Quitting is contagious 

My Dad says that. It’s his way of motivating me to go for the gold. I’ve never appreciated it more than I do right now– 26 years old, confused as hell as to what I’m supposed to do next, applying for M.A. programmes, and watching all my friends get married. 

Quitting is contagious. 

I am the type to quit. I’m constantly scared about everything. I’m on a diet. It’s going great. Still, I’m scared I’ll fail so I really, really want to quit. I am a writer. I love my latest book. I’m afraid it’ll never get published. So I want to stop trying. Small things–a good, clean, cat-eye flick–big things–getting my student visa in Ireland. I want to quit. 

Quitting is contagious. 

I know that. I’ve known it since I was a kid and my Dad was trying to teach me to ride a bike (I can’t ride a bike). I excel at many things. They flee my mind when I’m wallowing in self-doubt. I know they’re there. All the reasons I shouldn’t give up. All the reasons I should trust in the process, keep at it, fight. 

“Quitting is contagious.”

My Dad’s voice is the mantra in my head when I do an extra push-up or even just when I’m scared I’m going to mess up a new recipe. Quitting seeps into your bones and makes you wish you had never allowed yourself to hope. Hope, though, brightens everything. Hope is contagious, too, it’s just harder to grasp. 

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Object, thy name is woman

Typically I’m very non-confrontational. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced the feeling of your heart thudding wildly in your chest (and ears, and finger tips) whenever you dare to speak against someone’s very strong opinion. I do. So I often choose silence over a minor heart attack every time I speak. 

This has left me a fairly silent feminist. I know that word has somehow become dirty because in our binary obsessed culture two completely different acting and feeling people cannot possibly embody the same term, ever. I’m a feminist. That does not mean I hate men, I do in fact shave semi-religiously (because I like smooth legs), and at the same time I do believe a woman should be able to choose to do whatever she would like to do with her own body. Really being a feminist simply means acknowledging the fact that women exist, that they–as a gender–have been mistreated, and one would like that mistreatment to end. End of! I can’t fathom why so many people take offence at this stand.

Well, I suppose I can. In fact, that’s what I felt I needed to write about today. I’ve been home all day. I’m a post-grad looking for work. I’ve got loads of time, really. While applying for jobs and sorting things for grad school, I had the television on. 

Around lunch, American Dad came on. I don’t typically watch the show, but I admit sometimes it’s inappropriate enough to be uncomfortably funny. In this episode, Stan took a pill to withstand listening to his wife without spacing out. All so he could endure her chatter enough to earn him sex. Right, so, obvious sexist humour meant to poke fun at tropes in both men and women. Whatever. My issue was after the pills turned Stan into a woman (yep, that happened), Stan’s male boss then essentially kidnaps him, gives him some drinks, and attempts to have sex with him. Stan isn’t interested being that he still has the same sexual insterests, he’s just in a different body. His boss pressures him over and over (by this time they’re in a hot tub…) before finally putting up his greatest argument which is basically that Stan has an amazing new body and he (the boss) should be the first to “rail” it. I didn’t watch after that. I moved on. Sure, it’s a tawdry cartoon designed to be so offensive it’s laughable. Whatever.

Later, there was a commercial. This commercial was literally just for dashboard wipes that protect against UV rays and therefore fading. That’s it! In the commercial, the logo on the bottle was talking. He was a lumberjack–again…dashboard wipes–and on the dash was one of those bobble-head hula girls. At the end of the commercial the logo asked her out (where are they going??). She was silent as she is clearly a dash toy. Instead of realising she was disinterested or inanimate, his response was “Oh, the silent type! I like those!” I literally felt sympathy for an inanimate hula girl. The silent type?? Could you get more rape vibes, or what? What about silence implies desire, consent, and / or interest? Commercials are 30 seconds long, so it was over before my full disgust could register. 

Later still, this time on one of my favorite shows: The Big Bang Theory. These are reruns, mind. It is a Tuesday. In the beginning of the episode Howard is spewing his typical come-ons to Penny. Fed up, Penny finally tells him off; harshly this time, so he gets the message. The rest of the episode is essentially Penny attempting to apologise to Howard whose feelings were hurt while Penny attempted to DEFEND HERSELF FROM UNWANTED SEXUAL ATTENTION!!! Howard never apologises and in fact attempts to kiss her during one of her final attempts to apologise. Penny punches him. Let me just mention, none of this is good! From the female perspective, Penny should not have to apologise as she is the victim. From the male perspective, society should not be telling men that they should try to advance sexually again and again and again until they are literally physically beaten back. If that’s the message, well what if the victim can’t physically overpower her aggressor? Is that now code for “take me, I’m yours”? 

What the actual hell is going on in this world?! As we all know, these examples are TAME in comparison to some of the other influences streaming in at all hours of the day. I understand entertainment value is prized in the television industry. It’s been that way for decades, but we’re the future, right? Shouldn’t we even attempt to make strides in our antiquated objectification of women and our silencing of the male empathy? 

This was one day, a few programmes I happened to catch while multitasking throughout the day. It reminded me why I wanted to be a writer in the first place. Words are powerful. They create worlds and rhetoric is the catalyst for new thinking. The writers of these programmes chose to say what they said. I understand. I do. It’s easy to have ideals when you’re living at home, looking for work on Indeed. I guess I’m kind of hoping I don’t forget today though. That’s why I wrote it down. I want to remember that my characters will have depth–men and women. We don’t fit in boxes. We should stop trying to limit ourselves. 

Bookish Girl versus Adulthood

I am such a bibliophile. Take a look at my Instagram feed and it’s easy to see my love for books runs deep. I have a stack of books, an alphabet monogram, and a quill tattooed on my body. I love, love, loveeee books. However, the biggest problem I’ve experienced as a bookish girl ( okay, that is already a gross hyperbole; uncomfortable reading positions, a great series that ends poorly, bad film adaptations…I could go on for ages) is the ever less romantic “adulthood”. 

I used to read 800 page books in less than 24 hours. I used to preorder the last book in a killer series just so I could read it as soon as possible and then discuss it with my friends. I used to be satisfied with a main character having one dimension and their greatest life obstacle being which hot guy they were going to pick to love them! Okay, maybe I’m glad I’m over that. I really do miss the easier days of reading, though. Back when I felt confident I could get required reading and pleasure reading done at the same time. Now I have to weigh my options when I buy books. Mostly, “will I ever really read this book?” and “should I buy this book or should I get something to eat?” 

There has been one nice side effect of adulthood ruining my book reading streak (again, hyperbole…I’m really just first-world-problem complaining, but it’s about to get better). Books are more precious now. They are time consuming, so reading one feels like an active spending of my time on a good friend or a meditative contemplation. Also, I understand things I might not have gotten as a teen. I recently read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and I loved it in a way I don’t think I could have truly appreciated (at least not before surviving a Trump election, right). I saw the logic of “civilised” breeding, the appeal of Soma, and even the politics of their hierarchy system in a critical lens that came from my 20-odd years of life. 

I love reading in a new way. I take my time, like a slow bite into dark chocolate as opposed to gobbling handfuls of milk chocolate buttons. Everything is different. I almost want to reread my old favorites. Adulthood should be good for something. 

Hashtag

Who remembers when there was no such thing as a hashtag? I remember using the pound sign when I was done entering my PIN over the phone. Pound pound pound. The feel of my finger crushing the small plastic key. Who remembers buttons on phones? 

I remember when I didn’t care about follows and photo editing tools. Now I Snapseed; VSCO; filter my way into the Top Posts. It’s twisting my world through the lens of a kaleidoscope and I love it–superficial, rose-coloured, pixilated. I love it. 

It makes everything fit into small squares. It simplifies. Beautifies. Angle the camera. Add a lens flare. Birds-eye view. Folded clothes. Books on the shelf. Follow me. #selfie #art #truelove 

Is it my obsession with perfection that keeps adding hashtags? My fear of failure condenses everything into structured, streamlined, sanitised, satisfying, sensational photos. It keeps slathering tiny blue hypersensitive hyperlinks, anxiously awaiting a K beside my numbers. 5K. 15K. 35.7K. Stats. Photos. Edits. 

Hashtag 

It isn’t real. But it’s so beautiful. I don’t have to wait hours on a plane to fly off to Thailand. 

Hashtag

He loves me. He loves me not. Relationship goals. Actors. Models. Sex. 

Hashtag

Shop til you drop. What should I buy next? Ask a Kardashian. 

Hashtag

Couldn’t I live like this, always? Why ever leave my room, lol. Meme. 

Hashtag
O Brave New World, that has such #people in it!

Too sexy

My Dad is a great guy. I talked a little about him and the superhero complex I have when it comes to him in my previous post. He’s not all great, though. Last time I checked, Superman doesn’t out and out call women tramps. I don’t mean to villainize him. It’s just his ideals are sometimes antiquated. Though he grew up in the free-loving 60s and 70s, he probably identifies more with the gender constructs and roles of the 1950s. So where does that leave his 90s baby daughter? Confused. 

The concept of things being “too sexy” or “too grown” was a common opinion in my households. My Dad explained away things like pornography, crude humour, and sexual appetites as things Men (capital M intended) liked. He has a love for artistry, but has trivialised every artist-type boy I eventually flocked to as a “Nancy boy” or “gay”. Likewise, my Mum was always frank about her sexuality, but only after many glasses of wine or in the comfort of the hushed giggles of her girl friends. I’m sure both of my parents would say they did better than their parents at giving me “The Talk”. What they might not realise, is A. They didn’t give me “The Talk” so much as they gave me a fear of ever having children out of wedlock and B. I never felt safe enough to talk to either of them about my own sexual nature in a way that wasn’t either sneered at or laughed at. 

My learning curve was cemented in the things they objected to. Both had opinions on various Disney Channel stars becoming sexual in the public eye. They had lots of opinions on the rare appearance of my bare midriff. They had telling facial expressions in the face of my freer friends. I knew, just by the tone in their voice, that the things I felt whenever I saw a shirtless fragrance ad dart across the TV screen or a candle lit sex scene in a film was wrong somehow. I began silently feeling that I was wrong. 

I’ve never mentioned this to them, even as an adult. I haven’t told my parents what I’m oddly comfortable confessing on digital paper. I’m the child of two kids who had unprotected sex one too many times. A child like that grows up feeling unwanted, a mistake, no matter how many times they try to tell you you were a blessing. Sex was something to be feared, when I was growing up; it brought unwanted children into the world. Desire was fearful, too. It was for men, not women. Only loose women were open about desiring sex.

Well guess what:

I’m 26. I’ve never been in a real relationship. I am heterosexual. I enjoy watching porn occasionally. I like crop tops and bralettes. Bondage makes me uncomfortable, but biting doesn’t. I have a thing for pretty boys. I am falling in love with my body, and I would love for someone to love it, too. I’m not afraid of sex. I’m not afraid to be sexy. I’m only afraid of letting fear of judgement hold me back.

I guess I’ll tackle that first. 

Cheat day

I’m on this Paleo diet. 

I’ve never done dieting before. In fact, anything that drew attention to my weight would send my mind into a tailspin that resulted in unhealthy eating habits. I literally haven’t weighed myself since middle school. I turn my head away at the doctors. I don’t keep track of what size I wear. I just try on clothes til they fit. On the one hand, this refusal to track my life by how much I weigh has been mentally helpful. On the other, being purposely ignorant of my body and my health had caused my weight to get out of control. 

So I started Paleo. Well, we did. My Dad–my personal Italian 6’3″ super hero–was also over 400lbs and couldn’t be weighted on average bathroom scales. He first learned about Paleo on the good ole internet. He told me about it near New Years and I was eager to keep him on track for his health. So we started dieting. I didn’t have to give up bacon, so I was pretty much game. 

Now I’m 3 months into the first diet of my life, and I’ve literally never felt better. I don’t know how much weight I’ve lost. I still don’t weight myself. I also don’t know my new trouser size. What I do know is how I feel, and I feel great. 

Six days out of the week, I eat to Paleo restrictions. On the seventh day, like God, I rest. That’s a joke, of course. The point is, I’m proud of who I’ve become and I’m eager to see where I go. I love myself in a way I never really have. It’s not because I’m losing weight. It’s because I’m paying attention to myself–in a healthy way. I care about my body and about what goes in it. I’ve had over 20 years of cheat days. It’s officially time focus on loving myself. 

So worth it. 

10% battery

Just a few quick lines

Dusted off my

Word-addicted mind

With my tablet at 10% battery

I’ve got to write fast

Need to spew the digital ink to page

Some stolen peace

Full moon blinks from

Behind the swift clouds

Insecurity crowds my mind

As dark funnels in

Why why why why why

My mind spins

And there the moon

Luminous against the blue-black

Soft, still goes the mind

Untangled

Why why why

To

Shh shh shh

An exhale 

Gentle, at ease

Powering down

Sleep

Ding, dong, date

I’m sitting here watching Catfish. It’s one of those mindless but interesting things you keep on in the background while you surf the internet, or–as in my case–you swipe semi-aimlessly on Bumble. I’ll talk about my decision to online date another day, but right now let’s just talk about that horrible thing everyone who has ever online dated (literally from my grandmother to my best friend) has experienced: the ghost. 

What’s a ghosting? It’s that moment when you matched, you thought a conversation was going well, then out of the blue they disappear. No more messages. And it’s not like you were properly dating, right? Are you allowed to be offended? Concerned? It doesn’t feel like it. It actually feels like there wasn’t enough commitment riding on this to feel…anything. You’re just expected to move on, try again. Better luck next time. 

That’s what I hate absolutely about this whole situation the modern dater finds themselves forced into by society and loneliness. There’s a feeling of detachment that hopeless romantics like myself were not made for. So where’s the dating app for us, for the people so ready to fall in love? 

I’ll keep swiping, I guess. That’s romantic, right?

Yoga before bed

I’m not a master yogi (I will forever think ‘bear’ after that word, and if you don’t get that reference you’re too young). What I am is over 25 and achey first thing when I wake up in the morning. At least I was. I started doing nightly yoga stretches before bed and first thing in the morning maybe two months ago. I’ll admit, I was initially disappointed when I couldn’t master every single pose flawlessly. I took gymnastics and ballet as a kid. I literally just assumed my body would know what to do. It did not. I spent weeks practically graceless, feeling my body scream of bad posture, serial couch sitting, and Netflix binging on my tablet. My knees, in particular were not fans.

Then one day (sorta just yesterday), I realised I could bend further forward, I could hold position backwards, I could kneel for more than three seconds! Don’t laugh, that was a huge accomplishment for me. And that’s the point, I guess. Yoga is addictive. It’s not all hot instructors, aroma therapy, and cute lounge clothes. Yoga challenges what you knew about your body and to some extent can heal it. I now wake up without the stiff soreness I usually equated the morning with. I’m excited to see where more of this takes me. I didn’t get it before, but now I see there’s a kind of peace that comes with being nice to your body and letting it love you back. It’s like making a new friend and finding yourself all at the same time. Namaste.

Am I really going back to school?

I just graduated with my B.A. in Literature & Culture in December. I wanted that to be the end. I’m tired of school, tired of being surrounded by other people reeking of stress, tired of professors and their idiosyncratic methods of grading. I’m tired of playing the game called “Surviving Anxiety is just as good as Higher Education”. So why do my eyes burn from looking up Creative Writing M.F.A. Programmes for the past several hours?

 I want to go home. I’ve moved my whole life. When I lived in Ireland, that finally felt like home. Currently I’m in America and all I can think of is the land I left in January and how to get back. This method looks like the easiest way, but it comes with a price tag far surpassing my post-grad pocketbook. I’m scared. There’s nothing else to it. What if I don’t get in? What if I do get in and I can’t afford it? What if I get in, can afford it, but can’t afford a house or food? What if I can’t remember how to play the school game? What if I fail? 
Yay, welcome back anxiety. It’s been a whole three seconds. I was starting to miss you.