We will find a way through the dark: for the love of a boy band

I want to talk about One Direction. I want to talk about them because they’re important and they matter so much to me and I want you to understand why, but I also want to talk about them because maybe if I can make my love for them seem like something deep and serious, you’ll respect it and won’t make a joke of it and I can keep talking about them without feeling like I need to apologize for it every time, and that’s a reason I hate. Things don’t always have to be deep and serious to matter. I’m not a teenager anymore and I no longer feel like I can only listen to sad, heavy songs because those are the only songs that are worthwhile and the only songs that will make people see me as a serious girl. I am a serious girl, most of the time, but I’m also a girl who desperately wants to be happy, who is so bone-deep exhausted by sadness and heaviness and dark emotions that if I never felt anything but bright, sweet, bubblegum-sugary pop happiness for the rest of my life, that would be great. As Witchsong says: there is nothing wrong with happiness, with things being easy.

One Direction’s music makes me happy. It’s music I can listen to without having to engage my brain unless I want to, music which sometimes actually requires me to disengage my brain in order to enjoy it, and while that maybe sounds like an insult, I promise you it’s not. I need to disengage my brain more often, to just. Stop. Overanalyzing everything to death. I need to just feel things, sometimes, without complicating them. I’m not very good at that, and loving One Direction is, for me, an exercise in turning off and tuning in.

On one level, they’re five boys with cute accents, doing cute things and performing cute friendship for us all to shriek about. They’re a manufactured boy band singing manufactured boy band songs about how beautiful we are even if we don’t know it, how much they love our endearing little imperfections, how devastated it makes them when we leave them. They know their audience and they cater to us flawlessly. They made a perfume for us, which, listen, actually smells pretty nice. They gave us “Girl Almighty”.

On another level, they’re stadiums full of girls who are overjoyed to be there, to be in the presence of these boys they love, but also to be in the presence of so many other girls enjoying a thing together with all their souls. Screaming teenage girls are what’s most often criticized about boy bands. Who would want to see them in concert and have their eardrums exploded by that shrieking noise? Me. I would. I’m genuinely heartbroken that I lost my chance to see One Direction in concert last September, the last chance I’d have gotten to see all five of them together. To be in the midst of that magnificence, that tidal wave of girl-energy, that sharp, bright happiness. I love girls, is the thing, and I love seeing people loving things, and I love spaces that exist just for that. I want people to get really, wildly, embarrassingly excited about the things they love, to make everyone take notice of their enthusiasm. Especially if that enthusiasm is for something that people mock and dismiss because it’s marketed toward teenage girls, because it isn’t a deep, serious, man-approved thing. I’m a serious girl, and I want permission not to be, just for a while, just in this one space. One Direction give me that permission. Harry Styles says, “You can get get anything that you want, baby just shout it out, shout it out.”

On a final level, One Direction are us. They give us a framework to talk about ourselves, to offer up and examine our emotions in a way that’s safe, away that’s easier sometimes than confronting them directly as parts of ourselves. We choose members we identify with more than the others and we project things onto them because they’re really only partially filled canvases to us. We love them and we worry about them and we talk about them as though we know them intimately, as though they’re our partners and our best friends and ourselves, because they are. They are.

For me, that special member is Zayn. It’s always been Zayn, from the first time I heard a One Direction song and thought, there could be something here, this could matter to me. It was his voice that made me listen more closely, he was the first one I Googled to find out his name, it was his awkward mumbling and his kindness toward pregnant women and his gentleness in interviews that hooked into my heart and dragged me in. It’s the little things, as they know well.

I’m embarrassed to say that it was that song that was my way into One Direction, but it was, and I can’t be sorry about it because, well, here I am. I vividly remember the first time I heard it and how much I hated it, how much I ranted about it, how scornful I was of the lyrics. To be honest, I’m still a little scornful of the lyrics, and I don’t love it anymore, but for a while it was something I played again and again. Just to solidify how much I really, really hated it. Just to make sure I had all the lyrics right, for when I wanted to complain about it. Just to hear Zayn. Just to hear Harry’s rasp. Just because … oh, because I loved it. I did.

This got away from me a little. What I meant to say was that Zayn is the most important to me, and that’s my bad luck, because earlier this week he left the group. My favorites always leave, or die, or break my heart in some other way. It’s tradition. But this time it’s so personal for me, because of what Zayn is to me. Because of what I project onto him. He seems like the least attainable, which makes him the most comfortable for me to swoon over. He seems the least accessible, the one who gives the least of himself to the public, and yet he’s also so gentle and kind and everyone loves him and wants more of him. It seems really obnoxious to relate to that, but I do. It often feels to me like people want to befriend me despite how little I give to them, and I often resent their intrusions into my life and my space because how could it be genuine? How could they care? They don’t even know me. My kindness and my desire to help people don’t mean they do. I don’t love this about myself, but it’s a thing, and I’m trying to be honest with you here.

Zayn has also been the most vocal about how anxiety-causing and overwhelming it is to be in such an enormously successful, famous band. How difficult it is sometimes, even though you’re grateful, of course, so grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given. As a very fragile anxiety baby, albeit not one who’s a member of a successful, famous band, I feel this a lot. And, similarly to how people reacted when Robin Williams died, there’s an element of, if Zayn, with all his privileges and resources, couldn’t hack it, if he was so overwhelmed by stress that he had to take a break and then ultimately decided to leave completely, what hope do I have of being okay? Of Handling my life? I’m not saying this is reasonable or rational, it’s just how I’ve felt this week, and it’s hard.

It’s also hard that this band, this collective of joy, this thing that has gotten me through so much sadness and heaviness and depression and fear, is changing. It’s not ending, maybe, but the way it used to be is ending. I don’t do well with change under the best circumstances, which these are not. Of course we all knew it wasn’t going to last forever. Boy bands are fleeting, ephemeral things. We hold on so tightly because we know that soon we won’t be able to hold on at all. I haven’t listened to “Through the Dark” since the news of Zayn’s leaving, because to me it represents everything that One Direction are and now won’t be. I wrote something about that song that I might share here soon, because it’s long and personal and means a lot and I don’t want to just shove it into this post at the end, but here. Listen, and try to understand what it means to have five beloved, important people telling you, yes, you, even though they don’t know you personally, that you deserve to be loved, that you can be loved even when you’re at your darkest, that it’s okay to cry and fall apart and that they’ll be there through it all and it will get better, somehow, someday, you’ll make it better together. Try to understand why I cried about Zayn just a little bit in therapy yesterday, and, even if you don’t care about One Direction, try to understand that I do, that a lot of people do, and maybe try to be kind to us right now. Maybe save your super funny jokes about 1D hysteria for another time.

Related reading:

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Happy wagon: 03.08.15-03.21.15

Combining two weeks into one post, because they’ve been such good, good weeks and I was too busy trying to enjoy them with my whole soul to post about them separately.

  • hours of talking, feeling effortlessly understood, always wanting to say more but also knowing it’s okay if I don’t
  • chicken salad sandwiches and strawberries in the sunshiny backyard
  • hearing birds flapping their wings right above my head
  • meeting Jesus at the mall (this one isn’t going to be understood by most others, but I don’t want to type out the whole story, so I’m really just including it so I can remember)
  • Ben & Jerry’s fudge brownie ice cream
  • being in the same room as Neil Gaiman, hearing him say funny and wise things and read cute stories
  • turning 26, feeling not great about it because it seems like a terrible age to be, but embracing it as another year that I’m still alive and having a great, laughter-filled day to make up for last year’s bad birthday
  • easily fitting other people into my routines, creating shared new routines that make me feel happy in the way that my already established ones do
  • Hilary Duff and Lifetime movies, getting to indulge in the terrible things I enjoy with someone else who appreciates the value of cheerful mockery
  • the first park trip of the year, walking in the sunshine and the breeze, sitting on benches by running water, talking to funny, cute kids
  • egg sandwiches and mashed potatoes from the Amish cafe and strawberry shortcake sundaes
  • lavender lotion from the Amish store and how great it smells and how great it makes my skin feel
  • the sweetest birthday cards and birthday presents to eagerly wait for in the mail from the loveliest friends
  • finally creeping my sleeping pattern toward healthy and regular, waking up between 9:00 and 10:00 and actually feeling awake rather than run-down and achy
  • herbs and bird feeders and tomatoes and flower pots from my mom for my birthday
  • sun sun sun
  • barely having the house to myself and loving the company, feeling sad and a little bit lonely now that it’s all mine again, which is a good thing because usually I can’t stand to be around people for more than five minutes without needing to retreat into myself and be very still and quiet
  • breaking down several anxieties that have always felt like integral parts of who I am, believing that I can define myself however I want rather than just paying lip service to the idea, for the first time feeling like I really have the tools to live my best life
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Reawakening

Please start out this post with this playlist if you have Spotify, and if you don’t, please get Spotify and then start out this post with this playlist.

This winter was hard. It was really, really hard. For everyone, I think. Even people who love winter seem to be ecstatic that it’s finally ending. But no one is more ecstatic than me. Yesterday I said to Miranda, “I’m going to say something I’ve never said before. Are you ready? I’m ready for summer.” That’s the best example I can give of how much I hated winter this year. Summer is my least favorite of all the seasons, a time when I usually retreat to my cold house with its closed blinds and lie around under fans doing nothing but complaining about how hot it is, but now I can’t wait for it. It’s barely spring, but already I’m grabbing for summer with all the strength in my greedy hands and I’m going to absorb all the sunshine in the world into myself until I set myself on fire, and then I’ll never have to be cold again. Right now, that’s the dream.

Which is to say, the last post I wrote here was on December 1, and I’ve thought about that constantly over the past three and a half months, but anything I might have written would not be something I’d want to look back on, and this blog is really for me and my archival obsession. There’s been little worth archiving, just sadness and tiredness and more sadness and more tiredness, and struggling and sadness and a little more tiredness. That’s not fair to me and all the work I’ve been doing, and it’s not really true, probably, but it feels that way, and that’s the way I would’ve written about it. No one needed to read that.

My therapist tells me that my newfound hatred for winter is actually a good thing. It means that I’m getting better, that I want to be outside doing things more than I want to be cocooned in my bed thinking about how I’m too sad to do things. I’m not sure how true that is, but I’m going with it. I’ve seen enormous amounts of progress from therapy in the past months, and felt enormous amounts of progress from medication, and made enormous amounts of progress with the treadmill and drinking more water and trying, trying, trying to get more and better sleep. That last one is still a struggle, but I’m getting there. I’m giving myself the summer to continue working on physical, mental, and emotional health, making sure I’m really stable enough that introducing potential new stressers into my life won’t completely unbalance me again, and then I’m going to push my poor scared ghost self out into the wider world and try to … do something with my life. Right now the goal is support specialist at a mental health facility, but who knows what it will be by the end of the summer. I’m very fickle.

So, for the next few months at least, I’d like to dedicate myself to this blog again. There are so many things I want to post about: books and music to share, products to review, people to praise, happy wagons to fill, essays to write. Ideas have never been my problem, it’s always the follow-through. My hope is that with the sunshine returning, with the birds singing, with our new little old house and its sixteen windows and its huge backyard for swings and picnics and sun-drenched afternoon naps, my motivation will follow suit and burst back into bloom. Maybe don’t hold your breath, but cross your fingers and hope with me.

Posted in Diary, Music | 2 Comments

On heaviness

The world is heavy and I am heavy in the world.

This is, at least in part, the reason for my current lack of blogging. November was an exceptionally difficult and stressful month, for me, but also, it seems, for almost everyone else. Personally, this has been a time of trying to love people better, trying to love some people less, trying to let some people go. It’s been a time of having to get really real with myself and my life and the ways I’ve let my mental health issues affect both, as well as other people. It’s been loss and regret and planning and packing and moving and meds and stress, and stress, and stress.

Politically, it’s been blow after blow, gut-punch after gut-punch. It’s been brutality and death and injustice, racism and ignorance and a shocking lack of empathy. It’s been don’t look at the news, don’t click the link, don’t read the comments. It’s been no emotional reserves left to deal with this world, but also the knowledge that that’s a luxury I don’t deserve to indulge, that to be an ally means opening my mouth, speaking up, engaging where others can’t and shouldn’t have to. And it’s been mourning that during a time meant for thanks, a mother has no son left to be thankful for, a woman is imprisoned for a crime she didn’t come close to committing, and a child’s life has been cruelly cut off before it even had a chance to begin.

These are the things I don’t like to blog about, because there’s already enough of them in the world, on the web. Everyone is sad, or sick, or stressed, or scared. Winter is coming and we’re all still sweet summer children. I want to write and share things that will make people feel a little warmer, a little lighter, a little happier. I want to focus on positivity so that when I’m in the depths of despair, as Anne would put it, I can look back at the good things and remind myself that they were, and are, and will be.

But sometimes, things are just hard, and heavy, and that’s all. Sometimes, you just have to sit with that heaviness and acknowledge it. Not bow to it, never that, but know that it’s there, that it’s real, and that, like all things, it’s temporary. Even if it’s recurring, it’s not forever. And then, even though it’s temporary, that it’s yours and it’s also many other people’s, and maybe it would help some of them to see it reflected back from someone else. To know that they’re not alone. Even though we know this, intellectually, we don’t always know it emotionally, and even though the news and social media never let us forget, sometimes we forget anyway.

So, you’re not alone. The world is heavy and I am heavy in the world, and if you are, too, I’m here with you. It will get better–even now, even in November, there were good, happy things–but that doesn’t make the ache less or the burden lighter, right here, right now. And that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be instantly better, you don’t have to sweep it away or hide it behind platitudes and positivity mantras. You can share it, and let people hold your hand and love you through it.

I always want things to be easy, especially emotional things. I want them to be only good, and, when they aren’t, I want to ignore and rush past them to a point when they will be again, or to a point where there’s enough distance that I don’t have to care anymore. But that isn’t the way anything works, least of all emotions, and so many of the hard things in my life have been caused by these avoidant tendencies. I know that, and I’m working on it. I’m fortunate enough to have some wonderful people in my life who never stop loving me and never stop holding out their hands, even if I don’t always take them, and I’m so glad and so grateful and I hope you have that, too.

If you don’t (or even if you do), here is me loving you, here is me holding out my hand. Here is me saying I know it’s hard, I know it’s heavy. It is for me, too. But we can help get each other to better. After winter comes spring, but winter is still to be endured, and what better form of warmth?

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Monthly roundup: September 2014

As inconsistent as ever, but here I am with another one of these.

This month I:

Read:

  • “The Sleepwalker” by R.L. Stine (3*)
  • “The Stepsister” by R.L. Stine (4*)
  • “College Weekend” by R.L. Stine (4*)
  • “Broken Date” by R.L. Stine (3*)
  • “Wrong Number” by R.L. Stine (2*)
  • “The Best Friend” by R.L. Stine (4*)
  • “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed (5*)
  • “Who We Are: Our Official Autobiography” by One Direction [abridged] (5*)

Watched:

  • “Brave” (3*)
  • “New Girl” s3 (5*)
  • “Devil’s Due” (2*)

Listened to:

  • Justin Townes Earle – “Single Mothers” (3*)
  • Ryan Adams – “Ryan Adams” (3*)
  • Leonard Cohen – “Popular Problems” (3*)
  • Lily and Madeleine – “Lily and Madeleine” and “The Weight of the Globe” (5*)

Did:

  • got myself lost, didn’t die, then got myself un-lost
  • had some unpleasant confrontations, didn’t die, life went on and no one hates me forever
  • spent money on myself, didn’t die, got lots of things I love and will get plenty of use from
  • remembered that Listography exists and made lots of pointless lists
  • helped out with a mobility thing that required me to walk around a downtown business district, didn’t die
  • spent a much-needed evening in the grass at the park and another outside in the country with puppies and silence
  • went to the dentist and had a deep cleaning, didn’t die, now have slightly healthier teeth
  • drove around looking at lots of houses, actually found a couple that we might contentedly live in, didn’t get a call back from one we applied for
  • went to a fall festival, didn’t have funnel cake, did have delicious lemonade, saw vintage dresses and shawls I didn’t buy, saw organic bath and body products I did buy, got very sore from so much walking
  • ate good food, had good conversations, laughed a lot, slept too much, made supermoon wishes, practiced being kinder to myself
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Happy wagon: 09.21.14-09.27.14

Stereotypical hippie white girl edition.

For the first time in months, I feel like there were finally enough good things in the past week to do one of these again, if only just.

  • seeing a couple of affordable and actually habitable houses during our househunting trips–even if we don’t end up living in them, it gives me hope that eventually we’ll find the one that’s meant for us, and the secret garden backyard we saw at one of them has increased my determination to get out of apartments and onto some land where I can grow things
  • My “Antidepressants” playlist on Spotify, a work in progress of songs with no unifying theme other than that they make me feel something good, the more offensive to music snobs everywhere the better (the bulk of it is currently made up of boy bands, Disney, musicals, 90s jams, and mainstream rap and R&B)
  • buying more healthy things than unhealthy for the first time in my grocery shopping history, and, consequently, eating lots of strawberries and dark chocolate granola and carrots and oatmeal and burritos that I have to assemble myself rather than frozen ones I just put in the microwave
  • the audiobook of One Direction’s autobiography, which is abridged but worth it for the fact that they each narrate a section and are all such hilariously earnest, awful babies that I thought my chest would explode with happiness while I listened
  • realizing that I’m starting to unconsciously do some of the work of therapy for myself in my daily life without needing to be guided to it just once each week, and having that realization validated by my therapist
  • Fin and Feather, a local fall festival and craft fair which is almost as good (and terrible for my bank account) as the Renaissance Festival, where this year I found an amazing wealth of organic bath and body products sold by people who make everything themselves and usually sell it out of their homes
  • using the products for the first time and ending up with skin and hair smelling of herbs and slightly minty flowering plants
  • the ever-present but somehow still unexpected kindness of strangers, both in welcoming me into their spaces and in treating me like a person, rather than like a disability that just happens to have a person attached
  • strawberry jam, on English muffins and on toast and licked from sticky fingers
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Review: “Songs for Ophelia” by Theodora Goss

I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Theodora Goss’s poetry collection, “Songs for Ophelia”, and it has taken me an absolutely inexcusable amount of time to post about it here. There are two reasons for this. Partly, as ever, depression things–getting out of bed has taken all my attention, leaving little extra for blogging of any substance. And partly, I didn’t want to finish reading. Not because it’s a bad book, but because it’s so wonderful.

I’m reminded of the Faerie Market from Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust”, and the glass and crystal flowers that were sold there. They seemed to be simple faerie trifles, chiefly decorative, meant only to entertain and give pleasure. But, as Tristran eventually learned, the one his father gave him was really a frozen charm, a thing of power. The same is true of the poems in this book. At first glance they seem to be simple, pretty little verses, pleasing to read but nothing of great power, but this is just a trick to lure you in, and soon you find that you’ve been wandering through the land of the faeries for ages and you’re not quite sure how to get back home. You’re not quite sure you even want to.

Catherynne M. Valente says it best in the introduction:

But of course, that can’t be right. I must be mistaken. Nothing elegant can be raw. Nothing delicate can break your heart. Nothing otherworldly can say anything real about the human experience. Everyone knows that. It is a universal truth, held universally.

I guess nobody told Theodora Goss. What good fortune for the rest of us.

The poems are divided into four sections, one for each season. I liked the spring and autumn sections best, but there really isn’t a bad poem in the bunch. They all showcase Theodora Goss’s graceful, lyrical writing beautifully, and they all possess a certain hidden sting, a lingering thorn-prick to the heart. They were the very best medicine to get me through the difficult months of summer when all I wanted to do was retreat to a cool, dark cave and be silent and still. A necessary reminder that there is beauty and life in every season.

I am very interested in writing about and for daughters, despite the fact that I never intend to have any of my own, so I was particularly delighted to see an example of this here.

Advice to a Daughter

The moon’s the mistress for you: bind up your long brown hair,
and enter into her workshop, and learn her dark technique.
Learn to alter and falter and fatten, week to week;
learn to glide without turning, and silently stare and stare.

Learn her blank luminescence, and learn to daily draw
the seas of all the world without need of net or sieve,
to trail upon their waters one negligent white sleeve
and confound the bearded sages with inimitable law.

And, as anyone who knows me could attest, autumn is my favorite season, the only one during which I feel truly alive, so I was immediately drawn to this gorgeous example of everything I love about it.

Autumn’s Song

You are not alone.

If they could, the oaks would bend down to take your hands,
bowing and saying, Lady, come dance with us.
The elder bushes would offer their berries to hang
from your ears or around your neck.
The wild clematis known as Traveler’s Joy
would give you its star-shaped blossoms for your crown.
And the maples would offer their leaves,
russet and amber and gold,
for your ball gown.

The wild geese flying south would call to you, Lady,
we will tell your sister, Summer, that you are well.
You would reply, Yes, bring her this news –
the world is old, old, yet we have friends.
The squirrels gathering nuts, the garnet hips
of the wild roses, the birches with their white bark.

You would dress yourself in mist and early frost
to tread the autumn dances – the dance of fire
and fallen leaves, the expectation of snow.
And when your sister Winter pays a visit,
You would give her tea in a ceramic cup,
bread and honey on a wooden plate.

You would nod, as women do, and tell each other,

The world is more magical than we know.

You are not alone.

Listen: the pines are whispering their love,
and the sky herself, gray and low, bends down
to kiss you on both cheeks. Daughter, she says,
I am always with you. Listen: my winds are singing
autumn’s song.

These are just a couple of the treasures to be found in this collection, and if you like poetry, or beautiful things, or fairy tales, I urge you to get a copy and see for yourself. The pages are bursting with fairy tale allusions, elves, goblins, princesses, and old, elemental magics. Just be sure to take something with you to remind you of the way back home, lest you be eternally lost in a darkly enchanted forest.

You can buy “Songs for Ophelia” from Amazon, or you can buy it from Papaveria Press, along with Theodora Goss’s other collection, “In the Forest of Forgetting”. And while I’m sharing links, you should read this blog post where she talks about the collection, and about writing poetry, and about doing what you fear.

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Life lessons from Fear Street

I’ve been reading a lot of the Fear Street books by R.L. Stine lately, because for some reason their ridiculous plots and terrible characters are the only things that are bringing me any happiness these days. Shadyside is an awful place to live and it’s pretty amazing that any of its residents are still living at all, but their trials have taught me some valuable life lessons and now I’m here to share them with you.

  1. If you think it’s a dead body, it’s probably just a harmless household item, or a mannequin.
  2. If you have in any way broken the law, even if that lawbreaking involves murder, running away and never owning up to it is the best, most reasonable course of action. You don’t want to ruin your whole life over a silly mistake, after all, and probably no one will ever find out what you did otherwise.
  3. Stalking, controlling, clingy behavior should really get your engine revving. The creepier and more overbearing a boy is, the more he loves you. Or at least the better the makeouts will be.
  4. Speaking of makeouts, you should have them a lot. With anyone who wants to. Even if you’re dating someone, it’s okay if you just can’t help yourself and are forced to kiss someone else. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. And if it does, oh well, they should have known better than to spend a single second without you and there are many more fish in this terrible, terrible sea.
  5. Don’t call the police at all, ever. They’re useless. You’re probably just overreacting, anyway. What’s a little crime between friends?
  6. If you suspect someone of committing crimes or plotting to kill you, you should definitely still keep hanging around them. In fact, why not spend time alone with them in an isolated place? Nothing bad could happen.
  7. Girls with short hair are never destined for anything good. Long red hair is where it’s at.
  8. If you think you’ve uncovered a nefarious plot, a really great, foolproof plan is to go and confront the people who are plotting it. Once they know you’re onto them, they’ll have no choice but to just give up.
  9. Bullying leads to murder. Have you checked up on the people you used to bully in school? You should. They’re probably plotting to murder you right now.
  10. Mentally ill people are always delusional and violent. And they probably also want to murder you. Everyone probably wants to murder you. Your best friend, your boyfriend, your sister, that random guy on the street, everyone. Never trust anyone. But especially mentally ill people.
  11. Poor people, too. They’re pretty suspicious.
  12. If you’re a girl and you step foot outside your house, you’re going to be stalked. And that stalking is probably going to involve not-very-subtle chasing. Even in the middle of a sunny day, you’re not safe. Stalking. And chasing. Everywhere.
  13. No decent teenager in a relationship would ever do more than kiss, and maybe talk about their partner having a sexy bod, if they’re very daring.
  14. But sexual assault is cool if you can’t get the person you’re interested in to be in a relationship with you in the first place. They’ll appreciate it later. Or one of you will be dead.
  15. The number one rule of dating is: don’t. It will only lead to murder. Because everything leads to murder.
  16. The number two rule of dating is: if you’re going to insist on doing it, make sure you’re actually dating the person you think you are. The likelihood is that you’re not. They’re probably an evil twin, or a person with a dark secret. Involving murder. And you’re next.
  17. The number one rule of life is: if anyone annoys, wrongs, or in any way inconveniences you, murdering them is the only logical thing to do. It’s likely that you won’t even get a very heavy sentence for it.

I didn’t even touch on the lessons taught to us about blind people, all from one book, because that would be a whole post on its own.

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Happy wagon: coping techniques

It’s been a very hard week for the world, and a very hard month and a half for me. There have been few things I could make happy wagon posts about, so I haven’t made any for a while. Today, instead of making a post about the past week, I’m going to make one about the things I’ve done to cope with heaviness and sadness and hard depressive slumps in general. I’m not always good at using healthy coping skills–I’m particularly fond of avoidance–but I think I’ve found a few good things to do, and I’d like to remember them. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

  • Embrace weirdness. Do the things you usually keep yourself from doing because people wouldn’t understand, and let yourself feel comforted by them. Take a book, “Tuck Everlasting” or “Anne of Green Gables” or Goosebumps or whatever made you happy in your childhood, and curl up in the closet and read it the way you did when you were small. Turn on Alanis Morissette or Celine Dion and turn it up loud the way your mom used to do when she was cleaning. Sometimes small spaces and loud music are the only things that will keep your insides from knotting up and your hands from shaking.
  • Play 90s and 00s summer pop hits on Spotify. Listen to All-4-One’s “(She’s Got) Skillz” and smile and sway. Listen to Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” and sing outrageously. Listen to Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and try to sing outrageously in between bursts of laughter.
  • Clean and clean and clean, until your house feels like a place you want to exist in again.
  • Eat food. Sleep early.
  • Listen to other people telling stories, The Moth or Snap Judgment or call your loved ones and ask them to talk to you about things.
  • Call your loved ones anyway, or email them, or texdt them, or whatever it is you do to communicate. Tell them you’re feeling sad, anxious, heavy, whatever you’re feeling. Let them help you. Trust them to know how, and, if they don’t, trust yourself to tell them.
  • Be aware of the world around you, care about people and the things that are happening to them, but remember to balance it with taking care of your own mental health. Recognize that it’s a privilege to be able to do that at all, but don’t bury yourself in guilt over it. That will help no one.
  • Talk to yourself the way you would talk to someone you love, give yourself gentle and wise council and ruthlessly smash the brainvoices that would have you believe that you deserve less, that you are less. Remind yourself that everyone has their own life to live and their own path to walk, that just because someone else is farther along their path according to what society values, it doesn’t mean they’re better or more hardworking or more deserving than you. Remind yourself of all the things you contribute to the world, however small they are. Mock yourself if you must, call these things cliches–they are, but it doesn’t make them any less true.
  • Cry a lot. Just do it. It’s okay.
  • Beyoncé, always and always and always.
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There is magic in the myth

Day 6 of The Enchantment Diaries from The Fable Tribe
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

THERE IS MAGIC IN THE MYTH

Sometimes, we’ve heard a story so many times that we don’t really hear it. Is there a story about yourself that you tell others over and over? That you’re not good enough, smart enough, that this one thing happened and that’s why you haven’t tried to create/do/be/love/hope?

Write down the very first story that comes to mind that you tell others that makes you feel a little uncomfortable. But you always tell it, anyway.

What if you didn’t tell it? What if you really could create/do/be/love/hope whatever it is?

The stories you tell are powerful. Tell the stories that make you feel good.

My story goes like this.

I started out as a girl and I grew up into a raw nerve, the rawest and nerviest, too much, too messy. When I was young, still a girl, I wasn’t enough, I was a shadow or, sometimes, a spotlight on the ugliest and worst places, but either way, an outlier. Boys didn’t notice me because there was nothing there to notice, nothing for them to hold up and show to the world. Girls didn’t notice me because there was nothing to me that could elevate them, nothing that could make them more for boys to hold up and show to the world. It was no wonder I learned how to love alone, there was nothing about me that deserved companionship. I was all half-scrawled loose-leaf pages, held together by the slightest of skin and bones.

When I was older, when I had become a raw nerve, I was too much, living in a world that was too little, that had made me too little. I wanted to rebel. I was too much emotion for anyone to love me, too much crazy for anyone to deal with for long. I was too lazy to do anything useful with myself, to make anything useful out of my life, to contribute anything useful to the world. I was too difficult for patience, too sad for understanding, too prickly for goodness. And, on especially bad days, I was too blind to do anything I wanted to do, to make myself happy. It was no wonder I continued to nurture that love of alone, there were too many messy feelings in me to leave room for anyone else. I was a fire barely kept in check, just waiting for that one last spark to send my whole world up in flames.

A better, kinder story might go like this.

I am a girl, a raw nerve, half-scrawled loose-leaf pages, and a conflagration all in one. I’m a human being, a messy, emotional human being living in a messy, emotional world. There’s a lot of ugly in me, and in the world, but there’s a lot of beauty there too, so much magic I can feel it on my skin, in my bones, beneath my feet, all around me. I’m not crazy. I’m not lazy. I may struggle with depression, anxiety, who knows what, who knows how it will manifest, how my brain will try to eat itself alive next. But I still have a life, and I can still live it.

I’m a librarian, or a counselor, or an activist, or a baker, or a cat lady taking baby steps toward a future where anything is possible. I’m in love with so many people, and so many people are in love with me. They stand beside me and hold my hands when I need them to and maintain a strict distance when I need them to and they’re always there.

I’m cradling my teenage self and my twenty-five-year-old self and my fifty-year-old self and my eighty-year-old self, holding them all close inside me, whispering to them again and again, as many times as they need to hear it, that they’re not too much and they’re not not enough, they’re perfect, they’re everything. They’re exactly what they were created to be, doing exactly what they were created to do. They’re going to give so much to the world, and the world is going to give so much back. It won’t always be so hard, and when it is, there will be overcoming, and overcoming, and overcoming. There will be living, and growing, and thriving. There will be a happily ever after.

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