People

Jumping With Your Eyes Closed


20160718_171914Anyone who knows me knows that my dog is the love of my life (sorry, Chris). My relationship with him is the longest I’ve ever had. When I was young and reckless in college, he gave me life. He gave me a reason to take care of myself because I needed to take care of him. He has traveled the world with me and he teaches me things all the time. Like after college when our walks taught me to see the world through a filter of wonder. He taught me that tears can be licked away and a smile revealed like a rainbow that will give you just enough energy to start the day anew.

Recently, he developed cataracts causing his visibility to be drastically reduced. It started out small. I noticed his eyes would shine green in the sunlight. He would step extra carefully down the stairs. Then he started running into the other dogs much to his surprise and their disapproval.

Whenever I tell people that he’s basically blind, they sigh and express pity. I felt this, too, once. It’s hard to watch someone you love struggle and there’s not much you can do.

But Orbison was never frustrated. He was never sad about his situation. If he hadn’t started running into things I would have never known his eyesight had deteriorated so much, because he runs and jumps with the same fervor as before.

A few months ago, I lost my job. It was a job that caused me to develop an eye twitch and one that I was dying to be rid of, but it was still a blow to my confidence all the same.

Searching for work is like jumping with your eyes closed. Sometimes I would be afraid to apply somewhere because I couldn’t see how it would work or what it would be like or if I would fit in. When I felt like that I would think about Orbison and how he jumps with his eyes closed all the time. No fear. Sometimes he misses and bumps his head. But mostly he lands and he is where he wanted to be.

Last month, I started a new job where the majority of my day is spent taking care of animals. It’s a complete career change and I’m being generous when I call it a career because it’s so specialized I might just have to work there forever. There were a lot of things that sounded scary about this job; different wages, different schedule, different people, so much unknown, and so much poop. But when I felt unsure about what I was jumping into, I remembered how Orbison jumps with his eyes closed all the time so I’ll just have to too.

So far he’s never led me astray.

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People, Pop Culture, women

Shopping for Wedding Dresses When You’re Fat


There are a lot of things I was concerned about when my mother told me we would be going wedding dress shopping on her next visit. I was afraid that she would say some part of my body was too fat and that comment would swish around in my brain like a spin cycle. I was worried she would find dresses I hated and we’d have to argue about why I didn’t want the traditional wedding dress. I was also really worried about ruining the dresses I would try on because I’m clumsy like that.

What I didn’t anticipate, was not being able to try on any of the dresses at all because they didn’t carry my size and this making of a nightmare turning out to be such a blessing.

The first store we went to boasted their, ironically, sizable collection and variety. We descended on the store like vultures and found a few dresses for me to try on. The largest being a 14. I have the back of linebacker and couldn’t close any of the dresses. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year and half focusing on loving my body and thankfully, this was but a small deterrent for me. I was past the days of trying to have a quiet panic attack in the dressing room while simultaneously trying not to cry all over the clothes.

I walked out of the fitting room and unabashedly asked the attendant where her larger sizes were. She said they were on the other side of the store in the corner and that they would have a “Plus Size” sign. I skipped over there merrily with my already distraught mother in tow to find the magical “Plus Size” section.

Here’s where things could have really gone either way.

What we found was unlike the rest of the store. There were approximately two styles of dresses in various colors labeled “Plus Size.” The sizable collection and variety the store promised apparently didn’t apply if you weren’t “Regular Size.” The look on my mother’s face was pain. I wanted to join her in her disappointment and frustration. This was outrageous when the average women in America is 166 pounds. Not to mention the women’s size chart is at best, a bad joke.

But suddenly, I was off the hook! I didn’t have to worry about ruining dresses or arguing with my mother or being pressured into buying a ridiculously overpriced dress. I was ecstatic for myself, but also deeply sadden for all the women who want to look fabulous at prom or a special event and are reduced to two choices.

Nevertheless, we continued on to the next store which only carried sizes S-XXL. We managed to locate an XXL dress only to find XXL looked more like a medium.
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“Is this a store for ants???” I thought to myself and laughed while my mother mumbled how ridiculous this was and scurried out.

I don’t say this often, but I was downright giddy. All of my worries and concerns out the window all because I wasn’t “Regular Size” and society didn’t value my money the same. Huzzah! But anyone who knows my mother knows she is a determined woman especially when it comes to finding the perfect outfit for me. We made our way over to the Walmart of wedding dresses – David’s Bridal. They’d have to have something for me there.

David’s Bridal was everything I’ve seen in movies down to the unimpressed dress helpers. The first mistake we made was walking into the store like it was, well a store. We found some dresses for me to try on and went up to the receptionist (yes, this place has a receptionist) for assistance.

“Do you have an appointment?”

“No.”

“Did you check in when you came in?”

“No.”

Sigh….eye-roll.

We made an appointment for later that day and were assigned a helper. The first question she asked me was what size pants I wear. I chortled, because I really thought she understood the ridiculousness of the question, but looking her over I realized she probably was always a size 4.

I explained to her that I had pants in sizes ranging from 6 – 16 so maybe my waist size would make more sense. She shrugged me off and suggested I try an 8. This time, I laughed HARD. This person really had no sense of sizes or bodies for that matter. I knew it wasn’t her fault and she was just trying her best, but the least you can do is carry a size chart. I digress.

We found dresses and she prepared a fitting room for me.

“What size bra do you wear?”

“Oh I’m wearing one.”

“Yes, but you’ll need a strapless and a waist trainer, wait here.”

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She might as well have brought a plastic bag for me to wrap around my head because the contraption she brought me left me breathless, literally. I immediately forfeited, threw it in a corner, and started trying on dresses. I tried on a 10, 12 and 14 that all generally fit. So much for size charts.

Toward the end of the fitting there was one dress that I needed a bigger size in so I tracked down our helper.

“Are you sure you liked this dress enough to try it on again?”

If I wasn’t so tired of trying on wedding dresses I would have found 15 more!

I wasn’t sure what made me not worthy enough of full service. Maybe it was because I laughed at her size suggestions. Maybe it was because I refused to wear a death trap. Maybe it was because I was the only woman in there who hadn’t brought an entire entourage. Or maybe it was because I was a size 14 and so it didn’t really matter that I got a beautiful dress because look at me.

Thankfully, my self-love shelf life was still holding strong. I thanked the woman for her time as she shoved a catalog and toothpaste samples in my hand before rushing off to another appointment.

Although this venture worked out well for me, I still lament that this experience isn’t the same for many women out there. I lament that my self-love comes off as strident. I lament how I made my mother feel as if there was something wrong with her because she cared so much about how people were going to see me and I very vocally didn’t. It’s not her fault, it’s not the helper’s fault. It’s the world we grew up in where women are confined to a set of parameters. The same world that fear-mongers us into thinking we’re not worth as much if we don’t fit into these parameters, that we’re not worthy of being happy.

To everyone who has had this happen or who has these same fears, you are worth so much and you deserve happiness and a big, puffy, shiny, ridiculous dress if that’s what you want.

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People, Photography

A Pocket Full of 2015


 

Life is always changing somehow. It’s hard to look back and really remember times that were uneventful.

And although this year was challenging in a lot of ways, it was also rewarding to have lived through it all.


 

I tried not live in fear of the future and mistakes. To instead look forward and jump toward opportunities.

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I remembered to smile around people more often.

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I aimed to be more giving.

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I spent a lot more time around children and they really remind me what it’s like to be fearless.

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And goofy.

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And to ask for what you want.

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And to be unapologetically you.

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Kids have so much energy.

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When kids are really happy it’s hard not to smile around them.

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I found some adults could be like that, too.

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I saw people be really caring this year despite the seemingly unending tragedies.

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I learned that the best new year’s resolution is to try to always be nice to people.

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Because everyone had some challenging part of the year.

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And instead of looking back.

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We should start to look forward.

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Happy New Year.

 

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People

I love air shows


One of the oddest and most wonderful experiences I’ve had since moving to California two and a half years ago is attending air shows.

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They’re usually at a brewery and the scenery is breathtaking.

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There is literally love in the air.

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When I try to explain air shows to my friends I describe them as an airplane ballet.

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But it can almost be like watching an artist create a masterpiece.

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Making photos at an air show is rewarding.

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Even when your friends steal your camera for a bit.

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This one was my favorite. I always strive to go unseen and capture what I see. Usually, it doesn’t work out because my subjects see my camera first. But here, my shutter met her gaze.

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People

How spring break gave me an open mind


My cousins came to visit me this past week during their spring break. They brought the ghost of college past with them and I’m still trying to kick it out.

My cousin is 18 and she is my pride and joy. I have a very special bond with all of my cousins but she is the closest woman in age and proximity to me so we relate to each other the most. She’s also the one who comes to me the most for advice.

She brought three friends with her from college and the conversations they had catapulted me to when I was in college. They would huddle in my car as I chauffeured them to their next tourist destination. As they became more comfortable with me they would talk about their lives. I found myself wanting to interject so many times. Most of the time, I just wanted to scream, “None of this is going to matter next year so stop worrying about it!” But I’m sure someone told me that at their age and I didn’t listen so why would they. I remember thinking I knew everything at 18 and I was incredibly complicated.

My cousins can tell you I’ve plagued them with unsolicited lectures their entire lives. I would talk to them about everything from work, school, sex, drugs, relationships, death, love, and sacrifice.

A lot of the lectures stemmed from little life lessons I learned and mistakes I made that I wanted them to avoid. After finishing college and joining the workforce I slowly stumbled into bigger regrets. I know I’m not special in having regrets about college years, but it’s terrifying thinking about them and then wondering if you’re making making mistakes now that you’re going to regret later.

We’ve all had that moment where we’ve wished someone would drop out of the sky and tell us what’s really going to matter in five years. Some people say you should never regret anything because at one point in your life it was something you wanted. Others think if you just say yes to every opportunity you’ll never regret anything.

My other cousin who came to visit is 22. He brought his girlfriend of almost a year. He’s like a brother to me, but I stopped lecturing him early in life because he has a strong personality that cannot be stirred by anyone. It took me a long time to learn that he was always going to be too proud to accept help from me. Unfortunately, this isn’t an anomaly in my family and it shouldn’t have taken me that long to recognize I was looking in a mirror.

The more I reflected on my cousins’ youth the more I saw how I wasn’t much different at that age. A lot of the posts I write might sound like I’m giving unsolicited advice, but they’re just meant to be a retelling of experiences. Your experiences can feel lonely when it seems like no one around you is going through the same thing. When I write I hope someone can relate. It never occurred to me that maybe someone could drop out of the sky and tell me what’s going to matter in five years.

An older friend serendipitously sent me a message about my previous post with the perspective of age at the exact time I was mulling over the idea for this post. He had the same experience reading what I wrote that I had listening to my cousins. He remembered having the thoughts I had and feeling the way I felt, but he also explained how those feelings would change as he got older and learned what really mattered.

When I was 18 or even 22, I probably would have rolled my eyes and thought, “There’s no way this person knows how I’m going to feel in the future. We’re so different.” But with the perspective of age I know that it’s not just possible but probable.

Maybe in another ten years I’ll go back to thinking I know everything but for now, please send me your unsolicited advice.

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People

Why you should say “I’m sorry” less


I had trouble deciding what to write about this week since last week was so heavy. I’m glad I wrote that post but I regret not have a transition plan. You can’t exactly go from writing about death to writing about silly, irrational fears. My instinct was to apologize for not posting this Monday and thankfully that sparked the following.

Women are more apologetic than men, studies say. We’re always the first to say excuse me or pardon me or I’m sorry. After reading about this, I started to notice when I say I’m sorry and it turns out it’s all the time.

When someone bumps into me I say sorry, but I notice the other person doesn’t always say sorry. We all know there are entitled people in the world who wouldn’t know how to form an apology if it came up through their bidet. I want to stop fueling the idea the that I should be the one that’s sorry.

Another thing I apologize for is when someone else is being unclear. This happens a lot through email, but it happens in person too. Through email is the best because when you read back through the email chain you can see when it dawns on the person that they were completely wrong. Instead of trying to apologize, however, they just get defensive, aggressive or pretend like whatever it is they need to get done is too urgent to discuss what was or wasn’t said previously. I normally apologize to these people because that’s what they seem to be looking for based on their reaction. I get it. It’s hard admitting your mistakes. That’s why it’s called a virtue. I’m going to stop apologizing to these people not just because I want them to own up to their mistakes and be better people, but also because I’m competent. I am a competent person and there’s no reason I should downplay that for someone else’s feelings, especially in the workplace where perception is 95 percent of the job. The other 5 percent is how often you bring in donuts for everyone.

Something else I apologize for is being unusual. Sometimes I make really corny jokes or I laugh too loud and snort or I lick my fingers in a restaurant because the steak is that good and I’m done apologizing. Just because you don’t get how funny I am doesn’t mean I should apologize for it. There are some people I really look up to because they’re unapologetically themselves. This is the right attitude. Life is too short to try to make up for who you are.

I read another study recently about how much room men take up in a space. I know this sounds like it’s a men against women piece, but I’m using these studies as a diving board to talk about jerks of all shapes and sizes, women included.

I take public transportation every single day. Regularly, I see people with their bags in the aisle or in the seat next to them. I see people cackling away on the phone or with their legs stretched out on the seat in front of them. Whenever I have to walk over someone’s legs or ask someone to move their stuff, I tend to apologize as if I’m an inconvenience. Maybe I am an inconvenience but that’s what shared services is about. It’s about sharing. Yesterday, there was a guy sleeping in one of the seats that has a table. There are two seats on either side of the table. I needed to use the table and there weren’t any others open so I sat down across from him. I realized his legs were completely stretched sideways under the table. Not in front of him, but all the way across so that no one could have occupied any of the other three seats around the table. So I kicked him. And you know what? It was fine. He moved his legs. I didn’t say sorry and it felt great. Sometimes people just need a little kick.

I don’t think we should give up manners and surrender to a Hunger Games style life, but I think we need to remember that we are just as valuable as all the other humans on this earth. We are not an inconvenience. We are not something to apologize for. Life is too short to try to make up for who you are.

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People

How death broke my family and Whatsapp put it back together


Death broke my family once.

It all started when my grandfather had a stroke. He was the pillar holding up my dad’s side of the family. My dad has three brothers and four sisters. One of his sisters has five children. We’re a big family and it was only suitable that grandma and grandpa’s house was our home base. None of us ever called them grandma or grandpa–they were essentially second parents to us. We called my grandmother Mama Alma and my grandfather Papa Luis. We’d shorten the names to Mama and Papa, which translate to mother and father in English. That’s how critical they were–and are–to the fabric of the family.

Orange trees

Orange trees

Every major holiday, birthday, or celebration was held at their house. They had a huge, two-story, red brick house with a balcony where we would sleep on cots under the stars. In the back yard, there was an avocado tree and an orange tree. There were huge turtles we would feed corn tortillas and white rabbits we would feed lettuce.  The house was also haunted, but what special house isn’t?

One of my aunts and one of my uncles had houses behind my grandparents’ house. Another of my uncles had a wife whose family lived down the street. And for symmetry’s sake, another of my aunts had a husband whose family lived down the other side of the street. I could walk into the corner store and say I was so-and-so’s daughter and everyone knew who I was. It felt like everything had been strategically arranged before I was born.

The best breakfast in town

The best breakfast in town

Every morning my grandmother made a big breakfast. Huge bowls were filled with every combination of eggs you could imagine. Beans and fresh tortillas were brought in from the small tortilla factory a few blocks away. Everything was within walking distance and after breakfast my grandfather would sometimes take us to his rancho, where orange trees covered the fields. We would ride in the back of the truck and pick oranges as he strategically passed just under the branches of the trees. We’d arrive back at the main house on the rancho sticky, covered in juice, and smelling like dirt and citrus.

Life was glorious and as far as I was concerned I had the best family in the world. There were tons of kids to play with, aunts and uncles to tell me how special I was, a grandmother to spoil me, and a grandfather who knew everything about everything.

Then he died.

I remember being in my dorm room pressing the snooze button for the third time when my phone rang. It was my mother and it wasn’t a normal time for her to call. I knew before I answered that there would be tears. My mother knows how to keep it together when she needs to and she did that for me during that phone call. I’m an only child, but I’m the oldest of the first generation of cousins living in the United States. It was always understood that I was responsible for telling my younger cousins bad news and sharing my easter egg hunt candy with them.

One by one, I called my cousins to let them know. It was like a procession and I felt like the grim reaper.

I couldn’t go to the funeral and I felt incredibly isolated from my family. I was alone and my family was mourning and there was no one to hug. This is the first time I felt detached from them.

After that, there were slowly fewer holidays, birthdays, and special occasions held at my grandparents’ house. My grandmother eventually moved out, creating an identity crisis for many of us.  It was as if a part of us had been taken away. There was no home base anymore. We still made it work, though. We saw each other and we loved each other. But it wasn’t quite the same.

I was much older now, and while I missed the innocent, fairy tale illusion of my childhood, I could now appreciate the wisdom and company of my older cousins. While I have many cousins, only six are women. (The aunt I mentioned with the five kids?  All five are men.)

I was very close to my cousins and I spent months living in Mexico with the cousin closest to my age, Lety. She was unlike anyone else in our family and she gave us life through her laugh. She taught me about makeup and how to push on the hose with my thumb so the water would shoot out. She taught me about love and, most of all, about loving myself. She inhaled life and was a magnet to everyone around her. She could make you feel special in a room full of people.

When she was 24, she died of cancer.

When someone dies when they’re old, there is sadness. When someone dies at a young age, there is anger and hate. I never want to know what it’s like to lose a child, but I’m certain it changes who you are. A piece of every single one of us died that day. For some of us, it changed who we were a little bit; some for the better and some not. We couldn’t be in the same room without bursting into tears randomly. Everyone was reminded of her just by being around someone else in the family. We were walking reminders that one of us was no longer there. And that slowly started to break us.

We talked less. We visited less. We needed time. We needed space. We had lost our home base and on top of that there was a broken home now. Mexico itself was in a state of disarray. My grandmother was living with my aunt in the United States. We were like ants when you throw water on them: flailing, running around trying to get back to the line.

For a while, it was like this. Everyone would reach out to the person nearest them because that’s as far as our emotions could go. We would still see each other but it was once a year and it started to feel like we couldn’t pick up where we left off as we once could.

Then there was Whatsapp.

When this app came out it was really popular in Mexico. Communicating between countries had always been a problem so we all jumped on board when we realized we could text each other. A family group was made and slowly every aunt, uncle, and cousin was added. We would say good morning and good night. We would post memes about it being Monday. We would post pictures of ourselves, our children, and our pets. This may not sound like a lot but for us it was like a reunion on our phones every day.

There was finally a place to share our happiness and our lives with the people we still cared about but hadn’t known how to reach out to after we healed from the past.

The other day my aunt had a small surgery. Her son notified the group and we all sent her our goodwill and wishes. He sent a picture of her right before the surgery to reassure us she was fine and in good spirits. Most of my family is Catholic and one of my cousins suggested a prayer chain. Half an hour later we had an updated picture of my semi-sedated aunt out of surgery and ready for dinner.

The support and community felt through this seemingly simple group text brought me back to my grandparents’ house. It was like we were sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by bowls of food, avocados from the tree in the backyard, children running around, and the family together. It was like we had found our home base again.

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People

What do you write on?


The way we write is changing. I spend more time writing with my thumbs than ever before. I used to write primarily on napkins or whatever blank, portable space was around. There’s something about using a pen that I’ve always loved, but recently I’ve been typing.

Writing on paper compared to typing sort of feels like running outside versus running on a treadmill. When I run outside I don’t usually keep track of how far I’ve gone. I don’t think about the way back until I feel the first aches of fatigue. There’s no stopping when I’m running outside because I know I’m the only one that can bring me back home so whatever time I spend walking or stopping is time wasted.

There’s a different pressure when you run on a treadmill. Sometimes I feel like I don’t push myself as much or run as log on a treadmill. It’s mostly because I know there’s a tv and a gin and tonic in the other room that I’ve already run this far for and deserve. It’s too close. I don’t have to get home to have it. It’s there.

When I’m writing on paper I have a desire to finish. When I write on a screen I know it will be there for later. When I write on paper, I’m more careful about my words because there’s less space and maybe I don’t have an eraser.

I write more on a laptop now because there is infinite space and putting words down on that space is the first step to writing something coherent. I will write pieces and leave them for days or months. When I come back to them it’s like I’m editing someone else’s work. It’s like all the time I’ve spent writing since I wrote that post have made me a better writer and I’m editing my less experienced self. Knowing that makes me yearn to write as many words as I can. Even if they don’t make sense at the time.

There are two notebooks I carry around with me at all times. One is green and one is black. The green one is where I write posts like these. I carry them around in case urgency strikes. There are times words erupt from my mind and there isn’t time to get my laptop out or there isn’t the space to put it anywhere. The pages are small probably no longer than the length of my hand. The pages fill up quickly and halfway through the page the writing usually turns to a pseudo-cursive only I can understand.

Originally the green book was intended to come with me on adventures where I might be inspired and wouldn’t have a computer nearby. It’s an action rooted in the part of our culture that romanticizes nostalgia. It’s an act of hope of abandoning technology to truly be in the moment of an adventure.

I used to think technology was sucking some of the creativity out of the world making it easier for inspiration to become copying and alteration instead of new creations. Technology seemed to be inhibiting profound moments one might have on an adventure. But with boundaries I’ve found the opposite to be true.

I’m writing this post on a train traveling north through Southern California. The mountains are covered in freshly fallen snow. As we go on the landscape changes to that of lush, green mountains peppered with tiny white and yellow houses. When I first hopped on the train I felt a directionless urge to write.

There were a million thoughts in my head like a dream I had the night before which involved a worm coming out of my belly button. I remember the tug in my stomach when I would pull on the wriggling worm. I can still feel it as if it had happened in real life. If I write on paper I can avoid further distractions that come with an open browser. Today, the need to write was there but the conditions for writing on paper were not.

You don’t really think about it but writing with a pen is exhausting. Especially if you have something to say with passion which is how I say most things. The train shakes and holding the pen steady is a training exercise in and of itself. So I pulled out my laptop instead and opened a blank page. I didn’t connect to the internet, and I didn’t take out my phone. I just wrote.

This post isn’t meant to be about whether writing on paper or writing on a computer is better. It’s really to celebrate the many ways we have to write now. More options should mean more opportunities to write. More opportunities to write leads to better writing. And a world with better writing is all good with me. So what do you write on?

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People

How a train station changed how I look at my body


I started working in downtown Los Angeles 7 months ago. I still live about 60 miles away so I take the Metrolink train into town every day.

Union Station is a huge hub for transportation. There are buses, trains, railcars, and the underground metro. You can pretty much get anywhere in LA county and some neighboring counties from there. You can also get a mean Moscow mule.

Union Station is a big place and it’s always full of people. On a daily basis I see children, the elderly, short people, tall people, fat people, skinny people, barely dressed people, barely coherent people, people on bikes, people in love, people too tired to walk, and people running to catch their ride.

On paper, I’d say I’m pretty average for the general population of LA. Latina, female, 25, childless and loving it. But I have body image issues.

When people write or talk about having body image issues the response can be positive and negative. I’ve noticed some people will applaud those who write about this topic like you would applaud a small child who just learned to tie their shoe.

“Outstanding! Look at this person being honest and putting themselves out there. How brave!”

Why is it brave to talk about something that has been pushed on us by society like a consumer product? We’re all so frightened to talk body image publicly because if we say it out loud, then it’s real and we have to deal with it instead of pretending it will go away on its own.

We’re most afraid though, that if we own up to it will people applaud us on the outside, but secretly think we’re weak on the inside.

And maybe they will! Because people suck. But not all people.

I’m going to talk about my own issues with body image and I don’t want an applause, I just want you to listen to my story.

Every day, I see at least one billboard using sex, specifically the female form, to sell something.

Every day I use the internet, I will see at least one image of a woman completely photoshopped to look almost inhuman.

Every day I go to the store, I will see at least one magazine cover advertising all the ways I can make my body better.

Every day I turn on cable tv, I will see at least one commercial telling me which product I need to look better and thus be better.

It’s a torrential downpour of messaging targeted mostly at women with the sole purpose of reminding us, no imploring us, to change our bodies because they’re not good enough. And suggesting our worth is primarily determined by the way we look.

There are a lot of celebrities telling young women that the idea of beauty being shown to them through the media is wrong and that they can be whatever they want to be. Proponents of eliminating gender stereotypes try to voice to young women that their worth isn’t defined by how they look.

I think these messages are important. But they’re not changing what we see. They’re not changing the images on the billboards, they’re not changing the half naked women on magazine covers, they’re not changing the image, and they’re not changing our minds.

I realized this because every day I walk past hundreds of bodies that make me feel normal. Seeing more average people than edited people in advertisements every day has somehow reversed the damages done by those billboards and magazines.

I’m not saying I walk past people and think, “Well at least I don’t look like that,” and the comparison makes me feel better. I walk past every type of person you can imagine. Some people I think are beautiful, some I think are not. But even the ones I think are beautiful never look the same. Some are tall, some are short, some have blond hair, some are round, some are small, some are brown, some are white, and some have green hair.

Yesterday, I saw a man and I judged him. I’m human and I make rash judgments just like everyone else. His face, for no particular reason, made me think, “He probably doesn’t have a nice smile.” But I smiled at him anyway and he had one of the biggest, infectious smiles I have seen in a long time. It was wonderful and when I picture it now, I can’t help but smile again.

I see a lot of homeless people on my walk to work. Mostly people avoid them or ignore them. There was a woman in the park with a shopping cart full of clothes. She was kneeled over on the grass. When I walked closer to her I saw that she was giving water to a small bird out of a water bottle cap.

It’s these little pieces of people I see with much more frequency now that remind me what really makes a person beautiful. It’s not their arms, it’s not their legs, it’s not their hair, it’s not how much fat is on their body.

It’s whatever little thing you see in them that makes you unable to resist smiling.

There’s so much more to people than their waist measurement or how many hairs they have on their head. To reduce someone’s worth or even your own worth to what you can glance at in a mirror or in passing is simply a big mistake.

If you’re someone who feels insecure about yourself, take a walk. Go outside for lunch and put down your phone or whatever screen you like to stare at and stare at some regular people. Look at the average person around you. Smile at them. Maybe you’ll start to see the beauty around you and the beauty in yourself too.

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People

7 Irrational fears I have while riding the metro


1) If I stand too close to the rails, someone might push me in and I’ll die.

2) Someone will fart on me as I’m going up the stairs.

3) That someone will steal my I Read button.

4) I’ll get some incurable disease from touching the holding poles.

5) That my hair will get caught in the door and I’ll scream and no one will help me so I’ll have to stop screaming.

6) That I will fall down the stairs and pass out so I’ll either wake up in an ambulance or naked and wrapped in newspaper.

7) That someone will start making harmless small talk but then we get off at the same time and they won’t stop talking to me so I have to pretend I work at the nearest Jamba Juice.

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