Monday, March 17, 2014

I moved!

Hi there, friend!

If you're reading this, it's because you haven't heard the news yet - I've moved! Please come visit me at

Friday, March 7, 2014

All The Reasons You Should Be Happy Right Now

1. You’re alive. Congratulations, friend! There was a time – a very long time, actually – when you did not exist. But then, like a freaking miracle you thrust your way into the world, and here you are! You were the little sperm who could. And after that, oh how you thrived! You’ve made it THIS FAR in life and survived it all! You have not been struck by lightning, or hit by a bus, or pushed off a cliff. You are a living, breathing being – and all of your cells and organs, every fiber of your body are constantly working their little microscopic butts off to keep it that way. They’re like trillions of little cheerleaders, all aiming for the same goal: keeping you alive, and happy and healthy. How great is that?

2. You’re human. It’s one thing just to exist, but you get to exist as the DOMINANT SPECIES of planet Earth. In fact, you get to be the only organism capable of pondering your own existence. You do not have to be a single-celled amoeba with no brain function, or a little guppy fish whose only goal in life is not to get eaten. You don’t even have to be a monkey who throws his poop without even knowing why. You get to be a human mother$#%!ing being, which means you can throw your poop and know exactly why. (Nobody else will know, but that’s beside the point.)

3. You can read. Or at least, I’m using deductive reasoning to assume you can read. And you may not have ever devoted any thought to it before now, but in case you weren’t aware: reading is a kinda big deal. One BILLION people in the world – in other words, 26% of the Earth’s adult population – cannot do what you’re doing right now. Which means you are exercising an ability that more than ¼ of your fellow humans do not share. That’s an astonishing fact; don’t take your literacy for granted!

4. More deductive reasoning: You have Internet access. And the Internet is awesome! Sure, it has a dark underbelly just like every other awesome thing… but at its core, the Internet means access to immeasurable amounts of information and worldwide communication. We live in a time when the possibilities of education and human connection are very literally endless. Living in the technological age that we do is a truly incredible thing. Which brings me to…

5. You live RIGHT NOW. Which is really very fortunate, because there is a lot less to worry about than there used to be. Someone already discovered fire and invented the wheel, so that’s one less thing on your to-do list. You do not have to hunt and gather your food. You are not in danger of being sold into slavery. You cannot be denied service or the right to vote based on your gender or the color of your skin. Not all of this was true, even one generation ago.

6. Music exists. And not to sound too much like a hippie, but you guys – music is the best. I don’t even have anything else to say here. If you’re ever feeling unhappy, just hunker down, get a good playlist going and listen to some tuuuuunes, maaannn. A personal favorite of mine is Aqueous Transmission by Incubus, which is a musical achievement so fantastic that according to its Wikipedia page it has generated a “cult-like following,” and Brandon Boyd is quoted as saying that the purpose of the song was to make "the listener pee in his/her pants" from relaxation. If ONE song has that kind of potential, it makes something as trivial as unhappiness seem like nothing a good mix tape couldn’t solve.

7. There are people in this world who love you. Yeah, buddy, YOU! Even if you’re a jerk. Even if you’re Robert Pattinson. Everyone in the whole world is loved. There is all kinds of love flowing toward you, all the time. If you have family, your family loves you. If you have friends, even better! Your friends chose you. Of course they love you. And if you don’t have any family or friends, HEY, I love you. You living, breathing, literate human being you. So take a deep breath, smile, and go find happiness in this big beautiful world of ours.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Ballad of Unfortunate Comparisons

I shouldn’t care if she has flair, or if her hair is curled.
I wouldn’t trade my dull and faded looks for all the world.
When I walk by, the boys don’t sigh and lean back in their chairs.
I shouldn’t care.

Her hips sway like a pendulum when she walks down the street,
They hypnotize the hungry eyes of everyone she meets.
And when she melts the hearts of all the boys who turn and stare,
I shouldn’t care.

Her eyelashes are long enough to brush against her cheek
She bats them up and down and pouts her lips out when she speaks.
And if those fiery lips inspire a scandalous affair,
I shouldn’t care.

I shouldn’t care what clothes she wears, or if her nails are done,
Because my nails are chipped and pale, and that is just as fun.
It shouldn’t matter next to her, that I don’t have a prayer –
I shouldn’t care.

No – never should I pay a mind to things like this, it’s true.
And yet I just can’t help myself – I shouldn’t, but I do!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Confessions of a Middle-Aged Twenty-Something

I’m getting old.

I know what you’re going to say, and you’re right.

…I should shut the $#%! up.

Most of the people with whom I interact on a daily basis are older than I am – and would probably laugh in my face for saying such a thing. I’m only 24, after all. Old age’s heavy weight has yet to fall on my young shoulders. My mind is still sharp, my body has not fallen victim to gravity’s unlucky pull, and I have yet to develop any particular affinity toward prunes or bingo. These facts alone should support the notion that as a “twenty-something” I am, in fact, still very young.

But I cannot deny that time is a one-way street, and with every passing second I am plummeting further forward, away from my blissful youth and into the dark abyss of middle-agedness. And contrary to you nay-sayers who insist that I am in my biological prime, I have legitimate evidence to support me here.

For starters, I have gray hairs. Or I should say, I have at least one gray hair. It shows its ugly face about once every six months or so, and it’s always in the same spot – so it might very well just be the same wretched bastard sneaking its way back like a weed every time I pluck it. That malicious little jerk must take pleasure in my horrified look in the mirror, followed by me frantically raking through the rest of my hair searching for others. When I don’t find any, I promptly yank it out, dispose of the evidence, and spend a few minutes sobbing into my knees on the bathroom floor. I imagine the hair watches this with satisfaction, already planning its next return with a likely greater vengeance and accomplices.

Also, as I get older, energy seems to be in increasingly short supply. I used to have SO MUCH of it. One of the most prominent memories of my childhood is of people repeatedly instructing me to calm down. I hardly ever sat still, constantly bouncing and fidgeting, and my transportation-of-choice between any two points was rarely walking. I would run, skip, cartwheel (and, because I was in dance), leap everywhere I went. I was constantly in motion. …And now when the remote is on the other end of the couch, reaching over to get it requires an eight-second mental pep talk. I do exercise, I do make an effort to stay active, but it’s just that – effort. That kind of energy and liveliness used to come so naturally to me.

I don’t care about birthdays anymore. Everybody warned me about this one when I turned 21. “Have fun, this is the last birthday that matters and it’s all downhill from here.” (…Yeah happy birthday to you too, asshole.) But they were right. Birthdays used to be hands-down, THE most important thing in the world. I had countdowns, made huge plans, wrote in my journal before and after midnight to document any tangible changes in maturity from one age to the next… It was a big deal. But after my 21st birthday I guess there weren’t many more milestones to look forward to, and it seemed like I blinked and I was 22. Last year I didn’t even remember that my birthday was coming up until someone else brought it up and asked if I had any fun plans. And my exact reaction was: “Oh right, I forgot about that… No, I guess I don’t.” If my younger self were to hear me say that, she would probably smack me in the face.

Stuff hurts. Every so often I’ll wake up to a random ache or pain somewhere. At one point, waking up to a sore back or a mystery bruise would have been enough to ignite concern and worry and possibly alert my parents – but when pain becomes more just a part of your day-to-day existence, it doesn’t even surprise or concern me anymore. I’m just getting older and my body, in turn, is getting wimpier.

That isn’t all, but I KNOOOW that anyone 25-and-up is going to tell me that I ain’t seen nothin’ yet. And you’re right. I ain’t.

…And so, whatever, I will go ahead and shut the $#%! up. And maybe go have myself a prune. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What Would You Like To Do, Susie?

When it comes to stuff that matters, I am a decision-making queen. At work, if you need someone be clear-minded and decisive, I’m your girl. In sales, I can quote rates confidently and immediately. In management, I could pull the trigger on any operational decision that needed making. If coming to a conclusion is important in any way, it is honestly no problem for me.

But somehow when it comes to my personal life, and small, inconsequential life choices, my deciding skills turn to mush.

I hate this about myself, because it reminds me of Spongebob and Patrick walking down the street saying "What do you wanna do?" "I dunno, what do YOU wanna do?" "III dunno, what do YOUUU wanna do?!" Which means I have roughly the same cognitive capacity of an animated sponge in a children's show... But I can't help it. Sometimes it's the littlest decisions, BECAUSE of their trivialness, that are the hardest to make.

Like, dinner for instance. For most of the earth’s population, “Where would you like to go for dinner?” is a relatively easy question to answer. Even those people who would identify themselves as “indecisive” could probably come up with something in response here. “Let’s go somewhere where we can eat outside” or “Somewhere I can get a big salad” or “Somewhere we haven’t been in awhile” – even if they can’t settle on an EXACT restaurant, they are able to narrow down some general idea of what they’re in the mood for.

These people are my heroes.

Because that’s not what happens when you ask Susie these kinds of questions. It seems so simple in theory:

Hey, Susie’s Brain! You have 24 years of life experience under your belt. During that time, it seems logical that you would have developed some idea of which foods make your tummy happy and which ones don’t. PICK SOMETHING. 

Instead, when you ask me where I want to go for dinner, my brain does this funny thing where I go to access the mental file folder entitled “preferences” and for some reason the entire thing is empty. I turn to other folders, like “cravings” and “recent recommendations” – tossing files behind me as I go, and they are all empty. I then resort to just pulling the “ANY RESTAURANT WITHIN A FIVE-MILE RADIUS” folder… but there is nothing. No ideas, anywhere, absolutely no earthly idea where we should go. I scour every corner of my brain for something, anything to respond with – but I inevitably, shamefully, come up short.

…I do not know. I do not know what I would like for dinner.

I AM SURE that on some level of consciousness I do have some contribution to make to this conversation. At the very least, I could probably come up with a list of things I do not want for dinner. I probably do not want to go anywhere that exclusively serves endangered species, for example. I do not want to go anywhere that would require me to board an airplane, because I have work tomorrow… that type of thing. But starting from there and trying to narrow my way in seems like a time-consuming and largely counterproductive process.

So Taylor and I have come up with a system to combat my crippling indecisiveness. Instead of giving me the option of EVERY RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD and overwhelming my poor feeble brain, he narrows it down for me by randomly selecting just a few restaurants, from which I have a much easier time of making a selection.

60% of the time, it works every time.

…The other times we just order pizza.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Letter to the Girl in My Driver's License Photo

Dear Girl In My Driver's License Photo,

Dear, dear girl. What a life you lead! The winds of change have blown you through four cities in the last year, and spat you out here, spinning, with your hand on your hat. In each new place you have shaken your head, dusted yourself off and walked forward into another new situation – scarcely even taking the time to absorb your surroundings.

And as a gentlemanly gesture, your surroundings, in turn, did not absorb you either. You and your respective cities of residence have lead lives as kindly neighbors – acquainted, sure, but otherwise hardly cognizant of one another’s presence. Arizona’s sprawling desert and beautiful, panoramic views made friendly eye contact in passing but did not call to you, did not whisper sweet nothings into your ear. Similarly, the noisy, pulsating streets of San Francisco were quaint and appealing in photographs, but in the end warmed someone else’s bed. No, the dapper charm of these cities was lost on you, dear one.

It seems needless, then, to say you have not felt "at home” at all this year – flighty and transient as your existence has been, that four-letter word has not even snaked its way into your vocabulary. What is home, but a place to hang your hat? A place where you never got around to stocking the pantry, where you’re not quite compelled to unpack all the boxes… just in case. No, a mere stepping-stone to the next adventure, surely not a home.

Were you afraid? Of course you were. Before this tumultuous year you were secure in your place in the world. Your entire life – friends, family, every school you ever attended – were all a stone’s throw away. You had hunkered down in your hometown like a bird protecting her eggs: You spread your wings out wide and strong, but stayed firmly perched on your nest. Because to do anything else would mean certain danger – even an inch’s movement in any direction would be much too risky.

Little did you know, little bird, that you would move from that nest of comfort and familiarity – not just an inch but 400 miles, and then another 800, and then 600 more. As if your ties to it were not made of rope but of rubber, and you wanted to see just how far they could stretch.

And did they stretch? Do you still feel like that little bird, pulling and tugging against the bonds that held you there for so long? Or is the resistance all just imagined, and the cord was severed completely when you first left home a year ago?

And if no binding ties exist to that old nest, to what now, dear girl, do you consider yourself bound? Not the sunny plains of Arizona or the bustling streets of San Francisco, surely.

Are the evergreens and snowcapped mountains of your current surroundings enough to provide anchor? Your new home carries not a single unpacked box, and your cabinets are full of canned goods. Could this mean that you are, after all, itching for some measure of permanence? A place to call your own?

I think the answer might lie in the one, solitary declarative act of relocation you have made. The only time, in three moves over 13 months, that you have taken the time to stand in line and notify this new location of your intent. Like crying from a rooftop that you are here. You do exist, and you want this city to open itself up to you, and vice versa.

Dear girl, waiting patiently for your turn in metal folding chairs, standing behind the yellow line and looking up at the camera, wide-eyed and grinning…

Welcome home.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

How To Be Weird (And Other Workplace Dilemmas)

As I may have mentioned, I recently moved to the Portland area and have been searching for a new job. But what I have not yet mentioned is that after a month and a half of sending out my resume and starting to seriously consider becoming a professional dog walker, I FINALLY FOUND ONE.

That’s right, folks, on Tuesday I will be officially re-inducted into the American workforce, and the job will not involve leashes or inside-out plastic bags. Hold your applause, please.

This two-month stretch of being jobless has been simultaneously relaxing and stressful, luxurious and terrifying… it is bittersweet to have it come to an end, but I am ultimately hugely relieved to have a reason to set the alarm in the morning again. Inertia isn’t a good look on me.

However, there is one aspect of my re-employment that has me a little squeamish… and that’s the fact that new job = new people.

Having to introduce yourself to new people is scary. Which might be why in the days leading up to my first day of work, I am having high school-type nightmares. What if I trip? What if I call someone by the wrong name? WHAT IF I FORGET TO WEAR PANTS?!

And the thing about meeting new people is just that that: they are new people. I’ve maintained the exact same group of friends since I was 12 – partially because they are the best group of people on planet earth and certainly better than any stinking NEW group of friends – but also because I am a weird human being, and my weirdness matches with their weirdness. And that’s a rare find.

With new people I can’t guarantee that my weirdness will match anybody else’s. In fact, I can’t even be sure that these people will be weird at all. We can go ahead and add that to my growing list of concerns: WHAT IF NOBODY’S WEIRD?!

So I guess to be safe I have to hide my weirdness, initially. Which is a feat all in itself. I imagine I will develop a lump in my throat after spending all day swallowing the stupid jokes that try to bubble up in my esophagus. If, in the middle of a conversation, someone pauses and says, “But um…” I will have to resist the urge to make a “TSSSSSSS!” noise and pretend to clang an invisible cymbal on my imaginary drum set. (Because if I do, I will inevitably have to follow it with, “Get it? ‘Baddum, TSSS!’ Like a punchline!” And the moment you have to explain it, you’re already past the point of no return. You’ve become THAT COWORKER, now. Congratulations.)

I won’t be able to keep it up forever, though. All that weirdness will be building up inside me, spring-loaded and ready to pop. And if I don’t let it out then one day I’ll just explode and shower everyone in a ten-foot radius with bad knock-knock jokes and obscure movie references.

So in the coming weeks, I will have to let it out gradually. Little by little, I will try my weirdness out on people somewhat haphazardly – like throwing spaghetti noodles on the wall to see what sticks. And it won’t take much! All I need is maybe ONE person who can quote Anchorman on a conversational basis. Or just ONE person who can discuss the Oxford comma and its unquestionable necessity in the English grammar landscape. Or, hell, just let there be one diehard Harry Potter fan in the office and I’ll be happy. (Cuz then I can incorporate Harry Potter-related advice into regular workplace dilemmas: If they’re complaining about the boss I can say “Well, you know what Dumbledore always says... ‘Perhaps those who are best suited for power are those who have never sought it.’” Or, “You know what Sirius would say, ‘If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.’” …Come to think of it, I’m kinda rooting for the Harry Potter thing. Let’s make that happen, universe.)

Anyway, I hope to god that my coworkers are even a little bit weird. Cuz if they’re not I’m not sure I’ll be able to survive… and I might have to resort to dog-walking after all. (Because then I could tell them to bark twice if they’re in Milwaukee. And that’s sure to get a lot of laughs.)