New York Beauty

NY Beauty

In the center of me is happy

colored and layered and taut.

Like the first stitch in a scrim quilt

pulled through layers of scrap.

“A blithe event!” said one.

It is indecorous.

“We’ll need tulips for proof!”

Tack them loose.

“Stitch here with yellow!” said the little bee.

Whiplash is best.

“I have blue. Should I put that in, too?”

On the Gambesons.

“No! Layer on layer of happy!” the little bees circled.

“Until we craft who you are!”

And who I am Not.

 

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1.

I recently heard of something called automatic writing. In short, automatic writing is writing with intent to free your unconscious mind. It’s very Freudian and weird and cool.

I found a photo and sat for three minutes on the subway today, quickly jotting down every word that came to my mind after studying the patterns and red shoes on my little phone screen. I didn’t worry about grammar, or form, or how it would come across to anyone who read it. It was freeing and weird and oddly spiritual. I’m sharing below in hopes you join my hippy bandwagon:

1.

I am here.

I do not know why or how or what purpose my life entails but

I am here.

I have wounds and scars and marks I’d like to hide but

they are here.

One perfect. One flawed. One body. One mind.

I will not divide. I want to split.

I am one.

Be Good if You Can

My grandmother, Corrine Cotten, is shockingly aware and vocal about her human finitude. When I visit, she writes my name on little sticky notes and attaches the yellow squares to items of hers I may want one day. If you open a closet at her house, chances are you’ll see a pile of old quilts, pillows, hand-made vases from her sister Norma, or jewelry from her “wild days” labeled with the names of my cousins, aunts and uncles on the same little yellow squares. You can even see the various family names etched in sharpie marker on the back of larger items that are still in daily use throughout the house. Like packing up for a big move, her house is always on the cusp of that final transition. It is a weird mix of death and life, past and present, memory and moment, and I am uncomfortably aware that nothing she passes on will ever feel the same without her around. The kitchen table, for instance, is only special if we are playing SkipBo together with a cup of coffee in hand, and the jewelry from her “wild days” is only fun when she wraps it around her body and shows me the best way to move my belly so that each metal string shakes and chimes. Heirlooms won’t have that same Corrine spirit when she’s gone, but I love her gifts that give insight into her past – even if they are tinged with acceptance and muddled with final farewells.

At age 16, she sent me off with a rad, 1970’s gold belt and the most beautiful blue and crystal screw back earrings because, as she said, “you never know what will happen”. Last year at Thanksgiving, Corrine was wearing an old shirt from a church revival that said “Riot ’88”. 1988 is my birth year and I’m obviously a riot, so I LOST MY SHIT. I raved about how cool it was for a solid ten minutes until Corrine snuck off into the back room, changed into a pretty blue sweater with blue heart appliqués, and handed me the “Riot ’88” shirt that was just on her back two minutes earlier. This is who Corrine is. She is selfless, but strong with a firm voice and a soft heart. She is the cliché perfect grandmother that every child reads about in YA novels.

Riot 88

Visiting my grandmother is my favorite part about going home, but saying goodbye is always difficult – mostly because all the talk about dying and sticky note placing makes me aware that any normal “goodbye” could turn into the last. One of our latest goodbyes came after she packed my bag full of paintings and vases. I fought back tears as she assured me in a very calm, nontheatrical manner to “always appreciate the time you have with someone”. Her acknowledgement for the end is the weirdest representation of bravery I’ve ever witnessed. Two years ago, before going into open-heart surgery and after fighting breast cancer, she told the doctor, “If I go to sleep for good – don’t try to wake me up.” She doesn’t seem afraid of death, but the thought of losing her is terrifying for me.

At age 29, driving to her house feels the same as it did when I was four years old. I still hold my breath as I cross over the Mississippi River Bridge into Vidalia, I still smile when I see the streets in her subdivision all named after fruit, my heart still swells when I cross the threshold that divides her front porch and the pink carpet in her living room, my eyes still perk up when I smell the fresh pot of Community Coffee brewing in her percolator, and no matter what time of the day it is or when I ate last – I still get hungry when I see the ingredients for corn chowder laid out on her kitchen workspace. But now when I visit, all of the traditions and comforts of her house are shaded with sadness. There’s a fear buried in my heart that is actively soaking in every moment and transferring it into a collection of memories. Each visit becomes a quest to record her – to smell everything, to write down the random snippets of wisdom, to go through old photos and learn as much as I can about her past, to fall asleep on the couch with the safety of knowing she’ll be there when I wake up, to coax my grandfather into telling me those stories of meeting Corrine in the little diner in California. My mind becomes a sort of jump drive, collecting each moment in detail so I can access them later – when the day comes that I have to walk into her house and rummage through all the sticky notes without the comfort of her coffee, her soup, and her there.

Even though Corrine talks about death freely, I’m still not ready to say any sort of goodbye. But in the spirit of Corrine’s planning, here’s a few things I’d like to tell her just in case (consider them my own little yellow sticky notes):

I skinny dip because of you.

I dance because of you.

I love harder because of you.

I am stronger because of you.

I am brave because of you.

I understand loss because of you.

I believe in hope because of you.

Thank you for making me a good human and strong woman.

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On Repeat

My whole day has gone and I’ve got nothing to show for it. I sat in front of a computer at 5am to write and, here I am; watching night fall with only a sentence or two down. I’ve done nothing to justify the adderall, three cups of coffee, leftover Indian, and three melted chocolate Lindt truffles I’ve consumed, but I keep up with the flow of bad habits in hopes that a life of monotonous suffering will somehow produce a prosperous return. What have I done all day?

I want to be a writer, or at least that’s what I’ve told myself for the past ten years. I want to be a writer, or a bird, or a duck, or even a band-winged flying fish. I tell myself I am a writer like there’s an optimistic guru hidden somewhere in my soul, but when the time is finally carved out to write I’ve got no authority. I am beat down and pessimistic. Which perhaps is a valid feeling for a writer, or a fish. I said one day I’d write about this giraffe that’s been walking around my head or about a kid named George being scared of the shore, but I can’t persuade those thoughts to leave the hidden corners of my mind. They’re trapped in a tangle of expectations, weighted with heavy soil-less potting mix like seedlings in a ten dollar garden kit under prefabricated light. I can’t force them out, so I break from the business of doing nothing to buy a bottle of wine in my sweatpants. On my way back to writing I watched dusk fall and street lamps flicker on; a whole day gone again.

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The Haughty Humanitarian

Today I walked a blind girl to class. I’m not saying this for you guys to think I’m a good person and I promise not to post a discreet FB update letting you all know I’m perfect and I do perfect things for humanity. The truth is, I only offered to help guide her because the thought of being blind in a crowd of college kids made me sick with anxiety, and I could not bare to see her attempt to be independent and fail. Plus, her hijab and dope shade of red lips somehow made me think we were star-crossed boss bitch lovers. She was cool. She had confidence and she walked with power, but she got stumbled up at the college gate because a school of freshman were hanging in a circle unaware of her walking cane. I offered to make a path for us. She smiled because she was genuine and grateful, but my compassion was tinged with self gratification. I walked her for me. I walked her so I could feel better about who I am and not be forced to standby awkwardly while the Parting of the Student Sea didn’t happen. Nonetheless, she held onto my arm as I trambled through the crowd of privileged freshman and whispered how fierce she was into her ear.

I felt like Gaga guiding a group of her misfit monsters through life with that we will conquer this world together attitude and a side of haughtiness.

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Disclaimer: Gaga is perfect in every way.

I steered her toward the direction of her destination with about fifteen or so feet left to walk a (somewhat) straight line to her classroom door.  Just as I looked back with pride at the sea of privileged flesh we rummaged through, my new blind friend missed the doorway and walked directly into a brick wall.

(I never said this story had a happy ending)

I took a long, hard, tear inducing fall from my high horse when I realized my good deed now seemed like a cruel trick. I was Regina George and I hated every second of it. I walked away in shame hoping aforementioned sea of freshman somehow missed my humanitarian denouement. Tears were flowing out of my eye sockets like pellets of fancy Lionhead rabbit shit and I just wanted to poke both of my eyes out so I could A) make the crying stop and B) live in solidarity with all of the fierce AF blind people in this world.

lionhead rabbit

It’s a weird feeling to feel fortunate for my luck to be born a middle class white chick with 20/20 vision while simultaneously being ashamed for having said luck. After my encounter with my friend at school, I became haunted with the fact that I am me, and even more frustrated that I have some hidden superiority that thought she needed me.  My failed Gaga compassion didn’t embrace the independence, courage and bravery my new friend exudes everyday. Instead, my haughty walk established a perfect norm and perpetuated it. I made her an outsider, some form of otherness that needed me to grant them entrance into the cool crowd.  It was as though I walked her while chanting, WATCH AND LEARN – like a distant friend that says “I got you”, but does’t actually have a clue.

Attempting and failing to help walk my friend to class made me realize I don’t actually have any understanding of the life she lives. I’m an outsider to her norm. But that doesn’t make me less normal – just as her being an outsider in my norm doesn’t make her any less normal.

I do believe there is still good being done, whether it’s with that tinge of self gratification or a pure heart for others, but can’t we do better than that? Can we help without creating some schism of normality?

I know I can. I can do good better.

 

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Now, my newest addiction:

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Husband Think About That?

A couple of months ago I wrote a paper during a visit home to Louisiana. It was a midterm about Hillary Clinton and the haltering statistics that kept her from the presidency. I’m an all-star procrastinator in general, but the 15-pages about Hill drug on for an unusual amount of time, mostly because the topic proposal I submitted months prior was geared around Hillary winning. You know, because I LIVE DEEP IN THE BROOKLYN BUBBLE.

I had loads of articles proving America had shown significant signs of progress (ie: increased percentages of career women, number of women in the Senate, the lame ass statistic guru over at FiveThirtyEight, my own personal outlook of Clinton being the political version of Beyonce, etc. etc). Equipped with some dope quotes from Judith Butler and Luce Irigaray, I planned on showing how Hillary’s win was an inevitable step in furthering the trend of gender equality. But Hill didn’t win (cue cries), and instead of writing about America’s progress my paper shifted to a dark depiction on the social restraints that still hold the female race back.

In the midst of my writing delirium, I ventured down from my hideout spot overlooking the bayou to refill my coffee cup and steal a few more sugar cookies. While I sat in the kitchen, a sweet friend of the family asked what I’d been doing all day:

“Writing”, I said.

“Writing what?” he responded.

“A feminism paper.”

“What’s your husband think about that?”

I could talk for hours about the irony in that line, but I’ll let Bey take care of that shit.

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Before the Women’s March on January 21st, I thought men were holding us back, but after a few scans through social media – I realize us girls are pretty guilty, too. Yesterday I saw loads of comments from females claiming there’s no need to march, because they are already equal. My mind was blown, but again – that’s mostly at fault to the bubble I live in. Still, I have some stuff to say:

(cue drama)

If you feel that way, if you believe you are fulfilled and whole and worthy and equal and substantial and powerful and independent and not talked down to and not belittled and not gawked at and you don’t receive smirks when you’re caught doing a man’s job and you don’t get told that you’re too pretty to work, or that you just need to marry rich – then girl I AM HAPPY FOR YOU. If you actually believe a woman’s place is behind her husband, and you honor that lifestyle – THEN GET IT, GIRL. If you a trifling hoe and just wanna live off your sugar daddy – GIRL, I FEEL YOU. 

But there are people, outside of your bubble, who needed to march. I’m not suggesting you support them, but I am suggesting you stretch your comfort zone a little. Maybe take a real look at your day-to-day interactions and see, even in the subtleties, if you truly feel there’s no barrier.

I know I live in a liberal bubble. My friends are liberals, my friends are feminists, my friends need free healthcare, my friends need planned parenthood, my friends need birth control to be covered under insurance, and my friends need equal pay. My friend’s are marching to make a change, and these changes never come easily.  They don’t come with opened arms, or with sideline cheers. They come with resistance, with angst and with a shift from what is normal, a shift from what is customary and safe.

Maybe you posted about your privileges as a female on Facebook because seeing the “p” word blasted everywhere got you in a bad mood, maybe those graphic posters with pink vaginas made your stomach curl and you just weren’t ready for that at 8am, or maybe you thought those girls were nasty – that they weren’t someone you’d bring home to momma. I’m not sure what ran through your head, but if it was discomfort –  the march worked. If the media coverage and posts from the march shifted you from your norm, if they pushed you to think – if only for a second – about how unbalanced our society is, then they did their job. In the short seconds you cast judgment on the march, the signs, or the protesters, your norm of the idealized 1950’s version of the female race is either vindicated or broken apart. The stark juxtaposition forces you to stay in your bubble, or stretch just a little bit outside of it. Protests are like a tug-a-war with traditional thought; they may not win the battle, but they’ll make you dance around your safety zone.

Whether we all want to admit it or not, we live in our own bubbles. We allow ourselves to take in news we want to read, friends we want to agree with, and even religions we want to abide. Uncomfortable situations are meant to divide a further line between the ideal and the modern. They show up on all news streams because they are provocative and easy coverage. Aside from the commentary surrounding protests, the actual events are the only chance to see an unfiltered take on politics. Marching is a raw act meant to raise question, cause you to think, search for meaning, and help you reach a new outlook on a movement – even if that newfound understanding is a mere centimeter’s distance from where you stood prior.

I will admit we’ve come a long way since the 19th amendment in 1920, but that doesn’t mean we are finished. Women didn’t march for voting rights on January 21st. They marched for the subtleties, the what does your husband think about that. They marched to break the ideal. They marched for a new formation. Maybe you don’t completely agree, but I hope you moved a centimeter or two.

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Now, a small dedication to my dope ass hubs. Thanks for being you and letting me be me.

 

Wildly Grounded

I recently heard someone say, “they belonged” in New York. She didn’t mean she deserved to be here, rather she couldn’t survive anywhere else. After roaming across the country at a young age, she landed in East Village and fell trap to its charm. She’s been here 15+ years and now calls NYC home. When I met her, she was celebrating the anniversary of her move to the city. While she basked in the empowerment of her growth and independence, my heart hurt. I felt an urge to exonerate my roots – a strange deviation from my usual mindset.

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#BKNY

Sometimes roots feel like a trap. They meander around each other like a snake – coiling in a stationary wheel and wrapping with it a wistful nostalgia that you belong. Some people stay – some escape; nature has no preference. Life still grows from the dirt, leaves wither and bloom, branches break and rebuild. Sure, to anyone in the whimsical leaves, the roots are stifling, but that’s because you know their power. You have explored the crisp air, experienced the roughest part of seasons, and learned to mold and reform in the feeble stability of your freestanding stem. You are adventurous in your careless evergreen, but the roots are charming and infectious. They are you; you are one in the same.

There is comfort in the absolutism of my roots. I understand now that they are part of who I am, and my desire to roam is a desire to expand – not escape. Because there is no escaping. The past is where it belongs. It is planted as a means to stabilize your future. Growing into something wilder doesn’t mean you are any less you, you are just a little bit more.

 

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How Selfies Ruin Everything

 

I woke up the day after the election to a text from a friend that said, “I didn’t think this was possible.”  I opened CNN, along with all of my social media accounts, to make sure this was really happening. I thought for sure someone was going to let us all know something disastrous happened at the polls. Maybe they miscounted 49% of the votes? 

As the reality of a Trump presidency started to breathe itself into existence, I set out to blame everyone. I blamed the third party voters for wasting their ballot. I blamed the black community for not showing up like they did for Obama. I blamed the DNC who ruined us when they pushed for Clinton instead of Bernie. I blamed the Christians who voted against abortions, but for misogyny and rape. I blamed the working class in America who wanted change – no matter who gave it to them. I blamed the liberal media for deceiving us into thinking Trump didn’t stand a chance. I blamed SNL for sensationalizing Trump’s persona by mocking him, subsequently drawing more press and attention to his campaign. I blamed Fox News for turning him into someone relatable; someone a guy could chat with in a locker room.

I turned into everything I hated about Trump, blaming everyone but myself. Because after all – I was the progressive thinker who voted Hillary. 

In my state of naivety, I scrolled through Instagram for a break from the news, but my heartache deepened. In my feed I saw Khloe Kardashian bragging that her Lip Kit sold out in 6 seconds, I scrolled through selfies of intelligent women with Snapchat puppy-dog noses and flower crowns, spotted Kyle Richards advertising a hair vitamin with over 10k likes, and watched Kate Upton share her secrets to “the perfect brow”. Is this what ruined us? Do we not believe in ourselves? Are we too caught up in the hype of media, the hype of selfies, of being pretty? Are we too afraid to think independently? Are we afraid of taking charge? Are we afraid of being powerful, instead of sexy? How else could 53% of female voters elect this man? Do they not know their own value? 

I wanted to throw my phone across the room, or anywhere that could magically make the female race look more like it does in my head. 

I am not insinuating that the state of our country rests solely in the hands of our Instagram feed, but if you’ve been wondering what is keeping us from being seen as the next president of the United States – It’s your selfie, it’s my selfie, and it’s our need to promote our beauty more than the authoritative person that lives behind what the world wants us to be. Why is this how we choose to represent who we are? Why is this the norm for women? If we want to be perceived as powerful, we need to start representing that in our feeds instead of doe-eyed selfies with porcelain skin. If we want the media to stop placing us on an impossible standard – we need to stop trying to meet that standard. There are lots of reasons we lost and there are copious people we can fault, but it is hard to deny the fact that we lost because Hillary Clinton was compared against an ideal version of what society thinks a woman should be. She lost and we will continue to lose until that depiction of women is shifted.

When the results started rolling in Tuesday I felt threatened. I felt lied to, betrayed and even undermined by a nation that could actually vote and side with a man so bitter towards progress and equality. On Wednesday, when I  had to continue on with my life, everything seemed pointless. Why go to school when no one will ever see me as a leader? Why educate myself when I’ll only ever be seen as a number between 1 & 10? This isn’t the life I voted for. 

This election, if nothing else, has given me a strange urgency to tell you your voice is powerful. You are powerful on your own accord. You don’t need me, or any sensationalized media to derive self worth. I hope you know that.

lenny
Image from Lenny Letter

Trump winning is not the female race’s fault, but maybe we can take this election as a growing pain that pushes us to a higher, more authoritative mindset. I’m not saying we can’t feel beautiful, dress well, or wear makeup. We are beautiful women, and I love the desire to express that, but we need to focus on flouting the image 49% of the United States have towards women. This win says a lot about our nation, about our gender equality, and about the female race not being taken seriously. It’s time we change our mindset. It’s time we change the mindset of everyone who can’t see past the girl. We are powerful. Let’s make everyone else think that too.

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You’re on the Uprise

Yesterday was just like any other day. I had my normal cup of Red Hook Roast coffee while I walked Mosie our usual path around the corner of Dekalb. I got dressed while Lucius played in the background and quietly praised my expensive boutique workout classes when my pants zipped without much effort. I walked a mile to the subway, the same path I take everyday, and made a mental note to finally try that South African place I keep eyeing. A rising sense of rush came over as I watched bikers race in business pants with their briefcases attached to the side of their city bikes. Horns echoed while red lights acted as downtown Brooklyn’s morning dictator. I looked down at my espadrilles and thought, I should walk faster.

I raced down the concrete stairs of the subway station, bolted through the turnstile like I had somewhere really important to be, and skipped the final steps to the platform just as the B train left screeching like a lightening bolt with the speed of a snail. I waited 5 mins for the next train while I pretended like it was a real hassle so to fit in with the other commuters. The crowd of straphangers grew denser, each one taking turns looking down the barrel in anticipation for their next bout of habitual morning tasks. I began to question the train’s schedule just as its light peaked through the darkness.

We all boarded, too eager to permit current passengers an easy exit. We filed in like ants marching to a crumb and piled tight with an awkward I don’t know you this well disposition. I peaked over a burly man’s shoulder as we rode across East River and gawked as the Manhattan sky line came into view. Kanye was playing in my ear buds per usual. 

It was a normal day. It was exactly like the day before.

I walked up from the subway at 42nd street in Mid Town. The Chrysler Building was beaming in the sunlight, a new AM New York was thrown into my hands, and the crosswalk was filled with people already checking emails on their iPhones. Bryant Park’s fountain made a fresh come back from its winter break, but mostly – today was exactly like the day before.

And the day before that one.

I walked past the same street performer I saw yesterday. He sat with two hamsters, two rabbits and a parrot all piled on the same ratty, tan carpeted cat tower they’ve been sitting on year round. A sad dog sat next to the tower with another rabbit on the sidewalk. The city streets seemed to fly by them, almost as if they were an island of stillness. New tourists crowded around – making it seem like the sedated animals were something really thrilling, but they were all the same as the day before.

I walked up to my office building, swiped my card to pass through security, rode the elevator up to the top floor and thought – how is this weird, hectic life so normal to me now? I’d already forgotten the time I didn’t feel like a local here.

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Yesterday a friend said to me, “Aren’t we living the dream?” My mind began to race with everything that was currently on my things to accomplish list as I tried to place this dream he was talking about.

What dream?

In a slew of days, weeks and months small changes in life merge until you can no longer see where you started, only where you are. When I look back at the starting point, I can hardly remember what led me here. This was my dream since I was 16 years old, and while I celebrated the moment when I found out it was coming to fruition, I haven’t celebrated my time here. My time actually getting to live the dream out. I think a lot of us forget that. We work and work for something to happen, and never return the acknowledgment that we achieved something. 

I’m constantly looking forward for what’s to come, etching out in my mind what I need to do to get to the next now, that I forget all of the feats that led me this far. I forget to enjoy where I am.

I guess what I’m trying to say (mostly to myself) is, just because you’ve made it to your dream doesn’t mean you’ve finished living it. Don’t let a big feat feel like a small feat when you spent years getting there.

Stop chasing and start living it out.

 

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Daddy Issues

People have told me you don’t need dads or moms (or anyone for that matter) to live a fulfilled life. Maybe that’s not entirely wrong, but it does seem incredibly sad and lonely to think about a life without people who know you and genuinely care for you.

Those caring roles seem to naturally stem from parental figures, but I’m realizing I also have the ability to choose those people – or allow them to choose me.

My dad left when I was about 8 years old, I could get into specifics, but I don’t have the time to waste crying about that shit for a whole day – so I’m just going to say he left, and I’ve basically been fighting for his attention ever since.

I know, I know – this is such a common issue and I’m not special and I need to grow the eff up.

But I think that’s part of the whole problem. People are always telling me others have it worse and I should be grateful for what I have. But this whole dad issue has been rocking my boat for 20 freaking years, and maybe it’s because I keep thinking it shouldn’t be rocking my boat.

In the future, I’m sure I’ll experience something far worse that will make me realize this shouldn’t have plagued me for so long, but for right now – in this moment – I am upset about a very common issue that I’m sure more than 1/3 of the world experiences.

When I was a kid, I thought the more cool things I did  – the more my dad would come around. Deep down, I wasn’t into being on the cheerleading team or whatever other social sport was popular at the time, but I thought the more events I had – the more chances my dad had to show up. It turned out to be a shoddy plan filled with lots of disappointment, but I kept up with it through high school, always hoping my name would be called for the squad or homecoming court. Not because I actually wanted to be on the team or named pretty by public school kids riddled with pubescence, but because I wanted an excuse to call my dad and tell him to come see a game or walk me down the football field.

I know, so desperate.

When the sport/popularity contest didn’t grab his attention, I decided to go all in with prayer. I threw out my secular CDs, broke up with my now hubby to “focus on Jesus”, and started spending my weekend nights reading the bible. I even canceled my senior cruise to spend one month on the mission field – somehow justifying that if I was a better Christian I’d get what I wanted. I drank all the kool-aid possible, and spent every day praying that my dad would come around, or at the very least not die. (I’ve always had a fear of him dying) I took it as my personal responsibility  burden to not let him ruin his life, and at 18 years old, the weight of that shit got pretty heavy.

For the past ten years, I’ve been trying to convince myself I don’t have daddy issues – I thought I left all that behind with my fake ass high school years, but here I am, 28 years old, still crying over a dad that was only actively in my life for 8 years.

I don’t get it.

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You can’t spend your whole life thinking about a few years that weren’t that great.

My recent trip to Italy became the soul searching trip of a lifetime. I called my dad before I boarded the plane, even though he didn’t know I had a trip planned. I cried when he didn’t answer – which is why I usually never call in the first place. As the plane took off I thought about what he’d really know about my life if I died.

Morbid, I know. I’ve got daddy issues. TAKE IT EASY ON ME.

I realized he doesn’t know where I live. He doesn’t know that I’m enrolled in Lit Crit courses, or that I even have an interest in writing. He calls my husband Michael. He doesn’t know that I’m not sure about the whole Christianity thing, or that I had two miscarriages, or that I graduated summa cum laude, or that I genuinely like the taste of whiskey. If this plane goes down, he would still think of me as the seven year old driving go-carts through our woods.

Worst of all, I would die with him thinking I voted for McCain.

Our first stop was Venice, and it hit me on our second day there that I wasn’t going to keep focusing on a few years that sucked.

I have a good life, and I need to stop worrying about what happened before I got here.

I don’t know what happened in Italy, but I gave up trying to save my dad, and I gave up searching for his attention. I realized I can dictate what comes in and out of my life, and I made it my personal agenda to start that right away – in Venice where I felt altogether disconnected from the world around me, yet completely cognizant of the people I want to be in my life. Call that egocentric, or snobby, or whatever you want, but when I figured out there are some things I can actually control – I thought it best to start building a life I love.

I have people who chose to be in my life. Why am I focusing on the one person who didn’t?

It’s a strange concept to accept when you’ve been eager for the love of a specific person, but there are other people in this world who will care about you. Sure, it would be nice if it was that parent you’ve been trying to grab the attention of, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to be aware of the relationships you’re missing out on while you’re waiting for the one person who keeps letting you down.

Daddy issues are weird, especially when you’re almost thirty and you thought you’d be over it all by now. But the truth is, it’s a constant struggle to understand why someone who should want to be in your life isn’t.

I had a few bad years, but I’ve had just as many good years. Escaping the constant feeling of rejection isn’t me not being true to myself, my background, or my family. It’s me choosing to create a better life with people who decided a long time ago to be by my side.

Some people call that giving up, others call it moving on.

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