Thursday, November 6, 2014

Smell-how does it affect your day?

As I type, I smell the acid of fresh ground coffee. Sharp and skunky, it fills my nostrils and wakes me up.

I know once I get to work, the smell will change. Walking into the office I share with six guys, the most noticeable smell is body odor. It wafts from the far right corner of the room, settling somewhere in the middle by my desk.
The smell is J. An obnoxiously privileged white guy, he gets under my skin. The fact that he refuses to bathe or wash his hair regularly just makes me angrier. The smell permeates our shared office and grosses all of out.
Since he started working there, we no longer eat at our desks. His odor nauseates us and taints the taste of our food. Everyone has started wearing cologne to try to mask the odor and to keep it from causing us to stink.

Due to the extreme political correctness at my place of employment, we are not supposed to say a word about it to him.
We brought in a fan to try to eradicate the odor, but he got upset because he doesn't believe in 'artificially blown air'.
We cannot use air fresheners(or disinfect our desks) because he is offended by chemicals.
We cannot prop open the door to let the office air out because he thinks it feels 'oppressive' to work with the door open.

I never knew another persons smell could bother me so much.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What is your most distinct childhood memory?

My most distinct childhood memory is my mother's criticism.

"K, stop talking. Your voice is annoying."
"Stop talking. Nobody cares what you have to say."
"You're so stupid. Why would anyone want to be your friend?"
"You annoy people. That's why nobody likes you."
"You shouldn't eat that. Nobody wants to be friends with a fat girl."
"You need to lose weight. Nobody likes fat people."
"Don't laugh. Your laugh is loud and annoying."
"Please don't sing in the choir. Your voice is horrible."
"Be quiet. Your voice is shrill and annoying, and nobody wants to hear you."
"Nobody likes you because you are fat and loud. I don't know how I ended up with a daughter like you."

Over and over and over. I spent hours trying to figure out why she hated me so much.

From my mother I learned to disappear.

When I stopped eating and talking and tried to take up as little space as possible, she finally liked me. She stopped criticizing me. I tried to be as tiny and quiet as possible so that she would continue to not hate me. I wanted her to like me.

One day she told me she had put on twenty pounds in fifth grade, so her mother had covered the fridge with pictures of cows and pigs and oinked every time my mother opened the door. She told me that her mother was trying to help her become a better person.

After she told me that, I knew why she treated me the way she did....and I stopped trying to make myself disappear.

At 36, I no longer give a damn what she thinks. I eat what I want, say what I want, and laugh loudly and happily whenever I want.

She may not like me, but she respects me.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why do you live where you do? Does it feel like home?

I live in St. Louis City. And I embody more than a few of the stereotypes. I like Imo's pizza, I hate the Cardinals, and I have strong feelings about certain flavors of gooey butter cake.
 I love the free concerts that happen every night in the summertime, the museums, all of the outdoor art. I adore walking down South Grand and hearing four different languages being spoken at once. I love the fancy shops and cluttered sidewalks of the Central West End, even as I bitch about the lack of parking. I love walking The Loop and and seeing the St. Louis Walk of Fame, as cheesy as it is. I'm charmed by the tiny shops and funky houses of Maplewood and will spend hours discussing different types of greens at the Tower Grove farmers market. I could spend days sitting on Cherokee, just watching the art and the anarchists and eating at restaurants where nobody speaks English but me. I've been to every coffee shop in town and have strong opinions about the merits and drawbacks of each one. I enjoy the friendliness of the people here, and how we will jump into conversations(and arguments) with perfect strangers about the weather, the politics, the racial issues, which neighborhood is the best (Shaw!) and the city-county divide.

But I'm not a native. I just moved here nine years ago. I moved here for a job; I planned to just stay a few years and move on. 
The first year was awful. I lived in the suburbs and didn't talk to my neighbors. I spent my weekends planning how I was going to get out, the ways I could get away from this place. I decided to give it three years, then look for jobs in Chicago.

But then I moved into the city and everything changed. Everything. 
For the first time, I understood why people felt so passionately about living in the city. Because I'm one of those people now.

I'm home. And I don't ever plan to leave. 

November Writings, post one

Once again, I will be participating in November Writings, a group that writes 30 blog posts in 30 days.
The first topic is: Interview someone about their best moment of the year. Share what you heard.

September 2014. 5:30 PM

C trudged up the stairs, stopping to grab the pile of mail out of the overflowing mail bin by the door. It was warm and the hallway smelled faintly of onions, probably the remnants of someone's supper. She pushed open the door, shooing the cats away with her foot. Throwing the mail on the table, she happened to glance at the large white envelope on the top.
It was from the college. She froze.

September 2011. 5:30 PM

She walked quickly across campus, hoping to make it to class on time. She had been up since five, teaching all day before heading to the college for her night classes. She sighed and wondered again why she had thought it was a good idea to go to grad school full time while she was still teaching. She was so exhausted and had another five hours to go before she started the long drive home. By the time she got back to the apartment it would be dark.

September 2012. 5:30 PM
She jogged back to her car, hoping to beat rush hour on her way back into the city. Between taking two grad level classes and teaching two sections of freshmen English, she felt as if her entire life was spent on campus. She was glad not to be teaching high schoolers anymore, but money worries kept her up at night. Reaching her car, she grabbed her Whole Foods apron and quickly tied it around her waist before shutting the door and grabbing her sandwich out of her bag. She drove out of the parking lot, chewing on her sandwich and dreading the six hour shift ahead of her. Days like this she wondered why she was still doing this, why she was still chasing a dream that seemed unattainable.

September 2013. 5:30 PM
She walked through the back door of the coffee shop, feeling the rush of warm air across her face. She had a few minutes before her shift started so she pulled out her laptop and tried to spend a few minutes proofreading her thesis. She felt like this paper filled up every waking hour of her life. Weekends were spent at the coffee shop, either working behind the counter for minimum wage, or hunched over her laptop at the back table while she gulped down coffee. The alarm on her phone went off, so she snapped her computer shut and walked behind the counter, still thinking about her research.

September 2014. 5:45 PM.
Sitting down in her favorite chair, she slowly opened the envelope. She slid out a piece of heavy paper and immediately knew what it was.
Three long years.
Hundreds of hours of research.
Long days and late nights.

It was finally here. Her diploma, stating that she had completed a Masters level degree in English rhetoric and composition.
She leaned back in the chair and thought about the times she had doubted herself, the times she wanted to give up. Those days were gone and she finally had proof of her accomplishments.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014



That's my weight right now. It's a nice round number.

It's 25 less than it was a year ago, but that 25 pounds lost has made a tremendous difference in how I feel. 225 feels better to me than 250 did. I have more energy and my pants fit the way I like.

One of the things that I find so fascinating about our society is our obesssion with weight. We talk about dieting, the best foods to make us lose weight, the best times to eat to lose weight. We discuss celebrity diets, friend's diets, diets we read about and try, and diets we wouldn't try for all of the money in the world.

But rarely do we mention the actual number.
Most people don't want anyone to know the actual number.

I have watched my mother diet my entire life. She has turned down more desserts than I can remember, and spent weeks on end eating nothing but fat free turkey sandwiches on fat free(and nutrition free) white bread. She has measured her food, eaten diet dinners galore, and subsisted on diet shakes. She goes to the gym, goes to Weight Watchers, and dutifully writes down every bit eaten into her little blue notebook.

Every family gathering begins with the conversation about who has gained weight, who has lost weight, and what diets they are using. I remember one year where Thanksgiving dinner was fat free turkey slices with lowfat canned gravy(yes, its as disgusting as it sounds), instant mashed potatoes with fake butter, and chunks of baked pumpkin instead of pumpkin pie.
My father took pity on us and took us to Hardees so we could have burgers for Thanksgiving.

The funny thing is this: She still looks exactly the same to me as when she started. Exactly.

She has spent the last 36 years losing and re-gaining the same 30 pounds.

And she has never, ever told anyone what she weighs. The number she obsesses over is a number that nobody will ever know. She's too ashamed to tell anyone the number.

Kinda silly, isn't it?

Monday, September 29, 2014


One of the things I have learned in the past few years is that I really need to write.
It calms me down.
It helps me get my thoughts out.
It helps me process my emotions instead of bottling them up.

But I don't do it. I think about it, I plan to do it, I tell people I'm going to do it....and then I don't do it.
I watch television. I read. I play on the facebook, getting lost in other people's drama.
But I don't write.

So one of the things I've been researching lately(NERD ALERT) is our body's natural cycles, and how our outer environment and inner environment don't match up the way they should.
I've also been reading about cycles of extroversion and introversion and how they relate to our surroundings.

One of the biggest things I've been working on is learning to listen to my body. I tend to disconnect from myself and focus on other people's needs and wants much of the time, so paying attention to myself is scary.
Listening to myself is scary.
Putting my needs first is fucking terrifying.

One of my goals for this winter is to allow my natural cycle of introversion to happen.

Generally my first instinct when the weather gets cold is to spend time outdoors. Alone.
But what I do is socialize and volunteer and go to parties and throw parties and join groups and spend time on social media, all the while wishing I were sitting quietly in a room thinking and writing.

I need to work on this. And I plan to.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Snow! Snow! Snowsnowsnowsnow!!
I'm very excited about the snow. It makes me feel all peaceful and happy inside.