Tag Archives: Life

Writing for spin over substance: how powerful people manipulate the art of interpretation

One of my favorite things about having studied art and literature is how often and how much we were encouraged to develop our own interpretations of what is laid out in front of us.

I mean, think about it, in a world where so many ideas are meant to be seen as concrete (or black and white), where history (no matter how skewed in favor of the victor) is not to be questioned (or “changed”), where math is often to be solved in a particular way, and where science is to be structured and methodical for the sake of safety or accuracy – art and language are the first areas where we as people and as students are not asked to recite information but rather to reflect on it.

In school, time spent reflecting was often my favorite time spent. Poetry allowed someone like me, someone with an overactive mind, to relish in the multiple trains of thought that could be pulled from a single line. And in college, I found comfort in surrounding myself with people who enjoyed doing the same.

As an adult, however, I’m not sure I still hold the same fondness for interpretation as I once did. Part of this is because, outside of novels, poetry, and literature the loudest voices are often the ones who speak for attention rather than speaking with intention. Part of this is because the same people who wrote off writing as just a “required credit” class are now in charge of sharing vast amounts of information and can’t seem to do so in a clear, concise, or even logical way. But mostly I think it’s just because a lot of voices lack real creativity – which is just to say that we get the same rehearsed rhetoric (the same full stop labels) over and over and over again without a consideration of whether it actually applies to the topic being discussed.

That said, this week I read a take (one that was thankfully not political) that made me roll my eyes. It read (paraphrased), “employees don’t leave bad companies – they leave bad managers.” And truthfully (and probably obviously since it inspired a blog) the quote boiled my blood a bit – and let me tell you why…

Let’s stop pretending managers are the problem

According to some light research – the original phrase (that inspired the one I found as well as dozens of other articles) was, “Employees don’t leave companies – they leave managers.” [Marcus Buckingham, First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently] and it first appeared in Marcus Buckingham’s: First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, in 1998. And while I have no doubt that one company or another didn’t try to use that excuse before Mr. Buckingham put it in a book, his study of more than 80,000 managers gives it (his book) a fair amount of credibility. However, the fact that this idea is still being used today, more than 20 years later, has proven to me that bad managers aren’t the problem – the companies are.

Accountability would never

Have you ever heard that saying… the one about the head of the snake? “Cut the head off the snake and the body dies.” Usually it’s used to explain war scenarios – suggesting that taking out the head of an army will stop the rest. A similar idea exists in the advice crime show cops give to criminals about to go to prison – they say to find the biggest guy in the yard and take him down because no one will mess with you after that. Then of course there’s the less violent ideas. The ones about top down leadership and how older siblings should set a good example for the younger ones. And at this point I know what you might be thinking, all of these examples seek to prove the importance of managerial leadership, right? And sure, in a way they do but let me ask you something – what do a general, a criminal, a manager (boss), and an older sibling have in common?

Got it?

Accountability from the bottom up

Now, don’t get me wrong, a bad manager can certainly make or break a job. Even sources outside of business support the idea that good leadership makes a good team and success and so on and so forth. Great teams win super bowls, Ted Lasso (obviously the other kind of football), yada yada. But what all these people have in common is not that they have a team or that they have people working or existing under them — the real thing they have in common is that none of them have a final say in decision making. The real commonality that they all share is that NONE OF THEM HAVE REAL POWER – but they all are held accountable for the ones who do.

The breakdown:
  • Generals might make calls and lend advice but they still have to report and follow the orders of the commander and chief (or whoever has total control of military forces).
  • Prison inmates can assert enough dominance to have power over their peers but they will still be at the mercy of whoever owns or controls the prison system (not just the prison but the system).
  • Managers are also just foot soldiers – whether they report to another manager or the c-suite, no matter what they do or how good they are because they still have to follow the guidance, orders, or examples of the people above them.
  • And eldest siblings? Well until they are old enough to support themselves or become a cog in the bigger machine they report to their parents or guardians. (duh)

History is written by it’s victors – but wars are won by its soldiers

Remember earlier when I was rattling off subjects that are more concrete than art or literature? I talked about how history is not to be questioned even if it’s bias favors the victor. Well, this same sentiment also applies to business and business writing. Business narratives are vastly determined (and recycled) by looking at successful companies and emulating their processes to (hopefully) replicate success in other settings.

In grad school, a large part of my study was looking at case studies that compared various marketing strategies. Many of which talked about how brand recognition (or company recognition) which is arguably one of the most important aspects of the marketing process, drove sales as much as product does. (Nike for example – the quality might not be the best all the time but people recognize the swish and possibly respect you more for it.)

See, unlike art and literature business isn’t to be interpreted on a creative level because unlike art and literature business is communicated more with numbers and data than it is with words or emotions. From a business perspective this way of communicating is great because it gives companies proof that certain processes work and others do not. After all, data drives strategy and strategy drives business, right?

Well…yes, but also… not exactly.

A company is nothing without its workforce

I think the reason it’s easy to make a statement like “Employees don’t leave companies – they leave managers.” Is because of how easy it is to take the human aspect out of business.

I mean, if you think about it, bad managers aren’t all that dissimilar to bad ex’s. When someone is hired or when we bring someone into our lives it isn’t just because they are qualified, it’s because they have something that will add value to us and to the team. And because managers often have to start at a lower level and learn the business to take a more substantial leadership role in it – it’s fair to assume that that “bad manager” is a product of whatever system (in this case – the company) that created them.

In other words it’s just as easy to say, “Employees don’t leave companies – they leave managers.” As it is to say, “It’s not personal, it’s just business;” because in the business world words matter less than numbers do. So it’s easy to look at a lull in profits,target a low performing team, and blame one person “in charge” rather than admit that, “Hey this keeps happening. It used to feel random but this person has been here for a while so maybe it’s the values we are promoting in our company. Maybe it’s the conditions that the company creates for its workforce. Maybe we should consider that something we did went wrong to make them lead this way.”

Trading in spin for substance

At the end of the day, there is a place for interpretation in all aspects of life, even business and history – but I think we need to be more careful with who we allow to write the story.

The United States isn’t the only country that allows the few to try and manipulate and dictate the identities of the many. The United States isn’t the only country that often favors spin over substance; but seeing that the US is the country I live in, it’s arguably the only one I am qualified to speak of.

Anyway, if it wasn’t already made clear, I personally don’t subscribe to the idea that employees leave managers rather than companies. Maybe this is because I have had very few bad managers, but more so I think it is because (speaking from my perspective as someone in my generation) there has been a paradigm shift in this country when it comes to accountability. For me it is less important who I work under and more who or what I work for.

So sure, a good manager is important to me, but what I hold most important is that we stop blaming one or two bad people for a system we are all existing under and feeding in to.

On hibernation

When hibernating, an animal’s metabolism slows significantly: its heartbeat slows, it breathes more slowly (some animals even stop breathing for periods of over an hour) and its body temperature drops—in some extreme cases to below the freezing point of water (zero degrees Celsius).

Australian Academy of Science

It took me a considerable amount of time in this life to learn what hibernation actually was. Growing up I always assumed animals just gathered a bunch of food (as much as they could), gained a bunch of weight, and slept through the winter months. In retrospect, however, the reality of what hibernation is – well it makes much more sense.

During hibernation, an animal’s slowed metabolism allows them to conserve energy. It allows them to require less food less often – but despite the conditions that allow or require animals to do this I used to assume (incorrectly) that this meant they just slept it out through the whole winter – in reality, while these creatures are at rest or in a state of pause, they do still wake up from time to time. #Relatable

“A body at rest…”

During the winter months, I often joke about my “hibernation body” making light of a slight and natural weight gain that occurs around the winter holidays. But upon brainstorming what to post about today, I realized my experience with hibernation goes deeper than that joke.

Growing up I always saw myself as a “winter person” because being born during a snowstorm qualified me as such. And, don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few aspects of winter that I do still love. I love warm relaxed clothes, warm drinks, and lots of snow (even if I don’t get snow days anymore). But as I have grown I have also realized that, when there is an absence of the things I love about winter – I tend to enjoy it quite a bit less. For example, I really don’t like when it is 32 degrees or less and there isn’t snow on the ground. (I like beauty with my bone-chilling pain). And similar to that, I have noticed that the shorter days and the chilling cold can sometimes make it harder to manage the ever evolving complexities of my mental health. And to be clear, I am not a fan of that either.

Now depending on where you live this may not apply to you, but where I live this winter has been particularly wonky. Some weeks have been horribly cold, some have been unseasonably warm, and others have brought buckets of rain. Of course, this is all a roundabout way to say that this winter, being more than wonky than most I remember, has enabled a state of sudo hibernation that until recently, I didn’t realize I was in. And because an object at rest tends to stay at rest – this might make some of my upcoming adventures a bit harder to adapt to at first.

Beyond the “hibernation body”

As I write this I am realizing more and more how similar my life has been to a season of hibernation. And sure I could say how the highs and lows are like periods of being awake and asleep but I think it would be more notable to say that no matter my state, no matter awake or asleep – the season has slowed me much like it would an animal’s metabolism.

That said, lately, I have been moving slower, not to conserve energy but because I have been in between employment and the lack of structure encouraged less and less of a structured format to my day. Naturally, I have since adapted to this way of life. And naturally, I did so less than a week before I am set to start my new job. As an aside it’s funny how we argue about what came first, the chicken or the egg – rather than asleep or awake because for me it sometimes feels like both are true.

Now, to clarify, while I have been moving slower it doesn’t mean I have stopped taking care of myself. Unlike a bear in a cave, I have been spending a fair amount of time in the home gym and despite not having a set structure to my day I have found ways to create patterns in the monotony. But outside of the physical activity, beyond working on the “hibernation body” life feels passive. I find myself waking up, working out, eating something, watching something, writing something, eating something, watching something and going to bed. This is to say that I feel myself living to eat and sleep. This is to say that I feel myself waking up only to count down the hours before I can go to sleep again – and while that is often the criteria for depression, right now I’m not feeling depressed as much as I feel like life lacks purpose. And maybe work will change that or maybe it won’t but right now it just feels like I am hibernating through my life and as fun as it can be for a little while – the fun of it wears off rather quickly when you feel like you’re stuck inside to avoid the cold (and the unnecessary Target receipts).

The end (of hibernation) is near

As I look forward to work starting next week and to the air getting warmer in the coming months I know that my period of hibernation must come to an end. Soon I will be out, about, and not freezing, but seeing that I am still in this hibernation I wanted to take some time today to be aware of where I am. To spend some of these brief waking moments on reflection.

At the end of the day, it is important to give ourselves some time to rest (without being guilty); and in my opinion, hibernation isn’t a terrible way to do that. But it’s also important (for me at least) to keep track of where we are, know the name of cave we are in, and most importantly, know that there’s a time and way to leave it.

For me, the most important aspect of my winter hibernation is accepting it as it comes. Maybe you relate to this, maybe you don’t but my point of it all is to say – it’s okay. It’s ok to give ourselves permission to be where we are. Permission to be slow, and to rest. So if it wasn’t clear in the last few lines – this is me giving myself permission to rest – and if you need the same consider this your permission slip too.

It’s NOT Another New Year’s Resolution

I am going to start this post by saying, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Why? Because New Year’s Resolutions are, more often than not, goals that we could have made and started and failed 6 months ago. I know this because I have spent the past 6 months making, starting, adapting, and yes, failing various goals.

In my opinion New Year’s Resolutions are nothing more than a annual fad and a societal construct that clogs gyms in the first few weeks of January. They are things we “want” or have “wanted” for who knows how long but if we take a minute to sit down and be honest with ourselves, then we just have to admit the truth. And that truth, in its simplest terms, is this – “If I wanted to, I would.” Despite the date, despite the time, and despite the fact that it feels like everyone else is doing it with me, “If I wanted to, I would.”

If I… you know the rest

I struggle with this a lot. Not New Year’s Resolutions of course because, as I said, I don’t believe in them. No, what I struggle with is that phrase, the honest one – the one that reminds me, “If you wanted to, you would.” If I wanted to be in a relationship, I would. If I wanted to read that book, I would. If I wanted to write a book, a blog post, or even a grocery list, I would. If I actually wanted to be “that person,” I would. But the truth of the matter is that I don’t know what I want, not anymore, not really – because everything I used to want, everything I thought I wanted, everything I expected myself to be at this time and at this age, it doesn’t fit anymore. And yeah that is terrifying, but it’s better than the lies and the excuses.

So yeah, I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. I cannot stress that enough because I don’t believe in giving one day the kind of power to decide my habits for a whole year. And the reason I can’t stress that enough is because what I’m about to share is going to sound a lot like a resolution, but I can promise you – it is not.

So I say it again…

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions – (here comes the but) BUT I do believe in growth. I do believe in making goals no matter the time of year so let’s call this what it is rather than what it is not. A revelation, not a resolution.

I’d like to say…” it wasn’t always like this.”

I can’t say that there was ever a time that I didn’t care what other people thought. At least, not one I can remember. I mean, you don’t get to be like me without caring what people think. You don’t get to be like me without internalizing a lot of things and making a lot of strict rules to follow in order to get by or fit in as if everyone else’s opinion or life is more valuable than yours.

I’d like to say that “it wasn’t always like this” but if I could actually remember a time when it wasn’t then I think it would be a whole heck of a lot easier to cross out the rules I’ve made for myself and be the kind of person I actually want to be. If it wasn’t so normal to me – it would be a lot easier to change. But change isn’t easy, so it’s time to cut the crap and do the darn thing.

Spoiler alert: I learned this in therapy

We haven’t talked about this because I haven’t been around lately, but I started going to therapy again. (We love a queen who takes care of herself.) And around the time I started therapy again, I took a break from writing. Not a full stop kind of break, but one significant enough to stop the trend I had kept up for most of the year. The one where I was posting on here almost every Friday. And if I’m being honest, which I am, the pause also had a lot to do with not being able to focus my thoughts enough to get a clear post out. (This will make sense later but…rule # whatever: if it’s not going to be perfect, or near perfect, or even just good enough to get by – don’t bother.) So, in short, there was too much happening in the world and in my head and since I wasn’t an expert on either or anything – well I thought it best to take a break, so I did.

I wanted to, so I did.

Anyway, my posting again doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. In a lot of ways, the opposite is true. I have less figured out today than I did three months ago. So what changed? What is different? Well, other than the number at the end of the year and the unfortunate fact that it is January, what’s different is the message/lesson that my therapist gave me the other day. This lesson? “You make the rules for your life, so if you want to change the rules – you are allowed to. You’re allowed to re-write the rules because you make your own rules.” Because apparently, it is “that easy.”

New rule: “You Make the Rules”

When it comes to my life, I make the rules… Isn’t that a novel idea? I mean it seems so obvious, and to many people, it probably is — but for me, it hasn’t been. It hasn’t been something allowed myself to do, for one reason or another, so her saying it, well, let’s just say that something in my thick brain finally clicked.

I make the rules…I make the rules about my life. I make the rules… and because I do, I won’t call it a resolution. In fact, I can’t call it a resolution. I really can’t – because for me, taking on this challenge, this project, and these rewrites are hard enough without the statistics being against me. So I won’t call it a resolution because that is not what this is. (But it certainly is something isn’t it?)

So what is it?

What it is, is a revelation, it’s an undertaking, it’s a new and undeniable truth. One that (I’ll say it again) may seem very obvious to others, but it wasn’t something I allowed myself to believe. But now I do – and no, that doesn’t mean I am magically cured or that I’m suddenly going to be the individual I’ve always dreamed of being overnight because that’s not how this works. But what it does mean I can start working toward being that person. It means I can try. And yes, that’s kind of terrifying but it’s also progress.

So despite what this may seem like, despite the date, the time, and the new number at the end of the year this is not a resolution, it’s just me. It’s me being a work in progress, and at present, it’s an “I wanted to, so I did” in progress. And yes, it is new and it is terrifying – but I also can’t wait to see where this part of my story leads.

In honor of the one we lost

In my life I’ve been privileged enough to know the feeling of true community. To know what it is like to be cared for, to be loved, to be accepted, respected, and valued and all of these things are thanks to the people I met at Merrimack College.

Growing up I was part of a couple different communities. I was fairly involved so I had school, I had family, I had faith, and I had sports. And while some of those intersected, none were the same as the one before or the one to follow. And over time I learned which communities were real, and which ones were forced. I learned who to lean on, and who to keep distance from – though I am still working on the latter.

But of all the things I did and all the people I was, I don’t think my life really started until after I turned 18. Until after I went away and found a different kind of home and a different kind of community.

We laugh so we don’t cry

I think the funniest thing about my experiences on college campuses, both before and after I enrolled in one, was that, for the first time in my life, all those speeches about community and supporting each other weren’t just talk anymore. And I say it’s funny because while I hoped that would be the case, I didn’t allow myself to truly accept it until it happened. But, lucky for me, it happened almost immediately.

Now I know a lot of people that will speak of their college experience this way. They’ll talk about the institution that raised them, they’ll note how it was both perfect and imperfect and they’ll smile as they recall nights in the quad or the caf. They’ll claim that those were some of the best moments of their lives and the truth is, for them, they probably were. And I’m not here to discount that experience because I’m not really here to talk about college or institutions or compete on who had it best. What I am here to do, is talk about one person – Kevin.

About Kevin

If I’m being honest, and I usually am, I don’t remember the first time I met Kevin Salemme, and honestly I don’t remember the last time I saw him either. In fact, as close as I was to Kevin, I didn’t even know he was sick until recently, but I suppose that’s how life goes. We get distracted in our own things. We weather pandemics and heartbreaks and god knows what else. And at times we take peoples presence for granted because in our minds, some people are so much larger than life that the notion of anything happening to them between visits is inconceivable.

So what do we do when the inconceivable happens?

(That question of course is a rhetorical one but it also provides a proper page break for a little but possibly relatable tangent)

If it wasn’t hard it wouldn’t be worth it

As we grow up we all experience our share of losses, but as someone who lost a lot more than she was “supposed to” at an age far before she was “supposed to” one of my largest pet peeves is the vultures. You know, the people who interject opinions on people they barely knew, the ones who claim to be so distraught over the loss of someone when that someone is so massively insignificant to their lives. The people that do it for attention because heaven forbid someone else be able to experience their pain in a supportive and validated way. And my point of saying this isn’t what you might think because usually when someone says they can sniff out phony grief they have a name or a direction or finger to point, but when it comes to this, the point is that I don’t. Because when it comes to this there isn’t a single person that I know who wasn’t positively and undoubtably affected by Kevin Salemme. Which is easily the greatest testament to who he was because he didn’t have phony relationships with any of us and because even if he had wanted to, it wasn’t his way.

When WE lose someone

This week, my community suffered a loss. It wasn’t the first, it won’t be the last but for more than a handful of us it is and will be one of the hardest.

When it comes to loss and the effect some people have on our lives there’s a lot of cheesy rhetoric around how much impact certain people had on us. So when they die we become these like hallmark versions of ourselves and we develop these long winded and emotional monologues where we quote wicked songs and it always ends with something along the lines of “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having them in my life” and look, I get it, I’m not one to tell you you’re wrong, because I have 100% done that and I 100% feel that this week, but to honor someone like Kevin properly, well I don’t yet know how to put that into words. And that’s okay.

But of all the things I don’t know and of all the answers I wish I had, I do know one thing and that thing is that I am grateful. I am grateful for my community, I’m grateful for my friends, I’m grateful to not shoulder any grief alone, and I’m grateful for Kevin – because, let’s be honest, I (and WE) will never receive those kind of quality – pimple and hair whisp free kind of headshots again. And because, let’s be honest, there probably won’t be someone exactly like him ever again.

So here’s to Kevin – the man, the myth, the legend. And here’s to the hope that we may one day meet again.

On Slippery Slopes

The other day while getting drinks with a friend of mine, I told him that sex and the city taught me how to properly talk to men in a seductive way. (I didn’t elaborate then on details and I will not be elaborating now.) And embarrassingly, this was not a lie. But it and the conversation did open my mind up the already interesting conversation I was having with myself surrounding honesty and online communication in a way that I didn’t expect. Allow me to explain…

Lying is wrong

Look, it’s no secret that people lie online. Despite honesty being the best policy and probably one of the very first rules our parents teach us — aside from the obvious ones like, “the dog isn’t supposed to drink out of the toilet and neither are you.” [to be clear: this is not a lesson I had to learn but I have no doubt that kids do the darndest things.] The fact of the matter is that lying seems to come more naturally, in some cases, than telling the truth does because we want to be liked, we want to be loved, we want to be listened to, and most importantly, and in a workplace (which has turned into an online and remote community) in particular, we want to stay employed.

Now before you get on my back no this is not going to take some serious or dramatic drama filled twist about me making bold faced lies to my employer, but something that has been weighing on me is how, when I started this job, I said I was willing to relocate, but when I say that now… it comes with a lot more personal risk and would require quite a few benefits that would have to compensate for living in a place like that.

Lying is (always?) wrong

See I never thought I’d be comparing my professional life to my online dating profile, but unlike most people I know – my dating profile might be a bit more upfront and honest than I can and that I am willing to be in the workplace. For example, online I can be an open book and I can talk about anything – but at work, I can’t talk about quite a few aspects of my personal life and while that’s fair and that’s a choice I make, when it comes to the prospect of living where I work rather than working where I live now, my personal life and the qualities of my personality that I put above most also happen to be the very reasons that I wouldn’t want to relocate to a place where I can’t be my authentic self.

And worse than that, I can’t, after saying that I was interested in relocating for work, suddenly say…. Oh, well, I changed my mind because … ? Because I am queer. Liberal. And female and because I want bodily autonomy. And oh your state is a hostile place for all of those things… And before you tell me “but Rachel, you can do that, you can make that choice” I say – No! I could never say that. Because no one in their right mind would say those things to an employer that works in the state that mine does. Or to any employer for that matter because that would be crazy. And so, logically, but despite my values, I keep my mouth shut. (And yes I realize the sentence structure in this paragraph just took a turn toward absolute trash.)

Lying is always wrong, but omission is a grey area. (right?)

Ok so sure this is a true statement, obviously lying is wrong because, like I said it’s one of the first things our parents teach us as children. But as an adult, sometimes telling lies, or omitting truths can be a way to protect ourselves from very real and dangerous situations. But that’s also why I consider it a slippery slope.

See a little over a month from now I’m going to be taking a trip south to meet my bosses for the first time in person and while I’d love to tell them that that’s the first step to me moving there – I really can’t say that. I can’t tell my bosses that I want to be there because it is only a half truth. And also can’t tell them that I don’t feel safe in their state because that could jeopardize my standing with the firm, so what can I do? What should I do? Do I do like I used to and sex and the city the situation? Meaning, do I tell people what they want to hear at my own expense? Do I tell the truth and face the potentially obvious consequences? Or do I find a middle ground and speak in half truths, only to have to make excuses about why I can’t follow though? None of those sound like good options, so what would you do?

See when it comes to this stuff, you might be able to imagine why it weighs on me. Or you might not. But as an honest person I don’t like having to choose between a paycheck and who I am, and right now that choice is just a risk I’m not willing to take. Even if it could go in my favor. So I guess what I am saying is that I’ve already made my choice, and fan of it or not, slippery slope or not, it’s just one I have to live with.

And maybe you can relate.

Anxiety, Adulting, and the ‘Outerlands’

As someone in one’s mid to late 20’s there are some societal and personal expectations on where one should be in life. See, as someone living in the year of our lord 2022, as a 26-year-old cis and typically straight presenting white woman, you would think I could have hit my “prime” by now.

For example (as deemed by the internalized misogyny and capitalism): I should have found a man to love and settle down with me. Once acquired, said man and I would be thinking about a house we can’t yet afford. Then we’d be thinking about kids to fill it, and if we aren’t ready for kids, then maybe we’d start by taking some trips around the world to all the places we’ve always wanted to go. — And even if all that wasn’t the case, and I wasn’t on the path to be wed, then based on where I thought I’d be by now – I would be financially stable with a place of my own, health insurance of my own, and based on my budget, a minor amazon addiction. — But see the problem with that adolescent and anticipatory way of thinking is that it isn’t realistic. [And – not that you are asking, but when it comes to the things above only like 1.5 of those things are true.]

Truth is – growing up is hard, and it sucks, and it doesn’t usually pan out the way you thought it would when you were 16 – which is probably why my anxiety kicked in the way it did when I found myself in a big room full of 16 to 19-year-olds last night at a concert.

Before you judge – Let me explain…

Part 1: Anxiety

Last night I went to a Chase Atlantic concert and if you don’t know who they are that’s ok because I have since realized – neither do I. Truth is, I bought the tickets on a whim because they were like 35$, I had heard a couple of the groups’ songs [probably on tiktok] (they were alright) and frankly, I have been going to a lot of concerts lately because it gets me out and allows me to meet new people in a cool setting.

But early on into the night, I realized this show was different.

Now let me pause for a second and note that it wasn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ show, but, for me at least, it presented an uncomfortable vibe because if there is anything that I, at 26, still have in common with my 16-year-old self, it’s that I try to avoid spaces where underage children are passing out in the middle of mosh pits. And despite the fact that the performers handled the situation incredibly well, pausing their sets to check on and help the fans in need, the whole room was giving me – “you need to be drunk or stoned to vibe and enjoy this” and I really don’t like that.

Anyway, upon arrival, the usual line to the venue was extended around three to four city blocks — and the crowd was much younger than what I was used to. So, as you can expect, I immediately felt out of place, and then quickly realized that I was possibly the only person without a group, a friend, or a chaperone. [It’s also important to note that the other three times I’ve been to this venue in the past year there hasn’t been a crowd over 200 and this one looked like triple that. So essentially, upon arrival, my perception of the event shifted to a point where I didn’t want to stay the whole night.]

Which brings us to —

Part 2: Adulting

At the end of the day, when you boil down the generic brand anxiety that comes with life and living there is one thing that is more important than anything else. Boundaries. And the most important thing about boundaries is allowing ourselves to feel comfortable enough to make and stick to them.

As I’ve grown in this life, the most important lesson I have learned (or at least one of the most important lessons I have learned) is that I set my own boundaries. I get to decide what spaces I am in and for how long. I get to decide that some food and drinks don’t need to be consumed in one setting. I get to decide who I kiss and how far it goes and I get to decide that being at a show with hundreds of kids, their parents, and a performer with a cat like ski mask might not be for me and then I get to decide to leave. And to be clear, while this may have never been the case in the past (giving myself permission to walk away), it’s comforting to know that my experience last night did allow me to make the call that was best for me, without feeling guilty about it.

Part 3: experiences in the ‘Outerlands’

Somewhere in the middle of quarantine, I coined the phrase, “the Outerlands.” I guess the main reason I used was because, when the pandemic hit, going out felt a lot more daunting or almost medieval in nature. Not medieval like chainmail and horses but like an arduous journey with twists and turns.

See every time I left the house I felt anxious or excited — like I was on this quest for Camelot… or more realistically the grocery store or the pharmacy (potato po-tah-to, I know). But of all the things I ditched after the pandemic (since we’re now in an endemic), the ‘Outerlands’ wasn’t one of them because sometimes, and especially on times like last night where I am rolling solo in the world – just leaving the house feels like a journey to be taken.

Sometimes this is hard to admit but, to me, the ‘Outerlands’ are sometimes scary (not in an agoraphobic way but in the sense that I’ve gotten used to my bubble). There’s so much in this world that happens outside the front door, so many good and bad things and for me, with my anxiety, it’s really easy to take the path most traveled and revisit the familiar and get stuck in ruts — but in the past few months, going to concerts and feeling old in a room full of 16 year olds, those are the experiences that need to be had because despite how often I say I am, I am not old – and even if I wouldn’t consider myself to be in my prime [YET] (not spoken pessimistically but in the sense that I am too young to have had the best years of my life) I do feel like these are the things one must do to take those steps toward their prime.

Moral of the Story

Look at the end of the day – I know I have to put myself out there. I know I need to go to the ‘Outerlands’ and have sometimes awkward and anxious experiences. And I am here for it. But I think the reason I am sharing this with you all today is that – like you – I’m human and I’m trying to adult and I’m trying to make 16-year-old me proud and I’m trying to live my life and … I’m just generally trying. And if that all and this all is something that resonates with you then that’s great, because at the end of the day (because I use those words far too much) we’re all just trying to get out and get anxious and make boundaries to live in and outside of and when it comes to adulting – I don’t think there’s anything more adultish than that.

“Unthinkable”

The dictionary defines the word “unthinkable” as follows: UNTHINKABLE, adj. (of a situation or event) too unlikely or undesirable to be considered a possibility.

An act of “Unthinkable” and unspeakable evil – this is often how right-wing politicians phrase their empty apologies every time school children are slaughtered in mass shooting events. But if I am being honest, throughout my brief lifetime there is only one school shooting, the effects of which I remember vividly, and believe deserves that particular term.

On April 16, 2007, the unthinkable happened, on April 16, 2007, a single gunman used a semi-automatic weapon to gun down 32 people and injured 17 more at Virginia Tech.

Back then, school shootings were nowhere near as commonplace as they are now. Back then, that act of violence lead me and my fellow students who attended a elementary charter school in PA to have a very serious assembly, but unlike the kids today – I don’t have memories of active shooter drills before I reached high school. And why? Because in 2007 and even 2010 school shootings were relatively unthinkable, but today and in some schools, it’s all kids can think about.

Our kids are speaking, but the ones with the power to change things won’t listen

Yesterday I saw a tiktok where a teacher was asked by an elementatry school student “are you scared, like my mommy” and the teacher answered honestly saying, “yes, I am scared, but I am scared because I care about you and want to keep you safe.” and do you know what the child [THE CHILD] said as a response, “it’s ok, that’s why we do the drills, so that when [YES, THE KID SAID WHEN] it happens, we will be ready and we will be ok.” — So if our idea of protecting children starts and ends at drills (drills that some of these gunmen have been trained with) (or arming teachers???) and doesn’t include us allowing them to be a part of the conversation that they are already having with eachother and in their heads, then we are failing them. If we prioritize paraphrased rights over young human lives, we are failing our kids. If we continue to allow semi-automatic weapons to be so readily available to a general public who is not fit to use that kind of weapon, then we are failing our kids and we are failing ourselves.

“But my second amendment…”

19 elementary school children – dead. 2 teachers who tried to protect those children – dead. One 18-year-old gunman – dead. The death toll of the recent (mass) school shooting totals 22 (not including the shooter’s grandmother). And every single one of those lives lost – they were not victims of an “unthinkable act” but an entirely preventable one.

I can see the headline now “the founders continue to fail the American public 400 years after their deaths” – obviously accountability isn’t America’s strong suit.

Now in the event that someone excessively pro gun comes accross this post LET ME MAKE ONE THING ABUNDANTLY CLEAR – I personally do not like or agree with guns in any context and I personally don’t think guns should be a household item. BUT I also firmly believe that in certain households where children are taught gun safety and firearm respect, those are not households I hold issues with – with one exception – I personally don’t believe that any household needs access to a semi automatic weapon and this is quite simply because, in my mind, semi-automatic weapons are weapons of war; and while I don’t agree with that level of violence in any context, I do understand that for every tool there is a time and place, and I can understand that tool within the concept of that specific (and only that specific) time and place. IN OTHER WORDS, I don’t like it, I don’t agree with it, but I understand a context where it does make sense.

People love the idea of freedom but most don’t understand the cost

You see – When the founding fathers wrote the original documents by which our country governs itself today, they had muskets. To them, all of the happenings today were “unthinkable” because never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined half the things that have happened. BUT flash forward to today where – in 2022 alone – (mind you we are only 6 months in), there have been an estimated 214 mass shootings (IN THE UNITED STATES). And because google defines a mass shooting as an event that takes a minimum of three to four lives in a short period of time the bare minimum toll of those combined events is equal six hundred and forty two (642) lives lost — but according to insider news the death toll due to gun violence in 2022 ALONE currently sits at Seventeen thousand, three hundred lives lost (17,300 – dead) — that’s a little higher than the definitions minimum isnt it?

But in a couple of weeks, the dust of this will settle, Texas reps will stop their press conferences and their empty apologies and we will have some quiet time to reflect until the next shooting happens… This is the cost of freedom in America. This is the cost of maintaining the value of the second ammendment. This is the debt that we pay and in my personal opinion, it is disgusting, the cost is far too high, and it is the furthest thing from “unthinkable” that I can think of.

Look, at the end of the day, I don’t think we should take anyone’s right to bear arms away, but I think we should consider re-establishing what arms they have access to and how easily they are granted access to them. And the reason this article focuses on school shootings rather than the dozens of other mass shootings is because our government has shown time and time again that they won’t change no matter who falls prey to these attacks, but discussions where children are involved are much more likely to garner support. And don’t get me started on how angry it makes me that that even needs to be said or the fact that the absurd levels of inequality in this country span accross all kinds of labels and personal identifiers.

but I digress… where was I, oh yes – “at the end of the day, I don’t think we should take anyone’s right to bear arms away, but I think we should consider re-establishing what arms they have access to and how easily they are granted access to them.” —

If you want a pistol or a riffle or even a bayonet to defend yourself – I am all for it, after all that is what the founding fathers intended, but with what is happening and what continues to happen things can not and truly should not stay as they are. And to be clear, that’s not a political opinion. The stance I take isn’t because I am a democrat, it isn’t because I am a woman and because my rights have been threatened recently, it isn’t because I am anything – it’s simply because I am a person and because if I am lucky enough to have kids one day, the last thing I want is to be scared to send them to school.

In this life or any other – the last thing anyone wants is to live in a state of fear, but for our country, for the minorities in it, that’s all we and they know.

So stop claiming that very preventable acts are “unthinkable,” stop apologizing to and praying for the families who continue to lose everything without bearing responsibility for what is happening to them, stop allowing this damn country to be like the freaking wild west, and stop allowing any old person above the age of 18 to buy a semi-automattic weapon — because by now, and when it comes to gun violence in america, too many of our kids (and citizens) have not only thought of it, but they’ve lived it – and that should be enough insentive for real change to be made.

An open letter to the class of 2022

To the class of 2022, by now most of you have graduated from your respective institutions. You have done it. You have finally earned your degree. (Or at least they’ve given you the paper for it) And hopefully, you have earned the chance to pursue your career-centered dreams.

Years of sweat and blood and tears have finally led you to this moment and as glorious as it is, it’s slightly tainted by the moment where your institution, the place that has been your home for the past (+ or -) 4 years, said (in not so many words) – “congratulations, you did it – now go home.” (As closing time plays “closing time,you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here”)

Suddenly your mind races, “Home? What home? This is my home. This is my friends and my favorite/least favorite food and the place my stupid ex broke my heart before my friends (who are really more like family) put me back together again. Go home? What does that even mean?”

Maybe it hit you this weekend or maybe it’ll hit later but the moment you received your diploma everything changed. And it did, because… I guess… because it has to? See when I graduated with my bachelors degree 4 years ago, before I started this blog or even really knew who I was, I was terrified. I mean that’s quite literally the reason I continued my education and my track career – because I wasn’t ready to leave my home. And the while all the analogies about birds and nests rushed to mind more than they had the first time I left “home” I knew that this was different. This was different, because this home, felt like so much more than any other.

Now I realize this post is bittersweet because while I feel like you will identify with it, it isn’t necessarily what you want to hear right now. You don’t want to hear “everything changes” even if you know it will. You don’t want to accept that your people won’t be a couple of doors or even a couple blocks away, but possibly a couple of states or more. You don’t want to accept that this chapter is truly over, but as third eye blind once said – “every new beggining comes from some other begginings end” and if you don’t know that song then please follow the dotted line to hand your diploma back in.

Look, at the end of the day, I know this next phase will be different and it will be hard. Whether you are moving home for a bit or moving somewhere new – bills suck, work can be tedious, and last night’s drinks rapidly become all the more unforgiving when they are served by a new bartender who makes their drinks differently than you are used to. But this time will soon become the best time of your life – as will every phase to follow it. (Insert Miley Cyrus “The Climb” Lyrics) And that is the way it should be – because while the last four years were the best of your life, don’t forget that they are merely the best of your life SO FAR and that the best is still yet to come.

All jokes aside though, as a sister of a brother in the class of 2022, I cannot be more thrilled at the lives I see unfolding. I could not be more proud of the voice this generation is cultivating, and I could not be more excited to see what you all do next. The world around us is changing – and it needs to continue changing — so I for one, am excited to see what you all bring next.

Anyway!

Cheers! To the Class of 2022 – may your voice be loud and your hangovers quiet and here’s to the next best years of your life.

25 things that will never make sense

Lately, I have been struggling to make sense of the world around me. Granted, this isn’t anything new, but what is new is that some of these things hae knocked me off balance and made it so that I can’t organize my thoughts enough to talk about them clearly.

See, as an educated person I often struggle with knowing the “why”, and “how” of things, understanding how they may make sense to others but also grappling with the moral issue of how these things in an “advanced and civilized society” have ever been allowed to happen continuously. And like I said, some of these things have been really messing with my head lately so because I don’t have the full ability to make sense of them – I’m doing this list instead of a full form post this week. Hopefully this will start some conversations in your own life and hopefully once I get my wits about me I can come back and write on these topics with a cooler head.

[Some of these things will have explanations some won’t and I certainly won’t be covering them all today but feel free to add to the list in the comments. And be sure to have these conversations with the people around you because they’re incredibly important.]

  1. The fact that Webkinz ever went out of style
  2. Starbucks prices (I don’t care how artisinal the caremel whatchamacallit crunch is)
  3. Bounce Houses especially the watter feature ones
  4. Kids born after the 2000’s – specifically kids born after the 2000’s that don’t have a healthy fear of their parents because this generation doesn’t have the same healthy fear of their parents that me and mine did and I don’t know if I am jealous or proud or…
  5. Living in the past – we’ve all done it. But it has never been as dangeroius as it is now and in the context of the conversations we are having today.
  6. Alcohol: Back in the times of the ancient egyptians beer was used as payment to workers because it provided some sort of nutrition. As someone in their 20’s I feel like alcohol is so much a part of our social lives but it also is killing us all slowly. Not saying I’m going to or need to stop indulging – but this is weird to me.
  7. Minimum wage – it took me 26 years, 10+ of which I was in one or more workplace, to realize that my skills and my time were far more valuable than what I was being paid and how I was being treated. (in some cases)
  8. Sexual harassment in the workplace this one is only speaking to my experience in the service industry. I don’t think I have ever worked in a service industry related job where I haven’t been subject to some sort of sexual harasment type lines being crossed and 9/10 times I didn’t say anything because I didn’t think I could or because I knew it wouldn’t make a diference.
  9. Anyone who disrepects anyone in the service industry or in retail – or anyone who disrespects anyone who in general is just trying to help you.
  10. Weaponizing children in times of war. The number of contradictions this world has when we claim to want to protect our youth and our future but then subject them to even a small percent of what we do is dumbfounding.
  11. Relying on the declarations of individuals who have been dead for 400 years. or even valuing old dead white men and what they said 400 years ago more than we value women today or of any time.
  12. Overturning Roe (it’s 2022 and we are still talking about a decision made 50 years ago)
  13. Disrespecting others in the name of God or Jesus or the Bible – when that litterally contradicts the very foundation of the teachings of that religion
  14. The assumption that any VIABLE HUMAN BEING could have less value than (a.) another human being. or. (b.) a clump of cells – in other words if you think a 12 year old incest and r*** victim should carry the product of that assult to term because that “baby” didn’t be asked to be created that way then you need to go way back to health class because you have zero fundamental understanding of anything relating to the creation of human life, viability, or basic human rights.
  15. Anyone who isn’t a feminist or who doesn’t believe in equal rights or believes that equality implies that one person getting more than they currently have will give you less. Life isn’t a pizza party, if anything it is a race and some people got to start at the gun and others weren’t able to cross the starting line until the first group hit mile 1 – letting them run with you won’t make the trail smaller, it won’t cause you to trip – it will only give them a fighting chance in hell of keeping up.
  16. Racism
  17. Homophobia
  18. Mysogony – internalized or externalized
  19. Transphobia
  20. Bi-phobia
  21. Disagreeing and in turn hating someone for who they are and the very things they can not change. (10-14 aren’t political items, they aren’t a topic of discussion, they aren’t things to disagree about or to quote scripture against. If someone subscribes to these they are ignorant. Point blank period.)
  22. Religious Philosophies being warped to opress others
  23. People who whole heartedly believe that the Insurection was just, police brutality isn’t a thing, that Donald Trump didn’t lose the election, and that we shouldn’t be supporting Black Lives Matter because “all lives matter”
  24. Slavery, both in the context of the 1800’s and the present day where young women are sent into sex slavery and children are trafficed in the most hanus of ways. It makes me sick how anyone could ever justify OWNING PEOPLE but it’s happened in the past and somehow it continues to happen with different storylines.
  25. Life, the Universe and Everything – if there is one thing that I will never for the life of me understand – it’s everything. I will never have a full working knowlege of how things have come to be or what is going to happen next or if a plannet will live or die. I am not a god. OBVIOUSLY. But I will also never live under the delusion that I am meant to know it all. All I can do is my best to understand others and give people and myself grace and do everything I can to survive this big floating rock for as long as I am given to live on it. I think as an adult I am meant to be confused and conflicted and fluid and learning. I am not meant to know it all at once but I can do my best to understand those around me and try to make the world a better place for those who come after me.

To Summarize

As a working list with little to no context, I understand how this may not fit the usual subject matter of the awkward and adulting brand. But in truth I think a big part of growing up is understanding that the world around us does not subscribe to the same morals as we do. That the things that other people do and believe don’t always make sense – and while in some cases that can be ok – lately, and in a lot of cases it really isn’t. There are going to be people that claim to have “opinions” on things like race and gender and identity and while I have never been someone who will blatantly say “no, you’re wrong” I am sorry but this world has taught me that there are some people that really need to check themselves and be told that they are. We can’t afford to compromise or be polite anymore when it comes to certain issues.

As a country, we are at a crossroads. Not in the sense that some people agree with others and others do not but in the truest sense that the choices we make now and the things we stand for now have the potential to define us and our country for the next 50 years. And I think the reason this has me so speechless is that we, the people, are fighting for a future that might be set off track by the ignorant few – and that, above everything else on this list is something I will never truly understand.

a now spoken rule of 4

this is the story of 4 and all its multiples

When we look at the most formative and transformative periods in our life and more specifically our young adult lives, I have found that most things follow a connective rule of 4’s. And although experience is measured with a minimum of 2 and bad/good things occur in patterns containing 3, and 5 is the best number of years to earn you above an entry-level position. 4, like most even numbers seems to be the rule when it comes to things like balance, and education, and frankly, all the walls of all the boxes we allow ourselves to be put in.

And since patterns are mostly in our heads – and since this one is most definitely mine – let me open the door and invite you in for a bit…

My unspoken rule of 4

4, the number of years it takes to survive high school (barely).

4, the number of years in college (traditionally).

4, the number of wheels on your first car (hopefully).

4 the number of people in what was once considered an atomic family. 2 parents, 2 kids, and the promise of a picket fence. But for all the things that require 4 – why then is it that we more often think of 3 as the magic number? Which brings us to 3 –

3, the number of “adult” jobs I had after college before I found lucky number 4.

3, the number of medications I tried just to manage the depression that those years and those jobs cost me,

3 the number of members in my family since April of 2010 (excluding of course those with 4 legs).

and 3 the number of 4 year periods since my family became a party of 3.

Which brings us to 12. The number of days until the same number in years since my father lost his fight with cancer. (and no I didn’t think of that when I started writing this today.)

Loss is (you guessed it) a 4 letter word

Most often, when we talk about loss, it’s hard to keep our own selves out of it. “I – lost my dad,” “I – lost someone I loved” “I,” “I,” “I,”and after a while all the I’s make it less about the life they lived and more about the life that them being gone “took” from you. So it comes with a sense of entitlement more than what it actually is – grief and loss and a massive change in perception of what life and family should look like.

See perspective is a funny thing because if you take “I” out and replace it with someone else’s pronouns the narrative shifts and you get “He never got to walk me down the isle” “He wasn’t at my graduation” “He didn’t teach me how to drive” but the problem with that is that it wasn’t something he could do or controll. It wasn’t something he could be there for – and while that in itself is another loss – it places blame that, in most cases, that person doesn’t deserve. It sucks, yes – but at least in my case, it’s not his fault and its not my fault and it isn’t about him and it’s not about me. IT JUST IS.

Because in the grand scheme of things – things don’t happen to us, they just happen. and it’s really easy to make it about us and put ourselves at the center of it but that doesn’t mean that’s how it works. There’s no one keeping score, there’s no tit for tat, things just happen and you can spend all the time you want hating it and blaming others but at the end of the day – some things are just out of our controll.

Professionals will say 7

If you ask a professional they will tell you that there are 7 stages of grief. (and I have definitely felt all of them) That you can feel more than one at once or intermittently feel them etc etc etc. But if you google it the first thing you’ll get is a 7 bullet list with a whole bunch of synonyms crammed in. Which is fairly accurate because grief puts you and your emotions all over the damn place BUT since neither number is a multiple of 4, the reason I bring it up is that on a certain level and as the above heading (Loss…) suggests, most days I feel like I’ve done the work to accept things – and that doesn’t mean I 100% have or haven’t but that after 12 years I can confidently say that while it doesn’t hurt less it does hurt different. (Which is sometimes a good thing)

Maybe its not a rule but a suggestion

Ok so maybe the whole “rule of 4” thing was bs. Maybe I was just feeling poetic and feeling like patterns could heal me a bit because frankly, I have been feeling it a lot lately. And maybe in 2 years I will look back on this and pull something crazier out of my hat like “remember when I said ‘rule of 4? well 14 has a 4 in it!” and maybe then we can laugh. Or maybe we can just laugh now.

You know, because it’s kind of funny, every year on here or on instagram or on something I continue to tell some version of this story. It’s always true, it’s always from the heart and its always durring this month. And I used to think that I wrote it just to help some kid going through what I did and I used to think to myself that if it helped even one person that would be enough – but as much as I do still love the idea of helping others, I will never understand their loss or their story as I do my own. So maybe I was never writing for some random kid, and as predictable as it would be to say that I was writing it for me, to make my own sense of it, I can’t say that’s entirely true either. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wasn’t writing for some kid and I wasn’t writing to this version of me. But maybe I was writing to the kid I was then – the one that needed the most healing to get to where I am today; and maybe that’s progress because now, instead of being the sad, poor little girl that lost her dad at 14 – maybe I’m just me at 26, looking back with a smile and telling her that I will always fight for her (and her ludacris rule of 4)

So in honor of her victory and mine – I give you the now spoken rule of 4

4, the number of years in high school when I thought about giving up but didn’t

4, the number of years that I had with my 3 best friends making memories and learning how to heal.

4, the number of years since I graduated undergrad with my family by my side and my dad on my shoulder.

All leading to 12 –

12 days to 12 years without him.12, years I’ve grown and stumbled and somehow figured a bunch of things out about me and the world and my family.12, the number of years until I was able to realize that I didn’t have to walk away from that part of me to be happy – I just had to set a better pace to walk with it.

Great Expectations

Hello, and Happy Friday Friends! So I know in the past I have talked about the pitfalls of media and how my generation developed a certain propensity toward toxic masculinity in our teens thanks to some rather alluring vampires. And while I still stand by those sentiments – I think there is much to be said about the concept of expectations and love and how it evolves in great and terrible ways as we grow.

“Turn me on like a lightswitch” – Charlie Puth

As a newly minted 26-year-old woman who has spent far too much time putting together her own puzzle pieces in the past few years, there are few things that surprise me when it comes to self-discovery. But something I never expected when I was growing up was how high my expectations for other people were and more so, how much they would continue to grow.

For example, as a teenager I wanted a gentleman (preferably a protective vampire with old and proper values), someone who respected me and my ability to make my own choices, but also took charge because I secretly wanted someone to want to take care of me [in a respectful way]. Then, in my early twenties, that trope took a deeper twist because despite my expectations for respect instilled by the men in my family and in my life, I often found that a nice face and arms could forgive quite a few sins. Which, as you can imagine got me in a bit of trouble from time to time.

Now, luckily, this is most certainly no longer the case. But unluckily, now I find myself wanting someone who reads and can hold a conversation and is passionate and respectful and outspoken and the list could go on or I could just tell you that I am in love with Anthony Bridgerton (a fictional character, from the show Bridgerton.)

Whoever writes my life story has a flair for playing games with my heart

For any of us who gained an addiction to tiktok in the past year or two, a lot of us have developed this aptitude for complaining about the writers in charge of the plot we all have been living. Variations of this sentiment include, pretending to be a deity and pouring water into a bowl saying what characteristics (that we have) the given pour represents – usually this tackles queerness or anxiety or depression but my favorite thought is the one that portrays the idea that in each of our lives we exist under a writers room that determines where our story will go next.

And, of course, all of this rambling is just leading to the fact where I tell you that my writers room has lead me to fall for another person/character/actor that I will never meet and that even if I did and even if I managed to intrigue them – blah blah blah – In short, it’s no surprise that I’d be perfectly infatuated by a stunning gay man playing a straight viscount who perfectly portrays an enemies-to-lovers storyline rather than being interested in someone or anyone for that matter I could actually manage to date. Which leads us to — the people I could actually manage to date?

Fact: Sex Sells – but jeans and oversized hoodies shouldn’t be trifled with

While I can’t speak on behalf of anyone but myself – I can admit that throughout my twenties I have experienced a shift in how I interact with potential love matches and (let’s say) the characteristics they portray.

[I’m going to preface this anecdote with the background knowledge that when I walked into one of my favorite liquor stores yesterday I was wearing maroon supra high-tops, straight leg jeans, and an oversized hoodie and I had just gotten done with a physical at the doctors. Nothing I was wearing matched, I had no makeup on and I was in no condition to be interacting with any humans let alone plausibly attractive men]

For example, yesterday while at the liquor store I was followed around by the clerk who I was told didn’t like a certain brand of beer because it openly supported black lives matter and that brews shouldn’t have a hand in politics, among other things that the “democratic media… (ergo – strike one).

Now in the past, I will admit, that my “gossip girl” and “sex and the city” based education sought out to teach me no more than those penguins in madagascar did (“smile and wave boys, smile and wave”) and part of this is because my impression of myself and how I physically approached relationships gave me the impression that I had fewer options that I would have liked to believe I had. [newsflash, I was playing myself]. And no this story doesn’t end with me saying that I started a fight in the liquor store, I am much too classy for that. (and they’re the only place I know that carries the selection of beers I like…)

So why am I telling you this?

A few reasons. 1. I learned the terrifying fact that apparently, I am attractive to republicans [shudders in democrat] — which is not only problematic but must defy all kinds of laws of physics considering I carry a damn “alphabet mafia” card in my wallet. 2. I needed to write the story down because its 2022 and when you tell someone you can carry your own beers to your car 7 times, they really should have listened by 3. and 3. (to put it plainly) The interaction only solidified my ideas of wanting to be courted like the ladies in Bridgerton [which does not mean I want to live anywhere near the time period of corsets and non-existent women’s rights, but that if “Shondaland” was a town – I’d relocate in about 2 seconds flat] rather than mansplained Sour Beers in an isle that is no thicker than 2ft.

All is fair in love and … tinder?

Look, I have told you all before that I was giving up dating sites – and I am not going back on my promises – in fact, I have had a couple really awesome interactions with people in the past month in real life and real-time (IRL as the kids say) but that doesn’t curb my desire for something more.

Because frankly, all I have learned from apps like Tinder is that maybe my high expectations need to be pushed up a few more notches…I mean come on, what does a girl have to do for an enemies-to-lovers plotline like Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma!?

Truth is, I think the problem with expectations like mine (and constantly wanting everything and anything I cannot have) is that I can sit at my desk and create this a le carte interpretation of what I want my love life to look like, and sure it may be portrayed on a tv show where a bunch of talented writers get to toy with our emotions, but life doesn’t work like that.

I can’t sit here and pick and choose the perfect partner and manifest them into existence any more than I could have willed myself into marrying a Salvatore at 17. And that’s not because I can’t imagine what a good life with someone would look like, but because I haven’t yet experienced what I could possibly have in terms of a life with someone else

So while I can’t sit here and contend with fantasy – I can try to live and work toward a reality that meets me halfway – because in the past month I have met the kind of people who valued my mind first and called me beautiful and RESPECTED my boundaries (which shouldn’t have been as exciting as it was.

Expect the Unexpected

I guess the takeaway from all this is that I am not going to give up on my expectations but I will continue to expect more from people than I have been given in the past. And I am also going to do a better job at meeting my expectations where they realistically live and not allowing some off-topic attitudes to sway them.

So, in other words, I won’t strive for Brigerton’s and settle for vampires, but I might aim for a Bridgeton and maybe meet someone (not a raging republican at a liquor store) living a more simple and properly respectable life. Because maybe I can learn to expect the unexpected, rather than constantly expecting the unrealistic fantasies I constantly see on screen.

The one about the goldfish being fed too much in a small tank

When it comes to all living things, we all pretty much need the same stuff to live and thrive and whatever else… food, water, shelter and love if you’re looking to break the curve. But the funny thing is – not many people seem to want to break the curve.

Lately, and always, conservatives are so quick to get on their soap-box that liberals and their “brain-washing institutions” breed these wild thinkers with crazy ideas where boys can be girls, girls can be boys, and my house plant can identify as a damn apache helicopter [but of course “we can’t say apache because that is racially charged and these snowflakes can’t handle history”. But the problem with this [there’s a lot more but this one is for today] is that “liberal institutions” like college – merely allow young people to see the world outside of the context they were raised on. And often, these points of view lead young people to believe that, “hey, that stuff they were teaching me about black women being able to handle 12x more pain and all the gays are trying to steal and brainwash my kids… maybe that’s not actually accurate.” And for the record… both the “gay agenda” and racially charged inequity in medicine are both majorly misunderstood issues.

Truth is – some of this country is outgrowing the tank it was born into, but others are so used to the tank that they have that they will continue to ignore the fact that they can’t continue to grow without cracking the very core ideals that their entire existence is encapsulated in – and as bad as it sounds, we can only hope that they just grow too big for their tank until they will have no other choice than to move out of their current digs or die holding on to the idea that they are the perfect size for where they live.

Step on a crack break…

Let’s be honest – boiled down, our country is more built on prejudice than it is freedom. Both in the literal sense of the United States exploiting immigrants and slaves and foreign countries to achieve their goals and also in the figurative sense that most, if not all of our systems are inherently broken or excessively corrupt. In short, prejudice is the foundation of our country; and while that’s disgusting to say – until we can accept the cracks in our foundation, our house will only continue to crumble around us. [But – of course- going hand in hand with the fish tank analogy, we choose to focus on what makes us “great” because we also teach a level of systemic denialism that is dumbfounding at best and lethal at worst.]

“Ahhh – she’s having one of those days… – the ones where she uses big words because she hasn’t posted in two weeks.” and to that I say, yes, but also no.

Phobia means “fear of” – but let’s call it what it is

With trans day of visibility yesterday and the supreme court hearings the last few weeks, and the now famously moronic “don’t say gay” bill being passed recently – I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about homophobia, transforbia, and the irony of certain political parties who use violence to achieve their goals while also condemning people who don’t crack down hard enough against crime. And while all these topics are light and fun and a joy to speak of on a friday morning… [smh] lately I have been less fixated on the actions surrounding these topics and more on the words that we address them by.

See my boy Willy Shakes once said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” And while I would NEVER attempt to overwrite “his” words, I can’t help but think of that concept in opposite terms because HATE, by any other term will still breed most foul and despite the fact that it is 2022 we still label hatred as fear or disapproval and call it a day.

Hate by any other name

Although it may be controversial, I personally don’t believe people are born evil. That said, I also don’t think it takes all that much to turn someone hateful or sour and in cases of the worst of the worst that mankind has to offer I do think we like to let ourselves believe people are born evil because we want to dehumanize them and further separate them from ourselves.

There’s this proverb, I believe it’s origin is from the indigenous people, and it states that we are born with two wolves, one good, one bad, and the one we feed is the one that we become.

So yeah, I don’t think people are born evil, but I do believe that we are all capable of it and that given the proper motivation and disposition anyone, no matter their age can do terrible and horrible things. [and I’d also like to note that people who specifically misinterpret text with the intention of condemning and dehumanizing others, whether it be legislative or spiritual, only broadens the basis of hate and ignorance that often does more bad than good].

Out-growing the tank

I’ve probably said something like this before in a different font and at a different time, but we are at a turning point. And this applies to the country and its individuals because more than ever before we are receiving knowledge and feeding our beliefs [ and our disbeliefs ] and we are outgrowing our tank today and everyday. So as you swim through these times, make sure you pay attention to your growth, but also pay attention to your tank – because at the end of the day, you get to decide the bounds you are held in and the people you are held by. And it may not always be easy, but sometime it’s better to outgrow your beliefs than to let them suffocate you and crack the world around you.