Of lessons learned and sunburns

Confession time: I didn’t make it through Bonnaroo.

It was a drug festival briefly interrupted by music. I don’t know about you, fair readers, but I hear “music festival” and think that bands will be playing more or less all day. Right? Wrong! We got there Wednesday night and the music didn’t start until Thursday afternoon around 2.  The schedule was sparse at best until Friday late afternoon and early evening. It was the same deal every day. Music would start around 3p and go until 1 or 2 in the morning. What’s wrong with starting acts at 10a? Or even 11a? It was ridiculous to have to kill what amounted to an entire work day before the music even started. Wasn’t that the whole point of this event in the first place? When we were able to see a band, the sound was frequently so bad all we could hear was the bass. I know enough sound engineering to know it doesn’t have to be poor quality. Maybe the band doesn’t want the audience to hear them singing? I understand an outdoor event has different requirements for acoustics. Several of the bands were playing in a “tent” which was a metal structure built like a barn without the doors. The energy of the crowd really sucked. Cake was the perfect example. They were trying to get the crowd amped up and failing miserably. By yesterday afternoon, we said “fuck it”, packed up our stuff, and drove off.

In spite of the fact the music didn’t start until the afternoon, we never got to sleep past 8a. Our neighbors would get up, start blasting music between 730 & 8, then start the day with Miller Lite and bong hits. I’m not an idiot. I knew there would be plenty of smoking of substances, both legal & illegal. I didn’t expect it to be an omnipresent smell. I HATE the smell of pot. I’m all for it being legal. I’m all for people getting as high as they want. Just don’t do it around me because I’ll barf on your shoes. Unless you want me to barf on your shoes, in which case we have a whole different set of issues. I can’t count the number of times we had to get up and move only to be assaulted by the smell 15 minutes later. I’ll have the smell of dirty hippie in my hair for days. This was ignoring the completely they charged to use the showers, the bathrooms were a step below those in Gitmo, the food was mediocre & seriously overpriced, and for all their hooting and honking about how eco-friendly the event was supposed to be, trash was literally strewn all over the ground. How hard is it to throw out your food containers when you have to get up anyway?

There were a few positive notes. We found a new comedian we really like in the form of Brad Williams. We walked well over the 10,000 step a day goal set by the pedometer, and learned a new joke:

What does a hippie say when you try & get him off your couch? Namaste.

I learned that if I want to attend a music festival, I’ll pick one that allows me to come and go as I please. There are plenty of 1 & 2 day events around here. If I’m really looking for new sound, I’ll hit up Pandora or Spotify. It was over $1000 for each of us down the drain, but we know better than to waste that much again.

XOXO!

Of things that make me smile and auto-post

When this posts, I’ll be sitting / standing / lying in a field in Tennessee. Scheduled posts are a wonderful, wonderful thing. Anyway…

It’s been a while since I posted a public gratitude list. After some heavy entries, time to lighten things up a bit.

*My parent friends. I don’t know how the hell they do it. They serve as an excellent reminder that I’m 100% not ready to take on that responsibility. Thanks for the friendly reminder of my own limitations.

*Boy. We’re always laughing at each others’ bad jokes, pratfalls, and there when the other one needs a pep talk, shoulder, or kick in the ass.

*My actual parents. As much as my mom can drive me up the wall and my dad can do no wrong, they’re always there to back me up, respect my choices (read – not pushing me to get married or have babies), and bringing me up to be a happy, healthy, mostly well adjusted adult.

*My job. It affords me a very comfortable lifestyle. And my co-workers are a fringe benefit, too. 😉

*Google Music. Best $10 I spend every month.

*Cat videos. Need I say more?

*Perfume. When one is in need of a little freshening up. Smell is the strongest trigger of memory, after all.

*Being able to drive. I will never, ever take that ability for granted.

*Maxi dresses. For the days I don’t feel like putting in too much effort, but still want to look presentable.

*Peppermint tea. Tasty, comforting, and won’t keep me up all night.

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week! Long distance…

XOXO!

Of Disney villains and unwitting allegories

Spoilers ahead for Maleficent:

Boy & I saw Maleficent last weekend. I’ve been pretty excited for it if nothing else for the costuming. As a friend of mine aptly put it, it was essentially  a 90 minute MAC commercial. Overall, I really enjoyed it. Maleficent definitely wins for the best Disney villain. She turns into a dragon. ‘Nuff said. I haven’t seen the animated version in probably 20 years, so I didn’t remember a whole lot of the plot. I love the idea of origin stories. I’ve seen a lot of complaints floating around the Internet that Disney missed the mark by making her all too “nice”.

What Disney managed to do was present an excellent example of recovering from rape trauma. It’s a standard setup. She falls in love with a boy. He says he loves her. Then he drugs her and rips away her identity by cutting off her wings.  He shamelessly exploited her feelings for his own gain. Once the shock wore off, she was out for revenge. Revenge is something that’s a good idea in theory, but a terrible idea in practice. There’s a reason it’s a fatal flaw in just about every work of literature. Instead of empowering someone, it leaves them open to all kinds of poor decision making. They’re so blinded by the motivation to hit their abuser right where it hurts, they don’t notice what’s going on around them. Maleficent set out to exact said revenge by cursing the king’s daughter. For argument’s sake, let’s say the animated version captures her during this point in the recovery cycle.

The animated Maleficent is borderline sociopathic. She’s all for torturing and cursing innocent bystanders with no remorse. Again, this isn’t at all uncommon for survivors. Three years ago, if someone had told me I could dish out whatever punishment I saw fit without any legal consequences, I would have done it. After a little time, I wouldn’t have been able to look myself in the face. I would have allowed myself to stoop to his level. Tempting as though it may be, once the high wears off, you’re left with whatever regret and pain that resulted. In the process of ensuring Aurora stays alive to fulfill the curse, Maleficent begins to see the error of her ways. Aurora’s only fault was being born to a rapist. She watches this little girl grow up only to realize she screwed up by cursing the wrong person. The animated Maleficent didn’t have this kind of empathy and it ended up killing her. This version gave the viewer an alternative. While she sees her mistake and tries to lift the curse before it’s too late, she can’t. Aurora falls into the coma just like Maleficent promised 16 years earlier. This is a very important turning point. In recognizing your humanity and the humanity of your abuser; good, bad, or ugly, it makes the wound a little easier to close. If you continue down the path of revenge and no remorse, it will kill you.

This is also where Disney turned the true love’s kiss trope on its head (Boy says Frozen did it first. Hipster). Maleficent makes her apologies to the comatose Aurora, kisses her on the forehead, and walks away. As she’s walking away, Aurora wakes up. In the final battle when Maleficent gets her wings back, her identity is restored. By this point, the king has totally lost it and it results in his own death. See what I said about revenge, kids? Then, as they say, they lived happily ever after.  She got back the part of herself she lost and kept going. While most of us will never literally get back what we lost, it’s a step.

Well played, Disney. If it wasn’t intentional, I tip my hat anyway. Maybe someday the target audience will realize the parallels. Until then, I’ll be borrowing that epic hat.

XOXO!

Of old flames and text messages

In less than a week, Boy & I will be setting off to sit in a field for 4 days listening to a bunch of obscure bands. This is also known as going to Bonnaroo. For those unaware, it’s arguably the largest music festival east of the Mississippi River. One of my (many) ex-boyfriends is big into obscure music & introduced me to a lot of the artists playing the festival. I was curious to see how many of the acts he had recommended to me and if there were any I missed. I have a bunch of my old texts from previous phones saved in my email (thanks to Boy for figuring that one out for me). Along with musical advice cached in those old texts, I found a girl who offered a very, very sobering view of early to mid trauma recovery.

A history of my drinking goes something along this timeline. I graduated from college in 2007. By that point, I was already a heavy drinker. My abuser and I were in the same year. He moved back to New Orleans and I stayed behind. I was just out of college, so it wasn’t weird. I kept up my heavy drinking habits until 2010. By that point, most of my friends rarely drank unless it was a bachelor / bachelorette party. I did my first stint in AA for about 9 months starting in 2010. I bounced on and off the wagon from the summer of 2011 through 2012. I finally broke the cycle last year. For reference, this ex and I met in 2009 and broke up after about 5 months. We reconnected again for reasons I don’t remember in 2012. As I read through the old messages, I got a painfully stark view of who I was. I only outright mentioned a hangover once, but I knew I was omitting many more. I would text him at all hours of the night. If he minded, he never said anything. If anything, he encouraged the behaviour. He’s 15 years older than me with 2 kids. I know he got a contact high off of having a party girl ex sharing pretty much everything. That’s not a jab at him even if it sounds like it. He knew just how hard I could party and how much detail I was willing to share. If I ever see him again, he’ll recognize the outside (I’m pretty damn hard to miss). The minute I open my mouth, though, he wouldn’t recognize me. There was a time where I would have been horribly embarrassed to read those texts, much less openly share the basic content. Until recently, I had the hardest time looking back at that girl and forgiving her actions, mistakes, and shortcomings. Now I look back at her and only feel sympathy and sadness. You know that piece of paper with the target that says “bang head here until pain stops”? That was her method of trying to stop the pain. Then the numbness wears off and it’s back to drinking, disordered eating, and fucking anything with a penis and a pulse. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Given both the stereotypes and literature sent to us by the Bonnaroo organizers, there will be no shortage of alcohol and drugs. The 2009 me would have spent the whole time completely wasted looking for aforementioned penis and pulse and ditching whoever I was with, scaring the hell out of them in the process. The 2014 me will slather myself in sunscreen, pull up a chair, and enjoy the music; all while staying properly hydrated. As nutty as it sounds, I’m glad to have that perspective. I don’t kick myself for what I did. Rather, I can bask in what I do today, the memories I’ll get to actually remember, and appreciate someone from my past who introduced me to a whole genre I would have otherwise missed. 

I’ll try to remember to set everything to auto-post while I’m off. Let’s see if I’ll actually remember it.

XOXO!

Furry Cuteness Friday!

Happy genuine Friday, beloved readers! It’s that time of the week again to get your dose of cute.

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Rub my tummy?

Meerkats-17

What was that sound?

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Yawn

More baby elephant gifs!

I know this has been all over the Internet already, but a llama frolicking to DMX!

This I used enough exclamation points?

My weekend is full of a whole lot of nothing. Just the way I like it. Hope everyone has a lovely weekend full of whatever.

XOXO!

Of sobriety and the joy of not being my own boss

Happy (almost) end of the week fair readers. Today’s post is another aspect of my healing:

I’ve been sober for a little over 14 months now. I’ve lost weight and gained a hell of a lot of clarity. While I was drinking, I was a crappy worker. I would show up late, call out because of a hangover, and generally resent my 8 hour days. I dreamed of being my own boss doing something (writing, making jewelry, starting a hippie commune) that would allow me to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Read – drink and not worry about having to get up until I slept off the hangover. I actually hated drinking. It did nothing for me. It’s not like I stopped to savor the wine or cocktail in front of me. I downed that sucker as fast as I could and reached for the next one before the first one hit my stomach. It was a crutch. It was a loud and clear signal that something wasn’t right between my ears. I knew it. I had two unsuccessful stints in AA to show for it. I still hung on simply because it was how I coped while I was with him. Much like he was my first love, booze was my first “out”. It took a DUI, then an epilepsy diagnosis for me to let go.

I was given a very simple choice. Did I want to drink and risk having another seizure? Or did I want to stay sober and vastly reduce my chances of another seizure? Like hell I’m intentionally going to put myself in a situation that would increase my risk. Now I’m on time to work, give it my best, and call out only when I can’t even get out of bed. I function best in a structured environment. I don’t have to drag myself off the couch to write a blog post or the next chapter in my novel. I can go home, put on sweatpants, and plant myself on the couch for a marathon of True Blood.

I can’t put into words how grateful I am to all my friends who stood by me through the drunken tirades and poor life choices. They certainly didn’t have to. I wouldn’t have blamed them if they walked away. All in all, I only lost one friend over it. I said something intentionally hurtful and she stopped talking to me. I apologized, she chose not to accept it, and we moved on with our lives. I’ll periodically see things about her on Facebook. In my head, I wish her the best. It’s said you’re a combination of the five people you spend the most time with. If that’s true, then I’m way more awesome, forgiving, and patient than I give myself credit for. Whatever unhealthy coping mechanism is holding you back; be it drugs, alcohol, cutting, or an eating disorder, it doesn’t have to hold you back forever. Your healing won’t be the same process as mine. I certainly don’t recommend 7 hours in jail and a significant health issue.  You may be handed an easy decision which allows you to give it up easily. It may be a long, hard road before you wish it a fond farewell forever.

XOXO!

 

Of buyer’s remorse and June bugs

Welcome June! At least you haven’t come bearing the godawful heat yet, just the lovely sticky humidity.

So new month, new set of goals. I’ve paid off all my medical bills from last year (woohoo!) which has allowed me to shift my budget around. As always happens, I’m eyeing the extra money trying to decide the fanciest thing I can spend it on the fastest. Then once I buy whatever it is, three days later, I’ll be wishing I hadn’t. In the vast majority of these cases, I can’t return said thing. Typically it’s some iteration of “life coaching”, radical diet change program, or both. They don’t usually issue refunds. In fact, I’m often paying 50% more to break the contract. Not cool. I hesitate to call them budgetary rules. I still look at a rule as something to be subverted or flat out broken. Again, doesn’t make things very easy to stick to, does it? It’s the metaphorical bingeing and purging that once again rears its ugly head.

I’m sure I’ve discussed the amount of money I spent on Groupons, yoga equipment, and actual yoga classes before I admitted to myself I disliked yoga. When I added up just the purchases I could remember, that same sum would have allowed me to buy a plane ticket to visit my best friend in Virginia. I wrote down that number and came up with a list of other things I could have spent that money on. I saved it in my phone as a reminder every time I’m tempted to make another impulse purchase.  A few years ago, the life improvement programs were a good idea simply because I didn’t know which way was up. Now that I’ve healed enough, I have a pretty good idea of which direction to go using only my internal compass. After all that nattering, my financial goals / guidelines / polite suggestions for the month of June:

  • Write down the amount of recent impulse purchases. Make a list of other things I could have bought or saved for using that sum.
  • Wait at least 5 days before making a decision to buy something more than $40 (read- the average cost of date night).
  • If it’s a sale that ends before the 5 day period, be willing to spend the full amount.
  • Do my best to avoid the hype. Buy!Buy!Buy!Now!Now!Now! is hard to avoid, but again, if I take the time to think, I should be okay.
  • Walk into a store, be it Target or Gucci, knowing exactly what I want.
  • Carry cash as often as possible & leave the debit cards at home.
  • In the same vein as the 5 day suggestion, think about experiences vs. stuff: For example: Around this time last year, I was given the opportunity to go to an aerial retreat in Costa Rica this past January. I turned it down because I didn’t want to burn 5 days of my time off right off the bat. Now I’ve been promoted and got an extra week of vacation time as part of the deal. The same retreat is happening this year and I’m already setting aside money to participate this time around. It also happens to be 2 weeks after my 30th birthday. Hello present to me! I know I’ll get a lot more out of that experience that I ever would spending the same amount of money on a thing. Frankly, I’m not even sure what thing I could buy with the same amount of money.
  • Above all – be patient with myself. If I do buy something out of sheer impulse, I’ll do my best to return or get a refund.

…And go!

XOXO!