Breaking.

what’s broken now. what’s breaking.
is the silence.

what breaks are the edges
of my fingers as i bite
and tear at cuticles.

i worry my body endlessly
when i cannot see beyond
the soft grey haze of this.

first cuticles, then diet,
then the mobility that brings
my limbs to life
that moves my heart
to frantic motion
pushes me out
toward the sun.

after my body
comes my drive.
it takes me four days
to make an edit
that should take moments.
my blog lays silent
still
as any grave
entries scattered
like headstones
bare
and beckoning.

i hang
suspended
in the grey.

i spend a Saturday
still and quiet
on my couch
pouring my eyes
into screens.

a voice in my head
that my therapist
always condemns
calls me lazy
a waste
tells me
sweet lies
to confirm
it’s diagnosis
of my indolence

i know that voice is broken
but it breaks me


Photo credit for header image goes here.


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How to Apologize Like an Adult

In light of the recent mistakes made by people I respect or at least expected better of, I thought I would publish a blog on how to properly apologize. Because it’s obvious to me that this is not something many people know how to do properly or effectively.

I hope this helps some of you out there to become better at apologizing. And that it is a resource for those of you who are trying to talk to others about how to apologize correctly to explain how this stuff works and how vitally important it is.

Step One: Listen.

The first step in any apology is to listen to what the person(s) you have hurt are telling you. If someone says that you did something that hurt them (directly or indirectly), then it’s time to apologize. Listen carefully to what you did and decide whether you care enough about the people involved and the situation to apologize.

This is the step wherin you decide whether or not you are going to apologize at all. Not apologizing is always an option. But if you decide not to apologize, disengage here and tell the person(s) involved that you will not be apologizing. There is no need to drag people through insincerity in order to fulfill some bizarre social cue. If you don’t care to apologize: don’t.

Step Two: Apologize Sincerely.

An apology is not something you just do in the moment to get people off your back. It is not a way to stop an argument. An apology is the first part of a promise that you make to another person or group of people. That promise is that you see that you upset them, see why you upset them, and will endeavor not to upset them in the future.

I know I already said this, but it’s important: If you have no desire to deliver a sincere apology, then do not deliver one. There is nothing worse than an insincere apology. It doesn’t solve anything. And it doesn’t do anything other than erode your relationships by proving to the people around you that you do not care enough about them to really apologize when you have done something wrong.

So, if you are not willing to do the work that is inherent in making an apology, you don’t need to! There will be consequences for that, but some things are not worth working for. I don’t say that to be cruel. That’s OK! Being able to recognize when you are not willing to do a thing is an important part of being a human being. The important thing to remember is that no apology at all is better all around than an apology that is simply lip service.

But if you do decide to apologize, realize that that apology is a part of a larger set of behaviors that you are tying yourself into which include making changes to things you have done in order to ensure the fulfilling of a promise to another person.

Step Three: Apologize for the right thing.

This goes back to the listening step. Were you really listening? Did you hear what the person(s) you hurt were saying about why they were upset? Remember that what you think you did wrong and what they are asking that you apologize for may not be the same thing.

Here’s an example.

Bobby and Suzie just started dating. One night, Bobby goes out with Suzie and her friends. He doesn’t know anyone else at the outing. During the evening, Suzie spends a lot of time talking to John, which leaves Bobby at loose ends and uncomfortable for most of the evening. When they leave the group, Bobby says that he is upset that Suzie left him hanging the entire night with no one to talk to while she talked to John. Suzie realizes that Bobby wants an apology, but instead of apologizing for abandoning Bobby with a bunch of strangers, she infers that he is being jealous and says that she is sorry if he was jealous about her spending time with John.

That is not what Bobby was upset about, it’s what Suzie is reading into the situation. What Suzie needed to do was really listen to what Bobby was saying and apologize for what he told her he was upset about, not what she felt was “really the issue.”

This is a mistake that a lot of people make when apologizing. It’s easy to apologize for what we think the problem is rather than what the person is actively communicating. Don’t fall into this trap.

Step Four: Never say “but.”

Or any other type of qualifying language, really. When you qualify an apology with an explanation, it weakens the apology. Apologize unreservedly. Here’s an example based on our story above of the correct way to apologize:

Suzie: I’m sorry that I left you alone with people. I didn’t realize it would upset you so badly. I apologize.

Here is that apology with a but:

Suzie: I’m sorry that I left you alone with people, but it’s not like you couldn’t have interjected at any point. My friends are nice. You should have made an effort.

Do you see how apology one is much more meaningful and actually reads like an apology?

When you qualify your apology with a “but” at the end, you minimize the impact of the apology tremendously. Doing that can also make it seem to the person you are giving your apology that their actions are somehow to blame for your behavior. In short, it makes it seem like you don’t really care about your apology, which means you don’t care about the feelings of the person you hurt.

Step Five: Do not make the apology about you.

Of course the apology is about you. A little. But it’s not about you, if you get my meaning.

When you are apologizing, address your behavior succinctly and with clarity. Do not do the following:

Suzie: Well I’m sorry I’m not perfect! I’m sorry I can’t seem to give you enough attention so that you feel good about yourself. I’m sorry I suck.

This kind of thing is really unfair to the person you are apologizing to. When you make the apology about you and get upset as a response to another person being hurt by your actions, the other person is put in the uncomfortable position of having to deal with your upset. Which can lead to them comforting you rather than having their needs met. Which is not the goal of any good apology.

If feelings about yourself are brought up during the course of your apology, feel free to address them with the person later on, after a little time and distance have allowed the other person to get into a place where they can support you without compromising their own needs.

Step Six: Follow up.

Sometimes when you apologize, it will be necessary for you to follow up with some changes to your behavior or discussion of how to do things better. This is an excellent part of an apology, because it shows that you are willing to follow through on your promises. An apology is, at it’s root, a promise to examine your behavior and attempt to ensure that you do not repeat behavior that the people around you have found damaging.

So let’s use our above example to show how the follow up to an apology might go:

Suzie: Is there a way that I can ensure in the future that you are more socially comfortable? Would you like to bring a friend of yours to outings? Would a smaller group help? Do you just require more attention from me?

See how Suzie is trying to solve the problem in the future so that she can be more aware of Bobby’s emotional well-being? That’s quality apologizing right there.

Remember that, when a follow-up is needed, it doesn’t always have to happen right then. You can have space between the apology and the follow up. Sometimes that space is needed! When tempers are running high, as they are wont to be when an apology enters the mix, it is not always the best time to calmly discuss solutions to problems. Let everyone cool off a bit if you need to and do the follow-up when you are more relaxed and able to look at the situation from distance.

Step Seven: Follow through.

Remember how I said that an apology is a promise? Well here’s the part where you fulfill that promise. All of the things that we have gone over up until this point mean absolutely nothing if, when the situation that caused strife before comes up again, you repeat the bad behaviors when interacting with the people to whom you have previously apologized.

If Suzie takes Bobby out again and leaves him alone all night? That’s breaking her promise. And all the work that she did during her apology goes out the window when she proves to Bobby that she cannot live up to the things that she promises him when she apologizes.

If, however, Suzie makes sure that Bobby’s needs are met in subsequent instances where the spend time with her friends? Then she has proven to Bobby that she is a person worthy of his trust. It is only at that point that her apology becomes wholly successful.

Step Eight: Enjoy.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of having people around you who like and trust you. If you demonstrate to them when you make mistakes that you are willing to make up for them, that will only increase their liking and trust for you. Enjoy the happy feelings that come from doing the work to make your relationships stronger and healthier through a properly crafted apology.

On the Revisiting of Feelings

Every once in a while, someone from my past will creep up into my mind and I will find myself scouring the internet for references to them.

Where are you working now?

Who are you loving?

The question that I always want to answer is a simple one.

Did I matter?

I find myself poring over the faces of people they have chosen in the years intervening. In the parenthetical space between knowing and unknowing. In the time it takes for a person to become emotional research rather than emotional expenditure.

There is a dusty old feeling to this motion. This knee jerk response. Something in my emotional DNA. Like whales migrating, I walk the pattern that is the cyclical absence and return of thoughts and feelings.

You come to mind.

I Google you.

I look at old pictures that show up. Sometimes I’m in them. I reflect on whatever masochism drew me to do this to myself.

I think about who I was when I was with you. I wonder who the people you are surrounded by are. What they are like. I wonder about the person you are loving the most. How they shift and change themselves to fit into the nooks and crannies of you that always need filling. How they pour themselves over the mold made of your flaws.

Do they thrill you?

Are you happy?

I worry my old loves like old wounds. Bruises that never get the chance to heal because of continual pressure. Blood that never dissipates. Scars that never lose their angry redness.

After I have looked at the last public picture. Perused the last blog entry or Facebook status, I sit back. I log out. And I let you fade.

Sometimes that makes the bruises look less angry. Sometimes the opening of old wounds relieves the tension.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

My questions never get answered, no matter the case. I want to know if I mattered. And I know it’s irrelevant. I know that, in the years that have passed between the first uttering of that question and this last riotous uprising, all the weight of whether I mattered has gone out of the question.

But I want to know.

So, when the mood strikes, I Google you. I search. And I find. And I wonder.

White Feminism

Why We Need To Talk About White Feminism“The best thing any white feminist can do is educate herself, and listen and engage with the experiences of women of color without silencing them.”

Posted by HuffPost Women on Monday, August 10, 2015

This video was posted by HuffPost Women on last week. Since then, it has been shared over 9,000 times. It has popped up in my social media feed a whole lot and I’ve been tempted to share it each time. But I haven’t. Mostly because I feel like I need to do more than just share this video.

One of the things they say in the video is that being a white feminist does not mean that you are a bad person, it just means that you have a lot to learn. And that is very true. As a white woman and a feminist, I fell into the trap of white feminism early and often.

I can still remember some of my earliest failures as a feminist. In undergrad during one of my many women’s studies, I was chatting with a group of my fellow students on a break. We were talking about the beginnings of feminism and the roots of the movement. I quoted verbatim from a book that I had read about how the feminist movement began when women started to move out of the home and to take jobs in public space.

31 year old me looks back at that me and just puts her face in her hands. Because wow.

So I spout that to the people I’m with and a girl from my class says to me “But women of color were already working outside the home. In fact, a lot of them were balancing work and home life. What did feminism do for those women?”

I don’t even remember her name, but holy shit did I need that truth bomb dropped on me.

I stammered a lot and admitted that I hadn’t really thought of that. And that I clearly needed to. She recommended some books and articles that I should read and basically told me that I needed to shift my way of looking at things to include women of color when I talked about feminism.

She was so right.

The thing is, I’m sure that I had said white feministy stuff before that. And I’m sure I had done it in company. The people I was with just didn’t call me on it for whatever reason. I am so grateful to her for calling me out. For putting me on the spot. And I’m glad that, when she did, I was in a position to really hear her and process what she was saying rather than getting defensive.

Being called out is hard. And this isn’t the only time that it has happened to me, just my most vivid memory of it. I was embarrassed. And a little ashamed of myself. And honestly there was a spark of anger there at her calling me out. Because being called out is hard. Being wrong is hard. And being told that you are wrong in front of other people is embarrassing.

The fact of the matter is that it’s important that we allow people to tell us when we are wrong. And that we admit to ourselves and to the people around us that we don’t know everything. I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older how important it is to reveal our flaws and mistakes and pitfalls to the people around us. It lets other people know that they are not alone in not being perfect. It is deliriously easy to act as though we are somehow perfect. To present a face to the world that is blemish free. To edit our speech so that it is free from grammatical errors. But the projection of those things harms us. It makes us hold ourselves up to a standard of perfection to which we cannot possibly adhere. And it harms the people around us by making them think that, when they fall short, they should never admit it.

All of that is to say that I am far from a perfect feminist person. I have been guilty of white feminism. I have even been guilty of TERF-dom. These are not things that I am proud of. But they are things that, with time and education and good people calling me out, I have very much moved past. And if I don’t admit that to the world, then everyone who is guilty of those things will only ever see me as a person who does not make those mistakes. If I do not have empathy for people who are in the same position that I was in when I first started learning about feminism and social justice, then how can I expect them to listen to me?

So I say this to those of you out there who may be struggling with being called out and all the things that brings up for you: No one pops out of the womb full of perfect knowledge of how to walk the world. We are all walking and growing together. It’s OK to fuck up.

It’s how you learn.

Radical Issues: An Interlude

This morning I read Rebecca Solnit’s “letter to my dismal allies on the US left.” So much in it resonated deeply with me. In it, she said:

Maybe it’s part of our country’s puritan heritage, of demonstrating one’s own purity and superiority rather than focusing on fixing problems or being compassionate. Maybe it comes from people who grew up in the mainstream and felt like the kid who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes, that there were naked lies, hypocrisies and corruptions in the system…

When you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail, but that’s not a good reason to continue to pound down anything in the vicinity. Consider what needs to be raised up as well. Consider our powers, our victories, our possibilities; ask yourself just what you’re contributing, what kind of story you’re telling, and what kind you want to be telling.

So often I feel like we spend so much time as feminists and activists pointing out the nudity of our leaders and the systems that they put in place that we cannot enjoy our victories even for a moment.

A prime example for me came in the form of the SCOTUS decision on Friday regarding marriage equality in the US. You have to have known that it happened. The internet has been awash in rainbows ever since.

Anyway, about halfway through my day on Friday I noticed a vocal minority starting to talk about how there is a lot more work to do and how we need to turn our eyes to the future.

They’re not wrong.

But I couldn’t help the frustration that welled up in me. Can’t we just have ONE DAY? I thought. Can’t we just celebrate this culmination of so much blood, sweat and tears and then think about the rest of What Must Be Done tomorrow?

One of my biggest issues with being involved in social justice as a feminist is this constant nitpicking at everything that happens. I know that there are larger issues at stake. I know that we are not done fighting. I know that things are getting better in small increments that appear big when they suddenly have a cover story in the New York Times.

But sometimes I just want to celebrate without delving into the minutia of complications that suck the joy right out of a victory. Sometimes I just want to say “Hey, isn’t it great that SCOTUS ruled in favor of marriage equality?” and have people respond with “Yes” rather than “Yes, but…”

I’m not an idiot. I don’t live with my head in the sand. I recognize the irony of Facebook plastering everyone’s profile pictures with rainbows while still not allowing trans folks to use their actual names on their profiles. I’m aware that the right to get married to my girlfriend does not mean that, in certain states, we can’t still be fired or evicted based on our relationship.

I know that. I know all of that and more. But it’s fucking exhausting to be reminded of it even at the height of something wonderful happening.

As Solnit said:

There is idealism somewhere under this pile of bile, the pernicious idealism that wants the world to be perfect and is disgruntled that it isn’t – and that it never will be. That’s why the perfect is the enemy of the good. Because, really, people, part of how we are going to thrive in this imperfect moment is through élan, esprit de corps, fierce hope and generous hearts.

We all want to live in a perfect world. We want to see things change for the better. But I think that being constantly on edge and constantly picking at people about the problems is not necessarily as healthy for ourselves or our causes as we would like it to be. When we are delivered a solid win like the one we had on Friday, I think it’s OK to let go and celebrate the victory for the moment and set the inevitable problems aside to analyze later.

Morbidity & Mortality

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dying.

I was introduced to death when I was 10 years old. My great aunt was 93. When I left school one day my mother told me that she had died. I cried so hard. I barely even knew her, but the idea that someone was permanently gone from my life was so difficult to imagine at that age.

I remember her funeral. I remember burying her and going to this big restaurant to eat and really just wanting to go home and be sad in my room.

When my grandmother died I was at work. I was just out of high school. I got a call on the restaurant’s phone and went back to answer it. After that I don’t remember much. I remember sliding down the wall like in a movie. Crying in front of the whole kitchen. I remember sitting at her funeral next to my grandfather who was crying openly and telling me he didn’t know what he was going to do without her.

He died shortly thereafter. He waited for me to come and say goodbye. I sang to him in the apartment beneath my aunt’s house that he had shared with my grandmother. Then he died.

When enough people in your life slip away from you, you start to think that it doesn’t even really matter anymore. One more death. You’d think it would numb you. But it doesn’t.

When my father’s best friend died I was in Germany with my mother. He’d had cancer for a while. I had to comfort my mother, so I didn’t grieve for him the way I had done for the people before. Years later, I find myself missing him with this sharp ache that hasn’t really started to ease yet.

When enough people in your life die you start to be afraid of phones when people are sick. Which, when I was younger, wasn’t as difficult as it is now. Now, whenever my grandmother’s number appears on my phone, I worry that someone has found her in her apartment. But instead of my phone being in my house all the time, it’s in my purse. This weird specter that looms over my everyday life with the threat of bad news when things get dire for someone I care about.

I don’t know why death has been in my head so much lately. Maybe it’s because things have been so good that I’m expecting the other shoe to drop. Maybe I’m dreading the thrice-fold tumbling of people I know into some abyss. Maybe I’m just anxious and this is how the anxiety is manifesting.

I worry about my family. I worry about my dog.

I have to remind myself to breathe. To let the worry go. To remind myself that death is a symptom of life and to live my life with fervency and relish. To fight the fear. Death is inevitable, after all. And living my life in fear of it is not going to do me any good.

Censorship, the New Statesman, & Loving Complicated Things

I used to joke when I was younger that all of the things that I love have something like one degree of separation from each other. When I stop to think about it, it turns out that the whole flow chart of my fandoms centers on one dude: Neil Gaiman.

When I try to explain it I wind up sounding like a rambling lunatic, so here’s a quick flow chart I did on computer paper to make sense of it if you’re interested.

You see, Neil Gaiman was best friends with Tori Amos and they include nods to each other in their art. And Neil also wrote an episode of B5 for Straczynski when he swore no one else would. And he's friends with Amano who drew for FF and he did the English translation for Mononoke Hime and... you get the idea. You see, Neil Gaiman was best friends with Tori Amos and they include nods to each other in their art. And Neil also wrote an episode of B5 for Straczynski when JMS swore no one else would. And he's friends with Amano who drew for FF and... you get the idea.
You see, Neil Gaiman was best friends with Tori Amos and they include nods to each other in their art. And Neil also wrote an episode of B5 for Straczynski when he swore no one else would. And he’s friends with Amano who drew for FF and… you get the idea. 

Anyway, for years I joked about my one degree of separation with all of these wonderful humans and then, a few years ago, the whole thing got even more complicated when Neil Gaiman married Amanda Palmer. Because the conjunction of the two of them drags in a whole other slew of artists from Palmer’s fabulous (and wide!) circle of people. So now my flow chart is basically undrawable? But that’s a good thing.

Amanda has had a rocky go of the media generally. From the overwhelmingly criticized success of her Kickstarter back in 2012 to her marriage to Gaiman and her badly received Poem for Dzhokhar, she has caught hell basically every time she turns around in the world.

I, personally, have always found her to be a beautifully genuine person. As well as complex and problematic one. But who among us isn’t problematic, right? I don’t really think that the things we love should be things that we do not also feel free to criticize. It has always been my motto that you cannot truly say you love something unless you feel like you can poke it until it cries (I would be a great roast host!). And I stick to that belief. The world is a problematic place. And nothing in it is ever going to be 100% fine and acceptable.

I am totally open to criticism of things that I enjoy. I have heard it said of Gaiman in that he tends to write from the perspective of white everymen. I have heard that Amanda is a narcissist. There is some truth to both of those things – and more, I’m sure – about these two people who I admire. But there is some serious beauty that has come out of this pairing, not the least of which being their artistic collaborations. Their Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer tour was brilliantly conceived and the recording of it is just… a delightful way to spend several hours. It’s not something that Neil would have done without Amanda. And it remains one of my favorite ideas of ways to spend time with an artist or a pair of artists.

This past week, Neil and Amanda guest edited an edition of The New Statesman. The idea that they decided to tackle was “The Unsayable.” They asked artists and writers and critics for their thoughts on what they are not allowed to talk about and received really interesting responses.

The topics that arose ranged greatly in scope. Stephen Fry talked about legalizing drugs and the continued strife in Israel and Palestine. Erika Moen spoke out about the ways in which progressives dogpile on one another when we make mistakes. Laurel K. Hamilton talked about her polyamorous relationships. Some of them I had difficulty agreeing with, while others seemed so vital. And that’s the thing about the Unsayable Thing, it is Unsayable because you cannot predict the reaction of the public. It is Unsayable because you do not know whether you will be censured for it. There are times when saying the Unsayable Thing means that you will be shouted down by those around you. And then there are times when saying the Unsayable will lead to an ocean of “yes” that lifts you up above the morass of chatter around you and validates everything that you have been feeling.

One example of an Unsayable Thing that resonated deeply with me was by Rose George, a British writer and author of “The Big Necessity” and “Deep Sea and Foreign Going.”

…For something so red and vivid as menstrual blood, it is very, very quiet.

Behind the silence where menstruation lives are some other figures: the 23 per cent of girls in India who leave school at puberty because they have no toilet or privacy; the countless rags, newspapers, straw, dried leaves, ash or old socks that girls use because they can’t afford sanitary pads; the girls who prostitute themselves for sanitary protection (it’s called “sex for pads”); the many schoolgirls who start bleeding and think they are dying because they have been told no differently.

Menstrual Hygiene Day is 28 May: laugh at that, by all means. At least laughter is noise. The quiet has gone on too long.

For me, and for many women living in countries where our menses are at least somewhat acceptable if still broadly shamed, speaking out about the realities of what happens to our bodies in the process of menstruation is a topic we can easily embrace. But it is one that is hugely taboo to talk about openly with anything resembling joy or directness. I, personally, have had a complicated relationship with my period. But that is a topic for another time.

I think that the conversation about what is taboo to discuss is a deeply important one. What we consider off limits and what we are afraid to speak of are vital parts of who many of us are as artists and writers and people moving through shared spaces. I think the fear of retribution and censorship is a very real fear. And I think that having these conversations in a safe space like the one that Gaiman and Palmer created in the New Statesman is a great way to generate those conversations and to work through our fears of speaking difficult things aloud.

Like the topic of Unsayable Things, Neil and Amanda remain complicated, problematic people. But I love them anyway. Or love them because of their complications and their problems. Which is really why I love anyone. Or anything. Because nothing is perfect. And I truly believe that what they add to the world is big and important and, for the most part, good.

Adult Life Lesson #359

You are going to keep running across things you didn’t realize you should have known the year before. And you are going to feel like a total idiot for not realizing it earlier. And it’s gonna just keeeeeep happenin, so you might as well get used to it.

Case in point, my refrigerator.

This weekend Frankie and I went to AC Moore as we are wont to do on a weekend. As we were leaving the house to go over I told her that I would like to get a thing that we could use to make cold brew coffee this summer and easily store it in the fridge. She agreed that would be a great idea.

Hey there, good lookin!
Hey there, good lookin!

On my way into AC Moore I see this lovely fella.

And I’m like “Shut up and take my money, AC Moore. And stop reading my goddamn mind.”

So we get it and we take it home and I clean it out and put the little nozzle on it and go to put it in the fridge. Fuck. Too tall.

I decide not to fuck with it too much because Hilary and Thomthulu are coming over and it’s just not worth the frustration.

But after they leave I decide to empty the fridge and put the shelves and stuff in different places. I move one of the smaller shelves down to accomodate the new addition and it all fits perfectly. But I have this extra wire shelf that just… won’t fit now? And it bothers me because it doesn’t make sense that we would have a shelf that just doesn’t go in the fridge for some reason.

Then it hits me.

Behold: The way my fridge should have looked for the past year and three months.
Behold: The way my fridge should have looked for the past year and three months.

It belongs in the freezer.

And I open the freezer door and there are these holes that are set perfectly for the thing to fit in there and I’m just gobsmacked. Like, how have we lived here for over a year, bitching the entire time about how unruly our fucking freezer is, mind, and not realized that this stupid wire shelf belongs up there? The wire shelf doesn’t even really fit in the fridge. It slides back and forth and stuff falls behind it. It’s just… impractical.

So yea. You’re never too old to learn new things. Or to feel like a dumb ass for not having learned them sooner.

Whee, adulthood!

Mental Health, Stigma, and Therapy

One of the most damaging taboos that I have ever run across is the taboo against speaking out and articulating issues having to do with mental health.

My first experience with this phenomenon happened before I was born. My mother was the oldest of 6 children. When my mother was 18 years old, her family home burned down. Her two youngest sisters died in the fire. My uncle, the child closest in age to the girls, spent several weeks underneath the stairs, refusing to come out. Nowadays we would send him to grief counselling or therapy of some kind. But in 1968, they simply let him do what he was doing. He grew up, developed a heroin addiction, and died of an overdose when I was 20 or so.

When it comes to dealing with our problems, we as a species are really not great at being our own counselors. It’s hard to be honest with yourself about your behavior, or even the behavior of others. Everything you do is filtered through your brain, which is suuuuuper biased for all kinds of reasons.

But, while we are super flawed when it comes to judging ourselves (and sometimes others) when it comes to emotional and mental health, we also aren’t super great about seeking help when we need it. Nor are we good at being honest when we start to get it, or about our needs and boundaries while we are working on ourselves.

There’s a lot of reasons for that. Having serious emotional or mental problems in your life is a highly stigmatized thing. It also, for me, feels like a really personal thing. It’s one thing if the people around me find out that I broke my leg. It’s quite another if they find out that I’m being medicated to deal with my anxiety or depression or what have you.

And I mean, when you consider the history of mental health in this country alone, the stigma against disclosing mental health issues becomes pretty easy to understand. Who wants to be institutionalized or shunned because their behavior doesn’t fit into the norm?

There’s also the issue of people simply not believing you when you say that you are feeling upset or depressed. Or not understanding the depth to which a person can be hurting at any given moment, or the work that they are doing and will continue to do in order to make themselves feel OK. There’s a lot of “well you don’t seem depressed” or “just go hang out with friends, you’ll feel better” and that kind of thing that gets floated around when someone says they’re dealing with anxiety or depression or any number of illnesses that happen to be invisible to the naked eye. Robot hugs makes a really good point about this whole phenomenon and how little sense it makes.

2013-11-21-Helpful Advice

I personally think that more work needs to be done in order to make these things OK and safe to talk about. And to that end, I’m going to be honest about some of the things that have been happening on my end.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been depressed. With help, I’ve been looking for a therapist, which has at least given me the feeling that I am on the right track. But it’s been super hard to deal with. I’ve gone through this before once or twice in my life. I get depressed, I go to therapy for a while, then I quit when I feel better. I feel like there are some underlying issues that I’ve never really fully addressed that actually need scrutiny for more than a month or two. It’s easy for me to get just enough help so that I feel better and quit. I do the same thing with the gym. I hit it hard for like a month, lose a few pounds, then get all scattered about it over the next couple of weeks until I feel uncomfortable enough and guilty enough to go again. Later, rinse, repeat.

Anyway, so I’ve been dealing with this. And it’s been rough. But I think it’s going to get better. I also think it’s important that we be open about what we are going through as people. Not only does it makes it easier to be honest with and accountable to ourselves, but letting the people that we care about see what is going on within helps them to be more honest with us and with other people who are close to them. Which I think can be a really powerful thing.

How weird is she, let me count the ways.

It’s Friday. It’s been a long week. And I’ve been thinking about how strange my dog seems to me and thought I’d blog about it. Because why not?

Anyway, my dog is weird. Here’s just a few examples.


When we got Xena last year, one of the things that I was super excited about was having a dog that we could take everywhere with us. Growing up, all my dogs were police dogs, so they didn’t go to parks and things like that. They were working dogs. They worked. But this dog was going to be my dog. And I could take her everywhere with me and it would be great.

As we were driving up to get Xena from her foster home in New Jersey, Frankie was talking to me about all of her previous dogs and how she had never had one that traveled well. I told her not to worry, that my pet karma would override hers and everything would be fine.

I snagged this photo of the first time Frankie ever picked her up.
I snagged this photo of the first time Frankie ever picked her up.

I remember driving up to the house where she had been fostered and being so excited I barely waited for the car to be fully parked before jumping out. When we got into the house, the three remaining puppies were downstairs and Xena walked up to us.

It was love at first sight, you guys know the deal. The next thing I knew, Frankie had scooped her up and her foster mom was saying a tearful goodbye.

We got her out in the car and went on our way. I sat in the back seat with her because I was concerned that she would be freaked out with the move and everything.

We stopped in the middle of the two hour drive, not wanting her to be stressed out by all the changes.

After we got back in the car, she was safely snuggled in the back seat with the Darren, the stuffed dragon we had bought her, and me.

I was snuggling and soothing and taking selfies with her and just generally having a grand ol’ time.

Then it happened.

With no warning.

A hurking kind of noise. And then yellow vomit down my leg, onto my shoe, pooling in the crevices between the shoelaces.

I still maintain that Frankie jinxed us. I have never had a carsick dog in my life.


Also, she lives in this box.

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Watching her try to chew bones while in the box is serious entertainment.

In other oddities, we discovered another lovely habit of my beloved fuzz nugget when we brought her home and took her to the dog park for the first time. She was so covered in dust and dirt when we left that we decided to give her a bath.

We got her into the tub without much complaining. Frankie got in the tub with her.

Then we turned the water on.

The sounds that came from my beautiful puppy were unlike any that I had ever heard before. She screamed like we were skinning her alive. I worried that neighbors would think we were torturing puppies in our apartment.

To this day, she screams like a lunatic whenever water touches her skin from a faucet. And before you ask, yes, we do warn the neighbors when bath time rolls around.


Speaking of wetness, let’s talk about the weather.

Rain? She’s not thrilled, but she’ll walk in it, no problem. She won’t walk through puddles, though. She quits when she reaches them and desperately times to run around them.

Snow? She’s obsessed. When she sees snow she wants to run back and forth in it and burrow through it like an eager baby polar bear.

Grass? Again, obsessed. Even more so if it’s grass in a cemetery, because she’s a fuckin creep and obsessed with the smell of dead people, I guess?


Also, she runs away from her poop and won’t step in her pee when she walks past it on her way back from going outside.


Long story short, she’s the best dog in the world, and she loves us more than anything, and I love finding out new bizarre things about her every day.

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This is the first photo we ever saw of her beautiful face.