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Bless Your Heart

A recent transfer to the South

Welcome!

I would like for this blog to be about my new life in Nashville, Tennessee. Because many things about Nashville are very different from the Midwestern cities I grew up in. So I will dutifully chronicle my struggles (and hopefully some triumphs) of fitting in to my new city. But I suspect I will veer off course, often, to ramble about other things that are uncategorized. If I’ve lost you already, then my sincerest apologies and we hope you’ve enjoyed your stay. To those still interested, you have time to get out while you can. Welcome to my mind and my life. Please be gentle.

Featured post

Peace & Happiness

A non-comprehensive list of little things that bring me peace and make me happy, in no particular order.

~Accompanying moodboard coming soon~


Milano double chocolate cookies

The Four Seasons’ December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)

Aisles and aisles of fabric bolts

The sound of my sewing machine

Crisp, cloudless, spring days

Crunchy dead leaves in the fall

Driving at night time – windows down, music up

My ultrasoft fleece Star Wars blanket

Frozen cokes

Desserts that taste like other desserts

Nature walks

Boston (the band)

Boston (the city)

Really big front porches

Shamelessly taking and editing selfies in an assortment of filters

Irish accents

A sprinkle of cilantro on whatever I’m cooking

The smell of popcorn

A nice, white, shift dress

A sunset over a cornfield

Shopping for potted plants

Oldies and Motown dance parties

Playing catch with a softball and glove

Baba O’Riley

Going home

I visited my friends in Springfield last weekend. It may be one of the last times I visit Springfield. I’m sure as long as one of my friends is still living there the four of us will meet up there. But this last time felt even more like an ending for that place than it ever has before. It was a little bit nostalgic and kind of sad last time I went in October, but this time didn’t feel sad at all. Other than missing my friends terribly, I’m really really glad I don’t live in Springfield anymore. As we were driving around the city last weekend it seemed almost surprising to me that I spent four years there. 

But then I saw campus again. All of it, my life those four years, was because of that campus. I love that place. From the first moment I set foot on it I never felt more like I belonged somewhere. The university made all of Springfield worth it. The city itself has faded a bit from memory, but that campus is still crystal clear. I remember exactly how everything looks – and not because I was just there. I remember the awning in front of the campus elementary school, I remember the inside of the elevators in the student union, I remember the chairs in the lecture halls at my academic building. 

I loved that place. I still do. It was my home and I’ll never forget it. 

Unpractical Spirit of Adventure

“… and here he was gallantly, thoughtlessly alive, to all appearance indestructible solely by the virtue of his few years and of his unreflecting audacity…. Glamour urged him on, glamour kept him unscathed. He surely wanted nothing from the wilderness but space to breathe in and push on through. His need was to exist, and to move onwards at the greatest possible risk, and with a maximum of privation. If the absolutely pure, uncalculating, unpractical spirit of adventure had ever ruled a human being, it ruled this be-patched youth.”

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Crumbs Pt. II

It was a Friday about as ordinary as any other. Fridays have a way of feeling like mini-holidays. You’re celebrating the weekend, and you don’t have to take things as seriously on Friday. On this particular one, several of my coworkers had taken the day off, so the atmosphere was even more lax with their absence. I enjoyed being the only one in my cubicle corner, I had more freedom. Freedom to do my work just like I did every other day, but freedom nonetheless.

My day was perfectly fine until just before lunch, when I discovered during a team meeting that the assignment I had been working all morning I was doing wrong. Completely, flat-out wrong. I would have to go back and redo everything.

I was sitting at my desk stewing about my screw-up when I noticed a crumb. I usually don’t pay the crumbs much mind, they are small and they show up sometimes. But for some reason this particular crumb held my attention for several seconds. I was gazing intently at it when my focus was abruptly interrupted by taking notice of another crumb, right next to the first. Was that there before? Then I saw another. Then another. Where were all these crumbs coming from? Surely I wasn’t that messy. I swept them all into the garbage can under my desk and continued with my work.

A few minutes later I glanced down just to the left of my keyboard – and five more crumbs. Just behind those five, another pile of six. From absolutely nowhere! I glanced over to my mouse, and three more piles of crumbs! I scanned the top of my whole desk and I saw little piles of crumbs everywhere. These were definitely not here before. At that moment a slight panic set in. What was going on? Was someone in the office pranking me?

As I looked around to see if anyone else noticed, I caught the slightest glimpse of movement from my desk. I didn’t want to look back. Slowly I turned my head around, and I saw thousands of crumbs. No longer sitting in little piles, they were in packs – and they were moving.

I watched in shock and horror as the horde of crumbs moved this way and that, rearranging and assembling itself. What I first thought was random motion I soon realized was organization. These crumbs weren’t just mindlessly moving about, they were mobilizing.

When you think of a horde of crumbs attacking you, you imagine a shapeless blob that converges on you at erratic intervals. You would be wrong to think that. Crumbs position themselves into companies, precise and disciplined. Once they are perfectly lined up, then they launch their attack. The first line of crumbs, the infantry, sprung themselves on me. They came at me, troop after troop, they didn’t stop. I was very quickly covered in these combatant crumbs, more quickly than I expected. I tried brushing them off, but my haphazard, frantic defense was no match for the advance of their civilized ranks.

I thought all was lost and I was reminiscing on my sweet, short life, waiting for the end, when I heard the cavalry. A cavalry of dusters, coming to my rescue. They rode in and swept the crumbs off of me almost instantly, bearing down on them and forcing them into the garbage can at my feet. All around me and all over my body was a flurry of activity, the dusters sweeping rapidly at the attacking crumbs.

As quickly as the crumbs had advanced, the dusters had pushed them back. The crumbs’ general was formally admitting defeat to the dusters, and the battle was being wrapped up neatly when one of the duster lieutenants addressed me.

“Ma’am, everything alright here now?” I stared, wide-eyed, at the duster and slowly nodded my head. “Those guys won’t be causing any more trouble here, you can count on that.” I continued to gape at the lieutenant a minute longer, and when he thought I wasn’t going to say anything, he started to move away. But then I asked him,

“Where did they come from?” He looked surprised but then quickly composed himself and replied,

“The crumbs, ma’am? They are nefarious little creeps, that’s for sure. They act like they’re all sophisticated with their formations and their uniforms, but they’re just pretentious little assholes that like to cause trouble.” If I was surprised before now I was downright astounded. Those little pieces of dust and matter had been wearing uniforms? The lieutenant took no notice and continued, “They like to show up when you’re having a bad day – maybe things aren’t going right, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night, maybe you just fought with a coworker…you’re vulnerable and the crumbs show up to pick on you. Knock you when you’re down. Just the lousiest kind of thing to do to someone right?” I could tell it wasn’t a rhetorical question and the lieutenant expected me to answer.

“That is pretty awful,” was all I could manage. “I guess I was having a bad day before they showed up.”

“Well lucky for you, we were monitoring your situation all week so as soon as the crumbs starting moving to attack we got our people ready.” I was rendered speechless again and I think the lieutenant had had enough of my awkward silences. “We’ll be here for you, whenever you need us. But it’ll help if you try not to let them get to you in the first place – then you can handle it on your own.” That last statement struck me as odd but before I could ask if the ‘them’ he referred to was the crumbs or the bad days, he was gathering up his troops and moving out.

I watched them march out, back to wherever they came from. When they were completely out of view, I turned back to my desk and thought about what the lieutenant had said. I shouldn’t let them get to me. I shouldn’t let a well-dressed army of crumbs get to me, or I shouldn’t let a bad day get to me? I guess I’ll be more on the lookout now, so that neither of those things can come back.

 

Why are there always crumbs everywhere? Where do they come from? Are they a metaphor for something? Are they indicative of the feeling of randomness I have in my life now? Am I unconsciously expressing myself and my inner musings on my life with all these crumbs? Maybe they’re not even from me. Maybe they were sent as a challenge. They are challenging me. I accept.

I am one with the clothes and the clothes are with me

Why I shop at Forever 21 alone

 

I feel at peace in shopping malls. And in grocery stores, department stores, or just other large commercial areas dedicated to capitalism. These places calm me down when I’m angry or upset, and I feel my most comfortable in them.

I like the feeling of being lost among all the crap. Walking up down aisles and aisles of food, pretending they go on forever. Strolling past countless stores with countless clothes that I wish I had countless money to buy.

I feel weightless and peaceful, surrounded by all this stuff I don’t need. And one store where I feel particularly serene is Forever 21. For both its size, and its variety.

I like to meander around the store, staring at the countless crop tops and willing them to become work-appropriate. I like to flip through the racks and find borderline absurd pieces of clothing that I’d never wear squished between all the clothes around it so I can take it to the dressing room like a prize I won.

I like to look at all the clothes and imagine the outfits: if I was a hipster musician I could wear this; if I was chic businesswoman I could wear this; if I was a flighty European model I could wear this; if I was James Dean I could wear this. All the possibilities.

And so I’m not just shopping. I’m imagining. I’m envisioning. I am losing myself to the clothes and the opportunities they put before me. They become inextricably linked with my self – the self that I imagine I am, all the versions of my self.

All of these thoughts put me a such great ease, that I can’t help but spend way too long inside a Forever 21. That’s usually why I go in alone. Because I don’t want to burden someone else with the time it all takes – time which I assuredly lose track of. But it’s also a deeply personal experience, that I wouldn’t have if there was a friend along with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping with other people. Helping each other pick things out and comparing outfits in the dressing room. But sometimes what I really need is the experience with the clothes. To be at peace. To become one with the clothes, and the clothes to be with me.

Never fail to remember:

I was not pining for you. I was not “hung up” on you. I didn’t spend all that time wishing I had you back.

I was mad. I was hurt. You dealt me a huge blow, you wounded me. All that time I spent being sad was recovery. I was healing.

Do not confuse healing with pining. Wishing you were back, after the hurt you caused, would’ve just made the wound deeper.

How to be Normal

When I was 11 I went to a sleepover for the softball team I was playing on that summer. Most of the other girls on the team were friends and had known each other for years. I was a bit of an outsider having joined the team later and because I didn’t go to the same school as all of them.

The sleepover was for a teammate’s birthday, and she invited some of her other friends besides the team. There was about 20 of us in all. Since 20 11-year-old girls is a lot to deal with for one house, the parents of the birthday girl had pre-planned lots of activities for us, one of which was a talent show/dance contest. We all paired up, picked a song, and performed it in front of the others.

All the other girls picked popular songs that they choreographed popular dance moves to – I remember a very neatly and nicely-done rendition of “Stacey’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne.

Since I was an outsider already, it would have been prudent of me to pick one of these popular songs and make a killer dance routine just like everyone else. That is, of course, not what I did. My partner was the only girl on the team who actually bothered to talk to me and get to know me, and who was one of the nicest, kindhearted souls I’ve encountered in my young life. I convinced her it would be hilarious if we just started break-dancing to Christmas songs.

I was a very serious child. I was socially inward most of the time, easily frightened of most things – especially interacting with my peers. I also had a precociously dry sense of humor, with just a dash of goofiness and absurdity. I talked very little. What little time I spent talking I spent even less joking. And the times that I was joking, most people couldn’t tell. I thought really odd, nonsensical things were funny, but you couldn’t tell if I thought something was funny because I expressed little to no emotion in front of others.

Break-dancing to Christmas songs is really weird. It makes no sense, and most people do not think it’s funny. It is actually pretty unfunny, but I was only 11 and that was the best I could come up with so cut me some slack. Needless to say, none of the other girls enjoyed our routine, and my partner and I did not advance to the next round (this was a really well-planned sleepover).

At the time I was a little bit embarrassed, having realized my joke wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be. But I also didn’t care too much, because it was really fun. My partner and I laughed our asses off coming up with the routine, and we had a great time performing it.

This was one of those moments that I realized I would probably never be very popular. It should’ve been evident to me already, considering how scared I was of talking to other people. But this situation sort of cemented it. I watched all the other girls do their routines and chatter away with each other at the sleepover and realized I would probably never be like them. Not only was I shy, but I was shy and sort of weird. As I got older I learned how to socialize better, so now I characterize myself as “nervous” instead of “frightened” in new social situations. I also learned how to conceal my weirdo sense of humor and appear more “normal” to people until they get to know me. I can fit in better now, like a chameleon. But that is all I can do – fit in. Popularity, on the other hand, is not something I’ve ever mastered nor will I ever.

You throw like a girl

Weekly digest of thoughts at work, feminist edition:

One of the guys at work kept playing catch with the other guys with one of those wristguard beanie bags you use in front of your mousepad. He kept tossing it at people (men) and saying “think fast!” or “heads up!” One person (man) caught it with mediocre agility and the tosser asked him if he played any sort of sports. Because catching a bean bag has a prerequisite 4 years of a sport. His response: “Well I was never the quarterback.” Which I assumed was a jolly euphemism meaning you don’t need a prerequisite 4 years of sport to catch a bean bag. Then he followed with, “I was the wide receiver.” So not a euphemism. Quite literal, quite important. When the next person (woman) walked in the original tosser made a motion to throw it to her but then didn’t, because throwing a bean bag at a girl is a joke. Because she won’t catch it. Because she’s uncoordinated. So it’s funny. Haha! I sat seething, pretending to read my novel that I brought to work that day, wanting very much to snatch the bean bag from the original tosser and chuck it at him full force, because I know with all my womanly heart that I could throw it harder than he could ever hope to, and that the look on his stupid face realizing I was physically stronger than him would keep me satisfied for the next week or so. It didn’t help that I also tend to want to throw things when I’m mad.

This whole incident falls under the feminist category of the problematic phrase, ‘You throw like a girl,’ which I have taken serious issue with almost my entire life. Negative connotations aside, I take it very literally. Because I was a girl who could throw very, very, hard, and very, very, well. It’s an age-old of example of assuming women are naturally inferior athletes, and how we shouldn’t use women to make people look and feel weaker. As a phrase, it seems that it’s on its way out. But it hits very close to home for me.

I didn’t snatch the beanie bag away from the tosser. I said nothing. Did nothing. Looked back down at my novel and swore at the patriarchy again.

I watched a movie recently which I really liked. It had all three elements of a film that I am guaranteed to enjoy: 1) coming-of-age story; 2) set in a past decade; 3) takes place somewhere in the British Isles. If a movie has any one of these characteristics, I’m very certain to at least watch it, probably love it as well. This recent movie was excellent, and had a pretty fantastic original soundtrack as well (I downloaded the songs as the credits rolled). But if you know anything about feminism, you know that it is like an infection, and once you start noticing sexist micro-aggressions or societal norms that contribute to the patriarchy, you cannot stop noticing them. And so it was with this film. I spilled all of my thoughts on a sticky note the Monday after I saw it:

  • Why do pretty girls so often come off as cool and distant, and nerdy, sort-of arrogant boys always end up with them?
  • She (female character in the film) doesn’t have to give you (male protaganist) her time just because you want it. You got mad because she realized she doesn’t owe you anything??
  • You (male protagonist) are treating her like a muse instead of like a person. Idolizing her like a muse, then getting upset when she doesn’t live up to your idolized expectations

Obviously this movie wasn’t setting out to make any sort of statements about women’s roles in society. It was about young teenage boy learning to use music to figure out who he is as a person, and to cope with shitty things happening in his life. It really was a delightful movie. The only reason I got off on this thought tangent was because I was trying to think of coming-of-age films similar to this one (indie, low-budget, unknown cast,) that star female protagonists. Being the connoisseur of these kinds of stories that I am, I had a hard time thinking of some, and it made me think about the portrayal of women in this movie.

What movies are out there that portray what it really means to be a teenage girl, and depict the changes a girl goes through to become a woman? If you can think of any movies or TV shows that honestly portray the coming-of-age experience for girls, then comment. I know there has to be some out there, and I definitely know of some, but if there’s really great stories I’ve missed out on, then I want to see them.


Weekly digest of thoughts at work, feminist edition turned into a much different post. I won’t apologize for it, because I don’t apologize for things I’m not sorry for, but I will organize my thoughts better next time.

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