June 29, 2016

#IstanbulAttack

Yesterday I received the horrific news regarding Ataturk international airport. At least 41 people were killed in addition to another 239 injured by three attackers who opened fire, ending in suicide bombings. 

I haven't yet seen the normal outrage as with Orlando, or Paris, or places we have closer ties with. We are getting better - I'm seeing more recognition of these murders than in the past. And I even have some sympathy as to why Americans are more outraged by events like Paris, I know they're a dear friend to our country... but the Parisians are no better than the Turkish, or the Ivorians, or anyone else who has been brutally and unfairly murdered. It is all equally horrific. If anything, it's more horrific because we do not stand in solidarity with those who have a different religion, skin color, or if they're from a developing country.

We should be outraged.

These were people trying to come and go to see their families, to work their jobs, to live their lives, just like any other airport in the world. This could have been anyone. This could have been a girl I went to school with, or any of her family members who travel to and from Istanbul all the time to see relatives that live there. But it doesn't even matter who it could have been - it matters who they were.

Just people. Just like us.

And they're dead.


June 27, 2016

Round 2 in Kansas City (feat. Maker Faire Weekend)

With yet another week of hitting 40 hours by Thursday evening, and knowing I wouldn't have another chance to make my side of the trip for another month, I left Kafka behind in dear Fayetteville Friday at lunchtime for another weekend of exploring Kansas City with Pete. While we wouldn't get another chance at First Friday (since he would be coming down for 4th of July celebrations, naturally), we were still fortunate enough to have a busy weekend full of possibilities!

June 24, 2016

Get to Know Me

  • The closest I’ve come to breaking a bone is the hairline fracture I was awarded with when trying to ride a bike during a big construction dirt-pile when I didn’t know how to ride a bike. No cast needed.
  • I also think I may have technically broken my nose once when hit in the face with a rebounding basketball as it’s crooked to this day.
  • I can technically sort of ride a bike now, so I can’t say I don’t know how, but it’s only been in the last several months.
  • I have an obsession with dying my hair (myself), and I’m terrified of getting it cut because I rarely like it if it’s more than a trim.
  • I’ve never had a manicure or a pedicure.
  • I drink too much Coca-Cola. But I’ve gotten better at mixing in water! and tea! and coffee! and alcohol…
  • I still won't go for iced tea, Mountain Dew, or even a big glass of milk. 
  • I have horrible sinuses – I think my nose is stuffy more often than it’s clear (I’ve never had an allergy test, though – I don’t know that I would really avoid anything even if I knew).
  • I can eat an ungodly amount of salsa. Any salsa. Make it spicy.
  • I’m 5’3.75”.
  • I have been on steroids multiple times because I have Crohn’s disease – I’ve also had a section of my intestines removed! It was right before senior prom and my dress didn’t fit after they overdosed me (TRIPLE) on steroids so my mom laced it up and I wore a shawl.
  • I once drove all night in the snow with tons of blocked interstates because of a winter storm and fallen trees as it was happening because I was upset – a 3 hour drive took closer to 10. This is a big deal for someone from south Arkansas.
  • I was technically born in Texas – both hospitals were on that side of town.
  • I took piano and painting lessons for years when I was a kid but can barely do much of either anymore.
  • I cannot draw – my proportions are comical – I could almost be a cartoon artist but I would never be able to even have the proportions consistent.
  • Some of my pet peeves include: moochers, passive aggressiveness, people who don’t keep their word (even if they didn’t “promise”), the sound a dry hand wiping sheets smooth makes, when others interpret social anxiety as standoffishness, not resolving conflict.
  • I love the outdoors – camping, hiking, kayaking – but haven’t ever gotten to do much of the extreme of any of those things.
  • I’ve never been floating, which is like sacrilege in Arkansas (but I’ve wanted to badly).
  • I wrote a dystopian novel called WIPED as my senior thesis.
  • I’ve been to France and Canada for weeks each – I’ve also spent a day across the border in Belgium and Germany, and technically Mexico too when I was an itty-bitty. I almost studied abroad in Thailand and for a variety of family issues elected not to go and did not regret it for all the things that unfolded during the time I would have been away.
  • I am officially over my food touching J and have immensely expanded my taste buds.
  • I’m the baby of my family, but I felt a little like an only child without the benefits growing up as my brothers were all 10+ years older than me.
  • The worst pain I’ve ever been in to date was this time my ankles felt like they were on fire for hours and nothing could make it stop – I hadn’t done anything prior, it was out of the blue. Doctors just assumed it was my joints inflamed due to my auto-immune disease. It hurt far worse than my stomachaches.
  • One of my favorite childhood memories is picking wild blackberries with my best friend and taking them to her grandmother to bake a cobbler.
  • I snap backwards – your thumb goes up, my thumb goes down – I didn’t know I taught myself the wrong way until I watched a cartoon and asked why the artists drew the characters snapping “backwards.”

June 19, 2016

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my dad! Jim is my step-dad, but for all intents and purposes, he's the man who raised me and I have very few memories prior to him entering the picture. I imagine I'd have his name, too, if my biological father had ever allowed it.

June 14, 2016

Ode to Kafka


Once upon a time, Kafka was quite small - around the same size his head is now.

I knew I wanted a puppy when I went to the Walmart parking lot I found him in. At the time, the woman from Romance, Arkansas told me he was 8 weeks old... but later, I asked her when the puppies were born for some reason I can no longer recall and did some math to realize he had only been about 5 weeks old when I took him home with me. I was upset with her for lying, although I was never sure if it was done accidentally or maliciously... though I feel like 5 and 8 weeks are pretty hard to confuse. She tried to exaggerate the fact that while she didn't know what the father was, the mother was a very small German Shepherd... and I believe she was trying to get rid of the puppies fearing people would think they would become too big, because at 5 weeks old, it was already easy enough to believe they were 8 weeks. He ate his food fine, too.

I later realized that his extreme separation anxiety probably stemmed from being stolen away from his mother after just 5 weeks. I fell in love with him the moment I saw him (they were going to keep him for themselves and named him Tank but had decided against it), and I would have gladly waited a few more weeks to take him had I known. But it was already too late by the time I pieced it all together.

June 13, 2016

The Worst Attack Since 9/11

When I woke up Sunday morning, Orlando filled my newsfeeds. When I woke up, there were still the stories reporting 20 dead, 43 injured. It was only later that those headlines changed to 49 dead. Plus at least 53 more injured. Plus hundreds who now endure the trauma of the event as it unfolded. Plus millions who now live in more fear than ever before.
My community held a candlelight vigil Sunday night, which I heard about afterwards - still,
hundreds of residents came.
Photo by Todd Gill at the Fayetteville Flyer
The shooter had been interviewed by the FBI twice and and had been on a terrorist watch list. It's illegal for a gay man to donate blood to the victims. It is legal to buy an AR-15 assault rifle. It was legal for the shooter to purchase his assault weapon within the two week period prior to the massacre.

When the investigators were at the scene of the crime they were haunted by cellphones sounding off on all of the bodies - loved ones trying to make sure the dead had made it out safely.

June 12, 2016

Grandma's 95th Birthday Party



Today is my mother's mother's 95th birthday, wowzers! I can only hope I inherited some of her good genes. Yesterday, we held a surprise birthday party for her at her church - and when I say surprise, I mean people flew/drove in from--not just out-of-town, but--out of state. Her sister and brother and eldest son and his family, from California to Indiana. A niece and nephew from Iowa to take the place of their mother who had come down with shingles. Nieces and nephews from my grandpa's side filled a table with faces I didn't even recognize - the last time I had seen them was at my grandpa's funeral fifteen years ago.

With everyone else inside, catching up and introducing their young, my mother and her siblings (and their spouses) took a nicely dressed Marjorie to her church to take a family photo outside. This was before she realized her eldest son was present. Without her noticing, he and his wife (Linda) slipped into the picture and they showed my grandmother the digital screen to make sure everyone made it into the photo... it took her a few minutes to realize what was going on. She told my mother's twin sister, "Ann, you sure look a lot like Linda!" before finally turning to see them.

When she entered the backroom in the building she nearly cried - her hands covering her mouth as she stared gaping around at all of those who had come to celebrate. Eventually she made rounds, but not before going straight to her sister and asking, "who are you!?"
Her sister Helen on the left and brother Eddie on the right.

June 9, 2016

Transitional Period

Okay, okay, I know... I just saw him Sunday night - but it's taking every fiber in my body not to suggest Facetime/Netflixing something every night. It's taking every fiber in my body not to immediately indulge in the shaded dungeon of my room and distract myself with Netflix every afternoon as soon as I get home (and I'm not doing great with that, hello The Mindy Project, nice to meet you).

I guess after struggling with lawn mower assembly over a period of two days, it really puts into perspective life without my SO. Menial errands are lonely. Neither of us get to make dinner for the other. I don't get any in-depth conversations... a few texts during the day, a quick phone call asking how to do something. There aren't any hello or goodbye hugs. It certainly feels like ripping the band-aid.
One of our very first, if not the first, photos together, about 7 weeks after we met.

June 8, 2016

On Fostering Slow & Simple Living

In a constantly distracting world full of ads, trends, consumerism - full of societal pressures of checklists and keeping up with the Joneses - it is no wonder why searches for things like: decluttering my home/life, how to live simply, minimalism, tiny homes, etc. are becoming so pronounced. All of these relentless bombardments are intrusive, exhausting, and anxiety-inducing.

As I'm looking to attempt living alone once my roommate moves out this summer, money is going to be very tight, so I'm focusing a lot on how I can make changes that help me be less extravagant and still get more out of life each day. I am not yet a pro at simple, slow living (I'm not one of those spatially-gifted Instagrammers at least)... but I have had some time to mull it over and realistically introduce it into my daily habits.

Rituals: 
One of the easiest ways I find to pause and savor the moment is to create rituals - to allow time for rituals. Now, I may have been raised a cradle Catholic but I'm not just talking about sit, stand, kneel and carry out spiritual customs that have been around for centuries. I'm talking about individually.

Whether they're daily, weekly, annually: create rituals.

June 6, 2016

KC in KC: How I Spent My First 52 Hours in the Paris of the Plains

Well, I did it - I shipped my best bud off for the summer. Even though I know I'll see him at least every couple of weeks (he's keeping his house so he'll have to come in and mow his yard and play with his doggies - not to mention I'll definitely be going back at least a couple of times for getaway visits)... it's still really hard thinking about how he won't be around during any of the weekdays. He truly is my best friend and if I'm going to do something with someone he's always my first pick.

However, I'm trying to focus on the positives, naturally. First and foremost, this internship is an amazing opportunity for him - and for a minute there, we didn't think he was going to get this kind of opportunity and he would just finish out his final semester this summer. I'm beaming with pride and it will certainly help him come graduation time. He also needed a break from school - he's basically been going his whole life and he's two years ahead of me. He's also really wanted to move to a city where he didn't know anybody, just to experience that feeling, and he's certainly going to get a taste of that seeing as neither of us had ever even been to Kansas City before.

It also gives us a chance to reset and make the most of the small time we will have together. It will be great practice for improving our communication... and practice for what is very likely to be a long-distance relationship for at least a few months when he gets a job after December. While we will get less time together quantity-wise, it will force the time to be high in quality - which is what's most important at the end of the day.

And finally, individually... maybe I'll actually get around to that Couch to 5k and work on some home improvement projects with that extra time on my hands. I can focus on other relationships in my life more. I can get reacquainted with me-time and force myself to go to social events I've been interested in but anxious to go to... letting him give me the easy way out if he's not interested either.

We were fortunate enough, however, to get a really great send-off weekend together - which I was starting to think just wasn't going to work out... and was really bummed at the thought because he'd only just gotten back from a several day trip to New Orleans a couple of nights before he had to leave, during which he was busy prepping for the move for much of the time. So without further ado, I share with you some photos from our first visit to Kansas City! I forgot to take many pictures for the first half of the trip, but started making more of an effort by the time we got to the museum on Saturday...







June 2, 2016

Shareholder's Concert & Murder for Two

So, one of the most random things happened to me Tuesday when I was gifted two free tickets to a local Goo Goo Dolls concert. One of my coworker's relatives works for Walmart and they're having their annual shareholder's meeting this week (and thus lots of events) and they couldn't go. This kind of thing never really happens to me... kind of like winning a raffle, so I was like... "sure, I'll take 'em!"

While they formed before I was born, I was a kid learning to appreciate music when their big release of Iris blew up. Plus does anyone remember this ridiculous music video?

But first up was American Authors - who I wasn't sure who they even were until they played their last song, Best Day of My Life. Give me a break, I don't listen to the radio much. I actually am tempted to say they put on a better show... they were really excellent live and the vocals were flawless.

Focusing on the Positive

I'm not having a great morning - and after writing a letter to someone I'm upset with (i.e. getting some negative vibes out) - I am prepared to work on my "moving on" exercises. I'm someone who badly needs closure, probably closely intertwined with anxiety, and some times it's very difficult to Let it Go as many of the children I've worked with might sing. Especially when I haven't reached a point of full closure.

The question is: how do we make lemons out of lemonade? We add some sugar, we add some sweetness. We re-frame our thought patterns.

One of the most powerful things one can do for negative energy is to focus on gratitude.