Friday, December 12, 2014

The message to everyone who has an opinion about "CHRIST in CHRISTMAS"

Christmas is, of course, a holiday that is considered to be a "Christian" holiday. Naturally since we Americans live in a nation that has had many Christians in its history, Christmas has become a national holiday where banks, businesses, and schools are closed.

It's also become a source of contention between groups that seem to be at war.

First, you have many Christians who claim it as their holiday, and who are hurt, offended, or angered by the implications that anything other than a Christian viewpoint on Christmas is a travesty. Then you have the rest of the nation - people who don't see themselves as Christian either because they have a different religion or don't identify with a religion altogether, or they are ambivalent about the Christian roots of our current Christmas celebration.

Facebook is awash with usually-sincere, sometimes obnoxious, often overly-capitalized memes being shared by those in the former group. Keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas!, they say. It's merry CHRISTmas! JESUS is the REASON for the SEASON! Personally, I'm not big on public displays of ANY religion, so they just make me eyeroll in the same way that I roll my eyes over verses, inspirational quotes, and "#blessed" hashtags. Pipe down, Sparky. Nobody cares what you believe if you're annoying or preachy about it.

But I think the topic is worth discussing. To clear things up, I was raised in a very strict Christian home, went to Christian college, and am engaged to a Christian man. I've taught Sunday School almost every year since I was in high school. But I'm nothing like your "classic Christian." I got kicked out of that Christian college. I got pregnant to an atheist weeks later, and didn't attend church for years afterward. My daughter is now 9. I had her the day before I turned 21.

I drink and swear and am living with the aforementioned fiance. After attending a whitewashed Christian college that sorely disappointed me, I found myself looking at Christians and Christianity through a new lens: not the Christian lens (which seems rose-colored and ill-fitting to me) or the non-Christian lens (which seems hopelessly gray and loose to me at times), but through a different lens: the realist's lens, which is forged of necessity from an eye that's tried on both lenses. I have friends who range anywhere from "self-proclaimed Jesus Freak" to "Staunch Atheist." (The agnostics are my favorites because they're the most open-minded.) After years of pretending to be someone I wasn't, I threw off the chains of Public Opinion and decided that I would only believe what I personally believe because I've researched the facts and feelings and have decided that it works for me personally, and me alone. If I had to title my "religion," I'd say that I'm a Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, non-denominational libertarian with an affinity for etymology, facts, and honesty and a regular penchant for hedonism slipping through. That's the truth where it stands. I'm not going to pretend to be a great example of Christianity just so you'll respect me or identify with me more or less, or so that you can share this on facebook and say "Yes! THIS GIRL GETS IT!". If I did that, it would be a lie, and lies are for teenagers and criminals. If you'd like to discuss whether I'm a hypocrite, I'm absolutely open to the discussion because I'm constantly wondering the same thing myself. Seems I only see my hypocrisy in retrospect.

So. Because of my unique perspective of being a super-religious Christian throughout adolescence, getting rejected by churches and Christians in early adulthood, going through a rebellious/finding myself phase, and slowly coming around to just core beliefs...I feel like I can speak frankly and honestly toward both crowds.

I saw this link from Honest Mom come up on my facebook feed from Nicole Leigh Shaw, one of my favorite writers on Facebook because she shares mom-relatable stuff with a dry wit and a good heart.  Going on her recommendation and the title of the article, I clicked it with the hope that some other blogger had captured my words so that I, lazy and busy at the same time, wouldn't have to write something up just to get these words out of my brain, which happens often for me.

The article made some excellent points: Christmas is not only "ours" as Christians. It's a secular holiday now, celebrated by people of all religions in various countries. Christmas has roots in Christianity, but many of our traditions are pagan as well.  Christmas is only about commercialization if you make it that way. All excellent points, and all worth discussing in a respectful setting. I personally was displeased with the article because it also focused on not offending people, which is a silly concept. Yes, we should be respectful. But as soon as you bring the word "offended" into the mix, this isn't about respect, it's about pandering to popular opinion.  If you look around, you'll see groups of people just waiting with baited breath to be offended. You'll see politicized groups watching the news with the hope that someone on "the other side" will say something that can be attacked and dissected and used in out-of-context memes forevermore. While the Bible calls Christians to LOVE, it does not call them to people-please. I don't mean to be dismissive of the article - it's a good article and the author is obviously a genuine and thoughtful person. I was just hoping for something a little more... in-depth, I guess?

So, to the keyboard I go, and here we are.

To my Christian friends sharing these memes and hurting because this holiday that you feel strongly about has become something that feels dismissive of your beliefs:

I'm glad that you care so strongly about your faith. It's nice to see genuine, passionate people in a world full of ambivalence.

But please understand these four things:
  1. Many employees cannot say "Merry Christmas" without penalization because many business do not allow this. Businesses often do not want to take a stance on issues that are politicized, such as religion. Understand that they might do this for various reasons: they don't want to lose profits, they don't want to be in the middle of a political firestorm, they don't want to alienate their employees. Those are all respectable viewpoints. A business is allowed to make a profit. A business is allowed to be politically correct. Businesses are usually started to sell a product, not a viewpoint.
  2. Fellow Christians understand the meaning behind Christmas as a religious holiday. But unlike various other religious holidays, this one is celebrated nationally by non-religious entities like the banks and public schools that close on Christmas. Therefore, Christmas as its current definition stands is not so much about Christ, as it is about 'a holiday.' And the joy with holidays is that you can make them out to be whatever you want them to be. Your Spring Break in college might have included community service; mine included sleeping a lot on my parents' couch and probably fighting with my sister. Your family Thanksgiving might include lavish decorations; mine is all about board games after we eat. This is okay. It's okay to define a tradition for yourself. It's okay if someone's definition doesn't match yours.
  3. When you try to "take back" this holiday, you're alienating other people. No, you shouldn't say "Praise Allah" just because your neighbor comes from that other religion. You shouldn't change who you are or what you believe just to appease The Masses.  The Masses can shut their pie holes. But you should step back and realize that when you talk about "taking back" Christmas and how this country is going down the drain, please understand that you're dangerously close to 'that dude's a bigot!' territory, which really doesn't jive with the whole "Jesus loves you and died for you" goal of the Bible. Yes, Christmas is a Christian holiday in tradition and original definition. But it's not yours. It's not ours. It's not 'theirs.' It is what it is: a holiday that's got various traditions attached by various groups. Shouldn't we be more focused on the giving spirit and the loving nature of Christ, than in telling people that their commercialization/politically correct/pagan-ish/not-Jesusy-enough/etc celebration offends us? Stop it. And go read that verse about how we should clothe and feed people physically before we try to feed them spiritually. Feed the world. When that's done, you can try to change their beliefs. (Hint: that will never be done.)
  4.  If we truly believe in the Bible, and if we truly believe that God gave us free will, then we as Christians absolutely should not want Christmas' official definition (for government use, let's say) to be about a religion. While various arguments exist about whether this nation is truly a "Christian nation" (the founding fathers had many religions; this nation was founded on freedom of religion but not on religion itself, etc - google that and come back in 7 hours when your head is spinning), should we actually want this country to be a "Christian nation?" Prayer was taken out of schools.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

    Think about it. Do you really want a state-run public school to be teaching religion or leading our children in prayers? I don't even want my neighbor having discussions about morals and ethics with my impressionable daughter - not because I want to brainwash her, but because I want to do the opposite. I have a way of presenting viewpoints that allows for discussion, in the privacy of our home where peer pressure does not exist and parental pressure is intentionally nonexistent. Why would I want a school teacher that my daughter naturally adores to stand in front of a classroom and tell a room full of little children about someone's opinions? We live in a country where freedom is the most important thing for many of us. It is not freedom to have a state religion; it's exactly the opposite, in fact. God gave us free will. This means that you have the freedom to make choices for yourself, whether they be helpful or harmful to you or others.
If you truly believe what you believe, no government or public opinion or political pandering should be able to change that. You can still write lawmakers and get involved in politics if you feel that laws are being passed that are unconstitutional or unfair, or immoral. But it is not "caving in to secularism" to appreciate the fact that other people come from other backgrounds and hold different worldviews.If you want to be "in this world, not of it", then you should behave like someone who is not offended by everything. Leave the butthurt to the people who are actively seeking it (Hi, Mayor Bloomberg), and go out and do some good for the world instead.

To my non-Christian friends: 
  1. Sorry about this whole "attack mode" that a lot of Christians go into if you dare to suggest that your personal Christmas isn't about Christianity. Please understand that when someone strongly believes in something, they have a tendency to may make misguided statements or take misguided actions in their passion. It's really hard as a Christian to believe that the people you care about might not be going to heaven. Hell sucks. Seriously, it sucks; I don't want you to go there if it's real. So sometimes Christians get overzealous and try to go on missions to save the world. We love you. Just like an older brother who slaps you around out of love, sometimes we Christians get slappy with our faith. I'm sorry. We're sorry.
  2. Christians are often defensive because they are attacked, constantly. I know, I know: other groups are attacked, too. Atheists and homosexuals in particular face a lot of disadvantages in the workplace even in today's day and age. But it seems that Christianity is the only group that is universally mockable with no repercussions. Just watch any comedy show, stand-up special, late night talk show, or even sitcom. You'll see it. Christians are portrayed as small-minded rednecks who cling to their religion and are also usually racist. That stereotype would never fly with any other group. Seriously, replace "Christians" in that sentence with Muslims, atheists, women, gay men, or any minority group and you'll feel indignation boil up inside you because it's unfair and stereotyping and untrue. But put "Christians" in there and you'll squint and slowly nod. "Sounds about right."  That's because we're all seemingly okay with mocking this one religion harder than any other religion. I've met Christians who fit that stereotype, but I've met atheists who do as well but who cling to their non-religion just as heartily. I've also met Christians and atheists who are the exact opposite of that. Stereotypes are for ninnies. In addition to this, Christian viewpoints are constantly being attacked and minimized through politics and social norms. So many Christians feel minimized and marginalized. This whole Christ in Christmas thing is just a symptom of the existing problem. 
  3. Thank YOU for being open-minded in your beliefs. As an American, your likelihood of being Christian is much higher than in other nations. (And in other nations, different religions are more common.) You went against the grain in your belief system and that's so respectable, even if it scares some Christians. Since science cannot and will not ever be able to prove or disprove the existence of God, many Christians have a hard time with the disparity that comes with fully believing something, having a logical mind, and having rational human doubts. Christianity is a lesson in faith, and faith is not something that comes easily to anyone - especially faith in the unseen. Please understand that Christian faith is terrifying and unsure but also it's uplifting and comforting, and that's okay. We do appreciate that you have different viewpoints, but we're not always open to discussions because it seems like an attack (seriously, watch TV for one day and see how many times Christians are mocked). 
All Christians aren't jerkfaces. I promise. Cut them some slack in their passion, and they'll (hopefully) cut you some slack in yours.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hipster Kids

I can't handle being friends with hipsters.

First of all, the facial hair. Who decided it would be considered 'hip' (or whatever the hipster word for 'hip' is) to have sprouts of pubes growing out of your faces?

Then, there are the clothes. The men dress like skinny girls, even if they're neither skinny nor girl, and the women shop in the teenage girls' department. Listen, hipsters: if I wanted to look like I hang out with men whose balls haven't dropped and prepubescent high school girls, I'd become a pedophile, okay? I'm all about having personal style, but when your personal style matches color-for-color, garment-for-garment the colors and garments of the scads of other twentysomethings who are lined up outside the same concert venue as you carrying the same chai latte as all your friends, that's not style. That's idiocy. A 30 year old's fashion accessories shouldn't be the same as my second-grade daughter's.

Seriously, kids: you look like a Tim Burton film trying to casually dust off and stroll away after a violent collision with a Lisa Frank Trapper-Keeper.

But worst of all is the up and down of the trends with these kids. They obsess over something for a year - mustaches, PBR, some random band who's not from the USA, an indy TV show that nobody else likes because it's awful but they like it because the jokes are funny in an unfunny way - and then suddenly they're over it, they're no longer interested, and you're uncool if you happen to still like it. Seriously? Did all these people suddenly become an aloof version of the insecure pretty girl in sixth grade who needs to be in on 'the next big thing' in order to like herself?

Ugh. I just have no time for it. I wish someone would do a study on the income, spending habits, and work habits of anyone who's labelled as a hipster. I guarantee they all have Iphones, don't work 40 hours a week, and don't even pay rent to their parents.

What a generation...

Monday, January 13, 2014

How to find the right neighborhood



Are you trying to find a new place to live, and you need to know if an area is white trash poor, middle-income normal, or full of people so rich they could afford to purchase black-market organs without batting an eye (or going on a kidney donor list)?

Are you scared of moving into a lovely area, only to discover that the local residents petition the Neighborhood Watch to stand guard outside your house simply because you drive a car that's more than 2 years old?

Conversely, are you frightened that the neighborhood will turn into rape alley at nightfall and that you'll have to learn to fall asleep to the sounds of women and children screaming in terror outside your Quaint Suburban Ranch House with Wrap-Around Terrace?

Search no more! I've created this handy little list of indicators so that you can visit an area just once to know whether this is a town in your desired income range.
1. Pet Paradise

Check for a presence of doggie day spas. No no, not for humans. Not boarding kennels. Day. Spas. For. Pets. Where you can send your pets to be pampered with massages, treats, and 'premium services' (puppy happy endings?) for a day or a weekend. If there are many of such spas in the area, approximately 95% of the local women are trophy wives. If there few to zero of these places, then it's likely that the local women have these crazy things called "jobs" and "mortgages" and maybe even "children." And if you have no idea what a pet spa is, congratulations, you're not ridiculous.

2. Weed-free

In the summer, do you see dandelions in yards? After moving from Pennsylvania’s Clearfield County, which is 6 spots away from the poorest in Pennsylvania, to the county that holds the top seat in terms of affluence and douchebaggery, my sister and I noticed that nobody around here has dandelions in their yards in the summer. It's like, not a thing. There is however a plethora of Mexicans mowing lawns and doing yard work at various businesses and residences. Although who knows; maybe Mexicans just hate dandelions and they pluck them out of their neighbors yards for aesthetics...after arriving by the dozen in one mid-size Ford truck...

Okay, there’s nothing wrong with taking care of one’s lawn or hiring someone to do it (at fair wages). But I can promise you that families who are struggling to keep their electricity on have better things to do with their time (like work, sleep, and um, eat) and money (like keep their children clothed and um fed) than to meticulously and regularly groom their yards for perfection.
3. High-End Cast-Offs

Check the local Goodwill. If you see name brands like D&C, Prada, and Kate Moss, there’s a wealthy pocket of housewives nearby who have too much of their husbands’ money and not enough time on their hands.  Capitalize on this – one woman’s trash is another’s treasure. My local Goodwill sells Target overstock – meaning you walk in and see 3 dozen of the same dress in EVERY SIZE, and 55 pairs of the same weird purple Target heels on the shoe racks, unworn. Yeah baby.

4. Artistic Flavor

Is “art” a thing? A good indicator of an area’s prosperity is whether there is private funding for community art programs like community theater and art studios. Usually areas with these factors also have a nice variety of nightlife/concert venues available as well. It’s a sad thing, but in many small towns, there simply isn’t enough money to pay for anything that isn’t a necessity.

5. Electronic Security

And then there's the old stand-by - if there are bars on the windows, keep house-hunting... unless you like the late-night thrill of waking up to a guy trying to murder you because he ran out of his latest injectable and your face looked tasty. A "monitored by ADT" sign might be tacky, but it's not as tacky as having a neighbor who, you know, gets murdered for the $10 in his wallet.
Happy house hunting!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An old diary entry

Found this in an old diary from 2009:
why does everything feel so hopeless? why am I so constantly overwhelmed w/ despair that I can't cope w/ life? how do normal people handle their problems? Does every1 else fight w/ a constant urge to run away? constant feelings of inadequacy? the fear that "I'll ruin my own life" ? how come I feel emotion so intensely only for other people? how come I can't ask for things for myself? will I ever be able to feel like I'm an adult? do I avoid responsibility because I'm scared of failing? will I ever trust anyone to stay and can I stop pushing everyone away even though I so desperately want them in? am I a bad mother because of all of this?

Boys don't cry, and girls don't play with worms

Studies have shown that, even with no parental influence pushing children towards gender-specific toys, girls tend to favor "girl toys" such as dolls and dress-up clothes, and boys tend to favor "boy toys" such as blocks and trucks. Girls have been known to use sticks as dolls in some cultures, where boys use those same sticks to build and knock down structures. This is perfectly natural, and normal. Females have that natural nurturing instinct, boys like to play rough. That is as much a proven fact as the statement "men have stronger upper bodies, naturally" and "women are curvy." The genders are different, and that is a good thing.

However, a problem arises when we tend to "genderize" our children's toys. How many times have you heard a dad say "Don't play with that, that's a girl toy!" to his son, or "Girls can't wear that color, it's only for boys. Sit down and act like a lady."? We've all heard it. But is it okay to say this to our children?

Children need to explore in order to learn. They should be provided with toys that suit all genders and stereotypes. It is not only normal for a boy to try on a dress, "play house," and pretend to be his mommy, it's healthy. He's imitating someone he respects, he's exploring his feelings in a different role besides himself, he's learning to pretend, he's empathizing, he's using his imagination.

It's healthy for a girl to play with trucks, climb on the jungle gym, and build block towers. She's role playing; she's exploring physics and cause-and-effect, she's fine-tuning her large- and fine-motor skills, and she's having fun.

If a child doesn't have the freedom to explore gender roles, stereotypes, professions, and ideas, how will he ever come to know who he is? How will she perfect her motor skills? How will he be able to connect with people who are different than he is?

Listen to me - no, listen to proven science and social studies: Your son will not "turn out gay" or "be ruined" or "be less of a man" if he wears pink, or holds baby dolls, or plays with girls. Your daughter will not "be a lesbian" or "have issues" if she loves Transformers and jumps off of the couch so often she bruises a rib, or - God forbid - learns to operate a weapon.

When you try to squeeze your child into your ideal, or society's ideal, of his or her gender, you are teaching your child that --
  1. Who you want them to be is more important than who they already are.
  2. Trying new, different things is a bad idea.
  3. "Girls are bad" or "Boys are bad"
  4. It's not okay to be different.
  5. Who you are just isn't okay with some people, so you should change.
You are also laying the groundwork for hatred. Hatred of others, hatred of cultural groups, hatred of oneself for "not fitting in." You are planting some very bad seeds in your child when you do this to them.

So parents, give your son a doll - it might help him adjust to a future Big Brother role and make him more empathetic to other kids.  When your boy comes home crying, for goodness' sake, PLEASE, for the sake of his mental well-being, DO NOT tell him to "suck it up and be a man." Give him a hug, ask him what happened, and listen and empathize with him. Let him explore why he's crying, and what could have gone differently. Or just let him cry. Someday he may be a father with a son who happens to need a strong, sensitive role model to look up to and affirm that it's GOOD to be real about your emotions. Let your daughter buy those matchbox cars - she'll be driving someday, you know.

When your daughter asks you how to shoot that AK-74 you've mounted on your living room wall, teach her the basic safety rules, buy her a pair of ear muffs that fit, and take her to the range. And maybe start her on a .22 for now :). When she doesn't cry over a sad movie, or want to brush her hair, or show interest in the same books, music, and movies her 'girlfriends' are into, ask her what she likes and find out why. You might discover a great band and find out that - hey, your daughter is actually kind of cool.

When you're buying a birthday gift for a kid you barely know, don't be afraid to get blocks, animals, and cars for a girl, or books, dress-up clothes, and dollhouse toys for a boy. Their parents might not have bought it for them, but the kiddo may have wanted it all along and didn't know it.

And let your little girl wear pink and dress like a princess. Let your boy play in the dirt and taste bugs. Let your kids spend countless hours building play-doh creations and laughing at the word "underwear." Let them be kids! Let them explore who they are and be proud of their own personalities, gender roles, and preferences. Give them this room to explore themselves, and I guarantee you're giving them a great shot at growing up to be confident, unique individuals who don't just follow the leader. (And guess who gets to take the credit then? You do.)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why I Don't Watch The News (written 5/2011)


I wish I could block the rampant Ugly in the world. I am SO SICK of seeing and hearing about all of the bad news. I don't WANT to know that a child was murdered, or that a mom died, or that a house fire killed a family. I have nightmares & flashbacks, stomach aches and dizziness, from every traumatic incident that I encounter in my day, whether or not it is similar to what happened to me or my loved ones. There is no "block" button to turn off these ugly things. I hate it! I absolutely despise, detest, abhor the darkness, the ugliness that is everywhere.

And I’m sick of the news channels, feeling that it’s their right to broadcast someone’s most private, painful moments. No, it is NOT our business that a Hollywood couple is divorcing. It is even LESS our business how the children are handling it. It is NOT okay for you to film or for me to view a family mourning in grief after their child was killed playing near a car. You newscasters, you heartless bastards…you sit there, feigning sorrow over a story you only care about because it gets you ratings. You jump on the public’s grief like vultures in the desert pounce on fresh meat. You prey on the hardships of others, and you do so gleefully.

And the people who watch it, who don’t even bother to send up a prayer of comfort for the people in the grief…you are just as bad. The news station sells the horror, and you scamper right up and purchase it like a kid purchases cotton candy at a fair- gleeful and hungry, relishing every bite. You gawk when passing a car accident, and exhibit only the tiniest sliver of sorrow over a family’s deepest tragedy. You purchase this product called Bad News and you bring it into the world, and do not kid yourself: you are partially at fault for the insensitivity of the world.

I don't watch the news. I absolutely never watch it, and I make a point of that…except at the gym the other night, during the last 20 minutes of my workout, I was unable to read anymore and my neck was killing me from looking anywhere but straight ahead...at the TVs. I finally gave up for the sake of my spine and stared straight ahead, trying to block out the images I was seeing and failing miserably. I was “treated” to extremely graphic images showing the aftermath of a cock fighting ring...a graphic, pained retelling of a family's grief over a child who was killed playing in the family truck...or more Bin Laden images. Three televisions, all showcasing the Ugly and the Evil of the world. I chose instead to angle my pained neck and instead stare at the wall behind the hideously massive meathead lifting weights, but it was always there in my peripheral vision. Only my anger and disgust with the world propelled me through those last 20 minutes, but I don't know if I'm any better off for it.

At least with printed media, I can click away or throw away the newspaper after viewing a headline. It's to the point where I can spot the words "dies" "murdered" "child" "year-old" "family" "tragedy" etc immediately and can turn away before I accidentally read more. But with visual media, or with people who feel it’s okay to talk about someone else’s tragedy as if it’s a soap opera,  I am subject to hearing about these travesties, these darknesses, these uglinesses that abound in our world and are perpetuated by people who find joy in discussing them.

I simply cannot handle it. I am an unabashedly tomboyish chick, who can kick your butt in video games, and get my hands dirty with the boys. I speak fluent sarcasm and can eviscerate or fascinate you with my well-honed writing abilities. I am self-sufficient, intelligent, confident and opinionated. But I am also extremely romantic, girly to a fault, silly, forgetful, self-deprecating, and sensitive. I'm a mommy. I'm a woman. I'm definitely part dude, but I'm still a woman, and I'm still the sensitive person that I have finally allowed myself to be. I'm still the little girl who endured unspeakable tragedy in my childhood and therefore hurts for every tragedy I encounter in my adulthood. I like who I am. I like the mix of dark and light that I have allowed myself to become over the years. I like that I can slam out a 1200 on my SATs and lock my keys in the car afterwards. I like that I can shoot a pistol with my boyfriend on Saturday afternoon and cry about a sad movie that evening. I am 100% comfortable with the enigma that I am and I don't see why people feel the need to try and pigeonhole me into one end of the spectrum or the other. I am no longer that girl who is always an extreme. I am not as cut-and-dry as you want me to be. Stop trying to break me of being the person I have fought so hard to become.

And it’s just not fair that I’m bombarded with the Ugly, everywhere. It’s not fair that people buy into it so wholeheartedly. It’s not fair that I have to endure nightmares and stomach aches and dizziness and terror just because someone felt that it was SOMEHOW okay for them to discuss a stranger's most painful moment. It’s not fair and it’s disgusting and I’m done. I want no part in it anymore.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bucket List

Like most moms, I don't really spend enough time on myself. As I noticed that I was depressed and bored with the minutiae of my life, I began to seek ways to break up the tedium.

A few years ago, my friend Christa bought me this book called "You can do it! The merit badge handbook for grown-up girls." It's a really fun book with about 60 chapters, each chapter detailing a potential goal to accomplish - hobbies to try, dreams to pursue - and gives you a detailed way to try to accomplish this goal. Each chapter includes a "advice on how to get started" interview from someone experienced in that field, realistic checklists on how to get started, list on potential steps you might want to achieve (how to just try it out, how to get good at it, how to do it as a career), and a list of resources (websites, books, magazines, organizations) to check out for more information.

I've been tackling this book for the past month or two, chapter by chapter as they interest me. (I skipped right over "Starting a rock band" and "quilting" because they're of no interest to me, for example.) It's a really cute book, and it's definitely come a long way toward giving me a clearer picture of the goals I want to accomplish in my lifetime.

So, in the name of trying something new, this is the list I've made both from the book directly and inspired by my hobbies. These are things I want to do someday:


  1. Write a novel. Complete it.
  2. Get published online - opinion pieces, satire pieces, short stories
  3. Knit a damn scarf and actually finish it and wear it
  4. Tour America by car. Visit the Grand Canyons, the Pacific Ocean, and the Great Lakes for the first time. Revisit Yellowstone, Devil's Tower, the Black Hills, New England, and the deep south again. Mingle with the locals. Pick up an accent temporarily.
  5. Write my life story. Let people read it. - WORKING ON THIS SLOWLY AND IN PIECES
  6. Try out for a play - community theater
  7. Act in a play
  8. Take an improv class - DOING THIS NOW!
  9. Take singing lessons
  10. Take a bellydance class
  11. Sing karaoke, in public. This terrifies me.
  12. Learn a new language - I'm thinking German
  13. Join the NRA. Buy a gun and practice target shooting. Become proficient with its use. GOT MY SMITH & WESSON M&P COMPACT 9MM IN 2013. RECEIVED MY CONCEALED CARRY PERMIT IN 2013.
  14. Learn to play pool 
  15. Play guitar again
  16. Play volleyball again
  17. Sell some of the jewelry I've made - somewhere, anywhere
  18. Attend wine tastings. Discover which wines I love
  19. Throw a truly great party - wedding?
  20. Learn to play chess
  21. Try yoga - I'm gonna fart, I know it
  22. Go fishing with Dan's Granddad ( :'( this one never happened, Granddad passed away in 2013.)
  23. Be comfortable with jogging in public
  24. Learn to change my car's oil and do other routine maintenance
  25. Go camping. Sleep in a tent, build our own fire, fish and relax for days. Don't die.
  26. Discover my family tree on both sides; trace my lineage back as far as possible
  27. Learn to salsa dance - might as well put these hips and this Mexican heritage to good use
  28. Learn to swing dance. Again, hips.
  29. Visit Europe, don't die in a bathtub full of ice without my internal organs
  30. Go to a concert festival
  31. Go hunting with my dad
  32. Read through the classics that I haven't read before
  33. Give a public speech with a large audience, just to feel the rush
  34. Study a topic that interests me. Write reports on that topic. I miss college.
  35. Buy a brand new car, be the first person to drive it
  36. Go scuba diving; don't get eaten by a shark or other marine creatures
  37. Buy a house with my man. Make it our own.
  38. Re-pierce my nose or dye my hair a crazy color
  39. Spend a day at the spa and truly relax.
  40. Learn painting techniques. Attempt to paint something half-decent
  41. Learn to play poker
  42. Go on a cruise  - this is what we plan to do for our honeymoon
  43. Spend a weekend away at a nice hotel. Drink, sleep in, have loud sex, wear comfy robes, steal the toilet paper.
  44. Go to a major league baseball game and a Steelers game
  45. Pay off my student loans - almost there!
  46. Set up an investment portfolio. Profit at least $5 when it's all said and done.
  47. Get front row seats to a band I truly love (done this with a few bands such as The Airborne Toxic Event - thanks Luke! I'm still sad that you were sick for this - but I want to do it with more!). Met Hanson in 2013 and Taylor dedicated MMMBop to my daughter - best day of my damn life.
  48. Sponsor a child and actually make the payments. Sorry, Abusa from Ethiopia! I hope you're still alive.
  49. Drive a boat. Steer a boat? Whatever it's called. I'M ON A BOAT.
  50. Go to a good play.
So, who's doing what with me? And what's on your bucket list?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Exercisegasm

Yesterday I was working out at the YMCA. I did a 30 minute circuit of strength training on my core, and then I moved to the elliptical. I had about 40 minutes until I had to pick my daughter up from school, so I set it for a 30-minute workout and picked the machine in the back corner.

I was shaky because I had really worked my abs, but I felt good. I love the rush that comes from a good, hard workout on the strength training circuit. But I needed to balance it with some cardio so I could go home sweaty and exhausted. So I got on the elliptical and threw on Pandora's "Pop Fitness" station.

I always use the "interval" setting on the elliptical because my personal trainer explained the benefits of doing interval: you pump up your heart and get working hard on the high section, and then you cool down on the low section. This lets you work out longer and gives your heart a much harder workout in a shorter time. It works really well for me because I like the regular breaks, and I feel accomplished every time I make it through a section. On the other programs that come on the machines, I get tired more quickly and slow down more regularly. With intervals, I get tired right at the end of the high-intensity section and then I get to cool down and relax. About 20 seconds from the end of the low-intensity section, I feel ready to go through a high section again. It works perfectly.

On high intensity, I jack the incline up to 10-15 with resistance around 10, and on the low intensity interval I keep the incline at about 4 or flat with about a 4-5 intensity. I find that moving it to a flat incline uses completely different muscles than an incline so I like switching it up so my legs don't get to enjoy muscle memory.

During the low section, if I'm having a kickass day, I tend to try to focus on my core while doing low-intensity reps. I take my hands off the bars and hold them in a punching stance which causes my abs to stabilize me. It also makes me feel more of a burn in my thighs. Sometimes I lower the intensity down to a 1 so that the movement is extremely easy to do, which causes my abs to work even harder to stabilize me. Then on the high intensity, I don't hold the bars; I instead put my hands on them with an open fist so that I can keep my balance and get an arm workout without using my arms to do the work my legs are supposed to be doing. Needless to say, my abs and arms are sore as hell today. It's great.

Anyway - this super crazy thing happened yesterday. Rihanna's "We Found Love" was playing. I hate her voice, I hate that song, but it definitely has a great beat for a good workout. I was about 1/3 of the way through a high-intensity section, basically jogging and pumping my arms like a psycho, when that part came on. You know...at 3:36 in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg00YEETFzg . It just kept going and going and freaking going, and I had it in my head that I wouldn't stop pounding it hard until that section reached its crescendo. Probably because I thought that section was only about 8-16 beats.

So I kept at it. Finally, what felt like 40 beats later, the song went back to the chorus.

And as soon as that part finished and I was able to mentally slow down a tiny bit, I felt this HUGE rush come over me. A chill went from my head all the way down my spine, and I felt this sudden.... I don't know how to explain it without sounding stupid... I felt this sudden rush of anger or arrogance mixed with this feeling of invulnerability. I'm glad nobody was watching me because I think I looked ridiculous. I looked at the machine and pretty much scoffed at it, thinking "You don't win this time. Bitch. I conquered you." I think it was a rush of testosterone, or adrenaline, and it was amazing. The high that I got at that moment powered me through the rest of the workout and into the rest of my evening. I felt like I had conquered the world by pushing through the pain that I was in. My body didn't let me down. I felt strong and in charge and un-defeatable. It was friggin' amazing.

I have no doubt that the music itself helped to fuel the emotional response that I felt at that moment. The building and building and eventual cresting of that section felt like a jet pack on my back to get through it. I need to listen to more music like this while I work out, music with predictable, hard beats and intense ups. Suggestions welcome.

It's been about 12 hours and I still feel like I'm the king of the friggin' world. But oh man, am I sore.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Re-Evaluating Friendships

I have a lifelong habit of keeping bad friendships in my life. As a people-pleaser who's constantly fighting a battle with my self-esteem, I have repeatedly fallen into the trap of making friends with people that I don't actually like. I've had friends whose personalities run the gamut between indifferent and abusive. I've had friends who know nothing about me, friends who don't care when I'm down, friends who are too busy for me. I've been there for people who only think about me when I'm around, who wouldn't care if I got into a car accident, or who are embarrassed by me.

I stayed in these friendships and relationships because I didn't value myself. I thought that these people were as good as it gets. I thought that 'some friends are better than no friends!' and I still struggle with that silly mentality. But over the past few years, I've been taking strides toward improving my life. I've taken a holistic approach, improving various aspects of my life. I've improved my diet and have been getting into good exercise habits. I've tried new things and have taken up new hobbies. I've spoken up for myself at work and with acquaintances. I've gotten more organized and less lazy. And I've also started re-evaluating my friendships.

I've come to realize that I tend to befriend the same types of people:
  • Talkers who only want me around when they need someone to listen to their problems. These are the high-stress people. I make a good friend to them because I like to listen and I know how to commiserate. But they don't usually reciprocate as good friends to me.
  • People with no other friends, who lean on me for everything. I feel guilty if I don't hang out with them often enough because they haven't taken steps to meet other people.
  • Negative people who always seem to want to argue about the most insignificant things, and who never seem to have a good word to say about anything. They have a correction or a criticism for every topic that comes up. These people just seem dissatisfied with themselves or with their lives, and it comes out in their attitudes.
 I realize that these friendships are detrimental to my mental health and to my happiness. I've taken some steps to cut those people out of my life. For example, I ended a friendship with an acquaintance that I see regularly through work, because the 'friendship' was just filled with resentment, argumentativeness, and anger. We constantly argued and were only nice when we were having very casual discussions. Anything more intense than casual (like subjects such as politics, religion, science, feelings, or even I.T., etc) became ugly, heated arguments. This friend took everything that I said as a personal attack, though that wasn't my intention. I was constantly defending myself and then accusing the friend of doing and saying hurtful things. It was exhausting and I repeatedly tried to back off, but we kept falling back into a casual friendship. It was absolutely strained and exhausting. We've now stopped speaking altogether because anything in between was just a nightmare.

This year on facebook, I finally unfriended someone I used to call my best friend. She and I used to have a lot in common - beliefs, backgrounds, family situations. We had different personalities - she was everyone's darling, who never said a word against anyone (and never stood up for me when her other friends insulted me to her). But time changes people. Now she's part-silicon and appears to be nothing of the person I used to know. Her facebook was full of humble-brags about how she got hit on constantly, about how often she worked out (to keep her boxy figure), about how great of a mother she was (although she always hated kids and never wanted any). Back when we were friends, everyone thought she was a sweet, likeable person. But I knew her very intimately, and I saw her without her mask. In reality she was actually quite condescending, extraordinarily narcissistic, and not at all loyal. Removing her from my facebook friends list was one of the most liberating things I've done in awhile. It was like I was finally standing up for Younger Me, saying "You don't need people like this. You never did, and you never will. End the charade." She probably didn't even notice I was gone from her friends list.

I unfriended my daughter's father, because the sight of him makes me remember how badly I've treated myself over the years that I was with him. I put up with so much verbal and emotional abuse from him, and more manipulation than should be possible to tolerate.

Friendships and acquaintances like the ones I endured above are simply not worth the stress.


So I've asked myself: What do I want from a friend? And the answers weren't surprising, but the lack of true friends within that criteria depressed me.
  • I want friends who are interested in my life. Just typing this makes me cringe because it makes me feel arrogant and selfish. But that's a false mentality. In fact, everyone (including me, damnit) deserves a friend who genuinely cares about her hardships. And who doesn't judge when I'm a bad mom/my kid is a pain in the ass/my relationship has problems. A real friend - not just one who asks how you're doing, but one who cares and doesn't feel a smidgen of glee when I'm failing.
  • I want friends that I have something in common with. I don't need someone who shares all the same hobbies or beliefs as me; that's not what I mean. But too often I've found myself calling people "friend" despite the fact that not only do we have nothing in common, we also have nothing to talk about. I don't know how I become friends with these people, but they're not worth the awkwardness. I need people that, even if we don't have any similar hobbies, we have similar personalities and can talk about things that we both care about, we can joke around, and we can have fun being together.
  • I want friends that are fun. I want people who want to go places, who want to try new things, people who are upbeat and fun to be around. I'm not saying I need wild party people, but I don't want to surround myself with people who just want to hole up and watch TV or something.  I can do that alone, and I'd rather do it alone because I'm fickle in my tv-watching. And watching people play video games makes me want to kill myself hard. If I'm with company, I want to actually be doing something. I want friends who like themselves and who like to have fun, who like PEOPLE.

Since I started trying to treat myself better, I've managed to make a few healthy friendships through church, friend-of-a-friend meetings, and through family:
  • Clever, interesting artsy people who never spill judgmental bullshit, and who expand my worldview. These are my girls who are there for me when life is boring, when life is insane, and when we all just want to sit around BSing. I don't see them often enough because none are very local, but when they are around, life is sweet.
  •  Balanced, calm people who can logically pull things apart and explain the nuances of various viewpoints without being condescending - mainly, my fiance. His logic and calm are such a powerful presence in my life every day. Another great friend lives about an hour away but we go to some shows and events together, and it's always nice when he's around.
  • Extended family that I can talk and empathize with about our crazy families and our kiddos.
I'm hoping that by treating myself better - by not chastising myself for admitting that I deserve happiness - that I can step out and make friends with people who are good to me and who will let me be good to them in return. I'm hoping that I can somehow kindly end the crappy friendships or let them fade away. I'm hoping that in a few years of treating myself like I'm worth happiness - AND I AM - that I can find happiness in my choices. Here's to hoping!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Church Sign Double-Whammy!

My favorite church has a double-sided sign, and yesterday I actually pulled over to take a picture because the irony was just too great. I'm sure I'm using the term "irony" incorrectly but I don't even care. This is too good.

On one side, the sign says, "To belittle is to be little." Basically, they're saying that if you insult and belittle people, you are weak. A fair point. 


But then on the other side, they actually belittle you as you drive by:


"If you are unkind, you are the wrong kind." I get it - they're trying to make a play on words and give a little inspirational message about kindness. But using your church's billboard to call passersby "wrong" is probably not the best way to get them to step inside your doors. It probably IS the best way to get them to roll their eyes and join a cult. Probably. I dunno.

I've proposed some alternate church signs that they'll probably use in the future, if they finally decide to stop beating around the bush.

Romans 8:31, Victory Baptist Style.


JOIN OUR CLUB AND WE'LL BE NICE TO YOU!
Verily, verily, I sayeth unto thee, thou shalt speaketh in terminology that confuseth the average man so that he might see the errors of his ways and come unto you, humbled, and shall be washed in the blood of the lamb. Macbeth.




Monday, October 15, 2012

Cohabiting: Is it okay?

As an unmarried mother, I've endured plenty of judgmental comments from people, both Christian and non-Christians alike, because I'm not married to my child's father. I've also gotten comments because I "claim to be a Christian," yet I live with the man I love despite the fact that we aren't married. My best friend was recently insulted at her bank, where the bank employee essentially told her that having a joint bank account with someone you're not married to is a major risk - strongly implying that any issues with her joint bank account that she has with her boyfriend are a result of them being unmarried. This same best friend was also insulted by a former close friend that she used to nanny for, who made her feel like a bad Christian for living with her boyfriend before marriage. I myself have been lectured, insulted, and have received various 'loving hints' from Christians about how I'm clearly not trusting in God  because I'm living with my fiance before marriage.

It turns out, those Christians who insulted me were right. These are the things I've learned from searching the internet for websites debunking Cohabiting as being non-Biblical:

  1. Every time a couple lives together before marriage, they have sex. The term "cohabiting" (living together) is absolutely synonymous with "sex before marriage," 100% of the time. According to this website, at least.  If you live with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you're gonna bang, even if you've decided not to. I think there's like, an evil demon-elf that sneaks in to cohabiting couples' houses and makes them 'do it' when they're asleep. I hear it doesn't feel as nice as when you're awake but at least the little guy cleans up for you both afterward.
  2. People who live together before marriage are bad with money.  Obviously you moved in together because it was more affordable, but "the majority of cohabitants do eventually break up and economics are obviously not an overwhelming impediment then, so why allow it to become a controlling factor from the start[?]"  Basically, you moved in together to save money, but you WILL split up, and money doesn't keep you together then, so you're stupid and bad with money.
  3. Conversely, when you get married, you automatically become good with money. You never overdraw your checking account, and you always pay all of your bills on time. You always consult one another and various websites and experts before making any financial decisions, and you never regret purchases. Marriage is awesome for your wallet! And financial problems are definitely not the number one reason for divorce. Nope.
  4. Living together is an insult to the institution of marriage. And interesting note about that institution: you and I were probably unaware of this, but even when Jesus was walking the earth, people were actually still required to get a certificate of marriage in the United States of America. Their marriages were only valid with that certificate from the U.S. government. All marriages that took place without a United States Certificate of Marriage were invalid. Pretty cool, eh? Go 'merica!
  5. Living together before marriage is stupid. Trying anything out before you 'buy' it is obviously a bad idea. Anyone who has purchased a car sight-unseen from Craigslist can attest that if something appears to be great upon first sight, it's going to be great; no questions.

    Obviously, if you both love God, then you're 100% perfect for each other. Personality differences, personal beliefs, financial differences, sexual mis-matches, bad habits, and other incompatibilities don't exist. All it takes to make a marriage work is for it to be "right in God's eyes" which means that you have a United States Certificate of Marriage BEFORE you get naked together. Even if he's verbally abusive or an alcoholic, or if she's a withholding jerk or if she has emotional issues that cause her to be unstable, it doesn't matter. Because you are married in God's eyes! Make it work!

    Trust me, every single thing that you need to know about the person you're dating can be ascertained without having to commit the atrocity of living together. You actually don't ever need to set foot inside of the same building as your partner. Simply ask your partner's mother if they were neat and tidy, and quiz your partner's exes and you'll know everything you need to know about how easy this person is to live with. You don't need to be a heathen to find out if you're compatible!
  6. The issues that plague non-married couples don't even affect married couples. There have been 0 documented cases of abusive husbands in the history of mankind; there are only abusive boyfriends. Never in history has a man treated his wife badly. Not once has a wife cried herself to sleep due to abject loneliness. That kind of thing only happens to the Unmarrieds (especially The Gays).
  7. If you marry someone, you automatically become sexually compatible. I know I have never met a married couple where the man wanted sex more than his wife was willing to give it to him, and who either felt lonely or gypped or cheated because of this. That simply doesn't happen. Apparently when both parties put on their matching wedding rings, a special hormone is released in each person's Dirty-Before-Marriage Parts that causes instant, whole, complete sexual attraction and compatibility, forever and ever, til death do they part.
  8. If you were such a heathen that you had kids before marriage, your bastard child will automatically become a menace to society with no moral basis and no ability to contribute to society. Keep your legs closed until after marriage or you'll give birth to the next Hitler or Housewife of New Jersey.
  9. Until you have a marriage ceremony, you're not committed to one another. You're only kinda-sorta-barely-into-each-other. Only people who have paid for a $20,000 party complete with flowers and catered meals are committed to each other. Everyone else is a jackass who's faking it.
  10. Remember that kid in your Biology class who threw off the curve for everyone else, because he studied or was a friggin' genius and somehow managed to get like a 99% when everyone else got like a 72%? You hated that asshole because, if he hadn't scored so high, everyone would've gotten a better bump in their scores. But because that jerk was so smart, everyone else was screwed.

    People who live together before marriage are just like that jerk who scored so high. You see, they don't have to do all the stuff that the "good" students of marriage did. They didn't stay pure until marriage (because as we noted above, every couple living together before marriage always screws like bunnies, like 30 times a day), they didn't go bankrupt to hold a wedding, they didn't wait to kiss until their wedding day. They cheated, and they still get all the benefits of a relationship! That's NOT FAIR! HOW DARE THEY still claim to be happy, despite the fact that they aren't legally married? How DARE they pretend that they're emotionally fulfilled with their partners? It's disgusting.
So basically, if you even THINK of living together before marriage, you:

  1. Are slutty
  2. Are definitely bad with money
  3. Are a bad Christian
  4. Are a bad American
  5. Have no faith in God to pay your bills for you
  6. Are too concerned with sex to be a good spouse anyway
  7. Are destined to have a child out of wedlock
  8. Are a bad parent
  9. Are uncommitted to one another
  10. Are cheating at life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Me.

Do you ever just get sick of pretending? Sick of pretending to be fine, pretending to be a better person than you are, of pretending that things are perfect when they're not? Don't you get sick of holding on to what you know you should, of balancing everything of yours while juggling everything that belongs to others, while standing on an impossibly-small, tilted pedestal that you built with your own two hands, that you balance on while painting yourself with primer just to cover up your flaws? Don't you want to just turn everything upside down and shock, disappoint, scare, disgust, hurt everyone you know, just to say that you finally did what you wanted to do? Don't you just want to be YOU, only you?

Don't you ever just want to be your base, carnal self, doing exactly what you want to do, just for yourself...Bucking the societal norms and tossing caution to the wind? Don't you want to just indulge, try something new, make some big fucking regrets? Don't you want to break the law, break some hearts, and break out of yourself for the first time in your life? Don't you want to get so high that you can't even complete a thought, but you can laugh and laugh until you can't even imagine crying?

Don't you want to get so far out of yourself that you don't even remember who you used to be, if only for a time period? Don't you want to escape everything and be free and clear of constraints and pain, of fear and folly, of ideology and creeds?

Don't you ever just want to scream "FUCK IT!" and just throw it all out there: everything you are, everything you desire, everything you are unhappy with, everything that hurts you... Just put it right the fuck out there, for the world to see, and if they judge you, so fucking what? Fuck them. Fuck them and their conditional adoration. Fuck them and their expectations. Fuck them and their beliefs, their seriousness, their cookie-cutters. Fuck everything.

Don't you want to run the fuck away and lose contact with every single person you know? Just disappear, reinvent yourself completely, and never look back? Don't you want to throw away all of the bullshit and the rules, the ideas and the promises, the responsibility and the ties holding you down, the lies and the painful truths, and just BE? Don't you want to disappear so that you can meld and mold and redo and restart, try and test and fail and flail, scream and dance and cry and be exposed? Don't you want to be gone from where you used to be? Don't you want today to be history?

I do.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My disenchantment with Christians

One of the many experiences I've had that made me lose my faith in Christians as the 'good people' I always thought they were.

I was in college. I was driving home from the store when I saw an ambulance in a yard. It had been raining that week, and the ambulance was stuck in the mud. There was no immediate emergency - they had responded to a distress call and had taken care of the person they had been called to check out. They didn't need to get her to the hospital; they needed to resume their shift. But the ambulance was stuck in her muddy front yard.

I pulled over and asked if I could help. The guy responded "Do you happen to know where you can find about 5 strong guys?" In fact, I did. I was attending Christian college about two blocks away. I told them I knew a bunch of Christian guys who would be glad to help. And I thought I was right.

I drove up the road and went to the dorm right next to my dorm, our 'brother dorm.' In the lobby, I asked the dozen or so guys if any could come help push an ambulance out of a yard a few blocks away. Nobody came. I stayed there for about 20 minutes, asking around, to see if I could get just a few guys to come push the ambulance out. It would only take about 10 minutes if a few guys came!

Out of the 30 I asked, one came. The rest were "too busy." One guy even said "I just don't feel like it, they'll be fine." His name was Joe V. He recently married a friend of my sister's, one of the sweetest girls I'd ever met. Lucky girl.

I went back with that guy and he, and I, and the two EMTs, pushed the ambulance out of the mud. No thanks to my Christian college classmates.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Christianese: Church sign

The latest church sign on my commute:

"If God is your co-pilot, switch seats!"

What they mean to say is:
"Let God take control!"

What they're actually telling the world:
"You should be a helpless body, just giving all your decisions over to a higher power. Do nothing yourself. Just let God handle it. Lay down and shut up. God doesn't help those who help themselves...God only helps those who let him do everything all the time."

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Character Flaws

One of the biggest lessons I'm trying to instill in my daughter is the danger of keeping secrets. Hiding the things I've felt and done over the years was one of the biggest reasons for my isolation and for bigger mistakes.

If I had been in an environment where I felt comfortable sharing my faults, my fears, my problems, my mistakes, and my questions with my parents and my friends...without judgment...well, I don't think that my life choices would have come out the same as they did. I think I would've been a much better person much sooner.

But hey, you live and you learn, and my life lessons have been instrumental in bringing me to where I am today. I hold no regrets at this point in my life.

However, where I am today is still very imperfect. After years of struggling to keep up a "perfect" face, I'm finally ready to break out and be openly imperfect. It's been years in the making. My biggest fear with transparency and honesty was this: "If I tell the truth about the 'bad' things that I feel and do, then I'll have to commit to changing. And if I commit to changing, and I fail, then I'm not only a failure, I'm a public failure."

This mentality - this fear of being mocked, judged, or shamed  - has been one of my very worst character flaws. It's my de-motivator when it comes to exercise. It's my reason for attacking people I love. It's my reason for self-doubt and hatred that I harbored for years.

Enough of that crap. If I can't be honest with myself and with the people who care about me, I shouldn't bother to call myself a genuine person. I hate fake. I've been fake. Hell, I've probably been fake for more of my life than I've been real.

So in the interest of abolishing facades, I'm going to share a diary entry that I wrote during a very emotionally-introspective period this past weekend. I curled up against a tree and just thought, and wrote, about all the things that I don't like about myself, the things that are ruining my life, the things that need to change about me. I thought about the relationships I've sabotaged and the horrible ways I've treated myself over the years. I figure the first step toward change is awareness of the problem. So here's the list I came up with, in no particular order except that this is how they came into my head.

My Character Flaws:

  1. I assume I already know what people think of me, whether they've indicated so or not.
  2. I hold conversations and feelings in my head and I hold them against people even if they've never happened
  3. I push everyone away to see if they'll care enough to try to get back in
  4. I automatically assume people don't care about me
  5. I only feel guilty when I get caught
  6. I want people to like me, so I'm too nice to them, at my own expense
  7. I put everyone else's feelings before mine. In Sunday school, they taught us to practice JOY in our lives: "JESUS-OTHERS-YOU = JOY!" meaning put Jesus first, others next, and put yourself last. Great in theory, but I took it quite literally - taking it to the point that I never spent a moment worrying about myself.
  8. I never forgive myself for any mistake
  9. I'm lonely when I'm alone. I don't know how to enjoy my own company except when I'm enthralled in a project such as crafting or writing.
  10. I'm different around different people
  11. I do things I know are wrong, still do them, and then am disgusted by myself later for having done them. Yet I don't stop doing them.
  12. I am obsessed with punishing everyone for doing anything wrong. This is why I get so angry driving in traffic, or why I get annoyed when other people do thing in a way that I find to be wrong, such as parenting 
  13. I please everyone but me - even people I dislike or owe nothing to
  14. I assume i'm on the outside of everything and I don't try to get involved because of that. I rationalize my lack of involvement by saying "I'm not a ____ girl" or "I'm not a real ____ fan" so I can't join the group.
  15. I hide my feelings from people who care about me because I assume they don't actually care. I will lie to your face and tell you that I'm fine. If you don't believe me, I will continue to lie. Only a few people have ever seen through the lie.
  16. I avoid being friendly to people (neighbors, church members, etc) for fear of becoming obligated to be around regularly/join a group/put on a fake personality/have people rely on me
  17. I assume that trying to behave better is the equivalent to being a fake, so I don't try to behave better
  18. I assume random behaviors and actions are fake in others
  19. I love attention. I live for it.
  20. I judge myself way too harshly
  21. I draw arbitrary lines in the sand, constantly, about everything.
  22. I HATE being wrong
  23. I avoid introspection because it causes change. Then I still think about what I need to change (There I go with the introspection! damnit!), but I don't change, then I feel guilty about not changing
  24. I don't do things if I'm told do them. I don't do things BECAUSE I'm told to do them. My feeling is, I don't do things to prove myself, so stop telling me to do them. I'll do them on my own. Basically, I'm a teenager.
  25. I thrive on a constantly-full to-do list. It's boring if there isn't a pile of stuff to do. I think I like to feel overwhelmed because it gives me purpose.
  26. I eat too much and get angry with myself for doing so
  27. If I don't have unlimited portions of food available, I feel like I'm going to starve so I gorge myself
  28. I like people at least a little bit less if I disagree with them politically
  29. I like to see people angry because that's the only time they're honest with me
  30. I share nothing with people, then get angry when they don't know me well
  31. I share too much with people, then get angry when they're offended or bored
  32. I want deep friendships, but I sabotage them
  33. I hold people to impossible standards in my head
  34. I hate complete strangers over stupid things like their looks or their public actions
  35. I get very angry over very little things
  36. I lose control of my emotions regularly and without regard to how it affects the people around me
  37. I abuse the life out of the people I love
  38. I pre-sabotage my own happiness by talking myself out of trying things
  39. I care too much about what people think, especially people I like
  40. I don't like myself sometimes. Other times I adore myself. Why?
  41. I intentionally espouse opinions that are the opposite of people I dislike, out of spite. They don't care.
  42. I don't discuss my feelings until I blow up
  43. I don't spoil myself ever, because I think it's selfish. But I think it's healthy when others spoil themselves.
  44. I only do things I want to do, when I want to do them
  45. I bite my tongue to avoid conflict when sometimes conflict is necessary
  46. I am disgusted by myself, and I don't know why
  47. I am not nice to myself. I speak to myself in a very mean voice, saying very mean things. I don't forgive myself.
  48. I don't know if I'll ever feel like an adult, no matter where I am in life. I resent myself for this.
  49. Responsibility terrifies me because I'm scared I'll fail
  50. I lie to myself in order to live with myself
Some of these are redundant. Some aren't character flaws. And some contradict and are still true. Some are only true sometimes. Some are so true, they're painful.

But, this is me. What now?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lists and Goals

My favorite thing in life is a good list. Sometimes I've made lists to help me accomplish goals; other times I've made lists just for the hell of it. When I was a kid, I kept a notebook of lists. The first ten pages were simply lists that I wanted to someday make.

Right now, I've found myself itching to change, to find something better, to do something new, to meet new people. It's not that I'm dissatisfied with my life, but I am looking to expand my horizons and make my days a little more interesting.

So, here are some of my goals for the remainder of 2012, just for posterity.

General Goals:
  1. Make some new local friends that I have something in common with.
  2. Get out of the house at least once a month.
  3. Do something scary and new at least once in awhile.
Specific Goals: Things that scare me but that I want to do
  1. Try an improv class this month
  2. Try out for a part in a community theater play next year
  3. Begin writing the novel of my life story
  4. Write at least 3 short stories, let someone critique them
  5. Get a short haircut
  6. Sell my jewelry professionally, whether at a downtown event or at a flea market
  7. Go to events where I am forced to socialize and make new friends
 Health goals:
  1. Get back into the habit of working out for at least 3 hours a week, and hitting the gym at least once a week, by the end of 2012
  2. Get back onto a 1300-calorie-a-day diet for the remainder of 2012
  3. Buy healthier food for the rest of 2012
Wedding stuff to have completed before the end of the year:
  1. Shop for wedding venues
  2. Pick a color scheme for the wedding

Monday, September 10, 2012

Christianese: The latest church sign

As I mentioned on a previous blog entry, there's a church on my commute that always puts up church signs that they think are effective in reaching the secular community, but are actually super-douchey.

This week's sign:
"ETERNITY IS A LONG TIME TO BE WRONG"

The message they were intending to send:
"In case God really is real and the Bible is true, and you don't believe in him, that means you will not go to heaven. Hell is a horrible place. We don't want you to go there. Consider checking into Christianity so you can save yourself from hell. We care about you."

The message they're actually sending:
YOUR BELIEFS ARE WRONG
YOU'RE AN IDIOT
YOU'RE GOING TO BURN IN HELL FOREVER

Friday, September 7, 2012

Keep Out

I don't understand why people are private, guarding their feelings and opinions.

I mean, I understand if you don't want to hang your underwear on your outdoor clothesline or if you don't want to discuss your childhood traumas with strangers.

But privacy? It just seems weird to me.

I'm completely open about everything. I see no reason not to be.

I've been known to be extremely open and up-front about everything from discussing personal issues, family histories, sexual experiences, my irritation with my child, everything. Obviously I try to keep my discussions to an appropriate audience.

But I just feel like other people are so tight-lipped about everything. And my response to that is: Why? What is your big secret? Did someone tell you that you have to remain quiet to retain an air of mystery? Mystery is overrated. Do you know what mystery is? Mystery is a lie, an illusion. Be open about who you are, what you're thinking, what you're feeling, what you want, and what you want to talk about, and when you need to fart. That way, your friends will be real friends. Your discussions will be deeper, or at least more interesting.

I think part of the reason I'm so open is that I wish everyone was. I want to know everyone's opinions on everything. I want to know where you've been and how it affected you. I want to know your dreams and who you wish to be. I want to see your wedding pictures and hear about how your kids behave. I just care about that kind of stuff. Not to say that I'm an overly-caring, sweet person...more so to say that I'm an observer, a watcher, probably a stalker on occasion.

I wasn't always this way. In fact, I used to be extremely tight-lipped about almost everything. I used to never cry, never talk about my feelings, never show myself. I wasn't quiet by any means - in fact, I was loud and obnoxious, probably to cover up my insecurities.

But now that I've been through so much shit in life - and excuse my language, but that's what it was: shit - I've grown far more confident in everything about myself. I know my strengths and my weaknesses and I know that my weaknesses don't diminish my strengths. I know my fears, dreams, hopes, and desires and I know that they are right for me, they're not just things I was told to do or be or want. I know my role as a mom and as a fiance and I know more of what lies in my future. So I don't need to hide. I don't need to be quiet. I don't need to apologizing for what I feel or what I want.

I also don't feel the need to be reserved or emotionally detached anymore. It's a weird, nice freedom. I think someday I'll become accustomed to this openness and I'll finally find a happy medium between the old, loud-to-cover-up-vulnerability me, and the current over-sharing hyper-opinionated me.

Damn.... this entry would never have even been slightly true just a few weeks before I met Dan. What the heck?