in recent years

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glasses raised, we all say cheers

The new year can be a hard time for people, a lot of people, myself included. There’s pressure to renew and to change and to feel suddenly refreshed, to be a blank slate because the new year has come. But even more so it’s because we live in a world steeped in diet culture, in fatphobia, in orthorexia and impossible beauty standards and so there is immense pressure to make this the year you finally become the person you are told you should be. It’s exhausting and it’s stupid and you shouldn’t do it to yourself.

You were great last year and you’re going to be great in the next.

And if there ARE things that you want to change about your life, don’t let the pressure of the new year shape your goals.

Years are arbitrary! Months are made up! Time is fake!

Change or adjust or do things on whatever time feels right to you.

I have fallen prey to the new year a lot in my life, sometimes the new month, often even just the new week. It’s always a chance for a ~FRESH START~, right? Always a new chance to erase your mistakes and start over. But in 2018 I tried to remember that each mistake makes me better and my history is too valuable to be erased. I have woken up today; I couldn’t have without yesterday. I’ll keep trying to remember that.

Regardless, I think resolutions are ultimately mostly okay, if we can divorce them from the social standards and pressures and really think about them in terms of our own ~growth.

In 2019 I’d like to read more (30 books!) and write more (every day!) and watch and listen to new things. I’d like to keep journaling and use my planner more efficiently and reach out to friends more often than I do.

But most of all, I am going to try to focus on my ~word for the year, like I did in 2018.

2018’s word was unclench, which I tried to interpret in all the ways I could: physically and mentally and socially. To calm down and relax and release. It went alright. I definitely got better at noticing how physically tense I was and eventually getting better at releasing that tension. I got pretty okay at letting go of petty grievances and I made a valiant if minuscule effort toward unleashing myself on other people when the opportunity arose. Mild successes that I will gladly celebrate.

2019’s word is fortify.

While journaling and trying to listen to myself in 2018, I realized that I have felt desperately diminished in recent years, as though my personality has faded and shriveled, starved out because we live such an isolated life here. So this year I’d like to fortify myself, to shake out the husk of my once bombastic personality and try to figure out what that person looks like here and now when I stop unintentionally reining her in.

I want to fortify my mental health with journaling and meditation and the organization tools that keep me calm. I want to fortify my relationships by reaching out more often, regardless of the response, and getting back in to sending cards and letters. And I want fortify my cultural knowledge with new media, books and tv and movies and music.

I want to strengthen and secure and encourage myself and the world around me. Including you!

I hope 2019 is kind to you. I hope you feel love and joy that makes the pains and losses worth it. I hope you find peace and comfort. I hope you always know safety. I hope you grow in ways that you like. I hope that you’re able to summon the perfect, biting “Fuck you” when faced with someone or something that deserves it. I hope you share a memorable meal with someone you like. I hope you have a really fun nostalgia spiral about something you loved with all your heart when you were young. I hope you smile more than you cry. I hope you laugh so hard your body aches. I hope you remember that you are worthy of life and love and comfort and pleasure even when the world or the mean voice in your head is telling you otherwise. I hope to see you ring in 2020, whole and happy. I love you; I like you; I believe in you. 💜

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.

seventeen qs

I snagged this little meme from Rae who — as I mention frequently — is one of my very fave bloggers. Like her, I spent a lot of years on Livejournal and miss the dorky community aspects like twenty question memes and those super dumb-fun “What are you doing right this second?” ones! Who can resist rattling things off about themselves?  » more: seventeen qs

dear future ash…

Dear Future Ash,

I’m writing to you today out of desperation.

No, that’s not right. Out of hope. Hope and desperation are so close, you know, so close. They are opposite sides of the same coin.

I am writing to you today in hope. In the most faithful, hungry hope. I am writing to you because I need to know that you’re okay. I need to know that you’re making it through. That this part that I’m in right now is over.

I know you can’t respond and that’s okay. You’re only a sparkle right now, a glimmer, a figment of desperate need, but that’s all you need to be.

For you, it’s somewhere in the second half of 2012. Not too far from now. It’s easier to see you that way. We’ve probably got a lot of the same clothes still and the beaten and loved 3GS you’re reading this on and the same girlfriend snoring behind nearby in bed. (Or maybe in your time she’s awake because you’re awake at a reasonable hour instead of three am and you’re having mutual internet time and it’s lovely.) I know you’re still making the same dumb fart jokes on the internet that I’m making now.

I hope you have a job, Future Ash. One that doesn’t make you miserable and that respects your ideas and efforts. I hope it makes you happy or at least doesn’t make you crazy. I hope you life is settled because right now… it’s not. It’s really not. I hope that everyone is settled. And wherever, however, that works out is good and safe.

I hope you’re comfortable. I hope you’re cooking more and taking your iron and eating more greens and remembering to take your pictures every day. I hope you’re sticking to the posts you want to make here and that you’re reading and writing more. I hope you’re still throwing yourself into pop culture things enthusiastically and with joy because I’ve just rediscovered how wonderful that can be and how much I’ve missed it. I hope you’re sticking out all this hard work I’ve been doing to Unfuck Our Habitat and that it’s making you feel like a grown-up still and giving you a sense of control.

Future Ash, I hope you’re happier than I am. I hope you’re less anxiety-stricken. I hope you’ve embraced change and banished the word FLUX from your experience. I can say I hope you’ve got it all figured out, but it’s the middle of January and even if I’m talking to the Future Ash of December 2012, that’s a hell of a lot to ask.

I hope you’re hugging people more. And spending time with them. And reaching out to them even when they’re not reaching out to you. I hope you’re asking for help when you need it. I hope you’re still not giving up. I hope you remember how bad it is right now and appreciate how good I hope it is for you then.

Future Ash, it’s not all doom and gloom here now. I don’t want you to think that or think your memories are tainted. There are wonderful things, even if they’re small and hard to remember — forgettable — from where you are now. There’s Sherlock and friends that want to hang out with you even though you’re having a hard time leaving the house. There’s a wonderful, supportive, incredible partner who respects and loves and treats you so much better than you deserve. (I hope you’re paying her back tenfold for these hard times, Future Ash. She deserves so, so much.) There are parents who you not only love, but LIKE, a sister who’s also one of your most important friends. There’s Disneyland. And pets. And a bed that comforts you in a visceral way that makes your heart feel less brittle and your bones feel a little bit more brave.

Future Ash, I’ve got a lot to live for right now, but the glue holding it together is hope. Hope that 27 is better. Hope that your life is different than mine. Hope that next Christmas won’t feel like the last. Hope that you are where you want to be.

So keep this letter for me, Future Ash, and when we meet we can talk it over. You can tell me which bits I got right and I can remind you why you should be grateful even when I got it all wrong.

Here’s hoping. See you soon.

– Ash

~feelings~

Today I am going to ~get real~ and talk about my feelings. I like personal blogs, this is a personal blog, I am a person, the website is my name, and I want to talk about some SHIT, okay?!

My girlfriend and I have been home from Kansas City for about a month. And it has been an excruciatingly hard month for both of us. She is readjusting to a killer commute and a rough office environment and I am unemployed and mooching off of her and generally feeling like a massive, tragic pile of crap.

I liked Kansas City. A lot. And I really, until the last three weeks, enjoyed my internship immensely. It’s more complicated than the following sentences, but: I was good at my job. I enjoyed it. And then that was taken away from me very suddenly and very… unfairly isn’t the right word. Unexpectedly. Shockingly. Unbearably. And it made our last weeks there just unbearable. Really and truly stressful in a way that moving those 1600 miles had not even come close to being. And it sucked. And getting the hell out of Kansas City felt SO GOOD. But I left happy. I mean that. And I can remember the good parts of my job. And I’d do it again if they asked it of me. And/or something similar. I don’t know if I could stay there for more than a year or maybe I could. No, I definitely could. I could stay there forever. Maybe? I don’t know. What do I honestly know from second to second?

But I was so glad to be home. I am so fucking glad to be home. I missed my family SO MUCH. And my animals. And Disneyland. And my incredible friends. And California. I adapted to KC and I liked it, but I can’t imagine it ever feeling like home. Or maybe I could?

But having my feet swept out from me before the end of the internship has left me inconsolable in a lot of ways. The internship fell together so easily, so simply, and everyone spent so much time assuring and reassuring me that it was meant to be (because I am, like all creatives, eternally my own worst critic) and that I deserved it. And I left feeling a lot like I really hadn’t deserved it and a lot like I’d failed, even if failing isn’t why I left. Even if no one ever used the word failure. Even if my co-workers threw me a wonderful going away party and gave me cards and food and gifts and sent me away feeling warm and fuzzy and appreciated. And even if coming home is what was best for both me and my girlfriend.

I have anxiety. I AM SURE THIS IS SHOCKING AS SHIT TO EVERYONE IN THE WORLD, NO REALLY. And I experience immense, heart-heavy periods of depression when I feel like things are out of my control, when I feel I’ve failed. And the last month has just been that. A train wreck of misery and sadness and bad hygiene and being broke and frustrated and embarrassed and disappointed. I have taken it out on my girlfriend and my family and I’ve tried to hide from every single human being on Earth.

I haven’t looked for jobs because my blood pressure spikes when I think about going back to work, when I think about interviewing, when I remember how fucking awful it was the LAST TIME I was looking for work. People were constantly telling me I was overeducated and inexperienced and now I have an additional degree (a terminal Master’s!) and very little additional experience! And when they weren’t saying that, they were questioning why I would want to work so far away from where I live (I LIVE IN A SUBURB, THESE ARE MY ONLY CHOICES) or looking at my fat body and thinking that meant anything about how good I would be at a job or who I was at a person or better yet, telling me how I wasn’t the right representation of their office. THIS WHOLE PROCESS JUST SOUNDS GREAT, SO GREAT. I CANNOT WAIT.

And my girlfriend has been wonderfully patient and kind and takes incredible care of me. But I have to get a job. I want to work! I want to contribute to my household and to the world at large! I want to be upstanding! I am able to work! I am a capable, intelligent, competent person! I can work! I should do it!

But I fight with looking every day and every night and I hate myself more every week and the anxiety gets WORSE AND WORSE and I have more nightmares where my internship manager tells me how much she regrets hiring me and where I lose a house I don’t even own in real life and where planes crash and I fight with my friends and things break and I can’t pull myself together to handle any of it.

And I know writing this out won’t solve it. I’ve been talking this stuff out with the girlfriend for weeks and it has done little to ease the aches and pains and agonies and tensions in my brain, but it’s down anyway now and it’s loose in the world.

This week I am going to try to take hold of myself and apply for jobs. I’m going to work at that proactive thing. I’m going to shake myself out of this bullshit. Because that’s something I know I can do. Because I’ve done it before.

So check in with me in a week and it’ll either be resume sendin’, application fillin’ superchamp Ash. Or I’ll be in bed passed out in the fetal position surrounded by garbage and dog hair with a pizza box from Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza between my knees and a 22 of Wyder’s Pear Cider clutched in my fat fist as I cry into a wad of filthy paper towels while watching Drake & Josh. Only two options.

Or I’m going to knock over some sort of financial institution and head straight to Vegas. Three options.

Also, I groomed my eyebrows today (pluck pluck pluck) and didn’t overtweeze for the first time in maybe my whole life. NEW CAREER PATH?! j/k j/k I would rather touch someone else’s poop than the meaty end of their freshly plucked eyebrow hair.