Monday, November 18, 2013

Calling Yourself a Feminist

Disclaimer: I have wanted to write this blog for a long time and have been waiting to feel qualified enough to do so. I still don't feel qualified or educated enough to do so, but it is what it is, feel free to lay the criticisms on thick. Some people might find this redundant or giving acknowledgement to old stigmas, but I know enough young people who read my blog and grew up where I grew up to believe that I should write this.

For the first eighteen years of my life, I would have never called myself a feminist. I grew up in a town where 'feminism' was a word you rarely heard unless someone was associating it with man-hate, lesbianism, and bra-burning. I never studied feminism or women's rights as a child; I remember very distinctly the paragraph women's suffrage & the 19th amendment were allotted in my U.S. History book, as well as the two pages the Civil Rights Movement happened inside of. High school is a pretty misogynistic place, especially in small town Ohio, where short shorts, nose rings, and feathers in your hair are considered distractions to your peers, where you'll find yourself slut-shamed in the school newspaper if you show cleavage at a party, where average football players are treated like Gods and grow up to become cops in a boring town where the biggest crime bust is a house full of college-accepted/scholarship-awarded students. High school is a place where boys are called, "pussys" for any number of reasons, liking someone, playing the wrong sport, not fighting others. A place where girls are judged on physical presentation, called sluts/whores/bitches/hoes endlessly whether they're sleeping with someone or no one, and taught that the competition between us is never ending, might as well adapt. To all of the confused people who have been told high school will be the best years of your life, they lied, that's a big fucking lie.

These days I sport a red fist in the center of my back, and I call myself a feminist. Somewhere, in an alternate universe, there is a little blonde cheerleader who would be completely mindfucked by my existence (or maybe she would think I was cool as hell, after all, she is going to become me). I'm not using this blog to stand on a soapbox and preach my beliefs, I simply want to express, as the daughter of a feminist who said, "I wouldn't call myself a feminist," there is nothing wrong with calling yourself a feminist. Feminism is defined by the individual and accomplished by the unification of those individuals. There are a million or more definitions of Feminism. I call myself a mermaid and a fairy princess too, and by some definitions, I guess I'm not? (But I am).

I recently read a quote by Lady Gaga that said, "I'm not a feminist. I hail men. I love men."And a quote by Katy Perry that said, "I'm not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women." These make me sad, these statements mean that little girls who worship these women will hear these statements, read these statements and continue to believe that the stigma of feminism is feminism. For starters, Lady Gaga, I too love men, I too hail men. My father, my boyfriend, my brother, my Uncle John, my Uncle Rich, my Grandpa, my Uncle Kris, are some of the most important, influential, beautiful people in my life. Feminism can have so much to do with loving men, with banding together with men, with believing in the goodness of men as they honor the power of women and vice versa. Feminism is about men and women, it's about cooperation, partnership, accepting that as a man it is difficult to see the privilege you have. People say Feminism needs a better marketing campaign, a fresh new look, to be beautified; but isn't that just perpetuating everything that is already hard about being a woman in this society? Maybe people could read into it a little, spend a couple minutes on,,, etc. once a week, just to see that there are constant human rights attacks surrounding us in every sphere. Read The Feminine Mystique, The Vagina Monologues, Sexing the Cherry; read anything and think about it, all of it. And if you genuinely don't care, you think that the world is fine that the way it is and we are just nitpicking, I implore you to do a few things:

1. Google the phrases, "Women have...", "Women should...", "Women can't..." "Women shouldn't..." etc.
2. Google the things that are happening to women and girls in India/South Africa/Syria/all over the world.
3. Investigate the efforts throughout this country to take away/limit a woman's right to a safe abortion, a woman's access to birth control, or the fact that 60% of sexual assault in the past five years has gone unreported (RAINN).
4. Does it make sense that women make up 50.8% of the U.S. population and only make up 18.3% of the U.S. Congress (CAWP)? That means, for the most part, old men are deciding what women can and can't do with their vaginas.
5. Wait patiently for the next article to come out about a woman who was raped and then somehow made out to be the perpetrator of her rape, because it will happen again, our society allows for it.
6. Watch the movie, Miss Representation on Netflix.
7. Just ask yourself a couple questions:
-Do women deserve to earn the same amount of money as men?
-Should young women be taught that their empowerment is often made synonymous with militance, bitchiness, ugliness, etc.?
-Is there any sound reason why every day, a third of my twitter feed is men calling women sluts, women calling women sluts, women and men criticizing women for the way they dress, do their makeup, how much they weigh, what they go to school for, the way they talk, who they sleep with, who they don't sleep with, and on, and on, and on?

My own personal definition of feminism is this: We live in a society in which boys and girls are taught from a very young age that there are certain qualities they should uphold in order to belong in our society and that is bullshit. As girls, we are constantly fed images of photoshopped, oversexualized models, we are taught that we have to be innocent and virginal but at the same time sexy, sophisticated, and experienced; two standards that are impossible to carry at the same time. I believe that because I am a human, not just a woman, it is my job to fight for the rights of all humans; I believe in intersectionality and I believe in recognizing your privilege and your injustices and the experiences with which you can only empathize. I believe that we should have the career we want, the education we want, the healthcare coverage we want, the ability to wear what we want, say what we want, be with who we want and that we shouldn't be limited or held back or condemned or judged or slut-shamed for the decisions we make. Parts of my feminism need reinforced, and some parts may not belong in your definition of feminism, and that's okay. My favorite part of feminism is accepting that it looks different to all of us and yet, we still believe our unity is the driving force behind women's empowerment.

I have always believed that what makes a person special is their desire to reach the top, and instead of trying to get higher, climbing back to the bottom and bringing back as many others as they can back to the top with them.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Who is the strongest person you know?

"There is so much pain and I don't know how to not notice it."

I have always identified myself as strong; tough as nails, sticks and stones can't break my bones, you can't break me, you can't even shake me, you know, that whole thing. And I do genuinely believe I have strong characteristics and I do think I'm capable of handling a lot, but the truth is: nothing really bad has ever happened to me. I have been very loved, very blessed, and very privileged for my entire life. I have done stupid things and that had bad consequences, but I chose them. I have cared about people who hurt me, but I chose them. In all of the moments when my strength was tested, there was a preceding moment in which I knew, this could go horribly wrong, and then it did. But I don't think these things make me exceptional and I don't think they make me strong, they just make me a person who deals with shit when she has to deal with shit. I might have defined strength differently, I might have thought the things I experienced were hard, I might have gone so far as to think I can genuinely understand the kind of pain people are put through, if I wasn't my mother's daughter.

My mother is little, very little. To hear her tell it, she is an ogre, but in reality, she is a beautiful, sunny little person. You might know her from church or from knowing me or from high school or from work or from her writing, but no matter how you know her, very quickly you realized that she is a lot of woman contained in that tiny body. She will pray for you until your burden is lessened, she will readily hit you with a barrage of fucks, and I guarantee she can drink more beer than you. Any of you reading this, I don't care your body weight or your age or your presumed drinking talents, she can drink more beer than you.

When I was ten I got a C+ in social studies. My dad told me it was okay and sometimes smart people get bad grades and that I would just have to try harder next semester. But it didn't really matter what dad said because I knew my mom was going to come home and shove my report card up my ass; I never got a C on a report card again. When I was sixteen she grounded me for two weeks because I drank at a party and lied to her about it, when I was eight she smacked me in the head with a brush because I wouldn't sit still. And in all of the twenty years I've known her, these are the only bad things I ever remember her putting me through, and they were for my own good. For the entirety of my life, she has always gone infinitely above and beyond for me, more so than anyone I've ever known. She is so good and so kind and she will love you, no matter who you are, and when you wrong her, she will love you more.

My mother is sweeter than I am, she is more friendly and more likely to take an interest in random people in Wal-Mart than I am. She is sweeter, but she is much stronger than anyone I have ever known.  When she was fifteen, her brother and her everything died. A year later, her best friend died of cancer. When she was twenty four, another one of her brothers committed suicide. And two years ago, her father died. She has survived three labors, bankruptcy, countless betrayals, and the kind of experiences that make people go wonky-eyed. Her story is hers to tell though, not mine. The reason I write is not because I want to tell you all how much I love my mom or admire her or am in awe of her, she and all of you are well aware of that. I write because I am in awe of so many of you, your strength, your resiliency, your ability to get out of bed and keep fighting and keep succeeding. I write because throughout my lifetime I have been asked a thousand and one times, "Who is the strongest person you know?"

And I have to say, I think everyone I know is the strongest person in the world.

The world has a lot of conflicting ideas, a lot of beauty and a lot of pain and a lot pain disguised as beauty and beauty disguised as pain. But you are all surviving, thriving in it. And some days you have to remember that getting out of bed is more than someone else could do today. And other days you have to remember that the universe is not conspiring against you, sometimes shit just sucks. But every day, you have to remember that you are trying, that you are probably being too hard on yourself, and that we get to do this only one time, and doing something that makes you happy, is not a bad thing.

For the ones doing everything in their power to be the best big brother they can, I am in awe of you. For the ones who are planting churches and raising babies, I am in awe of you. For the ones battling depression, I am in awe of you. For the ones struggling to find God, find yourself, find your way out of the closet, I am in awe of you. For the ones loving people in different states, different time zones, different countries, I am in awe of you. For the ones who can't see the next step, the next paycheck, the next light at the end of the tunnel, I am in awe of you. I don't know if someone tells you how strong you are being every day, but damn, you are truly remarkable.

I don't think it is my burden to be the strongest person in the world, I don't even think it is my burden in this life to be strong. I think it is my burden to be a person to the strong people. My mom said once that I internalize her pain, but I think I was just built to love people who go through an exceptional amount of pain. I am small but I am sturdy and for a long time I could not understand why so many bad things happened to so many of the wonderful people I love. I think it is not why these things happen, but when they happen and who is nearby to love them when they do. God puts soldiers where they need to be, and I am a good man in a storm.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


There are very few people in my life whom I remember the precise moment that I realized God sent them to me for a reason. I remember sitting on Bonnie Chronister's piano bench, however, and telling you that I wanted to write and be a baby heart surgeon and you telling me that you just wanted to do something where you could talk to people and make them realize how loved they are. Long story short, we missed the first hour of chamber choir rehearsal, but we realized we were soulmates. Our friendship has since been filled with a mutual love of Jillian Hickey, Nick Preston, Alex Pettyfer, and objectifying men, much singing in and out of puffy blue dresses, boobs (lots of boobs), the terms 'casual', 'kittens', and, 'so there's that,' jiggling your butt around, sushi, Jet, and all of the secret things that make us so fucking awesome. We are Sex in the City, without Miranda, because...ugh.

Sometimes you are moody and angry and bitter and sassy. Sometimes you won't let me help you. Sometimes you and I get into fights because you always, always, ALWAYS let my dog run away. Sometimes bring out the crazy parts of me that I try to keep that one time we went swimming in your apartment building's swimming pool or Halloween or nudey Snapchats or...let's just stop there. But you always make me laugh, you always care way too much about the people you love, you always remind me that my writing is important and meaningful, you refer to your parents as though they are better than all other humans which, I think at this point, we all agree with. You refuse to call my boyfriend and my cats by their true names; but you love Boston, Sean, and Steve, so it's fine. You are always the brightest, sunniest, smartest, daisiest, loveliness, emo-music-loving, shrimp-sauce-filled vegetarian princess in my life and in every life you touch. 

You may not see this or know this about yourself every day, but you are beautiful. You are simply stunning, all the way to the core of your heart. Your ability to be incredibly stressed, burnt out, and exhausted and still give out all of the love you have left in your heart is what makes me want to be a better, stronger friend, sister, girlfriend, daughter, etc. You may not believe in God but your presence in my life makes my faith stronger every day; not very many people have loved us the way we love each other, not very many people have held us up when we cannot stand the way we have held each other, no one has replaced the painful shards of our glass hearts the way we have replaced each others. Your goodness affects your every action, your compassion is never hidden, you are never too busy or too stressed to bend over backwards for someone you love; you embody so many things that God wants us to exemplify.

Sometimes nothing I say or write or promise or give can heal all of the wounds the world gives, and that is a good thing, it means you are real and alive and experiencing all of the awful realities that make humans imperfect. All I ask of you, always, is to know, that the way you love people changes them. You enlighten us to the beauty in our flaws. You inspire us to do all of the things we think we're not good enough to do. You tell the truth, even when it hurts, even when it's the last thing we'd ever wanna hear. You fill in gaps and insecurities and absences. You give encouragement and smiles and empathy out like they're easy to find more of. You love better and stronger and more sacrificially than anyone I know, besides my mother, and it's scary and it's beautiful and I am in awe of it. I want you to know that everyone who has ever been loved by you knows what unconditional love feels like. You have given the people you love a gift that heals, that gives meaning to living this silly, lovely, horrendous life.

I love you, Justine. Not for all of our lovely memories or moments or secrets or stories or days or daydreams, but for just you, being you. Being your friend changed me, it made me grow up and see that sometimes I am incredibly selfish, it made me believe that my writing is powerful, it made me believe that people can be good inside and out and that they can love you permanently. I only hope to spend every day, for always, loving my people the way you have taught me to love. I wrote this because you deserve to hear how much you are loved and how much your love has shaped us every day, and now you will.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I like to put things into boxes; Tiffany boxes, lined up in pretty rows with pretty bows that get lots of Instagram likes and lots of eye rolls and heart shakes and vibrations of jealous current. I don't like to talk about the boxes, because I don't like to admit they are there. I made the boxes because I like their organization and their alphabetization and their simplicity and their complexity and because someone once said I should. I made the boxes because boxes get good girls good grades and good girls do well and good girls, good girls, good girls. Good girls go into boxes like Barbie dolls with shiny hair but hairless skin; but did you know, women naturally grow hair on their skin? And did you know that you can't put yourself into a box because, eventually, you will suffocate from the lack of oxygen? And did you know, that my mom tells me all the time, "You can't put things into boxes, things don't fit into boxes." But, she puts shit in boxes too.

Why are we always trying to minimize the space we take up? Why are we constantly trying to fulfill the role that was chosen for us and nothing more or less? Why is it easier to bite our tongues until blood fills up our throats than simply say the words scratching to be let out of our lip doors? Why is it easier to give up on ourselves than on someone else? Why did we build the boxes and what are they here for? There is a woman box and a man box, a race box, a who-you-like-to-bang box, a money box, a loud box, a fat box, a box for daddy issues, a box for addicts, a box for perfectionists, a box for failures, and a box that holds the dreams that didn't fit in the boxes we brought with us. But the thing is, boxes aren't real; they are made of air and lies and some stupid shit some philosophical oppressive wig-wearing fuckbags pulled out of their pantyhose constricted assholes.

Sometimes I listen to Marvin Gaye and other times I listen to Bob Dylan and sometimes Sia and 80s pop and some really awful shit and some really beautiful shit. Some days I want platinum blonde hair and other days I want to shave my fucking head and other days I want a pixie cut and on Wednesdays, I wear pink. I like to solve chemical equations and write and debate everything and I have a hard time communicating my emotions. And some days I wake up and know it is all going to be okay and other days I wake up and realize that, "Everything is going to be okay," is just a box that a scared person made because everything is not always okay. There is a part of me that thinks I should run far away from college and civilization and write books about teenagers who don't know how to accept love in pretty ways. There is another part of me who wants to go to school forever and get all of the degrees I fantasize about having, and not so that I can be smug in PhD arrogance, but so that I can do whatever I fucking want to do and be awesome at it. Sometimes I want to be bony and sometimes I want to be curvy. Sometimes I am really disappointed in the people I love more than anything because my expectations are difficult to understand and they don't fit into boxes any better than I do. They fit perfectly into my heart and that will always be enough. Sometimes I want to be the one that leaves wreckage in her wake and sometimes I want to be the one who fixes the wreckage until it sparkles again. Sometimes I want to put everyone in a box together so we can all hug and be happy and sometimes I want you to all step the fuck out of my box before I send trained wolves to slowly eat your limbs off.

I am small and yet, I need a lot of space. I need space to fuck up and space to do better than I ever imagined. I need the world and not to take but to explore and touch and inject. I need enough space to run and build treehouses and have babies and careers and catch dreams in an ever-growing net. I'm gonna need a lot of oxygen, a lot of opportunity, a lot of passion, a lot more than a box's worth. So fuck boxes. Fuck the box someone told you that you belonged in and fuck the box that you put yourself into. We are multi-colored, multi-talented, kaleidoscopes of possibility and potential, and a box is made of fucking cardboard. Rock breaks scissors, humanity breaks cardboard.

And you can put me in all the boxes that you want. You can call me a dumb blonde or a spoiled white girl or a crazy, evil, manipulative bitch from hell or a Jesus freak. We have a box for that, we call it the God Box.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Big Girl Summers

For as long as I can remember, summertime had meant a certain doctrine of sacred activity. Cheerleading camps and Nelson Ledges and the Street Fair and the Greek Fest and driving around aimlessly after 11 pm and endless runs on the bike trail and lemon shakes and cotton candy and searching for cattle to tip over and watching the sunset at Mosquito Lake. Summers were reserved for sleeping till noon and staying out until...well, whenever we wanted.   We wasted all of our gas going to see boys in different zip codes and searching for beaches off the coast of Ohio and listening to our favorite mix cds. We had little to no responsibility other than getting darker than we'd gotten the summer before. I can't help but be nostalgic about these summers, they had been my favorite way to live with my favorite people in the world for seven years running. We grew up and we spread out, but we promised that come the end of May, we'd find ourselves knee deep in blissful irresponsibility.

But for some reason or another (most likely the looming proximity of the future that you become aware of in college) I didn't find myself skinny dipping in Mosquito Lake or flashing thirteen year olds on bicycles or staying out till 5 am (not that I'd ever done any of these things, Dad). But I worked. Like a lot. Like more than I ever worked before. 8:30 to 5, five days a week. And I really loved it sometimes (when I got to show girls--just as stressed as I had been--the campus where I realized dreams can come true). I really hated it other times (usually at 6:30 am when my alarm went off or when a four year old asked me to wipe his tiny bum). It was full of schedules and structure and bank accounts and time constraints and "I can't, I have to work"s. There were several, "Let's just not go to work today"s and we always ended up going, like some fucking adults. I only had a frozen treat one goddamn time, and it was only cus I had a meltdown about buying books. I didn't attend a single dirty fair, which is infuriating because I love those bitches. I didn't spend any gas money, in fact, I think I only drove two or three times (one of which was Lori's Mustang, so it's fine). I only got to run on the bike trail once, but I tripped and fell on my face plenty of times running in Pittsburgh. It was a summer devoid of most of the things I'd grown to adore about summer.

But it was the best summer of my life.

I was knee deep in blissful irresponsibility and blue, green, and brown water in Deep Creek, the Jersey Shore, the Florida Keys, and Boca Raton. I wandered down beautiful beaches, weathered one way streets of Pittsburgh, and library shelves. I watched my mother's dear friend get married, and then her daughter, my dear friend, got engaged. I watched movies on couches with Jill and Justine and stayed up all night, all dolled up with Jill and Justine. I read a thousand feminist blogs and watched all of Orange is the New Black (which you should be watching right now if you haven't already, bitches gotsta learn). Lily told me I was her best friend in the world. Maddog 20/20, that is all. I watched baseball games in Ohio, Florida, and Pittsburgh. I swam with manatees (kind of, mostly hid behind Zach) and saw dolphins. I ate a lot of really good food and drank a lot of really good drinks. I got to spend my beautiful angel of an aunt's 40th birthday with her, in paradise. There was Led Zeppelin and yoga and bug bites and museums and a bad night at the beach shack (as if there are ever good ones). There were sunsets and rainstorms and movie days and movies in parks and movies in bed and movies at the movies. There were boat rides and airplane rides and 'beer cruises' and ADVENTURES (primarily, the journey home from Key West). And last but not least, I fell in love with my favorite person in the world.

All I can think is that, I finally know, like I suspected all along, the best years of my life are not locked away in a yearbook or in a time capsule or in the suffocating, yellowing walls of Lakeview High School.

The best years have only just begun.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I have wanted to be a lot of different things when I grow up. When I was ten and fifteen, I wanted to go to NYU and starve and write the great American novel. I covered every inch of my fourteen year old walls with pictures of supermodels, old dewey decimal indexes, and sharpie memorandums of my favorite literary excerpts. When I was sixteen and eighteen, I wanted to be a heart surgeon, largely because I liked the figurative idea of holding people's hearts in my hands rather than the actual biological science behind it. When I was six, I wanted to be a cashier because I liked the way their nails clicked on keys and their gum smacked around with such sass. At some point, I wanted to be the next American Idol and Tinker Bell and a mermaid and a lawyer and and a scientist and a professor and in Africa and an activist and a photographer and Hermione Granger and Jackie O and Marilyn Monroe and a missionary and a Rockette and a campaign manager and an artist and a badass. I've wanted to write for National Geographic and bartend on desert islands and teach English to impoverished children and be the woman who rides elephants in the circus.

The problem with all of these strange, varied aspirations is that, as time went on, they didn't replace each other, they only piled up on top of each other, like a technicolor mountain of stacking crates that weren't designed to sit on top of one another. I'm always positive of what I want to do with my life, until I'm not positive. I'm always certain I've got it all figured out, until I realize I have no idea what the hell is going on. Before I went to college, I knew. Then I finished two semesters, full of variety and science and feminism, and I no longer had any sort of idea. It's the kind of uncertainty that makes you feel alive but also makes you feel as though you are going to asphyxiate and die at any second; it's a balance. I talk to people and they ask me what I want to do with my life and I try to never say the same thing twice. People ask me what I'm majoring in and I say Chemistry and English and then there is this look that follows, and I say, yes, I'm minoring in Crystal Meth. But if you understood how cool it is to be able to write an analysis of Gloria Naylor's writing one hour and titrate acids and bases the next, you'd do it too. Some people think they know exactly what I should be when I grow up, some people think I should be writing books, some people think I am a fuck, some people say do this and do that and then you'll know. But, the truth is, some people and some other people aren't going to figure it out, I have to figure it out.

Most of the time I pray, not usually for patience or perseverance or time, but for a big glaring road sign that smacks me in the face with the most obvious of career choices. Preferably one in which I get to write and do experiments and research and work with less fortunate women and children and advocate for them and make enough money to feed anyone who needs my help being fed/buy Lululemon clothes for funzies and get to drink a lot of coffee and wear khaki pants and argue with misogynist dickheads (cus that's my favorite) and get to be one of those women that they shuttle to small female children for show and tell. I ask everyone what they major in and what they want to be when they grow up in the hope that someone will have already figured out what I should do, but largely its people doing things I don't want to do or people being equally as confused as I am. Sometimes I feel like Hermione with the damn hourglass. I know, I'm going to do a lot of different things with my life. I know, I'm going to figure it all out eventually. I know, I know, I know.

The truth is, there are a lot of corners to this round, round world and a lot of cracks that need sealed and a lot of messes that need cleaned up. For everyone there is a place and a time and a perfectly carved niche. Carrie Bradshaw asked if it was possible to miss your own fate, to get all caught up in the ifs, ands, or buts, and find yourself five stops past the stop you were supposed to get off. But I've missed a lot of bus stops, I've gotten on quite a few of the wrong buses and stayed on long after I should have gotten off, and yet, I'm still quite sure that right here, at this moment, I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. And all of the bumps and bruises and indecision and fear and failures are what got me to this place. I am a romantic and I do believe in fate and destiny but I also believe in hard work and blood and sweat and tears and scraped up knees and elbows. I believe that glass ceilings exist, but I'm really good at breaking glass, just ask anyone who knows about my relationship with mirrors. I believe that there are a lot of people out there who don't necessarily want women to be successful, but I believe there are even more who want to help us as much as they can. Some people know exactly what they want to be, and they have known all along. Some people have no idea, and they are not stressed out about it at all. These people are my heroes.

Someone at the daycamp said to me the other day, "Well don't you want to be a teacher?", I most certainly don't want to be a teacher. So there's that.

What do you want to be when I grow up?

Friday, May 17, 2013

First Year

9 months ago, I came to Chatham to begin my "freshman" year of college. I was fresh off a summer of Coca-cola, no sleeping, beach waves, and being with my best friends day and night; I was in no way a feminist, an inspiration, or a girl worth $160,000, but hey, they wanted me, so I was gonna give it to 'em. I said goodbye to my precious, crying little family, put my big girl panties on, and was ready for college. I spent one week in Pittsburgh & felt like I already had it all figured it out, I was gonna be a doctor, I totally got the busing system, and I was definitely immune to all of the bad things that happen to people their freshman year.  I wrote a blog called, "20 Things I Learned My First Week in Pittsburgh," I loved life, I was funny, I didn't even have time to miss my mom.

Then I wrote my first college paper, in my opinion, the best paper I'd written to date, had every English connoisseur I knew edit it, and got a B+. A B fucking plus. I'd never gotten a B on a paper, ever. And that was the beginning of real life....

They tell you about your first year of college, they tell you all of the trouble you get into, all of the random boys you'll kiss, all of the mistakes you'll make, all of the bad grades you'll get, all of the friends you'll make, and all of the things you'll learn. (People have really low expectations of first year college students) But they don't tell you how much you change, how much you grow up, how much you lose, and how much you gain. They don't tell you how scary and lonely it can be some days, or how incredibly fulfilling and inspiring it can be other days. I learned a billion and one things this year, about myself, about Chemistry, Biology, English, Feminism, East Asia, and all that jazz, about people, and about life. Here are twenty.

1. I'm really loved in a big way, bigger than I will ever understand or fathom, by God, by my family, by my best friends. I am blessed beyond reason and understanding.

2. I came to college with the two best friends I've ever had already, and I will leave college with those same best friends. In fact, I will have them the rest of my life. If I ever have kids, they'll love them probably even more than me. They'll take me to the emergency room, pick me up, or pay the bill. My parents go far above and beyond the low expectations I have of people, they are real life angels.

3. You don't always have to have a plan, in fact, plans never work anyway, so why bother making one? Do the best you can with what you have in front of you every day, take it day by day. Nothing is ever going to happen the way you predict it, and that's the cool thing about life: you can't predict any part of it. It is always exciting, it is always changing, you can't fight it. Embrace the unpredictability or else, you'll always be miserable.

4. The best things don't fit into pretty boxes. They don't fit into ugly boxes either. They are too big, too special, and too magic to be contained.

5. Learn your limits. Become friends with your limits. Listen to your limits. When your limits say, "Maybe not," they mean, "No." I still haven't really learned my limits, but, I've learned that I should learn them.

6. Say thank you. Write thank you notes. Write thank you emails. Write your friends letters. Leave post its on computer desks. Leave love letters everywhere you go. Hug people. Tell people how nice they look today. Tell people how much you appreciate them. Tell someone, "Wow, you are beautiful." Smile, all the time, every day, even when you're not smiling on the inside. Tell people that you care about them, say it, even when it makes you feel vulnerable. Make people feel good simply because you can, and that is an amazing gift.

7. I am actually considered an adult now, which is weird and I still don't understand it very much. This means I can sign things and do things and people don't then say, "Did you ask your mom?" I am still waiting for most people to say, "Did you ask your mom," all of the time and I'm still asking her, regardless.

8. Coffee solves most problems. Even if it doesn't actually solve the problem, it makes things seem manageable. It is also okay for the baristas to know your name, it is actually preferred. I love Cafe Rachel. Running helps too, just be prepared to trade your cute feet for some hooves.

9. Ask. If you want something, ask for it. If you don't understand, ask someone to explain it. If you need help, ask someone to help you. If you never ask, you'll never know the answer and you may spend forever waiting for someone to give it to you. The worst thing that can happen is that someone says no, someone doesn't give you what you want, and then you know what you do? Refer to 8 and then ask someone who isn't an asshole for help.

10. I remember Tina Noble screaming into a semi-truck driver's window, "PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE." I was never patient until I had no other choice to be. I am not naturally a patient person, patience is not one of my god-given virtues. But, sometimes, patience is the only choice you have. Life doesn't always make sense, it rarely makes sense, and you don't always get to understand what the hell is going on, but you do get to trust and be patient. You do get to believe that there is a light at the end of every tunnel, because there is.

11. Say no when you want to say no.

12. Your story won't look like anyone else's, that is what makes it special. It belongs to you and only you and it isn't supposed to look like your best friend's, or your mom's, or the smartest girl you know's. Life isn't regimented and it isn't systematic, you are not a part of an assembly line, unless you wanna be.

13. I learned that you can make just about every word in the English language offensive, and we are deeply in need of another Women's Rights Movement. If you don't want to talk about it, we don't have to. But I really wanna talk about it. If you don't want to talk about it, don't call someone a pussy. Actually anything you say could trigger it, it's just so DAMN TRUE and NECESSARY TO TALK ABOUT. Meow.

14. You may think you're an overachiever, you're probably wrong. Someone is going to be a much bigger overachiever than you. Get ready, you'll know it when you see it. Just do ya thing, girrrrl.

15. Ohio has an accent. I don't wanna talk about it.

16. People disappoint you and people let you down. Even the best people, even the ones you adore. Everybody fails you at some point or another. We expect people to be permanent fixtures and they very rarely are, and that's okay. Presence may not be permanent but the things we teach each other get to be permanent. I came to college with two people's pictures and I haven't heard from either of them in a very long time. It is okay, it is growing up and sometimes it means letting go so that you can catch better things, or even better, so that you can catch yourself. The cool thing about this rule, though, is that it comes with a silver lining.

17. Someone will surprise you. Someone will reach far above and beyond your expectations, without even knowing it, because that's just who they are. Its okay to have a little bit of faith in people, its okay to trust people a little bit, because, every now and then, people will surprise you.

18. It is gonna be scary and it is gonna be overwhelming sometimes. The to do list will be a shit show and you might have some heavy roots going and you might spend too much time in the library and you might lose it a little bit. It will be okay. On any given day, plenty of other people's worlds feel like they are exploding into ash & dust, chances are you will encounter one of them. Occasionally, it is good to remind yourself not to take life too seriously.

19. Let people help, let people care, let people see the scary parts of you, let people in. WOAH WHO AM I? I KNOW. CRAZY. I'm sorry, be a tough, independent piece of work and make people say, Damn, you're impressive, and if they don't think so, FUCK 'EM. But, it is also okay, to care about people, and to let them care about you, it is okay to say, "Hey, maybe everyone doesn't suck." Because, everyone doesn't actually suck (little known fact.) If you're reading my blog, you probably care about me, at least a little bit, and guess what? I care about you too. Isn't that cool?

20. The grand finale, the last one, the big one, the thing that sticks out above all else...
Feel it. All of it. Every day. Feel pain, feel joy, feel so incredibly happy or so incredibly scared that your stomach is going to fall out. Feel the soreness in your legs with pride. Feel the disappointment in your heart with strength. Feel the burning of liquor down your throat and seriously wonder why this is a form a recreation. Its too short to be numb, to not be present, to be afraid to experience all of the raw intensity that we are afforded. Let it all hit you, every emotional, burning, salty wave, this is life. Never cheat yourself out of the feeling, it doesn't make you weak, it makes you alive.

That's a little bit of a lotta bit.

9 Months later, I get to say First Year instead of Freshman, because I have a vagina. I still love Coca-cola and I still love to sleep. I still have the best best friends plus a few more. I actually think my taste in music got worse, my taste in literature got better. I have gotten on the wrong bus many a time. I can hop from crow to low pushup in one fluid motion and sometimes I paint my nails. I'm not a Biology major, I'm an English and Chemistry major. I still love Stevie Nicks, so I guess I haven't changed that much at all.

P.S. I got A's on every single paper, in every single class, after the first one, so thank you, Dr. Lenz.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Love Story

You must love yourself before you can love another. The most repeated, rehearsed, rhetoric adage of love, of relationships, of breakups, of all time. I cannot tell you how many times someone has shot this one at me and I rolled my eyes and thought, "That really helped dickbag." I cannot tell you how many times I sat up late wondering, hoping, willing things to end up differently than they did, wondering how I got to that place, that place of confusion, loss, and disappointment. I heal, we all heal in strange, less than chronological ways, but often, things never really make a lot of sense. We figure things out little by little, one day something catalyzes an epiphany in our mind, days, months, years after the healing, and we finally have understanding, closure.

For a long time, I didn't understand the love yourself adage. I have loved several people who did not love themselves, friends and boyfriends and in between. I know what its like to bash your head off of a wall because someone will not look at themselves in the mirror and see what I see. I know what its like to be told that you are too good for someone to the point where you start to feel as though being 'too good' is a bad thing. I know what its like to think, "Maybe if I just give you a little more, love you even more unconditionally, it will help you love yourself, to find the beauty in yourself." Because that's what I do, when I love people, I love unconditionally, I love all of the dirty, broken, hurting parts of you, I love you inside out, right side up, to the moon and back, because that's what you deserve, that's what we all deserve. Out of these people, these unconditionals, very few of them have loved me back in this way, not because they didn't  love me just as much but because they didn't know how to love me the way I loved them. I realize in retrospect that love looks differently to all of us, we all associate different actions with the feeling, and that's perfectly okay, but we need to see love embodied in a way that we understand or else we feel neglect, bitterness, fear, longing. I need love expressed through action, through movement, through verbalized commitments, through little insignificant statements, through consideration and space. I need love in a way that I know even if we are fighting I can call you at 3 AM and you will pick me up, no questions asked. I need love in a way that I don't have to wonder constantly, I need a little bit of security from people. I need this kind of love because this is how I love, in big, unconditional go all out for you ways,  not in an every day, obnoxious way but when you need it, or when you have forgotten how special you are.

 For a long time, I thought that the "Love yourself" adage applied to me in that I loved people who didn't love themselves, and that that was my plight. This past weekend, I spent at a leadership retreat, learning all about vulnerability and dealing with conflict. I learned so much that I will carry with me forever, but largely applied it to my relationships with others rather than with myself. But last night, laying on my yoga mat in savasana, my instructor said this: 

"Love yourself enough to stop worrying. Love yourself more than you ever have. Love yourself enough to give yourself peace."

I love myself, in a hard, judging, mothers-who-give-their-daughters-self-esteem-issues way. I love myself in a way that makes people go to therapy. I love myself in a way that I take care of myself and get my shit done but do not actually stop to say, "Hey Clo, where are we at today?" I love myself in that I care about my future and my security and plans; unfortunately, this often leads to me making myself push writing to the side because 'that's not a real job.' I do not let myself break my strict rules. I run at least five miles a day, and granted, I do love to run, but I started because of a mental expectation of what my body should look like. I do not do a lot of things for me, I do a lot of things, for you and for you and for you. I could be on my way to yoga or Dunkin Donuts or the library and if you call and say, "Hey Clo, wanna go run a marathon with me," I'll be there, laced up, no questions asked. I am a Yes person to my people, but I'm not a Yes person to myself. I rarely look in the mirror and say, "You're beautiful." I rarely pat myself on the back and say, "I'm so proud of you." Not because I don't think I am a good, accomplished, talented human being, but because I always have my eyes set on the next goal. 

I realized that though I do love myself, I do not love myself in the way that I need to be loved. The reason I love the idea of love so much is that I am constantly awaiting a person who will love me in the way I love them. However, I do not love myself how I love other people and therefore, how can I ask other people to love me how I love them? (Mindfuckery) From now on, from here on out, I vow to love myself how I need, how I deserve.

I will not push yoga or writing or God to the side to appease anyone, even myself, they fill up my heart and my heart should be filled. I will stop criticizing myself and love the body that I was given and continue to do good things for it, not out of self-hate but self-love. I will allow myself to be vulnerable, to be scared and exposed and naked, because it helps other people connect to you, it helps other people see your heart; and if I fall, fail, or fuck things up, I know that God and I will catch myself. I will trust, in a big way, more than I ever have, with everything, that though everything does not have reason or justice, everything is part of God's plan for my life. I will look in the mirror and know that, yes, you are kind and compassionate and giving and soft even though you have been hurt, the world has not hardened you; this does not make you weak, this makes you strong. I will stop running from my truth, shoving it in corners and drawers, and embrace it: I am a writer, I am good at other things, I could do other things with my life, but I am a writer, that is my passion, my gift, and my purpose. I will love myself the way God loves me, the way my parents love me, the way my best friends love me, like I am a treasure, unconditionally. I will say yes to me, even if it means saying no to someone else.

So they say, "You must love yourself before you can love another." I think we should say, "Love yourself how you want to be loved, how you deserve to be loved, and you will never go without." <3 p="">

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Girl I Mean to Be

I remember taking voice lessons years ago and singing a song called, "The Girl I Mean to Be." At the time I thought it was whiny and annoying and just wanted to sing, "A Part of Your World." But, lately, I've been thinking about The Girl I Mean to Be and the one I actually am...

She is patient, so patient. Unbelievably patient. She relaxs, sits quietly as the world falls to chaos on all sides of her. She doesn't believe in waiting or anticipating, she goes about her life knowing that good things come in time. She doesn't snap on her brother for trying to give her sensible advice, even if he is only twelve.

She makes good decisions. She doesn't justify stupid actions with completely irrelevant accomplishments. She says no and when and stop and stay and go away at all of the appropriate times. She says sorry, she is excellent at saying sorry. She, hypothetically speaking, never swims in the wrong pool at the wrong time or drinks too much liquor or tells God to not look at her right now.

She is smart, but not like me. She is smart because of constantly planning ahead and prioritizing and making lists and knowing what is coming next. She is not the champion of the last minute, she is not a procrastinator. She fucking loves lists.

She is sane. She knows how to do sensible things like breathe in and out and not flip the fuck out. She makes careful calculated decisions and does not fly by the seat of her soffe shorts. She has never screamed at someone in a parking lot or a driveway or a moving vehicle or thrown shoes or fists (again, completely hypothetical) She likes to talk things out. She likes to know the opinions of others and how they are interpreting the situation. Power and control are not things she thinks about. She isn't a crazy bitch, but hey...

She is never cold and never distant. She is warm to everyone she meets and, yet, she doesn't make bad judgement calls. She knows when someone is no good and she will recognize it immediately. She can read people, she doesn't trust the bad people & that allows her to trust the good people.

She is faithful. In God. In a truly remarkable way. She doesn't question his will or find herself angry with him when things don't go the way she predicted or hoped or expected. She leans on him beyond reason or sensibility or logic; she doesn't run away from him when she's damaged or bruised or full of darkness. She brings her pain and her mistakes to him and she lets him heal her. She trusts in him, always.

The Girl I Mean to Be would never tell you these things about herself though, she is too modest. She is just too...perfect. She is perfect, and that is why the Girl I Mean to Be isn't and will never be me.

The Girl I Mean to Be would never run a ridiculous amount of miles because she doesn't want to deal with her problems or because thats how she deals with her problems. Therefore, I can definitely outrun The Girl I Mean to Be. Also, because of this nonsense, she definitely doesn't have calluses all over her feet, some might even call her feet pretty.

The Girl I Mean to Be would never say fuck as much as I say fuck. She is a "lady" and "ladies don't cuss." I am not a fucking lady, so that clears that up.

The Girl I Mean to Be would never fall for the wrong guy, the bad guy, the asshole, I don't know, whatever you want to call him. But I would and did and am a better woman because of it. She may be smarter but I'm tougher.

The Girl I Mean to Be wouldn't talk to God the way I talk to him. She wouldn't fight with him or cry to him or be stubborn and indecisive and unbearable. But he made me this way and that's why I get to talk to him the way we do. She is perfect, so...

The Girl I Mean to Be never wanders home at the wee hours, she never chips her manicures, she doesn't fuck shit up and if she does, she messes things up. She is pure of heart & mind & soul & body; but she just isn't me. I could stand to learn a lot from her & I plan to, every day for the rest of my life. And the Girl I Mean to Be will evolve, she'll grow up with me and she'll get new ideas and new plans and love new things and start new chapters. But we will always run parallel, never coinciding. She'll probably have a husband and two kids and a white picket fence but she won't be epic.

I'm going to be epic, and not in the Girl I Mean to Be way, in the Girl I'm Gonna Be way.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Dear Papa,

I wrote you a letter last year, on the one year anniversary of the day you died. I wrote about what was going on in my life and why I hadn't had all that much to say to you lately, I wrote about how hopeful and excited I was to start college and how I wanted be a doctor just like we would always play. Things change though, we realize things about ourselves and other people and we evolve into new versions of old memories.

Today, I'm writing you a letter and I don't have a lot in common with that girl who wrote you a letter a year ago. I have a lot more in common with the girl who didn't eat anything and wrote everyone out of her life the day you died two years ago; funny, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It's funny because it's not, and it's okay because that's just how things go sometimes. I used to love February, it used to be my favorite, but now I am always excited for it to be over. I used to love a lot of things that I don't love anymore and I used to think a lot of things I don't think anymore; but that's just what happens when we grow up, right? I wrote to you last year as a hopeful little girl, and I write to you today as a woman, hopeful but a little bit heavy hearted. And why the hell did I want to be a doctor?

I remember you though, so vividly, especially today. You were never grown up and you were never bitter and you were never jaded, not to me at least. You yelled and you got angry and you hated when we jumped over the couch and into the playroom but you were the brightest light in the darkest place. We have a lot more in common now than we did when I was six, we would be even better friends now.

I like whiskey, a lot, just like you did. I like sad, sappy movies, a lot, just like you did. I like cashews, probably more than even you did. I like telling people I love them, a lot, just like you did. I like swearing, a whole fuck of a lot, just like you did. I am too emotional and too volatile and too much of everything, but unlike you, I can keep it all locked up inside. You probably lived so long because you were free of all vaulted emotion; if this is the case, I need to start yelling more.

Is it okay to say that I hate Nanny's new house because I can't walk into the playroom and sit where you sat and see your ghost in every mirror and in every rocking chair? It still smells like you somehow, though. Is it okay to say that there are very few people on this earth that I like half as much as I like you? Is it okay to say I'm a little bit of a mess? I am and I'm saying it and I'm justifying saying it because I have great grades, I'm allowed to be a mess as long as school is great; patented Chloe life philosophy.

I miss your romanticism and your belief in people and how absurdly affectionate you could be. I miss hearing you sing my name, no one else sings the Clobird the Snowbird song, and I miss getting screamed at because I wouldn't talk to Uncle Rich on the phone. I would gladly talk to him now, whenever you wanted me to, he is even more brilliant and even more screwed up than I. I miss the way you looked at Mama and the way you talked about her and I miss you being cute to Nanny and her squawking back at you. You are all of my favorite embodiments of true love, you are all of the reasons I continue to believe magic things exist.

So it has been two years and you're still gone and we're all still here.
You're gone and we all still miss you in strange, painful ways.
You're gone and I'm just trying to build a life that makes sense, I know I can. I know you'll help.
You're gone and we're here, so keep taking care of us.

I love you to pieces Papa,


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

19 is a weird number

Today I turned 19. I thought about writing about how this is a fresh start, a new era, the beginning of adult Chloe and the end of baby Chloe. I thought about reminiscing on nineteen lost friends, nineteen great accomplishments, nineteen ridiculous mistakes. I thought about laying out a life plan, a list of goals to achieve in the next 365 days, a blueprint of my ultimate nineteenth year. Sometimes I worry I talk too much about the past & the present & not enough about the future, sometimes I worry that if I don't know where I am going, I won't like where I end up. Sometimes I worry so much that I feel it all swelling up inside of me like a balloon trying to escape for the moon. Instead of trying to define this blog post or explain it or justify it, I'm just going to say nineteen things on the day I turn nineteen. Not for you, for me. I hope, though, that whether you are a nineteen year old woman or a forty three year old man, at least one of these 19 things speaks to you.

1. Can you say it out loud? In front of an entire room of people, people you know, people you don't, your family, strangers, people who fascinate you, people who loathe you. Could you say it to them? The truth, the absolute truth of your life, the secret you've been keeping, the black hole you've been protecting. Could you stand on a podium, in front of a microphone, and bare your soul? Does it make you a bad person if you couldn't? I want to live in such a way that I can stand on the stage, in the spotlight, burning, sweating, scared shitless, and say it, no holds barred, and be proud of my truth.

2. "Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." -Friedrich Nietzache 

3. Sometimes I think to myself, this situation is so crazy and beyond bizarro that no one else could ever possibly sympathize with this insanity. Then I tell someone and they laugh and I realize we are all completely broken & bruised & this is why we continue to fall in love with each other.

4. If the cops come, don't think about it, RUN.

5. Don't beat yourself up. You are the only friend that will be by your side, every day, every moment for your entire life. Do not abandon yourself ever, be your best friend, be the person you can count on no matter what.

6. Thinking about things usually just messes them up. Hearts are for doing, leave the thinking to the amateurs.

7. To me, I Love You is infinite. We may not be close anymore, we may not even speak, but if I once opened my heart to you, I share with you that piece of me forever. I Love You does not have an ending, everything else in life is allowed to have an ending but not I Love You. Not to me.

8. Someone is always gonna be smarter, prettier, more this, more that, better. But someone will never be you. That's where you win.

9. "You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people cannot take their eyes off of you." -Maya Angelou 

10. One day, go to the Trumbull County Fair in Bazetta, Ohio and get a freshly milked milkshake from one of the fair cows. I'm not even being an ass, it will change your life. Coming from a vegan. P.S. Do not make eye contact with anyone.

11. My goal in life is to form a collection of ridiculous stories to tell my teenage children one day. Stories that make them feel better about whatever god awful nonsense they've gotten tangled up in. 

12. I also aspire to be the Tinker Bell that zip lines across Magic Kingdom every night during the fireworks.

13. Don't make promises you can't keep. Don't make wishes you don't want to come true. Don't stay up too late thinking about something you cannot change. Don't worry about what you're "supposed" to do. Don't worry about screwing up. When you want to cry, just cry, it doesn't make you stronger to hold back tears, it just makes you look like you are constipated. Do send it all up to God, it is His plan, after all. Do protect your eyelashes, eyelashes are important, they protect your eyes. Someone has got to protect your eyelashes. 

14. Cats have magical healing powers. 

15. The phrase, "If it hurts, its working," is absolutely absurd to me. SOMETHING IS PROBABLY VERY WRONG IF IT IS HURTING YOU.

16. I believe in fairy tales. I believe in happy endings. I believe that there is a magical element to the world we live in. On good days, I believe in mermaids. I have let go of a lot of pieces of myself, but, I refuse to let go of the little girl who believes in things that are impossible. 

17. I haven't broken a bone yet. I'm knocking on wood but also kind of wondering what if feels like, because I'm deranged.


19. So I'm 19 now, and this blog effectively depicts just how wayward I am. Come, let's commence in our wandering.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Reasons, Seasons, & Lifetimes

Since I was a tiny girl my mom has told me, "People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime." And since I was a tiny girl, this has rung true in every relationship I've ever had. I've had temporary friendships that lead me to stronger, permanent friendships. Reasons. I've had wild, reckless relationships during the hot, sunkissed summer months that float off like fallen leaves come autumn. Seasons. And in a couple, miraculous instances, I've had friendships that just stick, no matter where we are or where we go or how long we go without talking, they will always be counted on the hand of trust. Lifetimes. The difficulty with this concept though is that its something that is always realized in retrospect.

I have never met a person and instantly known, You are a lifetime. I have never gotten all dressed up in a frilly outfit to go to a freaking street fair and thought, This kid won't even a blip on your radar come October. A lifetime & a season are both very clear, distinct measurements of time though. Once you figure it out, you know how long these people stay and you know what you can expect from them. Seasons manifest themselves as fond memories that drift into your heart from time to time while lifetimes grow to become your heart over the years. The one I struggle the most with, though, are the reasons. Reasons do not have a set, measured time to be in your life. I hear reason and my heart cringes. My reasons have mostly taught me painful things about the world, but things that have made me stronger. Most of my reasons have popped up into my life multiple times; usually when I needed to relearn their lesson. The reasons are not people I look back on and smile and giggle, they are people who altered me, changed my stuffing, ripped me apart, taught me what I'm capable of, and showed me what it means to really, insanely, sacrificially love someone.

Usually reasons are people that we expect to be lifetimes, people that consume our hearts and keep our secrets and wipe away our tears. Our best friends, our first loves, people we bring home to our families, who become parts of our families, people that we can't imagine the world without. And then one day something happens to make us realize that they are in our lives for a REASON not a LIFETIME. We realize reasons in hard ways. Believe it or not, the person you trusted everything with, is perfectly capable of hurting you. Believe it or not, your expectation of people is often much higher than their capacity. Believe it or not, things fall apart, always, recklessly, without any immediate explanation, and we are left with fragments of a heart, a friendship, a love, a memory, a plan that was once so whole and pure.

And then one day, or month, or year, or decade down the road, you have an epiphany. Someone tells you a story about their friend who is in a dark place, and you look at them and nod knowingly and tell them exactly how to help her, because you've been there, more times than you can count. You're playing catch and someone notices you can throw a spiral, and you just laugh and think, "So that's what I got out of that." You can curl hair a certain way, you know proper party etiquette, you know that if a guy is worth your time, he'll always text you first. You know how to roll a joint even though you've never been high and you can recognize just about any rap artist's voice within 5 seconds of a song. These might not be things that your reasons taught you, but they are some of the more trivial things that my reasons taught me. Things that will never fade from my repertoire but may always come with a little tug at my heart strings.

There are big lessons too. Like how to drive a pickup truck, how to kiss, what is okay to say to a woman & what is not, and who to call when you're too drunk to drive or walk. And there are bigger lessons than that. Like the differences between love and obsession and lust, to not get so drunk that you cannot walk, the importance of looking ahead, recognizing where you are, and appreciating where you have been, and the significance of telling people how much they mean to you, before it is too late. And then there is the biggest of them all.

It is so cliche, but so true to the human condition. Life goes on; even when you cannot fathom your next step, even when you have spent every day living one way and will have to wake up tomorrow living a different way, even when you are angry to your very core, and even when the betrayal or hurt or disappointment is overwhelming. This is what reason people teach us: how strong we are, how capable we are, and how much you will go through in this brief, beautiful experience that only makes you better in the end. I love my reasons, each and every one, even the ones who I will never speak to again, even the ones who taught me lessons that left scars, even the ones who come with a fitting, "What the fuck Chloe?", and even the ones who I don't even know are reasons yet. I am who I am today because of Reasons, Seasons, and Lifetimes, there will be so many more and I welcome them with open arms.

Whether you are here to get a tan, here to teach me something, or here to stay, welcome. We could hurt each other, we could get coffee, we could have a ridiculously hilarious time together, we could never interact again after this moment, we could do everything & nothing. Just know that we are constantly leaving our marks all over each others' hearts & I'm glad to have all of your lovely fingerprints.

P.S. Maybe I just wrote this blog so that I would know the true spelling of the word repertoire. Because now I do. Reason.

Friday, January 4, 2013


I'm always asking God for signs, real world assurances of my next step in life. I cannot move past a situation or move forward to a new situation until I've gotten a true, verifiable--by my mother--sign. Yet, often times, I wonder if the signs I find are merely signs I want myself to see rather than express shipped from heaven. I can't soundly express how many times I have confused coincidence with celestial intervention, more than I can name without embarrassing myself. Pinterest quotes don't count as signs. Songs on the radio? Not so much. Running into someone you'd almost forgotten when you're happy & doing well, that's just the devil. SOMEONE TEXTING YOU AT 2 AM IS NOT A SIGN, it's just disrespectful, don't do that. God's signs are obvious, just not in the way we have been programmed to expect. They probably won't come hurdling into your inbox when you're in a valley of despair, God's a lot bigger than text messages. Signs probably won't look shiny & pretty & just how you always imagined, they're probably going to tell you a bigger, darker, grittier truth, one you couldn't come to grips with in your own mind.

So I ask God for signs almost every day, because I'm dramatic and cryptic like that, and I always get them, whether I see them or not, though, is another situation entirely. Two nights ago, I had the worst dream of my life, and yet, I woke up and had no idea what it meant. I have had horrible dreams in the past and forgotten them within hours, yet this dream stuck with me, like it was burned into my brain for some significant reason. It was the most symbolic, meaningful message I'd ever gotten through a dream, or at least that I could comprehend.

Rape is probably the scariest thing I can imagine, my body and my control are two of my most important belongings that are mine and only mine. I do not ever get my self into situations where I feel these things can be compromised. Yet, in the past, I have let other things be compromised, my independence, my virtue, my friendships, all because I wanted to make someone else happy. I lost a lot of the pieces that made me the person I had once been and in the process of rebuilding her, I found that though I was not ruined, a part of me was very much damaged in a dark way that I couldn't understand. I was bitter, reserved, cold, distant towards men, not because of who they were, but because of who they could be.

My friend told me a story, just the other day, about a girl who had been raped and the way she acted in the aftermath. How she didn't like to be left alone, anywhere at anytime, how fragile and fearful she could be, how she shook and crumbled. My heart broke listening to this girl's story, and resonated at the same time. I remembered my dream and how raw it left my mind, I couldn't imagine how she felt in the aftermath of that real experience, I wanted to talk to her, to soothe her, yet I knew my words wouldn't change the way she felt inside. I hope & pray that God cradled her, took her under his wing and healed wounds that other hands would only damage.

In the aftermath of a horrible experience, you have to rebuild yourself and you have to forgive. Sometimes forgiveness seems beyond all reason and comprehension, and yet, you still have to forgive, or else your life will never go on. You pray and you cry and you struggle and you grow and then you feel animosity, bitterness, and hatred and it is as if you never changed at all. I have been the girl in the relationship that metaphorically rapes your life and I have been the girl that goes back to that relationship more times than she cares to admit. I have been bitter and hateful and lost sight of all sensibility, and yet, here I am. I forgive today and I will forgive every day until it is no longer an apology that I need to accept. God crept into my mind and explained it to me, he explained the truth, the innocence, and the finality of the situation. God said, "Let it go, I have you now."

Sometimes signs are quiet, soft, whispered in the middle of a loud, crowded party. Sometimes a sign slaps us in the face, and yet, because of our deceitful hearts, we choose to turn our heads from the truth. Sometimes, every once in a while, a sign is so clear, so pure, so right, that we have no other choice but to move forward with that sign on our horizon or, if need be, that sign in our rearview mirror.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Thinking of New Year's resolutions has been exceedingly hard for me this year. For the most part, I take care of myself in all of the typical New Year's resolution departments. I prayed that God would give me a sign of what I needed to fix, what I needed to change, what I needed to improve upon, and it felt like I kept coming up empty handed. The problem with me, though, is that I have a hard time listening to things that I don't want to hear. I'm tough, I've always considered myself tough at least. I don't put up with anyone's disrespect, I don't hang around people who mistreat me minus a few extreme exceptions. As my mother would say, "Don't fuck with Chloe." And in general, people don't.
I started thinking, though, about the rules that my toughness has burdened me with. I don't cry in front of people, I don't fall apart in front of anyone except for my mom and that is only when I'm a complete disaster. Not because I don't ever feel the need to, but because its a sign of weakness to me. I am not generous with my sympathy, even though I have a rough translation of 'be sympathetic' written on the back of my neck, I expect everyone to act like me, so when people fall apart at the hands of love and other drugs, I rarely feel sorry. I rarely text or call anyone first, I rarely exert effort into situations where I could potentially get hurt, I rarely open up about anything, I rarely let myself really experience emotions other than anger. And where has all the toughness got me? Callused, scarred, bottled up with secret hurt, and a laundry list of disappointments that I will never tell anyone about. Toughness is only a mask, a facade, a barrier between me and the innermost good I have.
So I resolve to be softer, to be more open to feelings and experiences that might slap me in the face with disappointment and hurt. I resolve to be kinder and more understanding of the journeys we are all walking in and how beautifully different and similar they can be. I resolve to put myself out there, to let up some on the stubbornness (not completely...just a little.) I resolve to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about my emotions, even if it means putting myself out on a fragile limb.
I'll always be tough because that's just me, but it's time to stop being tough to the point that I sacrifice experiences, relationships, and honesty. It's time to let my heart be open to the goodness in the world again, because believe it or not, there is still some left, and it is waiting to snatch us up, if only we let it.
Still, though, don't fuck with me.