Cue the Guns’N’Roses song, what’s it called? “Patience”

Hello my fellow Weirdies!

I haven’t been the most faithful blogger in the past, but I feel like guilt is one of the top 3 emotions bloggers experience most often in terms of their work. It is certainly one of mine, so I’m taking this opportunity to explain and also offer a mini-Q&A/AMA.

In the past, I’ve taken breaks with increased frequency. My posts became fewer and far between when I moved back to the Pacific Northwest since the South really harnessed much of my thoughts and homesickness (because writers can be bad at making new friends due to introversion and expectations and aging and PRIORITIES) so I had less fuel to fan the flames since some of it was for far away friends and family. Therefore I also had less motivation when I moved back to make it part of my routine–although I did/do try to update it now and then.

There are other reasons as well. Sometimes I wanted to write but felt intimidated by my past posts or started posts but didn’t have the gumption to finish. Lots of times, my health and/or day job took priority or other duties took precedence. I hate saying that because this blog has from its early stages been very important to me, and it’s like saying I don’t have time for someone who used to be one of my closest friends.

However, I have been working on a writing project that means quite a bit to me. It’s something that has been in the works for awhile now and will CONTINUE to be in the works for the near future. That might be frustrating to hear…I find it frustrating, because those of you who know me well know that I am not good at patience. Consequently, it’s something that has also taken a good deal of my time away from blogging, and I feel that it’s time to let y’all know that even though I’m not here posting everyday, I’m still thinking of you and want to put something out there into the universe in the future that you’d want to read.

My below Q&A from some fans should answer a few of the burning questions you may have at this juncture. If it doesn’t answer your questions, please send me a comment! If I get enough comments or one particular one comes up several times (and/or is inspiring and I want to share it!), I will dedicate a post to it.

What is the writing project??
TBA! I say that, because I’m not 100% sure if it’s going to turn into more than one or what form it’s going to take. I imagine it will be a starship in the shape of a unicorn, but that’s more of a picture…and that’s just me saying random words. Also, that would be really hard to steer! But I promise you…you will know more when I do.

When can we read it?
Hopefully soon. The more I work on it, the sooner that time will be, and the more I will know!

Is it a book about the blog? 
No, although it’s something to keep in mind.

Is it another blog? 
No, but it could turn into that.

Do you need money to get it going? 
Great question! I might when the time comes, and if I do, I will update the blog and let you know!

Do you like saying no? 
Mostly no, although it depends on the circumstances.

How impatient are you? 
Very. Enough so that this is going to be my last question answered for now. Thanks all!

Apple surprise

I took my dog on a walk today. The weather has been great! I was trying to hurry out the door so I could come home and make food not long after, so swiped two baggies from kitchen and stuffed them in my walking purse as I was running out the door with the dog (anytime I refer to bag in this, I mean a plastic bag). Normally, I have more time to inspect them, but the weather has been really touch and go.

When I went to pick up my dog’s poop, I saw that one of the bags had a massive hole in it. I had my apple core in the alternative bag that was in my purse to avoid littering. I could still use it as a cover to pick up the poop and place it in the bag with the core. However, on the off chance that the plastic bag with the core had a slight hole I had missed (the bags are pretty thin which is why I use two just in case), I didn’t want to avoid littering little poos on the sidewalk, and obviously I wasn’t going to stuff both into my walking purse which is made of material. So I put the plastic cover containing poop in the apple-core plastic bag and looked for a garbage can. I was right next to one! How perfect!

The second I placed it in the garbage and closed the lid, I heard, “Really?” The owner of the house with the garbage can was glaring at me with her hands on her hips. Note that she wasn’t close (maybe 7 yards or so), but she did look red with anger.

I didn’t know what to say. I mean, now I was scared of her and didn’t want to explain the situation. So I said the first thing that came to me.

“Do you want me to take it back?”

I looked back at the garbage can and began to open it. I was sure she was going to say yes. If you’re one of the people who’s angry enough to yell at someone for picking up the poop from your yard to throw it away either in your garbage can or elsewhere, then you’re probably capable of all kinds of things.

“Ewwwwwwwww,” I heard her say. “It was in your PURSE! Ewwww.” Then she went back in the house.

Did she think my apple core was poop in the other bag? Or that I’d somehow picked up dog poop with my bare hands (I hadn’t, there was a clear plastic cover to keep me poop-free)? Or maybe she was just disgusted that I was willing to take it back? Lady, it’s trash. Trash is gross. It doesn’t matter if it’s yours or mine. Trash is indefinitely gross. It seemed like she was angry past the point of conversation, and I really didn’t want to stick around long enough to begin a discourse town hall weigh in on feces with the person who was shame yelling at me earlier. I realize that I probably should’ve put it in the one bag with the apple core, but if you’ve ever been walking a dog and realized that the poo is falling out of your bag, well, it’s just a much cleaner situation to get rid of the very thin bag right there. And it was one of those moments where I didn’t want to drop the poop by examining the apple core bag which I’d pulled out of the purse while all the time still holding the leashed dog. It seemed like a lot of things to drop, and I made a snap decision.

Besides, would you rather the dog walker just leave the poop in your yard? It seems much ruder to me, and if I’d been able to explain myself better, maybe she would’ve agreed with me. In fact if I had seen her standing there, I would’ve just carried the poop in the plastic bag OR asked her for a second bag to put the first bag in. Anyway, I guess I’ll never know now. But if you see someone pick up poop and throw the poop IN A BAG away in your garbage can, I suggest you let them. Next time, they’ll leave the poop, or maybe worse, throw it at you. Either way, this is one of the best outcomes you can expect.

Are you going to eat that?

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Hypothetical situation: You are a family member that lives with me, and it’s dinnertime at our house. You do chores around the house and contribute to it maybe more or less than other family members. Maybe you pitch in for food, maybe you can’t for whatever reason, but I’ve been feeding you for years and tonight is a different meal plan. Which of the following is acceptable?
 
A. Not feeding you, because you have food allergies/sensitivities and it’s more expensive to feed you something from a limited diet. I let you know that your food is too expensive for me so I didn’t even look at the supermarket to accommodate you, but you’re happy to buy it yourself while you’re at my house from now on (age is no excuse).
B. Letting you starve, because it’s too expensive to feed you period even though I could afford it.
C. Feeding you, but only the most disgusting mash filled with bi-products and fillers, and oh yeah, you have to buy that from me at an outrageous cost.
D. None of the above
 
Keep in mind in your choice that regardless of what I’m feeding you, I’ll be eating the finest cuisine that you’ll be paying for ME to eat. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elderly relative or a child. I’m feeding you food that I wouldn’t eat myself. In fact, I’d NEVER eat that.
 
Does this situation seem fair? If you were my child in real life, the state would remove you from my custody. If you were a family member over the age of 18, outsiders would call you selfish and cruel and try to intervene on your behalf. I could have made adjustments to our current meals by having a discussion with you and working out a better plan, but instead I’ve been complaining for months and just decided to just revoke the current mealtime plan in its entirety.
 
Why does it make sense that the government whose officials are elected on our behalf, who are supposed to look out for the well-being of citizens, put their needs before ours and make decisions that the majority of us disagree with?

House Sweet House

I’m truly negligent in my blogging abilities, but it feels inadequate to blame it all on low self-esteem as if by doing so I’ll overcome this obstacle and naturally sail from start to finish through all blog entries–or excuse myself from the process of doing so in the first place. I currently have half as many drafts as I do published posts, and WordPress would be wise to make a delete-all button for my drafts so I don’t have to cringe while reading all the words I failed to publish. Maybe this exists and I’m just too tired to look harder for it.

This weekend, I took a time-out from getting our house in order. I feel like King Ralph in his castle, and whenever I meander from room to room, I’m in some Twilight Zone episode of my life where I moved into a hotel yet brought all my own possessions with me. We bought our first house last week, and it still hasn’t fully sunk in.

I was going to write a pre-move-in post about how growing up is odd, terrifying, and occasionally exhilarating, but using the phrase “adulting” makes me shudder, and it seemed unavoidable. Also, surprise! Talking about being anxious breeds more anxiety. Now you get this post instead, which is probably better all around.

There’s a bit of a post-house buying malaise happening to my husband and I right now, which sounds like such a bourgeois predicament, but a similar thing happened during my first year of marriage (although it could have been the whole living in the South on the sun’s surface estranged from close family and friends for the first time ever), so it seems to be the result of closing a stressful chapter in one’s life while trying to determine what comes next. The whole “What do we do now?” shuffling of hands and feet and gazing around as if an answer will drop into our laps. We’re both reticent to start something equally or bigger scale at this juncture. I hope I learned my lesson from that time I got married and moved halfway across the USA at the same time, and since I no longer take Xanax, I’d say I have.

My husband pointed out yesterday that since much of our stuff is still cocooned in cardboard, it makes our daily normal activities irksome. Home ownership was a change we’d planned on making for a long time even if I had more or less given up on it happening during the last few years to save myself the agitation and depression that came with said hope. But we’ve moved 6 times in 7 years. It’s time to stay stationary for awhile.

There’s an overwhelming sense of urgency to complete all chores and home projects, and on Friday I collapsed while my body screeched that I needed to stop and stay in one spot for the remainder of the weekend. I’m not particularly a “do all the things” kind of person since my body balks on a daily basis, so taking time to practice mindfulness and re-familiarize myself with self-care practices seems wise, but I still have to look at all these cardboard boxes. The other component is that there’s only so much money to take on all these projects at a time.

The good news is that we need fewer junk drawer paraphernalia while the house only requires a few more pieces of furniture (and a full-functioning, non-leaking dishwasher which will be delivered later this week).

As we embark on this journey, I find myself turning inward more than to others. I’ve been on a rather isolated path the last year outside of Parker’s company, and to my surprise, it’s less lonely than I imagined it would be. It turns out people and interacting with them brings me less joy and is more taxing than I perceived it was in the past. Part of this is the regular visits to therapy, and the other is the introversion of growing older while living in the same body that experiences chronic illness and pain.

But overall, I’m pleased with this progress we’ve made and am trying my best to take things one step at a time and not get ahead of myself.

What am I doing today? Reading, taking a bath, and folding laundry while catching up on all the TV I’ve missed over the past few weeks while more pressing matters took the lead.

Happy Sunday, all!

Post-Election Playlist

For almost 2 years, I’ve been in therapy. The process is slow but fulfilling. Still, the last few months have increased in difficulty for me, and since I have been doing well (but not quite good enough) I finally agreed to my therapist’s suggestion to try antidepressants.

I was on them in high school, but my hormones were also going insane as were several other chronic components of my life. It’s been 14 years. Time to try again.

This past week they’ve been a godsend. My other godsend, besides the usual amazing suspects, has been music.

Yesterday, I decided that my car was celebrating Bob Dylan 2016. This year, I found I’m old enough to appreciate him. In the past, I wasn’t a Dylan fan. For a young spunky person, his music was too slow and warbly. I’d written him off as a product of my parents’ generation. That’s the great thing about aging. You change.

My husband decided on our recent coastal road trip that we’d be listening to the works of Bob Dylan for part of it since he’d been the first musician awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. I went along with it, because I am agreeable and my husband has always shared my taste for music. Perhaps I would learn something.

Rolling down the highway, staring at new hills and fields that pass while Dylan sings, and plays the harmonica, is soothing. Also, the movie Don’t Think Twice came out, and this song is my life right now. Sidenote: I’ve been fighting a nasty cold this weekend, so I’m a little number than usual, but I’m trying to lean hard into the discombobulation.

“Don’t Think Twice”~Bob Dylan*
This song is personified by the grey skies and rain hitting the window. It wraps you into a little car bubble and reminds you not to overthink a situation.
“Call Off Your Dogs”~Lake Street Dive
Upbeat and friendly, but persistent.

“Call off your dogs

Give someone a call
I know there’s something wrong with the limits
We got turned around, but we could spin it
Call off your dogs
What’s with the wall?
If we’re strong, we can win it
One word can begin it
Hello”

Every Time it Rains“~Charlotte Martin

“Everyday Robots”~Damon Albarn

“In the Meantime”~Spacehog

“Get off This”~Cracker

“Eve of Destruction”~Barry McGuire

“Hold Me”and “Eyes of the World”~Fleetwood Mac

Gotta admit, Spotify finally figured out that I like 90’s, and today I learned that lots of fantastic music happened during the Reagan/Bush years. I shouldn’t actively hold out hope, but maybe beauty will reveal itself melodically.

*(I also really like the Bree Sharp version)

 

And on the note of weddings…

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My friend posted an article called “Getting Married is Not an Accomplishment,” and I both do/don’t agree with this article. Please read the article before reading my comments if you feel like including your input. 

Here’s why I can’t fully agree.

For me, getting married signified that I had improved my mental health enough for me to have the potential to sustain a long-lasting relationship. The wedding was a small accomplishment in what would be an ongoing project of lifetime effort (this is sort of addressed at the end but not really). Almost everyone in my family is divorced and suffers from crazy depression/substance abuse, so working on making my mental/physical health and relationships the best they can be are high priority. Why? Because hating your life and doing nothing about it is annoying as shit. These are areas I’m able to make progress in, and that feels good even if it’s doing one self-care thing a day to make me less miserable for myself and those around me.

However, I agree with this article that it’s not a greater accomplishment than the alternatives (although it kind of backpedals on the accomplishments thing at the end, which left me confused). I’m wickedly jealous and proud when I hear my friends have finished grad school and are building their careers. Because of my health, I can’t build a career in the same way healthy people can, and it’s stupid that people’s accomplishments in all areas of their lives aren’t valued in the same way marriages and babies are. Society can’t make money off one’s career like it can a wedding or a new child, and we’re still stuck in that traditional hierarchy of one’s life choices being valued over someone else’s. Which isn’t okay.

I also I feel like I try to value other parts of people’s lives (hobbies, interests, future goals) as much as their careers, because when we’re defined solely by our work, relationships, and baby-making abilities we get uncomfortable. Everybody’s got a point of their life in that list that they’re sensitive about that they’d prefer not to discuss (usually).

The article argues that there’s no brain power or skill to getting married, and that’s technically true if you are one of the following: blessed with good relationship skills (which you probably had to work on which is a skill), a natural ability to charm, generally good mental health (which everyone isn’t). The alternative is you have to find someone who you either hide all your mental health problems from or is mildly crazy themselves. Which means that in the second two scenarios, this is an initial accomplishment that will likely end in disaster. But I do agree that finding someone to be in a good relationship with is luck, because there are a lot of shitty/incompatible people in the world. So in that way, this article is correct.

Wedding Countdown

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My husband is in a wedding party, and not only is he in a wedding party, but he’s the best man. Which means he’s responsible for speech writing as part of his Best Man duties. Now, my husband is not like me. He doesn’t take joy in writing, he finds it tiresome and nerve-wracking. The few times he had to sit down and type something up, it took him much longer than I expected. It’s like 15 minutes per sentence, I think. Maybe I’m being dramatic, because it’s been awhile since he’s written anything. However, when he does write things, they turn out well.

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The Wedding Singer via gif-weenus.com

However, it’s minus a week to until the wedding, and he hasn’t written anything yet. I feel comfortable saying that, because 1, it’s a tv trope which always seems to work out, 2, I think his best man had an idea of what he was going to say and spoke off the cuff at our wedding, 3, I’m fairly certain the groom is too busy with wedding stuff to read this, and 4, if the groom does read this for some reason, he’s too chill to worry (and 5, the bride doesn’t read this). It makes me a little nervous though, so I may write up some ideas. I mean, there will be a moment where we all get to share our stories, and I have one for me. I actually wrote a speech late one night like the first month we found out our friends had gotten engaged. I don’t know where that speech is, but re-writing it should be pretty smooth. I’ll also just jot down a couple of memories that my husband has shared with me over the years about himself and the groom. He mentioned a couple of them when we were chatting a couple weeks ago, so it should be pretty easy to just put down a couple talking points.

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What my speech will probably sound like (via fuckyeahfriends.tumblr.com)

 

Will Parker read from these notes? Probably not. But it’ll make me as a wife feel better.

I am not in the wedding, but that’s not shocking or unusual. The bride and I are friends, and she was really awesome about letting me and one of our other friends know she still loved us. There was a moment for a couple weeks where I panicked, because Til, the groom, invited us BOTH to the dress rehearsal, and I had to say, “Wait a second, I just have a title right? That’s what Jen said right? I’m not getting a dress and shoes and need to take the day off for photos right?” and he was like, “No, but we love you, and so you’re invited to come to dinner the night before. The only one who has to do shit is Parker.” And then I sighed THE BIGGEST sigh of relief. Because sometimes I think I understand something and then new information comes along, and I’m all, “Did I hear that right? HAVE I BEEN WRONG THIS WHOLE TIME?” and sometimes, I am.

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Although I always initially hope that I’m in a bridal party, when it comes time for actual duties and activities, I’m not very good at those. I was sick for about 3 weeks and missed the bachelorette party, and I was really bummed about that. Fortunately, someone took pictures of everyone having a good time and the bachelorette cake penis.

The first time I thought I was going to be a bridesmaid was the worst and the hardest (so far). When one of my closest friends in college told me I was going to be one of her bridesmaids when she and her boyfriend eventually would get married, and then over the next few years we grew apart to an alarming degree (and to be fair, she and her boyfriend were together a considerable time before they got engaged, so that’s really on them). When she announced her engagement I figured she would stick to her word. That’s what people do when they make a promise, right? Instead of taking me aside personally and being like “You get that you didn’t make it, right?” she announced her bridesmaids on Myspace, and I’m not sure if that rates lower than your friends telling you they made the cut and you didn’t or not. But I was still invited to her wedding, and I watched one of my best friends who I introduced her to walk down the aisle instead of me in a color that I would’ve looked amazing in. But I did get to bring a date, and we did shred up the dance floor with my best friend and her boyfriend at the time who now just a giant tool of an ex-boyfriend. Also why I resent Myspace and am glad that it was left behind for Facebook. It was a lesson I learned from and one I tried not to repeat when my husband and I got engaged.

I also had a dream that the wedding party was at some historical site (maybe for the wedding? dreams are weird), and I tore off all my clothes and ran buck naked through the site yelling, “EVERYBODY’S STREAKING!” and then a guard ran me down so I escaped by jumping into a pool of toxic chemicals where my muscles started being destroyed by burning. But that is my dreamworld paying omage to my party persona Frank the Tank from Old School. And as I mentioned, dreams are weird.

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Besides, streaking would mean less time to wear a bomb ass dress and look hot. Also it wouldn’t be very helpful.

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And I want my dance moves to speak for themselves.

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via reactiongifs.com

Charlie the Unicorn Dating Simulator

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via memecaption.com

We are in the midst of another pop culture fad that is taking the world by storm. I’m talkin’ ’bout Pokemon. As I type this, I’m sure my feed is filling up with friends’ pictures and status updates about the game.

Regular followers know that although I have my fair share of pop culture obsessions, I’m often suspicious of trends that seem “too big.” I subscribe to the Henry David Thoreau’s quotation of being “wary of enterprises involving new clothing.” I recently complained to my husband about how the rich used to have people to dress them, and he ended up having to straighten my collar and inspect my jacket.

It’s part of why I went into the medical field, because scrubs sounded comfortable, easy, and the least hassle in terms of clothing. Frequently when pondering what to pick for the day, I think of Seinfeld’s stand-up about aliens, and how they all wear the same thing. We should just give in, he advises, because it’s where we end up anyway. Anywhere from 40 times a day to a few times a month, I consider pulling a Deb from Empire Records and shaving my head. I haven’t yet, but only because I know how attractive Robin Tunney is, and if a shaved head made her look merely “okay,” I fear I am doomed. Also, bangs shield my forehead from further universal anxiety, and by exposing them, I’m fairly certain my skull will melt into the ground with terror.

I’m also not a huge fan of video games. My close, boisterous friend Til sees this as a challenge to find a game I will enjoy, and he and my father are two of the only people out there who have regularly succeeded at this task. I like games where you crush candy, make your own stories, and used to own different versions of You Don’t Know Jack.   

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via Steam

A couple of years ago, another friend introduced me to Hatoful Boyfriend, a dating simulator game from Japan where you, as a human, date birds. I agreed to go along with this, because I don’t want to be the original version of Jim Carrey in Yes Man when he resists change and growth. Because it sounds lame, and his later version who agrees to everything sounds even more frightening. I wanted to try to be more interested into video games, because deep down I want people to like me. You do too. I learned it’s important not to force it.

Hatoful was a hard game for me to accept. I’m in favor of new and different things, but I couldn’t get comfortable in this game at all. In spite, I picked NO BIRD and was met with dire consequences. Several months later, I high-fived a co-worker over mutual uneasiness and shock at the game’s outcome. Hatoful’s purpose, to me, was to provide bonding through collective awkwardness.

Earlier this week while my friends were out in fields and businesses playing Pokemon, my husband and I were inside our house watching tv. An ad came on for Charlie the Unicorn Dating Simulator

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via Youtube

Most people know what Charlie the Unicorn is, but I brought it up a couple of years ago with a friend who didn’t know what it was. For those who aren’t aware, Charlie the Unicorn is a web series by Jason Steele. Steele has done a number of videos over the years, Marshmallow People, Horsebot, Ferrets, and I look forward to the days a new video comes out. I recently met someone who was also a fan of The Cloak (NOT a starter video, definitely one of the weirder things he’s done), and we immediately became friends. That’s what Jason Steele’s work does – it solidifies. My lexicon is still sprinkled with phrases from it, and I’m tentatively looking forward to some strange parent teacher conferences where a teacher asks me to explain all the random blabber of my future tbd child.

When I saw the ad, I knew I had to play it.

The next day, I came downstairs to the sound of jazz music percolating from the living room. Upon entering, I found my husband playing on the computer.

Me: Hey, what’s up?
Parker: Not much, just playing this Charlie The Unicorn Dating Game
Me: Really? Cool! How is it?
Parker: Oddly complex. I don’t understand dating.

Basically, you are trapped in The Love Temple, against your will. You have the option of dating 5 or 6 different creatures. Through the process of dating, you try to get one of them to love you so you can escape through a magical door where you are trapped. It’s more like actual dating than I anticipated, although fortunately doesn’t take me too far out of the comfort zone.

Parker: How’s it going?
Me: Good. The Starfish’s love makes me entirely uncomfortable, but the Door doesn’t seem to be impressed with ANYTHING I do. Also, I don’t think I can win it over with gifts. I think I’m going to go with the Liopleurodon.
Parker: Not the Capricorn?
Me: The Capricorn is sort of combative, which is off-putting.
Parker: Who would you rather end up with: The Door or the Millipede?
Me: The Door. The Millipede freaks me out, and I kind of think it’s going to eat me.

(Later)
Me: I wonder if I *can* get the Door to love me.
Parker: That reminds me, I looked that up for you. I’ll send you the video later.

See y’all? This is what spouses are for. Looking up tricks for getting inanimate objects to love you in a dating simulator game.

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via Kickstarter

Note: While the ideas and text are my own, I do not own rights to these images, I have just credited their sources.

Fathers and feelings

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Today, I had a belated Father’s Day celebration with my dad. I learned this year that it actually took quite a bit of coaxing for the public to warm up to the idea of Father’s Day. It’s at a time where kids are getting out of school, graduations & vacations are being planned, and post-Mother’s Day. People do less, people spend less.

My parents separated before I formed cohesive memories, so I don’t remember seeing my father every day, although at one point, I’m sure I did. My dad had a difficult relationship with his own father, which created shadows. Even today, I see him struggle with that in his own way.

He developed a love for music and art at an early age. He became a graphic artist, and a true introvert, values his alone time. Once after describing his solution to traffic, he declared, “I have so many ideas to make the world a better place!” I once even got the pleasure of being able to see his art portfolio and hear writing he did for a college class.

When I was growing up, he used to play guitar at church. I always used to love it when he played. I got to hold a hand of a local celebrity, and as we made our way towards the exit, others would come up to thank him for his performance. Each time I’d congratulate him after we were alone, he’d always shrug it off by saying he missed some notes. Sometimes I wonder if the attention made him stop playing.

Our relationship hasn’t always been easy. The women in my family are, as a whole, pretty verbally and physically demonstrative with their love. Hugs and kisses, all around. But my dad isn’t, and it wasn’t until I grew up that I realized that many men, especially of my parents’ generation, have a hard time showing their feelings. I only saw him one day a week, and sometimes I became confused or frustrated. I know now that being apart was hard on him. I look back at the pictures and see how happy he was as a father. Some things are clearer looking back.

Dad and I are dissimilar in some basic ways, but we still have commonalities. We both enjoy art and writing. We’re both homebodies (him more than me). The last few years have brought me a little closer to my roots, and my dad used to collaborate with his cousin on a family newsletter. My mom told me when I was growing up, I would make expressions or do things that were “so my dad” that I couldn’t have possibly known or tried to imitate.

During a retreat I attended in high school friends and family were encouraged to send us supportive letters. My mom’s letter started as an apology for “not having enough time to contact everyone in the family since they would have all loved to send you letters. Not as organized as I would like.” My dad, in typical tech form, emailed the dean of students. The dean printed off the email and included it in my envelope of letters.

His letter reads *a little bit* like a recommendation letter at times. But of all the letters, his made me cry the hardest. The details are simple but sum up his love for me in ways I, as a non-parent, cannot fathom. When I returned, I told him, “I loved your letter,” and my dad blushed and said, “I didn’t know you were going to read it. You weren’t supposed to see that.”

Yeah, Dad. I love you too.

One of the articles I read said that the one things fathers want most is to spend time with their children. The author implied that it should be at any given time as opposed to a holiday obligation. We live on opposite sides of town, but I’m always pleased when I get to learn a little bit more about him. I hope to see more of him this time around.

How to Help Make a Better World

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The last couple of years have brought national tragedies, the most warped politics to date, disaster after disaster news headlines, and more than anything, fear.

About a month ago, I tried to watch Network. It’s a film that was made in the 70’s about how over the years, news became less about world/local knowledge and more about edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Yet, I haven’t been able to sit through it. It came out over 40 years ago, and it’s even more prevalent today than it was then.

I’ve been reading news articles, listening to the radio, and hearing a lot of opinions about how we should tackle the future of what happened in Orlando. But I’m not here to talk about politics, guns, or mental illness.

Let’s talk about fear, isolation, and hate.

The third saddest thing about these tragedies, is that as a people we become divided. My husband said it best several days after Orlando. “Maybe this was his plan. Go into a bar on Pride Month and Latino Night at the club, open fire, kill as many people as he could, and watch us tear each other apart in the aftermath.”

Since the date of the first mass shooting, we have only become more divided, angrier, and more fearful. Here’s what we can agree on: we want the ongoing terror to end. How can we, as a society, do our part to mend this broken nation?

Love others, and show them by your actions
My mom often says, “Nobody does anything for anyone else anymore. They’re only in it for themselves.” We may feel like we don’t have enough money, talents, or intelligence to offer anybody anything.

Even if we don’t volunteer at a homeless shelter, we can still find ways to help.

*Contact services dedicated to helping victims/families of victims of shootings
*Browse non-profit organizations to donate money/volunteer time
*Donate blood/plasma

Don’t forget to help your friends and family when they need it. Somebody sick? Offer to take them groceries. Have a friend suffer from grief? Cheer them up by sending them a kind letter or giving them a call. Overloaded at work? Schedule a moment with your family. Know somebody depressed? Go over to their place and try to take a walk outside together.

Hug more or just reach out and touch someone!

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Mackenbrose.tumblr.com

I read in high school that a person needs 8 hugs a day to feel happy. When I was little, my grandma hugged and kissed EVERYBODY. And she was loved by so many people. One of my favorite memories of her is her walking up to the disabled kids (that me and my friends were terrified of) and hugging every single one. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about it to this day.

Lots of people, especially men, do not feel comfortable showing affection by hugging. Let them know it’s okay to hug. However, NEVER force anyone to hug anyone else if they feel uncomfortable. Including you!

If you’re not a hugger, here are some alternatives:

*Handshakes – my hilarious friend, Til, and I just started doing a handshake based on Troy & Abed’s from Community. It makes us laugh so hard every time!
*High fives
*A consoling pat/rub
*Give a massage, if appropriate
*Cuddling, again if appropriate
*Petting/cuddling a pet, but watch for signs you’re making the pet uncomfortable/unhappy (there are articles and videos online from professionals to decode this)

Make people laugh 
Make sure the context and content is appropriate first

Embrace those who are different from you 
Remember the story earlier about my grandma hugging the disabled kids at my school? She also read me a book about a cat called Fanny who only had three legs. Fanny talks to the other animals about it, and they learn not to be afraid of her. That book is so rad, and it still sits on my bookshelf to share with others.

We all have biases and shit we believe that’s been ingrained in us since childhood. It’s time to accept that we’re not right about everything all the time. If you think somebody’s got it better than you or you dislike or fear somebody, ask yourself why.

Try not to shut out friends and family who are different than you. Learn about their interests. Find commonalities. Try to show them kindness and understanding. A lot of internet trolls aren’t nearly the same kind of monsters in real life, and lots of troublemakers back off when confronted in a positive, firm manner. Try to help first, but also ask if you are being difficult or making things worse.

Note: If you have someone who is aggressively attacking you with their beliefs and bringing you only constant toxicity, negativity, and spewing lies after a prolonged period of time, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate and walk away. I have had to do this with a friend, and it was not fun but very necessary for my well-being.

Start tackling aggression in yourself 
Unchecked anger is like driving your car when warning lights are on in your car instead of fixing it. Are you getting pissed off about everything more than you used to?

Recently, I had a conversation with my old roommate, and my friend Frost. Frost and I were venting about how much our city is changing, why it’s so awful, and how angry we are that it’s getting worse. Then my ex-roommate asked, “What makes it so awful? Like, what do you think would make you feel differently about it?” and all of the sudden, I realized that what we were angry about was almost 100% money related. Once I figured that out, it actually made me feel better able to accept this and make changes.

Sometimes you don’t know why you’re angry and locating the source can help bring peace. I started researching ways to do fun free things, better ways to save money or do less expensive activities, and asking people for help and understanding. “I can’t do that activity because it’s too expensive. But I’ll meet up with you after, or we can come over this day and do a different thing.” It made me far less resentful, and I actually enjoy things now I wasn’t able to for a long time.

Asking yourself “What am I really upset about?” and then take steps to make changes in both the way you think and how you act related to that can be extremely helpful.

Make positive changes in your life and learn new lessons 
If you don’t like something about yourself, try to change it. Growing, changing, and becoming better will also impact others positively. If you can’t do it on your own, try to find someone or resources to help you with it.

This year is my year of self-care. I learned that caring for myself first and handling my stress levels is the key to being better and getting sick less. It’s like when you’re on a plane and there’s an oxygen emergency. You have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help a child or neighbor with their mask. It’s not selfish to sometimes just take your downtime, tv time, or a bath with a cup of tea to take care of YOU. Treat yo’self!

Spend less time online 
When I browse the web too long, it breaks my brain, my spirit, and just makes me less happy.

Exercise
Take Elle Woods’ advice. Exercise is calming and makes you feel good about yourself. Go for a walk or look into community events/your local parks & rec. The one in my old neighborhood would even grant financial assistance to those who couldn’t afford it.

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Aquarianfashion.tumblr.com

Stomp the f*** out of hate, but in a kind, thoughtful, intentionally loving way 
Love. Give hugs. Educate cautiously but with good intention. Try to hear other people’s point of views.  If someone gets pissed off at you for doing good and spreading love? They’re probably just jealous. If someone meets you with anger, realize that they’re probably coming from a painful place of fear and doubt (and maybe ignorance). Everyone’s dealing with their own troubles, ya know? And the world can be downright scary. Try to respond in a calm, caring manner. For me this means walking away, getting out of my head, spending time in the sunshine, and THEN responding.

If you know someone struggling with extreme fear, paranoia, anger, and/or depression, GET THEM HELP 
I recently watched a Scrubs episode where Dr. Cox realizes his anger is negatively impacting his family and makes changes. In the documentary Team Foxcatcher, dozens of families witnessed one of their own becoming more paranoid, falling into drugs, and becoming more and more troubled by his thoughts. And none of them did anything until it was too late. What did they do after? They all looked out for themselves, not each other. Maybe you lose a friend or family member by adamantly insisting they get help. But you know what? You might save their life and the lives of others. Someday, they might thank you.

There are lots of ways to make a positive difference in the world. If I left something out, leave me a comment. Please note that spam will be deleted.