Probably Irrelevant

It Gets Less Worse – Love Letters to My Younger Self

Dear Eight Year Old Em, 

The other kids think you’re weird. It’s okay. You have fire in your heart. Pick your glasses up off the ground, puff out your chest, and let them say the things they will. When they hurt you, tell an adult. Tell your parents. Take this time to learn that those two people will protect you with their last dying breath until they don’t know how anymore, and then they’ll still try to throw themselves between you and your pain, even if it looks like it could swallow them whole. They will always do their best for you. They’ve fought much scarier monsters. You were blessed with two people who love you. They will fight for you on the days you no longer have the courage to put up your fists. They will do it now, when you are small, and easy to console. And they will do it in three years, when you believe yourself to be a hardened adult at eleven. They will do it when you call them, long after you’ve moved out, eerily calm, and tell them about the razor blades and the pain you don’t understand, even though they no longer understand most of what you are. Take your struggles to them, dear heart. 

They made you. They want you. You are wanted. 

Dear Eleven Year Old Em,

You’re allowed to be angry, or hurt, or disappointed. You can be any or all of those things. Even though you keep your chin up, your eyes will water and your lip will tremble. It’s alright. Cry. No one has stopped loving you. Adult things are complicated. You didn’t do anything wrong. This isn’t your fault. People make mistakes. Good people, your people, will make mistakes. It’s okay to feel however you do. Don’t take your hurt out on Poppa. His heart is just as beaten as yours, and you may not believe it now, but Mama’s is, too. They’re bleeding with you, not against you. Don’t let anyone step on your broken heart under the guise of trying to be strong. People go away, but baby, they almost always come back. This is not the end, and don’t you dare think it is.

We’re nineteen now. We made it.

Dear Fourteen Year Old Em, 

High school is scary, but it’s not as bad as you think it will be [and for the record, it wasn’t as bad as you remember it, either]. Take this time to learn to love your body, if you can – at least try. Accept that this is the only one you have. When he starts showing you affection again, do not jump at the chance to feel desirable. Do not accept his heart simply because you’re tired of watching yours beat all by itself. You don’t need him to validate your worth. You are not who loves you. You are what you love. He is only a man; he can not fill the gaps in your heart. You will learn that your worth comes from your own heart. I promise. 

You don’t need him. You’re gay now anyway. 

Dear Sixteen Year Old Em,

It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. I am so proud of you. You are so lovely, and worthwhile. Please, please, remember that people love you before you start dragging that horrible lighter across the backs of your strong arms. This is not your fault. You were created fearfully, wonderfully, and in His image. It isn’t your fault that no one else has figured that out yet. You are not inherently flawed. You are not worthless. Your sexuality does not negate who you are. You are not damned for this. You are so completely unprecedented. Take your pain to your parents, they will hold off these demons for you if you just let them. Take it to your therapist. Do not hide it. Do not bury it in the first girl who might love you. She doesn’t. Maybe she did. I still don’t know. Also, kid, take on less. Cut yourself some slack. You’ll thank me at nineteen.

There is so much I want to tell you, but I still don’t have the words. I’ll try again in a few years.

Dear Eighteen Year Old Em, 

You are going to fall so hard for the first girl who shows you intimacy. It’s okay. That fall will hurt. She won’t know all of the damage you’ll allow her to cause. Learn the definition of unrequited now. College is new, and you’ve not grown up at all. This new found freedom does not come with any kind of maturation. It just happens. Drink less beer. Say “no” to weed more often than you say “yes.” Hug your best friend whenever you see her. Her heart is heavy, and you cannot stop loving her, because she’s one of the only people you’ll ever feel okay sobbing in to, one of the only people who will cry with you if that’s what you need. You cannot stop loving her, because you may never know this kind of love again. Don’t let a year apart and a hard summer get in the way of that. Not everyone who tells you they love you actually does. This is a hard pill to swallow. Don’t ever stop opening your heart, anyway. Trust me, in less than a year’s time you’ll be proud of the horrible, soppy mess of a heart you wear on your sleeve. You’ll guard it, and protect it, and share it with someone beautiful far sooner than you know, so stop pretending like it doesn’t exist. You are going to know so much more at nineteen than you do now. I’m sure we’ll know more at twenty, too. Let go of your pride. It is only weighing you down. 

Keep pedaling, man. It’s getting less worse, and a little more livable. 

Let’s Not Talk About My Pink Underwear

Let’s not talk about my pink underwear. I get it. I know. You know me as what I present on a daily basis. I am strong, and solid, and masculine. So, when you see the minute stash of panties I keep hidden like a bad secret in the back of my dresser, you joke, and you whistle, and you laugh.

But can we not talk about my pink underwear? That they feel as out of place against my hips as his hands always did. The way they speak to a box I no longer fit in. I am not comfortable in them, but still, they sit there behind boxer briefs and black tshirts. I am not me in those underwear. I am not the strong person you know, and it’s odd that some fabric that no one else will see can do that.

Let’s not talk about how they threaten my masculinity. And how they make me feel like less of whatever I am. Those pink underwear that wear me like a stranger. Like someone I don’t know who’s grabbed me on the bus. Like the men who shout homophobic slurs at me at four in the morning when I’m just trying to get home.

I wear my masculinity like a badge. I am proud to fall into whatever category you want to define my presentation as. I am not here to make you feel comfortable about my gender. I find so much solace in my androgyny, so much strength.

No one fucks with the girl with a crew cut, and damn, does it accentuate my eyes. There is no reason for me to lace my keys between my fingers on the walk back to my apartment, not on the days I’ve donned scuffed jeans and dark leather boots. Not when my shape has been covered by three layers of shirts. But I’ll tell you, on the days I wear the pink underwear, I carry extra keys. I carry extra bullets. I carry an extra hardness in my eyes, and my heart. I ask a boy to walk me home. I hunch my shoulders, and dip my head.

There is too much vulnerability that come along with those underwear, too much room for error. And that’s not a risk I’m willing to take. So let’s just ignore my damn underwear.

100

I was born a hundred years old. I am now, and always will be a hundred years old. No one seems to understand this concept.

I am very old. My mind is very old. I think I got it from someone else, because they were all out of the new ones when I was created. I think they grabbed an old one and called it a day. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I know me. I am fully confident in who I am as a human person. I like my personality, and myself. I like things the way they are.

But I am a hundred. I don’t comprehend jokes the same way as my peers. I don’t understand the social cues or conversation that they partake in. I can’t be a part of the things they want me to be a part of because I am too old.

Being a hundred makes being a college student very difficult. I have no inclination to do normal college student things. I cannot relate to my peers in the slightest. I find myself searching out other very old people to befriend. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be overly plentiful.

My people from home are old like I am. Whether they were born that way, or life made them that way is their’s to tell. I love them, because they understand that I can’t do things the same way other people can. I can’t bring myself to try and explain these concepts to the new people here. It’s too difficult and they tend not to understand. And that is painful to explain, and watch them not grasp it. And that makes me very sad.

I am perpetually a square peg in a round hole. I am okay with that. I just wish there were more square pegs to talk to. I’m sure I’ll find them. It’s just going to take longer than I’d planned.

Why I Can’t Hate the Abercrombie CEO

Let’s talk about Abercrombie. I mean, c’mon guys, everybody else is. I’m sure you’ve seen the picture with his quote circulating through Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and more. He has stated that he will not allow his company to produce clothing for overweight or unattractive people. His direct quote:

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

Now listen, he’s right. Before you riot, let me explain what I mean. Mike Jeffries has found a niche market in making “cool” clothes for thin people. He is highly successful, and people continue to shop in his stores. From a business aspect he has done an amazing thing. Mike Jeffries has convinced almost two generations that in order to be perceived as cool, you must wear clothes with a giant moose on them.

He is an advertising genius. He is marketing brilliance. Not only has he managed to provide a product tailored only to a certain demographic, but has made it so that only his targeted demographic (and weird grown ups) can purchase his clothes. They’re the only ones who can a) fit into them, and b) afford them! Mike Jeffries is everything I would want in a marketer.

Does that mean I share his moral values? Hell no.

Does this mean I like what he’s doing? Not really.

Does this mean I plan to shop at Abercrombie now? Well, the smell is a huge deterrent. Also the aforementioned weird old people are enough to keep me away. There are plenty of other reasons why I won’t shop at Abercrombie.

But do I admire his business strategy? His marketing tactics? Absolutely.

I can’t hate him because he’s so dang clever. I admire cleverness regardless of the form it takes.  In order to succeed in today’s economy, you have to produce a product that is so hard to own, that everyone wants it. Everybody wants to be a member of the elite. Abercrombie is one of the many tell tale signs that someone is in that club. Jeffries has made his company a symbol of wealth.

Is he a jerk for not making clothes for bigger people? Sure. But he had the balls to come out and say it. He had it in him to say exactly what his business strategy was. Also, it is his company. He can do what he wants with it.

I’m not saying I agree with what he’s doing, but I can’t help but admire his process.

Running

Let me start off with the fact that I actually enjoy running, under the right conditions. I’d rather run now, in November, because I feel like less people are watching me run and I can compete only with myself and not with all the other runners. I’d rather run at night, when I can run as quickly or as slowly as I want under the cover of darkness; also everything seems way less far away when you can’t see where you’re going.

I started running this summer. My soccer coach asked me to run thirty-five miles over the summer to make up for practice time I’d miss. Don’t get me wrong, I was not thrilled about having to run everyday in the Ohio heat in front of God and everyone. But, I ran anyway because I had to. Honestly, I fell in love with it. It was cheaper than therapy, and I got to listen to music while I ran. It was a pretty sweet deal. I stopped running when the season started as to not burn myself out. However, our season was over for a this Monday, so I pulled out my running tights and sneakers and put them on reluctantly,and hauled my butt into the cold November air and started running.

Initially (the first two nights) I ran in my old Nikes. They have a pretty thick sole, and that caused some intense arch/knee/lower back/quad pain during and after the run. Tonight though, I ran in my Vibram Fivefingers (www.vibram.com). They managed to give me a pain free, longer, faster, better feeling run. Woohoo! Go Vibrams.

I run in the Bikila model, but I have a pair of KSO’s as well. I prefer the Bikila because they have a wider mouth for you to get your foot into and an overall better feel. The KSO’s and the Bikila both a great for hiking/kayaking/swimming (both lakes and oceans)/ running in sand/ on trails/ or in dirt. The Bikila feel better on the road though. If you’re looking for new running shoes, try to go with the closest to barefoot of the brand you like. If you really like them, go all the way. Vibrams are the way to go.

Stop Light Living

My whole life has been a series of reaching average childhood goals like walking, talking, learning to ride a bike, not dying of pneumonia or embarrassment. I’ve been stuck reaching these mundane milestones, and apparently I got bored enough to stick a few extras in there.

I leave for college in about ten months. My friends say that this is the fastest ten months of my life. Based on the schools I’m looking at, in a year I could still be in good ole Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, or Florida. In a year I’ll be learning how to be a doctor, I’ll be doing something that could very well change the world. But I can’t focus on it. I’m sitting at this red light right now. And not in a bad way.

I’m sitting at this red light, and I’m basking in the warm sunlight. I’m perfectly happy to sit at this light for the next ten months. I just have to remember that, when the time comes, I have to take my foot off the break and slam the gas. It’s going to be a blurry haze of college applications, and test scores, and scholarships essays for the next few months.

I’m doing this whole college thing the way I learned to ride a bike: wildly excited and absolutely terrified. I couldn’t be happier.

The Fault in our Stars

I have read The Fault in our Stars exactly twice. The first time I read it, I finished it in about a day and a half. Something inside of me felt like I hade missed a huge chunk of the book. So, in order to locate and revel in that chunk, when I read it this time, I went through it with a felt tipped highlighter. I think that helped.

First off, this novel was absolutely brilliant. I’m not saying that just because I love John Green. I do love him. I’m saying this because there is something so charismatic about the way he writes, that I can’t really it it down in words. Reading books written by John Green is incredibly reminiscent of being about five years old, hunkered down in the warmth of my bed, caught in that wonderful state between awake and asleep. John manages to recreate that feeling while I am sitting in the doctor’s office, or lying in the couch. So, this novelist made great mostly by the fact that John is a genius.

The Fault in our Stars (TFioS) is based around the life of the average teenage terminal cancer patient. I don’t want to give a lot away. This novel is so full of everything you would want in a book. It’s light, but only for a moment. And then, it’s tragic for a while. TFioS has the perfect balance of happiness, light, romance, tragedy, and triumph. It is written in a way that ripped my heart out, stomped on it,and then put it back in my chest. The way John writes his character’s is just as brilliant as you’d expect. He allows you to fall in love with them. You don’t think you will ,but you really start caring about these crazy kids, and then you’re invested. A writer that can get you invested deserves nothing less that to be dubbed a saint.

I know, I didn’t really tell you what happens in the book. But that’s because YOU HAVE TO READ IT. My copy is currently out, but you have to go to the bookstore or the library or something and you have to buy this book, and you have to read it. Then you will see. It teaches. That’s got to be the best thing. It teaches you. And it teaches something new. Every. Time.

Okay, my book rant is done.