another banner year, a splendid day

Awesome things that are happening today:

  1. I am not completely achey from helping friend Alicyn move into her new apartment, a nearly twelve-hour experience that was a load of fun but a very, very sweaty enterprise.
  2. Man Utd beat Fulham 3 to 2 yesterday. There was much rejoicing in my apartment this morning.
  3. It’s raining.
  4. I’m having a quiet morning of black coffee and soft music, just me and Lemansky. It’s the little things.
  5. I am actually enjoying the experience of having a crush on someone. I think it helps that the person I’m crushing on isn’t going through a massive family tragedy or a divorce and seems to be returning my crushy sentiments.

It’s been a tough year and I’ve been going through a lot of stuff in my head, which is never pleasant. But it helps to have quiet Sunday mornings where you can just sit and write a little and send someone flirty texts. And it helps to write all of the good stuff down and remind yourself that you’re going to get through the bad stuff, just like you always have.

As Jenny Lawson says, depression is a lying bastard. I’m just glad I’m remembering that this morning.

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spinning away any piece that remains

Not to sound too much like Sylvia Plath, but I’ve spent a lot of my life being sad.  I had a tough childhood that led into a tough adolescence and a few rather hellish years at college before a disappointing start to adulthood.  It’s only been in the past year (actually less) that I’ve felt like I’ve finally gotten a hold of this whole Life thing and have started making some real headway in being an actually happy person.  I’ve had some bad days and some rough times the past year, but I find myself going to bed thinking that I’m an okay kind of gal.  Honestly, it’s a really remarkable thing.  But the balance between being happy with myself and my life and the cavern of crushing depression can still teeter-totter and there are days where I feel myself on the brink of falling into that chasm.

The past week has definitely been some of those days.

I think the hardest part about losing someone you’re close to is the fact that it disrupts parts of your life that you didn’t think they were a part of.  For me, people I love and care about permeate almost every aspect of my life in ways I don’t even notice when they’re happening.  Nutella takes me back to my 8th Grade trip to Austria.  I occasionally quote Strong Bad because I picked up a lot of my ex-girlfriend’s habits while we were dating.  Striped socks = Paiga.  Armani di Gio cologne = Erik.  They’re little things that you never think about until they show up and bury you in nostalgia.  The people we love(d) never really leave us.  It’s wonderful and sad, all at the same time.

I go to Trader Joe’s because he took me there.  I can’t play Settler’s anymore because it’s his favourite game.

I woke up this morning in a weird mood.  I had a good dream — a dream without him in it — for the first time in a week, probably more.  I had a nice dream.  I went to the fair.  I had an adventure.  I was with someone else.  I woke up happy.  I got to work early and found myself buying fancy coffee and I thought, ‘I’m okay.  I feel really okay.  Today is going to be a nice day.’

And it is a nice day.  Even with the screaming Cubs fans in the background.

I’m eating again.  I’m joking again.  I don’t feel bitter.  It’s alarming somehow. 

And of course I miss him.  I miss everything about him.  But he’s not giving me the time of day.  He takes days to respond to any communication I send him.  He hasn’t told his family.  He hasn’t told any of our friends.  At this juncture — so far as I can tell — he doesn’t care about me in any sense of the word.  But that’s okay.  I don’t need him to.  And that realisation is terrifying and beyond wonderful.

it’s my world/it’s not ours anymore

let’s get drunk and talk about periods

So here’s something about me that you never thought you’d know.

I haven’t had a real, honest-to-goodness period in about two years. This isn’t due to any abnormality or constant reproduction or anything like that, so don’t panic. I was put on a birth control pill that my body responded to very well and it allowed that part of the menstrual cycle to be cut out of my life. It just happened. I got used to it.

This past fall, however, my prescription price more than doubled. It’s caused a huge strain on my wallet and I can’t justify paying so much on a medication when there are other options available to me. Let’s face it: there’s a plethora of birth control options out there. So when I saw my lady doctor about a month ago, I told her about my problem (she was not aware that the pricing had changed; their rep. hadn’t thought to share that little bit of information) and she gave me a generic prescription instead.

I am now in the process of having my first period in two years.

Now, I’m not going to get into the gory details of menstruation. This isn’t a post like that. I think everyone here has a basic understanding of the process. I will say that I have been in pretty consistent pain since at least Sunday and it’s a little overwhelming. But this is making me think, as many things do.

Looking back on my life, I’m realizing that the process of becoming a woman (or womyn, if you prefer) has been an unpleasant one for many reasons. I remember feeling sore throughout the early stages of puberty when my body was ‘filling out’, as my mother so daintily put it. There was my parents’ constant squashing of my sexual awakening at the same time that so many outside forces were beginning to sexualize me. There were the too-small bras, the hair pulling, the menstrual cramps, the doctors’ probing questions, the massive ovarian cyst of one high school summer. And now, looking toward the future, I have childbirth to consider, menopause, and, of course, the seeming never-ending cat-calls and eye-fucks and fear.

I know this gets said a lot, but being a lady kind of sucks.

At the same time, I find myself fiercely proud of my body and of the women I know who have made it to this point: the point of being a woman. Every girl I know has had a day where she stabbed herself in the eye while putting on eyeliner. Every girl I know has had her hair yanked or pulled out while someone was trying to primp her so that she Looked Pretty. Every girl has had cramps and mishaps and razor burn and awkward parental experiences while in the terrifying process of figuring all this shit out. And I rather enjoy the fact that we can talk about our periods and someone else can relate to my story of my mother trying to demonstrate proper tampon procedure when I wanted to go to the pool when I was twelve.

It’s amazing to me to see women continue to be strong and independent despite everything that’s against us. Politicians call us whores and we won’t get paid deserved wages and we have to reenact that scene from Alien on a regular basis just for the species to survive, but we keep on trucking along and just trying to live our lives. I love that women have taken beauty aspects that society has pushed for and made them their own. Yes, the shoes hurt, but I look damn good and I know it. Maybe some second-wavers (or third-wavers, for that matter) won’t agree, but I can’t help but be proud when I see a girl strutting her stuff and stopping traffic. At the same time, I am downright gleeful when someone in ripped jeans and Birkenstocks is reading Gloria Steinem on the train, or a mother in sweats running with her child in the park.

I’m just so proud of all of us.

It’s nasty business, growing up. But we’ve made it this far. I think that’s kind of incredible.

in someone else’s life

So on my trip to work this morning, I picked up a copy of our local free newspaper, Red Eye, and found myself reading this article.  I didn’t finish it before I got to work due mostly to the need to walk without running into things (a daily challenge), but it’s been a very slow day, so I got to finish it this afternoon.  It’s a quick read and pretty well-written, so feel free to check it out.  But there was something in that article that really, really bothered me.

The first woman interviewed, a 25-year old wife and mother of three, is quoted as saying the following:  ‘I love my life.  I love my kids.  I love living like a grown-up.’

Well.

As I’ve written before, I know a lot of people in my age group who are getting married and having kids (not necessarily in that order or related to one another).  And, honestly?  That’s fine.  It’s your life, do what you want to with it.  Personally, I am WAY too young to get married and nowhere near a point in my life where I have any interest in procreation.  My cousin has a nine-month-old Winston Churchill impersonator and I am currently scheduled to attend five weddings this year.  I don’t need to go do this myself; there’s just not enough time.  But if you are in a time and place in your life where you believe you should get married and have kids, that’s just great.  Please don’t think this is me taking an issue with marriage.  I’m much less opposed to the idea now that I’m not anyone’s maid-of-honour.

Rather, what I take issue with is this woman’s assertion that her way of life is the ‘grown-up’ way.  A ring, children, and a house payment are what constitute adulthood.  I’m calling bull-hockey.

Let me tell you something, chick from newspaper article.

I could have gotten married right out of high school.  It’s true.  My high school girlfriend was planning on proposing to me.  And if I had known about this, I would’ve said yes because of the fact that I cared about her and wanted to make her happy.  I didn’t know about her proposal because, as fate would have it, I broke up with her a few days before she was planning to do the deed.  She was shocked to say the least.

Since that ill-fated almost-proposal six years ago, there have been a lot of things that have happened to me.  I moved away from home.  I got two BAs in four years.  I went into therapy…three times.  I got my heart broken five times.  I held my mother’s hand while she cried.  I picked up and moved to a city I couldn’t afford with little more than a suitcase full of clothes.  I lost two jobs and kept going, finally landing something full-time.  I talked a friend through another’s suicide.  I counselled marriages.  I saw concerts and world-premiere plays.  I risked things.  I figured stuff out.

I pay my own rent.  I buy my own groceries.  I support myself, albeit barely.  I donate to charities.  I help people out.  I do the best I can.

How is your life more ‘grown-up’ than mine?

Everyone’s path is different.  You can plan and scheme and do whatever you can to make life go the way you want it to, but you will never succeed.  You got engaged when you were nineteen.  At nineteen I was studying Medieval German.  No one’s accomplishments are better or more ‘adult’:  they’re just different. 

I used to judge people my age who got married.  I think I was just angered by the undeserved superiority — by the assumption that I wasn’t ready to grow up because I didn’t have a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend and I didn’t see this as a problem; that my lack of interest in buying a home was because I didn’t want to commit; I didn’t want to take care of anything other than myself.  I’ve made a commitment not to judge your life and your choices.  How dare you judge mine?

I really do want to get married someday.  I want to own my own place.  Probably not a house; they’re too expensive in the city.  But I’d like a condo at least, something with a lot of windows and its own washer and dryer.  I’d like to grow old with someone and get sick of them sometimes and tell them all of my secrets.  Maybe I’ll even have kids.  Who knows?  I’ve got most of 75 years to figure that stuff out.  But I’m not there yet.  And there is nothing wrong with that.

So you can keep your house in the suburbs, your husband, your two-and-a-half kids.  You can keep the Labrador Retriever that I’m sure you plan to have.  And your opinions of how I choose to be an adult?  You can keep those to yourself.

 

life’s like a movie:  write your own ending/keep believing, keep pretending/we’ve done just what we set out to do

think of my lifelong sorrow

Today marks the first actual day of snow in Chicago for Winter 2011-2012.  Halfway through January.  You heard me right the first time.

I’ve been on the fence about snow for most of my life.  As a small child, I was often kept away from snow because of my severe asthma and diminutive size.  It fascinated me, but it was dangerous for me to come in contact with it.  I missed out on the only snowman my parents ever tried to build for my brother and me because of this.  So there’s that. 

Once I got a little older and stronger, snow was a fantastic adventure.  These were the days of head-to-toe protection from snow: the biggest issues were my chilly nose and the awful smell of my slowly moulding gloves.  I grew up with a massive and fantastic Siberian husky named Cherokee who would come alive with the first falling snowflakes.  I would race into the backyard as he chased after me, and flop onto the ground, sending him in a frenzy.  I can remember the first time this happened:  I fell down innocently to make a snow angel.  Cherokee leapt across me again and again, snarling playfully, nipping at my nose and cheeks and I squeaked and screamed in delight.  Then suddenly he disappeared and I sat up to see my mother shivering in her sweater and slippers.  She was worried he was attacking me — probably the most unnecessary concern she’s ever had about me.  As soon as she saw my flushed, smiling face, she knew she had no cause to worry and sent Cherokee back across the yard at me with a playful call of, ‘Get her!’

Growing up in the Midwest, winter almost always saw a good deal of snow.  I’ve been through two blizzards that I can remember (meaning literally six feet of snow), which may not be impressive to some, but did cause me to be trapped inside my house for three days a piece.  My elementary school had a large black top for a playground which needed heavy plowing every winter.  The snow from the black top would end up in awe-inspiring mountains at the back of the schoolyard, and long hours were spent building tunnels, caverns, and hideaways within.

I remember snow being much more exciting when I was a kid.  The wars were always kinder somehow.

Now that I’ve reached adulthood, I’m starting to get a little of that wonder back.  I’ve noticed my asthma returning to its former, formidable state in the past couple of years, so I can no longer spend a lot of time in the snow:  it wears me out.  It feels so odd to say that anything wears me out when I’m 23.  But I’ve spent the whole day at my desk, watching the growing storm outside our large office windows.  And there’s a huge part of me hoping that I get ambushed by snowballs on my way home from work.

you keep your things in a place meant to hide/but i know they’re there somewhere

you’ll be doing alright with your christmas of white

Well, I have exhausted all potential work activities for the day. Guess it’s blogging time…?

As you continuing readers have probably noticed (and are sick of hearing), the holidays are a pretty negative time of year for me. This year isn’t much different, though I’m having a very hard time trying to decide how I feel about this holiday season. Thanksgiving was a hot mess at my folks’ house: Grandma had an accident, Mum was a wreck, Grandpa was incredibly rude. I got to meet the famous Winston (my cousin’s now nine-month-old son), but there were few good parts to a very long and stressful 36 hours.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, both of my grandparents fell and they have been recovering in a local nursing home. This brought about a lot of relief and those of you who know me or even just read this blog will understand why. My grandfather managed to fracture a vertebra in his fall and my grandmother was pretty bruised up, so it was nice to know they were somewhere where someone could take care of them and keep them safe. I was hoping that they would remain in the nursing home until after Christmas as it would take a lot of pressure and worrying off of my folks and we could maybe have a good holiday for the first time in ten years.

Unfortunately, my grandfather has decided that they’re coming home.

Today.

I haven’t called my folks yet and I’m not looking forward to the process. I’ve been at work since 8.15 and am using the errands I need to run afterwards as an excuse for not calling. That’s just the kind of kid I am. With my hopes of a happy family Christmas now dashed, I am not keen to get anymore involved in the whole sordid situation. I will call, of course. I always do. I just want to delay the inevitable for as long as possible.

But despite all of this, I’m trying to stay optimistic about things and get into the holiday spirit. I’ve been listening to Christmas music. I decorated the house. I’ve been buying presents and planning baking adventures and going to parties. I watched Disney Christmas movies with Greg. I drank eggnog. I went to see the zoo lights. I decorated the office tree.

I keep finding myself a little bit more excited about the time of year, a little more optimistic that maybe things won’t be so bad or hectic or upsetting. I’m nervous to get my hopes up because I know what holidays are like with my family. But I know that it’s just me and Da on Saturday and I know I’ll see some friends while I’m home. I’m trying to focus on the good things. It’s tricky, but I’m giving it the old college try. Yesterday I found myself thanking Greg because he had, in a way, encouraged me to make amends with a person I don’t care for who has caused me a lot of stress and hurt feelings. Life’s a lot different when you put yourself in a position to be around positive people. And while I’m not feeling 100% better about the situation and I’m not really looking forward to going home on Friday, I’m going to keep keeping my chin up, because that’s what positive people do.

So this weekend, I’m going to take my menorah with me to my parents’ house. I’m going to spend Saturday making heavily spiked eggnog and riffing with my da. I’m going to sing in my mother’s choir and smile through all of the jokes about how scary the Big City must be compared to my parents’ basement. I’m going to be as polite as I can be to my grandfather and walk away when I can’t take it anymore. And one of these days, things will be better back home. And one of these days, we’ll have a happy Christmas.

In the meantime, we’ll just get drunk.

thanks for the christmas card…

shameless bit of self-(though not entirely)promotion

Hey there, internet. How’s it going?

Sometimes I write book reviews with some of my friends from Borders. Today I put up a new review for Party Wolves in My Skull, a fun book written by a very good friend of mine. If you’ve got a few minutes, check out the book review. And if you like what you see, consider picking up a copy from the Amazon store of your choice. It’s a fun book and a very quick read. Plus, you’ll be helping a young author who’s just starting out to achieve his dreams. And you just can’t put a price on that.

There’s inspirational music in the background of those last two lines. You can probably hear it.

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