Adventure in Breaking/Mending

Eight weeks ago something happened. Six weeks ago something worse happened. One week ago more brush was shoved on the fire.

It’s not a new topic for me, especially in the last couple of years, but try as I might, try as others might, I won’t stop talking about it.

Eight weeks ago, between eating lunch and picking up a comic to take to his next city, I stopped at the home of a person I know. Someone I had spoken with regularly. Someone I considered a friend. In the course of less than half an hour, everything changed.

I was able to take myself out of the situation before it became desperate. But “no” wasn’t a viable answer. “This isn’t why I came over,” was also unaccepted. “I don’t want to redo my makeup” was a good reason. “I’m on my period” granted me enough space to get up and leave, but not enough space to have control to stop things.

I picked up the comic and went about my weekend.

Six weeks ago, I was feeling good. I met up with someone and lost complete control of the situation. I’ll continue to spare you details. I got home in the middle of the night, uncontrollably sobbing. I knew the right things to do. I knew to call the police. I knew not to shower. I knew those are the things you’re supposed to do. Another thing you should do, if you’re able, is take care of yourself, whatever that looks like. So I did. I showered. I took my clothes off. In that order.

I did something I haven’t done before though. I reached out to people immediately. Everyone was asleep, but in the morning so many people were affirming. So many people kept my mind safe. My dear friend, who is far away, encouraged me to go to the Sexual Assault Treatment Center. My dear friend, who is down the street, hugged me while I sobbed on him.

I called the Sexual Assault Treatment Center, because I didn’t know how it worked. She said to come in immediately. I asked, “Can I wait an hour? I have a job interview in 15 minutes.” She called me a toughie.

Throughout an hour-long job interview, I held it together. I needed this job. She asked how I handle stressful situations. I refrained from saying, “I haven’t cried once or given pause that something is wrong in this interview, have I?”

My dear friend, who hurried back from out of town, met me at the Sexual Assault Treatment Center. I met with a forensic nurse, a police detective, and a woman from victims assistance. I had a full exam done. I only cried once. She was kind. She was patient. She took my time, not hers. Some times when we interact with people who need kindness and patience, we offer them patience on our own time. She did not do this. She gave me time to breathe. She waited until I said okay. I know it’s her job to act this kindly with victims. We could all stand to work this kindly with everyone.

My dear friend waited in the lobby for two hours. Her phone died. She read every pamphlet. She waited on my time. She was kind. She is kind.

Another friend far away shared my assailants picture. He told the story. He checked with me and then told anyone who would listen. Profiles were removed. People were talking, in the best ways. He shared the truth, not the easy parts.

The next day I had a gynecological exam to get checked for my tumorous cysts. The nurse was kind. She talked to me about her own trial. The RN was not kind. She was cold and shaming. I scheduled another appointment for an ultrasound, because the RN didn’t believe me. It was five weeks later.

I stayed open. I kept talking. I asked for help, for company. I was granted this more times than I can explain. Food was brought to my home. Kindness after kindness.

Two weeks later I had a second interview for the same job. I hadn’t slept in four days. I was certain I wouldn’t get it. It was a terrible interview. I was exhausted. I was beaten. I was destroyed.

The next day I received a call from my doctor’s office. It wasn’t just my fears. Other unwanted news came. Nothing uncommon, just unpleasant.

Three weeks went by, and it became a problem for some people. This made me stronger. My survival and my means of survival were problematic for some people. I vowed to become immortal out of spite.

At four weeks, I wanted nothing, but hugs. I also wanted to never be touched. I was watching as people I knew were having pretty serious allegations brought up against them. I was watching and being pulled in. People were contacting me, as if I’m an authority on consequences. The only consequences I understand are my own, the ones I face every day. I watched possible (albeit likely) assailants keep friends, which is a type of affirmation of those actions. While I was losing people for being dramatic, for causing problems.

Do you know why someone talking about rape seems dramatic? I do. Because trauma is dramatic. Because tragedy is drama. Because truth is dramatic.

This only made me louder.
“I wish I could talk my way out of being raped the way rapists talk their way out of trouble.”
“So we’re clear. A rapist hears the word ‘no’ and expects that to mean ‘yes.’ But when accused the rapist is like ‘I didn’t rape her.’ Apparently only his ‘no’ means ‘no.'”

I started to feel more isolated. It was silly. Weeks prior I was surrounded, literally and figuratively. Friends from all over were reaching out to me. Nonetheless, I began to fear I had worn out my welcome on asking for favors. I’m not quick to ask for help, but this time as a means of survival I knew I needed to. Coming up the stairs at home and collapsing to my knees sobbing, I knew I needed help. I had reached out to someone I was told was a therapist. They proved to be a crazy person that would only escalate my issues.

I felt alone. I was not alone. I felt alone. I felt empty. I felt lost. I felt alone.

Loud noises began to affect me. My parents’ dogs barking made me terrified and panicked. Thunder made me panicked. A dear friend brought me earplugs and other kindnesses.

At a show, I wore my “please-don’t-rape-me” jeans that I bought eight weeks ago. I told my friends not to touch me and to make sure no one else did. I did not keep it together. I left in the middle of the show. Broken. I had stayed because I couldn’t be alone, but the music was loud, the voices were loud.

Week five I was fine again. The dogs and I were fine. I could cuddle my dog again.

Creative 30 for 30 started again, and I could force myself to put some of the things in my head to good use. I started baking again. I didn’t start passively baking. I have no one to give baked things to. I started baking to heal. I started baking more than just that one cupcake Kristen Wiig made for herself in Bridesmaids. I started making full pies. I made pies for healing. I recorded recipes. I made the same pie twice. I improved on pie. I improved on pie to improve myself. I taught myself new skills to show myself I can do more. I watched Moana eight times.

I went to my ultrasound. The tech was kind. The tech took my time. She made six marks on the image of my single ovary. She paused. She asked if I wanted children. I turned my face as tears grew in my eyes. I’ve been in pain again for a couple of months. When I finally saw my doctor she explained I had several cysts in my ovary. They ranged in size from 0.5 cm to 1.3 cm. She explained that they would likely dissipate. She explained that in my case they needed to be monitored closely because of my history. She said it was Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It explained so much about my last year. It explained so much. It still scared me so much. It still does. Of course, it does.

I also made it one whole year writing affirmations. It’s not been a full year since I moved them to this platform, but I’d brought myself a full year on the strength of my own mind. I’ve continued. I will continue.

At five weeks I also found out I got that new job. I found out I’d be working in an incredibly life-giving, safe, and affirming space. I could walk to work again. I could pay my bills again. I could be motivated to fight PCOS simply by doing my daily work.

Six weeks/eight weeks later I started my new job. I love my new job. I’ve been doing research on diet options to make PCOS more manageable. I’ve continued to reach out to people. I’ve broken my own heart this week. I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve cried on the phone with someone I haven’t heard from since I told them what happened because I felt abandoned. This crying went unnoticed.

In eight weeks my nightmares have come back. In eight weeks several people have taken themselves out of my life because I’ve been too much. In eight weeks I’ve cycled through peace and pain. In eight weeks I’ve screamed and cried. I’ve gone silent. I’ve pushed myself. I’ve been pushed. I’m not healed. I’m not cured. I am still moving. I am healing. I am mending. Pieces of me are coming back together. (please, ignore that Ashley Simpson reference. I can’t take it out now, but I don’t want it there either).

Some times for no provoked reason, I still fill with all manner of sadness and pain. It doesn’t take new provocation. There’s a lasting provocation lodged inside of me. A provocation I can only hope to learn to cope with. It will live beside me. I will be bigger than it. Some days, I’ll get to a place where I will feed it too much. It must be fed. If it’s starved it will get loud and angry. It must be fed and acknowledged. It is my constant companion. It is my monster. It is not me.

Thank you to everyone who has helped carry me over the last two months and over the last 30 years.

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Adventure in the love vs. need of money

Huntington offered me a great big pile of peace financially speaking. My loans being my heaviest financial burden, which could be easily repaid. I tell you what, it’s not that easy away from Huntington. My rent is about three times the value of my monthly loan payments, which I have not made in months. Were I in Huntington making what I am making now I’d be living quite the cozy life. At present, however, I’m living paycheck to paycheck, and that’s barely doing the trick.

So my American brain says, “find more job. find more money,” which is, first of all, illogical. Hey brain, let’s think. Why not spend less money? Granted I’d be in about the same spot.

It always brings me back to this same spot though. Teaching English overseas. East Asia is more willing to pay people healthsome amounts of dollars, or yen really, to teach professionals, students or just about anyone how to speak English. Which, great news! I speak that! I studied that. I’m an Englishing machine, but then I come to a point of financial and spiritual responsibility. Do I jump on the nearly $50,000 I could be making and banking for some physical and financial comfort at the risk of abandoning everything I know and love? Do I sacrifice and take the hit to do what I know I can for no money a la the mission field?

My brain reasons the latter to be irresponsible. It says asking other people to foot my bills when I’m fully capable is shady, especially when my bills are stacking up, and totally invading my baking space. Is it more responsible to make the money and pay things off hastily? What is responsibility? What is it that really draws me to the idea of teaching overseas?

In part, I’m sure it’s fear. If I run then I can’t be held responsible for things back here. If I leave there’s no one to keep me accountable, but then logic sets in again. And that fear of responsibility is overcome by the fear of no responsibility. If I run from something I know is safe, if not easy, then I’m on my own.

Moving has been a challenge, and it’s a challenge because I’m not really gone. I’m an hour and a half away from anyone I’d need. I reason with myself that it might actually be easier to move away if it were impossible to come back. But it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s impossible to stay away because I had finally found a community. And now, blergh city. So do I take the leap and run? Or do I suck it up and stay?

Then raises the question, am I mentally and emotionally stable enough for either? Answer no.

Adventure in staying strong

971) Listen as hard as you can. You may only get the one chance.
972) When your heart is on the line, don’t just let things go.
973) When you find yourself at a loss for words, please, don’t try to come up with something to say.
974) If someone has shared something important with you, treat it as such.
975) Your burdens are not that burdensome to those who love you.
976) Please, don’t feel alone in your pain. Your pain is unique to you, but know you aren’t the only one hurting.
977) Put in the extra effort.
978) There is always hope.
979) When you feel lost in the world, don’t hide in your home.
980) You are not your job.

The days wear on, and I feel myself struggling on. A pair of friends in Indy. Torn between two worlds. I love my job. I love my apartment. I love Huntington. I miss my friends. And yet, I’m in Huntington right now, and I find myself feeling out-of-place in a place that just one month ago, two weeks ago even, I called “home.”

A painful but beautiful afternoon with a friend brought me out of dark place and into a different but still straining place. Every day is more beautiful and more difficult than the last. And yet there is pain out there different and more complicated than mine, that I must not neglect or ignore.

And here I am, struggling to find the words.

Adventure in Here We Go

In a few short weeks, with short funding, I will be leaving my Huntington family and moving to Indy. To a beautiful apartment. With a wonderful kitchen. Hardwood floors. I want to marry this apartment. I want to bake in it every day. I want to curl up in the dining room/office and read or paint. I want to lay in my bed in my own place and enjoy some quality me time.

I start a brand new job only a couple of weeks after that. An associate editor. How important do I sound? It’s the change I’ve been looking for.

It’s a scary place though. The whole idea. I’ve had some wonderful people in my life. Headset, Spyband, the theatre department, Brett and Will. God has offered me something though in the last few months I never thought I’d get to have. 5 of the finest friends anyone could ask for and an army of other beautiful friends who I can hardly believe I must leave.  It’s the hardest and probably most important thing I’ve ever had to do.  But here comes the kick. Get ready.

701) Never walk away from a good-bye.
702) Some of your favorite days will be marked by the most mundane activities and the most extraordinary people.  
703) It’s never too late to let people know how much you appreciate them.
704) Everyone deserves a chance.
705) When you know change is coming spend as much time with your friends as you can.
706) Please don’t fight the need to cry.
707) Even if you must go alone, travel to see your friends.
708) Stay until the very last-minute you can.
709) When it’s the last time, there is no bed time.
710) You’re not going to realize all the things you wanted to do until the end, when there isn’t time.
711) Phones are important.
712) Do not fear being by yourself.
713) Being by yourself does not mean that you are alone.
714) Do not discredit people simply because they are new to you.
715) When things are at an end do not focus on the end. Focus on the what you still have. Enjoy every moment
716) Keep stamps on hand
717) Have the hard conversations
718) Don’t lose sight of what you truly value.
719) A resignation is not letting someone down.
720) when you can stand next to large bodies of water and enjoy the expanse.
721) The joy of truly good friends is the opportunity to feel you do not have to perform or pretend.
722) Do your best to never make the people in your life feel like you are controlling them
723) Do not manipulate humans.
724) Your spare key, especially to your car, is best kept as your responsibility.
725) Turn signals are not to be trusted
726) Some times, strangers are the most generous and helpful people.
727) Some times they’re scary and dangerous.
728) Drive safely.
729) Be careful.
730) When you must say good-bye. Only say it once. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.
731) Some times the things people tell you in your dreams, dream though it may be, are important things for you to hear.
732) You won’t always get to be a part  of every little thing. This isn’t a bad thing.
733) The things in others that annoy you the most are often the things you dislike the most about yourself. Fix yourself first.
734) If you forgot bug spray, those bites are your own fault.
735) When it is hot your hair will not look the way you want. It probably won’t be pretty. It’s hot. People understand.
736) Soul mates are a silly idea. Doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It also doesn’t mean yours won’t be the finest friend you’ve ever had and not necessarily a boy.
737) When you can, wake up early.
738) Your burdens do not have to be shouldered alone.
739) Budget.
740) Road trips are often best soundtracked with the worst and most popular songs from your younger years.
741) Sofas can always seat more than 4.
742) Keep no one on your hook.
743) Lay outside with your friends and enjoy the sun. Or the rain.
744) Some times naps are essential.
745) Some times they are a bad use of time.
746) Keep Popsicles on hand in the summer
747) There is never too much ice cream
748) Newer isn’t always better.
749) The scariest steps are often the most important ones. 
750) Some of the most crowded and friend-filled places will feel the loneliest and saddest. Don’t lose heart.

ADVENTURE!

And so it goes:

351) Make anything an adventure
352) Adventure often.
353) Go on kiss a stranger. But not as your first kiss.
354) Moms are built-in friends
355) Keep a vast collection of books and movies.
356) If you find a job that allows you not to do much work, and you find that agreeable. Do work, so you can keep that job.
357) Some times you just need to get out and go somewhere. Go when the thought comes to you.
358) Don’t blindly shoot down suggestions
359) Consider the advice of loved ones, friends and elders. Those that fit all three of these categories are especially important to listen to.
360) Love yourself.
361) You cannot love others if you don’t love yourself.
362) Always try to be better at what you do.
363) Check your oil often
364) Thick skin is important
365) But don’t be too terse with those who love you
367) It’s okay to be a cryer. Better that than to seem too insensitive or cold-hearted
368) If you must correct someone do it quietly.
369) If you can help it don’t correct people.
370) Secrets are one thing with which you can be stingy.
371) Share your dreams though. Maybe you’ll share them with the right person to help make them come true.
372) Have a set place that you always put your keys.
373) Anyone that insists your nails be a natural color must understand that means the color of your skin, black, purple and very rarely read.
374) So I say paint them whatever color you wish.
375) There’s no situation that cannot be improved with pizza.
376) When there’s nothing else to do a good drive might be in order.
377) Keep no man on your hook.
378) Being polite can get you a long way.
379) Your attitude is a choice.
380) No matter how trendy it is it really is not that great to abbrev things.
381) “I love you” is a powerful phrase.
382) Don’t over use it or it will lose its value.
383) And don’t use it to solve problems or fill dead space.
384) Some of the best eggs you will ever buy will come from a stand on the side of the road.
385) As will the best produce.
386) Your gas tank should stay above a quarter tank full. Gauges cannot be trusted.
387) Some of the best friends you’ll make will come when you least want to be where you are.
388) The hair care products best for your hair do not include wax in their ingredients.
389) Keep a hair tie with you at all times.
390) Never pay more than $20 for a flat-iron
391) Some days all it takes is mascara
392) Movies are best watched when cuddling.
393) Or hysterically laughing.
394) Or with 10 people on one couch, which is a lot like cuddling.
395) We are all vain. Don’t be tricked by those who pretend not to be.
396) Accept compliments graciously, even if you don’t believe them
397) Accept apologies graciously. They’re some of the hardest things to give.
398) If it is important call. Don’t text.
399) If you must react to cruelty do not react further than you are acted on.
400) Never cause anyone more pain than they’ve caused you.

Adventure in the People in Your Neighborhood

Part of my job involves me meeting lots of new people. Many of them the lovely receptionists. Today I met a wonderful woman who gave me her life story starting at the age of 17 willingly. She graduated high school at 17 in 1956. All of the girls in her class except her got married right out of school. She got a job at 20. And as she worked there five years her boss said she’d never get married. So he signed her up for two classes at the university; bookkeeping and comp. At 26 she joined the young democrats. She was going to go to the JFK victory dance, but didn’t want to go without a date. So one of her married friends found her a date. He was the treasurer of the young democrats though so he couldn’t pick her up and could only dance once in a while. So they agreed to just the slow dances. And when the first slow song came on he walked across the room to her and she said, “Shirley. That’s him. That’s the one.” They were married 15 years, before he passed away.

We both cried as she told me.

“You’ll know. Don’t rush to get married. When you meet him you’ll just know. Just like that. And a girl like you he’ll be a good one.”

Some days I love it.

Adventures in Accepting Circumstance

At the end of January I finished up teaching Hogwarts at Huntington and promptly began a new position at the Herald-Press. Selling ad space in a dying medium. I feel important. I was monstrously excited about the opportunity since I’m not qualified by any stretch of the imagination. As it turns out though, I’m not a salesperson. I’m simply not.

In the middle of February I received an e-mail about my resume which was provided to this particular person via a friend. The friend works for the company, and I thought, “ah what’s the harm in doing these trial assignments? If nothing else I’ll make a little extra cash on the side.” I loved it. I fell in love with the opportunity to have my fingers frantically flying across the keyboard and my brain doing something other than trying to figure out how to convince people to buy things they don’t need. Synonyms. New sentence structures. It was delightful.

I was offered an interview. One day after work I drove down to Indy to interview and have dinner with the interviewer and my friend. I was offered a job. As it turns out though there was nowhere within the office for me to be working.  So what was going to be two weeks is already 3 weeks. And I’ve no indication of starting any time soon.

I press on with a job I don’t understand and am not any good at.

In the meantime I find myself with two lovely roommates. One with a complete lack of understanding about dishes or cleanliness outside of personal hygiene. The other as unkempt in her housekeeping as I am, but clearly some sort of Joey Potter. My wardrobe has grown two-fold. And somehow I’ve become one of those people who loves to clean and cook and bake. I use my Saturdays to scrub. 

The 509 feels more welcoming than it ever has, and I find myself challenged to be better than I’ve been. I struggle to be more than I want to be, fighting the enemy of my salvation doing my best to refuse his pressurings and temptations. The people around me, with no real deliberate or obvious intention, are encouraging me to strive to be as Christ-like as I can. God’s constant grace is covering my entire life. I see him in all of my friends and find myself more hopeful every day.

Maybe the job isn’t the best, but I don’t know what God’s intentions are for me. And maybe this is it. A new job may come along in the future, but for now I’m surrounded by people who offer me love and grace and encouragement. I have more desire to pursue Christ every day. I have a great place to live. Wonderful roommates. And friends whenever I want them.

Who could complain?

Adventure in New Job

Success! Fate and prodding have afforded me a new job! I’ve landed myself a high-pressure workage at the Huntington Herald-Press. I’m an executive. BOOSH. When really all I do is persuade people to give me money to put stuff about their business in the paper. They call it “sales.” KEYS!

I’ve always sort of felt like sales wasn’t for me, but apparently they think it is.  I started today, but didn’t really do anything. So next week when my life really gets rolling we’ll see how I feel. Today, I felt like a receptionist who never does anything. Like a receptionist at a slaughter-house or something…only way less gruesome. Way less.

There are only about 10 of us in the whole building, so that will be an adjustment from the 40+ of us at the airport. An adjustment I will gladly make. It’s going to be a lot of me being self-motivated, but ya know what, I think I can do it. I believe in me. (See what I did there?)

It’s going to be a struggle. For a while. I need to get myself in a place though where it’s ok. I want to be someone who doesn’t just say she’s ok with failing, but is good at it and learns from it. Quickly. I want to be someone who can live her life without wigging out every couple of minutes. I think I’m improving, but I’ve got a way to go still.

It’s probably a good thing I like to drive because from what I understand I’m going to be spending a lot of my time in the car, which, well good. Not upset about it.

Now begins the real problem. Where’s a sister to live? It’s 45 minutes from my parents’ house to the press. And I certainly don’t live in Huntington. So I’m looking into places down here to live, but though they seem relatively decent the ones that I could conceivably afford would require two or more roommates. At present I have a dog. Know what? Most of the places I’ve looked at just don’t dig that. Even if she is freaking adorable. And all of the people I can see myself living with are boys…or freshman. Neither of these will work out well. Thus I need an alternative to this situation.

Life? Repairo.