Thankful, part 2

My grandmother, Grandmama, died at age 86. We celebrated her life together on February 11, 2018, which would have been her 87th birthday. It was kind of a beautiful nod to the circle of life, I think, to bury her on her birthday.

I’m thankful for the life I got to have with Grandmama and her husband Gandy, who is still around. We call them G&G. An epic pair.

There was a Comcast commercial at one point that showed a turtle couple named “the slowskys.” They would never be able to hear each other talk and they took forever to do things, so we teasingly compared them to G&G, and eventually G&G had a stone turtle sculpture hanging out on their front porch. That kind of sums them up 🙂

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When I was a kid, they had this great big house that seemed FOREVER away from my house in Oak Ridge, but now that I’m grown up I realize it was really just 20 minutes. We would go over to their house all the time. They had these awesome foam bath toys and the best movies, and I always remember being so happy to get to spend a night at their house. Gandy taught us to make paper airplanes and let us use his printer all the time. I always picked on Grandmama because her fingernails were too long. I have such great memories in that house. They had a staircase that was all hard wood, and it was the most fun to slide down. They’d pick us up from school pretty often and we’d go to “the dollar store” and pick out a toy to play with for the afternoon. On a lucky day, we’d do that AND go get McFlurries. Those afternoons were the best.

They moved to a house in Oak Ridge at some point, about a mile from my house and right across the street from the pool we went to! Gandy got a big red minivan to drive us around in. We had dinner at their house really often, and they’d always make a flat iron steak or a pot roast or chicken pot pie. I love all 3.

Grandmama taught me to knit once, and she told me that all of the crappy and too-short scarves I made were awesome. Grandmama knitted me ponchos that I wore to school, and they were the coolest. We baked together every now and then, and she always asked me to make a german chocolate cake for her birthday. Once, we made a caramel cake together for my mom’s birthday and I melted a spatula with hot sugar in a pan. Oops.

G&G always sat in their recliners and played sudoku and watched the news while their Pomeranian, Pookie, ran around and harassed everybody. Pookie is awesome!! One summer in high school, Pookie got to live with us, and it was the best!!! She always slept in my bed. We were pals.

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G&G always had a ready stash of Werther’s that we all took full advantage of. When we came over to their house we would always be greeted with chocolate-covered graham crackers and we’d always have a bowl of ice cream before leaving. Gandy always puts cheezits in his tomato soup, and I had no idea that was weird until I got to college and I was made fun of.

G&G were always there. They were a constant in my life. I spent a lot of nights at their house and had a lot of good dinners at the New China Palace. Grandmama used to take me shopping just because I was her only girl and we needed girl time together. Once, she bought me a dress that I pretended to like, until I cried when she made me actually put it on. She was nice to put up with me. They had a whole bunch of Lincoln logs that we played with all the time. We played in their recliners a lot. Gandy is really into model airplanes, and we would go get styrofoam versions from the dollar store and throw them around all afternoon. Gandy always greeted you with a big hug and a smile, and if you smiled at him long enough he would start wiggling his ears. He talked to us in a Daffy Duck voice a lot, something he was pretty much famous for.

When they moved to assisted living, we visited them every week or so to give them a full update. We took prom pictures in their building because it had a great staircase. They always told my brothers and I how beautiful we are. Even when we went off to college and they moved to California and we just facetimed them every once in a while, that would always be the comment- “y’all are just gorgeous.” And always an enthusiastic “Well there’s my sweet girl!” (Girl had 2 syllables, of course.)

When they moved to California to be with my uncle and his family, Grandmama made us promise that we’d come see her all the way out there. I wish I could have. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t see her in person again after that.

Gandy has nicknames for all of us. I’m Sweet Pea, Matthew is Humdinger, Richard is Hot Shot, and Chris is Doo-lolly, whatever that means.

Grandmama called me Isabebef. like Is-a-beb-ef. Nobody is ever going to call me that again. That sucks.

It occurred to me once, in G&G’s old house, that there would be one day that I’d have to live in a world without them. I remember tearing up at the thought.

So, yesterday we buried Grandmama. She was buried in the memorial garden of the church they always went to, in the town they lived in for so many years, with a lot of the family there. Gandy couldn’t make the flight all the way to Tennessee, so we facetimed him into the service. I looked over at him every now and then. How do you say goodbye to your wife of 60 years? Over video chat? That doesn’t seem fair. The expression on his face was heart shattering.

I didn’t want to be there. I mean, of course, I wanted to be there. But Grandmama’s funeral was something I have dreaded since the moment it first occurred to me that she won’t always be in my life. I didn’t want to be sitting in the front row of the church in a black dress. I couldn’t bring myself to sing the hymns. I didn’t want to have to be at Grandmama’s funeral.

I’m so thankful to have gotten to be loved by her for such a long time. I’m thankful for the memories. I’m thankful to still have Gandy. I’m thankful that we got to have the family all together for the funeral. I’m thankful for G&G and the force they are in my life.

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(This is from one time that we accidentally matched!!!)

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My 2017

Hi, friends. I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, but honestly, writing takes a lot of emotional energy that I have only just regained over the last month.

I am here today to walk you through my 2017 – a year of both amazing growth and crippling self doubt. Since you’re here, you may be someone who wants to really, really know me, so here we go.

Speechless – Lady Gaga. I spent my New Years Eve with Ben’s family at a family friend’s party. It was wonderful and there was chocolate cake, so I was happy. I got to start my year with the guy I love. After midnight, we went back to his house and made a blanket fort and talked all night. I couldn’t have dreamed up anything better. That night was my first New Years Kiss.

Sun shy- Dresses. I went back to school in January and got back into the swing of things. I was taking science and math classes I needed for my exercise science major and mostly feeling good. In January I road tripped with my roommate Hannah to DC for the Women’s March after Donald’s inauguration, which is a time I’ll never forget. Definitely one of the most amazing experiences of my life! Just a day after I sat and cried in the lobby of the student center with all of my conservative friends during Trump’s inaugural address, I was marching on Washington with my people. I felt like I was fulfilling a calling. It made me believe in people. However, when I returned to my friends at school, nobody even looked up when I walked into the room after being gone all weekend.

Divide – Ed Sheeran’s latest album. Through February and March I felt like I spent my whole life doing online chemistry homework while I watched The Bachelor. I was burning through all my money trying to be a part of a friend group I didn’t  belong in – and this marked the point where I finally started to realize it. After an argument about not wanting to spend my last $12 for the month on alcohol, I felt more and more alienated by them. I listened to them get ready to go eat dinner or go to an event loudly in the hallway, but nobody ever checked to see if I was in my room, or even wondered where I was. I was hurt. But, in other news, highlights of this time included visiting Ben in St. Petersburg, FL during my spring break, getting the Flu (this was terrible) but I got to spend an extra week at home while Ben was home because of it, spending my first birthday away from my brothers (also sad), going home for our annual Valentine’s Day celebration, and going to visit my Aunt and cousin in Roswell, GA.

Partition- Beyoncé. In April, I found myself spending all my time with the only person I liked: Hannah. We did a lot together, including a trip to her new house in Pensacola, FL over Easter weekend. Hannah supported me in all of the ways I needed, and I don’t know how she did it. I’m endlessly grateful.

At the end of April, though, Hannah and I decided to drive to Dalton, GA to cook dinner in her aunt and uncle’s house while they were visiting Hannah’s family in Pensacola. After leaving their lovely home after an amazing meal and ice cream on the back porch, Hannah got a call from her dad with the worst news: Hannah’s uncle had drowned on the beach that day. To say the least, this news was terrifying. It sent us both into a frenzy. While I can’t imagine the pain she felt, I know that I was so shaken at how suddenly life ends, the fact that I had been in his home when he died, and that I watched the roommate that I love so dearly sob on the phone at this horrifying news. Hannah left that night to be with her family, and I was left alone in my fear and shock and horror. As I laid in a grassy field at 1am, unable to see through my tears and unable to think of a single person who I felt like I could turn to at school. I realized in that  moment that the people I called my friends weren’t my friends at all if I couldn’t turn to them in a moment like this. I decided that day that I’d walk away from them.

Issues- Julia Michaels. School ended and summer began. I spent a week in North Carolina with the Bonners, the people in my scholarship program, and I was so happy doing yard work and river cleanups and hanging out with that awesome group of people all day. After that, I spent a few weeks at home in May and booked a $35 one-way flight to Washington, DC to start my internship at the El-Hibri foundation. After a short conference in Kentucky for another Bonner event, I was finally in DC and ready to start.

Hell Nos and Headphones – Hailee Steinfeld / Think About You – LÉON. Early June was me, embarking on the adventure of a lifetime and being scared out of my mind. I had really committed to living with my dad far away from Oak Ridge and the rest of my family for a  whole summer, and I was so anxious about starting. These songs really got me through that time that felt like forever, but was really just a few days.

From That Place – Jasper Sawyer / Unbelievable – Owl City. In June, I was filled with joy and excitement starting with my first commute to work. Work was going really well and I was loving life, but the month was mostly sweating and feeling like an adult. Every day I walked to Union Station, rode the metro 5 stops to DuPont Circle, and walked past Krispy Kreme on my way to the building. While the commute was exhausting after a while, I felt so good about being a person who dressed up in nice clothes and commuted to work. Younger me would be so intimidated. I was learning so much, from how to edit videos to office dynamics to Audio and Video setup to social media best practices. Most of all, I found out that my itch to switch majors was right. This is what I was meant to do. At the end of the month, I got a cheap flight home over a long weekend and I got to see the family I’d been missing so badly, and Ben, who I really needed. There was so much to catch up on!

Your Shirt- Chelsea Cutler / Lion and the Beggar – Parisian. In July, the excitement of the new job had worn off and gave way to a lot of uncertainty, sadness, and long days unsure of where I stand while I worked my ass off. I didn’t get a lot of affirmation in the midst of such an intimidating environment and it caused a lot of self doubt. However, the intern that sat next to me at work, Fatima, really became a great friend to me. She always listened and we had long talks about religion and social justice – the kind of talking I had missed so much at school. She is awesome.

Effortless- Sabina Ddumba. This is the song I used to remind myself that I’m a badass. When the self-doubt creeped in I put my headphones in and blasted this, usually on the metro. Also, this song reminds me of watching Grey’s with Mom over the phone. We always watch it together and while I was gone for so long, we found out we could watch it at the same time and text about it and it was almost as good as our usual routine. In these summer months, I learned how to cook some cool meals, I found out that cleaning is really therapeutic, and I got to hang out with my dad and Meg a whole lot. I even got to visit the Newseum and kayak on the Potomac with the other interns, all covered by the Foundation as “team bonding!!”

Go Back- HEDEGAARD. In late July, my predominant emotion was “Shit, I’m going to miss all of this so badly.” Me and Dad had formed such a good bond!! We watched a lot of Beachfront Bargain Hunt after watching the news started giving me nightmares, and we went on long walks, and ate so much good food, and played frisbee barefoot on the mall, and had so many long talks about everything from life to love to strategies for our jobs. I wouldn’t give up that time for anything – it was incredible. The day I had to pack up and leave sucked so much.

Amarillo – Shakira / Katie Queen of Tennessee – the Apache Relay. I had a week and a half in Tennessee with the fam and Ben before I had to go back to school, and it was such a bittersweet mix of “I HAVE TO DO ALL OF THE OAK RIDGE THINGS WHILE IM HERE” and “I HAVE TO SOAK ALL OF YOU PEOPLE IN WHILE I HAVE YOU” and “I MISS DC AND DAD SO VERY BADLY, IM IN WITHDRAWAL.” In the midst of all of these screaming emotions, I really really loved a 4 day trip to the beach with the fam and Ben, watching The Office, and eating a lot of Mexican food. Leaving here sucked too.

Friend of Mine- Avicii. I kind of went back to school kind of kicking and screaming – at this point I was feeling robbed of the summer vacation I didn’t get for the first time, and the last place I wanted to be was back to the grind at Berry College. However, I had a lot of things to look forward to this semester: getting acquainted with my role on the Bonner Leadership Team, changing my major, and making new friends. I was determined to become close with my friend Andie, who I didn’t know super well but we snapchatted all summer.

All My Friends- Snakehips. I got signed up for a half marathon class at Berry, which was super exciting because I already knew that I needed somebody else to hold me accountable for running because I definitely couldn’t do it myself. I successfully got back into running by running with Andie, which ended up being the way we got to be close. She’s a blessing.

Hymn- Kesha. This song got me through the first part of the semester. Things were fine. I was loving some of my classes while really hating others, but feeling overall lonely with my lack of a friend group. I was doing my best. The color I would use to describe the fall is grey. I missed DC and the purpose I found there so much.

Casual- Alex Adair. This is a song I associate with driving to my place of work, Summit Quest, which was weirdly one of the times I felt best about myself. Even though I didn’t feel like I was really accomplishing much there, I still enjoyed going.

Better Together- Jack Johnson. In September, I got to visit Ben in Boston for the first time, and it was amazing! We walked around and ate (real) ramen and cannolis and just enjoyed being together. I was so happy to see Ben settled in a new place that he loves, and I’m so happy to have an excuse to visit such a great city!! A couple of weeks later, Ben and I went to a Jack Johnson concert in Atlanta and it really brought music to life for me. I had never been to a concert of that scale before, and it was really an amazing experience. I dealt with withdrawal from that for a while. Jack Johnson is some of the only music that me and Ben have in common, and seeing him together really was a magic experience. Also, I think this music got me through my most secluded phase of the semester.

Spaceman- The Killers / Mr. Brightside – The Killers. In October, I spent a lot of time running in the woods and it was awesome because we had an especially beautiful fall this year. Really what I want to stress here is how much empowerment and mental clarity I felt with getting back into shape- I felt like I was regaining a part of myself that I had lost. I was feeling more like myself and less like the school-obsessed hermit that I had become. However, a huge highlight is that I made my return to DC for four days over fall break, and Dad and I got to bike around and play frisbee and watch HGTV, the way we did over the summer. That was such a happy time. My heart was so full. Also in October, my brothers and I reunited in Franklin for a wonderful weekend of just us, and of course because I had to meet Chris and Richard’s new cats!!!

What Lovers Do- Maroon 5. This song seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel of a horrible semester. I took another trip to Boston in the first week of November and Ben was sick, but that was fine with me because we spent the weekend all cozy in bed with hot cocoa, watching Stranger Things. It was paradise. Also, going home for Thanksgiving was like a breath of fresh air- I had spent such a long time away from home that I had forgotten how good it felt. For the first time in a while, I felt surrounded by love and people who genuinely cared about me, and it was everything I needed.

There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back- Shawn Mendes / Shot Reverse Shot – Jack Johnson. The weekend after Thanksgiving, I finally ran my half marathon! The Carlsons decided at the last minute to accompany me to Chattanooga, where they would run the 5k race while I ran the half. I wrote a whole post about this experience because it completely surpassed my expectations – check that post out if you haven’t yet!

I finished the semester in the first week of December after having all five of my final exams in the course of three days – and I could not have been more ready to get the heck away from Berry College. It was a place that had hurt me emotionally and left me feeling defeated and lonely so often. I was headed home, where I really belonged.

Trust me, you guys. I didn’t stay this bitter and angry! Since spending time at home and in DC with my Dad over the past month, I now see that I was in a bad place where I pushed everybody away and drowned myself in school work, and I’m already doing leaps and bounds better with that knowledge at heart. 

I spent winter break in Oak Ridge and in DC. The first week and a half, I got to hang out with my mom a lot and also bake like my life depended on it. I did all my Christmas shopping and slept at least 12 hours a day- really a dream come true!!

I spent the week and a half after that in DC with my dad and brothers, and between the stress of having 4-5 people in a tiny apartment for 10 days, we had a really great time. We spent our first Christmas ever away from Oak Ridge and with only one parent, but it wasn’t too bad. Things are different now, and while I lament the way things used to be, different isn’t bad. It’s just different. I loved being able to spend that time with my dad. We watched more Beachfront Bargain Hunt on HGTV when my brothers dominated the main room TV with video games. I missed DC a whole lot, but I missed Dad more.

After returning to Oak Ridge and spending the week with my brothers, Ben and his family, and their cats, I felt restored and hopeful in a way that I hadn’t in a while. All of the sudden I was laughing a lot more, and I felt like I had rediscovered that silly side of myself that had been missing throughout the dreary fall months. I feel wonderful. I feel lighter. I feel happier.

In fact, yesterday was the first time in the past year that I didn’t dread going back to Berry, and that is huge for me. I’m really happy. I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, and I am loved so well.

Thanks for making it to the end of this incredibly  long post. Mostly, I wrote it all down because I want to remember it – I want to remember all of the ways that I was forced to grow and change this year. And now, looking back on it, I am bigger and stronger and happier because of it all.

Here’s to 2018!

– E

 

I ran a half marathon!!

 

Okay, okay. I know that the posts on Instagram of people smiling and holding their medals next to the finish line are such a cliche at this point, but really!! I’m holding my judgement from now on because it feels way more victorious than I thought it would. Everyone that has ever done it deserves all of the Instagrams they want!

First, background. I ran cross country and track all the way through high school, which meant more running than I can even think about now, and about 4 years of no breaks. I ran 500 miles the summer before my senior year and it was awesome, but I had never run 13 miles at once before. Once I ran 10 miles in the morning and then hobbled 3 more the evening after, but that doesn’t count as a half marathon.

It sounds generous to tell myself that I “took the year off” after high school because that suggests that I chose to give myself that time off. The reality is, I got out of shape and couldn’t possibly make myself get back to running again because it’s really hard!! I blame that on not feeling mentally prepared to run after 4 years of running being a priority, and that was probably partly true. Anyway, the point is that I didn’t run for over a year, I ate a lot of cheeseburgers and milkshakes, and I gained 20 lbs.

So, starting this school year, I made the usual promise that I was going to work out more, yada yada. I don’t think I actually meant it. But then, after the first day of classes, a spot in the Intro to Half Marathon Running class opened up! This is an exclusive class, you guys. It fills up fast. It was my opportunity to be held accountable for running again!

Long story short, I got into the class and even though I wasn’t quite as good about keeping up with the training plan as I should have been, I was successfully running 3-4 times a week (even though it hurt a lot at times.) I mostly ran between 9 and 11pm because honestly, I put off my run every day. It usually wasn’t something I looked forward to, but it felt really good once I finished every time. I logged my runs on the designated website at the end of every week. All in all, though, I got my groove back.

I learned some valuable things from the class itself. This class met at 8:45am on Tuesdays for about 15 minutes, and consisted of the cross country coach trying to come up with some kind of helpful advice for us (when he remembered to come to class.) Most of the time he gave us tips like what to wear, how to stretch, and how hard to train, but one day he talked about nervousness on race day. He simply said, “If you feel nervous on race day, which you might, remember that all of those nervous feelings will help you.” This was crazy!!! That one sentence could have changed my entire running career in high school!! I always raced worse than I practiced because I freaked out about being nervous! I was nervous about being nervous! Man. I wish I knew that earlier.

Race day came the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I wasn’t nervous. I knew I could do it. I knew it would hurt, but I knew I could do it. Ben and his mom and his sister Rebecca decided the night before that they were going to come run the 5k while I ran the half marathon, and that was really cool! We all got ready and walked to the starting line together, and when it was time, I took off.

My first mile was too fast, then my second mile was too fast, and before I knew it, I was halfway done and still running at 8:40 pace- a speed I hadn’t seen since high school. I felt great!! I texted my family after every mile, and I found the miles going pretty quickly. At about mile 8, I started slowing down and feeling the fatigue, but the Shot Reverse Shot by Jack Johnson came on at that moment and picked me up again.

In training, I had only ever run 10 miles before, so when I passed the 10 mile mark, I knew the last three would be hard mentally. But, instead, I found that I was just really proud of myself. After the 10 mile marker, I was officially running more than I ever had before- more than I did even at my best shape. I was tired and a little bored, but I was proud. I was happy.

All of the hills came in mile 11 and 12. Thanks, race directors. I was really struggling in mile 12. Then, when I crested the biggest hill and saw the sign that marked the beginning of the 13th mile, I stopped to gather myself. I took a sip of water and touched my toes, shook out my shoulders, and prepared for just one more mile. The end was near!!

Mile 13 was the most scenic for sure. The course led us across the signature wooden walking suspension bridge in the middle of Downtown Chattanooga, and there I saw my sweet Ben and his family, telling me that I really was almost done!! Ben ran the last half mile with me and laughed at my numb expression.

I asked Ben if I could run the straightaway myself to claim my accomplishment as my own, because that’s what it was for me. For the first time in years of running and racing, I could contribute my success to me and me only- and that felt so good. There was no coach screaming for me and no team that held me accountable to go to practice every day- I did it on my own.

Oh, man. Did you know the time they  decide to take pictures of you is in the last .1 of a 13.1 mile race?? Who made that decision?? Those pictures are so rough.

I did it, you guys. I ran 13.1 miles even after a year of laziness and cheeseburgers. I did it.

And I sure as heck posted all over Instagram.

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Thankful, part 1 of many

I watched a TED talk in a Bonner meeting today about a guy who made it a goal to seek out people and tell somebody that he is thankful for them every day for a year.

I felt inspired by the video and while I know I don’t say it to everybody who deserves it, I’m so thankful and I try to tell people that. With thanksgiving coming, I thought I’d try to sit and really think about some of the little things that I’m thankful for that really are the big things. I’m going to write a few down and post them when I can, and maybe someday I’ll work up the courage to tell them.

Here goes.

I’m thankful for my third grade teacher, Mrs. Fillers. She had a schedule where she would sit next to a different person in the class every day, but since the tables were round, I always rushed to the lunchroom so I could sit on the other side of her, even when it wasn’t my turn. I always dominated the conversation and she never said anything- she always listened so patiently and loved me so well. After I finished third grade, we sent emails back in forth all summer because I loved her so. Looking back, she was an angel. I don’t know if I would have been as patient and kind to my annoying 8 year old self.

I’m thankful for my big brother, Chris. Today is his 23rd birthday, but it couldn’t possibly have been that long since he unwrapped his first iPhone in his 16th birthday dinner at Olive Garden. It seems impossible that it’s been 5 years since I threw a fit on his 18th birthday. Is it weird to be sentimental about your big brother growing up? Chris is the best big brother. I don’t know anybody else who has been there for me in all of the ways Chris has, from tough love to juicebox-chugging contests in his car on the way home from school. There’s no place I’d rather be but sitting far apart on the big brown sectional couch in our old living room, showing each other the best memes we found while scrolling through the internet, and starting rants any given topic, starting with “you know what’s funny?” I love you and I appreciate you, Chris. I don’t tell you enough.

I’m thankful for my middle school and high school band directors, who put up with endless shit I gave them by being the biggest attention hog- but encouraged me endlessly and gave me every bit of affirmation I craved. For letting me have the big solos. I miss playing oboe.

I’m thankful for my neighbor Hailee who lived across the street from my old house. She always let me come over to her house cuz she had the best toys and her room was always a lot cleaner than mine. She let me listen to her Hannah Montana CDs and we played with barbies and bows and arrows and pretended to be spies on a secret mission. I don’t know when or why I stopped playing with her and the other kids in the neighborhood, but I wish I hadn’t. I’d be down for some Hannah Montana CDs right about now.

I’m thankful for my dog Zeke. He passed away in May after putting up with my family for a whole lot of years. He was always pretty smelly no matter how many baths we gave him, but he was a great listener and he ate everything I dropped and was a great cuddler. When I was little, Mom and Dad used to tell him to come and wake us up in the mornings, and he’d come up to our rooms and jump in bed with us (even though that was the only time he was allowed upstairs.) He went through my trash and ate things a lot. He wouldn’t eat his food until my family was done singing the blessing before we started eating. He was always in the room the most people were in, laying in the middle of the floor because he wanted to be with us. The day after we got him, we let him off the leash in the park and he came running at me and knocked me down. I think he was just excited to see me. I’d let him do it again today if I had the option. I hope he knew how much we loved him when he passed away.

It’s an emotional thing to do- thinking about the people you love who have shaped you and trying to articulate how they’ve changed you.

More to come. I’m sufficiently nostalgic now. Goodnight, friends, I’m thankful for you. ❤️

-E

Word Vomit

Frequently I wonder who I am.

I’m always either completely full or my stomach is growling, no in-between. I haven’t craved ice cream in forever. What’s up with that?

I like the way the stars look on an especially clear and cold night. I like it when the clouds  still look white next to the dark sky because the moon is so bright. I like how I’ll never get tired of the stars because I can’t take pictures of them with my phone.

I wish I remembered more about my family vacations from when I was little. We did some dope things that I don’t even remember and couldn’t fully appreciate.

The first thing I do every morning is reach over to my phone and answer texts, then scroll through all of my social media. The second thing I do every morning is think about coffee. I rarely drink my coffee until its past being hot and I’m running late. On Mondays I usually spill it on the arm that’s holding the mug.

I love to talk about other people and ask them deep questions, but I make jokes when it’s time to answer those questions myself.

I miss high-school me sometimes.

You can tell which classes I like and am interested in because I’m doing really well in them. You can also tell which classes I don’t like and am not interested in.

I crave approval from everybody I come across while simultaneously tell myself I don’t care, and those things are hard to balance.

I won’t ask for affirmation but it’s all I think about.

I miss my family, the way it used to be.

I have put my childhood bedroom away in a deep pocket of my mind because I get choked up when I think about not having furniture of my own anymore.

I think about people a lot more than those people know.

Generosity and gratitude are my absolute core values. I wish I had more to give. I wish I were better at spontaneous gifting. I hope you know I’m thankful for you.

I like when people laugh at my jokes.

I switch the way I write my “a”‘s when taking notes when I feel myself getting bored. Somehow it helps me focus.

My summer coffee order is an iced coffee with a shot of vanilla, with cream and 2 Splendas. My winter order is something less predictable. I never know until I hear the words leave my mouth.

I like mugs a lot. I keep collecting them. Recently, I realized that all of my mugs are white with small details. I bought a blue one the next day.

My hands are always cold.

I like painting my nails until they start chipping, and then I obsessively peel the paint off and leave it in little piles on the floor under me.

I have infinitely more respect for every person who has ever served me food after working for a catering company for one weekend. I can’t imagine how tired people who do manual labor jobs are at the end of a lifetime of doing it. Us folks with desk jobs should be endlessly thankful. We are spoiled.

Writing makes me feel better. It’s like dusting in your brain. You have to take all of the dust and turn it into dust bunnies before you throw it away – or make a bigger dust bunny. Whatever you want, really.

Thanks for listening.

I feel dusted.

 

 

Thoughts on #MeToo

I’ll start with an important detail: I don’t consider myself among those who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. I know that I am lucky. 

I’ve had 3 brothers with me everywhere I go for almost my entire life, and I really feel like this is a reason people have left me alone. I know that I am lucky. 

I can’t imagine anything worse than being sexually harassed or assaulted. Sometimes I forget how horrible it must be, until I get little reminders.

Last year, I was at Cookout with my roommate when a guy with a face tattoo from a booth across from ours stared at me as I ate every bite of my meal. I kept making accidental eye contact, but was choosing to ignore him. When I got up to throw my trash away, he leaned over to me and simply asked “what’s your name?” I said, “doesn’t matter,” as I hurried out the door. This seems like a small incident and really, it was, but I still felt disgusting. When I got home, I put fleece pajamas and a big sweater on instead of my shorts and a tank top because I didn’t want anyone to look at me ever again. If “what’s your name?” made me feel like that, can you imagine what unwanted touching (or much more) would do to a person? I know that I am lucky. 

When I was 14 and snapchat was in its beginning phases of popularity, I got a friend request from someone unknown. At this time, every friend request came with a big red number on the screen and I’m that kind of person that can’t stand the clutter. On the friend request, it said that there were 3 pending snaps. I know I shouldn’t have done it, but hey, I was curious. I accepted the request from the unknown person and planned to unfriend him as soon as the notification had cleared, which I did, though not before I saw pictures of a naked man for the very first time. This is sexual harassment by some creep that gets off by sending pictures to strangers. I pushed this situation out of my mind, but it disturbed me, and still does. Can you imagine what this kind of contact would do to someone younger than myself? Can you imagine what a “harmless flashing” in unexpected and unwanted situations does to people? I know that I am lucky.

The other day, I was walking down the street in D.C. with my dad. I was wearing my favorite jeans. A large man was walking down the street in the opposite direction, and his eyes followed a couple in front of us who were walking a dog. He turned completely around as they walked by. I thought to myself, “I wonder if he’s checking out her butt or the dog?” As he walked past me, he did the same thing, and this time, he hollered. I thought, “yep, definitely her butt. And mine.” I wanted to throw those jeans away.

These are small incidents. I don’t consider myself scarred. I know I am safe. I don’t share these stories for you to feel sorry for me, because you shouldn’t. Very little, insignificant harm came out of these situations. My point is, my experiences are the tip of the iceberg. I know that I am lucky. This is what is normal for even the most protected women in our society. It is disgusting, to say the least. And it is completely avoidable. This is what the #MeToo movement is about.

If you are a male finding yourself wondering how to react, thank you. Know that women are not waiting for you to respond. We know you’re seeing our words. We know you’ll do your best not to “mansplain.” We know you won’t send unwanted pictures. We know you you’ll stop yourself when you find yourself wanting to talk over us. We know you won’t stare. We know you’ll feel empathetic. Well, we hope so.

I know I have little reason to be talking about this topic. Many stories are much more significant than the ones I have shared here. However, I want people to know what the tiniest things do. The interactions that seem insignificant ripple more than anybody knows.

I’m grateful for the conversation. It’s about damn time.

I Want One of Those Black Medical Boots.

IMG_C478A8118645-1My brother Richard snapchatted me a picture of his swollen and bruised ankle after attempting to jump across a creek. The doctor said he sprained his ankle in two ways and that he’ll have to wear a boot for the next few weeks. And I’m really jealous.

Not jealous that he sprained his ankle, not jealous of the bruises, not jealous of the pain,  just jealous of the boot!!

I remember sitting in front of the TV watching Nick jr and having to have the toy featured in every commercial. “I want that!” Do you remember that too? Now you understand how I still feel about the boot.

I can’t explain it, something has always been ~cool~ about them. Like a weird fashion statement. A sign of badassery. A conversation starter, if anything. As if when you have a boot, suddenly everyone is thinking “wow, what did they do?” But without the inconvenience, smelliness, and ugly toes sticking out of a cast.

I feel the same way about glasses. I can’t be one of those people who wears fake glasses and I do enjoy being able to see, but I want them. They’re cool. They’re for smart people. They’re a personality piece.

Richard said I can have his boot when he’s done with it. Is it bad that I’m thinking about it?

The Right to Bear Arms

I sat in a meeting today with many people that I love and care about. We’re a diverse group and we frequently clash about our personal and political beliefs, but I generally think they’re great people and we work well together (on matters that aren’t politically affiliated.) If you ask us to pack 100 food boxes or landscape a garden, we’re all in.

This meeting was centered around researching the legislation that exists around gun control on both sides, and the point of the exercise was apparently to practice listening to the perspectives of an opinion that is different than yours and consider it before formulating your own opinion. They divided us up into two groups – pro-loose gun control laws and pro-strict gun control laws. I was put into the group that argued for pro-loose gun control laws. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to participate.

I wasn’t the only person in my group that felt strongly against the position we were asked to research, and there was palpable tension between us and the others. We started researching, and it was clear that nobody wanted to be doing this.

A few things really upset me:

  1. I didn’t want to be researching the reasons that nothing should change regarding gun laws in this country. 59 people died this week. We have had 2 “biggest mass shootings in the history of modern America” in an embarrassingly short time. I have considered this view already and I have rejected it. It’s not okay to say that things are good as they are.
  2. It’s too soon to be having this debate. Talk to me in a few weeks.
  3. Nobody in my group wanted to talk about it. Even the people who believe in loose gun control laws didn’t seem to care that much about justifying their position. The best we could get out of them was “the 2nd Amendment says…”
  4. Everything my group came up with was based in misinformation and lies. Let me explain.

These are what I begrudgingly put on our poster.

  • “Switzerland has a 24.7% crime rate, which is ranked 74th in the world, and every family is required to own a gun.” – This is false. Every household may own a gun, but many choose not to. Wikipedia cites that only about 24% per capita own a gun. Secondly, consider this excerpt from Time.com  : “Kids as young as 12 belong to gun groups in their local communities, where they learn sharpshooting. The Swiss Shooting Sports Association runs about 3,000 clubs and has 150,000 members, including a youth section. Many members keep their guns and ammunition at home, while others choose to leave them at the club. And yet, despite such easy access to pistols and rifles, “no members have ever used their guns for criminal purposes,” says Max Flueckiger, the association’s spokesperson.” No such structure exists in America.

 

  • “The 2nd amendment says ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'” – I’m thinking that my group interpreted that in this context to mean that the government should not restrict gun ownership. I can see that if you only look at the second part of that statement – “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” However, I’m in a government class and we have talked a lot about what our founding fathers must have meant by that. Firstly, the Constitution was radical at the time because it took power away from states and gave it to the federal government. At that time, each state had its own militia, and giving power to the national government meant surrendering these militias. That really freaked everyone out because they were afraid of being invaded by the national government. Therefore, this clause was put in to assure the people who were worried about this that they had the right to bear arms against the government. This is a system of checks and balances. It holds the national government responsible for regulating itself (Federalist paper 23) because there is a threat of rebellion if it does not. We’re not talking about home invasion or self defense. These arms are not for personal use – they’re for militias. (And well-regulated (trained??) ones at that.) Just quoting the constitution. And not just the parts that work for me.

 

  • “Strict gun control laws threaten the right to self-defense and a sense of security and protection.” – I’d argue that the possibility of being killed at a concert by a psyco on the 32nd floor of a hotel or in my classroom or literally anywhere else this could occur is a threat to my sense of security and protection. Even if I had a gun, if I am shot dead before I can use it, I’m still feeling pretty robbed of my right to self-defense. We are literally all at the mercy of any given gun owner.

 

  • “Concealed carry laws increase the chances that someone with a gun could kill an active shooter before that person kills more people.” – I’m so sick of this argument. To this, I’d like to direct you to a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCI4bUk4vuM I know that this video paints people who believe in the “good guy with a gun” scenario in a foolish light, but honestly, it’s a good watch regardless. This is the story of a guy who went through much more training (including active shooter training) than is required to own a gun, and still “dies” in every simulation. The point? Being a “good guy with a gun” doesn’t work as well as you’d picture it.

 

I don’t know all of the facts. I can’t say that I know what the solution is. I just know that what’s going on isn’t working, and many people who are pro-loose legislation on the issue haven’t done enough research. I’m not saying that all of them haven’t, but these are weak arguments and I wish they would generally do better.

I’m tired of uneducated arguments not based in fact. I’m tired of mass shootings. I’m tired of waking up sweaty from nightmares about being in a shooting, and I’m tired of wondering when I’ll be next.

How many people have to die before we do something?

Something has to change.

Not being “The Triplets”

Of course I’m still a triplet and I’ll always be- it’s one of the most important ways I define myself. Lately, though, I’ve been trying figure out what it means to me now that not everybody I interact with knows. For literally my entire life, Richard and Matthew and I have been a package deal. I used to get really upset in middle school, when we had all of the same classes, that we’d be referred to as “the triplets” instead of our real names, like we didn’t even exist outside of each other. Well, now we certainly exist individually, and while I like being able to drop the triplet bomb on people really casually, (“two of my brothers are also sophomores and we like to compare how our schools are differe-” “whoa, wait, are they twins?” “Triplets, actually…”) I’m slowly figuring out that life outside of the bundle isn’t actually all it cracked up to be. (Not to exclude Chris, I adore him and he’s every bit as loved and missed.)

If I’m being completely honest, life at Berry College is exciting and inspiring and perfect sometimes and it’s desperately lonely at other times. I have had trouble making true, deep, meaningful relationships where I can talk about both Gossip Girl and social injustice in the same sitting. The kind where you’re satisfied sitting together in silence. The kind where a nerf war could start up any moment. The kind where your friend asks how you’re doing and they legitimately care about the answer (and dig for the answer when you don’t give it to them right away!!) At times I’ve wondered if I’m in the right place, and at other times I’ve wondered if there’s just something wrong with me. Maybe I have RBF?

It occurred to me today that maybe it’s because I’m not part of that bundle anymore. I’m not a 4 second walk from a conversation about nothing (or everything) with someone who knows me, feels what I’m feeling, and cares about me the way a brother does. I know this is so tacky but seriously. It’s a huge thing that’s missing from life right now.

I’ve never had to eat a meal alone. I’ve never had to actually socialize in an unfamiliar situation- I had a brother to stand next to. I’ve never had to worry about approaching groups of people because I always had a brother who knew at least one person in any given cluster. I’ve never not had anyone to complain about a teacher or a homework assignment with.

I miss late night meetings in the kitchen when we somehow all woke up at the same time wanting a glass of water. I miss sitting on the couch next to each other, all on our computers/phones, sharing any funny picture or interesting article that we ran across. I miss being a bundle. (Don’t tell my middle school self. She never thought this day would come.)