Sunday, November 17, 2013

The more things change, the more they stay the same?

I haven't posted here in two years. I've thought about it. But it's not like anyone was reading it, or like I had much to offer beyond a longer Facebook status. Finally, I couldn't take the irony of my last posts being about being exhausted when managing work, school, and internship anymore, considering that's exactly my life once again. It's a lot better this time, though. The internship is actually worthwhile, and I'm actually learning things. Even better, I'm actually putting in the required hours, not just bullshitting my way through. I wish I had done things "right" the first time around for a better learning experience, but my heart was in case management and I couldn't see around it.

But what really brings me back here is my "destash my life" tag.

I'm living in a place with my boyfriend now, and it is absolutely unbelievable the amount of stuff I've gotten rid of, acquired, and gotten rid of again in the last two years because of it. I severely cut down my wardrobe, slowly built it back up, then go through periodic culls again. I'm sort of losing my mind over the amount of "stuff" we have. I want our place to be fun and have lots of personality, but it's a thin line between that and looking like a tornado hit an Applebee's. After visiting a much cleaner and neater friend, I've been spending so much time cleaning and organizing and donating and re-evaluating. I spent the entire day in my bedroom today, addressing organizational problems that have plagued me since we moved in this past February, making tough decisions like "do I need 5 short sleeved black shirts?" and, hardest of all, working on letting go of things I have sentimental attachment to. I think I could be a hoarder, really, I just happen fortunately to really like watching hoarding shows that inspire me to check myself.

So, without further wait, here's the list of everything I got rid of today:

Cleaned out the fridge and got rid of some spoiled food and something we were never going to drink 
A sweater I don’t wear 
3 tanks that don’t flatter 
Mascara I was given years ago 
A long sleeve shirt that was never “me” 
A t-shirt I’ve always been ambivalent about 
a polo shirt 
5 more shirts 
A pair of pj pants 
A coat I like and is sentimental, but is easily duplicated by a coat I like more 
10 pairs of tights/pantyhose (wtf, self) 
A bunch of little knitted pieces to a project that’ll never come to fruition 
Boyfriend’s tie he doesn’t like 
Cargo shorts 
Socks with a hole in them 
Some underwear I hate even if BF likes it :P 
2 boxes of glow in the dark stars that don’t glow in the dark 
A mateless trouser sock 
A envelope with a few ticket stubs and college mementos 
A pack of novelty snowman tissues 
A stuffed clownfish I knit 
A makeup brush 
The umpteenth black shirt I own 
A knitted sweater that fits terribly and isn’t worth reclaiming the yarn from 
2 commercial sweaters that’re just okay 
A scarf I knit years ago 
A shell that always falls off the hanger and off me 
A long sleeve shirt 
Mittens that are much too big 
A really misguided gift shirt from my MIL 
A box I made when I was 8 or something 
An old uniform shirt 
A bag I sewed a while ago that looks cool but needs repairs I’ll never get around to 
Some mementos from high school. I’m 27. 
A picture frame 
A hoodie I like but I never wear hoodies and I have another that fits better 
2 skirts I can let go of. I have so many skirts… and I wear the same ones all the time. 
Several pairs of knitted socks my dog ate and I will never salvage 
3 pairs of knitted socks I’ll just never wear


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Damn, I'm good.

Today I got hard-earned praise from the director of my agency. Yesterday, I had two supervisors e-mailing each other and me about how good my work is.

I revamped a project that wasn't quite working out with my knitting and got it right. I can't stop gushing about how beautifully the colors I chose work together.

I was the only person in my group that read our book. I explained all the topics and took the lead in coordinating our presentation. I made requests, got contact info, and created strategies.

I role played as a therapist in 2 different scenarios and was extensively praised by my classmates for how I set boundaries, focused conversations, handled group dynamics, and asked questions.

So, I must say.... damn, I'm good.

In line with my last post, I think it's far too easy for us to look down on ourselves or feel guilty for being proud of our own achievements. I think we stigmatize self-confidence by calling people "full of themselves" or "too proud" or "self-involved." But as I've come out of many years of being made to feel less than, I know it is my job to create the best life I can for myself, and to do so by caring about myself and giving myself every ounce of praise I deserve. Today it hit me that I am very, very good at what I do, and have come to this naturally. I feel no shame in saying that I have succeeded extremely well in my career, a career I never entirely expected to happen.

What are you proud of? Find something. Give yourself a reason to look in the mirror and smile, whether it's putting together a good meal, doing well in school of any level, finishing a project, or even just being happy. Remind yourself how damn good you are.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Miss Representation

As part of my graduate program, I have two internships to do. This year I work 16 hours a week with my university's Campus Safety Project. Part of a grant, we work on a campus level and far beyond about domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, sexual assault, civility, and social norms. I am steeped in programming, language, and thoughts about these subjects at all times, particularly when I am also volunteering for the domestic violence shelter/24 hour hotline on my personal time. This has become extremely important to me, and begun to change how I view my own relationships.

Tonight we screened one of the most important films I've ever seen, Miss Representation. I suppose as a caveat I should state that my favorite film genre is "documentaries that make me angry," a love created by one of my most influential professors, Jerry Marx of the University of New Hampshire. Needless to say, this fit the need. Though one is best served by going to their website and learning directly from them, this film is largely about how women are represented and devalued in our media, and how we have internalized that and expect women to conform to these stereotypes. This is not a typical presentation, however. This film is absolutely impossible to ignore, as one is constantly impacted by statistics, facts, and horrific examples of what our media projects, not just in the places where sexism is a given like beer commercials, but the horrible things our news people say or the difference in how women are written about in articles when compared to how the men are described.

Before the title card had even come up on Miss Representation, I felt terrible. I felt profoundly guilty for my own behaviors, thoughts, and self-objectification that have contributed to the problems identified in the film. I wake up every day and look for clothes that make me look good, and, ideally, thin. I log my calories on my phone, with an absurdly low goal that is shaming at best. I put on as much makeup as I have facial features for. I have deluded myself into believing skin tight pants and a low cut shirt are “comfortable.” I look at other women and judge each and every inch of them. Although I don’t intentionally look at celebrity or gossip sites, and feel quite smug about that, should I happen to be sent a link to an “article” on one, I find myself lost for hours, looking at images of people who are pretty for a living, and who are subsequently derided by a public eager to punish them for normalcy. I compare myself to other women. I compare other women to myself. I am no better than the producers of objectifying films, or the marketers of beer and sports cars, or the magazine editors who order retouching on models.

I was overwhelmed by how much work there is to do. I’m 25 – I’ve always had protected access to abortions, birth control, most schools, sports, been told I can do anything I want. I’m not used to having to fight. I don’t think most women now feel there are still things to fight for, if ostensibly we’re supposed to have it better now. In high school, when I was on student congress, we would frequently discuss the Equal Rights Amendment and bringing it up for ratification again. I never understood the power of this amendment and I never saw the point of it until tonight. I truly regret that I hadn’t been more attuned to its importance then and fought for it; though we were a mock setting, I feel I could’ve given myself the knowledge and fire to change the woman that I grew into, the woman described in the first paragraph. When I left Wishcamper, I saw a sign pointing to “Ph.D in Public Policy,” and I whispered “see you next.” I’m struck now by the fact that during this film, the people I was drooling with admiration for were those who were directors of policy institutes or the leaders of organizations like NOW, and of course Rachel Maddow. I was not admiring the “sexy” women like I have been taught to do. I was planning to send the children I do not have to Montessori Schools and subscribe them upon birth to New Moon Girls magazine so that they may have a better shot at growing up believing their worth is greater than their bodies. I immediately began to fantasize about changing the world, about what I can actually do as soon as I get home to change the reality I no longer accept.

The statistics blew me away. I’m used to “my” statistics as a person who works with domestic violence programs, about how many women will experience abuse in a lifetime. With Miss Representation and the Be an Ally retreat also put on by my internship, it’s been a slap in a face to see that this statistic comes from somewhere – our cultural devaluing of women, tricking them into believing they deserve to be an object, to be treated poorly, to live to serve men. Additionally, men are socialized to believe they have to be macho, free of emotion, and exercise control over others to prove their worth. As a commenter in the video said, “this is not a genetic trait.” We have taught ourselves to behave this way. We teach each other to fit into these roles by punishing them for stepping outside of them. Each and every one of us is guilty, without even knowing it – it’s become so engrained in what it means to be male or female

Working with the Campus Safety Project has brought up a myriad of uncomfortable feelings for me. These feelings have also served to empower me to look more critically at my world, on micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Whether it was when my abuser showed up in the cafeteria while I did healthy relationship programming and I got an education in No Contact orders at USM, or when I was planning on seeing a person who has attempted to manipulate me into unwanted situations multiple times, and the conduct committee training I was at made me realize that this is not okay and so I chose not to go out with him, or Miss Representation firing me up to change the world, I have become uncomfortable… and that is the first step to change. I hope to go on and make many others uncomfortable, as well.

View the trailer for Miss Representation here:

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Things I Ate In Boston

Pita bread
Greek salad
Fried calamari
Waffles with Nutella
Samurai chai tea
Sam Adams Oktoberfest
Homemade apple cider
Pizza with green peppers and black olives
Cannoli dipped in chocolate with chocolate chips
Red wine
Bombotelli with lobster, shrimp, marinara
Caprese salad with roasted red peppers
Bread and olive oil

Not really sure why I came home.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This isn't as fun as I thought.

Turns out, full time job, full time school, and an internship all at once kind of blow. Things are getting put off that shouldn't, and I'm putting myself at the bottom of my priorities. I've gained a lot of weight, which I'm trying to starve off, since its not like I have time for food anyways. Overall my mood has been lower since September. I get mad at myself for not getting things done, yet its hard to work up the motivation to get started despite that. I have no energy, though I can't sleep.

So overall, I'm doing pretty good.

Being able to knit with your eyes closed is a good skill for when you don't have any energy left but feel guilty (because whether its caused by your workplace, your schoolwork, or your eating habits, you always feel guilty) just doing absolutely nothing.

The least helpful thing anyone has said to me during all this has been "you need a vacation." And if I was allowed to take one that'd be great. But for now, all I can do is just keep slogging through. Eventually, it has to get better, right?

Monday, September 12, 2011

That about sums it up.

Jenna: I'm a little bit high strung.
Professor: I can tell.

It's already been that kind of semester. I've gained 5 pounds, I have no free time, I'm a loss for what I should be doing and when. Sounds like September.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Let the stealth blogging begin.

7 minutes away from the first class of this year and I'm already checked out.

So far its really nice to see the other part timers and connect with them again. It's hard to feel like you're part of something when you're not full time, where you don't have that shared connection as strongly.

Professor just came in; so far I like him. I have a good feeling.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What next?

I haven't written in forever. And the longer I go without writing, the less likely I am to write because I feel like whatever comes next has to be epic enough to justify the pause in between. If there's even anyone out there reading this or who had been wondering for months where I've been. Sometimes I like to at least link this and force it on people. Usually silly entries about baking. Which reminds me, I now own TWO frosting bags. I find them exactly as messy as the turkey baster plan. And my frosting just melted, anyways. I will never ever achieve grocery store cake frosting. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong but I assume I need to have a lot more chemicals in my arsenal.

The most immediate "next" in my life is school on Monday. I opted not to have a Summer class because I was still getting used to the new job and just wanted a few months without having to be somewhere or be involved in projects and papers and research. Basically, I knew the next few months were about to suck hard, so I wanted to just enjoy myself and postpone having to think about it. Which has worked well - I took a different approach to life this Summer, as opposed to last Summer when I worked the whole time, and I've actually enjoyed myself. I've visited friends, had people over, been impulsive as hell, gone to the beach, and above all else, made myself a priority, something that's been a massive challenge for many years.

Still at a loss for what to put here, but in a few days, I'll be bored in class, and the posts will flow.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Couch to 5k. Literally.

I once made it through a third of Day One of Couch to 5k. As in, I was taking a walk, ran for a minute, then only ever walked the rest of the time. And never ran again.

I was running at the gym for a while. But running at a good clip for a half hour on the treadmill apparently only = running one block and then wanting to die when out of the gym. So fuck it. I take a long walk once a week.

I had signed up to do an AIDS walk/run this weekend. I was walking, because, obviously, 5k of running would be embarrassing and bad. So yesterday morning, I made my journey south, to a great little beach town. I got there and registered and got to hang around for an hour. Which would have been more fun if I hadn’t come an hour early, hadn’t been alone, and there had been a single heterosexual man under 40 there. But I killed time by knitting by the beach and joining a fun impromptu yoga group.

Then it was time to start. They had us all line up to start, and runners and walkers were all lining up at the same spot, doing the same course, starting at the same time. I was fully planning to walk this, because I have the lung function of my 78 year old recently finished with radiation for lung cancer grandmother.

Then everyone took off running.

Well shit.

I figure, ok, I’ll run up to the ramp (like 30 feet away) with the pack and then walk. And I was happy and people were cheering me on and I had my ipod on (playing BILLY JOEL) and I was pumped. So I kept pushing.


Now, as I said, this was NOT the plan. Which means that I ran 5k in skinny jeans and ballet flats. On an empty stomach. After having french fries for dinner the night before. And no training. Ever. My time was 33:20.

I realize this was very, very stupid. But IT FELT SO GOOD.

Well, mostly. It also felt like my shoulder was covered in my own spit as I tried to dispose of excess mucus while still running, and like nap time could be awesome right now. And like running on sand is a whole new level of horrible.

But it also felt like I was a fucking god. People cheered me on. I passed other runners. Someone complimented my hair. A child handed me water. When I would let myself have a walking break I was back into a jog in a minute. Because I was fucking PUMPED.

There is no way in hell I could have built up to this. I had to just be in the moment and make it happen. I’m either all in or not involved. There couldn’t have been a little light jogging and then a long walk. Go big or go home, that’s how I have to do everything. And if my body was in the mode to run with it (heh), well, I was happy to oblige.

Surprisingly, I don’t want to die today. I whimper a little when I stand up, but it’s gotten better throughout the day.

And obviously, I immediately bought running shoes.

Let’s get it on.

Monday, April 18, 2011

oh god new best smoothie ever

1 banana
handful of chopped walnuts
glob of kefir
half cup? of blueberries? I just throw stuff in until it feels right
2 ice cubes


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Going veg again

For a little while. I really don't eat much meat... I don't remember the last time. But I've been eating all these beautiful and creative vegetable based dishes, and they have me wanting to be veg and be proud again. And thus, I give you...

The Most Beautiful Salad

1 bag Spring Mix salad mix
Half pound kale
One can mandarin oranges
Quarter of a red onion
4 beets, with greens
3 teaspoons flax seeds
2 ounces goat cheese (unless Vegan)
Sprinkle of chopped walnuts
Great big bowl - I had to use a soup pot

Wash and peel beets. Individually wrap in foil and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes - until you can easily put a fork in them and remove it again
Remove leaves from the stems of the kale. Remove leaves from beet stems, tearing into smaller pieces. Toss with spring mix.
Chop onion into long slices and toss in.
Slice beets thinly, combining with salad. Add mandarin oranges and flax seeds.
Crumble goat cheese (if you please) over the top of the salad. Sprinkle in walnuts. Toss with two large spoons.

Great on its own, but I have an excellent lemon dressing that brings it all out. "Lemon Goddess" by Drew's. I got it at Hannaford. Whole Foods has a great lemon parsley dressing at their salad bar.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's almost comical now.

This past weekend.
- I read 5 chapters of Research Methods in Social Work, and really, why even live
- I took an online exam from hell
- I wrote an entire paper in one shot
- I researched for two papers
- I planned for a group presentation

Today, I discovered the class that I did an exam for over the weekend also has another exam. This coming weekend.

Sometimes, things are just so awful they don't even bother you. So let's look at my coming weekend.
- More reading than I care to fathom (or probably do)
- Take another online exam, also from hell
- Make a cake for my grandmother and buy her a birthday present
- Spend Sunday afternoon/evening at said birthday party
- Finish writing those two papers

And next semester, it gets so much worse. I'll have three classes instead of two, plus my full time job, plus my internship 16 hours a week. 8 hours of which must be during the same hours I work. Mondays will be 14 hours long.

Remind again why I'm doing this?

Accordingly, the smoothie of the night:

half a banana
2 scoops thin mint ice cream
half bar german milk chocolate
big splash rice milk
splash whipped cream vodka
2 ice cubes


hate grad school so much less.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Continued adventures with a blender

Vegans love kale. Scientific fact. My 3 Vegan friends never stop talking about kale. I'm not even sure what the hell it is. But I do know two things:

1) I've had a smoothie at Maine Squeeze Juice Cafe that they snuck kale into and it didn't kill me.
2) Kale is 99 cents a pound at Shaw's right now.

Naturally, it was kale smoothie time.

2 big kale leaves (reasonable people would add much more, and I will next time)
glob of applesauce (told you, I don't measure anything)
couple of small pineapple chunks
handful of mango chunks
1 banana
3 ice cubes
teaspoon flax seeds, since why not make it as weird as possible

Combine. Revel in how surprisingly not terrible it is.

I always make myself so happy when I eat a vegetable.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Heart wants me to create.
Body wants me to move.
Brain wants me to work.
Mind doesn't want me to do a goddamn thing.

Things are hard right now. Too many changes all at once. Despite my assertion that I'd be ok, that's a lot to ask with the sheer amount I have to do right now. The school assignment list is daunting enough on its own. Of course, when there's that much to do, nothing happens. I know what I need to do. And I know what I'd like to do. But lately, there's too much of a disconnect between that and what really happens.

Which scares me.

It'll come together. It always does. It's just hard as hell being stuck in this cycle until it does.