An Anniversary to Remember

Many moons ago (sometime around April) I started brainstorming about my two year anniversary. I wanted to do something fun and different, something we would remember. For our first anniversary we were a little overwhelmed. We had just picked up and moved from Oregon to California and were just finally getting settled and finding jobs when our anniversary came around. We decided to go to Disneyland to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, I love that place as much as the next person, but because we bought annual passes, our anniversary celebration is overshadowed by the countless other times we have gone since then. I know, my life is so hard. 

So this year I proclaimed we would do something different. After a short while of pondering (Coronado? No we just did that… Hawaii? No we can’t get enough time off… Eugene? No we already planned a separate trip there…) I thought of the perfect place to celebrate happiness, love, and a lifetime of commitment: Las Vegas. 

IMG_1205Stay with me here. True, Vegas may be a little nontraditional. It’s not a place where commitment is generally celebrated. However, Brock and I have never been (I went once before I was 21, but I decided that doesn’t count) and it would be a fun experience to have together. We decided to drive in on Saturday morning and stay until Monday. I was surprised by how quick the 4 hour drive went. We listened to music, laughed at podcasts, and ate our weight in RedVines. The landscape wasn’t hard on the eyes either. 
IMG_1194Once we checked into the Mirage, we spent most of the evening getting our bearings. It was a lot to take in at once. Vegas is a people-watcher’s dream so I was basically in heaven. We wandered around without any real plan or destination in mind. We ended up having dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant next to the gondolas (see, Vegas can be romantic!). The next couple days were filled with pools, dressing up, room service, great food, and plenty of drinks. I have never been so entertained and confused at the same time. I suppose there is a reason why they say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas (however writing a blog probably breaks those rules). We drove home on Monday afternoon already talking about what we plan to do on our next trip to Vegas.

IMG_1216 IMG_1223 The lighting in this hotel bathroom is the kind you have to take advantage of with copious amounts of pictures. I am already discussing how we can get this installed at home because it did wonders.
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IMG_1288The inside (yeah you read that right) of our hotel.IMG_1291IMG_1292The pool. Just look at it. In all of its gloriousness.

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IMG_1261IMG_1229IMG_1238It was the perfect weekend to celebrate two years of marriage. After all, one of the reasons I love Brock so much is his ability to push me out of my comfort zone. He was the one who told me there are other movies besides ones made in the 80s/ones starring Steven Seagal, such as Goodwill Hunting and the Departed. He showed me that tofu can actually taste good, and that I don’t have to be afraid of seasoning (I’m a recovering bland-aholic) He was also the one who pushed me to apply to graduate schools, and to aim high. He brings out the best version of me. So, it’s only fitting that we experience a new and crazy trip to celebrate two years of new and crazy things in our lives.
Happy anniversary Brock, I love you.

That’s When I Knew I Was Going to Hell

We have all done things we aren’t proud of in our lives. In the large scope of things, I know there are definitely people out there worse than me, but that doesn’t mean much. Whether or not you are banished to a fiery inferno doesn’t depend on how bad you are compared to others. It’s a sliding scale. You might not be as bad, but still bad enough. So, despite the fact that I’m an overall good person, there were a few instances that I believe solidified my place in Hell. 

1. The time I wrote on the wall and blamed it on my brother

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When I was in 2nd grade my brother was always mean to me (like brothers usually are). I knew I couldn’t fight him physically and win, so I had to use my smarts. In an attempt to get back at him for something, I took my sharpest Crayola crayon and wrote, “I hate Olivia -from Tom” on the wall in my room. The real sinister part is that I then continued on with my regular business (whatever business a 2nd grader has) and let my mother discover it on her own. She yelled at him for a good 10 minutes while he denied ever doing it (which only got him in more trouble). I think she even made him apologize to me. Pretty smart for a 2nd grader, right?

2. Every time I saw someone coming when I was in the elevator and let it close anyway

This is something I actively participate in. If you pretend to look at your phone you can act like you never saw them coming.

3.The time I barfed and didn’t tell anyone 

I wish I could say this only happened once. The first time I threw up and told no one was when I was at my aunt’s house. I was elementary age and I had gotten lice from other kids at school. My aunt decided to make me sleep with mayonnaise in my hair (which supposedly kills lice) with a shower cap over it. I woke up in the middle of the night and smelled old mayonnaise, which then caused me to promptly throw up in the middle of the bedroom. I then wiped my mouth, tucked myself back in bed, and went right to sleep. The next morning my aunt was asking who threw up and I just shrugged like I had never seen that mayonnaise-induced puke in my life.

The second time this happened was at my best friend’s house. I woke up in the middle of the night (this is a reoccurring theme) and suddenly felt sick. I threw up in the middle of her bedroom while she was sound asleep. The next morning she woke up and was complaining that her room smelled. It wasn’t until hours later that her mom realized there was a pile of puke underneath my blankets. A lovely child I was.

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Ironically, here is a picture of me and my barfing pumpkin in college.  A homage to my past I suppose.

4. The time I wore feathers in my hair

This is a fashion trend so egregious that it went on my permanent record. It might not seem Hell-worthy but it was a dark time in my life. I won’t even show you pictures. If you aren’t Steven Tyler, you have no business having feathers in your hair. I digress…

5. The time I Photoshopped my husband’s mustache

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My husband will testify that this belongs on the list. There have been many times he has donned facial hair that I wasn’t in agreement with. During a particularly terrible mustache phase, we took some pictures at a beautiful park on the beach. I loved these pictures but all I could see was the mustache. A few swift moves on Photoshop, and he was clean-shaven again. He still won’t forgive me. In fact, I think he has sported a mustache multiple times in protest. 

6. All the times I gave people decaf

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I worked at a coffee shop once. I don’t want to tell you what one, but it rhymes with Shmarbucks. Working in Orange County, many of my customers were wealthy and successful. While the majority of them were kind and gracious, somehow you always remember the terrible ones more. I often worked the morning shift (which starts at 4:30am) so I served people as they were on their way to work. When someone was particularly rude, I would “accidentally” make him or her a decaf coffee. Good luck waking up for your presentation today buddy.

7. The time I was plotting murder

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I spent 1st and 2nd grade digging a hole every recess with my best friend, Tiffany. It was a special spot under a tree, next to a fence. We took little sticks and dug to our heart’s content until it was time to go back in and play duck-duck-goose. Why were we digging a hole, you ask? So we could push in Taylor, the little girl in our class we didn’t like.

8. The times I got creative

As you are probably catching on, I was a disturbing little child. I wasn’t even good at hiding it. In fact, I often wrote about my dark thoughts. For example, in my 4th grade class we were supposed to write little books with illustrations to give to our parents. My friends wrote stories about princesses and magical lands. My story was called “Blood Steps to the Door” and it was a murder mystery. I sometimes wonder if my teacher called my parents to have a little discussion about that particular writing piece. However, it wouldn’t have shocked them because by then I had already been doing that stuff for years, as evident in my kindergarten weekend book where I said my favorite movie was “The Terminator.”

This behavior followed me into my adult life; I just express it differently now. My new outlet is SnapChat. If you aren’t familiar, it is an app where you can send pictures and draw on them. Some people use this for “sexting,” but for me it’s a creative outlet for my morbid sense of humor, as seen below:

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9. The time I ran over all the quails

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This is the last one, but certainly not the least. This is when I really solidified my afterlife fate. I grew up living way out in the country. It took about 30 minutes to get to town from my house, and people who I considered my “neighbors” lived over a mile away. The roads around there are often unpaved, one-lane, and wind around the countryside. You might think that would cause someone to drive cautiously, but that was not the case. I would drive fast because 1) you rarely ever see another car 2) no one is ever in the street because no one lives near the street and 3) because I knew the road like the back of my hand. So I’m about 17 years old and I’m driving to school. I whip around a rather sharp curve and see a flock of birds ahead on the road. However, this was not uncommon. I was used to birds waiting until the last minute to fly away. What I didn’t know is that these birds would not fly away, because they were quails. Massacre. Not one quail made it out alive.

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The silver lining of it all is that my husband once told me I look like I have Down’s syndrome in all my baby pictures. Hell might suck, but at least I’ll have company.

Independence Day

The fourth of July is all about celebrating our country’s freedom, the people who fight for it, and how lucky we are to live in this land.
And celebrate we did.
Brock and I flew to Oregon for the festivities and spend a short but sweet weekend in our hometown. It was equal parts completely different than when we were there last (one year ago) and exactly the same. It wouldn’t be Independence Day without cold beers, flags rippling in the wind, the warm summer air and, of course, fireworks. All those things, plus our family members, made this weekend a magnificent celebration of our nation’s birthday.

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We had to visit a classic parking lot firework tent because no fourth of July is complete without it.

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Bentley is the most squishable lovable pug ever.

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See what I mean?

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This is my husband.

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I wonder where he gets it?

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We spent the majority of the fourth throwing fireworks off the second story balcony because, you know, fireworks bring out the child in everyone.

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Pretty soon the cops came because apparently it’s frowned upon to throw explosives off buildings. We put on our most innocent faces and solemnly swore that we would only light fireworks on ground level.

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“No fourth of July celebration is complete without the shotgunning of Pabst.” -Abraham Lincoln

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This picture occurred at the exactly moment my mother-in-law was being burned by firework sparks. It turns out there is a reason they say not to point them at anyone.

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The next day we all went to a Barre3 class taught by my mother-in-law. She just became an instructor and kicked our butts. My thighs are still reminding me how good that class was. Right after we ran over to Sabai, my favorite restaurant in the world, to get Thai food and a Phuket Coolie (pictured below).

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No trip to Oregon is complete without visiting Voodoo Doughnut. It has every combination of flavors imaginable, from maple bars with actual bacon on them to toppings like captain crunch. If you have never heard of it, the menu will tell you all you need to know.

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On our last day we decided to soak up the sun and explore. After living in California for the last year, Oregon was a breath of fresh, smogless, unpolluted, organic, green, beautiful air.

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At the end of the weekend we reluctantly drove to the airport, dragging our feet the entire way. We are so thankful we got to spend this weekend celebrating in Oregon. I love living in California, but Oregon sure has a special place in my heart. Until next time.

Happy Independence Day America!

They are just a pair of stairs

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They are just a pair of stairs that I walked on everyday.

Where my dogs would jump and yelp to welcome me home. They lead to a little white house in the middle of the country. They are worn and creaky, the way old wood gets over the years. It is where I fell and scraped my knees countless times and stayed out on summer nights with a good friend by my side. Where I rode my bike and played catch with the neighbors. Where I called home.

It is just a winding road that curved through our little town. Tractors carrying freshly cut golden hay often blocked the way, signifying summer. The neighbors wave as you pass. Neighbors are more like friends, and friends are more like family.

It is just old dirt path that leads to a pond. The one with algae, frogs, and a few fish. The one my best friend dared me to jump into. I obliged and cannon balled in without hesitation. It became the weekend place to meet, swim and throw mud at each other, laughing until the sun set behind the trees and it was time for dinner.

It is just a plain tree house that became whatever I dreamed up that day. There were princes and princesses, cowboys and Indians, and even the occasional fairy to keep me company. I protected it with sticks that became swords and rocks that became cannons.

It is just a plaid couch that I sat on everyday. It resided in the living room where forts were built, VHS tapes were watched, and the Christmas tree was put every year. There were countless spills, scrapes, and stains from the years, but it gave it character and love.

It is just an old kitchen with linoleum floors. Where I would sit in the morning, soaking up the heat from the floor vent. Where my mom made dinner every evening, navigating the small stove like an expert. Where I would come home, sit on the counter and chat with her about my day.

It is just a small garage where there was no room for a car. It had a television that connected to our three channels. It was where my dog had eight black lab puppies and they learned to walk. On the side hung the basketball hoop that entertained my brother and I for hours. It was where my mother would spend her evenings, the warm summer air tainted by the cigarette smoke, her breath wreaking of alcohol.

It is just an angel painting that hung on the living room wall. It watched us go through the years and live our lives. It saw me learn how to draw, read and write. It saw me have my first crush and my first heartbreak. It was there during the intervention and watched my heart break in a way no boy could cause.

It is just a white car. One I cherished because it meant freedom to a 16-year-old. It was often filled to the brim with friends and dogs as we headed out to the lake. I felt both freedom and heavy guilt the day I packed the trunk with my clothes, unsure if I would ever be back again. And I wouldn’t be.

It is just a small bedroom where I read my books and framed my pictures. Where each item in my room meant something to me, from the golden bear my grandma gave me, to my best friend necklace hanging on a hook, to the red walls I painted myself. It was just a room, but it was abandoned the day I left my home forever. The bear, the necklace, and the red walls untouched.

It is just a blue house in the middle of the city. It felt foreign and empty, lacking in life. It was home to strangers, one of them who shared my blood. I would call him Dad, but I could never call this home.

Home is a little white house in the middle of the country. Where neighbors are like friends, and friends are like family.

I wonder sometimes if going back there would help me feel whole again.

But they are just a pair of stairs.

Sometimes

Sometimes you are a bad blogger.

Sometimes it is because you are a full-time student who also works. Sometimes it is because you have writer’s block and aren’t sure what to write about. Sometimes it’s just because you are lazy.

But…

Sometimes it’s because you are spending more time exploring your new city. Or playing with puppy neighbors. Or making new friends and staying up too late with them. Or perfecting the perfect summer drink.  Or slowing turning your new apartment into a cozy home. Or eating at every restaurant. Or going to all the bars. Or ordering pizza and staying in for the night. Or meeting up with old friends and laughing the whole night. Or making plans to travel in the next month to a place that used to be home and a place you have never been. Or just overall enjoying life.

Sorry about that.

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A Commencement Speech from a Fellow Student

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“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.”

I’m pretty sure I saw it on the Abraham Lincoln parody Twitter account… or was it the Tupac one? Anyway, that saying and many other cheesy phrases are always thrown out around graduation time. Commencement speeches always talk about reaching for the stars, realizing your potential, and grabbing the metaphorical bull by the horns. I mean, it does make sense. They could give a speech about how half the graduates in the audience won’t land a job that utilizes their degree and will probably move in with their parents again, but that doesn’t do much for morale.

So they stick to the cliché topics about aspirations and how to be successful in a competitive marketplace. As cheesy as they are, I actually love listening to commencement speeches. Universities seek out people who have been exceptionally successful in their field and ask them to address the future generation that is about to embark on the scariest part of their lives. I’m sure speakers spend a long time deciding what they want to say to these young people and how exactly to say it. There is a lot of pressure to perform well, but the students are generally pretty receptive to anything since they are so excited to never take a midterm again. I am the perfect example; my commencement speaker made no sense whatsoever and spent more time talking about his list of achievements than actually addressing us. It was like he was reading his resume except it took an hour and he didn’t skip over the boring parts. But we all cheered and give him a standing ovation when he was finished because, as I said before, no more midterms is exciting.

The older I get, the more I appreciate hearing advice from others. I try to soak up knowledge from anyone and everyone who is more experienced than me. Part of the reason behind that is because students today are highly pressured to know exactly what they want to do in life. The question that always follows “What are you studying?” is “What do you plan to do with that degree?” I have always felt like I had to know the exact field and type of job I wanted by the time I graduated. Not being 100% sure made me feel panicky, as if I was falling behind. Then, I realized at graduation that no one else knew what the hell they were doing either. We were all asking each other about our future plans hoping to discover that other people are just as lost as us.

Coming into graduate school I realized that most people have no clue what their future plans are. Careers are rarely a linear path. Every professor and professional I have come across has told me they worked in many different fields before finding their passion. These people, who are extremely successful, did not start working in the industry they exceled in until they were thirty or older. They don’t usually mention that in commencement speeches, but it sure would help take the pressure off. Forcing students to pick their careers at such a young age can actually impede them from finding their dream jobs. Graduates are so pressured to find something to do that they often settle for a job that makes their family and friends happy, but not them. Maybe if they knew that jumping around from company to company is normal, that most people don’t start in the field they will end up in, and that it might not happen until you are in your thirties, they might dream a little bigger. Having a sucky job after graduation doesn’t mean you will always have a sucky job. Just because it doesn’t happen in a year doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. You have to give yourself room to explore in order to find what you are truly good at and passionate about. All you can do is go out and try things. The worst that can happen is you will fail, but isn’t that better than never trying at all? Just remember, as Twitter Tupac said, if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.

If I Could Kill an Intangible Thing it Would be Financial Aid

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During my time as an undergraduate student I was lucky enough to have my college paid for. Through scholarships and family help, I left with a bachelor’s degree and zero debt. I am very aware of how lucky I was in college, even during that time. I didn’t have to deal with loans at all. I was first introduced to the crippling world of financial aid when I started my $100,000 graduate program last year. Since then, we have had a hate-hate relationship. I always say road rage has nothing on financial aid rage. I would rather cut off my baby toe than deal with financial aid, but school is expensive, so here I am with ten toes. I believe there are some fundamental issues with our financial aid system in America. Our government has a system in place that is supposed to promote higher education for people who cannot afford to pay the money upfront, but I believe it has flaws that can cripple students along the way.

1. Applying requires a high IQ in itself

Okay first there is the FAFSA… Okay I can handle that. It’s annoying, but at least it walks you through it step by step. Of course, if you get one little detail wrong it can impact whether or not you get any financial help for college… so no pressure. So you turn it in and you feel all good about yourself. Then your school(s) contacts you. They want information as well. Then an outside loan website wants you to fill out paperwork for specific loans. Each of these things has to happen before any money is released. The fact that you have to turn things in to three different places for one loan is a little crazy. If you accidentally overestimated the amount of credits you plan to take on your application (that you did 5 months before classes started) then you don’t get your money. If you forget to do online loan counseling, you don’t get your money. There are a million different things you can do wrong which will screw you over. HERE IS THE BEST PART: They will not tell you that you messed up along the way. If you think no news is good news you are WRONG. No news could mean you are getting nothing because you messed up. You will not know you screwed something up until your tuition is due and the financial aid didn’t disperse. During the beginning of a semester, the financial aid offices are bombarded with frantic students. Get ready to wait in the office for at least a few hours or wait on the phone for even longer. I wonder how many low-income smart students didn’t go to college because they stumbled over these hurdles.

2. You have to go to school full-time

Okay, I am sure there is some brilliant reason for this but I can’t think of one. I don’t know why students can’t get loans while going to school part-time so they can work in order to make payments on their loans at the same time. It makes me feel like they want students to be full-time so they can’t work enough to pay their bills. “Why would they want that?” you ask. Because it means they have to get loans for their living expenses as well. More loans is more $$$$ for the government. I might just by cynical but I don’t see any other reason to force students to go full-time. Maybe they don’t trust us and think we are using the money to go to Cancun, but who says you can’t get a good education and a good tan at the same time?

3. Late charges come before loan money comes

THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE. The most baffling of all the baffles. Let me set up a little scenario for you: You are going to school in the fall and classes start on September 1st. You did a great job applying for your student loans and you agreed to go to school full time. You got all your school supplies. You are ready to go. Your student account alerts you in that your tuition for fall is due to be paid on August 15th. Wait, this can’t be right! Your loans don’t disperse until the first day of classes in September. WELL TOO BAD, GOOD LITTLE STUDENT. You will freak out and make calls and they will tell you, “Don’t worry, good little student, it’s okay.” You still worry. Especially when you get an email giving you your first notice that the tuition cost will go to collections. Collections! So you get late charges. LATE CHARGES even though you haven’t gotten your GOVERNMENT GIVEN FINANCIAL AID YET. Even though this is the system THEY MADE. Of course, when you finally get your money, most schools’ financial aid offices will reverse the late charges if you call them and ask. They don’t advertise that, so most students pay the late charges unknowingly. So the government/schools make money off of your naïveté. Want to cut off your toes yet?

4. Interest grows while you are in school

This makes me giggle like a psychiatric patient. The predominant reason the government allocates money to students is because they want to “invest in the future.” There are good intensions at the heart, but the infrastructure does not reflect that. For example, I don’t have to make payments on my loans until I graduate (or for some, 6 months after that) which is a great system. However, some of them accrue interest along the way. That’s right folks, you don’t have to make payments, but the lump sum will get bigger and bigger if you don’t. That interest is pure profit for the government. This school year I accrued about $1,000 in interest. It’s so nice of them to “invest in my future” that way.

5. It puts more stress on school

You have to think whom this system benefits and whom it hurts. The graduation rate of students is directly related to income level. It is 2014 and money is still power. The lower your income, the less connected to resources, and the less options you have, the more likely you are to drop out of college or never try at all. Those who do try are overwhelmed with stress. Failure in classes isn’t an option because of the financial cost to low-income students and their families. When they hit rough patches in classes (which everyone does) they have a significantly higher dropout rate. Students without loans and financial stress can focus on their classes and may not have to work at all. Don’t get me started on the fact that unpaid internships are now considered “necessary” on the resume of students which is nearly impossible for low-income students who have to work and make money while in school. College is hard enough without crippling financial stress.

6. Made for profit

As I said before, I don’t think the whole financial aid system is evil. I know there are great things about it. I wouldn’t be getting my master’s degree without it. I am just pointing out that the system is for-profit. Something created for the betterment of society should not be focused on making money. I know I speak for everyone when I say I would be able to make a better impact on society when I graduate if I wasn’t so burdened by debt. At least I have all my toes.

Why #YESALLWOMEN is Important

Yesterday the hashtag #YESALLWOMEN took over my Twitter feed. To my delight, it was initiating an open and honest dialog about some of the struggles women deal with on a daily basis. This is something that is really important for everyone. If you are a woman, if you have a sister, if you have a mother, if you know a woman, this is important. Here are a few of the powerful tweets I came across yesterday:

 

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I was so inspired to see women being so transparent about topics that we are often silent about. But I was beyond discouraged to see other people trying to silence them again. I saw a large amount of men (and unfortunately women) who were trying to belittle and dismiss it. This illustrates the EXACT reason why this hashtag is needed. I have had an experience exactly like this recently when I wrote a post called Hello, My Name is Blamed Victim. It wasn’t even on my blog for 24 hours when a man decided to belittle my experience and try to shut me up through his comments on the post. And you know what? My first instinct was to delete my original post. He made me feel embarrassed that I had shared my personal, honest, and real experience as a woman. He tried to put me back in a box of fear and doubt simply for sharing my own experience and beliefs. But I refuse to let a man make me feel small, embarrassed, or question my own experience. I encourage you to read his comments to see why #YESALLWOMEN is more important than ever.

Note: there are thousands more tweets available on Twitter. I encourage you to read through them to hear about the honest experiences women have had in our culture.

Recent Awkward Experiences

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The fact that I am reeeeally good at getting my picture taken. She’s beauty and she’s grace, she’s Miss United States.

Walking to get dinner with the husband and somehow the slightest dip in the concrete causes me to lose balance. I feel the weight of my body coming down onto my weak little ankle, so I sacrifice my body instead. One scuffed knee later, my ankle is intact but my dignity is not.

Watching a hair tumbleweed roll by in the bathroom. A western whistling sound plays somewhere in the distance. We have only lived here two weeks, how could I have possible lost that much hair??

Gathering up all my things as I get ready to walk across campus to my car. I have the coat, the coffee cup, my check, my books, my purse…. Alright ready to go. Only to realize the advil in my purse is making a distinct pill-clanking sound. It’s too late to change it now, too many things in my hands. Hi everyone, I’m the campus drug dealer.

Eating curry cauliflower with my invisalign trays in. They are now less invisible and more mustard-colored. Lesson learned.

Clapping along with Pharrell even though you have never felt like a room without a roof.

Walking into Trader Joes and feeling the eyes of an overly eager employee on me. I mean, this guy is not breaking eye contact. I avoid his stare. Right after I pass him I realize I forgot to grab a basket. Dang it. Walk back awkwardly…grab basket awkwardly…and look up to make more awkward eye contact. Yes, I am finding everything okay today.

Naked pregnancy pictures. Wearing a bikini while 9 months pregnant. Chris Hemsworth’s wife at the Oscars. Make it stop.

Coming home and curling up in a chair after a particularly long day at work. Then proceeding to fall asleep, sitting up, fully dressed. Only to wake myself up with my own snore. My husband thinks I’m hot.

Knocking on the neighbor’s door to offer her a table we were going to throw out. Only to realize we just woke her up as she opens the door in her underwear. It was 1:30pm. I start making really intense eye contact willing myself not to look at her crotch. She didn’t want the table.

I’m in Gap waiting for Brock to try on clothes and someone asks me if “we sell swimsuits here.” Erm… I don’t work here. 

Single-handedly commandeering the men’s restroom at the Tim McGraw concert. Guys have it easy, they never have to wait. Until now. A random Texan woman grabbed my arm and pulled me in there to claim the stalls we believed we rightfully ours. Unfortunately there was only one stall open and she took it, so I had to stand there, in the men’s room, by myself. It only got more awkward when a confused man got behind me in line. So, how about that concert, huh?

Moving to a new place where we are on the ground floor instead of the top floor. So now people outside my windows are at eye level. Must. Remember. To. Wear. Pants.

I parallel park at least 3 days a week. You have to snag those spots quickly in California because people think their horns will stop working if they don’t use them 15 times a day. At least. Yet, the one time I have a car full of people all my parking practice goes out the window. Where is the curb? Am I close? Oh I’m still 5 feet away? Okay. RRRRRRGGGGHHHH. Ah, there’s the curb.

Having my husband tell me there is chocolate all over my face a solid hour after I have had any. Did I mention he thinks I’m hot?

Talking on the phone to people with heavy accents. I can only say, “I’m sorry, could you say once more?” so many times.

Walking out to my car after work, only to interrupt a couple practicing their ballroom dancing. They stop because they are embarrassed and wait for me to pass by. Then I have to awkwardly point, actually that’s my car you are blocking and I have to get in it and leave. They both seem mortified, and I somehow ended up being the third wheel in a parking garage. I had planned to send a couple emails out in my car but instead I high-tailed it outta there.

People saying, Happy Mothers Day to you when you have no kids. Thanks?

Having a motion-sensor light in our bathroom. It’s actually really cool because it turns on automatically when I stumble into the bathroom half asleep at 3am. However, it’s not cool when I am taking a bath and it turns itself off. Hello? Brock? …Anyone?

No Response

photo

I opened the mailbox and saw it. An unmarked manila envelope with scratchy handwriting on it. I had been anticipating the arrival of this little package for a while, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Part of me hoped there would be some money in it, or maybe even those pictures I had requested, but most of me knew I was in for something else.

It all started a couple weeks prior. I emailed my dad (our only means of communication) to give him a little update on my life. He didn’t ask for it, but I do it for myself. It makes me feel slightly closer to him. I talked about my internship ending, starting my second year of graduate school and my impending debt. I asked him about his health and if he had talked to my brother recently (who is equally as hard to communicate with). 
A few days went by with no response. This wasn’t exactly shocking. Over the years there have been countless unanswered emails, especially the ones that only include personal details about my life. I know how uncomfortable that makes him. Yet I still do it. Like I said, it’s for me. 
A day later I get a response. It says: 

“Hey Livs;
Are you guys still at the Warner Avenue addy? Long enough for me to send a letter there? No biggie, just want to send you some info via snail mail. It would arrive in a few days.” 

The vagueness of his words were not exactly unusual for him, but it still caught me a little off guard. Especially because I sent him a pretty long email and that was all he had to say back. Clearly he had read my email because I mentioned I might be moving soon and he was asking about my current “addy.” 

I respond: “Yup, I will still be at this address in a few days.” 

He doesn’t respond. It stings a bit that he doesn’t seem to care about everything else I had written to him about, but I stopped letting that get to me years ago. I go about my business the next few days imagining all the things he could be sending me.

I should note a few things about my father: he has always been a strange guy. He grew up playing the guitar and hoping to be in a famous band one day, but settled for working at the post office after my mom got pregnant. He doesn’t like social gatherings or having to interact with anyone other than immediate family (and even then it’s hit or miss). The first time he met my in-laws was at my wedding, despite my repeated attempts to get him to meet them prior. He even has an alias he goes by in his day to day life. One thing that has become extra important to him in recent years is doomsday prepping (preparing for the end of the world). It started out with him buying 20 pound bags of rice and evolved into a full-fledged storage room of food that could last at least a year. He had everything from soap to military meals. He even talked about buying land somewhere remote and building a real bunker. I mostly stayed quiet about it because I didn’t quite know what to say. He says he does it because the bees are dying and that will stop crops from being pollinated, so then the cost of food will skyrocket. That I understand. It doesn’t even sound that crazy. He loses me when he starts talking about Marshall law and a society of chaos. None of it really bothered me until he started buying guns and other weapons. One time I visited him and he said, “I had the opportunity to buy grenades the other day but when I got there they were all gone.” I have learned not to ask the whys or hows, so I just said “Oh.” 

So here I am, staring at this envelope wondering what he possibly could have sent me. It feels a bit heavy and I can hear something little clinking around inside. I wait until I get inside to open it just in case. If some bullet shells and a butterfly knife fall out I don’t want the neighbors to get the wrong idea.

I tear it open and out fall two sets of keys. There is a thick letter, at least 5 pages, with the word “confidential” written across it. There are a few loose pictures that were poorly printed on paper and a safe combination. 
Based on those things, I should have seen the contents of the note coming. I knew it wasn’t going to be a birthday card, but I still wasn’t fully prepared. The letter talks about the value of money going down and America going back to a bartering system. He references “our self-appointed emperor Obama” reading all our texts and emails and listening in on our phone calls. He talks about exchanging his money for gold and silver, and where he has hidden his “booty.” He even included pictures of his hiding place with detailed instructions on how to locate it. When Marshall law occurs, he says, my brother and I are to grab his gold and silver and take off into the wilderness. I momentarily imagine myself running around the woods with a bow and arrow looking for something to kill for my lunch. Gold and silver clinking on my pocket as I navigate the trees. I could trade a gold coin for a blanket and a coon-skin hat later on in the day, but I must ration my currency. 

Back to reality. 

I stare at the letter dumbfounded. It’s true, I have never been close with my dad. He didn’t necessarily want children, but still I know he worked hard to make sure I had food in my mouth. He even paid for my college education with the inheritance he got from my grandma passing, which was more than generous. He wanted me to get my degree. He always wanted my life to be better than his was. Even in my thankfulness it was hard not to want my father to be more loving. He barely talks to me, and when he does it is brief and to the point. This letter was just another reminder that my father and I couldn’t be more different. I didn’t grow up living with him and I rarely saw him. Even when I did, we never connected. He doesn’t know me. If he did, he wouldn’t have sent this to me. He would have known that I wouldn’t want it. He would have known that money doesn’t matter to me. He would have known that the best thing he could do it respond to my email with normal pleasantries. I want him to say he is interested in what class I am taking and where I work. I want him to ask where I am moving to and express worry for my safety. I want him to respond saying anything that indicates he gives a damn about me as a person. 

So here I am with this letter, unsure what to do with it. So I say nothing. 
Three days later I receive an email: 

“Could you confirm delivery of notes to you? No need to discuss, just ‘yeah, I got it’.
Thanx”

I say, “Yup, I got it.”

No response.