Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dear Diary

I have kept journals all of my adult life and had done so through almost all of my teens.  I never thought of "keeping a diary" as a way to expunge my secrets, but there is some credence to the argument that people who get out their guilt on paper tend to be healthier.

The human brain is pretty fascinating.  It makes it possible for us to compartmentalize things that we are not yet able to handle.  It is like those thoughts and experiences go into cold storage.  When we're ready to deal with them, we know where they are.  The problem is avoidance and denial.  It's not that we can't deal with certain things, it's that we simply are not willing to.  We procrastinate on things that we think will be too painful, not realizing that bottling it all up is hurting us far more.

For many of us, writing resolves that problem.  It is a hell of a lot harder to admit your guilt over something out loud to another person than when you write it to yourself, for yourself, and have power over what happens to that piece of writing next.  There have been times when writing about a particularly painful incident helped me to understand that the only thing I could do was let it go and move on.  And those pieces of writing can get tossed, shredded or burnt to cinders immediately.  I never have to look at them again.

We all get hurt by the people we love and we don't always know what issues they have that contribute to their behavior towards us.  Writing about these things has helped me to understand something simple - that I don't understand why some people are the way they are.  That I may never understand that.  That I have no power over that.  Sometimes the only choices you have are to accept it, and love them unconditionally, or just walk away.  They aren't pretty options.  When you're dealing with relationships of any kind, things get complicated.  Being able to unravel some of that mystery on paper has helped me keep my sanity.

My point with all this is that being able to handle some of life's more interesting moments on my own has helped me to be not only a happier person, but a better friend.  I am far more capable of being a shoulder to cry on when I have dealt with my own crap.  And when I do lean on a friend, they no longer feel like that's all I ever do.  I suppose I've found balance.

All even-keel would be a boring way to lead a life and I am certainly made for rougher seas.  I think of writing every day in a journal as the best way to maintain my sea legs. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Old Habits

I honestly don't know where to start, so that's what I'm starting with.  Nothing prolific, quotable, inspirational - just hopping back in.

BlogHer's NaBloPoMo signup email for January went out this week and, although I still don't feel like writing or know what to say on here, I know I'll regret letting this go any longer.  No matter how much an artist loves their art, there are dry spells.  Successful bloggers work through them at all costs.  I admire that, very much, but this was never really a business enterprise.  As much as I love writing and I really enjoy blogging, I never aspired to be the next Pioneer Woman or get on staff at HuffPo.  While this keeps me from feeling like a complete and utter failure, I still don't want to let LostGirls fade away.

This started with me, but it was always meant to be a collaboration.  And despite having all these people in my life who would probably love to have their voice heard on here, I haven't been making the effort.  For god's sake, I haven't even asked.  So the lack of my writing isn't the only problem I have to solve.  I have to get other people involved again.  I hope Meg and Mary, possibly even Seth, will want to stay involved, but I really want other voices on here, too.  I have so many great conversations with people, especially people much younger than me, and I'd really like to share them with you.  Not the conversations - the people.  They have so much to say, but they're not necessarily going to sit down and create a blog to say it.  So I guess my New Year's resolution will be to motivate myself and others to be a part of this site again.

I hope you'll bear with me here - when you've had writer's block and you've allowed it to stay a while, there is a period of time when the new writing ain't that great.  Another resolution for me is to allow myself shorter pieces.  This isn't Tumblr, so I don't feel like we should only have short posts.  But I recognize that I need to mix it up a bit.  And that not every post has to have a picture.  If we manage to simplify without losing meaning, maybe we can get a post per day on here.

So here's to the short and sweet.  And to New Year's resolutions that we actually intend to keep.

- Jess

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Subtlety or Subterfuge?

While I admire subtlety and diplomacy in people, when possible, I view it more as trickery when it comes to a media publication.  What am I on about?  Well, I recently discovered a magazine (it will remain unnamed only because I have no intention of giving them free advertising) which I believe to be a bit deceptive.  And I find that deception downright creepy.

Darling: the popular form of address used in speaking to a member of the opposite sex whose name you cannot at the moment remember. - Oliver Herford

I may not ever decide to pick up a copy of, say, Garden and Gun, but I am glad to know quickly what they're about.  Then there are magazines like Lucky Peach - you may not know by the title that it's a foodie magazine written by some well-known chefs, but you don't need to look past the cover of any issue to understand its basic premise.

The first things that bothers me is the idea of creating a magazine that claims to be a lot of things, but buries a major part of its own agenda.  I do not know if the intention is to deceive, but when a magazine is created to target young women and nothing said or shown on the cover hints at one of its most basic aims...well, it feels a bit like luring people in under false pretenses.

Modesty: the gentle art of enhancing your charm by pretending not to be aware of it. - Oliver Herford

The discovery of this magazine, for me, comes at a time when I am first hearing all about the "anti-feminist movement."  Really disheartening.  Even disturbing.  And I'll be writing about that in a separate post - but I realize that I may be more sensitive to this type of possible deviousness put into print because I'm realizing just how many women think that feminism isn't necessary.  Or, worse, some sort of evil.

I fear a magazine that hides the agenda of bringing women back into an age when virtue and modesty were their most important attributes is likely to be poisonous to the generation of girls in this country who are now entering into womanhood.  I would prefer they learn Caitlin Moran's version of how to be a woman over someone else's idea of it being an art that one must  not only learn, but practice in order to be accepted/loved/whatnot.  I fear this.  I am actually frightened for this generation.

So if you're looking for a magazine to pass the time and you aren't interested in a feminist publication, let me start you out with a few recommendations:


Mental Floss will trick you into learning things by being hilarious and downright interesting.

Lucky Peach will broaden your understanding of food culture and the writing is excellent.

Psychology Today is another cerebral gem and not as fuddy-duddy as it might sound.

I have mixed feelings about the alternative women's magazine Bust, but not about editor Debbie Stoller (the creator of Stitch 'n Bitch).

And if you're looking for high fashion and exceptional interviews, the UK's Lula may be pricey, but is said to be well worth it.





Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Define "Peaceful"

"Repent or perish..."

"Flee from the wrath to come..."

"Turn from your sin..."

"Fear him who has power to cast you into hell..."

These were the words that greeted the crowd prior to the start of this year's Seattle Pride on Sunday.  While this group of Christians did lead a non-violent protest (and I've certainly heard worse), can you imagine?

Imagine how disappointing it must have been to show up for an event that celebrates people being who they are, without shame...  Only to be told first thing that you should fear, you should be ashamed and, of course, that you're going to hell.  These are not peaceful words.  They are filled with fear and rage, anger and discontent.  There is not an ounce of tolerance therein.  And even whispered quietly, it is almost too loud to bear.

One of my friends cried during the parade, but it wasn't because of that first religious group.  It was when she saw the groups of Christians marching in the parade.  This was not only a show of tolerance -- she felt loved and was moved to tears.

The next time that someone turns up the volume on their hate, please remember that love can be hard to hear over all that negativity.  It is quiet and peaceful.  Gentle, but persistent.  

Love is not loud.  But that does not make it less.



Special thanks to Jenn for inspiring me today.



Saturday, May 24, 2014

Throwaways


When I was much younger and dealing with the demise of certain relationships (whether friendship or more), I  always rid myself of any reminders.  Love letters and notes passed in class went into the trash.  Tokens of affection, too.  There have been times when I stopped listening to a certain artist or album because the connection was too dear for a while.  I always had a tendency to dwell on things and the last thing I needed was a sensory clue sitting around, just waiting to be rediscovered.
I realized this week that some things shouldn't be thrown out.  I may not want them around, but...ah, here is the point where you might think that I want to look on them again someday and perhaps I'll bury them in the yard or put them in storage till I'm ready, but no...

Gifts that once had special meaning, but have since gone sour, can be used to create new memories...for someone else.  Earrings I once loved to wear and was always complimented on (to which I'd reply, "Oh, so-and-so bought them for me," will look even better on a particularly stylish co-worker of mine.  A jumprope with foxes on it is an adorable decoration, but another co-worker's daughter appreciated it far more than I ever could.  And a much coveted canvas bag can finally be uncoveted, once I track that one guy down who told me he was going to steal it someday.

Sure, I could have just donated these items.  But I wanted to part with them on good terms.  And what could be better than surprising someone else with them?  Each recipient knows why I  don't want the items around anymore.  And they appreciate that I was thoughtful enough to find new owners for things I once held dear.  And now I'll remember them as Sabrina's earrings, Elizabeth's foxy jumprope and Samson's canvas bag from San Francisco.  So much better.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Losing It and NaBloPoMo

So I decided not to sign up for NaBloPoMo via BlogHer for the months of April and May.  Which isn't to say that I don't desperately need to stick with writing regularly or that it isn't a great tool - it's actually been amazing to be a part of it.  Unfortunately, I failed to keep up with it in March due to training for a new job and a wealth of overtime.  Excuses, excuses, though - I simply couldn't keep up with everything the way I wanted to and it just gets harder the longer you leave things.

So instead of participating by putting my posts up there, I've been participating by continuing to read the posts that other bloggers put up on the site.  The diversity in writing styles and subjects is inspiring.  Many of these bloggers have supported me, even though LostGirls has been hit or miss with posting.

And because I know that it's only going to keep getting harder and my writing will continue to suffer the longer I wait, I will be signing up for June.  And doing everything I can to make it, and LostGirls, work.

In other news, I found myself thinking of a shop I wanted to go to today, then realized that it's several thousand miles away in Virginia.  I've now lived in the Seattle area for about a year and I still have flashes of other places I've lived.  And yet, I revel in the fact that I live here.  I don't recall having been happier anywhere else, yes, even in winter.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When and Where

Today's prompt from NaBloPoMo on BlogHer: When or where do you feel most like yourself?

While I do tend to prefer staying at home when I'm not working, it's when I'm traveling that I feel most like myself.  I get so into the experience that I don't think about how others see me as much.  Not that I spend too much time thinking about that, but I have my self-conscious moments and/or times when I'm trying to behave (at work, mostly).  When I travel, I'm just doing and going and enjoying every moment just as I am.  I don't pause to think about being comfortable on my couch at home, I just want to get out and do things and see what I can, while I can (meaning, while I don't have to worry about being at work the next day, running errands, doing chores, etcetera).

Monday, March 3, 2014

Voices in My Head

Today's writing prompt:

How is your writing voice like you?  How does your writing voice differ from you?

I have always been told that I write exactly the way that I talk to people.  I take that as a compliment, since I'm guessing it means my writing isn't stilted or dry.  But I do think I'm a hell of a lot funnier and weirder in person.  I also edit the heck out of my writing for this blog, because it's not just about me.  Which I know is a funny thing to say what with this month's NaBloPoMo theme being SELF.

The Theme of SELF

I've been focusing on travel posts lately, in preparation for my Spring trip to Italy.  However, I am trying to recommit to NaBloPoMo via BlogHer for March and the theme is Self.  So, on days when there are prompts available, I'll try to write about me.  That should really be the easiest thing to write about...right?  Well, this was actually kind of hard and I felt like I was looking back on every time I've worked a retail job and had to say one interesting thing about myself at orientation.

Tell us five interesting things about yourself:

1.  I worked as a 911 Dispatcher for six months.  I was top in my class for all the tests, but it turned out I just do not have the personality for that job.  Evidenced by the fact that I did a lot of crying in my car after shifts.

2.  People always think I'm at least ten years younger than I actually am when they meet me.  I can't decide if it's thanks to having oily skin all my life (few wrinkles) or if I'm just obviously quite immature.

3.  Before going to Italy to visit Mary a few years ago, I'd never been out of the continental United States.  Which is precisely why some of my travel posts this month will be interviews with other women who are much better traveled than I.

4.  I was the only female in three generations born to my dad's side of the family (the side I grew up with).  Luckily, one of my cousins and his wife recently started the fourth generations with a baby girl!  Thank you, Paloma, for joining my previously one-woman sisterhood.  Cousinhood?  Sure.

5.  I have a tattoo on my right shoulder blade, but that isn't the interesting part.  It's the fact that I always forget that I have a tattoo there until someone else notices it (on the rare occasion that I wear a tank top).  And I'm always surprised.  ((sigh))


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hometown Happenings and Hipsters

I've barely been in the Seattle area a year and am still trying to keep my head above water financially (moves are expensive and I have had far too many).  So I haven't had the kind of time or resources I'd hoped for to really go exploring.  However, working in a pretty social environment has garnered me some great recommendations for places to eat and drink.  While my friend Jenn introduced me to many fabulous Seattle locations, it's nice to finally have information about Renton, where I'm actually residing (about 20 minutes from downtown Seattle).

So what to do if you don't have anything in common with your co-workers, you're new to the area and you desperately want to get out to great places?  There's an app for that...actually, there are quite a few.  Here are the ones I've recently tried:

Circle:  Local news and events from people in your community.  The push notifications have been interesting lately: an update on human skeletal remains found in a neighboring county vying for my attention against an ultimate frisbee meetup.  Yeah, it's diverse.  But I honestly don't look at it that often and quite a lot of the posts aren't interesting to me (some read like Facebook status updates, but from people I don't know, which isn't my cup of tea).  Still a decent resource and worth checking out, especially if you're wanting to make friends by going to events like that ultimate frisbee match I mentioned or, say, a bonfire.  No, really.  

Applauze:  This is a great app if you want to be in the know about concerts and be able to link up with friends through an app.  It also allows you to buy tickets immediately without hidden charges.  Better for those interested in E-tickets, but keep in mind that all sales are final.  For someone like me, it's more about getting updated on events.  Make sure you're in one of the 25 cities they currently offer events in.


 

Scoutmob:  This is the newest to me, but also my favorite.  I have my favorite nail polish company, Julep, to thank for this one.  They've teamed up with Scoutmob and Women's Health for a shopping spree giveaway.  The pictures of small-batch cosmetics on the giveaway page drew me in, but it's the free mobile app that won me over.  From the main site you can sign up for one of 13 cities to "go local" in.  Lucky for me, Seattle is one of them (as Julep is Seattle-based, that's no surprise).  Scoutmob offers mobile deals at boutiques and eateries in the Seattle area, a section where you can shop for locally-made goods, local events, etc.  But my favorite part of the app, admittedly, is the "curiosities" section, which has random weird facts about the city.  For example, I've been lucky enough to go to Salumi twice since I moved here (thank you, Jessica I. and Marcus) and would recommend it to anyone and everyone who visits.  I knew that Mario Batali's parents co-owned it, but I didn't know this:
"The first Italian food import store in Seattle was opened in 1903 by the grandfather of Salumi Artisan Cured Meats cofounder, Armandino Batali."  
But you may prefer weird over random facts, like this one:
"If you're in Everett, please refrain from displaying hypnotized people in a store window.  It's illegal.  Don't let it happen again."
Scoutmob definitely has more to offer than the other apps, but it does go in more of a hipster vein.  Which makes it not as accessible to the majority...although there sure are lot of hipsters here!  And I don't mean anything bad by that, as they usually know the best places to eat, drink and shop, in my opinion.

 


Friday, February 28, 2014

DIY First Aid Travel Kit

I try really hard to not pack absolutely everything, but I also believe in being prepared.  With the weather getting warmer here, I just overhauled my at-home first aid kit - checking for expired product and making sure I'm not running out of anything.  This time around I had to pick up bandages, sterile gauze pads, antiobiotic ointment (Neosporin), gauze tape and Mylanta (always a part of my kit).  It also put me in mind to create my own first aid kit for travel.

While I've always brought a few things with me, I've never really sat down to figure out what I should be taking.  Obviously, I won't have room for a complete kit, but I can take the basics with me for planes, trains and (road trips in) automobiles.  Here is what I put in my kit and why:

Neo To Go spray protects against infection with a bit of pain relief.  It doesn't sting or require touching the wound.  And while it does have to go in my TSA baggie, I have plenty of room for it thanks to my obsession with solid products.  A couple of antiseptic wipes go into the kit because sometimes you need to clean up a bit.  I also pack a travel sized tube of Neo To Go ointment in my checked bag if I'm going to have scrapes from my adventures to treat while on the road (as it were).  Or...because I'm paranoid.

       

While my prescriptions have to travel in their pharmacy bottles (when you go through customs, this makes life easier), I use teensy Ezy-Dose disposable pill pouches to carry a few Aleve, Aspirin and Excedrin Migraine in my kit.  This way I can carefully label them and they don't take up much room.
For blister prevention, I have a few squares of Moleskin and Julep Doublestep Foot Treatment Stick (Band-Aid makes something similar) in my checked bag, but that's more about prevention.  For treating a blister on the go, I always keep a few Band-Aid Activ-Flex bandages on me. They're thin, flexible and waterproof. 


I also take a couple each of various bandages for knuckles, toes, fingers, etcetera, in addition to your basic small, medium and large sizes.  And I only get the sheer, waterproof kind.

In my on-plane beauty kit, I always carry a few things to hydrate and soothe, but you may choose to put them in your First Aid Kit instead.

My favorite eye drops are by Rohto.  Amazon doesn't have the ones I got, but your local drugstore probably will.  The key is to find eye drops that will hydrate and little else.


I recently tried saline nasal gel to prevent dryness and really liked the one I picked up by Ayr, since it has aloe in it.  I've read some frequent travelers' raves about lining the inside of their nose with this kind of gel for hydration (which, in turn, is said to help prevent catching something on the plane).  Make sure to bring a few cotton swabs for application.

While you can't pack for all possible accidents, you should pack for the kind of adventures you have  planned.  If you think a pack of steri-strips are a wise investment, then those should be in your kit.  If you're like my dad and think sticking nasal gel into that particular cavity is just plain weird, then consider investing in a spray.  No matter what you bring, make sure it's only enough to fill a quart size bag.  That way you won't overpack and regret the loss of space.


With a bevy of bandages, wipes and packets of ointment, the Coleman All Purpose First Aid Tin is great for road trips, camping and hiking, as well as kind of adorable.  However, you'd have to remove the safety pins and razors for a plane trip.  Either way, I honestly think it's better to raid your own at-home kit and create a travel version tailored to your needs.  Will you be walking a lot?  Hiking?  Likely to get bitten by bugs?  Think ahead and plan accordingly.



In other news, I've just realized that my quart-size, TSA-approved bag o' liquids will only contain 4 things: travel antiseptic spray, nasal gel, eye drops and my greatest savior: a small spritzer of toner water to rehydrate my skin.  That's not enough to fill the bag, so I'm pretty pleased!

And now for you guys - do you bring a first aid kit with you when you travel?  Is it a pre-made one or DIY?  What do you make sure always goes in it?