Rose Colored Goggles
Summer in Portland is a sight to behold. The greenery remains lush, despite the heat waves. I remain enamored with the city, despite almost having lived here for a year. Things do not hold my attention for long. I am a notorious Irish goodbye at the end of a night or morning. Ask anyone who has spent time with me; I leave abruptly and with no small talk. I end phone calls when we are done talking, because I hate prolonged goodbyes. I have gotten better about not hanging up on people, because I don’t want to be rude. I just genuinely can’t linger for too long. This is not to say I don’t ever overstay my welcome. If I allow myself to really sink into a moment, I will stay for far too long because I don’t want it to end. I am sure that is the dichotomy of my anxiety. I am just an anxious gal that leaves too early or stays too long. The people I surround myself with are lingerers, who take serious offense to my sudden exits. For them, I have tried to be better. But there is an integral part of me that gravitates to the door during a night out. I find myself getting quieter, while silently mapping my exit strategy. My friends have come to recognize the shifty look in my eyes and the seldom moment of silence coming from me as an indicator that I will slip away if they take their eyes off of me, even for a moment. The one remedy to keep me still is to keep me busy. I love mischief more than I love leaving. My friends know this and entertain this solution. Recently during a night out in Portland, my friends and I went out to a bar called Loyal Legion. Every time I have ever went to the South East Loyal Legion there has been a wedding party out celebrating. I am not a big fan of weddings, but I am a big fan of wedding parties. I like to infiltrate the group. From afar, I will daydream about how they know each other. I make grand assumptions about who is with the bride side, who is with the groom side, who met the couple in college, who are the siblings, who are the childhood best friends, and my favorite- who are the plus ones???? It is hard work to join a wedding party. My friends, Sidney and Reilly watched from afar with me, while we openly discussed who to target as potentially “ins” for the wedding party. My desire to flee the bar melted away as my goal to understand the inner dynamics of the wedding party solidified in my mind. We started by ordering food and drinks, while we sat at the closest bar stools to the end of the bar. This placed us directly in front of the wedding party. I stopped my scheming when the cheese fries arrived, because I do have a hierarchy of interests. Cheese fries will always hold my attention first and foremost. After slamming a considerable amount of bar food, I tried holding playful yet intense eye contact with anyone who looked my way. This came across as invasive- I assume, because no one held my gaze for more than a few moments. Sidney started at the end of the bar while Reilly sat in the middle and I sat the farthest away. Sidney manned the bar stool by the water faucet, where she would casually catch wedding party goers order more drinks and refill their water glasses. She worked her charm and had a blonde guy who I would describe as cute and unpleasant chatting with her. The plan was working. Sidney was taking one for the team. I felt as though I was not contributing to infiltrating the group. So, I stood from my bar stool and whispered between Sidney and Reilly “I’m going in”. I danced toward and through the wedding party. Music blared over the speakers as the strangers in formal dresses and tuxedos parted for me to dance through. Like any instance of dancing while buzzed, it feels both good and well executed in the moment. I reflect on my actions as cringey and unwanted. But you have to put yourself out there to be seen by the wedding party. I made small talk with the sisters of the bride. I felt that the sisters could be a good angle, so I stood on my tippy toes to give my friends the signal to make their way over. As I looked across the bar at Sidney and Reilly, I noticed Sidney was still working her charm on the unpleasant blonde while Reilly was talking to a tall man with red hair in a well-worn flannel, with goggles strapped across his face. This man was clearly not a part of the wedding party. Reilly was losing focus. I couldn’t blame her. This man was wearing goggles in a bar. That shit is interesting. I snaked my way through the crowd again, strategically shimmying and swaying my hips to propel myself back to my friends. I found myself back in front of Sidney and Reilly. The red head with goggles made eyes at Reilly as he retreated to the booth where his friends sat. Reilly turned to us with hearts in her eyes and yelled in a hushed tone “Oh my god he looks just like the Weasley twins from Harry Potter”. Sidney and I wasted no time or energy to entertain this delusion. We yelled back at her “No Reilly, he really doesn’t. He’s just a tall red head”. She swore up and down that he did in fact look like a Weasley twin and also informed us that his name was Buck. Buck was a distraction from the wedding party, and I feared that we had already lost Reilly to his rose-colored goggles. (That is just a play on the saying “rose colored glasses”, his goggles were actually very clear and bound to his skull with a thick strap). I turned to Sidney. This mission fell on our shoulders for the time being, while Reilly focused solely on the similarities between Buck, and Fred/George Weasley. Sidney and I switched spots, which placed me directly in hot seat. A cute guy with shaggy brown hair and thick framed glasses made his way in front of me to order a drink. He looked smart and kind, so I took my shot. We made small talk about how his name was Charlie and he was from Vermont, and that he graduated with a degree in environmental science, which is also how he knew the groom. After talking for a while, I confessed to him that I wanted to be a part of the wedding party. He fully supported my plan. We had built up a story together about how I was a good friend from high school, and we volleyed back and forth with small yet important details that would be vital to this lie. He promised to introduce me to the bride and groom as his good friend. I felt the glow success surround me. The ultimate “in” would be a conversation with the groom and bride, under the guise of being a long-lost friend of someone they cared about. As I write this, this does seem very inappropriate. Charlie was my guy. We had built a lie together and as the groom and bride made their way over to Charlie and I, we internally prepared for the performance of a false reunion. I hopped down from my spot on the bar stool and leaned in close to Charlie to smile up at him. He looked down at me, then to the bride and groom who were now steps away from us. I could see it all over his face that he was panicking. Apparently, Charlie was not a good liar. The four of us stood closely to hear over the booming music. Charlie blurted words out like a child who was caught in a lie by their parents, the truth spewing from his lips before the lie could even take shape. Charlie gestured toward me “This is Libby, she wanted to get in with the wedding party so I promised I would introduce her”. Oh, how quickly I put my faith in a perfect stranger. The betrayal. I looked at Charlie and mouthed “what the fuck was that? Now I look desperate”. He shrugged at me and gave me eyes that communicated “you are desperate”. The newlywed couple laughed and gave me a hug, while quickly moving on to talk to the next wedding guest. The story we had built together never made it past each other. I looked at Charlie and he was clearly uncomfortable with the knowledge that he failed me. I wasn’t really upset. My guy just wasn’t a liar…. Unlike me. I couldn’t fault him for his child like honesty. I don’t think Charlie from Vermont who had a passion for the environment was a dishonest person. We made our way back to my bar stool. Sidney was now staring straight forward while the unpleasant blonde (who turned out to be a groomsman) talked highly of himself in her ear. His name was Steven, but on multiple occasions I heard Sidney intentionally address him as “Stephen”. I love when she does that. Reilly was now pulling up google images of the Weasley twins to hold up in comparison to Buck. She asked Charlie and Steven if they thought Buck looked like a Weasley, all four of us spoke in perfect unison “NO”. There was only one truth that night, and it was that Buck with the goggles did not look like one of the twins from Harry Potter. Reilly should take this as a fact, because Charlie even said so… and we all know Charlie can’t lie. I knew we had made it as far as we could for the night. People from all corners of the bar began to trickle out of the doors because it was almost closing time. Sidney, Reilly and I took an Uber home after saying goodbye to our “ins” to the wedding. I laid in bed the next morning thinking about how we would never see these people again. Buck & Charlie & Stephen (no… Steven). I wondered if in years to come we would be remembered as the annoying broads who crashed the party. Probably. My phone buzzed with a text alert from Charlie. He had texted me a half joking invite to the BBQ that everyone from the night before was attending, before people had to start flying home. If it wasn’t for the bodily havoc from the cheese fries and multiple beers, I would have gone. I would have infiltrated the group. I tell myself this. Reilly got a text from Buck inviting her to breakfast the next day, which we fondly referred to as an invite to “Buckfest”. She didn’t go. Sidney received no text from Stephen, because she never gave him her number. HA. I think of that night at Loyal Legion as one that I am glad I stayed out for. Rose colored goggles.
-Libby (A good friend of Charlies, from high school)
Anchors to Grief
Hello blog readers!
I am laying in my bed typing away into some empty Word documents. Some of the journal documents on my laptop will never be read by anyone other than me…. Unless someone sneaky happens across my laptop, and successfully guesses my password. Highly unlikely, but still…that person would find a lot of thought-provoking entries. They’d gain insight into the brilliant thoughts that spew from my fingertips onto blank Word documents ;). I decided to read through some of my old writing and compile a list of honorable journal thoughts; things that a potential hacker would find in my laptop journaling.
- “In the category of Things That Will Wake Me Up in Cold Sweats of Regret At 3am- I recently tried to describe how much I liked Applebee’s penne pasta to a crowd of 5 people. I called it panini pasta. PANINI PASTA. Which in all honesty sounds delicious? The blatant mispronouncing of something off of the Applebee’s menu has been HAUNTING me.”
-“I have to stop applying blush in dimly lit rooms.”
-“I haphazardly scrubbed the bathroom and hated myself for letting it get dirty. I caught a glance of my oily face in the mirror, and I hated that too. I dropped the sponge and picked up my Ponds moisturizer. I slathered it across my face, and I smelled the toilet bowl cleaner scent on my fingers. In my self-loathing spasm, I had not washed the toilet cleaner from my hands before I massaged the lotion on my face. I actually stopped hating myself for a second, because the chemicals were irritating my eyes.”
-“I was a ratty little girl.”
I have such a way with words….
My laptop holds so many journal entries. As a woman in her twenties, it is actually both lovely and painful to read reflections of past days. I have journal entries that are all comedy, baby. I bust up with laughter when I read about my mishaps, or memories with people I love. My journaling is also deeply personal, and a window into some of my worse days. I recently read one of my writing reflections that really encapsulated my grief. It was angry and vivid. I felt so connected to that version of myself who was distraught in her pain. Rereading my own words about the extremity of grief is a very visceral feeling. I’m not sure there is a right word for our worse days. Nothing wraps around the weight of the devastation that is to be felt. I know I am still her. I am still the person who wrote in great detail about my personal devastations.
That is grief. I am forever changed, and connected to the ebbs and flows of pain that have followed the loss of my Dad.
Some of you reading this blog are probably like damn… One minute you’re writing about mispronouncing the word “penne”, and the next you’re hashing out what it is to connect to grief. My brain, she’s a sad comedian!
Grief has small victories. I am not sure if what I am writing about is even a true victory, but it is something that felt bigger and brighter, to me. It is a moment that there is not a correct word for. But I felt myself expanding beyond the boundaries that grief confided me with.
I finally wore the sky-blue sweater that I was wearing the day my dad died. It was a thrifted-favorite sweater that I wore often. In moments of great sorrow, no one thinks about what they are wearing or how they look. The morning I went back to the hospital to see my dad one last time, I didn’t care what I was wearing. I was in a haze of shock and pain. I dressed myself quickly and with little thought. I was going to see my dad for the last time. He was already gone. The sweater wrapped around me loosely and absorbed tears and snot that dripped onto its threading. It didn’t matter. At some point I made my way back home. I stripped out of my clothing and balled up that sweater. It sat in a pile. It was probably the first tangible thing in grief that I noticed there would be a before, and an after. Before my sweater was a symbol of bright days of thrift shopping, with coffee in hand and renewed purpose for the clothing. The sweater was a warmth in the winter, and a compliment from a stranger. It became something heavier. I felt as though the sweater absorbed so much more than my tears that day; it soaked up the very essence of my loss. It sat on a hanger in my closet for over a year. I couldn’t throw it away, because it felt like an anchor to that day. It sat neglected next to my other sweaters. I finally took it out of my closet and held it in my hands. It was soft. It had been washed since the day I last wore it, but it had sat in the back of my closet for long periods of time. It smelt stale. I decided in that moment that when I washed it next, I would wear again, even if for one last time.
I set to task on washing the sweater. I let it air dry on hanger that was hooked around the doorknob to my room. It felt glaring sitting outside of the closet, where it had just spent the last year. I am in new city, with a new job, and here I was still paralyzed by that fucking blue sweater. I thought of my Dad in that moment. I felt an unexpected sense of being his daughter wash over me. I felt connected to him, and I couldn’t control my sobs. I thought about how much I have changed, and how he would never know this version of me. He didn’t get to know me at 25 living in Portland. I think about what it would be like to try to catch him up on all the things he has missed. It kills me.
I felt so devastated to think about how I was becoming someone entirely different than who I was holding his hand for the last time, in that blue sweater.
I stretched out on my bed and just let myself cry. There is an accumulation of days in life after losing someone where you can be functional, and even happy. Sprinkled in, there are days where you still mourn the person, and all of the things they no longer get to be a part of.
Today is a Saturday. I pulled the sky-blue sweater over my head, and I felt mindful. I spent my morning cozied up with a coffee and my dog, Flossy. We went to the dog park and walked around for a while. I listened to music that reminded me of my Dad, the whole time I walked Flossy across her favorite trail. I didn’t feel bogged down with grief; I felt very much a part of my Dad’s heart in that moment. I finished our walk with renewed lightness. Wearing the sweater for the first felt like a reclaiming of something that grief had stolen from me. We made our way towards home. I stopped at a car wash to vacuum the seats that were covered in dog hair and mud. I felt lighter than I had in a long time.
As I was deep cleaning my car, I pulled open my glove compartment. I keep a sandwich bag of quarters from my Dad in there. Across the sandwich bag, my dad wrote in black sharpie “LIB LUNCH MONEY”. He had saved quarters for me, because he knew I liked to get pretzels and diet coke from the vending machine between my classes. I found it on the kitchen counter in my childhood home, when I went home for the first time after my Dad passed away. It felt like one last “I love you”. I keep it in my car so I can have a little piece of his kindness with me, wherever I go. That bag of quarters is also an anchor to the loss of my Dad. I don’t know if I will ever spend the quarters. It seems silly to be stagnant with physical items that we associate with loss. The sweater and the bag of quarters hold so much meaning to me. I feel silly about it sometimes.
I finished cleaning my car and felt the sunshine come out. I could feel the warmth of the sun spreading across my back, reaching me through the sweater. It was the type of spectacular brightness that follows the dull overcast of a March day. It was a gentle comfort. I don’t know if I believe in God. I have always struggled with religion. My Dad believed in God, and I always believed in my Dad. As the sun washed over me in that moment, I felt like if there were ever a nod from heaven- it was in those few minutes where I just felt drenched in sunshine.
I don’t know if I will keep the sweater, but I do feel that I just reshaped the boundaries of my grief. No words, just the feeling of something bigger and brighter.
Also.......... I think my Dad would be so proud to know that I cleaned my car and got the oil changed all in the same week. If there is a heaven, that would truly have my Dad shining down on me. HA.
Alright… who wants some of Applebee’s panini pasta????
8AM- Quit my job.
11AM- Go to a hipster coffee shop and share a cinnamon roll with my friends.
My schedule is looking pretty open, after quitting my job and sharing my cinnamon roll. What’s next?
I moved to Portland in September, and quickly found a job. The job I started was apparent to me on the second day, that it was something I would loathe. I moved to Portland to become a better version of myself. I wanted to find growth in an environment that I did not already have roots in. This morning I woke up and decided that the evolving version of myself does not work in a cubical with no natural sunlight. Last week in a moment of contemplation, I listened to my coworker make a phone call while I ran my hand along the fabric of my cubical wall. The wall was the most depressing shade of blue I have ever seen. I have never been the type of person to find the color blue sad. To me, blue is sunshiny days, powerful ocean waves, my favorite sweater, and the color of my mom’s eyes. This cubical was a sterile blue, with the texture of goosebumps running along the fabric. I hated it. More importantly, I did not find purpose or joy in the type of work I was doing. I think if I REALLY loved the job, I could have brought one of those “happy lights” in to my cubical and decorated it with pictures to cover up the atrocious-blue-goosebumps-walls. I knew this was not the time in my life to be complacent. So, I woke up this morning and quit. I cheersed the quick departure from my new job with a cinnamon roll. I’m currently writing this blog from the coffee shop. My friend saw me taking a picture of the cinnamon roll we demolished and asked if I was romanticizing the moment. Yes, I am. That’s ok sometimes; to find charm in a moment of uncertainty. I had worked the same job for most of my adult life, so I am not concerned about finding something long term. This job just wasn’t it for me. I need something creative and people centered. I NEED SUNLIGHT, not cubical shadows with fluorescent lighting. I am proud of myself for leaving a situation that stifled my happiness, because there has been a less wise version of me who would have stayed. I feel pretty good about being 25 in a new city, with no obligation to stay in a job with no joy.
Other thoughts on my move to Portland!
I love so many things about this city. The first being that I am so close to the ocean. It feels like a back of the mind comfortto know that I am a short, hour and a half drive to coast. I could listen to the waves crash on a whim. I am also a big fan of Portland’s food and coffee scene. I will say this about the hipsters of PDX- they do ambiance, food, coffee, and sneakers really well. I like to think that I blend in the crowd of hipsters, but in moments of people watching in the city, they have something that I don’t. I could just be overthinking it, like I do most things, but the hipsters seem so much cooler than me. I think of the clothing they wear- thrifty and effortless. I think of myself, and the sweatshirts that I’ve tossed on during this fall. My clothes are not old enough to be vintage, and not new enough to be fashion. I just want what those Portland hipsters have! Cool shoes, and flannels that look like in another life they were owned by someone who dabbled in grunge… or logging. After our coffee shop stop, my friends and I stopped for a quick lunch at a North Portland brewery. We walked around the streets and noticed the wet leaves covering the sidewalks. Portland in the fall is a cozy vibe. We dipped in and out of stores, and I left with a post card to send my mom. I want to start writing more handwritten letters. Who doesn’t love getting a letter in the mail?! The only mail I typically receive is bills… haha. On our drive home we passed by runners who were enjoying the view of the river with their exercise. I watched an older gentleman with a great stride glide across the leaves as he ran. He seemed like the kind of guy who had life figured out. Glimpsing at my reflection in the car window, I felt very opposite of the old runner. Here I was slightly panicked and relieved, having just quit my job. Maybe I should start running? Maybe I invest in a great sports bra and running shoes and figure life out.............Maybe I should feel less inspired by perfect strangers, and more inspired by finding a job that makes me happy. I don’t know. I haven’t updated the blog for a few months, so a little blog post seemed overdue. Maybe next time you hear from me, I’ll have started a project-job that I really love! Or maybe I’ll be the kind of wise soul who jogs along the river.
(I hate running)
It feels so weird to me that I woke up, and all of the sudden I’m in my mid-twenties. I’m sure this feeling repeats every ten years, and I will probably always feel caught off guard. Thirty-five, forty-five, fifty-five… and on and on, always wondering how I ended up so perfectly in the middle. At twenty-five, I looked down to see the tattoo on my ankle of the yin yang symbol, has significantly faded since I spontaneously got it at the age of eighteen. I also notice the misspelled tattoo on my shoulder that I got that same year, has not faded in the slightest. Cue the song “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra. THAT’S LIFE! That misspelled tattoo is always the conversation piece, never the aesthetic eighteen-year-old Libby hoped for. It will always be funny, to me- which is probably the only reason I never got it covered up. It is a constant reminder that I really like that version of myself, who was wild and stupid enough to fuck up so permanently. I like who I grew into as well. Big fuck ups at eighteen let you be gentle and humorous at twenty-five. Although…. I don’t know if I needed a bad back tattoo to achieve those attributes… I would not encourage my poor choices. Just reflect with me.
Speaking of poor choices…
My birthday was on April 29th. I was reminded once again how lucky I am to be loved by the people in my life. I was also reminded that given the opportunity to do something rash… I will. My day was perfectly scattered with good food, drinks, and friends. My sweet little home of Moscow, Idaho opened its arms to celebrate with me. Mimosas, ring shopping, and piercing shops…. Maybe it was the fuzzy joy that too many mimosas can induce, but I was feeling festive. 25 was starting out with a jaunt around town with my best friends. As I passed in and out of shops that are staples of Moscow, I quite literally stumbled into a tattoo and piercing shop. In an act of true mid-twenties-life-crisis desperation… I got my belly and septum pierced. Although I think piercings are beautiful, and personal. I did it because I was trying to hold onto something youthful. My doughy belly now adorns diamonds that really emphasize… I AM 25. This was an act of desperation, for me. I am not knocking the piercings. I just think I did it as a “WOOOO I’M STILL YOOOOUNG” moment. My friend Sidney quickly sobered up to the piercing situation, and hers stayed in for a whole 24 hours. Reilly and I are still rocking this rash choice bling. I don’t know how long it will last.
Moscow in the spring is a breath of fresh air. As I prepare to move out of Moscow by the end of this summer, I can’t help but take in all that there is to this piece of home. Today was the Moscow Renaissance Fair. The warmth and weirdness of the Moscow Ren Fair is a familiarity that travels back to my childhood. Face paintings as a little girl, to introducing the experience to my friends from out of town, in college. I love the community and art in Moscow during this time of year. Today was a unique Ren Fair because of Covid. It wasn’t held at the usual East City Park. The festivities were held downtown on Main Street. The familiarity of Moscow’s artistic celebrations was a welcomed comfort. We rolled in a little late to the Ren Fair, but made a point to sit outside and enjoy some food and music. A small gathering of usual suspects collected right in front of where we sat. I watched as a plethora of tie dye and instruments mingled together. A man who stood out in the crowd for his lack of tie dye banged on a translucent drum that had faded sharpie writing out “SEE HOW WE ARE”. How very Moscow. Two Ladies in there early 60s danced separately, on opposite sides of the gathering. They both were decked out in purple tie dye and danced fluidly through groups of people. They looked like two versions of the same person. I watched as they danced closer and closer, until finally they saw each other. They rushed to greet each other, while the maracas and tambourines they held rattled in their embrace. It made a lot of sense to me that they were friends. All of this will be missed when I move away. I think every city has a unique rhythm, and I can’t wait to sit back and enjoy something new. I just soak in days like today, and really love where I grew up. 25 is going to be a year of new rhythm! As I end this blog, I have attached a pic of my new nose bling. Be gentle with me, I’m still healing from these new piercings haha.
Hellllooooo March 2021!
I am in my bedroom listening to the wind bluster around Moscow. I live in a little cluster of tin apartments. The wind and rain of a good storm can make me feel like I will blow away into a vibrant wash of water. It feels like the rain and wind will take me somewhere. It is thrilling in the way an intense storm can be. Rain on tin is a sound that echo’s my childhood home. I always adored the drizzle of rain on my tin roof, at my parents’ house. Living in a building wrapped up entirely with tin makes me feel like a little creature who lives in a soup can. I can almost picture a little ladybug hunkering down in a soup can, during a down pour of rain. I imagine it animated like a children’s book, which is basically how I feel about the season of spring. Every little green thing I love about this time of year reminds me of something my Nan would read to me in an illustrated book. Happy memories of spring!
We are finally in the season of defrosting! My seasonal depression melts off of me with every day of sunshine this month brings. There is always a day in March every year where I lift my face towards the sun and feel genuine warmth, after the long winter. March is my favorite reminder every year, that things can get better. Seasons change, and the earth brightens with every blooming crocus. I am sitting on a stool in my tiny apartment, by a window that is overlooking the metal stairs of the complex. Dull Christmas lights still adorn the metal railing. I am still reminded how different things can be in a year. I went out to my parents’ house alone, for the first time in a while, today. It was heavy with grief and memories, and bright with the familiarity of my home during spring. I stayed a while. I ran my hand over piles of things that won’t matter to me in the upcoming months of moving and cleaning. I opened doors that had scribbles of my height from 20 years ago, and glitter that clung to the walls- as a sign of my girlhood. I walked through my childhood home and could almost imagine everyone I love moving through the kitchen to the living room. I felt genuinely sad and hopeful that someday another girl will have the best childhood in that old house. If she ends up in my room, I hope she cracks her window during storms, and knows how lucky she is. I can imagine all the laughter and love I felt within those walls becoming a part of someone else’s “growing up”. I feel a spark of joy knowing someone else will love that big old house on top of the old schoolhouse hill. As I walked through the house, I wrote my name in every pile of dust I found, which is a bad habit that I will hold for the rest of my life. If I walk by dust, or condensation on windows, LIBBY will be scribbled on with my pointer finger. If I ever committed a crime the most solid evidence in the case would be that I probably found dust nearby to write my name. Look for it, but don’t frame me, please ;).
I have always said my old house lacked ghosts. The house was built over a hundred years ago, and once served as a rest stop for funeral homes. I briefly talked about this in a previous blog. We have evidence of this history with eye caps and embalming fluid bottles that my mom has funly (not sure that’s the right word?) layed out in a cabinet for display. Very cool, very creepy. I always felt like the house I grew up in had great ghost potential! I just never got that creepy experience. Obviously, I am joking about wishing I had more ghost moments, because I lack any capacity to be chill. I would not like it one bit. But it was always an ongoing joke. I don’t think my house has ghosts, but it does have lingering feelings, that take the shape of people I have loved. I walk through every room in the house and think of who I am. I think of my family, and moments that stick out after being tucked away for so long. It is beautiful to see ghosts of my life sprinkled in every room. When I say ghosts, I just mean I can feel those good moments all over again. I will hold onto that for now.
-Libby (imagine I spelled it out in dust)
Taking Up Space
Oh what a year.
The blog has become a little piece of my heart and voice. I always feel an itch to update and create for the blog. I haven’t been able to write at all lately. I owed myself that space to sit quietly with my thoughts- no pen and paper. My journal sits neglected on my nightstand next to books that I have every intention to finish. I have felt so stuck on chapters lately; books and life. My writing is stagnant with the grief that has washed over me with the death of my Dad. How do I write about that? Do I write honestly, or with honeycomb words that sweeten up the reality of this profound loss? I process life through writing, and I hope the process of this writing is felt by someone.
I am on the edge of 24. SO much has happened this past year, that I sit back and think what will 25 bring me? My birthday is in April. The same season that crocus bloom through frosted earth, and I certainly try to carry that energy in life. Bloom through the fucking frost, baby! When I was born my parents described me as tiny but not fragile. I exude that energy. My parents always looked at me as though I was a pixie who runs her hands along life. Their eyes sparkled as though the way I picked up old smelly books & babies & mascara wands was real life magic. I feel like an almost 25-year-old woman who can’t walk in a straight line or sit still, but maybe I can be both. It is gentle to be both. My parents gave me the freedom to be a clumsy pixie thing who is loved authentically. I am this vibrating energy of chaos and good intentions, and I can’t quite get anything just right. In part, that is because I don’t care to follow through on most things. I am self-destructive life that. I am indeed the girl who tried to pick up smoking cigarettes but couldn’t be bothered to even see that through. In my almost 25 years of life I have been conditioned to cringe inward, but uncontrollably laugh outward. I am still this tiny thing that is not fragile. If I keep my eyes down and shut up, you could walk through a room without noticing me. But I rarely keep my eyes and voice down, because I am incapable. You may walk into that room and catch eyes on the extraordinary people, but then you will hear my loud-deep voice and side glance me and think “She’s loud and obnoxious”. And I’ll wink at you and say, “Oh fancy that, you noticed me taking up space!”. And we will both be reminded how different people can be. The biggest lie in that scenario is that I would ever be the kind of gal who would say something dainty like “fancy that”- but the scenario was indeed made up, so I will boost my gentle wordiness and digress from truths like the fact that I would be more inclined to get panicky and word vomit casual swear words at a perfect stranger. My parents raised me to take up space, and now that my Dad is gone… I feel floaty and misplaced, not like this pixie thing that runs her hands along life.
On October 14th 2020 I lost my dad to alcoholism. I don’t write this as a spiteful sentence. I lost my dad to an addiction that rolled through his life. I watched it pull him under. My heart breaks a million times over for him- because he was my dad, and he deserved better. I truly believe the world is lesser without his genuine heart. I feel lesser without him looking at me with sparkling eyes. I relay this fact of our lives with compassion. My dad was amazing. As I typed out the word “amazing” my mind swirled with all the accompanying qualities he possessed. He was giving and empathetic in ways that I will learn from for the rest of my time on earth. As I move through the grieving process, I recognize that I possess so many complex feelings about losing my dad, but I want to continue to learn from him.
My dad taught me how to ride my bike when I was four. My only motivation to learn was the fact that on that very day, my brother had learned to ride his bike. I was not about to let Dillon leave me in the dust… My childhood home was located next to the town’s old high school, which was the best place to learn to ride bikes, because it had so much parking lot space to peddle around. Dillon and my dad shared a Hallmark Card worthy son and father moment. His boy learned how to ride his bike! I can see my brother with his dark hair and missing-tooth-grin; beaming at my dad with pride in himself. I can see my dad beaming with pride at Dillon… And I can see myself dragging a pink bike down the driveway with determination and jealousy, ready to become my brothers equal. Dillon and I were close enough in age that we hit milestones separately- but very close together. My mom calls us her “Irish twins” because we were about 18 months apart. I was always the annoying little sister who endlessly wanted to be her big brothers equal. My parents gave me the nick name “Taga”, which was short for tag-a-long. I am twenty-four years old, and my mother will still yell “Taga!” across the grocery store to get my attention. I always followed Dillon’s lead, and practically refused to be anywhere other than beside him. He did not appreciate that little-sisterness until I was about 16. I learned to ride my bike that day out of sheer will power and stubborn anger that propelled me forward. Perhaps the most illuminating part of my success was my Dad, who refused to leave my side- even when I refused to let him help me. That sentence makes my head pound with unshed tears that ache in the back of my skull- because he never left me alone, and now he is gone.
The day I learned to ride my bike I pushed off the ground only to fall and scab my knees and arms. Repeatedly. My dad would tentatively walk over to help steady me on my little pink bicycle, but I would swat at him to stay away. My dad still beamed with pride. He loved that I was stubborn enough to rise from the pavement with dirty scabbed knees, and tears rolling down my rosy cheeks, because that is who I am. That is who he was. He stayed with me until sunset that warm, learn to ride your bike, kind of day. We walked home accomplished- together. I don’t think I will ever stop looking for him in those good moments of my life.
This season feels like I can’t bloom through the frost. I am simply trying to wrap my head around life without my dad’s goofy grins, and hugs that were wrapped up in Carhart jackets. I fucking miss the feeling of taking in his well-worn-black-Carhart, that smelled like cigarettes and clean soap. Tears roll down my cheeks when I think too long about his smell. I think about what I would do to feel his hug again. I imagine myself wrapped up by a fire, in a thick flannel quilt smoking his Marlboro cigarettes. I think that could feel like his hug. Some people hate the smell of smoke, but I seek it out now. I seek for a glimpse of anything that resembles my dad. I know moving forward that as I pack up his white t-shirts and clothes that were sprinkled throughout my life but resigned to a corner of his dresser- I will see less and less of him.
The hardest part of grieving someone who lost their battle with addiction is knowing that this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I ache for everyone who was robbed of time with my dad. We all deserved better, too. I know how close he was to death when the ambulance took him to the hospital. I am indebted to his friends that held him and kept him stable long enough that his family could get into the hospital, to hold his hand and love him here on earth- one last time. I can’t imagine life ahead without my dad. I can’t imagine 25 without him. I feel incredulous about the position his addiction left me, and everyone who loved him in. This past year was the most despair I have ever felt, and I wouldn’t wish watching a parent withdrawal from alcoholism in their last moments, on anyone. It was both tragic and gratitude that I felt in those final moments. Tragic in the loss, but gratitude that his children, sister, and wife could be the love he deserved in those final moments. Life is just heavy right now. I know I will sort through this complex grief, and I will take up space again. I like to imagine that my grief is not a final moment of being completely healed, but instead a day to day practice of expanding on my joy and being the pixie thing- that my dad loved. Sending love to everyone who is achy in this world! -Libs
Remember Cal, Remember Why.
This season of life has been exceptionally hard. I’ve pondered a lot lately about life and loss. I’ve grieved for the goodbyes this season has harshly forced upon me. I felt so much end with abruptness, that I wanted a deeper meaning to death. Why? I lost someone who brought genuine friendship into my world, last year, and I still ache for this loss. Cal Heinen was my friend, and his death changed my world. Cal passed away November 21, 2019. Added to the tragedy of the loss is that it was an accidental fentanyl overdose. The one-night choice, that most college aged people make at least once- to take a pill. I have made that choice myself. He did not know that the pill he was taking was laced with fentanyl. The loss was devastatingly avoidable. My friend left this world with a lingering need for more. The “more” comes from more time that I needed with him (selfishly), and more time he should have had in this life to spread his talents and love. To feel that death is so certain, and final has been an ugly revelation for me. There are no more moments to share- only to reminisce. I started writing this piece when I was 23, shortly after Cal’s funeral. The same age that he lost his life. This piece reads as it was written, throughout the course of the year. My first year without Cal-
It has been two months since Cal’s funeral and a paper from his service still sits slightly crumpled in the back seat of my car. The paper has a picture of his face and in big font reads “23 words for 23 years”. In the words people honor and wrap meaning around Cal’s impact. Some mornings when I put my bag in the back of my car for work, the paper from his service flashes in my eye and I catch my breath. In those moments I hold in my breath, and I remember how truly gone Cal is. He is no longer here in my world, with everyone who loved him. Some days I’m torn between exhaling the breath and getting into the driver’s seat- or letting out a deep body shaking sob. I don’t know how to take the paper out. I don’t know how to put it away in my photo box where I keep important pictures and letters. It feels so rightly placed where I have to face the truth of this heart ache every time I look back in my mirror in the car, sharply coming into my eyesight when I turn around. I haven’t decided what the right thing to do is regarding myself and that little piece of paper, and I truly don’t have the emotional insight at the moment to make a decision- so there it will sit for a little while longer. Until I know.
Every season in life has a distinct feeling, or moment. The moments, when you look back to such specific smells and tastes that you can recall a chapter of your life, with that sensory attached to it. Grief is a fucking sensory overload. I know this season by the taste of spaghetti, weirdly and horribly enough it was the food I ate on the day I found out about Cal passing away. Spaghetti tastes a lot like loss. I can remember how the sky looked on that day, and the deep ache in my soul when I looked up with tear filled eyes. It is also weird the things you can’t remember with grief. I don’t remember what I said, or the bulk of the dreadful conversations on that day. But I do remember the specific burning feeling on the skin around my eyes where I rubbed paper towels to soak in my tears, because I couldn’t find tissue paper, and because the roughness on my skin was something else to focus on in that exact moment. I can remember people’s eyes when I first saw them after breaking the news. If eyes are the mirrors to the soul, the eyes of my friends were broken souls, that day. I remember their eyes. When we talk about Cal, now, I see a glimpse of that day in their eyes. It brings me back to that season, that I am still very much in, when I see my friends broken-soul-eyes. It is weird to feel days and months pass. More time on earth without him. When I am in my car, alone, I listen to music. I shuffle my playlists, and sometimes one of his favorite songs will come on, and I can’t breathe. I can’t inhale through the tears because I hear the lyrics that he loved. Nothing takes you back to the seasons with the people you have lost, quite like a song they cherished. Cal was one of the first people I listened to the Wu-tang Clan with. As we grew into young adults, he shaped my love for art. When I hear songs that he loved, I am taken back to seasons where his laugh boomed in my ear. That laugh was music in itself. Cal had the best deep laugh with eyes that closed tight when he found something hilarious. His whole body would shake with joy starting from his floppy short curls, down to his stylish sneakers. His energy wrapped around him in those moments, and it was contagious. I can feel it when I stop to reflect on my seasons with him. The songs he loved make me think of his vivacious soul, and that is almost too much grief for my body to handle. I do however think Cal would find it amusing that I cry when I hear Wu-Tang Clan or Kanye songs, because who cries to those lyrics!? When a song comes on that reminds me of my friend, it feels like when you have a really bad bruise, and you can’t stop pressing on it. Grief can hurt so good, because in the midst of the worse pain there is an understanding that it comes from BIG love. Because of that big, painful love, I play his songs on repeat.
This type of loss requires everyone to digest and metabolize it differently. Grief moves through us all, but not in the same ways. This was a lesson I have seen so clearly in the past year. I see everyone who loved Cal, but I cannot begin to understand how everyone is navigating this pain. I like to think of myself as insightful to other people’s emotions, but grief has been so difficult for me to fully understand in others. In part this is probably because I am in the midst of my own grief. It’s also because no one grieves the same, or wrong, or in easy patterns. Greif is messy and hard to watch, and the one thing I wish I could do is just not possible. I wish there were healing words that I could conjure up for everyone who loved him, but I have found how impossible finding any sufficient words can be in times of such loss. Grief is the consequence of love. If I could say something to ease the heart ache, I would. But that is not how death and loss goes.
This whole experience of losing Cal to an accidental fentanyl overdose is so wild to me. So fucking wild that I understand why it feels so out of control. Because life is out of my control. Up until this past year I have always felt expectations and growing older rushing up behind me like a sneaker wave on the Oregon coast. My mom always told me “Never turn your back to the ocean. The big waves can knock you over and roll you out to sea” I always felt like time was passing, and the goals I had not yet conquered were reaching made up due dates. I was constantly turning my back to those sneaker waves and feeling caught off guard with how life snuck up on me. When I read and reread my friend’s obituary the age 23 seemed so very young to me all of the sudden. Since starting college, I felt so many times the weight of getting older. The realization that my friend will never experience life ahead of 23 tore me open with deep mourning. I mourned that he would never see himself, or the people that he so deeply loved, grow old with wrinkles and tiny laugh lines as a map of a life thoroughly lived, he would never find his niche within the career he was just starting, never getting married or having children of his own. He would have been an excellent husband and father. It is worth mourning, because that is such a loss.
Cal was the friend who was there for me in all of life’s glorious and messy moments. When I think back on our memories I cry, but mostly laugh at our friendship. Cal was quick witted and ruthless with a good joke. My favorite college memories are of him and Sidney living together in 2016. I was technically living at home with my parents, but Cal and Sidney could argue that I was a chronic couch surfer at their apartment. I would stay with them more than I would stay in my actual bed. I loved every moment we spent watching music videos and staying up late eating greasy-cheap-pizza. That year he always wore this salmon pink sweatshirt that pops into my memories when I listen to a Kanye album, and when I close my eyes I can imagine being wrapped up in his hug, in that baggy sweatshirt. I think of all the brilliant ideas we had, and plans we collectively made for the weekends. Cal was such a big part of my young adulthood, and for that- I will always be grateful.
I feel helpless. Fentanyl took Cal from this world. From his family. I feel helpless because I want him back, and because I know this drug will steel again. More Cal’s. More sons, brothers, partners, and friends. Fentanyl will continue to steel brilliance and laughter from this world, because fentanyl is a thief. The kind of thief that is disguised to those who come in to contact with it. Fentanyl comes into your home and takes what is most precious to you. Cal drifted away into whatever awaits us after this life. I like to believe it’s heaven, and I hope it’s wonderful for him.
We have to do better, for Cal. I have spent this past year asking myself, why did this have to happen? In that question, the only answer I have found is that it didn’t have to happen. It doesn’t have to happen again. People who loved Cal have spread his story, with the aim to stop other people from navigating this type of loss. Cal was funny and loving- the kind of soul who changes your life for the better. His death has brought forth so much power in awareness for counterfeit fentanyl pills. The counterfeit pills that are being sold on the streets can be laced with lethal amounts of fentanyl. Every pill comes with an inherit risk, which can lead to such avoidable loss. My heart breaks wide open for the loss of Cal, and I can only hope that anyone reading this continues to share his story, and stop the silence and normality surrounding street opioids. Cal’s family has widely and courageously spread his message- Remember Cal, Remember Why.
I am laying in my chilly apartment in the late August heat. I start my final year of college next week- and I admittedly feel nerves about going back to school. I had a strange chest pain all day, and I bounced back and forth in my reasoning for the pain. I wondered if it was anxiety, or the entire baguette smothered in Trader Joes balsamic glaze, which I demolished before noon. I wish it were the latter, because the wrath of the quickly consumed baguette would not linger as long as an anxiety attack. Perhaps, slamming an entire loaf of bread is a flashing sign that I am feeling anxious. I am a nervous eater. For that reason, it is not safe to prop me up next to a charcuterie board at a party, because I will talk and toss handfuls of snack food down the hatch while I work through my initial social anxieties. School starting next week, amidst life’s messiness has me feeling unprepared for the semester ahead. I took time off last year because I was dealing with loss and depression, and it was the healthy choice for me in that moment.
I write about these feelings and experiences in my blog because if you are reading this- Hey! Hi! It is normal to experience setbacks in life, and we should normalize individual healing, and honoring boundaries that are cohesive for that healing! After reading this first portion of the blog can you tell I am a gal riddled with anxiety, and hopefully a good sense of humor? The good sense of humor part may be lost on some of you thus far, but I assure you, I get funnier. It may sound redundant to claim to be funny, but I’ve spent most of my life explaining things away with “no, trust me, I AM funny!”. I have come to learn that if I am in a situation where I demand to be seen as funny and not inappropriate, I have already lost the crowd. And that’s show buizzz baby! Onward, to other things-
I had a lovely summer full of weddings, none of them my own… Which may be shocking to some of you that I haven’t been wifed up yet!? I know… it shocks me too! For sake of this blog not morphing into talk about my love life, I will move on to talk about my wonderful friends Leah, and Brooke getting married. I had the honor of being a bridesmaid twice this summer. The first, to one of my closest childhood friends, Leah- and a few weeks later to one of the closest friends I gained in college, Brooke! It is such an honor to stand beside people you love of their wedding day. I am not a big crier… but as mentioned earlier, I am a nervous eater. On both wedding days I ate good! On Brookes, I managed to slam an impressive amount of bite sized quiches. A lovely tribute to our friendship. As my friends stood at the altar marrying the loves of their lives, I may have not been capable of conjuring up any tears, but in all sincerity, I felt so much love in my heart to see them so perfectly happy. Yay for summer weddings, and open bars! The last wedding I was in, was last weekend, which left me about a week to roll into my next semester of school. I will be graduating with my bachelor’s in history, which is fuuuun, but the type of fuuun without a ton of job prospects- ya know? As I reflect, I think- would it have killed me to take a few more science and math courses? In all honestly, yes, it probably would have. I think my brain would have combusted at the threat of any further understanding of complex things such as elementary school algebra. Seriously, it was a big deal when I finished my very basic math course in college. I am pretty sure I demanded my mom to get me a cake to celebrate, to which she politely smiled and hugged me instead. My main passion was always in english and history courses. I love to write and although I managed to clumsily work towards a history degree, because I liked the research projects, I think studying history has made me a much better writer. Now what to do with the lovely degree and immense college debt? I feel like I have outgrown this little corner of life that I have safely tucked myself into. I live so close to my hometown, and I have worked the best job for growth as a young adult… but now I am ready for new goodness out in the world! I hope I end up somewhere with a beach… :0)
Dull Christmas Lights
Today has been the hottest day of this slightly cold summer. I am sitting outstretched from my apartment door, reaching my feet out into the walkway. The slight breeze is much appreciated by me, and probably anyone else who is sitting outside in Moscow Idaho on this sunshiny day. It is too beautiful outside to completely shut myself inside with the AC cranked up high, and my trashy reality TV drowning out my thoughts. Which for the record, that was my original plan for when I got off work, but something hummed in the air as I walked up my apartment stairs that made me feel like spending a moment outside- even if just half of my body. I have had a few neighbors walk by, and in my head, as I heard their footsteps approaching, I wondered if my outstretched legs would trip them. I didn’t move my tripping-hazard legs because the fucked-up-impulsive part of my brain wanted to see if they would actually trip over me. I KNOW that’s awful of me, and it was kind of a fleeting thought, because although I would never want them to get hurt- I was slightly tempted to see if they would wobble their feet over my legs in an attempt to regain their balance. They didn’t. They walked by and smiled, and then it slammed into my head that I am only 5’3”, and my legs were barely out in the walkway. I smiled back because they didn’t trip! And because it’s nice to smile at the neighbors after thinking about what would happen if they had tripped. I think everyone has impulsive thoughts, that move through the mind as quickly as they popped up. After thinking about how terrible I am, and how lovely the neighbors are, I tucked my feet closer to under my body- because I truly wouldn’t want them to get hurt, even though my short legs are easy to dodge. I am new to this apartment building, and it is surrounded by nice flowers, and nice people. It has a great feel, and it’s the cutest apartment I have ever lived in, which isn’t saying a lot because I did live in a trailer with Jesse and Cody for a year(no shade to anyone living in a trailer, ours was just exceptionally trashy, much like ourselves at 18)
My new apartment is brightened by orange walls that stretch along the kitchen area, and the outside is strung with Christmas lights adorning the metal railing. I have yet to see the Christmas lights lit up at night, so I suspect that they are just left-over decorations from the previous winter. My kind of people! No rush in taking down Christmas décor, not from me! I sit and look at the Christmas lights and think how very different things can be in 7(ish) months. Life is fluid, and we move through moments without realizing how far we drift. I think of a year ago- how much better things felt. Or, perhaps, that is the luxury of looking back, we can romanticize the past without being in the sharp details that the present demands. I am working towards a greater appreciation for the place I am in right now. I am looking at my apartments dull Christmas lights, and the greenery of Moscow in the summer, surrounding my windows, and I want to breathe in the beautiful contradiction. It seems out of place to see Christmas lights surrounded by such summer warmth, but some of the best things in life can seem perfectly mismatched. I appreciate moments or ideas that feel separate- but fall together if you take time to notice the balance of details. I look down at my hands and see espresso grounds under my nails, which is a very similar sight to when I have dirt from the garden under my nails. Both espresso grounds and garden dirt produce bouquets of beauty. Coffee and flowers! I received an espresso machine for my birthday this past April, and it may be one of the most used gifts I have ever received. Espresso access 24/7 is dangerous for a gal like me. I vibe on iced americanos, which leads my tiny little espresso machine to be a well-used(loved?) item in my kitchen. My roommate Reilly shares my deep love-respect-need for good coffee. Reilly and I share similar philosophies, which makes living together a breeze. To name a few, we are both big excessive cilantro users, we love discussing a good movie or book, and we both ask the hard-hitting life questions to each other over casual dinner settings- like; what’s your plan after college? Or- do you think Kim Kardashian lets her kids wear Paw Patrol shirts, or just neutral shades of Yeezys?(That one was a Reilly observation, and I laughed for five minutes). We aren’t afraid to go deep in our conversations. Obviously.
The new apartment is a pretty cute place to live, and I must give a shout out to my brother for helping me move. The night before we moved my stuff into my new place, a large storm came through town. We did the best we could to secure my furniture with tarps- but nature laughed in the face of our attempts. It rained and blew boisterous winds all night, and all we could do was sit back and enjoy magic of a good storm. My mattress soaked up most of the rain in Latah County. The next morning my bed was a waterlogged mess that my brother and I attempted to drag up the flight of stairs, to my new place. As we slid it across the floors into my room it looked like a sunken-in-slug had made its way into my living space. The trail of water the mattress left behind really aided in the slug trail vision I was having. Luckily, I had access to a different, dryer mattress. The old mattress got dragged off to the dump, because it simply drank up too much water. It worked out.
I relocated back inside because all my neighbors were getting off work, and the temptation to trip at least one of them was too strong for me (kidding- I got too sweaty and NEEDED the AC). I am sinking into my couch with the comfort of air conditioning cooling down my entire apartment, also I may be sinking because this couch is a broken hide-a-bed. Sinking, none the less. As I end this rambled blog I would like to reiterate to all my readers how very different life can be in a year- so practice a little mindfulness and smooch the people you love (or just tell them you love them because we are in the midst of a global pandemic). Stay healthy!
I Am a Bad Feminist
It is currently a Friday evening, and I overindulged in too many dark chocolate-peanut butter cups (as one does when they have as little self-control and an affinity for chocolate-as I do). I am sitting on my bed, with the fulfillment that I get after finishing a good book. Every time I finish a book that speaks to my soul, feelings that I can’t accurately articulate wash over me. The words from the final chapter of an impactful book tend to wrap around my mind, and I always take a while to really digest it. I have a hunger for wonderful books… and chocolate-peanut butter cups. I finished “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay a while back and I just finished listening to it on audible. When I really love a book, I read it first, then listen to it on audio. It helps me absorb the words, fully. It is a remarkable read, and one of those books that makes you think and think about your roll in things- and how other people have been affected by intersectionality. I say “things”, so vaguely, because my role is in many “things”. My life and interpersonal life have many layers. I have impact, even when I don’t think about it. I absorb information, even when I don’t think about it. The book “Bad Feminist” was recommended to me by one of my professors. I was taking a class on women in politics at the time, and the book was a learning tool for the course- but even more so for developing as a person. There are issues that I have been so ignorant to in my life. Mostly, because I am a white woman who grew up in a comfortable household, with access to any and all educational tools I would need to be successful. That is the truth- I grew up privileged in many ways. This is not to say I wasn’t aware of racism or prejudice; I just didn’t understand how complex these issues could be. I still have so much to learn. This book made me more thoughtful to the challenges someone may face because of their race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. I KNOOOOW I typically try to not get too political with my blog, because I don’t want my readers to feel uncomfortable with my political views, but, 1. These are fucking important issues, and 2. I think empathy and ownership of our role in fixing societal issues is bipartisan. Everyone, no matter how you identify politically, should have the insight and depth to dive into issues that affect people other than yourself. If anyone reads this book and wants to talk about it, HIT ME UP! Another one of my favorite things is dissecting a book in conversation. I like talking about the details that stuck with me, and hearing what other people felt affected them, profoundly. This books message that stuck with me was what it meant to be a feminist. Perhaps, the word “feminist” means something to you? Good, or bad. People often have a perception of what feminism is or isn’t. “Bad Feminist” bye Roxane Gay talks about both of those good and bad ideas of feminism, and how we often put people on pedestals, then label them as bad feminists when they fall short. Roxane talks about loving rap music that is obviously degrading to women- but the beat is catchy as hell. I agree. I know the music doesn’t shine women in the most respectful light, but I listen to it. I sing it. I play it for my friends. I am a bad feminist. I mean, Kanye West is one of my favorite artists. I bounce my head up and down in the car to his songs, which often refers to women in derogatory terms. I listen along and enjoy the music, despite it. I fall short in so many ways. I am aware of the ways I have failed as a feminist, and I am painfully aware of the stages in my life where I put down other women. I think of being young, insecure, and gossipy. Not the woman I aspire to be, but the woman that I have been at different times in my life. If I started to compile a list of ways I failed as a feminist, we would have a lengthy list to gaze upon. If you read back to me all the things on that imaginary list, I would struggle to make eye contact, because those are ideas and moments that I am ashamed of. But I do strive to be a better woman, and I think that counts for something. I think of the lifetime of influences that have taught me what it means to be a woman. I think of what other young women must have felt about their influences. I can imagine for women who aren’t white, they probably have felt misrepresented in media. I think as a white woman, that is an important reality for me to consider with thoughtfulness. The medias portrayal of all women is sexualized and specific, in ways that are unobtainable for most. Even now as I type, I began to compile a spiteful list of what the medias ideal woman would be, and in the process, I shamed a specific type of woman. Jeesh! See?! I am a bad feminist! I am a work in progress. But let me say this, as well; we should not shy away from the challenge of being good feminists! We will continue to grow as people and actively see societal progress when we advocate for everyone’s equality. To quote the last sentence, of the last page of “Bad Feminist”, “ I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all”. Everyone should check this book out, digest it, think about their role in things.
Libby Anne Groseclose