Numbered Words: 2017

I’m back in Texas, which means I can share my “Books I Read in 2017” List. I’ll warn you: there’s no need to hold onto one’s hat.

1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood)
2. The Lovely Bones (Sebold)
3. The Heavenly Table (Pollack)
4. Secondhand Souls (Moore)
5. Adulthood is a Myth (Andersen)
6. It (King)
7. Under the Banner of Heaven (Krakauer)
8. Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists and Other Sex Offenders (Salter)
9. Motherfucking Sharks (Carr)
10. The Ghost Box (Hingston & Olsen)
11. Heart and Brain (Seluk)
12. Point Your Face at This: Drawings (Martin)
13. The Evil That Men Do (Hazelwood)

I don’t feel proud of this list, but I am sharing it because I strive for authenticity. I don’t remember why I chose to keep a list. I can tell you that keeping this list has forced me (thankfully!) to evaluate how I spend my time. As I wrote in the previous entry, I do not do resolutions. What I do is self-care. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to take care of myself and to devote time to those activities that feed my soul, those activities that truly bring me joy. I am looking forward to more reading in the coming year. Today, I have nearly finished reading 2018’s first book: Difficult Women (Gay).

If you kept a reading list in 2017 and read less than you hoped, please do not feel discouraged. I am a self-identified book worm. I love books. I want all of the books. For the first time, my checked bag was over 50# on the trip back to TX from NC. I moved my toiletry bag and a new book – problem solved. It’s a big book – a crime writing anthology edited by Harold Schechter – that I cannot wait to consume. But, I feel embarrassed by my 2017 list. It’s a new year. I will do better this year, and so will you, if you want.

No clever title today.

I do not trust myself enough. I’m also too hard on myself, but I guess that is true of most people. I am constantly trying to find the group into which I fit.

I have been lusting after a tshirt that has an image of Albert Fish on it with the text, “Full of Grace.” Now, you have options: you can Google “Albert Fish” and “Grace” and thank me later (hint: you’re not likely to thank me later), or you can contact me via Facebook, Twitter (@commonmaggie), Instagram (commonmaggie) or leave a comment here for me to ask, “Hey, what does that shirt mean?” So, I have had my eye on this shirt for months. A few things are stopping me: I don’t need another tshirt; I shouldn’t spend money on something I don’t need; I’m not sure how often I’d wear it. I mean, it’s an Albert Fish tshirt. If you Googled what I instructed you to Google, you know it’s inappropriate. Also, is this shirt ME?

I am simultaneously lusting after a sweater blazer – among other items – from JCrew. It is my favorite clothing brand. I cannot help myself.

What group is that? The group of women who cannot pass up a good serial killer pun tshirt but who want to wear a JCrew cardigan over the serial killer tshirt (I have a great emerald green cardigan that I want to wear over ev-er-y-thing). While actively thinking about this, I have told myself that if it is just me – which is unlikely – that’s okay. If there are only 4 of us in the world, that’s okay, too. If there are thousands, and they all live in Scandinavia while I live in Texas, it’s still okay. I like to think I will get to “the others” some day. But, if it’s just me or if I never meet others, it is okay.

As cheesy as it is, I often give myself pep talks about being myself. Some days, I do it more than once. Other days, being myself and owning it come so easily. I am not 100% sure of every single thing. I probably never will be. But I know myself better and better all the time.

I can tell you what I like: serial killers, preppy clothes, expensive purses, Converse, blankets, disturbing stories, horror movies, mysteries, silly socks, puppies, bookstores, music stores, comedies, puns, crossword puzzles, books, cardigans, boots, hats, my Honda Fit, the color green, my glasses, ice cream, Italian food, brunch, art, skylines, the tall green trees of my homeland and the unbelievably wide sky of west Texas, rainy days at home, soft fabrics, wandering around with Todd, road trips, holding babies (Yes, I like holding babies, especially the part when I hand the baby to someone else), watching football, swearing, writing, working out, sleeping in, yoga, warm weather, the beach, the mountains, the Pacific Northwest, people watching, the smell of books, shuffling cards, scarves, hoodies, reading about surreal horror films I may never get to watch because they exist in such a small space, trying to understand what “surreal” means, finding a new author to love, being an Introvert, telling people I’m an Introvert, poetry, playing games, finding one more thing to love about San Angelo, getting dressed up, the physical act and physical sensation of writing, fresh notebooks, Ramona, movie lists (ie The 50 Scariest Movies of All Time), never having had to stop listening to an episode of The Last Podcast on The Left (I want all the gold stars!), fundraising for MS research, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, vampire lore, learning about sex offenders, being assertive, helping someone “come around,” things that could likely be described as “fucked up,” surprise flowers, desperately trying to find an NFL team to support (how long ago did Peyton Manning retire, and I still have no clue), buying things from school fundraisers, and on and on and on. The list may never end.

For some balance, here are some things I don’t like: butterflies, the color pink, Metallica, science fiction movies, boxing, lima beans, beer, the NY Yankees, Alabama football, peep-toe shoes, face tattoos, chevron pattern, deciding that every person who has committed a crime is a bad person, elitism, being interrupted, mansplaining, being treated like I can’t handle things, eating meat off of the bone, spicy food, the idea that addiction isn’t a disease, people who argue that sexual contact with children should be permitted if the child consents (a child cannot consent), people who wear dark clothing while jogging around Santa Rita in the dark, not being able to read all of the books at once, not having a window in my office, how difficult it is to find shirts for work that are stylish but not low cut, and on and on and on.

I really did begin this entry focusing on my lack of feeling like I belong in a group. In a way, I have found “my people,” but they aren’t my people in that I can say I am a certain type of person and they are the same type of persons. I don’t think there’s anything concise I can say about myself that would give a person an idea of who I am. I don’t have a category, like goth, that would right away tell someone what to expect from me. I don’t identify as a feminist (see previous entry) or a yankee. I’m not a Texan. I’m not a buckeye (2-4-6-8 who gives a shit about Ohio State?), and I’m not an athlete. I don’t identify with a certain religion, at this time. I didn’t go to a big, well-known college (it I’m not an Aggie). I’m not an English teacher. I’m not a Steelers fan.

So, where does one belong if her first heroes were Daria Morgandorfer, Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Wurtzel? I wrote high school research papers about the Manson family and euthanasia (I support the Right to Die movement). The only moderately decent stories I’ve ever written were “horror” stories, but I’ve written some poetry that wasn’t total trash (probably 98.5% trash). I want to spend the rest of my life working with and researching sex offenders and sex offender treatment. I love to watch Bob’s Burgers. Hannibal Lecter is my favorite fictional character and I love the Harry Potter series. Reading The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor changed my life. As did The Handmaid’s Tale and Anatomy of Motive.

When we were in California, the same day we visited The Huntington, we also visited The Museum of Death (LA), and I really enjoyed both. Both were important to me on that trip. On a different day, we made a quick stop outside of Jim Henson Studios so I could see the Kermit the Frog statue. Then we went to Amoeba Music where I almost bought a Texas Chain Saw Massacre tshirt (wish I had). None of this seems to add up to anything logical.

Maybe all of this rambling is a lesson, for myself, in not being able to put anyone into a group; not being able to have any expectation of anyone based upon a group with which a person may choose to identify. It would be nice to come away from this topic having lost the feeling that I should fit in a group, because the reality is that nobody does.

Enough already.

10.22.17

When I feel or think that I’m not *this* enough, I don’t know if my feeling or thought is realistic.

In LA, Todd wanted to buy me a “Feminist AF” shirt. It was a great shirt. I liked it. It was kind of him to want to buy that for me. He thought it suited me. I turned it down because I worry that I’m not feminist enough. I don’t even know who gets to make that decision.

Can we say that I know a lot about serial killers if I sometimes forget where John Wayne Gacy lived? Or if I don’t know many details about Henry Lee Lucas? I’ve only just recently decided I want to learn more about Carl Panzram. What about forgetting the number of victims for a given serial killer? I am almost never sure of the number of victims. I gotta say: it’s similar to my interest in music. I have favorites. I have preferences. I know more about Jeffrey Dahmer than I do Richard Ramirez. If Ed Kemper still wrote to people, I would get a PO Box and write to him. True story.

Maybe I’m not enough of a horror nerd because I haven’t seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2? I feel indifferent about seeing it. The Exorcist is scary, but it doesn’t scare me that much. I can watch it without problems. I found the book to be scarier. Pet Sematary, on the other hand, equally scary book and movie. We don’t need to discuss how many times I’ve watched Hannibal or Silence of The Lambs, but maybe I need to watch Hannibal Rising a few (okay, several) more times to even out that my viewing of the Lecter movies? Todd and I were recently discussing the Saw franchise and I had to admit that while I fondly remember the 2nd one, I think I only watched it one time. I like horror movies, but that’s not the only genre of movie I like. I’m never going to have watched all of the horror movies. I don’t want to do that. I want to see the comedies, too, and serial killer documentaries and documentaries about the opioid crisis, sex offenders, folklore and cults. I also enjoy a good tear-jerker and some classics.

I may not be enough of a book nerd. I love to read, but I almost never read a book that was just released. Christopher Moore is my favorite author, and I still haven’t read The Serpent of Venice. I’m currently reading a book that will never see the NYT Bestseller List. Although I don’t know what they will be, it’s safe to say that the next 4 books I read haven’t made it and won’t make it to the NYT Bestseller List, but they will be what I want to read. As a side note: Noir, also by Christopher Moore, will be released 04/17/18, and I’m not likely to read it or even buy it right that minute.

I believe and feel that I am enough, as a person, but somehow, simultaneously not enough to fit into these groups (i.e., feminist, horror nerd, bookworm). I think to get myself to a point that I believe I fit in any one of these groups, I would end up being untrue to myself somewhere in the process. I would end up feeling like I’m wasting my time trying to meet what may very well be an impossible standard (not that I have a habit of setting impossible standards for myself or anything like that /s). I would likely feel resentful. I bet Nicholas Sparks makes the NYT Bestsellers List. I don’t want to read that. I don’t want something I enjoy and LOVE to become an assignment I’m trying to complete “for someone else.” For someone who isn’t paying attention, has no idea I’m doing this for him/her and doesn’t care. I’m not willing to do that.

I’m only willing to be myself – a woman who reads and watches what she wants to, what she likes. A woman who thinks it’s important for women to be treated equally to men, women should have choices and power. I enjoy watching horror movies, and I want to watch so many of them, but I also want to re-watch Psych and the Harry Potter series. I want to keep up with Bob’s Burgers, to an extent. I want to watch whatever looks interesting to me. I don’t want to read ALL of the books. I only want to read the ones that sound good to me. After I finish Motherfucking Sharks, I might get into some Camille Paglia. Who knows? I’ll never reach that looming, impossible standard I have set in my mind that will make me a real feminist, a real horror nerd, a real bookworm, but I know someday it will go away. It will be like it never existed at all.

I don’t know how to measure any of this.

MuckFest MS Austin

Before we get into MuckFest MS, I need to tell you about the day before and the AirBNB where Tristi and I stayed. It was a little apartment-type place in Bastrop. Super cute; more than what we needed for just one night, but great. By the time we got there, it was dark (we shopped out butts off in San Marcos). I read the host’s instructions a few times. It all sounded easy enough.

We get to the place and get into the driveway. We enter through the gate, like the instructions instructed. Once in the backyard, we could turn left and enter a house or turn right and enter a house. We turned left. That was the wrong turn. We turned left and entered a home. Creaky screen door – creaky like creaking is its job. We enter the home and are two rooms deep before we realize THIS IS NOT WHERE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE. WE ARE INSIDE SOMEONE’S HOME. So, we backtrack and exit through that god-awful creaky screen door. At this point, we have a perfect view of the apartment where we are supposed to go. Good grief, people. We were inside a stranger’s home without their permission. It was dark. I maintain that we were lucky not to be shot.

We settle into the apartment-type place and find a place to get grub. We drive to Roadhouse for food. We eat the food and each leave with a Salted Caramel Cupcake because you do not resist the cupcake that is advertised on the door of the establishment and on the chalkboard inside the establishment. Not gonna lie – it was a good cupcake. I ate mine for breakfast the next morning. Speaking of the next morning….

On 10.15.17 I participated in MuckFest MS in the Austin area. I had this image in my mind – beforehand – of myself crying intermittently through the course. I expected to spend a lot of time remembering my mom and feeling the weight of her death. I expected the emotional weight of completing the course for her to be in the front of my mind all day. While I could feel her with me and I did draw courage from that when an obstacle was particularly daunting, I didn’t cry once. I literally slithered on my belly through muddy water for my mom because she died from complications related to a disease that robbed her of the ability to move or even speak. I climbed over things without thinking about how high they were. I slid down a hill of mud. I slid down a wet slide that threw me right into a pit of muddy water. I went through 2 obstacles that I shouldn’t have gone through because I lack swimming skills. I got into water over my head and struggled my way to the other side of those pits for my mom.

While we were at the starting line waiting for our start time, the MC asked us to recognized all those people who have MS who were participating. I learned during registration that persons who suffer from MS are given a special bandana to wear to indicate that they are “mucking with MS.” There were several of these participants in our heat. I did get emotional about that. If I had not been trying to get myself ready for the course, I probably could have just sat down and cried about them. It’s my understanding that, even fore someone who suffers from MS but can still function independently, a 5k would be tiring and trying and stressful. But, there they were, and not just in our wave. While on the course and afterward, I saw more people wearing those bandanas. I’m not sure exactly what I felt. I was happy to see them there. I was happy to see them on the course. I just wish I could take all the bad stuff away for them. I wish I could have hugged all of them. They kicked ass that day, just like they do every day. End of story.

I assume it comes across as being very cheesy to others to learn that I think of my mother when I am trying to do something that is physically demanding. In my past, I have completed 2 half-marathons (13.1 miles/each). I thought about mom during both of those. In the gym, I often think of my mom. I know I’m not serving her by doing difficult, physical activities. What I watched her endure keeps me from taking my physical health for granted, even if we’re talking about something as simple as walking up a flight of stairs. I can do it. Not everyone can. In addition to completing all of the obstacles at MuckFest MS, I also walked the course with some of my team members (Go Lucky Muckers!). We talked. We laughed. We enjoyed seeing the horses on the grounds (the course was on a horse farm – pretty rad). The point is, I was physically capable of walking the course. I’m grateful for every day of that.

After completing the course, rinsing off, changing clothes and having a drink and a snack, I wrote about mom on the shoelace display. I don’t remember what it was for, but it was an opportunity to tell “the world,” this is why I’m here. I also wrote about mom on the official MuckFest MS orange backdrop doo-dad. Mom, her name, the year she was born and the year she passed.

I used to think I would get a tattoo in memory of mom. I had this great idea that I would get that tattoo when I was the age she was when I was born. That ship has sailed. When it was close to “go time,” I realized that I’m never going to forget mom. I’m never going to forget what she went through. Why get a tattoo for her? I have shared about her here, and I will continue to do so, but you’ll never get the whole story. You’ll never get the details that I struggle to choke out when I need to tell them. That story is so personal to me. It’s not entertainment. It’s not a way for me to get attention. It’s a part of my life and my life story, but I only share all of it with important people. While I appreciate your readership (I truly do; you are incredible), the full story about mom is in line with sharing my deepest, darkest secret. It’s not for you.

Let’s address MuckFest in another light: It was FUN. I have never done anything like it, and I will do it again given the chance. I will recruit a team and hopefully do better fundraising. I feel genuinely excited to do it again next year. I want to try to raise enough money for my team to have a tent and maybe our own changing area. I want to have a larger team. I want to be bigger and better next time. I think we will keep the same team name. It served us well. I had a great team. Everyone was so nice and we brought in money for the cause. I am planning to write notes to everyone to thank them. I wish I could do something for them or give them something, but I’m not particularly wealthy. Nor am I particularly social. I hope a nice note will do the job. I’m not even sure how to express my appreciation, but I’ll figure out something and hopefully not cry while doing so.

We came up short on photographic records. Tristi, Aubrey, Austin and I got to the course site with just enough time to check in and get our bags to the bag check area before we had to be at the starting line. So, no “before” photos. We didn’t have a spectator to take pictures everywhere. We have some photos from event photographers, but I wish we had more. Next time, we’ll plan better, arrive earlier and have someone traipse around just to take pictures.

I am going to write notes to my donors. People really went above and beyond, and it is so meaningful to me. MS hasn’t effected everyone’s life or hasn’t effected their lives the way it has effected mine, but they gave anyway. I guess they gave for me, in a way. At any rate, I am still feeling the love. I know some truly caring, generous people. I’m thinking caring and generous people are the people who get things done, or at least help propel things along.

Swing 1
This is me on the Swing Set obstacle (with Tristi in the background): the first obstacle that required me to jump into water that was over my head and propel myself to the other side of the pit. Later when a teammate asked me how I did it, I said I just tried not to die. Success!

Muck Group 1
This is the team: Lucky Muckers. This was during the course, but we were slowed down by a line that had formed at the Flying Muckers obstacle. We did good.

Finish Line Group
This is part of the team after crossing the finish line. You can see the Crash Landing obstacle in the background. The photographer said something about us being “done,” so we tried to pep it up. Just so we’re clear: you bet your ass I rang the bell at the finish line.

Click here: My MuckFest MS Fundraising Site to read a little more about how MS has impacted my life and to donate to the cause if you’re feeling like you might want to do that (fundraising continues until 12/13/17).

To learn more about MS, MS research, MuckFest and how you can help:
National MS Society
Official MuckFest MS Site

Georgia boys.

10.02.17

I recently received a special message from Todd’s friend, Zach M. I guess I received it on 09/24/17, and I have been sitting on it. I have read it over and over. I have tried to respond. And it brought me to writing a blog entry about it. If that’s not some weird circle of thinking and action, I don’t know what is.

I feel like I have endless support for my hobby of writing. Poor Todd gets stuck proofreading for me, which includes reading to reassure me that I’ve made sense and am not terrible at writing. Ever since I started sharing my blog, I have gotten compliments from surprising sources. I have had people encourage me to maintain my blog. They want to read more. I have gotten weepy over the feedback for my writing, whether it’s a blog entry or a Facebook post. It’s touching to me to have a person reach out to me to tell me they like my writing. Nobody has to do that. I would still keep a blog. I would still keep a journal. I would still want to write.

I have never met Zach. He and Todd have been friends since their time at University of Georgia (go dawgs!). Zach M. is the Editor of the Madison County Journal in Georgia.

10.8.17

I still haven’t addressed the message I received from Zach. I can’t even finish a blog entry about it (obviously)…. It’s too much, I think. A person who writes at a professional level cannot compliment my writing. I can’t handle it, folks. Lesson learned. When I told Todd that I still haven’t written back because I haven’t figured out what to write, he said that I just need to say, “Thanks,” or something to that effect. He’s right. I know that. I just need to thank Zach, and I will, but not until I am done obsessing about it. Maybe I will write back that I don’t know what to say. Like I said, it’s too much.

That I have never met Zach is a factor. I didn’t seek him out to read my writing. He found it because Todd posted a link to my MuckFestMS page on his own Facebook page. It never crossed my mind that he’d read it, and it definitely never crossed my mind that he would appreciate it. He’s under no obligation to compliment my writing.

I also need to tell you that Zach’s dad, Judson Mitcham, is the poet laureate for Georgia.

Yeah, I’m going to have to be honest when I write back to Zach. I’m going to have to admit that I don’t know what to say because, in this situation, “Thank you,” doesn’t seem sufficient.

Taking my own advice.

As I often do, I wrote a blog entry in Word. I couldn’t commit. Like I said, I often do this. It gives me an opportunity to sleep on it. I have MANY Word documents saved. Realizing I haven’t updated the blog in a while, I started reviewing these entries. I found us a winner, y’all:

07.24.17
I hate when writing feels like a struggle. When I am in the right mood and right head space, writing feels so natural. I edit, as needed, but usually the subject matter is there. I just wordsmith it and hope for the best. Before I started keeping my current blog, I rarely ever let anyone read what I wrote. The only writing I did on any remotely consistent basis was writing in my journal, which I grow to love more all the time. What was once a rigid practice for me – I have to do it just.like.this. – has become more free and flexible. Sometimes I just jot down points I want to remember. In blank spaces, I scribble band names I want to remember. In the back pages, I keep lists of gift ideas for people, including me. Sometimes I write a quote in a color that will stand out – red or green – for easy future access. I keep records of story ideas for me and for Todd. I stuff mementos between the pages.
When Todd and I visited with Mr. Arber (Richard? I’m too lazy to use the Google Machine right now) in his gallery during Marfa Myths in 2016, he mentioned that Donald Judd’s daughter, Rainer, keeps a journal with her at all times. That inspired me. I copy that. I carry a small, emerald green Moleskine in my purse at all times. This has had a serious impact on my writing life. Any time the mood to write anything strikes me, I can write. I write during breaks at work. I write while travelling with Todd. I write during meals. Whenever I’m moved.
That’s the ticket, right? I need to be moved. It doesn’t have to be sadness or happiness. Any emotion will do. That’s what I need to write. When it’s not there, but I feel the urge to write, I will write as practice and without expectation. I need to practice more.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I do need to practice more. I recently completed my admissions essay for ASU. I even have an entry about that process. In the entry, I wrote that it was taking hours, not days, to complete. It ended up taking days. I’m sure I made it more difficult than it needed to be. That’s kind of my thing. The good news is: I finished the essay, submitted it, submitted my application and submitted my transcripts. Now, more waiting. I have to wait for some additional information before I can pay the application fee. Sheesh.

As an additional update, I had to buy a new Moleskine. It’s a different shade of green. More on this later.

Sharing is caring.

Two posts in one day – craziness! And so close in time – madness!

I want to share something in the hope that it will lend itself to holding me accountable. I am awful at setting goals. I once dated a guy who asked me about my 5-year plan (I was 26-27 at the time). I like to think that was the moment when I knew he and I were doomed, but I knew waaaay before that moment (I was so dumb). In processing him asking about my 5-year plan, of course I panicked thinking this is something everyone does but never mentions to me, I am doomed, I will never be successful, I’m doing everything wrong, I’m never going to grow up*, I need to make a plan, and Oh, my God, I don’t even like making plans for the upcoming weekend…. Eventually I talked to my dad about 5-year plans. He was, like, “No.” Looking back, I think my dad has always been trying to tell me to do my own thing and be my own person – whoever that is. Like, always. I just didn’t listen, which is not entirely surprising. I have come around. I don’t make 5-year plans. If you do, please tell me how and why. Also, how do you handle that pressure?

Anyway, the point of this post is to share my goals for this upcoming week. I may be able to do this, one week at a time.
See below.

Wk 1

I know you’re all wondering: Maggie, what is this enchanting paper you used to document your goals for the week? It’s a Chick-fil-A napkin I left on the coffee table yesterday. There’s no shame in my game, y’all. Try to keep up.

* I still have not grown up.

Interweb Mistakes.

I make a lot of mistakes on the Internet by looking at ridiculous shit. I recently noticed a trend in telling readers how to journal. For maximum effect, I will repeat: I recently noticed a trend in telling reader how to journal. I mostly see this on Pinterest accompanied by professional photographs of “fancy” writing in “fancy books” with multiple colors of ink, doodles, charts, graphs, etc. I see books with pockets for keeping items, stickers, bookmarks, paperclips with stuff glued to them…. It looks expensive and overwhelming.

I don’t remember when I started keeping a journal, but it was back when I still called it “keeping a diary.” I remember owning a lavender diary with a cat on it. I hate cats. I remember that diary. It had the goofy, flimsy lock and the key that had the strength of a paperclip – a low level paperclip, not one of those serious paperclips that can easily manage 18 pages.

I’ve written here about my current journal here – an emerald green moleskine that I carry in my purse. I would prefer nobody read it, but if someone grabbed it from me and ran off as if to humiliate me with what they found inside it, I don’t think I’d do much to stop them. They might learn something.

The idea that I need to be instructed or taught how to journal is offensive, unless the instructions are:
1 – buy a blank book, notebook, index cards, whatever you want to write on;
2 – buy a writing instrument you like to use;
3 – write whatever you want in whatever fashion you want in the item you acquired in Step 1.
What else is there? Am I missing something?
Realistically, you could scrap all of these (3) instructions and just write whatever on whatever surface with whatever instrument. If I really need/want to write something down, and I don’t have my journal or some kind of paper handy, I’ll write on receipts, napkins, old grocery store lists, etc. Whatever I can find. Later, I’ll copy it into my journal or maybe just put the written-on scrap between some pages. I wrote it down. It’s there. That’s all I need. It’s not uncommon to find napkins between the pages of my journals.

Even considering that I journal incorrectly (that I need to be taught how to do it) or that I don’t journal effectively makes me think of being advised that I need to wear make-up all the time. I don’t do that. If you follow me on social media, you may remember that the caption for a picture of me & Todd the night we went out for my birthday dinner refers to me rubbing dirt and chemicals on my face. I do it when I want to do it. I also do it when I know I’m going to court, which I have to state specifically because that is a time when I don’t always want to do it. The point is, I am the same Maggie whether I paint my face or not. My journal is as valuable and effective and correct, regardless of how it’s done. As a special note, if you wear make-up every day and that’s what you want to do, *high five* You are kicking ass. If you wear make-up every day and you don’t want to, please talk to me about this. I have seen this other side of life, and I can tell you that nothing bad happens. You will still be you – worthy, valuable, important and loved.

Journaling seems like one of the last things we should need several items to do it effectively. One writing surface, one writing instrument and you’re set. What if someone was interested in keeping a journal and they saw all of these articles about different ink pens, stickers, etc. and decided it was too expensive, too overwhelming or required so much skill? That’s absurd. The special lettering and doodles may do someone in. I don’t draw and my handwriting is sloppy, but I keep my journal. I write what I want to, when I want to. But if I tried to start journaling and felt that to do it correctly I needed to master all of this lettering and special doodles…. I wouldn’t do it, because that’s not my area. I’m a word person, not a shapes and lines person.

Journaling doesn’t require special skills or equipment. Depending on your motivation for getting into it, it doesn’t even require a special commitment. The idea of writing in my journal every day sounds great, but I also like reading, going to the gym, spending time with Todd, spending time with our [four-legged] girls, watching TV/movies. I don’t always make time to write in my journal. If/When I feel moved to write, I do it. Sometimes, like today, it gets done here and not in the moleskine.

If the shorts don’t fit, you must….

When I decided to share this blog with anyone & everyone, I realized there is some element of bravery in this adventure.  There is A LOT of bravery in sharing this post.  If you suffer from an eating disorder or are a survivor of an eating disorder, this may be triggering for you.

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6.10.17

We went swimming at Tristi’s today.  I felt so excited to put on my bathing suit.  I really like my bathing suit.  I like the story of how I came to have this bathing suit.  I felt so excited to go lie in the sun and – hopefully – get some color on my skin.  I pulled on a pair of running shorts over my bathing suit.  The shorts are every bit of 2 years old.  I talked to Todd about how they used to fit loose.  They did.  I have photographic proof!  Now, they are snug around my booty and my thighs, but I like that.  That was part of our discussion – that I like having a bigger booty and bigger thighs.  By no means is it all solid muscle, but there is a fair amount of muscle.  I squat, I lunge.  I do what Coach Aubrey tells me to do and I use weight.  I feel proud of my thighs and my booty.  There is power & strength there.  The shorts are satisfyingly snug, not uncomfortably snug.

After swimming, I dried off and attempted to put the shorts back on.  Tristi commented on how she thinks they are cute.  We had been talking about trading clothes earlier because as I am getting larger, she is shrinking, so she said she will take them if I’m ever ready to get rid of them.  Then, I couldn’t pull the shorts all the way up.  I couldn’t get them over my thighs.  They made a sound like the seams were tearing.  Okay, no shorts for the short ride home.  My brain went to a place that I would have preferred it not go.  Chubby.  Heavy.  Fat. 

While walking to the truck, CARRYING MY SHORTS I COULD NOT FIT ONTO MY BODY, I thought of giving them to Tristi.  Why not?  I need to stop wearing them.  They don’t fit me because I am chubby.  I am too big.  Tristi has gotten so tiny, and I know she needs shorts.

When we got home, I got ready to shower.  Chubby.  Heavy.  Pale.  My stomach is so big.  My thighs are fat, not strong.  I am pale all over.  My stomach is gross.  My waistline is GONE.  Chubby.  Pale.  Gross.  Ugly.  Those shorts must look awful over my chubby thighs.  They are short, which means my pale legs are exposed.  Pale.  I could already tell that I didn’t get any color today.  That’s not surprising.

I must disclose that this is very difficult to write.  I work every day to love this body.  I work every day to remind myself that I am so much more than this.  When others struggle with their own body image, I remind them of these things that I’m not always good at remembering for myself.  Every body is deserving of love and care.  But this belly has to go.  These things have to get toned.

I lose the fight against my skin tone every year, and every year I feel angry and frustrated that I am allergic to something in self-tanners (and this is the only thing I am allergic to, as far as I know).  The only time I’ve gotten and kept a respectable tan is when I used a tanning bed, which I won’t do anymore.  It’s so weird that I may see someone who is pale and my mind makes up all these reasons why it is okay for that person, but not for me (it is okay for that person, but not for me = that statement, alone, is a huge problem, that it’s not okay for my skin to be the way it is).  Sometimes I can go long periods of time without giving a fuck.  Yes, I am pale.  Whatever.  What-ev-er.

I don’t want to buy bigger clothes.  I have convinced myself that buying bigger clothes means accepting my body at this size and not trying – not working – to make it better (read: smaller).  Then I might accept it getting even bigger.  How long before it’s out of control?

As I wrote, I work every day to love this body.  I have had many long stretches of time during which loving this body went very well.  Part of the reason why I love my bathing suit so much is that I spent the time and energy to work up the courage to try on bikinis and buy one.  Earlier this year, I told myself my bikini days were over.  I told myself I needed to get a one-piece bathing suit this year.  More often than not, I do the work for my self-love.  I do the work to keep it afloat.  As you can see, there are times when I slip.  My self-love isn’t as reliable as I need it to be.  I am a work in progress.

Some kind of leader

written 6.2.17

During the past 2 days at work, I attended a training about Motivational Interviewing (MI).  I think it was an okay training.  I don’t think I can use much of it in working with sex offenders.  That’s an entry for another day.  Today was the second day of the training, and I noticed something that I feel compelled to write about.  I even made a note in my notepad during the training so I wouldn’t forget.

I would never label myself a “leader.”  I would never ask to supervise a project or be someone’s boss.  When I have been asked to take on a supervising role, I have said, “No, thank you.”  I’m not an extrovert.  I don’t want to be in charge.  In every class I took with Dr. Sofranko during college, he said that because we (the students) were in college, it was almost inevitable that we would all end up managing/supervising others at some point in life.  At that point in my life and for many years after, my Sass Level was well below zero (0).  Still, every time Dr. Sofranko made that statement, I thought to myself, “I’ll show you!”  Honestly, the first time I heard him say it, I’m sure my Internal Panic Alarm sounded.  But, every time after that, my internal response was to accept the statement as some kind of challenge he was issuing.  It’s not lost on me that my job title is Community Supervision Officer.  I’m not supervising other employees.  I’m supervising sex offenders who live in the community (insert helpless, maniacal laughter).  This is the first time I am having this realization.  Good lookin’ out, Dr. Sofranko.  May you rest in peace, especially knowing that you were right about so many things.

For the MI training, we were situated in groups of 8.  I have no issues with anyone in my group.  I approach my job with the philosophy that the job of everyone in my department is difficult.  End of story.  As is usually the case, there was not an obvious leader in my group.  When someone had to speak for the whole group, we all looked at each other hoping it would be someone else.  That’s my default setting.

I know work trainings are often boring.  Sometimes they are/seem pointless.  I know that.  I also know that sometimes trying to make the best out of a less-than-perfect situation keeps the situation from seeming so awful.  Time passes easier, one’s mood doesn’t sour as much when one tries.  I think?  That’s been my experience.  Easier said than done.  I know that, too.  Maybe attitude is everything?

Early in the day yesterday, I realized that I would not be able to use much of what we were being taught because of the nature of the population I supervise.  That happens.  A lot.  My initial response to this realization in any situation is to feel frustrated.  Damnit.  I need help with my work.  I need to learn new skills to help me work more effectively with sex offenders.  But I’m the only person in my department who needs this.  Eventually, I replace frustration with some other feeling: apathy, being reasonable, etc.  I chose being reasonable yesterday.  Okay, I have to sit through this training.  I’ll make the best of it.  I’ll listen, I’ll take notes, I’ll try to do the exercises correctly.  I might even participate in discussions.  If I pay attention, I may learn some things that I can use, here-and-there.  Not everyone in my group took this route.  Okay.  We’re all different.  No problem.

We were working on an exercise that required us each to write responses to, I think, 5 different statements, discuss each of our statements as a group and choose one that we believed was the best out of all 8 options.  When it seemed like my group was kind of disorganized, I tried to become some kind of leader.  I got the impression that nobody wanted to do the exercise, nobody wanted to share their answer and nobody wanted to choose the best one.  Work trainings are often boring, and we always have work to do in our offices that is, honestly, more important.  We didn’t have much choice and I didn’t think it sounded like much fun to have nothing to say when it was our turn to respond.  No, we wouldn’t get into trouble, but it wouldn’t do our image any favors.  Not to mention, there were supervisors in the training (supervisors, like bosses).  And it’s just not in my nature to blow off tasks I’m asked/told to complete at work, no matter how meaningless the task may seem.  We are professionals, and I think we should each present as such, especially when we are being given a presentation by another professional to whom we should show respect if only because he is a person who is trying to help us be better officers.  I believed that part of being respectful was completing the exercise as instructed.

My stint as “some kind of leader” was pathetically brief.  Working with the responses and body language of some of the people in my group when I tried to bring some order to the chaos, I decided to be quiet.  That was the end.  I didn’t try again.  When we did other group exercises, I kept my input to a minimum.  I definitely did not try to lead, nudge or direct.  My motivation was primarily internal – the way I interpreted their responses and body language – the blank stares, the lack of responses, the mumbling.  Did they think I was being too bossy?  Did they think I was a bitch because I tried to “take over?”  Did they think I was some nerdy loser who was paying attention and trying to learn?  (FYI: “nerdy loser,” party of one right here because learning IS fun and knowledge IS power, motherfucker).

I can’t say the exercise was easy.  I understand the fear of being wrong in answering a question in front of a group.  It’s not fun, but it’s a good way to learn.  Just as much as the next person, I hate finding out that old, cliché advice is accurate.  Still, if my group gave an incorrect response, what would happen?  The presenter would give us feedback about how to improve our response?  We’d gain a better understanding of what we were doing?  That doesn’t sound so bad.

My intention was to help my group.  It didn’t work out.  It prompted me to think about the discussions of referring to girls as “bossy” as if this is a negative trait.  I have never been bossy.  I have always been quiet.  A few times, I have sat quietly while I knew the “boss” was getting something incorrect, and I didn’t say anything.  I don’t want to seem like a know-it-all.  I don’t want to seem like a bitch.

Throughout the training, we worked in pairs and used real life examples to practice the techniques we were learning.  One of mine that came up more than once was my desire to be more assertive.  I am so much better than I used to be.  Just, so much.  I can’t even tell you.  BUT, there is much more room for improvement.  I want to be more assertive.  And, even though this desire was on my mind during the training, when I had an opportunity to work on strengthening my assertiveness, I didn’t take it.  Given the circumstances, I may have been considering “choosing my battles” over exercising my Assertiveness Muscles.