in recent years

   

   

shit week survival kit: ten ways to help you make it through

Work has been intensely frustrating this week, largely due to pervasive bad attitudes, and my at-home rhythm has been completely stunted in increasingly stupid ways, so I am feeling pretty tired and overwhelmed and cranky as hell and that’s terrible! So, just in case you’re having one of those weeks too, here are some of the things you can do to make it through a crappy week. I have personally done all of these things with varying levels of success, so there’s some anecdotal evidence supporting these.

TEN WAYS TO HELP YOU MAKE IT THROUGH

1. Be nice to someone else! Find somebody, tell them something nice. Tell a stranger you like her shoes. Buy your significant other a small gift just because. Call your mom and thank her for doing a good job raising you. It’s always easier to be kind to yourself after you’ve been kind to someone else.

2. Write a letter to your past self! Did you make a lot of dumb decisions when you were young? Did your life turn out okay anyway? Write a letter to your idiot younger self and assure them that things will turn out okay, even if they seem life-ending in the moment. This is super good therapy and can help you let go of incidents from your past that you don’t even realize you’re hanging on to.

3. Go out to eat by yourself! Even if it’s just your favorite fast food place, take yourself out and eat a meal you like. Read a book or journal while you eat, if you feel weird sitting by yourself. Eat slowly, focus on your food, and really try to enjoy eating as an experience instead of eating to survive.

4. Ignore your phone for an hour! I don’t believe the machine that says that social media and FOMO is going to kill us all, mostly because I’ve been on the internet since I was ten and I’m FINE, but I have personally found that disconnecting from everything for a little bit can be a powerful way to reconnect with your own brain. Even if you spend that hour reading or watching a TV show, if you’re not also checking your phone, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy the experience more. Don’t you feel super good when you leave the movie theater after watching something uninterrupted? Do it at home!

5. Take a nap! I honestly cannot hype naps enough, especially in winter. I prefer to nap in bed, but the most important element is being exactly as cozy as possible. I especially like when I can get curled up in the perfect temperature and position and drift hazily to sleep while watching Friends on Netflix or YouTube beauty tutorials. The “If all else fails, take a nap and try again” portion of all my internet bios is NO JOKE.

6. Send a card or letter to someone just to say hi! I LOVE sending and receiving cards and letters and postcards and packages because mail is GREAT. And I know that other people like getting stuff in the mail too. So send some mail! Say hi to someone you don’t talk to all the time and let them know you were thinking of them.

7. Take a totally unnecessary bath or shower. Play music, use fancy bath stuff, take your time, and enjoy the warmth and solitude. I don’t have a bath (which I yell about regularly because I NEED A DAMN BATH) and I generally hate showering, but if I can get in and stand under the warm water for a while instead of rushing to clean myself, it definitely makes me a happier and more pleasant person. I still highly recommend cinematic showering too, if you’re really feeling it.

8. Write a list of ten things you like about yourself! Even if they’re totally arbitrary things like “I’m wearing a really cute sweater today,” they’ll make you feel better about yourself which you deserve because you are totally awesome.

9. Make a list of all the things that are upsetting you. This should be a long list with lots and lots of detail. When you’re done, either file it away somewhere you won’t find it for a while or destroy it. It’s kind of hokey to be like, “Getting your feelings out will free you,” but to be honest, it usually does. Some people like to read these things over and see how nothing they’re mad about is actually that big of a deal, but that’s garbage for me. I just like to get it all out and get rid of it.

10. Cry. The best thing about crying is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. I’ve cried in public, at my desk, at Disneyland, in hotel rooms, I’ve cried in the bathroom of every workplace I’ve ever had, every state I’ve ever visited, and there’s a good chance that if I’ve been in your home, I’ve cried there. Cry while listening to music! Cry while watching your favorite sad movie! Hell, you can cry while doing all other nine things on this list! When nothing else is working, crying can shake the shitty feelings right out of you.

Above all, remember that you are a wonderful, unique, worthy person and that you’re awesome and deserve to not be miserable!

a thirtieth birthday

I turn thirty on the 26th of this month. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to be traumatized by turning thirty or if I’m going to take it in stride and be chill about being an unsuccessful but surviving adult, still living in their parents’ basement. Who knows? This next 24 days are going to be a real adventure.

Most of my freakouts have been not age related, but milestone related. I freaked out about going to middle school. I freaked out about going to high school. I freaked out about going to college and graduating college and going to grad school and graduating grad school and moving cross-country and moving back and moving cross-country again.

But the birthdays? Nah. I like birthdays. I remember ten being a big deal — double digits! — and thirteen! And I failed my driver’s test on my sixteenth birthday, so that one was pretty garbage-y, but otherwise I’ve been okay so far. Birthdays are happy, celebratory. I spend the entire month of my birth making myself the center of everyone’s attention and because I am just that annoying and because the people around me are just that amazing, they not only tolerate it, but encourage and participate in it.

I feel old all the time. I feel old when I realize how young other adults are. I feel old when I realize — with a suddenness that should be impossible at this point — that I will not publish my first book before I am 25*. I feel old when I see Taylor Swift. I feel old when my bones ache — which is sometimes daily — and I feel old when I hear a song I loved as a kid played on an “oldies” station. I feel old when I don’t like something intended for youths and old when I do. I feel old when I wake up with a headache or when I decide not to have a drink because being buzzed sounds exhausting. I feel old constantly, but I have always, since I was a kid, and it has never had anything to with the numerical value of my age.

I am old. I have always been old. I am perhaps slightly less old now, at thirty, than I was at 25, and most definitely than I was at sixteen. I will likely always be old.

But for me, old is just the way to be and the way I have been has worked out pretty well for me. So bring it, thirty, I’m waiting.

*And now not before thirty. What a failure.

PS: My RSS feed was/possibly is broken, so it is likely you aren’t even seeing this post! I have removed the Totally Top Five 2K14 Giveaway since it wasn’t hitting readers, but I will get it up again this week and give you guys plenty of time to win some Amazon gift cards! I will eventually spend a weekend moving away from my current theme since it is kind of infuriating, but for now we shall persevere.

this mutation

There are maybe three phone calls that you’d really describe as the worst in your life: the person you love most in the world has been killed or severely injured, your beloved pet has been killed or severely injured, your doctor has test results and they’re not good.

I got the third — for which I’m grateful, to be honest, the other two are worse — and it was the worst phone call of my life after the worst, most anxiety-riddled three weeks of my life.

My girlfriend took the call for me — the saint she is, appeasing my anxiety at the cost of her own, always — so I can’t recount it in perfect detail but the gist was, “You have cancer. We thought it might be a worse, more rare cancer, so we had to send all your bits and pieces away to be double-checked which is why it’s been three weeks, but no, you’ve just got the regular ol’ garden variety of endometrial cancer.”

Cancer is not a fun word, it’s not a kind word. It sounds ugly and feels wet and clunky and hiss-filled in the mouth. It effortlessly terrifies everyone who speaks English, makes them simultaneously recoil and lurch toward you in apology and pity.

I am 28 years old and I have endometrial cancer.

I have cancer. This is what I say to myself every morning upon waking and every night as I try to fall asleep. It’s a constant, gently barbing hum at the back of my throat any time my mind quiets. Sometimes, like the evening that followed the worst phone call of my life, it isn’t quiet. I say it aloud because if I don’t remind myself that it is real, I cannot cope. I fear I will forget and my life will return to normal without me realizing and it will come again and strip it away from me again, fresh and brutal.

I have cancer.

Sometimes it comes out like a cough, sudden and jarring, scratching at my throat. My eyes water and sting, but it passes quickly — a swallow of water down the wrong pipe — and everything’s okay again.

The night I learned he results of my labs, I looked in the bathroom mirror and fluffed my hair and stroked the skin under my eyes because I still haven’t found an eye cream I want to buy. (I’m almost 30 and I live in a place where the temperature is regularly 20 below, hydration is a priority.) I looked into a face that has cleared up tremendously in the last few weeks because of a drastic change in diet and exercise, my color finally returning to me after months of severe blood loss that necessitated two separate blood transfusions and a total of nine pints of strange blood commingling with my own. I looked in the mirror and I smiled and I said, “I have cancer and I have never looked more beautiful.”

My narcissism truly knows no bounds.

“I am reading Gone Girl on my Kindle and I have cancer.”

“I am shopping for a desk lamp at Target while having cancer.”

“I have cancer and I am moisturizing my face.” “I have cancer and I’m deep conditioning my hair.” “I’m cleaning the bathroom and I have cancer.”

It’s a refrain to center my reality. For now, this thing inside of me, this vicious brutality of mutation is part of me and I must learn it, acknowledge it, accept it.

Cancer will — hopefully, prayerfully, “Please, oh please”-fully — not always be my reality, the center of my every breath, but for now it is.

I have cancer.

I have cancer and with luck, it’ll all be fine.

I am Ash, I have cancer, and I’m doing okay, really.

an overlong ode to disneyland

I am missing Disneyland today.*

22609 -- disneyland resort

Well, to be fair, I am never not missing Disneyland, but today is wielding a particularly powerful ache for it around my ribs. Sort of haunting and cold and sad.

This is partially because I spent a couple of hours last night reading posts about Disney projects that never came to fruition in their original forms — Port Disney, WESTCOT Center, Disney’s America, and The SS Disney — and partially because I am just a person who is subject to flights of whimsy, nostalgia, and misery.


» more: an overlong ode to disneyland

goodbye momma, goodbye poppa

So. My parents move to North Dakota on Saturday morning.

Wait. Go up there, back to the beginning, and read that again, please. And again. And again. And again. And again. And over and over again until it’s the only thing you can hear inside your head or feel under your skin or understand. Read it until it’s ringing around in your bones like a tiny forgotten windchime hanging in the breezeway of a house where no one has lived for a long time. And then maybe you’ll understand, like, a tenth of what I’m feeling over here in my real life.

Isn’t that ridiculous? Isn’t that the most intense/tragic/pathetic thing you’ve EVER read regarding someone’s totally alive and healthy and communicative and loving parents? It’s SO ridiculous. But that doesn’t make it not true! ALL THIS SADNESS IS DOWN INSIDE MY BONE MARROW.

» more: goodbye momma, goodbye poppa