time to get pulled over. When I hit the highway, I let 'er rip, though, and zoomed down Route 16 --

-- okay, that's not quite true. I drive like an old lady. A nervous old lady. But I did go, like, ten miles per hour over the speed limit because I was in a HURRY, y'all. 

I got to Portsmouth, which is where the Federal building lives, at 1:40. 

One hour and twenty minutes. 

And then I hit a snag. 

No parking. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

This was... Problematic.

I did a slow drive around the city. I have a small car, I thought. I can nose it into itty bitty spaces. I could have, were there any to be had, but alas, there were not. I rolled up my windows, turned the A/C up and the radio down, and clutched the steering wheel grimly.

"You," I thought to Snarky Ugly Tie Guy, "do not get to win this day."

I zipped around to the lower entrance of the parking garage, which -- unlike the main entrance, did not have a sign that read "full" -- took a ticket, and zipped in. And then drove around. And around. And up. And finally nabbed a spot on the very top floor, in the roasting heat of the sun. I leaped out the door and immediately thought, "Holy shit, I am going to pass out."

It was almost two. Passing out was not an option.

I don't know if you'll ever find yourself running full tilt across town to a federal building, but if you do, you should know that the security guards there will somehow not be surprised to see your sweaty, disheveled self going through the metal detector again and, miraculously, not setting it off this time. In fact, they might even wish you luck as you dash to the elevator bank. 

It's like they've seen such things before.

It was two o'clock when I got my number in the office, and Snarky Ugly Tie Guy and I kept giving each other the side-eye across the room. "Call me next," I kept thinking. "You need a special form? I have your form RIGHT HERE, Smirky McSmirker!"

The woman manning (womanning?) the cubicle next to him called my number.

As I approached, he said to her, "She was here before. She needs her divorce papers."

She smiled at me. "You need your--" 

"Divorce papers. License. Form. Got 'em right here. Also?" I said, looking at Smirky, "I can HEAR you."

The woman waiting on me smiled. "Nice job," she said. "Let's get this done for you."

Just like that, it was done. 

And then, Dear Blogland, I had a new name. One I loved. One in which I had pride. More importantly, one I had fought to get back. 

It's mine.

I'm keeping it.

And this makes me happy.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Metal Detectors and X Rays Oh My

I walked out of the federal building and into a wet, hot, fist in the face of a day. I love summer in  New England, but DANG. It was hot. The heat was radiating up off the pavement in waves. The sun was bright and it and made me squint. I walked across town to my car, weaving around the tourists who like to stop in the middle of the street for reasons I have yet to identify, and felt wilted and sweaty.

There was no way I was going to make it. Mean Ugly Tie Guy and his snarky ways were going to win. I'd go to the courthouse, but I wasn't going to get back to the Social Security office today. There wasn't TIME.

I stopped by my office for a minute and told my partner at work my sad tale while trying to angle myself directly under an air conditioning vent. "What are you doing HERE?" he asked. "One: It's your day off. Two: That guy does not get to win."

"Yeah," I said. I did not sound convincing to myself. "I'll go to the courthouse at least. I'll never get back downtown."


So that we're all on the same page: the town I live in is 20 to 25 minutes from the town that houses the social security office. This is not a major deal. Except:

1) it is summer
2) the town with the federal building is a tourist attraction
3) the courthouse is another 15 minutes beyond my house
4) road construction

I was also going to have to stop at my house for my checkbook because I didn't think the county clerk was going to take a debit card for whatever documents I was going to be getting.

Whatever, I thought, I'll just do it.


When I got to the courthouse, I went through -- and set off -- my second metal detector of the day. The guards at the courthouse were nicer than the ones at the federal building, which was something.

I checked the directory, walked down a hallway, and promptly got lost.  Physically lost, as in "holy hell, where in this building am I going?" and also, emotionally lost as in "being here again is traumatic." I mean, the last time I had been in that courthouse was seven years ago and let's face it, that SUCKED.

I could feel a panic attack starting. I tried breathing. I tried focusing. And then I did something I don't usually do.

I let it go. All of it. The tension, the frustration, the race. The sense that SnarkyPants wanted me to fail on this day. The notion which had crept into my head that somehow, this was my ex-husband STILL managing to fuck with me. I put it all down.

My head cleared.

I went back to the entrance and asked the nice guard for directions. He told me where I needed to go and what to ask for and off I went to family court.

The lady who came to help me was kind and patient. She told me to have a seat while she fetched my records. I thumbed through a magazine and sat in the cool confines of the room, enjoying the quiet and the AC.

She came back. I wrote her a check. She gave me the documents I needed. I looked at the clock.

I had exactly two hours.

My whole body started to hum. Snarky Ugly Tie Guy, I thought. You have NO IDEA what's going to hit you.

It was ON.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Not So Social Security

Before I went to the social security office to process my name change, I went on the website to see what I needed. Preparedness. It's how I roll. 


Because after going through a metal decector at the Federal Building -- and setting it off, of course -- and stating my purpose (like a knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but without being asked my favorite colour), and then taking a ticket as though I was at a deli counter, and then sitting in a room full of people with morose faces, and THEN having people come in and pull their chairs as far from me as they could and still be in the same room (inexplicable, by the way, since I'm both friendly and visibly harmless), my number got called. 

I went to a window staffed by a cheerless man in an ugly tie and stated my purpose.

He yawned.

"You have the wrong paperwork," he said.


My research had been in vain-- the website? Was missing some key information. 

I wilted, then pulled myself together.

He smirked. I swear. He SMIRKED at me.

"You'll need to go to the courthouse and get an official, notarized copy of your divorce decree. That's ... What, Strafford county?"


"You could ... Probably ... Make it today," he said. "Of course, we're only open til three, sooo..."

"Right," I said. I smiled at him brilliantly. "Got it."

"There's a nominal fee," he added.

"Great," I said. 

"Okay then," he said brightly.

"Have a good day," I said cheerfully, thinking, oh no, sir. You and your ugly tie and your pisspoor attitude and my ex husband and his stupid last name are NOT -- under ANY circumstances -- going to win this day. 

No sir.

It was noon. The clock was ticking.

Next stop: the courthouse.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Name Game

"I will never, ever get married again," I said. "Ever. Just... Never."

"That's cool," said The Fella. "I get it."

And then he said, "Do you think you'll change your name back?"

"Oh. Huh," I said. "Yeah."


I got divorced seven years ago. Divorce years, though, are like dog years: they're longer than 365 days of emotional angst. They're each about seventeen years long.  Which, if you do the math,* means I've been wearing a name that I don't enjoy or want to keep for a loooooong time. 

The reasons I didn't change my name earlier are both situational and anxiety related. Situational as in I kept having plane tickets and travel plans that required identification. Anxiety related as the task seemed really big and overwhelming. If you've never changed your name, you may not have considered how many things you have to shift and change with the alteration of your last name.

If you have... Well. It's a lot. It's a lot of a lot. And because I'm a considerer, it became a gigantic task in my head, one that I couldn't get around.

So. Seven years. 

I should probably add here that having a name that you have grown to hate but also feel stuck with? Kind of sucks. A lot. It's destabilizing. It doesn't help you to know yourself better, that's for sure.

I wanted to get rid of the name, but I couldn't find my way to it. It was too big a job. That was all there was to it.

Until there was more.

"Look," The Fella said. "You get to be who you want. Do you want to be Danielle Hayes again?"


Sometimes, the ability to change -- the courage to change -- comes from places you don't expect. It can come after you've given up on an idea or have decided that something is too difficult. 

It can come when someone tells you that who you are -- who you were -- is awesome and deserves reclamation. When they remind you that you have never been better than when you are truly and completely yourself, and that part of that means shedding a name you hate and re-naming yourself appropriately.

"You know what? I do," I said.

Which is how I found myself sitting in the social security office last week.

*I am not doing this math. Because math.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Because These Things Will Change

If there's one thing I learned in the last year, it's that life changes quickly. Really quickly. Like, before you have the chance to assess the situation. One minute things are the way they were -- status quo, lalalalaaaaaa -- and the next? Boom. Whole new thing.

(To be fair, this is a lesson I get with some regularity. It's as though I can't process this appropriately, you know, ever, and so have to continually receive object lessons. This? Is not awesome. But whatever.)

So. As you can probably guess, things have changed in Yellieland. Again.


Remember last summer when things kept shifting and changing and I was all, holy shit, what the hell is happening to my life?

This summer, it's more like, holy shit. I am deliriously happy.

People: this is a thing.

Today, though, I am thinking about being happy in a new -- and kind of weird -- way. This has been in my head all day. (Confession alert: I am a total nerd. The next bit is only going to reinforce that, so ... yeah. You have been warned.)

It's like this: the 10th Doctor described time as being made of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey, erm, STUFF. Some days, the separation between the past and the present seems very thin to me. I mean, I don't have a TARDIS or anything (which I lament on a fairly regular basis) but it doesn't take much to realize that the space between who you are and who you've been is very, very thin.

And maybe -- if you're me -- you look through that thin veil of time and wish you could stretch out a hand to the woman you were and tell her that it's all going to be okay. Actually, it's going to be better than okay. It's going to be excellent in ways that she can't begin to imagine or comprehend and it's just around the corner, so hang on. Hang in there. You'll be better than all right.

Because I am.

When I was fighting through the BS, I hoped -- I think we all do -- that there is some truth to the notion that "It gets better" but I had no idea that getting better would mean that my entire life would turn around in ways that I could never possibly have considered, and that daily happiness  and love would be just around a corner, if I was only brave enough to look.

But there you have it.

Honestly, I wish I could go back in time. I wish I could look at myself from last year -- and seven years ago -- and say, this? All of this is worth it. Please, please don't despair.

I also wish I could say it to every other person who struggles: I know this sucks. I KNOW IT. But I also know that somewhere down the road? You're going to find you've been rewarded in ways you can't imagine.

Things change. They change in bad ways, but oh man -- oh my oh my -- they change in good ones too.

I promise.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

Over the past several years, I've made some mistakes. Despite what I believed at the time (which can only be described as "holy shit my world is ending"), I am not, in fact, the only person in the world who has made some terrible decisions that altered the path that she was following. I am also not the only person who has relied on her community -- the family and friends who love her -- in a time of crisis because that's what community is for. That's what communities do.

As for making choices that go horribly sideways, well. I have a friend who is fond of saying that when you know better, you do better. I believe this is true. I also believe this: until you screw up some, you can't know better. You have to learn, and you can't learn without some pain or struggle because without those, you have no cause to learn. Without a little trial, you are all theory and no application.  

To quote an old tv show, "you think you know, but you have no idea."

I have had some difficult times. It's true. It is also true that after going through those times, I had another choice that I would have to make (life, it seems, is filled with them): do I dare to keep trying and taking chances, or do I sit and let things pass me by in the fear that I will fuck up again?

It would be easy, I think, to be a spectator. To watch life and not participate, to decline to play and stand on the sidelines. Easy and safe. After all, I'm a born observer. It would be comfortable. 

It's harder to jump in -- to run, leap, cavort, to take risks and get bruises and navigate and move. More difficult, but also? More everything. 
It turns out that if my choice is watching or doing? I'm going to take the riskier path. I can't continue to learn and grow as a person if I don't. I'd rather lose one hundred times than never even bother to try, because even when you lose, you gain something -- a piece of wisdom, new strength, new resolve -- that you didn't have before. 

I think that's the reason we're all here. 

I've made some mistakes. I've had some of those mistakes thrown in my face lately as well, which is interesting because it suggests that I don't remember what happened and didn't choose to learn.

That notion is false. 

I carry those lessons with me. They are carved into my heart. I use those lessons to guide my decisions, which is an entirely different process than letting fear rule them. I won't live that way. If anyone thinks I should, well: I am going to disappoint you.

I will get up each and every time I get knocked down. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014


To the Class of 1994:

The thing about graduating from high school is that it is clearly an ending of one thing and the beginning of another. It's obvious, as you walk across the stage, shake the hand of some official or another, and accept your diploma that something has definitely ended, and something else has definitely begun... And that something -- we called it the future, because we lacked better terms -- was full of possibility. 



The thing I did not know then, as I walked across the stage (hoping against hope that I wouldn't trip and fall, I might add) was this: you don't need ceremony to start fresh. You don't need a piece of paper to grant you permission to unlock the door to what's next. The ritual is lovely, but the truth is that every moment gives you the opportunity for a fresh start.  Every second gives you the chance to choose who and what you will be. 

At eighteen, I felt locked in to one kind of path. Let me be clear: that path did not, in any way, suck. It was a good one.

I didn't ... Exactly ... Follow it. I took some detours. I changed lanes. 

For a really long time this made me feel like a failure. 

I realize now, though, that the failure would have been marching unquestioning down the road I had paved. Refusing to see that there were other options, that there was more than one definition of success, and that the truth is that the anything -- anything! -- is, in fact, possible would have been a denial of the dream that we held to the day we graduated: that the future -- all futures -- belonged to us.

They did.

They still do.

To my beloved, amazing, wonderful classmates: today is yours. Tomorrow is as well. You are -- we are -- still phenomenal. 

Let's do this.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Why I Love Towel Day

Today, May 25, is Towel Day. For those of you who are not sufficiently dorktastic, Towel Day exists as a celebration of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I love the Guide. 


Anyone who knows me knows that my relationship with my father has been... I'm going to use the word complicated. He wanted boys and found himself in a house filled with women. It happens. He didn't quite know what to do. That happens as well. 


He also -- blessed be -- belonged to a sci-fi/ fantasy book club. I learned to read early (before the age of three), and the things I best loved to read were delivered to our house each month. Dragons and wizards and magic, oh my!

So. There was that. 

When I was twelve or thirteen, my sister and I had the idea of cooking dinner for my parents. I do not remember what was for dinner, to be honest. I remember that I took on dessert, and that I made cream puffs (I mostly remember this because I do. Not. Bake. Why I thought this was a great idea remains a mystery). I also remember that after dinner my dad said, "Let's go for a ride."

This was an infrequent occurance. My sister and I were excited.

I can't remember where we ended up. Danvers? Burlington? Somewhere in Massachussetts. Our culinary efforts were rewarded with a prize of our choosing.

There was a bookstore.

I picked The More Than Complete Hitchhiker's Guide. 


As I type this, my prize sits in my bookshelf. If I ever doubt my relationship with my dad -- and it is complicated -- I pull out my book and hold it in my hands and remember a night when, even though I don't bake, I made cream puffs, and, even though he didn't always know how, he told me he loves me.

Happy Towel Day, y'all.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Curb Appeal

Over the weekend, I spent some time at a friend's house, hanging out with her dog and, um, binge-watching Curb Appeal because hello, John Gidding. 

As I watched, I started wondering about how the homeowners felt if and when they watched their episodes... And I realized that the prospect of being on television would make me second guess wanting to be on a show like that, with or without the enticement of being about to a) have an amazing makeover for my non-existent house and b) hang out with the fabulous Mr Gidding. 

Why is that, you ask?

Because I don't think I look good enough to be seen.

Typing that makes me feel incredibly stupid, but I feel like I need to repeat it: I don't think I'm worthy of being seen.

And that pisses me off. It makes me angry because I do not hide. I don't fail to walk down the street. I don't skulk about in the shadows; more, I don't advocate anyone doing that. Every person on this planet is beautiful, and all forms of beauty should be celebrated. Each and every one.

As such, the realization that I would possibly refuse if offered a chance at something wonderful but that, should I accept it, would mean I had to be visible? Infuriates me and, to be honest, makes me feel a little ashamed of myself. Not because I think I should be ashamed of my appearance -- I'm not -- but because I don't subscribe to a standard of beauty that never has and never will include me and yet would be reluctant to offer myself up as a counterpoint to that standard.

I should confess that, on some level, this whole debate is ridiculous. I don't have a yard. Curb Appeal will never be coming by my apartment, alas.

On another level, though, it forces me to think about whether or not I have refused things in the past because I didn't think I was deserving. How many opportunities did I allow to pass me by based on a ridiculous idea that I had to somehow become worthy before I could take a chance?

How many times have you done this in your life? More importantly, when do you decide not to do it any more?

I'm deciding right now. Some day, I could have a yard. Some day, John Gidding might show up and want to re-design it and build me a deck and drink margaritas on it. 

And if that happens? I will say yes. Yes to opportunities. Yes to being deserving and adventurous and visible. Yes, starting right this minute. 

It's never too late.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Changing Lenses

The older I get, the less time I want to spend focusing on things that suck. I don't think of this as denial, exactly, but regard it as an unwillingness to devote time and energy to the negative things in my life. They're there, and I see them there, but I refuse to dwell on them. It's rather like tuning out during commercials while watching your favorite television show; the ads are still present, and on some level, you recognize them, but they're not why you've got your tv on.

My decision -- and it is an active, conscious one -- to change my focus from what makes me unhappy to what makes me happy came from the realization that I know many people who choose to live in the bitter barn. They're not fun to be around, those people. They find the world, their jobs, their lives wanting. They swim in a pool filled with angry. 

It is true that I sometimes find the world, my job, and my self to be less than perfect. I beat myself up sometimes. I can be depressed and anxious and sad.

But I am not angry. And I will never give in to bitterness.

So while I can choose, when I can choose, I will choose to see and live in joy and beauty. When some people choose to see only the dark, I will search the sky out for shooting stars and lightening bugs and the glow of the moon -- all of which I love, and none of which would be visible without the dark to make them shine.

Because that's what shitty situations are for, I think. To make the things that are amazing stand out. To provide contrast, and to let you make the choice: what will you see? Where will you put your attention?

What will you remember?

This is on my mind now because as this summer approaches, I find myself thinking about last summer. Last summer was ... Difficult. 

Difficult, but beautiful. While I struggled -- and I did struggle -- I also found myself surrounded by friends and family who wanted nothing but the best for me, and who helped me find the best for myself. So if I'm thinking about last summer, what is the lesson? Is the lesson the struggle? Or is the lesson the love?

I think it's both. 

It's both, but the struggle highlights the love and makes it more amazing... and I want to make sure that I'm giving the amazing the attention and effort it deserves. I want to do that with my memories of last summer but also as I go through every day.

Things are sometimes going to suck, but they will also be awesome. That's life. That's how it works. As long as I get to pick which one of those things gets my attention? I'm picking awesome. Awesome deserves my time. 

It deserves yours, too.