27 Reasons I am PUMPED

In just about a week, I will turn 27. I am not bummed to be solidly arriving in my late twenties. In fact, I’m thrilled about it. Too many people whine and moan about aging another year. To those people, I say, “What the f*ck is wrong with you?” Behold, 27 reasons I am pumped to be turning 27.

27.) I have driven my car from point A to point B and back again for another 365 days without killing any other drivers or pedestrians. JACKPOT.

26.) My cat and dog have depended on me to keep them alive and happy for another whole year and I have NOT FAILED. Seriously, I would be a terrible mother, but that cat and dog and LOVING life with me.

25.) In this past year, TWO, count ’em, TWO ex boyfriends have declared their lingering love and regret of loosing me. Which is a little sad and awkward, but more importantly just makes me go, “SUCK IT, LOSERS! I WIN!” (And them immediately feel bad for thinking that.)

24.) Birthdays are a holiday dedicated to you. How does anyone not find that awesome?

23.) I can count myself as another year older and wiser. Mastering such life lessons as, “You will always be on phone with the cable company for over an hour. Go to your happy place.”

22.) I continued to be a klutz, falling down several staircases. Still have not broken a bone. TAKE THAT, GRAVITY.

21.) For another year, I have not ventured out in public with my fly open. (Which is a very real fear I have.)

20.) I have not been murdered by a spider. (Which is a very real fear I have.)

19.) In the past year I have learned the amazing lesson that you CAN say no to things you don’t want to do. And there is no shame in passing up the bar crawl for Netflix and a bottle of wine. (Get my buzz on, save money, catch up on my shows. You call it lazy. I call it multi-tasking.)

18.) I have also learned there is no shame in being the team leader of the bar crawl. Stressful week? Rally the troops and stake out the barstools because….

17.) I’ve finally figured out how to drink in public without humiliating myself. It’s been like, an entire year since any drunk texting! Just think how classy I’ll be in ANOTHER year!

16.) I finally have a sense of humor about myself. I crack myself up. That’s important when you’re this much of a dweeb.

15.) I have set and accomplished more physical and mental goals in this past year than in my entire life. This has only increased my capacity for challenges.

14.) I have flopped at many physical and mental goals in this past year. This has only increased my capacity for challenges.

13.) Birthdays mean everyone has to say nice things to you for 24 hours. Which means I can get extra sassy without repercussions.

12.) Calories don’t count on birthdays. SERIOUSLY. THEY DON’T.

11.) Finally understanding what traits I want in my dream job. The job hasn’t been invented yet, but at least I know I’d be perfect for it!

10.) I no longer feel bad about swearing in front of my mother. I’m a F*CKING grown up!

9.) I also fully understand that there is no way I’m a grown up. Maybe when I stop swearing in front of my mother.

8.) Everything is an adventure, and another year just means more of them.

7.) I’ve been accidentally calling myself 27 for the past year, so at least I can finally be right about something.

6.) I can’t remember the last time I posted emo song lyrics as a Facebook status. Which means I’ve done my part to improve the world.

5.) I paid for music this year. Another sign of impending maturity.

4.) I have carried 3 turtles across busy streets in this past year. I am very proud of this. I wish I could put this fact on my resume’. I have an entire new year to save more helplessly slow animals.

3.) I have had the opportunity to witness incredible acts of kindness by total strangers. Such as the amazing group of people who made a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project on behalf of my brother. I can’t wait for the opportunity to pay it forward.

2.) I get to celebrate my birthday with the most amazing friends. Even if they aren’t with me on my actual birthday, I get to spend the day knowing that I have found and collected some of the most amazing humans to grace this planet.

1.) The most important reason of all to be excited. For 27 years, I have woken up every morning. Not every day has been great, or even good. Some have sucked. But I’ve had something like 9,855 days to figure shit out. And let’s face it, there are a lot of people who don’t get to say that.

I’ll take as many birthdays as I can get. Bring ’em on.

Getting Dumped

It’s over. You’ve bit your nails, done the follow up, waited for the feedback, and then you get the bad news. You’ve lost out on that opportunity, that advancement, that career changing, monumental THING. Whatever it may be. But it looked and felt like a door to something big. And you’ve officially snapped off the key in the lock. What happens next? Well, if you’re me, you go through several stages of mourning.

First, you get upset. Like, really upset. Almost as if you were just dumped after you had sex on the first date. “I thought we had something special!” Then realize, no, you didn’t, you’re just kind of emotionally near-sighted, and maybe a little mentally slutty.

Next, sleep off the defeat. Nothing takes the edge out of an ego sting quite like shutting off you brain for a bit.

The morning brings the recovery period. Listen to Tom Petty. Lots of him. No one gets your soul quite like that brilliant Floridian with enviable hair for a gentleman of his age. Also, it is physically impossible to remain negative while hearing the opening bars of “American Girl.” Seriously, give it a try.

Read some inspirational quotes on Pinterest. See what Seth Godin has to say on the matter of professional rejection. Then dig your heels in. As lame as it sounds, you’ve got to be your own cheerleader. At the moment, my internal cheerleader is probably a little buzzed, smoking behind the bleachers during the big game. That girl needs to get her ass in gear.

How? Think about why you wanted that opportunity in the first place.

Why am I in social media? Why do I want to remain in social media?

It boils down to one very basic, simple reason. Storytelling. That’s it. That’s what the core and heart of social media really is. It’s not an obsession with ever changing platforms. It’s not sitting around counting your fans or retweets. (Let’s not start any wars here, those things are important in their own ways.) It’s about telling a story. A brand’s story, a person’s story, a 3-legged dog’s story. It doesn’t matter.

Social media is one moment. Social media is the constant striving for that instant when you deliver your message, pause, and the audience goes, “And then what?”

There is nothing more rewarding than that moment. In elementary school, I created a talking ladybug character with superhuman strength. When given a creative writing assignment, I just busted out good old Wizz (Miss Wizzleheimer was her full name), and regaled my teacher with another of her adventures. In reality I was just being lazy, but then, after a few public recitals to my classmates, I started to hear it. “And then what?” The idea that someone else joined me in that made up world, and wanted me to create more of it for them, was just elation.

During college, I worked at a mall after classes wrapped for the day. It was the most insanely boring thing I’ve ever experienced- until I realized that the computer we used as a register also had Word installed. As my shift ground to a close each night, I killed time by writing a story segment, printing it out, and leaving it for whoever opened in the morning. Nothing was ever said to me, until the one night we were busy and I closed the store without updating the story. The next morning my boss called to make sure I was okay. She assured me I hadn’t screwed up the closing procedure, but I hadn’t left the story.

“I needed to know what happened next.” She said.

I was addicted.

I live for that moment. That’s how I know I belong in social media. I live for the moment when I’ve captured a brand’s lifestyle, their purpose, their story, and I’ve delivered to their audience in a way that interrupts their thought process. It causes them to pause. Look again. Smile, laugh, think. And ask for more. It’s the participation. Their voices coming back, excited to have found this character within what they once pictured as a flat organization, devoid of personality.

Yes. There is an immense amount of work that goes into making those moments. Finding the right platform, the right audience, the correct tone, and content creation. Analyzing the results, and honing the engagement to reach a goal.

But.

Really.

Without that moment, there is no social media. And that moment is what makes me light up. It’s my thing. I create that moment. (Alright, cheerleader, come on.) And I do a damn good job of making those moments.

So, social media, I’m not about to give up on you. I’m especially clingy.

Just Jump. Or Black Out.

No.

No. No. No.

That’s that last thing I remember. Standing on top of the “Walk the Plank” obstacle of the Philadelphia Tough Mudder. A 25 foot leap into very murky water.  Perched on a hill, the top of the scaffolding gave you a spectacular view of the rolling farm land around you, creating an even further effect of height. 

I had been mentally preparing for this moment for just under a year. As soon as I registered for a Tough Mudder event, I knew this obstacle would be here. Specifically created to basically mess with my head. 

I’m not a fan of heights. And I can’t swim. Minor details. 

I sort of swim. Growing up in land-locked, short-summered Vermont, the opportunity to learn never arose at a young age. As I grew, I came to dread the shocked looks and exaggerated gasps that came with telling someone I couldn’t swim. So I developed a drastically wounded doggie paddle and avoided water altogether. 

But for some truly disturbed reason, I was obsessed with taking on this obstacle anyway. I was sure that if I did it, I would learn some valuable life lesson about conquering fears. And that I would naturally become an excellent swimmer. Logical. 

So here I was. I had trained hard for the runs, the hills, and the climbs. I had even jumped into a pool a few times. Although, the drop was into about 5 feet of water from the concrete edge. This whole time I thought that the memory of my brother, whose name was stitched on to the back of my shirt, would give me the courage to get through everything. 

But as I grasped from ridge to ridge, climbing the scaffolding, his memory became buried in the growing cacophony of warnings from my basic instincts. 

Water bad! Heights bad! Ground good! CLIMB BACK DOWN. 

As I very ungracefully rolled my body over onto the platform, and climbed to my feet, I had the immediate urge to sink down. Sit. Breathe. Close my eyes until someone carried me down. I grabbed the rails on either side of me as joyful racers leapt passed, striking poses for the cameras as they crashed into the water. I don’t think I was breathing. The race staffer next to me kept saying, “Go. You’re fine. Go.” I think my boyfriend said something supportive. 

The racer next to me leapt. I watched him disappear into the dark water. His head broke the surface a moment later and he paddled to the side. I shifted my weight back, away from the edge. This wasn’t for me. I couldn’t even feel my feet anymore. 

Then, I was in the water. 

It was dark and cold and much louder than I ever imagined it would be. Sinking is the worst physical feeling I’ve ever had. Kick. I was confused and scared. But I kicked. My eyes were closed but things got lighter. KICK. I broke the surface. Inhaled a big gulp of water and ducked back under again for a moment. Kick harder. I broke the surface again and flipped onto my back. The lifeguard yelled at me to swim away from the jump. I wanted to scream back, “YEAH, because I’m having SUCH a blast in here!” 

My wounded doggie paddle sufficed to slowly bring me to the edge of the pool, where my boyfriend, who jumped after me, was already out of the water, reaching down to pull me out. I staggered to my feet. Limped to the edge of the course. Doubled over and dry heaved into the tall grass. Gasping for air, tears streaming down my face, I wanted to scream, “I DON’T WANT TO JUMP.” 

At that moment, my boyfriend ran to my side, wearing a huge smile, and yelling, “You did it! I can’t believe it! You did it!” I straightened up and turned to look at the ledge. Wait. Had I already jumped? 

I don’t remember jumping. I don’t remember falling. I just remember sinking. And then kicking. Then it was done. It was horrible and scary and I’m not sure I would ever do it again, but I’ve already done it once, so who cares? 

My boyfriend said I hadn’t even hesitated. That I had jumped immediately. I can’t imagine that was the actual case. 

Survival instincts. They’re the ones that tell you not to jump from high places into dark water if you can’t swim. They’re also the one’s that understand that walking away from the leap might be just as damaging. 

There’s a life metaphor in here, I can feel it. 

 

#SXSurival Day 1

The five people you meet at day 1 of SXSW Interactive (as a newbie):

1) The super friendly person who will share an umbrella with you in the rain, and proceed to call you by the state from which you hail. Cue super cool nickname you wish was real. “So, CT, how long have you been in town?” 

2) The overly ambitious person who jams so many industry terms and buzzwords into a sentence that you wonder if they’re joking with you. “What’s your career trajectory? How do you see yourself parlaying this information into usable content? How do you manage the digital divide?”

3) The newbie who is waaaay cooler than you but doesn’t seem to realize it. You’re from WHERE? You own WHAT? ….That jacket is super cool. Why are you still talking to me? Can we be best friends forever?

4) That one person who is too hip to network. Look, dude, I’m only here for the free taco. You don’t have to talk to me. Just thought we might share an interest in free tacos. 

5) Pete Cashmore of Mashable. Because the world just wanted you to.

Final thoughts: Lines suck. Be obnoxiously early. Take the free poncho. Drink the moonshine. There will always be more tacos. Write everything down. Pee whenever the opportunity presents itself. Be critical of your speakers- not everything they say is gold. Challenge your own thinking. 

Drinking Buddies

How many drinks could we have? I wonder that all the time. How many drinks would it take before you’d tell me what was wrong? Before you would sigh a little deeper and look off into nothing as you tell me it’s not worth it anymore?

And I, being as drunk as I would be at that moment, would sling my arm around your neck the way I did when I was small and you seemed impossibly bigger than me. I would pull your forehead to mine and tell you that was crazy. I would nudge you back, and tell you that you’re just simply not allowed to think that way.

Because if you left, you’d leave a million tiny shards behind. And everyday I, we, your family, friends, and children would have to step on them.

You never knew me as a drinker, but I think you would have found me to be a well- prepared partner in crime. Our hearts always hit at the same pitch. We knew that. We lived on the same frequency that left us oddly bonded and miles apart.

And so, if given the opportunity, and enough beer and tequila, I’m just sure of it. I’m just sure we would have one of those nights that no one else would understand. Because we’d reference things they don’t get and catch up on things they don’t care about. You would make disparaging remarks about the boys I’ve dated in the past. I would resent the teasing, but know you were right. Because you are. Brothers always are right about these sorts of things, although my ego will never admit to it. 

But I would tell you, brother, this one. This one is different. You’d never like him, but you’d respect him. He counteracts me. The hyper tendency you always worked so patiently to quell in me on long afternoons in the woods. He makes things just a little quieter. I think you’d see that. You wouldn’t tease me about this one.

After the second shot of tequila, we’d talk about your boys. Your handsome, strong boys and the marks they leave on the world. You’d be worried about them. Endlessly. And I would tell you how fine they are going to be. One more drink and you’d admit that you know they will be.

As the speech gets more slurred, and the words are a little less connected, we’d still understand each other perfectly. But there would be something left just for you. Something that no amount of alcohol can pry from your heartbeats. But I imagine, I picture that moment were you take that long drink, let out that long sigh, and tell me. And somehow, with my arm around my neck, I know exactly how to help you.

But that’s not how the story goes. And it hurts too much to dwell on the details. So I imagine a different conversation. When the previously told fairy tale becomes too much, I rewind it and change the words. This time, you pull my head to yours. And you tell me that it’s fine. That I was always a scrappy little girl, and you have no concerns about my ability to navigate this world. You are well aware of what a klutz I am, and you’ve seen me scramble back to my feet every time, no matter how ungraceful of a fall. You used to read my stories. So you know that if reality ever gets too much for me, I’ll just step away and write myself a new one.

Then you’ll push me back a step. To create the distance we need. And you’ll go. The story will always end like that. I can’t write that out of existence. You’ll always leave. You’ll always be gone.

But I’ll have this. I’ll have those million little shards you left. The ones we have to walk on everyday. But I’ll always be looking for them. For the opportunity to pick them up and carefully examine their edges for the ability to hurt me. Then, I’ll set them down carefully and turn them into something more beautiful.

They say you have to write what you know. This is all I know. I know what it’s like to so badly want to help but have nothing to give. Nothing to make anything even a little bit better. So I have a million tiny stories. I have a million tiny fragments of you and how they each pull a different thread in me.

Soon this year is going to be over. It will no longer be the year you died. It will no longer be the year my family fell apart. I think, for me, it has to be the close of that particular fight. Because it just can’t be a fight anymore. It’s time to live with it. So I’ll do what I can for you, brother, for the pieces of you that are left here. And for me, I’ll turn you into something else. Maybe it will be stories. Maybe you’ll be the resilience I need to face the new challenges. Maybe you’ll be the patience I need to not lose the good things, the oh-so-good things, which have suddenly appeared in my life.

So, brother, we won’t ever really have that night of careless drinking, but as long as my overly active imagination still holds its ground, I’ll always save a drink for you. As this year comes to a close, I will certainly raise a glass to you, and listen closely to the words you tell me.

Even if I have to write them myself.  

Retaliation

I’ve been taught to fight in the worst way.

We were raised with the military in our blood. I’ve always felt a bit like we’re born to be soldiers. My siblings and I. We’re always wondering where the next enemy strike is coming from, and preparing ourselves for any type of battle.

We were a scrappy bunch. I’ve watched one of my brothers walk into the middle of a bar brawl for the blind emotion of the fight. I feel entirely worthless if I’m not challenged to the point to breaking. We stand and breathe with the calamity of life. That’s our survival.

We’re supposed to be the fighters. Each in our own way. I was taught not to cry. Except for when there are copious amounts of alcohol involved, I generally hold fast to that rule. We’re taught to attack. It’s not with pride that I admit my attacks don’t come in the form of a fistfight, but will probably be more underhanded and wounding.

Losing my brother was an internal strike. Friendly fire. It makes no sense. I did not cry at his funeral. I did plenty of it on my own time, but not there. Not in front of his children, or the military presence.  I’ve decided this is the last time I will publicly address the subject.

It’s time for a quieter battle. I’ve been beating a hasty retreat since the day he died. It’s time to dig out the trenches and retaliate.

To approach a battle, you have to know your enemy. Mine is the creeping depression that weaves its way through my bloodline, and battle scarred my brother beyond repair. It’s the weight of life that teaches you to be cautious and fearful.

My fight comes in the form of a growl.  It’s taking a challenge I would have never considered and signing up before I have time to doubt myself. It’s carrying both my brother and myself across a finish line, which only marks the start of something else.

It’s no longer accepting killing a bottle of tequila and embarrassing myself as a coping mechanism. It’s the push to run faster, fall harder, and get up quicker. My retaliation comes from early mornings, skinned knees, and sheer grit. I fight back by admitting that I’m terrified, but that’s just an emotion, not an excuse.

It’s getting to the part where I’m really fucking mad at him. I don’t even think anger is a strong enough word. You don’t walk away from your post, soldier. I’m not going to walk away from mine. It’s the realization that I need to hold my ground for both of us. No, it’s not just holding ground. It’s taking ground. It’s a counter strike.

It’s the somewhat cliché realization that life is a war, and you have to fight back. You have to retaliate.

Pray

I don’t pray. I have no relationship with my religion. It’s ironic, seeing as how I have always been attracted to stories with an element of the fantastic. I have been baptized. I attended Sunday School. I made it to my First Communion. But I have never known what I believe. I’ve made a conscious choice not to dwell on it much.

People are always talking about praying during hard times. That’s always confused me. Wouldn’t that kind of piss God off? Like, “Oh, OKAY. You only talk to me when you NEED something.” Be clear, I do not intend to undermine anyone’s religion, or what tactic they use to find relief. In fact, I’ve thought more and more about prayers over the past two weeks. Maybe it’s like unloading. Just talking it out so it doesn’t live inside your gut. Because right now, I can’t digest anything. Food, emotions, thoughts. I have decided to try a prayer. But since I don’t know what I’m talking to, I’ve decided it’s simply a prayer to nothing except my own resolves.

I pray that this passes. I really do. I pray that some day I won’t wake up and mentally score what’s gone missing. I hope I can make it through the day without blurting out his passing.

I hope that one day I can find it in myself to accept what happened. Nothing I can do can change his death, but I can’t stop replaying the hundreds of ways it could have gone differently. I can’t stop picturing the months, weeks, days, and even hours before his choice that maybe, just maybe, something could have interrupted the path. Is there such a thing as a stay of execution? I pray that one day I can stop trying to think of the one word he needed to hear to stop this all.

I really hope I can stop finding him in every song I listen to, because some of the leaps I’m making are a fucking stretch.

I hope that soon I can sleep again. That my chest stops clenching every time I close my eyes. That I stop jerking awake every hour, wondering who’s dead. Checking my phone. It’s a strange thing. Death is like an infestation. When it’s wormed its way into your stronghold, you suddenly have a more complete grasp on your tentative status on the world. Who’s next? Is it my parents? A friend? Is it me?

I pray that I can eradicate these thoughts, because I feel like I’m one step to the left of insane. I pray that there is room in my identity to assimilate the information that suicide has touched my life. Right now, it feels like I have to give up myself to make room for that information.

I hope I get stronger. I hope I’m never angry at him. I pray that I stop wondering what it was that hurt him so badly.  I hope and pray that he’s okay.

This is a selfish prayer. I think I did it wrong.

And then there is less in the world.

I am going to write you down. I’m going to put you into a place you can’t wriggle away from. Because I don’t understand what you did, and I need to capture what I can.

***

There’s an awkward pause after the initial standard greetings. Neither of us are sure what to do with this. I’m not a little girl anymore, and you just got back from another world. We no longer speak the same language in a sense.

I break in.

“I hear they have big spiders there. Did you see any? What are they called again?”

“Camel spiders!” You say, eager that I’ve brought up a subject we’re well versed in: Gross things I need you to protect me from.

“I saw a picture of them online. They’re disgusting!”

“Yeah. They are. I didn’t see any that were real big. But there was a good sized one in my boot once.”

“That’s horrible.”

“It’s not so bad.”

We pause again. There’s nowhere to take it from here.

“Well, I’m glad you’re home safe. Happy Thanksgiving!”

“Yeah, thanks. You too.”

I hand the phone to my brother and walk off into the kitchen.

***

You are my picture of a boy. Always slightly dirty. Able to fix things. Never TOO concerned with girls. You are my picture of a brother. I have very few clear, happy childhood memories. And you’re in most of them. You are the boy who took me fishing after school. You are the boy who waded into the muck to pull up a water lily for me.  You grabbed snakes by their tails and whipped them out across the pond when they got too close to me. You never let me curse, but freely swore in front of me.

Even though you kept to yourself, I always knew that if I knocked on your bedroom door, you would open it for me. You would let me flop onto your bed, and patiently describe the premise of each book I pointed at.

I remember the day you picked me up from a friend’s house. It was summer and we had been playing in the yard. As you walked around the corner into the driveway, you ever-so casually picked up a skateboard we had abandoned earlier and jumped on to it, gliding the rest of the way to us. Without turning towards her, I could feel my friend blush at your grand entrance. If 12 year olds could swoon, that’s exactly what would have happened. I brushed the gravel bits off of my palms and ran towards you.

You were effortlessly cool, and I had the joy of being your baby sister.

I held you on a pedestal so high. I never stopped thinking of you as a measure to which all boys I met fell short. You were tough, cavalier, but dedicated. You served your country diligently, read quietly, and possessed a patience for my antics that has yet to be matched. You treated a broken little girl with a level of kindness that my heart will never forget.

I hate sleeping right now. Because sleeping means I have to wake up. And when I wake up, I have to realize it all over again. There are those few moments when I first open my eyes that are delightfully ignorant. I stretch; make sure all my toes still work. Evaluate my surroundings.

Then it starts.

I feel like I had a bad dream. Something is tugging at the edges of my heart. What was it again? Oh. I dreamed you were dead. I dreamed you killed yourself. God. What a horrible nightmare.

Then. Faster now. My brain moves quicker. It was real, wasn’t it? My phone did ring. My mom did say those words. It is true.

Did you really go? You did. You chose a violent and awful end for yourself.

I’ve talked a lot on my life. Usually, the challenge is shutting me up. There are phrases that, no matter how unpleasant, have needed to be said. Things like, “My grandfather died,” or words like, “cancer,” and, “car accident.” But never, ever, have I said the phrase, “My brother killed himself.” I wasn’t sure how to make the words come out at first. I went to work extra early so I could practice them over and over in my head before the first time I said it. Explaining to my boss why I had to leave.  I still almost choked on them. Hearing myself. Hearing those words out loud. It felt like I was killing you myself.

People keep trying to give me facts about suicide rates among veterans of the Iraq war. I’m really not sure why they think this is valid. It’s like they’re trying to comfort me by pointing out, “Hey, the numbers SAID he was going to shoot himself.” Like this was some kind of inevitable outcome to your life.

I don’t want to be angry at you right now. I don’t want to talk about the family you’ve left to sort this out. I’m wallowing in you. If I think about those things I have to fully face that you no longer exist. I’m not ready for that yet. Right now, I need you to be the big brother who had tattoos, smoked cigarettes, and made me safe.

I drove to Vermont today. 6 hours in a car. And I drove straight past home. I went right to the pond. I followed the path and climbed out onto the rock were we sat. I thought about the time I caught a fish, but the hook had gone through its mouth and into its eye. I burst into tears as the poor thing flopped in grotesque pain. You calmly held the creature steady and removed the hook. You talked to me quietly. Saying he couldn’t feel anything. Instead of putting the fish into our catch bucket, you slipped it back into the pond. It sank to the bottom and rested quietly. You put your hand on top of my head.

Fuck. Everything about this place is exactly the same.

Except nothing is the same now.

Worth Your Weight. AKA- I get pissed off.

Usually, I shy away from making mention of comments that can be drawn back to a specific person, although a flippant remark is usually what sets me off into a written rant. But tonight, we’re going to get a little pointed.

Ahem. To the guy today who posted that a girl looked cute, despite the fact that she was pushing 140 pounds, fuck you.

No, seriously, fuck you. Normally, I’m a well-mannered girl. I try to be amusing and un-confrontational. I’m not prone to big shows of emotion. But that statement hit a cord hard in me.

Fuck you for weighing a girl’s worth by her weight. Fuck you for making an errant statement that I’m sure you were, “just kidding,” about. Fuck you and all your friends for thinking it’s okay to crack jokes like that. Fuck you for being one of the reasons I watch girls rip themselves apart over a number. Fuck you for being one of the reasons I do it too.

You know what? Here we go. You stepped in it now. Are you worth your weight? Do you claim to have the justification to take up as much goddamn space in this world as you do? Because I know I’ve earned every inch that I exist in.

I’ve worked with super models. Legit, Sports Illustrated swimsuit mother-fucking super models. And they are fucking trapped. The most stunning girls in the world. Looking down from their strange photo-shoot props at me, whose job it is to tie their $500 shoes. Asking if I’m photogenic. Asking for a better look at my face. Scanning me for any error, or any element that might be considered “better” than what they have. Tiny things trained that their weight is their life. The girls you jerk off to are trapped by the shitty-ass statements you make.

Yeah. I’m trapped in it too. I’ve survived on an apple a day. Then you pass out on a NYC subway and realize that’s a bad fucking idea. I’ve sat in the bathroom and sobbed over what I’ve seen in the mirror.  I’ve taken the pills, skipped the meals, and wished I could literally cut it off of me. I’ve beaten myself up over every morsel I’ve put in my mouth. I’ve worked out until my body has literally collapsed.

And now I’m here. And I’M FUCKING OVER 140.  Because existence demanded that I needed that much space. Thank you, jerk-face, for deciding that decreases my ability to be attractive. But it’s cool, because I’ve seen you looking at my tits before, so maybe you’re a little disoriented (PS- Those are totally part of the 140 package). You know what I can do at 140 pounds? I can take on a hill sprint that you would never survive.  I can hold yoga postures that would snap you.  Do you know what a TRX is? Because I fucking mastered that thing.

You know what else I get to do at 140 pounds? I get to rock at my job because I’m not delirious. I get to eat chocolate, and pasta, and all the veggies I want. I drink wine on weekends, and margaritas with friends. I drink beer at rock concerts, and I never say no to what I really want. I get to enjoy all the aspects of life that I want to enjoy. Give me a pair of heels, and a pencil skirt, and I can pull off a “Joan Holloway” moment like no one’s business.

I’m deeply resisting the urge to turn the tables on you, asshole. Because tearing anyone down over physical aspects is just not a nice thing to do. Instead, I hope you fall in love hard one day. And I hope it’s with a girl who owns her space, no matter what size it is, and she makes you her pet.  You can be happy and kept, and never think again that a girl needs to be tiny to be worth it.

For myself, when I fall in love, it’s going to be like a Decemberist song. I’m sure you don’t get that reference, or how grand it is. It’s okay; my existence is too large for you anyway. Have an excellent evening, sir.

 

A year does not take 365 days.

A day late (as with any self-imposed project I assign myself), here is my contribution to the reflections and resolutions of a new year.

For me, 2011 is a moment. It occurred in the one tick where I began to exist. It was the second I couldn’t hear anything around me, and I could suddenly hear everything I’d been trying to tell myself.

It was marble tiles and vinyl furniture in the lobby of Yale Hospital. Surprisingly good lighting, and real plants. Cafeteria food somewhere not too far away, and exhausted souls of every capacity.  Speed dialing every contact in my phone, desperate to get someone to pick up and talk to me. No one answered.

It was the perfect combination of exhaustion and frustration. I hadn’t slept in my own bed in over a week. I was transient and confused. I couldn’t get back in the car just yet. I was shaking from the residual energy of trying not to lose it in front of my family. Because the last thing you need when a 2 year old has brain cancer is to add a basket case 25 year old to the mix.

I’m fairly certain that, for me at least, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of a hospital is a siphon of your mental capabilities. This is where babies go to be poked, and hurt, and frightened. This is where parents realize their worst fears can come true. This is where my beautiful baby cousin just had three tumors removed from his brain.

This is the lobby were I finally realized life is fucking unfair.

And there it happened. Something in me shut off. The ability to blame my issues on any outside source. The nagging accumulation of self-doubts that taught me to be wary of insecurity. This life is it. This is all I get. I could waste it being upset that it refused to conform to my desires, or I could show some goddamn ferocity.

I didn’t move immediately. There was another good 20 minutes of staring at my shoes, wondering what had just happened, because suddenly my skin fit better.

In the months that have followed, I’ve been in attack mode. I quit my job because it just simply didn’t make me happy. I started religiously writing again because it did. I quietly collected my heart back from the first person I’d ever really given it to, only to realize there would never be a way to reclaim all the pieces. But that’s okay, because I’m learning how to re-assemble the segments into an entirely new shape.

I’ve taken my tiny existence and made it mine. It’s not polished. There are gaps, and cracks, and humiliations to come. It might even be held together with twine in places. But it’s mine. It’s the acceptance that I’m hopelessly romantic, sometimes frenzied, and perpetually naïve.  I bruise easily, and I heal even faster. I am a mistake made on purpose.

2011 took place in a hospital lobby. 2012 will happen when I least expect it.

Patrick is way cuter than me

This is Patrick Raymond. He is a professional kicker of ass. (This is also a horrible picture of me.)

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