You are a grapefruit. Don’t try to attract someone who hates citrus.

I am famished, and the only thing that will satisfy my hunger is a banana. A big, yellow banana with a hint of greenness and absolutely no brown freckles that indicate mushiness. I go into the grocery store with the intent of purchasing such a banana, because that is what I want, and only what I want. When I get to place where the bananas usually are, the shelf is empty. I look around in confusion, but the sign below says that this is where the bananas are kept. I slowly realize that this shitty grocery store is out of bananas.

But I am still hungry. I can’t leave empty handed (or empty stomached), but nothing is as appetizing to me as a banana. There are some tempting looking grapefruits on sale, so I begrudgingly purchase a ruby red on my way out, thinking that this will tide me over.

I start to eat the grapefruit, I enjoy it somewhat, and it does fill me for a little bit – but I still can’t stop thinking about the banana. Because I couldn’t have it, I crave that banana even more than I did before I had the grapefruit. I continue to consume the grapefruit because something is better than nothing, but it’s not what I really want.

Now swap out food, and insert people. The banana is an ex, a person that’s made it clear they want to keep their genitalia covered in your presence and yet you can’t stop hoping they’ll change their mind, or even a hypothetical idea of the person you want to be with. You want the banana to want you, and it doesn’t, so you want it more.

The grapefruit is the person that is accessible to you at the moment, whether is someone you meet in a bar, or on a dating app, or is a friend with whom the option of nakedness has not been entirely ruled out. When we’re talking about food, it seems fucking insane to act like the grapefruit has feelings, like the grapefruit would be hurt knowing it’s only second best, the winner by default until the more desirable bananas are restocked – but for some reason I encounter more people being treated like a grapefruit or some other object whose sole purpose is thought to be to make someone else feel better.

Even worse, I’ve had friends who knew they were grapefruits, and kept making excuse after excuse for the banana chasers. If someone tells you upfront that citrus isn’t their thing, believe them. It’s their way of offering a disclaimer that they don’t intend to really commit to you. If someone is giving you a reason why they don’t want to be with you, believe them. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had friends ask why someone they thought was the moon, sun, stars, and unicorn butt rainbows didn’t love them back or appreciate them.

If you feel like you’re the one giving the all in the relationship, like you are not the golden banana of your partner’s eye, go find your banana. It is detrimental to your spirit, your happiness, and your sanity to feel constantly rejected by the person you want to be with. I get the struggle and the urge to pursue a relationship with someone who doesn’t want it initially, the satisfaction in thinking that you can convince them that they do want to be with you, that you are worth their affection.

But if you’re not what they wanted, you’re not going to really have them as a partner in a relationship. If you’re settling in how you’re treated now in the hopes that you’ll get treated better – it won’t get better. It just enables someone to treat you like grapefruit – you’ll do for now, but you’re disposable.

For you banana chasers biding your time with a grapefruit – regardless of whether it is a specific person or the idea of a person, if you are settling for someone that you don’t really want to be with, but you don’t want to be alone – you’re being an asshole. Be careful who you treat like a second-rate fruit, because one day a person might think you’re a grapefruit too.

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In defense of self-defense.

For some reason, I have always had the notion that if I ever took a self-defense course, I would be a natural at fighting off an attacker. I am not coordinated nor athletically gifted; I am short and prone to clumsiness especially when attention is focused on me. While I do workout fairly regularly, anything requiring me to pay attention to both my feet and hands at the same time (like a Zumba class for example) makes me so flustered, I just end up jumping and flailing more than anything. And yet despite the physical evidence, when I read about women like the badass Kelly Herron – who in the middle of a marathon, fought off an attacker in a restroom using self-defense techniques she had just learned – some part of my brain nods and thinks that is exactly how I would react if I were ever in such a scary situation.

This delusions may be derived from the fact that I have seen every, single episode of Law and Order: SVU and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and to some part of my brain this meant that I was going to be extra adept at self-defense. Basically, from all the episodes of SVU I now assume that anyone can be a potential predator, and try to be careful and more alert around people I’m not that familiar with. From Buffy, I think WWBD? There’s one episode of Buffy where she tells new slayer Kendra, “A good fighter needs to know how to improvise, to go with the flow.” So whenever I’m entering a room or walking somewhere at night, I’m always thinking of what I can use as a weapon if I find myself suddenly threatened and needing to flee.

This all might sound incredibly paranoid, but that is how my brain is wired. As a woman, I’ve grown up my entire life being told that I need to be careful, and stay safe. I feel a pressure to take my own safety in my hands, like I have to do everything I can to avoid being assaulted and murdered by someone else. And while I can plan what I’ll use as a weapon and be cautious around every stranger to walk by me, that still doesn’t mean I’ll be able to actually physically execute the imagined scene in my head where I use a Nalgene bottle to break my assailant’s nose and make a successful escape.

So when a conference I was attending offered a session on Self-Defense, I eagerly signed up. I was ready to learn some badass techniques that would save my life. I had taken Tae Kwon Do when I was in second grade for two weeks so I felt like I had a head start on everyone else who could possibly be going. I wore pants so if I needed to practice kicking something I’d have more flexibility. I filled up my Nalgene just in case.

So I was completely wrong. The instructors quickly informed us that the whole point of the session was to get away from our attackers without “waking them up.” I was immediately confused because if someone is looking for a victim, I feel like they’re pretty awake, filled with adrenaline and excited. I can’t imagine committing crime, especially assault, casually. Like nonchalantly grabbing someone’s wrist, and if they yank it away, you just shrug and decide you’ll try the next person jogging by?

The techniques were a series of complicated wrist turns and placing your fingers in certain positions to force the assailant to release you. I was paired up with the cutest woman who was a mother of two, and had that inexplicable mom strength. Even though I was probably a few inches taller than her and lift regularly, I COULD NOT GET AWAY FROM THIS WOMAN. I started over-thinking the hand placement and which way I was supposed to step. We were supposed to step toward the attacker in every scenario except one, and it felt so counter-intuitive I kept bumbling through the motions.

The instructors also demonstrated some throat punches, which I felt comfortable with until they said you had to be careful because if you seriously hurt your assailant, they could always sue you for damages. I didn’t even know a person was supposed to worry about hurting their attacker. I didn’t even want to practice this on my partner because what if I accidentally connected with her and she sued me, and then I was poor forever for trying to learn how not to end up as a true life episode of SVU?

By the end, I was convinced that I would end up being murdered because I couldn’t remember if it was one finger or two that was supposed to squeeze the tendon, of if that throat punch would have too much strength or too little. I felt like I was more likely to get out of a bad situation by talking about my cats until the other person was so bored they let me go for the sake of their own sanity, than successfully implement any of these techniques.

So my first self-defense course was not a success, but I don’t think this means self-defense isn’t important. Shortly after I had shared this story on Facebook a friend posted an article about the importance of choosing the right self-defense course and going more than once, and I completely agree. This was not the right course for me, but there are so many out there, and clearly as evidenced by Kelly Herron, they can save your life. I plan on finding one to take over the summer, but until then I am using my mom and her mom strength as a bodyguard.

Oooh baby, baby, Baby, baby…shower

Tomorrow we are having a baby shower for a coworker. I think that the basic concept of a shower has good intentions: you have an acquaintance, coworker, friend, or family member undergoing some major (usually expensive) life change, and to encourage and assist them in their new endeavor, you buy them a present.

Housewarming party? Here’s a squatty potty. Bridal shower? Here’s some lingerie you’ll be embarrassed to open in front of your future mother-in-law (but you’ll definitely delight your ninety-eight-year-old great-aunt). Baby shower? Have some nipple cream or clamps (I don’t know what those were actually for). It starts off so simple.

I am all for an occasion in which it is not your birthday, and you get presents. Despite the fact these things tend to occur right before a paycheck Friday, I actually do enjoy giving people presents. I like seeing someone laugh or get excited because I’m a fucking present genius and gift like a chic she-Santa.

I dislike all the activities that the people throwing the shower feel necessary to orchestrate. If I am coming to an event with a present I went to a physical store and bought (instead of a new bikini with neon mesh and metallic tassels), please don’t assume that I need any kind of compensation other than cake.

I realize that some people enjoy the games (by some, I think I know one person who has admitted to this to my face), but even they have usually stipulated that they like them as an icebreaker. An icebreaker I can live with – put a sticker with the names of a famous couple on my back and I’ll walk around asking twenty questions until I’ve weirded out most of your (probably mostly only female) relatives. Or give me a chance to act like I am a human who knows how to conduct herself in public – I mean I did go to that store to get the present remember?

Also, it’s 2017. There’s some stigma where a lot of men resist attending baby showers more than cats about to get a bath. The last baby shower we threw at work included the dads in addition to the future moms, and it was really nice to see people acting like the baby was something happening to both parents – because it is. If you’re having a baby with someone, then the easiest thing you can do is both show up to get presents.

And if you’re a straight man who has an acquaintance, coworker, friend, or family member having a baby, now’s the time to step it up. Just because you haven’t typically been expected to show up to those events before, feel free to break that stereotype and purchase some organic cotton reusable diapers and join us for brunch. Don’t let it all hang on your significant other just because baby showers have typically been grouped in the feminine category – bae would probably like to be able to buy that bikini for a change.

 

 

 

 

On Apathy.

I haven’t written a new post in a while. For the few months around Halloween I was mostly devoting my energy and free time toward constructing a merbabe costume, a merfessional version that I could wear to work, and meowmaid costumes for my cats. Turns out painting seashells by hand, or sewing felt scales one by one is time consuming. Who knew?

And then the election happened, and I was so blindsided that I needed time to find the words for what I was feeling. I’ve had to explain to some close friends why the results hit me so hard, I’ve had to explain how to show compassion. These are not conversations that I thought I would have to have with the people I love, the people who I thought got it.

I understand people have different visions for this country, and different priorities. I thought that this country would want to move in a more inclusive, hopeful direction. I thought my generation was more united, and that was incredibly naïve of me. I had a lot of discussions with people around me in the days following the election, trying to understand what exactly had happened, and how it had happened.

I witnessed some ugly interactions. One of my best friends who no longer lives in the country posted that America should “grow up” and stop crying because an election didn’t go a certain way. We don’t agree on a lot of political points, but what shocked me was how she was condemning people over their own personal despair, and ridiculing them when they brought up their fears on how this new administration and government would move forward. Dumbfounded, I had to literally explain compassion to her, and point out why her post lacked any.

I had a handful of close friends who chose not to vote, or who used their vote as a joke, writing in the name of someone they knew instead of an actual candidate. I didn’t have a problem with the people who voted differently than me, I had a problem with the people who didn’t care enough about it at all, as if they would suffer no repercussions from either choice. That is what I still can’t understand: this apathy toward the outcome of an election, of a country, of how it will affect everyone, and at the very least how it will affect you directly as a person.

I’ve had a lot of conversations since the election. I’ve talked with people who voted for Trump, had honest and calm discussions about their reasons for voting for him. I’ve talked with the people who voted third party, who just could not stand to vote for either major candidate. I still try to have conversations with my friend who voted as a joke, I try to talk to her about the things that are going on in the world. I’ve had two friends tell me that they just don’t care, that it’s too much effort to keep up with the constantly changing news and the topics. My friend in another country told me that it’s “frankly tiring” to always try to think about the umbrella of equality.

I believe in conversation as a tool for change. I realize some people will never change their stance, but I do believe that by talking about differences, by sharing differing points of view, we can at least attempt to bridge the gap between us. You don’t know what someone is going through, what they’ve been through, if you don’t tell your story, if you’re not given the chance to be heard. I believe it is our duty as human beings to listen to each other, to hear each other’s concerns, to talk about what we’re afraid of, what we hope for, what we believe in. I believe that we can make our lives meaningful by trying to make our time count, to try and support each other despite our differences. I believe in trying to make another person’s life better, even if just for a minute, in trying to show kindness and compassion in everything you do.

It is work, having hard conversations, educating or even reeducating yourself, opening up to a new way of thinking, reading, talking, asking questions. I believe that by doing these things, we can make the decisions that will best represent ourselves and our priorities. Whether or not your choices mirror my own, you are honoring all those who fought for you to have the right to make that choice. Please don’t act like none of this matters – it does. Believe in something. Anything.

On not giving a fuck.

Lately I’ve had to stop caring. Not like in this tragic life has no meaning kind of way – I mean that I don’t care what other people think about my life choices. And it’s made me ridiculously happy.

I’ve spent years inconveniencing myself for other people. YEARS. And I’m not saying everyone should start living these incredibly selfish lives and not lift a finger to help anyone ever, but I am saying that I would generally do something that would put myself at a disadvantage in order to make someone else happy or like me more.

One example – I was scheduling my workouts around when my workout buddies could join me, sometimes taking an extra hour of my day because I was waiting for them to get done with whatever they were doing. Sometimes, not a big deal. But on a daily basis, not cool. I want to get home so I can eat the food I’ve been drooling over all day on Pinterest. I want to watch my cat do indoor parkour, and continue the Seinfeld marathon with my husband. I want to work on at least one of my writing projects, take a shower, and be able to read a few chapters of A Darker Shade of Magic (have you guys read this – it’s amazing!). And I really want to get at least six hours of sleep so I can do the whole thing over again the next day.

But I feel so goddamned guilty whenever I just go for what works best for me, because I know that sometimes in life you need another person to help get you through whatever it is you’re going through. I’ve had people help me get into a fitness routine, and it really is easier to do with a partner. But there is a point when you can only give so much, before it crosses that line into resentment.

Working out is just one example, but I’ve started saying, “Hey, I’m going to the gym at this time and doing this routine if you want to join me there.” Not when it works for you, but when I can do it. Occasionally I’ll be flexible, but I’ve had so much more time to get the things done that I’ve needed to get done, and I haven’t honestly lost a workout buddy – I just haven’t been angry with them because I’m not longer waiting, and if anything I feel like we’re getting more workouts in.

Another example? I dyed my hair green – something I was hesitant to do because I was worried it would make me look unprofessional. (It didn’t, and I also don’t interact face to face with the public so I could be entirely green and it wouldn’t matter.) I started working on a writing collaboration with a good friend and when I’m excited about it, I decline getting lunch with my coworkers because I’d rather work on a chapter for a day. I have a friend I watch a TV show with, and I’ve had to push that back because I need to pack so I can move into a new house.

I’ve been supporting my husband’s new diet by doing it with him, which means no gluten and hardly any dairy. You know who loves gluten and dairy? Everyone. Every work function I’ve had in the past two months since starting this diet has included these two things. You know who gives you dirty looks when you don’t eat their gluten and dairy? Everyone who organized the event without asking if everyone could eat/wanted to eat some stale cookies that were on sale at the grocery store. You know who doesn’t give a fuck? This girl who has happened to lose five pounds and has a happier, healthier husband who doesn’t feel alone as he has had to undergo this lifestyle change.

Because why are we making ourselves upset or feel like crap to make someone else feel better? Why are we sacrificing our goals, our ambitions to accommodate someone else’s schedule? People might not approve, people might be irritated – but who cares? Asking someone else to give up a piece of their happiness is ridiculous, and I’d rather say at the end of the day that I did everything I could to be my happiest self and pursue my dreams than eat a cheap store-bought cookie I didn’t even ask for.

 

Good Juju June, or The time my mother moved my birthday.

True Story. My birthday is in December, but both my sisters have summer birthdays. My mom felt really bad about this, that my sisters celebrated so close together, and I waited so long for mine, only to get shafted because it was so close to Christmas. It never really bothered me, because I was pretty jazzed that I got presents for myself, and then six days later got even more presents for the bearded guy’s big day. But my mom really worried about it.

So one year my mom decided that I would celebrate my birthday in June, exactly six months before my real birthday. There were presents, a birthday party (I think only my sisters came because it sounded too weird to invite other kids to), and we even went to a water park. I live in Arizona where it’s hot on a good day, but in the summer it’s a preview of what the entire Earth will feel like when the sun starts expanding and scorching us. So after a long day at the water park for my half-birthday, I got into the car, and lay across the backseat to try and reach one of my presents which had fallen to the ground.

It was a bouquet of paper and plastic flowers. I had gotten a Funskool Fantastic Flowers kit for my not real birthday, and had insisted on bringing my new art project with me to the water park. Because if there’s one thing a kid needs at a water park, it’s paper products. Anyway, I went to grab it, and my chest came into contact with the metal buckle of the seatbelt that had been sitting in the sun all day. The result was a burn in the shape of the seatbelt that went through a few layers of skin.

I wasn’t allowed to go swimming for the rest of the summer. Summer in Arizona is practically up to October, sometimes longer. We were only two months in. I had to rub oil on my burn and sit cantankerously under an umbrella while my sisters swam and dove to retrieve those neon rings. (Am I the only one who finds this to be a water version of fetch?) It was terrible. My mom felt so bad that when my real birthday came around, she let me celebrate, even though I had technically already had one. She never tried to move my birthday again, although she continues to lament I’m a December baby.

The point is, that even though I think my mom is kind of nuts and I will never celebrate my birthday at a water park again, she did kind of have a point. Sometimes things aren’t convenient, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still do them, on your own time. For me, this is NaNoWriMo. I’ve never done it, but always wanted to. November is an insane month though. You’re just getting over Halloween, which for me is a pretty big deal. (The pumpkin food alone is pretty time consuming, and I spend a good amount of time deciding what costumes my cats will wear.) There’s coordinating and cooking and what seems like an endless amount of Thanksgiving potlucks to go to. And when the flurry of feasting is over, it’s suddenly December and how the hell did I not buy gifts yet?

I don’t stop writing during the holidays, but my hat’s off to the people who set out with the goal of writing 2500 words a day. I’m probably lucky if I walk out with that kind of word count for the entire month of November. But every year when I see it starting, and I know it’s happening, a part of me wants to attempt it. I want to have a goal every day and know that I pushed myself to accomplish it.

So I did what any normal person does and I made up my own! I call it Good Juju June. It’s not as ambitious as NaNoWriMo, I only set myself a 1,000 word count goal per day. (I had roughly a hundred pages of a story already written, so I wasn’t starting from scratch.) But it’s a time when I need a distraction to take my mind of querying, and when I really want to push myself to complete this draft so that I can hopefully spend the winter revising and editing, and have a polished manuscript to query in the spring.

So far I’ve stuck to it, and I’m hoping that I’ll have at least 30,000 new words by the end of the month. Who knows? Maybe I’ll keep it up for Pretty High Word Count July. (I’m going to work on that name. That name is not good.)

Querying is kind of a big deal.

I started querying agents a week ago, and I would rather edit a thousand pages of a manuscript than a query letter. I’ve done my research, so I have a healthy amount of anxiety when it comes to how important the query letter is to the whole process. So I spent a long time going over drafts of query letters and the other submission materials, trying to get everything as close to perfect as I could make it. And then I sent them out.

That’s a pretty huge deal to me, because I’ve never felt that anything was ready to be seen by potential agents before. This manuscript is the book of my heart, which I know usually isn’t the one that authors have success with. But I believe in this story so much, that I’m hoping I can find someone else who feels the same way. It’s only been a week but I honestly feel like querying time is twice as long as normal time. Since these queries have been out in the world, I thought that seriously a month had passed, but it’s only been seven days.

And the querying process is long. There are agents that say eight weeks is standard, and if you haven’t heard after that, it’s a pass. So I was expecting to just have things out in the world, and bide my time, and focus on a new project. But I got a response the same day I sent out a query, my first rejection. It was super polite, the agent said she wasn’t a good fit, and I didn’t feel offended at all. I did get all those moments of doubt and panic: What if no one thinks they’re a good fit for my story? What if this is just incredibly terrible and I don’t have any sense for what good writing is? What if I spend my whole life trying to do the only thing I’ve ever felt good about, and it just never happens?

I know that rejection is part of the gig, and that’s why it’s highly recommended to work on another project while you’re undergoing the querying process. So I jumped back into a story that I had put on the back burner while I whipped up my first manuscript into querying shape. And I love this new story. It’s one that came to me in a very weird, vivid dream, and the more I dive into it, the more I want to explore this world. I’ve done a lot of research previously on it, and it’s the first adult novel that I’ve attempted. (Which is also huge because I’ve felt like I was so terrible at adulting for so long, that writing about actual adults was incredibly intimidating. Until I figured out lots of adults are horrible at adulting.)

I’ve been rereading the pages that I had written and trying so hard to take off my editing hat, and put on my writing hat. It feels so strange to have complete freedom with the storyline, to figure out what happens next instead of worrying about existing plot points. I’m still getting back into the groove, I only did a little over 700 words today, but I’m feeling so excited about telling this story, and hopefully getting to share it with another human someday. Until then, I’m pretty sure my cat thinks it’s brilliant.