Optimism

Ten things I like about my new life in my new little town:

  1. The hummingbirds that visit my feeder every day
  2. Living by myself. The following things are now perfectly acceptable: sleeping on the couch instead of my bed, doing the dishes naked, drinking straight from the bottle, watching always sunny at 8 am. It’s all good when you can’t possibly bother anyone.
  3. Living on a mountain
  4. Feeling somewhat productive (since I am getting my master’s)
  5. Being able to hear cows mooing from my porch
  6. Having my own office space
  7. Cooking and baking lots
  8. The main landscaping here is overflowing greenery
  9. My mom & boyfriend send me lots of magazines, so I am always excited to check the mail
  10. I get to dress business-casual a few times per week
Advertisements

*************

In “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, Holly Golightly seeks to find/create a place in the world that makes her feel the same fulfilled and happy way that Tiffany’s does. I have often found myself empathizing with her as I go grocery shopping. There is something about grocery shopping that feels so equalizing. All people need food. All people enjoy creating things. We’re all putting forth effort to feed ourselves and loved ones and help them become healthy and happy. Even though it’s not a particularly exciting place, I just love it.

After this weekend, I am making two additions to my list of places which I wish I could bottle up in a pill and take one daily for forever: aquariums, and rock climbing gyms. I got to do 2/3 yesterday (no grocery shopping) and I am still on a little high from it. Rock climbing is the perfect amount of challenging where I can complete enough routes to make it not frustrating, but there are plenty of difficult routes that I can’t complete, so that I’m never bored. There is always a next goal to achieve, even for highly experienced climbers. I also love the environment- I am convinced climbers are the nicest collective athletic group (they will cheer for you if you do the easiest route in the whole gym. I’ve never met a snobby climber). I know the college I am attending next fall will have a climbing gym, so I am praying its a nice one! If something makes me this happy, I really should prioritize it and do it more often. PLUS jumping off tall things is simply good, wholesome fun. I believe it is impossible to worry about school or work or anything while one is climbing up a wall.

Also, at the aquarium, I got to pet a whole freaking fever of stingrays!!! They are the most carefree, funny, beautiful little creatures in the world. I’d love to see them in the wild someday.

Ah, simple joys. Such a nice weekend.

Tattoo’s

I have a tattoo on my rib cage that I have regretted since the minute it was engraved into my skin. The tattoo is an arrow pointing upward. I have always hated it for a multitude of reasons, one of which is that I undoubtedly got it as a way of telling my ex boyfriend “I’m super cool and edgy and doing fine without you” when I was a wee 18-year-old with bad judgment, both in boys and decision making. I had seen a picture of an arrow earlier that day,  thought “yeah that looks cool” and then BAM four hours later had it tattooed on me. That was it. So now I’m stuck with this stupid reminder of how many mistakes I made at that point of my life. At the time, I had just been broken up with by this loser douchebag, failed out of my first semester of college, my dad and I had a bad relationship, my older sister wasn’t talking to anyone in my family, I had stopped leaving bed or eating, and suicidal thoughts were not strangers to me. Looking back, it’s hard to believe the person writing this had let herself stoop so low. So, who the heck wants to have a permanent reminder of their worst days on their body?? Nobody! Definitely not me.

Today, however, I had a new thought on it. It’s kind of neat, how I got a tattoo of an upward-shooting arrow at my lowest point in life.  It wasn’t planned, of course, but my life has only improved since those days. I’m being published, graduated with honors, and could not find a more respectful boy to date. My family is getting along better than ever. Although I still have my bad days, I am all-around doing infinitely better than ever before.

Maybe instead of having it removed, I can look at it and think “hey, that’s a reminder that my life never has to be low ever again, and I can always be moving upward.”

Basically, I have a pretty top-shelf life. And I should be nice to my tattoo.

 

///

 

“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.”

I absolutely love this. Telling oneself  “I am not enough.” is an excuse to not give your best and have huge, fearless goals that will ultimately better the world, all the while being masked by altruistic modesty. In actuality,  self-loathing is anything but altruistic.

I fall into this, often, especially in social situations. I tell myself I’m not good enough to make friends. If I picture the world where I am happiest, it involves me in a cabin on top of a mountain in the Alps with a stack of books and a rum and coke and no one within 20 miles of myself. Why? Because talking to people and making friends terrifies me. I feel so inadequate that the whole experience of going to parties and meeting people feels like being held at gunpoint. I get so damn nervous. But of course, living as a recluse would only serve myself. Pope Francis has even said that it is unchristian to not know your neighbors. Whether or not I like it, I know it’s important to make friends, be friendly to coworkers, and say hi to passing strangers. There are plenty of people in society who are feared like the plague (homeless people, young single mothers, etc) and benefit greatly by simply being acknowledged and spoken to. For others, a friend is immensely helpful during stressful times. In order to do the most good for the world, I need to have friends, and before I can do that, I need to possess confidence.

Striving for confidence isn’t a self-serving desire to feel sexy and powerful. Rather, it’s the desire to STOP thinking about myself so often. By telling myself I am so much more awkward and unlikable than other people, I am essentially telling myself that I’m really special and different. Which isn’t true. All humans experience similar emotions, insecurities, and desires. I’m not horribly special. I’m just a person. Just like everyone else. I want to get to a place where when I talk to someone I am only thinking of them and their needs instead of obsessing over my own insecurities. I believe the first step is just telling myself that currently, I am enough.

 

Now, to talk about sex

As a religious person, I hit patches where I feel guiltier about sex than other times. I do think it’s morally wrong and I find it to be a copout when Christian people claim that God is all on board with their banging strangers because I think he’s pretty clear about promiscuous sex being on the list of “do-not-do’s.” (If you’re not familiar with this, I’m fairly certain the majority of college students hold this belief).

However, I do have sex with my male boyfriend. Lots of sex. Kind of weird sex, super-definitely-weird sex, or vanilla sex, depending on the day. We’re exclusive, we have been dating a long time, it makes him happy, it makes me feel close to him, and we use birth control AND condoms. Altogether, I feel like it’s a pretty reasonable decision to have sex with him.

Which brings me to something I feel much less comfortable with: my attraction to females.

As a 21-year-old, I’ve had about the same amount of sexual experiences with females as your typical high school sophomore boy. Picture him as a socially awkward, extra sweaty sophomore boy and it’ll give you an even better idea.

I am unsure if I am so inexperienced because I feel guilty about my attraction or if it’s due to the fact that I never sought out the opportunity to have those sorts of experiences (although the two are likely not unrelated). Additionally, I have friends who would be pretty uncomfortable with the idea that I like women. I don’t entirely blame them, because sleepovers and sharing hotel beds with me is about equivalent to sharing them with a straight male (which they also wouldn’t be comfortable with).

I also tend to not tell people I am attracted to women because I don’t feel that my sex life is their business. Why should they know I like women any more than they should know that I like to put things up my boyfriend’s butt (which they forsure do not need to know about).

Even as I’m writing this, I realized I haven’t actually said the word “bisexual,” only “attracted to women,” like it’s simply a fetish.

But it’s not a fetish. It’s a very real part of me, present since I was 13, but the only person who knows the extent of my attraction is my boyfriend.

Since I will soon be moving to a new place, where I will meet new friends, I am considering using the term “bisexual” to describe myself openly. That way I’m not forced to have an awkward coming-out-thing two years through our friendship when they accidentally see the search history on my computer.

On the contrary, I am also considering not doing this because, as I stated before, it’s not really any of their concern. Also, since I have a boyfriend, I likely won’t be fulfilling my desire for women anytime soon. Although the latter point is not completely off the table since he is a very understanding person who would be comfortable with me hooking up with a woman (under certain parameters).

Truthfully, I am unsure how I should approach this, but the idea that I could own my sexuality is exciting to me.

God/Religion/the Meaning of Life and the Universe

I had a marijuana-induced realization the other day. What’s more interesting than my realization is that I was even smoking to begin with, since that’s only ever happened a wee handful of times. Ever since I got into graduate school I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself and as a result, been letting a little loose (LOL that taking three puffs of marijuana is letting loose for me).

Anyway, as for my realization: First, I realized that no one I was smoking with has a faith in God that impacts their life in a significant way. Second, I realized that I currently also do not have a faith in God that impacts my life in a significant way.

It’s hard to say I’ve ever had a particularly strong faith, mostly because I was raised in an environment which did not foster a strong belief in God. I did, however, go to a catholic high school which made my connection to God much stronger than ever before. I absolutely adored the way my teachers spoke about God and what their rationale was for God’s existence. It was purely logical, based on reason and not emotion.

However, even when my faith was at my strongest and I was going to weekly mass, it was still a struggle. I (still to this day) feel the urge to insult God while praying. Here is an example prayer:

“Hello God, it’s Velvet. I was just thinking that my sister could really use some support right now, so I should pray for it. I don’t know that you’ll do anything. Or that you’re listening. You might not be. Probably aren’t. But I’d rather be safe than sorry. Shit. Sorry. I shouldn’t say this right now. Anyways please help my sister. Thanks.”

So clearly, I’m not great at faith. When I lay out all the philosophies surrounding the debate between atheism versus deism, I consistently arrive at deism. Logically, I know I believe in a god. I do. What’s hard is actually having faith in that God.

I’ve noticed my cycle of faith looks something like this: trying-failing-trying-giving up for 6 months-trying again-failing. I’ve been attempting for quite some time to figure out the personal trends that impact when I try and when I give up on having a relationship with God.

Which takes us back to my weed-night. I realized I don’t try when my life is going well. When I am happy, when I am getting good grades and my family is happy, I simply don’t feel like putting in the effort. Because, as it turns out, maintaining a relationship with God is a lot of work.

Conversely, I also struggle with my faith when I commit lots of sinful acts, likely from the cognitive dissonance it creates within me. Basically, the only time I pursue a meaningful relationship with God is when I am at a dull normal.

Religion is much too much work to ever be a crutch for me. Religion makes me uncomfortable. It’s difficult and complicated and, at times, kind of stressful. I hope that identifying that I have a self-centered cycle for maintaining a relationship with God will help me to keep trying to pray and read the Bible and attend mass. Because truly, how can someone *kind of* believe that there’s an all-knowing, all-powerful creature whose hand was in all acts of creation. If I’m going to have faith, I want to do it right.

Celeb shout-out post: A Short Manifesto on Sick Leave as it Pertains to Worker’s Rights by Sebastian

 

The following essay will address the foundational ideological flaws surrounding the lack of paid sick leave in the US. Currently, if a worker shows to up to work sick, the employer is legally allowed to send them home without pay. This is wrong for multiple reasons. First, sick days are typically awarded in high paying jobs. It is to the lower class that a lack of sick days usually pertains to. This demographic is already struggling for money, and not allowing them to earn money because of an illness is especially discriminatory. If a low-income worker is not allowed to earn money due to their illness, it makes the financial responsibility of medical bills even more daunting. What this system usually amounts to is a large number of employees coming to work ill- and then spreading their illness to fellow employees. Not awarding sick leave affects whole institutions through this cycle of illness-sharing. Imagine a struggling mother or father living month-to-month to pay the bills coming down with the flu. This person would understandably feel obligated to come to work to earn money to buy groceries and clothes, despite the risk of spreading a potentially fatal disease to others in their work place. This temptation would be eliminated if sick leave were to be legally mandatory to allot to each worker. Moreover, the opportunity to take time to heal from an illness should not be a luxury for only the middle and upper class, but a fundamental human right afforded to all.

“Humbled”

Lily Zacharias

A few weeks ago, I sat down with my laptop and go-to study playlist and began my first ever practice GRE exam. I was THAT jerk in high school who never even looked at an ACT prep book, yet rolled into the test and got a score I never dreamed of being able to get, so naturally I was pretty confident in my abilities to whip out a killer score with minimum effort. I finished the test under time and excitedly clicked “View my Score.”

So…I viewed my score. My incredibly, painfully low score. Ouch.

There I was: my ego crushed, my spirits low, my stomach craving ice cream. I went into the test expecting the absolute best, and left feeling utterly embarrassed that I thought I could conquer the GRE in one unprepared shot. In a word, I was humbled.

Which brings me to what this is really about:

There are three words that I absolutely abhor seeing on…

View original post 535 more words

Stephanie

Do you know where I’d go to find solace?

I had a certain spot in the upstairs bathroom (our bathroom)

I’d curl up where the dark oak of the cabinet met the chipped white paint of the bedroom door

Underneath my body- still covered in baby fat- was the fluffy navy rug Memaw bought us

I think I always cried more than you did

I’d cover my ears and sing to myself.

Every few minutes I’d slowly take my hands away from my face like a frightened snail poking its head out of its shell to see if it’s safe

If it wasn’t, I’d snap my hands up to my ears again before I’d hear voices long enough to understand them

I was so scared of listening because I didn’t want to create memories for my mind to play over and over. (Truthfully, it worked. I don’t remember much of what was said.)

After it was through, when I’d finally see you walk (crawl?) up the stairs, I’d usually just be pissed at you for letting this happen again (It wasn’t your fault)

Well, that’s if I was even allowed to see you.

I know it affects you still. And I’m so sorry.

I think about it, too.

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.” -Kurt Vonnegut

With the words of the lovely Mr. Kurt Vonnegut in mind, I will proceed with my first experience blogging. I hope this blog will be a free space for me to express myself without judgment (from myself or readers), which is why I am choosing to do it anonymously. I will try not to worry about it being good, or pretty, or profound, or terribly well-written, rather simply an outlet for art to freely exist in open space.

Introductions ought to come next. My name is (for the purposes of this blog) Velvet. My real name is not Velvet. My real name is short, and generic, and practical. But blogging seems to be none of those things. Blogging is verbose and entertaining and artful. And insomuch that I am trying to think of my life as more of an art and less of a documentary, I shall think of my blogging-self as Velvet, for the material velvet’s impractical yet beautiful characteristics.

I am graduating with an undergraduate degree in psychology this week. I will be undergoing a Master’s program in clinical psychology come fall. I have two siblings, both female. I am an Aunt to a lovely little niece. I have two parents, two best friends, and one boyfriend.  I try to run fairly often. I like to bake. I like all sorts of music. I have roughly a billion other interests and characteristics which I am sure will come out in time.

I plan on blogging a good bit from now on, and I hope my thoughts and feelings provide some entertainment for you.