The Strength to Be Proud

January 26, 2014

Yesterday I completed the aforementioned Olympic weightlifting competition and… whoa.


Before I get into those fun details, I just want to say how incredibly awe-inspiring and humbling the feedback I’ve received from my Strength to Be Strong post has been. From calls to texts to social media comments to emails, I’ve heard back from so many wonderful people. It’s made me smile and reflect and feel so freaking grateful. What amazes me the most is how admitting your own insecurities opens a much more honest conversation with people, especially those with whom you’d normally only exchange banal pleasantries. It cuts to the quick of our experience as functioning humans in a social world much more so than discussing politics or the weather ever could.

In the wake of that post I’ve had so many more open, free-speaking, and in depth talks with people than I normally would ever have. From people I admire to people I don’t know very well, the all-encompassing lesson as been that EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN HANG-UPS. We’re all insecure about something. And I think the fact that I come off as a fairly confident person, especially in this world of social media where 90% of what you discuss publicly is fashioned to be positive, made the admissions I’ve held within for a lifetime that much more resonant.

What was particularly eye-opening were the emails and conversations exchanged with the people I look up to, the ones that I naturally assume “have it all.” Just as much as you, they have their own shit that they’re worried or embarrassed or ashamed about. In fact some of the things they’re insecure about will seem ridiculous in your eyes. But that’s the thing– we all compare ourselves to each other and what society expects from us, and we all find ourselves lacking. If we’re all lacking, then that means no one has everything, right? So striving to achieve perfection is a futile endeavor and we should all be celebrating our own little triumphs and moments of awesomeness, rather than overlooking them in search of the flaws. The notion of “having it all” is a stupidly perpetual myth.

So, on that note… the weightlifting meet.

I’ll say off the bat– it went great. I could easily do the stereotypical “chick” thing and diminish my accomplishments (which, as a journalism major, I always feel like I need to do for the sake of objectivity) by saying that I lifted the least amount of anyone competing, or that the only reason I placed was that there were no other women in my (“heavy” 75kg+) weight class.



I went in there with only a month of experience, lifted weights I have never lifted before, set personal records, and placed first in my weight division. AND I AM NOT MARGINALIZING THOSE ACCOMPLISHMENTS ONE GODDAMN BIT. I am wholeheartedly going to pat myself on the back for being ballsy and competing in something in which I have no expertise. I did it with a smile and maybe a weird dance or two on the platform while I was at it, no less. I had one goal that day: to successfully complete both a snatch and a clean & jerk, and I totally did that. Hands in the air, that’s all I’m here for, PEACE. Mic drop.

But I achieved more than that, and I choose to be proud.

And that’s the thing. YOU CAN CHOOSE TO BE PROUD.

You don’t need permission or a mythical future point in your life where everything will fall into place (because, hey there, real talk: it never will). In this world, in this one precious life, you have this incredible ability to choose your own adventure, to choose your own perspective, to choose your own happiness, and to choose to be proud of what you’ve accomplished. So go out there and do something for yourself, for no one else, and make yourself PROUD.

That’s what I did yesterday. And I plan to keep it up.
Plus I’m kinda hooked on this Olympic weightlifting thing.


This is Part 3 of this whole challenge. Need to catch up? Here you go, champ!
Part 1: The Strength to be Strong
Part 2: Training, with GIFs
Part 4: A Work in Progress


Training, with GIFs

January 17, 2014

My head-first introduction into Olympic weightlifting only weeks before a meet has surprisingly been much more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I’m getting stronger with every session (I’m working out and training 3-5 times a week right now), but Oly requires a different set of skills than the ones you utilize when you’re simply lifting weights. There are so many intricate movements and positions to remember at every moment, whether you’re at rest or you’re hurling a bar over your head.

My first few training sessions were a breeze, and I left them feeling confident that I was progressing nicely. Then two nights ago I just could. not. do. it. And the only thing holding me back was my brain! In fact it felt exactly like my many summer days as a kid, standing on the high diving board, staring down at the water, and not being able to jump. I knew I could do it, I knew I’d be fine, everyone else can do it so easily, but something in my brain would block my legs from leaping. It was the same thing the other evening, and I was so frustrated with myself I felt near tears.

In contrast, I squeezed in a few practice lifts (of just the bar, mind you) last night and had no problem whatsoever. I just did it.

To use video game GIFs to express my point:

… Here’s me two nights ago:
(It’s so sad how literal this nearly is.)

… And here’s me last night:


In addition to that weird mental block, the reality that I committed myself to a COMPETITION in a very difficult and detail-oriented category of physical strength that I’m just now LEARNING definitely hangs over my head. It’s just a little bit insane, and I question it regularly. When I’m not staring at a bar in frustration, though, I know it’s just another challenge and you could qualify this level of ridiculousness as something akin to being brave, if you look at it in only the most flattering light. Does it matter how I fare on that day? Not really. Does it matter that I show up and try? Absolutely.

The meet is a week from tomorrow, and I’m about to fly out of state for work for four days. The timing is wonderfully shitty, especially since I’m eating super clean this month AND not drinking, and I’m heading to a three-day gourmet food show. Plus I won’t have any type of workout facility during those four days. Bodyweight hotel room workouts FTW!

I’m going to end this here, but please note that a post regarding the comments, hugs, kind words, and high fives that I’ve received in reaction to my Strength post is forthcoming. It’s been phenomenal, and fills me with warm fuzzies still. You are all glorious diamonds.

This is Part 2 of this whole challenge. Need to catch up? Here you go, champ!
Part 1: The Strength to be Strong
Part 3: The Strength to be Proud
Part 4: A Work in Progress


January 14, 2014


The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink digital download is free on Amazon until tomorrow.

The Shriver Report is a multi-platform project of A Woman’s Nation, the nonprofit organization led by Maria Shriver that raises awareness, ignites conversation, and inspires impact around the defining issues and fundamental changes facing modern women. By convening influential voices and bold ideas from across the cultural spectrum, The Shriver Report project seeks to chronicle how American families live and work today, giving clear insight into one of the most important social trends of our time: the emergence of women into all areas of society.”

If that doesn’t interest you, maybe the Report’s essay by Beyoncé on gender equality will?

If an essay by Beyoncé doesn’t interest you, maybe this AMAZING amazing video from her Visual Album will? Because it’s my favorite.

The Strength to be Strong

January 4, 2014


Yesterday I signed up for my first ever competitive weightlifting meet. Not that I’m super great at lifting weights– I still have such, SUCH a long way to go! And I honestly don’t expect to “win” a single thing. But it’s through the gym that I’ve grown to love over the last two months, and it’s a fun challenge and a tangible goal to work toward. I like the feeling of lifting something I wasn’t able to lift weeks earlier. I love the feeling of progress, of strength, and the confidence that comes with pushing your body (safely!) to its limits and coming out the other side as your own personal champion.

What was interesting though was the meet’s online sign up process. Amongst fields reasonably asking for your name, age, and weightlifting experience, was a field asking you to define what weight bracket under which you’d be competing. For people like my husband who compete within weight brackets all the time, that’s no big deal. It’s how you logically parse the competitors.

For me, though, the “admission” of my weight range was, for a moment, almost a game killer. Especially since it would be in the last tier of brackets, “Women’s 75kg+”.  My first reaction was to lie, which is the default reaction for most women. But then I read that there would be a weigh in before the meet (yes, ladies: WEIGHING. YOURSELF. IN. PUBLIC.) and that was almost the second deal breaker.

I’ve regretted, loathed, lamented, hated, avoided, ignored, or been disgusted by my own body at various stages and intensities for over half my life. Societal factors, upbringing, and a lack of true, knowledgeable ownership over my health and well-being compounded into a big, ugly opinion that is sadly the norm with many women and girls nowadays. When was the last time you heard a woman say she loved her body?

Only in recent years have I slowly come out of that self-hating funk, but I’m STILL working on it. What’s particularly interesting about that though are the diverse factors leading to what I would almost describe as a “self-love epiphany.”

My husband. The biggest is my relationship with my husband. Sean believes in me endlessly, long after I’ve given up on myself. The fact that someone I hold in such high esteem has that much confidence in me was nothing short of revolutionary. Plus he is actually a DELIGHTFUL workout partner (which is also why he makes a great coach), and will always push me to try a little harder and not get caught up in the “I can’t do that” mentality that’s been driven into my head for decades. In his eyes I see the person I’ve always thought I was, but felt encumbered by my body, or others’ perceptions, or other self-imposed limitations that hold me back from truly expressing and experiencing myself.

Paleo eating. The next factor is definitely my decision to go paleo/primal two and a half years ago. Losing 30 pounds within a smattering of months was, naturally, a HUGE boost. I’ve kept everything level since then, but knowing how to properly fuel my body, and what makes it the happiest, is incredible. With that has come acceptance that I won’t always be perfect in my diet and exercise, and that’s okay. As long as I don’t “eat like an asshole” I know I’ll be healthy and happy. Even when I do eat like a jerk, like I did this holiday season, I had little-to-no guilt. In fact it was an interesting experiment noting all the negatives as a result of eating grains, sugar, legumes, processed foods, and lots of booze. I slept horribly, my joints ached, my stomach ached regularly, digestion was sketchy, and my skin broke out.

Working out/lifting weights/yoga. Being active is well known for its abilities to boost your confidence. I feel the best when I’m getting at least three weight training sessions in a week, and one of those is usually with my husband at his gym. I used to ride the chronic cardio train, wasting time on elliptical machines while staring at a TV, or twiddling away on machines. I never had that great of results with these, and I never left the gym feeling as good as I do now, having really tested my limits. I feel STRONG.

Feminism. This is a pretty damn broad bullet point, and likely something that warrants its own blog post, but reawakening to the concepts of feminism and how important it still is has shaken my values tremendously over the past year. It began with the internet, in blog posts about the perpetuation of rape culture, in admissions from friends about the misogyny they’ve experienced in their lives, in the reports and GIFs further exposing the unrealistic standards to which beauty is held, and talking about both men and women being regularly held to unrealistic and limiting gender norms.
Websites like The Hairpin and Jezebel were incredibly important here too, in that it wasn’t about strict feminism, but highly intelligent, and often funny, stories and conversations by women reacting to the world around them with a sharp eye, quick wit, immense creativity, and sometimes a sad shake of the head. I still maintain that the Hairpin has the best comments section in the internet.
Reading Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman (as mentioned in the previous post) was the major game changer. After that I finally subscribed to Bitch Magazine, which smartly disseminates feminism across pop culture and politics. I was able to promote Bitch Media through my work when I got to brew my own beer this year, and in the process get to know the amazing women there, and inadvertently become directly involved with striving for equality of the sexes on a public level.
Overall, rediscovering feminism has given me the strength to speak up for myself, to strive to be more empathetic, and to identify and sometimes even call out the injustices around me that I might have ignored or shrugged off in the past.

Self-love leaders. Recently I’ve come to love a number of women online who promote self-love, acceptance, and encourage you to define healthy and happy on your own terms. Jen Sinkler is a weight lifting badass who writes a plethora of thought-provoking content that’s so relatable to me. Seeing multiple posts scroll across my Facebook news feed daily from Chichi Kix constantly remind me to feel good about myself, strive to be better, not compare myself to anyone else, and have a damn sense of humor about it. Melissa Joulwan is not only the author of my favorite cookbooks, but she also talks about clean eating, lifting weights, accepting her “flaws,” and finding out what works best for her body and her life in her blog. When I found out that she and Jen Sinkler were IRL friends, I tweeted them this pic (where I’m wearing an “Unapologetically Strong” shirt from Jen while cooking a recipe from Mel’s first cookbook), which they both appreciated.
BTXkfTdCYAAKqGaPlus the hilarious and all-too-relatable Amy Schumer debuted her fantastic show this past year, and her skits like the amazing “Compliments” below exaggerate and highlight women’s tendency to hate on themselves recreationally.

There are so many more factors and people that have helped me become happier with who I am and frequently encourage me to challenge both myself and the world around me. Too many to list. But I love all y’all. Thank you, thank you, thank you,

After initially balking at inputting my weight on the sign up form, I thought, “You know what? This is my body. That is my current weight. I’m not defined by that number. Technically, that number is defined by gravity. Also defined by gravity? Whether or not I can lift some weights. So let’s do this.”

I have three weeks to train.

This is Part 1 of this whole challenge. Need to catch up? Here you go, champ!
Part 2: Training, with GIFs
Part 3: The Strength to be Proud
Part 4: A Work in Progress

My Second Year Immersed in Literature

January 1, 2014

This is the second time I’ve documented all the books I’ve read or listened to over the course of the year, spurred by the fact that I’m in a car for at least 10 hours a week for my daily commute. Audiobooks are a godsend for that ultimate time suck, and occasionally I hit the perfect type of book (not too dense, not too simplistic, engaging story, great narrator, not overproduced, good sound quality) that actually makes me look forward to the daily drive. In fact, some of these were so wonderful that I was gleefully anticipating each 60 mile journey, and was then popping in headphones once I got home to continue the book while performing menial chores like dishes or gardening.

Last year I finished 61.5 books. I set a goal for this year to finish 75, which was pretty damn lofty. I should have done so with a bit more of an action plan in mind, because I realized too late in the year that to accomplish that I should have been selecting books based upon length more than I was. So how’d I fare? Here are the numbers.

Total number of audiobooks: 54.5
Total number of eBooks: 5.5
Total number of books: 8.5
Total number of books consumed: 68.5!

Not quite 75, but obviously an improvement over last year. Progress, people! Here is the whole list in its word-filled glory. I’ve provided links to my favorites.


29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
Panorama City by Antoine Wilson
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Let me tell you one thing: astrophysics is hard to absorb and fully grasp when you’re just listening to it, rather than reading it. Coupled with an audiobook with bad audio– so quiet that I had to jam earbuds in while driving just to understand what was being said– and I sadly did not get as much out of Stephen Hawking’s classic than I would have liked. Gone Girl was a great book. Panorama City represented a trend of the year: I book that I realized too late to be not so great (in this case, annoying characters and meandering plot), but I was too stubborn to quit. The Night Circus was a fun, quick read. 29 Gifts was a lovely way to start the year, with a focus on altruism and reframing the concept of giving.

We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World by Simon Mainwaring
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien
Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Aida D. Donald
Teddy Roosevelt was the shit! Okay, let’s rephrase that a little more intelligently. I had always been curious to learn more about our 26th president, especially regarding his role in conservation and the establishment of so many treasured parks and reserves, and this book did not disappoint in not only dispensing the facts but doing so in a way that was highly engaging. For an American girl that lived up in Canada during all the years she would have been learning US history, this filled in a lot of gaps I had regarding that time period.

Best story: Roosevelt was shot in the chest at the beginning of a speech in 1912 (after his presidency). His eyeglass case and 50-page speech manuscript slowed the bullet, so while he was definitely very injured, he also wasn’t dead, so he said, “Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot.” He then shows his bloody shirt as he pulls out his massive (and now holey) speech, says, “It takes more than that to kill a bull moose,” and continues speaking for another NINETY MINUTES. What!?

I highly enjoyed the other three books this month as well. FYI.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The Iceman: the True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer by Anthony Bruno
What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson
Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell
Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
The Age of Miracles was one of those addictive reads that you can’t put down or stop thinking about. The global implications of the Earth inexplicably slowing its rotation, framed within the perspective of a young teenager coming of age was unique and captivating. What Dreams May Come finally finishes my reading of Richard Matheson’s books, and I’m now fairly convinced the dude knew what’s up with the afterlife. Everyone Communicates was a great, short book on, well, communication, while the last two of the month were just so-so.

An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life by Mary Johnson
Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse by Sam Sheridan
Purple Cow by Seth Godin
I found Mary Johnson’s story of her life as a nun within the Missionaries of Charity and frequent interactions with Mother Teresa absolutely enthralling. It’s such a foreign life to the one I know, and not without its faults, politics, sex (!), and personal turmoil. Sam Sheridan’s book made me want to learn how to shoot and handle a gun, establish an emergency preparedness kit (for both the home and the car), learn how to survive in the wilderness, AND outrun a zombie. Obviously Harry Potter was awesome– explaining why the books are outstanding isn’t even necessary. However I will say that the narrator for the series (Jim Dale) is just as good as my other favorite narrator, Roy Dotrice, who read four out of the five ASOIAF/Game of Thrones books. Both have a tremendous capacity for individually voicing each character with such authenticity and skill that you forget it’s a single person. Highly talented when you consider the number of characters in both series.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe
The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe
The Eye of the Dragon by Stephen King
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
How to Talk to Anyone: 62 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes
Reading Cloud Atlas made the sprawling movie make so much more sense, and I’m glad I waited to read the book until after I had seen the film. The concepts of life and death here somewhat echoed that of What Dreams May Come two months prior, which I found to be quite satisfying. Maya Angelou’s personal tale was, of course, incredible, and having her velvety rich voice read it aloud made it that much more intoxicating. I’ve also determined that the only way I can appreciate David Sedaris at all is when I’m listening to him read his own stories. Otherwise… meh.

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam
Freeway Guides by Susan Leahy
Peace by Richard Bausch
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
I used to love Chuck Palahniuk. I’ve met the man several times, own a necklace he made for me, along with several signed books and personalized letters. I even have a framed and signed photo of him with Edward Norton and Brad Pitt on the set of Fight Club. I used to buy every tome he published. Somewhere along the way though, they became untiringly predictable and annoying in their obtuse need to shock and awe. Damned was a great example of that, and I’m still mildly incredulous that there’s a sequel in the works. Sorry Chuck, I love you as a Portland local, but you lost me.

heart of the current, crispin young

World War Z by Max Brooks
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Alone on the Ice: the Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts
This is Water by David Foster Wallace
Sean and I both listened to World War Z while roadtripping through the desert, which was a pretty apt setting for such a desolate, zombiefied future. How to be a Woman blew my frickin’ mind. Easily one of my absolute favorite books of the year, and having Caitlin Moran narrate it herself was sublime. I’ve bought at least four copies for other people and have recommended it endlessly. Caitlin Moran is a spirit animal of mine. (Triva time! Other women I declared to be my spirit animals this year: Neko Case, Amy Schumer.) I’ve declared it a Must Read for both women and men. Sean totally agrees with this statement– he loved it.

Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth
Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm by Mardi Jo Link
Heart of the Current (Tales from Tahldia) by Crispin Young
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
The most notable out of this month’s bunch is the fantastic first novel written by my dear friend Crispin. Having never read much of her work prior to this book’s publication, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So I was highly pleased to find it completely enjoyable and at times, addictive. I may or may not have read a few pages of the eBook version on my phone while working. Another Must Read of the year, even when you consider my mild bias. She did a beautiful job of weaving science fiction and fantasy to create her own world, peppered with realistic dialogue and probable character arcs.

Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield
The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age by Janet Wallach
Cleopatra: a Life by Stacy Schiff
Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James
A mixtape themed autobiography, two true stories of rich and powerful women in history, and professionally published Jane Austen fan fiction. That’s about all I have to say here.

I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Saga, Volumes 1 & 2, Chapters/Issues 12-14 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormack
Preacher, Volume 1 by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Bride of New France by Suzanna Desrochers
Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son by Michael Chabon
Oh, how I love the eloquent writing of Michael Chabon. I deeply connected with this book despite not being anything like a husband, father, or son. I even gifted a copy to my father-in-law for Christmas. I Married Adventure was a book appropriately gifted to me by my husband, and it’s a delightful autobiography of an adventurous midwestern couple from 1917 to 1937 as they explored the world. Less delightful: the “era-appropriate” racism and animal slaughter. Still, though! I recommend it. Kitchen Confidential was a great insight into what goes on in a commercial kitchen, and I do love Anthony Bourdain. Finally, I never really learned much about the Khmer Rouge and the atrocities in Cambodia in the mid-to-late 70s, and Patricia McCormack’s first person narrative from someone who survived the genocide was chilling.

Naked by David Sedaris
Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer by William Knoedelsede
The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O’Melveny
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
The Financial Lives of the Poets: A Novel by Jess Walter
Preacher, Volumes 2 and 3 by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Windhaven by George RR Martin and Lisa Tuttle
Bitter Brew was fascinating for two main reasons. 1: I work in the beer industry, and 2: I had just toured the original Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis a few weeks prior. I borrowed the first three trade books of the comic Preacher from my brother-in-law and tore through them over the past two months. Literally the day I finished the third it was announced that it will be turned into a show in the near-ish future. Dark Places was just as compelling as Gillian Flynn’s other book from earlier in the year, the soon-to-be-a-movie Gone Girl.

Hollywood Said No! Orphaned Film Scripts, Bastard Scenes, and Abandoned Darlings from the Creators of Mr. Show by David Cross and Bob Odenkirk with Brian Posehn
The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
Moranthology by Caitlin Moran
You can’t really go wrong when the cast of Mr. Show is reading/performing their never-produced stories and scenes. Lean In by Facebook’s COO was maybe one of the timeliest reads of the year for me, offering key soundbites of advice about women and their careers exactly when I was pondering mine. It’s received criticism for being narrow-minded and privileged in its perspective of women staking a claim for themselves and rising to the top of their workplaces, and justifiably so, but I found much of this very applicable to my own life. Ready Player One was an addictively awesome story set in the future (that constantly references pop culture from the 80s and 90s), and I was attached to that audiobook constantly. A definite Must Read that I’ve geeked out over and recommended to at least a dozen people. Audiobook perk: it’s narrated by Wil Wheaton. And finally, finishing the year with tales from my spirit animal Caitlin Moran is a truly solid finish to a lovely year of books.


December 23, 2013


This is my latent response upon finding out that WordPress finally allowed the proper display of GIFs.

Guys, I have so many tiny animated glories saved up for this day. All in good time.

Inspirational Life Bunny

December 19, 2013

Inspirational Life Bunny

You see that problem and solve it creatively, little bunny!

Living Alone

November 15, 2013

This oh-so Portland article about professional cuddlers and the need for human touch reminded me of the five and a half years I spent living on my own in my old little country house. I’d already been thinking about that time considerably, as I’m transitioning between tenants in my home there; as a result I’ve spent a number of hours within those walls doing menial repairs and reflecting upon the place where I’d spent so many hours, days, weeks, and months by myself.

I don’t recall being lonely, per se. But during those years, every now and again, I’d come to these stark realizations that I was, capital letters, ALONE.

One blustery winter I spent considerable time putting up and decorating a Christmas tree. I even topped it with a handmade, red foil-covered letter ‘S’ to take place of the star or angel I didn’t have amongst my mostly hand-me-down ornaments. It was lovely, in my eyes. One of the first things I’d do when I got home from work was turn on the tree’s lights. Only after Christmas and New Years, when I was taking the tree down, did I realize that no one else besides me had seen it in person. That seemed so wrong for the holiday. It retroactively almost rendered the tree– and thusly my effort– pointless.

Another time when visiting a friend they reached out and touched my arm. While I kept my cool on the outside, inside I surprisingly thrilled at the touch– only at that moment did I realize that it hadn’t happened in so long. I’m not sure how long it had been since my last tactile human interaction, but it had been enough to register with me in that moment, and only upon receiving the touch of another person did I recognize its absence.

When I first moved out of that house, trading up the country life for a much more fitting one in Portland, it was really tough to rent out that personal space. The house had truly become an extension of myself. When I trotted prospective tenants through it, seeing their eyes judging the chipped paint along the trim, its steep old staircase, or tiny kitchen, it felt like they were simultaneously judging me. As someone who has always intensely cared about what others thought of her, this was more than tough. In fact my first and only panic attack I’ve ever had was right before my future in-laws came to the house to help me spruce it up before renting it out. The whole point of their visit was to find what was wrong and fix it. It was horrifying.

Only then did I realize that through all the time I’d spent in that house, alone, painting walls and cooking meals and paying bills and cuddling with cats and hosting dates and scaring away raccoons, I was living within this larger version of me. The bathroom I painted hot pink. The sun porch where I drank my coffee. The creaky third step. The drafty second floor. The leopard print carpet. The crooked kitchen cupboards. It was all me.

I’ve now been out of that house for almost three years, and that connection and sense of external identity are almost gone. Now I consider it more of a nuisance, a physical space that’s holding me back. I notice its faults more readily and oddly are more compelled to fix them. In its place is a great sense of home I’ve established with my husband, with whom I cuddle, hug, kiss, headbutt, pinch, grab, smack, and poke so often it’s ridiculous. It’s such a stark contrast to those solitary years in the country. I think if you plopped one day’s worth of the physical contact I have now to that of those years, the side-by-side difference would be dizzying. Obviously the more recent living and interactive conditions are the ideal, but I don’t look upon my years of living alone as a negative time. If anything, it helped lay the foundation for the independence I enjoy now within my marriage and cohabitation with my husband. There’s a small sense of accomplishment in that I know I can be alone, and be content while being alone.


June 1, 2013

Theory: Daft Punk is single-handedly doing what was once considered impossible: bringing disco back.

And for a girl who used to wear a “Let’s stomp out disco in our lifetime” ringer tee, I’m totally okay with this.


May 20, 2013

It’s been a while since I did this last. Here are more cats I’ve collected from the internet. Because collecting digital cats is only slightly less crazy than collecting real ones.







Click for GIF magic



Freddie Mercury!