If Hurricanes Were People, They’d Be A-holes

Every now and again I have a conversation in my head with…say…a traffic light. Or the table. Or those bark-y dogs a few houses up from me. My brain clearly has some pretty piss poor decision-making skills, because if I weren’t having pretend conversations with the laundry, I could probably be inventing agriculture systems that can survive on Mars and we’d all be eating Martian carrots right now. I feel like I should apologize for that.

Anyway, I am who I am, and as such I was having a conversation the other day with Hurricane Isaac. It was in that conversation that I realized that if hurricanes were people, they’d be a-holes. See for yourself.

Me: Is that a goatee?

Isaac: Yeah, it looks awesome, doesn’t it? Imma score some ladies with this business.

Me: Awesome plan. Totally gonna work. That, or you’ll destroy everything you touch and people will make little voodoo hurricane dolls and hope you get hurricane STDs.

Isaac: Whatever. I know I look good.

Me: …

Isaac: Wanna go party? I’m headed inland. I’m gonna be cool about it, though.

Me: Oh yeah? First time for everything, I guess.

Isaac: Yeah, I’m gonna be totally cool. Waltz in, water some plants, blow around a little just for show, then head on out.

Me: Sure you won’t get all drunk and pick up people’s cars and crush their neighbors’ cats with them?

Isaac: Hey, I’ve NEVER done that. Sure, some people in my family have, but I’m my own man, okay? Besides, people in my family are famous so, you know…crazy works.

Me: Yeah?

Isaac: Uuhhh…YEAH. Katrina? Ring any bells?

Me: Of course it rings bells. Everyone freaking hated her. HATED her. She was maybe the most terrible thing ever.

Isaac: She wasn’t that bad.

Me: Have you lost your mind?! She killed a TON of people. A TON of them. And destroyed like, ALL the houses in New Orleans.

Isaac: You know what? You’re so judge-y.

Me: Yeah, I guess I am.

Isaac: Hey, hey!  Baby, baby, baby…

Me: Ick. Stop calling me baby.

Isaac: Baby, come on baby.

Me: Fine. What?

Isaac: Shhhhh, shhh, shhh…shuuuush. Baby, don’t be so hard on yourself. We all have problems.

Me: Ugh…you’re so gross.

Isaac: So gross that you like it?

Me: No.

Isaac: Oh, I see…so gross that you LOVE it. You love it gross, huh baby?

Me: Ohmigod, no! You’re so pervy! How is it even possible to be that pervy?

Isaac: Hey! Don’t you go running your mouth off, woman, or I swear I’ll pick up a tree and rip your face off with it!

Me: Holy crap! Calm down!

Isaac: I’m sorry, baby. We’re getting closer to land. You know how I get…come rub my goatee.

Me: No. Thanks. I’m good.

Isaac: Fine! I’m gonna go get with that peninsula over there and we’re gonna have a ton of baby tornadoes together! Then how will you feel!? You’ll feel terrible!

Me: You’re an a-hole.

Isaac: Your face is an a-hole!

Me: Fine. My face is an a-hole. Are we done here?

Isaac: Yeah. Yeah we are.

Me: Great.

Hurricanes—they’re a bunch of a-holes. Stay safe out there, people.

The Rape Rainbow (A Guide to all the Kinds of Raping)

First, a note: the beginning of this piece is what they call “satire.” If you’re new to the idea, satire means that if you find yourself agreeing with this stuff, you might also have a rusty nail wedged in your brain, or maybe you were raised by squirrels in the forest*, or perhaps you’re trying to win a contest for the dumbest human alive. Whatever led you to this point, you should probably see a doctor and/or read all the books in your local library. Also, please refrain from talking unless it’s to call a doctor or ask for directions to said library.

You know they say that you learn something new every day? Well, guess what I learned the other day? I learned that there are lots of different kinds of rape and—here’s the real fascinating part—a bunch of them are okay! Well, not TOTALLY okay, but some kinds of rape can’t get anyone pregnant, and therefore it’s probably not that big of a deal. And if you DO happen to get pregnant from rape, it’s because it wasn’t all that bad, and probably you were wearing a short skirt, or smiling, or having breasts and a vagina—you know, you were asking for it.

I know, it’s crazy! I had NO idea. I feel so silly for thinking that rape was always rape when you weren’t 100% sure that your partner—pssht, I’m sorry. “Partner?” What am I, some crazy liberal? Let me try again. I thought rape was rape when you weren’t a 100% sure that your sex receiver was into the whole thing. Boy, was I wrong. There’s “forcible rape,” “non-forcible rape,” “legitimate rape,” “sneezy rape,” and they all have different causes AND consequences. Fascinating stuff.

So, as to not be an irresponsible community member, I thought I’d come up with a handy guide to knowing when it’s the okay kind of rape, or really RAPE rape, which, you know, is bad. I now present you with…the Rape Rainbow!

Red Rape

Stop! Red rape is the bad rape. Maybe you have a knife, or a gun, or your strangling someone, and then you have sex with them. CLEARLY this one is super terrible, but on the upside, you can’t get your victim pregnant (according to the Czar of No Science Ever). I know you’ve got your heart set on raping someone, but we have to draw the line somewhere, so the line is brutal force. Brutal force + sex = Red Rape.

But you’re in luck! There are other kinds of rape that are kinda almost fine!

Orange Rape

Orange rape is still pretty freaking terrible, but if you get really douchey about it, you can explain how your victim didn’t say no, so, you know…you’re in the clear!

Now, how do you get someone to let you do something you know they don’t want you to do? Drugs! Alcohol! They key here is to make sure your lovely lady is either completely unconscious, or that she doesn’t remember how words work. She won’t even remember what happened until a few weeks later when—blammo!—she discovers the gift of a human embryo you left her in her insides! See? You gave her a present! What an ingrate.

Yellow Rape

Yellow rape is all about prostitutes. Buying a prostitute is like buying a house.  When you buy a house, you can do whatever you want to it, because you PAID for it. Same thing goes with a prostitute. It’s not like prostitutes are people with feelings. And if they didn’t want to get raped, they would have chosen to be florists or a senators, right?

Green Rape

Green means go! Green rape is all about finding the most ambiguous signal that could be interpreted as sexual interest, and then using that to make the victim feel like she WANTED to be raped (because we all kinda do, right? Of course.). This can be wearing “slutty clothes,” smiling at you at the bar, feeling overcome by your coolness because you’re 10 years older…all kinds of stuff. And if you’re dating someone, that’s just blanket permission to rape. It’s kinda like all those terms of service things that we don’t read; she signs up for dating, but you know that she’s agreed to giving you sex whenever you want it, even if you have to use a little muscle or emotional threats or whatever.

And then…um…

Okay, people…sorry. I can’t get through it. I can’t keep up with my own sarcasm because…well, this is crazy. What’s crazier is that Todd Akin is out there is propagating these toxic beliefs and trying to get people to PAY him to make legislation on their behalf.

I know there are a lot of issues on which to hang our hats, and it’s hard to make progress when we’re drawing so many lines in the sand, BUT there’s no excuse for trying to minimize rape. None of us want to be raped. None of us want our daughters, or sisters, or aunts, or cousins, or coworkers to ever experience such a painful violation.

We have to communicate to our representatives that if you’re not willing to stand up for victims of violence in our communities, then you’re simply not qualified for the job.  There’s only one kind of rape. If you believe in degrees of rape, you don’t belong in our government. Sorry, but it’s not a liability we can afford. Maybe try the florist route. There are lots of shades of things there.

*No offense to those of you with rusty nail heads and squirrel parents. I know you’re better than this.

Let’s Pretend I’m Really Cool

You should go buy this book.

Last night I got to go see Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) read some of her recent, New-York-Times-Best-Seller-Phenom-Amazing book, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.” If you’ve never read her, stop reading this immediately and go read her instead. You can come back later when you have the proper amount of humor in your life.

Done? Good.

Anyway, so I was all excited to go to the reading, because she’s hilarious (as you now know), and charming, and I just thought it would be super fun to actually see her in person. I was going solo, so I brought my camera to record all the hub-bub, and write this post to fill you in. Because I care.

I was all ready to be cool, meet some folks, say something kind and witty and flash a winning smile at Jenny while she signed my book and then I’d be on my way, feeling awesome about my ability interact with other humans.

Lovely plan. Slightly deterred by the fact that the second I stepped out of my car all of my social skills seemed to have dropped out of my body on to the pavement, where they were run over by a white truck.

Uh oh.

Not to be shaken, I grabbed my camera and thought, “If I can get in a groove with shooting, I can hide behind the camera and no one will be the wiser.” So I immediately set about taking pictures of the Barnes and Noble store, and the poster hanging in the window. Well, that is to say, I did that after I got myself untangled from whatever sailor’s knot I had unwittingly tied around myself with my camera strap and my purse strap. That struggle lasted longer than you might imagine for an adult.

After fighting my way free of the things I put on my body myself, I popped inside, found the book, wandered around then—lo!—discovered that even though I was nearly an hour early, there were no more seats to be had. The woman is VERY popular. Because she’s kind of kick ass. The fine folks at the Barnes and Noble store were unaware of this, apparently. The 25 chairs they managed to grab from their cousin’s house (I assume) weren’t really going to cut it. So then I scurried over to buy my book (yay!) (oh, wait…dang! Full price hard back is pretty pricey. Oh well. Yay!), and to try to find a good perch.

I came across two lovely ladies that contributed to the HOPE 2012 Relay (hi Shelly and Erica!) and exchanged some awkward mumbling of some kind, but tried to make up for it with a hug. (Hugging makes up for awkwardness, right? Or perhaps it makes for more awkwardness. Shrug.)

And then I took pictures of metal chickens. There were LOTS of chickens. Because of this.

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And after the chickens, I thought I’d take a pic of everyone holding up their books. So I went up front, and said, “Hey, can everyone hold up their books so I can take a picture?” Which everyone seemed on board for, so I should have stopped there, but then I continued, “I mean, you don’t have to…I’m a stranger and you totally don’t have to do what I say,” and a couple of people lowered their books a little, and then I said, “but it’s awesome and you should and so…” and then finally just snapped the picture because I could tell I was losing them because I wouldn’t SHUT MY TALK HOLE.

Let’s back up to the chicken thing. During the Q&A, I managed to raise my hand and ask a somewhat coherent question, which was, “What is your favorite part about publishing a book, and having it sell so well, and now being on tour?” Her answer was basically that she loves the community that has been created around her work and her openness about mental illness (anxiety, depression, OCD, self-harm, etc.). Which brings me back to the chickens. People that read Jenny’s work are in love with her, and with each other. Which might sound strange and cult-y, but it’s not. One of the very first things I noticed is that there’s no judgement in the room. None. People laughed A LOT. They smiled. They took pictures with chickens. They were just open, accepting, and awesome. And that was all before Jenny even got there! It was a weird and magical feeling, and—yeah—I can see why that would be her favorite part. It’s really, really special.

So Jenny read a section of her book (like a boss, I might add), did the Q&A, and then it was time to line up for the signing. It was a LONG line. So, I had a long time to think about the perfect thing to say to make her feel appreciated without being slobbery with my emotions, and funny, but not too funny like I was trying to pander for laughs or anything. I considered telling her about/apologizing for sending her a facebook message in all caps (True story. It seemed like a funny thing to do at the time.), but quickly decided against it.

It’s possible that I was over thinking it, because by the time I got up there, I handed her my book, then just started taking pictures like a paparazzo on meth, then apologized for that, and she said it was okay and that she has photographer friends that do the same thing, and then I kinda didn’t respond because I maybe forgot she was talking to me and then I realized THAT so I said, “Heh. Heh,” which is more sounds than words, and then I said, “It was great meeting you, my name’s Melanie—but you know that because you signed my book—and I know who you are, so there’s that, and travel safely, and thanks for coming to,” and this is the worst part, “SUNNY SAN DIEGO.”(Ohmigod I don’t even say “sunny San Diego.” Like, ever. Because I’m not a 92-year-old man.)

She smiled and said thanks graciously.

And that’s the story of me being SUPER COOL.

(Bonus? When I got home, I ripped the title page trying to remove the post-it. Because I wasn’t done being awesome.)

Okay, tell me stories about you looking being übs cool. Blogging is a two-way street, after all. Get a-drivin’.

Hope 2012: Closing Ceremonies

Hope.

Such a small word.

And, you guys…I think hope is kind of destroying my life. Well, okay, not destroying, but definitely taking over. Because when I sent you all off to run with the hope baton, you ran. You ran like a beaver was trying to snack on your ankles. If you want to see how many people wrote or were asked to write in HOPE 2012, check this out. It’s crazytown.

And now, after starting this relay and watching that teeny, tiny word unfurl in a thousand different ways…I’m not quite sure what to say about it. I’m a little…umm…

Hmm.

Let’s start, as many of you did, with a definition.

We’ll use the legit, scholarly, not-from-a-lady-on-her-second-glass-of-wine source: Dictionary.com.

Hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

That’s a start, but it’s certainly not the whole picture. There’s more.

Here are our collective chronicles of hope, written elegantly, poignantly, hilariously, irreverently, and devoutly by you crazy-amazing hordes of writers.

Hope is like a ticker tape of wishes.

I hope my hair grows out (and looks fabulous). I hope my kids end up happy. I hope when I die it turns out we’re all headed for the mothership. I hope that can wear a bikini again in public someday and not show up on People of Walmart. -Mediocrates at How Did I Get Here?

I could go on for days about the things I hope for daily.  It is a never-ending and ever-changing and all-encompassing (big and small) list of things. -Confessions of a (not-so-) Super Mom

I hope that my writing touches an audience. I hope that cooler heads prevail. I hope that wisdom is heard. I hope that institutions reform, minds expand, hearts grow, and good triumphs. I hope because in hope we can find strength for action. -Michael J. Altman

My hope is to one day be completely happy with myself, at peace with myself, and to prove that there is something I can contribute. My hope is to one day be a mother. My hope is live a life full of love and without regret. -Linz at From the House of Cole

I HOPE I have a good hair day today. I HOPE Trader Joe’s is not sold out of those vanilla bonbons.…I HOPE Zocalo takes reservations. I HOPE I find something cute at J Crew.… I HOPE that shrilly, shrieky sound doesn’t mean we need a brand new Kenmore. I HOPE Cassidy finds the job of her dreams. Sooner rather than later. -Jodie at Cottage Cheese and Crepe Paper

Our hopes are big, and wild—powerful and fiery. They are almost too big to contain in our hearts.

I see that my fears are merely the flip-side of my hopes; that one almost can’t exist without the other. My hopes are so desperate that the fear that they won’t be realized is burdensome and suffocating. -Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense

I hope, albeit cautiously. I worry. I despair. But, I am also an optimist. My work, even though  I catalog hate, is born of optimism and the fervent hope that scholarship can help make the world a better place. If we understand how hatred functions, how hope can be a pivot for darker emotions, then maybe we identify the nefarious when it looks harmless. -Kelly J. Baker

Oh the possibilities
lining up
in an endless way
flaunting me just a tad bit beyond reach.
…Yet, I still start every single day by thinking “today is the day“.
-Marie at My Cyber House Rules

I think hope is like the love-child of some sort of human-nature-orgy. Take trust, intuition, faith, positivity, reflection, and let them inter-twine and get all funky with each other –  you get hope. -Lou at Fridge Scrapings

Our hopes are our secret dreams; we whisper them in the dark, forging a pact with tomorrow.

I was bursting with hope – hope that with a little support, I could change many old beliefs and self-limitations and open myself up to joy and new adventures. -Mary at A Teachable Mom

My hope is to expose my anger and the parts of myself that I think are despicable (that part that drops F-bombs in front of toddlers, for example) so that I can shine a healing light on them and then connect with other people who are dealing with their anger. -Christie at Outlaw Mama

And this is my hope. That there will come a day that feels like stepping off the stage. That the postpartum anxiety will subside and a wave of calm will wash over me. That I will be able to play a little anything on my very own grand piano. -Laura at I’d Rather Sit on the Couch

My hope is twofold. One is that we can all be more understanding of our fellow humans… whether our differences are visible or not, whether they are in our body, mind, or mental health; our gender, sexual identity, skin colour, religion or nationality. The other… is that those of us with differences that restrict us in some way, can learn to accept ourselves and our limits for what they are, and live fulfilling lives within a smaller sphere than we would sometimes like. -Imp the Sane

Hope is a fragile thing. It’s like a dandelion seed, it might just float by at any time, and just as quickly be swept away. -Tom at Running Physio

What do I hope for? I hope for the courage to face my life, the courage to be in whatever state I find myself in until that state changes. I hope for the courage to respond authentically to whatever I need to respond to. -The Kale Chronicles

So instead of focusing on my fears, I choose hope.  Hope is what I hold so close to my heart, scared to loosen my grip on it, fearing that it will slip away and I’ll be, once again, left alone with my guilt.  So I cling to it, as tight as I can, afraid speak my hopes above a whisper for fear that they’ll escape from my heart. -Sierra at Everything is Coming Up Roses

Sometimes, we whisper our hopes…and they are eaten. By monsters. It’s a bummer.

My intellectual and imaginative life doesn’t allow for hope. Most horror films end badly.  If there is a hero that survives the night, she (it usually is a she) has seen, and done, inhuman things. And then she’s likely to die in the sequel as the body count climbs. -Scott at Monsters in America

Other times, hope is our anchor, keeping us tethered, and giving us reason to believe.

…here feels hopeful. Not in the manic, I’m-going-to-do-a-million-things-before-bedtime way, but in a more settled, calming, enduring way. I have hope that I will find the time to write, that my family and friends will support me, that I’ll find solutions for the scenes or posts that are giving me trouble and be inspired for the scenes that will be my darlings. -Sara at Moments of Exhilaration

[T]hinking of hope made me remember what initially made me passionate about the church/state relationship in the first place: I saw people who navigated it well, with grace, and candor, and integrity. That’s seriously hopeful stuff. -Matt at The Church/State Guy

The hospitality that I have found in my social networks have been invaluable in keeping me hopeful; hopeful about my future, hopeful about my chosen profession (even in the face of contrary evidence), and hopeful about the future of humanity. -Jermaine M. McDonald

But hope is the stuff of everyday life. It is, at its best, rather … ordinary. It is that which greets us with every sunrise and calms us as we lay our heads down at night. It is learned as our hopes are met everyday in little and mundane ways – like when the recipe turns out just right, the hug offered is greeted with open arms, and we make it through a day safe and having smiled. -James W. McCarty III

Hope doesn’t always mean a heroic act or a thread to hold to in life’s bleakest times. I think we also find it in the simplest moments, the simplest memories, and the realization that more awaits. -Kyla at Free to Be Joyful

I got to this moment because of hope.  I could give up, and a few times I tried, only to find in my  despondency an awareness that I do no service to myself, my family or life by giving up.  So, I get up, damn it.  Over and over again.  I move forward, I move backward.  I sway. -Lesley at Merlin’s Garden

I have spent the last two years of my life attempting to silence the inner voice of my youth. I love what my heart is saying to & about the woman that I am meant to be. It was in that moment of realization that it occurred to me ─ make that, I decided ─ I not only have the renewed hope of walking into my destiny triumphantly, I AM HOPE. -Antoinette at A Serendipitous Sojourn

But sometimes, [hope is] just being able to say, in the moment, that this is okay. That maybe, this is As Good As It Gets. And I have to be okay with that. -Molly Jo at Frankly, My Dear

Hope is why I am pushing my own boundaries. Hope is why I read and write. Hope is why I communicate. Hope is everything. At the core of my being, the root of every action, the impetus behind every thought is…Hope. -Your Life is a Banquet, Don’t Starve

As I grow older, though, [my ring's] message deepens.  It has become a small, tangible sign that people can change.  Three-foot-high soapboxes can be lowered.  Crusty old mindsets can soften.  Tired arguments can find common ground. -Melissa at Goodnight, Irene

If I allow myself to look deeper, to not be seduced by cheap tours, cheap drinks, and cheap Spanish classes, I think I will find this place I now call home, [Guatemala], to be a country of great hope.  Hope against all odds. Reconciliation and healing and redemption against all odds. -Aly at Memoirs of Algeisha

You’re a four-letter word but not the one that we both mutter when times are bad. Tossing disregard for normal and laughing at convention, all of me walks our lives in need of your hand. You never fail to provide it. -Lance at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

Hope is in the grand and in the abstract and in the eyes of a sick child, but more often it’s also simply what gets us through. -Jen O. at My Tornado Alley

Think of those who hurt you. Think of those who degrade you. Those who have ripped your heart from your chest, stomped on it, spit on it, and pretended like nothing ever happened. These people, each and every one of them, desire hope. Want hope. Seek hope. Need hope. -Adrian at Life Before the Bucket

Some of the treatments and medications I’ve been on made me numb, and it sucked.  So maybe that’s how I can tie the hope theme into this rambling piece of drivel.  I’d rather feel than not feel, even when feeling is overwhelming.  I don’t have a hope of being cured, but every day that I get out of bed is a hopeful one.  There are open windows, but I keep passing them, and that is hope. And sharing this madness with you is hope for us all. -The Klonopin Chronicles

And hope is a gift you can give in an instant.

She is quiet for a moment, and then asks “do you think I have a light in me?” I pause, and smile before I answer, “your light is so bright, I almost need sunglasses.” -Jenn at So This is Love

Before Miss Swears left, she pulled me aside when no one was around. She gave me a book with white and black models in it. She told me that I was beautiful, I was special, and that I was no different from the girls in my class. She told me that I was smart and that I could be anyone I wanted to be. -Kenya G. Johnson at Here’s The Thing

I am the 4th of 6, and have found hope and inspiration in every one of [my siblings]. Yes, I’ve told them, and shown them, but I am probably the “fluffiest” of us, so I don’t know for certain if they know the depth of my admiration. In short, my sibling have always given me HOPE. -Jackie at Blessed Be

Presents didn’t have to be big. Just enough to show the female clients that they are worthy of a gift. That they have hope for a healthy future. Or any future at all. As surprising as it may seem, some had never been given the gift of hope. -Jennifer at Another Jennifer

To Myself at Fifteen, I know you’re scared and broken. I have something I want to give you. -Lesley at The Spigot List

If you are in a relationship that is ultimately damaging your happiness and ruining the person you used to be, my hope is that you look to others to help you find your inner strength.  Surround yourself with love, and don’t lose sight of your self-worth.  And those of you watching a loved one suffer; I hope that you will be the un-judging stronghold that they will need to pull themselves out. -Erica at Yeah, I’m a Nerd

[Walt Whitman] understood that it did not take much– just a token– to revive men’s spirits or ease their souls.  He did not shy away from his chance to spread hope.  Hope, he realized, was not his alone. -Amy at ReadNCook

And then after awhile, he went out in the yard to pick flowers. For Jodie. He brought them in. Just the blossoms. He put them in bowl. We all said a prayer over them.   And then, he took them next door to what had been Jodie’s house. His grandmother lives there now which is really nice. He put the bowl on the table in front of the outdoor couch where he and Jodie used to sit. And then he came quietly home.

Not sad. Full of the hope he’d been given over the years. By Jodie. -Stephen at The Desperate Man

Sometimes hope is found in America, and in The Boss.

My Italian grandfather is 101-years old.  He migrated to the United States in 1913 with his his mother and siblings.  His family believed that America, to quote from Springsteen, was a “land of hope and dreams.”  And indeed, I probably would not be writing this short reflection on hope if he had not taken advantage of what this country had to offer him. -John Fea at The Way of Improvement Leads Home

The cross-cultural gathering captured the hope ingrained in our global community and manifested the best in America’s pluralist dream.  The dais on which the couple pledged their troth backed to open ocean off Palm Beach, but I saw a smiling Statue of Liberty dancing over the water. -Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, PhD at MyStories

Children are a magnet for hope: they pull out every last scrap of hope we have.

This adorable wee babe holds the hopes of her mother. Photo © Amy Reams and Reams Photo, used with permission as part of the Hope 2012 Blog Relay

Although I was afraid, Hope worked to remove my fear and became my optimism that my baby would be born healthy. -Kenja at Grand New Mom

My greatest hope for my two sons, aside from their general health and happiness, is that someday, they will uncover something to aspire to, to work toward, that brings them such joy. -Five Uninterrupted Minutes

Throughout her children’s lives, a mother hopes…
her baby will be born healthy
the baby will go to sleep
the baby will stop crying
the fever will go down…
-Karen at Mom in the Muddle

I HOPE you continue to sing at the top of your little lungs, not caring who hears you. -Kelly at Cobwebs, Cupcakes and Crayons

Whether they one day break the world record in the 200 meter freestyle or simply beat the odds by surviving, preemies embody hope. -Stream of the Conscious

“Yep, some people say that, and I laugh, little do they know, she saved me. And you want to know a secret?….I don’t mind doing all this for her, you know…the expensive birthday parties, the constant hospital trips, being a parent when I am already an old man….but her days are numbered.. I only hope that she knows how much I love her. And then you know…it will be okay for us both to leave this world” -Humble Writes Words

But….even if with all of that hoping, even if he STILL experiences all that I did, I am a living example, that he can still be okay.  And if “I” turned out okay, then there is hope for him after all. -Jenn at What I Really Meant to Say Was…

The boy gave me hope. Hope that the future generation may not be so bad. Hope that family will win out over vanity. Hope that empathy is still alive and well. Hope that my kids will have even a smidgeon of the qualities that this boy showed by simply helping his sibling. -Brent at SooperDad Blog of Awesomeness

My mom’s final chapter had been written, but my tiny man’s life had so many chapters remaining. -Deborah at The Monster in Your Closet

While mourning the loss of one son, and hoping for the health of another in the NICU, Edward J. Blum quotes hope from WEB Du Bois, who says, “It is never too late to mend. Nothing is so bad that good may not be put into it and make it better and save it from utter loss.”

People often use the word hope along with two other powerful words – faith and love. As I think about my current parenting struggles, I remind myself that I love Sophie beyond words. I have faith that both Sophie’s and my intentions are truly good, and we will get past this awkwardness. And I have hope that we will become an even stronger mother and daughter because of the struggles. -Leah at Leah’s Thoughts

When I first started thinking about what I would write, it almost felt like an absence of hope, but as I watch my son and I look at the things he is able to do. Things that against all odds, he is now able to do, and I think it really is a hope for hope… -Karen at Real Life and Other Hazards

I hope my sister, niece, daughter and nephews mother all have healthy babies, I hope those babies along with all babies realise they are a gift from God and are raised in loving and caring environment. -Joanne at Joanne Rambling

I began to feel a swelling in my breast, a spark that had been drowned in worry and overwhelming fears since this journey had begun, reignited. I might get to bring him home. I might just leave this tiny clausterphobic NICU. I was still uncertain but there was no denying that at last I felt what I thought had been lost. Hope. -Darlie at Written Ramblings

Ali’s academic achievement would be impressive in anyone. But when you realize that he could not even pick up a pencil, this is really stunning. The thing about Ali was that he was hilarious. He had a biting wit and sense of satire, which would crack me up when I saw him. It was only after his death that I realized that he was actively putting up political videos on YouTube under the alias ScaryBears. -Dr. Craig Canapari

Sometimes hope is the very last thing you find, right when you think the whole world will go dark.

One man carried his wife, who was shot three times, out of the theatre, because when she told him to go without her, he refused, saying, “No, we go together.”  Not surprising then when his 14-year-old son (14!) stopped to carry another wounded woman, a stranger to him, out of the theatre.…Literally, a countless number of people carried wounded victims, held their hands, stanched their wounds - almost all of them strangers to each other. -Jen at Bible Belt to Boulder

Most of what we hear about is the hate and the violence, but so many people have open generous hearts. With kindness and a little effort, we can change the world. -Kelly at Blogical Reasoning

But hope is reserved for those with soft hearts; it patches the holes and stitches the tears. It’s the gift we receive for surviving the heartache.  For letting ourselves be vulnerable enough to love.  To believe.

Hope gives us strength without hardening our hearts. -Erin at Welcome to Grace

You would think this mingling of tombstones and vague suicide talk would have me calling 911, but red flags barely get notice anymore. Those flags need to be shooting rocket fire to gather any real attention.

“So you now want your tombstone to say, “He didn’t jump?” I joked and he did something of a laugh. With a father like mine you look for levity wherever you can, even in suicide talk. “Yeah,” he says, the mood automatically lighter. “That works.” -Ice Scream Mama

Hope, it is the thin piece of twine that binds us all together. -Cozzis Corner

Even when we start to lose hope, sometimes, if we are fortunate, hope finds us. -Ilene at The Fierce Diva Guide to Life

A battle-tested hope is the strongest of hopes. I pray you know HOPE like I know HOPE. -Matt Linden at The Dawg Run

When Pandora opened up that horrible box and let all the ills that plague the world out, hope was left behind.  And hope, time and time again, has beat back the horrors and turned them into blessings. Hope is a powerful weapon and it is battling for me today as I pay bills with the last of what is in our account. -Penny Tralia

It seems sadness, atrocity, and crisis are constantly on the radar. I’m reminded of the words of Thomas Paine, who wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” -Honie Briggs

When I think of hope and how it relates to me, my strongest pull is go back to when I first had my nervous breakdown. -Little Bits and Pieces

Hope sang her song. On those coldest nights in those darkest places she sang. She sang LOUD and she sang STRONG and she NEVER. GAVE. UP!! When the storms were raging and I couldn’t hear her sing she wrapped her wings around me and waited. -Shell at The Journey is the Reward

I have hope for the future that I will be able to learn more about whom I am and what I am here to do and accomplish.  I have hope that I will overcome my ridiculous fears and my awful thoughts that come with depression. -This Mama is Crazy

I was so in love with alcohol, it was tantamount to a death sentence.…Hmm, giving up the thing you love most in the world? I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to do it. The only hope I had was that I wanted to want to. -Natalie at The Cat Lady Sings

This is what I love so much about blogging — it gives me the experience of building a community of people who say, “Me too.  I’ve been there.  I may not know how to get out of the place you’re in, but, at the very least, you’re not there alone.”  That is the best expression of hope that I know.  Not canceling out the darkness, but being a body beside me in it, groping for the light together. -Rhea at Thirty Threadbare Mercies

After lunch I headed over to my place of employment to switch cars with my then boyfriend. He knew I was going to be doing this. And that’s when I saw them. Sitting in a car talking. That easily and that quickly, the life I had known was over. -Bethany at Runner B

Did I ever think that I would spend that “golden year” on a couch, writhing in pain for the majority of the day? No. I thought I would be in NYC, living out my dreams, having fun with friends, flourishing. Last night, I finally allowed myself to be angry about that. But then hope stepped in. -Caralyn at Gluten Free Happy Tummies

This kid had to choose a path. Hope or despair. I have no idea what the disease is or the circumstances it has brought to him and his family. All I know is that a complete stranger with issues I haven’t ever had to deal with showed me in the simplest ways that you can always choose hope. -Jerrod at Never Had One Lesson

For me, it is that hope of desperate belief in something when you have nothing else, that pulled me through my post partum depression when I became a mother for the first time seventeen years ago. I needed that kind of hope to hold me up and promise me a tomorrow. -Alexandra at Good Day, Regular People

When I prayed as a little girl I begged God to take me in my sleep PLEASE! He never did. Now I know it’s because he is not finished with me here on earth. I don’t know what his plan is but I keep myself open to him and what to do next. Hope. Sweet hope. -Kim at Dazed and Creative

This week, I am forced to face a serious and terrifying hope.My husband had a mole removed a couple weeks ago. What was expected to be a routine and unnecessary procedure has turned into what could either be a very lucky catch or four fatherless children. The biopsy came back malignant Melanoma. -Molly at The Good Enough Girl

In one week, it will have been exactly 3 years since I lost my job, in the new stages of pregnancy, and in a state of confusion and fear that was completely new to me. Some days it feels like it’s been longer; some days it feels like just yesterday. -April at Red Dirt Mama

…And then hope is just the beginning.

So although hope is not a plan, it’s the spark.  It’s the fire in your belly.  In your soul.  It’s what motivates us, and ultimately, hopefully, what moves us forward. -Diary of a Mad Woman

Without information and planning, dedication and sometimes sheer muscle, hope is a merely a dream into which one surrenders their future to the vagaries of chance. -Ann at An Unrefined Vegan

Hope often feels like a dead end path, but we will not know what is waiting for us at the top unless we start walking. -Erin at Life, Ablaze

Instead, [running] gives me the ability to face life’s curve balls unflinchingly. It provides me with a calm and open mind, it helps me take a step back, re-evaluate my initial, emotion-fuelled gut reaction and say, wait a minute, there’s a better way of dealing with this situation. It replenishes my cup of hope and optimism and makes me a much nicer person-Jennifer at Two Itchy Feet

Again, the only way out of that dark, hopeless hole was to take action, be committed and dig deep to find that inner drive to emerge a better, stronger person. To this day, I credit running for a lot of that hope. -Stacy at Will Run for Glitter

Hope is the only first step in accomplishing those goals. The next step, the hard work, is what defines me (as a person, a runner, a friend, daughter, sister etc). -Ashley at Running Bun

Hope is the basic, yet deep foundation that supports my sky-scraping love for running. For LIFE. -Liz at Runnerstood

To me, hope means opportunity.  An opportunity to change, to grow, to better one’s station in life. -Ingrid at Ingrid Improved

Hope is believing in your abilities to achieve this difficult task and knowing that while life may not be exactly what you envisioned it to be, it’s still pretty great because it has made you the person you are. -Gabby at The Veggie Nook

Hope is acknowledging that you have the power to choose to see things/people/situations/your past/life differently. -Cara at Fork and Beans

As a hope without action is simply just that, nothing more than a thought, or a desire. By doing, we become. -Shira at In Pursuit of More

I guess what I’m saying is if times are rough in your life, go ahead and hope for a better day, but you better be working your ass off trying to make it happen. -Aja at Writing and Recovering

Taking back my happiness gives me great hope that my reality will become everything I hope for, regardless of those around me. I will combine hope/work/and reality to create the world I want. That’s what hope means to me. -Nichole at Michon Michon

Hope can save us from ourselves.

I can sit with the surprises and  discover I  am not condemned to stare down the narrow barrel of my own troubled heart. -Doug Harrison at The Outpatient Monk

I’ve come up with the thought that makes me most hopeful for my future. Here it is: It’s okay to fail. It’s A-O-K to suck. To be wrong. To have everyone in a 5 mile radius turn to you in one accord and say, “…boo.” It’s totally and completely fine. -Melanie Crutchfield

Most importantly, you are capable of forgiving yourself for your perceived flaws, and understanding that perception is relative. Your flaws, as well as your talents, make you who you are. -Shannon at Unless I Change My Mind

I have realised that there is nothing wrong with asking for help and admitting that you can’t cope. It doesn’t make you weak, any more than trying to heal yourself and saying that you are ok when you are not, makes you strong. -Normal for Norfolk

I want to pretend that at times I’m not my worst enemy. I want to believe that a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and reading the latest Cosmo Magazine is all any of us needs to perk us up and get us back on our A game. I am human, after all.I’m also not totally delusional. So, I’ve set my nose to the grindstone and started stockpiling again. Maybe one of these days it won’t be so hard. Hope springs eternal. -Jen at When Pigs Fly

I can choose to quit acting like hope is this foreign concept that applies to the whole world except me. -Abby at Abby Has Issues

But sometimes, hope is just the little stuff that keeps us from losing it.

I hope to go eight SECONDS on the computer without hearing “Mommy, mommy, mommymommymommymommymommy,” usually followed by a loud bang and crying. -Carinn at Welcome to The Motherhood

Hope is the happiness that your dog showers on you when you come back from anywhere whether you were gone 1 minute or 10 hours. The wiggly bum, the rapidly fanning tail, the toothy smile “I am so happy that you are back”! -Richa at Vegan Richa

I am absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt convinced that this is the solution to ALL of my hair styling problems. This curling iron CURLS ITSELF, PEOPLE!  And, for those of you who are stupid like me, you can even tell it which side of your head it’s on by pressing a handy-dandy button, so it will CURL THE CORRECT WAY! Hope?  Of course I have Hope!!!! -What I Meant 2 Say

A Final Word: Thanks

Seriously, truly, a million thank yous to all you crazy, crazy people. I know some of you groaned your way to the keyboard when the baton was sent in your direction—thank you for participating anyway (perhaps despite your better judgement). I know some of you struggled with hope—watching your words evaporate as you tried to collect them—thank you for pushing through it. I know some of you haven’t written in a while—thank you for making the time for this.

But mostly, thank you for making this amazing thing. When I recruited the first round of writers, I summed up my hopes for the project in this: I just want to do something beautiful that we can all be proud of. I think we did that. YOU did that. So, high fives, fist bumps, tummy rubs, or whatever makes you feel like a superhero. That. To you. A lot.

Love,

-M

Vengeance Shopping

dino kart

Photo By mugley @ Flickr

Sometimes life is just…ugh…what’s the word? Obnoxious, I think. I would say “ironic” because I think it might apply here, but I have a crippling fear of the word now that everyone has misused it to death and I never feel like I’m using it right. But here’s the deal…I started the Hope 2012 Relay (with 50+ posts now) right as I was teetering on the edge of something dark and hairy and overwhelming in my own life. I didn’t really know that at the time. Sure, I had been a little sulky, but that’s why a fun, communal project on hope is such a good idea, right? Right, Brain?  Right?

Brain: Nope. …And screw you. A lot.

Ummmm…okay. So, what now? Well, what happens at that point is that my mind spirals down into something that I didn’t even know was there. There’s just a lot of anxiety, and scowl-y faces, and probably a yellow-toothed emotional rat of some kind…shit’s all crazy, is what I’m saying. Shit. Is. Crazy.

I wasn’t sad about anything in particular, but everything I thought of seemed to make me sad. I wanted to sleep all the time. I certainly didn’t want to exercise. Daily writing? Gone. Learning a new language? Kaput. (Ha, that’s German. Funny.) Training my brain to be smarter? No thank you. All of the things that I had been doing that made me feel awesome and empowered and inspired were locked off in some secret place, guarded by the aforementioned emotional rat. Ratty, I call him.

After a while, I saw that I had been heading in a not-so-good direction for some time. Honest and truly, I still don’t know why. It’s like I was standing on emotional quicksand and I was just livin’ life, chattin’ it up and then thought, “Hey, what’s this sandy stuff in my mouth?” And what do you even do at that point? In the movies, the cowboy or whatever would grab on to the just-out-of-reach reigns on his horse, then yell “Go, boy! Go!” and he’d be dragged to safety. I don’t even know what the emotional equivalent to that is, so I was kinda screwed.

So one day, instead of lying in my bed some more, the fam and I decided to get a coffee and take a long drive by the coast. Out of desperation, I ordered a half-caffeinated coffee, because I’ve noticed in the past that sometimes a little caffeine can boost my mood. And at that point, I’d try anything. Well, not a cocaine smoothie, but, you know…a half-caffeinated mocha.

And, you know what? It did. Just a little. Just a teensy, eensy bit. A little, hairline crack appeared in my emotional tomb, and I decided to shove something in it.

After dinner, I loaded my sad, yet determined self into the car. We needed bread, cotton balls, fudge pops and—to save me from certain catastrophe—caffeinated coffee. But that wasn’t all I was going to do. I was going to shop like I meant it. I was going to shop like shopping was the way to kick life in the nuts and tell it to screw off for beating me up so bad. I was going to shop with VENGEANCE.

I pulled into the parking lot, cursing at all the poor parking jobs (seriously, people…there are LINES. It’s just like coloring. Just stay between the lines.). But that wasn’t going to stop me. I pulled into my spot, jerked the e-brake on and bolted out of the car, purse in hand.

I got a cart, because I wanted to have the option to fill it all the way up if I wanted. I mean, what if I wanted a family pack of goldfish crackers? Right? And a small fan? We need a fan. I needed a cart to put goldfish crackers, and a fan, and a ream of paper into if I wanted. Also, I needed to lean on that thing all hunched over like a crazy person like I didn’t give a shit because I needed to not give a shit and I needed everyone to know it.

I circled around the make-up aisle for a long time. Think I’m stupid for circling around, shoppers? Huh? I don’t care. Look at me circle! I’m going to read ALL of the labels on ALL of the “primers” because I don’t really know what that is, but I know I want to buy it, so you’re gonna have to just calm down, okay? Yeah, that’s right.

Then I looked at the organizational stuff. Maybe I’d buy a little organization box for the crap pile that always gathers on the counter. Maybe I’ll buy those shirt perfume beads that I saw on TV! Maybe I’ll buy cinnamon mouth wash! Who’s going to stop me?! WHO!?

Oh, damn. They don’t have cinnamon mouth wash.

…But the sentiment’s still there! Imma buy 200 jumbo cotton balls. And a $5 necklace and earring set (thank you China) that has a wing, and a heart with the word “Love” on it, and a sparkly thing. I’m gonna put them on in the car and when I look at myself in the mirror, I’m going to know that behind those eyes—that have cried far too much lately—are the words, “You know what, Depression? Me and my wing necklace think you should screw right off.”

So, for now, I’m gonna sit here, wearing my wing-heart-sparkle necklace and my little shiny studs, drinking coffee and eating a fudge pop like a badass.

Be sure to stay tuned for the upcoming closing ceremonies for HOPE 2012: a Blog Relay! And, heck, might as well subscribe, right? Go, boy! Go!

Hope Marches on, and Sometimes I Do Weird Things

As of this morning, there have been 47 writers and bloggers who have been invited to participate in Hope 2012: A Blog Relay. The work, so far, is phenomenal. I mean, it’s really, crazy-freaking-good stuff. I’m a teeeensy fish in this growing pond. Like, a guppy. I couldn’t be happier.

I can’t wait to see how much farther the baton will go. If you want to read some of the entries thus far, go back to the original post and click through the links at the bottom. Then, just keep following the race! Cool, cool stuff.

Here’s a little quote that I read this morning from Jermaine M. McDonald’s turn with the baton (LOVE this):

I am convinced that hope is communal virtue. By that, I mean that it is almost impossible to maintain hope when one is or feels alone. It is too easy to fall into despair when facing the challenges of the day, both personal and social.

And now I shall share with you a slightly embarrassing little tidbit about me. Because I’m working on being vulnerable, remember?

So, here it is: sometimes I do this thing I have deemed “Self-Parenting Artwork.” I treat myself like a fragile, teensy, impressionable kid, and imagine what a good, loving, parent would say to that kid. I think of something kind. Something encouraging. Something that a fragile, teensy person might need to hear. And then I write that something out using crayon, and I don’t judge the quality of it. I pretend that it’s being made by a one-eyed baby gibbon, in which case, it’s quite impressive. And then I put my crayon drawing of encouraging words on the refrigerator for as long as needed.

So there it is. I told you something kind of stupid about me. I hope that some of you try it. As silly as it is, it’s a terribly caring thing to do for yourself and some days—well, we just need a little extra care.

I’ll leave you with what I did today—today, which was another day of fighting through the loneliness of being the only adult in my home during the daytime; another day of feeling overwhelmed by who I want to be in the world; another day of needing just a little more hope on my side. I’ll leave you with my silly drawing, which pairs nicely with the quote from Mr. McDonald.

You are Not Alone

Tada!

Go give yourself some hugs from me, okay? Cool.

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