Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Crushing Nature of Hope

Distance is a strange thing. It makes you question things. It makes you doubt. You'll find yourself wondering about things you never considered before and you'll shock yourself at how ugly your thoughts can turn. At how quickly you can see the worst in everything. How cruel you can be.

I seem to ricochet between feeling too much and feeling nothing at all. I haven't quite decided which is worse.



When I reach the point where I've had enough, when I am ready to throw in the towel and find some way to get control of my emotions, I've found it's helpful to think about who I want to be as a person. I may be a work in progress but I know that I still want to be the type of person who loves. Who loves with everything they have. The type who is always willing to try again. To be open to forgiveness.

I want to face the loses in my life with the grace of a woman and not the grief of a child.

I hope to be able to look back one day and know I always tried. Tried to love. Tried to listen. Tried to live as fully as I could. I want to be able to stand tall and know that I embraced the moments that scared me the most and that I was willing to cast off old plans and worn out dreams when the shells no longer fit.

I don't want to be the type of person who uses love as a weapon. As a sad excuse to try and control the people around me.

When I think about these things, I can suddenly think clearly again.

So I'm not gonna question and wonder and turn my thoughts inside out. At least not today. I will be strong and confident and remind myself that we all love in our own ways. I can't worry about the way you love. I can only worry about myself.

And that will have to be enough.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Power of Ugly

For one of my finals I am writing a series of blog posts. Each one will focus on a different reading or topic from the class.

When I was reading the Mia Mingus piece, Moving Toward the Ugly, it struck a cord in me. The pressure to be beautiful has always been a heavy weight. All of my life I felt too pale, too large, and too...wrong. My teeth were crooked, my nose was crooked, and I was covered in freckles. To make it worse I was too loud. Always too confident in my opinions and unwilling to “behave.” I was often the “smart” one, but never the “pretty” one.

I struggled for a long time with my relationship with my body. Of course I could never admit I was so self conscious. Somehow admitting I longed to be seen as beautiful was wrong. It was a weakness that the “smart” part of me rejected. What would my relationship with myself and those around me look like if I had embraced that struggle like a badge of honor? If I looked at the struggle to be beautiful as a tough outer layer that's made me stronger, more magnificent.
...We must shift from a politic of desirability and beauty to a politic of ugly and magnificence. That moves us closer to bodies and movements that disrupt, dismantle, disturb. Bodies and movements ready to throw down and create a different way for all of us, not just some of us.

The magnificence of a body that shakes, spills out, takes up space, needs help, moseys, slinks, limps, drools, rocks, curls over on itself. The magnificence of a body that doesn’t get to choose when to go to the bathroom, let alone which bathroom to use. A body that doesn’t get to choose what to wear in the morning, what hairstyle to sport, how they’re going to move or stand, or what time they’re going to bed. The magnificence of bodies that have been coded, not just undesirable and ugly, but un-human. The magnificence of bodies that are understanding gender in far more complex ways than I could explain in an hour. Moving beyond a politic of desirability to loving the ugly. Respecting Ugly for how it has shaped us and been exiled. Seeing its power and magic, seeing the reasons it has been feared. Seeing it for what it is: some of our greatest strength.

Because we all do it. We all run from the ugly. And the farther we run from it, the more we stigmatize it and the more power we give beauty. Our communities are obsessed with being beautiful and gorgeous and hot. What would it mean if we were ugly? What would it mean if we didn’t run from our own ugliness or each other’s? How do we take the sting out of “ugly?” What would it mean to acknowledge our ugliness for all it has given us, how it has shaped our brilliance and taught us about how we never want to make anyone else feel? What would it take for us to be able to risk being ugly, in whatever that means for us. What would happen if we stopped apologizing for our ugly, stopped being ashamed of it? What if we let go of being beautiful, stopped chasing “pretty,” stopped sucking in and shrinking and spending enormous amounts of money and time on things that don’t make us magnificent?

Where is the Ugly in you? What is it trying to teach you?
Over the years something interesting started to happen though. I began to feel like beauty was something I could claim for myself. I rejected the idea that my fat body was unlovable. That my crooked nose was a flaw. I decided I didn't care about beauty at all. That I would be powerful and bold and unapologetic.

And the strangest thing happened.

People started to see me as beautiful. Suddenly I was desirable. And now that I'm beautiful, maybe I don't want to give it all up. It's taken me a long time to get here and I wonder at how easily Mingus asks me to walk away from it all. The world has told me my fat body is ugly and yet it also celebrates my curves. Am I doing my fat sisters a disservice by rejecting the desirability of my body? Am I somehow reinforcing the idea that my body is inherently ugly?
If you leave with anything today, leave with this: you are magnificent. There is magnificence in our ugliness. There is power in it, far greater than beauty can ever wield. Work to not be afraid of the Ugly—in each other or ourselves. Work to learn from it, to value it. Know that every time we turn away from ugliness, we turn away from ourselves. And always remember this: I would rather you be magnificent, than beautiful, any day of the week. I would rather you be ugly—magnificently ugly.
I try to remember that if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then it isn't something I own. It's something that has been given to me. Something that was long denied and can be taken back at any moment. My beauty is not my own. It is something I merely wear temporarily. So maybe the problem is not with how the world sees me. It's how I see myself.

I don't need the world to see me as ugly. I just need to know that I will not be destroyed by the word “ugly.” That even if the world does see me as ugly, I am still powerful and strong and beautiful.

Your Body Must Be Heard

For one of my finals I am writing a series of blog posts. Each one will focus on a different reading or topic from the class.

I'll never forget when my last relationship ended. I felt like my life was falling apart. I didn't know where I was going to live or how I would balance work, school, and my son. But beyond all that, I was so sad. Sad in a way I had never experienced before. I felt abandoned and scared and really really alone.

Even though I didn't know what I was going to do, I knew I had to talk about what I was experiencing. I couldn't sit silently by and let my life fall apart without a word. And as I started sharing my experiences and feelings, I realized that many people had experienced the same thing. They knew what it was like to be on an emotional roller coaster that ricocheted between despair and rage at a moments notice. Strangers on the internet were able to look at me and say, "I see you. I see your pain and I understand."

For that I'll be forever grateful.

It reminded me that I wasn't alone. That broken hearts and broken futures are far too common. As I shared my story, the people I met felt permission to share their own. I learned how people found a way to pick up the pieces of their lives and knew that I would be okay. That I would be even better than okay.

In Helene Cixous’s “Le Rire de la Meduse” (translated as “The Laugh of the Medusa”), Cixous seeks to urge women to write. “Write your self. Your body must be heard. Only then will the immense resources of the unconscious spring forth.” Cixous' writing can be difficult, but the idea is that women need to reclaim writing. While Cixous never clearly defines what feminine writing is, in fact she claims it is impossible to do so, she's critical of masculine writing and sees it as a tool for reinforcing hierarchies and limiting possibilities. Feminine writing opens up new possibilities. Through a reconnection with the feminine body, women can reshape language and writing as a whole.

While some of Cixous' writing can be seen as essentialist, since it is so deeply rooted in the female body, the idea that your lived experiences are what make your voice matter is powerful. Individuals are often denied authority on their own lived experiences. What should appear to give someone more clout, is used as a tool to disregard their opinions. ("You're too emotional" or "you're too involved to see clearly.") Instead, Cixous is moving away from that type of thinking and empowering people to share their stories.

Stories have power.

As we share our experiences and thoughts we start to take control of narratives that are often denied to us. Instead of being a caricature or a parody, I become a fully fleshed out person. I am not someone who can be easily dismissed because I am made up of too many things. Like I said in the beginning, writing can help people cope. It can mend relationships and build friendships.

I feel like this post should have been structured better or I should have been more critical of Cixous. But when I read the article I felt empowered to share my stories. And when you share your stories you give those around you permission to share their own. So share a story. You may be surprised what happens.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Skeleton Hand Bra DIY

I came across someone wearing a skeleton bra on Tumblr or Instagram and I knew I had to have one. I love skull/skeleton everything and a skeleton hand bra just speaks to me. There was only one small problem, they didn't make my size. It's quite obvious I have a large chest so I wasn't entirely surprised, but I was disappointed. So I decided to make my ow.



I used an old black bra that I don't wear very much and found the skeleton hands at the Halloween costume shop. They are kind of like a thick foam material but I'm sure you can be creative and use whatever you like.

Skeleton Hand Bra DIY

Supplies:

Black Bra
Skeleton Hand Gloves
Hot glue gun
Hot glue sticks



Directions:

1. Remove the skeleton hand from the glove. I started by cutting around the fabric and quickly resorted to just pulling it away from the fabric.



2. Glue the skeleton hands to the bra. It really is that easy.



I wanted the tips of one or two of the fingers to go over the edge slightly since I thought it was a little visually interesting, but it really comes down to personal preference.



Also, my lipstick is OCC Technopagan in case anyone is curious.

Monday, October 6, 2014

I wish I was a Photograph



As always, Andrea Gibson says it best. This is from her poem "I wish I was a Photograph:"

“so wherever you are I hope you’re happy
I really do
I hope the stars are kissing your cheeks tonight
I hope you finally found a way to quit smoking
I hope your lungs are open and breathing your life
I hope there’s a kite in your hand
that’s flying all the way up to orion
and you still got a thousand yards of string to let out
I hope you’re smiling
like god is pulling at the corners of your mouth
cause I might be naked and lonely
shaking branches for bones
but I’m still time zones away
from who I was the day before we met
you were the first mile
where my heart broke a sweat

and I wish you were here
I wish you’d never left
but mostly I wish you well
I wish you my very very best”

You can hear the whole thing here.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Easy Crockpot Pot Roast

I was having friends over for dinner and I decided I wanted to make a pot roast. I'm not sure entirely why I had the urge. I've never been much of a pot roast fan. But with the season changing and the crisp autumn breezes kicking in, there was something satisfying about the thought of a roast with veggies and gravy. I was also looking for a recipe that would be simple and pretty fuss free.

That's exactly what I found.



I adapted this recipe a little bit. Mostly I added mushrooms and some red wine but that's entirely up to you. If you find your gravy to be a little too thin, just add a little cornstarch and you'll be good to go.

Nom.

Would I make this again? Already have another roast in the freezer!

Ingredients:

1 (10.75 ounce) can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
1 can of beef stock
5 1/2 pounds pot roast
1 sprig of rosemary
3 sprigs of thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Optional:
1 bag of baby carrots
1 pound of sliced mushrooms
1 onion, sliced
1 cup of red wine


Directions:

1.In a slow cooker, mix cream of mushroom soup, dry onion soup mix, and beef stock.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add roast, browing well on all sides.

3. Place pot roast in slow cooker and coat with soup mixture. Cook on High setting for 3 to 4 hours, or on Low setting for 8 to 9 hours.

4. During the last hour or two, add mushrooms to a pan and sauté for several minutes until soft. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Pour the mushrooms and wine over the roast and add the carrots and sliced onions as well.

5. Finish cooking until the meat is tender and the vegetables are soft.



Adapted from allrecipes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Another Goodbye

Our first date was eight hours long.

There were just too many things to say. Too many laughs to share and too many glances to be had.

As those hours turned into weeks and the weeks into months, something surprising started to happen. I began to feel again. Parts of me that had been numb for so long started to slowly come alive. With every kind gesture and delicate touch, my feelings grew and grew. And then one day, on a day no different than any other day, I realized you had completely won my heart.

I still remember the night we made love with the sound of the ocean all around us. Every part of me screamed to tell you I loved you but I wasn't ready.

I regret that I waited so long.

I also regret that I didn't always show how much I cared. That you ever, even for a moment, were unsure of how I felt. I was just so scared. Scared of what it meant to open myself up again. Scared of the past repeating itself. Scared of the future. Most of all I was scared you would leave.

And that's exactly what happened.

I don't blame you for leaving. You never loved me as much as you hated the situation you were in. And when an opportunity came to change the situation, you took it. I understand. I probably would have done the same thing.

I could never find the right things to say in the weeks before your departure. All I had were the shattered pieces of all my hope and love. The lingering sensation of all the things I thought I would have the time to say. The insecurities of how maybe I could have been more. More loving. More caring. More beautiful.

But I can't live in the shadow of those fears. Too many times I've broken myself down and tried to rearrange the pieces only to find myself bruised but ultimately unchanged. So I'm learning how to not do that. I'm trying to remember that kisses aren't contracts and things don't have to last forever to be perfect. I don't want to devalue the love we created with pity and despair. And as much as it hurts now to consider it, I also need to accept that maybe we weren't meant to last.

I'm looking for a love that won't leave. I want to be someone's favorite hiding place. And if that's selfish of me, then so be it.
Lately I’ve been thinking about who I want to love, and how I want to love, and why I want to love the way I want to love, and what I need to learn to love that way, and who I need to become to become the kind of love I want to be…….and when I break it all down, when I whittle it into a single breath, it essentially comes out like this: Before I die, I want to be somebody’s favorite hiding place, the place they can put everything they know they need to survive, every secret, every solitude, every nervous prayer, and be absolutely certain I will keep it safe. I will keep it safe.
-Andrea Gibson               

You made your choice. I need to make mine. And as much as it hurts, I'm choosing to let go. If I've learned anything in life it's that pretending you're okay is often the first step in really being okay. So I'm going to pretend tears aren't always close to the surface. That sometimes I feel like I can't breathe and my heart is breaking. And I know that one day I'll be surprised to find that I don't have to pretend anymore. I'll really be okay.

And that breaks my heart just a little bit more.

I don't know if this is a love letter or a long goodbye. Maybe it's a letter of thanks. Thank you for reminding me that I can care so deeply about someone. Thank you for loving me and putting up with my snoring and my tendency to rant. I love you.

I wish you didn't have to go.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Song Per Boy

A song came on the radio the other day and it made me think of my first boyfriend. Then I started thinking about what songs would perfectly encapsulate each of my relationships and this is what I came up with.

It's a little overly simplistic but it's also kind of fun.

Keith

Riptide by Vance Joy:



I know this is probably a weird choice for a love song, but something about it just sounds like the slow change I felt deep inside. I never stopped loving Keith. It wasn't the love that changed. I changed. I sang the words wrong and sank into the riptide.

Ryan

You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette:



Okay this one is typical but we all know deep down I'm just another angry 90s chick.

Mistake #1

Why Don't You Love Me by Beyonce:



Anger and resentment pretty much sum it up.

Adventure #2

Volcano by Damian Rice:



This is the perfect song for a variety of reasons. Damian Rice has such a delicate sound and there's something bittersweet about the lyrics to this song. Give me miles and miles of mountains and I'll ask for the sea...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hello Old Friend

Do you feel it?

In the quiet moments of the early morning you can feel the crispness of autumn creeping on us.



The end of summer is here and I'm so glad it's over.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Getting an IUD

The first time I tried to get an IUD my doctor said no. This was about ten years ago and doctors were still clinging to the idea that only women who had already been pregnant were good candidates for the tiny little sperm fighting device. In the ten years that followed, I stuck solely with condoms as my main birth control method. This was mostly due to the fact that I spent the better part of the decade without insurance and condoms were easy and readily available.

When my insurance kicked in a month ago, I once again pursued the ever elusive IUD. This time it took a simple phone call and I had an appointment just two days later. Since most doctors recommend that you be on your period during the insertion, the timing was perfect and it didn't cost me anything out of pocket.



During the two days until my appointment, I read everything I could about what the experience was like for women who had decided to get an IUD. Some of the stories were reassuring, and some were more than slightly terrifying. Some women experience minor cramps. Okay I can handle cramps. Others ended up with a punctured uterus. Uh...

For anyone who doesn't know, an IUD is inserted into the uterus through the cervix by a healthcare provider. IUDs are one of the most effective forms of birth control available. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they use an IUD. That's a success rate of 99.9% and requires almost no upkeep beyond checking the strings.



For me the process was straightforward and quite tolerable. I experience one or two major cramps and that was it for the most part. There was a weird sensation of being able to feel that there was something in my body that stayed with me for a few days. I'm sure it was in my head, but it was still slightly unnerving.

At this point it has been a month and I continue to experience cramps. While I almost never had cramps during my cycle in the past, now I have them regularly. They are bearable and more of an annoyance than anything. Honestly, the hardest part has been the irregularity of my period. I've had several days where I've spotted for no reason and my period started a week earlier than usual. My period also stopped completely for a few days after I had the IUD inserted and then came back. It was kind of bizarre. Most women who get an IUD stop having a period completely though so I know it's just something my body needs time to adjust to.



And that's that. The sense of relief I feel is worth more than a few cramps and so far I am quite satisfied with the whole process.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

San Francisco in Pictures

I had a weekend off so it made sense to hop in the car and drive to San Francisco. Here are some pictures.


















How cute am I with long hair? Totally fake.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Music Thursday


More music that has just been wasting away in my drafts. A lot of them are kinda cheesy but whatevs. Enjoy.

New Music Thursday is an attempt to keep my goal of listening to some new music alive and kicking. Not all of these bands/artists are new to me, but all of the songs are.

These are the songs I'm diggin this week:

In Ohio On Some Steps by Limbeck:



A Drop In The Ocean by Ron Pope:



Broken Record by Katy B:



These Days by Dr. Dog:



Face Up by Lights:



Drugs (Do This To Me) by Fabolous ft Paul Cain Broadway:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ira Glass on the Creative Process



Someone posted this video on Facebook and I love everything about it. I struggled a lot with this particular issue with my own creativity and at one point I just stopped trying. I don't recommend it. I've been thinking about taking some creative writing classes or art classes and I think it's time I stopped just thinking about it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tell me you love me

The more I like you the more I need you to like me even more. I need to hear it. I need to be told. But the more you tell me, the more I won't believe you. Because I know deep down that I don't need to be told. So fear slowly grips my heart until I leave you so you can't leave me.

But maybe I can change.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Oh Hello

Sometimes someone walks into your life and you can't help but let out a breath you didn't even realize you were holding.
And it's magic.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Music Thursday


I've had these songs sitting in a draft for months so some of them are yesterdays news. I still like them though :)

New Music Thursday is an attempt to keep my goal of listening to some new music alive and kicking. Not all of these bands/artists are new to me, but all of the songs are.

These are the songs I'm diggin this week:

Start Over by Beyonce:



Anna Sun by Walk the Moon:



Breathe Me by Sia:



First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes:



Look Away by Lissie:


Friday, January 3, 2014

Current Obsession: Do I Wanna Know?

I have so many songs sitting in my drafts for the now abandoned New Music Thursdays posts that I think I'm gonna start them up again. But in the meantime, I'm completely obsessed with this song by the Arctic Monkeys. I think it might be my favorite song by them ever.



"Do I Wanna Know?"

Have you got colour in your cheeks?
Do you ever get that fear that you can't shift the tide that sticks around like summat in your teeth?
Are there some aces up your sleeve?
Have you no idea that you're in deep?
I dreamt about you nearly every night this week
How many secrets can you keep?
'Cause there's this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow and I play it on repeat
Until I fall asleep
Spilling drinks on my settee

(Do I wanna know)
If this feeling flows both ways?
(Sad to see you go)
Was sort of hoping that you'd stay
(Baby we both know)
That the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can't say tomorrow day

Crawling back to you

Ever thought of calling when you've had a few?
'Cause I always do
Maybe I'm too busy being yours to fall for somebody new
Now I've thought it through

Crawling back to you

So have you got the guts?
Been wondering if your heart's still open and if so I wanna know what time it shuts
Simmer down and pucker up
I'm sorry to interrupt. It's just I'm constantly on the cusp of trying to kiss you
I don't know if you feel the same as I do
But we could be together if you wanted to

(Do I wanna know?)
If this feeling flows both ways?
(Sad to see you go)
Was sort of hoping that you'd stay
(Baby we both know)
That the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can't say tomorrow day

Crawling back to you (crawling back to you)

Ever thought of calling when you've had a few? (you've had a few)
'Cause I always do ('cause I always do)
Maybe I'm too (maybe I'm too busy) busy being yours to fall for somebody new
Now I've thought it through

Crawling back to you

(Do I wanna know?)
If this feeling flows both ways?
(Sad to see you go)
Was sort of hoping that you'd stay
(Baby we both know)
That the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can't say tomorrow day

(Do I wanna know?)
Too busy being yours to fall
(Sad to see you go)
Ever thought of calling down?
(Do I wanna know?)
Do you want me crawling back to you?

California in Pictures


As I said in my last post, I spent the last week and a half in California with my family for Christmas. While we spent the first four days in Disneyland, the rest of the week was spent in San Diego and Vista. As you can see by the pictures, we spent some time at the beach and Balboa Park. We also stayed at the coolest Marriott in the Gaslamp Quarter which used to be an old bank. It still had the vault and everything. My mom lives in Barrio Logan
and all the street art is from Chicano Park. The park has the country's largest collection of outdoor murals and is an amazing explosion of color. I could have spent all day exploring the beautiful pillars in the park. Holden said it was the best Christmas he's ever had and I have to agree. We even got to open the park one day at California Adventure. How lucky is that?

















Even though it was stressful at times, I needed to get away. It's funny how I always feel like I'm finally going home when I head to San Diego. When I see the ocean, I know I've arrived. But then, something strange happens. I also feel like I'm going home when I turn around and leave. I guess that's just what happens when you leave pieces of your heart in different places.

I hope everyone had a good holiday.