Why are we, as a society of women living in some sort of allegedly post-feminist era, obsessed with a website that makes us all feel so inadequate and so much like worthless shit to the point that we need a variety of bloggers and blog posts and other human women making fun of said website to make us feel NORMAL? Why am I?

Oh, because it's an excellent way to kill time at work and to drum up a healthy serving of self-loathing, which we all know I'm all about.


We do a lot of "projects."

What's the meaning of life? Working? Writing? Reading? Education? Self betterment? Compassion?

It doesn't matter. I guess the meaning of life is not being too bored and fat and lazy.

So I like the projects.

Creighton works on cars. He likes playing with the tools, getting dirty and hot and sweaty and putting the cars up on these horrifying cheap jack stands I don't trust because they make these awful noises like the car is just going to roll over on top of me at any given second. I imagine severed arms and trips to the hospital. Yesterday he did an oil change on his Nissan Versa. The Nissan Versa is basically the shittiest most basic vehicle money can buy. But he hit 60,000 miles and the manufacturer tells you you have to do all this shit when you hit certain mileage marks. You probably should do it, just like you maybe should get your oil changed every three months and change your contacts every two weeks. But I don’t. I wait three, four weeks until my contacts are super uncomfortable, and I drive my car for a few thousand miles over 3,000 before I go in for an oil change. I’m convinced these dumb schedules are just another way for them to ensure that you pay for shit. So I try to test the limits of that. But the oil change, that was needed. Lots of road trips recently, and way past the mark. He tried to jump over the pan of old car oil he had drained and got it all over his jeans. Black oil doesn’t come out of jeans very well. Thankfully they were old jeans. It also soaked the toolbox. Oil’s such a bitch to clean up because of the whole not-mixing-with-water thing.

I made pickles. I like canning, Brian and I took a canning class in Greenwood and made a couple batches of different stuff — strawberry preserves, apple jelly, pickles, relish. I still have some of it. I need to figure out what I’m going to do with our tomatoes. But it’s a fun pastime even though it can get expensive and time-consuming. Lots of chopping. They didn’t have all the ingredients I need (they never do) so I just kind of winged it. Winging it turned out surprisingly well with canning in the past. Of course I didn’t make enough of the vinegar shit so I had to make another batch in the middle of the process and still didn’t have enough. For the last can, I just dumped some extra vinegar and water on top of the cucumbers. That’s going to be a gross batch. Unless you like your pickles super vinegary. I wish I had taken pictures, and I thought about it, but then I forgot. It was kind of hectic. My canner system doesn’t work very well. We have this huge pasta pot with a strainer insert because you need a rack at the bottom, so we just use that, but the strainer doesn’t sit far enough down in the pot, so to cover the tops of the cans with the recommended 1-2 inches of water, you have to overflow the pot. With rollicking boiling water. I got water everywhere, including underneath the surface of the stove. I was afraid for a minute I would start an electrical fire and not know what to do. But all the cans sealed, no fire. I also combined two different recipes, so I’m going to have super dilly super mustardy super vinegary pickles that may or may not contain botulism. I always remind myself when I eat something questionable (which happens way more often than might be normal, I don’t know, maybe people eat questionable things all the time because the FDA is full of shit and Americans are overparanoid about their health or whatever) that if I do get sick, to tell the doctors to check for botulism. If they catch it, they can treat it, right? Theoretically. Maybe I’ll get septic and die like that little boy in New York from being in the hospital. That almost happened to our dog, once.

Future projects with commentary (will hopefully include pictures):

·      Homebrew beer — painfully hip, but yet might be cost efficient if we can find the equipment and ingredients for cheap. I have a huge library book with some interesting recipes. Who knows. Might not even come to fruition, but might be worth a shot.

·      Reupholster the couch — New couches are absurdly expensive. Ours has some pretty horrendous stains and smells. We need a sewing machine, though, and I’m intimidated by the process.

·      Produce co-op or laundry basket produce service? — Would give me more shit to can. I want to make salsa. I also love vegetables, as health-food pretentious asshole as that is. It’s just true.

·      Make more taquitos — We discovered cooking your own black beans. They take 16 hours to cook, but then you have a shit-ton of black beans. I think Creighton discovered this trick from that Mr. Money Moustache blog. He has a lot of shit on how to save money and be financially independent, consumer detox and all that, but really he’s just an ass. Every time Creighton brings him up, I bristle a little bit. I feel like he’s totally not transparent and fabricates or stretches a lot of things WHILE being a douche.

·      Make new coffee table from wooden crates — Pinterest project. Will probably turn out shitty, but fun to do.

·      Cake stand sink decoration — Also from Pinterest. Could be cute. I have to buy a cake stand, though, and put the soap and dish scrubber and hand towel on it, and then this project is basically complete.

·      Wallpaper/paint the back of the bookshelves? — Did you know they don’t sell wallpaper at Home Depot anymore? I guess that shit is going out of style. When I was young it was, like, the cool thing to do. Had no idea this wasn’t the fad anymore. Had no idea wallpaper WAS a fad.

·      Plan an Auburn trip with Andrew — Really would just like to go to a game, and if Andrew wants to come that could be cool. Maybe we’ll stay with Cliff or Cody and party.

·      Plan a VA Tech trip with Maria — Because she’s awesome and weird as fuck.

·      Bike tune-up — Because it needs it.

·      Re-pot Lewis — the plant my mom and I picked out. He adopted me at Lowes or the shitty garden section of Walmart, I don’t remember. They’re these little patio plants. My parents have one and so do I. They’re super easy to take care of because they’re super hard to kill. Lewis got very little sunlight or water for about six months and is still fairly green. Love that dude. Unlike the tomato plants, which were so finicky I finally just called it quits. I’m pretty sure they had that withering yellow tomato virus anyway.

·      Oil changes — My car still needs one.

·      Book clubs — Trying to read Infinite Jest with two dudes I knew from college who are way faster readers than I am, and Infinite Jest is already one intimidating motherfucker. I’m trying to remind myself that I’m not THAT woefully inexperienced with David Foster Wallace and challenging books. Trying to finish Ender’s Game. Trying to keep up with the Jaimie book club and read One Hundred Years of Solitude (we read Faulkner’s Sanctuary, The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon van Booy, and The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which is Creighton’s favorite book ever, so naturally I was curious and it’s my favorite so far. Really good, really intriguing. One of those books you get sucked into. One Hundred Years of Solitude was called “the only book since the book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race” by the New York Times, so naturally I’ve always wanted to read it. I’m a sucker for some blurbs and over-generalized statements like that. Although I do believe that every booklover person should have that one book, not necessarily their favorite or whatever, but that one book that they think everyone should read. Mine’s Gatsby. Cliché and typical, but so what?

We’ll see how all this shit goes.

Me and Josh
I saw Josh Ritter again last night. It's a spiritual experience. It's a whole-body experience. It's a drug. I won't try to explain it. This guy I once knew said it best: http://themindisaterriblethingofwaste.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/to-josh-ritter-or-whoever/

And here is me, in all my pure unadulterated bliss, hugging this man.

We ran into him on accident. We decided not to try to fight traffic after the show and instead went back to this bar where we ate dinner. I had these mimosas except they weren't mimosas, didn't have orange juice but instead MANGO juice with champagne, and they were better than mimosas. Delicious. Refreshing. After about two we decided to leave. As we were walking past the theater toward our car, there was this sparse group of people standing around outside. I thought maybe they were just loading the truck. But as we walked past I turned my head just a bit and saw him with my peripherals. I knew it was him. He wasn't wearing his performer clothes, just a t-shirt and some jeans. He has a bit of a belly, which you definitely don't notice on stage. He was wearing hipster glasses and talking to these people. I whispered to Creighton, "That's definitely Josh Ritter." He said, "Really? Are you sure?" And I said, "No that's DEFINITELY JOSH RITTER." He asked if I wanted to go back. I said I didn't care. I did want to go back, but I didn't want to be THAT girl. He meets people every day. He meets fans every day. I didn't want to be THAT girl, but I really wanted to meet Josh Ritter. More than anything I wanted to just hug him. Thank him. We waited as he talked to this photographer, then these two girls that were with the photographer, then two more girls that were in front of us. They told him, teary-eyed, about how their mother or someone they knew was dying from cancer, and his music made a difference in their lives. He was really nice about it. He signed a CD. I took their picture together. Then he came over and hugged Creighton and I and said thanks for coming out. We were wearing matching Josh Ritter shirts. We joked about that. I said I had seen him live seven times. In retrospect, that's probably a pretty small number for him to hear. He didn't say that, though. We talked about how I've seen him in Birmingham, Atlanta. I told him I didn't want to take up much of his time, just wanted a hug and to say hi, but he was super nice about it. He asked me what I did for a living. I mentioned marketing, Auburn. He asked how we met. We briefly mentioned Vienna. Then Creighton said, "She'll kill me if we leave here without a picture." He wrapped me up in the bear hug you see above. I almost died, but not really. Just grinned a lot. Creighton fumbled with the camera. We stood there hugging. My brain was on fire with happiness. It still is. I want to remember every single second of that moment. Not that it was a defining moment. Not that I'll be a different person. That's not what Josh Ritter is about. Josh Ritter is about being more of the same person, more of myself than I've ever been before. I'll come down off this high. I'll go back to work and life and the day-to-day. But his skin touched my skin, and that's enough. I felt that giant back and nestled up on his shoulder. It's weird that that matters. And in the Grand Scheme of Things, it doesn't. But it was nice. I stood next to him. He's much shorter and less cut and more human that you expect him to be when he's solidifying your foundation up on stage. But he's still Josh Ritter. Josh. He's still magical, in his own way.

Veggie Curry
My friend Jill has THE MOST AMAZING cooking/life blog, but as I am trying to post more, and cooking is a huge part of my life as well, here're some shitty Instagramed photos of the absolutely amazing veggie curry we made tonight.

The pictures are shit because they're taken on an iPhone in a dimly lit apartment kitchen when I'm hungry. I'm a shit photographer because I lack the patience (and equipment). But you get the idea. The "camera settings," because I'm sure you're dying to know, are Lo-fi for the first and Hudson for the second.

Oh, and by the way, na'an is the best food in the entire world. Next time, we are going to make it fresh, so stay tuned for that experiment. Now to bake oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (Martha Stewart style), BLTs for lunch tomorrow and pass the hell right out. Maybe I'll squeeze in a chapter or two of Ender's Game. Who knows. Could be a crazy night.

The Travie McCoy song is wrong.

I've always felt that with blogging, you had to had something to SAY, with capital letters. If you don’t have anything to SAY, then you’re just contributing to the noise that is the Internet. This is true, I still believe. The Internet is a rowdy place. It’s a frathouse party at every “party college” campus you’ve never thought about attending. It’s filled with smut and pretty girls and nice things you think you want. I’m in marketing. I contribute daily to the noisy party that is the Internet. It’s my job. So with my blog, I’ve always written from places of the heart.

That’s not entirely true either, though. I’ve always written from places of the heartache. I write the best shit I’m ever going to write when I’m suffering, when I’m mad and angry and sad and confused. Some people I know are perpetually suffering, mad, angry, sad and confused. Those people make excellent writers. Maybe that’s what it takes to be a real writer, or at least harnessing that all the time. I’m not going to sit here and speculate on what it takes to “be a writer” and feel bad for myself, though. I mean, I do it in my head all the time. I’m just trying not to contribute to the noise.

I love Pinterest. I look at it obsessively. I have this vague half-baked notion that by looking at Pinterest, I will cultivate some sort of “taste” and become intuitively crafty. If I look at enough pictures of ugly dresses, I’ll like ugly dresses, and what’s more, I’ll look good in them. If I look at picture after picture of apartments and living spaces I’m supposed to think are “cute,” I’ll learn how to make my apartment look like that, instead of it looking like this very real haphazard place that I inhabit. If I look at enough skinny-girl torsos, I’ll start wanting to be a skinny girl and stop eating. But Pinterest isn’t really good for much else than making us want. Want want want. Creighton and I are on this consumer detox. This is painfully pretentious and hipster and hilarious (considering my career), but on the other hand it’s also practical. It’s about saving money for retirement, which is one of the least sexy sentences ever written. It’s about spending less and thinking you need less and ultimately wanting and wasting less while still having and doing everything you do actually want. It’s about sifting through the noise. I look at Pinterest to remind me of what I might want and what the world thinks I need, but I don’t act on it. I try to ignore the feeling inadequate. I try to remember that our budget looks awesome. We are on schedule to literally be millionaires by age 40.

"Or, I fiercely wanted him to come by, but only if he was going to be a slightly different person, a person with whom I would be a different person—a pleasant, benign, even-tempered person."


At one point, I had an identity. I knew who I was and what I liked and didn't like and what my opinions were. I knew my political persuasions (liberal), my dream job (working at a newspaper), my religious affiliations (varied). I had convictions. When I got into a situation I didn't like, I looked deep into myself and said "Oh, well this is what EMILY would do." And then I did it.

And then I moved to Greenwood. 

Not knowing yourself is a scary and thrilling thing. Not knowing what you want to do in life, what you'd be good at, where you belong. Not knowing if anyone believes in you because you don't believe in yourself. All the stupid quotes that you've been told over and over again as a teenager — "Know thyself." "To thine own self be true." "Believe in yourself." — they all make sense, but you can't figure out what they mean. Or how to do it.

When I was little, I told this older girl in my preschool class that I wanted to be an artist. She made fun of me, and I immediately stopped telling people I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a writer instead, and that developed into me wanting to be a journalist/newspaper editor. Because it was easier? I don't know. I don't know what "being a writer" really means anymore. I don't know how people grow up and say, "Yeah, I'm a writer." But journalist, that made sense. You followed a specific trajectory and you got a job at a newspaper doing specific things. Writing was still involved.

And then I went and did it. I "lived my dream." I worked as a copy editor. I worked in a legit newspaper office. 

And it was horrible.

And now I don't know what to do.

How do you recover from that? From your lifelong dream absolutely sucking? It's not a dream deferred, but a dream shitty. 

And so I feel like the world is telling me who to be and how to be and what to wear and eat and say, and for the first time, I am listening. Because before, I could be like, "Well that's great for you, but that's not who I am," but you don't have that defense when you don't know who you are. Instead, you think "Why I am I not more like this person" or "Maybe this person is right" even if you secretly believe that person is a horrible human being who is perpetuating stereotypes about women and insecurities.

I used to look in the mirror and see this spark in my eyes and love it because it meant that I was IN THERE, that there was this brain that housed ME and when I saw other people who didn't have that spark, I wrote them off as dumb or inferior. It sounds so arrogant, so stupid now. But when I look in the mirror now my eyes are dull and lifeless and I realized that it's not that they were dumb, it's that they were wiser. That I was really the dumb one for scrutinizing this "spark" and thinking that it meant something other than being young and naive. 

I used to be able to put myself out there and receive a positive response from the world, a self-affirmation of "yes, you exist and are awesome and here's a list of people that think so," and now I am mostly ignored by potential employers I because I don't have a self to PUT out there.

One of my biggest flaws is that I'm impatient.

I want a job. I don't want to be selling AT&T U-verse to businesses door-to-door. I want to work here. Or here. Or even here. I want to do something in my field that's meaningful. I don't want to continue sitting on this computer all day feeling sick to my stomach because I want to be creative AND professional again so badly. But jobs like Full Circle and Brains on Fire don't hire people like me. They hire people like this. Or this amazing guy. So how do I go from being me to being someone else? How do I go from awkward white girl struggling with her own identity and place in the world to someone ... amazing? 

I have applied for so many jobs. I got rejected by a bank. I sent in a hand-written cover letter. I would spend all day making something amazing and beautiful on InDesign if I could get it to work on my laptop. How to cultivate taste? How to cultivate creativity? How to cultivate beauty? How to make them/me see? How to get job?

I need a road map. A road map to myself. A road map to my future.

I don't want to teach, necessarily. I will teach because it's a career and I could do it and do it well and maybe even enjoy it. But really I want to be in an office doing something awesome. I don't know what it is exactly that PR specialists do, and maybe that's my problem. I keep thinking that if I keep thinking I will come up with something. But I have no experience. And how do you get experience when no one is hiring entry-level people?

Conundrum of our generation.

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

A friend of mine was shot in the head.
He isn't actually a friend, but I had come to think of him as the paradigm of love via clicking on an absurd amount of pictures of him and his girlfriend, who I once knew, and thinking about how beautiful they looked together. In picture after picture they smiled and held hands and were by far one of the most beautiful couples I have ever seen. A paradigm of love. In my own way, I loved him. So by calling him a friend out loud, I connect myself to what happened and garner, feed off the sympathy of people who don't have the tenuous connection to the tragedy that I do.
I do this because he got shot in the head, and I am the one who needs saving. I know their grief isn't rightfully mine, but I wallow in it selfishly. I have not, like many others, voyeuristically posted condoling things on Facebook, my (and their) primary connection to the incident. I haven't sent her loud, public sympathies so my name, too, will appear on her wall of support. I have not tweeted about it. I have talked about it and thought about it and read about it feverishly. But I know the grief doesn't belong to me, so I have tried to bathe in it as quietly and privately as possible. I don't know him. I have never MET him. His shooting was but a single isolated incident not mine, but it stands for a bigger whole I am facing.
He got shot, and I need saving from a reality that is becoming clearer and more threatening every day.

So I loaded up my bed with books. I don't know what else to do. I feel, for the first time in my life, really and truly alone.
The only thing that comes close to this was when my high school sweetheart and I had broken up at the beginning of my college career, as a freshman, but at that time there were already new romances on the horizon, new people to talk to, new places to see. I was a freshman in college, for fuck's sake. I was alone with 24,000 potential new friends.
But now I am truly alone. The ultimate promise of social networks -- never being alone -- has failed me. I don't know who to talk to, but more than that, I don't know what to say.
"So this guy I've never met got shot in the head, and I'm not OK."

What it means
It means pain is real. That at some point in my life, I am going to feel real pain, real grief, real tragedy. It means my parents and my sisters and Creighton and everyone I love is going to die. It means life is random and quite possibly meaningless. It means, perhaps most terrifying for me, that I am not in control.
I woke up a few weeks ago from a sound within my apartment that meant I was not alone. This is a particularly problematic sound to someone living alone -- a crash in the other room, a squeak in the hallway. In my sleepy, half-blind haze, I saw someone creeping down the hall. I thought to myself, "Holy shit, I'm going to die." I called out in my fiercest whisper, "Get out. I have a gun." I did not have a gun, but I hoped the threat would convince the person peering into my bedroom to reconsider. I grabbed a pocketknife I keep by my bed and flipped it open, hoping the minuscule "click" it made was close enough to the sound a gun chambering to be convincing. The person did not move. A few painful, heart-racing, eternal moments later, and I tried again. "Hello?" Nothing. I couldn't decide at that point if a face was peering into my bedroom or a shadow.
It was a shadow.
I have not been the same since.

I can't stop replaying what may have happened in Earl's house when he got shot in the head. After reading newspaper articles online, I have a pretty good sketch in my head. I have considered where the bullet entered his head. I have thought about the screams of the other people in the house as the gun went off. I have thought about the expression on the face of the would-be robber, the entire face widening for just a fraction of a second in realization he just shot someone -- another human being whom he might have known -- in the head, before sprinting out the door. I have thought about Annalee receiving multiple phone calls and her hurried panic to get to the hospital. I have tried to put myself there.

I turned to Didion. I did this because I read on TheMillions.com she wrote "Slouching Toward Bethlehem" because she was disillusioned with a place to the point of pain, perhaps depression. I was disillusioned with a place, an industry, a life.
My library didn't have "Slouching Toward Bethlehem." I picked up "The Year of Magical Thinking." I knew she had lost a husband and daughter in rapid succession. I read the inside jacket and discovered her dealing with that grief was the topic. Because I had put myself in a position to adopt a grief not my own, I took it home. Someone I knew was possibly losing a loved one. One day, I would lose a loved one. I needed this book.

Years ago, I sort of knew a man who was involved in an awful motorcycle wreck. The details, by the time I heard them, had been exaggerated, but involved something about how his knees got caught underneath a truck bed while he was still on the motorcycle. Driving. You knew it was bad because DiscoveryHealth worked him into one of those "I shouldn't be alive" episodes with two other people. One of them was a black girl who got stabbed. I remember watching it with the motorcycle-wreck survivor in the room. I remember the doctor on screen talking about brain surgery.
After the wreck, Josh was in and out of the hospital for a few years because every time he got better, he would stand on his knees wrong and need another surgery. I remember the only time I visited him -- with my sister, during Christmas break when I was possibly a freshman in college. I remember thinking I didn't know if he would walk again, if he would get out of the hospital for good and make a recovery at all. I remember thinking it was sad he was spending Christmas in the hospital, that he might always spend Christmas in the hospital.
He is now married with a child. He appears to walk fine. I would bet he lifts his child over his head effortlessly, that he plays football with the child and doesn't even think about his knees. I wonder if he ever dreams about the wreck.

I have thought a lot about aging, about how our cells break down with years. About how we are so limited. About how one day I'll be fatter and saggier. It's already beginning.

Time heals. Time breaks us down.

Earl is in critical condition in a hospital. He is alert and apparently responsive and still alive. He is breathing on his own. I hope beyond doubt and science and reason and probability that he lives. At least for now.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

I always find myself turning to writing (blogging, whatever) at some dark pit. 

Right now I am sitting in the living room area of my pseudo-messy one-bedroom apartment in South Carolina and crying. Not the cleansing sobs or quick tears that leave you feeling better. The deep, dark sadness crying that is the product of an unhappiness you didn't know was actually possible until you find yourself in it.

Someone I didn't even know (but loved) may die tonight. He was shot in the head. He has a beautiful girlfriend who used to be friends with my sister and a not-even-3-year-old daughter.

It's 4.30 in the morning and I'm alone, listening to a Josh Ritter song I haven't heard before and feeling ambivalent about what to put on Facebook. Write stupid post. Think about how other people will read it. Delete.

I've been talking myself into going to bed for two hours now, but my bed's not made and I don't want to sleep on the couch.

I have (another) doctor's appointment in the morning.

I don't really care about "the meaning of life." What I want to know is how people go on living. How do people face their blackest moments — the death of a soulmate, the plate that needs to be put in the dishwasher or at least in the sink, the neglected shoes, the ambivalence toward marriage, war, being in a city or job or maybe even industry that you hate and that is making you sick — how do you keep going? How does everyone get out of bed every day and go to a job they hate? How do people find meaning in other people and in hobbies? How to be an artist?

OxyChem, I need you to come through for me now.


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