Family, Girls, Home, Humor, Thoughts

The Love Of My Life

I stole this title from Cheryl Strayed. If you want to read her personal essay, you can find it here: The Love of My Life. We may have the same title, but it’s not the same story.

I didn’t realize before how bland my life really was. It wasn’t always bland, but only for a brief time. I’ve been living with Colleen for two months now, and I feel warm inside. I’m convinced it’s the twintuition. It’s been wild, tame, stressful, and celebratory all at the same time. I’m going to punch myself in the face for saying this, but you know that Taylor Swift song “22”? It’s kind of like that. It’s horrible, yet fun. It’s confusing, yet care-free. Now that I’ve said that, please forget I ever said that.

Any person who steps foot in our apartment is freaked out not by me, and not by Colleen, but by both of us.

Together.

We make bird calls from the next room. I cook her dinner and she tells me she loves me. I try to teach her how to cook dinner and she yells, “WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE DOING THIS?!” We FaceTime even though she’s in the living room and I’m in my bedroom. She pulls a seat next to my bed and we talk for hours. I buy her Wasabi Peas when I think she’s running low and she buys me green apples. In the middle of the night, I hear her crashing around in her room and then she takes off. I don’t know where she’s going but I know she’s fine. I find her in her room with all of the lights on and the TV blasting, and she’s passed out with Ragnar on her chest. We go to yoga together and I admire her headstand. When I clean up, she rearranges everything. We can relate to Anne Perkins and Leslie Knope. We can relate to Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison. When we both got the jobs we wanted, we stood in the kitchen and screamed. Some nights, we crawl into bed together with our cats and watch Moulin Rouge and Big Fish. We tell each other about our casual dates. I paint something and she wants to buy it. She rants about her liberal views and I sit and listen because I know she just needs to vent.

We fight too. But it’s not average fights where we say mean things and don’t talk for two days. Our fights are more like heated discussions where she angrily tells me how wonderful I am and that I’m acting stupid, and I tell her she’s reading too much into it and I don’t agree with what she’s saying. Then we make jungle noises and throw the middle finger around and yell, “I HATE YOU BUT I LOVE YOU”, or “I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE SAYING BUT YOU’RE BEING WEIRD ABOUT IT.”

Or the heated discussion looks a little like this:

Colleen: GAHHHHHHHH You’re just so wonderful but you’re being dumb about this.

Me: I know I am but you’re being a bitch about it!

Colleen: I KNOW I AM!!!

If we get mad at each other, it’s never for selfish reasons. After a couple of hours, we laugh and grab a bite to eat.

We go to an Irish pub and listen to an Irish folk band. We dance, we sing, we clap, and we don’t care. We do each other’s laundry. We both avoid the dishes. We sometimes feed the cats four times a day without knowing it, those greedy bastards. She buys silly string, and there’s no telling when she’s going to use it. We like tequila. When she’s stressed out, she’ll rearrange her room for the 500th time. We FaceTime her friends back home, and one of them decided to impregnate me with a boy and name him Benjammin’. We talk about books and world history. She tells me she wants to marry a Russian. And then she gags over marriage. We run into Sephora and walk out broke. We wear matching kitty t-shirts in case we lose each other in a crowd. She eats my leftover pizza and takes selfies with it to let me know she’s done the crime. We eat crap, talk about how we need to lose weight, and then eat more crap because we are twenty-six and too young to abandon all good things. We invite everyone we ever knew to our apartment just because we like the company.

So, the point in this post is this. Whether I do meet someone new, get married, and eventually live a life expected, Colleen will always be my soulmate.

Who wants to come over?

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Art, My Idea Of Being An Adult, Thoughts, You're Fine

My Quarter Life

There has a been a weird vibe in the air. I don’t know if any of you can feel it but I certainly can. It’s been here for a while. It could still be the aftermath of January and all that it has to offer me, which is usually nothing. It could be the fact that I’m still adjusting to my move. But something seems…off. Things seem strange with friends whom I haven’t talked to in a while, but I have been busy over the last month. Life in general feels like it’s tipping over. I no longer have a routine.

My days are now mushing together and I don’t like it. I find myself sinking into my bed, staring at the twinkle lights I hung up around my closet door for what feels like hours. I like to stay busy, but I have very little motivation lately. Every day, I find a new bruise on my arms, legs, or neck from putting together furniture since I arrived in Charleston. My body is sore. My mind is weak. I haven’t even had much inspiration to blog. If I go on WordPress, I glance through the feed for about two seconds before tossing my phone at the end of my bed and crawling under the covers for the rest of the morning.

But I was in my car this morning thinking about my quarter life crisis I had nearly a month ago. I was home in New Hampshire visiting my family before I moved down south. It was 2am, and I was sobbing into a pillow with my mom by my side. I’m not even sure what happened to make me so upset. It wasn’t the thought of moving away from my family. I’ve already done that what feels like a thousand times. I think I’ve said goodbye to them more than I’ve said hello. I was telling her about a potential job in an art gallery in Charleston that I’m both excited and terrified about it. I finally admitted to my mom that I’m scared I will fail. After all those years in college, studying, memorizing, practicing, and drooling over the art I was taught, I’m scared that in the end, I will find out I’m not actually good in the field at all. Then what? Perhaps that’s why I’ve had such trouble finding a job in my field since I graduated. I’ve secretly been sabotaging myself into believing I will fail and I wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Then my mom brushed the hair off my face and simply said, “I have never, not even once, been worried about you succeeding. When it comes to art, you know exactly what you’re doing and saying. I have no doubt you will be great.”

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So, I’ve been trying to remember what she said. I have to stop convincing myself that something will go wrong. I have to focus. But, if I wake up every morning like I did this morning, with Mumford’s paws wrapped around my leg and his head digging into my ankle, I will definitely spend an extra fifteen minutes in bed.

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Anecdote, Family, Home, I Wasn't Worried, Thoughts, You're Fine

Little Black Book – a ghost story

I realized I’ve never really discussed the idea of ghosts on my blog. What has prompted this inspiration is an article I asked Tierney to send to me because it was spooking her out so I thought, “Hey Jess, let’s not sleep tonight.” You can find the article here: Read at your own risk.

So now, I’m a Nervous Nelly and the only thing I can do to calm myself down is doing what I’m doing now: blogging and joking around. *insert nervous laugh*

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I love ghost stories. That doesn’t necessarily mean I believe in them, but I’m not entirely skeptical either. I know weird and unexplainable things happen. I’ve known plenty of people who have strange stories to tell, including myself. Like this one time, the stereo in the basement of my house turned on by itself in the middle of the night. The damn thing woke everyone up. We never used that stereo, so there was no set alarm either. And no, I was not the first person to walk into my dark, creepy basement to find the source of the noise. I’m smarter than that. Or that other time in college when I went to go wash my face and brush my teeth before bed and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a girl walk in and head for the stalls. After I was done brushing my teeth, I realized how silent the bathroom was, and when I went to check the stalls, nobody was in there except for me. I ran out and hid under my blankets.

But the first time I started to kind of sort of believe these things was after my dad passed away. Several strange and possibly coincidental things happened after his death, but that is for you to decide.

My dad died only a few months after my college graduation. As soon as I was in the “real world” he informed me that he wanted to send a hundred dollars every month. I told him it wasn’t necessary but he insisted. He said, “I don’t want you to ever be without.” He sent me $100 for July and August, and then he died in September. A day or two after he passed, I flew down to Texas to help my mom with some things around the house. We had an emotional morning after picking up his belongings at the hospital, and then the funeral home allowing me to view the body for a few seconds before cremating him later that week, so my mother and I decided to take a long nap. I don’t know how long we were both asleep for, but I eventually woke up and felt anxious. I slipped out of bed, tip toed over our German Shepherd, and sat in the kitchen for a few minutes in silence. My dad’s art studio was all the way down the hallway with the door closed and I felt compelled to go inside and look around. It wasn’t just out of curiosity. It was more of a, “I have to do it now!” kind of feeling.

I began going through his things. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for but I kept digging through the drawers and closets, hoping to find something. He had a tiny book collection on his shelf and I noticed there was a little black book tucked away and it looked like a journal. I pulled it out and opened the first page. It was dated two weeks before he died and he wrote one sentence, “I don’t remember much of my life or where it went, so this is going to be tough to write.” That is all.

I fanned through the pages hoping to find more and then a hundred dollar bill fell onto my lap. After I showed my mom, we tore apart the rest of the house, wondering if he hid any other hundred dollar bills but we found nothing. Just the single bill inside his blank journal. Now, some of you might think that it was just a coincidence. However, what if I hadn’t gone through his things and found the little black book? There really wasn’t anything special about it. It was a small, blank book tucked in between about a dozen books by Stephen King and a few of my Sarah Dessen novels I enjoyed when I was younger. The little black book could have easily been thrown away along with some of his other belongings before my mom packed up the house and moved. Finding that hundred dollar bill was like finding a needle in a haystack —> not an original analogy but whatever.

Flash forward a few weeks and my mom was telling me about the weird and unexplainable things.

Grief messes with you. You start noticing things you never noticed before, and then you feel guilty for not noticing them when you should have. My mom walked by the refrigerator and found a note that said, “I love you!” and when she turned it over, it read, “Just because.” She walked outside one day and stumbled across the row of cement blocks. The day my dad passed away, he was moving them around the yard in the heat, which could be an easy explanation for his heart attack. One of the cement blocks had their initials written on it with a heart. These moments are not considered weird, but instead are happy reminders of the person they were before they are gone. I think this happens with every person once they have died. It’s like that song from The Band Perry when they say, “Funny when you’re dead and people start listening.” But one day, my mom woke up from a nap because it felt like someone pushed her. She felt the hand shove her awake and she looked up and found my dad standing there staring at her. She told me this story and a part of me thought, “She’s grieving. This is natural.” And then another part of me was jealous. Other than the mysterious hundred dollar bill, I hadn’t experienced anything except a number of sleepless nights.

My mom told me a few other stories like that one and I just nodded my head silently. For weeks, I wanted something to happen whether it was my grief talking or something real. I know it was just a desperate plea to see him one last time, and I couldn’t understand why my mom could see him and I couldn’t.

And then one fine evening I had a very strange dream. I was standing across the street from my old house in New Hampshire. Everything was set up exactly as I remembered. From across the street, I could see my dad pacing back and forth in the window of my house. I wasn’t trying to get his attention, but I was just watching him. He noticed me from the big window and waved vigorously with a huge smile on his face. And then I woke up.

Weird? Maybe. Coincidence? Possibly. But I’d rather just keep it as a way of him saying, “hello”.

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Family, Festivities, Home, Humor, Memories, Thoughts

A Letter to Santa

Paul yelled at me. He demanded that I write a letter to Santa from the POV of when I was little. You don’t believe me? Take a look at the comments. He was definitely yelling.

So I am here to share a letter I wrote to Santa from the POV of when I was seven. Enjoy.

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Dear Santa,

My biggest question is: how on earth do you fly to every child’s house in one night? It seems impossible. It has to be magic. Does Mrs. Claus help you? I don’t know much about her, so I’d like to learn more. Rudolph must be exhausted after the long trip. I’ve left extra carrots just in case.

I’m seven years old and for Christmas I’d really like some more Barbie’s. But don’t tell my sisters. They keep french braiding their hair behind my back and then it gets all crimpy. It really bothers me.

I’d also really like an American Girl Doll, Samantha specifically. I like her dark hair and bangs. My mom says they are too expensive.

I’m told that you won’t come if you know I’m awake so I’m going to bed now. Don’t mind my dog, Jasmine. She’s friendly. I’m sure she’d like a bone for Christmas.

Love always,

Jess

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Anecdote, Family, Home, Humor, Hyperbole, I'm not a mommy blogger, Out of the Ordinary, Thoughts, Writing

Pet Fish

I had a strange fascination with death as a child. I’ve been trying to figure out when it all started. My mom says that when I was about four or five, a handful of people in my life died and it really screwed with me. “People were dropping like flies!” so my mom says. This could have been the foundation of my death fear, but I recently remembered a brief moment in my history that certainly didn’t help the situation.

I got my first pet fish when I was six years old. I named her after my best friend Megan. She was a bronze fish with black polka dots, and she swam around her tank with elegance and grace.

She was the first pet I really learned how to take care of. I woke up each morning, and the first thing I did was grab my step stool and feed Megan. She was everything I could have hoped for.

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I would sometimes pull up a chair and watch her swim around. I would do homework next to her, draw pictures next to her, and eat dinner next to her. She was my pal. I told her my deepest six-year-old secrets like which boy I was crushing on that hour, and how much I hated P.E.

Fast forward two years when I was eight-years-old and Megan was still alive.

She kept growing and growing to the point where we had to buy a bigger tank. It took up most of the counter in our kitchen. We also had a dog and a cat at the time. I recall my cat jumping on the counter and knocking over a plate of cookies. Needless to say, we lived in Animal House, minus the frat brothers. While I still enjoyed Megan’s company, I found myself outside with my new scooter, or in my room reading big girl books as opposed to chatting it up with my pet fish for an hour.

It got so bad that eventually we were living around Megan rather than Megan living around us. One day, my mom snapped.

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My mom probably thought buying me a pet fish was the perfect plan. It would teach me to take care of something else, and to learn about responsibility. But I don’t think she expected the fish to live longer than a month, tops.

“This is ridiculous!” she yelled. We both stared at Megan, who seemed jolly in her tank, not giving a shit.

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My mom started hatching a plan. I don’t think she was aware that I was fully aware that her plan was to kill Megan.

It first started off small. When I fed her in the morning, my mother grabbed the food can, dumping most of it’s contents into the tank.

“She looks extra hungry today. Don’t you think?” she asked.

Then, she stopped cleaning the tank. After weeks, perhaps months of overfeeding and neglecting poor Megan, we could barely see her continuously and obliviously swimming around. My mom looked like she was going mad.

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It would have made sense to just flush Megan down the toilet instead of slowly torturing her in her poop-colored tank, but perhaps my mom didn’t want me in on the plan. Simply tossing her into the toilet would have been too easy, and too obvious even for eight-year-old me.

Megan eventually died from “unknown causes”.

“Finally,” my mom whispered.

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I knew what my mom had done, but I didn’t want to face it.

Instead, I lashed out on living creatures. When I say living creatures, I actually mean insects because I’m not a monster.

I purposely tapped on ant hills to get the family of ants out of the hole just so I could kill them. They would all pile out of their tiny hole and onto the pavement, and I lavishly stomped on every single one of them. Even the ones suffering and squirming, I would kneel down and watch as they slowly stopped moving. I eventually shared this new hobby of mine at school. It quickly turned into a contest as to who could kill the most ants.

The rest of this story is a little fuzzy so I will try and feel my way through to the truth. I’m sure one of my teachers saw our little torture corner of the playground and lectured us on the idea of living creatures having a valuable life of some sorts. I eventually learned that ants are so unbelievably strong, that they could certainly take over the world by coming together and carrying human beings away. I actually don’t know how true that statement is but I remember someone telling me about it in school and I wanted to cry at the thought. All the more reason to kill them, I thought.

Eventually, I stopped my little killing spree of insects. I either grew out of it, or a teacher made me feel bad. Even now, unless there is an ant in my apartment, I don’t touch them. But part of me really, really, really wants to.

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Family, Memories, Writing

I’m Not Fine

The last time I spoke to my dad, it was September 21, 2013. It was his 50th birthday and I was just getting over a cold and about to move into a new apartment in Massachusetts later that afternoon. He was worried about me because of my scratchy throat. I could barely speak when I yelled “Happy Birthday!” and told him his gift was in the mail. He said thank you, and that my mom was currently in the kitchen baking him a chocolate cake. He may have joked that he was getting old. And then he died three days later.

I was the one who eventually picked up my dad’s gift in the mailbox later that week when I flew down to Texas to help my mom with some arrangements. Overall, I was fine. I think I reacted to his death like any daughter would react. I was fine when my mom and I sat at his favorite bar and handed out free shots of Jim Beam. I was fine when he was pulled out of the freezer at the funeral home so I could see him one last time. I was fine when I got the phone call that they were cremating him. I was fine when my mom sold all of his artwork. I was fine when a complete stranger on Facebook harassed my mom, claiming to have had an affair with him. I was fine when she packed up the house, gave away our dogs, and moved to Mexico. At least, I pretended I was fine. I’ve been really good at pretending.

Following his death, I led a very predictable lifestyle. I did the same thing every morning, afternoon, and night. I held the same boring job I didn’t like, but at least I had a 401k. It wasn’t until around Thanksgiving last year that I realized how incredible unhappy I had become. I was lonely, and maybe even depressed. I was far away from my family and friends, and I eventually felt as though I had fallen into a hole and couldn’t get out.

Now that it’s October, and my mom just celebrated her birthday yesterday, I realized how much my life has changed. 2016 has been my happiest year since he died. I like my apartment, I like my stuff, I love my friends (even the friends whom I’ve never met), I don’t absolutely hate my job, and each week something new and exciting happens. My life is no longer predictable. My friends actually reach out when they need me. I feel bolder and more confident than I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m taking chances I wouldn’t have taken before, like selling my artwork and submitting them into shows, even if it does cost me $100 round trip just to get to the studio. For the first time, I actually like my life and the direction it’s heading in.

So, you would think that I’m better than I’ve ever been. Well, I’m here to tell you, despite the title of my blog, that lately I have not been fine. I just passed another hump in the year that was my dad’s 3 year death anniversary. I spent the day with Mr. Jess, and even though he never met my dad, he sat with me and watched movies and then we made tacos for dinner. I’ve never been one to talk about my feelings, and even though Mr. Jess was open and asked me several times if I was okay, I kept nodding my head, telling him everything was fine. I quickly changed the subject and asked him what kind of ice cream he wanted.

I’ve cried more this year than I think I have any other year, but I’ve realized I’m crying because I’m happy, not because I’m sad. I’ve been upset because all of these wonderful changes that have occurred have not been shared with him. People always told me that it gets easier as time goes on, but I disagree. You just learn to deal with it. When you feel the rush of tears come on from out of nowhere, you run to the bathroom, take three deep breaths, wipe away the smudge of mascara, and then go back to joining your friends who seem to have not noticed a thing, to your relief.

After spending the weekend with a close friend who always calls me out on my bluff, she finally told me that I just have to admit to myself that I’m not okay. So here I am, admitting to myself and the rest of you the honest and absolute truth. I cry everywhere – my car, my apartment, the grocery store, my desk at work when nobody is looking, on an airplane, at the movies, etc. I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at hiding it because I take my three deep breaths and move on.

I know that it’s perfectly normal to miss the people you’ve lost when good things happen, which is why I’m fine with the fact that I’m not fine. Eventually, we all have to face the facts.

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Anecdote, Family, Humor, Out of the Ordinary, You're Fine

That time Joan Crawford was my great Nana and I fell for a job scam.

I’ve had an emotionally weird ten hours. And for six of those hours, I’ve been unconscious. Let’s first discuss my strange dream where I discovered Joan Crawford was my great-grandmother.

jcrawford_gl_21feb11_rex_b_426x639I sat at the kitchen table with my grandparents. My Grampy loves to tell stories. He casually starts mentioning the abuse he dealt with at the hands of his mother, Joan Crawford.

My jaw dropped to the floor.

I’m related to Joan Crawford?!” I yelled.

I completely ignored the fact that my Grampy sat there explaining to me the trauma he experienced being strapped to his bed without food or water for days.

I was too wrapped up in the idea that I had gone 25 years without knowing that my great Nana was a famous movie star with abusive and sadistic capabilities.

So while my Grampy described his unfortunate upbringing with THE Mommie Dearest, I had this reaction:

200I woke up this morning dazed and confused. I did in fact Google Joan Crawford a few days ago, so that explains the random family connection I made up in my head. But the fact that I showed no sympathy for my poor Grampy is what’s concerning to me.

I think back to a conversation I had with a friend and Mr. Jess last night on our way to trivia. Our friend, we can call him Blue, was having lady troubles. A girl he really liked was an extremely insecure person, and constantly needed acceptance from her ex-boyfriend, even though he spent majority of their relationship cheating on her. Well, the girl told the ex that her and Blue were involved and BOOM, all of a sudden he wanted to get back together.

Not so all-of-a-sudden, I’m sure.

She decided to get back together with dickwad instead of being with Blue, and her reasoning was, “We have a history.”

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“Yeah, well, I have a history with diapers. Doesn’t mean I’m going to go back to wearing diapers,” said Mr. Jess. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I can never understand why people use that as an excuse to get back together with an ex. Of course you have a history! I have a history with all of my exes. Doesn’t mean I’m going to get back together with them. So, when Blue asked for my opinion, my first response was, “Good riddance.” Green Day style.

It’s like when people say, “I’ve been hurt once before…”

Oh, really? Just once, huh? MUST BE NICE. I’ve been hurt a million times. Shit happens.

And then after they act like being hurt is a brand new concept, they say, “I’m very guarded. I put my walls up.”

No, no you don’t. If you are telling someone that you’re guarded, you’re not actually guarded because you’re capable of talking about your feelings which is exactly what you’re doing. Hence, not guarded.

So, am I a mean spirited person? No, I don’t think so. I just have very little patience, I suppose. Maybe my subconscious was telling me that I have no sympathy, just like Joan Crawford.

Back to my emotional ten hours. I pondered this strange dream during my morning commute to work when I got an email from a job posting I applied for days before, telling me I’m a potential candidate for the position. I started shaking my wheel like a lunatic, I was so excited. The pay was AMAZING, the benefits AMAZING, and the commute AMAZING. I got to my desk at work to open the email and read it more carefully. I decided to Google the company and peruse their website. The only problem was….THEY HAD NO WEBSITE.

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I started to get a little suspicious. The only thing Google could show me was listing after listing of the same job title I applied for in various parts of the country, and to email the same woman I emailed. Only ONE woman in a company full of “9,000” employees is handling HR, huh? I THINK NOT.

I determined that the job was a scam. And I wanted to cry.

But then my mother emailed me to inform me her client is going to buy one of my paintings. So it’s been a roller coaster of a morning between being ecstatic and joyous, to being extremely annoyed in about two seconds, and then back to being ecstatic.

Maybe it’s the rain. I’m just going to blame the rain.

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Anecdote, Family, Humor, Out of the Ordinary, Sarcasm

A Woman with a Tomahawk

I’m going to tell you a story. A story of a dazzling woman named Hannah Dustin. She is my 9th great-grandmother. Bad ass, strong, and a little scary. Come follow me on this terrifying journey through time and space.

Over the river and through the woods Hannah Dustin was born in 1657 and lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts, before the drug addicts with duct taped shoes roamed the graffiti covered streets in the dead of winter. Her reproduction capabilities were strong; she bore nine children with Thomas Dustin,  a farmer and killer brick-maker. During the King William’s War and Raid on Haverhill in 1697, Hannah was kidnapped by the Abenaki Native Americans, along with her newborn daughter, Martha, while her husband ran off with the eight other children in a fit of panic. One of the many thoughts circling Hannah’s mind was, I married that man? Some of you might think, “Well, he was trying to protect his children!” That’s one way to look at it. Although, another part of me thinks that in most cases, the wife would flee with her children to a safe place while the manly macho man helped the colonists defeat the enemy. Or maybe she was resting in bed after giving birth, and when the natives attacked, he simply forgot about her and his newborn daughter because he can’t keep track of all of his children. It’s like a disturbing version of Home Alone. Who knows what really happened. But what Thomas didn’t expect is that his wife was about to show off her Mama Bear instincts and make him look less like a man, and more like a skittish mouse.

After Thomas fled the scene, Hannah, her daughter, and nurse were forced to march into the wilderness along with the other captives. Her daughter, my great aunt Martha, was only six days old before the Native Americans killed her in a disturbing manner that I wish to not repeat. If you want more info, simply search on Wikipedia. Anyways, Hannah Dustin had given birth six days prior to this march towards New Hampshire. SIX DAYS. My generation of women have turned into little bitches. Six weeks will pass and we’re still all like, “Wahhhh, I’m still so sore.” I vow, in the name of my great-grandmother, to never do that.

Six weeks after the kidnapping, on an island in the Merrimack River, Hannah woke from the dead of night and decided to go rogue. With the help of her nurse, Mary, and a teenage boy, Hannah crept into their huts and, as Alanna from White Girls Be Like… described in her poetic words,

In a totally Tarantino-style rage, she tomahawked the shit out of those fools and rolled off into a canoe laughing like a maniac into the night sky with scalps in her bad ass yet ladylike hands. When she told the story to the people of her town, she was all, “Whatevs yo. Eye for an eye, and those bitches needed a haircut.” And she crossed her arms and lit a cig.

She killed approximately ten of the natives by scalping. If you pictured Inglorious Basterds, you are correct. She then pulled a Grand Theft Canoe, carrying the rest of the captives along with leftover scalp treatments of a few heads as proof that nobody messes with her. After several days, she finally made it home.

Hannah received a measly little 25 pounds for her courageous act of self-defense that nobody knew existed in a woman, and she still managed to live another 40 years.

She recited this event to Cotton Mather, which was then retold by writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau. She is believed to be the first American woman to have her own statue, and has been dubbed “the Mother of the American tradition of scalp hunting.” After all of that, she is still viewed as just a mom.

In my eyes, she is a beast. A beast of great womanly powers that I hope have been passed down to me.

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Nana Dustin

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Festivities, Humor, My Idea Of Being An Adult, Things I Should Have Solved A Year Ago, You're Fine

6 Pieces of Advice on Wedding Etiquette

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It is now officially June. ‘Tis wedding season, folks! I wrote a post back in September about the TLC Wedding Shows, and now I have an updated list of wedding etiquette we should all be following. I’ve now been invited to a fair share of weddings, especially this year. It seems everyone is getting married, and if you’re one of them, just know, I hate you.

I don’t hate you because you’re getting married and I want to get married. No, no, no. I hate you because now I have to deal with other people around the wedding buzz, and at times, it can be unbearable.

Here is a list of things I personally believe you should avoid, whether you’re the one getting married, or you’re attending a wedding.

If You’re Getting Hitched…

1.) Please don’t send me an engagement announcement.

I’ve received wedding announcements via snail mail. Some couples spend like, $800 or more to take engagement photos, which is perfectly adequate and normal. But then to use that and spend an additional $100 on making engagement announcements just to inform me you’re engaged when I already saw it on your Instagram post is a waste of time and money. You’re already spending a butt load of money and you haven’t even started planning the wedding yet. I liked your post on Instagram. I maybe even texted you. That’s all you and I need.

2.) Don’t get sloppy with your guest list.

I know someone, let’s call him Derek, and his roommate from college is getting married this weekend. Derek hasn’t spoken to this former roommate in a year or two. The roommate texted Derek two weeks before the wedding, asking if he was coming. Derek said, “I haven’t received an invitation, but if I’m invited, I’d love to come!” The roommate said, “Wonderful. I’ll send the details soon.” A week goes by and Derek hears of nothing. The roommate finally texts Derek and says, “Hey man. I’m sorry. The guest list got all screwy. You’re still welcome to come, but it will cost you a lot of money.” First of all, are you charging Derek $75 to attend the wedding for his meal? Secondly, let Derek decide whether it’s a lot of money.

Never, ever do that! It looks so tacky and unorganized. At least if you are unorganized, make everyone believe you’re organized. Derek assumes that the roommate felt obligated to invite him, and then by slipping in that it will cost him a lot of money to attend, was secretly hoping he would not attend at all. It’s much more rude to ask someone to attend at last minute than it is to not ask them at all.

3.) Don’t ask outsiders who they want to invite.

Say you have a close friend, and they want to bring a plus one. If you have it in the budget, go ahead and give that person a plus one. But don’t ask your great aunt Midge who she wants to invite to the wedding, especially if it’s a dozen people you’ve either never met, or have only met once in your entire life. Your great aunt Midge is not the one getting married. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of couples complaining about how large their guest list is, and then go on to say they’ve invited 50 people they’ve never met before. I then ask why, and they say, “Well, my uncle really wants them there.” WHY? Why does your uncle care so much? Tell your uncle to pay for them then.

If You’re Attending The Wedding…

1.) Oh, the bridesmaids!

Bridesmaids are almost completely useless nowadays. For my generation, many bridesmaids forget that claiming the bridesmaid crown means more than just wearing a pretty dress and locking arms with a groomsman down the aisle on the big day. Bridesmaids actually have duties. My mother describes it perfectly, “Think of the bride as a princess and we are her maids.” The bride is asking you to be a bridesmaid because she needs your help and assistance with things that may be out of her control. They need to help with the Bachelorette party planning, and the wedding shower, and assist in picking items out for the registry. On the actual wedding day, if the bride is in the middle of getting her hair done and she says she’s thirsty, offer to grab her a water.

Another thing that bugs me about bridesmaids is their highly opinionated thoughts on dresses. If the bride wants me to wear a clown suit, I’ll wear the clown suit. I’m not the one getting married. I would never tell the bride that I hate the dress she picked out for the bridesmaids because it’s rude and insensitive, and you shouldn’t either.

2.) The registry pickle.

If you’re unsure what gift to buy the bride and groom, a card with a gift card inside is perfectly fine. Especially if you don’t have the time and money to find an expensive blender. But most couples pick out items and place them on a registry for their upcoming wedding shower to make it easier on guests attending. Number one rule: always, always, always claim the item as purchased once you’ve actually purchased it. Some people forget, and then boom, the wedding shower arrives and the bride has received three ice cream makers. And now she has to find time to bring two of them back and hopefully they both have gift receipts.

3.) Comparing and contrasting.

This brings me back to the TLC wedding shows where all it is is comparing and contrasting between weddings. Don’t compare your wedding, or future wedding plans, to the wedding you are currently attending. There are many reasons I say no to this. Number one: nobody cares. Number two: You are two completely different people with different styles. No judging allowed. Think of this like Planet Fitness! Same mind set. If the bride wanted a doughnut wall instead of a traditional cake (I found this idea on Pinterest and I’m stealing it), just say, “Oh that’s interesting and cool.” Grab a doughnut and then move on.


I hope you all find this useful to you during the 2016 wedding season, and have now become the best damn bride/guests your friends have ever asked for.

 

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Connecticut, Family, Home, I Wasn't Worried, My Idea Of Being An Adult

“Adulting”

Setting: Pub in downtown Fairfield, Connecticut

Girl: Ugh, I have to actually do adult things this week.

Me: What do you mean?

Girl: My parents are going out of town, so I have to do some adulting. Don’t you hate that? I like, actually have to cook for myself, and take the dog out to go to the bathroom. Isn’t that weird?

Me: ………..


I’m in no way judging this girl. Okay, maybe a little. I sometimes forget that not everyone has had the same life as me. When I graduated from high school, my parents moved to Texas about two weeks after the ceremony. I spent the summer living with my grandparents. I then went off to college, and saw my parents twice a year for the next four years or so. Every summer, and during holiday breaks, I stayed with either my grandparents or my aunt. I worked a lot during school, and did my best to help out around the house until I realized it was probably time to find my own place. I was always welcomed at their houses, but by the time I was 21, and I hadn’t lived with my parents since I was 18, I felt like it was time to get my own place.

I moved in with my boyfriend at the time, and continued to do so until about six months ago. But during those four-ish years, I learned to act like an adult. I kind of assumed everyone did around my age but I guess I was wrong. I had to keep up with grocery shopping, clean the apartment when it got messy, remember to bring my car in for an oil change, etc. All of these things that the average adult has to do, I found normal by the time I was 21.

About six months ago, my longtime boyfriend and I broke up. One of the reasons I got off Facebook was the fact that I didn’t want to deal with anybody. It wasn’t necessarily because I was sad, but I didn’t feel like answering questions like, “I saw you moved! Where did you GUYS move to?” or “He’s almost done with school right? What’s next?” My ex and I were not that obnoxiously cheesy lovey dovey couple to begin with, so even if we hadn’t posted about each other in a while, nobody would have noticed. Some friends are just finding out now that we are no longer together and it’s been about six months.

But my point in this post is that, sure, I already knew how to act like an adult early on, but I didn’t know my full potential until I was really, 100% alone. It started with my road trip. I was driving through the Arizona desert at 6am, and realized that I was alone for another 2,500 miles. That was probably the scariest part of this big change of mine. When I finally pulled up to my mom’s house in New Hampshire, something in me shifted. I had done it! All by myself without much help from anyone, minus the Indiana pickle I was in with the snow. I relaxed for a few days and got straight to work to find a job and a place to live. A month later, I finally found a job, and then found a place to live within that week. I felt like I was on top of the world. It’s an amazing feeling to know that I am capable of taking care of myself, when for so long, I never gave myself a chance. It was always a running joke that I couldn’t handle my own life because of how forgetful, klutzy, and at times, shy I am. I am all of those things, but I’ve broken out of the shell just a little bit. When it comes to getting things done, there’s no time for me to be shy. I’ve learned to keep track of important things in my own way, such as not leaving the stove on when I leave the house, or remembering to pay my electricity bill on time, so that I’m not so forgetful. I have yet to figure out the klutzy thing though; that will probably never go away. I will forever and always stub my toe on every corner and drop my keys while holding bags of groceries before getting to the door. I’ve completely put my faith and life into my own hands, and it’s a wonderful feeling.

Now when I have friends or new acquaintances complain that they actually had to go to the bank today, or ask me questions about car insurance, I just nod my head politely and remind myself that we all grow at different times. While some my age complain that they are still living at home with their parents, I remind them of how lucky they are. If my parents had stayed in New Hampshire, I probably would have lived with them a lot longer than I did. But I’m also grateful that I’ve had the chance to grow into the person I am now.

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Family, Home, Humor, I'm not a mommy blogger, Out of the Ordinary

I Took a DNA Test

For my 25th birthday, my mom gave me an Ancestry DNA kit. I produced enough saliva to fill a trough and spit into a tube to send off to the lab to find out any outrageous information about my DNA. I’ve already had a pretty good idea about my ancestral background. It’s known that I’m about half Mexican along with English and Welsh, and a tiny bit of Native American blood. But there is always a chance we could have been wrong all these years, or oblivious to some family information. Well, I finally got my test results back and they are…interesting.

The test doesn’t give you a full detailed list of all the ethnic backgrounds flowing in your blood stream. They give you a percentage of the general region, naming the countries listed within that region. Basically, if you’re 25% “Native American”, it states that this region consists of the U.S., Canada, and Central and South America. It doesn’t mean you’re 25% Puerto Rican. It just means 25% of you hails from this general area. That way, if you are building your family tree and you see your 7th great-grandfather crossed the border from Alberta, it won’t seem so random and out of place.

Here are my outrageously astounding test results you probably don’t care about at all but I’m going to tell you anyways:

31% Native American

Like I said, it states this region is primarily North, Central, and South America. I don’t specifically know what it entails but my first thought was, “I should play Pocahontas in Once Upon A Time.”

pocahontas34% Europe West

This includes Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein. Why hasn’t my modeling career skyrocketed?

9% Italy/Greece

I can officially place the Italian flag bumper sticker on my car like every other damn Italian to let other people know I’m effing Italian! If only I had actually moved to Jersey….

8% Great Britain

I’m actually surprised I’m not more British than I’ve been told. I was so sure I was going to find out I’m the long lost cousin of Prince William and Harry, and then be grossly mortified because of how gorgeous I think they are. Well, Harry at least. William let himself go just a tad….

7% Scandinavian

I always knew I marched to the beat of my own drum, all thanks to these guys.

4% Iberian Peninsula

Spain and Portugal…now I definitely missed my modeling career opportunity.

2% Africa North

This includes Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, and Libya. I’m Africa bound to learn more about this deep culture of mine. (Can you smell the sarcasm?)

1% Caucasus

Includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. So I’m the next Kardashian? GOD HELP ME.

>1% African Bantu

South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Uganda.

What would happen if I showed up to these countries and was like, “MY PEOPLE!!”? Feel free to share your guesses.

>1% Finland/Northwest Russia

I didn’t mind Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

>1% Ireland

I find this hilarious and strange since my grandmother on my father’s side always said she was half Irish. Well then…..200

>1% Middle East

Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lebanon, and Israel. A bit random if you ask me…..

Those are my astounding results. I hope you enjoyed my first reactions.

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Family, Writing

On Losing a Parent You Hardly Knew

photo-1461005490174-1d69ffda0669I recently came across an article, An Open Letter To Every Kid Who Has Lost A Parent. The title interested me because I too, lost my dad two and a half years ago. I was curious to read what this girl had to say and I found that I could only relate to a couple of things on her list of 15 thoughts. I realized I couldn’t quite relate because for nearly fifteen years, I didn’t know my father at all with the exception of a few letters and quiet phone calls. We didn’t have family traditions, or old home movies of him playing with me or teaching me to crawl, and I don’t think I will ever relate to anyone who grew up with both parents, nor resent them for it. I also do not find myself in a bind and wonder, “What would Dad do?” because I honestly don’t know. However, the last seven years of his life, I did get to know him slowly, but surely. But it never made up for the fifteen years we had lost.

I’ve decided to make a list of my own in regards to what it is like to a lose a parent you hardly knew.

First off, it’s okay to cry. It feels weird at times, I know, but it’s real. In fact, be thankful that you can form the tears because it shows that you care, and that counts for something, doesn’t it?

1. I became obsessed.

I began finding out things I never knew about him, and it killed me inside. I held tightly onto what little stories I heard, the good and quite possibly, the bad. I wanted to know everything from the moment my mom knew him to the end, even if what I was about to hear I could have lived without.

2. I felt guilty.

I probably felt guilty for a number of reasons. One of them could have been that when I was younger, and so used to the idea of only one parent, the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality was far too strong. If I was younger, and given no chance at all to know my father and he had died then, I can’t say that I would have reacted with sadness. That may sound harsh, but it was equivalent to finding out your teacher from twenty years ago passed away. I might have felt more disappointed than sad.

Perhaps I felt guilty for all of the times he reached out in the past, and I ignored him. Or the cards he sent for my birthday and Christmas I tossed to the side. In my mind, I know I could have done things differently.

3. I wondered what life would have been like with them around.

My mother always kept my best interests at heart, and she knew that life with my father would not have been grand. I truly thank her for that. I would have rather imagined happy scenarios than be faced with the truth. I started to wonder how I would have turned out if he had stayed. I wondered where I would have ended up. Would I be a good person, or a bad person?

4. I felt stripped from opportunity.

I was lucky enough to have my father at both my high school and college graduation, even if it meant he would die four months later. I was lucky enough to be able to teach him the art of the smartphone, and celebrate my first “big girl” job. There are so many more opportunities we could have had, like my wedding or birth of my first child. Those moments are far more important to me than him teaching me how to ride a bike or prepare me for my driving test.

5. I held onto every last thing.

Unlike others, I didn’t have an unlimited amount of fond memories of my dad because of the fact that he wasn’t around. I now only have objects of his, like a necklace he gave me of Lady Guadalupe, and a few of his bandanas and drawings. If I lose those things, I feel as though I’ve lost everything.

6. I questioned my reaction to death.

My dad and I were starting to get really close by the time he died. I remember when my mother called to tell me, I couldn’t breathe. I sat in the bathroom with my face in the toilet for about thirty minutes, and then paced my bedroom for hours trying to figure out what to do. I cried for an entire week straight. I was then terrified with the idea that if this is how I react with my dad, who I was still getting to know, how am I going to handle it when my mother dies? Or my sisters? Or my grandparents? Was I just more upset about the fact that I’ve lost all possibilities and opportunities? It was an overwhelming feeling that I physically would not make it, and it kept me up at night.

7. Every bit of condolence is tiresome.

That first year after his death was the hardest, especially when others did not know everything. So when they said, “I’m so sorry for your loss. At least you have so many wonderful memories of him to hold onto,” I had an urge to scream. It wasn’t their fault. They were just trying to show support, but sometimes not saying anything was best. Just a hug would have sufficed. Now that time has passed, it’s a little bit easier to deal with it when someone sends me their condolences through conversation.

 

Losing a parent is not an easy thing to explain to others. Losing a parent you barely knew is just as complicated. It’s certainly something I do not wish even on my worst enemy.

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Anecdote, Family, Festivities, Home, Humor, Memories

Home, and stories

Today, I feel like reminiscing my hometown. Since I no longer have a house there, I visit only once in while when I’m driving through. Lately, I’ve been missing it. I grew up in a small beach town in New Hampshire called North Hampton, founded in 1742. It’s not on the level of Stars Hollow with a crazy town selectman or a bitter Korean Antique store owner, but it has its boosts of colonial charm, and similar to Stars Hollow, all of the houses are extremely old and hold some form of historical value.

Solid example of every day life at North Hampton Elementary:

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(Source)

Let me start off by looking back at the fond memories of my fellow neighbors. There were the M’s to the left of us that seemed to never have a bad day. When I pulled into my driveway, me being the naturally bitter New Englander that I am, used to dread seeing Mr. M watering his lawn because that meant he would drop the hose with excitement and run across his yard just to pop over and say, “howdy”. We hated that. They had a daughter named Michelle who was the same age as my sisters, and occasionally babysat me. We didn’t exactly get along. One afternoon, my sister came home from school to hear me screaming at Michelle from their house, calling her a “Buttface” while she yelled something along the lines of, “I’m going to kill you you little brat!” I’m sure it was more vulgar, but basically my sister grabbed my hand and hauled me back home while I smirked. (I also won’t forget that time on the trampoline when I was probably seven and she jumped so hard that I flew into the air like a humpback whale punting a seal and landed face first into the trampoline. My nose bled pretty badly that day.)

We had our neighbors, the P’s to the right of us who liked to party just as much as we did. Their son, Nick, had a pet snake and my sisters recall Mr. P taking the snake into the garage and chopping him up into pieces. Of course, seeing only Mr. P’s torso with a butcher knife in his hand made it look even more disturbing than it actually was. They also had a fat beagle named Spike who would slip and tumble into the ditches in our backyard from our dog Jasmine. Occasionally, I’d look out the back door and see little legs pointing up and some scrambling before I ran out to help him.

We also had a lady down the street with a very impressive collection of flamingoes in her yard. And the grumpy elderly couple  who was always performing yard work every day and never bought one single box of Girl Scout cookies from me. There was also a farmhouse with a donkey, and every day on the school bus, I’d see the Donkey named Jericho and his butt in the doorway. He recently died and I mourned his loss 3,000 miles away.

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My school was tiny. I went to one school that had grades Preschool to 8th grade, and there were about 65 kids in my 8th grade class. I knew most of my classmates since the finger painting days which is probably why health class was so unbearably uncomfortable. Imagine sitting in a classroom talking about the inner workings of the vagina with 65 kids who you practically call brother and sister. Even when dating became popular, it still felt weirdly like incest. It seemed like our health class lasted years. We learned about sex starting from fifth grade all the way to eighth grade. I remember one activity we did, the boys sat on one side while the girls sat on the other, and we asked each other a series of questions and I wanted someone to just bury me alive. One boy decided to announce to everyone that he didn’t like blow jobs. Some force came over me, and even though I didn’t know what a blow job was at the age of twelve, I then blurted out, “How do you know?” Everyone started laughing and I instantly felt like crap.

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Because of our small, close-knit class, we were extremely sheltered because nothing bad ever happened in this quaint town. It wasn’t until we went to high school and met kids from other towns that it felt like we had been hit over the head with a frying pan of reality.

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We had the annual walk to the beach at the end of the school year that was a 3.5 mile walk. I wouldn’t consider it child labor but….

We had a middle school teacher that followed us through 6-8 grade so she was like our Mr. Feeny.

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Our middle school dances were combined with the students at Hampton Falls, who had an even smaller school than we did. The dances consisted of us standing in a corner watching the other teachers dance to 50 Cent and “Tipsy”. And I really hated the fact that they always played “Stairway to Heaven” as the last slow song of the evening. It’s way too damn long.

Every year we held a Thanksgiving lunch where we could dress up as either a pilgrim or an Indian. 97% of North Hampton’s population is white, so naturally, everyone dressed as a pilgrim. My mom always tried to convince me to dress as an Indian every year because I’d be “different”, but I always fought back with, “EVERYONE ELSE WILL BE A PILGRIM THOUGH!” I always won that argument.

These fond memories get me all jazzed to go home in T-minus 18 days. How many of you are going home for the holidays?

Be sure to send me your holiday stories for the very first You’re Fine Holiday Contest! The winner will receive a New Years gift from me as well as your story posted to my blog on Christmas Day. Any questions, email me at jreyna91@gmail.com! 

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California, Family, Home, My Idea Of Being An Adult, News, Things I Should Have Solved A Year Ago

My Hullabaloo

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It looks like I’m heading home for the holidays. I didn’t originally plan to go home, but it’s needed right now.

Who here has read The Bell Jar?

‘Cause I’m feeling a little bit like Esther Greenwood without the whole suicide thing. None of you need to be concerned for the safety of my health but my mind is not working properly right now. I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch.

I haven’t been working for nearly six months and I’ve become a bit of a slump. I’ve lost my way, so to speak. My focus is shot, my ambition is shot, and overall, I’m unhappy with how things are going at this point. For almost a year, I’ve been wanting to write about this “hullabaloo” that Esther Greenwood/Sylvia Plath mentions. She says,

“I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”

Ever since I finished that book back in February, I’ve been feeling like I know Esther Greenwood like she’s my pal. The word hullabaloo means “clamorous noise or disturbance”. But after finishing the book, I realized what hullabaloo means to both me and Esther. The two of us are floating in what our eyes is a sea of nonsense. While we feel like we are drifting, the rest of the world still moves on, doing everything they think they are supposed to be doing when we are unsure what role we play.

Perhaps I’m selfish for not appreciating every job opportunity that comes my way, but it is what it is. For the past two and a half years since I’ve graduated, I’ve felt more unaccomplished than perhaps I should. Sure, I got my master’s, but for right now it’s just another degree that I have to figure out what to do with like it’s a puzzle. I chose a complicated route to take in finding myself and what I want in a life and career, I’ll admit that. It causes a lot of rejection and failure, but I knew that going into it. It’s not easy being far away from everyone and everything I knew, and so far, California hasn’t been treating me with kindness.

So, right now, I need to go home and clear my head. I need to go home to check on my relatives whom, health wise, are not doing the best. I need to go home and basically figure out my life and what I want. I need to breathe and focus. I need to have meaningless chit chatter with my sisters, and watch highly inappropriate shows and movies with my mother. I need to put all of my energy into positive possibilities, and grab hold of it if something comes of it.

T-minus 27 days until I land in Boston, and I could cry at the thought.

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