Secondhand Smoke

Addiction is the cracked shells in an otherwise empty egg carton left in the fridge
It is the bed that can never hold enough sleep and suck enough whiskey out of the long stretches of sweat

Addiction is the floor stains that have been there over a week, sticking to bottoms of dirty socks
It reads like the same line in a book you keep repeating
making things like forgiveness seem like a far off destination you can’t afford the ticket to

Addiction is the lie you tell the people who are often too close to see.
Or maybe not close enough.

For those that aren’t addicted, yet love someone who is
it burns like a perpetually scraped knee
Kept with your heart and money behind lock and key.
It’s within arm’s reach of a shark tank that’s sprung a leak.
It looses the ability to trust, to function, to breathe deeply and let go.

The feeling stops returning calls, showing up to parties, smiling about nothing while walking down the street
because there is not enough rest in the world for someone in the world who is trying to live so hard for one person,
but instead is dying for two

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The top 5 Things Women Need to Stop Saying About Women, Including Themselves

The below entry is inspired by this article I found on New York Magazine’s website titled, “Wearing a Size 2 Does Not Make You Happy. ” I clicked it thinking it sounded promising, given the size war that has been ongoing in the fashion industry, essentially since its existence. I’m sad to report that the title was the only good thing about it. It makes me sad that pieces like the one linked above are still being written. 

I am aware the below list has mostly to do with women comparing themselves to other women. While I recognize as a whole it’s infuriating, the list you are about to read includes specific things that are particularly annoying.

5. “She must have it easy because of (insert arbitrary trait here.)”

Yes, you’re right. She has a great job and shiny blonde hair so that must make life so much easier for her when her mom dies or her boyfriend cheats on her with their local barista. Stop making assumptions. You don’t know her story If anything, what might be making her life easier is the fact that maybe she’s not running around judging other people and is focused on being a hot badass. Let that one hang out in your head for a second.

4.”This girl is more/less _______________ than me.” (Negative comparisons.)

Comparisons are ok to make. For example, my best friend is taller than me and has a fairer complexion than I do. Both of those comparisons are true. See below

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*I really just wanted an excuse to post this picture publicly.

 

With that being said, as an adult woman there should be no room in your life to make comparisons about other women with the intention of making you feel better, or another feel worse. I understand this one can be particularly hard to do; like when when another woman gets the dude/lady/job/awesome thing of fortune we want. You might say something like, “Well, she may have gotten Ryan Gosling, but I am a WAY better cook than her, so fuck her!” No one can harass you for that provided that you don’t let those feelings run your life and understand they won’t last forever.

3.”Men prefer women that ____________”

Have red/blonde/brown hair, flat stomach/curves, are sweet/badass/funny/submissive. I shouldn’t have to say this, but you know how every woman is different? So is every guy and therefor every guy prefers something a little different. Also, and again I shouldn’t have to ask this,

“WHY ARE YOU BASING YOURSELF BASED ON THIS SILLY CONCEPT OF WHAT YOU THINK MEN WANT?!”

If you invest all your energy in being the best you that will make YOU happy, you will attract the people that you want to be around, lovers included. Never for a second base yourself on who you think others want you to be-not just men, but parents, friends, coworkers, society-you name it. You’re completely lovely and if you don’t think so, really sit down with yourself and think about it. This leads me to number 2.

2. “I will be happier when I’m a size_______.” I am all for my fellow sisters, getting fit, eating right, and doing what they have to do to be the best possible versions of themselves. I want all women to be confident, happy, and thriving. That aside, you are not a number on the tag of a dress. (Just like how you are not your job, your age, your relationship status etc.) You are you. If you have a weight that you feel the most confident at, great, but if you’re still trying to get there, don’t belittle the process of you obtaining your goal, and don’t make the reason you are happy be the actual size of clothing. Also, don’t think all you’re problems are fixed by hitting that magic number. Confidence, while a wonderful thing, is not a cure all. 

Furthermore, you will be happier the moment you decide to be. Really try it sometime. I’m telling you it works.

1.”REAL women do _______________.”

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Please, ladies (and gentlemen. Don’t think you guys get off the hook. I have heard more than a few of you say this). Please please please can we stop this nonsense.  The one I hear most often is, “Real women have curves.” I recognize that the beauty industry is more than biased to thin people. I know it sucks and I won’t take that away from you. This in mind, by saying this you are alienating others in pursuit of making you feel better, you are also perpetuating the problem. Real women are all women, including transgendered ones. Whether she is tall, short, fat, thin, pretty, ugly, all natural or has had botox, she is a woman. Laura Jane Grace of Against Me is no less of a woman than Beyonce. Frida Kahlo was no less of a woman than Grace Kelly. You are no more or less of a woman than the chick in the magazine your holding or the old lady next to you on the bus. 

 

Shiny Happy Furniture

I spent the bulk of the weekend getting all sorts of domestic/ life stuff done from signing up for my first Chicago checking account, to cleaning the kitchen, baking muffins, making cards, and the subject of this post-buying a dresser.

Let me start this out by saying I hate buying furniture. Since the cross country move, I’ve preferred to be a minimalist in terms of my belongings-the less I own, the easier it will be to pack up and leave if I decide that’s something I ever want to do again. Considering 95% of my apartment consists of my roommates stuff, this concept hasn’t been hard to manage.

But after living out of a suitcase and plastic bins for the past 4 months, the lack of organization was really starting to get to me. My clean and dirty clothes piles started to meld together and with an impending shipment of winter clothes from back home, there was no way I could carry on any longer. I had to buy a dresser.

In my more recent adulthood, I’ve started viewing purchases as commitments or investments. “By purchasing this blazer at $40 from Marshalls I commit myself to the classier side of business casual attire.” “By purchasing these pillows, I invest my money into regular good night’s sleep.”

By purchasing this dresser, I commit myself to living in this city, at least long enough so I don’t feel like I wasted my money.

I found it after searching through hundreds of adds on Craigslist. While it cost a little more than I wanted to spend, I knew it was mine when I saw it and I didn’t care. I arranged a pick up time with the girl who was selling it and I worked out logistics with my roommate’s dad who was happy to help. On Sunday evening I biked the 5 miles to Wrigleyville from my apartment to get it and after loading my old bike and my new dresser into the vehicle, with the help of my roommate I hauled it up 3 flights of stairs and into my room.

room11 room22

I recognize it’s just a thing, and things only have as much power as you give them, but for some strange reason it means more to me than just a place to store clothes.

 

When I look at it I see different futures-maybe a lover helping me move it out of this apartment into one of our very own and him pleading, “Do we really need a bright orange dresser?” I picture my niece as a little girl telling me it reminds her of sunshine. I see myself as an older woman with chin length grey hair in a new loft I just purchased,trying my best not to sound snippy when I ask the movers to be super careful with it.

I see everything I have placed in it, and a time lapse of everything it might contain.

I see everything I’ve done to get this insatiably bright piece of furniture into my new home- from packing up my things to the sad goodbyes; from the long bus ride where I had no idea what would happen to meeting my roommate for the first time. When I look at it I am reminded of my weaker moments sitting in fetal position at the bottom of my bathtub crying because I was far too overwhelmed and too anxious to articulate my feelings properly.

And then I see it for what it is-an ever present, glowing piece of color in an otherwise dark room. Something that I thought would clash ended up fitting so perfectly.

So maybe it’s more than just a thing after all and I’m completely ok with that.

There is Life After Survival

“There is life after survival” is a line in the Buddy Wakefield poem, “We Are Emergencies.”

I remember those words sometimes.
Jonathan sits next to me, at the mahogany bar lurched over in a way only tall statured people can do, and he sips his porter slowly before saying, “You wouldn’t know what to do if you weren’t bracing for the next hit. Relax, Darlin. You made it.”

The paranoia sets in. The hits came from everywhere this year. I don’t know if a stranger that looks like a friend will become a future ghost. With my emotions so rabid and feverish, I’m often not sure if I’m about to make a mistake.  When I’ve learned to look both ways when crossing one-way streets.

“I’m just here to get bye” I tell myself walking away from Cermak, a store known for it’s cheep produce but limited groceries. I have a loaf of bread, a can of chicken noodle soup and some Wheat Thins. Sometimes it’s like I don’t know how to cook anymore.

But I still do. Not knowing and still doing. Maybe we’re all just winging it. Maybe our hearts didn’t tell our heads that we are no longer on auto pilot.

“There is life after survival.” But what is that life like?

It looks like going to the fridge for a beer but grabbing a juice instead. It smells like the heat blasting at a club before you read your work live for the first time. It feels like air that is just cold enough to for you to feel your blood  move through you and it sounds like the clink of the spoons as you and one of your first friends in this city have at a fried peanut butter and jelly pie.

On Children and Learning to Accept Love Again

I thought my biological clock started to tick last night, but upon further reflection I realize that’s not the case.

(By further reflection I mean I woke up sprawled in a starfish pose on my bed with a brief moment of panic thinking, “Could you imagine?!?!” Yeah… nope.)

Here’s how it all started.

Last night, Nadia and I went to our favorite coffee shop, Filter. It’s this huge but cozy place on Milwaukee in Wicker Park. It house couches and tables, outlets every 4 feet, amazing food, free wifi, and the best herbal tea I’ve ever had. (If you go, try the blackberry tea. It’s amazing.) Nadia and I anchored ourselves in this two person table in the back corner. It had been a couple weeks since we last saw each other so we had quite a bit to catch up on.

About a half hour or so into our lady date, a group of young women come in with this little girl. She’s two, with blue eyes and blonde braided pigtails. Nadia and I noted that she was cute, told her respective people who thanked us and we went back to our conversation. A couple minutes later the little girl must have gotten restless, because she goes over to my chair, puts her hands on my knees, looks up at me and excitedly says, “HI!” She then giggled and ran off.

She came over to me a few more times giving me high fives and high tens. After a while she ended up staying at my chair, making silly faces and monster faces. She ran over to Nadia, back to me and periodically checked back in with her people who apologized. I told them I didn’t mind, saying I was expecting a niece in a couple of months and this was making me even more thrilled about it. I can’t recall a time where someone got me to laugh that much. She eventually crawled in my lap and started playing with my hands.

Nadia noted, “I thought you hated kids.”

I thought I did too. Truth be told I never used to. I used to work in the children’s room at a library and never got tired of it. Hell, one of my favorite people of all time is my ex’s niece whom I used to babysit on the regular. In one of my best memories of her is the winter when she was 4, it was snowing and her and I ran outside and made snow angels. Upon entering her house I made her hot chocolate with an absurd amount of marshmallows. She looked at me while I was getting everything ready and she said, “Jass, I love you because you are my best friend.”

“You’re my best friend too, Monkey” I replied, “And I love you very much.”

My ex and I broke up that summer. She’s 8 now. I wonder if she remembers me.

I stopped liking kids after that. I think maybe in the emotional horror of the breakup,  I forgot how to love, or maybe I forgot hot to accept love. I forgot how to accept the unsolicited affection that children seen to offer. Even when my cat cuddles up next to me, I think

“I fed you and your litter box is clean? Why are you acting like this?”

I forgot that it is in my nature to nurture. Anything from kissing cuts to make them better, to having a grown man cry in my arms because he’s been meaning to let it out for a long time and I was the safest place to think of.  I will never let my friends leave my apartment without baked goods if I’ve made them. They will never leave without knowing wherever I am, they have a home.

In forgetting how to accept love, I just did these things on autopilot with no real feeling behind them. The feeling came back last night. Maybe people are just attracted to you because they can sense your goodness-a goodness I thought was maybe beyond me.

I am grateful for the little girl that reminded me that. I am grateful for my niece- the unborn little girl that will help keep me there.

Notes About My Mom..

..That very few people know:

-She used to be a Bacardi Girl-She met my dad after one of her bigger gigs.

-She was rumored to have been a go-go dancer in the NYC club scene
-She also did roller derby.

-One of her poems is published in a book in the Library of Congress. She had certificate from it that was hung on her bedroom wall. The poem is about God.
-She used to read tarot cards, and when she lost her deck she would read them from a deck of playing cards. The High Priestess was her card for me. I would get calls from her on the regular saying things like, “You were in my reading today, don’t be too trusting of people!” She was always right.
-Speaking of weird things about her, the first time I saw her in 5 years, after not speaking with her for the bulk of that time, I brought my yearbook when I came to visit and she was able to point out the guys I used to have crushes on and the one who would hold my hand walking in the hall. (I was in 7th grade mind you, serious shit really.)

-She once dated a famous sports player from the Florida teams, though I forget what one. She had sort of second adolescence after the courts gave my dad custody. I was angry about it for a long time, but I’m not anymore. (That transition is a story for another day.)

-Her downfall was that she couldn’t be single.

-I am more like her than I ever thought I would be. I hope I’m smarter about it than she was.

-I always tell myself that if I ever get published, when I get published, it will all be for, and because of her.

A Post About Emotions

I’m not sure if you could tell by last night’s post, but I was about 6 or so sheets to the wind when I wrote that. Some of my most angsty stuff come’s out when I’m drinking, so I apologize for acting like a teenager, internet.

Despite my best efforts I am a very emotional person. I was always accused of being “too emotional” when I was younger so as an adult I equated having feelings as a bad thing. Because of this, I was prone to outburst amidst periods of numbness. I’m not that way anymore after a pretty recent realization that if I am going to experience the world, I will do it openly. I’ve found that this includes being incredibly vulnerable and as a result, I’m in some level of emotional spot at any given moment. I’m too in my head, or too in my heart, or maybe not enough of where I should be wherever that is.  Lately in terms of feelings, I feel like I’ve been swimming in a sea of negative ones looking for a metaphorical boat of positivity.

I was told to create positive ones. One of the big ways I do this is by writing, and by writing I have to go to that perpetual part of my emotions that really, really hurts. I have to hurt to get the high? I reckon this is why many writers are alcoholics.

Sometimes I drink to forget I went there, only to wake up with a hangover and evidence glaring at me in point 12 Times New Roman.

I was talking to my friend last night and he asked me if I knew how emotionally exhausting all this was going to be, would I have made the move. Without hesitation I replied, “Absolutely.”

This is way better than being stagnant, even if I’m exhausted. I’m in the middle of a period where I’m  exorcising myself of all my ghosts, slowly freeing myself of all the fantasy, learning to see myself as I am and trying to map out how to get where I want to go. I feel like this odd type of rebirth that I need more time to really figure out how to describe.

I need to find better ways to handle everything that’s going on instead of getting drunk and posting poetry online.