#metoo

In light of all that has come to surface recently regarding Hollywood’s frequent sexual assault and harassment, many people have been coming forward and sharing their stories too. Women being sexually harassed is nothing new. Strange how it takes Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow and a whole slew of other famous women to make America say “Wait, are women being objectified?”

Of course, this has prompted reflection into my own experiences. If you’d asked me a few weeks ago, before this became headline news and I had a chance to think a while, if I had ever been sexually harassed or assaulted, I’d say yes. I’d tell you about my ex, who wouldn’t take no for an answer, who would keep trying over and over and over until I eventually got tired of fighting. My ex who would badger me into doing things I didn’t want to do, but then do them to me without my consent. My ex who had isolated me from my friends and my family, and could abuse me emotionally without the fear of me having somewhere else to turn.

But what I wouldn’t have told you are all the other times I’ve experienced harassment. And do you know why? Because they have become so commonplace that they have faded into normalcy. Being sexually harassed has taken on the same bland nothingness as picking up my groceries or topping off the gas tank. It just always was, and is. And that is a terrifying thought. As I thought about my experiences with the opposite sex, memories kept popping up.

I can remember being elementary school aged, not much older than my daughter is now, and having a boy run up to me, groping and pinching my breast outside of church one evening. He and his friends stood around teasing, trying to get me to imitate brushing my teeth in a juvenile blow job joke. Confused, I just walked away and kept it to myself. What could I do? I didn’t know anything about sex, but I knew it wasn’t something I was supposed to know about. I knew I’d get in trouble if I told anyone.

Around the same time, I was playing around the neighborhood when I met one of the boys down the street. I was probably 10 or so, he was maybe 12. He told me he liked me and wanted to be my boyfriend. We rode our bikes over to a tree, and he started kissing me. I still remember his vile words to me all these years later: “You’re sex hole isn’t open yet, you’re too young. But we can still do other things.” And he proceeded to do other things to me and in front of me. I didn’t know what to do or say. I told him to go to hell, and rode off on my bike. He told my mom I cussed at him, and I was grounded. I couldn’t tell anyone what he had done, because I knew I would be in trouble. It would be my fault for talking to a boy, for riding my bike to the tree. I felt I was to blame for being sexually assaulted before I was even in middle school…

A few years later, I was a teenager going on a week long trip with the youth group. Halfway to our destination, we pulled off to eat and stretch out for a while. One of the other girls came over and confided that the boy sitting next to her in the van kept slipping his hand up her thigh and she didn’t know what to do. Sex was taboo, we had never been taught what was healthy or safe, and we had no idea how to deal with unwanted advances. As a girl with no idea how to handle the situation, I offered to switch seats when we took off for the next leg of the drive. I thought I was helping to protect a friend. When we got back in the van, the only thing that changed was who’s thigh he was groping at. We got to our destination, and I talked to the youth pastor. I can’t remember if I brought it to his attention or if it was another teen in our group. He sat down with me and lectured me about my sins, how I needed to have more self respect and self love. I was slut shamed for not fighting off my harasser, and he was let off the hook for his actions.

There were countless other small circumstances throughout my life…Men incessantly flirting when I clearly wasn’t interested, being called nasty names because I had the audacity to be sexually active or wear something short or tight. I had a coworker several years ago who flirted nonstop, despite me saying I was married and not interested. That only made him try harder, and he offered to pay me if I’d go to a hotel with him.

The fact that all of these experiences are so commonplace that women don’t bat an eye is disgusting. We have become so used to being harassed and assaulted and told we are to blame. Men aren’t held accountable for their words and actions, women take the blame. I could wear a loose fitting parka and I’d still be “asking for it” or instigating somehow. The worst of it is that this is the world that my daughter is growing up in. She’s not much younger than I was when some of these stories happened. It breaks my heart to think someone could target her, harass her. I want to protect her, but even more so, I want her to grow up in a world where men are made to control their impulses and women are not blamed for being on the receiving end.

It is a shame that it takes celebrities coming forward for the voices of the nobodies to be heard. But we will be heard.

me too

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“When are you gonna have another kid?!”

  
The dreaded question…. Most moms hear it at some point or another, especially moms with only one child. She needs a little playmate! Don’t you want a little boy too? Only children grow up to be so spoiled! My daughter will be seven in a few short months. She does not have a little brother or sister.

From the time we are little girls, we are being programmed to be moms. We’re given baby dolls and we tote them around, feeding them, changing them, loving them with all we have. When we hit our teen years, we babysit for the family down the street or for friends of our parents. She’ll be such a good little mother some day, they inevitably whisper while you take the toddlers outside to play in the sun warmed grass. That’s what you’ll do, because it’s our job as women. We are born and raised to bear and raise tiny humans.

And when you see the negative on the pregnancy test time after time, you’re left devastated. What’s wrong with me?

  

Most people assume that because you have a kid, you have made a personal choice not to have another. And for a while, that was true. After my daughter was born, I wasn’t ready for another one yet, so I took the steps to not have one. But for several years, I have wanted another baby more than I can describe. And every time someone asks me when I’m having another one, I plaster that fake smile and feed them a contrived script. Oh, if it happens, it happens! One is plenty to keep me busy! I don’t know if I could go back to diapers again! While that’s all kind of true (yes my daughter keeps me busy and diapers aren’t exactly glamorous) I would trade it all in a minute. I would go back to sleepless nights of 2 AM feelings and dirty diapers and a crying, teething baby faster than you could make a bottle. But despite years of trying, there’s still no bun in the oven.

  
People will say to you well at least you were blessed with one and they aren’t wrong. I was able to get pregnant with N and cruise through pregnancy and labor, baby and toddler years all with relative ease. All things considered, N has been better than I could ever have asked. Obviously she drives me nuts and I still have to nag her to pick up her toys or to listen. But she is a great kid. And I am blessed to have her. But that doesn’t numb the pain of not having the family I always wanted… And knowing at least I have her adds another element to the mix—Guilt. Who am I to be depressed over not having a second child when there are so many women who have never been able to conceive their first? It is a valid point after all… I know women who would make incredible moms who may never have children of their own. But rather than a peaceful reassurance of how blessed I am, it just leaves me guilty for being greedy.

  
In the spirit of our “always offended, overly pc” world, I’ll go out on a limb and say it. Yesterday was April Fools and I’m sure many, many people pretended to be pregnant as a joke. But, like so many things that leave our mouths unchecked, words can hurt others without us ever knowing. Seeing a harmless pregnancy prank, being asked when you’re having another one, seeing others around you getting pregnant with ease…these are the things that rub salt in the wound for a woman who has been trying to conceive for years. It’s hard to not feel that sharp pang of loss with every baby shower invitation or Carters you pass in the mall.

So where does all of this leave us? Well, let’s start with the political. Many people can’t afford fertility treatment. We need to support the politicians who will make medical care of all kinds more accessible to anyone who wants or needs it. And on a more daily basis, it never hurts to remember to be kind and mindful of the struggles others have. It never ceases to amaze me how frequently and callously people speak of depression and suicide. Why doesn’t he just kill himself? As someone who’s tried that, more than once, it always makes my heart ache to hear things like that. Sure, there are people who have no clue about my struggles with mental illness, but that’s the point. You can’t tell if someone has staggering depression or infertility by looking at them. You don’t know how hurtful offhanded comments might be. We could all stand to be a little nicer. 

The very beginnings of my short story The Feels

So this morning, I decided to do a little fiction writing. I took a writing prompt from pinterest and ran with it. (The prompt: You live in a world in which you can buy bottled emotions.) This is, as the title suggests, a rough beginning to the story. It is the product of a latte, half a pecan roll, and 2.5 hours of pouring ideas onto the page. I have yet to edit for content or clarity. I’m also still thinking about how the story will end. I have ideas, but I am still thinking of how to tie the various ends together cohesively. So therefore, I am submitting my vulnerabilities to the many writers I have met on here. Give me your HONEST feedback! This is still an early version of the story, but what do you think about it’s bones? I will gladly take any and all constructive feedback you offer me. It’s been a decade since I sat down and wrote anything creative like this! So without further ado, I give you The Feels.

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“I need that vial of tranquility! Now!” Kate wrestled the man for a small glass vial of amber colored liquid, sending them both crashing to the scorching asphalt.

It was mid-August, the hottest summer on record since the Earth’s climate had shifted back around 2020. Scientists had screamed global warming and politicians had ignored them, citizens had been too self absorbed to care about the changes they could make to preserve their planet. The Earth had spun into a frenzy of heat waves and hurricanes. Not to mention the sea levels wiped out most of the costal cities. Millions of people had been trapped in their homes when the flooding began, many too poor to have anywhere to run. Huge populations from countries all around the world washed from their beds before morning dawned. But today felt different, hotter. The news outlets were calling for temperatures of 145 degrees by mid-afternoon. No human had ever survived temperatures this high, but somehow here they were. Kate often chuckled grimly to herself, thinking how lucky she was that she had evolved and adapted to outlive what should have been the end of the world.

This new Earth was enough to kill the weaker of the species. The children, elderly, and the sick died off quickly between the costal flooding and the rising heat. The poor, homeless, and junkies didn’t fare much better. The governments of the world jumped into action to mobilize citizens into camps located in major cities across every country. Though, the government wasn’t prepared for an end of the world crisis, so food and medical supplies began running out only days after the Apocalypse set in. One thing that managed not only to survive, but thrive, were the Feels. The Feels were tiny vials of liquid that could temporarily affect the brain and give the taker an artificial emotion. Each Feel had a different length of time it was effective, and that time frame was slightly different based on the person’s brain chemistry. The good Feels, like tranquility and joy, never lasted nearly as long as things like desolation and isolation. When Kate first heard of the Feels, back before the Apocalypse, she never understood why someone would purposely take a drug that would make them feel worse. She understood now. Since the world had ended, so many people began seeking out Feels that would help them commit suicide. They were too weak to survive on this new Earth and they knew it. So they set out in search of the liquid encouragement that would help them cling to the last scrap of autonomy they had. They were going to die, but they were going to die on their own terms.

Kate hadn’t hit that low point. She had always been a fighter, but not the strong woman you might think. Kate had struggled her entire life to find her place in the world. She still hadn’t quite found it, but then again, nobody had a place after the Apocalypse. She had made a point to secure items to guarantee her survival, even if only for a little while longer. Shortly after the flooding began, she began the impossible trek from her rural town in Pennsylvania towards the center of the United States. Already, people from the costal states of New Jersey, New York, and Delaware were making their way into Pennsylvania, seeking refuge. Kate knew that the influx of sick and homeless would only strain the resources available, so off she went. She began the journey in her rusted out Toyota, packing only a duffel of clothes and as much food and trade items as she could fit in the trunk. Kate had spent many years, depressed and laying on her sofa watching movies. She knew that in a doomsday scenario, money would fail. She needed practical things, though she grabbed her wallet on her way out too. With a fortuitous full tank of gas, she headed towards Ohio. She managed to make it to the far side of West Virginia before she had to stop for gas. The roads were eerily quiet in the night, was no one else fleeing the coast? Kate made good time and was in Cincinnati by noon the next day. She had hardly eaten any of her food stores, only some perishable fruit she had grabbed from the counter. Cincinnati welcomed her like a stranger, cool disinterest.

It was there that Kate realized the rest of the world had yet to realize how bad things were. She sat in a diner eating a greasy burger and fries, watching the news, and absorbing what she saw. Entire cities underwater, death toll rising by the hour, yet there was no widespread panic. The media was reporting on the “freak weather incident,” downplaying the mass exodus she had seen in her home state. What was happening? Why weren’t they reporting what was really going on? She began to feel dizzy and couldn’t breathe. Kate had never had a panic attack before. As she sat there, gripping the diner’s grimy counter to keep from falling, a man sitting a few seats down from her slowly got up from his seat. He sauntered over, reached into his shirt and pulled out a small vial on a chain. He unscrewed the vial lid and handed it to Kate.

“Drink this. It will help. Trust me.”

Kate had no idea who this man was or what he was offering her, but she blindly gulped the contents of the vial. Immediately, her muscles relaxed and her mind focused. What did she just take?

“Better?”

“Yeah. I….thank you. What was that stuff?”

“I’m Declan. Why don’t we go talk?”

Kate hesitantly threw a few bills onto the counter, nodded to the waitress, and made her way out onto the street behind Declan. Who was this guy? And more importantly, what was in that vial?

“So where are you from? Because clearly you aren’t from here,” Declan said as he turned on his heels to face her.

“I just got in this morning. I’m from out east. With all of the…” she faltered. “I just had to leave. And here I am.”

“You know what’s going on, don’t you? That this isn’t just a freak accident? That it isn’t just weird flooding. Tell me.”

Kate just stared at him, at a loss for words. She didn’t know what was going on, but at least she knew she wasn’t totally crazy. Someone else knew things were very wrong.
“Let’s get out of here. Do you have somewhere we can go?”

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Kate followed Declan to his small studio apartment across town. What was she doing? Some random man at a diner gave her a vial of a mysterious drug and now she was going to his home? Alone? She had never done something like this before, and rather than coming to her senses at the craziness of it all, she felt a thrilling rush. Whoever this Declan was, he knew there was something bigger happening. She needed to talk to him. And she needed to know what was in that vial.

“So what do you know?” Declan asked her, no sooner than the door had shut behind them. Well he’s persistent, Kate thought. How much should she give up? She suddenly realized she didn’t know as much as he thought she did.

“First I need to know who you are. And what was in that vial?”

Declan sighed. “Well I already told you my name. That’s more than I can say for you, by the way. But that was a vial of tranquility.”

“Tranquility? What do you mean? Tranquility is a feeling, it’s not an actual thing.”

“Yeah, you’re clearly not from around here. The vials are called Feels. They have liquids that allow you to immediately feel a certain emotion.”

Kate just stared at him. That was the most ludicrous thing she had ever heard. Yet she had felt the immediate calm wash over her the minute that slightly sweet liquid touched her tongue. How could they bottle emotions?

Declan could see the confusion in her face. With another sigh, he explained “Okay, so here’s the thing. The drugs started to get pretty bad in some parts of Cincinnati. Cops weren’t even trying to bust the dealers anymore. They just couldn’t keep up. So one day, a guy shows up with this little vial. Nobody knew what it was, or who he was for that matter. Said he was a scientist who worked up at OSU. Said he had discovered a way to bottle emotions, but he needed to test it out. Couldn’t get the approval from the school. So he drove out here, where nobody would know who he was or what he was doing. He found a bunch of junkies and of course they were suspicious, but they’d try anything once you know? He gave two of them a vial of rage each and they fought each other, right there in the middle of the street. The one junkie strangled the other to death. Didn’t care about the other people standing around, just squeezed the life right out of the guy. Apparently it was crazy. From there, he started bringing down different emotions to try. Lust had people humping in the streets, envy was to blame for quite a few robberies. Every time he brought a new batch of Feels, people were fighting each other to play guinea pig. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Soon, all the dealers in the area started noticing their clients were ditching them, trying to get some Feels. The dealers all wanted to be the exclusive place to get Feels, but the scientist turned them all away. He said his product was too unique to be sold off like a gram of crack. It was special.”

“So how did people get their Feels? Straight from the scientist guy? Or did he eventually find a partner to work with? How did you get your vial?”

“One day, I get a letter in the mail. No return address, no signature. It just says come to this old warehouse at 9pm one night, come alone, all the super suspicious shit you see in a movie. So I went. How could I not? There were about ten of us. The scientist was there, and he asked us a bunch of questions. He narrowed us down. One thing was clear, this guy was tin foil hat material. Was convinced the government was up to some crazy stuff. Let’s just say, the three of us that remained two hours later? We’re all slightly distrustful by nature. So I guess he wanted people with just the right combination of smart and paranoid. He started supplying us with the vials. We sell them discreetly to choice customers across the city, and send off 60 percent to an off shore account, sending it through a few dummy accounts in the process.”

“You said you sell the Feels to choice customers. How do you determine who gets them?” Kate asked.

“I don’t. We change our drop spots constantly. Never eat or shop in the same places for too long. The scientist chooses who gets the vials, and then he tells them where we’ll be. We’ve only had a few people turn up looking for Feels that weren’t sent to us. And they never came back a second time.”

Kate felt a chill run through her. Was the scientist killing people who knew too much? He was selecting the perfect recipients of the drug, controlling it all, so what would happen when he found out Declan gave her a vial of tranquility? What would he do to her? To him?

A phone rang shrilly, cutting the silence of the apartment. Declan glanced down and swore. “Gimme a minute, okay?” He turned around, but didn’t leave the room. A few one word responses, mostly yes or no, and he put the phone back down. He turned and looked at her, sweat suddenly formed on his brow.

“We’ve gotta go. Now.”

**************************

Declan was a flurry of motion, racing through the apartment, grabbing small wooden boxes and shoving them into duffles. Kate was stuffing cans and boxes from the kitchen cabinets into bags. On an impulse, she grabbed the block of kitchen knives and added them to their stash. A few minutes later, they ran down the back staircase with arms loaded with bags.

“Here, throw your stuff in my car,” Kate called out, slightly breathless. “I already have some food and things in there.”

They pushed her bags to the side and added his into the trunk. Kate pulled the kitchen knives from a bag and stowed them under the front seat. Their eyes met.

“Hey, you never know, right?” She mumbled.

They climbed into the old car and the engine coughed to life. Declan gave her a look of disbelief. She ignored him.

“Where are we going?” Kate asked as she eased the car onto the road, picking up speed.

“Out of the city. I don’t know where. Just get us the hell out of here. He had someone in the diner watching me. They know I gave out an unauthorized vial of Feels. He’s coming.”

Silence took over the car, as Kate followed signs exiting the city to the west. One thing was for sure, this exodus from her home was becoming more dangerous that she had anticipated. And as they merged onto the interstate, Kate found herself wishing she had something more lethal than a few steak knives.

Who is God?

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When you think of God, who are you thinking of? Who is he in your mind?

This was the question the preacher posed this morning. My mother’s congregation was holding a fall kick off, so we sat in folding chairs lined up in the park across from the brick and mortar building that was my place of worship for twenty years. The singing was accompanied by sunshine playing hide and go seek through the clouds, a cool breeze providing an autumnal relief after the suffocating humidity of the summer. As the music transitioned into prayer and reflection of who God is, the skies slowly opened into a cold drizzle. Who do I see when I picture God? Probably not the gentle, loving father and creator that those around me were dwelling on.

So who did I envision when prompted into silent reflection? Let me preface it with the fact that I don’t subscribe to the fairy tale perfection of God and Jesus. Nor to the notion that this entire world exists because an all powerful being was bored and created us like a science fair project. When I think of God as many Christians describe him, my perspective is clearly different. I envision a cold, distant figure, sitting back watching us self destruct. I see him as cruelly refusing to intervene as wars break out across the globe and diseases slowly strip good people of their lives.

I have heard religious people comfortingly utter the phrase “God never gives us more than we can handle” whenever someone is in the midst of a trying situation. But we have more than 40 thousand suicides reported each year. If God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, how do you explain all of those people who were so overwhelmed they saw no other way out? Some may argue free will, mental illness, etc. but where was God when they were at the end of their rope? If he is all-powerful, he could intervene. He could save his people if he loved us so much.

But he doesn’t. With more than 7 billion people currently living on this earth, are we truly so vain as to think our individual life matters? Sure, maybe we have some friends and family members who love us and whom we influence. But in the big picture, we are so incredibly insignificant. We have the audacity to believe there is a mystical being who not only knows us apart from the other 7 billion people, but loves us specifically. God isn’t a loving creator, he’s a figment of our dreams, imagined by our narcissistic need to be important in a grander scheme. The concept of living 70 or 80 years, then dying from heart disease or cancer and leaving behind nothing but a few loved ones and a job we held for 40 years is utterly depressing. We want to matter, so we tell ourselves our journey continues after death. We give ourselves a false sense of importance: that there’s a deity who loves us so much he wants to spend all eternity with us.

If I picture God as a bigger version of his followers, the image is still grim. Many people I know through religious connections are incredibly disingenuous. Obviously this is a radical generalization, as I know many wonderful Christians, as well as many terrible people with no religious affiliation. But it has been my experience nonetheless. They smile and sing, bow their heads and give their tithes on Sunday morning. Yet by lunchtime on Sunday, their lives are evidence of a complete switch. Only a few years ago, I felt rejected from church. See, I had been one of them. I sang in the choir, never missed a service or volunteer opportunity. Meanwhile, in my life outside of church, I was a different person. I did the things we were instructed against on Sunday mornings. I was that person that I hate, and I could see the double life in the others around me too. If we were all created in God’s image (as we’re told in Genesis 1:27), what does that say about God? Again, I know the canned answer, as I was once taught to answer these kinds of retorts. Sin. Free will. God wanted us to be free to choose our own paths. But if we’re the living incarnations of a holy and perfect deity, does he also have the urge to sin? Because either he does and thus becomes imperfect, or we aren’t as godlike as we believe. Is God the perfect being people build him up to be or is he just another hypocrit like us?

If God is real, he must be equally as flawed as us. He must be just as selfish and narcissistic as all of humanity.  Who wouldn’t prefer nothingness to that?

An Open Letter to the Walmart Misogynist

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This morning, while at Walmart, I encountered a ridiculous display of sexism and misogyny. And in that experience, I found my voice. What follows is my open letter to him. I encourage you to click over to the original Facebook post here to share your thoughts and comments. I want to spark a conversation! This is why we need feminism.

An Open Letter to the Walmart Misogynist

I want to sincerely thank you for your verbal tirade against me this morning. Truly, it was eye opening. This morning, you called me baby and I politely corrected you that I am, in fact, not your baby. Maybe you were confusing me with another woman, but one who likes the pet names.

See, here’s the problem: names like baby, sweetheart, and doll are perfectly fine when used with a girlfriend or a female friend you are close with. But when you use these names with a woman you’ve never met, the connotation becomes demeaning. It says to that woman that all women are interchangeable, that we are just your playthings and we exist solely to be the sexual objects for a man’s enjoyment.

When I corrected you, politely I might add, you immediately got an attitude. I guess you don’t like inferior women telling you that you’re wrong. I wasn’t trying to embarrass you, but you certainly managed to embarrass yourself. It wasn’t necessary to shout “fuck you” or call me a bitch repeatedly. Oh, and remember the demeaning nature of pet names we just discussed? Let’s take a moment to understand the meanings of being a bitch. When women express their opinions that are the opposite of a man’s, they are called a bitch. You invalidate our feelings and opinions because they aren’t yours. You belittle us if we don’t agree.

Our little encounter left me a bit shaken up. I have one of the very lucky women that has encountered little sexism and misogyny throughout my life. Certainly never as blatantly as with you this morning. But despite me feeling apprehensive about walking to my car alone, wondering if you would approach me to continue our chat, it’s you who I feel sorry for. You don’t even know that you’re a misogynist! You see nothing wrong with your actions. And even worse than that, the women in your group defended you. I feel so bad for them, that they’re so beaten and brainwashed into blindly accepting this sort of demeaning behavior. I hope some day they find their voice and their strength.

As I said in the beginning of this letter, I am glad for our little encounter. You have helped turn sexism and misogyny from an abstract concept into a concrete cause. I have never felt that deeply personal connection to feminism like my sisters around the world, who are persecuted daily for their gender. So thank you for strengthening my voice, for showing me what some women deal with day in and out. Today, I stand in solidarity with womankind, refusing to apologize to you, and hoping to educate men about male privilege. I hope this morning left you as enlightened as it left me.

Sincerely,
An Empowered Woman

Challenge Accepted!

This past week, I found a pretty cool reading challenge on Pinterest. Now, I find tons of stuff on there and file it away for future use, but it all gets buried in the Supernatural gifs. Hey, what can I say? Half naked demon hunters…

Anyway, this reading challenge really grabbed my attention. I tweeted it out to my fellow book nerds (follow me on Twitter @MamaOwl_Kirby!) but it’s still rolling around my mind. So what’s a girl to do? Well, conquer that god damned reading challenge!

Real talk: I’ve always liked a good book. But after high school, I became an occasional reader. I have a shelf of half-read and never-read books. It was only after we moved to South Carolina and I felt so completely alone that I rediscovered my love of reading. I make weekly trips to the public library and let the novels I find take me to far off lands. The characters become my friends and family that keep me company.

Back to the challenge. The point is, I’ve been reading quite a bit over the last few months. So I’m cheating a little and using some of my recent reads to start checking off my list. Only a very few are from as far back as the spring.

Technically, the reading challenge is for 2015. Since it’s already August, can I finish it all by December? Stay tuned. Any fellow bookworms up for the challenge with me? Not a big reader? Maybe pick a few things from the list that you wouldn’t normally read and try something new! Have a favorite book or author that meets any of the list items? Share them in the comments!

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and the wisdom to know the difference

Control. It’s one of the things I desperately cling to, but I never really have a firm grasp on. For years, I have felt so many facets of my life spiraling out of control. My weight has ballooned. I have stopped and started college more times than should be humanly possible. My house has never been clean for more than five minutes… I can’t stand when I am not in control of everything in my life. But I’m not really in control of any of it.

What can I truly take charge of, that is mine to dictate? Myself. My body, my attitude, and eventually my future. Are there external forces that will oppose me at every turn? Sure. But at the end of the day, I can lose weight. I can focus on the positive rather than the negative. We all hold the potential for a happy, fulfilling life. What matters is what we do with that potential.

When I worked at the drug and alcohol rehab, we recited the Serenity Prayer ad nauseam. But you know what? The old prayer offers some pretty sound advice. I can’t change everything in my life that I’m unhappy with. And I have to learn to be okay with that.

How To Ruin What The Internet Calls The Easiest Potato Recipe Ever

I find myself regularly browsing food on Pinterest and today’s post is courtesy of my raging hunger a few weeks back. I had to pin ALL the food. So picking up stuff at Target today, I thought I’d try these red potatoes that were patiently waiting on my Yummy Things board.

Now I got home and did a little googling. The pin itself didn’t really have directions to follow, so I quickly learned that these are called Hot Crash Potatoes? Ooookay….. I just called them smashed up red potato things. They popped up on the Pioneer Woman’s blog and have been adapted and altered, and my attempt is no different. She claims they are super easy to do. Well yeah, they were pretty easy to make. But I’m not sure my endeavors yielded the same hot crashy potatoes.

You start by boiling your potatoes (after a good scrub and cutting off any weird looking growths) until they are “fork tender”. Now I literally had enough clean forks for the three of us to eat. I opted for a toothpick. You take what you can get some days…. Anyway, the boiling took me maybe 15 minutes? Honestly, I was online. I have no clue. Fork tender…

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Once the taters are cooked, drain all the water out. You’ll wanna prepare a baking sheet for them, drizzled in oil. I suppose a nice liberal coating of nonstick spray would also work. Then the fun part–smashing them! Not. The Pioneer Woman suggests using a potato masher to do it. That obliterated the potatoes. Try a fork. Of course you’ll have to hold these very hot potatoes down as you do it… I got a little carried away. I’m not quite sure how I mistook smash and annihilate…

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Once you’ve got them all smashed to oblivion, give them a liberal drizzle of oil and a seasoning. I used my Fantastic Four: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder. Seriously. I use those four on everything… Stick them in the preheated oven, 350 for half an hour or so. I just kept them in for as long as it took my chicken to cook. Then sprinkled a smacking of shredded cheese on there and let it melt. Scoop those suckers onto a plate and dollop the sour cream on and you’re in business!

potato3

Okay, so the title led you to believe that I massacred some simple potato recipe. I lied. The truth is, they were easy, crispy, and pretty tasty. Overly smashed, but a success. The only critique was that the man wanted more cheese on them. Shocker… Cheese needs more cheese in this house… But these were pretty good. It’s a fun recipe to toy with as far as the seasonings and toppings. We’ll have to revisit them as a vessel for a loaded smashed something or other.

The Orange Julius Experiments

Pinterest has struck again! I found and pinned a recipe for a homemade Julius, then remembered I didn’t have a blender…. Well, as luck would have it, I am now the happy owner of a blender!

Mike got home from work early, which resulted in an impromptu excursion into town. After hitting the mall (yay for some treats there- a shaving kit for Mike and new barbells for my rook!), we moved the party to Sur la Table. A $50 blender knocked down to $35? Well THAT is how we ended up with a new blender….

Anyway, back to the Juiuses! Or Julius’? Julii?

So according to Pinterest, all you have to do is stick all the ingredients in a blender and call it a day. Easy enough. So I toss the milk and orange juice, vanilla, sugar, and ice into the blender and whirr away. No, Nina, I don’t have anything. Go to bed. So how’d it turn out? Well, the taste seemed pretty on point! Even Mike the Orange Julius freak said it was a pretty good copycat. My only question is the texture of the drink. This produced a kind of foamy Julius. I have no idea if it should have a little foamy quality on top, because I’ve only ever had mine in the mall via a straw… Nonetheless, a damn good recipe to keep tucked away for those days you’re having a little craving. And I was pleasantly surprised that 2 glasses only required half of  can of oj concentrate, so it’s easily doubled for 4 people. Or 2 very thirsty fat asses…. Never mind….

 

The Orange Julius Recipe via Pinterest

6 ounces orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 cup milk

1 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

10-12 ice cubes

Top 10 Moments…that are just plain AWWWKWARD!

You know those awkward moments, the ones where you aren’t quite how to respond. React the wrong way and it could be mortifying. Or hilarious. Here’s my Top Ten list of awkward moments!

10. When the server at a restaurant hovers next to your table for a little too long. Or if you’re out with the girls and the food runner stands there with your plate of chips and shrimp fondue, just holding it like he’s a freaking wiseman presenting you with the myrrh…

9. When you realize you sent that text to the wrong person. That can get really awkward….

8. When the person in the Walmart aisle farts and pretends nothing happened. What else can I say?

7. When a guy asks you if he’s poorly endowed and you hesitate because you’re debating if you should really tell the truth. Okay so maybe not everyone has had this happen to them. But I promise you, that’s awkward. And honesty is not always the best policy in this circumstance…

6. When you realize you’ve been walking around all day and the tag is still on your pants. I spent the whole day in OC before I realized the sticker was on my pantleg…

5. When you’re singing with friends and you totally botch the words. This is not awkward if you’re drunk.

4. When someone asks you if you’re related to so-and-so, then ends the conversation there. I get that a lot in regards to Ben being my brother. Yes, I’m related to Ben. “Oh, I thought so.” [insert awkward silence] Wait, were you going somewhere with that?

3. When you have no clue who that just was. I can’t tell you how many people have stopped and talked to me in a store, yet I had NO clue who they were…

2. When you’re in public making a face at your shopping companion, but a stranger sees. I wish I had a dollar….

1. When someone asks why you haven’t accepted their Facebook Friend Request. You know when you saw that request pop up, you had no intent to accept it. So you hid it. Never happened, right? Tell that to Mr. I-Keep-Tabs-On-Unanswered-Friend-Requests!

 

What are some of your awkward moments? Or one that happened to “your friend”…