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Littlesby

There are times in life when we meet someone and just KNOW in our core that this person will be life changing. Whether it is romantically, or through friendship, or through a serendipitous encounter with a complete stranger—I can remember the exact moments I’ve encountered these life changing people. Today is the day of birth of one such amazing character. I met her at a party, she was wearing a sequined, multi colored dress and she ate IHOP with me the next day when I creepily knocked on her dorm room door. I didn’t know that she would become my little in my sorority or that she would become one of my very best friends. I also didn’t know that we would come to help each other through some of our lowest times or that she’d witness me at both my best and my worst. All that said, I could not be more thankful to share so many memories with this incredible young woman. She’s an inspirational person and an unconditionally loving friend. Ultimately, she’s one of the numbered few in my life who I trust wholeheartedly. I’ve never felt the need for secrets or pretenses or false personas. So here’s to my littlesby, one of my soul mates, my lovely Ellie on growing another year older, wiser and closer to one another. I love you more than I could ever accurately express.

Life is a constantly changing, constantly moving, always alterable vortex. The possibilities are endless, the mistakes we make are fleeting and while it may all seem impossibly random…somewhere near the center we can find the axis to which everything and all of us are tied.

I have never been a religious person but you will find books on taoism, buddhism, judaism and, now thanks to my wonderful friend, Jennie Nichols, christianity in my home. And while I am not actively religious, if I have learned one lesson from these spiritual studies it’s that we are all connected. That connectedness has lent itself to this realization: we are never alone.

The physical concept of being by oneself has birthed confusion. While I have been by myself, I have never been alone. Maybe this is a peculiar thing to say, and maybe I’m relying too heavily on semantics but I can’t help but reflect back on a Language and Communication class I took while studying in Belgium:
A=One
Lone=having no company
Company=association with another

There have been times in my life that gravity has seemed too heavy a weight for my shoulders. While I have felt weak because of this, I have also felt strong because, well, I’ve always kept moving. At the center of that strength lies one fundamental truth: no matter what…I will never be without company. I will never be alone.

We are all a part of this great, big vortex called life. We share fundamental similarities with millions of people we have never met. My favorite color is grey. Traveling is the key to my soul. I love to read. And I will never be alone because no matter what, there is someone in this world who loves the same things I love and who has felt the same things that I feel.

I am here and I am not alone.

Profoundly

I am having one of those days. One of those satisfying, inspiring, life changing days. Right now, as I write, I also realize that I am having one of the most profound moments I have ever experienced. 

I am listening to a beautiful woman play the piano at the Hilton as she sings to Only Hope by Mandy Moore. She’s already played a beautiful rendition of “River Flows in You” that nearly brought me to tears…now I’m sure that I am about to enter the kind of catharsis that we only find when we reach spiritual awareness. 

Right now I am aware of myself. I’m aware and I’m okay. Okay for the first time in quite some time. I feel like I’ve been drifting for months. Rocking back and forth between floating in space and spiraling off into oblivion. I haven’t felt this free in a long time. A weight has been lifted by utter inspiration. 

I’ve spent the day and the night before interviewing students for admission to Austin College. I’ve met students who are exceptional, and students with exceptional stories. While I couldn’t share their words because they aren’t my own, I really wish I could tell you how amazing our youth can be.

These are kids who have experienced more than I could ever imagine and yet they smile–smile and count their blessings every day. They’ve inspired me to be better, to do more, and to take more pleasure in all that I do. Which has inspired me to do more things that satisfy me. I’m going to take in the beauty of my surroundings, I’m going to write more, paint more, talk to people I love more, I’m going to listen to classical music in the car with my windows rolled down and let it build me up. 

I’m going to take to heart what one of my student’s said today. I’m not going to settle. I’m not going to settle for anything less than I deserve and I’m not going to settle for anything less than I can give–not anymore. I owe this world (and myself) more.

Today was beautiful. 

And starting today I’m going to live profoundly. Or at least with profundity in mind. 

Yelp is for….whiners.

I’ve had this relationship with Yelp.com for a few years–I wouldn’t say it’s love/hate…more like just hate. I abhor Yelp. Really. I know this sounds a little ridiculous but let me explain.

Both my parents own businesses in Central Texas. My mother owns a women’s clothing consignment store and my father owns a car repair shop. Of the many things I’ve learned over the years being exposed to small businesses, one of the most profound lessons has concerned just how INCREDIBLY, appallingly spoiled people seem to be when it comes to the customer service industry. People need what they want, when they want and how they want it and they expect everyone else to give it to them. But I really take fault with this. Oh, you’re coming into the shop 3 minutes before we close and you’re kindly informed it’s closing time? By all means throw a hissy fit–because that just makes a lot of sense! Oh you want to consign clothes outside of our consignment hours and you’re told to come back during hours? Clearly it’s time for hulk to come out to play. You have a hefty bill because you haven’t changed the oil in your truck for five years? Yes, that is everyone else’s fault BUT your own.

All of this pretension, and entitledness would be bad enough, it would be enough to make my faith in humanity falter–but that’s not the end. No, then people get all over Yelp with their woe stories about being so mistreated at “XYZ Store,” they whine and carry on about how this establishment didn’t cater to them and didn’t bend the knee to their requests. They squaw about how this is the “customer service industry” and they’re the customer and they’re always right and shouldn’t these businesses care more about making the customer happy? Is all this really necessary? Especially when added cruelty results in other users deeming reviews “funny” or “useful”, it seems like this is a game intended to bring out the claws.

My mom owns one of the coolest consignment shops I’ve ever been to. In 100% seriousness, it is one of the only consignment shops in which I feel really comfortable spending a few hours shopping. It’s clean, beautiful, well-organized, and has lots of selection without being utterly overwhelming; and yet she has some Yelp haters. She reads those reviews sometimes and just wonders how people could be so rude.

Yelp gives people an outlet for their frustrations–which is all well and good in theory until you think about how anonymous it can be, how it takes all of the humanity out of the equation and allows users to bash companies without ever bringing up their qualms in person. Whatever happened to face to face contact? Having enough respect for other people to not tar and feather them on the internet? Yelp is it’s own version of bullying, it’s this haven for pretentious, self-righteous, whiners to get online and tear businesses down. But, here’s the thing Yelpers, you’re not just tearing down businesses. These aren’t self-manned businesses run by cyborgs–real people work there, real people own these businesses and put their all into it (life savings, time, energy, sacrifices of time with the family). You’re not just giving a business a bad review and a bad rap–you’re hurting peoples’ feelings.

So, while I can’t say I’ve never written a negative review online, remember a few things 1) you can’t accurately judge a business based on a single visit 2) even though you’re hiding behind a computer WRITING the review, there is a real person whose feelings are hurt when they READ it 3) everyone has bad days, even you, so before you review a business based on an experience with one employee maybe you should, i don’t know, maybe this is crazy, talk to the freaking OWNER 4) you really can negatively affect a business with a negative review, take a minute to think about whether your opinion is so paramount that it’s worth the cost of someone’s business. And lastly, 5) sometimes, the old “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” should apply to what you say on the internet.

For my friends who don’t review on Yelp but use it to read up on businesses, here are some tid bits for you 1) remember that users are more likely to write a review than a positive one; so take negative reviews with a grain of salt…there are countless more satisfied customers who just didn’t take the time to write about it. 2) Yelp filters reviews, so if you’re looking into a business check out their filtered reviews also.

 

AND AS FOR YOU YELP: stop promoting nasty reviews by filtering positive ones and allowing people to pay to have them unfiltered–it’s just unfair.

 

For some more entertaining, if not also disconcerting, Yelp nastiness visit these websites:

http://fuckingyelpers.tumblr.com/

http://www.bosshi.com/why-yelp-sucks/

This piece is in response to this fantastic entry written by Marianne over at xojane: http://www.xojane.com/issues/dear-prudence-lets-just-keep-blaming-women-for-their-rapes-i-guess

When I began my blogging journey, nearly two years ago, I remember reading tips about how to run a successful blog. Over the course of the past year, I have broken nearly all of the rules they gave–but I’m so okay with that. I’ve never been one to diverge from the path my own arrow wishes to fly.

“Don’t just write about yourself”…..my bad, guys! They say to have a theme, not to talk about too many different things. Well, oops. I started this blog as a discussion of my travels abroad, then it morphed into a personal blog about my life, updates to the world about my business, heartbreak over Sandy Hook and my anger at the world for our mistreatment of teachers, BOOM break up poetry, philosophical discussions about “love”. Next you’ll probably see me writing about some new recipe I tried out (I’m a piss poor cook) or fashion tips for the budget-conscious. Who knows.

Today, I want to talk about how f-ed up our world can be when we talk about women. The world has been rife with controversial cases about rape, about women’s rights, about the war on women. There are the people who deny such a war is occurring, the super conservatives who want to bar our access to healthcare for “our own good” while simultaneously turning a blind eye to this epidemic of rape and abuse we’ve been facing. It’s as though every day there is a new story. We hear about Rehtaeh Parsons, Daisy Coleman, the Steubenville rape case, the repeated gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas who later became pregnant and countless other shocking stories; all incidences that have wrecked lives and yet, somehow, nothing changes. There’s a disturbing theme in all the aforementioned cases…victim blaming. For Rehtaeh Parsons, Daisy Coleman and the victim in the Steubenville rape, the victims were blamed for their rapes because they consumed alcohol and were “asking for it” as such. In the case of the 11-year-old victim in Cleveland members of the community as well as the rapists blamed her rape on “looking older” and dressing promiscuously.

When we discuss the circumstances of rape a few things tend to come up: It was late. There was alcohol involved. She was wearing “going out” clothes. We view these things as the stereotypical elements of a typical rape so we educate people on how to protect themselves from being taken advantage of…be constantly aware, don’t accept drinks from strangers, don’t drink too much, dress modestly, don’t go out alone. Then, when a rape occurs outside these typical molds we call it an exception and not the rule. Why do we talk like this? Why should anyone have to take precautions to protect themselves from the violent crime of another? Why should we expect women to dress modestly when we should just be teaching other people to control themselves? To not roofie anyone. To treat other people with respect and care. To not attack another person violently and violate them against their will. Why are we educating the potential victims when we should be educating the potential perpetrators?

When did educating people about how to “not get raped” become more important than educating others about rape being a horrifying crime that we shouldn’t commit? Where is the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program for sexual assault? Why aren’t the children in this country being taught about this terrible crime? Why do we spend so much time talking about how people can protect themselves from rape and so little time talking about just NOT RAPING PEOPLE? I understand the necessity to act defensively, to protect oneself; but when the conversations turn from a rape victim being a victim into “you could have done more to prevent this”, that’s when I take an EXPLOSIVE issue with the culture we seem to be embracing. The responsibility lies on the rapist, let’s please stop with the “I won’t say she deserved to be raped but….”, there aren’t any but’s about it. Rape is rape and the last time I checked it’s a crime no matter what I’m wearing.

I want to leave you all with a quote referenced on xojane, stated originially by a reddit user, as something we should all ponder: “I’m not going to live in a metaphorical cage just because you belong in a real one.”

Why should we be asked to lock ourselves away just because other people should be locked up?

Things I Left Behind

There are a lot of things I can’t do anymore. I can’t watch Burn Notice; that was something we only did together. I can’t look at pictures my sorority sisters have posted; he might be in them. I can’t pinky promise anyone; it’s a bitter reminder of something sweet that we did. 

But I’ve gained quite a few things too. I have a new found sense of confidence in myself; maybe this came from my job or from being alone, or maybe from not being judged by another person. Regardless of the reason, I’m gaining comfort in being myself. 

I’m planning my life…what I want to do, where I want to go. I have a while to figure it all out but the plans are in the works. I want to take the LSAT, spend more time with my family, move out of Sherman, TX and begin my life as a quasi-real-adult. 

Even though I feel a bit lost and I never expected to be doing all this without him, I know I’ll be just fine. 

“Love is a Verb”

Today I want to do something I’ve never done before; it’s a little thing but I’m profoundly affected. I read “I Didn’t Love My Wife When We Got Married” by Elad Nehorai over on Pop Chassid while on a work break and I want to take the opportunity to write–maybe not a response, but a reflection on the piece.

When relationships end, the series of emotions that follow are complicated and confusing and painful. There are these expectations that people have: you’re supposed to cry and cry and cry and then get better, you’re supposed to want to talk crap about your ex, you’re supposed to go out an have fun, you’re supposed to not think about it. Well, I’m sure all of this is well and good for some people but for me it was bullshit.

My relationship ended after about 11 months just under 6 weeks ago. I didn’t cry and then stop. I cried and then I stopped and then I cried again. My co-worker came to my apartment and held me, she didn’t even mind the tissues everywhere. I barely cried because I knew it was for the best in the long run. But the next day, I showed up to work and I cried in my boss’ office while she figured out how to get me out of my responsibilities for the day. Then I stopped and I thought how stupid it was to let this get in the way of my career. Then I listened to a song, a special song, and I sat alone in my dimly lit office and the tears flowed. Loss is a roller coaster, it’s this constant thing that evolves and transforms until it collapses on itself and forms a hole. It’s a hole that won’t ever really go away, and can’t ever really be filled by something else–but I think loss can be surrounded by other happier, better, and CURRENT things.

We had our fair share of problems, my ex and I. Our relationship had not always been a beautiful thing–in fact it was marred by truly awful times, painful experiences that break couples down. The ending of “us” was a necessary thing. That said, I was hurt. I felt betrayed and unimportant. But I never wanted to talk about how “terrible” he was or spend time gossiping about his misgivings. I told my mother that I still respected him and even if he had fallen out of love–I had not. I didn’t want to hear the “he was wrong for you” talk or the talk about lies that may or may not have been told. I wasn’t ready to listen. I think that is okay, even though hating my ex would have been a lot easier.

So often friends would ask me to go out and drink, go out and spend a night on the town; they would often tell me that staying home was unhealthy and I needed to get out more. But I was mourning, grieving the loss of a love. Everyone does it differently. Eventually I grew ready to reenter the world, but it took time to build up the confidence and strength–both of which came from hiding for a few weeks and only leaving to go to work.

I thought about what happened a lot. I replayed the conversation–our breakup–in my head a lot. I taunted myself with the things I should have said, questions I should have asked, answers I should have demanded. But it was really simple, he didn’t feel the same way about me anymore. I have come to terms with it and I’ve spent a lot of time pursuing catharsis and closure. Reading the piece by Elad, though, has given me a new perspective. I spent the time we were together doing things for my ex, becoming a better girlfriend, a more giving partner and reminding myself constantly of the reasons why I wanted to share my “life” with him. I would make him breakfast, hold him tightly, tell him sweet things I thought he might like to hear. He spent the course of our relationship on a steady decline. As the infatuation faded, he didn’t try. We didn’t go on dates, he didn’t do simple things that might please me, he didn’t listen to my needs. I never realized that love was a constantly changing thing too. It was intuitive for me to keep growing. On the other hand, when the fun left my ex failed to realize that he had to make it come back. Love isn’t the giddy feeling of dating someone, it’s not as simple as that. Love is, like Elad said, a verb. Something you have to do. You have to make love happen, keep making it happen, keep trying all the time. It is not easy–it isn’t supposed to be.

People think of love as something we fall into. We tell epic stories of how we fell in love with our partner, but this is so wrong. We don’t fall into love and we don’t fall out of love. Being in love with another person takes effort, it takes reminding oneself everything single day of all the reasons why this is THE person. When we stop trying, putting forth equal effort, matched we equal desire and dedication, that is where the problems lie. We have to stop seeing love as something that happens to us and start seeing it as something we do.

I’ve spent much of the past 6 weeks getting to know myself again. I became a different person. So much of my identity had become defined by my love and my relationship. I didn’t go out to parties anymore, even though I should have been celebrating my senior year. I dropped most of my relationships with my friends to devote more time to my ex. I do not regret most of these decisions–but I regret that I allowed who I was to become someone else. Someone who didn’t know how to have fun and didn’t ask about the lives of her friends. I’m not going to do that anymore.

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