Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dear Wayback Machine

Dear Wayback Machine:

Thank you for helping me unearth some of the most cringe-worthy pieces of writing I've ever committed to paper and for capturing my barely passable web and graphic design skills and for reminding me once again just how unbearably pretentious and annoying I was in college.

It all started with Geocities...


Unfortunately, there isn't much archived from that page. Pity too. I had tabs called "art", "poetry" and "jesus". Although actually the Jesus link still works, and so does "quotes". And how about that awesome copyright?


geocities.com/dj_xia - about me page







Then I entered the world of domain names and Dreamweaver and voila. Superlori.com was born.

superlori.com
Then I got married and two websites (well a website and a Xanga) became one.  Meet the original scottandlori.co.uk.  This might be the most cringy thing I've ever seen. Complete with a "Books to Burn" list in the sidebar. Puuuuke.

scottandlori.co.uk - 2005
The site progressed, as websites do...

scottandlori.co.uk - 2006

These were the days of interactive images. (Go ahead, scroll over.)

scottandlori.co.uk - 2007
And everything was in web frames.


Finally I got tired of designing my own sites with Dreamweaver and resorted to using Blogger's own templates. Which I still use today because I finally realized I'm really not a web designer.

scottandlori.co.uk - July 2011

And to bring it all full circle, we finally managed to catch scottandlori.com after vying for it for years. The previous owners released it, and we snatched it up. We became a dot com.

scottandlori.com

Through these sites I found not just bad web design and embarrassing blog posts. I also found some essays I'd written in college. I'd like to share them with you, but I don't have it in me to be that self-deprecating.  My essay on the Jonathan Edwards' sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" for instance made me want to punch a baby penguin. My "creative non-fiction" piece about childhood imagination made me gag and roll my eyes and cry a little for what a terrible writer I was.  But I will give you this - the least cringe-worthy piece of them all - my creative response to John Donne's poem "The Flea".

Thank you, Wayback Machine. No really, I can't thank you enough. I now marvel at the fact I had any friends at all.  Ta.


Lori Arnold
WLIT
April 26,2001

The Flea's Response: A Letter To the Editor

Dear Editor:
My name is William J. Bennet, more infamously known as just "the flea". I am writing on behalf of a highly offensive poem published by Mr. John Donne. I am an upright citizen, who believes in morality and decency; this man has carelessly involved me in all sorts of indecorous deeds. I would like to state that I would never engage myself in the fornication or seduction of which he has accused me. In this letter, I would like to publicly state that I had nothing to do with the conspiracies of this man to entangle his mistress into the act of pre-marital lovemaking, and to correct any and all fallacies presented in his poem, "The Flea."

First, I would like to comment on his insulting remark regarding my size. He states "How little that which thou deny'st me is". Excuse me for having self-confidence, but I believe that, despite my size, I have worth. However, for the sake of argument, let us agree that I am quite small. Mr. Donne would like to imply that the act of fornication bears no more importance than a flea. This is simply not true; sex is created for marriage, and in my opinion, to take it out of that strict limitation is a far bigger ordeal on the Scale of Importance than what he perceives a flea to be.

Now I will admit that, yes, I did indeed bite both of them. However, Mr. Donne blew that mild and God-created instinct out of proportion. I bite because I am a flea; I bite because I am hungry. This is my humble rank in the food chain. I do not grumble over my existence; nay, I eat for survival and expect others to do the same. He is correct in saying that this is neither "a sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead." Yet, he then goes on to accuse me of enjoying the blood in a sexual manner. I, in no way, had the foul intentions of creating a "marriage bed", when in my stomach their "two bloods mingled be." I am a flea. Yes, I enjoyed my meal, but the implications made were simply horrifying. Mr. Donne goes even further to say that what I have done was so crass that it was more than what his mistress would do with him. These accusations are so humiliating that I am red-faced just addressing them.

Mr. Donne seems to have the idea that three lives now exist within me. Before I go on, allow me to point out the ludicrousness of this point. If he would like to believe that now they are "more than married" because his blood was mingled with hers, then he must also believe that he is "more than married" to the ten other people who I had bitten within that same period of time. But to remain on topic, Mr. Donne tries to convince this chaste woman that in me lays their only "marriage temple," of which I have already stated was purely coincidental. I would like to say that no "temple" has been crafted inside me that would compromise anyone's morality, as would be the case in this particular circumstance. I shall never approve of pre-marital intercourse, and therefore would never help others to facilitate it.

I must commend this woman for staying true to the morals instilled in her by the church and her parents. Mr. Donne seems to ridicule her for it, and perhaps even shame her, comparing the provision of her parents to a prison of darkness. I can even forgive her for her murderous intentions, for at least they were sincere. Mr. Donne shows no sincerity when he beckons her to resist. His only argument was that if she killed me, she would not only be committing one crime, but three: two murders, and a suicide. He reasons that he and she live in me, and I adamantly refute that. I am outraged by the despicable and cunning techniques he uses in his attempt to convince her to participate in his debauchery. He has turned her own convictions against her, causing confusion over which deeds are ethically better or worse. If this were not wicked enough, he involves me, an innocent passer-by, in his vile machinations!

I must now clear up yet another misrepresentation. His lady did not kill me. On the contrary, I promptly left the scene after biting the couple. I had a stomachache and needed a respite. Hours later, I was informed that a dear companion of mine, Donald McNeil, was mistaken for me and "purpled thy nail" of Mr. Donne's mistress. Truly it was the "blood of innocence." I weep now, remembering my friend and how his life could have been spared had not Mr. Donne brought us into his extended metaphor, his conceit. My pain increased when I read his careless remark about the situation. The only thought on this man's mind was sex. He had asked her before to spare my life, even though for selfish gain, but that was put-on. I realized he did not care whether I lived or died when, instead of rebuking his mistress, he uses the opportunity to make another point for his defense. He has the audacity to tell her that by murdering the flea she mistook for me no harm was done, similar to the harmlessness that would ensue after an unbridled sexual experience with him. I find this purely offensive.

I took this poem to be a personal assault on my character. I do hope that in writing this letter I have sufficiently cleared my name and regained my dignity. Once more I declare that I am innocent of these accusations brought before me in this poem by Mr. John Donne.

Thank you,
Mr. William J. Bennet





Sunday, January 08, 2017

Sunday Sermon: Give Blood and Save a Life


The first place I ever gave blood was in the Fine Arts Auditorium at my high school, when I was a junior or senior. I felt proud to be a part of something that felt bigger and more important than me. I went on to give blood any time there was a blood drive, usually on the high school or college campus.

After college, I didn't get the chance to donate for a while due to a series of temporary deferments - tattoos, piercings, pregnancy. I mistakenly believed I couldn't give while breastfeeding as well, though that turns out to have been untrue.

It hadn't occurred to me to give blood again until I moved back to the US in 2013. In April 2014, a series of tornadoes swept through Arkansas, leaving a path of destruction through the nearby town of Vilonia. My neighbor and good friend Amy had close friends in Vilonia, so the relief efforts became personal to me. She and I went to the disaster site to help clear the wreckage, and we collected donations of clothing and other supplies for the victims of the tornado. It occurred to me then to also give blood.

I had two kids not in school yet, so I prepared Lolly with a fully charged tablet and a bag of snacks and toys for Jaguar, put the stroller in the trunk, and drove the kids to Little Rock so I could donate blood. When I got to the blood donation center, I was handed a clipboard with forms and a checklist of criteria to meet. I started to fill in the forms when I saw some information I had not expected; because of my time living in the UK, I was deferred from giving*. For life.

Trying to stay composed, I returned the clipboard to one of the workers and took the children back to the car. I turned on the ignition but before I could back out of the parking space, I burst into tears. I sobbed into the steering wheel, devastated that I would never be able to give blood again for the rest of my life. Deferred for life. I cried for a solid five minutes before composing myself and driving back home.

Now I work for the American Red Cross, and every day I feel sadness over my inability to donate blood. I was good at donating; I could give a pint fast with no side effects, no dizziness. I've learned since working here about platelet donations too, and my heart hurts knowing I could absolutely give that kind of time to give platelets (it's more time consuming, so platelet donations are harder to come by).

The Red Cross has issued an emergency appeal for blood and platelets due to a severe winter shortage. With holidays and bad weather, fewer people are able to get out to donate and blood drives can often be cancelled due to weather. This year, with Hurricane Matthew, many blood drives were cancelled. Right now, blood is being distributed to hospitals faster than it's coming in.

Another thing I've learned in my new job is the need for blood to be already "on the shelf" in case of an emergency. After donation, there is 24 hours before the blood is ready to be given to another person. When disasters like tornadoes or Hurricane Matthew occur, blood needs to be ready and waiting right then. People tend to flock to donation centers after disasters, which is fantastic, but those blood products are not available until a day later.

Blood and blood products help emergency victims, cancer patients and all kinds of people with other life-threatening illnesses or undergoing surgeries. When I had my c-section, with the risk of hemorrhage I was under (the placenta was going to have to be cut through to get Fifi out), the surgeons had blood waiting for me right there, should I need it.

It breaks my heart that I am not able to do my part anymore in donating blood. So I implore all of you reading this, in whatever country you are in - if you are able to donate blood or platelets, please do! Roll up a sleeve and save a life. Do it on my behalf. My friend Elizabeth, during the Vilonia tornado, heard my story and donated blood for me. It made me cry all over again. If you decide to give blood after reading this, please let me know. I may not be able to give my own blood, but if I can urge multiple people to go in my place, I'll have done more than only I could have done to start with.

That's my sermon for this Sunday morning. Let's save lives and give now. If you can't give blood yourself, ask someone else to donate in your place. I truly believe that together, we can make a difference around the world and save innumerable lives.

For a list of blood drives in Arkansas, visit the Arkansas Red Alert blog. For other blood drives across the US, visit redcross.org/give-blood.


*While writing this blog, I did some additional research into eligibility criteria, and I am starting to wonder if the information I was given that day was incorrect or has since changed. I will be finding out first thing Monday morning when I arrive to work! Our office is also a blood donation center, so I'm going to be getting some clarification! 

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Lost In Just Living - Tripping Daisy Revived


We swung open the doors to Vino's, and there he was. His back was to us, but we'd know him anywhere. Jeans, t-shirt, messy hair - it was Wes Berggren of Tripping Daisy. This felt like a dream. It was my first time at Vino's, and Tripping Daisy was without any shred of doubt my favorite band. And here they were right in front of me.

I wasn't there to see them play though. My parents had forbidden me to go see the show. Even though Vino's was an all-ages venue, and Tripping Daisy were a totally non-controversial band - they barely even cussed in their songs - I was not allowed to see the show.

I probably could have flat out lied, but I chose the slightly more honest route. I wouldn't stay for the show, but I'd show up early, meet them, and listen to sound check. It was the best I could do without having to lie.

Oswald's Pool
Lane, Patrick and Alex were in a band called Oswald's Pool. Lane was my boyfriend, and he was the one to introduce me to Tripping Daisy. In fact, he introduced me to music. Before Tripping Daisy, I listened to whatever my folks had on the radio. I had a few CDs I'd inherited from a friend - Sublime and 311, if I recall correctly - and several Contemporary Christian Music tapes (DC Talk, Point of Grace, Lisa Bevill, Petra, Stephen Curtis Chapman...). Then Lane introduced me to TD, and my world was flipped inside out. TD, along with Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros, became the soundtrack of my life, but Tripping Daisy was by far the band that opened up a new world to me. I knew every song and had every album and knew all the trivia, and though the internet was still a baby, I'd searched it up and down for photos of the band that I could print off and tape to all my notebooks. 

And now, there we were, Lane, Patrick, Alex and I, standing in Vino's, ten feet away from the guitarist.

A few minutes later, we spotted Tim DeLaughter, the singer and frontman. The guys had met Tripping Daisy before, and assuming my memory isn't telling lies, Oswald's Pool had even opened for them once with the theme tune from Muppet Babies. They introduced me to Tim, and later Mark Pirro, Philip Karnats and Ben Curtis, and eventually Wes. Tim signed Lane's cup "Love, Tim" with a heart and arrow and let us stick an Oswald's Pool sticker on one of their amps.  We sat in the front tables during sound check, and nothing in my life came anywhere close to euphoria of hearing them sing tunes from Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb right there in front of me, live. I bought a poster. And then, like a good little girl, I went home before the show started. I was heartbroken.

A few years later, Wes Berggren died, and Tripping Daisy was no more.


T-shirt still fits
I never got to see Tripping Daisy play a live show. I had t-shirts, posters, albums, bootlegs, and when Tim DeLaughter started his new band Polyphonic Spree, I was in the fan club and got the first release of the album, back when the songs didn't even have names, just numbers. In college as a radio dj for the student station KXUA 88.3 I did a feature show on Tripping Daisy in which I played two hours of Tripping Daisy, filling in the gaps with trivia and taking requests from fans over the phone. I also wrote a research essay about them in my Folk and Pop Music Traditions class entitled "Lost In Just Living". 

Several years later, while living in Scotland, Polyphonic Spree came to Edinburgh. I got the chance to see Tim, Mark and Bryan Wakeland play in their new band. I stood in the front row, sang every song along with them and left that night feeling like a little part of something I'd missed out on had been restored. After all, I'd never have the chance to see Tripping Daisy live, so Polyphonic Spree was the next best thing.


Y'all, until now. Yesterday I found out that Tripping Daisy are playing at the Homegrown Festival in Dallas in May. This will be their first show in 17 years. And I now have tickets. 

It's time to pull out Bill, I am an Elastic Firecracker, Jesus Hits, Tops Off Our Heads, Get It On, Time Capsule and the self-titled final album Tripping Daisy. (I never did score the Hook Music EP, but Lane had it.) I have a lot of listening, crying and reminiscing to do. 

See you in May, boys.



Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Brokenness: I Write My Way Out

Brokenness, brokenness is what I long for
Brokenness is what I need
Brokenness, brokenness is what you want for me.*




That praise and worship song was usually played with the lights of the sanctuary low, the guitar soft, eyes closed and hands raised. It was often accompanied by tears, salty drops catching in the corner of my mouth, tears of either pain, longing or shame. Either I was broken as I sang or I wasn't broken and I wanted to be. To be broken meant the Lord could work in me, change me, "take my heart and mold it, take my mind and transform it, take my will and conform it" to his. This was my desire.

This is the desire of so many evangelical Christians, and this was my desire my whole life, most specifically through my 20s. Certainly from college to 30, I set my mind hard on Christ, set my heart steadily on loving and serving him and set my will solidly to do whatever he asked of me. I did not always succeed though, so in those times of selfishness and sinfulness, I longed and pleaded for brokenness. 

And I usually found it. As it turns out, I spent at least a decade, a good third of my life, being broken. This was something I believed was good and right and pure. This is something the church, nay, the Bible, taught me.

A Sunday morning in brokenness meant I was truly finding God. I left those services for a Sunday afternoon of renewal, as if leaving those lowered lights into the sunshine was clarity and a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit, powering through me to give me strength needed for the rest of the week. If I could live in a state of brokenness before the Lord, I would be living in the light, becoming more like Jesus, the most broken of us all. 

I spent most of my life in brokenness and wearing it as a heavenly and meek badge of honor. I lived most of my life seeking weakness, for it is in our weakness that he is strong. When I did not feel weak or broken, I was ashamed and cried out to God for it. I could only feel strength if it was Christ's strength in me, not my own. Nothing good could come of me, a depraved human being undeserving of Christ's love and sacrifice. I had nothing of myself to be proud of or to find strength in. Only the strength given to me by God could count as strength I could depend on. These principles were clear in Scripture, and I took them deeply to heart.

And I was happy. I truly felt happy. I was not a sad, pathetic, depressed woman moping around, feeling broken and weak. No, I was clothed in the robes of righteousness, I was empowered by the Holy Spirit, I was made whole by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross! When I did find myself in bouts of depression, I cried out for deliverance, begged for the Holy Spirit to make me whole again. I never believed Marilla's line that to be in the "depths of despair is to turn your back on God" (Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery). Rather it was an opportunity to rely on his strength and accept my weakness and turn something bad into something that would make me grow.  Growth is painful, I believed. The growing pains of becoming more like Christ and shedding my earthly flesh is uncomfortable but will be eternally worth it when I approach those pearly gates at the end of my time on this earth.

All of this was the mysterious paradox of Christianity. In our weakness we are made strong. When we empty ourselves, he fills us up.  There is no condemnation, even though we are evil in our innermost being and deserve eternal damnation. In our brokenness, we will be made whole. If we submit ourselves to Christ, we will be free. 


I've been separated from Christianity for about three years now. As the scales fall from my eyes and I dig deeper into who I am, I am finding that a lifetime of brokenness has, well, broken me.

A lifetime of trying to be weak has made me now despise any sign of weakness.

The way I made my religion the sole focus and purpose of my life, with all other things bowing down to it, was not, as I had always believed, a healthy way to live. It was damaging.

Striving so hard for brokenness did not lead to health; it led to illness.

Believing so strongly that I was worthless and my only worth was found in a spiritual being was not salvation; it was destruction.

I am only just beginning to discover my own worth and my own strength. I am only just starting my journey towards healing and wholeness out of brokenness.

And when my prayers to God were met with indifference
I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance.**

I only know how to take this journey through writing.  My words may hurt, sting, offend, break hearts. They may stir the longing in many to correct my understanding, to tell me I went about my faith all wrong, but I didn't. If in your church you sing that brokenness is what you long for, then you know all of this is true. If you have read Scripture, you know that we are considered unworthy, sinful, evil in our hearts, and the only way to find salvation is to submit everything we are and have to God. We are to completely discard our flesh and live in the spirit. We are not of us this world, just living in it. Following the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength is what is required of us. 

It's taken me years to realize just how much it required of me. It required too much. For too long I surrendered "all of my ambitions, hopes and plans...all I am and ever hope to be"*** to a belief system.  So I write my way out.

Running on empty, there was nothing left in me but doubt
I picked up a pen
And I wrote my way out.****


It won't be all I write about this year, but there is a lot of psychological, emotional and mental unpacking I plan on doing this year. For the first time in my life, I am looking at myself and my own needs and desires to figure out the right way to handle them. I am discovering that having my own ambitions, hopes and plans, finding strength in myself, sometimes putting my needs first, and trusting that I am good in my innermost being is actually a healthy way of seeing myself. And the only way I know how to uncover these truths is through the written word.  So as 2017 unfolds, I plan to write my way out of a broken and damaged spirit. I apologize in advance to anyone who may be hurt or offended. And I reach out now to anyone struggling with the same issues. I believe we can be made whole.


* "Take My Life" - Micah Stampley
** "Hurricane" - Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

*** "All For Jesus" - Robin Mark
**** "Wrote My Way Out" - Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc, The Hamilton Mixtape




Saturday, December 31, 2016

Finding the Good Amongst the Bad and the Ugly: 2016

I think we can all agree that 2016 sucked seriously bad, but with the year from hell wrapping up tonight, I'd like to reflect not on all the deaths, divorces and demagogues, but on what went well for me and my family this year.

1. I landed my dream job. I wasn't looking for a new job, but like dream jobs are supposed to do, this one just sort of came out of nowhere. Working in communications and media relations, managing volunteers and staff, and belonging to a humanitarian organization that I fully support and believe in is exactly where I want to be. It's not an easy job, and there are days when I wonder how I'm ever going to accomplish all that needs to be done, and in this line of work I see a lot of heartbreak. But those things have a silver lining; I'm in a job that challenges me and helps me to grow, and I am a part of something that is making that heartbreak we see daily a little easier for disaster victims to cope with. Plus, I work with the most diverse and wonderful people imaginable. I love my job.


2. Scott got promoted. After working his tail off, he got a promotion in 2016 that he more than deserved. It means more work in some ways, but he was doing a majority of that work already. Now he gets acknowledged for it too. The two of us with our new jobs are feeling very "power-couple", very Frank and Clair Underwood, without all the lies, murder, backstabbing and covert negotiations with Russia.


3. I visited many new places. I was fortunate enough this year to travel to several new places I'd never been before. I went to Tacoma, WA, New Orleans, LA, and Denver, CO. For work, I also get to travel all over Arkansas and Oklahoma - maybe not the most exciting two states, but the travel makes every day something different. I love traveling, and 2016 gave me ample opportunities.


4. We got a dog. Isobel came into our lives in February. While she's more Scott's dog than mine, she's become a valuable member of our family and Scott's new best friend. We are happy to have her in the McFarlane household. Even if her farts stink to high heaven.


5. The kids are finding their niche. Fifi tried out for Odyssey of the Mind and was accepted into the program. She loves it and is so dedicated to it. I love seeing her imagination and dedication grow. Lolly got to start playing soccer again and is getting so good at it. Watching her excel at something she's been working hard at for many years now, even after a year long break, makes this mummy proud. Jaguar started Pre-K and is getting all the therapy he needs to help him catch up with his peers (speech, occupational and physical), and to see the difference school and therapy have made on him is incredible and makes my heart full. I love seeing all of my kids thrive and learn new things and do what they love.


6. There was some good entertainment.  Stranger Things on Netflix, The Hamilton Mixtape and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child were all products of 2016. These and other books, shows, movies and music are surely worth remembering came out of this year from hell.


2016 was a load of bollocks, but there are always things to be thankful for, even when you have to think really hard  to come up with them.  Here's hoping 2017 brings us better and more plentiful moments and fewer celebrity deaths and celebrity presidents.

Happy new year, friends!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The EVEN NEWER 100 Things About Me

Every now and again, I update my "About Me" page with more up-to-date and accurate information. I wrote the first 100 Things About Me in 2006.  I updated them in 2012.  It's been almost five years since then, and while a few things stay the same (where I was born, for instance), boy-howdy, have things about me changed since 2012! So once again, I present you with the highly self-centered and narcissistic:

Guy Fawkes Day
Fireworks because this is so awesome.


The EVEN NEWER 100 Things About Me: (2016)

1. I was born, raised and educated in Arkansas, the Natural State. (Previously known as "The Land of Opportunity".)

2. I attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and got my degree in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing.

3. I then married a Scotsman named Scott and moved to Greenock, Scotland, where we stayed for nine years.

4. During those nine years, we created three awesome and insane children, Fifi, Lolly and Jaguar (not their real names).

5. When Jaguar was 10 months old, the five of us moved back to Arkansas.

6. I was a devout Christian for 30+ years.

7. I am now an atheist.

8. I wrote a book about it.

9. In school and college, I went on several mission trips. These trips took me around the world to Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Wales and Scotland.

10. I've also been to France and England but not on a mission trip.

11. I love languages, and while I am the master of none, I have studied French, Arabic, Scots Gaelic and British Sign Language.  I am very good at English though.

12. In fact, English grammar is my pet passion, and I love it so much that I took an advanced grammar course in college FOR FUN. It was a required course for aspiring English teachers, and I was the only person taking that class as an elective.

13. When I moved to the UK, I purchased Fowler's Modern English Usage, so I could adapt to proper British grammar instead of American. Moving back to the US and re-adapting to American grammar has been confusing.

14. Speaking of grammar, one of my embarrassing intellectual memories includes freshman year in college writing in a paper that I was great at "grammer" and the professor replying in red ink "just not at spelling?". Cringe.

15. Also, I love the Oxford comma, but a career requiring AP style is slowly dousing that flame. I still believe in it but not as passionately as I once did.

16. Speaking of career, I am the regional communications director for the American Red Cross Serving Oklahoma and Arkansas. I have previously kept that anonymous, but to avoid conflict of interest, I fully disclose that now.

17. And I disclose that also to state that all opinions shared in this blog are mine (or used to be mine) and are not the opinions of my employer.  (Disclaimer complete. Moving on.)

18. Before working for the Red Cross, I worked in communications for a health care nonprofit, where I learned that according to AP style, "health care" is two words, not one. However, "voicemail" is now one word.

19. My hobbies change frequently, but over the years they have consisted of baking, sewing, card-making, painting, acting and exercising. The only hobbies that have truly weathered all the seasons of my life though are writing and reading.

20. Hobbies I have tried to take up but failed at miserably include gardening and crocheting.

21. I used to bite my nails horribly until I turned 18. At 18 I decided to become a grown-up and somehow kicked the habit. Now I'm kind of precious about my nails.

22. I do still bite them when I get nervous or anxious though.

23. I get anxious a lot actually and have a serious problem with over-analyzing everything in my life. Even my therapist tells me I need to get out of my own head and stop over-thinking everything.

24. I've just started seeing a therapist. I feel sorry for her.

25. Along with anxiety, I also deal with depression, body image/relationship with food and ADHD.

26. I cope pretty well with all of those things though. Or so I think. My therapist may think otherwise.

27. I also struggle with a whole slough of issues stemming from my life as an evangelical, Calvinist Christian, that I'm only just starting to unpack. I know that's an unpopular thing to say in the Bible Belt where being a Christian is supposed to be the best life choice for happiness and well-being, but in my spiritually masochistic heart, it wasn't.

28. Even though I'm an atheist, I'm not a "militant atheist", and I don't hate believers of any faith. I genuinely hope all people find peace and happiness in their faith or lack thereof. So I will never try to convince someone to stop believing what they believe. I'm afraid too many people don't understand that about me though.

29. I was a DJ for our college radio station, KXUA. I called myself DJ Xia and for some reason always spoke in a low voice while on the air. I certainly hope that I have kicked that habit now, especially as my job requires some on-air time here and there.

30. I like to change the subject sometimes when it gets too intense or controversial.

31. I used to be one to avoid conflict, and at times I still do when the conflict is unnecessary, but I'm also now very good at approaching conflict head on when needed. I will be frank with you if it will make a bad or weird situation better.

32. I am a control freak and a perfectionist.

33. I am ambitious and competitive.

34. I am also a really good listener.

35. I am relentlessly too honest and am trying to learn if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

36. When I was in fifth grade, I accidentally set part of my grandpa's cow field on fire with a bottle rocket. It was absolutely terrifying watching at least an acre, if not more, instantly become engulfed in flames. (No one was hurt.)

37. I was afraid of fire for a very long time after that. Couldn't even stand candles.

38. My other childhood fears were kidnappers and burglars. I blame Unsolved Mysteries and Rescue 911.

39. I also had a lifelong phobia of spiders. FOR REAL PHOBIA. I could not get close enough to them to even kill them or stick a cup over them. But when I moved back to Arkansas as a mother who had to protect her children from the (sometimes venomous) evil eight-legged hellspawn, I had to overcome that fear in order to get close enough to them to kill them. Now I hate them but don't have panic attacks over them. (Which is no lie - I used to have panic attacks over spiders.)

40. I used to have a pet lhaso apso named Bandit. He got dognapped.

41. I always think I'm a pet person, because I love other people's pets. But I'm not good at taking care of my own pets. We've had cats, rabbits, a rat, fish and now a dog. Luckily my husband is a really good dog daddy, and my cat fends for itself.

42. Even knowing I'm not a good pet parent, I still want a lhaso apso or some other kind of lap dog to be my best friend. I also always think I'd like a bird.

43. And for my yard I want chickens and a goat. Scott says absolutely not to the goat, but I think there's wiggle room with the chickens.

44. I am not a vegetarian, even though ethically I think I really should be one. We did try becoming vegetarians once but only lasted a week. I don't really like vegetables.

45. To make up for not being a vegetarian, I buy only free range eggs. I used to only buy free range chicken too, but holy hell that's expensive.

46. Still, every time I pass a chicken truck on the road, I re-evaluate my stance on eating meat.

47. I am a passionate breastfeeding advocate. I used to be a breastfeeding peer supporter with the Breastfeeding Network, and my mummy friends and I started a series of weekly breastfeeding support groups throughout Inverclyde, Scotland.

48. We also started a nonprofit (not-for-profit is actually what it was called, since it was in the UK) called Inverclyde Breastfeeding Mums, and we did some pretty cool stuff.

49. I breastfed all three of my kids for two to two and a half years each.

50. I even tandem fed my daughters for a few months.

51. While a "stay-at-home-mum", I taught baby signing classes, worked as a childminder and ran a online shop called Into Bento, which sold bento boxes and lunch accessories. (The shop is closed, but I've kept the Lunch Is Boring blog online.)

52. I also had the privilege and pleasure of doing some travel writing for SearchScotland.org, now SlainteScotland.com.

53. I used to be the desktop publisher for a private high school in Glasgow. I designed, laid out, wrote for and edited the annual magazine and the monthly newsletters. I saw the job advertised in the paper, had no experience with Photoshop or InDesign whatsoever, but quickly taught myself the basics, interviewed for the job and got hired. It was the best "fake it 'til you make it" experience of my life. It got me on my communications career path.

54. I believe in "fake it 'til you make it", as long as you know you are capable of making it.

55. I am also a chronic sufferer of impostor syndrome, so what do I know?

56. I think I am a strong leader and a good manager. But I'm also a self-doubter and my own worst critic, so ask me again tomorrow and I might say the exact opposite.

57. I used to think of myself as solely right-brained, but as it turns out, I'm pretty left-brained too. I'm creative but analytical, scatterbrained but organized, emotional but rational. I'm either a unicorn or a hot mess.

58. I'm definitely an extrovert though.

59. I'm ENFJ to be precise (Extrovert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging). The F and J are very close to the T and P though (Thinking and Perceiving).

60. I love monkeys. I have a unrealistic dream of having a pet monkey one day, like an organ grinder kind of monkey.

61. My favorite colors are orange, green and purple.

62. I want an orange car.

63. I enjoy sorting and folding laundry. It calms me.

64. I hate sweeping but love vacuuming.

65. I never call it vacuuming; it's still "hoovering" in my mind. Just as gas is still petrol, diapers are still nappies, underwear is still pants, and Scotch is still whisky. Some British and/or Scottish words will never and should never die.

66. Because words like crabbit, dreich, numpty, mingin', boggin', steamin', glaikit and tumpshie just do not have proper English equivalents.

67. I love shoes.

68. I love makeup. I never wore it much until I turned 30. Then, as with the nail biting, I decided to become a grown-up and start wearing it.  I love wearing makeup now.

69. I love my hair. My hair has been every cut, style and color imaginable. It's always been pretty short until I moved back to Arkansas. I've been growing it out ever since, and I LOVE having long hair. It's also managed to stay the same color for a while now, which is weird and likely to change soon.

70. I was in Forensics in high school. Not the study of dead people but competitive speech and drama. My favorite events were poetry reading, improv, duet acting, solo acting and mime. I was actually pretty good at mime.

71. I did musical theater in high school as well but never got a lead role in a musical. I did play Truvy in Steel Magnolias though.

72. So then in Scotland I got involved with amateur dramatics and did theater there too. Again, no lead roles except for Shelby in Steel Magnolias. It was by far my favorite part I ever played.

73. But actually I did play a few other lead roles. In Scotland I performed in pantomimes, which are not the same thing as silent mime, and was the Principal Boy a couple of times. Panto is amazing, and I wish they did them here in the States.

74. In high school I entered two beauty pageants. I was not the beauty pageant type, but hello, scholarships! I got a measly $500 scholarship out of one of them for winning the "Be Yourself Award" or something stupid like that. In the interview, they asked me about my second place state championship award for mime and asked me to do a mime of how I felt getting ready that morning. I wanted to kill myself.

75. I had the best friends in high school. Many of us still keep in touch to this day, and many of us have the most awesome lives now. Class of 2000 was an epic class.

76. I also had some really awesome friends in Scotland. Even though we're an ocean apart, I still know I could call many of them, and they'd be there for me.

77. I now have some awesome friends thanks to the book club I joined. The Velociraptors in an Opium Den ladies are, well, awesome. And we actually read books in this book club.

78. I love to sing. I used to lead worship at church, but now that I don't have church, or musical theater for that matter, I just sing in the car really loud. And sometimes I karaoke.

79. My favorite alcoholic beverages are gin and whisky ("Scotch"). I like my gin with tonic or juice, and I drink my whisky neat.

80. I never win anything, except that one time I won the Glenmorangie grand prize of a weekend trip for eight to stay at the Glenmorangie House in Tain, Scotland. Scott and I, along with three other couples, spent a three-day weekend enjoying activities such as skeet shooting, yachting Loch Ness, strolling along the beach, touring the Glenmorangie distillery and drinking all the free whisky we wanted. Best prize ever.

81. Oh, and I also won a pager from a radio station in the '90s. I was so cool.

82. I used to go to raves in the '90s too. I started out a kandie kid, ended up a jungle lover. My raver name on the rave forums was xialuvsjungle.

83. I then got into indie and became a really unsuccessful hipster.

84. I used to be the door girl at two bars, JR's Lightbulb Club and the Dickson Theater.

85. Other career choices in my past include Little Caesar's and Pizza Hut in high school. I also worked in a law firm during the summers.

86. While at college I also worked in the university's development office. Somehow I managed to do school full time, work in the development office between and after classes, and be the door girl at night. I don't know if college students get more hours in their day than adults do? Or maybe the secret to success is living off $5 Eureka pizzas and Diet Dr Pepper.

87. It certainly wasn't beer, because I did not drink alcohol until I was 21. I got very sick on my 21st birthday.

88. My birthday is April Fools Day.

89. My best birthday party was my 30th. I had a "Music Mania" party complete with karaoke and a DJ and all things '80s and '90s. Everyone dressed up as a music sensation. I was very pregnant but pulled off a pretty sweet Gwen Stefani.

90. I do not think I'd ever like to be pregnant again.

91. I have changed a lot as a mum, but the things I still believe in are gentle parenting (no spanking), babywearing, infant cosleeping, breastfeeding and dinner together around the table. As my kids get older I'm entering a whole new world of parenting, which is terrifying, but I think I'm doing okay.

92. I am without a doubt screwing up my kids.

93. I love working for the Red Cross, as it matches my natural inclination for helping others. I also strongly support other causes, such as LGBT rights and women's rights. I actively support causes such as Lucie's Place, a home for LGBT young people, and Femme International, which provides among other things reusable feminine hygiene products for girls in Africa who would otherwise be unable to attend school for a week every month due to her periods.

94. I am a feminist.

95. For someone who has no problem posting intimate details of her life online and publishing a book about the most vulnerable time in her life, I am very guarded and trust very few people in my real everyday life. In other words, I make no sense.

96. I hate for anyone to see me cry and hate to be seen as weak or needy. I like to be self-sufficient and hate asking for help.

97. I used to collect kokeshi dolls.

98. The only sports I care an ounce for are soccer, tennis and baseball. The only sports team I care about is Glasgow Rangers, and even they are not really on my radar anymore.

99. I love politics. I am a registered Democrat though I'm more left wing than they are.

100. I love making lists.


P.S. My old 100 Thingses are still on the About Me page if you scroll down. They make me giggle, because some are still true and some are SO NOT.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Bucket List Revisited

When you're a kid, a year is practically an eternity. There is no guarantee you will even survive to see another birthday, because it is soooo far away.

Then, as we all know, the years begin to speed by until they all blur into one. I was surprised this past year to realize I was turning 34 not 33.  So I made a bucket list of 34 things I wanted to do before I turned 35.  It all seemed reasonable; I had a year after all!

And yet here I am, well past the halfway mark, and my bucket list is far from halfway accomplished.

Here's what I've accomplished so far:

1. Read 34 new books: It's hard to believe that according to my log, I've only read nine books since April. Is that true? That's depressing.

2. Visit a new city: This has actually worked out pretty nicely.  Since April, I've been to Tacoma, WA for the first time (to visit my dear friend Sarah on a girls-only weekend). I went to New Orleans, LA with Scott for the wedding of Vlad and Isis. I visited Denver, CO with Scott, Jonathan and Sarah for a whirlwind weekend trip just us grown-ups. And finally, with my new job, I've been visiting lots of new cities, most notably, Oklahoma City.  I've definitely got this one covered. Check.

3. Order a dirty martini: How have I not managed this one? Who's up for a drink over Christmas break?

4. Get a cleaner in at least once: Not yet.

5. Do something rebellious: The original #5 was "Commit 34 crimes" because it seemed funny. I won't confirm or deny the committal of any crimes, but sure, I'll admit to being "rebellious" instead. No details though. Check.

6. Pick back up an old hobby or interest: I've tried to pick up a few hobbies but haven't been successful at them sticking. I have very little free time for hobbies, but I have done a little bit of sewing and painting and poetry writing. I'm still going to say check though, for the attempt.

7. Visit the beach: Sarah and I went to the beach in Tacoma. Check.

8.Get rid of 34 things:  According to my log, I've gotten rid of six things. 28 to go...

9. Try a new, exotic food: Mmm, not yet. Any suggestions? (Not sushi.)

10. Do something politically active: With the political climate in the US what it is right now, I'm afraid if I do anything politically active, I'll get shot. So if we can just consider voting in both the primaries and the general election me being politically active? And perhaps listening to Hamilton the Musical and Hamilton Mixtape nonstop? Check?

11. Read the US Constitution: Not yet.

12. Donate to a new cause: Why yes. Since April, I've donated to several new causes on top of my usual monthly ones (Lucie's Place, Femme International, Doctors Without Borders and our local NPR station). I have now sent my support to the Human Rights Campaign, Hearts & Hooves, The One, Inc., The 1LT Tom Martin Memorial Foundation, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign (as well as Bernie Sanders') and the American Red Cross. All of which I recommend you donate to as well! (Except the two presidential campaigns of course.) Check.

13. Create 34 original things: I've created four things: a painting, a few hooded baby towels, a picture frame, and a poem. 30 to go.

14. Sing a showtune at a karaoke bar: This *almost* happened in Denver with Sarah, Jonathan and Scott, but I chickened out. ME. I have no idea why I did this. I have not stopped regretting it since. "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" is just waiting for me to belt out and bring tears to every eye in the room.
15. Go on an adventure with husband: I feel like counting New Orleans or Denver for this one would be a cop-out. So not yet.

16. Build a coop to raise chickens: Not yet.

17. Learn how to wolf whistle: Not yet.

18. Write or mail 34 letters or parcels: If I had just gotten out my Christmas cards this year, I might've been able to accomplish this in one fell swoop. But I've sent a total of one card this year. Yeesh.

19. Complete Trailhead Admin training: Not yet, and probably never now, since I no longer work with Salesforce anymore.

20. Play a video game: Does Pokemon Go count? Yes? Okay good. Check. Phew. 

21. Protest against or march for something: But what if I get killed by a crazed Trump supporter?

22. Take kids on a surprise trip: Not yet. 

23. Publish a book: Not yet. But it's in the works.

24. Climb a mountain: Can I wait until spring?

25. Get hot stone massage: Hey, yes! I did this. It was nice, but I prefer a deep tissue massage. Check.

26. Join a group:  I wonder if starting a new job counts, since I'm in a new "group" of people? No? Not really? Boo.

27. Get Lasix: Nope, and my courage has definitely faltered regarding this.

28. Paint a picture: I painted a willow tree for Scott. So check.

29. Buy a house: Nope.

30. Get a tattoo: Since April, I've gotten three tattoos. Scott and I got carbon atoms on our forearms first. Then I got an outline of Arkansas and Scotland on my ribcage.  And a few weeks ago, I got a stack of books on shoulder blade.  I love all of them, but the books might be my favorite tattoo of ALL. Check.

31. Run a race: I am still registered for a half marathon in March. I'm now thinking I need to downgrade to a 10k. Even that seems far fetched right now though...
  
32. See a play: Scott and I went to see Twelve Angry Men at The Weekend Theater in Little Rock. There are so many other plays I'd like to see too! But we've seen at least one, so check.

33. Read Macbeth: Currently reading. Just finished the third act.

34. Throw a party: Haven't yet, but there's still time.

The takeaway from all of this is that time runs away from us way too fast and trying to accomplish all of these things in one year ought to be easy, but so far, I'm finding it hard. With my new job taking up all my energy, spare time is something I haven't had the luxury of experiencing lately, to the extent that I haven't even blogged in over a month. I should really make a point of doing some things that do not involve work. I recognize that I'm becoming a workaholic.

So when given the option of training for the half marathon or taking a nap, I just tend to lean towards the nap. But saying that, a dirty martini or hiring a cleaner should absolutely fit into my need for relaxation.

I'll try to blog more too.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Never Let You See Me Cry

I just woke up from a dream with real tears spilling from my eyes. I can't remember the last time that happened.

I dreamed I was out of town with friends, and we'd split up - half to eat and half to shop. I was the last to finish eating and suddenly realized everyone was gone. I started texting everyone, and one by one they told me they'd gone home. I realized I was alone, out of town, with no way of getting home, and everyone had left me.

In the dream, I was panicked, lonely, and afraid. I couldn't find anyone to help me get home. Then after what felt like an hour, I ran into all of my friends. They were laughing. It was all a prank. No one had left, but they thought it would be funny to trick me. I started crying, and they continued to laugh. "Stop being so dramatic!" they told me.

The last words of my dream before I woke up were mine: "Do you guys actually think I would let you see how vulnerable I am, if I weren't seriously upset? Do you think I'd let you see how abandoned and lonely I felt? Do you think I'd actually let you see me cry?"

I woke up, and fat tears were dripping down my cheeks.




I'm reading a book, Emotional Intellligence 2.0. It starts with giving you a code for an online quiz to assess your emotional intelligence. I'd say I'm very emotionally intelligent, so I was actually really annoyed when it scored me much lower than I expected. I read the reasons, and it came down to this: I am a great listener, a great communicator, I'm empathetic and socially aware, BUT. I don't talk about myself enough. I don't open up about my own feelings or weaknesses with others.

At first I thought, "Well, of course not! Communicating is about listening to others and understanding them, not talking about myself." But the more I read, the more I understood what it was saying. Communication is a two-way street. How can others trust me (particularly professionally) if they don't know me? If I don't open up to them while they open up to me, that's not effectual communication. That's not emotional intelligence, to hide your vulnerabilities and weaknesses and fears from the world. That's being a counselor, not a friend.

The part that confounded me at first was the online analysis that I don't share myself. I have this blog, right? I wrote a book about the most vulnerable time in my life, right? But truth is, that's my personal life, and it's also through a medium of written word. In my face-to-face interactions, I don't talk about myself. When someone asks me how I'm doing, I say great and immediately turn it back to them. Today, I spoke on the phone with a friend/work connection who asked how my new job is going. Though surely she wanted details, my response was, "I love it! So how are you?"

I can share myself through ink and paper, keyboards and screens, but not in real life. And this is doubly so when it comes to my professional life.

What I think was most telling about my dream was that the group of friends I was with were my work friends from my most recent job. The last words, "Do you think I'd actually let you see me cry?", speak volumes. I remember once, early on in that job, I was getting extremely overwhelmed, and one of my coworkers (someone I consider a friend) saw me and stopped to talk. The tears welled up in my eyes, my throat got tight, and I couldn't speak without the fear of losing it. I hated, HATED, him see me nearly break down and cry. I was humiliated, and even now my face burns at the memory. It was him that I said this to my dream.

I don't like showing weakness. I don't like asking for help. I want to help others, but I don't want them to help me. I listen to people all day long; I seem to have some kind of magnet for people to share stuff with me. And I love being there for them, listening to them, being a safe place for them to let it all out. But I don't share myself back, not intimately, not in real life beyond the computer screen. I don't want people at work knowing when I struggle or when I'm uncertain. I want to look amazing and self-assured at all times. I feel this is entirely justifiable! Of course I want my colleagues and those who report to me to see me as strong and competent. But do I do myself and everyone else around me a disservice by not being honest about what makes me vulnerable - what makes me just like everyone else?

This is something I am working on. I can be professional at work and still share myself to whatever the appropriate level is. (This is something I still can't figure out; maybe the book will help.) I need to be able to say on some days work is hard. Today was hard. Today I handled a three-child home fire fatality story. It was emotionally a very difficult day. I found myself at times wondering what I'm supposed to do here. I found myself at times wondering if I could really do this job. I had to push my personal emotions aside to get a job done, which I felt guilty about in return. I need to be able to admit this. I know I'm not the only person in the world to doubt herself or feel emotionally conflicted.

I definitely need to work on this with my friends. If I'm asked about myself, I need to talk a little about myself. Most people who genuinely care about me genuinely want to hear how I'm doing. It doesn't make me arrogant or narcissistic. It just makes me real. Human. Emotionally intelligent.

But vulnerability hurts, and I've learned to be ashamed of it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Next President of the United States



It's one week before Election Day. This is the second presidential election I've ever voted in.

As a thirtysomething that sounds pretty bad. No, I didn't sit out the last two elections out of apathy or protest; I was simply living abroad and couldn't figure out how to get an absentee ballot sent to me in time. While the presidential campaigns start here a year well in advance, over in the UK, I didn't start thinking about US elections until nominees were picked and the news started to get relevant.

For the record, I was pro-Obama the second time. The first time, well, it was 2008 and I was eight months pregnant with my second kid, and I didn't even know it was an election year. So I kind of missed the climax of electing the first black president of the United States. But I was on the ball in 2012, ready to cheer my man back into the White House.

But if you think me not knowing the US was about to elect its first black president is shameful, let me admit this.

The only other presidential election I ever voted in was 2000 after I turned 18. I voted for George W. Bush. So there's that.

So anyway, here we are another four years later, and we're about to decide as a nation who will be our next leader. Yet unlike the past sixteen years, where the stakes were relatively low (Gore, Kerry, McCain, Romney - none of them terrible choices), this year the stakes seem ... relatively high.

I was an avid Bernie Sanders supporter. I made no mistake about that. I had a Sanders sign in my lawn and a magnet on my car. I wore a Sanders t-shirt and had Sanders buttons hanging from my rear-view mirror and on my desk at work. I'm a huge fan of the man; I was a fan even before he announced his bid for president.

But I was never a Clinton hater. I didn't like her much, but I didn't hate her. I still viewed her as the second best option across both debate stages (followed by John Kasich, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, though it pains me to admit it). When she won the primary, I was disappointed but realistic.  At this point, we knew Trump was taking the Republican nomination, and the more he talked, the more I was convinced he was the least fit person across both debate stages to become president. (He had a few serious contenders though, on both sides of the aisle.)

I decided it was time to learn more about Hillary beyond what the media and Facebook had to say. I started reading her autobiography Living History (which I haven't actually finished). I started looking into what she's actually done in her career. And perhaps most importantly I faced up to some unrealized internal biases; basically I had to admit to myself that I was more sexist than I wanted to believe. Many of my complaints against Hillary could have been placed on any number of other politicians, but they weren't, because they were male. Males aren't "shrill", they don't have to be warm and approachable, they don't have to prove they can successfully juggle a family and a career, they can talk over each other and fight to be heard without being seen as rude or bitchy. In fact, many of the things I genuinely think are valid criticisms of Clinton turned out to be focused more on her than the actual criticisms. In other words, I view most politicians as people who lie, stretch the truth, cover things up, flip-flop, make bad decisions and then try to justify them. I'd say that about just about all of them (with the exception of Bernie). But when it came to Hillary, those things seemed bigger and more important than they seemed in relation to every other (male) politician I could think of. Internalized bias and sexism? Maybe so. Did I feel as against Bill as I did against Hillary? Actually, no. I love Bill. So why the disdain for his wife? That is far harder to admit than casting my first ballot for George W.

Now again, there are valid criticisms against Hillary. I'm not saying everything comes down to sexism, because it doesn't. Not everything. But I wonder why Hillary's emails are never far from the headlines while George W's and Colin Powell's continue to be virtually ignored? What causes such vitriol against Hillary and the things she's done, or been accused of, that doesn't reach beyond her to all the other people who have done or do the same things? Maybe the fact she's running for President, and they are not. Or maybe it's because she's been held to a higher standard her entire life, and certainly in this election, and the impossible standards she's held to only grow.

Compare that to Trump, however. Oddly enough, the standards from Trump just keep getting lower and lower. In the primary debates, Trump had a good night if all he did was make fun of another candidate's sweaty brow (and not an entire ethnic group).  Trump "debated well" if he managed to not mention the size of his penis more than once. As time went on, the standards Trump had to meet to have had a good day plummeted. If he went 24 hours without insulting a Gold Star family or suggesting a ban on an entire religious group or making a misogynist remark about a woman's looks or menstruation, he was doing well. We finally reached a stage where even a voice recording of him disparaging women and admitting sexual assault wasn't the last straw. Nothing sticks on Trump. Not like everything sticks on Clinton.

When you look at all the standards we hold across the two main parties, there is no equality. For one, we ask for perfection in high heels and a homemade pie made of rainbows, and for the other, we ask for 24 hours of no verbal diarrhea. When they both fail, we are less disappointed with the diarrhea. Because, well, we weren't really expecting much.

I'll admit one other thing: the media IS biased towards Clinton. I'm not blind. A post-debate panel on CNN will consist of two Trump supporters and eight "others". However, I kind of feel that when the stakes are this high and the candidates are this unbalanced, it's hard to be neutral. How can one be neutral over sexual assault, ethnic slurs and encouraged foreign espionage?

Now we're seven days away from Election Day. Without sounding dystopian, I'm nervous. Really nervous actually. I would have loved to see a President Sanders, but I'm actually pretty stoked over the idea of a President Clinton now. I'm excited for my son and daughters to witness the first woman elected as President of the United States. I don't think she'll do amazing things (though maybe I'm wrong), but I think she'll do good things. Still I'm nervous, really nervous, over the possibility that Trump might actually pull this off. I hate to negate everything by invoking Godwin's Law, but seriously - the parallels of fascism are frightening. A strong leader, who says out loud what the people are thinking but are afraid to say, comes along and promises greatness, promises to get rid of the problems (aka, people who look problematic), makes grandiose claims and bullies anyone who gets in his way. Strength right?

I don't usually talk about politics, but with the election so close, it's on the forefront of my mind. This will be my second presidential election, and it's a damn important one. I'll be casting my vote this week, for President, for Congress, for state legislature, for local officials and for state ballot initiatives. Then I'll sit back, biting my nails, as I watch history write itself before my own eyes.


Sunday, October 02, 2016

October Dress Project - A Leap Year

October is my favorite month. I love Autumn and pumpkins and Halloween and crisp air and fallen leaves and sweaters and the October Dress Project.

Only this year, I won't have that last part.

I have participated in the October Dress Project for the last four Octobers, and I had every intention of participating again this year. Then something big changed - I got offered a new job. I start my new job next week, Oct. 10.

And I am so super excited about my new job! And I'll talk about that in a minute! But for now, a little mourning over missing my favorite annual challenge. I really considered doing ODP again this year, but I just can't help feeling like wearing the same dress every day for my first three weeks at a new job would somehow leave a bad first impression...

I did look at dresses. I did try to find something that I could easily disguise from day to day. I considered toggling between two dresses even. And with two days to go, I even made a snap judgment and ordered a dress from Amazon, which arrived on Sept 29th. However, it was too small, and I had to return it. With no time left and a real concern about coming across as super weird at my new job, I decided to skip this year's ODP. A leap year, if you will.

I am sad.

But! I am happy! Because I am starting a new job, a new awesome job! I am going to be the Director of Communications for a very awesome humanitarian organization! (And even though finding out which organization that is ought to be extremely easy with a simple Google search, I do *try* to keep a few things in my life anonymous, at least here on my blog.) I am ridiculously excited about this new opportunity, and even though I'm sad to miss ODP this year and I'll be sad to leave "BANPO" ("Big Anonymous Non Profit Organization" which again could easily be searched for), I really cannot wait to open this new chapter in my life. Working for VAHO ("Very Awesome Humanitarian Organization") is an incredible opportunity, one that will lead to all kinds of personal and professional development for me. I get to help others AND do what I love, all at once. Can anyone ask for better?

So, there will be no dress pictures this October from me. Sad. Maybe, even though I'm now two days behind, I'll replace it with some other Fall-ish challenge. Ideas?


P.S. Half marathon update: I ran/walked (mostly walked) 4.5 miles today. Outdoor training is way harder than treadmill training. I might be the only human alive who prefers the treadmill.