Ignorance is a bully

I’m not sure how to classify the “clique” I was a part of in high school. My high school was small; many of the cliques sort of blended together. The stoners were also the jocks. The popular girls who dated the stoner-jocks weren’t cheerleaders but more stereo-typically athletic “jockettes”. There were the dropouts, who supplied the stoner-jocks. The smart kids were usually the same ones who played soccer, rather than football.
I floated between cliques a lot. I dated a jock once. I was friends with all the soccer guys. I was in all the advanced classes. One of my best friends was one of the artsy girls. I was nerdy, athletic, and nice to the kids most people ignored. I guess if it was a census, I would have checked the “Other” box.

But ultimately, I was never bullied and I never was the bully. There were a few guys who played football who probably were considered the “school bullies”. But I usually told them off and made them look stupid when I could. If I made fun of anyone, it was them.

Turns out, there are bullies in the real world and they’re so much worse.

Maybe “bully” is the wrong word. And maybe I’m a little slow because I only just now figured it out. But I am disappointed; I expected better of these people.

I expected better from those who live in urban or suburban areas, who have been exposed to greater diversity than I was. I expected them to be more open-minded and accepting. To give the new girl at the office a chance. To appreciate her prior experience and to use her failures and mistakes as teaching moments. Instead, at the first wrong word or minor error they immediately write her off. They judge her when she comes into work on her phone speaking Spanish and they assume she’s doing it to show off. (She’s from Colombia. You assume she talks to everyone in English? Or, maybe, just maybe, she speaks Spanish so fluently she doesn’t give any thought to what you would think about it.) These people, they rebel against any change in routine, any attempt to break the monotony. They “hate reading” or “don’t own books” or some other phrase I’ve always found ridiculous. They barely even read their emails, only skim. Any knowledge of the world outside their homes or cubicles they only know from the insanity that is TV News. If they do read anything, it’s only from one of those “happy news” websites because CNN makes them “sick” or “sad.” They don’t understand how pronouns work for those who don’t follow gender norms. They’ve always been comfortable. They’re still surprised by interracial marriages and they avoid talking about or reading about anything controversial.

Once upon a time, I was blatantly politically incorrect and I was proud of it. Even if it wasn’t out of hate for any particular group, I was just in a rebellious stage where I didn’t care what I said. Then I went to college and grew up and realized I was a feminist and that political correctness is real for a reason. I realized how uneducated and uncultured I was. I was humbled by it all. Stupidly, I made the assumption that any other college-educated adult went through this same humbling process. I was wrong. Every day I’m surrounded by these people, these closed-minded bullies who attack anything out of the ordinary like a bunch of antibodies on a virus. These are the same people who judged my solo adventures. The ones who try to turn “creative brainstorming time” into the least creative process.

Maybe they just make fun of everyone and everything and it’s all in good fun. Maybe I’m just becoming too sensitive and need to relax.

These people who decided I was worthy enough to be part of this in-crowd used to be the reason I loved my job. They’re fun-loving people. But now, I’m just growing to hate them (and my job) more and more every single day.


After living here for a year, I’m finally starting to explore my city. Since I’m not good at making friends, I’m just doing it solo. Why wait for someone to go with? I’m a perfectly capable adult who can totally do things on my own!

I’ve already mentioned my first solo bar trip, but before that I went to the art museum and wandered around that part of the city for awhile. It was a gorgeous day and everything about it was perfect. I didn’t even go through the entire museum because there was just too much to see! Last weekend, I went back to the art museum and tried to go see an exhibit but it was sold out, so I ended up at the local historical museum across the street. The city’s historical museum is also free, but not as cool as the art museum would have been. Still, I learned a couple of cool things about my city. Who knew there was a surprising amount of culture that came from – and was impacted by – this decaying mess!?

Now that I’ve done this a few times, going out on my own is not a big deal to me anymore. And why should it be anyway? I’m introverted, independent, and self-sufficient; thus, I’m more than okay doing a lot of things by myself. I probably wouldn’t go to, say, a sporting event by myself, but I’m cool with wandering around and doing things where I don’t need to talk to people anyway.

However, I made the mistake of mentioning my solo fun to my coworkers. Most of them are married. Or they’ve lived in the area their whole life, so all their friends are here. Or they have kids. Or the most excitement they get is refinancing their mortgage. Maybe all of the above. So when I said I went to the art museum by myself, some of them didn’t believe me. The rest make fun of me for it whenever possible.

Now, I’m not the sensitive type. I can take a joke. I’m usually “that girl” that is just the natural target for getting made fun of. And I welcome it; I always have a good comeback because that’s how I was raised. But their comments about me going to the museum by myself actually stung this time. In front of my coworkers, I laughed it off. In reality, I was angry at them! Who are they to tell me what’s strange? I’m single and alone up here – does that mean I have to stay home every weekend? Do I have to go out on stupid, awkward, uncomfortable dates just so I can leave my house? You with the kids – you don’t crave some alone time now and then? You with the husband – don’t you go shopping by yourself almost every day? You, that just bought a house – don’t you go to lunch by yourself at least once a week? How is this any different?

What I got from this experience is that there are socially acceptable solo activities, like grocery shopping, and there are socially unacceptable solo activities. Apparently fun things do not fit into that first list. I think that’s ridiculous. So while I’m still annoyed by their jests, I’m not going to stop doing these things. I’m just not going to tell them about it anymore. Which, given how prying and nosy these people can be, I shouldn’t tell them anything anyway.

If you were wondering what the downside to moving to a new city and living alone is? I wouldn’t say this is it. Go out, do things on your own. Just be prepared for people to question it. And ignore them. They wish they had the confidence to do the same.

And there goes another season

I was worried about this past season. I now realize I had no need to be, and I’m going to miss these boys.

At the start of the season I had 15 players. Now I have 15 more little brothers. I practiced patience, gained a stronger voice, and learned I have a sense of humor very similar to that of a 12-year-old boy.

No one made any comments about girls not being good at sports, or my ability to coach because I’m female. Many of them are following the world cup just as closely and I am. For all of this I am relieved, proud, and impressed with the future children of the universe.

Even the parents were amazing! I am incredibly grateful I had great players and great parents, and I’m going to miss the little boogers. I loved the girls I coached the season before, don’t get me wrong. But considering how worried I was, and considering how well the season went…I’m really sad to see them go. Having a full team like this is incredible, and seeing the leaps and bounds they all made was so rewarding.

Next week, however, I’m about to start a whole new kind of scary coaching situation.

I will be part of a group of coaches who will be teaching middle and high school girls about soccer. These girls come from foster homes, abusive homes, and drug-using homes. Some of them are victims of human trafficking. Some of them have mental health issues, some lack motor skills, and some are dealing with anger problems. This is something I truly feel ill-equipped for, to put it lightly. I have very limited experience with these issues; even less experience with how to coach someone with these types of issues. Like learning any new skill, soccer can be frustrating in the beginning. I’m barely able to deal with a frustrated 12-year-old, let alone a 16-year-old trafficking victim with a history of anger issues.

The good news is I have help. Both the counselors at the shelter and a few experienced soccer coaches will be at practices. So, I can’t cause too much damage.

I am unbelievably honored to be a part of this; I am honored to have a chance at improving someone’s quality of life, even in some small way. Letting someone know it’s ok to try something new, to be a part of a team, is a tough thing. Teaching someone that it’s okay to fail – especially when I’m still learning how to do that myself – is going to be a challenge.

This is a thing that scares me, and I’m just going to dive in head first. What other way is there?

First time for everything

I remember saying to my friends when we first graduated college, “Well, my dad made friends by just going to the same bar enough times, so…maybe that’s how adults make friends.”

Yet, it took me a year to go to a bar by myself.

Monday, the USWNT played their second round game against Colombia. I found out that the limited cable I have didnt have the channel the game was on, so I texted the few people I knew in the area, with no luck. I really wanted to see the game, so I decided to go to a bar, by myself, to watch it.

Honestly, it was sort of great.

I did text a lot of people during this process. Both for typical important game reasons –  OMG did you see that penalty? what BS! – but also to feel less alone. But once I got there, I wanted them to stop texting me. The game was exciting, the bartender was friendly… I didn’t need these remote access friends. While I didn’t meet anyone new, the atmosphere and people watching were enough to keep me company. I even tried 3 new beers! And they were all great!

Yeah, it was uncomfortable at first. and yes, this experience was helped by a good bar with a good bartender and an excellent beer selection. But either way, I highly recommend.

It’s About Time

I did it. I finally did it! After saying I wanted it, needed it, and absolutely had to have it for almost a year – I finally did it!

I got a dog.

The backstory isn’t important, I feel like most could understand my reasons without explanation. I grew up with dogs, I love dogs, this is my first time truly living alone and having a dog would solve all my problems, etc…

It also isn’t important that you know how much my parents and grandparents were against the idea, or how disappointed my mom is that she gets a grand-dog before a grandbaby. It isn’t important that you understand how much I hate cleaning but also hate having hair everywhere, or how truly tiny my apartment is.

What is important to understand is how terrified I am. How much I’m second guessing myself any time there’s a small setback in the adoption process. (Because yes, there is quite a process – references, home visits, etc. More on that later). When I thought I was going to be able to bring him home, I was pacing the floor waiting for the adoption volunteer to show up. When she shows up with no dog, I almost cried. I don’t cry and I’m not used to all of these emotions! When the volunteer left I tried to see my apartment through her eyes. I’ve been cleaning and rearranging for days; I’m basically nesting! But when I looked at my apartment for what it was – not for the improvements I’ve made – I had to wonder if it was still too small, if it was really the best place for any pet, let alone this energetic canine I’ve already started to get attached to.

It’s also important to understand that I’m doing this in spite of (and because of) how much it terrifies me. I haven’t done anything truly scary in over a year and I’m starting to feel the effects. I’m at my best when I’m being challenged, when I have a million things to do and I have to figure out how to do it all, when I’m forced to tackle something I’ve never done before. With empty space and time to kill, I get complacent and lazy and bored and stupid. But with something to take care of I can be busy and loving and active and awesome.

So, I finally did it. I got a dog.

Consistency, not Commitment.

it’s great seeing your name on my screen

One fucking text, and I fall apart all over.

Long story short, I needed someone to go with me to this thing, sort of last minute. So I’m texting all my usual people in the area, then I start texting boys I haven’t talked to in months just on a long shot, hoping they’re free. Boys that I liked, it just didn’t work out or whatever. Then I decide to text Remy, assuming he won’t answer me. He decides to respond, though. He can’t go, but ends his rejection with:

it’s great seeing your name on my screen.

Well then maybe you shouldn’t have disappeared, asshat!

Unfortunately, sometimes I still miss him. Remy and I weren’t technically dating, we only saw each other for a few months… but he was this magical, fleeting, shooting star and I just wish I had him around to bounce ideas off of every once in awhile.

What is it with these shooting stars? The boys that can still tug at me like no one else after months, years even, are the ones who weren’t around very long. Everything with them heated up quickly – the star burned hot and bright – and then before I knew it they were gone. Before I could even make a wish, they had disappeared.

Back in middle or high school, I used to tell people who were desperate for a boyfriend that if they stopped looking, good things would find them. Back then I think I was starting to realize the concept of: “maybe don’t be so desperate and boys will find you more attractive,” or, “confidence is sexy – act like you don’t give a fuck!”

Maybe it’s time I take my own advice. Not that I was desperately trying before, but I’ve decided I’m done with the internet dating thing.

I want to meet someone in a coffee shop one day, or accidentally run into someone when I’m out exploring my city. As a writer, I have this need for a good ‘how we met’ story. Something – anything – other than, “well, we both swiped right….”

I want a shooting star, but they’re all afraid of commitment. I get that, because I am too. Yet the ones ready to commit, the steady North Stars, can draw me in and keep me there for months before I realize what’s happened. I end up following along, heading in the same direction towards something I don’t even want. I fall into a rhythm and I don’t even realize I’m unhappy until I realize I’ve been unhappy for awhile.

What I need isn’t commitment. I don’t need to get married or move in with anyone. I just want… consistency. I want a more consistent shooting star. Someone to hang out with, that likes some of the same things I do. Someone who is crazy about me and can make me giggle like a child.

Maybe I need to shoot for the moon instead of another star. Ever-changing yet constant. The biggest, the brightest. Or even the sun – I spend enough time in darkness, I need someone who can bring me out of it. Someone who brings out the poet, the writer in me – but without the disappearing act.

But I’m no astronomer nor astronaut, and I’m done becoming undone over one silly text. The sun can come find me for all I care.

Feminism in Limbo: Cathy Jo

My maternal grandmother isn’t the sweet, cookie-baking, hugs-and-kisses kind of grandma. She is the opposite of subtle and expects only the best from her children and grandchildren. She’s also intimidating – not only is she confrontational but at nearly 5’11” she’s quite physically imposing. She’s taller than many men, especially those in my family.

She became a mother right around the time she graduated high school, yet continued her education. She eventually earned her PhD; in the 1970s for a female that’s its own kind of impressive. Hearing her talk about her education and her career path and how she did it all while raising kids and making a marriage work is astounding. Shortly after she gained her PhD, she had an incredible job with (at the time, very new) AT&T, and she was a huge part of AT&T’s growth in the 80s and 90s.

As a female, she’s an incredible role model. As her granddaughter, she drives me insane.

2015-01-31 10.09.04

Not only is she a force to be reckoned with all her own, but she has an entirely different view of sexism. If anything, she thinks men are incompetent and shouldn’t be employed in certain jobs. While boys are her favorite – her son, her grandson – I think it’s more that she thinks the male ego is fragile and needs to be tended to, while women and girls need to be pushed to reach their full potential.

She’s a teacher now, and I think she honestly believes male teachers just aren’t as good as female teachers. They have no patience, she says, or they just don’t communicate well.

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Like I said, she isn’t the typical grandma. Compliments from her are rare, and if I get one from her it means it was well-deserved; no fluff or ego-boost from this grandma. The last compliment I remember getting from her wasn’t exactly eloquent, but it summed up everything I had been feeling in the months after I graduated:

You’re lucky you know. I mean, you aren’t lucky. You are who you are and that’s allowed you to have a job when other kids don’t. But that’s not luck, you worked for that and you worked hard. Luck really has nothing to do with it. But still, it all paid off and well… you are who you are.

This may not seem like much, but she was the first person who told me I’m not lucky with this job. She realizes it was working three jobs in college, and taking internships for less money than I would waiting tables because waiting tables wouldn’t get my foot in the door of the places I wanted to be when I graduated. She realized none of it was lucky. And while I don’t get offended when people tell me “Oh wow you’re so lucky to have a job, good for you!” it’s still nice to know there are people who realize it isn’t entirely about luck. There is some degree of right-place-right-time, I get that. But when you walk into an interview, they don’t just tell you to flip a coin and see what happens. You have to earn it.

A few years before I was born, my grandma was on the other side of the country when she discovered she would have to figure out how to raise 3 children on her own after becoming a widow far too young.

I think there used to be this version of her, before she became a widow. A version of her I’ve never met. Everyone who knew her said she just shut down after my grandfather died. Yet, no one can tell me what she was like before he died. I can’t picture her as anything but calculating and career-focused. I don’t know if she was the adventurous “try everything once” type of person or the more reserved, “better safe than sorry” kind of person when she was younger.

The only thing I do know is that, like a few other people I’ve met, she’s the type of person who tends to prove her love financially. I believe there’s nothing wrong with this – some people just aren’t emotional, and everyone needs some financial love every now and then, right? Because of her incredible career and her way of showing financial affection, she’s been able to give my brothers and I things that maybe my parents couldn’t.

I just wonder if there was a version of her that loved, once.

If there was, then it means maybe there is just one person out there for all of us. For her, that person was my grandfather and when he died part of her died too.

When I started, I thought this post was going to be about how she was a great career role model for me. But instead, maybe this semi-cold, pushy, insane woman taught me more about love than any fucked up romantic comedy.


Today, I “celebrate” one year at my first job out of college. One year with the same company, one year of doing the same job all year long.

There’s no movement in real life. Moving forward is so much harder. Time moves differently here.

Are people excited about these milestones? One year seems like nothing, and yet it’s everything. I’ve been in a relationship with the same person for four years, I played competitive soccer for 15 years, I was in school for 17 years. I’ve done things for longer amounts of time, but I was always moving towards something. I feel like that’s stopped. And it only took a year.

Maybe it’s school. I don’t learn like I used to. I feel like I get dumber all the time, every day. Maybe I do.

I did the things everyone tells you you’re supposed to do. I graduated, went to college, graduated again, and got a job. But now what? I’m not ready for the married life and motherhood, so what do other people do once they get to this place? Wait for a promotion five years from now? Wait to retire? Wait to die?

How do I figure out where I need to be? This isn’t my dream job, but I don’t know what is. I don’t know how to find it. Is it even worth it; does such a thing exist? Are there people out there who do genuinely love what they do? Or does everyone just deal with it?

For a brief moment when I graduated high school I thought I was willing to make almost no money and be a writer. Because “if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life,” and after having had over 5 different jobs by the time I graduated, I was sort of looking forward to the possibility of a life without work. I wish I had kept writing. Maybe not made it a career, but found a way to make it a bigger part of my life, job, and daily habits.

It’s not that I hate this company – I’m actually very fortunate to work here – and leaving my coworkers would be hard, but I’m just not used to this stagnation that I’ve been in, and I’m not sure how to fix it.

But, a milestone is a milestone. I did it. I’ve proven I can live on my own, hold a job, and manage my finances enough to slowly start paying back my student debt. I’m just not excited about any of it.

The Day the Dogs Died by Bree Barton

Cease, Cows

We probably deserved it. For years we grabbed them by the scruffs of their necks, snapped at them for scraping chicken bones off the asphalt with their tongues. We hated bathing them, hated their wet-rug stench, hated chasing tumbleweeds of fur from corner to corner of our houses.

Of course there were certain things we liked. The ever-present warmth at our feet, the tick-tick-tick of little nails on hardwood. We admired the surgical efficiency with which they removed the stuffing from a chew toy or made a rawhide blossom on the kitchen floor. We reveled in the pleasure of being needed, puffed ourselves up on the luxury of being loved.

Buddha dog “Buddha dog” (image via Flickr user SuperFantastic)

And oh, the sounds. What sounds they made! Great tectonic symphonies of bays and howls and whimpers, balloons deflating, whales dying, humans making love. So much like hungry infants that we devised a…

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The Casual Whatever.

The Adjacent Girl

It wasn’t until recently that I experienced needing to remain friends with someone after a casual hookup or two. Aside from my ex-boyfriend, every person I have had sex with, I never needed to continue seeing in my day to day life.

This past November, I rekindled a friendship with a classmate of mine from high school during our reunion. A few weeks following the reunion, she invited me to an ugly sweater party, where beforehand she told me she wanted me to hit it off with her roommate. At first, I was against it. I was not really into the whole matchmaking idea. Somehow at the party, we ended up together, and I hooked up with him anyway.

I don’t think either of us realized I was going to become a prevalent part in my friend’s life, and that she and I would hit it off as well as…

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