Archive | November, 2016

A State of the Sickness

30 Nov


For three days it was my mom, my sister and me, on the couches in the living room talking about personal things a little too personally.

Let’s have a state of the sickness, my mother would say and we would go around sharing our latest symptoms and what the internet had told us. You see, we had independently researched our illness online and come up with independent conclusions. None of them matched.

It was a strange bonding experience. My mom realized she loves Hallmark Christmas movies which is weird that it took this long because in the words of Rob, she is a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Jessica tried KUTWK for the first time.

I got emotional when Sabrina the Teenage Witch delivered one of those great nuggets of wisdom as Sabrina was forced to fight to prove her love for Harvey or risk life as a frog. When asked why Zelda would allow Sabrina to risk her future for this task Zelda said, “It was never a risk. It’s always true love at 16.

It’s always true love at 16.

This blog is one of my proudest accomplishments in the past few years, probably of this past life as Jillian Lorraine Denning. I’m proud I’ve kept it up. I’m proud of things I’ve written. I’m proud of my growth.

I have the nicest, most supportive blog readers. A friend of mine commented on that. She said, “Do you know this person?” about some comment or another. “No,” I said. “She’s great though, isn’t she?”

I love whenever I get a thoughtful comment. Like this one. It made me laugh because it’s so accurate.

I love whenever I get an email from someone and my words meant something to them. I’ve had people reach out when I don’t write in a while making sure I’m OK. I’ve been invited to coffee dates in various cities around the country. Real people who appreciate my words and I appreciate their words, and somehow, some way, we are helping each other through life a bit. That’s the dream.

I remind myself. I am living the dream!

Would I want that other dream? The one where mean people on the internet dissect everything I wear and say and do? Where I force sponsored items into half-hearted posts so mean people on the internet could dissect everything I wear and say and do?

I grind my teeth, remember?

I know my limits.

I’m living the dream.

Lena Dunham wrote this piece about Lil Miquela and I read it on Tuesday morning and really wanted to speak to someone about it. I had so many thoughts–they ventured into Kanye and the blurring of social media and life and What Is Art Now Anyway.

My go-to texters were MIA so I mentioned it on Instagram.

Very quickly thereafter Lil Miquela liked the post!

And then I got some random people commenting asking me how I’m related to Lena and Lil Miquela!

And then I shut the whole thing down!

It was so stressful, my one second of non-internet fame.

I’ve removed the Twitter app from my phone again, by the way.

It’s too overwhelming. I need to find that balance, that once a day news sweep/action balance. I worry so much for this country, this world.


Also Lil Miquela. My guess is she’s this woman’s SIM/Avatar/graphic design/social experiment type thing and honestly the more I look at her the more I’m a bit scared.

I think that was sort of the point.

If there is a point to art, anyway

What Is Art Anyway?

I promised myself I would blog three times this week. Three whole whopping times like a Whopper Jr. with three sides of CrissCut fries and a Coke.

Does this one count?

Do People Bond Over That?

29 Nov


I got in Friday afternoon around 4:30. Cait was dancing in the doorway waiting for me with a compression hug. “I’m going to pee my pants,” I said.

“Don’t pee your pants!” she said.

We settled onto her couches with cozy blankets. “Rob bought me a mermaid tail blanket for my birthday,” I said. “How is Rob?” she said.

We gabbed and gabbed barely coming up for air. Occasionally one of us got up for another Diet Coke or to go to the bathroom. I changed into pajamas very early.

A couple hours in we moved to the kitchen table with a pile of enchiladas and sour cream, and then it was back to the couches, like a terrible montage showing the passage of time.

We moved to the floor to eat a pizzookie with caramel ice cream. We made a Target run for velvet flare leggings. Finally it was back on the couches and the blankets, TV in the background that we ignored.

After a while our words were slurred and spotty. We were tired and our throats were scratchy.

We should go to bed, we said, over and over.

Eight hours into the conversation we finally did.

It was a testament to friendship and face-to-face interaction. Cait and I have talked since we last saw each other, of course. We’ve shared tough things and real things and trivial things. We know the basics of what’s going on. But nothing can replace in person. Nothing can replace the leaps that happen when you walk through a Target aisle and talk about your evolving style in relation to your evolving personality.

We’re different now.

When we met we bonded over shared sadness and our inability to seem to move on from horrible relationships. We got each other and got that thing, that hopelessness and messed up thing in each other.

Today, if we met, I don’t know that it would even come up. I don’t know that the people and events and things that were Our Whole Lives Our Whole Identities Our Whole Whole when we met even be on the discussion board.

We are healthy now, or healthier, at the very least.

Do people bond over that?

Here We Go

23 Nov


There was a brief time in London where I thought I was losing my hearing.

I took a day off work to see the doctor, which led me to the dentist, which led me to the thing I already knew–I grind my teeth. The thing I didn’t know was that in particularly stressful situations my teeth grinding could lead to an inflamed jaw, so inflamed it affected my hearing.

I doubled down on my mouth guard. I made some life changes.

My front tooth is fake, did you know that?

I’m sure you didn’t.

My front tooth is fake because I have ground it off in the night, time and time again.

This week, my jaw is so swollen you can hear it crack across a room.

My therapist tells me a lot of people are having physical reactions to this frightening post-election time. Not just emotional reactions or grief reactions, but actual trauma.

I am so lucky. So privileged.

So very fortunate.

I’ve been thinking about mothers lately.

Rob’s mother showed him, not just through words, but actions, exactly how capable women are. He was raised to believe women are inherently equal, that household tasks have no gender, that my dreams–across all areas of life–are the same as his. This has made him the very best boyfriend I can imagine. I am 100% satisfied with gender roles in our relationship, and I am not a person 100% satisfied with almost anything.

Then there’s my mother.

My mother raised me a feminist. I never doubted how smart I was, or what I could do with my talents. She showed me how to critically think, how to keep an open mind, how to live in a world that still does not value women as much as it values men.

Today she is getting her graduate degree in English with an emphasis in 18th Century Feminism. She brings homemade cookies to the college students she teaches.

I’ve been thinking about mothers a lot this week.

It’s true, the Dave Chapelle skit on SNL. I am the privileged white person over here in shock with what just happened. I cannot believe it. I am mourning, grieving, cracking my jaw.

My minority friends and colleagues, people specifically targeted by our President Elect, are all much less shocked than I am. “I always knew how America felt about me,” one of them told me.

My therapist, a minority woman, looked at me and said, “When you’re told a story your whole life it becomes fact, and you can’t argue with someone about their facts.” She is so much calmer than I am.

What can we do then?

What can we do?

I’m not ready to make nice. That’s how my therapist described me.

I’m in the stages of grief, but I keep cycling back to anger. I don’t want to apologize for my anger. Hillary Clinton apologized for not winning the election, another blow to women everywhere. We do not need to apologize.

We do not need to apologize.

Here are some things I’ve done to help me feel better:

– Called my representatives (Here’s where you can find your Senators and Representatives. My favorite comic made some handy calling cards.)

– Bought a subscription to the New York Times

– Given a church lesson on peace

– Written letters to women I love

– Donated blood

– Signed up to volunteer more

– Met with my local political group to discuss the way forward

– Worked on a library display promoting diversity

– Set up monthly deposits to causes I believe in

– Interviewed at a charity I believe in wholeheartedly

– Read books about people with experiences different than mine

– Checked in on friends who are far more vulnerable than I am

– Clung to kindness wherever I’ve found it

– Taken a break from social media (Not long enough)

– Shared my ugliest thoughts and fears, not online, but with a safe group of people

– Written out some of the poison I feel

– Seen my therapist

– Bought a new teapot

– Spent more time with Rob

– Clung to a truth that makes me feel better: Hillary Clinton won more votes this election than any man not named Obama ever has. Including our President Elect.


I’m sharing these not because they are the only things to do, or even the right things to do, but because they’ve helped me a bit. Somewhat. And maybe in sharing it can help you? Maybe you can share what you’re doing and we can help each other?

Someone I know suggested every day you do two things: 1) Sweep the news. (Take deep breaths and brace yourself) 2. Do one action item. Call a representative. Donate to a cause.

Yesterday I was sitting at a red light next to a homeless man. I looked down at my uneaten breakfast of apple sauce in a plastic cup. I rolled down my window. “Excuse me, sir. Would you like some apple sauce?” “Yes, thank you,” he said. We made eye contact. We smiled at each other.

It cost me nothing–literally. That apple sauce was taken from my parents’ pantry. It didn’t even cost me time–I was sitting at a red light. But I felt better all day. It helped me and my mood surely more than the 100 calories helped him.

It was a good reminder that yes, I need to take political action. We all must put pressure on our representatives and we must stand up for what we know is right. But we also need to take small action in our lives. That is where sanity and peace and hope lies.

In apple sauce cups.

It’s going to take a long time to heal from this. Far, far more than four years.

Here we go.

Jaws a’cracking, here we go.