The Good Things Post 5/15/17

15 May

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At the end of last year I did the thing on Twitter where for every like a Tweet received I shared something good about my 2016.

It was one of the brief respites from the whole nightmare of that time and it helped me. It helped to articulate the good.

I thought with everything still so often dark and nightmarish I would start Mondays off with some good things. The Good Things Post.

May it help you. May it help me.

May we all help each other.

Good Things 5/15/17

1. A couple I do not know, have never met, and likely will never meet got engaged!

Ashley and Kelly are one of my favorite couples despite all of the above. Ashley is a writer who has beautifully put to words  her feelings on Kelly many, many times in the past and I love seeing relationships unfold that are healthy, respectful and empowering. You should be following their love story too.

2. Anne Lamott strikes again!

“Mothering has been the richest experience of my life, but I am still opposed to Mother’s Day. It perpetuates the dangerous idea that all parents are somehow superior to non-parents. (Meanwhile, we know the worst, skeeviest, most evil people in the world are CEOs and politicians who are proud parents.)”

Goes along with Mari Andrew’s beautiful Mother’s Day drawing

3. Everyone’s Instagram Mother’s Day posts!

I imagine many of us hold both #2 and #3 as truths inside of us. That Mother’s Day can be quite difficult and is a complicated holiday and should it be celebrated? And also we are incredibly grateful for the humans who have nurtured and loved us in our lives, mothers are not.

I personally love a day online where people are giving tributes to those who helped raise them.

I love seeing 90s hair and old wedding photos and babe moms and hearing the things that you picked up from the people in your life who loved you, traditional mothers or not. It’s one of my favorite days on all of social media. A day of professing love.

4. Marco Polo

My family is using Marco Polo and I’ve been seeing my niece and nephews more and sharing more of my drama and that’s all I want in life, really.

5. Gilmore Girls Legos

Yep yep

(Vote vote)

 6. Sunscreen!

I recently realized that I wear sunscreen every day. I don’t know when that change happened, but somewhere along the line it went from a distant goal of the type of person I’d like to be to a reality. (I use this one. My dermatologist recommended it and it is not sponsored because I’ve never done an ad on here, remember?)

 7. The Hyperbalist’s Instagram account

In a world where it seems so many draw upon the same Instagram Dictionary (“this guy” “obsessed” etc) Alina is HERSELF. It’s a true talent to show your voice through captions and pictures and snippets but she has it and it’s fun to follow along.

 8. I read a whole book this morning

(This one.) Just sat in bed and read. It was the perfect antidote to a yesterday so intense I told people I was losing my mind and I meant it.

Real question: When we lose part of our mind do we ever get it back?

9. Rupi Kaur’s poetry

In case you’re not one of the 1.2 million already following along.

 10. JFK stamps

Going on our wedding invitations because when you’re doing a Cape Cod wedding this can be justified. Also a good conversation starter with your local post office worker!

 

xoxo my friends

May you find good things in your life this week

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Garlic Knot of a Human

11 May

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I’d been tense all day.

It started with the news, as it always does in this, the year 2017. I read the news and I’m boiling, raging mad. I’m venting and picking fights, discouraged and mourning.

More than slightly nauseous.

I went about my day, gathering grievances like cat hair to black leggings. By the time I got home from work at 9:30 I was a twisted spiral garlic knot of a human.

I put on a meditation. Ten minutes. I could do ten minutes.

My thoughts wandered. To the news. (To the news!) To the relationship I’m struggling with. (To the struggle!) To this blog post I started in my head and the to-do list I was composing. Could I accomplish 53 things before bed? What time was it now? 9:32?

I made it out the other side of the meditation.

If I was a 9 before maybe I’m an 8.

8.5?

I’ll take it.

There are a few things my therapist says that I think about regularly.

One is to do it even if you don’t think you have the energy.

Do the things you know will make you feel better even if you’d rather lie in bed and mourn your life. Go to the yoga class. Put on the running (walking) shoes. Drink the water.

Meditate for 10 minutes.

The other thing is radical self-acceptance.

I truly don’t know how this works, but the idea is that I say, OK, you know what? Maybe I do x, or am x. That’s OK.

Maybe I trend towards this or that, these things, traits, characteristics I’ve assigned as bad or good. But they aren’t bad or good. They are things about me.

And I can work on me, I do work on me, but I also need to accept myself.

This goes against everything inside of me. Inside me I hear that I can work my way to perfection. That I can earn it, somehow. That I have to give my best and somehow my best is different than everyone else’s best. Somehow my best is the theoretical best ever. Perfect.

If I practice radical self-acceptance aren’t I saying I’m OK the mess I am now?

Won’t I stop improving?

When I read ebooks I check every single page to see what percentage I’m at. Sometimes I haven’t even moved up 1% but I still check. A tic. I can succeed, I can accomplish even in my leisure activities!

I don’t like ebooks very much.

The point of this all, I suppose, is that I am not a person who will stop improving. It’s not in me. I need to let go of the notion if I accept myself then I’ll never try again.

My therapist remarks how she’s never seen someone attack their therapy homework like me and yet I’ll come in and apologize I haven’t done more.

I’ll tell my friend I have no energy and they’ll say you just sent me 60 texts about x topic.

I don’t have an accurate gauge on myself or my best self.

And so radical acceptance, I think, is something like saying, you know what?

Enough. Enough!

I’m OK. I’m ever so much more than I realize.

As is.

Today.

Garlic knot and all.

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Literary Love #7: Gilbert Blythe – Anne of Green Gables

9 May

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Gilbert Blythe

(Anne of Green Gables)

I don’t want sunbursts or marble halls,

I just want you.

Gilbert and Anne were my first fictional model of love and as such I tried to force future interactions with men down the path they took. Spunky, dreamer girl–check! Handsome rival–check! Hate each other at first, only to realize they’ve always been in love!

It’s a model we’ve seen again and again and it seemed like The One to me. Once, I dramatically ripped up a school paper of a boy I liked, my early 2000s answer to smashing a chalkboard on his head. I then felt so guilty after I apologized again and again profusely.

Alas, I was not Anne.

I am not Anne.

I see her in me, though, in the way I see my dearest and oldest friends in me. The girls who shaped view of the world, my politics, my personality. The girls I grew up with. Anne is one of them.

I just wasn’t to have her exact love story.

From the book:

For a moment Anne’s heart fluttered queerly and for the first time her eyes faltered under Gilbert’s gaze and a rosy flush stained the paleness of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung before her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps. . . perhaps. . .love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.

(Anne of Avonlea)

PS: Love #1#2#3, #4#5, #6

 

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Literary Love #6: Prince Jonathan – The Lioness Quartet

6 May

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(There is truly not enough fan art about this series)

Prince Jonathan IV of Conté

(The Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce)

If you have anything in common with a prince

you make it work

This is surely my most dramatic fan love of all time. I was so distraught that Jonathan and Alanna did not end up marrying each other that a friend and I printed off divorce papers online. Using a quill, we filled them out citing irreconcilable differences, “I was always in love with another man,” we wrote, as Alanna.

Middle school was such a fun time to be me.

The thing was this. Prince Jonathan was Alanna’s best friend during her time where she was pretending to be a boy. He then became her first love. They understood each other, they called each other out, they were equals. And then suddenly, oh wait, she’s in love with the King of Thieves? What?

Tamora Pierce herself ADMITS SHE WROTE IT SO ALANNA AND JON ENDED UP TOGETHER ORIGINALLY.

In the original manuscript (the quartet started out as a single adult novel), Alanna did marry Jon. The problem was that the whole final third of the book then felt awkward and so not-right. When I broke it up into four books for kids, I realized the problem. Alanna did not want to marry Jon. If I wasn’t going to let her have her way, she was going to make the writing a misery. You may have noticed that with Alanna, you do things her way or not at all.

Yes, yes, whatever. You are writing the series, lady. You can’t write four books with us falling in love with them as a pair and then go oh, oops nevermind.

It’s like when JK Rowling just dropped “Hey yeah Hermione and Harry should have been together.” Um, that’s really, really not fair. You wrote seven books proving otherwise, for seven books you made us fall for Hermione and Ron and NOW you want to pull that?

Nope.

I’m not having it.

And I didn’t have it the first time I read The Lioness Quartet, or today, or any day.

Prince Jonathan celebrated Alanna’s originality. He was fun, beautiful, her best friend.

He was her guy. Don’t write 3.5 books telling us he was her guy and then pull that crap.

I’m fine!

Totally fine!

From the book:

“You’re fighting what has to be,” Jonathan said, “and you know it as well as I do.”

“I–I know no such thing,” Alanna stammered. “I promised myself once that I’d never love a man! Maybe I almost broke that promise just now because of moonlight and silliness–”

“Stop it,” he told her sternly. He made her look up at him. “We belong to each other. Is that silliness?”

PS: Love #1#2#3, #4, #5

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Literary Love #5: Ender Wiggin

5 May

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Ender Wiggin

(Ender’s Game)

Born to save the world and lose his own soul

 

Ender is different than any other person on this list. For one, he is quite young. I was quite young when I fell for him, but his youth is important. This is no grown Rhett Butler. This is a vulnerable kid who was bred for a military task which ultimately destroyed him and nearly destroyed an entire race. It is a space opera minus the melodramatics and romance. The stakes are life or death. Ender, a smart, compassionate, scared young kid is manipulated by the adults around him.

There are no proposals or great love soliloquies in this one. Ender is not the love interest. There is no real love interest. This is science fiction, a military book. And yet, as a child reading it I fell deeply for Ender. He immediately shot to the top of my Tortured Soul List, a list cradled close to my heart. I and I alone could reach these messed up human beings. I could show them how to love again, or for the first time. I could clean their wounds, day in and day out until they learned to trust humans again. I and I alone could heal their broken selves.

This got me into a lot of trouble years later when I started dating real life men.

From the book:

“I killed them all, didn’t I?” Ender asked.

“All who?” asked Graff. “The buggers? That was the idea…”

“I didn’t want to kill them all. I didn’t want to kill anybody! I’m not a killer! You didn’t want me, you bastards, you wanted Peter, but you made me do it, you tricked me into it!”

“Of course we tricked you into it. That’s the whole point. It had to be a trick or you couldn’t have done it. It’s the bind we were in. We had to have a commander with so much empathy that he would think like the buggers, understand them and anticipate them. So much compassion that he could win the love of his underlings and work with them like a perfect machine, as perfect as the buggers. But somebody with that much compassion could never be the killer we needed. Could never go into battle willing to win at all costs. If you knew, you couldn’t do it. If you were the kind of person who would do it even if you knew, you could never have understood the buggers well enough.”

 

PS: Love #1, #2, #3, #4

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Literary Love #4: Laurie – Little Women

4 May

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Laurie

(Little Women)

He ended up with the wrong March sister

He ended up with the wrong March sister

He ended up with the wrong March sister

 

From the book:

I think I have cried more over Laurie than any fictional character. Every time I reread the book I would wander around the house in a haze, tears streaming down my face. It was all wrong. Jo and the professor were all wrong. He and Amy were all wrong. Full body sobs, uncontrollable emotion.

“Laurie was a young lover, but he was in earnest, and meant to ‘have it out’, if he died in the attempt so he plunged into the subject with characteristic impetuosity, saying in a voice that would get choky now and then, in spite of manful efforts to keep it steady…’I've loved you ever since I’ve known you, Jo, couldn’t help it, you’ve been so good to me. I’ve tried to show it, but you wouldn’t let me. Now I’m going to make you hear, and give me an answer, for I can’t go on any longer.”

The movie does it well when they add this:

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I mean, come on! I’m posting a collage here! That’s how strongly I still feel!

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Excuse me while I go sob.

 

Love #1, #2 and #3

 

 

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Literary Love #3: Rhett Butler – Gone with the Wind

2 May

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Rhett Butler

(Gone with the Wind)

152 times I pined for Rhett Butler

152 times I missed the underlying masculinity complex

 

 

From the book:

Rhett’s proposal to Scarlett is 8 beautiful pages of romance! and drama! I would type out all eight pages, but, I’ll let you read them. I have done a dramatic reading of these pages to most of my close friends at one time or another and wonder if I should go to an open mic and take this show on the road?

Anyway, here’s part of his proposal:

“I always intended having you, Scarlett, since that first day I saw you at Twelve Oaks where you threw that vase and swore and proved that you weren’t a lady. I always intended having you one way or another, but as you and Frank have made a little money, I know you’ll never be driven to me again with any interesting propositions of loans and collateral. So I see I’ll have to marry you.”

“Rhett Butler, is this one of your vile jokes?”

“I bare my soul and you are suspicious! No, Scarlett, this is a bona fide honorable declaration. I admit that it’s not in the best of taste, coming at this time, but i have a very good excuse for my lack of breeding. I’m going away tomorrow for a long time and I fear that if I wait till I return you’ll have married someone else with a little money. So I thought, why not me and my money? Really Scarlett, I can’t go all my life, waiting to catch you between husbands.”

“Come Scarlett, you are no child, no schoolgirl to put me off with foolish excuses about decency and so forth. Say you’ll marry me when I come back or, before God, I won’t go. I’ll stay around here and lay guitar under your window every night and sing t the top of my voice and compromise you, so you’ll have to marry me to save your reputation.”

(Scarlett) “I am fond of you.”

“Fond of me?”

“Well, if I said I was madly in love with you, I’d be lying and what’s more, you know it.”

(Rhett) “No, my dear, I’m not in love with you, no more than you are with me, and if I were, you would be the last person I’d ever tell. God help the man who ever really loves you. You’d break his heart, my darling, cruel destructive little cat who is so careless and confident she doesn’t even trouble to sheathe her claws.”

OOH also when Rhett asks Scarlett to dance when she’s a mourning widow because he knows she wants to be center of attention. One of my favorite chapters in all of literature.

 

PS: Love #1 and Love #2 

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Literary Love #2: Sirius Black – Harry Potter

1 May

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Sirius Black

(Harry Potter)

A former golden boy turned tortured soul

What more could a good suburban girl want?

 

From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

“Harry saw Sirius give James the thumbs-up. Sirius was lounging in his chair at his ease, tilting it back on two legs. He was very good-looking; his dark hair fell into his eyes with a sort of casual elegance neither James’s nor Harry’s could ever have achieved, and a girl sitting behind him was eying him hopefully, though he didn’t seem to have noticed.”

“Sirius stared around at the students milling over the grass, looking rather haughty and bored, but very handsomely so.”

 

PS: Love #1 here.

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Literary Love #1: Prince Char – Ella Enchanted

30 Apr

Welcome to my week-long celebration of my literary loves! There have been so many–so many men who shaped what I was looking for, who turned my world upside down before any real life man had ever even stepped into it.

Feel free to join me! I would love to hear your loves.

Inspired in part by this poetry series.

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Prince Char

(Ella Enchanted)

Love, love, love

One word. Three times.

The closing to all my letters

for years, years, years

 

 

From the book:

Dear Ella,

Impatience is not usually my weakness. But your letters torment me. They make me long to saddle my horse and ride to Frell, where I would make you explain yourself. They are playful, interesting, thoughtful, and (occasionally) serious. I’m overjoyed to receive them, yet they bring misery. You say little of your daily life; I have no idea how you occupy yourself. I don’t mind; I enjoy guessing at the mystery. But what I really long to know you do not tell either: what you feel, although I’ve given you hints by the score of my regard.

You like me. You wouldn’t waste time or paper on a being you didn’t like. But I think I’ve loved you since we met at your mother’s funeral. I want to be with you forever and beyond, but you write that you are too young to marry or too old or too short or too hungry — until I crumple your letters up in despair, only to smooth them out again for a twelfth reading, hunting for hidden meanings.

Father asks frequently in his letters whether I fancy any Ayorthian young lady or any in our acquaintance at home. I say no. I suppose I’m confessing another fault: pride. I don’t want him to know that I love if my affections are not returned.

You would charm him, and Mother too. They would be yours completely. As I am.

What a beautiful bride you’ll be, whomever you marry at whatever age. And what a queen if I am the man! Who has your grace? Your expression? Your voice? I could extol your virtues endlessly, but I want you to finish reading and answer me quickly.

Today I cannot write of Ayortha or my doings or anything. I can only post this and wait.

Love (it is such a relief to pen the word!), love, love—

Char

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4 Minutes (Not The Madonna Song)

27 Apr

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It took about four minutes. Four minutes and 20 posts before I was utterly depressed.

I don’t follow certain types of bloggers for this reason. They are not aspirational to me, they are depressing.

Suddenly I’m looking at their tiny bodies in tiny bikinis, on everlasting vacations paid for by others. Suddenly their luscious locks and free clothing make my life feel like one giant slog towards death.

Suddenly the questions I ask myself are

Where did everything go so wrong

Should I make mac and cheese

Wouldn’t that be coping with food

You’re not even hungry

But it will make me feel better

Fine, you have no self control look at that tiny body

Suddenly I’m there.

The thing that bothers me most about these bloggers is that they are selling this as real life. It’s different than a fashion ad in a magazine where you know it is a model posed to sell the clothing. These girls are posing to sell clothing, but also under the guise of “sharing their life.” Here we are on vacation. Again. Best husband, best sunset, best life.

And when you make it personal like that, when you take away hey this just an ad designed to sell clothing and instead say hey look my life is so out-of-this-world, if you bought these things yours would be too, then it becomes dangerous.

No one gets a free pass in life, an existence smooth and wrinkle-less. We all have things.

Christine Amorose, a writer I follow, posted recently about travel bloggers. She said:

I’m friends with a lot of travel bloggers (both online and in real life), and there’s often this very obvious (or sometimes sneakily subtle) feeling of superiority because they travel regularly and make a living from it. Sometimes they even want to teach you how to do it too (!), as if the world needs fewer accountants and engineers and secretaries and is instead calling out for more people to get paid to take photos of waterfalls and post them on Instagram. Even as someone with her toes dipped in the industry, I have the very real sense that this whole travel influencer thing is all a huge bubble that might very well burst. And I see all of the ebooks and guides on “how you can do it too!” and headlines screaming about six-figure salaries while thinking: but is the behind-the-scenes as desirable as the highlight reel? Is that flashy salary paying for health insurance and 401Ks? Are you really as content as the life that you’re trying to sell?

Because within this narrative of exotic travel equaling the dream life, there’s a latent disdain for a life of commutes and offices and mortgages and “the real world” in which many of us live. Speaking as someone who regularly deals with train delays and arbitrary work hours and exorbitant rent payments, I can say quite honestly that there are certainly days in which I would prefer to be sipping a margarita while staring at a turquoise sea instead of dealing with “real life.” But as someone who travels fairly regularly for work and for play, I can also say that real life has a way of catching up with you, no matter where in the world you are. There can be joy and heartache and arguments and the feeling as if everything is finally clicking together at home or the office or while stuck in traffic on your way home just as much as it can happen on vacation.

I so appreciated this, and I so appreciate this writer. She is someone who gets paid to travel, she’s always honest about it, and she never makes her life into something it’s not. I never stare at her and think why not me?

The truth of the matter is, I’ve never wanted to switch lives with someone I know. As soon as you know someone, you see their struggles and realize, oh, ok, no thanks. But it’s the allure, the illusion of perfection of someone you don’t know who convinces you that others out there. They are experiencing a smooth, wrinkle-free life!

Another writer I love says it this way:

Chances are, if you are reading this, you’re noticing a bit of a chasm between the life you lead and the life you want to lead, and here’s a secret: we all have this chasm. We all have this gap. There is nothing broken in you that is not broken in everyone. We are each conditioned to want something different than what we have been given. And so, you have two options: (1) Chase someday, or (2) Accept today. I recommend the latter. Remind yourself that you are here, breathing, alive and well(ish). For now, let that be enough.

I think what’s missing for me in (many) of these types of bloggers is the “we all have this gap” aspect. I read stories and write stories to assure myself that what I feel is normal, that we’re all in this together. We have chasms, we chase after things we shouldn’t. But there is nothing broken in me that isn’t broken in everyone.

I spent four minutes of my beautiful, flawed life looking at someone’s fake, flawed life and it was not a good use of my time.

But I am here, breathing, alive and well(ish). For now, that’s enough.

(And one day, I’ll forget to look.)

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