The Terrible Twos

I have always been strong-willed. Or stubborn. Or unyielding. It depends on who you ask.

My earliest memory of this sometimes-frustrating, sometimes-useful quality is from when I was two years old. We lived in western Michigan in a big* white house with an above-ground pool in the backyard. I had a bedroom on the first floor, and it had a enough floor space to hold all my toys. I know because I tested the theory out once** and determined it was indeed spacious enough for everything I had to my name.

One day, during this experiment, my mom came into my room and told me to put all my toys away. I said no, obviously. She repeated herself, and I said no again. She finally said that if I didn’t put my toys away, she would pack them all up and take them away. I stared at her. She affirmed the threat. I stared back. Like I said, I can be unyielding. I thought maybe I could call her bluff. Even if she was telling the truth, I didn’t like being forced into anything. I stood my ground. My mom left the room.

I knew better than to take her leaving as a guaranteed win, so I waited. She came back with garbage bags. I watched as she put everything I’d left on the floor inside them. She threw all these tiny little toys into these huge black plastic bags, then she carried the bags out of my room—which now had a very clean floor but was definitely less fun. Still though, I looked her straight in the face and didn’t say a word.

At least, this is how I remember it. I could have been crying, but I doubt it. I don’t even remember if I got those toys back. All I remember is standing silently, stoically, stubbornly—watching them disappear into the abyss.

I’m sure this behavior didn’t make me an easy child. It doesn’t always make me an easy adult. But it has it’s benefits. I don’t give in easily to peer pressure, and I’m not often swayed by something’s popularity. That could be because I don’t have peers that want to pressure me into anything and I don’t know what’s cool. Whatev, I’m putting it in the win category anyway.

The biggest benefit though is that I’m so stubborn, I can’t even convince myself of something I’m not 100% behind. When I’ve tried—and believe me, I’ve tried—my unshakeable, rigid self pushes it’s way through, rocking the paper boat I’d built. It’s not pleasant to be shaken back to reality, but I always feel better when that stubborn two-year-old rears her adorable head and does it for me.

*adjective subject to interpretation since I was the size of a large porcupine
**maybe way more often than once

Livin’ the Panda Life

I’ve been watching a lot of baby panda videos. They’re ridiculous and adorable. I’m just ridiculous, but I do think we still have plenty in common. Here’s are just a few ways we’re alike:

1. I make sure to stay a little squishy to prevent serious harm from my many accidents.
2. I tend to walk around without looking where I’m going.
3. I’m annoyingly persistent.
4. I wear a lot of black and white.
5. I eat mostly green things.
6. Sometimes I fall down and it takes me an unusually long amount of time to get back up.
7. I like to sit around all day and look at stuff.

So I’m pretty much a giant panda, and I’m now in the market for a team of caretakers who will throw apples at my face and carry me around. Generous benefit package if you’re into chopping down bamboo and having someone cling to your leg all day.

Subtle Ways to Spit in the Face of the Patriarchy

It’s important to make bold moves in the battle against inequality, but we can’t always run full-speed ahead into the front lines. Wrestling with deeply ingrained ignorance and misogyny can be exhausting. I mean, sometimes just getting out of bed and putting on pants is exhausting. We need to take a moment every once in a while to rest up for the next drive.

Unfortunately, the patriarchy doesn’t take breaks. It’s fed by the confidence of mediocre men, so there’s no shortage of fuel. To stay vigilant, we have to find ways to keep it in check even when we feel drained. As a public service, I’ve started a list of easy acts we can take to fight the man. No battle gear required. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  1. Keep talking when you get interrupted.
  2. Order the pasta on a first date and actually finish it.
  3. Pull a Hillary and ditch the make-up.
  4. Don’t move out of the way when a man walks into you on the sidewalk.
  5. Politely ask a man to close his legs on the train.
  6. Stop being embarrassed when someone sees your very unshaven legs.
  7. Wear flat shoes to fancy events.
  8. Rename your virtual assistant, so it answers to Alfred instead of Alexa.
  9. Learn the names of five female scientists and tell people about them.
  10. Give a woman you love a compliment that has nothing to do with the way she looks.

No Thanks

I know there are a lot of important things going on in the world and I swear I will eventually write about one of them, but, for now, all I can think about is people hating on Lady Gaga for having a body.

Now, I’m not going to talk about the fact that Gaga obviously has a rockin’ bod. And awesome peel-off face sparkles. And bejeweled shoulder pads I wish I could wear while walking down the street. It’s clear she has a lot going for her and plenty of reasons to stand proud.

What we do need to talk about is the fact that a bunch of people felt the desire to pull down a talented woman, and they decided the best way to do that would be to insult her body. Because it didn’t look exactly the way they imagined it should look. Because talking about someone’s body is an easy way to keep from talking about things that actually matter. Because deflecting your insecurities onto someone else is a great way to avoid resolving them.

The most important part of this body-shaming isn’t the piece that was directed at Lady Gaga though. It’s the portion of that message that was directed at the rest of us. By insulting Gaga’s body, they’re insulting mine. They’re telling us we’re not good enough and saying we need to cover up a bit of ourselves to keep them from feeling uncomfortable. Well, it’s not our job to make sure these people are comfortable.

I say we respond like Gaga did. She did a badass job, and her music sales went up 1,000%. Then she told everyone that she’s happy with herself and she hopes we are too. So, from now on, when we pass a magazine cover created solely to make us feel bad or we turn on the tv and see a commercial for diet pills or we walk through a grocery aisle lined with low-fat, carb-free, sugar-free “snacks,” let’s turn our backs.

Reject that narrative. Other people’s opinions are not your reality. Someone else’s insecurities don’t need to be your own. Just say no.

Ok, that one is about drugs, but I think the message is the same. Turn your back on what’s trying to pull you down. Don’t get distracted by someone else’s self-doubt. We are powerful and we’ve got things to do.

A Month of Success

I have survived so many things in the last month. It’s been tough. I deserve like twelve medals. Here are just a few of the situations I’ve handled like a boss:

  • Cut open four avocados without hurting myself. That’s a lie. I cut open one and then Dave said, “What are you doing? Give me that.”
  • Stood shoulder to shoulder with over 500,000 people. Me. And all those other people. Together. I didn’t get trampled or kidnapped.
  • Safely exited my train station after some crazy guy with a knife was apprehended by the police. That sounds a little more dramatic than my actual experience, which basically involved getting stuck in the metro tunnel. But that poses it’s own dangers, so I think it warrants a mention.
  • Managed to read the news and keep functioning mostly like an adult.
  • Fell down the stairs at work. Ok, one stair. That’s why I survived.
  • Managed an anxiety-induced heart attack. It might not have been an actual heart attack, but don’t tell my body that. It knows the truth.
  • Escaped a sinking Titanic. Yes, it was a professionally staged event. Yes, I paid for the experience. But there were old-timey clothes and a vintage candlestick phone, so I think it’s possible the rising waters were also real.
  • Got my face drilled into by a madman (or my kind, old dentist—depends who you ask).
  • Ate so many jelly beans that it started to feel like my head was detaching from the rest of my body.

There are probably way more things I could include, but I think the list is still pretty commendable. I’m hoping I can meet the challenges of this next month with the same strength and fortitude.

Insect-somnia

For the last week, I’ve been hearing this crackling noise every time I take a deep breath or yawn or move my face. That’s disconcerting on its own, but Dave made it much worse by telling me my worst fear had come true.

When I was young, I saw a clip of this sci-fi movie at my grandparent’s house. I don’t remember much of it, but there was a space queen who got angry at some space visitors. To punish them, she ordered her minions to bring out some earwig-like insects and put them in the offenders’ space helmets. Then the bugs crawled into their ears. Obviously. They’re named earwigs for a reason.

I don’t know what happened after that because I walked away from that nightmare. I was not waiting around to find out how the insect-brain-invasion situation resolved itself. Now, though, I always sleep with my ears covered, because I’m not a fool.

When I told Dave about my crackling ear, he said a bug had probably crawled into it. So now my life is over and I will never sleep again.

Thank You, 2016

It’s 2017. We made it around the sun and we still exist, so that’s something to celebrate. Before we put 2016 to rest though, let’s talk about the gift that was last year.

I know this is an unpopular view. A lot of terrible things happened in 2016. We continued the steady march toward our planet’s destruction. We decided to replace an amazing president with a horrifying one. Celebrities who we all loved died. There were way too many horrendous people doing horrendous things to other people. It’s been hard. On top of that, I know I’m not the only one who struggled this year. I see you all. Despite being gifted with some wonderful moments—new jobs, great trips, opportunities to celebrate love with the people I love, tons of nachos—my brain wasn’t particularly kind to me. Sometimes life is like that. Everyone is happy to step out of this hole of a year and leave it behind, and I am too, but hear me out.

Here’s the gift of 2016: we can move forward as the strong, amazing humans we now know we are. 2016 gave us an opportunity. The year was like a bad horror film, where half the world had just exclaimed, “Well, it can’t possibly get any worse than this.” And then, of course, it did. But as long as no one else utters those words, we can start the painful process of crawling out of the woods away from the monsters. It’s not going to be easy, because it’s still dark and monsters are really great at hiding behind trees, but we can get moving.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not painting these terrors in a rose light. I don’t believe that even bad things happen for a reason, unless the reason is that people make terrible choices or chance can be cruel. I don’t think 2016 was somehow fated to be terrible, so we’d all be able to grow. But we can decide this floor is a good place to stand up and plant our feet.

I’m holding my ground here, so 2017 better take notice. I’ve informed the less-kind half of my brain that she is no longer allowed to take up so much space. She’ll have something to say about that, I’m sure, but I’m forcing her to move to the basement apartment. My mind has really good tenant laws, so I can’t evict her, but I can make her feel like an unwelcome guest by stomping on the floors and playing my music too loudly.

I don’t want to set myself up for failure, so I’m not making any drastic resolutions this year. I’m just going to slap 2016 in the face and move along. And, you know what, it would feel terrible to slap something great in the face, so thank you, 2016, for being just terrible enough. Thank you for letting us show you just how badass we really are. Thank you for reminding us that we are strong. We took you on, and we’re still spinning. And what are you up to? Literally nothing. Because you’re gone.

Let’s all just be glad we aren’t on Neptune. This year would have lasted nearly 165 times as long as it did on Earth. We’re strong, but I don’t know if we’re that strong. Also, the storms are insane, there’s no oxygen, and the average temperature is always around -350°. So it could be worse.

Farewell, 2016. You weren’t great to me, but you’re going to make a great step stool.

Bit by Bit

My body is literally falling apart. I know I’m getting older, but I didn’t think it would hit so hard, so fast. I’m like a cellphone right at that two year mark—battery dying, power button failing, screen cracked. Someone is going to need to order a replacement soon.

Here are the pieces of me that are currently not functioning properly:

1. My teeth. I had to get a whole bunch of fillings because apparently I hate myself and I wanted someone to drill into my face for a couple hours. PSA: Floss. Just do it.

2. My left wrist and elbow. My wrist and elbow turn out to be a moderately effective tools for breaking a fall, but the move is not without sacrifice.

Dave and I were on a run to try and find this new fancy soccer field near us. We were kicking around the ball, and I tried to steal it from him at an inopportune time—that time being while he was on his phone and we were running on uneven bricks. I fell. I maintain that it was his fault and not the fault of my lack of coordination, inexperience playing any kind of sport with a ball, or the treacherous terrain. He maintains that it was an unfortunate accident. I think we all know who is right.

3. My right wrist and forearm. Same incident, but for this one the fence was the culprit. It had it out for me from the start. Dirty, rotten fence.

4. My left knee and hip. Same incident, obviously. It was the gift that kept on giving. Note to all: If you feel like collapsing on the ground, avoid jagged bricks.

5. My head. It’s been pounding since this morning, either from the drilling into my face earlier or the drilling into the ground in front of my house all day. Or it might be the twelve men yelling outside my door about the gas lines. I don’t know. No one else seems to understand when it’s gloomy outside, it’s quiet time. People just keep on going about their business, like they don’t even care about my plans for the day.

I guess this is just what happens when you’re old and clumsy. I need to start thinking ahead. I better buy one of those informercial wheelchairs that I can ride around the Grand Canyon.

Higher and Higher

When I was younger my mom used to scold me for climbing on the counters to get stuff out of the high cupboards. I obviously never stopped, because I’m short and I need things.

When I was home a few weeks ago, she asked me to get something from a shelf above the fridge, knowing full well I am the same size as always and have not developed Inspector Gadget arms. So I went for it. She watched—without comment—as I climbed up on the counter, reached across the fridge, and handed the thing down to her.

Either the world is falling apart or everything is finally falling into place. I haven’t decided yet, but I know something’s up. I’ll fill you guys in when I have more evidence.