Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Wasn't ALL Bad . . .

I wanted to compile a list of WONDERFUL things that happened in 2016:

  • Lemonade
  • US women Olympians
  • Lion Babe’s new album
  • Solange’s new album
  • Banks’s new album
  • Childish Gambino’s new album
  • SCOTUS struck down Texas’s HB2
  • Wonder Woman trailer
  • WW confirmed queer
  • WW postage
  • “Obama out.”
  • Holtzmann
  • Zootopia
  • #vagendaofmanocide
  • Nasty women
  • Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton
  • SNL's social/political commentary
  • Luke Cage
  • Moana
  • Rogue One
  • Joe Biden memes
On a personal level:
I started volunteering with TEA Fund, Planned Parenthood, and Back on My Feet; started seeing a couple of awesome people who make me happy; and completed my first marathon.

What else would you add that was awesome this year?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Marathon Report

 TL;DR: It was awful. I finished.


My First Marathon: Sunday, December 11

(And many sincere thanks to ENELL for giving me this opportunity)

This is a mix of Facebook status updates and stream of conscious writing, because it's my blog, so there.

5:00 AM Wake and grab gear. Discover that new hydration pack bite valve has no valve. Grab pocket knife and make a hole.
6:00 Race out the door and drive to the train station.
6:07 Dart up the stairs to the platform only just in time to catch the train.
6:45 Arrive at event site.

7:05-8:30 Shimmy and shiver violently in the hecking cold.
7:46 I got to pet a doggo named Connie. Let's do this.
8:03 Was beginning to worry because I had no pre-race poo, but then I remembered I didn't eat dinner last night.

8:37 Begin. I decided to walk the first mile since I was freezing and very literally needed to warm up and didn't want to make the mistake of going out too fast. This was a good decision.

10:16 Hokay, that second 5k was uphill, so you may ooh and ahh at my negative split.

10:30 Goddess bless the spectators offering beer! Or, perhaps: Bacchus bless the beer bringers!

I got to run the first 15K with a friend who was running the half marathon. And then the two courses split. Holy crap: the stark visual contrast of separating from the half runners and immediately turning onto a dead empty street on a gray day with no other participants in sight. Demoralizing much?

At that turn, another marathoner on the course asked me where everyone was and ultimately decided to go with the half runners instead.
But within the next mile and for the rest of the race, I slowly caught up to and passed a sparse but steady stream of other participants.

Halfway thoughts:

Who. the. FUCK. designed this bitch-ass hilly course?!
Also, I would really like a moist towel to wipe the salt from my face.
Also, I would really like to take my shirt off because it's getting warm, but my arms will chafe and I cannot handle that for 13 more miles. Maybe I'll take it off later.

I'd had super sexy negative splits on each 5K to that point and completed my first marathon half in 3:04. My best half marathon ever was 3:07. I was tired and decided to walk mile 14 and stop to pee.

I legit think dementors were consulted in designing the back half of the course.

Miles ~15-17: Fierce headwinds off the lake, nearly constantly. I ducked my head to keep from losing my visor and trudged forward. The sun was starting to come out and the air was getting warm (not good).

Miles ~17-20.5: Begin ALL concrete concrete concrete, boring trail with slight incline. The never-ending, never-changing, soul-destroying type of hill. Turn after turn, mile after mile, it just KEPT GOING. Even if you know nothing about running, you can imagine that it isn't SO bad to suck it up and run uphill for a couple minutes. But can you imagine doing it for an hour?

I was MAD AS HELL and let the anger carry me through that stretch, those miles which are often cited by runners as the most mentally challenging part of a marathon course, even without terrain to contend with. I literally stormed up that whole stretch like an angry cartoon with a bone to pick and mean mugging that would put Phelps to shame. Which worked, but I couldn't run any of it.
Activity - Insert animated GIF to HTML
(Above: Me)

I snapped a selfie at the 18-mile mark. 18 was the longest training run I'd managed before the race. My fingers were swelling and beginning to be uncomfortable. I had no idea how much worse they would get.

I let three photographers in a row over the course of many miles catch how I *really* felt and look forward to seeing those photos.

I was SO glad to finally turn back onto the segment of the course that I recognized since it was an overlapping out and back. It felt like the home stretch.

My heart just sank at seeing the 23-mile marker. When would I EVER finish?

Moments later, my right femur head shouted in sudden pain: "Hey, bitch! ... Wanna do the pimp-walk limp for the next mile?—Cuz you're gonna." (Yes, my joints have conversations with me. Usually it's my saying, "STFU, knee! I don't need you!")
The final two-ish miles just went through a really ugly industrial part of town. Like, come on.

A too-peppy runner told me when I was at the last quarter mile and pointed out the photographer to encourage me to run. I think I ran. My brain sent signals to that effect. The pictures make it look like I sort of tried, anyway.

Finish line (or what was left of it)

When they say there's a 6.5-hour course limit, what they mean is that the elite runners in the first wave—who can finish in 3 or less—get a 6.5-hour time limit.

So when the slower runners, who are made to start 35 minutes LATER, run about (or less than) 6.5, the whole event is packed up and gone when they reach the finish line but for the photographers and a few saintly volunteers with medals and gear check.

Whereas many other marathoners talk about being overcome with emotion and crying when they crossed the finish line, I wandered around the area sobbing because THERE WAS NO GODDAMN WATER ANYWHERE AT THE EVENT SITE FOR FUCKING MARATHON FINISHERS!

Aside from being anti-climatic, that's really fucking fucked up.

No food or medics either.

The course was fucking awful and I would never recommend this event to anyone.

I got my things, cried more, changed clothes, and dragged myself back to the train station for the 35-minute ride back to my car. I decided when I got in my car to stop at the pho place on the way home to order takeout for my lonely post-race meal.

The end.

... sort of.

I really thought I would need to stop running altogether for a good long while after this race, but I have some 10K Pokémon eggs to hatch and am likely to try on Saturday before Sunday's freeze. #gottahatchemall

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Day Before My First Marathon

Saturday, December 10: The Day Before My Marathon
I took myself to a local diner for a brunch of eggs over medium, bacon, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, toast, and apple juice before boarding the DART train to the expo downtown. I stood in line behind ONE person for packet pickup at the race expo and breezed through the whole thing, including stopping to buy GU and to sign the runners’ wall, in fifteen minutes or less.
I had a pretty bad headache by the time I got home, and it was a raging migraine by evening. Having a migraine is a pretty fucking horrific and often traumatic experience even in the best of circumstances. The thing(s) about having a migraine the night before your first fucking marathon, however, means:
  • Not laying out your race gear in advance
  • Not prepping your hydration pack
  • Not packing your race bag
  • Not eating a single bite of dinner, which is a pretty fucking important pre-race meal
  • Probably not keeping down any of the liquids you had instead of dinner
  • Urinating extra lots, further fucking up that hydration issue (common migraine symptom)
  • Not taking the hot bath you'd planned on
  • Not stretching that day
  • Not massaging or rolling out any sore muscles
  • Kind of just barely figuring out the math on when to set your alarm, leave the house, and catch the right train and not feeling at all confident in those calculations
  • Going to bed early (great!) but probably only getting 4 good hours of sleep
  • Knowing you're going to wake up feeling shaky and emotionally hungover (and, of course, physically tired) for an event that requires literally every drop of mental fortitude that you have available on a *good* day, an event that you haven't even wanted to do *at all* for some weeks now
  • Just being *extra* grouchy, hurty, and whiney when you've been pretty damn grouchy, hurty, sleepy, and whiney for several months already
  • And no crying, because convulsions will make your upset stomach worse, and the facial tension will worsen the migraine pain as well
That said, thank you so much, dear friends, for all your support, excitement, and confidence, especially since I'm pretty much all out my own. I don't know how to convey how much it means to me.
At this point, I just want to be DONE with the GD race; and never wanting to do this again could be the only thought that gets me to the finish line.
I'm not looking forward to it AT ALL. I just want to be done running, done hurting, done training, done being tired all the time, done being grouchy, and done talking about my fucking marathon.

Simultaneous conversations with my self:
Is this you or your depression talking?
This really feels like me, tbh.

*Remember being grouchy like this 6 years ago in Korea and only much later recognizing that as pretty severe undiagnosed depression.*

So is this you or your depression talking?
Would I know the difference?
IS there a difference?

My depression IS me.

Ain't nobody got time for this.
Go the fuck to sleep.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sometimes running rocks

After crashing and burning for the last long run, my coach gave me a 7-mile-long “Tempo Mile Repeats” workout, commenting “This workout is designed to be HARD. I’m not gonna sugar coat this shit for you. It’s not pleasant.” (“Tempo” means faster than comfortable. “Mile repeats” is exactly what it sounds like.)

So I got up about 5 a.m., braced myself for the weather, and went to work out. After my warmup, I had five one-mile repeats with a short rest between each. My assigned goal was 11:30-11:45 for each.

I started the first still feeling sluggish and sleepy. I checked my timer after the first and second laps on the quarter-mile track and was certain I couldn't possibly make the time. But I finished the first mile in 11:22. And that was my slowest one of the day.

As it turns out, I may not be very good at pacing, but I really benefitted from the 38-40°F weather that morning. My second and third repeats were each faster than the previous, the fourth the same as the third, and I finished the fifth in 10:33! I wasn’t exactly killing myself to do it, either, but going by similar perceived effort each time (except for the final 200 m), and the pacing just fell out like that.

Physically, I felt pretty good when I finished and throughout the day. Mentally, seeing those numbers was a HUGE boost for me after the previous workouts’ emotional toll. I definitely needed that.

I had a shorter run later that week and then a 7-mile “long” run over the weekend, which felt like a breeze.

I’m still freaking out about the impending marathon, but having some good workouts in the meantime at least helps my mood.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Sometimes things REALLY suck

[CN: depression]

I had thought my 18-mile run would be the last long one before my marathon since it was three weeks out, but my coach gave me a 20-miler for two weeks out.

I was not thrilled about this because I was on vacation in California, but I spent a lot of time in advance on Google maps trying to plot my route through the city. When I arrived, however, I learned that California is freaking mountainous. Who knew?

So I threw out my map and planned to run six dull laps around the lake.

I went to bed at a reasonable hour and woke up the next day . . . with a terrible stomachache and still felt dreadfully sleepy. So I dozed another hour, felt a little better, and got dressed to go despite a deep feeling of dread and "I-don't-wannas"  . . .

And then I found tears streaming down my face for no reason at all for like ten minutes straight before I even left. Wtf? It was a beautiful day; I couldn't have asked for better running weather.

I dragged my butt out the door, spent another five minutes just trying to set up my freaking interval timer and GPS tracker, and set off downhill a half mile to the lake. The "I-don't-wannas" persisted, and though I can usually shake it off and push through, I really struggled to make myself run during the designated intervals and even stopped to sit several times (which I never do) to try and get it together.

After an unbelievable mental struggle through the first lap, I cried through the entirety of the second, stopped many more times and longer, and was too far gone to reliably assess whether the pain in my hip and butt was serious enough to stop. I tried to start a third lap but knew there was no way I'd finish it without walking the entire thing, so I turned around to walk back to the apartment. Still crying for no fucking reason at all PLUS feeling like a complete failure PLUS looking forward to telling my coach I'm a complete failure PLUS suppressing all sorts of terrified "how am I ever gonna finish my race—what if I DON'T finish my race?!" thoughts.

I'd managed only a piddly 8.33 miles out of TWENTY in two and a half hours, whereas those 8 should have taken less than two hours.

Crying for no GD reason.
Can't run another step, and I know it's not physical.
Is my depression doing this?

In recent weeks, I've had a few bouts of the uncontrollable urge to cry for no reason. Last year it was constant for weeks and meant I needed to up my dose of bupropion. Running has usually balanced my emotions and I have never before had to face this while running.

I felt a little better after showering and dressing, mostly because I wasn't running anymore. But this was a seriously important training session, and there was no way to try to redo it in time for the race.

The next day I ran a similarly slow 4 miles instead of my scheduled 2, and I still felt crummy and weepy, though less so than the previous day.

As miserable and difficult as the summer slog had been, at least my fucking brain wasn't malfunctioning. Even though I'd had some crummy runs, they were just that and nothing more: no additional weight or emotions attached to or triggered by them.

There's not a happy or conclusive ending to this post except that my hosts totally understood and offered me hugs, didn't mind when I said "not right now," and didn't push me to talk more about it when I withdrew.

My coach was very understanding, which I pretty much expected, but depression brain doesn't understand anything more nuanced than "OMG, I have to tell her I'M A FAILURE."*

However, the week improved markedly, and I'll write more about that next time.

*Aside: wicked déjà vu just now

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trinity River Run Race Report

Two thumbs down for the 2016 #TrinityRiverRun last night.

The nearest available parking an hour and a half before the race was 0.6 miles from the start.

Not sure why they even called it the “Trinity River Run” since—instead of using the long, beautiful Trinity River recreation trail—most of the course wound through ugly, smelly parts of Dallas, starting near the jail, and over dangerous cracked and crumbling asphalt and unmarked potholes, closing MANY intersections and obstructing a ridiculous amount of traffic, as well as running us up and down over and under every possible bridge.

And I'm wondering how the heck they can afford all those cops and closure permits—I've never seen so many on just a 10k course—when the event took a HUGE loss last year, which was its first year.

I was killing myself through most of the second half of the race to stay ahead of some asshole wearing strong perfume. WHO THE HELL WEARS PERFUME TO RUN?!

There were too few water stations on the course—no problem for me since I brought and drank all of my water bottle, but I heard several participants complaining of thirst—and they ran out of cups for the second and final water stations.

Then the finish line was a quarter mile away—no exaggeration—from the medals, water, and warm fucking beer.

At the end there were too few trash bins provided, such that I had to set my warm beer on the ground when I left, because the bins were all overflowing onto the pavement, making a big damn mess of such a nice park.

I mostly signed up for this race because last year's tech shirt was so great, but this year's has a poorer quality of fabric and a crummy fit.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Noteworthy Run

I had a noteworthy 16-mile training run yesterday.

When I got to the lake well before dawn, I used the portapotty, and then discovered I’d locked my key in my car. With my phone. And all my gear. It was still dark, and my car was the only one in this lot . . . except for a cop car at the far end.

I walked over to ask if the officer could call a locksmith for me, and he looked at me solemnly and said, “No.” Then his face lit up and he said he could actually help me because he recently bought a Slim Jim kit since so many people ask if he can help them get into their cars. And he hadn’t gotten to use it yet and was kind of excited to try.

As we went to my car, I wondered if maaaybe I should have pulled off the Black Lives Matter decal, but it was still pretty dark, so it went unnoticed or unmentioned. I was going to offer to get my ID from the trunk to prove it’s my car (there were a few other runners in the area), but he never asked, and I finally got to start my run. Thanks, DPD!

All of this happened, by the way, with a high surge of anxiety that wouldn’t dissipate for at least 5 miles.

I had been SO looking forward to the forecasted low 50s weather, but it ended up in the low 60s instead. I kept wondering “wtf?” as I passed so many people in sweatshirts while I was basically sweating my tits off.

The run itself was wholly unremarkable . . . except that it wasn’t nearly as torturous as I’d expected! My Vibram FiveFingers just weren’t working for me for more than about 10 miles, so my long runs in recent weeks have all been epic suffer-fests. Yesterday I had on a new pair of Asics, and I’d finally figured out how to lace them to give my toes enough space to spread and keep my heels from slipping.

There was an official half marathon happening on the trail that day, and I arrived before it began, had no trouble parking, finished after it ended, and faced no delays on my drive home. What luck!

I also packed myself an icy cold, post-run egg nog in the car. It was awesome: 10/10 recommend. (I’m so clever) I had a 90-minute massage that afternoon and felt pretty good on this morning’s 2.5-mile recovery run. Who’da thunk?

And then I realized the marathon is just over a month away, and holy crap, that’s kinda scary.

Well, I’m already chowing down on chocolate, trying to suppress the election anxiety, so let’s just roll the marathon nerves in there too. I'm sure it will all be fine.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My Willowcrest Dollhouse

In the late ’90s my grandmother built me a Willowcrest Dollhouse from a Greenleaf kit. She was new to the craft and put a lot of literal blood, sweat, and tears into the effort. I remember her fingers often being bandaged from working to cut out the pieces.


She had taken my sister and me to the hobby store to pick out a kit for each of us, and we got to choose the paint colors for the finish, too. I loved the Victorian Mansard style and deep, rich colors. Nana built the whole thing and finished the outsides, leaving us the interior to optionally finish at a later date.





She often took us shopping for dollhouse furniture, and I had no idea at the time the value of all these things. As my interest in dollhouses has renewed this year, I am certainly learning the physical and monetary costs for myself.


The house took a bit of damage since we moved at least a half dozen times since its construction, and I had to remove all the roof shingles since so many were pulling away. Earlier this year I wired it, my first time working with dollhouse wiring. I've primed all the rooms and am oh-so-slowly trying to paint the staircase hallways before papering the rest. Of course we didn't know it would be so difficult to do after construction, and any sane person would probably leave those crevasses empty, but I have tiny hands, an artistic heart, patience, and no small bit of stubbornness on my side.





Unfortunately, life has been quite hectic all summer with marathon training taking up most of my free time, and I've not made any progress in two or three months. That's why I started a small room box project in the meantime: I can work on it on the coffee table and complete significant pieces in a small amount of time, compared to hauling the Willowcrest to the dining table, tipping it and propping it upside-down or on its side, relying on a hand mirror to reach the stairwell, and waiting hours for many coats of paint to dry. But hopefully I will find time again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Tennyson Dollhouse

In the late ’90s my grandmother built my sister a Tennyson dollhouse from a Greenleaf kit.





Now it sits in my bedroom with my surplus dollhouse furniture, waiting for Sis to move back to the area.

Sister's dollhouse, loaned furniture

Sacré Bleu

I've had a renewed interest in dollhouses this year, and in addition to remodeling the one my late grandmother built for me, I've been watching Craigslist regularly for others to cherish.

When a beautiful Windflower Manor listing dropped from $200 to $70, I jumped on the opportunity, contacted the seller, and asked my aunt to come with me to pick it up because at 52 inches tall, it certainly wouldn't fit in my Corolla. It was even bigger than I'd imagined, and the seller had cut the price again to $60 for a recent garage sale.


She said it was built in the ’80s, and her mother-in-law was going to get rid of it a few years ago, so she drove up to Chicago to bring it back to Texas and had begun refurbishing it. But her 2-year-old took a liking to it, specifically to climbing on it, so it HAD to go.


Yes, it's absurdly large, but I'll have fun decorating the interior and touching up some of the minor wear and tear. It's in nice shape overall, though. And I certainly won't be tempted to buy any more dollhouses as long as I live here — I now have three sitting in my room since there's not space in the craft room, and I wouldn't trust the cats anyway.

I'll not be able to work on it any time soon since the Willowcrest still needs finished and I'm presently working on a witch cottage room box, but it will be a great place to keep the surplus of miniature furniture I have while I work on the other house. And I'll share more pictures of all these in future posts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Delicious New Music!

Banks released the album Altar on September 30, and it is glorious.

Beats Antique just released Shadowbox album today, and it is HOT.

I'm sorry I don't know how to embed a Spotify playlist, but go listen to these. Seriously.

And for good measure, here's the Luke Cage playlist.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon Race Report

For as much excitement as I'd had leading up to this event, it was ultimately sadly anti-climatic in the end.

I'd been dreading the hot weather this event usually has, with North Texas Septembers typically still in the 90s and the Sunday a week prior at a blistering 106°F for Grapevine's Grapefest. But when I checked the forecast that day, I nearly cried: race day would be in the mid-70s.

By Wednesday, though, the forecast showed a 95 percent chance of thunderstorms at race time. It's a rain or shine event, but because the course had been plotted through shady areas in anticipation of dangerous sun and heat, that meant much of it was also on flood plains. And if there was lightning, it would have to be canceled.

By Friday, though, the forecast showed a dry race except for maybe the last mile or so.

I set out my BAWG kit, runderwear, ENELL, and Vibram Five Fingers a few days before the event so I could get up and go quickly.

I met up briefly with a friend at the event, exchanged hugs, and then we trudged to our appropriate pace groups.

The hills on Los Rios that had me nearly in tears on my bike for last year's Blackland Triathlon was a piece of cake. I hopped onto the grassy curb and power hiked up the hills before stepping back onto the road to run down them.

I felt really good for the first 6 miles. I even met a woman running in bright turquoise Medieval Moccasins. She said she'd done several long races in them and highly recommends them for fans of minimalist running. She'd been inspired to put them to that purpose after reading the book Born to Run.

But at about 6.5, I felt my feet begin to blister, though I'd not had that problem before with these shoes. I sat down to pull them off and lube up with some Chamois Butter before continuing. A the 8-mile marker, I was just exhausted and pulled out my phone to say as much on Facebook. Not a minute after I put it back in its zipper-lock baggy, the sky opened up and flooded down on us. Farewell, iPod. (It had stopped working by then anyway.)

Before the mile was out, I was in absolute agony and bit back tears for the next two. I've been running for over 6 years and completed three prior half marathons and a15-mile Spartan Beast, but I had never run on so much concrete. The PBF course was entirely concrete with no break. I'd read that asphalt is softer but never really thought about it, since both seem like hard pavement to me.

My femur heads, where the leg bone connects to the hip bone, were screaming. I was walking way more than I wanted to. My tummy was yucky and I couldn't take the fuel I'd planned on.

After the 10-mile marker, we saw volunteers at the next aid station waving a red flag and they shouted that the course was closed and we had to quit. We were less than three miles from done, but they funneled us onto a trail leading straight back to the festival area. I was a little disappointed but in too much pain to be really upset by it.

As I came through the trees, I heard an announcer on a loudspeaker saying the festival itself was officially canceled. Everyone was ordered to take shelter. The volunteers had all complied, so I wandered toward the finish line and plucked a medal from a pile of open boxes left unattended there. I gathered my things and slowly, gingerly limped up the big-ass hill separating me from my car.

I took a few minutes to stretch every aching thing and stood a few minutes longer kind of lost and unsure what to do with myself. It was 10 a.m. on a Sunday, so I couldn't even go grab a beer, because Texas. I drove home through the deluge, drew a hot bath, dozed off in it twice, and dragged myself to bed.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Body Acceptance? Get Real.

“It may sound simplistic, but a 2009 study compared people of similar age, gender, education, and rates of diabetes and hypertension and found that body image had a much bigger impact on health than body size.
In other words, two equally fat women would have very different health outcomes, depending on how they felt about their bodies. Likewise, two women with similar body insecurities would have similar health outcomes, even if one was fat and the other thin.

body acceptance: approving of and loving your body despite real or perceived imperfections

It's a nice idea, but often easier said than done. How can one practice body positivity if they don’t like what they see in the mirror?
  1. Start small: Start with appreciation for what your body does if liking how it looks is out of reach for now. Maybe we worry about flabby arms, but think about how they allow to embrace the people you love. Maybe we worry about “thunder thighs,” but think about everything your legs have carried you through in this life. Recognize what your body can do and what you can work toward.
    “More specifically, work out because you love your body and not because you hate it should be considered an achievable goal, not something to add to today’s to-do list that you can check off with ease. It’s a tedious process for many, not a simple mindset change.” —Nia Shanks
  2. Be mindful:
    Pay attention when negative thoughts show up. Don't beat yourself up for it. Acknowledge the thought without assigning value to it, and let it float away as if trickling downstream.
  3. Affirmations: a declaration of something that is true and used to practice positive thinking One of my favorites: Im not messed up; the world is.
    I acknowledge my own self worth.
    “I release myself from outside expectations.
  4. Fake it ’til you make it:
    You don't have to believe your affirmations, but with practice and repetition, they'll take root for you. The longer you act confident and practice positivity, the likelier you are to really feel and believe those things.
  5. Set boundaries: With the holiday season coming up, many are dreading critical comments from their families. Depending on your family's unique dynamics and how many spoons you have on a given day, you can absolutely say, "That is inappropriate and offensive. Do not comment on my food choices." Stand up for yourself. Ragen at Dances With Fat has a lot of excellent resources and scripts for dealing with friends and family who comment on your body and food.
  6. Recruit “Team YOU”: Team You consists of friends, family, coworkers, community members, and health care practitioners who are kind and supportive in helping you live the most positive and beneficial life you can in the ways that you choose to. It's difficult to learn body acceptance when everyone around you thwarts your efforts, so work on cultivating positive relationships in your life.
    If people who claim to care about you can't get on board with what you need to take care of yourself, then they don't really need to spend time around you.
  7. Practice compassion: We're human, and success doesn't happen overnight. Remind yourself that it's a journey, that it's okay to trip, fall, and backslide. It's what you choose to do next—get up and keep going—that matters most.
It's not just new-age, self-help, woo-y, feel-good advice. Science supports body acceptance as a key part of overall well being:

“By learning to value their bodies as they are right now, even when this differs from a desired weight or shape or generates ambivalent feelings, people strengthen their ability to take care of themselves and sustain improvements in health behaviors.” (source)

What actions have helped you on your journey?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Looks Like I Made It?

Last week was interesting.

Facebook's "On This Day" feature showed me that two years ago I was seven months out of a relationship and still having nightmares about my ex at least weekly. I would continue to have regular nightmares for nearly a year and a half.

And now I'm here and I can hardly believe it. I finally FINALLY feel not broken. I feel whole and secure and free and happy.

One year ago, my depression meds suddenly stopped working, and I delayed speaking to my doctor for a few weeks because I didn't realize at first what the problem was, and then I didn't want it to be true so I waited a few weeks more hoping it would just go away, and then it took more than a week extra to actually see my doctor because he was all booked up.

I wanted to cry all the time for no reason at all. Life was okay; I was just miserable. We doubled my dose of Wellbutrin, and I've been good since then.

I've been aware of how consistently happy and upbeat and productive and active and frequently joyful I am for a couple of months now. That's not to say that I don't ever feel down, but I bounce back very quickly instead of spiraling for days and weeks. I do not recognize this Moniqa, and it's kind of weird.

And as wonderful as life is right now, everyday I'm scared. I'm afraid of the depression coming back, like it's waiting behind a bush somewhere to jump out and hit me over the head. That's the joy of chronic mental health issues: you may find remission but never a cure.

So I plan and go and do ALL the things, which then leaves me likely to burn out. It's hard to find balance, and I don't know right now if I'm doing it right or just waiting for everything to come crashing down.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Biphobia in Practice

On September 1, I was getting groceries with my best friend in Omaha, Nebraska.

So no shit there we are, standing in the checkout line, and a lady behind us sees two plushies I'm about to purchase.
L: Oh! It's so cute! Where did you find it?
M: Over there; they have lots of them!
L: Wow! It's Wonder Woman, right?
M: Yes. And this is a rainbow hedgehog.
L: Adorable.
M: It was on sale!
L: Oh, and what is that tattoo behind your ear?
M: Oh, that's a rainbow. I got it last summer when the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality.
L: *face changes, very slowly, from affable interest to slight horror, to slightly off-put might-have-gas-ness and she suddenly becomes very interested in her groceries and completely mute*

As we're exiting the store:
Bff: . . . So did she just straight up stop talking as soon as you explained your tattoo?
M: Yep. That's exactly what happened.
Bff: Woooooow.

(Credit to best friend for the retelling)

Way to live down to my expectations of the Midwest, Omaha. This exchange make me even happier to miss the family reunion in the area that weekend. I'd originally booked the trip to spend a few days with best friend and go to the extended family reunion, but as more of my immediate family canceled and it looked like I'd be visiting a bunch of strangers (about whom I know nothing except that they're Christian white people from the Midwest, and my only interaction with them was when one found his way to my Facebook page to make transphobic comments about Caitlyn Jenner), I decided to spend the whole trip with best friend instead.


This week a friend invited me to an event hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, but I see there's no B in "GALA." Bisexual people face negativity and exclusion not only from heterosexuals but also from homosexuals as well. 

Yesterday an article made its way around Facebook discussing a recent survey that found half of Americans would not date a bisexual person. The comments section, unsurprisingly, is a hot mess of biphobia masquerading as Logic™.

Close friends have even said they would never date/trust a bisexual because a bisexual person in their past was untrustworthy. Seriously, though, how many millions of relationships between different-gender people have ended the same way? If I let the fact that people in my past relationships were often dishonest and hurtful influence my decisions that same way, I would never date a straight man again.

September 23 is Bisexual Visibility Day. Be aware that bisexuals face some of the highest rates of poverty, mental illness, drug use, suicide, self-harm, assault, and rape compared to both their straight AND gay peers.
  • In a 2009 survey, bisexuals were tolerated only slightly more than intravenous drug users in a survey of self-identifying heterosexuals.
  • Data from Australia shows that both men and women who are bisexual have the highest percentages of suicide attempts.
  • Most bisexuals won’t tell someone about their sexual orientation until the age of 20.
  • Nearly half of all bisexual households have a total family income that is less than $30k.
  • Research shows that bisexual people are six times more likely than gay men and lesbians to hide their sexual orientation.
"While 20% of bisexuals report experiencing a negative employment decision based on their sexuality, almost 60% of bisexual people report hearing anti-bisexual jokes and comments on the job.
"Bisexual people experience higher rates of sexual and intimate partner violence than gay, lesbian, and straight people. Bisexual women experience significantly higher rates of violence both overall and by significant others, compared to lesbian and straight women: 46% of bisexual women have experienced rape, compared to 13% and 17% of lesbian and straight women, respectively. Sixty-one percent of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 43% and 35% of lesbian and straight women respectively. More than half of bisexual women who experienced violence by an intimate partner reported that they had missed a day of work or school, feared for their safety, or experience another negative impact. Bisexual men also report higher rates of sexual violence; nearly half of bisexual men (47%) report experiencing sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime."

Understand that erasure is not privilege.
Erasure is not privilege.

"It means coming out over and over and over and over again…sometimes to the same person. It means I get dragged back into the closet every damn day. It hurts every time, but today in light of this already bleeding wound, biphobia and erasure is excruciating.

My best friend (at the time) recoiled in horror when I came out to her.
So I didn't come out for another 10 years.

Bisexuals aren't confused. They aren't more likely to cheat. Not "everybody's a little bit gay." It isn't it a joke.

For us, it's literally life and death.
"According to the American Journal of Public Health, among women, bisexual women report the highest prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (of PTSD) (26.6% versus 6.6% of straight women), with high prevalence of PTSD setting the stage for poorer health throughout adulthood. Bisexuals have higher suicidality rates: one study found bisexuals were four times more likely and lesbian and gay adults two times more likely to report attempted suicide than straight adults."
September 23 is Celebrate Bisexuality Day.