Tuesday, January 31, 2012

To Men, From "Alternative" Chicks

   The day before yesterday my husband and I wrapped up an amazing weekend of learning and association with some of our closest friends at a leadership convention in Columbus, Ohio. We grabbed the last of our things, notebooks filled to the brim along with our hats and gloves, and we began the short but, cold walk to our car for the drive home. In the elevator a man much older than myself told me that he "felt compelled to tell me something" and not knowing how to respond I just said "Ok". He mumbled something but I couldn't quite catch it entirely, but I thought that was it... so when the doors opened and we all stepped out I was a little surprised when he asked me if he could tell me something. I, wanting to be polite, said yes.

   Turns out that what he felt compelled to tell me was a rather crude joke about a teenager with a colorful mohawk, an adult male, some confusion over a night of drinking and something rather crass about a parrot. The punchline was essentially that the man was staring because he thought that the kid could be his son. I'll leave it at that for those who haven't heard the joke before. Sadly, I had. It wasn't any funnier this time around. The whole interchange left me feeling extremely uncomfortable. Even so the man did not seem to have ill intent, just a bad sense of humor... and propriety for that matter. So I did what I normally do in situations like this and attempted and smile and tried to squeeze out a polite half-laugh.

   You see, the reason that he felt particularly "compelled" (in his own words) to tell me this was because of my hair. My purple and blue hair. He then, ignoring my dis-ease, proceeded to start in with the "well I as long as you're not damaging your hair... " nonsense that I am so very used to hearing.  My husband came to my rescue at this point and casually reminded the guy that hair is in fact already dead, to which the man responded by telling us how his wife had been a hairdresser for many years and "well, uh, ya, i guess you're right". Then as if it made everything all better he informed me that his daughter "does her hair like that."

   Looking back I wish I had asked him how he would feel about men telling his daughter jokes like the one he just told me.

   This interaction got me thinking about two different, but very important to me subjects. One being the commonly discussed problem in our modern society, of women being viewed as to blame for any kind of negative or inappropriate attention they receive. Or worse yet attacks. The second issue being the misconception many people seem to harbor about people who choose to dress "outlandishly"; that they must not only be comfortable with attention but actually be seeking it. There are some of those people in the world. I am not one.

   I do, at some point in the future intend to cover the first of the two issues, it being the more serious of the two and very close to my heart. But for now I want to clear up something in terms of those of us out there who, like me have purple hair, or something equally gawk-worthy about their outward appearance. Particularly women. We do  not, I repeat do NOT, all want your attention. I am speaking both in general terms and directly to the men in the world who see things of this nature as a green light for raunchy, inappropriate talk or gestures toward "us". Wild hair, heavy makeup, tattoos, piercings, fill in your trigger aesthetic here... do not equate to trashy. They do not indicate that we have little self-respect and therefore are not worthy of yours. My aesthetic choices are not an invitation for an opinion, though I know it is commonly seen otherwise.

   Yes, I want people to like the way I look. Yes, I do love the compliments I get and even sometimes, on rare occasions, the questions from intrigued strangers. But, more often than not the attention (positive or negative), when based solely on the obviously abnormal part of myself, makes me uncomfortable. I would rather be addressed like everyone else. That is a naive thing to expect and I know it. That desire is also not strong enough to override my need to look on the outside, the way that I visualize myself on the inside. What I am getting here is that this is me being vulnerable. This is not shock value or attention seeking, or confusion. This is me being comfortable in my own skin. For the first time in my life. This passed year has been the first where 9 times out of 10 I am able to forget entirely about my appearance when I walk out my door. I don't feel like a fraud anymore. I am not worried somebody is going to "find me out". Call me out on the fact that my looks don't match the person wearing them.

   Many times, however I am quickly reminded that I am different. I knew that would be the case going into this, and for me it has proven easier to overcome other people's reactions than it was feeling uncomfortable in my skin. BUT! All that being said, I will not accept this attitude any longer that a woman, by choosing a certain, in this case alternative, aesthetic is waving an "anything goes" pass around for anyone wanting to take her up on it. In conversation or any other arena. If you wouldn't say it to your daughter, please, do not say it to me.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Upward From Ashes

   Every once in a while I am reminded in a powerful way that everyone I meet is fighting a battle that I can't see. We all have our thing. Our sore spot. Our human version of kryptonite. Some people struggle with tangible things. Poverty, physical illness, relational deficiencies. Other people are haunted with invisible ailments. Hurdles inside their own minds.

   Sometimes I wish I could trade mine in. A more straightforward, clear-cut problem must be easier to cope with, or better yet, overcome... Right?  But then I remember the progress I've made this far. If I gave up my set for another I would also be giving up everything I learned from mine... And more importantly the opportunity to relate to someone else who does not yet know that their struggle is both valid and valuable.

   It happens so often that the moment I begin to wish for a different brand of disorder is the same moment when someone comes along who needs what I have gained from it. When I don't feel I have anything left to give, someone reminds me that what I've already given was enough to make them feel not so alone.

You are not alone.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happiness... The Place In Between

   Ask anyone in America today what the single most important personal goal or accomplishment a person could strive to obtain is, and you will likely get a one word answer; happiness. It is the grand be all, end all of aspirations. It is even in The Declaration of Independence "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" right? What could be more desirable? More noble? More understandable?

   Well I am here to say that I am sick of it! Not happiness itself, necessarily, though I do believe it's definition has been cheapened and therefore the word itself does tend to upset me. But, what I am referring to is this overarching notion in our country today, that happiness reigns supreme above all things that someone could be. Or, better yet, want out of life. Particularly when we're referring to how the ideology is thrown around in parenting debates over which method is right. How the phrase "as long as my child is happy" is often times seen as an unopposable, conversation-ending defense for just about any theory espoused before it.

   The meaning of the word itself has become too muddled... so much so that in most people's minds it is synonymous with pleasure, or the experiencing of pleasure, contentment, ease, peace, etc. But happiness is not those things. Other things happiness is not include: joy, fulfillment and satisfaction.

   I don't want happiness if it doesn't come as a byproduct of fulfillment. Of living on purpose for my purpose and becoming a better person each and every day. I would rather be discontent but feel the pure exhilarating joy of knowing that I gave something my all, even if I failed. I would rather feel the discomfort of biting my own tongue when everything in my wanted the fleeting pleasure brought on by lashing out with hurtful words. Speaking my mind. Sure I may feel unheard, even unloved in those moments. But that is all they are, single moments, and the "happiness" that comes from serving my own desires only breeds more selfishness in my soul. Less sensitivity to others. More apathy towards my purpose as a human being. I notice that when I seek happiness for the sake of happiness I become numb. It is no different than the effects of a drug. And that is why this weird thing called happiness that floats around somewhere between pleasure and joy can be so dangerous if allowed to be our guiding force. It is a byproduct only, and when you take away the cause of it, the thing it was a side effect of, and try to get an isolated dose of it as it's own medicine it has new side-effects of it's own that weren't present before. Not to mention that it will be a knock off of the original and will never satiate the desire.

   But the happiness that comes from putting both purpose and people ahead of my own pleasure. That then is closer to joy and it, while elusive, is worth chasing. The only way to catch it is to not seek it. To seek instead ways in which we can serve others. Improve ourselves. Challenge preconceived notions. Fail. Get back up. And always, keep moving forward.

   That is the happiness I want. For myself. For my family and friends. For my readers. and most of all for my kids.

   Let us be more concerned in this kind of "happiness" for our children, before worrying about their moods, or selfish desires, or comfort. Let us teach them the lost meaning of happiness instead of this world's definition. Let us allow our children to dislike us for a time when it means that they will eventually know the joy of having parents that cared more about who they turned out to be in the long run, than they did about their feelings in a single moment.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snowy Days and SOPA Rage

    Yesterday I was silent. I am often silent on this blog. Based on last years stats I published a post less than one third of the days of the year... but yesterday was different. I was silent when I had something I wanted to say. Not just wanted to say, but was itching to say.

    Instead, I was silent for one day to protest legislation that if not stopped could silence me and so many others. In just one area, yes. But that area being the internet, which, to put it mildly has become a necessary medium of not only personal expression but of business and social connectivity and so many other crucial aspects of our lives as American citizens and people in general. SOPA and PIPA are extremely dangerous assaults on our freedom. They may simply seem like vague, poorly worded proposals, but it would be naive to believe that some of these scary side-effects that have gotten everyone (including myself) protesting were unintended. While our elected officials and representatives may not always be the picture of intelligence or common sense, they are not ignorant of the ramifications this legislation would have. I have a hard time buying the notion that they "just don't understand the internet well enough to know the damage this would actually do."

    So yesterday this web address was "blocked out", if you didn't happen to stop by and see it for yourself. Instead of this lovely new blog design you see now, there was simply an invitation to join the, hopefully, millions of us in this protest/petition/message to whoever will listen. But, though the "black out day" is over it is not to late to get informed and involved. For starters check out this quick, to-the-point video:

   After that, I would think that the best action would be to contact your congressman to have your opinion heard. As loudly as possible. From there any online petitions you want to join in on are gravy.


   That was yesterday. The day before it was much less politically charged in our household. It snowed. And for the first time ever we were prepared with Bastian-sized snowpants and boots... so how could we not take to the back yard to watch our little guy enjoy yet another totally new experience. And he braved the cold like a champ! Both Daddy and I were shivering our butts off waiting for him to give any sign that the novelty was wearing off, even just slightly, so we could retreat to the warmth of the indoors... but, rosy-cheeks be damned he was just not ready yet. So we followed him around until eventually a mitten fell off and  the cold sting of the snow was made known to his tiny hand. It was the only moment during the whole encounter where his smile dimmed for a moment and a barely audible whimper left his lips. We took the cue and ran inside where he proved that opening every drawer in the kitchen (and emptying their contents onto the floor) is just as fun when fully decked out in your snow gear.

   Days like those are the reason why I spend others studying, growing and sometimes even protesting so that I can do my part to keep these freedoms we have left for my son to experience with his kids when that time comes. I need to know that I did everything I could, and though I often fall short I will never stop trying.... so that in the future the only silence the snow brings with it is the peaceful kind.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Somebody That I Never Knew

   I, along with what seems like the entirety of the internet, 'discovered' a song the other day called "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye. I was, and still am, mesmerized by it. It articulated something that I think a large majority of people experience at one point or another in their quest to find a suitable life-partner/spouse/companion/what-have-you. So, yes, I related. But it took me roughly 27 times through to realize something. Something I will come back to shortly.

   The song together with the video perfectly illustrates that kind of lingering pain. The hurt that sticks around after those relationships that were just all wrong. Intense despite, or maybe because of, their inevitable demise. It doesn't matter how much time has passed. The sting is tangible. Especially upon discovering bold, honest, brave music such as this that points so ferociously to that experience. That time. That hurt.

   I personally feel that these relationships are an example of a different kind of love. It is love. It fully is being in love. But not the in love talked about in romance books and movies. Not unrequited love. Not even tragic love. Something different, but still real. Something that never goes away. Something that while burning and at times passionate is the antithesis of romantic love. Companionship, yes, but in the loneliest most isolating of ways. Especially once it "ends".

   So here it is: I had one. One of those relationships. Plain and simple right? But truth is that it still haunts me, much as I hate to admit it. In fact, I never really have. At least not publicly. I've been scared of the implications to be quite honest. Scared it would put unsettling thoughts into the minds of the people I care about the most.

   I also feared it would more so be an admission of weakness. Frailty. Maybe even immaturity. Proof that I was still hung up... but when I saw this video I sensed nothing but strength in his pain-filled facial expressions. Bravery. Groundedness.  It reminded me of something unrelated, yet somehow so very much the same. A moment in my past when brash unabashed vulnerability made me feel stronger than anything else could have in that second. It was after a different break up, at a time when I was indulging my need to vent about my hurt over the situation... at lunch, in the extremely crowded cafeteria of my high school, at a table of my peers (in more ways than one but at the same time not at all). When it felt as is out of thin air the "ex" appeared hurling violent accusations about me "talking shit" and before I could catch myself I sputtered out "If by that you mean admitting that I'm hurt and that I miss you? Then, ya! I was." ...Or something less articulate but along the same lines. I recoiled instantly from my own words waiting for the other shoe to drop. For laughing or yelling or some other form of humiliation as punishment for my discretion. My admission that I did in fact care. How dare I? But all I got was a dumbfounded look and a sense that defenses had been dropped involuntarily due to what I had said. The moment was over as quickly as it had started and I was shocked at how good it wound up feeling.

   So here I am admitting that I still get that sad, desperate, lonely feeling whenever you cross my mind. A gross, unwelcome pit in my stomach. Not because I still love you, but because you didn't love me... and I fully believed that you did. And I really don't care anymore if that admission gets used as fuel against me. Because it has needed to be said for years.

   For me.

   I'm saying this now, to prove to myself that it is more than just okay to be vulnerable. It's a necessary piece to the puzzle. It is an aspect of strength. The aspect I often forget to develop in my endeavors of self improvement.

   It is usually the things that hurt most to write, that are worth reading....

   Am I sure that publishing this will have the desired effect? Not at all. I don't know if it's too far or just far enough. I don't know whether I will feel I have gained strength or lost ground. Will I feel embarrassed in "being found out"? Probably not as embarrassed as I was internally all this time I spent caring when I shouldn't have. But who knows? This could wind up being worse. But at least I will have finally spoken my peace. Who knows, maybe I will finally stop caring. Because what I didn't have then is of little importance compared to what I do have now. The right kind of love.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Lucky Day

   It may be completely idiotic and ridiculous but I love things like Friday the 13th. Not because I believe they have any power but because they are evidence instead that our beliefs about things do. In the past I have both expected bad things to happen on this unluckiest of days, and expected it to be a fun day full of a silly, fun kind of spookiness. It is no secret that I am attracted to things that are creepy. I like to be scared. Not grossed out, disgusted or full-on disturbed though... there is a difference as I have written a bit about in the past here and there. But that is a topic all it's own that I'm sure I will get in to again in the future. For now? I'm pretty happy it's both a Friday and the 13th of the month. I've found that when I go into the day a) aware of what day it is and b) expecting it to be the fun semi-lighthearted form of "scary" that I love so much, it always turns out to be just that.

   In my high school days I would wake up early to do my makeup extra "gothy" and would drape some black lace over my usual garb and pretty much pretend that I was a part of the mysterious power people claimed it had, rather than have the power work against me. It wasn't unlike my naive belief during those days that I was more scary/dangerous/hardcore/etc than any force that could stand against me. "Don't walk in dark alleys in the middle of the night? At age 14? By myself? In a short skirt? Psshh. Any attacker would run and hide the moment they realized who they were dealing with! I got this."

   Now-a-days I'm not so fixated on being a part of the negative associated with the day. I much prefer to use the occasion to marvel at the power of expectation. Positive or negative. How we really do get what we think about the most. Think about the things that could go wrong, or even that something entirely unknown will pop up and ruin your day... better bet that is exactly what's going to happen. Expect to indulge your creepy tendencies a bit and have fun doing so, then you're in for a good day.

   How any of this explains the one year I was completely oblivious to the fact that it was Friday the 13th and every other thing seemed to go wrong... well, it doesn't. But today? Today is a good day for me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Winter Wonderland DIY Tutorial (Paper Mache)

   This Christmas I decided, only a few short weeks in advance that it would be a good occasion to try my hand at an art form I have always admired. Paper mache sculptures. I have long held a liking for those creepy vintage looking Halloween characters they always feature in magazines like Country Living and whatnot. They are perfectly eerie and whimsical... so how could Christmas figures created in like spirit not be downright cool? 

   Well, cool they did indeed turn out. At least in the reviews given by the people they were gifted to... and honestly in my own opinion as well. But, as with seemingly all new crafting endevours they turned out to be more than I bargained for in the actual making. The recipe for the paper mache clay I used can be found here. The only thing that I would note is pay close attention to the section on differences in toilet paper brands and how that affects the proportions of the recipe. My super cheapo paper roll wound up requiring that I double the recipe entirely.

   Here's the basics of what you need (I intentionally omitted the Linseed oil)

   Also note that while the recipe states that it takes 5 minutes to make, I did not find this to be true. Unrolling the toilet paper itself took longer than that. It may be that I had to double the recipe due to the amount of pulp the paper created, or that I work slow my first time doing anything I'm entirely new to, but I would guesstimate that in all creating the clay took around 30 minutes.

I had a LOT more clay than I wound up needing.

   As for making the sculptures themselves the clay was very easy to work with aside from being somewhat sticky and if used without gloves very drying to the skin. I did not use a frame of any kind, and while this clay is really geared more towards larger projects that are hollow like traditional paper mache sculptures, I found that they still dried in a reasonable amount of time and were very sturdy. The first two snowmen I put together I rolled up like a real life snowmen and stacked them. This resulted in me having to glue the head and body sections together after the fact. It was easily remedied moving forward by using a toothpick to texturize both pieces where they would be joined together and then blending the clay around the joint together until it became more of a smooth indentation all the way around versus two separate balls stacked one on top of the other. I repeated that process with all appendages such as noses, arms, hats, scarves and for one lucky guy a neck tie!

   It was helpful to cover my entire work surface in saran wrap and to have a shallow container of water (for wetting gloves, etc), a stash of toothpicks, gloves and paper towels within arms reach. You will notice in the process of molding your sculpture that the only way to get a reasonable usage out of your gloves and toothpicks before needing to discard them due to hardened clay particles stuck to them is to dip them in the water frequently, dry with paper towel to remove as much of what was loosened in that process as possible then re-wet them slightly to prevent new build up. It's an uphill battle and eventually you will need to replace both, which is why it's important to have extras nearby.

   I of course waited too long to get started and didn't leave multiple days for drying (it takes about 2 without intervention) so I took a chance and stuck them in the oven at 200° F for roughly 45 minutes. This dried them enough to paint. It took another day or two for the inside to dry entirely, but they were still surprisingly durable despite a doughy core. For paint I just used basic inexpensive craft store paints and some cheap paint brushes. The paint applied extremely easily and dried really fast on the paper mache surface. I started with white all over and came back an hour later to finish up the rest with no problems.

   So there you have it, miniature snowmen in all their glory. I will be playing around with this medium in the future to see what kind of creatures I can create with it. All in all it was a very pleasurable worthwhile experience, short self-imposed deadlines aside.

Supplies bought at Menards and JoAnn Fabrics

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Schizophrenic Style: Circus Chic

   I tend draw my wardrobe inspirations from a wide array of different subcultures and time eras, many of which don't mix well with each other... but it doesn't stop me from trying. This look, to me anyway, evokes thoughts of circuses, pirates and something else I can't quite put my finger on. 

   This is why I will likely never have a "signature look". There is far too much good stuff out there to choose from. I'd rather decide for certain what I am not than narrow my options so much as to choose a confining definition of what I am

   I remember being faced with a choice I thought was obvious when taking a photography class during my short stint at community college. A series of self portraits or the opposite... I wanted to choose the "anti" portraits because it seemed far less cliche. But as I thought on it more and more, I realized that there were so many more things that I was than things that I was not. While it was easy to depict things that were decidedly not me, it was far more difficult to, in a series of 6 or 8 photographs (honestly can't remember) encompass all of the aspects of myself.

   As such, my wardrobe has become in these past few years my palette. My medium. My primary, or at times  (when I am brave enough with my writing) secondary source of self expression. And the self that I am expressing is incredibly diverse in interests, talents and inspirations. Staunchly grounded in my beliefs and core values, but entirely non-committal when it comes to aesthetics. 

It all comes down to roots and wings. My roots are the things for which I am firmly, and intentionally entrenched. Faith, family, freedom.... most of the rest is art to me. My wings. Open skies for exploring. Without the baseline that remains always in place the immensity of the sky would be overwhelming, scary... treacherous. Without the skies the ground might feel enslaving.... but I am blessed to have both.

Roots & Wings

Blouse - Forever21
Vest - Forever21
Jeans - Gap (thrifted)
Boots - DSW
Necklace - Hot Topic

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Day Above All Else

   In finishing up my rundown of our 2011 Christmas experience I am finding it hard to go slowly and methodically over my memories of the day in order to organize my thoughts as I normally do. Because, well, it was anything but a slow organized day. After a serene morning with just us three, we took a few minutes to relax, regroup and chug some coffee. Actually I drank the coffee. Then we got to work. Or Jason and I did. Bastian played with his new toys and took an early nap.

   This was our first year hosting and it had to be perfect. Because... that's just me. Hi! Hello, I am Mrs. "Bites-off-more-than-she-can-chew" and I always manage to chew it all even if I choke a little in the process.

   Yes. I am that one.

   So, now that we've established that I'm crazy it only makes sense that while I thought I was more prepared going into this holiday than any one ever before it (and I was) I still had a ton my plate. A lot of which kept me away from the merriment taking place in our living room while I cooked and cleaned and all of that good stuff. BUT I did get to spend time with my parents, sister and my in-laws at the same time instead of driving around from place to place, happy to see the people we hadn't yet but sad to leave the ones we were with. Trying to wrestle a toddler (holy cow... he's officially a toddler now. Wha??) in and out of his cold weather gear with new toys in hand. And leftovers. There are always LOTS of leftovers. This year was no exception... but they did not need to be transported far. From the counter to the fridge. And we got to send some home with other people instead of the other way around! It fact I was slightly tyrannical about it. It was magnificent!

These labels were too funny to not use! Cranberry Juice, Squirt and the Rum leftover after my cupcake making!

   As far as the non-leftover food, while time consuming by the very nature of serving a large meal for 9.5 people (all items of which need be warm together at the same time for maximum enjoyment), it turned out well and I think it's safe to say was an overall success. Rolls were a tad burnt but as far as I am aware they were the only casualty out of a wide offering. So... yes, worth it.

    We exchanged gifts, merged traditions, took turns coaxing Bastian away from his already opened toys to open the plethora of still perfectly packaged ones and I tried unsuccessfully to restrain myself from holing up in anther room to play around with my new mini hoops. I am completely obsessed. We ate too many appetizers, too many helpings of dinner and then eggnog cupcakes, gingerbread trifle and birthday cake to top it all off. Yes, birthday cake... my Dad was blessed/cursed with a Christmas birthday and so we switch gears after dinner and light as many candles as we can fit on a cake... or however many represent his current age, whichever comes first. (wink, wink. Love you Dad!).
Actually, for those of you that have been following along my weight loss/fitness journey I don't want to be misleading by saying I gorged myself all day with no repercussions. I ate what I wanted to (for the most part, skipped the rolls and butter) but in small portions. I even had some of each desert (cut in half)... and still lost over the holidays. It can be done!
   There were so many, handmade, sentimental gifts this year in addition to all of the other thoughtful presents picked out with the greatest of care. It was so incredibly heartwarming to watch both families together on such a special day, a new and growing unit. I thought I would miss some of what was lost in the starting of this new tradition but I didn't have time to mourn the shift... that was last year. This year was fresh and refreshing. It was new in every sense of the word. And I loved every minute of it. Even the ones where I was overwhelmed and a bit snippy. Even the ones where we were reminded that we celebrated as sinners not as victors over our shared fallen nature but as broken people with our own faults who have been given the greatest gift of all. A Savior.

   That really was the feeling that permeated our celebrations this year. Admittedly, not all of the days leading up to the holiday... but for those two days our hearts were in the rightest of places.

Now for the other 363 days of the year... 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Memories For You and Me...

   Christmas morning was filled with all kinds of sweetness this year. The kind that is hard to write about, just as the treasures experienced the evening before were. In fact the entire Christmas celebration, from begining to end was so different and new, and exciting... that I just don't know how to transfer that feeling in any available medium.

   I honestly feel as though any words I could potentially string together would only detract from the feeling that these pictures convey. They are the closest thing to the truth of the matter that I know of. So please, enjoy...

   Something about the morning felt almost private, and while I am a huge believer in vulnerable, brave, intimate writing... I do feel that some things, when written about, lose a little something in the process. There is value in keeping some things out of the public eye. Even more so the things that don't necessarily need to be hidden. Not skeletons or embarrassing secrets but sacred memories to be shared with those who were there alone, as they are the ones the experience was intended for.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What is In Must Come Out

   To start off the New Year right I have decided to share first a confession and then a resolution. The confession is really more of an admission of a long standing, personal, and somewhat painful insecurity I have been sheltering for some time now. In pretending that it didn't exist what I really succeeded in doing was fulfilling my own negative self image. Essentially nurturing my negative thinking, feeding it and allowing it to grow rather than bringing it to the surface and letting it shrivel in the harsh light of the sun...

   So here it is. I am... or was, in my own mind, and at times manifesting outwardly... an ankle-bitter. That desperate for friendship awkward girl who hovers around at the edge of the room waiting for an invitation to the conversation. To the inside.

   I have myself convinced that I am that one friend everyone seems to have, who on paper is perfect but in actuality is just... off. The one you get unjustifiably annoyed with. Then feel guilty about having those thoughts. The one you are nice to because you know that you really should be. That you force yourself to plaster on a smile for. But every time a call or text or comment appears your nostrils flare and you sigh uncontrollably. So I just don't. Most of the time anyway. And on the rare occasion that I do I tend to self sabotage, turning myself into that person by focusing so hard on not being her. Don't spill the milk, right?

   See! This notion has had a lot of time to develop into a full fledged delusion. Or reality. Honestly, I can't quite tell.

   The thing is that I don't know how to initiate friendships outside of circumstances that include forced interaction like school or work, where relationships sprout organically. That doesn't happen much for introverted stay-at-home-mom's who when given the choice would stay in and read a book over attending a social event.... but the lack of an  invitation still stings. To the core. It's a paradox of sorts. That I get overwhelmed by too much interaction and experience sometimes extreme anxiety over the prospect of reaching out in social situations, but at the same time I absolutely thrive on conversation and connection with other human beings. Particularly ones at least somewhat close in age. (read: babies are fun but the conversational depth is lacking) But my peers are the ones I struggle with connecting to the most. Throughout my life I have always conversed far more easily with those a generation or more my senior. While it has been a great blessing I would like to build some real, honest friendships with people in similar stages in their lives. Hence my resolution. To reach out. To overcome my fear through action. And ultimately, to make some freaking friends. It's about time.

   I have begun already, and already I have experienced some negative setbacks. But! I was vulnerable. I reached out, extended the offer of friendship despite that nagging voice in my head and sinking feeling in my gut. As a result I was also able to purge some unrealistic expectations I had been harboring throughout these past few years and get that out of the way really early on in this "experiment". So in a way, while it was disheartening it was also a relief. A weird weight off my shoulders. A firm "no" where there used to be an uneasy question mark floating around in the back of my mind. On top of that I surprised myself and jumped back in immediately, I made a positive move towards initiating friendship with someone else. The very same day. When everything in me wanted to say "I'll start over tomorrow".

   And now it is tomorrow. Day three of a new year, and today? I have hope. Lots and lots of it.

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