Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ordinary People

Lately, I've heard a lot of complaining about relationships -- with partners, friends, family, whatever.  The things they do. The things they don't do. The things people wished they would do. The things that they wished they would just stop doing.

And I wonder: are you telling the people in your life these things? Because you can certainly tell me -- I'm here to listen -- but if you're not telling the person you're unhappy with? You're never going to get any closer to happy with her/him.

The problem with relationships is that there are people involved. Ordinary, regular, messed up folk who aren't perfect. Here's a bit of information that most of us don't consider in great detail when we're going on about our family's/partner's/friend's faults:

We're not perfect either.

No one is, as it turns out.

So what happens when two perfectly imperfect people's lives collide? Lots of good things, you hope. Some annoying ones. Generally, when discussing relationships, people take what I like to call a "reverse photoshop" approach -- instead of smoothing out what frustrates/annoys/angers them, they zoom right in on those spots and make them gigantic and glaring and the good stuff blurs into the background.

Look, I'm not an expert on anything, but I know a couple of things. Here's what I know:

*You have to ask for what you want. ALL OF THE THINGS. If you're not getting what you need out of a relationship, you need to ask for it. No one is a mind reader.

*You have to be willing to compromise. There are a bajillion ways of being and doing in this old world, and your way is not the only way. Case in point: I know someone who is frustrated because her girlfriend doesn't take the trash out. Ever.

"Did you ask her?"

"She should just KNOW," said my friend.

"But have you ASKED her?"

"No. Because when she does it, she does it wrong."

All I could think was: you've trained her not to empty the trash by not asking for the help you want -- AND for telling her that the way she does it is wrong. She can't win, so she's not going to try, unless you decide that you can be okay with her "incorrect" garbage removal. (Also, I don't know what it means to take the trash out in the wrong way. I wasn't ready for that particular rabbit hole!)

*You have to decide what's really important.

This might be the hardest thing for people. It's the hardest one for me, at any rate. What can you not live with/ not live without? What is not forgivable?

Compromise comes into play here, as well because sometimes, relationships don't look like we thought we wanted them to; that doesn't make them wrong. It just makes them different from what we were expecting. Again, you're imperfectly dealing with another imperfect person. The way they express their caring and love for you might not be exactly the same as the way that you express yourself -- and that can be okay if you can let it be. For example, some people don't do words so much, but they will perform all of the actions. Some people are gift givers and some are not, but they will give you their time and lend you a hand all day long.

Look, I'm not suggesting -- and never will suggest -- that you tolerate a terrible relationship of any kind. Sometimes you have to end relationships/ friendships/ whatever because they don't meet any of your needs, or because they're toxic. We all have that experience.

But I do think we could look at how we conduct ourselves within the framework of relationships. Are we accepting of the people in our lives? Do we communicate with them? Do we appreciate the wonderful things they do? Are we willing to meet them where they are? Are they willing to do the same for you?

We're all just regular, ordinary, imperfect people. If we all start out by embracing that? Maybe we could make everything better.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


My gastrointestinal system and I have a long history of having vastly different goals. I think we should work towards things like "function" and "digestion" and "happiness" but it tends toward "pain" and "stabbyness" and "noncompliance."

As a result, I have been poked, prodded, probed, pushed, photographed, pricked, scanned, surveyed, and studied. If you have never had issues with your digestive system, you probably don't appreciate how very, very lucky you are because, let me tell you, NONE -- and I mean NONE -- of the tests for said system are awesome. They are all:

a) slightly ouchy
c) did I mention the ouchy and gross?

At any rate, usually an issue would be found, and a solution would be determined, and then I would feel better for a while, and then ... not so much. So tests, medicine, blah blah blah, better and then ... not so much. As a result, I can tell you which antacids work the best and which ones taste the best(Tums Smoothies, by the way. Not chalky, not gross, really effective) and which liquid treatments are acceptable (Pepto -- Will stain your countertops pink. Tastes like Canadian Mints. Gaviscon -- horrible to consume as it's got the consistency, taste, and smell of really thick toothpaste, but works like a dream for a few hours at a time) and which foods are likely to make me sick when I'm on a heartburny roll (all of them).

I did manage to have a long period where things were good. This lulled me into a (COMPLETELY FALSE) sense of security. One that was filled with spicy, acidic, delicious foods and lots and lots of coffee and Diet Coke.

And then ... about six months ago, the acid reflux gods decided that it was time to step up their game. By TRYING TO KILL ME.

While you might think to yourself, cool it with the hyperbole, Yellie, I'm not exaggerating very much when I say that I felt like I was going to die. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I was in so much pain that I wondered if going to the emergency room for what is essentially just really aggressive heartburn would make me a complete loser (and then remembered that I don't have insurance right now anyway, so that wasn't even a real option).

After two weeks of constant pain and no sleep, I finally crashed hard. I was sick, I was tired, and I had nothing left. Fine, stupid stomach acids. You win. I loaded up on omeprazole, gaviscon, and tums and finally -- after what seemed like forever -- was able to have it subside enough for me to at least get some sleep. For the next week, I ate very very bland food -- cottage cheese, brown rice, toast -- in an effort to level my system out while the omeprazole did its work. Of course, this lead to a three day caffeine withdrawal headache because I had to cut out my beloved Diet Coke, but it had to be done.

(Signs of a Diet Coke addiction, by the way: when you miss Diet Coke so badly that you DREAM about drinking it. And oh man, did it taste delicious in that dream.)

I have been heartburn free for a week. Every time I eat something, I get nervous -- is this going to be the thing that puts me back in the hole? Is this going to be what sets me back?

So far so good. And -- this may be optimistic, but I think I'm on the right track here. I think I'm going to get past this.

I can feel it in my gut.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Reality Bites

Yesterday, I turned forty.

It looks weird when I write it: I turned forty. Four times ten. Four zero. Forty. An age that applied to people who were grown-ups now applies to me.

It feels a little weird. Not bad, not depressing, just odd. It's like new shoes. They're not exactly broken in, so they're not comfortable, but they don't hurt. I'm not getting blisters or anything over here.

I'm just forty.

Here's the thing that struck me yesterday, about the time The Fella and I were about to order adult milkshakes (ice cream and booze for the win, y'all) for dessert at my birthday lunch and I was debating -- should I? Shouldn't I? There are so many reasons to pass on this, but they look so yummy and it's my birthday -- when it hit me: this is all there is.

This? Right here? This is your life.

Which isn't to say that an adult milkshake is my life -- it's not -- but is to say that it was suddenly very clear to me that these moments are not practice for something else. This moment -- right now -- is your life. Whatever you're waiting for? Stop waiting. Whatever you're wanting to chase after? Get running. This is your moment.

Needless to say, I ordered the milkshake. Let me tell you, it was fabulous.

Forty will be, too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas Y'all

I'm going to take a little holiday break and resume posting next week. After I turn FORTY. WHICH IS INSANE AAAAGGGGHHHHH.

I hope that your holidays are wonderful.

Much love from me to you,


Monday, December 21, 2015

Mi Familia

Everyone has at least two families. You have at least a couple of the below:

1) the family you are born into

2) the family that chooses you

3) the step family

4) the ex family

5) the family you make

6) the family you choose

Family can be complicated. It can shift on you. You might find yourself more drawn to one type of family than the other. It happens. 

At the holidays, it's easy to fixate on family-- how you think it should be. What you miss. Who you miss. Who you are mad at. The person who's politics make you want to fling the Christmas goose at them. How things are. How they used to be. How you think they should be.

But the holidays? Are about love. So think about this:

Sometimes love means looking at the past, acknowledging it, and moving forward. 

Sometime love means looking at the present and reaching out not just with your hands? But with your heart. 

Sometimes you need to remember that what is gone was beautiful, but there's a whole lot of beauty still here. Don't miss it. Look around you.

To all of my family -- near, far, biological, chosen, step, and yes, even ex: I hope your holidays are magical. I hope you are able to offer a warm heart to those who travel along your path. I hope you can accept hearts offered to you with warmth and sincerity.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Randoms


"Sometimes it looks like the grass is greener, but then you remember that it's just a trick of the light."


"Baby, It's Cold Outside is the rapey-est Christmas song ever."

"For real. It's practically a police report."


"The cat would NOT get off of me. Every time I moved her off me, she came right back."


"She was like a tiny, purring, fuzzy boomerang."


"And then in the fourth quarter, the Pats ... wait. You're not listening. Are you listening?"

"I'm listening, I'm just not understanding. Or caring. But I am 100% listening."


"I hate carrots." (Bites carrot, immediate starts choking on carrot shrapnel.)

"Interesting. They seem to hate you right back. And they have murderous intentions!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Baby Steps

Someone older than me -- my mom's age -- said to me: "I wouldn't want to bring children into today's world." I didn't know how to respond, so I just made an affirmative noise.

The thing is, though, that she has children. So technically? She did bring children into today's world because it is now and she has children who live here. 

The other thing is that her statement implies such a loss of hope, as though the world is terrible and nothing can be done, and children -- her own, her grandchildren, children everywhere -- will simply suffer through life.

I don't believe that. I can't.

I believe that, in spite of everything, people are mostly good.

I believe our love for each other can be so much stronger than our hatred and fear.

I believe that if you dare to act for good, you can change the world, one person at a time.

And I believe that today's children could be as blessed as yesterday's if we are only willing to use our energy on their behalf. We could change their present to something more beautiful and make their future amazing.

We just have to be willing to try.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Salad Days

My dad doesn't cook a lot. He makes my favorite comfort food ever (which contains roughly a metric ton of butter and cheese, which is why it's delicious). He grills a fine steak.

And he also makes salad.

Sort of.

He makes one particular KIND of salad, and he mostly only makes it on Christmas. We call it antipasto salad because it basically has all of the antipasto elements -- cheese, meat, salty olives, spicy peppers, and delicious delicious nibbles of goodness -- but it's a SALAD.

Actually, it's not JUST a salad. When my dad constructs this salad it takes forever because it is a work of art. (It also takes forever because inevitably people are hanging around him like hungry wildebeasts, waiting for him to look the other way so we can steal pieces of meat and cheese out from under him and nom them before he has a chance to say anything. We're classy.) This salad has structure and arrangement and gloriousness on its side. It's worth the time it takes.

Unfortunately for me, my dad and his salad skills live in North Carolina. Last year when The Fella and I went for Christmas, I ate as much of the delicious salad as I could to hold me over until my next visit.

But. I don't have the holiday spirit like I normally do this year. I'm not feeling the holidays as much as normal. I need me some holly jolly holiday salady goodness.

My dad sent me the ingredients list and -- this is the best part -- the instructions for putting together the architectural wonder that is the antipasto salad.

Sometimes, you need a hug to make you feel better when you're down.

Other times? You need salad.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Maybe We Could Try...

Embracing people of different cultures instead of rejecting them.

Practicing the teachings of our wise people instead of using them as a defense mechanism.

Offering prayers and hope for those who have lost their way instead of dismissing them as disgusting scum.

Acting instead of complaining.

Having hope. 

Using words rather than weapons.

Loving each other as one large human family.

Supporting those who struggle instead of deciding they deserve to struggle.

Reaching out instead of withdrawing.

Actually being the change we want to see in the world, rather than putting a bumper sticker that say that on our cars.

Valuing each other.

Seeing people as people.

Embodying grace.

Remembering the past and its lessons and not repeating those mistakes.

Ignoring the loudest and most inflammatory voices, who speak only to shock and offend.

Standing up for what's right instead of deciding that it's not our responsibility.

Realizing that all lives matter just as much as ours, and acting accordingly.

Leading with love.


Maybe we could try leading with love. 

Friday, December 11, 2015


I just read this and it tore my heart open in all of the best ways.

And then I read the comments. Which, by the way, I KNOW is a terrible idea but sometimes I can't help myself. I chant "don't feed the trolls, don't feed the trolls" as I scroll down and then immediately find myself in an abyss of depression and rage because I want to believe that everyone is awesome and I'm capable of sustaining that belief until I witness the ugliness that some of us spout online.

This isn't entirely about that, though.

This is more about the fact that at least one commenter (maybe more, I had to cut myself off from comments) had less to say about the message of the piece and more to say about the writer's language. As though in a world where we gun each other down on the regular the word "fuck" is the most offensive thing you could see.


I could relate to this because I've received this message from a reader or two -- they liked what I had to say, but were offended by my vocabulary choices.  I can only say the following in response:

1) I tend to write in the same way that I speak and

2) I actually curse less in my writing, because I am a potty mouthed bitch from back in the day.

Does the profanity take away from the message? I don't know. Here's what I do know: I don't use it to shock or inflame. I use it because that is, for better or worse, the way that I speak, and I want the message I am trying to convey to be as real as possible; if my intent is to connect than I need to be as authentic as one can be in a depersonalized online setting.

So I use curse words sometimes, and maybe they bother you (sorry, Mum) and maybe they don't, but that's who I am and honestly, if the thing that is your takeaway from reading what I linked, or reading anything I write, is curse words?

You are focusing on the wrong part of the story.

And also? Sorry, not sorry.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sometimes the Answer Is No

I was recently approached by a friend who had burned all of her bridges with me.

Actually, that's not entirely true.

I was recently approached by a friend who had doused all of her bridges with gasoline, threw grenades at them, laughed while they burned, scooped up the ashes, and then tap-danced on them.

It was ... harsh. Harsh and life-changing and slightly damaging. I learned a lot from it, but it was a slow lesson and a significantly difficult one. Still, I got through it and to somewhere else.

And then, suddenly, there she was.

Asking if we could be friends again.

The request startled me not a little. I mean -- bridges, flame, smoke, burning? Was I the only one who remembered that?

I started to ask how she thought she'd changed in the years between then and now.

I thought, maybe the right thing to do is to say, it's okay, we can be friends again.

Then I thought, no.

I don't wish her ill. I wish her all of the best. I hope her life is better and that she is on a well-lit path, surrounded by people who love her. I want that for her.

But I can't be one of those people. It wouldn't be good for her and it wouldn't be good for me. I would always be waiting for her to strike a match and set the whole thing ablaze again, and there's nothing fair about that for either of us.

It was brave of her to ask, and I think that, maybe, it was brave for me to say no. I like to make people happy and I hate to hurt anyone's feelings, so it would have been easy to say yes. Easy, but dishonest because we won't be friends again.

Not being friends doesn't mean being enemies, though. So I did -- and do -- send positive thoughts her way. I really do hope everything works out for her.

Sometimes you can rebuild a bridge. When you can? You should try.

Sometimes you can't, and you need to honor that as well.

Sometimes the answer is no.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Story Of My Life

Life is tricksy. You think you know where you're going. You make a plan. And then -- whoosh! Something happens. Maybe you get sick. Maybe you lose a loved one. Maybe you have a child. You change jobs. You move someplace you never imagined living. Someone chooses to exit your life, unexpectedly. Someone chooses to become part of your life, equally unexpectedly.

Things change.

Y'all, they're supposed to.

If life wasn't all twisty and turny, it would be like... A bank loan. And all apologies to my banking friends, but you do not want your life to be a series of planned steps and legal jargon and set terms and conditions. Sure, that might be safe? But it's lacking in surprise, whimsy, and the chance to see who you are and what kinds of courage you possess. (I originally wrote "what kind of courage you possess" but you? Are not limited to one kind of courage. You own all kinds of courage and my friend? They all shine.)

I'm thinking about this now because it's the holidays, and I've been invited to a couple of gatherings where I know -- without a doubt -- that there will be questions and judgements about the course my life has taken, and about where I am now. You might be looking at that, too. This time of year seems to invite that.

What I am doing -- and what I hope you can do, too -- is putting down any residual judgement I was still carrying with me about my path. To be inelegant, fuck that noise. I will not and do not feel badly about where I am or how I got here. I'm on this earth like we all are, being perfectly imperfect, as human as hell, and learning as I go.

Because I choose to value my journey, I choose not to value the opinion of anyone who fails to respect it.

I hope you do too. My holiday wish for you is that you stand where you are, feeling your worth, loving your life no matter where it is, and holding tightly to that knowledge that you are fabulous, whether or not anyone else gets it.

It's your story.

It's your life.

Give them hell, y'all.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Common Courtesy

I know that not everyone agrees with me all of the time. I don't understand it -- I'm so reasonable and, you know, RIGHT -- but I get it. When I'm all "ranty angsty agggghhhhh you're wrong I'm right I need to vennnnt"I come here and get it out.

This, you see, is a reasonable place for that kind of discourse. If you come here and disagree with me, you can do so and we can have a conversation in a space that I feel is safer and less fraught than face to face angry shoutyness.

Plus -- and this is the point of this -- I'm okay with the fact that people have dissenting opinions? And I want to be respectful of those around me, who's opinions I might not be aware of. You see, my momma raised me right, and one of the things she was very insistent on was that you need to be polite and courteous, and one of the things that is the opposite of those is telling someone you don't know very well that you think they're stupid.

To their face.

Which may or may not have happened to me today when I politely and quietly disagreed with a blowhard who was going off about the President (who I admire) and a couple of candidates (who I support) and a particular religious group AND the sanctity of Christmas.

Y'all, I bit my tongue. I BIT THROUGH MY TONGUE. And then there could be no more biting and I had to say something, though it hurt because my tongue was bleeding.

And the something I said was this: "I think you are being unkind. I support your right to have your beliefs, though I do not share them, but you are presenting them in a way that doesn't allow for thoughtful debate, and you are presenting them in an environment that has clearly defined power lines so that some people don't feel empowered to stand up to you. Perhaps, if you'd like to continue this conversation, it could be taken off site? Because this is not the time or the place."

This is not what I wanted to say.

What I wanted to say was: DON'T BE A DICK. STOP BEING SUCH A DICK.

But my momma raised me right.



Friday, December 4, 2015

Finally Friday

Someone mentioned to me yesterday that Thanksgiving was just last week and I was startled, because it already seems like it was ages ago.

It's been a long week and I'm tired, so this weekend is sorely needed.

I hope that whatever you are doing, out there, you have the time you need to recharge and renew your energies!