Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I wrote this blog this past April after attending the wedding of two of my favorite people in Austin, TX.  I never posted it because it seemed too silly and sentimental. Right now, I could go for a little silly... and sentimental.

I recently attended a wedding. I haven't been too up on weddings in a while. I honestly think the last wedding I attended was a friend's from high school, and I didn't even actually attend the wedding. I made it just in time for the reception, and that was the best part...because there was free wine and frozen daiquiris.

I grew up in the church, a church that taught me that my ultimate goal was to find a husband and have children...and raise them in the church. How would I mark the beginning of this, my real life? With a wedding, of course!

There would be a ceremony, beginning with the bride walking slowly on a plastic white "carpet," announced by some pop song. The rooms (sanctuaries) were usually white walled with beige or sea-foam carpeting. This part of the wedding, the ceremony, would last no less than forty-five minutes, almost, if not as long as, the length of a church service.

The bride and groom would light a candle together, or pour sand into a jar (ridiculous. RIDICULOUS) to represent their unity. Then, they would kiss, and it would be time for cake.

Cake was as much as one could expect from the grand reception celebrations. There was also punch and sometimes cookies. The "party" would take place in the fellowship hall, filled with long tables and folding metal chairs, lit by the glare of magnificent florescent lighting.

The bride and groom would cut the cake, throw the bouquet and...the garter belt (but not really a garter belt) to the single men and women, and then they would run out the doors to their limousine, and disappear into the exciting new world of doin it...together.

And it was sacred*, and it was beautiful*, and clean* and pure*, because anything more would be...SIN.

I don't want to shine the WORST light on this. I know many wonderful people who did the best they could with such ceremonies and have had a grand time of marriage. The important part, I'm sure, is the marriage, not the wedding.

The wedding I attended last week in Austin, TX, that joined my close friends, NAY, bestest friends Carol Alexander and Matthew Falkenberg, was all of those things*, as well as one of the most beautiful sins I have ever committed.

I know. That's a really big statement to make. Like, that's huge and sentimental and shit. But I don't know how else to describe it.

We ate and drank and...indulged...and swam, and danced, and sang, and drank more (and indulged), and danced and sang more than I may have ever done.

It was pure and beautiful and even sacred, but not because it was religious. It wasn't.

I think somewhere along the line, we may have forgotten who...what....God is. God is Love. And that is huge. It's bigger than religion..s.

Matthew and Carol were married by our wonderful friend Devin, who recently married his precious husband, McKenzie in our nation's capital so that they could be transferred together when the Marines sent him to Japan. So that he could be with his family, with the man he loved.

And I cried.

I've been thinking a lot about love and about family, extending those definitions to the people in my life that I've used to redefine my tree. I lost hold of my concept of what it meant to belong when my ideals were challenged way back (you may know the story). I eventually found that loving the others in my life could fill the void left by the rift in my belief system. I took love away from the romantic notion and found it in everything.

But I forgot that the romantic notion was also real, and I've been rolling my eyes a lot over the years.

When my heart was broken for the first time, I wailed to my mother that The Bible (which states: Love never fails) was wrong. She always says she did a bad job of raising me (which isn't a nice thing to say to a daughter, MOM), but my mother hit the nail on the head that day when she answered, "that verse isn't talking about people, and it's not talking about marriage, it's talking about God."

It's hard for me to think about, "God" without thinking about "Love." I try to remind myself that it's not okay to equate God with the people who say they represent...IT (close your mouth, parents). The verse is talking about love. And I know, I'm waxing spiritual like I fancy myself some sort of prophet. I don't. I've believed in that all encompassing God-love for a while now, but I haven't necessarily believed in that romantic love.

I do now. Again. A little. At least. Finally. Because it's the same damn thing, or it should be.

I found love after knowing Matthew and Carol for less than a year. I chose them as my family, and Devin and McKenzie too. Since then we have grown together and apart. We have moved closer and further away, and last week, we met up again, with others in our circles, and we ate and drank and danced and sang. We celebrated love and commitment, and we laughed together as we acknowledged the inevitable hard times.

I know I'm too sentimental. I know it. I wish I could be funnier right now. But I can't. I'm a damn love-sick fool, and I don't care who knows it.

It may seem easier to follow a predetermined path for your life, to try your damnedest to make all the pieces fit so that you can float by with as much ease as possible. But there comes a time when you have to grow up.

"When I was child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I grew up, I put childish ways behind me." (I made this one my own...meaning, I took out the gender specifics) (gender is a structure, not a real thing. Kill your idols).

There is no guidebook for your life, and there is no way to plan for your future, even with a 401K and a savings account with a great interest rate (if that even exists!). There is only you...and the people you love, but it can take a while to see them, to find them.

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (that's just straight up NIV, kids)

My friends, the people that I love, have taught me to love in every way that one can, and through those lessons, they have inadvertently helped me to continue my hope in the greater love, the omnipresent love, the love we forget about that calls us to put away the self and serve the other. There is no greater task. There is no job that trumps our responsibility to love each other. 

Matthew and Carol, if you're reading this, you are part of the team that taught me that love still exists (even the sexy kind!), and holy cow, what a feat. You guys are like...not just a piece of the pie...but the whole pie. And I wish you the absolute best. I hope, when it's hard, when part of the pie seems to be missing, that you remember the rest of the pie still waiting to be eaten. I also hope this metaphor makes sense. 

Now, I say with confidence, to anyone listening, it's true, "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away." 

And nothing else matters. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Blues is Just a Cicada in Your Beer

The sound of the singing cicadas begins in the morning and grows stronger and louder as the summer sun reaches it's place, first in the noon sky, and finally again as it reaches the horizon in the west. It doesn't matter where I am when I hear them, their song instantly takes me back to Memphis.

It took a while for me to understand how it felt to have a nationality, but it took me no time at all to know what it felt like to come from a place. I realized where I was from, and the part it would play in my life, the first time I crossed the bridge over the Mississippi River into Arkansas. I sat up on my knees in the back seat of my parents' car and watched the skyline rise and fall as we disappeared into the west. 

When I left for the first time to live in another place, all I could think of was the river and the Mississippi Delta, the slow gate of the inhabitants of area code 901, the bitter idealism, the weeping of the music, and the mysticism on every street corner. 

Memphis took me in, although she was not my birth home. She raised me and sent me on my way. When I came back to her, broken and lost, she took me in, put me back together, and made me see who I was, maybe for the first time in my life. 

It was most certainly the people that colored my life in the bluff city, but we were all under the spell of her dark magic. 
A few days ago the Cicadas in Chicago stopped singing; however, they are still present. I see their shells lying along the grass in small, neatly trimmed lawns. They leave them, their old selves, behind as they continue to migrate.

Go back in time and find the shells I have left behind, those I continually leave in my wake. I don't know why, but I keep moving, running once I've found it too difficult to keep singing.

When I returned home to Memphis after learning to teach English in Europe, meeting Liam, falling in love with the world outside my home, the Cicadas were in full force, flinging their bodies into violent flights, and singing at the top of their...lungs(?).

One found its way into my beer at a house party in midtown. I was drinking someone's home brew. It was sweet and malty. Not the Cicada, the beer. The Cicada leapt from the shadows and into my beer. Just as quickly as its body landed in my beverage, it had flung itself out and on to the next Solo cup. I kept drinking the beer. My friends made that beer, which means they put their passion into it.

The times when the Blues have come into my life have seemed like little lifetimes within themselves. I feel like I'm walking down a dark tunnel, tense and certain with a twinge of doubt that the light will appear...eventually? The darkness always seems relentless, like the song of the Cicadas.

I know that it isn't. I know that life is difficult, that it doesn't really get better or easier. But I also know that I can handle it because I am stronger than even I realize...or will probably ever admit to myself. It's easier to make friends when I'm weak than it is to keep them. I can chase everyone I know away in a matter of minutes when that particular bad dream shows its face (The Blues...stay with me, guys). The ones that don't run are infinitely amazing to me. The ones that stay with me and hold my hand when I am THE WORST at holding hands, those are the people I hope I never lose.

I know I can't keep flinging my body from one beer to the next; thus, as I continue my travels, I have stopped running home. I would love to return more than I can say, but I will never rise from the ashes if I keep packing them up and dragging them to Memphis with me. I know that phoenix metaphor is pretty dramatic, and I'm a little embarrassed about it, but it sounds kinda cool too, and I don't want to be afraid of the overly sentimental if it gets the point across...or just...like...affects someone.

I'm in a tough spot right now, but I'm not alone, and despite my urge to continue to run, I've got to stay here and finish this beer. I'm pretty sure my friends made it, which means...

Oh, HI!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hi, Anxiety

It seems people are speaking more openly about mental health these days, and I am, of course, a devoted proponent of that, but sometimes I don't fully connect with everyone's talking. I know. It's because I am a unique individual with a life that is all my own, full of riDICulous baggage that is all my own.

I've said before, via this forum, that I have been diagnosed with moderate major depressive disorder...which I think is hiLARious (I'm experimenting with using caps lock as a grammatical tool to help you read my work as it sounds in my head, let me know what you think). However, it has recently, yes...only very recently, come to my attention that I may be just another ol' anxiety disorder sufferer. I had a doctor once tell me that he thought I was borderline personality disorder. YEAH. ME?

The truth is, everyone has anxiety about anything and everything. Life is anxiety. The difference with me is, and don't misunderstand me, I AM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

How do I know? Well, my dad told me, and my mom told me, and they didn't tell that to anyone else...especially not each other (loveyouguys!). Then my teachers told me, and other people told me, and one day I realized: everyone is paying attention to me all the time and everyone will be mad at me if I fail.

I feel like that's normal for everyone...right?

And then I failed. And I failed again, and again, and again, and again, until suddenly everyone in the entire world hated me, and I lived like that, for a long time.

There are things I like to do a certain way, the exact same way all the time. It gives me a sense of calm, ok? I wouldn't call myself OCD, but my anxiety levels do require a bit of coping. I like having a schedule that's fairly similar from day to day. I like making plans to have fun, rather than flying by the seat of my pants, and I need a good balance of alone AND social time.

Sound familiar? Yeah. I basically just described a grown up. 

And there it is friends, the plight of every human: we grow up sometimes, and it's usually, forgive me, a mind fuck. 

One day you realize that everything you've been told has been...kind of...basically....a little bit...bullshit. Some people catch on really quick, and settle into being an adult a little bit more easily. I was not such an easy case. 

I was weird in high school. I was weird in junior high school. I was weird in every school, but at some point I got a glimpse of what life could be like if I were "normal," and for some reason, I wanted it...so bad. 

I wanted it all. I wanted marriage, family, church, babies, puppies, back yard, SUV (yep). The only thing I didn't want was a job I hated and a republican in the white house. That's pretty much all from my real brain that I held onto. 

I can tell you now, as someone that craved the "good life," for a good chunk of her own life, I am so happy that I failed at that. In fact, I might even go so far as to call that the biggest failure of my life. I failed at escaping my true nature. I failed to break the bonds of being the sole inhabitant of my own incredible planet. 

When I'm not on my planet, I'm traveling through space and time with this guy. 

You can't escape who you are (and with The Doctor's help, you realize you don't want to). You can't escape what you want in life. You can't make it something else. The only real way to move forward is to move forward...

...and seek out the truth.

My truth is that I'm afraid people hate me most of the time, but I've recently learned that I am not the center of the universe, so that truth is changing. Why? Because I'm free now.

Do I still fail? OH YES. I just failed in a big way recently. And it sucks. But I have friends, and arms, and legs, and eyes, and a nose, and the ability to taste and enjoy the flavor of ice cream. I also have wine. So, if anyone wants to come over...and watch Doctor Who. The new season just started.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Family You Choose

I chose the title for this blog a week ago, and I had almost forgotten my inspiration for it until just now. I finished eating yogurt covered pretzels, sipping my morning coffee of leftover Stumptown coffee beans that had to be removed from the espresso grinder by hand and either thrown away or stuffed in a pastry bag and transported to my home, whilst watching John Oliver, and I began my daily perusal of the facebooks to read yet another post from a good friend of mine that sparked a delightfully (actually) intelligent debate which, in turn, reminded me of the reason I would like to write about "The Family You Choose." Long sentence? It's legit. Try reading some Cormac McCarthy.

I've had a strange relationship with the idea of "family" for most of my life. I suspect we all do. There are societal norms, 2.5 children and such, and there is...everything else.

My mom is the youngest of seven. Holidays and vacations spent in the exotic small towns of Oklahoma were bustling, frenzied, and fascinating. There were so many siblings with children with their own children, and cats and dogs, and food and football, and that remarkable Nevills sarcasm. I could write books about the people I met, that claimed me and I them. My family.

My dad, on the other hand, is one of two. There is a certain level of intimacy, I gather, from growing up in a family of four, an almost perfect nuclear family. There is also a certain level of honesty that ferments from mutual strife. I remember meeting my dad's sister once, vaguely, as a child of about five, and a second time, years later, as a confused as hell teenager. I walked into my grandmother's room at the nursing home, and my aunt stood up to shake my hand, say this, "remember me? If you do, it's probably not good because the last time I saw you I hated kids," and give me the warmest smile I can remember.

Then there's...us. The three amigos. My mom and my dad and me against the world. And for twenty-four years, that's how it seemed it would always be. Until my parents divorced, and I, basically, fled the country.

I don't think I had started to grasp the vastness of the cosmos until my parents got divorced and I felt, for the first time, that I was completely alone in the universe, that my leash to the space shuttle had broken and I was Sandra Bullock-ing through space (Damn, she fine in that movie, though). The remarkable thing that I take from that whole...moment...was the simultaneously deafening yet beautiful utter silence.

Imagine being reborn, except this time, you're old enough to remember every terrifying second, from realizing that this liquid room you live in isn't big enough any more, to being SLOWLY forced through your mother's vagina, head first, to all the damn SHOTS you have to get...again. You have to shit your pants a lot, too.

At the age of twenty-four, I began the painful process of relearning the whole damn universe.

The most remarkable part of growing up is meeting your new family members. If you go looking for love, you will find it. I was lucky enough to meet some incredible people that fell in love with me and took me in. These are the people that occupy the space of my heart because I know that I occupy the space of theirs.

When I feel alone, misunderstood, lost, insane, broken, and bloody, I think about my family. The family I chose. I think about how much they must love me, to keep coming back after experiencing my waves of depression and anger. I think about how brave they are to be jumping off of cliffs every day to live the lives they've always dreamed. I think about how proud of me they'll be even if I fail at everything.

The people in my life, that I love, are so smart. They are inspiring. They are beautiful. And they love me. So I've got no excuse not to do the same.

The best part of it all, is that I still have my family from my childhood. It looks different and feels different. It is different, but that doesn't mean it isn't better. The honesty that comes from mutual strife, that ferments, becomes a relief. It becomes a resting place, where we can be ourselves, where we can be safe.

BOOM. Whole post about my dog who is incredible. GOTCHA!!!!

P.S. Not really. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

End of Part One

Every time I start to think that life makes any kind of sense, I'm reminded of that time I saw that Hobbit movie...two?...years ago. I was arguing with my dad before seeing it about whether or not it was going to be one movie or three movies. "There's no way that book fits three really long movies," I laughed at my dad's obvious naiveté. I mean, it's the smallest book in the series.

I graduated from the conservatory at Second City a little over a week ago, and holy hell has this year been a year. I moved to Chicago the day of new student orientation on June 23, 2013, and I finished my last show in the conservatory on July 21, 2014.

The year was long (I'm still suffering from PTSD because of the polar vortex), but not nearly as long as the years leading up to this exact moment. My road to my...life...has taken more twists and turns than I ever thought possible...when I graduated from college. That's a good thing, you know, because I've really been striving for a while to live the life of an autobiographer.

I used to tell my college boyfriend how I dreamed of going to Second City. The mere notion that people like Gilda Radner (who taught me that I wasn't the only weirdo), Mike Myers (who basically wrote my 90s experience), and the Ghostbusters (the Ghostbusters!) had studied at this institution in Chicago, made it essential on my list of places to be, if only for a moment, before I die.

He bought me a coffee table book about Second City from the bargain book table at Barnes and Noble. My first teacher at the conservatory is in that book.

Skip ahead to another chapter. I was a few weeks away from defending my Master's thesis and moving to England indefinitely (and what a fun turn that was), when my mom asked me, "what would you do if you weren't moving to England?" "I guess I would go to Second City and audition for the conservatory."

That was 2007.

Those seven years between then and now were just as earth shattering. In fact, every minute of my life I spend moving forward tends to crush it. How weird is that?

I don't know when I decided that I wanted to stop waiting to arrive, but it was in between all these places and spaces.

My favorite book as a kid was The Monster at the End of this Book, starring Grover. If you're familiar, you know that the fun is in the title. As a kid, you can't wait to turn the page because every turn gets you one hilarious page closer to seeing the monster. Even though Grover is so cute and does such a silly fun job of trying to keep you from doing so, you eventually get to the end. Don't worry. I don't do spoilers.

GUYS! We know that there is a monster at the end of our book, and it's a scary monster. Nobody wants to die, but most of us turn the pages so damn fast, it seems like we have a death wish.

Who the hell invented "settling down?" It's a crock. Settling down is something I want to do when I'm six feet under.

As scary as it is to know that we are all moving as one towards a similar fate, the thought of stopping, or slowing down, is more terrifying than any inevitable outcome.

So I checked off a bucket on my list..or something, but I'm not anywhere near done, and coming to that realization is terrifying and wonderful.

My only problem now, is making my opening metaphor match my final message. You see, I was NOT happy when I came to the end of the first Hobbit movie to find that there were TWO more movies that were just as long to be released over the next two years. There's a monster at the end of that book too, but I know what it looks like, and I know how it all goes down. Maybe it's the fact that this installment in the Peter Jackson wheelhouse feels less like art and more like watching a bunch of nerds masturbate (and, friends, masturbation is a sin) that makes it tiresome, or, perhaps I just don't like having to wait to pee for that long multiple times in a series.

I'm excited about the end of this chapter of my life, however, because I know that it only means the beginning of another chapter, and I can only speculate about the outcome of this one. I've read the Hobbit and the other books. They're old news. The books are better, anyway...as is this guy's version of the book in question.

In my case, however, as a future autobiographer, my actual book will just make the (billions of) readers jealous. Take that little bit of advice for what it's worth. *wink

Totally unrelated side-note: If you are a fan of Sesame Street literature, may I also suggest this book:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Easy Like Sunday Morning

I didn't buy the most expensive cherries. I didn't buy the second ones down from that. I bought the cheapest cherries at the cheapest market. Still, every time I take a bite of one of them--stopping at the pit, nibbling the rest away, and slurping the last of the sweet flesh--I am suddenly on a patch of grass, on the yard of a weathered cottage no bigger than a front porch, eating warm cherries that I had just picked with a Czech student, from the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, Czech Republic, who was currently learning English while I was teaching it.

Ask any Czech, at least from Bohemia (Moravians might think differently, but I haven't tested that hypothesis), what he or she did over the weekend, and you will receive, "I went to my cottage and I picked berries," as an earnest and matter of fact response.

At the time, I was in a transition, twenty-six years old, making steps that I invented rather than those that had been invented for me...ages ago...before I had any choice in the matter. Here's another fun metaphor: I was writing my own recipes for success after tossing aside the recipes that had been handed down to me. Wasn't that nice?

I lived in an apartment, waited tables, studied literature in graduate school at the University of Memphis, drank a lot of cheap beer, drank a lot of rum (because I am a pirate), tried cocaine a few times (I get it, but also, no. No, thank you), made out with a writer who thought he had fleas, waited up an extra hour to get McGriddles, shopped at Target, Best Buy, Wal-mart on the frequent, and my favorite shot (as I joyously announced to all who would listen at the bar) was a Red-Headed Slut. I also dyed my hair red. I was a (fuckin') American (girl), and, despite not always being great, life was still...not actually that bad.

Then, mere months later, I was sitting on this patch of grass, listening to this student talk about his passion for public transportation, and it was fascinating. I met a lot of men in Europe, actually, that were enamored with public transportation systems.

He invited me to his garden to pick berries, and everyone giggled when I told them what I was doing after class that afternoon.

He had two cats that lived at the cottage and roamed the rows of raspberry and blueberry bushes, currants, and strawberries. They mastered the branches of the cherry tree and kept a close watch as we climbed ladders to reach and pluck the lovely fruits from the organism that built them.

Oh, and his mom had baked a blueberry pie with blueberries from the garden. And we ate it. All of it.

He didn't ask me a lot about me, and if he did, I usually found an awkward way to spin it back around to effective ways to learn English.

We ate, and we lounged, and we spoke, and we enjoyed the company of two curious kittens.

He took me back to the tram-stop I needed and kissed me in a way that was awkwardly confident...or confidently awkward...if that makes more sense. And that was it.

I knew there had to be something more, and I was seeking it, in desperation. There had to be something better than the monotony of consumption. I cried a lot that second semester of grad school. I was a confused gal (mostly because of Derrida).

If you look for anything, confident that it is possible for you to find it, you will (I'm usually basically just writing euphemisms for all the things Emerson said).

I don't always remember what's important. I get caught up in an excessive amount of what simply boils down to insecurity...aching and sweating, terrified, insecurity.

Then I drop a couple of bucks on a bag of "sold as is" cherries, take a bite of one, and there I am again, at that cottage, full of blueberry pie. And I remember.

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Attempt at a Thank You

I'm trying something new these days. I don't know how to explain it, or why it suddenly makes perfect sense to me to live this way when it seems that only a few weeks ago, I couldn't imagine the world I'm living in right now. A few weeks ago, I had no idea it was possible to let go of worry.

Don't immediately get jealous, ok. It is exactly as good as it sounds, but it is also just as impossibly difficult as it seems. I STILL worry that I'll forget how to do it one day and go back to my previous way of living: in constant knots of terror.

Doing a search for "crying babies" is the saddest thing one could do.
I don't remember the exact catalyst that clued me in to the fact that I was in trouble, but it had something to do with my ever so complicated relationship with my parents. The parent in the limelight for this one: pops.

He was telling me how I needed to wait before putting a deposit down on a new place to make sure my promised room mate was actually going to move to Chicago. It was sound advice, that I had already put a good deal of thought into because my dad taught me to live like that. He had been telling me for forty-eight hours at this point. And I was already stressed out.

Nothing is more terrifying than looking forward to time with a parent, and knowing, just KNOWING, the criticisms that inevitably come along with it. My room will never be clean enough. Nor will my car. 
And surely I could snag a partner if I would just stop doing a list of things that I do...including...sometimes being mean. 

Chock it up to the fact that it often seems that men have a propensity to want to "fix" things. Chock it up to the fact that I still complain about being single, so I'm basically just asking for advice. Chock it up to the fact that I'm a woman and he's a man. Or call it what it is, an attempt to right some wrong he feels he's done me in raising me to this point. 

I have always been cautious, skeptical, and having my heart broken by my best friend when I was a wee young lad of just twenty-four didn't make it any easier for me to ease up on the caution. 

But I remember my dad saying to me once when I was contemplating trying out for the Tennis team in junior high, "Do you really want to try out? What if you don't make it?"

I probably just wanted to wear the cute outfits. 
That was the moment. I think about that breath of time a lot when I look back at how tiny my steps have been in putting myself out there. I think about all the auditions I didn't go to, and the jobs I didn't apply for, and the guys I allowed to be mean to me because I was afraid of being mean to them. And I was angry. For a while. 

But staying angry only hurts me, and I've been doing that for much too long. 

So, when my dad said, just one more time, "please don't put a deposit down on an apartment until you know for sure...," I lost it. I exploded in rage, punched my fist into the palm of my hand like one of those kids in Newsies getting ready to fight the fucked up child labor paper route system through song and dance, and I yelled, "don't you think I know that?! Don't you think I'm competent enough to know that?!? You don't even CARE!!! Leave me ALONE!!??"

To which he replied, "Okay."

If he said anything else, I didn't hear it, I immediately began to gracefully power walk a decent cushion between the two of us. We were on our way to a Cubs game. 

I have no idea how long I walked or how gloriously ridiculous I looked with my fists clenched and my hips jaunting about, this way and that. I was lost in a fog of my own rage. I felt like a two year old again, burning with fury and unable to express exactly why, and with no clue as to how to dry the tears. 

My mind raced over the other men in my life, pictures of moments like I was falling and seeing everything again. And I remembered conversations with my father about how I needed to hold on and be patient with them, try to be less frightening (try to hold back my true feelings). The only trouble is, the only true feelings I was having were the ones that were revealing themselves in my rage, the ones I was denying. 

In that moment I wished more than anything, that instead of cautioning me to stay safe when I wanted to take new steps and try to test my limits, my father had pushed me to step out into the abyss. Instead of counseling me to ignore the feelings that told me to run from different men, I wished my father had coached me to accept nothing less than the utmost respect from any man that would ever deign to love me. 

The truth is, he DID those things, in ways that anyone would attempt in his total lack of knowledge of what it's like to be a girl. For some reason, my brain only noticed that for which I have had the hardest time forgiving myself. 

My dad is, more than anything else, human. My dad has seen me as a tiny baby and, terrified, vowed to protect me at all costs to whomever would listen. My dad promised he would die for me, and I never doubted him. My dad's love for me is no less than super human, but his instinct to avoid pain is the humanity in him. Nothing hurts my dad more than seeing me hurt, and he prays for nothing less than a life without suffering for his daughter every night, in part because he loves me, and in part because he too has no desire to suffer. 

How could I fault my father, who loves me so, for being the very thing that he is: human? 

That is the plight of the parent, the terror of the task. Our humanity will never allow us to live a life without pain, without fear, without fault. For every responsibility we assume, we also adopt the myriad of mistakes we will make while trying to stay the course. 

Yes, both of my parents made mistakes, surely. But they made a lot of good choices too, don't ya think? I mean, I'm kind of amazing. At least, that's how I feel now. 

My dad called me to see if I wanted him to pick me up somewhere, and I yelled, "NO! I want you to apologize!! I want you to say you're sorry for all the things you did to fuck up my brain!!" It seems pretty intense, I know, but don't picture me saying it. Picture her:  

And so, my dad apologized. He didn't go on and on or try to defend his position. He just said he was sorry. He said that he loved me, and he asked if I still wanted to go to the Cubs game. I did. So we met there, hugged, scarfed down some hot dogs and beers and the WORST nachos I've ever eaten, and we watched the Cubs actually win a game. 

And since then. I don't care any more. I just want to be me. I don't want to worry about making me change to fit different spaces. I don't want to keep shredding my heart apart with self doubt and self hatred. I'm no longer interested in the voice that questions the validity and purity of every choice I make. I don't care about being pure. I want my hands in the dirt. I only care about being grateful for the love that I have in my life. I have people that worry about me constantly. I can't imagine what it takes to care about someone as much my parents care about me. I only hope that I can share some of the love I have been given with whomever may need it. I only care about turning some of that love in on my self, and admiring the core of my existence, the chance beauty of my tiny blip of a presence on the timeline of time. 

In other words, I am in awe. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Good Grief

Let's move through the narrative of this point of view piece backwards, the way it occurred to me. I received an article about the Isla Vista killings, with the comment that some of the attitudes expressed by the shooter matched the male attitudes I addressed in my blog about sexting. Remember that one? I was talking about a (couple of) guy(s) that inappropriately propositioned me to respond positively to his  (their) genitalia pictures that he (they) sent to me via text message, or SMS if you're reading this in England or just Europe in general (yes, more than one guy did that to me).

My objective in said blog was to point out that trying to define "rape" as this specific thing was moot because people can cause mental sexual distress to other people without even touching them. There is this underlying idea behind trying to define rape as only sexual encounters that end in intercourse and ejaculation, perhaps because it is only within the last hundred years or so that it even occurred to anyone that it wasn't okay ever to force a woman to have sex with you, even if she was your wife. That specifically has probably only become unacceptable in the last sixty years. SERIOUSLY. It was okay to beat your wife at the turn of the century. Virginia Woolf talks about it in her shockingly hard while simultaneously easy to follow, stream of consciousness A Room of One's Own. Drink some coffee while you absorb that one.

And now this kid went and shot people because he couldn't get laid? Because he felt like women owed him?

There are a few arguments here, but the one with which I would like to spend the most time is the misogyny part.

It's easy to hate this guy, to look at him, as a feminist, and say, "this is why I am a feminist." He was a self-proclaimed hater of those darn feminazis.

Here we have a tragic case of a simple misunderstanding in which, the victim, said shooter, has completely misunderstood that which he hates. In his world and the world of so many misinformed men and women, Feminism preaches that women should hate men, that men are the enemy, trying to keep us down, to grind us down (illegitimi non carborundum). Except it isn't. Not actual feminism, at least.

Sometimes it's hard to define a movement of thought with just one word. There are layers to the theory, an idealism that seeks to permeate the wall that the patriarchy has built until feminism no longer requires a set of symbols (letters) to define it.

This is what has happened with the patriarchy. For ages, there was no word for this idea. It was simply...reality...at least in western white cultures. Women were simply "other," lower on the food chain, the weaker sex.

Ah, but now, now we have defined it with a word, signifiers have been organized in such a fashion as to represent this idea that has guided our thoughts for centuries. Now that we have defined it, given it a name, we take ownership of it. We become aware of it, and we are able to let it go, to see the poison it is, and to flush it out of our system.

The tragedy of being able to understand the patriarchy a bit better is what happens to the humans it still affects. We become detached, disenfranchised from reality, lost in a prison created for us by our own society...by ourselves.

The idea that women are separate from that which we, as members of the patriarchy define as truly human...with typical human experiences and responses...is what fuels the fires the fanatics light. It seems to me that this kid thought the women that rejected him, and there were apparently a lot, were doing it to him...because of him. The reality of most situations is that a man's world is not the focal point of any woman's world. The focal point of her world...is she, her. And she doesn't have it easy, even today.

I've had multiple male friends (and lovers) laughingly tell me that I could have anyone I wanted. That I have nothing to worry about when approaching a guy because no guy is going to turn down a chance with me. And I believed them for a while.

And then I started dating. I've been "dating" for over four years now, and let me tell you, it is not easy...and it is rarely pretty. NO. I cannot have anyone I want. In fact, I can rarely have anyone I want...at least these days. I have been rejected more times than I ever thought possible, but I'm still working hard, and while I wouldn't mind giving the entire male population a kick in the nuts, I certainly don't think they owe me anything (aside from everything for keeping my sisters down for so many years, dammit)...but I do worry that I owe them something...

And that's how the patriarchy affects me. I give so many men such a hard time, and I get so defensive and so angry with honest and good men because I'm worried that if I don't give them what they want, I'll be alone forever, a failure at basic human relationships. I project misogyny onto them, when it probably wasn't even there in the first place.

The truth is, rejection is just a part of putting myself out there. If I were successful 100% of the time, I'd be bored...and success wouldn't feel so sweet. I wouldn't have any reason to challenge myself, or to take things back to the drawing board, to expand on my beliefs and ideals, to care. I don't want to date every guy that falls for me, and not every guy I fall for wants to date me (ever!!!! WHY?????!!!). Life is exactly as it should be.

If I could talk to this kid, if he hadn't offed himself leaving us with no outlet for retribution or...reason to forgive, I would tell him it isn't about what you think you're owed. None of that is real. Being able to get laid whenever you want to/need to get laid isn't success.

Real success is contentment, empathy, compassion.

These are the things that make life bearable, and life seems unbearable pretty often. Falling for someone, realizing that you can trust someone, being able to accept the love someone tries to give you, those are the things that make life worth living...and none of those things actually require sex. Sex is the cherry on top...and also the whipped cream...and, if you've ever added marshmallow to your banana split...it's also that...plus chocolate.

Sex is not a right. Sex is an honor, be it attached or unattached. Respect is what makes it best. Mutual respect.

The only way to get to that is to run as fast as we can in the opposite direction of misogyny, and then get ready to fuck it up a bunch before we get it right...if we ever do.

It's hard to change, even a little bit. We feel it in the pains of those who crumble under the pressure. I'm not saying this kid did the right thing or that the deaths he caused should be written off as a simple growing pain.

I'm saying: it's time to start talking openly about what it's like to be alive. Now we come to the part of the story that I discovered at the end of my journey: the story of the grieving father.

The moment this man began to cry at the same time that he unleashed his raw feelings of rage, I began to cry...as a human being. I understood it. I have no children. I'm half the man's age...and, oh yeah, I'm a woman.

But my empathy took over, and I wept with him. Because we are both on the same road.

The patriarchy (not feminism) paints a picture of fatherhood, of leadership, as being devoid of that kind of out of control, wailing emotion. That is reserved for women, the weaker (too emotional) sex.

But it isn't devoid of any emotion, or it shouldn't be.

The only way to survive change, is to stay open and to lean on each other. We have to feel empathy and, subsequently, compassion for each other. There isn't a single one of us that doesn't struggle down the same road of life. If you meet anyone that says they don't, they're lying.

It's time to stop pretending that life isn't hard, that we know all the answers, and that we completely understand and have achieved happiness. Believing otherwise is believing in a mirage.

It's time for it to be okay for anyone to be enraged and broken hearted, vulnerable. It's time to admit that's how we all feel a majority of the time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Legitimately Legitimate

I know what you're thinking, "not another rehashing of the tragic events involving the defining of rape in 2012," and I know, it's hack. But this is seriously serious. I'm talking about rape. On a more specific, and nonetheless grave, note, I want to discuss sext rape. Rape sexting. Rapeting.

It may have happened to you, and you didn't even realize it.

Have you ever found yourself at home alone, just sitting on the couch, drinking a magnum of red wine, watching a marathon of America's Next Top Model? Then, suddenly, you receive a text message. You're excited, at first, because you don't normally get texts after...normally. But when you see the content of the text, you realize, it is anything but a pleasant surprise.

You've just received a text message from that guy to which you gave your number at that club that night when you were drunk. You gave him your number because you thought he seemed like a really nice guy. He seemed like the kind of guy that would totally call (or text) a girl that he met at a club, and maybe they would go on a date, and maybe they would go on a few more dates, and then maybe they would find themselves in love and in a relationship, and the wedding would be so much fun because your friends would love you and each other and barbecue and sunsets on the river and kegs of low gravity beer and at least two dogs with a house and a yard with a garden and Obama and a beautiful utopian socialist future.

Well, you were partially right. He TOTALLY WAS the kind of guy that would text. In fact, he just texted you a picture.


Yes. I know. Your initial reaction is to laugh, and that's fine. For now.

You play coy, so as not to embarrass the poor guy, and respond with:

"who is this? ;)?"

He responds with another picture.


You continue to play coy:

"OH HI! I remember YOU! ;)"

He responds (how charming) with:

"Your turn."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That's you. Alone at home. You're laughing because you think it's hilarious, this guy's gumption. Like he's just so sure he can get you to send him an infamous "tit pic," or "snatch chat." How cute.

"Yer aDORable."



"I'm good."

"I'm not."

Wait a minute. You don't remember asking this guy to send you a picture of his genitalia. Why? Because you didn't. And now, all of a sudden, because he's "taken the initiative," you've got to reciprocate?

I. Don't. Think. So. And I'm a damn feminist, mother-fucker (had to be said).

So you ignore him.

But he doesn't stop asking. And when you finally ask him to leave you alone, he says,

"But I showed you mine! Don't be a tease!"

So, now, all of a sudden, you're a tease for sitting alone on your couch on a Friday night, drinking a magnum of wine, and watching ANTM?!?!

I know. I know. My tone is changing. It's changing because I'm not talking about you. I mean, I might be talking about you, but I'm mostly just talking about me.

I don't want to parse words.

I am who I am, not who anyone else wants me to be. I imagine it's just as hard for men as it is for women, so let's be real.

Nobody is required to do anything they don't want to do, even if it seems as benign as sending a picture of his schlong or her jugs via media message. That's it.

Also, let's stop making one label for that one thing and another for this other thing. Words are just words and very often insufficient. That's why people write songs and paint paintings.

Think of the idea of rape as the same things as the idea of porn.
Maybe you don't know what it is exactly, but you know it when you see it.

I just hope you don't have to see it in the form of a poorly lit penis, photographed from a suspicious angle so as to make it seem bigger, or thicker, or whatever. I also hope you don't have to see it in the form of smooshed-together hoo-haas and duck lips.

J'ai fini.

I love you. All of you.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The End of Innocence

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been trying the online dating thing these days, and, I must say, I've been semi-successful...and by “successful,” I mean, I’ve been on a lot of different dates with a lot of different guys. 

The thing about online dating, for…me, I guess….is that I could have the same luck if I walked into a bar and said, “Um, Hello! I am looking for someone to sleep with on a regular basis. Wah wah, wa wawawa. wa wa wawawawawa.” In other words, some in the online dating scene see no difference betwixt it and the bar scene. 

But I am not online to "get laid." I don't need online for that. I am a woman with a woman's body. It's SCIENCE. I'm online to seek out connections, to discover people in my area that are my age that I might actually be compatible with outside the confines of propagation. Am I getting too vocabulary happy with you? Should I include a glossary? 

With this is mind, one must first accept the truth that, when given the opportunity to “sell” themselves, SOMETIMES BOYS TELL LIES. 

Par Example. 

Photo Credit to these silly guys: http://www.rad-dudes.com/?m=200912
I was on a date with a super cute guy I met on OkCupid that was a pretty high match for me. We were both into a lot of the same things, shared a lot of the same philosophies, but most importantly, when asked by the robot on the website, “Do you prefer to give or receive massages,” he marked “give,” and I marked, “receive.” 

Are you kidding me? I just found hit the jackpot. If things work out with this guy, I could be looking at a future of free massages for the foreseeable future without any sort of compensation required...I thought.  

I like getting massages and he likes giving massages. 

So we were on a date, and by “on a date,” I mean, we were making out on his couch, and I suddenly realized that I had never actually given him the chance/offered to let him give me a massage. So I asked him in my sexy voice "Hey...I hear you like to give massages,” and he answered, “Yeah. I do....I also like to get them.” 

...I laughed. HAHAHA. “Well, you wanna give me a massage?” 

He replied, "Sure. You wanna give ME one?" 



"But…on okcupid, you said you liked giving massages, and I said I liked receiving them." 

"Well, yeah. I like to give them, but I also like getting them. Who doesn’t like getting a massage?"


"...But…I don’t LIKE giving them. I like getting them...and I said that on OkCupid." 

"Well, there wasn't an option for both, so I just figured I’d say I like to give them because...why not?" 


…….Because why not? Because I don’t want to give massages. I don’t like it. It requires a great deal of effort, and, unless I’m getting paid, or…no….you’d pretty much need to pay me, I don’t want to waste my time rubbing on people’s bodies. I mean…is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think that makes me a bad person, or a selfish person. I think that just makes me human…and I was honest about it on OkCupid. I wasn’t like, “HEY! Why not?” I was like, "No. I don’t like giving massages."

BUT YOU. YOU skirted around the issue, “Sure. I prefer giving massages. I PREFER.”  The word prefer suggests you have an affinity for one over another. Given the choice to give or receive a massage, by marking that you “prefer to give” you are expressing to interested individuals, me, that you, more often than not, choose to be the GIVER of massages, and that, I say, is a noble answer. 

If someone were to ask me, “would you prefer to die in a violent car accident or die in your sleep,” my answer would, unequivocally be, “I would prefer to die in my sleep.” I don’t want to die in a violent car accident. I don’t want to do it. The same is true with giving massages. I don’t want to do it. If the fact that I don’t like to give makes me ignoble, then the fact that I am completely honest about that fact should absolutely absolve me of that sin. Along the same lines, If I fart in a room full of people, I will immediately own up to it. That way everyone can relax and not worry about whether they are no longer aware of or even in control of when they fart. I do that as a service to humanity. I tell the TRUTH. I believe there is honor in that. 

But now, thanks to you, my innocence is lost. I am painfully aware of the simple fact that YOU, sir, and perhaps a lot of others like you, are A BUNCH OF LIARS! AND YOU SMELL WEIRD. AND I JUST FARTED! TAKE IT TO THE DAMN BANK, WHY DONTCHA!?!?

AMIRIGHT?!?! Where my girls at?!?!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Self-Summary

Before I had mastered the art of training my dog, he used to get out and go for these long runs about the neighborhood. I would, naturally, run after him, calling his name, taking it personally, waving off the angry looks of the neighbors around me that made up our small little town square in Dahlonega, GA where I was teaching theatre at the military college.

He always seemed to set off a pair of dogs who spent most of the daylight hours on the porch of their owner's home. They would bark furiously at us as we passed, Linus either on the leash or off, gleefully running in front of me. I often stuck my tongue out at them. I may have flipped them off once or twice.

I did so on one particular day when Linus had brushed past me and set off running as fast as he could away from the house. The dogs were barking in their little dog voices that sounded like screaming children, so I stuck my tongue out at them.

Once I had gotten Linus under control and headed back home, I heard the screen door screech open and slam closed as I passed the porch. Then, I heard a voice grunt, "I saw what you did."

Bewildered, I turned around. "You stuck your tongue out at my dogs."

I had no idea how to respond. I just apologized, ironically, and headed back towards my home. She tagged it with, "if you would keep that mangey mutt on a leash..."

At that point, the fire started burning a little hotter. I got home and watched Linus, his tail forever wagging, and his eyes forever loving. I thought, "nobody talks about MY dog like that and gets away with it."

So I went back to her house, and I stood in her yard. When she came out to meet me, I implored her to keep her dogs from yelling at me. Implore might be a bit too polite. In any case, she stuck her tongue out at me, and I began screaming nonsense at her to give her a taste of her dogs' medicine.

"You're a retard!" she gasped with a look of pure astonishment.

"Oh sure. that's right. I'M a RETARD. Nice one! That's real p.c."

"I don't care nothin bout no p.c., YOU'RE A RETARD!" She repeated.

And then I realized, this is one of those times you just walk away.  So...I walked away, laughing quietly under my breath, my heart racing with excitement.

**This is what I have written on a dating site, who's name I will not mention, as my actual self-summary. If this doesn't hook 'em, they may not be able to handle all this jelly.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This Post is NOT for Vegans

Single ladies in the house? Lemme hear ya!!

There is no such thing as simply being a woman. Think about it. One can be a young woman, but once she achieves adulthood around 21, she becomes a single woman. You'd think that around 30, she would finally achieve the status of "woman," but, alas, she is still clumped into the pile of "women" that are single.

A man can be a man. In fact, I bet upon hearing the term "single man," we all feel a little odd. It doesn't sound right. It's not something you hear often. It was the title of a movie. Special. Single men get their own special term: Bachelor. Bachelorette is a meager adoption of the term that barely broaches the topic of what it really means to be one.

A mother can also be a mother. We categorize our single mothers, but we do the same to single fathers. Even saying, "married mother," feels weird.

Mothers are mothers. Men are Men, but women are either single or married, Miss, Ms. or Mrs.

It implies that a woman hasn't really achieved personhood until she is either married or a mother. But I'm not going to knock either. I would like to experience both. I think.

That said, I am a single woman. I am in my thirties. I am not thirty. I am IN my thirties, and I am single.

I actually like it. It took a while. It took years of scrunching myself into a little ball and decrying my humanity without a partner. How can I live without a man?! I put things off (like learning how to pay bills on time) thinking someone would eventually take care of that for me. I did this. ME. Caroline.

I spent nights alone, wishing someone would just "get" me, convinced that no one would, while secretly hoping that by being convinced no one would, I would trick the universe into proving me wrong.

I waited and watched. Watched and waited. Secretly, because NO ONE will want you if they know you want them. NO ONE will love you if you need it too much. I held my breath. I pretended I was someone else. I even fancied myself a femme fatale at times. Followed by a trail of men, drooling, ready to jump into action when I snapped my fingers, but never able to hold the true essence of me: the Single Woman.

But I don't do that any more. I wrestle with dating (it is misery, but occasionally fun), and I wrestle with not dating. I see it as a whole, in its true state, as simply living.

I have found that if I avoid looking at fashion magazines, I feel much better about my body. The same is also true of ignoring the pictures of full and happy lives lived with a handsome man, a beautiful child or two, and fantastic fashion sense and consumer savvy. If I don't let society tell me what life is supposed to be, I get to define it in any way that I desire.

I am learning to be a whole person. I am not free of the longing for companionship, and I am not free of days when I wish the dishes would do themselves or a benefactor would wipe out my debt. We cling to what we know.

These are the aspects of life. These are the things that make life worth living: the uncertainties, the outlandish dreams, the faith that spring will come eventually (for the love of all that is holy), but most of all it is the love.

Love knows no bounds. It has little, if anything, to do with buying a home and having babies. Those things have more to do with the economy than love. If you look for love, you'll find it. I have friends that love me, family that loves me, but more importantly (and sentimentally) I have a me that loves me.

Mothers, go kiss your babies. Men, go kiss your ladies. Single women, go kiss your cats. We all have a great deal of love to share. Don't be defined by who loves you, rather, define yourself by who you love.

Monday, February 10, 2014

She's Got Cabin Fever

Sometimes the mere act of admitting that something is horrible helps to ease the pain of the horribleness if only just a little bit. I've been having a number of conversations with locals, Chicago natives, about the severity of this particular winter, my first winter in the Windy City. Everyone agrees, this is worst than most, but nothing they haven't experienced before.

A few things happen to your perception when you experience sub-zero temperatures on a regular basis. First of all, you gain perspective. I've spoken of this before. The difference between minus twenty and twenty degrees fahrenheit is a whopping forty degrees. Your body can tell. We went from minus fifteen on a Monday night to twenty-five on a Friday, and I sweat all day long. Everywhere I went, I felt like a swamp walking around. I walked from train station to destination with no hat or scarf and breathed easy. I kept my hair up off of my neck while working to avoid oceans of sweat. Twenty-five degrees is a walk in the park after the bitter cold of an early February midnight in Chicago. I welcome them to become more frequent.

Please note that this is not the wind-chill. This is the current actual temperature, and we are looking forward to dropping another nine degrees before the sun comes up. 
Secondly, you begin to value your heater, your blankets, your layers, and your GLOVES above all else. I can't tell you how grateful I am to have a heater that works, hot water that runs, long underwear that warms, and gloves that I haven't lost yet. I always get into a bit of a panic when I'm trying to leave and haven't found my gloves. You, nor I, can do a damn thing without something to warm our hands. Never think, "Oh, I'll just keep my hands in my pockets," because you won't. You won't. I would love to be able to wear my converse right now, but the snow banks are too high, and they won't warm my toes to save my life. I'm looking forward to sporting them again someday. I really am.

Finally, you get a bit of the "fever." How do you know you have it? Let's see. I find myself laughing hysterically as I fling my body across my car to shovel yet another foot of snow from the windshield. The banks of snow kicked back by the moving cars become ice enclosed spaces for the parked cars. I have learned to expertly parallel park by flinging my car blindly over an ice dune into a small pocket left behind by the car previously inhabiting that space. My wheels get a little whiny at times, but with a little love, and a lot of insane laughing/fogging up my windshield so that it also freezes on the inside, my car nestles comfortably into its new space.

A "dibs" chair. If you take the time to shovel your parking space, you get to call "dibs" by using a chair, a table, a manger, or really anything that lets the rest of the block know: DIBS. 
When I take Linus out for walks, he climbs the giant snow banks from the constant shoveling to do his business, and I climb in after him, the snow pouring over the tops of my snow boots, to dispose of it. Once he can tell that I've had enough, and I do believe he can tell, we both run wildly back to the front door.

Linus rushes out for a quick bathroom break after about twelve hours of new snow. 
I can't imagine how crazy one has to be to go running on days when the air not only hurts my face but my throat and my lungs. Shallow breaths help keep the feeling that a million knives are stabbing my throat and lungs to a minimum.

I have had my moment of break down...I think. I found myself furiously stirring chocolate pudding to satiate my chocolate hunger on a day when I couldn't bring myself to leave the house. Linus stood and stared at me as I stirred and babbled to myself about the necessity of meeting myself head-on in my darkest moments instead of running away from it all. He was just hoping he would get some chocolate. Instead, I gave him a little peanut butter just for sticking around while I mumbled.

A lovely walk in the snow turned sour because the wind would not stop blowing the snow into my eyes. Linus hated it too. 
The good news is I noticed yesterday that the official time of sunset was 5:15 when two weeks ago it had been around 5:00. That means we are gaining about a minute of sunlight a day, which means that eventually, the sun will be much closer to this part of the country, which means that the snow will HAVE to melt at some point. The snow will have to melt, and the temperature will have to stop settling on sub-zero and get a little closer to above freezing. I'll take 35. Heck, I'll take 33. I'd even settle for 30.

The world keeps on turning. The fire of life keeps burning. It's good to know that we didn't start it, though. It's been burning since the world's been turning, Billy Joel. The snow will go just as surely as it came, and the leaves will return to the trees. A life without hope is no life at all. I'm grateful I can still find it even after sliding wildly down an ice bank whilst trying to get back into my car after a long night at work. I'm even more grateful that I can laugh about it.

In two weeks, I'll begin my inside seed starters for the spring. IN TWO WEEKS.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Should We Talk About the Weather?

Currently, Pinterest is of no use to me in the style department. They aren't offering enough examples of fashionable ways to cover every inch of my skin. I now live in a city where, on occasion, the weatherman will remind the troops that any exposed skin is subject to possible frostbite...and he's not kidding.

It seems since I've moved to Chicago, there isn't a single person that will allow me to escape the weather question. It was the only thing holding me back while I sat on the idea of moving here for years. Can I handle the weather? Can my southern disposition take the harshest of winds?

During the initial polar vortex onslaught, it was reported that Chicago was colder than the arctic. I saw a man walking backwards into the wind on the first day that wind chills were predicted to reach - 40. He was wearing a light jacket and a small scarf. I was sitting in a car with the heat blasting, wearing a semi-sleeping bag with thick mittens, wool socks, wool pants, and snow boots. My feet and nose were still cold. The man made eye contact with me. His face was red, and his eyelashes were white with frost.

Linus likes the ice...unless there's salt on it. Then it hurts. :(

When I walk from my house to the gym with a bottle of water, my water is deliciously ice cold when I get to my destination. Chocolate is rock hard after a walk from Walgreens to the train. If I happen to be running late for something (usually), and my hair is wet from a shower, my hair will freeze into stiff sections, but, sadly, it does not create an edgy style.

Those of us who choose to live in the windy city are, for all intents and purposes, living in a freezer; although, my freezer usually feels warm when I first get home.

BUT: It's not unbearable.

I KNOW. I sound insane. However, I'm speaking the truth. If it were unbearable, Chicago wouldn't be such a booming metropolis. It's a global city, a living city. It breathes, has a pulse.

A shaky view from the top of Willis Tower

I remember talking with some former Chicago residents at the winery at Montaluce in Dahlonega a few years ago. We were sitting on the patio that overlooked the breathtaking vineyards, sipping prosecco and eating cheese. It was early fall, and it was warm. If you've ever been in a situation like that, you might have found it hard to say anything negative about anything. My new friends were bubbling over about their time in Chicago, missing it whilst enjoying their current situation. The only thing I could think to say, you can probably guess, was, "but it gets so cold there." Their response was immediate and closed ended: You acclimate. They weren't trying to convince me to move here. They weren't trying to defend their love of a city that, frankly, needs no defense. It was a matter of fact response, and it was the truth.

If the only thing holding you back from living in a place like Chicago is the weather, let it go. The reality of...I don't know...EVERYTHING....is that weather is inconsequential. The real adversity we face is inside, and if we can't stand up to our own demons, even Hawaii wouldn't be enough to make us happy...although it would be freaking awesome.

From the winds, the arctic winds, and the blustery snow storms that I've now witnessed AND survived, I have gained much. For one, I have gained a little perspective. You have no idea how awesome 34 degrees feels after forty below. Everyone in this glorious city sees a weather forecast slightly above freezing with sunshine and starts planning a picnic.

The sun and the snow make a lovely combination.

And that's a life lesson, my friends. The harder it is and the lower you get, the better it feels on the other side. No one that lives here really talks much about the weather. We may laugh to each other when the cold gets ridiculous. We may part ways by exchanging the words, "stay warm." We may walk down the streets grimacing with our heads down, but we know that there's a bottle of wine at the other end of that walk and, hopefully, a warm body to greet us.

The adorable warm body that greets me. 

Talking about the weather, historically, has been a way to avoid talking about the things that really matter. When you talk to your friends about what's really going on in your life, you have to be vulnerable, and you have to open yourself up to the possibility that some people may be able to see you for what you really are: a human being. Here, the weather speaks for itself and allows the rest of us to focus on the things that really matter. What really matters?

I met a girl last weekend from Aruba...ARUBA. It's the first place the Beach Boys mention in the 80's hit "Kokomo." She loves living in Chicago. We briefly touched on the subject of the extreme cold, and her only words were, "I'm from Aruba, and I'm fine here."

I'm from the south, the deep south, and I'm fine. I'm better than fine. I also have a greater appreciation for wine...especially the warm, full-bodied redsmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.