Monday, November 2, 2015

The Antidote to Bullies is Wicked and Doctor Who

Something weird is a foot in my life – I am being bullied. This might sound odd, considering I am almost 30 years old. It’s especially strange because I am one of the lucky few who escaped school age without being bullied.

I understand Glinda on a deep level - glitter and ruffles included. 

Thus, it has been a weird few weeks/months. I have dealt with some overt, mean-spirited comments from a person, particularly about my intelligence and impact on people. These have basically been that I am dumb and annoying, in a nut shell. Completely separate, I have been told I don’t provide value to an organization. Also separate, it’s been communicated that while I am funny and entertaining, I do not provide much beyond that.

OUCH.

Pft.

Rude.

Ouch. I want to joke my way through this, but it has hurt pretty bad. I feel a little like a kicked puppy. I was crying to my husband about it and I asked, “what have I done to make people think I am such a joke?”

And that’s exactly how I feel. I love making people laugh, but not at the cost of my worth. I am not a joke. I am competent and bright and good at what I do. The people who matter in my life know this and speak life in to me. I am lucky that I have an iron clad support system (some who have sworn vengeance through interpretative dance). I realized, however, that not everyone has that, and they completely believe the bullies and the negative comments, and think they do not matter.

And that sucks, because everyone matters. EVERYONE MATTERS. YOU MATTER.

We can be so mean. So many get their value from stepping on others. No matter how many times you’ve been stepped on, or been the stepper, you matter. Everyone is made in the image of God. Everyone has purpose, gifting, heartbreak. You have impacted lives and made a mark on this world, even if you cannot see it. YOU MATTER. We all matter.

It can be hard to believe this, especially when you are hearing differently from mean people. If I’ve learned anything in this season is that bullies know no age or stage of life. It sucks. It hurts real bad, I’m learning that firsthand. But I refuse to let that change how I view my value. Sometimes the anger burns and the tears sting. They can crawl under your skin. You have to be active to push them back out. Don’t let them win. You are not a joke. I am not a joke. YOU MATTER.


This post has been more repetitive than I  meant, but that's what I want to communicate. No one is expendable. No one is disposable. No one is pointless. No matter what the bullies think or say.

People wonder why I love Doctor Who so much. Primarily, it’s because the Doctor gets this concept – take it away Matt Smith!    


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Marriage is the Worst. And the Best.

I was watching Inside Out the other night for the first time. Oh, the feels. THE FEELS. Literally, figuratively, metaphorically, grammatically. ALL THE FEELS. If you haven't seen it, do it. Right now. If it doesn't move you, I'm 97.9% sure you are a gargoyle. You should see someone about that. I could write a whole book on the lessons and beauty of that movie. But, I'll spare you. One small piece I was struck by while watching, in the tide of emotions, was Riley's imaginary boyfriend. It caught my attention, because, yeah, that was totally a thing when I was eleven.

Heck, it's been a thing my whole life. There's never been a time I didn't love boys and the idea of marriage. Not having a family (no pretend babies in my childhood), but a husband. My first boyfriend was in kindergarten and we would blow kisses to each other from our nap towels. Alas, my first love wasn't meant to be.

In elementary school it was boys with cool hair and who were good at kickball. In middle school it was boys who were rebels and smoked cigarettes behind the school. In high school it was mature older guys who had accents and a job. You work at KFC? That'ts the dream!

And, so on. I dated, I had serious relationships, I feel in "love," and through it all I dreamed of being married. I dreamed about getting flowers everyday and being showered with compliments. I dreamed of starlight picnics and cuddling on the couch. Marriage was going to be the epitome of my life, it was THE DREAM (it did evolve at some point past the guy having a job at a chicken fast food restaurant).

And then, when I was 21, I met John. He was tall and handsome, hard-working, and very funny. We started dating, and then we got engaged, and then got married 6 years ago. There were fairy tale moments (I'll write a post sometime about our engagement story, and you will weep from the beauty of it. WEEP, I tell you) and still are. But.... there's been a lot of shit, too.

I always joke that John and I have not taken the rainbow and butterflies approach to marriage, rather the clawing tooth and nail to make it work approach.

There have been struggles from day one. I remember early in our marriage fighting about something. Whatever the topic was it ended with me saying, "fine, just go." John turned to leave. And I threw a role of paper towels. At his head.

He's hurt my feelings. I've used my words as weapons. We've ignored each other's needs. We've isolated from each other. There's been yelling and tears. The paper towels were not the last thing I threw. It has been ugly. Sometimes REAL ugly.

Eleven year-old me would be horrified.

But.

Oh, the lovely but.

It's all been worth it. Cue the cheeeeeeeese!

Every morning John gets up to let the dogs out (did I mention he's good looking, and a saint?) and when he comes back he shoves into my side of the bed, wraps around me, and steals all my stored up warmth.

He worries about my feelings when I've backed my car into his, not worrying about the unnecessary damage I've done.

He follows me around Comic Con, regardless of what insane outfit I'm wearing.

He tells me not to give up when I feel defeated, reminding me of my giftings and success. His encouragement has, at times, propelled me through grad school when I have had nothing left to give.

Why am I writing all this? Partially so everyone can know how great my husband is, because he does not toot his own horn. I encourage through writing and words, so this is a way for me to show love.

There's the obvious point that marriage probably won't look like you thought it would. And for sure not what you thought it would be as a child.

But, the main point is, no one can tell you what marriage should look like. Some people are able to work solely on butterflies and rainbows in their marriage. Some people fight fiercely, and love equally so. Some people have crap communication but show love in other ways. There's no one way to define intimacy. Priorities are different. Growth is different. Pain is different.

Marriage is hard enough figuring it out between two people - we don't need to make it harder by incorporating other people's views of what is right. Basically, you do you.

Marriage is not at all what I expected it would be. It's not what I was told it would be. There is not a rubric I'm grading it on. Marriage, for me, is the unique, wonderful relationship between me and John. It's constantly evolving, it's high and low, it's painful and healing, it reveals God to me and the ugliness of being human. It's our story, in all its complexity and simplicity.




Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What. What? WHAT??


This is a follow up post to this post here - Part 1. You can go back and read it, we'll wait. 

Buckle up, here we go!

Example 4 - Gaps in Your Passport Country's History.

I'm a bright girl. I received a great education, overseas and here for high school. I felt quite ready for college. I was sitting in my very first class, brand new notebook, a multitude of colored pens, the idealistic hopes and dreams that only an 18 year old possesses, when reality hit. My teacher did a quick introduction and hit the ground running. No syllabus day (the blasphemy! Syllabus day is the BEST day!), no ice breakers, just a deluge of information. 

About two minutes into the lecture I realized that everyone else is taking notes and nodding and I'm staring blankly at my teacher. I had no idea what he was saying. He was using words I'd never heard of. 

Articles of Confederation? Nope. Never heard of them. Constitution? I mean, I've heard that word. I think. George Washington? Oh! I know this one! First President! 

Needless to say my total of one year of American History before college did not prepare me for this class. My roommate use to make fun of me because my textbook for that class was highlighted. I mean the whole thing was highlighted. Every word. They wouldn't buy it back at the end of the semester. 

Example 5 - Gaps in Your Passport Country's Food. 

I was three and a half when we first visited the States. My parents, realizing what a shock I was in for, packed a whole suit case of Japanese snacks for me. Smart people, my parents.

(As a note, I do not remember this story, yet being the storyteller I am, shall tell it like I do)

Our first morning at my grandparents' house they served us doughnuts. My grandfather had been horrified to learn I had never had a doughnut and everyone was excited to see my response to my very first chocolate doughnut. 

They placed it in front of me. The excitement was palpable. I stared at the doughnut. I got up and left the table.

Confused silence.

I walked back with something in my hot little hand. Seaweed. It was seaweed. I put it on the chocolate doughnut. The seaweed. On the doughnut. The chocolate doughnut. And I ate it.  

Yes, Shocked Doughnut, it's true. 

Example 6 - Gaps in Your Passport Country's Pop Culture.

I saw most of my movies growing up recorded from American TV on to VHS. I watched Apollo 13 approximately a billion times. And then some. I can't remember what movie I was watching later that also had the line, that many space movies have, "Houston, we have a problem." I was probably around 10 years-old, and I was stunned. Like Shocked Doughnut up there. 

What are the chances that the person at NASA in this movie is also named Houston? There's no way! Hm. There must be a different explanation. Oh! I've got it! It must be the position title, so they always know how to address the person listening. 'The Houston' job. 

Yup. I thought I had it figure out and went on my merry way. For almost a decade longer.

Fast forward, I'm 19 years-old and driving through Houston, Texas and my friend points out the direction NASA is.

"Oh, I didn't know NASA was in Houston."

"Oh."

"Houston." 

"HOUSTON."

"HOUSTON, TEXAS. OH!!!" 
 
"HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM."

Which, apparently is an alarming thing to yell while driving a car. Lesson learned. 

Also, I haven't ever seen any of the Indiana Jones movies

Yes, Shocked Astronaut, it's true. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Post About Growing Up Overseas, and the Hard Road Home; a Tale of Corn Flakes, Tears, and Grandparents

Growing up overseas leads to a variety of weird experiences in your passport country.

Example 1 - the Dreaded Cereal Aisle.

Most families who live overseas have a very set plan for their first day "home." Ours was always Mexican food (bean and cheese burrito for me) and Walmart. We didn't necessarily need anything, but there's something that cries out to be around ALL THOSE OPTIONS. Oh Walmart, like a mirage in the desert. You think it's exactly what you need to embrace being back in America. And a trip to Walmart is a blindingly good example of some of the struggles I'm thinking about.

The below example is not necessarily the first trip to Walmart story, which is a family affair. It's more of the, your mom letting you run into Walmart on your own a few days later story.

You know that scene in the Matrix where Neo is getting guns to rescue Morpheus and there are aisles and aisles flying by, and then they zoom down what seems an infinite aisle? Yeah, going to Walmart and into the cereal aisle for the first time when you get back to the States is exactly like that.


At first you are excited and want ALL THE CEREAL. And then it starts to get a little overwhelming. And then you start crying because your brain is short circuiting about cereal and you choose Corn Flakes because that's the only cereal that looks familiar. You don't even like Corn Flakes. 

Example 2 - Paying for the Cereal. 

You take your sniveling self and your sad box of cereal (you don't get anything else because if you can't pick out cereal, there's no way you are up to facing the horror of shampoo choices yet) to the check out line. At this point all of your senses are being assaulted - it's noisy, crowded, too bright, and too many smells. You start digging around for money.

American money. Sigh. There is nothing quite as tortuous as a handful of coins you don't recognize and a line of fifteen people behind you, while you try to figure out 66 cents in change. 

You: "Sorry, weird question, how would one exactly make 66 cents in change?"

Cashier: blank look. 

You: "Um, hm, sorry. Never mind. Here. These two big ones are 25 cents right? So that's 50? So I just need 16 more?" Hands over 2 quarters. Nailed it.

Cashier: "Um. Yeah."

You: Staring blankly at the rest of the coins in your hand. You know one is five and one is ten. Hands the cashier a nickle. "This must be the ten cents."

Cashier: "No. That's a nickle."

You: "Sure, sure. Sorry, what's a nickle worth?" It deteriorates from there. It almost always ends with you shoving all of the coins at the cashier and running out of the store. Why are dimes so small? Why are they worth more than their giant sibling the nickle? Who named these ridiculous coins? Why can't we just be civilized and refer to them as their worth - "ten cent coin"?

Example 3 - Eating the Cereal. 

There is always that moment when you realize your passport country isn't actually home, in the truest sense of the word. Sometimes it's while you are eating soggy Corn Flakes. Possibly soggy from all of the tears of confusion. Why is everything so hard and different here? Why don't I fit in? Why is this so much work? Why isn't Walmart the answer to all the questions? Why didn't I buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch?

This is a low point. You feel all wonky and off-kilter and full of cardboard and confusion. But then, your grandmother, who before last week you hadn't seen in three years, walks over, and takes your bowl of Corn Flakes away. She hands you half of an old fashioned cake doughnut and an IBC root beer in the bottle. Suddenly, things are much brighter.

Okay, enough sentimentality. Example 4, 5, and 6 will be my next post, and to be honest where the real humor begins. This was all just to set the stage for the horror that involves the Constitution, seaweed, and astronauts. You want to tune in for part 2, I pinky promise. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Personal Tale of Anxiety

Hi, my name is Anna, and I like to make people laugh. I'm upbeat and lighthearted and bringing joy to others through humor is very satisfying to me. Call me for a good time (not in the writing on the bathroom wall kind of way, in the belly laugh and jokes kind of way)!

This is a truthful introduction.

Hi, my name is Anna, and I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, to the point that it sometimes feels debilitating.

This is also a truthful introduction, and it goes on.

There's a healthy level of anxiety, it makes us get things done and think about consequences to our actions. I typically sit one or two notches above that healthy level. Not to where it interferes with my life, but is mildly uncomfortable.

There are times, though, that the anxiety ratchets way up. Sometimes this is a panic attack which is an explosion of agony, a catastrophic amount of internal pain that feels like it is actually  killing you. Sometimes it is the anxiety sitting right around an 8. The problem with this type of anxiety/panic hybrid for me is that I feel like it's the worst of both worlds. Panic attacks, for me, burn bright and hot but flash out fairly quickly. This perpetual level 8 is a long, hard boil that feels like it will have no end.

You are a prisoner in your own mind and body. Your skin is sweaty and chilled at the same time; pieces of it feeling like they are crawling in different directions. You want to pace, you want to curl up in a ball, you want to do anything to stop the building pain. Of course, your chest is tight and your heart beat is doing something weird (mine actually slows down if it's not a full blown panic attack). You can't totally swallow, there's no room for food. Sleep alludes you and you slowly lose your grip on logic. Every thing in your life looks different - why hasn't this person called? what are those people talking about? why do I feel this way, am I sick? The paranoia mounts to a point where your whole world is washed out in places but piercingly bright in others. Everything feels 32 degrees off, and you are fighting as hard as you can to hang on to the ground. You want to cry but there are no tears; everything feels explosive, yet stuck at the same time. It's like you are the big bang, but got frozen three seconds in.

And you have no idea when it will end. It's the moment before the panic attack, but you never get to the full boil, which is great because you don't end up stuck in a laundry basket, but agony because there is no release.

You try everything. Deep breathing, holding ice cubes, stretching, going for a walk, reading something funny, reading the Bible. You ask for help, you tell others. Nothing helps.

Sometimes you are a therapist and in your own therapy and logically you should be able to beat this. You have the tools, you know the techniques, and you have the insight in to your childhood about why you struggle with anxiety. None of it matters. The anxiety grips every one of your cells, you are a prisoner. You are trapped in the catastrophizing of your mind, chewing up and spitting out everything that is good, and in your body because it hurts so bad physically.

Why am I writing this? To be cathartic. To remind myself that it ends. I will get back to my happy 3 or 4. To help those who don't struggle with this to begin to understand. Largely because people don't talk about it. To let others know they aren't alone. It's national suicide prevention month. Many people don't "get" suicide. I don't totally "get" it on a personal level. However, I do  know how it feels to feel like you are no longer a passenger on your own ship, let alone the captain. I know how it feels to stay silent, because your problems feel too big and too unrelatable. I know desperation, the voice screaming in your head, "fix this! Fix this however you can!" I know silence is never the answer.

So, my words to you are, you're not alone. If you struggle with anxiety or depression or OCD or a personality disorder or any number of mental illness. You are not alone. And you are not broken. I have all the tools and training and support I "should" need to not struggle with anxiety. It doesn't matter, mental illness is not always in our control. I know you don't want sympathy or advice, but I do know that I understand on some level. You are not alone. You are worth fighting for. Your flavor of crazy is not too much for me.  

Hi, my name is Anna, and I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, to the point that it sometimes feels debilitating. But that's not the entirety or the end of my story, and it doesn't have to be yours either.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Woes of Resting Nice Face

There has been a lot of media attention raising awareness of a condition called RBF (that means Resting Bitch Face, mom and dad [sorry for swearing mom and dad {my parents are half my readership, I own it}]) recently. This just basically means that your face looks angry all the time, regardless of feelings. The struggle is real, or so I hear. I have no idea because I suffer from a very different affliction - RNF, Resting Nice Face. I have a round face, pronounced apple cheeks, endearing dimples, and huge anime eyes:



What can I say, I'm adorable, mostly because I have a raging case of RNF. Let me illustrate. When people look at me they see:

via (and, yes, I know, it's a stuffed animal)

When really I feel like so:


There are many disconcerting impacts of RNF. Like, people don't take you seriously: "Oh sweetie, that's cute but let's let the big kids brainstorm." You get called sweetie a lot. People think you are naive, "ear muffs? I'm 28 years-old and you want me to cover my ears? I'll tell you where to put your ear muffs." Sometimes you even get pulled in, "wait a minute. Why am I covering my ears?"

However, it is the, as I call it, Trifecta of Awful, that is the worst part of RNF.

Part 1 - The Assumption: Everyone thinks you're nice. For my RBF brethren/sisteren, the opposite is true. They often have the conversation of:

Other Person: "OMG I thought you hated me, you seemed so mean!"

RBF Person: "No, that's just my face. I'm actually 97% pixie dust."

I, on the other hand, always hear:

Other Person: "OMG I think you are so nice, you seem so wonderful!"

Here's the catch. You can't say, "No, that's just my face. I'm actually 97% angst, judgement, and disdain." So, you just nod and smile (because you are always smiling) and die a little inside.

Part 2 - The Talking: Since everyone thinks you're nice, they think you want to talk about all the things, hear all the secrets, and braid each others' hair all the time. The things I've heard.

What I say: "oh yeah, great, awesome, wonderful, fantastic." What I'm thinking: "who are you? No, seriously, who are you? Is this real life? You do know we've never met, right?"

Part 3 - The Touching: Since they believe you are nice and they've already told you their life story, you are obviously BFFFFFFFFFFFFs, so of course you need to hug it out.

NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.

How I feel (and I swear the face I make):


What people obviously see:


There is little I hate more than being touched. If you ever need to torture me for information, just bear hug me and I'll sing like a canary in about 10 seconds. There is also nothing RNF communicates more than, "Hi! I love you! You should come hug me, pat me, squeeze my arm, or rub my head so that I know how much you love me too!" 

That is never what I mean. Ever. 

What is your resting face? Is it accurate? Does it get you in trouble?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

International Travel Explained by Mean Girls

I just got back from a life-changing, wonderful trip to Ireland and Scotland, so I'm tired and pinning. Tired because the return travel part of international travel is pretty much the worst. Fun fact, we went through security eight times on this trip. And by fun, I mean I can probably sue someone now for x-ray poisoning. Pinning because I love being in foreign countries, and coming back to reality is a rude awakening. I want to be frolicking in the Scottish Highlands, drinking drams of whisky in pubs, and petting dodgy livestock on the side of the road, NOT reading books about assessments and studying for comps. All though, let's be honest, I've read one chapter today and spent three hours looking for jobs in Scotland and reading about visas to live in the UK. Which is, discouraging, to say the least. Let me love you United Kingdom!

I have spent my whole life traveling, and I love it. However, no matter how many trips you've been on, there's always things to learn. This go round I have decided to sum up my life lessons in Mean Girls' quotes, because I'm jet legged and procrastinating.

1. "Don't let the haters stop you from doing your thang." 


Fundamental to any trip is that you do what you want, the end. We traveled with another couple, Princess Consuela and her husband, Not Crap Bag (on the chance you don't watch Friends, I decided against calling him Crap Bag since people would misconstrue that). PC just wanted to see native wild animals. Now, the puffins did allude us, aholes, but we had a chance to pet Highland cows. And she did it with gusto. It was one of the highlights of her trip, and if she had been trying to be cool or something ridiculous like that, she would have missed out. Instead, it was adorable.

PC and Hilda (yes, I know, using a pseudonym is dumb when you put the person's picture on your blog, but they're so fun. Stop hating, I'm going to do my thang)

PC and Augustus. Perfection.

Travelling is not the time to be too cool for school, you'll regret it. 


2. "Is butter a carb?" 


Any foreign country you go to, no matter how much in common it has with your home country, is going to have food that you do not have in any shape at home. For example, Scotland makes sausage out of oats and cow blood. Fun fact, this blood is taken from a cow while it's still alive, they're tapped like kegs. And who hasn't heard of haggis? Lamb intestines, chopped up and stuffed in to the stomach. I'll admit, it sounds horrifying, but we tried it. And I thought it wasn't bad!

Granted, my face here is not a resounding endorsement, but that's just my face. 

Also just my face. 

You don't go to a foreign country to continue your normal life. It is for adventure and disruption of the tedious norm, eating cray cray food is  part of that. 

3. "She doesn't even go here."


You're a tourist. You will not fool anyone to the contrary, so stop trying. Embrace it.

If you want to pretend to be Nessie at Loch Ness, awesome. 

Fake duels at Tom Riddle's grave, fantastic.

Have fun, sometimes at the cost of your dignity. I dare you. 

4. "I can't help it that I'm so popular."


This goes along with the last point, and possibly contrary to the first one. I don't really care, it's my list. Often times you will read blogs or reviews that poo poo famous sites; "it's so over done," "you are so typical if you do this," "you only experience the country if you hike to the top of this mountain and brew your own coffee." Getting off the beaten path, that's great and leads to fun experiences. That said, famous places are famous for a reason. They are often the things that leave the deepest impression. Go to them if you want, don't avoid them just because everyone does it.

Cliffs of Moher, millions of visitors a year. Best part of our trip to Ireland.

Titanic Belfast. Fairly cheesy, but I can say I stood where the Titanic was built, which is mind boggling. 

Get off the beaten path, but don't be afraid to go to landmarks. They didn't become landmarks by being boring.

5. "You can't sit with us!" 


On our final flight yesterday, 3 of 3, we were sitting in the first row of economy with a birds eye view of first class. Also, right by the economy bathrooms. Three times people from first class came back to economy to use our bathroom. 

"You have everything, free booze, comfy seats, weirdly obliging flight attendants, and your own dang bathrooms. There's 20 of you, and hundreds of us. Leave our bathroom alone. You con't come back here. YOU CAN'T SIT WITH US!"

This was my thought process every time. I was tired and possibly delusional, because the return trip is always hard and tiring. You've used all your energy adventuring and are not looking forward to returning to reality. The return trip stinks. Always. Accept it, this to shall pass. 


If you're lucky, you'll have a friend who documents everything. 


Monday, August 10, 2015

The Grittiness of Marriage

(disclaimer: this is not a serious post. Well. Depending on your feelings about bananas, it's very serious. I will be writing seriously about marriage at some point, so don't be deterred if you feel catfished by my title, come back next time!)

Texting conversation between my husband and me while I was at internship last week:

Me: "I need you to find my banana suit."

John: "Time frame?"

Me: "Twenty-five minutes."

John: "That's a fast time frame."

Me: "Yeah."

John: "Are we going out tonight?" (it was a Wednesday at 9pm)

Me: "Yes. To a banana themed club."

John: "What am I going to wear?"

Me: "Banana Hammock."

John: " :( I don't have one."

Me: "Well, you have to stay home then."

John: "We could stop at the store."

Me: "Hah. But seriously. I need my banana suit."

What can I say, we just work.

Now, some of you may be asking, "Anna, why did you need banana suit on a random Wednesday night?" And, let's be honest, many of you aren't asking that because it's me and you're just saying, "sure."

I had gotten a text saying someone was very blue and needed cheering up. This was my solution (I share this knowing full well how horrifying I look, yet, you can't help but laugh):



Monday, July 20, 2015

Public Indecency

I study at a Starbucks that has an abnormal amount of odd shenanigans go down on a regular bases. I was there this past Sunday, staring blankly at my computer, trying to start a paper, when the oddest of them all happened.

I looked up when the door opened and came eye to eye with the scariest woman I've ever seen in my life. This is saying a lot as I regularly attend Comic Con. There was something about the combination of her intense hawk like features, day-glo make-up, and witch like (complete with corset and multi layer black skirt) attire that made me look away rapidly. However, I couldn't keep my eyes away, it was like a train wreck. Or a voodoo curse. I covertly watched this fascinating woman and her husband interact, which involved a lot of yelling on her part and a lot of ignoring and phone playing on his.

Suddenly, the door flew open and I was corrected because now the scariest woman in the world had just walked in. Like Yzma scary.


ACK. I mean. It's like I got a picture (which I tried to do for reals, but then decided it wasn't worth risking my life). 

Judging from the similar, shaking-in-my-boots inducing facial features and almost identical cobwebby attire the mother of the first woman had just joined us. 

She. Was. Terrifying. 

If I though there was yelling before, I was incorrect. The daughter is obviously early on in her shrill, bossy training.

At this point, the two women were conversing (or declaring war it was hard to tell) and the son-in-law/husband came back over with Frappuccinos for everyone. Smart man. Sugar, chocolate, that's always a solid approach to peace keeping. Or so we both woefully, wrongfully thought.



Not-Yzma: "What's this, Kronk?" (Fine, she didn't say Kronk, but I practically felt it)

Son-in-law: "A Frappuccino. I thought you'd like it, it's good."

Not-Yzma: "I wanted coffee."

Son-in-law: "Oh, I think it is coffee, it's just really sweet."

Not-Yzma: "You think it's coffee?" Takes a sip. "Pah! This is not coffee, I wanted coffee."

And then. And then.... and then, I kid you not, she threw the Frappuccino on the ground. The whole thing. KA-PLOW. With the vigor of a 1,000 angry hornets. 

I think all of the air was sucked out of the room when we all gasped (obviously I hadn't been the only one watching). 

And, I cannot tell a lie, her scary doppelganger just kept filling her nails, nor did Yzma or Kronk realize all of the oxygen has been sucked out of the room. This is obviously a common coping skill.  

At this point I realize I'm not even a little bit covering up the fact that I'm watching the spectacle, eyes wide, mouth hanging open and all, so I scramble to busy myself on my computer before I get caught in the cross fire of crazy.

The son-in-law is hurrying to get something to clean up the mess when the other daughter (or so I can guess from the eyes filled with mild insanity) shows up and drops her four children off and leaves.

A few minutes later and total chaos is reigning. The first woman is loudly watching a music video on her phone, the mother is yelling at the oldest child, the son-in-law is trying to help clean, the two youngest are running around like pin balls, and the fourth child is hiding under my table.

I leaned down and said, "I don't blame you. Stay as long as you'd like."

What's the weirdest thing that's happened to you in a public place? 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

That Time I Cried for 1,004 Miles - a Tale of Reverse Culture Shock

When I was twenty years-old, I went to India for the summer. The day I came back was a day that still serves as a shining example of my international traveling prowess, a testament to the fact that I have spent my whole life roaming around the world. And by that I mean, it was a catastrophe, but a catastrophe that can be used as a funny story, as well as a good illustration.

It had been three months since I left bright eyed and bushy tailed. You would not think three months would be long enough to enact reverse culture shock, but it was.

"What's reverse culture shock?" Glad you asked! (Caveat: this answer is just my opinion).

We all know what culture shock is. You are in a new country, you feel bad about being unintentionally insulting with your shoes, you are pretty certain you just ate dog, and are positive you are about to die in a fiery traffic accident. It's equal parts exciting and overwhelming. And, oh, that magical feeling when you have your first moment of getting it right or feeling competent. The taxi took you to the right place! The food delivered is what you ordered! Glorious.

But, then you go "home." The place you have never had to work hard at interacting with and doing life is natural. It does not cross your mind that reentry will be hard. You are just excited to eat Taco Bell and stand in the shampoo aisle at Target. But... it's hard. Really hard. You feel uncomfortable and you miss your new "home." You feel overwhelmed with how life is done. Why are there so many shampoo options? Why does community operate so differently? Why is this hard?

It sucks. Home isn't suppose to be hard. What the crap.

Side note, I am not talking about super long term work here. I was raised in Eastern Asia and was told my whole life that the United States was my home. I went home for the first time when I was four, and didn't quite get it. But I am also not Japanese, so I never quite fit there either. My favorite illustration is (which I can't take credit for) that my "home" country (my parents' country of origin) is red, the country I was raised in is blue, so I'm purple. Purple does not completely match blue or red, so there is no one place that I feel totally comfortable. Reverse culture shock is EXTREMELY relevant to my story and other third culture kids (and adults), but it is more expected. Many people can relate to crying in the cereal aisle of Walmart because there's too many options and staring at a cashier because you have no idea how to count out 72 cents of change. It is NOT as expected if you are gone for 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, which is where this story comes in.

SO! To set the scene. My flight leaving India left at midnight and was 15 hours long. I do not sleep on planes, so when I land in Chicago, I am TIRED. When I started my trip I was excited to go home. When I get off the plane I feel drained and confused.

I start tearing up pretty much right away. SO MUCH SKIN. India is very conservative, especially the part I was in, and I felt brazen just showing my hair. I can see butt cheeks! Why is everyone so nekkid?? ACK.

Mental pep talk. It's fine. I know shorts are fine. It's all goooooood. You got this. Skin is just skin. 

I then get in line to go through customs. While I was in India, I learned to stash toilet paper in my purse whenever we found it, because that is not a given. My purse had four large side pockets, and all four were searched by the customs official. All four were full of pink toilet paper. I stood there while he slowly pulled out approximately seventeen roles of toilet paper.

Ziiippppp. Pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull.

Ziiippppp. Pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull.

Ziiippppp. Pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull.

Ziiippppp. Pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull pull.

About twenty minutes later I look at him over the mountain of toilet paper, still on the verge of tears, and start stuffing it back into my purse. There's really nothing I can say to explain why I have so much TP.

I wander off to the food court, with a trail of pink toilet paper, and go straight to McDonalds. I have been dreaming of a cheeseburger for three months. Burger, burger, burger, burger. All I want is a burger. If I eat a burger, it will be okay. BURGER BURGER BURGER.

"Sorry miss, it's 6:30 in the morning. We aren't serving cheeseburgers."

I. Lose. It. I start crying. No. I start weeping and wailing and gnashing my teeth. I'm snorting and shaking and dripping everywhere. Everyone is staring. I start pulling my pink toilet paper out of my purse to try and sop up all the fluids. I sit on the floor. I don't think the Chicago airport food court has ever known silence like that which surrounded me.

I take my armful of TP and go to my gate, sobbing the whole way. I get on the plane, swollen eyes, still crying. I weep the WHOLE plane ride. I'm sitting by two very uncomfortable preteens, poor kids.
I still have tears streaming down my face when my parents pick me up, go home, and cry myself to sleep.

Reverse culture shock. It's a bitch.

The plus side is it alleviates. You tell your story, until people are ready to put you back on a plane. You get to Taco Bell. Or get a McDonald's cheeseburger. You feel more like the old you. But, the beautiful thing is, the new you and the old you becoming one. You are still who you were, but you are changed for the better. Traveling is so enriching, especially when you can go for more than a few weeks. But, oh, beware of how deeply you'll be impacted. For the good, for the bad, for all the toilet paper.

Have you experienced reverse culture shock? What was it like for you?


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I'm Aggressive with my Love. And my Dance Moves.

There's a trendy song on the radio right now (I love me some trendy radio) that has the lyrics, "shut up and dance." As someone who thinks that a five second dance party is the solution to most pressing problems, these lyrics move me.

Abba also moves me, to the point that a cruise boat full of people once felt moved to cheer for me, but that's another story for another day. Combine Abba and a five second dance party, and I might be out of a job.

My serious dance skills aside, I've recently been convicted of something important, and yes, it all ties together with dancing in my kooky brain. 

I was having my end of semester review at one of my internship sites and my supervisor told me that I had one major area of growth. GAH. My anxiety riddled brain immediately jumped to the conclusion that my one growth area must be ALL THE THINGS (come back Allie Brosh, we miss you!). In an amazing showing of anxiety dexterity, by the time he finished his sentence I already had figured out my plan B plan because obviously I was getting kicked out. 

I'll quit my job and live in my nest, because obviously I'm not fit for civilized society, and if I never go out then I'll never spend money so it's fine that I'm inherently a bum and can't do anything right and maybe people will come up with some good story about whatever happened to me, like, "I bet she ran away to join the circus and she's the bearded woman," I guess plan C can be to join the circus and become the bearded woman, I can buy a fake beard, no one will know, but hopefully that nest plan works out because I never want to show my face again THE SHAME THE SHAME ::mental gasp::

Spoiler. I didn't get kicked out. My area of growth was giving myself credit and acknowledging that I am a good counselor. Eeeeeesh. 

Some context. I was the type of kid who often did things my own way (which most of the time was the against the rules way), and I was frequently in trouble. BUT, my parents rarely had to worry about punishment for me, because I am my own worst critic. Who needs to give a lecture when your child already covered all the bases?

Example A: I was in trouble, rightfully so I can only assume, and was sent to my room. My mom and grandmother were talking in the kitchen and my mom smelled something funky. She asked my grandmother, "does something smelled spoiled?" And I yelled from my room, in a miserable voice, "IT'S ME!"

You're welcome Mom and Dad, for doing your job for you. And sorry I was such a little ahole. 

So, obviously, giving myself credit is for sure, a growth area.

I've used this blog before to talk about my intense dislike of shame. I realized as I was talking to my supervisor that there is more to this battle I feel compelled to fight than just speaking against shame. And that is promoting pride and general hullabalooing about the good things.

I need to shut up and dance.

It's not enough to just stop the negative talk, to speak against the bullies, to fight the good fight, I need to own who I am, feel inspired by how I am made, and engage in general celebratory rump shaking. 

I am a good counselor. Heck, one day, I might be great counselor. SHA POW. 

As many of you know, I've had a tough couple years. This semester things got real bad physically for me which waterfalled in to all the areas. I had to dig deep just to get out of bed in the morning, because I felt so crappy. I felt like a complete fraud in the counseling room, because I wasn't even sure if my shoes matched. My supervisor has told me, things have significantly improved since then, that he was worried I was going to quit because he could tell how bad things were for me. 

But I didn't. And, I still was an effective counselor. The moral of the story is that even when I am forced to operate on autopilot, I can do good therapy. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and part of that make up is empathetic listening, genuine caring, and appropriate insight, I was made to be a counselor. Too dramatic?

Sure, it's hard to write. My negative self talk wants to add all the buts (seriously, shoes are hard), but that doesn't change the facts. I have talents and skills and God is using me. KA BAM.

So my challenge to you. What is amazing about you? What can you say with no buts? What about yourself makes you want to crow like Peter Pan? What makes you make generic comic book noises?

It may not be your career, it might a hobby, a talent, a skill. There is something spectacular about you and you should yell it from the roof tops! And by roof tops, in this particular situation, I mean leave it in the comments. What better place to start practicing loving who you are and how you were made but the anonymity of the internets? YOU'RE WELCOME. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On a Scale from Jane Fonda to the Grim Reaper, How Tired Are You??

I'm in the final (ish) stretch of graduate school, which is incredibly exciting. And exhausting. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to keel over before December. It's going to be just like Rocky, but if he had finally been knocked out in the 14th round. Very anti-climactic. 

Just kidding (knock on wood). I can TOTALLY do this. I've got guts! I've got drive! I've got Netflix!

All of this reflecting on how tired and metaphorically beat up I feel led to me creating the below "chart" ("chart," and not chart because I need everyone to be like Peter Pan and just believe it is in chart form, not a random list of crap).   

I give you the Anna Smith, "How Tired Are You?" scale!

1. The Jane Fonda
This is when your energy knows no bounds. Academy Awards? Sure, get a couple of those. Write a book? No problemo. Break your foot doing ballet? I guess you'll just make work out videos instead. A force to be reckoned with. People around you automatically drop a few levels on the scale, just tiring from watching you. 

2. The Mountain Summit:

Also known as the second wind. You're actually tired, but you've accomplished something that makes you forget. Who cares if you have blisters and stinky socks, you're king of the mountain, mountain, mountain, mountain!!! 

3. The Post-Vacation Haze: 

Theoretically, vacation is suppose to be restorative. In reality, you are often sunburned and overwhelmed with laundry. You can still call up the glow of the Bahamian beaches, but it's rapidly eclipsed by reality. 

4. The Thursdays:
You may be surprised that this level is not "The Mondays," but deep down we all know Thursdays are actually harder and more tiring. You've put in the time and you've fought the good fight, where is your reward? How is it only Thursday? And why does your brain insist on thinking it's Friday and jolting back to the sad reality that is Thursday? You're out of gas, but you have to dig deep still to make it to the weekend.

5. The Youth Group Lock In:
Don't be fooled bu the cutesy lock in this picture. Level 5 is when the struggle really begins to get real. There's nothing like staying up all night making sure kids don't sneak off to get in to shenanigans and then trying to serve breakfast to said squirrely kids on no sleep. The kids get to leave and crash, and you are left picking up the pieces of the church and your sanity. The tears might start at hour 30.  

6. The Public Temper Tantrum:
We've all been there. You're standing in Target staring at two bottles of bargain shampoo, not remembering what shampoo is for or when you picked up the two bottles, and your friend asks what you want to do dinner. You're exhaustion clouds anything but your ability to cry and scream random existential questions, "who cares what's for dinner when I can't even remember my middle name? I'm so tired!! Why do you hate me?? Why is the world so mean?? WAHHHHHH!!!"

7. The Black Hole:
Forget screaming and crying, you feel nothing. All your nervendings have been burned off by the tired and nothing is left. Wherever you land, you'll probably grow roots. People can talk and interact around you, but it is highly unlikely you'll notice. Your eyeballs are dry and unseeing, like your soul. 

8. The Road Kill:
You're so tired at this point that it's not just the will to fight is gone, it's been forcible taken from you. Life came hard and took no prisoners. Everything hurts in ways you've never known, but the plus side is you don't care at all, as long as you can lay on the side of the road. 

9. The Graduate Student:

Any combination of the above, often resulting in panic, distress, and fist shaking. For a shining moment you think you are at a 1 and suddenly you are at a 6, crying at the grocery store. You think for sure you will be at an 8 for the rest of your life, but then the semester ends and you are victorious at 2, then the next semester starts and, nope, you're a 7 for sure.  

10. The Grim Reaper:
Your bones are made of dust, there is no more blood flow, your skin is going to crawl off your body any second, your cells have gone on strike. There are no words for this tired, just groans and other sad noises. They could stick you in a haunted house and not need a sound machine. Or a zombie, because you don't need a costume to blend in. 

What level are you at right now? Any levels I missed?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Disney Saves Me From Homicide

There are days that are so good and my mood is so high that I feel like if I burst into song and dance everyone around me will join in, because things are just THAT good.

There are other days, like today, where I am in the middle of horrifying cleanse because I've recently found out my list off food allergies is longer than things that irritate me about Justin Bieber and I feel like shaking my fist at everything.

Regardless of the type of day, I have a pet peeve that makes me twitch and fume. Today, because of the a fore mentioned, sad soup cleanse, it is grating worse than usual.

Whether in class or a staff meeting or any other professional/educational/meeting setting, I HATE when people talk just to hear their own voice.

I am hear to learn. From the professor. Who knows way more than you. Your fifth comment of the day is just derailing us. AGAIN.

I am hear to get through this. To please my pompous boss. Who thinks he knows more than us. Your fifth comment of the day is just derailing us. AGAIN.

So, to keep myself from flinging myself at someone in a desperate bid to end their yapping, ala Mean Girls the mall/watering hole scene, I decided to start classifying these mouth flappers by Disney sidekicks.*

*I use a variety of sidekicks, all of whom I think are wonderful. The use of them in this classification system is not a reflection on their positive qualities.

The hops is that this changes my thoughts from, "SHUT UP. NO ONE IS IMPRESSED WITH YOU. YOU ARE NO CONTRIBUTING ANYTHING. RARRRRRRRRRR!!!!" to "oh you silly, squawking  Scuttle, you sure are loud."

The Condescending Cogsworth: 


We all know this one. They feel the need to share their opinion because it is so much better than anything else anyone has said or will ever said. Tell tale signs are the false questioning tone "I'm wondering if anyone has ever..." and the expectant, thoughtful pause at the end. While there is nothing inherently obvious about the Cogsworth, you will know if you are dealing with one because you will feel the instant need to defend against whatever they are saying.

The Gregarious Genie:


This to me is the most tolerable over-sharer, because the main goal is to get a laugh and they are often successful. Evident by their boisterous laugh and well planned punch lines, they can be entertaining but the impact of a distracted class is the same as the other sidekicks.*

*I'm totally guilty of being the Gregarious Genie. I am working on it! 

The Oblivious Olaf:


You know you are dealing with an Oblivious Olaf when their comments illicit a resounding, uncomfortable silence in the room. Can I get a big group, "huh?" Bonus: if they think their comment is witty and laugh at themselves with no one else joining in, yet they are not bothered at all. You have to admire how comfortable they are in their own skin.  

The Irate Iago:


I sometimes feel bad for the Irate Iago. They are often commenting from a genuine place of anger or disagreement, but the way it is handled often leaves crickets chirping. I don't think we should blindly agree with everything people in authority say to us, but I'm all for appropriate tone and timing. The Iago just loses it and squawks all over.  

The Zealous Zazu:


What's the right answer in Sunday school, always? Jesus. Don't get me wrong, I do think Jesus is the answer to everything, BUT this sidekick uses this like a weapon to get out of hard thoughts. These comments seem to come from a place of discomfort with the subject matter and are intentionally used to derail a conversation. I have only run into this one at Seminary, so far, but there many topics people are zealous about, to the determinant of hearing others.   

What Sidekicks do you have in your life? What creative ways do you handle stress?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Yes, All the Awkward, the Finale, Part 3


PART 2

Before I delve in to the thrilling conclusion of my awkward adventures, I wanted to share some feedback I have received from the first 2 parts. And let's be honest, we all know how this story is going to end - me shriveling up into a tiny ball internally and turning into stone externally. I'm surprised I didn't need to be wheeled off the bus.

Things that have been mentioned in regards to my awkwardness:


Painfully awkward Rob Lowe! If only when I wasn't painfully awkward my life was as swanky as his commercials show his to be!


The only time I'm like my favorite pony, Fluttershy, is when we make this face. 


Post-Hulk Bruce Banner. 

And just for fun:


There's totally an episode where Fluttershy Hulks out. Also, when you Google "Flutteryshy Hulk" you can apparently find Fanfcition based on this pairing.... what. That's. Weird. And anatomically confusing.

This is really getting away from me, so let's progress.

There I am hanging out with Switchfoot on their tour bus before their concert. My eyes bulging, which is scary because I can have some seriously huge eyes, my limbs are shrinking into my body like a t-rex, and I have no capabilities of speech.

Nothing has changed around me except now, I'm dying. 

I mean, I'm wearing a unicorn t-shirt. Actually dying. 

Luckily, as soon as the video ended the band was told they needed to make their way backstage for the show. They said their goodbyes, I said something along the lines of "nefghhhhblegh." We all walked inside, I'm sweating profusely in my white puffy jacket, brain fritzing. My cousin and I walk to main area, watch the awesome concert, and that should have been the end. No harm, no foul. 

But of course not. I wasn't humiliated enough!

As we were walking out, I confessed to my cousin that I had no idea that we were with Switchfoot that whole time and I'm so embarrassed at my naivety.

She asked me what I would have done differently if I had known (she's a counselor) and I said I probably would have asked for their autograph or something. She suggested I go ask them now, all on my own, working on my timidity. 

I gather my courage. I am cool. I can play this off. I am well spoken.

Deep shuttering breath.

I knock on the tour bus door.

I'm so nervous there aren't words. I might vomit. 

"Yes?" Keyboardist. He's like in the back, no big deal!

"WE MET EARLIER AND I HAD NO IDEA WHO YOU GUYS WERE BECAUSE I LIVED OVERSEAS AND UNDER A ROCK AND MY T-SHIRT HAS A UNICORN AND I AM REALLY SORRY YOU AREN'T FAMOUS ENOUGH IN MY LIFE FOR ME TO KNOW YOUR FACES BUT CAN I GET YOUR AUTOGRAPH BECAUSE YOU ARE FAMOUS AND I DID THIS ALL WRONG?!"

"Uh. Sure. What would you like us to sign?" They're really nice guys, I could barely tell they were trying not to laugh.

"Oh. Um. I didn't think that far."

They ended up signing my ticket stub. It's lovely.       

What's your most embarrassing encounter with someone famous?


 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Painfully Awkward, Part 2

Let's recap! (and I have a correction) (Part 1 is the last post)

Upon reflection, on the day I met my not future husband, it was not the first week of class. So I was just late and lazy, not lost.

This is important for me to clarify because I really did put effort in to my appearance when I started school. By the time of this story, we were well in to fall, and I did not care, especially in the morning.

How did I realize this timing mistake? My dear Roomie asked me if I was wearing shoes during this encounter.

The answer was no, I was not. I went through a ridiculous, idealistic college phase where I didn't wear shoes as some kind of absurd protest against poverty and shoeless children. Some idea about being barefoot in solidarity, or something. I was a hipster before hipster was thing. And I had really tough feet.

So, there I am. On the path. Bare foot. I am wearing sweatpants that I had hacked the bottoms off to make them into long, ragged shorts and a bright red Old Navy polar fleece. I have not done my hair or make up, and as it is morning, I am rocking my legendary bed head.

LEGENDARY

I am a hot mess, without any of the hot and extra mess. I am a mess mess. 

And there he is. Jeremy Wariner. In all his glory. Walking towards me in the blinding sunlight. I'm fairly sure there was a heavenly choir in the background. 

And I stand there, frozen solid, looking a mess mess, jaw hanging open. I just stop walking, moving, and thinking. Like a really smelly statue.

And he keeps walking towards me. And then he's smirking. And as I continued not to move at all, he is outright laughing. And then he is right in front of me.

Did I move? Make a cute joke and scrape my rats nest out of my face? Jump out of the way? Anything? No. Nothing. I am made of humiliated stone. 

My not future husband then has to step on to the grass to go around me, howling with laughter. He continues on his way, and that is that. A while later, I turn around and go back to my dorm. I had strong rules about not going to class (am I sick? do I have something due in another class that isn't done? is there something more fun to do? is it raining? am I dying of humiliation? No class).

One more story, for your entertainment.

This one took place when I was fourteen. I was newly back in the United States, complete with significant gap in pop culture knowledge. 

My cousin's friend was the stage manager for Switchfoot, an up and coming band (this was right at the beginning of "The Beautiful Letdown" era). She asked me if I would like to go with her to their concert. 

My first American concert (Amy Grant doesn't count, but man, her Heart in Motion tour was spot on, I don't care who you are) with my cool older cousin?! YES.

I was pumped. I wore my fancy unicorn t-shirt.... puberty was tough on me. 

We met the friend at Starbucks and then he asked if we wanted to see the tour bus.

Uh. Yeah.

We get on the bus and there are other people on the bus, other staff and little people, etc. 

We're all hanging out laughing, everyone is so nice! I'm so cool! Living in the United States is a breeze! I've got this!

Someone asks if we want to see the new music video. 

Uh. Yeah.

 PAUSE: Remember that gap in pop culture? I had no idea who Switchfoot was, other than they were cool and famous. 

We sit down at the back of the bus to watch and as it plays I realize something. 

These aren't little people. They aren't staff. They're the people in the music video.

 I'm hanging out with Switchfoot. 

 TO BE CONTINUED