Dear Daughter

Dear daughter,

 

With Mother’s day coming up and the state of limbo that I currently find myself in, I thought it best to take a moment to express the frailty that is being a mother.

 

So, here goes…

 

I could start this off by stating the various lengths I’ll go to prove my undying love for you but I’m sure by the smothering overprotection and bear hug kiss attacks that you might get that already… BUT I love you with all of my heart. Albeit, all of my tired, weary, empowered, passionate, and sometimes self loathing heart. Us mothers have this nasty habit of going about our days with this ten-pound sack of emotions and I have to say that mine has gained a bit of weight lately. This is not to say that you have anything to do with the sudden weight gain. This is just an acknowledgment of the confused metabolism that our emotional state seems to have. We get up every day and get things done because they have to be. No one has ever told us that they’ll take care of it because… well… we don’t want to hear it and, therefore, choose to ignore it when said. From the moment we hear about you invading our womb and sucking the life from us (literally) we become this beast of “handling it.” Even if someone was to approach us and force us to sit and relax we will still have to micromanage how you allow us to sit and relax. It is no fault of yours but our own because we get up every day and get things done… they have to be.

 

I like to blame my mother for the way I am just simply because she did not prepare me before she left. I was too young to understand a mother/daughter relationship on a more even playing field by the time she was gone. My teenage years were spent with my father, who taught me how to think. He did not understand this ten-pound sack of emotions. He wasn’t meant to. He was about logic and research and all things opinionated and I love him for that. He taught me to analyze and my ten-pound sack taught me to over analyze and my over analytical self’s favorite topic is me. I have to admit that the past few days I have not been very kind to myself. I woke up one day to find that the person I was looking at in the mirror was distasteful. She was angry, frustrated, obsessive, lazy, sloppy, and weak. She blamed everyone else for not seeing her correctly without even seeing herself. This woman I see has come around before and I have dwelled on her in the past giving her full reign of my actions. I have failed many times before under her care but chose to ignore it. This time, however, there is something different. It’s you and ever since her return I find myself pushing past her to get up every day and do what has to be done… for you.

 

I had you when I, myself, was still a child at heart and I have grown with you along the way. I became a mother not at birth but with every passing moment with you. At times it feels as if you are teaching me how to become a mother fit for your love. As you get ready to turn ten years old later this year, you will be the age I was when I lost my mother and I feel that we will learn a great deal from each other in the coming years. I may falter from time to time. I may lose myself every now and then. I may find myself incapable of handling it but I will never stop trying to give you a beautiful life. I have lived. I have laughed and cried and cursed the world around me. I have kicked and screamed and ranted until ears have bled. I have loved and I have lost. I only wish to give you everything you desire, starting with morning snuggles (my favorite part of the day). One day you will come to realize that I am only human and, while I desperately tried to be your Wonder Woman, I have done and will continue to do the best I can.

 

Just like I told you in the quiet of your room while you slept as a baby…

 

It’s you and me kid.

 

Love,

Mom


Reflection

I have been thinking a lot…

 

Some would say too much…

 

I have discovered the fact that the hardest part about growing up is figuring out your own faults and owning them. For instance, I am flaky albeit mainly with myself. The number one person that I always let down… is me. I assume the worst in myself. I mean, why not? If I evade my own disappointment by lowering my expectations than the disappointment from others is nonexistent. This is my fault, one of many. Now, I have grown to own this fault and I have been thinking that maybe I was wrong. I cannot automatically assume the worst anymore. As I find myself telling my daughter from time to time, I am too old for such foolish things. Well, maybe the wording is different for her but the idea is still the same. I have been through enough to begin giving myself credit for at least some of it. Instead of owning my self-esteem issues, I need to give myself a chance to truly fail because at least that would mean that I tried. Disappointment is only a means to improve, is it not?

 

I enjoy being a creative person for the way it allows me to examine my surroundings. I see beyond what is visible to the various possibilities of what may lie underneath. While, in some instances, it can drive the cynicism that crawls beneath my skin it can also give me the chance to not accept anything at face value. The surface of something is never as it seems. Things are not simply black and white. However, they are not grey either. Just because we see one thing does not make it true. This is our interpretation of an event, a word, a phrase, or even a glance. It is a proven fact that a witness statement may be unreliable especially if there is more than one. While we may want to blame ourselves for this, it is not our fault. Misinterpretation is built into our biology. There are even physical disorders that are believed to cause a comforting touch to turn into excruciating pain. There are some that cause allergies or an inability to see color. There are even theories stating that the true color of something may not be exactly what we see. The color blue to one person may be closer to green to their neighbor. How could we really know the difference? How would we really know that violet is not actually violet? Maybe nature has given us colors that humans are now choosing to be a lie…

 

And, maybe, we are wrong…

 

The expedited nature of information in our current society has made us all the “one-footers”. We see only what is right in front of our faces. There may only be one area that we do not agree with but we become so focused on it that nothing else matters. On the contrary, we might find one instance of positivity that might blind us from the negative. With the vast sea of information at our fingertips these days, it has become increasingly difficult to not only sort the good from the bad but, also, to distinguish our own thoughts from the thoughts of others. This is why I have been thinking a lot lately.

 

I choose not the surround myself with politics, religious debates, or even movie critiques at this time but allow myself the chance to think. I have an opinion. Hell, sometimes I even have many, awkwardly at the same time. I become passionate about nothing in particular because I am giving myself some time to think. I daydream, examine varying scenarios, stare at an object blankly, or just close my eyes. I haven’t written anything down in a while because of it. Our interpretations are off at the moment and I think that we all need to stop. We need to reflect. Let’s close our eyes and allow ourselves the chance to feel something again. Reach down and touch the ground. Take a moment and examine the texture of the dirt. Bring it to your nose and allow the scent of it to bring a memory to the surface. We need to stop taking in everything from the outside and give ourselves the chance to bring something up from the inside. I have found myself in a state of self-examination and am beginning to realize that some things need a change. This may very well be the nine hundredth time that I have done this but it feels different somehow. There are no plans, no statements of what comes next because I just don’t know. At this point, your guess is as good as mine. I wish that I could say that I will write some other nonsense next week but I just don’t know. I cannot give myself a deadline or a limitation. I would rather not give you an empty promise. The past few months have left me expressionless. They have closed me off in a way for I do not wish to absorb an idea at this time. I simply wish to think…

 

A lot…

 

Some would say too much…

 

But this is me, taking a moment to bring something up from the inside.


The Art of Defeat

There’s an art hidden within the feeling of defeat. The beginning is subtle; a silent cloud of deterioration lurking in the deep corners of your mind. It begins to spread like tentacles of black smoke choking your judgment, pride, and sense of self. It burns ever so slightly in the pit of your stomach waiting for your demeanor to shift into the realm of weakness. This is where the defeat will linger. It shines its puppy eyes and promises to never go where it’s unwanted…and you believe it. As long as it’s hidden, it will never come to be. Promises are made within your mind to keep it locked up. You throw away the key. A smile is painted from cheek to cheek. You prop yourself up on both feet and hold your focus for as long as possible. At this moment, you find yourself deadlocked in a staring contest with your sanity. Do not look away or you may never get it back.

 

When your eyes begin to dry out you realize that you have already lost this game awhile back. There never was a key to throw away and the paint begins to smear. At this stage, the weakness and vulnerability set in. With shoulders slumped and a sagging spine, your chin falls. Looking people in the eyes becomes tiresome. Days at home are spent on the couch without a will to move. You fight with yourself about whether or not calling in tomorrow is a viable option. The ifs start flooding your mind. If it weren’t for this job you wouldn’t be miserable. If it weren’t for this couch you would be productive. If it weren’t for you, your life would be a breeze…

 

Reasoning does not exist here so don’t bother trying. A true feeling of defeat has no cure. It was inevitable. This road does not lead to redemption. You must administer a change of course. Your exit is within the next mile. Remain hopeful that your car will make it.

 

The strangest ingredient of defeat is the essence of calm the hits the back of your tongue. Compassion is lost and the radio stations have tuned out. The monotonous tones are the only sounds left in your eardrums like the ticking of a clock or the drop of a leaky faucet. You tap those nails you forgot the clip on the counter just to remind yourself that you are still present. You are a shell for a time, mindless and functioning at a slower motion. Rest is desired but cannot be grasped.

 

Once you see the lines of charcoal behind you, a settlement is reached and you ease into the moment. Take a breath. The fumes may be toxic but it’s time to shop for a frame. If you do not pause at this time the turnaround will not be as fruitful. The art of defeat is its reminders of human frailty. We will fall and, at times, we will break. The beauty of humanity is its ability to mend. The stitches and tape are not permanent. While the frustrations may run rampant, they are only an inconvenience. Gather your last looks for the gallery is closing.

 

While this can be a humbling moment, nothing about this feeling is comforting. It wasn’t meant to be. You have lost at something and no one likes to lose. Feeling defeated is not a way to live. Action will take hold soon… You just have to be patient. Rash decisions do not a solution make. (Or something along the lines of that.)

 

Lie down now and take a nap. This will all be over soon…

 

At least… that’s what everyone will tell you…


Hello Reality, It’s Me

A little over two weeks ago, I sprained my ankle. This is the fourth time that this has happened. I’m good at that, you know, but I swear there was a brisk breeze that tripped me up. Maybe I just love gravity so much that I like to test it out from time to time. Either way, this got me thinking about something… Well, it made a certain sentence pop into my head, actually…

 

If it weren’t for me, my life would be a breeze.

 

I know this sounds funny but there is more truth in that statement than I harbor in my entire skeletal structure. Everyday we go through even the most minuscule of struggles. Sometimes we can’t decide between spending the money on some much needed coffee or just pushing through the day. There’s the choice of attire, what to eat, how to speak, or whether or not a lesson in common sense is worth a jail sentence. The workplace stresses seem to usually take precedence for most of us but the personal struggles can be the most daunting. Through all of this the hardest realization to come to is when you find yourself holding your own leash and what makes that worse is finding your grip to be suffocating. Our own criticisms are the pitfalls in our lives that hold us back from really living. I know that you have heard this before as I have but it has never pulled a ligament quite like it has now. I can feel it now, from my ankle all the way to my bruised sense of self. It radiates through me like a menstrual cramp gone rampant. I want to scream and yell and cry, all while eating copious amounts of chocolate in between vast amounts of meat.

 

… There is a moment, though… A moment so enlightening that too much air fills the room… And it becomes hard to breathe…

 

I have put myself here…

 

I have kept myself here…

 

I am the one reason why my foot wants to go in a different direction than the rest of my leg. My ankle sprain is not a factor of clumsiness but a desperate plea for a change of direction. I have spent my life being mindful of my steps and limiting which path they take me on but every time I fall into routine, I find a pothole. Down on the ground I find that when I look up the path looks a bit obscured.

 

What if it has always been obscured and I have just been looking at it from the wrong angle?

 

I don’t believe that any of us are supposed to know who we truly are. We are a mystery even to ourselves because we are never meant to settle. There is a constant forward motion full of endless experiences that should not be left as the mystery. Don’t blame life as your misunderstanding. Grab onto it as a factor but not your synopsis. There is no definition of us. It is time to put down the dictionary and pick up the map.

 

But forget the compass… a sense of direction is not needed here. If the golf ball that lived on my ankle for a time taught me anything, it’s that you really can go two ways at once; your pain threshold just might not agree with it. The point of any struggle is to make it to the other side. We do not call upon the graceful at this time, however. We’ll make conquerors of us all in this moment of need and, yes, you will conquer as long as you keep breathing. For all my fellow Game of Thrones nerds out there, you do not have to be the Mother of Dragons to prove your conquering technique. Hell, I blew through a milkshake the other day like a fire-breathing lizard. I call that a victory, albeit minuscule…

 

Or maybe that was the celebration for living that day… Either way I handled that milkshake… Like a boss. (that’s a phrase the kids are using these days, right?)

 

Anyway, my point is this (if there actually ever is one), the most gargantuan dose of reality comes when you feel the true level of pain that you cause yourself. Do not look to anyone else for blaming placement. It is you and only you. Go outside and look at things sideways. You may find a labyrinth but that’s okay. As much as we love (and miss) David Bowie, he does not live in yours. I promise. Take a step to the left and proceed. This is where you find truth in your pain and begin to mend it.

 

And before you start, this is in no way referencing settling down in a relationship or career. A partner in crime is necessary at times and a career is a goal to be reached but striving for greatness in either requires no deadline. Your deathbed is where you can weigh out your accomplishments against your pitfalls and in that last breath you will see the end to the mystery. Besides, what’s life without a bit of intrigue? Why not be the thrill?

 

Now, if only I could find that pesky first aid kit I can begin with my own mending… Hey! I never said I knew exactly how to mend. For that you’ll have to seek advice from a healer. I tend to sprain things… Like my dignity.

 

But if you find out…


The Customer in Customer Service Part One

Oh shit, here she comes.

 

And look… the hellions are with her.

 

I’m sure you’re aware of her. It’s the woman who could care less about the fact that she parented a monstrous posse of mini demons. She walks into every building with her defensive bitch stare on as if she already knows the number of dirty looks that will beam down on her. She created the mess that follows her in but she stopped handing out fucks a long time ago. Probably right after the first one showed signs of trouble.

 

The middle child is usually the quietest one. He only has outbursts on occasion. I have a theory the he’s the leader of the group, secretly. His brothers are not aware of his control but it’s there. He stands off to the side while the other two spread their filth. The extent of his destruction is unknown at this point. It only shows every now and then when the other two are lacking in severity. He searches for the one working in the building that harbors the most authority (and this, unfortunately, falls on me most days) and rests his chilling glare on them. His hand slowly rises to meet with a novelty item of some degree of value and relocates it to the floor. Whether or not the item breaks is unimportant. He just wants you to know he’s there, lurking. He’s already asserting himself at the pathetic age of eight (I’m guessing). A slight chill fills the room at that thought.

 

The eldest son is only slightly composed. He has been getting everything he wants far longer than the other two so why should he have to assert anything other than his stature? He might even help the mother from time to time as a reminder that he was her first. Little does he know that this means absolutely nothing to her. He’s an ungrateful little shit all the same. His superpower is a false sense of entitlement followed by an uncomfortably laughable pouty face. It’s uncomfortable because of the way it works on occasion. This evokes a staggering degree of hatred towards the mother. You really have to fight the urges looming in your now balled fist at this point. They’re only children, you say to yourself. They did not cause bad parenting; they are the consequence of it.

 

And then you lay eyes on the smallest one…

 

Everything in the store belongs to him. Did you know that? It just depends on when he decides that he needs that particular item. The mother at least tries to control this one but it’s a lost cause at this point. You can’t put three Tasmanian devils in a museum and only provide rules for one of them. A baby could tell you how much that does not work but she tries anyway. He locates his item of the day and begins his parade of lunacy. Declaring it as his own, he clutches onto it and proudly displays it for everyone to see. The mother murmurs under her breath for him to put it back but not even her own ears could hear her. I can see it in her deadpan eyes; she’s desperately hoping he’ll get the hint. At this point, I’m beginning to tear my hair out. Once payment is given the woman then has to pry the item from the now screaming mass slumped on the floor as the oldest son is laughing hysterically. The middle son is leaving the area while depositing a pleased grin in my direction and I find myself defeated somehow. The oldest is having a hard time walking out due to his laughter as the mother is now dragging the youngest out of the store by the back of his shirt. He apparently has the incredible gift of stiffening his entire body while still violently flailing his limbs.

 

My eyes scan the aftermath. The devastation is massive. No… horrendous…

 

Hazard pay should be put in effect for times like these.

 

It’s a wondrous thing that the mother still has a heartbeat.

 

If you ever find yourself witnessing this, don’t be alarmed by the sudden onset of exhaustion. It happens to the best of us.

 

A smoke break is required afterwards.

 

Or maybe an alcohol break…

 

Fuck it. I’m clocking out.


Oh, Hello

Hi…

 

How are you?

 

I know… It’s been a while…

 

I haven’t forgotten about you though…

 

I think about you often. Everyday in fact. You are, always, in the back of my mind. My one true affair, my love, my passion, you just wait for me to get over myself and come back to you. You wait, ever so patiently, for that stick to fall out of my ass…

 

It’s a blank computer screen, if you haven’t figured it out, just waiting for me to fill it with words. I have neglected to do so for some time now. I understand your frustration. I feel it as well. Whenever that pity me stick gets stuck up my ass, I find myself constipated with the why me slump followed by the boohoo chaser. Maybe I’m not the only one. Maybe we all go through this… if so, maybe we should start discussing this amongst each other because it feels excruciatingly lonesome when you’re in the thick of it.

 

That all-too-common-but-surprisingly-variant event comes along that makes you realize that everything you believed to be under control is actually flying amok in a hurricane of a shit storm. You suddenly find yourself fumbling for your cool like pepper spray in a dark alley. If you don’t find it, soon, some unsavory stranger might sodomize your feelings and leave them pinned up in their bloodied and bruised state for the world to see. This is the level of shame that we put on our subconscious out of the fear that someone else might get a whiff of our feelings.

 

Was it stressful?

 

Why, yes. Yes it most certainly was.

 

Did you make it to the other side?

 

Actually, I did. Thanks for asking.

 

So, What’s the problem then?

 

 

Nothing, really. I guess that’s the point of any unwelcomed event… to let us know that we can reach the other side if we just continue to move in a forward motion. This “event” wasn’t even anything cataclysmic. It wasn’t even that surprising. It has happened before and I’m sure it will happen again. It wasn’t the “event” that caused my woe but what came afterwards that did.

 

I have taken multiple steps in the recent past to secure a somewhat decent future in the hopes of gaining the magical responsibility of adulthood. (Someone slap me.) I was being a good little grown up. However, when you paint a cow pink and wear it on your head you’re bound to look like an idiot. No, not just an idiot… a fucking idiot. If this blog has taught me anything, it’s that I am the most at peace when I smear my nonsense all up on these computerized pieces of paper.

 

My point is this, I’m twenty nine years old and I still don’t have to slightest clue as to which direction I’m heading in. At the moment, it’s in that direction…

 

Or, maybe, that way…

 

No… that can’t be right…

 

Whichever direction I travel, I’ve come to a comforting conclusion. Yes, we can spend our entire lives trying to figure out who we are but is that really the sole purpose of life? I do not believe so, good sir…or ma’am. I believe that we are who we need to be at different stages in life and when there is nothing left to discover… well, that’s when the life part runs out.

 

So, for the time being, I have removed my pity me stick and now expel backdoor word vomit for your amusement.

 

(Ew)

 

Until my next “event” comes along that makes me question my recent actions, I will be here to stink up the joint with my vapor of unintelligible wisdom.

 

In other words… I’m back, bitches!

 

Goodnight, my loyal few… Until my next spewing session.


It’s My Fucking Birthday, Bitches! (A Shameless Plug)

So… Today is the start of me inching my way towards old… I’m a bit torn about this but not in the way that you would expect…

 

I mean… the bitch in me is taking the reins…

 

But the nerd in me is finding it fucking hilarious…

 

My frame of mind these days?

 

I will strike down your soul into the fiery pits of Hell!

 

…but we’ll give wedgies to everyone we see on the way there, I promise…

 

No… it’s not supposed to make sense… If I’ve learned anything in my, now, twenty-nine years of existence it’s that nothing will make sense. At least, not for very long anyway. Recently, I have turned myself into the most dreaded thing of all, an adult. Yes, I know that none of you saw this coming but I have to come to terms with the fact that it’s true. I am a big girl now and boy does it suck. I mean, I’m completely content but I’m not content with my level of content…ness…

 

With each passing day, I get just a little bit closer to the big three oh which apparently means that the know-it-all teenage whiner inside of me has officially died. It’s about time… I just didn’t think I’d mourn that idiot this much. I’m reaching that age that makes my dreams feel a tiny bit harder to achieve if only because I’m realizing that I can actually achieve them if I kick myself in the ass. I have a corporate job… with benefits… and security… even though my small amount of debt is becoming more suffocating and some security is welcomed, I never thought I’d be here. I always wanted to be bigger than this and more important. I imagined greatness without realizing that something like that won’t just fall into my lap. I’ve had the mindset of being out of place for so long now that I’ve forgotten to notice how much my life has taught me. I’ve pictured myself as being the next Chuck Palahniuk or David Fincher for an embarrassingly long and uneventful time. It’s a mindset that brings nothing but grief.

 

No more say I!

 

The more I embrace my inner nerd, I’ve discovered the things that make me pretty fucking awesome. Yes, I am still a dateless tomboy who spends way too much time with the drama of television and movie characters than actual people, but I’ve finally settled into who I am.

 

And, you know what? It’s mighty fine here. I have experienced many facets of life through my numerous corporate positions in the blue-collar world, which has given me an enormous pool of literary inspirations. My goal of becoming something bigger than this has not changed but it has become more realistic. My twenties were professionally uneventful for me because I allowed them to be. Now, as I head towards my thirties, I will continue to dream big. Enormously big. Gigantic.

 

Because twenty-nine years is a long enough time to learn one simple fact…

 

I ooze with awesome.

 

Even if I’m the only one that sees it, it’s still a fucking fact.


Dear Father

Something amazing happened last month…

 

My dad went to the theater…

 

He hasn’t been in years…

 

Star Wars made it happen…

 

I’ll hold that memory close for years to come.

 

Yes, my dear father, this blog is for you…

 

My dad’s birthday is tomorrow and I decided that the best way that I could commemorate this event is to A) bake him a cake that will resemble a Hostess Ding Dong B) listen to music that makes me think of him (as of this moment the magical tune is Bohemian Rhapsody) and C) spend tomorrow evening eating said Ding Dong cake and watching one of our favorite shows return to television; The X-Files.

 

I have fond memories of The X-Files… I mean, other than my long lasting hopelessly nerdy crush on David Duchovny. My dad, brothers, and I would all gather around the television to watch this (often cheesy… in a good way) science fiction show that we grew to love. Sometimes, it felt as if that was our version of “family time”. We were close at those times without having to say a word. While some people will always have Paris, we will always have the extraterrestrial consumed mind of Mulder.

 

Our connection began there and it only grew over time into the bullshitting beast that it is today. He taught me the inner workings of life. At times, all that required was for him to stand back. He watched, made sure we were okay, and offered guidance when we needed it. We were set in our ways by the time we came to live with him (a hard bargain when it came to our natural stubbornness) but he handled it with a kind of quiet elegance. There were a few bumps along the way but I call myself better for them. He taught me some of the most imperative mannerisms that I have. Although it took me quite a while, his thirst for knowledge has grown inside of me. We talk, debate, and educate each other. I have had many compelling conversations with him, which has blossomed into something philosophically demanding. He taught me to think, not for anyone else but for myself. To have an opinion is to be functional but he gave me lessons in utilizing those opinions with the proper motivations of essential functionality. He turned me into this harsh speaking opinionated woman so, please, take a moment to thank him. Without him, I wouldn’t be able to describe the details of the world’s stupidity and properly examine how I don’t give a fuck. I do carry his simplicity as well. I can appreciate the sound of a piano, a great meal, or the beauty in my surroundings because of him. His mechanisms have fostered my creativity. My dad is the spark of why I am this way and my pride in that fact expands everyday.

 

While my relationship with my dad didn’t start till later in my life, it has grown to become one of the greatest relationships I currently have. He is your typical proud papa with an extra coating of bias but I’m okay with that. I look forward to it. It’s the best hug I receive all day. I find comfort in knowing that even if I didn’t have a single other fan, his fandom makes me the most important person in the world. He is everything that makes up an exceptional father.

 

I love you, dad, with every inch of my heart.


Why The Olive?

Getting ready to climb in bed early this New Year’s, I find myself watching the ball drop in Times Square. What a mess… all that confetti must be a bitch to clean up.

 

Weird how I focus on that part…

 

Anyway, I felt the need to write a little something to start off the coming year.

 

Apparently, this is what comes to mind:

 

On Christmas, a very dear friend of mine stopped by my work and gave me some homemade tamales. (They didn’t stand a chance, those scrumptious little meat pillows. I love tamales. They never stay long in my house.) While eating those delicious morsels of happiness, I came across the lonely little olive tucked inside the middle. Being as I do not like olives of any kind, I simply plucked it out and pushed it aside. Out of the dozen (or two) that I consumed, every single olive ended up in the trash.

 

This got me thinking…

 

Not being familiar with the reasoning behind placing a single olive in the middle of a tamale, I started to ponder its purpose. For those such as myself who dislike olives, it’s almost as if it’s a reminder of how much waste is in my life. That olive is there to bring up all those little things that I’ve done without or thrown away unnecessarily. It’s everything that I’ve walked away from or the opportunities that I never grabbed ahold of. On the contrary, for those who like olives, it seems as if it’s there to tease. It’s the lack of satisfaction or always wanting more. The more I thought about it, the more metaphors invaded my mind…

 

This logic could even expand into other areas beyond food…

 

It marks the pointlessness of excess in every form that drowns us in regret. It’s that extra bite that puts you past a responsible eater, into the realm of a fat kid, and ends up leaving you sick and motionless. It’s the one insult too many when fighting with a loved one, the one purchase too many that maxes out your credit card, or that one drink too many that makes you go home with what’s-his-face. Somehow, the olive started to represent more than just an olive. It meant that we’ve been going a little too far beyond the extravagant into a world of ridiculous. We have relinquished our simplicity to an overwhelming complication that has stemmed from nothing in particular. We used to be able to shrug it off. That extra stroke of eyeliner became a routine. Who cares if we add one more staple, exclamation point, or emoticon? Towards the end, we all became that overeager teenage girl that just cannot stop texting her crush. The worst part is, we stopped caring how desperate it made us look. We got used to the extensions of uselessness. When asked, “Why?” we always responded with, “Why not?”

 

I’m here to offer a different version of that question. I offer a glimpse into the insightful from something so meaningless. This is a chance for us to cut back on the pointless and take back our logic. We will go back to having purpose and reasoning for every action. As an exercise in new beginnings, whenever you feel the need to go one step too far, try asking yourself, “Why the olive?”

 

I have since learned that the single olive in the middle of a tamale is some variation of a lucky or peaceful gesture. It’s a surprise in an already happy package (or, at least, for some). For me, however, it has become so much more. I have finally found a reason for olives to exist.

 

You see, ever since Christmas, whenever a customer comes into my work with a bit of extra snarky in their voice or my daughter repeats a joke just one time too many, the only thought that pops into my head is…

 

…Why The Olive?

 

I hope you take this with you into 2016. Maybe we can start removing the pointlessness in our lives and, in turn, better ourselves. This is me (in the only way I know how) wishing you and everyone you know a happy, healthy, and olive-less New Year.


The Air Feels Free Today

(Yes, this is a personal post about an accomplishment that might not mean much to anyone but myself. And Yes, I am posting it anyway. Regularly scheduled programming will resume momentarily.)

 

After a long pause, I offer this brief celebration:

 

This morning, I submitted my withdrawal from Welfare.

 

I’ve never taken a breath that deep in my life…

 

There are many people out there that would find this completely insignificant. To them, it is my duty as an American to stop using their taxes for my well-being. I have been a lazy, good-for-nothing, money stealing, ingrate for most of my life and it’s about time that I learned my lesson…or so some would say. To those people my reply is this: take that opinion, wad it up in some steel wool, and shove it down that contemptuous throat of yours. Those who know me are very aware of how much of a struggle this has been for me. The constant insecurity of having to ask for help has been overwhelming and, while I know that there are far worse things in the world, it has been a kind of slow torture. Welfare has been that thing clawing at my insides as a beastly reminder of my incompetency. It has held me captive for so long by beating my will to a pulp. I have longed for independence and now, by the force of obligatory dissatisfaction, this tireless (often depressing) battle against my suffocating leash has ended. I have never wanted to settle there. I have always wanted more. That, to me, is my duty as an American.

 

I have fought and worked my bones down to their fibers to get here and while I still do not have much of anything financially, I can now say that I do have my freedom. There is no one monitoring my every move besides myself. I can now wipe my own ass without requiring a reason in writing. The most celebratory part of all of this is the fact that I am the sole physical factor in my victory. While I was extremely lucky (and eternally grateful) for the support I received along the way, nothing I have done was coerced or involuntary in any way. I chose to be here, with a job that I wished never to be at again, a forgotten degree, and a mounting debt. Like every other hard working American, I take a step up the ladder. A slow and excruciating step but a step nonetheless. With the few things that I have accomplished in my life, this feels like a big one. 2015 marks the end of my relationship with the Department of Economic Security. I can now teach my daughter the value of independence and self-reliance, from experience. There is no greater gift than the ability to stand tall. I plan on celebrating this moment today by taking in an even deeper breath of free air…

 

…then I will get back to work at reaching the next step.

 

Sincerely,

This Former Welfare Dependent Single Mother

(It is the small victories that push us forward.)