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Sunday, September 4, 2016

We exist in a narrative of failure

When you became a parent, everything was so hard. You stopped knowing how to live. Without a day job to structure your hours, you got lost between day and night, between baby breakfast and snack. You forgot what the shower looked like. You measured your self-worth by how much or little you smelled on any given day. You looked at the kids, and at least they were there. Alive. Good. Perhaps not because of you. But probably. I mean, they were just babies. It was up to you, right?

Eventually, you forced yourself to make your own structure. You got together some to-do lists, you made some long-term goals, and you used social media to help you find friends--other mothers who were new at this thing, other women who were struggling.

They never knew you were actual garbage.

You had enough of a talent for writing that you were relatable. You never worried about showing them your failures because you were funny about it, and you didn't mind looking bad if it made other people feel better about themselves. You kept hacking away at your lists and your writing, and, for a while, you felt pretty good about this. You felt like you were making a difference to people. People seemed to be trying because you were fighting there along with them, there to support them and laugh with them, there to share your triumphs and failures. For a while, you felt like the face of a certain type of parenthood, and you were okay with that. Parenting is a wonderful thing to bond over because it is essentially outside of yourself. It is a foreign body to nearly everybody. As close as it is to you, it is never quite who you are. That makes it somehow safe. It gives your life an outside focus. It is something you do, not something you are. But it is ALSO something you are, and so the validation and friendship you receive as a result of it is natural and complex. You can talk about it as an it while also integrating it as a you. It's easy to write about, to pull funny snippets and anecdotes into a broader context that all parents can relate to. You knew always that you were a very small fish, and you constantly checked yourself, lest you became egotistical about it.

You always liked to be the center of attention. Lord knows how often you had been told about that part of yourself.

But kids grow up.

And suddenly they're too old for you to write too much about them anymore without violating their privacy and agency as people.

At the same time, you've hacked your to-do list to pieces. You've won awards, you've published in all the places, you're making money, you're even being paid to teach others how to do this.

But you're still garbage.

And now you're not even relatable. You are somehow too much and not enough at the same time.

You realize your bulletproof strategy was perhaps closer to compulsion than you want to admit, and you are not proud of yourself at all. Since you are garbage, everything you've accomplished is garbage, and those who celebrated your accomplishments are garbage and everything is garbage.

So you keep going, racking it up, doing your best. Your paper resume is fucking solid. There is no denying that you are GOOD.

Except you're not. You're leaking everywhere. You want to tell people about how hard you work, in the hopes that they will admire your tenacity and ethic, that they will see this goodness and say something. But you know that telling people about how hard you work is poison.

First, it might make them feel like they are hopeless, unaccomplished, not enough. It also provokes an eye-roll reaction, because, honestly, who cares what you've done. It gets to the point where even in places where you're supposed to list your accomplishments, you don't want to. "X is a freelance writer" is all you want to say. You're afraid the rest is bragging. You're afraid the rest is showing off. You're certain other people could do this, what you do. You are not special.

You do not want people to think you think you are special.

You do not want people to think you think you are better than them.

And now that your days consist of writing and interviewing and publishing instead of changing diapers and mushing up avocado, you can't hide what you've been doing all along, which is talking about yourself.

Forcing yourself to badly put together an IKEA dresser for your kids and forcing yourself to write a 2,000-word profile for a major magazine seem the same to you, but they're not. You can write about the first, and it's funny and cute. If you write about the second, it's smug, it's bragging. And not just about your accomplishments, but about the unhealthy standards to which you've held yourself, and about the unhealthy way you accomplished those standards.

And speaking of the kids, you look at them now, growing, and you see the weight has shifted. They are still good, but now you know that it is definitely in spite of you, rather than because of you. The kids are good because kids are made good, and it's all you can do to mess them up as little as possible, and you're failing.

You see other people, women in particular, doing what you have done, and you want to tell them to stop. You want to tell them it doesn't work. You want to protect them from this. You're afraid it will overwhelm them, swallow them. You're afraid they're doing it the way you did it, to fill something. You're afraid they'll wake up and find it still empty, like you did.

But you can't warn them. How presumptuous of you to assume they are like you. They are not garbage, after all. Why project your feelings all over their hard work?

You have long thought about how anxiety affects your life. You've come around to wondering about compulsion and what it even means. But you can't really complain about your feelings, your drive. If you do have anxiety, it's not that bad. You're just making a big deal out of it, like you always do.

People have it so much worse. You can get out of bed in the morning. You can do all the things! You do them, all the time. You have 'spoons.' Lots of spoons. All the spoons. You can go forever.

You worry that too much talk about this anxiety will turn people off. Now, not only do they feel compelled to pat you on the back whenever you've accomplished whatever stupid thing you set out to accomplish that day, they also will feel like they have to comfort you. That's an emotional burden they don't need. You think they'll resent you for it. You think they probably already do.

Here she comes. She has everything, does everything, and, still, she needs us to coddle her.

You've gone from relatable to off-putting. You've gone from just enough to make everyone happy to too much and too little all at once.

You're going to lose everyone, as well you should.

This is what happens when you base your narrative on failure and you then outwardly succeed. This is what happens when you make it on the outside without ever having looked at the inside.

And deep down, you know that your inside doesn't even deserve the attention you're giving it right now.

There is nothing wrong with you. You are fine.

Other than being garbage.


You throw some Christmas lights over your garbage heap and hit post.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Children break things

In 2008, my husband and I bought a vase.

We had just moved into our first legitimate home together. Everything was brand new to us. The place seemed huge. It was just the two of us. We were waiting for our kids to arrive.

Actually, I bought a vase.

I'm not great at home decor, and by that I mean I suck at it. I do not have refined tastes, and I don't know the difference between an original indy artist's painting and a print bought at a thrift store. But I was trying.

So, I bought this huge shiny brownish vase. From Marshall's. For $20.

And I loved it.

Soon after its arrival on our fireplace, my husband looked at it and said, 'why is there an empty vase here?'

And I was like, um, 'IT'S DECORATION, DUH."

"No, no. You can't have a vase without something in it."

"Um, yes you can. I'm pretty sure Pottery Barn does this shit all the time." (I'm paraphrasing, here. Eight years ago, I wouldn't have said this. I would have meekly smiled and nodded. But I'd say it TODAY, and so let's just pretend that's what I said. Because I definitely thought it.)

But an empty vase would not suffice. A few days later, my husband came home with some forest-green fake leaves. I don't even know where they were from, but they smelled like the inside of JoAnn's or Michaels or The Christmas Tree Shop.

Whatever, we are high class, okay?

We stuck the leaves in the vase, and voila. Before we'd even hung our (by which I mean my husband's) paintings on the wall, we had an accent piece to die for.

It went supremely well with my pregnant belly and my impeccably clean, before-kids carpeting.

That vase stuck with us throughout the years. It saw the layoff, the move to Florida, a condo and then our rented house (because lol if we're going to buy again after the housing collapse that we felt the brunt of).

It saw my kids as infants, toddlers, little kids, and finally, the big kids they are today. It's been a steady friend and companion. One of the first things my husband and I ever bought together (the couches you see in the picture being the first. ... Do you see that white couch? WHAT FOOLS WE WERE.)

Three moves, three jobs, and a family later, that vase stood tall, guarding the fireplaces of our abodes.

Until the other day.

I don't know how many times I've said/shouted/screamed 'no running in the house', but I'm pretty sure the dog doesn't want to eat glass. Anyway, I may as well have said it 0 times because apparently running in the house is still and will forever be a thing here.

And when you catch them in the act, they do that awkward quick conversion to super-fast walking. loooool, okay, kids, you fooled me.

The girls, to their credit, were distraught about breaking this vase. I didn't even yell at them. It turns out, they feel way worse about doing something by accident than when they are purposefully being turds. They feel the way I want them to feel when I've chastised them for being rude or mean. Only they just accidentally broke something. Life isn't fair, y'all.

I shooed them outside and set to work cleaning this mammoth mess. (I got the dog new food and washed his bowl. Don't worry. He won't be killed TODAY.)

I brought the shards out to the garbage, and when I came back in, my girls had given me the gift of a new vase for my husband's hilariously colored leaves.


This happened two days ago, and their "vase" is still there in front of the door with the leaves in it.

Not because I'm sentimental and touched (although I am), but more because I'm the kind of mom who looks at things on the floor and long can this stay here before something bad happens?

I'll let you know.

For now, enjoy our decor as you sip some coffee from a stained mug and marvel at our bean-bag filled, princess placemat having, high-living, jet-setting lifestyle.

Monday, June 27, 2016

How to make s'more cookies EPIC FAIL

Perhaps the best part of this video is my child mimicking me, unbeknown to me, through the whole beginning. Thanks, babe.


Monday, June 13, 2016

You are not a well-regulated militia

The Second Amendment reads: "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Passed by Congress in 1789, and ratified in 1791, it is clear that this amendment was put into place well before the average citizen had access to automatic weapons. The point, in fact, of the Second Amendment was to restrict Congress from being able to legislate away a state's right to self-defense.

But I don't see any states organizing state armies to defend themselves.

Over the past couple of hundred years, and especially after the Civil War, the United States has melded into a unified country. States utilize all of their rights and legislate in different ways, but with no other constitutional wording do private individuals within any states use the document for their own private ends. They are held by the laws at the state and federal level. We need gun laws at the state and federal level.

The main push of this amendment was to allow peoples who may be oppressed by those in power to defend themselves against such marginalization.

We are using it to do the very opposite. People are using the Second Amendment, something there to boost up the underprivileged, as a way to keep the underprivileged in check.

People are using an amendment that was suppose to promote equality to kill those who try to live equally. We see mass shootings on school campuses from the elementary level to the university level. We see mass shootings in churches where the main population is black. We see mass shootings of women when a man has been spurned. We just saw our largest mass shooting ever, in a club meant as a safe haven for our LGBTQ community in Orlando on their Latin night. It was a hate crime, plain and simple.

We see mass shootings of peoples who are already oppressed by the institution by people who are protected by that institution in various ways.

In 1939, the Supreme Court verified the intent of the Second Amendment as an issue of collective rights. They said in The United States v. Miller that Congress could regulate firearms (in this case, a sawed-off shotgun) that did not have "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia."

This reading of the Constitution remained in place until 2008.

Let me say it again for those people in the back:

The reading of the Constitution that allowed for Congress to regulate sale of some firearms remained in place until 2008.

So, please, don't act like our country has been giving you AK-47s for 50 years.

You all only just got this right, and look what you've managed to do with it.

In The District of Columbia v. Heller, Heller argued the D.C. handgun ban that had been in place for 32 years.

In a 5-4 split decision, the Court decided on an individual right to bear arms. The Court followed that up in 2010 with another 5-4 decision in favor of getting rid of handgun bans, this time in Chicago.

This wild west of guns is new, and it is wrong. And it would not take much to overturn these precedents. The gun lobby is strong, the NRA is strong. There are many politicians who support and profit from these groups. Here are the ones who banned background checks for the purchase of firearms.

Other politicians have introduced hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills over the past couple of years. We must see them. This is not an Islam v west shooting. This was a hate crime against a very vulnerable population already, and the Christian right is just as much to blame as anyone else. No, they are more to blame. They dehumanize those who simply wish to exist, to survive. And that dehumanization along with our lax gun laws pave the way for hate to shoot down scores of people just because.

Just. Because.

Where is the freedom in that? The freedom of more than 100 dead and injured doesn't outweigh the freedom of one person?

The Declaration of Independence states that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable. The Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments, of which, obviously, the second is one) are meant to maintain these rights.

It is failing. It has failed. It stands in the way of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It stands in the way of life.

It ends life.

Over and over again.


You are not a well-regulated militia.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Make Watermelon Jello -- Fail Kitchen

"What are we going to do? I need to know how I'm going to get that to stay flat in the fridge when it is not flat."



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