The Week’s End // A Roundup of Important Reads

Hello friends and welcome to the weekend. I’m back to rounding up my favorite finds across the web every week again. So, if you’re looking for some interesting reads to check out while you relax, look no further, I got you covered. Here are the things I found important, inspiring, and interesting enough to share:

drea the vibe dealer

Today is Earth day!

Refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle

Or get out and #MarchforScience

Sigh, is America great again yet?

Silence is powerful too.

Comfort each other.

The last Rachel Dolezal interview you ever need to read.

The most infuriating thing I read this week.

“Seriously, this guy has a point.”

We just spread our shit around, don’t we?

DNA.

Forget the unicorn frap!

What do you think? Have you read, watched, or written an interesting thing this week? Has something on the internet made you feel strongly? If so, drop a link in the comments, we’d love to check it out!

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This list was originally sent out along with today’s newsletter: Words Mean Things + some of my own existential musings. Check it out and subscribe, or help support what I do with a cup of coffee or three :)

Featured image via Unsplash

Protect Drunk Girls

Women have always been regarded as the sole source of all their suffering, and no one more than the drunk girl.

In her stumbling and fumbling, through her tears, and in spite of her laughter, we know her to be immoral and gross. We know that whatever should befall her on this “ladies night,” this “birthday celebration,” this “newly single,” “newly engaged,” “newly employed” or “just glad the week is over” night, is exactly what she deserves.

Can you imagine, having done no legal or moral wrong, but upon having bad things happen any way you are now made to be the villain in your own trauma?

This is the great shame of society, among which there are many more, but what do we do? Do we seek to rectify, to apologize, or to make the next time right? No, we persist in the belief that a woman looking for fun finds what she seeks and a woman without reserve and modesty gets what she needs I suppose. It’s easier that way, to go on as we have and let the harmed fade away, or be put away by force if need be. The best among us try, but even in us, the way we find is wrong.

“Where are the men!”, we cry, “to keep us surrounded and safe?”

Where are the women I say! To keep us safe but more than that to keep us sure of our right to live, and drink, and be merry. Why can’t we be loud and a little too much from time to time without humiliation and pain? Where are the women to tell us it is okay? Where are the women who would see us safely home? Where are the women who would cry out to the men of their sin instead of always inventing and enforcing new ones for us all to suffer under?

Summer is coming, with warm night, open rooftops, and cold drinks and signs screaming “ladies drink free ’til midnight.” Drunk girls will be let loose in the world, and I feel for them knowing many won’t make it through what should be a time of joy but many will come through changed forever and with that will come shame and blame because no one will protect them.

If you see a pedestrian on the ground, hurt, bleeding, not breathing, do you help them? Or do you assume that they brought their injuries on themselves and leave them? Do you feel annoyed at the inconvenience, huff, and leave them to their fate?

Imagine you saw an intoxicated person getting into the driver seat of a car, would you say something? Would you call a cab or summon an Uber from your phone? Whatever you would do, I bet you know what you should do. If you saw a drunk woman walking alone on the street would you do the same? If you saw her surrounded by a group of men would you walk away?

Too often I have been out with others who have lost track of their friends or allowed them to leave with strange men. I try to speak up but all I hear is so and so is going to do what they want, and I’ve felt powerless.

I’ve even, I’ll admit, fallen into the trap of judging, ridiculing, and turning a blind eye out of annoyance and frustration. It’s hard to keep caring after you warn them and warn them, and still, they don’t listen, but I have to wonder about the consequences. I wonder how much of the world’s suffering do I carry because I didn’t protect a woman in need?

Many of us have made the same mistake. We’ve had too much, done too much, and ended up in dangerous situations. Some of us walked away unscathed? Did we deserve a consequence? Did we deserve to be groped and raped? Could you look yourself in the mirror, remember a time when you went out of a wild night with a friend, and tell yourself you deserved the same as the countless women you’ve seen in the news who are now missing, assaulted, or dead?

Of course not. You made a mistake, or maybe it wasn’t a mistake at all, and that is yet another idea we have to rid ourselves of too. I hope when it happened to you had someone to look after you. I hope you know how lucky you were.

But I want the world to change. I want all women to feel protected, and I want all women to protect drunk girls at all cost. From those who would take advantage of them, hurt them, or abandon them.

Drinking or not, every woman is worthy of care and comfort. Drinking or not, we all want the same thing, some time to let loose and feel a part of a place and time where there is only joy and love. There is no sin, no shouldn’t have, there is only the safest way, and we all have to help each other to that.

Protect carefree girls. Protect girls who do too much and take it too far. Protect young girls who are learning their limits and those of the world. Protect girls trying to have the night of their lives. Protect girls having a bad night too.

In a perfect world, you would never have to worry but this world is far from that, and something else must be done. We can appeal to the men. Love us, respect us, protect us, some will and some won’t but how can you know the difference? And anyway it is hard to trust the same ones who ridicule and abuse you.

I say we look to ourselves, to women, all women, to have the understanding and the courage to lead the way to safety, love, and a sense of freedom. Help your sisters find nights of fun and release without fear, or guilt, or pain.

Protect drunk girls, wherever you go, the night of and every night after, for as long as they need you.

#protectdrunkgirls #sharpie #bathroom #advice #paradigmshift #bethechange #smashthepatriarchy

A post shared by em (@protectdrunkgirls) on

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Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or share a cup of coffee perhaps?

Inspired by the Instagram account @ProtectDrunkGirls

Featured image via Unsplash

You are What You Cook for Me

I’m easily lured by food
bad for the body
but good for the soul
You are what you cook for me

I’ve never had the self-control
To choose what is good
Over what feels good

Sweet, and savory
Spicy, and so soul comforting
You really are what you cook for me
And I will ever over-indulge

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Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or share a cup of coffee perhaps? :)

Written in response to The Daily Post Prompt: Fry

Featured image via Unsplash

Michele Leavitt on Bravery and Words

Writing, like any art or discipline, takes daily practice and dedication to learning about the craft from those who have come before you. In learning, I like to teach, so each week I will take a piece of advice from the greats, both living and dead, famous and not, and apply their lessons to my own work and share my thoughts and progress with you.

This week I have chosen a quote from the memoirist, Michele Leavitt.

8184355Michele Leavitt is a former trial attorney the author of the memoir Walk Away, and the 2013 winner of the inaugural Michael Macklin Poetry Prize, and 2010 winner of the William Allen Creative Nonfiction Prize from The Ohio State University. She’s a high school dropout, former trial attorney, adoptee, and hepatitis C survivor who has taught writing, literature, and critical thinking in New England, Japan, Florida, and Idaho.

Walk Away is an unflinching and inspiring story of how Leavitt lived through the violence of her adolescence, how that violence haunted her through her escape to college and law school, and how she ultimately came to rise out of it to a place of possibility.

Her book-length poetry collection, Back East, won the inaugural Michael Macklin First Book Prize and was published by Moon Pie Press in 2013. A memoir excerpt, “No Trespassing,” won The Ohio State University’s 2010 William Allen Award for creative nonfiction, was published in The Journal, and received a notable listing in 2011 Best American Essays. Other recent works of poetry and prose appear in venues including Guernica, The North American Review, and Catapult. A high school dropout,

A high school dropout, hepatitis C survivor, recovering English teacher and former trial attorney, she now lives in North Central Florida, where she works in a program dedicated to helping women over 50 achieve economic stability.

Her poems and prose are published in a wide variety of print and online journals, including Guernica, Medium, The North American Review, So to SpeakHEArt: Human Equity Through ArtThe Humanist, The Journal, Mezzo Cammin, and Passager

I highly recommend you check out her blog and her Medium page for personal stories on life, and love, and pain, and writing.

“Telling my story is possible not because of bravery, but because I have the words to tell that story now.”

— Michele Leavitt, Memoir, Bravery, & Facebook

I have been silenced, by others and myself. I have felt the fear of speaking up and speaking out. I have shut myself up tight not wanting to say things that couldn’t be unsaid, not wanting to tell my story or reveal my pain. I still feel this way now but words are coming to me easier every day and the more they come, the faster they come, and the more insistent my silenced-self gets.

But it never feels like bravery.

I had no words for my pain, my gender, my love, my wants and needs, my dreams. I couldn’t describe my anxiety, my panic, my hope, and my rage. I spent many years at a loss for words for who I was and where I had come from, and I learned a lot about silence in that time.

I’ve learned that silence is not your friend. It cannot protect you, and it will not save you. I’ve learned that silence is a liar. My silence made me believe I didn’t matter, that I was hopeless and alone. I learned that silence leads to loneliness, and loneliness is some of the worst hurt we can inflict.

I have written some personal things and burned with embarrassment and shame wishing I could gather my words back up and stuff them back inside. I’ve falsely believed that my silence was a place of comfort and I have falsely been called brave for the clumsy, and ugly, and sometimes quite selfish and cowardly ways I have shouted myself to the world.

I am not brave. I am weak, and afraid, and tired, and unsure all the time. I am not brave, I am only at my wit’s end. Hiding hasn’t helped. Keeping it all in hasn’t helped. Ignoring it hasn’t helped, and wishing it away hasn’t either. Below the surface the pressure builds. The guilt, the depression, the anxiety becomes too much and I have found the writing is the only relief. So, I tell my story little by little, and for no reason but because I have to, and people have thought I am brave. I am not brave.

But I am trying to be brave now.

There are things I am not ready to say, but that must be said soon. Maybe at first, it was only for me, now, then it was for me, then, but it is becoming increasing for us all, throughout time. I really do want to have some purpose. I want to be of some help to the world, and these words are all I have.

But no matter how hard it is, and no matter how afraid I feel, and how I fight through it, I still don’t feel brave. I feel compelled and through that compulsion comes practice and with practice comes clarity and skill, and maybe that makes it seem that the words come easily or that I, and all writers who write hard things, are brave when we really have very little choice in the matter.

I am grateful for the incessant need to write. I would never write if it weren’t for it. If I had a choice to be brave or not, I most certainly would not. To be so vulnerable and weak is my worst fear but something bigger than fear works in my mind. I have no name for it though, but it doesn’t feel very much like bravery. In fact, it may only be another kind of fear, a bigger and badder fear, death.

To go to my death having lived with such secrets, to live like a ghost before I become one, is the worst kind of waste, shame, and sin. I only have one life, and I am afraid of not living it more than I am afraid of anything else.

So, I tell my story and to do it right I learn the words and learn the way. The words are coming now, sometimes faster than I can write them, and sometimes at an agonizingly slow, drip, drip, drip but they are coming.

I am still learning to speak, and I have so much more to say, but there are new words now and new ways to use them. I am grateful to those who bring the words to me, writers who have come before, some longer than others, filling my head with all the ways a thing can be said.

I am grateful to those who have taught me the power of words. Words are what humans have to wield against one another, ourselves, and the passing of time. Words are all we have to get what is in us to the outside. Words are the things that change reality. That is why so many are afraid and so many seek to silence. Words are all we have that can survive time. Words can be a salve for the past and a preventative for the future. They shape our minds and our world. They are the closest to magic we have.

If I ever give anything to this world at all, I hope to give you all a few words to shout, to whisper, to share, and to stand up and stand on. If I ever give you anything I hope it is the knowledge that you need never be silent or afraid of words. Words set you free, in the end, after the pain and the work. I hope I can give the lesson to myself one day too.

In the meanwhile, search through your silence. Find the person who made you afraid, find the reason you cannot speak, start there to find the way to freedom.

At first, the words will not be perfect. They will shake from your grasp and fall to the world in ways you don’t mean, but practice makes perfect. Repeat, refine, and restate as often as you need, until you get it right. Until someone understands.

Throughout history, words have been made used, stolen, eradicated, given new life, and gave life in return. Go out and make some words of your own of your own. Find the power to define yourself, your world, and your experience. Don’t worry about brave or cowardly, only worry about what must be done for you to feel alive and real. Bravery comes later, I hope.

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Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or buy me a cup of coffee perhaps? :)

Biographical information via Leavitt’s blog and Goodreads

Featured image via Unsplash

People are People, Just Like You

Hello, and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is a reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

People are simple, and stupid, and complex, and feeling, and wise, and fallible, and beautiful, and dark, and ugly, and so much more than we can ever convey with words. We know this because we know ourselves and deep down we know other people feel and think and go through what do, even though we rarely act like it.

We know we have rich inner lives, profound thoughts and feelings, shades of emotions, wants, and needs that language can scratch the surface of. We know there are reasons behind everything we do that rarely ever fall fully to one side of good or bad, selfless or selfish. There are more shades of human motivation and reason than there are stars in the universe or grains of sand on every beach but humans aren’t good with subtle shades of being or thinking.

We know that our psyches are deep and varied and we know that because of this, because every thought and action and all that we are is a product of all we have been through and sometimes all that many generations before us have been through, we know we are deserving of understanding and patience. Somehow, we know this, but at the same time, we know that other people are simple beings with simple and often nefarious motivations for doing what they do.

We forget that people are people, all over the world and all throughout time, same as we are.

They have the same thoughts, the same questions, the same failings and triumphs, the same daily, grueling, inner struggle between who they are and who they ought to be. They share the same complex inner life and painfully vague understanding of why they do what they do. They are hurt and hoping and fucking up, and we should be working harder to understand their needs and motivations, the way we would ask them to do for us.

We are too quick categorize and condemn each other in ways that are radically different from how we think of ourselves. They are mean. They don’t care. They aren’t good enough. They are stupid. They are trying intentionally to sabotage and set me back. They are the enemy, but it isn’t so simple. They are human, and so are we, and they do all the things they do for the same reasons as us. Because they don’t know any better.

 

Of course, in all the ways we are the same, there are as many ways in which we are different, and that is where the work of understanding happens. Besides the fact that we all come from different places and were born in different times, besides the fact that each of our parents was raised in a time with different struggles and different values, besides the fact that no two perspectives can ever be the same, we all simply have very different brains. We have different thoughts, needs, motivations, wants, and ideas about right and wrong and every shade in between.

Even on our best days, when we are listening well and using language as precisely as we can, no human language is articulate or exact enough to ever explain who we are, what we feel, and what our motivations and reasons may be. Each of us no matter how we reach out and to how many is alone within our own minds. We can never be understood and we can never fully understand, but we can try harder, and do better, and stop treating each other like simple beings and react with simpler solutions and emotions.

This week, before you judge who is right and who is wrong, who is worth listening to, and who is worth compassionate understanding, or friendship, just know that each person you encounter is a complex mix of history, culture, experience, emotion, and wisdom that you will never fully comprehend.

We owe it to ourselves to treat one another better. To owe it to each other to understand each other better. To step into each other’s shoes isn’t so hard when you stop acting as if you are the only one who can be right, who can be hurt, who can have needs, or can make mistakes.

This week, try to understand that you have no right to presume to know who a person is, why they do what they do, how they ought to act, or what help they need or don’t. Get to know people and do the hard work of letting them exist on a spectrum rather than at the easy to categorize extremes.

This world has become far too black and white, I’d love to see some grays, and one day, when we are better people than we are now, we might even be comfortable with color and hue and brightness too.

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Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or buy me a cup of coffee perhaps? :)

Featured image via Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Happy Easter to You, If That’s Your Thing

“You’re invited to join me for a cup of coffee that I’ll be having whether you join me or not.”

— Mutiny Information Cafe

Hello, dear readers! Thank you for stopping by this Easter Sunday. I don’t actually celebrate the holiday, I’m an atheist with no children, so there isn’t much in it for me, but I hope those of you who do are having a wonderful celebration. I hope there are brightly colored eggs, delicious chocolates, good food, and lots of laughter. I hope this morning’s church services fills you with a sense of peace and belonging and hope.

As for me, I’m doing my usual Sunday thing. I was up early, but I fell back asleep and woke up later than I wanted to. Now I’m scrambling to catch up. I’m cleaning and writing, both at the same time and neither effectively. One of these days I will learn.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was a good one. In case you didn’t know, it was my birthday week! People who know me know that my birthday is super important to me and I spend the majority of the month of April celebrating it.

I believe that everyone deserves to be a little self-absorbed around their birthday. I mean, for one, it took the universe a long time and a lot of work to get to you, and also, it took you a lot of time and work to get to where you are, all of that should be acknowledged with lots of good food, drink, and laughter!

I spent my week at dinner with family (it was also my mother’s birthday week), at the movies with my lovely lady seeing one of my old favorites, Starship Troopers, and out for an oyster brunch with my lady too. Today I will be out to dinner again, this time with the in-laws and later in the month, there will be a series of nights out with different groups of friends. There were some gifts, nothing big, but all very lovely but my favorite thing by far is the birthday card my girlfriend DIY-ed for me:

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If we were having coffee I would tell you that this past week was a crazy one, politically. Our newest president has my anxiety running high nearly nonstop to the point where i have to check out, from the news, from social media, from friends and family who want to talk about it.

I used to enjoy following and discussing politics but lately, all I can feel is either a vague but deep fear or a burning embarrassment.

Life in this country feels a lot less certain than it did just a few short months ago and the world as a whole feels on the verge of something big and bad. Tensions are high everywhere and as much as I want to get involved and fight back a big part of me wants to cling to the things that feel safe, the things that feel like home, for as long as I can.

Every week I tell myself that I will do more, say more, and find the courage to resist but every week I look out into the world and feel afraid again. Not this week either it seems….maybe next.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while my body still isn’t feeling much better yet, my mood has improved dramatically. Part of it was all the well wishes, gifts, and spoiling I got, and part of it is the ever improving weather are having as we move further and further from winter, but mostly it’s because summer is right around the corner and with it comes an easier work schedule and a lot less stress.

Summertime is on the way and, since I work for a school district, that means summer break. I still work, but I have much more control over my schedule. I will be cleaning, filing, doing testing and training, and helping make sure that all of our school buses and all of our equipment is ready to go for the next year.

During that time I can choose to work only as many hours as I need to and spend the rest of my time working on some projects and reevaluating what it is I am doing here and with my writing in general. I have more concrete plans for a zine; I want to work on some real poetry and get back to creating some art, and I want to do as much of it outside, in the sunshine and fresh air, as I can.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, slowly, a new routine and a new normal is beginning to sink in as I learn what it really means to live with a chronic illness. I feel more at ease, more accepting, and less tense or angry.

I am learning to let go of some things, like being able to sleep in. I have to be up by 6 every morning to eat and take my medication. I’m working on letting go of being able to eat whatever I want to eat. This week I discovered that anything with nuts or seeds is out, and I may have to cut out beef entirely, which is probably a good thing. I am letting go of wishing to have the energy I used to have and working on making the most of what I do. Naps are back in around here but in moderation!

I don’t want to be fighting myself every day. I don’t want to be disappointed in myself every day. I don’t want to give up. I want to adjust.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the time has passed too quickly, as it tends to do when you are having fun, or coffee, or good conversation. There is a lot for me to do before I head to dinner tonight. The house is in desperate need of mopping, dusting, and vacuuming and the dishes and laundry are piled high.

I hope your week was a good one and that your weekend was relaxing and warm. If you have a minute drop a note in the comments and let me know how you are. I worry about you, you know?

Until next time :)

New shirt to match my new mood :)

A post shared by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

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Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or buy me a cup of coffee perhaps? 

Written for to the Weekend Coffee Share link-up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

Featured image via Unsplash

When the Universe Celebrates Itself

One this day, an eye blink ago, relatively,
this tiny corner of the cosmos was born.
Today, all that exists whispers, “Happy Birthday to me.”

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If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or buy me a cup of coffee perhaps? It is my birthday after all :)

Written (a week late) in response to the Ink in Thirds Three Line Thursday prompt: Celebrate