Things I now know

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One thing I already knew: I’m sort of a feminist. Well, not just sort of, but kinda really. I tend to get pretty gung-ho about it, and about what it represents. Equality. Among everyone. I know, what nerve I have, right?

One thing I wasn’t completely cognizant of: I’m pretty soft spoken. Literally. I have a very soft voice and it takes quite a bit of effort to reach any sort of volume. People have suggested this in a subtle way my entire life, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized my voice not only helps me come across as the kind and understanding person I am about 40 percent of the time, but it also makes it difficult to take me seriously. For instance, it’s come to my attention that when I get worked up about something and use choice swear words, that it sounds like Mickey Mouse with Tourette syndrome.

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You can imagine this can be problematic as a kinda really gung-ho feminist journalist who has things to do and people to talk to.

Exhibit A

One thing you should know: I and my work-colleague-slash-work-friend run a health and fitness initiative at our newspaper, and just ended a summer of fitness classes held once a week. She has a soft and squeaky voice, too. We commiserate.

A story you definitely do not know, and I’m now telling you: A couple weeks ago, we held our second-to-last class in the city square. It was a wonderful concept; we were going to hold a yoga class with our usual attendees and attract passersby who normally wouldn’t be able to make it to the newspaper building to participate in the square.

Looking back, I have to admit. That was a pretty idyllic concept that considered no consequences or assholes.

Because that’s what happened. Assholes. They happened.

Maybe I’m naive. Actually, as jaded as I can be most of the time, there’s still a large portion of me who’s naive and likes to think that everyone at Starbucks will just give you the drink if you don’t have the 50 cents to complete the purchase.

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Anyway, to no one’s surprise but our own, it wasn’t long before the all-female group of yogis was receiving cat calls and honks and stares from not only males but females as well.

My partner and I were immediately enraged. She had taken the time to get a permit for the time we were there, and we felt that if this were a bunch of men practicing yoga, the reaction would not be nearly as crazy. But beyond that, we just wanted to allow people to do some yoga in the space we’d paid for in peace, dammit.

Another thing you don’t know: The city square is surrounded by benches.

These benches, no surprise, are public just as the square is public. So people were occupying these benches while we were occupying the square.

But I’ll be real with you, it was men who were occupying these benches, and they were mostly smoking, and staring at the yogis.

For the most part, they didn’t stay longer than a cigarette before they moved on, and while it annoyed the ever loving out of me and my partner, we let it slide. Because, ya know, we had to – we were in a public space.

And then this guy comes over; he was unkempt, he was stumbling and he had a sandwich and plastic cup filled with what I hope in my naive heart of hearts was simply water.

I completely understand that it sounds like I was profiling this man. But that’s only because he made it all too easy when he sat on the bench directly behind the group of yogis and began checking out their profile during their downward dog.

My partner saw this and said something to the effect of, “Do you think he’s doing that on purpose?”

To which I responded something to the effect of, “Yeah.”

One thing you should know: I’ve struggled with confrontation my whole life. I don’t like it, and when I finally muster up the courage to make a confrontation, it’s usually the result of pent up frustration, blown out of proportion and I end up telling myself something to the effect of, “Well, I’m never doing that again.”

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This instance, to my terror, was not like that.

This instance was completely justified. We watched, for about 10 minutes, as this man gnawed on his sandwich in a teetered position on the bench, as if trying to take in the full scope of the yogis and their yoga efforts.

The mood to that point among the yogis was that of slight amusement and of an eye-rolling, high-road mentality. It was impressive, as I could not imagine taking the high road as a jerk burned a hole through my bum while I was in the warrior pose.

My partner said something like, “I want to say something to him. We have a permit to be here, and he’s kind of disturbing that.”

And I said something like, “Yeah.”

I may have used a swear word, as she got the impression that I felt pretty strongly about this.

“Do you want to say something?” She asked.

I looked at the permit, not entirely sure that just because we had this in our possession that it meant we had full reign over the entire – public – square. And then I looked at the grody guy on the bench who continued leering at the yogis as he mashed that sandwich in his mouth.

I took the permit, took in a breath and said something like, “Yup.”

So I walked over, observing this guy a little more. He had ear buds in, so I was probably going to have to speak up.

“Excuse me,” I probably said. “We have a permit-”

“What?” He kind of yelled.

“We have a permit and-”

“Oh, no, I’m allowed to sit here. I’m not moving,” he said.

OK, I thought. He’s in a public space. But…

“You’re making my people uncomfortable,” I said. I used the word “people,” mostly because I was flustered and had no idea how else to refer to them, but also because I felt they were my people. My people are those who expect to be able to do things in life without being objectified or made to feel inferior. So there.

“I’m just looking. I’m allowed to look. This is a public space,” he said.

OK, I thought. He’s right. But…

“Listen,” I said. Keep in mind my squeak. “We paid for our time to be here, and you’re making my people uncomfortable. You need to respect them.”

He rolled his eyes and kind of snarled in disgust. I could see some of his sandwich. And lack of teeth.

“Go away,” he said.

OK, I said to myself. You lose. Go away.

I almost did, and then the pent up frustration happened. I completely forgot that I was representing the company I worked for, and that I was a leader who was supposed to do things like be respectful and take the high road. I was mad, and that was all.

“Just respect my f—ing people,” I said. And then I walked away with my heart in my throat.

He left a little bit later.

One thing you should know: I didn’t tell my partner I said that. I didn’t tell anyone I said that. I was – and am – terrified that I made a poor decision in that instance.

Nonetheless, I stand by it.

What I now know: As a leader, and as a human, I believe it’s important to hold others to the standard I hold myself. And that’s to respect others. That’s it. And I believe both myself and the yogis were being not only disrespected, but also objectified and treated as inferior during the time we were in that city square.

And you don’t do that. Just don’t.

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… I’m boring

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We all have crazy stories from when we were young, before we knew better and really had to hunker down to become responsible, hard working people who contribute to society.

Except I don’t.

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Freshman year of college was great, but aside from that time I discovered I’d walked back to my dorm room in someone else’s shoes (albeit drunk), and never found out what happened to my own, I wrapped up my wild and crazy period pretty quick.

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At 24, I didn’t expect to have accomplished basically everything I’d set out to in my career, have a person ready to marry me, have two dogs, a nice apartment, (a pretty rockin’ bod if I do say so myself), a decent wardrobe… and absolutely no life.

The most exciting thing I did this week was change the color scheme in my bathroom.

Most people my age are still figuring out what their career should be, or are trying to kick it off. Most of the people I talk to were trying to get their life on track at my age.

I’m basically Doogie Howser, but less exciting.


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So, sure, it’s like, “Boohoo, ya jerk. That’s a pretty nice life.” But it’s also like, “I gotta let my freak flag fly. Just let me live.”

This would be easy if my fiance weren’t five years older than me and had already lived his life, and if my friends weren’t wrapping up that chapter of their lives/busy living them.

So what do I do? Do I go to the bar by myself and try to stir up trouble? Nope, because rape and abduction are real things. Do I send out a Facebook post asking for drug dealer recommendations? No, because jail is a thing, too.

I could go on vacation… har har, yeah, right. I’m a journalist, and make journalist money.

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I only have a few good years before my metabolism completely craps out on me and I have no choice but to settle down and be a married bore (no offense, fiance and married people). But I don’t know how to get my fun train on the road without doing something illegal/outside of my pay grade.

Yes, it’s a #firstworldproblem, and I should be happy. But… shut up and get your life together.

We need to talk about mental disorders

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Remember when you were younger, and your friend broke his/her (insert limb here)? Remember all the attention they got, and how many people wanted to sign their cast or carry their backpack? Also, remember that really demented part of you who kind of wanted to break a bone just to get a cast for people to sign, and for someone to offer to carry your backpack?

Maybe that was just me, but I’m pretty sure there was a “Wonder Years” episode or something that affirmed my feelings about this enough that I thought everyone thought like this at a young age.

Anyway, I feel like there’s a feeling similar to this going around with my peers regarding mental disorders. I’m talking about disorders like anxiety, OCD, depression, etc.

These disorders are talked about a lot (see posts like this and this), which is fantastic, because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be educated and talking about them, and hopefully this leads to us talking about more taboo illnesses and what we as a community can do to help those suffering with them.

However, I don’t think posts like those I linked to above have been doing a very good job of expressing just how serious these disorders, which have become so mainstream in our vocabulary (“I have really bad anxiety today,” or “He’s so OCD about this.”) really are. They’ve become a topic we as a society are getting comfortable with talking about, which both comforts me and scares me at the same time.

It comforts and scares me because I was recently diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder.

Anxiety wasn’t a surprise to me. Ask my fiance. I’d been sending him links for months, saying, “No, really, I think I have this.” I was half-serious, thinking I was just a tense and easily stressed person. Everyone has their quirks and pet peeves.

But when your boss suggests you talk to someone, and your counselor diagnoses you, and you realize there’s a reason you don’t sleep, and you realize there’s a reason you want to hurt yourself… things get real. Fast.

So it’s comforting to see posts I can relate to, and it’s comforting not to feel alone. But it’s terrifying to think there are people out there who don’t have the illnesses they’re claiming, when I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. And it’s terrifying to think there are people who have these illnesses, but aren’t doing anything about it.

Now, I don’t know you. I don’t know your life. No one’s saying you have something that you don’t, but if you think you do, do something about it. Because here’s the thing – actually having a disorder and going through the steps to help it is f**king lonely, and it’s scary. It’s not a trendy topic to ogle. Don’t let yourself feel that way, because there are a ton of people in the same position as you.

It’s not easy or fun to talk about, but if we start recognizing these illnesses and disorders as something serious, we can start doing something about them. Honesty’s the best policy, as usual, and ignoring these conditions, as with anything, is the most damaging thing you can do to yourself and others.

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My top 6 reactions to everyday sexism

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6. When my boyfriend comes with me on an errand, and whoever helps me only speaks to him.

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5. When I can’t tell if a man is calling me “honey” because I’m a woman, or because I look like I’m a teenager… and then I realize neither is acceptable.

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4. When I come back from the auto place and find out my boyfriend paid $60 less than I did for the same service.

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3. When someone assumes I don’t like something because I have a vagina.

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2. When I have to worry about my hem length and neck line at work, but my boyfriend can wear sneakers and a baseball cap for the same job.

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1. When I figured out that if I want the same deal my boyfriend got on his new car, I’ll have to send him to do it for me.

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I’ve grown up way too fast since graduating

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It was a year ago that I graduated from college, and in that time I’ve moved across the country twice, moved in with my significant other, had two jobs, been promoted, gotten engaged to said significant other and have started noticing just how important moisturizer is to the skin underneath my eyes… because it’s begun to wrinkle. I’m basically a shar pei underneath my eyes now.

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But beyond wrinkles, doing all this stuff in so little time has caused me to age mentally by, like, at least 15 years. It’s most noticeable when I’m interacting with fellow post-grads. Between the lingo that I’ve lost track of, and the energy I’ve lost altogether, I’m no longer a peer. I’m pretty much that aunt on Facebook who still capitalizes “lol” and shares the same eCards that were popular six years ago (I don’t capitalize “lol.” I don’t even use “lol,” because rarely do I “laugh out loud.” That’s just false advertising. You don’t laugh out loud when I ask you what you’re up to, and you say “nothing lol.” You’re lol’ing like everyone was brb’ing back in 1999. Nobody ever just brb’d. They left. They were gone. The latest “Friends” episode was clearly more important than making plans to see “Fight Club” before it left theaters.).

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…Because you won’t be.

1. Going out to the bar after work is a fantasy that likely will never happen. Not unless we gain 10 more hours the next time we set our clocks back for daylight saving time. I can’t just pick up a Red Bull and throw on my hooker boots anymore. I need a nap, a DD and a Subway sandwich as insurance for my laughably low tolerance.

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2. When you use this week’s random new millenial phrase, such as “on fleek” or “bae,” I make this face:

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3. I have no idea which reality shows are now on MTV. I gave up when “Teen Mom” just inspired more teens to become moms.

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4. When I see minors (that’s another thing, I say “minors”) doing things they shouldn’t, I often say to myself, “Where is your mother?” I revel in the thought of taking those teens by the ears, taking them home to their mothers and having those mothers say, “Thank you, responsible twenty-something who acts at least 15 years older than she really is. I hope this child turns out to be just like you.”

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But, hey, here’s to being young.

Wedding things that I just don’t understand

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I’m ecstatic to be marrying my person, but there are several things about the wedding itself that are so hyped up, and I can’t wrap my head around why.

1. The date. “Have you set a date?” What is so important about when we’re getting married? Sure, it’ll be the best day ever for us, and the excitement is appreciated, but why is this so important to the rest of the world that it’s the first question from absolutely everyone? Is there this secret pot of gold I’m not aware of that some wizard will give you if you pick the right date? Are we entered as possible tributes for the Hunger Games based on that date? Is there a free cheeseburger involved at all? Because that, actually, would be fabulous, and is information that I need beforehand.

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2. The dress. This has to be the most archaic, sexist obsession I’ve ever been ashamed to be a part of. I have yet to hear anyone ask my fiance if he’s found his tux, how many he tried on, if it’s strapless, etc. If people knew how uninterested I was in finding the perfect dress compared to most brides, they’d have a kiniption the likes of which Britney Spears only grazed back in 2007. I came this close to wearing a white maxi dress and calling it a day.

4318795a-b9bc-4920-8c0a-df2fc6f25ef13. The food. Did you catch the cheeseburger comment above? That is what I want. If we could all meet at a diner after the ceremony, with milkshakes, that’d be the dream. But apparently, everyone wants to be fed chicken or beef, and cake. Ya know, whatever works.

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4. Centerpieces. I have had/been responsible for several tables in my life, believe it or not. Centerpieces? I dunno, put a lamp on it. This is one of those things that makes me appreciate having several more experienced women involved in the planning, because they let me know that not only are lamps a fire hazard, with wires and whatnot, but also that at this modern-day wedding, lighting will not be a problem.

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I’m only in the early stages of planning this thing, but I have a hunch that there will be several other instances where I’m not as concerned as I probably should be, and I have to just smile, shake my head enthusiastically and say, “Yeah, if someone messes that up, I’m gonna lose it.”

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Top five things I think while driving in the snow

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1. Where’d the road go? Am I still on it? I can’t tell if that’s the dotted white line, or if that’s just more snow. I am so glad I’m driving alone right now.

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2. What if I die? I hope the last text I sent out was nice and not something like, “I am going in on that cake tonight.”

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3. To the car infront of me: Alright, we don’t need to drive that slow. You’re in an SUV and you’re going 5 mph right now. Stop. You need to go home and tell your mom what you did.

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4. I’m just going to keep talking to myself, because it makes me feel better. “It’s OK. You’ve got this. Just a little bit further. Almost done. It’s OK. You won’t die.”

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5. All the wine. If I make it home, I’m drinking all the wine tonight.

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