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On Sabbatical

19 Nov

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve sat down to write. I honestly don’t know if I ever even wrote about the next major change in my life. But here we are and its time to put metaphorical pen to paper. Consider this another type of healing.

Moving home was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make for myself. Even now, almost 2 years after deciding to do so, and just over a year of living with my decision, I struggle with if this was the right decision to make. Some days I feel regretful. Some days I feel like it was the right (and obvious) choice. Most days, if I’m being honest with myself, it’s coming to terms with the fact that this was my choice and it’ll shake itself out eventually. I’m not one to feel regret, so I know deep down that it’s all part of the grand adventure (even though sometimes I question this whole “adventure” to begin with).

At first, I was jokingly calling my time during the move as a sabbatical of sorts. As I approached this so-called sabbatical and as I’ve lived through it for the past year and a half, I’ve realized that its more of a sabbatical than anything else. The growth I’ve experienced and the things I’ve had to address taking a step back from my career has been mind-boggling. Because really, that is what its all come down to. Yes, I need to pay off debt. Yes, in order to do that effectively, I needed to move to somewhere I could afford to live. But what I really needed, and this is affirmed pretty much every day of my life, is that I needed a step back from animal welfare.

I worked in animal welfare for just about 7 years (which, I didn’t learn this until about 5 minutes ago, is the length of time at which one may take a sabbatical in a traditional sense) and it is hard, exceptionally stressful work. Looking back, I may have very well had more bad days than good. I’m working on it, but I still can’t talk candidly in mixed company about what I did for a living. It is just such a loaded topic that I can’t begin to address it all.

I’ve learned some things about myself in this past year and a half that I hadn’t even expected to address. The most prominent is that I rediscovered a long-lost sensitivity about myself. Its been 2 or 3 years now since I set out to allow myself to feel feelings. A person close to my once told me I was “cold” and “unfeeling” and “robotic”. It was a comment I kind of just locked up and never really referred to unless I was in a bad mood, but about that time – 2 to 3 years ago – I found myself dating a gentleman who seemed really awesome. It was this time in my life when I realized I really needed to allow myself to feel and express feelings and that it was okay to be the sensitive person I hid and smothered for so long. But…nothing really changed. I think I realize now (as I’m addressing these feelings popping up here and there) that my job in animal welfare required me to squash these feelings as much as possible to protect what was actually very fragile. That feeling all my feelings and sensitivities fully would make me horrible to deal with while doing my job. I’m still trying to find the balance and I’m grateful for the people in my life who must put up with my sensitivity, but until quite recently, I didn’t even realize why I had all of these feelings pushed back into the dark recesses of my mind.

I also find myself more and more regularly exposing myself back to things I once loved. For quite some time now (I can’t quite peg which year, but possibly around 2013) I lost the ability to watch animal documentaries. This I knew was directly caused by my line of work. No one wants to do something all day every day and then go home and do it more and then sit down to relax and keep doing it. So while I had to still scoop the litterbox and feed my pets, animal documentaries were out. As the years ticked by, I began to realize that it wasn’t just something I chose to do. I could no longer sit down on the couch and put on an episode of “My Cat from Hell” and just enjoy Jackson Galaxy’s presence. I found that even thinking about the action of turning on the TV and seeking these shows out, as much as I loved them, stirred up so much anxiety I couldn’t keep going. I had to stop. I hope that within the next few months I can sit down and watch a full-length, David-Attenborough-in-all-his-narrative-glory animal documentary. I’m able to put clips up on the TV, and through the unexpected help of a friend, watch extended clips via Snapchat but I’m not quite able to actively seek out full-length shows.

Moving back home and living in a small town again has definitely had its challenges. It’s been difficult some days and quite peaceful others. I absolutely miss many of the pleasures and conveniences of big town/small city living but its given me a different perspective that I know I should be thankful for. I know I have a long way to go, and perhaps the scariest part of this journey I’m on is that I’ve reached a point in which I have no clear path ahead. For the first time in my life I have no 5 year plan. No 3 year plan. I don’t even know what I’ll be doing a year from now. I abandoned my career to take time to heal and I’ve found myself at a crossroads at the mercy of the universe. I think the next part of my journey is not “I’ve paid off a chunk of my debt and now its time to save to move back to where I was” like I thought it would be. Right now it is looking very much like I am finding my way back to independence to continue the healing process on my own, in my own space, and in my own home. I have an idea of where I’d like to be in 1, 3, 5 years but the universe is still making up its mind on how (and if) we’ll arrive as intended. But until then, I suppose I’m just “on sabbatical”.

Nakey Taters!

6 Jan

Meet Sir Hippopotamus N. Tater

I recently adopted him from the shelter I work at. He is a skinny pig (otherwise known as a hairless guinea pig) and very social! If you’d like to keep up with him, you can find him sh owing off his fashionable sweaters  (a whole years worth, to be precise) on his instagram: nakeytaters365

Here is this week’s set:

Practicing My Prose: Story 1, The Kiss

8 Jan

In an effort to practice my prose, particularly first person narrative, I am going to be telling some stories. Here is the first story, chosen from a list of questions posed to me, simply because it was the easiest to write about. Here is the story of my first kiss (a true story, I might add)…

 

The Kiss

 

I’m a smart girl. I’ve always been a smart girl. I know good and well what and where this could lead to, and that is exactly why I’m doing it. If anyone asks me tomorrow or next week, I’ll play none the wiser. Maybe I’ll even believe myself then, but for now, please. I pull out the small, but quite heavy, Nokia from my pocket. The Nokia that isn’t even mine. Half a pre-paid minute worth of text is all it takes.

“u left ur tape in my car…im driving around…do u want me to bring it to u?”

Yes. I’m driving around in a car I’m not even licensed to drive.

Nothing good happens after 2 am, they say. The same must be true after 10 pm in high school.

Midnight. It’s midnight and I’m texting a boy because I want to return his tape. No, not that. I’m texting a boy because I want to spend time with a boy. I’m driving around in a car I’m not even licensed to drive at midnight texting a boy because I want to return his tape. But these things haven’t turned into anything other than time before, so I shouldn’t hope for anything this evening. But it’s midnight. And I am. And I shouldn’t. But I am.

The Nokia chirps. “ok just come in when u get here”

Just come in? Just come in? What does that mean – just come in? What am I even walking into? I pop a cherry jolly rancher in my mouth. Dan, 19, from Charlotte, NC told Cosmo that the best kiss he ever had was when the girl who kissed him had just eaten peaches. Peaches isn’t something you eat at midnight. No. Cherry jolly rancher will have to do. I pull into his driveway and turn off my car. As I open my car door, I breathe a sigh of relief as I notice him coming out of the front door. Black t-shirt. White gym shorts. This is already nervewracking enough without having to go into someones parent’s house, a house I’ve never been in. I grab the tape and I get out of my car and walk over to his doorstep.

“Hey. What’s up?”

“Not much. You?”

“Oh…just driving around being bored. Here’s your tape.”

“Thanks. Want to come in?”

Well, I hadn’t planned on coming inside, but don’t mind if I do. Maybe I hadn’t planned, but I sure had hoped.

“Sure.”

The house is dark and unnvervingly quiet. More than likely because it’s midnight. It’s midnight and I’m in a boys house. A boy that I like. Because I needed to bring him his tape.

Without any other place to sit, we sit on his bed. And we talk. I’m sure we talk, but the words aren’t sticking and I’m not even sure what we are talking about. But I know we are talking. I initiate contact first: a simple poke to his side, but it’s plenty enough to get the reaction I needed. He flinches. I do it again. His body bows in ticklishness.Then, with more voracity than I, he grabs my sides and begins tickling me. I shriek and laugh and roll and when he stops I’m on my back, each others various body parts intertwined in a way that results from a tickle fight. I love being tickled.

My laughter dissolves into a smile as I look up at him. We stare at each other for an eternity. Jolly rancher help me. He brings his face close to mine and slowly kisses my upper lip.

Is that how it is supposed to happen?

He makes his way down one side of my mouth and across the bottom. This doesn’t feel right. This doesn’t feel right at all. Is this really what people get so excited over? I open my eyes as he moves around my mouth and I stare up at the ceiling.

 

Wait. My eyes are open. I close them abruptly and squeeze them tight.

I feel his hand underneath my tank top, working its way toward my butter-yellow bra and my 17-year-old chest. This moment went from mediocre to uncomfortable really fast. What do I say? Should I let him keep going? As he reaches the top of my lip and the bottom of my bra, I pivot away and teasingly say “Get out of there!”

He pulls back quickly and apologizes. Oh no! I didn’t say it teasingly enough! Get out of there? Who says that?

I’m mortified. And that kiss was terrible. Or at least completely different than I thought kisses should be. Maybe Dan from North Carolina was right. That sure wasn’t anything like peaches.

I get into my car and reflect. I must’ve said something to get here, but what? I pull out the not-mine-Nokia and think of what to say as I drive the few blocks home.

I’m going to get teased so much when I tell my friends what I said. I just won’t tell them. It shouldn’t be hard to keep that detail hidden.

Oh, but it was…

fin

 

Did you feel any emotions when reading my story and if so, what emotions? Were you able to visualize the situation? Did you feel connected to the narrator (me)? Did I capture the awkwardness of youth? How do you feel that I didn’t include any names? Did you feel anything was too vague or had too much detail?

My goal here is to improve my writing, so feedback is extremely appreciated!

Don’t Be a Victim: An Ode to Personal Responsibility

25 Jul

Let’s talk about a dicey subject.

Victim shaming.

Often considered an integral piece of rape culture,  victim shaming is generally known as any behavior, attitude, or stance that places blame on the victim for the incident or causes the victim to feel ashamed of his or her actions secondary to blaming the incident on the victim’s actions. As a part of rape culture, statements such as “she shouldn’t have been wearing that” or “she shouldn’t have drank that much” are common ways to propogate feelings of rape being a result of a woman’s actions, instead of that of a man’s (I’m using these particular pronouns because of the statistical frequency of rape to particular genders, however, I do very much acknowledge the presence of rape of men by men or by women – I’m not forgetting you fellas, I promise!).

It is important that we help to eliminate this brand of propogation of rape culture by teaching men and women what consent is and means and understanding that blaming anyone but the perpetrator is not okay.

I have, however, seen a lot of social media coverage of things that are basically telling anyone to throw caution to the wind. Run naked and drunk through that dark alley into that windowless van, young girl! Rape isn’t your fault!

Well, no. Rape isn’t your fault, and I do not want anyone thinking that I am suggesting that. I’m going to continue to use this scenario for explanatory purposes. If you do, in fact, run naked and drunk through a dark alley in a windowless van, this is not an excuse to rape you. It is not a reason to rape you. You should not be raped in this situation, or ever. (It is an excuse to provide you with a warm blanket, and probably call the police because a safe place for you to go is needed.) I am also not, in any way, attempting to make any person feel ashamed of whatever experiences they have been or will go through.

BUT…(yes, there is a but)…don’t be a victim.

A dark alley probably isn’t a great place to walk, regardless of your gender, how you are dressed, or your degree of sobriety. Getting into a strangers vehicle is not a great idea regardless of your gender, how you are dressed, or your degree of sobriety. Doing these things while drunk and naked is an even worse idea regardless of your gender or how you are dressed.

These things are unneccessary risks, especially in combination.

What it all comes down to is this:

The only person responsible for you…is you.

Please. Take personal responsibility for yourself. Be accountable for your actions. Be safe.

I recently saw a social media post about a girl who got hit by a car because she was playing Pokemon GO explaining that it was the game’s fault. There is no personal responsibility in that statement. It is terrible that she got hit by a car, and we would all hope that the driver in that situation was paying attention and had enough time to come to a complete stop without hitting the girl, but the fact of the matter is that this girl needs to understand that in the future, she should decrease the risk level she is taking by being more proactive in her own environment.

If you have done an acceptable degree of prevention, whatever the incident, and the incident still occurs, then at the very least you can say I did my part. It isn’t my fault. Because the last thing anyone wants to feel is that feeling of maybe I could have done this differently, or this, or that…The less someone has to face these feelings after a rape, the closer they are to healing.

We can tell everyone all the time from a young age until we are blue in the face that “no means no” or “lack of communiction is not consent” but just as it is with anything, variation in the human element means that rape will always happen. It is a lonely world out there, and I can only hope that there is someone out there that cares about you, but at the end of the day, we are all selfish human beings with our own needs to take care of.

That’s okay. We also try to be decent humans to each other and support each others interests.

But if you aren’t being responsible, there is no guarantee that someone else will be responsible. Empower yourself. Take the precautions needed when you need to take them. It’s okay.

What do you think of personal responsibility? What is something that you do to take charge when you’re feeling unsafe in your environment?

Aside 5 Mar

Confession time:

I want to walk into a house and instantly feel an overwhelmingly ominous presence (because it’s haunted).

Aside 17 Feb

Confession time:

I just want someone to kiss me, touch my boobs, and tell me I’m pretty.

30 Days of Online Dating: Day 30 (The Final Day)

29 Dec

Dearest Readers,

I thank you so much for joining me on this 30 day adventure. I’ve learned some about myself, a lot about dating sites, and I challenged myself to do some things that were terrifying, even if it was behind a virtual smokescreen.

Alas, we’ve reached our last day, and it isn’t bittersweet at all!! This has been a lot of work, without any tangible pay-off. Now that I don’t have much in the way of new things to fill you in on, I’ll do a recap of the last 30 days along with some highlights

Day 1: driven to quiet desperation by discovering a someone got a someone, I joined HowAboutWe.
Day 5: I got asked out by a guy who seems pretty much perfect, except for location
Day 21: No more potential matches
Day 22: I wrote about orgasms
Day 28: 1 more potential match
Day 29: a superintendent showed interest, but he lives in Glenwood Springs

Messages Sent: 7
Messages Received: 0
Conversations: 3
Intrigued by:
66 
Mutual Intrigues: less than 10, of which even fewer resulted in any kind of conversation

Things learned (general): It is exhausting to search and search and message people and then get nothing in return
Things learned about myself: a lot, but mostly that I still don’t like the idea of dating and meeting strangers…I’m good at relationships, but the part the proceeds the relationships
Something I challenged myself to do: message people first, openly tell people their pictures are cute

Most bizarre/shocking: Still has to be longrod21 with his wanting to hook up. There are better places for that *cough*tinder*cough*

 

Number of dates: 0

 

I won’t be deactivating my profile. If I remember correctly, you can still message people now without paying. I won’t however, be actively participating (meaning I’m not going to be browsing men, but rather, just responding if someone reaches out).

What are your thoughts? What should I do next (and don’t say Tinder!)?