Category Archives: Botheration

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Mostly brick exterior with attached oversized 2 car garage with
My mom officially sold her house. I spent all weekend helping her pack and move. The movers are there right now. The new family moves in on Friday. I am heartbroken.

Packing up the house where you spent 2/3 of your life – birth through grad school – is always rough. But packing up that house, the house where your dad died, on Father’s Day is torture. It makes me feel like I’ve lost him all over again.

Most of my friends have already been through this – hell, some of those homes have been bull-dozed – and I’m anticipating some friends sharing their stories and telling me to basically get over it. But, you know, I need a little fucking time.

I hope none of my friends ever have to move back home to take care of their parents, but doing so really helped me to appreciate where I grew up with adult eyes. Taking care of him in the place where he took care of me felt like completing the circle. They say you can never go back home again, but you can. And when you leave again, it hurts twice as much.

I thought I would have time to come by one last time for a visit. But Justin works Monday and Tuesday, I have plans with my friends on Wednesday, and the lady has her final walk-through on Thursday. We were halfway to my mom’s new house before I realized I may have just driven away from there for the last time, forever. I called Liz, sobbing. She’s probably the one friend I have who knew how hard that was for me. Hell, she’s the only friend of mine who saw my dad when he had no legs.

I’m going to find a way to go there one more time. I have to. Even if it’s me just sobbing alone in the basement, without Justin there to hold on to. Even if we have to leave Niki’s house before everyone actually walks to the Gardens. Even if we have to sneak over Thursday night when I’m already so busy and sleep-deprived.

My whole life, I’ve always noticed when the clock hit 9:08. I know that it just stood out to me because it was so familiar, but it really felt like it happened so much for a reason. After my dad died, any time I saw 9:08 on the clock, I would whisper hello to him or just tell him that I miss him. It’s our little moment, at least a couple times a week. (I asked my shrink if this was weird and he said, “Do you freak out if you miss it? No? Then I think it’s really sweet.”) Anyway, I think for a little while it’s just going to make me sad.

I could write forever about that house – my house. But if I start to list all reasons I love this house, all the memories I have, all the time I spent there, all of my landmark moments, the fact that I have known our neighbors for 32 years and they’re like my family, the fact that my friends basically lived here, too … I would go on forever. And maybe I will, someday.

But for now, I’m practically paralyzed with sadness. I can’t even eat. I just sit and stare into space and sigh. It was so much easier when I could feel this way sitting on that back patio, surrounded by trees and smoking cigarettes, knowing an old friend would probably drop by at any moment, with my dad listening to the radio on the porch directly above me.

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Filed under Botheration, Favorite Stories, Sam I Am

Just Listen To The Music Of The Traffic In The City

Washington Avenue Historic District
Last week, there was a school shooting two doors down from my building that made national news. (These days “school shooting” is synonymous with “mass shooting” but only two people were shot and they’re both still alive.) News vans have been parked outside of my front door all week. Even though it was a personal dispute that could have happened anywhere (a mentally-ill student shot a financial aid officer), the dialogue in the city immediately turned to downtown safety.

Oh and then. Then! A week later the former Governor of Missouri got robbed a couple blocks from my neighborhood. (This was a silly story because (a) a panhandler was asking for gas money and everybody knows it’s never “gas money”, (b) the Governor whipped out his money-clip, like who isn’t going to grab that and run, and (c) he was walking down a 2-block stretch that I never walk down even with Justin because it’s just parking garages and alleyways and creepily empty.)

Anyway, conversations about downtown safety infuriate me because these conversations are usually sparked by people in the county who have no idea what they are talking about. Hell, I knew nothing about downtown until I moved here. People come here for games or the occasional festival and then leave, and unless they work downtown, county people just imagine it as this desolate concrete wasteland full of boarded up windows, homeless people and gunfire.

They aren’t completely to blame for this, though. Justin has been living here for about 8 years and said it was a completely different world back then – he barely felt safe walking to his car. But thanks to redevelopment grants, the addition of cool places like City Garden and the City Museum, and the first grocery store in forever, Downtown’s population increased by almost 3,000% in the last 10 years. It’s an awesome street now.

My street is almost always in the news for bad reasons. It’s a shame because Washington Avenue has such a rich history, a vibrant community, and it’s absolutely stunning. In fact, it was voted one of the Top 10 Streets in the country.

Usually it’s in the news because Washington Avenue is where everyone parties on the weekend, and during the summer the crowds and noise are totally out of control. It used to be known as the nightclub district, but there were tons of shootings when the clubs got out at 1:30 or 3am, and eventually they shut down the problem clubs. However, there are still shootings, robberies, and other violent crimes. Hell, someone got murdered over a bag of Cheetos a few months ago.

Directly north of Washington is Delmar, a street so notorious for its divisiveness that the BBC made a documentary about it. (I don’t live in the rich white neighborhood that the documentary covers, though – that would be the Central West End.) Delmar marks the entrance to North City, which is where St. Louis earns the statistics that make it the most dangerous city in the county. There’s at least one murder a week. Contrary to popular belief, North City is much more dangerous than East St. Louis. So the juxtaposition of (mostly) wealthy loft dwellers to North City residents is a little jarring, and they typically don’t mesh well.

South of Washington is Locust. Up until a few months ago, Locust was in the news because of a homeless shelter run by an infamous televangelist named Larry Rice. Larry Rice allows people to loiter on his sidewalks. This usually bled over to the park across the street between Locust and Washington–a park which no one went to because it was full of sleeping homeless people and smelled like urine. The sidewalks surrounding his shelter were always packed with people.

I walk past this shelter every day and witnessed the crowds firsthand. They circled around the entire block of the building and even the sidewalk in front of the school across the street. This was a problem not because they were homeless but because Larry Rice does not allow drunk or high people inside of his building, and he doesn’t let people come and go during the night. If you’re in, you’re in. So the people who were outside waiting for food were the people who did not want to follow his rules. These people liked to yell lewd things at women (including me in my running pants), urinate on the street, do drugs and more.

Eventually, I started seeing more and more women out there. And then I started seeing strollers. This is when the city shut down the sidewalks AND put a fence around the park for “construction”. (You’ll recognize that reporter as the guy who got that infamous Todd Akin quote.) In fact, the sidewalks are still fenced off.

Back when all the nightclub shootings were happening, Erin T. asked me  to write about what it’s like to be a Washington Avenue resident. Honestly, I love it. I can’t get enough of it. I’m far enough away from the main stretch of bars that the noise doesn’t bother me. The most noise I usually get is when a wedding reception lets out at 11 (drunk bridesmaids are THE WORST) or if a band is playing at the City Museum.

Sure, it’s noisy. It’s dangerous at night. There are break-ins in my parking lot. There are muggings near me. People try to break into my building. I get asked for “gas money” every day. Dudes like to rev their engines in my alley at 2am and it echoes off all of the buildings. There’s one asshole who has a train horn instead of a car horn. I hate that guy. And when I’m visiting my mom or my friends in my hometown, I miss it. I miss running around in the middle of the night, feeling 100% safe. I miss the crickets and back porches and trees.

But I LOVE walking to work. I love walking to the grocery store and the general store and bars and restaurants and games and concerts and festivals and the MetroLink. It’s the closest I’ve felt to living in London since I was there – every errand feels like a little journey because I have to walk to get there. I love seeing so many familiar faces on such busy sidewalks. I love the diversity and the noise and the action. I love my building full of riff-raff artists; it leads to something hilarious and weird every day. I live in the same building as a pig, for pete’s sake. In my front yard? THE WIENERMOBILE. (Okay, once.) And my backyard? My backyard is one of the most incredible, insane, weirdly beautiful buildings in the entire country.

I’m a huge advocate for living downtown, but I’m not a total idiot about it. I stay on populated streets. I don’t walk alone at night unless it’s busy and full of people. I stay away from empty, shadowy blocks during the day. If an inebriated/mentally-ill person is screaming in the middle of the sidewalk (at least once a month), I cross the street or I wait until he’s distracted. I tell panhandlers that I have no cash on me, and I’m usually telling the truth. I carry mace in my hand when I walk to the Y at 5 in the morning. I also learn my lessons:

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 4.14.28 PM

I’ve been trying to make an effort to get more involved, too. I plan on volunteering at shelters once the wedding hoopla is over (just not Larry Rice’s shelter). My next-door neighbor runs Town Hall Meetings and they are my new favorite thing. (It is truly a Parks & Rec episode brought to life.) Here’s me at 14:20 rambling about downtown safety with my hand in front of my face:

.

I plan on living down here for as long as I can. In St. Louis speak, that means until my kids are old enough to go to school. The biggest problem that downtown or any other part of the city has is that the schools are heartbreakingly awful. So unless you can afford Catholic School, you move to the county when the oldest turns 5. That’s just how it is. But who knows? We’re currently having an election for a new mayor for the first time since 2001, and both the current mayor and his opponent are making schools a central issue. So maybe it will continue to get better, and maybe I can stay here a little longer. I hope so. Downtown West is the best.

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Filed under Almost Famous, Botheration

A vs. An

I had to correct someone about this today, so I thought I would explain a grammar rule that people instinctively follow when they’re talking but don’t follow in writing. So here we go:

People think that “a” goes before words that start with a consonant, while “an” goes before words that begin with a vowel.

But actually, “a” goes before words that begin with a consonant sound, while “an” is used for vowel sounds.

A lollipop (“la”)
An LCD screen (“el”)

A needle (“nee”)
An NPR station (“en”)

A universal remote (“yoo”)
An umbrella (“uh”)

This entry is primarily so I can link people to it when they ask me, but I hope you got something out of this. If you didn’t, then here is a picture of me and my newest neighbor, a baby pig named Gertrude Swine:

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The Ramonas

Ramona isn’t their real name, but it’s close enough. We’ll go with Ramona.

Ramona 1 and I have known each other since the first grade. We were inseparable up until our mid-twenties, with that telepathic connection that you have with one, maybe two friends in a lifetime. However, Ramona doesn’t say “hi” when you call her, doesn’t ask you how you are. Ramona likes shortcuts, favors and fun without responsibility. While I’m far from perfect and she’s seen me at my absolute worst, her faults either became worse or less tolerable to me, to the point where I told her I no longer wanted to be her friend. We made a slight reconnect when my dad died, but that’s about it.

Ramona 2 lived down the street from me. From 7th – 12th grade and even part of college, I spent a few hours after school every day at her parents’ huge house. We could even see each others’ houses through the woods, so we could call each other at midnight if a light was on, or sneak over after our parents fell asleep. She was the complete opposite of me, but proximity made us close friends. Ramona 2 has like 1,000 Facebook friends. Ramona 2 is in a dance crew and goes to clubs every night. Ramona 2 is a bundle of hormones, energy and love, which works both for and against her.

The Ramonas both had blond hair, black cars, black cats, the same first name and last names that began with the same letter. The Ramonas have both struggled with major addictions, shaky employment, bad men, weird parents, bad tattoos and more. The Ramonas are both moms – one Ramona has a daughter, the other a son. Their kids are the same age. Both Ramonas are currently living with their parents. The Ramonas are trouble. In fact, for years I called them “The Scandalous Ramonas”.

The Ramonas are a huge part of my life. They were there for some of my biggest mistakes and struggles, my huge milestones, my first boyfriends, and more. They saw me every day, and we spent hours doing absolutely nothing in that adolescent way that somehow still feels productive. The Ramonas would sit on my back porch and chainsmoke half a pack with me in one sitting. Ramona 1 and I would analyze our entire day, Ramona 2 would invite boys over.

The Ramonas and I haven’t spoken for years. The Ramonas don’t know what I went through when I took care of my dad, weren’t there when I got my new job, and have never met Justin. The Ramonas don’t know what I’m like when I have my sleep disorder under control. The Ramonas probably don’t know that I can be a very rational, responsible, caring person. The Ramonas don’t know what it’s like to have a career, though they know what it’s like to have a kid so we’re probably even. The Ramonas stay out til 2 on a Monday. The Ramonas say “yes” to the wrong things and “no” to themselves. The Ramonas taught me what not to do.

Two weeks ago, the Ramonas both came back into my life. The Ramonas hung out with each other for a few days. Each Ramona claims the other Ramona is still on drugs. Each Ramona claims the other Ramona is a bad parent. Each Ramona claims they are okay. I still haven’t seen either of them; the Ramonas like to make plans and then not show up.

The Ramonas make me sad. The Ramonas make me simultanously nostalgic and relieved that my youth is over. The Ramonas make me want to hug my mother and apologize for things.  The Ramonas make me exhausted. Just thinking about the Ramonas is enough to make me too tired to write in this blog for weeks. The Ramonas make me want a cigarette, or two, or twenty. The Ramonas break my heart.

The Ramonas make me wonder how I turned out the way I did. The Ramonas make me proud of myself. The Ramonas make me grateful for all of you, especially those of you I know. Thank you for not being a Ramona.

UPDATE: The Ramonas are currently on a road trip to see Primus.

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Help Me Gyro; You’re My Only Hope

I forgot to mention that Justin’s latest film project, which he hopes will play on the video wall at CityGarden, is shot entirely with a Lomokino so each 30-second scene takes like an hour to film. So when we do hang out, it’s usually me napping or reading in the shade while he does this:


I actually love it because it gets me out of the house to explore new parts of downtown, or stare at a giant full moon that I can’t see from inside my loft. I’m really only using this topic as an excuse to use that gif, because it’s so Justin it’s scary. (iwdrm)

I don’t mean to brag, but this week I started doing some free-weights moves that I’ve been doing off and on since high school, and I was in more pain after one day than after an entire week of P90X. I suppose the moral of the story is, stick with what works. And boy, do 15 lb. dumbells work. I’m still in pain 3 days later!

I’m finally back to running 5 miles a day, but just barely. I need a break or two. Chauncey sleeps in bed with us now, so I get pretty wheezy if I don’t have my inhaler. I would just kick him out again, but this is how Justin and Chauncey sleep:


It’s too precious to break up, right? I usually sleep on one shoulder and Chauncey sleeps on the other. Though Justin has confessed that sometimes he’ll lean over in a daze and either pet my hair or kiss Chauncey because he doesn’t know who’s who.

It’s Gyro Truck Day, which means Stephie is a happy lady. Justin is on Spring Break; he’s going to walk up here so we can eat gyros on the gazebo and feed pita bread to the koi fish. AND tomorrow we’re eating Lent pizza covered with clams with Miss Sarah Paradise. This will be my first clam experience. I love my life!

Finally, never get accused of a crime in Tennessee–did you know they will lock you up with absolutely no proof and dumb hick juries will vote you guilty because “it just feels like he did it”? And then when you file a motion for a new trial, the judge will write his decision like a week in advance and forget to change the date, so you know he made his mind up before he even pretended to listen? That’s what happened to someone I care about this week. He’s been in hell for over 2 years with no end in sight, all because someone wanted to do meth in front of her kids instead of paying him rent. Shame on you, Judge W____. (Will someone please tell me if I can add his name without getting charged for anything in Tennessee? Because with their logic and collective fourth-grade education, I feel like I could get the death penalty.)

However, get accused of whatever you want in Florida, because apparently people who murder toddlers or shoot an unarmed kid that was getting candy for his brother will go free. I’m so pissed about everything right now (except gyro day) (and my family).

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Cheer Up, Sleepy Stephie

This month, I am tired. I’m tired of everyone bitching 24/7 on the Internet, I’m tired of politics, I’m tired of drama that people invent because they’re bored, I’m tired of negative people, I’m tired of angry/sad memories that haunt me unless I’m running, I’m tired of road rage even though I see so little of it these days, I’m tired of everything revolving around food and booze, and I’m tired of a couple people whose interest in me is borderline creepy. And obviously, I’m tired because I have a sleeping disorder.

Also, March is the last month I think I have to relax before the wedding planning gears back up and I really need to focus on getting in shape. These days, aside from P90X, walking to work, and a few 5-mile runs, I spend most of my time lounging around the house. (This sentence is making me laugh a lot. Remember when my only exercise was walking to school while chain-smoking and eating Doritos for breakfast?) I’m not going out much, either–my friends are either too crazy, too busy, too pregnant, or too exhausted like me. Here’s what I’ve been up to lately: A Song of Ice and Fire and Downton Abbey.

If I ever picked a good time to start using a Kindle, this is it–each book in A Song of Ice and Fire is at least 1000 pages. I just started the third book, and it’s about 1200 pages long. The most recent is so long that they split up the paperback into 2 parts in the UK. So thanks, Kindle Fire, for saving me from crampy hands and bad circulation. Also, I found that by reversing the display to white text on a black background, the Kindle doesn’t mess up my sleep cycle anymore. Good thing, since I have roughly 4000 more pages (or 80,000 locations) to read.

A Song of Ice and Fire is the series that HBO’s Game of Thrones is based on. It doesn’t seem like something I’d be into, but the tv series was intriguing and when your female doctor and lawyer friends start gushing about fantasy books, you pay attention. I am insanely addicted to these. In fact, writing about these is making me want to wander away from my computer to read some more.

Why do I love them? For one thing, the books play out like a TV series–each chapter is from a different character’s perspective, so you jump from city to city and scene to scene. With so many characters literally sprawled across the world, it helps you keep track of everyone. The characters are all great, but my favorites are tomboy/badass Ayra, little person with big brains Tyrion and bastard Jon. Giving each of the Stark kids a direwolf was a nice touch (I love that Jon got his own special wolf, and Ghost is clearly the coolest out of all the direwolves); I’m interested to see if their dreams about wolves lead anywhere. Also: dragons are schuper schweet!

I’m much more interested in reading these days than watching TV, but I’ll be so sad if I fly through these books. So lately I’ve been throwing episodes of Downton Abbey into the mix. My co-workers are totally obsessed with this show. My boss has basically dedicated his Facebook page to it. So I figured I’d give it a shot; I’m about halfway through. It’s lovely and I love Mr. Bates. If you’re not drinking the Kool-Aid yet, give it a shot.

Speaking of great TV dramas, Vulture has this whole Greatest TV Drama bracket going on right now, and while I should protest it simply because Six Feet Under was knocked out by The Sopranos, I’m still in it to root for Buffy. My buddy Davy had the tough choice of choosing between My So-Called Life and The Wire, and I think he made the right call.

Because I’m boring right now, I’ll tell you what Justin’s up to lately: Police Academy. That’s right, Justin and his best friend are taking a citizen’s class at the Police Academy, where he gets to tour the 911 call center and juvy and do ride alongs and hopefully Citizen’s Arrest some folks. My brother and I are especially delighted by this because we were obsessed with the Police Academy movies when we were little. My personal favorite was Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol.

He is also very, very sad about Peyton Manning. :(  Hell, even I cried during that press conference yesterday. Hoosiers have the biggest hearts in the world. When their hearts break, mine does, too.

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Filed under Botheration, Pop Goes The Culture

Pardon The Hyperventilation

So that creepy X-ray of my skull? It’s going to cost me $400, ON TOP of my $2,000 surgery. Let’s not forget that I’m spending almost $600 on my cousin’s SECOND wedding (with NINE bridesmaids).  And I still haven’t made it to the Y and people still keep making me go to mandatory meals where I have to eat total shit and Justin makes me go car shopping with him every day AND I’ve been working 12 hour days all week AND I THOUGHT TODAY WAS FRIDAY AND IT’S NOT SON OF A BITCH.

I’m just going through serious endorphin withdrawal and feeling some major anger toward someone that I haven’t been mad at in years and I’m too tired for this shit and clearly I’m sort of having a nervous breakdown right now is all. You know I mean business when words are in italics.

I will end this happily with pictures of our anniversary getaway, where we drank Ed Hardy wine (only until it stopped being funny, then I switched to Toad Hollow) and ate brie and watched The Other Sister on VHS and sat in a jacuzzi and slept in the clouds and ate breakfast served by a British lady in a dining room then went on a breezy morning walk in a neighborhood full of gorgeous mansions. THIS WEEK SUCKS I MISS LAST WEEK YOU GUYS

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Moodboard 2: The War On Fat

I’m declaring war on anyone who tries to give me crappy food or alcohol for the next few weeks. I mean, despite what I demonstrate 90% of the time, I do have willpower … but not when it comes at me from all angles, every single day. From meetings to celebrations to just escaping the heat, I can’t go anywhere without people shoving food in my face, and it’s too hot for me to work it off with two hours at the Y.

Y’all has pushed me to the limit. I will be saying no, with violence if necessary.

Do I want dessert?

What about Happy Hour?

Another lunch meeting?

Oooh, who brought kolaches to our brainstorming session?

So, it’s your birthday?

Bachelorette party?

Bridal shower?

Oh, the frat boys are in town?

You bought how much ice cream at the store?

You baked this just for me?

What am I doing  Saturday night?

Seriously, guys. Until it’s cool enough for me to rock 8 mile runs again, this nonstop food and booze wave is my enemy, and most likely so are you.

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Filed under Botheration, Moodboard

It’s Oh So Quiet

Yeah, I’m not in a writing mood, at least not here. I will be eventually, but here’s the deal:

1. I LOVE my new job and I actually want to do well at it. This means I can no longer blog during work about how much I hate work.

2. More freelance work and collaborations are on my plate, eating the little free time I have. (I don’t get paid much for the jobs, but Mike always gives me a bottle of wine.)

3. My benefits are about to kick in, which means I have to deal with 401Ks and health insurance and bleeeuuugghhh   p=(0_O)* 

4. I’m trying SO hard to get to the Y, you guys! I work on my fitness for an hour a day! I ordered my bridesmaid dress in a size too small, so I HAVE TO OR IT WON’T ZIP UP.

5. I’m still used to working early in the day, but my partner and boss stay late, so I usually end up working at least 9 hours. And I like it?

6. Choreschoreschoreschoreschorescho

7. The ongoing saga of Justin’s puppet film.

8. A social tsunami of weddings, Double Quinceañeras, art shows, happy hours, concerts, showers, parties, Soulard Market, triathlons, NAPA and more happy hours.

9. Watching Fringe while eating parmesan popcorn is still the highlight of every evening and I won’t sacrifice a second of it.

10. Three of my friends are now engaged to people they’ve been dating for a year or less (one friend? Three months). I am also now the last friend standing out of my high school crew to be without a spouse or a baby (an 00ps-i-knocked-up-a-sorority-girl baby, but still). I’m in the best relationship of my life, have a career I couldn’t have reached otherwise, and am clearly in no hurry to lose any more of my free time to wedding planning or babies. But I feel like if I start exploring the fact that I’ve hit “old maid” status this early into my thirties, I will have a Cathyesque breakdown.

11. This whole May 21 Rapture thing. Okay. Y’all. Family Radio is a creepy sect with a billboard budget. Can we please not call them Christians? And can you guys remember for 2 seconds that I grew up in a church where people speak in Tongues  and fall over and believe in this stuff? And that I somehow turned into a nice person who loves gay people and Jesus and canvas grocery bags and education and F bombs and helping orphans all at the same time?

Even though most churches gross me out these days, many Christians are just like me, people who are just trying to be good people and don’t talk about their faith or their politics or how perfect they’re trying to be. You don’t notice these Christians because they’re doing exactly what they should be doing. You only notice the crazies, and then you lump everyone who ever jammed to DC Talk (andmayormaynothaveaDCTalkcassetteinhercar) into that crazy train and then I scroll down my feeds and I see you mocking my past and it hurts my feelings and this is why I can’t even you guys.

P.S. That was me blowing my brains out, courtesy of Glark.

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Filed under Botheration, Lists

February Plus: Writing (and Downtown Lametown)

It was strange to see my street so dead at 5pm (this is where most downtown folks come for happy hour and games), but other than that, this “historic” blizzard has been a bunch of BS. We were promised 20+ inches of snow, and nothing. (Well, ice … but nothing remarkable.) I can’t believe I wasted a good “Ask To Work From Home And Piss Off My Boss” for this.

I had an über-productive day (I always do when I work from home) and now I’m kicking back with some Pig Radio for some fun writing and relaxation. I’ve got a good view (and s’mores. I have s’mores):

 

So I had wanted my February Plus to be Religion, for reasons I’ll (briefly) explain next month, but -

v. raising elle

 

Grovesnor is covering “With Every Heartbeat” on Pig Radio right now. I die.

TIME IN

- but I’m busy every Sunday next month (family visits, Superbowl, a ski trip, etc.), and I want to go to (gay friendly) church every Sunday whenever I do it. So next month, probably.

This month, I’m going to write creatively every day for at least 20 minutes. (I’d say 30, but I’m still trying to work out every day, too, and I don’t know if it’s possible to do both when my workouts are usually an hour.) I’m going to bust out this monthly box of moleskines that Justin got me (shutit) and fill up as many as I can. I’m also going to finally finish my gorgeous copy of What It Is (a writing workbook written by my hero Lynda Barry, based on her workshops) and try to do as many exercises in the book as possible.

As you can probably tell, lately I’ve been so discouraged about writing during my day job that I’ve almost forgotten why I loved it in the first place. It’s gotten to the point where I have trouble writing here, too. I want that fire back. So here we go.

P.S. This is what I’ll be surrounded by while I do it … positivity and productivity.  Virtual Loft Tour coming soon!

 

 

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Filed under Botheration, The Year Plus

Falling Action

One thing I realized this year, where I spent a month without Facebook and several months with no reliable Internet service (but somehow managed to blog 365 days in a row), then transferred six and a half years of blog entries manually from one host to another, then bought my own computer for the very first time is …

I am really sick of the Internet. I need it, but I don’t need it. It should be a tool (directions, instructions, information), not a time-suck. If something cool happens on the Internet and I miss it, it’s okay. I’ll live. Calm down. Continue reading

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Into The Woods

I’ve written a little bit about how much I’ve grown to love the dream dictionary, despite the cheesiness of it. This is also despite the fact that I’ve agreed with Sars:  DREAMS ARE BORING to hear about, and unless someone was in your dream, NO ONE CARES HOW WEIRD YOUR DREAM IS.

I’ve also written about the fact that there are many things you should never blog about (jobs, relationships, other people’s problems).

But I love when I have a dream packed full of symbols that, when I look them up, perfectly describe my current mental state. So rather than blogging about something I can’t tell you about, I’ll tell you about my dream and what it represents, and you can figure out where I’m at right now.

Quick Dream Summary: I was riding a bear on a windy road through the woods. There were horses there but for some reason I chose a bear. Halfway through the walk, the nice bear collapsed like he was sick. When I tried to help he would weakly snap at me. I ran to get help and woke up.

Symbol: A Bear – violent but too weak to hurt me

Meaning: To see a bear in your dream, symbolizes independence, the cycle of life, death and renewal, and resurrection. You are undergoing a period of introspection and thinking. The dream may also be a pun on “bare”. Perhaps you need to bare your soul and let everything out into the open.

To dream that you are being pursued or attacked by a bear, denotes aggression, overwhelming obstacles and competition. You may find yourself in a threatening situation or domineering relationship.

Symbol: The Woods

Meaning: To see the woods in your dream, represent life, fertility, rejuvenation, and spring. Alternatively, the woods symbolize the unknown and the unconscious. You need to open yourself up to discovering your potential and your instinctual nature.

To dream that you are lost in the woods, indicates that you are starting a new phase in your life. You are expressing some anxiety about leaving behind what is familiar to you.

To dream that the woods are dry or dying, suggests that there is a situation in your life that has not yet been resolved. You are overwhelmed with a problem or issue.

Symbol: A Road – winding

Meaning: To see a road in your dream, refers to your sense of direction and how you are pursuing your goals. If the road is winding, curvy, or bumpy in your dream, then it suggests that you will encounter many obstacles and setbacks toward achieving your goals. You may be met with unexpected difficulties.

If the road is bordered by trees or flowers, then it denotes a steady progress and steady climb up the social ladder.

To dream that a threatening creature is on a road, parallels a hostile situation/person you are encountering in your waking life. It is an obstacle that you need to overcome, no matter how intimidating the situation or person may appear.

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A Basement Without Abasement

My last Year Without Goal for 2010 will be a December without Abasement.

I’ve been really hard on myself for the last few weeks. Other people have actively (actively!) been on a mission to put me down too, and while some days it’s amusing, other days it pushes me over the edge. Plus, it gets dark at like noon these days and that’s depressing. Holiday traffic makes everyone a dick. I’m photosensitive, so all those rush hour lights give me a headache and make me homicidal.

I would say my two biggest sources of depression are body image and family, and the holidays are the worst time of the year if you’re trying to eat healthy or are missing a recently-deceased parent. Also, this is the last month in the home my parents have owned my entire life. Soon my mom will sell this house and I’ll never see this basement again. It’s heartbreaking. This is not the time to be tough on myself. This is the time when I need to take care of me.

So this month, I’m not going to put myself down. I’m not going to get discouraged.
I’m going to write because I love it, not because I get paid to.
I’m going to work out because I love the strength from lifting and the high from running, not because I hope it’ll make me skinny.
I’m going to look in the mirror and appreciate the good without automatically aiming for the flaws.
I’m going to call people who love me, not worry about people who need to show me that they hate me.
I’m going to smile.
I’m going to sleep.
I’m going to love.
I’m going to work.
I’m going to move.
I’m going to be proud of myself, even (especially!) on the days when no one gives me a reason to be.

But most importantly? I’m going to take what little energy I have left during the holidays to bring people up instead of down. No abasing other people, not even the ones who feel the need (actively!) to do it to me.

Life is hard enough. It’s time to pick myself up, and maybe give you a lift, too. High fives for everyone!


(gifs via starsweptnight)

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Got A Bit of the Boo Hoos

I haven’t been this tearfully PMS-y since, I don’t know, my last big break-up? I’ve cried about 6,000 times in the past 4 days, mostly without reason.

Jen and I check in on each other via email at least once a week. I was going to tell her I’m sad and PMS-y, then realized I send that email to her all the time.

The other day I was a bitch and instantly remarked to Justin, “That was mean of me. My head is hurting, is all. I’m sorry. It’s PMS.”

“You PMS a lot,” said Justin to his first long-term girlfriend.

“Dude, it’s one week every month. That’s one out of four. I will spend a quarter of my adult life feeling like this. (beat) OH MY GOD I’ve never thought about it that way before. THIS IS A TERRIBLE THING TO REALIZE.”

 

(Gif from the totally hypnotizing If We Don’t, Remember Me.)

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My Hammy Vice

I was looking over this blog these other day and I realized that hella entries mention wine. I actually only drink that little glass that you’re supposed to drink with dinner, unless it’s the weekend and I rock a those teeny Riesling bottles. Wine is too gnarly to drink daily or binge on (unless you’re Lana from Intervention).

It’s just that I’ve been a beer person for so long (having long-term relationships with 3 raging alcoholics and living with frat boys for 4 years will do that to you) and these days I can barely finish a tallboy. I’m turning into a wine person – not as a snooty obsession, but a preference – and I love that.

After smoking for 14 years, taking sleeping pills for 5 years and being generally dumb about my health in my youth, I’m extremely proud that my one vice right now is – for the most part – a healthy one. Honestly, that month where I drank lemon-lime ice water instead of alcohol changed my life – that’s still what I prefer if I want to relax.

Plus, I just love the idea of wine, if that makes sense. Wine can be pretentious but it can also be hilarious. Things seem less sad and more comical when you replace beer or whiskey with wine. So if I mention wine more than I actually drink it, that’s why.

So yeah … no one has expressed concern, but every now and then I like to read over what I’ve been writing to see if there’s something I should be concerned with, and I realized wine is more of a theme here than it is in my life. So no, I am not a wino these days … just a silly goose. A classy silly goose.

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I Pray Thee Lord, Please Don’t Take Me In This Save Ferris T-Shirt


This is a teeny tiny little mouthguard that I have to wear at night. Because of the “incident”, a few of my top teeth have the potential to get loose, so they want me to keep things steady for a while. It goes on my bottom teeth.

I am so terrified that it’s gonna pop out and I’m gonna choke on this thing.

(I have primer all over my hands and it won’t come off, if you’re wondering what that white stuff is.)

I used to have this ongoing fear that I would die in my sleep … I used to get panic attacks because I didn’t know when or if I would fall asleep. I had no idea that I had Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome and back then I had no idea that the crazy feeling in my chest was anxiety. So I would just lay there, convinced I was going to die.

A long time ago I reasoned that if I kept a notebook next to my bed and wrote things to the people I loved, then at least they would know how I feel about them when I die. It helped, unless I was on Ambien and it veered off into beat poetry or whatever. I haven’t written in this notebook in at least a year, but Justin knows where it is.

Anyway I guess what I’m saying is I really hope I don’t die in my sleep tonight because I got drunk in Ireland and some dude dropped me on my face, but if I do there might be a heartfelt letter in it for you.

Also my autographed Save Ferris XXL t-shirt from the 1998 Warped Tour (the one I went to while jacked up on 4 No-Doz, because I hadn’t slept for 72 hours handtoGod) is my most very favorite nightshirt.

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Perpetual Nightmare

I’m covered in poison ivy (well, my right arm is) and the basement has been flooding for two days.

I’ve been pretty depressed for the past two weeks … probably to the point where I would hibernate like I usually do, except I have a boyfriend who wants to see me and 67 year-old roommate I need to escape on occasion. But aside from the lingering sadness, life has been pretty relaxing.

I forgot what it was like to have stuff like this on my mind … to live in this state of permanent anxiety and worry. When you’re in a semi-caretaker role for a year, that’s how you live. You get used to this thing lurking in your thoughts, always hovering over you even when you’re not acknowledging it directly.

These days, I get nervous when I’m too relaxed. For someone with a life like mine, it simply means something bad is coming. I’m almost relieved to be worrying about itching and Benadryl and fans and towels and stuff. Maybe that means I’m ready for parenthood? I’ll bet that’s what it’s like. (Did I just imply that my future children are a perpetual nightmare? Maybe.)

I suppose the point on this entry is, if you haven’t seen me in a while, it’s because I’m hibernating. And if you do see me and I smell like old dirty water and medicine, it’s because I’m covered in it.

Also, did you know that running hot water (not boiling, but the kind that turns your skin pink) over poison ivy feels like an orgasm? Well, it does. How have I never noticed this before? If showers didn’t flood my basement, I would probably still be in there right now. Woooo.

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Why Secretly Stephie?

Secretly Stephie has been my online moniker for years, but there’s a story behind it. But first, I have to tell you the story behind me.

When I was a kid, I wasn’t one of the popular kids, but I was well-liked and pretty confident. Better yet, I was good at everything I tried (except sports and history. Always terrible at those). I won blue ribbons in art shows, had solos in the school musicals, speaking parts in plays, and was usually sent to represent my class in the math and spelling bees. I could play the piano, sculpt, and I even had published poetry in the second grade. My parents and teachers told me I could do anything, and I believed them. I would talk to everyone. Better yet, I’d make them laugh.

Then my dad got sick. My family got poor. I got sent to public school and was mocked from the start. I was the poor dirty kid. I ate to deal with the stress of home and school, and soon I was the fat kid, too. I stopped sleeping. I stopped talking. I was nine. I was miserable.

Being bullied – not the normal teasing and mocking that everyone goes through, but daily shoving and name-calling by 90% of your grade – is one of the most traumatic and damaging things that can happen to a person. I stopped doing anything that could make me stand out. I refused to raise my hand in class – one time I peed my pants because the thought of asking to go to the bathroom in front of all the mean kids was terrifying. I remember very vividly the moment it sunk in, when I looked in a mirror and thought, “Oh my God. I’m that girl.”

I did make a few friends that year, in 4th grade. Two of them are still two of my closest friends to this day. I was myself around these girls, and no one else. By the time I hit middle school, there were 8 of us, and we ate lunch together every day. At least once a month, we’d get together for an awesome slumber party.

One year, a new girl named Jen joined us at our slumber parties. One night we were all at my friend Kristy’s house, and I was my usual self. Joking, singing, making up games – I never shut up when I was around my friends.

“You’re different,” Jen said out of nowhere, staring at me from across the room. “Why aren’t you always like this?” I asked her what she meant. “Well, you’re … cool. And you’re funny. You’re not like this at school.” She looked at me thoughtfully. “You should be like this all of the time, Stephie. Why aren’t you?”

It took me a long time – until I went to London when I was 20 – to figure out how to be myself all the time, and not just around the people I’m close to. These days, I feel like I’m the person I was supposed to be all along. But before that, I was only myself around people who made me comfortable … people who smiled at me, people who seemed to like me, and people who always, for some reason, called me Stephie.

Stephie used to be a secret part of me. It took a long time for me to introduce her to people. But now that I have, I’ve realized that Stephie had a lot to say. In fact, she never shuts up. I hope you like her.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

A friend of mine got dumped last week and I had a really bad feeling about it, for reasons I shouldn’t get into. I called her cell phone multiple times that day and kept telling Justin I was worried.

I found out today that she’s been in the hospital for a week because she tried to kill herself that day. She had lost her phone the day before, so she didn’t see my calls. I had almost called the house but I didn’t want to risk talking to the creepy dude who dumped her. I’m not kicking myself that I didn’t call the house, because how would I know she lost her phone? But I certainly would have blamed myself forever if she hadn’t made it.

“There were lots of things going on,” she said, listing a few. “And then [ex] said I was being a bad mom.” So to prove him wrong, you try to kill yourself?

During this month of Staying Positive, I’ve tried to remember that there are some people who actually can’t, and it has nothing to do with willpower or positive thinking or self help techniques.

But also: as someone who just lost a parent, part of me wants to say, “Just go hug your fucking kid.” I mean, I usually don’t write about my friends’ issues on Shortcake, especially something this personal and serious, but thinking about this is pissing me off.

I suppose the moral of the story is: if you’re feeling suicidal, don’t lose your phone? And also: just go hug your kid.

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Riding the Righteous Bummer*

I’ve been seriously depressed this week, and I’m trying very hard to keep track of the parts that feel like mourning, like stress, like sleeplessness, etc. There are some waves that are overwhelming and they aren’t specifically about him. To me, that means depression, and that means I need more sunshine, sleep, exercise and Vitamin B.

It is so important to understand your bad moods and negative emotions. Once you know what’s wrong, you’re halfway back to happy even if you don’t know how to fix it. It’s also important for the sake of your loved ones. I try to be aware of when I’m tired or upset at someone else so I don’t take it out on my mom. I ALWAYS warn Justin when I’m PMSing, though I think he found an iPhone app that sends him an alert.

10-15 years ago, when my “insomnia” was uncontrollable, I was terrible to be around. I would cry at the drop of a hat. I was full of anxiety. Road rage to the max. Everyone annoyed me. When something small but stressful happened, like losing my car keys, I would explode. It truly felt like my world was ending.

I didn’t realize at the time that I was simply sleep deprived – to a point that was life threatening. I knew that I lacked sleep but I didn’t realize the magnitude of how important it was. I mistook being tired for so many other emotions, and I was totally lost in anxiety and anger that, in a way, didn’t exist.

Last year, I went through this phase were I was really angry with people from my past like Rachael and Brian – the people who were closest to me at that time. I was mad because I’ve made so many strides emotionally, but they still tend to talk to me like I’m fragile, like I’m going to explode or collapse into tears at any second. I used to think this was condescending, that they underestimated me.

But you know what? That’s exactly who I was back them. I’ve started to understand that it’s my fault that they treat me that way. And since we’re not really friends anymore, it’s okay. The people I’m still friends with from then, like Liz and Ty, they know. Liz and I tell each other, “I’m so proud of you,” all the time. I love that.

Justin said that when he and my dad had a long talk last month, my dad said that I changed so much in the last 10 years and he was so proud of me. That made me cry a lot. But it was okay, because I knew why I was crying.

But this? This heavy, constant Eeyore cloud that’s been following me all week? That’s depression, sister, and not the chemical kind that I can’t control. It’s simply my body telling me I need TLC. Sunshine, exercise, Vitamin B and sleep.

You are in charge of your own happiness. Once you realize that, it’s always within reach. Never, ever forget that. (And, stay positive.)

*via my hero-since-always, Lynda Barry

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