23 December 2011

My Good Luck

I've always had very good luck. Which is odd, since everyone else seems to have bad luck more often than not. Perhaps I took all their luck away from them. Perhaps I actually deserve this in the form of karma. Or perhaps all this good luck will come back and kick me in the butt with some really bad luck, but I'm still waiting for that to happen.

This is a story of one of those incidents of really good luck. This is how my good luck works.

It came after a string of bad decisions, especially concerning my sleep. First, I took a friends shift at work on my only day off in two weeks. What more, it was an opening shift (6:45) and I was closing the night before (12:15). But I volunteered for it anyway, with the impression that I can just sleep during the day. Which was very unwise, since I know full well that I don't sleep during the day. The night before, I was also closing. I worked until 12:15, went to a party, stayed up until three or something equally ridiculous, went to bed for a few hours, woke up at 7:20, attempted to take another nap during the day, and, after no success, went to work. I worked until 12:15, went home, slept for a few hours, and was back at work at 6:45. In short, I was exhausted.

On my lunch break, I ate what I brought, but was unsatisfied and wandered over to the food court to get some cream cheese ragoons from Panda. And, of course, there was no line, given my good luck. And, of course, I found a seat right away, given my good luck. So I enjoyed those ragoons and headed back to Macy's. Well, there's this candy shop by the foodcourt, and I always pass right by it, but that day I couldn't resits. That day, from my exhaustion and a powerful craving for strawberry gummies, I wandered in to the Sweet Factory.

First, I stood in the middle of the store, glancing around me at all the candy in the way one might look at an unrequited love. I knew full well that I shouldn't have walked in, that a five dollar bag of trifles is not something I want to spend money on. And then I saw it:
                                   Camera pans left.
                                   Zoom in.
                                                  75% OFF ALL CANDY
                                   Zoom out.
                                   Camera pans right.
                                                   75% OFF ALL CANDY
                                   Zoom out.
                                   Zoom out further.
                                   God's eye view.
                                                   I'm surrounded by signs that say
                                                   75% OFF ALL CANDY

So I got myself a bag of delicious for 71 cents.

and it was the last day of their sale

lucky me

09 December 2011


Have you ever had nightmares? Nightmares that repeat over and over again? Nightmares not of monsters but of real life at its worst? I didn't used to have nightmares until just over a year ago.

They started when I was nineteen and a half, just as my twentieth birthday seemed near. But these thoughts - these fears- these started even sooner, before I even turned nineteen. I never thought they'd turn into nightmares, but they did.

They repeat, exactly the same, sometimes more or less vivid. They are nightmares of my 21st birthday. When I wake up from these nightmares, when I spend all day crying because I still feel that fear, it's because these dreams are so real. "Can you imagine?", I beg my friends, "being alone on your 21st birthday?". I don't think they understand. I don't think they can imagine. Me? I don't have to imagine. In my dreams it's real.

In my dreams, it's December 22, 2011. Evening. My sister approaches me occasionally to tell me how jealous she is that I am 21. How excited she is for me to "party it up tonight". I pretend I am excited too. Inside, I am shaking. I cannot breathe straight. I feel sick. I want to disappear, to die. It's my 21st birthday, and I have no friends to go out with.

As the evening draws on, I am scrolling through my cellphone contacts and facebook friends, thinking of who I should message. I've already texted a few or my closer friends, but they are out of town, or working, or out of money. They aren't there, and there's no one else. I have no friends.

I post a hesitant status: "It's my 21st, come hit the bars with me!" or something along those lines. Inviting, only I can't tell anyone I don't have anyone the truth: that I'm alone on my 21st birthday. People "like" my status. People respond: "have fun tonight!" or "I'm so jealous, can't wait to party with you when I turn 21". I'm not alone. But I have no friends.

The night draws on. My sister is preparing for her own party to go to, and I know I have to leave soon. She can't know. She'd look at me in that way, with that insulting pity. Like "why are you so stupid/socially incapable that you can't even have friends". Insult. Pity. There she is, parties every weekend. Of course she thinks I'm inferior. I'm in college, and I don't have any parties to go to. She doesn't care that I'm suffering. She'll tell me how to fix the problem by making me feel worse about myself. She doesn't understand how I struggle.

So I leave. I look up some bars on Yelp and I leave. I take the lightrail downtown. Things get blurry past this point. Not so clear, since I've never been to a bar. I enter. I show my ID. I order a drink-whiskey. The bartender looks at the ID, at me. "Happy birthday". Then he steps away. And I see him, with a few other people, looking back at me, laughing at me. I have no one.

12 November 2011

I Might Be In Love

I might be in love. Is this love?

I wonder not because of how strongly it overwhelms my senses, but because of how subtle it is. So easy to forget for weeks or months until it slips back into my mind - you slip back into my mind, and I wonder - I might be in love. Is this what love's like for me? Always in the background, like elevator music, but I can always fall back on you when love crosses my mind.

Or maybe its not. Perhaps this is just another incident of a romantic interest that one day will easily be exchanged for another.

I'm not the type to brood on my solitude. I'm either happy with where things are, or too distracted with the sorrow of having few friends. Love and romantic loneliness seldom cross my mind. But when it does slip through the cracks, I can't help but wonder - am I in love?

Until it again slips my mind.

On Bugs

I am ambivalent about bugs.

I don't take them outside to save a precious life. When someone asks me to get rid of a spider, I squash it quickly and move on with my life. No fear: I've become the default but killer with many of my friends. But I don't kill them with fury, either. The spiders I find in my room or the bathroom just keep living. I don't bother them, I don't fear them, and they, too, leave me alone. I've been bitten by spiders before, but it doesn't really hurt so bad. Just an unfortunate consequence of co-existence, I suppose.

Bugs can be pretty cool. When I find an especially interesting one, I might examine it and stare at it for a bit. But I don't gasp with joy at the possibility of seeing such a creature: the great beetle who's latin name is Bugister Coolisco! Nothing of that sort.

Just little bugs in large amounts freak me out a little, but I've even gotten over my once awful fear of ants. I just walk away. No fuss. No problem.

I just wander why I feel the need to write a blog post about something I'm so ambivalent about.

28 September 2011

My Philosophy Class

brought to you in two snapshots.

Part I: The Letter φ, Brought to You in IPA
Student 1 - *asks a question in reference to the letter "φ"; pronounces it φi.
Professor - *after answering the question* And, you're right, it should be pronounced φi, but most philosophers say φei, so we'll say φei.Student 2 - Or you could say φɔ.
Professor - Well, you don't want to say φɔ, 'cause that's the noodles.
Student 3 - Actually, that's φʌ.
Student 4 - No, it's φi.
Part II: The Use-Mention Distinction.

(I'm not entirely sure who exactly she is referring to here, but clearly it's a child she is very close to/related to.)
Professor - When Makayla was little, she used to say: "Brother said 'Damn'".  That gave her permission to curse, because she wasn't using it, she was mentioning it.  Of course, I didn't care, because after you take Philosophy of Language, these things stop mattering. Now, her father - he's gay, and he's very conservative. So he really cares about these things, which I don't understand. You take her to all these red dress parties and then... nevermind.

This is why I love my philosophy class.

07 September 2011

Did You Secure the Skis?

My personality and working style requires a lot of specific feedback. The worst thing is when I say something, and I get no response or a response that's brief or dismissive. Even if it's not meant in such a way, it makes me fear that what I said was out-of-place or inappropriate. For example, one of the shift managers at Jamba Juice, where I got a job, is incredibly subtle. She's very nice, super friendly, and way supportive, but, frequently, she makes me nervous. I can't read her emotions at all, and her responses to any questions I have are brief, quiet, and frequently made of shrugs, nods, and hums, not actual statements.

My mom has a similar way of communicating anything other than anger. So, when I feel dismissed by her behavior, whenever we run into a communication road-block, she blames it on my mental health. In some ways, she is right. It's probably my social anxiety that makes me nervous about making sure I understand a response, and my autistic tendencies that make me awful at reading non-verbal ques. But, when, after a fight, my mother tells me "Did you make an appointment with your psychologist yet?", I can't help but feel insulted. Instead of taking me seriously, she dismisses me and blames me for all our trouble.

In reality, my mom is a terrible listener, and I bet a lot of my communication difficulties actually come from being brought up by her. My sister and I often reflect on an incident that perfectly illustrates where I come from.

04 September 2011

I Must Be Getting Old

Picture this. I'm at the airport, picking up my grandma, and things aren't going as smoothly as I wish, so I call my mom to complain. Do you see it? There I am, sitting in my car, talking on the phone, flailing my hands around in dramatic gestures of frustration.

And a child walks by. She must have been about nine or ten, and she was walking behind the mom, pushing her cart, passing in front of my car. She looks at me and then...

Flails her arms around. Like I was just doing, she teases me.

So I smile. and she smiles back, kindly.

I must be getting old.

18 August 2011

Cookies are Srs Business

I can see someone not liking cookies. I often say "no" to cookies myself - they might be too dry, too crunchy, too sweet, or just not my thing.

But warm cookies, with the chocolate melting and the dough still soft? How can one ever lose respect for the warm cookie? There are days when it just doesn't feel right, but I'd never reject such a cookie without some hesitation. No one can dislike a warm cookie.

Well, my step dad is one of those professional businessmen for whom everything is srs business. And he flies a bunch, too, so he frequently gets auto-upgraded to business class. Well, in business class they serve these warm chocolate chip cookies. And my step dad says most people don't want them. They will even make comments - "who will want these?" - hinting that they're giving it to the wrong population. They'll frown, make faces. When the flight attendant offered the cookie to one man, he just raised his alcoholic drink in the air, as if to say "you want me to eat the cookie with this?".

"Businessmen," my step dad says, "don't want cookies."

But when did they stop wanting cookies? It's not like they wrinkled their noses as children, thinking they're too classy for this cookie. Or turned away as a teenager - instead, they'd go straight for it ("Dude, this cookie is warm, awesome!"). Even the most serious college-age guys wouldn't say no to a warm cookie. Then when did it happen? When did their universal love of cookies turn into disdain?

When did cookies become an enemy of The Man?

Promise me you'll never lose respect for the Warm Cookie?

14 August 2011

The Elk Encounter

I've seen elk before. My family frequents national parks, so somewhere along the way, standing across a river or a pond or a field, I've seen elk. Sure, they're big and impressive, but nothing - nothing - is like seeing an elk up close.

We had two days of cleaning at camp, and breakfast was at 9:30, so it was definitely necessary to celebrate the extra hour and a half of morning. The night between these days, we went to the Grizzly Rose. It was pretty fantastic. I love nightclubs in  general, and this was something I'd never experienced before: line dancing, two stepping, people twirling and moving. I'm used to the typical hip-hop/electronica scene, but this was so much more: a country western Saloon. We headed home late, and it was quiet the eventful night, complete with vomit, 24-hour doughnut shops, and bumming cigs from stoners at a gas station. So we're driving 285 at 1:30 in the morning. My car is full, and three people are dozing off as myself and the last are deep in conversation. There aren't many cars on the road: one would pass by in the opposite direction every five minutes or so, but on my side, I was the only one.

National Geographic tells me elk are 4-5 feet at the shoulder. That's at the shoulder. His neck, head, antlers: that's all above that. I'm 5'3". And my little sedan? That's shorter than me.

Twenty feet in front of me, and there he was, standing in the lane next to mine. If he was in my lane, I could have seen him sooner, I could have slowed down, even stopped... but in the lane next to me, in the dark, he was invisible. It was just his silhouette, but I could see his legs clearly. They were already in my lane, but he took a step back- and I froze. A second later, the beast was behind me. His hoofs were at most two feet from my tire. His head must have been hanging over my car. I had never, ever seen a beast of that size.

I went crazy. My car had almost been totaled. I had almost died. I had almost died with the four other people in my car- and yet I had survived. The elk grew bigger in my mind, the more I ran and ran that image through my head. By the time we arrived back at camp, I was laughing hysterically, completely out of control. That was the scariest thing to ever happen to me on the road. That was The Elk Encounter.

07 April 2011

My Favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes

Because if I'm going to watch seven long seasons of a TV show, I'm at least going to make a list out of it.

1. Hush (4.10): The most terrifying monsters of the whole show. Dance Macabre. Plus Joss Whedon wrote this speech-less episode because everyone kept complimenting his dialogue.

2. The Zeppo (3.13): I was laughing all the way through. This episode meant so much for Xander, plus it was fast-paced and scattered with overshadowed significant incidents, all the great factors of classic comedy (and by classic, I mean Voltaire-classic).

3. Earshot (3.18): Like Hush, I found this episode to be one of the scariest horror episodes of the show.

4. The Body (5.16): The most chilling episode, with no music or unnatural sound. A reminder that life outside mystic forces still exists in the Buffyverse.

5. Passion (2.17): I loved Jenny Calendar, and this was the first episode of this show to make me cry, and the one that made me weep the most (save for, maybe The Gift). For the first time, the show got serious, and I loved it.

6. Restless (4.22): I am a junky for the surreal/post-modern dream sequence. Though the real reason I loved this episode was what it meant for the character of Xander. Oh, and Giles's singing.

7. Nightmares (1.10): Like most first-season episode, it stuck to a simple, classic concept, executed beautifully and terrifyingly.

8. Conversations with Dead People (7.07): The show really went downhill in season six, and this was the one season seven episode that I absolutely loved.

9. Out of Mind, Out of Sight (1.11): Another classic season one story, but my favorite part was the government guys at the end.

10. Once More With Feeling (6.07): The only season six episode written or directed by Joss Whedon, and definitely a favorite.

11. Same Time, Same Place (7.03): Another season seven episode that didn't bore me to death. Mostly because of that scene with Spike. So much fun!

07 February 2011

Revisiting: Bi

A while ago, I wrote on the ways bisexuality erases non-binary gender identities.

Since then, after first getting a glance into what could be called the "bisexual community", I've rethought my previous views, and I'm planning to re-write that essay. For now, here is a summary in bullet points of my thoughts.

I used to say that:
  • Identifying as "bisexual" is a privilege that many binary gendered folk have but that non-binary folk (as well as certain binary gendered individuals, eg partners of nonbinaries) do not have.
  • "Bisexual" as a personal identity should be restricted to very specific situations when safety or personal comfort is at stake. Sometimes, binary-gendered polysexual folks have to put themselves in inconvenient situations, because non-binary gendered folks don't have the privilege of this convenience.
  • "Bisexual" is most harmful as an umbrella term for non-monosexual identities, because it isolates non-bisexual monosexual folk from the community and movement.
  • "Lesbian", "gay", and "straight" are not as harmful as "bisexual", because people who are primarily attracted to one gender have very specific experiences that need to be addressed.
  • Bisexuality does exist, and there are indeed individuals primarily attracted to men and women, but not non-binary folks.
I now think:
  • "Bisexual" is a very powerful and important term with a very strong history and present.
  • There are individuals of all genders who identify as "bisexual".
  • The use of "bisexual" as a personal identity, just as the use of "lesbian", "gay", and "straight" is always strategic, and it is unfair to scrutinize B folks more than LG & straight folks for their identity.
  • Identifying as "bisexual", especially for binary-gendered folks, is still a privilege that not everyone has, and binary-gendered bisexual-identifying folks still need to remain cognizant of their privilege.
  • However, identifying as a polysexual identity that isn't bisexual can also occasionally be a privilege, because, unfortunately, other polysexual identities have very political connotations.
  • "Bisexual" is most problematic as a term for the community/movement/etc., and as an umbrella term for non-monosexual identities. It's more problematic than "lesbian", "gay", or "straight" on this level, because LG & straight folks have very specific experiences and can unite under this term, while "bisexual" isolates polysexual folk who do not and cannot identify as "bi".
  • True "bisexuality" does not exist, because it implies that someone can tell who is or isn't binary-gendered, and thus third-genders certain gender expressions while restricting others to the binary.

03 February 2011


I've become "the traveling type".
The type that does not stand still.
The type that, on a whim, takes to the road.

So many windows I've looked out of. Windows of trains, of cars, of buses, of vans, of planes, of hotels, of hostels, of coffee shops, coffee shops, coffee shops. My favorites are the view from the front window of my car as I approach Boulder: the star on Flagstaff lights up at night, the Flatirons glow like gold during the day. Denver as I approach it on the way back down from Boulder or from the mountains, out of my front window, or my mother's passenger side window, or the window of the BV/BX/BF bus. Southern Illinois and Indiana in the colorful months of fall, crossing rivers after river. Minneapolis from the window of a plane, the landscape is like a work of abstract art, with rivers and lakes swirling through the land, the houses, the roads. Iowa from the window of a car, the hills of black dirt sing tunes of lovers that will someday be. Connecticut from the window of Amtrak on the way from New York City to Boston: when you've come to New England, you feel it; the beach, with sailboats on the water and children on the sand flashes before your eyes for just a few moments, and then you keep moving. And, of course, cities. Chicago from the 50th story condominium window of a family I babysat, New York from Rockefeller, Central Park spreading beneath, a rectangle of green in the city, and in DC, don't bother with windows, just stand on your feet on the National Mall. My least favorite are the flat plains of Nebraska, and the frozen hills and sleeping forests of Wisconsin in the winter. The wind is strong, yelling with terror, the landscape is barren, but you keep moving. Always keep moving.

I wake in the ungodly hours of the morning, and curl up to sleep in those window seats. Us traveling types, we can't afford the luxury of a reasonably scheduled trip. I caught the red-eye from Hawaii on Christmas Eve with my family, when the plane was nearly empty. I've caught the red-eye to DC, and spent two hours during the break of dawn in Charlotte's airport, waiting for my next flight. I've emerged from a friend's place in DC at four in the morning, after two hours of sleep and still drunk from the previous nights festives; it was so early, the Metro wasn't running yet, and I took a bus to Union Station, sitting beside the poor wretched souls of morning going to work. I braved the Monday morning NYC subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan, only to brave Penn Station at 8AM; a man apologetically, but without hesitation, cut in front of me as I was buying a bagel, saying he was late, and I just smiled at my first New York Moment. I caught the 5:22 Metra from the Chicago suburbs to downtown, once again searched the faces of early morning commuters for any sign of life (I found it), and jumped over snowbanks with my suitcase as I rushed to catch my bus; it was the morning after Chicago's third largest blizzard ever, and I knew that just miles away Lake Shore Drive was crowded with those abandoned cars we saw on national television. But I kept moving forward, always moving forward.

My laptop remembers the WiFi I've used, in coffee shops, hotels, and airports around the country.

I learned how to see the best of the city: you follow the used bookstores, they'll guide you through the best neighborhoods. Stroll near college campuses, the neighborhoods built for the youth are always full of life and hope. Google "anarchist bookstore", "anarchist coffee shop", "progressive bookstore", "radical bookstore", "radical coffee shop". You'll feel like a sell-out, but I promise that it will be worth it. That's how I found Red Emma's in Baltimore. Take a look at the back of your Slingshot planner, it will also give you a hint. That's how I found Women and Children First in Chicago. Of course, your best source of information are locals. Reach out. Message people on FetLife, on OKCupid, on Tumblr, on CouchSurfers. Ask your friends and family: they have friends and family, too. Don't be afraid. We're all just looking for a chance to reach out. The typical tourist attractions? Visit them, but in moderation.

Learn to navigate public transit: in the end, it's the same in every city, and you can get anywhere if you learn to read a subway map, and you'll get there quickly if you learn to buy a subway pass. Keep small change: most buses and many subways and trains don't give change. Pack light. Fall in love with your suitcase, but keep a small duffel bag around just in case. Fall in love with your backpack. Keep your laptop in your suitcase, it'll tire your out if you carry it on your back. Fall in love with your water bottle.

Don't be afraid to be alone. Don't be afraid to speak to strangers. Don't be afraid to make a friend. But if you are afraid, listen to yourself.

Since moving out of my mother's house twenty months ago, I've lived in Boulder, Washington DC, and Chicago. I've traveled, with friends, to visit friends, or just by myself. I've driven from Denver to Washington DC and from Denver to Chicago. I visited Washington DC, Grinnell, Iowa City, Washington DC again, New York City, Boston, Baltimore, Albuquerque, Lincoln, Omaha, Des Moines, Grinnell again, Iowa City again, parts of Chicago I've never been to before, and, today, Minneapolis.

I've become the traveling type, writing this as I sip a coffee, looking out another coffee shop window.