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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dream Journal - Sad Elephants


I'm in my house in Coldwater. Mom is there. My niece Olivia is around. She's a baby, younger here than irl. She has a dirty diaper (poop dream! How exciting?) Mom is trying to sleep or something, and I tell her I can change the baby's diaper. She says I can't and that she'll do it. In my head I think about how I worked at a daycare for several months and changed a billion diapers a day and did she forget or is she just being shitty and patronizing?, but it's not like I really want to change her diaper so I don't argue.

We are expecting company; The Jacks*. I go to change out of pole clothes. I see Mike Jack and family pulling into the driveway. The house is structured differently than in real life, and they can see me changing through the window next to the front door. They laugh at me because I put something on inside out. I go to tell mom they're here, but they've gone. Mom said Mike wanted to watch a game (or something) and to meet them at a restaurant. I think this is weird and rude, but whatever. I'm looking forward to seeing them because it's been a long time.

We are driving. I think we're in Indiana. We drive past lots of cornfields, and we pass a small house on a corner that looks run-down, next to a large patch of land and cornfield. I see an elephant. A baby elephant. TWO baby elephants! I get very excited for a moment. Then I notice that they look very sad. I tell mom that they look sad. She just keeps driving. The elephants do not leave my mind.

At the restaurant, there is random chatter and catching up among mom and The Jacks. I cannot remember if Cody and Tiffany** are there, but I remember them being in the car in the driveway. I am researching on my phone how to report animal cruelty, and help the elephants. I ask Mike and Amy what the place is called/where it is. They said they've seen it before and that the owners of that property have a lot of exotic animals but no one's ever done anything about it. I get the address. 

Suddenly (or perhaps other things happened that I don't remember), we are in a house. I think it's mom's house, but not sure. It doesn't feel that familiar, but it smells like home. The furniture is large floral print and kind of ugly. There is wicker. It feels like we might be on a porch, but it is very dark. Mike and Amy are there. Oh! Mike can walk.* My brother, Brian, is there. Mom is there. Some random guy is there, and he is shady as fuck. He has some accent, probably Russian because that's pretty shady (sorry if that's un-PC of my subconscious). I know him to be the owner of the house with the sad elephants. I do not like him. He knows that I'm the one who called the authorities on him, and he's trying to make himself sound like a good person for saving the animals he was abusing.

He sees that I am not convinced, so tries to get me to feel bad for him, saying that losing these animals will ruin him financially and he has family and blah blah blah. He is really squinty, like Putin, but he's bigger and has longer hair. But he's also kind of handsome in a way that women are attracted to terrible men, plus he's wearing a suit. But I still hate him. I want him to shut up and leave. No, I want him to get arrested, but that's not going to happen. The animals were removed (I think), so that's fine. I hope he doesn't try to hurt me, is he connected to the Russian mob or something? He looks pretty mob-ish.
My brother Brian played a prank on him. I'm not sure how he did it, but he made this asshole shit himself, right on the ugly wicker floral print couch. Brian laughs forever, he has a very distinct laugh at it makes me happy to hear. We all quietly giggle. Russian mob animal abuser storms off, angry and embarrassed.

The end.

*The Jacks are family friends whom I've known since I was five. They are important, and sort of like a second set of parents to me. I don't see them often now.
**The Jack children. We grew up together, and I've known them longer than anyone I really know now. Cody is my age, Tiffany a little younger. They're both married or partnered, Cody has kids. I never see them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

the impermanence of everything

how dare you leave me:

spring time


the lyrics to that song in my memory
the feeling that I get when I make my way home.

everything a reminder of everything lost;
everything to be lost-




but just like all that ever existed,
or ever will exist,




will fade away.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sometimes Things Are Not Okay

Sometimes things are not okay, and that's okay. Sometimes things are not okay for no particular reason, or at least any reason that someone who's not in your head would understand, and that's okay, too.

Sometimes you realize things. Sometimes you realize a lot of things, important things, in a short amount of time, and sometimes those realizations change you. Sometimes those realizations tell you that you have a lot of work to do if you're ever going to enjoy your own life, and that's okay. It's worth it to do the work, even if people don't understand. Even if people don't care.

Sometimes people won't care. That's okay. People only have the capacity to care for so many things at once, and even if you're really important to them sometimes, but not right now (or maybe not ever again), even though you think you need them more than ever, but they can't be there for whatever reason, that's okay. You will get through it. You will get through it with or without them, because what other choice do you have? You either trudge through the shit or you stay stuck in the shit.

You don't like being in the shit. So you move through it. You're the only one who can do that and yeah, maybe it would be nice to have someone walking through the shit next to you. Someone you can talk to about all the shit you're both walking through, or who can distract you from the fact that you are walking through all this shit in the first place. It'd be a nice bonus - a candle on the shit cake, if you will. But you don't need it. You can walk through it alone. That's okay.

Sometimes you might feel shame. People feel shame about all sorts of things. You might feel shame about something you said or did, or for something you didn't do but think you should have. You might even feel shame just for being who you are, or for being the way you think you are because that's what people have told you you are. That's an unpleasant feeling to carry, but it's okay that you feel that way. You are okay for feeling that way.

Shame is a feeling everyone experiences and not a lot of people talk about but it's always there, and it sends people into really dark places because we don't acknowledge it.  But once we acknowledge it and share it, we can start to crawl out of the dark places together. This is an actual science fact.
You can acknowledge and share your own shame and feel better, but you can't make anyone else share with you. They have to come to that place on their own, and maybe they never will. It doesn't mean you're not worthy of trust. You're okay and so are they.

It's okay to feel like no one understands you sometimes. Because really, no one does. No one else is in your head, and that's the way it's supposed to be. It's okay to feel like you don't really know anyone, or like you don't really know yourself. Most people don't understand themselves and that's why they do stupid shit, like lash out at others or hate or avoid or deny. Maybe you won't do as much stupid shit after this time in your life. But you'll still always do some stupid shit and that's okay. Everyone does. It doesn't make you stupid as a person.

It's okay to take time to get to know the real you; the person you want to be instead of the person everyone expects you to be, or the person you've been told you are. You can choose who to be. You can be proud of that person. You can enjoy being that person.

It's okay to be angry at the people you love. They've done stupid shit too, probably because they didn't understand themselves very well. It doesn't help anyone to dwell on the anger, and yeah, forgiveness is hard. But you can do it and you will do it, because you're doing what's best for you right now.

It's okay to change. It's okay to change in big ways, really fast. It's okay to want more out of life and out of your relationships when what you've been getting hasn't been enough. Just don't try to change everything at once, because change is overwhelming to the psyche and you're probably already exhausted just from writing this. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

On Diets and Body Shaming

This post originally appeared as a guest post on Kristie Was Here.
Everyone is different in the grand scheme of the Universe. It’s science. We’re all born with different DNA (fine, unless you happen to have an identical twin. #science) and with that comes different personalities, experiences, and ways of interpreting the world around us.
But there’s one thing we all have in common in Western civilization. We’ve all been exposed to Diet Culture. We’ve been raised with the idea that if we don’t look a certain way, our bodies are wrong and we aren’t allowed to be happy until we fix them. Pre-teen girls commonly think of themselves as “fat” and admit to trying to change their eating habits in order to lose weight. 
Think about that for a minute. Our little girls are taught from day one that their bodies are something to be loathed. How can they ever feel comfortable in their own skin? Comfortable enough to play sports, to stand up for themselves or others, to believe in their voices, to try to create change? They can’t. So, many times, they don’t. 
Just because you’ve been told something your entire life doesn’t make it true. 
Here’s the thing: Hating your body helps no one but the people who want your money or the assholes who want to bring you down. 
People who are told to hate themselves do not treat themselves very well. It makes sense, right? If you hate your body for any reason, how likely are you to nourish yourself in a way that makes you feel your best, or exercise to feel good? You’re exercising or eating to punish yourself for being in a body that you don’t believe is good enough. Body shaming, whether it comes from you or others, just makes you feel worse. There’s no justification for it. So, here’s my advice: do yourself a favor, stick it to The Man, and cut that shit out! 
I know that’s blunt. And I know it’s not easy. These messages aren’t just something you turn off after a lifetime of them being drilled into your brain. You’re going to get upset sometimes when that cute dress on sale only has sizes left in extra small, or whatever doesn't fit your perfectly lovely bod. It happens to even the most fierce body love warriors out there. I’m not expecting change overnight. 
But I want to challenge you to try to look in the mirror and dare not to think of your body as a "work in progress." Love it for what it is right now: a 100% unique, complex gift from Nature or God or The Flying Spaghetti Monster; whatever belief system is your jam. Get to know your body instead of fighting it. Eat food and see how it makes you feel. Exercise and see how it improves your mood. Do and eat things you like. Yeah, spinach is good for you, but if it makes you want to gag when you think about eating it, why put yourself through that kind of torture? Life is too short, gorgeous.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Thanks for the Waffles*, Pawnee (*and by Waffles I Mean Wisdom)

Unless you live under a terrible rock, you probably know that the Parks and Recreation series finale was this week. 

One of the most beautiful things about this show, and a true indicator of the creative talent involved, is its subtlety. Parks and Rec was always about something, but it didn't throw it in your face. It was layered beneath the brilliant jokes, the sly social commentary, and the slow yet steady development of its characters. And then suddenly you were like, "Oh, shit. I feel something." Those sneaky bastards.

Once this show found its voice after a rocky first season, it had oh-so-much to say. It had things to say that I think are pretty groundbreaking. I truly believe the world would be a better place if it were a little more like Pawnee, Indiana. Here's why:

1. Different people can work together and make progress. Ron Swanson: Government Employee. Libertarian. Lover of meat and woodworking.  Even though Parks and Rec often hilariously and flawlessly mocks American politics and movements, I don't believe Ron Swanson was really meant to be satire. Actual conservatives loved him and no one is laughing that they're not getting the joke. So... how did he and bleeding-heart optimist Leslie become such good friends (and then enemies. And then friends again [spoiler alert])? WELL. They acted like adults, aka the polar opposite of our actual public servants and lawmakers, that's how. And they got shit done. My mind just literally exploded at the thought of that happening in real life. I am now dead.

2. Women are people. Women (especially women of color) are inexcusably underrepresented in Hollywood. When they are represented, they tend to be portrayed as stereotypes without any real personalities of their own. An alarming number of popular movies and TV shows fail to pass the almost comically low standards of the Bechdel Test. The women in Parks, though, exhibit authority, have fleshed-out characters that don't ascribe to stereotypes, and everyone in the world of Pawnee, most notably the men in their lives, have zero problem with this. None of them are sidekicks. None of them want to compete with each other. None of their lives revolve around finding a man or getting married. It's almost like women are complex humans and can actually be portrayed as such on popular entertainment.

3. Leslie owns her awesomeness. A lot of "strong female characters," and women in general, tend to define themselves by their flaws for various reasons: comedic relief, to relate to others, to avoid being criticized. Leslie does not. Leslie had flaws, of course, and they were often exhausting for her friends and family. But she was unapologetically confident in her abilities as a public servant and her absolute certainty in her bright future. Leslie made the city of Pawnee angry. In the real world, Leslie's refusal to play down her passion, her drive, and her confidence are what get women labeled as "bossy," "bitchy." and whatever new horrible names the Internet likes to make up when it feels threatened. The real world is terrified of confident women like Leslie. But we all love it when women view themselves as loserly frauds who don't really believe they can ever do any good, that their success is just a facade. They feel the need remind people that "Don't worry, I'm not too awesome. You don't have to be intimidated!" Well Leslie says "fuck that," (implicitly, this is network TV) and, by extension, has given every other woman permission to do the same. Women are allowed to own their talent, drive, passion, and contributions without a disclaimer.  But it is important to remember that you might be recalled. Even in Pawnee, people are threatened by just about everything.

4. Friendship is most important. Parks and Rec is about relationships. ("Find your team." Excuse me while I sob forever.) Pretty much every main character started out begrudgingly tolerating Leslie's admirable - though at times overbearing - commitment to her friendships. But they eventually opened themselves to her and others - even though that's a really hard thing to do - and were always better for it. The characters may fight, question each other's life choices, or pretend not to care, but they ultimately support each other through some rough, real life shit: losing a job, getting married, moving to another state, having kids, starting new businesses, running for office. Leslie made up a freakin' holiday to celebrate her lady friends! She's a friendship maverick and if everyone tried to match her love for her friends - well, we'd all have a lot more throw pillows with our faces stitched onto them, which is never a bad thing... right?

On Tuesday night, I spent the evening watching the series finale with my friend family, eating bacon and waffles, and celebrating the beautiful ending to a show that means a lot to all of us. Watching the beloved cast of Parks and Rec saying goodbye and leaving Pawnee made me reflect on the changes in our lives - over the past few years and those in our future - and it made me feel a little better. Change is scary. I suck at it. Even losing a favorite show makes me feel a little empty. But if Leslie Knope is ready, so am I.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Emotions (Abridged) 2

This week, I felt_______because...

SENTIMENTAL: My mom is in the process of moving from the house I lived in throughout middle/high school. Though haven't technically lived there for almost 9 years since I moved away to college, this impending change still has me kinda bummed. I know my heavy emotions are mostly about my late father, not the house or the town, but it will be strange to no longer return to such familiar places on a regular basis. Despite the sadness, I have kind of enjoyed going through all my old shit and reminiscing the awkward days of yore. You know, as opposed to the awkward days of now. 


SCHMEXHAUSTED: This is a new word I invented to describe my unprecedented levels of sleepiness. I've never exactly been a morning person, but this week my body discovered a fun, new way to remind me that I am definitely in my late 20s, going on 60. Back in the day, I could easily run on 6-7 hours of sleep. But this week it seemed that unless I got 9 hours or more, I could not function without turning into a cranky toddler in need of a nappie wappie. It literally hit me just this week. So, I guess life is different now. The aging process is a controlling bitch. 

Not yore.

PREPARED: Well, preparing. I've been feeling lost in the wilderness of freelance writing and questioning every single action I take in the course of my work week. It's getting better, but I need to crush this week. I actually have a vision and a plan, and I almost kind of feel like I could maybe possibly in the near future know what the fuck I'm doing ever. So, progress! 

FOX / pandawhale

Read my previous Emotions (Abridged) post here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Don't Should All Over Yourself

In DBT this past summer, one of the helpful quips often used during sessions was, “Don’t should all over yourself.”

You may have heard this phrase before. It isn’t new, though it was new to me at the time and kinda blew my mind. Just to clarify if you don’t follow or English isn’t your first language or whatever, this is called a “pun.” A pun is a form of wordplay that suggests two or more meanings of similar-sounding words for an intended humorous effect. In this case, “should” sounds a lot like “shit” when spoken in the context of the sentence. Don’t should or shit all over yourself. Both are bad. JUST SO WE’RE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE.

Literally everyone does this. I’ve noticed it a lot more with women. We’re taught from a young age to always be nice, obedient, accommodating, to follow rules. I think that leads to a lot of profoundly dangerous long-term effects, but that’s another rant for another day.

So, what might shoulding yourself lead to? I've seen it lead to being involved in projects you don’t care about or don’t have time for because you feel like you “should.” People stay in jobs they hate for years because they “should” be responsible. They go to colleges they don’t want to go to. They major in things they don’t care about. They stay in marriages or friendships that aren't fulfilling. They have children because society tells them they “should.” They live lives of unnecessary misery because they heard somewhere that this is what you “should” do and if you don’t do it you’re wrong.

I'm guilty of this as much as anyone, and I really think it’s about time we all fucking stop. Everyone has only one measly little life, and we’re here for a tiny fraction of a blip of time in the grand scheme of the Universe. Don’t spend it shoulding all over yourself! It’s pointless and it’s gross. Do what you want. You know, unless what you want is to stab kittens or something. Then do not do that and please seek help immediately. (Contact me for a list a reputable therapists in the west Michigan area)

I’m not saying you need to dismiss all responsibility and live on the fringes of society. There are some things you actually have to do, like, in order to not die or get arrested. Do those, please. Everyone has little things they should be doing but they choose to do other stuff instead. On a micro level, maybe you should be doing your taxes instead of marathoning Bob’s Burgers on Netflix. That’s not what I'm talking about. That’s procrastination and it is a real bummer, I know. Unfortunately it’s also - at least partially - human nature (though you can fight it! I believe in you!).

But the word “should” when applied to a human life is a myth. It implies that there is one right way to do an existence, and that’s just not fucking true. This deprivation of an enjoyable life because you feel like you owe it to society, to your parents, to whomever, that you do your life the way you were taught to do it… that’s not nature. That’s nurture. That’s society. That’s brainwashing. And it must be stopped. Or at the very least, given a giant F U.