Friday, August 4, 2017

A Semi-Surprise Michigan Trip!

Hey guys!

In July I made a surprise trip to Michigan and I've been home for just a couple of days. I intentionally made this trip uneventful, preferring to simply hang out with family and friends in a very low-key way, so I don't have many stories to tell but I do have some photos to share!

Christina, Jackie, and Ella modeling their little purses that I crocheted for them

Ella opening her birthday gift from us

Ella and Lady, the neighbors' dog

Me and Babcia at bingo!

The girls fell asleep on the way home

Babcia, 97, enjoying a fidget spinner

The coolest domesticated wolves in Redford

Gotta get my Timmy's!


Sweet Kayla!

Copper aka Houdini aka Hammy

See you next time, Michigan!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mini Mail Sack Purse by Pink Chalk

Hey y'all! There won't be a whole lot to this post other than sharing another purse I made with the Mail Sack Purse pattern by Pink Chalk.

When I was 13, I had a very lightweight fabric purse from Target that I absolutely loved, and I called it The Magical Bag of Fruit. It was magical because even at 13, I was Brook "Always Prepared" Gasser (coined by Austin Evans circa 2012), and I had absolutely everything in it. It was like the Barney Bag-- filled with anything you could possibly need. I even used to carry scissors (and I still do... except now they're thankfully part of a Swiss Army Knife and take up much less room).

After a trip to Joann's recently, I found some fantastic food-based fabrics and I knew I had to make another Magical Bag of Fruit. For once I didn't go crazy with the customization-- I only lengthened the strap because I prefer cross-body bags and I tweaked the zipper step that is a part of the Large pattern (there is no zipper step in the Mini pattern-- I have no idea why, it wasn't that difficult to incorporate on my own).

So here's the finished product! My Strawberry/Lemon purse! Strawberry Lemonade, anyone?

Here you can see the regular "divided pocket" that the pattern includes and my additional zipper pocket. I simply used a 7 inch zipper and adjusted the directions accordingly.

Friday, May 19, 2017

S.E. Hinton Q&A At Powell's Books

I was still in elementary school, several years before I was assigned The Outsiders to read in school (I happened to read it in the 8th grade), when I discovered Tex on the bookshelf at my grandparents' house. I often used to "check out" books from their collection; I picked it out as soon as my grandmother had told me that it had been my father's. Wanting to connect with him through that book, I took it home and eventually had "checked out" the book so frequently that it simply never left my bookshelf at home. That was over fifteen years ago, and it's made it all the way across the country with me (along with other books written by S.E. Hinton, several of which I own multiple copies of).

Fast forward to 2017, and I've got half of an entire bookshelf dedicated to S.E. Hinton. First I fell in love with Tex, which I still re-read every few years, and then The Outsiders, through which I discovered another of my favorites, That was Then, This is Now, and her most recent work Hawkes Harbor. Although there are other books that I'll read more frequently, I credit Tex for inciting my love for novels (and old, worn out books). There's not a single book of Hinton's that I don't love, and for this reason she beats even JK Rowling as my favorite author.

Earlier this week, Patrick announced to me that she would be doing a Q&A and book signing at our local Powell's book store. Today I was blessed enough to attend (and even somehow worked up the nerve to ask her a question-- can you guess which?), after which she signed that beaten old copy of Tex and my beloved copy of Hawkes Harbor. Several months ago I purchased a signed copy of the 50th anniversary edition of The Outsiders, so I've got that as well.

The following text is a transcription from S.E. Hinton's Q&A at Powell's Books (Cedar Hills) for the 50th anniversary of her novel The Outsiders on May 18, 2017.

Hinton: I never know what you all want to hear, so I’m going to open this up to questions so I will know at least one person has interest in what I’m saying… and young people, don’t feel silly asking me a question. You couldn’t possibly feel sillier than I do standing up here answering them.

I’m an English teacher and I’ve taught your book for years. It’s one of those stories that the kids just really latch onto. I know you wrote it when you were a teenager; was it an assignment?

Oh no. Not only was it not an assignment, I made a ‘D’ in creative writing while I was writing it. I’d been writing for years and it was something I wanted to write. Somebody just recently on this tour said, “Oh, weren’t you devastated when she gave you a ‘D’?” and I said, “No, I thought ‘Woman you’re gonna feel like an idiot,’” because I’d always known I wanted to be a writer. I hate that that’s my most known teacher story, because I had really good English teachers that encouraged me a lot throughout my whole history. But I found out that publishers will correct your spelling. They’re not going to can it off, give you a “D”, because you didn’t spell something right.

Where did you get the idea for Ponyboy?

I can’t remember where I got the name, but he’s the character that’s most superficially like me in that he’s very much like I was at 14. I’ve learned as a writer, no matter who you think you’re basing your character on, they’re part you because you’re the filter. All of your characters have to go through you to come out on the page. I don’t care if you think you’re basing it on your best friend; unless you can mind meld with your best friend, that’s some part of you. So while Ponyboy was most like me, there’s some part of me was Dallas, or I wouldn’t have been able to write him.

I was wondering if you could talk a little about harnessing first person voice for each of [your] different books.

First person voice is actually the easiest for me. It’s the easiest and also the hardest in that it’s very emotionally involving for me. I’ve been around enough acting to know that I can compare it to acting. The actor knows his part—he knows the whole screenplay, but he can’t act like he knows the whole screenplay. He’s got to be that person, and of course I’ve got a pretty good idea what the whole book’s going to be like, but I have to be the person I’m writing from. I think if you read my young adult books you’re not going to mistake Tex’s voice for Rusty James’s voice. They all have their own voice. To me that’s one of the fun parts of writing—be somebody else, go somewhere else, do something. I’m not one of those people who will ever write some woman having a midlife crisis and she runs off with the gardener. I mean, why would I want to do that? I want to write something like Hawkes Harbor where I can smuggle jewels out of Burma and run guns for the IRA and do all of this other stuff—to me that’s the fun part of writing. It’s not limiting to your life and not writing about yourself, but getting the habit of other people. That’s one of the big things I learned about reading—I started writing in grade school because I read a lot, and I realized you can be anywhere you want to be. You can bungee jump into the future; you can visit the past. That is the joy of reading, and to me it’s a lot of the joy of writing too.

On the movie set of The Outsiders were you able to help the actors and directors to kind of get it right, like your vision?

I was there every day, and Francis [Coppola] gave me total leeway to help with the actors if I wanted to. He was having a lot of problems financially and he’d go, “Go run lines with the boys and see what’s going on,” so I had a lot of input for them... but they were all so good, I mean, they read the book. They knew what was called for. But I did get to help. The place I helped them most… they were little kids, they were turned loose in Tulsa with no adult supervision whatsoever. Tommy [Howell], that played Ponyboy, was 15. Rob [Lowe] had his 18th birthday on the set. Matt [Dillon] had just turned 18. These were little kids, so I immediately decided I was their mom, and like mothers everywhere I slapped them upside the head once in awhile. I didn’t want to know what was going in the hotel so I stayed out of the hotel… That’s one thing you learn as a mom; there are just some things you don’t want to know. But they remembered that, and I’m very close to all of them still. I just saw Tommy, and Darren Dalton who played the Soc Randy, and Ralph [Macchio]. Last month Rob Lowe came to town; he had his 18th birthday on the set, and he had his 53rd at The Outsiders house location. That was a lot of fun.

Where did you get the idea for the line “stay gold”?

That Robert Frost poem was something I read during the time I was writing the book, and I thought, “This is something like I’m trying to say in the book.” I couldn’t figure it out exactly, couldn’t put my finger on it, but I thought, “Yeah, I need this in the book.” So I went home and wrote the Robert Frost poem into the book. Then later when Johnny is dying and he says, “stay gold”... Ponyboy had talked about the poem, and Johnny had said, you know, it means try to stay as idealistic as you can. So that was where I got the idea for “stay gold”. I wish I had trademarked that. I’ve seen it on greeting cards: “stay gold.” And I’m going, “Where’s my royalty?”. But it’s nice to be known for that phrase because it’s a good phrase.

Is the reason you gave Cherry green eyes because Pony didn’t like people with green eyes?

That’s a thing because maybe Ponyboy didn’t like himself. You know, when you’re a teenager there’s a lot of things about yourself you don’t care for. I think it helped him realize—because they both had green eyes and they both looked at the sunsets at night—and it helped them cross the boundaries to an understanding. So I think that’s why, but believe me, when I was writing the book I had no idea what I was writing. I’ve only figured out this stuff years later when people have written me letters and told me what I was writing.

I have a new Mustang, do you still think they’re “tuff” cars?

Oh, I think they’re so tuff. I think they’re just cool. But since I’ve started watching Supernatural... [‘67 Impala], whatever they drive… I love that car.

What was it like to see your book get turned into a movie?

It was really great. Francis came into town and he wanted me to drive around the locations I was thinking about—which I did, I took a drive through the neighborhoods. He said, “Well, I think I’ll shoot it here Susie, you wanna help me?” and I said, “Yeah, I’ll be fine with that.” He and I wrote the screenplay together, we scouted locations together. One day I was working with Francis on the screenplay and he said, “Oh, we found the house we want to use for The Outsiders house, you wanna see it? I’ve got my bike outside.” And I said, “Sure,” so I go out there... He’s got this old, thick-tired bicycle and he wants me to sit on the bars! He’s got 60 pounds of camera equipment in the basket and he drove me over just a few blocks—where the house was—but believe me it was a treacherous ride. The prop man came by, jumped out, and took a picture of it... it’s really nice. I have it in my office and Francis has it in his.

So few writers will ever have 50 years growing up with a book; I’m wondering if you think of it as a sibling or a child.

50 year anniversary... I don’t like touring, it’s hard on me. I don’t like travelling. I don’t like speaking until I get up here and I realize no one’s going to attack me. But I mean, how many writers get to see the 50th anniversary of any book, especially one like The Outsiders which sold last year better than it’s ever sold? That’s why I’m here today.

When you start writing do you find that you start with a character or a plot first?

Oh, I always start with a character first. I can’t plot my way to a Safeway store. I know the beginning is easy for me because I get to establish my character, or characters, and their background and everything, and the ending—I’ve always known what the ending is for my book, and I could write the last sentence first. But how I get from here [indicates] to here [indicates], I go [demonstrates with index finger moving around in an unpredictable pattern] over here, so the plot is the hardest for me. I know my strengths. My strength is characters and revelation in characters through dialogue, which is why I love writing screenplays. But if I had to write a car chase, I’d go: “Okay the car went over here, and it flipped, and there’s another car, and it flipped…” So I like to play to my strengths.

Why did you use the story Gone With the Wind instead of any other war story?

I don’t know, I was reading it probably. Believe me, I wasn’t thinking about anything when I was writing that book. People are going, “Oh, you did this religious symbolism.”... Oh, I did? And I was reading Gone With the Wind, so I stuck in Gone With the Wind. When I was in high school, some kid dissected his worm in biology with his switch blade, so I thought: “Oh that’s great, I’ll go home and write that in.” People are going, “Is this intentional?” I’m beginning to think nothing is intentional. I just kept writing it. But your subconscious plays such a big part in your writing that I used to think maybe I could take a nap and wake up to find a chapter done. That happened with Hawkes Harbor. I woke up from a dream; I dreamed that I was on the ship that was smuggling gems and Kel Quinn, this Irish story teller, was telling this great story. I woke up laughing and I thought, “I’ll go with him!” That’s definitely subconscious. It’s hard to tell, especially for me, where things really come from.

Did you have any part in helping cast the incredible lineup for your movie?

No, the only part I had in casting the movie was I strongly recommended Matt for Francis because I worked with [Matt] on Tex. Tex was my first movie, and that’s where I met Matt. They didn’t seem to be looking at him, and I finally just asked Francis and the casting director. I thought maybe it was because [Matt] just did a movie with me. I said, “Please look at Matt for Dallas. He’s a whole lot more suited to play Dallas than he was Tex, and he did a great job in Tex.” So they did look, and Francis decided he was perfect.

I’d love to hear the story of how [The Outsiders] came to be published when you were so young!

I’d been writing for eight years. It was the third book I’d written, the first I’d tried to get published. It was just in my drawer in my closet with stacks and stacks and stacks of stuff. A friend of mine at school mentioned that her mother wrote children’s books and I said, “Oh, I write books,” and she said, “Let my mother read it,” and she did. [Her mother] gave it to a friend of hers who not only was published—she had an agent. She gave me the name of an agent. I was a junior in high school; I didn’t know the difference between agent and editor and publisher. But I had a name and an address so I sent it to [Marilyn Marlow of Curtis Brown Limited]. She wrote back and said, “I think you’ve captured a certain spirit here, I’ll see what I can do.” She sold it to the second publisher who saw it. Marilyn remained my agent until she just died like fifteen years ago, and I’m still with Curtis Brown. When kids write me and go, “Well, how do you get an agent?” I go, “Google it!”, because God sent me my agent, and I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to wait around for God to send you your agent. That’s what happened to me.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Let's Talk About Being a Woman

Hey guys,

So this isn't intended to be a very long post. In fact, I could probably just post what I'm about to say in a Facebook status, but this is where I document my thoughts and feelings so for the sake of keeping everything in one place, let's have a quick chat.

(Although, in the wise words of my best friend, "That's why I wanna be a writer, because I get to argue with people for 90,000 words and they can't argue back." This certainly won't be 90,000 words, but it is a pretty one sided conversation. So let me rephrase: please allow me to talk at you for a few hundred words with little to no feedback) :)

So, I'm genetically a female. I have ovaries. I have a uterus. Those things, blessedly, give me periods. Yay! And breasts.

Have you stopped reading yet? Because ten years ago, I would have. How dare I talk about such a taboo subject.

I've had periods for (if my math is correct) just over twelve years, and I've had breasts for about 8 months longer than that. Which means that for over a decade, I have had to buy menstrual products and bras. When I was just starting to go through those changes, unless you've gone through the same exact thing, you cannot imagine how absolutely mortifying that was.

Before there was self checkout, I would avoid buying bras and menstrual products unless the cashier was a woman or my mother was with me. The few times I had to go to a male cashier because it was an emergency, my anxiety was at a 10 and I was absolutely mortified. I would hide my products at the bottom of my basket or tuck them under my arm as I walked up to the register every single time. I would duck behind racks of bras in Kohl's if I saw a male coming so that they couldn't see me purchasing something so personal. Yes, it is assumed that at some point someone who is has xx chromosomes will eventually grow breasts and start their period, but I didn't want a single person to know that and think of me that way. It made me feel dirty. I didn't want men to know what I might eventually be wearing under my shirt. I didn't want them to know that I would sit down later and have to insert something made of cotton into myself to prevent a small waterfall of blood from seeping down my legs. I didn't want them thinking of me sexually-- because, let's face it, vaginas and breasts are sexual objects to most heterosexual males, and they refuse to see them as what they are, which is reproductive organs.

I'm 25 now, and two weeks ago I spent at least ten minutes staring at tampons with my husband standing next to me. Several people passed by. I complained loudly that they did not have what I wanted in stock. And I could not have cared less.

It's true-- the older you get, the less you care about the embarrassing things that seemed to matter so much to you before, but yes, I still feel that way. I still feel uncomfortable any time a male sees me in the bra or menstrual product department. But you know what? I'm just trying to live my life. These things are natural things that happen to me, and even though I may never embrace them (because honestly who enjoys periods? and I know I'm probably one of the rare ones, but I absolutely hate having breasts-- anyone have $10k to have them removed?), I'm over allowing men to make me feel uncomfortable for something that should be normal. And sure, maybe these things are all in my head... sometimes. But I can guarantee that my fears haven't always been insane, and that those thoughts have passed through the minds of men.

And that, my friends, is one of the hundreds of reasons that I'm a feminist. I could go on for days about how it's not just about women but all genders, and it's not just about equal pay and harassment and uteruses and breasts and ovaries (because if you didn't already know, not all women have those parts!)... But I won't bore you with that (today).

All I'm saying today is that if you want to stare at me while I buy my boob holders and cotton blood plugs, go right ahead, because I'm tired of feeling like a freak.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Let's Talk About HSP

Hey guys!

So I hinted recently about finally writing a post regarding HSP/what it is "in the future", and the future is right now! So let's talk about HSP. HSP, not to be confused with HS, which I talked about in this post

What does HSP stand for?
HSP stands for Highly Sensitive Person. This is an official term-- it doesn't apply to just anyone who feels sensitive sometimes. I know some people can hear or read "highly sensitive person" and think "Oh, I can be oversensitive sometimes too," however this term applies to a person who has a specific set of traits-- HSP is a title.

What types of traits?
Here are some of the most common traits (keeping in mind that I'm basically paraphrasing from the website):

  • Easily overwhelmed by pressure, often from having too many things to do in a short period of time
  • Feeling strongly affected by or even avoiding violent movies or TV shows
  • Feeling overwhelmed by loud sounds, bright lights, textures, or strong smells
  • Needing to withdraw and "decompress" after a long, stressful day, to a place where you can experience relief from the stress (such as a dark, quiet room)
  • Making it a priority to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations 
  • Having the ability to enjoy and appreciate smells, tastes, sounds, or art that others aren't as affected by or can't notice at all
  • Being able to pick up on and even feel other peoples' emotions yourself, often better than others can (this is often considered being an empath, which is part of HSP)
  • As a child, having been described by adults as "shy" or "sensitive"

What does that mean?
Basically an HSP's brain takes in too much information-- everything can be overwhelming. What an average person considers to be an average amount of anything can be too much for an HSP. Strong smells can give them headaches, loud noises can startle them easily, certain tastes can be too strong, fluctuating temperature can feel too hot or cold to the extreme, and most importantly, emotions-- their own or anyone else's-- can be so strong that they can be debilitating. 

Imagine the last time you were stressed out by something so overwhelming that you felt like you couldn't move past it-- a difficult assignment from work or school, maybe a frustrating situation with a friend or family member. That's how an HSP can feel about something as simple as a car alarm or the smell of something they don't like cooking. But consider that some of those things can happen all at once. 

Let's take a doctor's office for example. Picture it: there are phones ringing. It's too cold. There are babies crying. The fluorescent lights are so bright. Everything smells like rubbing alcohol. The doctor is taking forever. Someone at the front desk is crying, begging to see a doctor but being continuously told that their insurance has been cancelled, and there's nothing you can do to help. And to top if off, you're there because you're sick, so everything is already increased by a tenfold. Remember those stressful assignments that we talked about? They're building up, stressor on top of stressor, in the form of sounds and smells and sights and emotions. And let's not even talk about the stress of actual assignments. There's a reason I never excelled in college!

After you leave the doctor's office, the stressors are gone, but now in addition to being sick you're beyond exhausted from having to deal with them and all you feel like doing is going home to take a nap, so you do. 

But that's every day for HSP's, especially for those who work and go to school and have children. Every single day is a nap day.

Being an HSP can be a gift. We're able to pick up on subtleties that not a lot of other people can. There's something beeping? We can find it. A gas leak? We'll know. Something rotting? No problem, we'll figure out what it is. Something bothering you? Don't worry, we can pick up on that sort of thing, and you'll know that you're not alone and that we're there to listen. We also take in beauty like other people can't-- sunsets, art, music, are all incredible in a way that we can't even put into words.

How do you know if you're an HSP?
You can take the test here! Personally I score 28 of 28, hooray!

Think your child or a younger person that you know might be an HSP? You can take that test here.

And sometimes it's diagnosable by a psychologist... but keep reading.

Why don't I know about HSP already?
Well, not a lot of doctors or counselors know about HSP-- any psychologist I've spoken to so far learned about it after school and they're not very knowledgable about the condition beyond the title/general traits. And it's actually too common to consider a "condition" with an official diagnosis. 20% of people are HSP's! It also seems as though it's genetic-- I would classify most of the people on my dad's side of the family, (within our immediate family, aka my aunts, uncles, and first cousins) as HSP's. But most of these people don't even realize exactly what's bothering them, only that they're consistently stressed out and everything that seems "normal" to average people is just too much for them. 

Before I discovered that I am an HSP, life seemed so overwhelming. I truly felt like a child who threw temper tantrums at the littlest things. I've known about it for about two years now thanks to my darling best friend Ellie who told me about it (excitedly, might I add-- she found out about the term one day and immediately after was blowing up my phone, thrilled to be able to shed light on something that affected me so strongly), and every single day I learn something new about myself that I never noticed before I knew about HSP (for example, why hot showers give me panic attacks). My entire life is shaped by being an HSP, and the more I learn about it and the more I speak with other HSP's, the better I can handle myself and do what I can to adjust my environment so that I can live a peaceful, "normal" life. I've even joined a local Meetup group-- a support group for HSP's so that we can share our stories in a safe, comfortable spare surrounded by people who understand what we're going through, as well as share tips and tricks to manage the different aspects of being highly sensitive.

Basically, everything is overwhelming and I really have to take care of myself to make sure that I can function as a human being (and I'll be doing an HSP tips and tricks blog in the future), but I'm working through it. I'm learning about myself, learning to love and accept myself for who I am, and finally learning that I'm not broken like society has always taught me.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Take a Break!

Hey you guys,

So just in time for me to have published a post about my deteriorating mental health last week... After this weekend, I feel like a new person. Truly.

So I talked before about how ever since October or so, my mental health has been declining. This has everything to do with the political climate and the fact that people are feuding everywhere and my poor little HSP heart can't take it (which, now that I mention HSP, I realize I still have yet to do a post on it. Or have I? I don't think I have, but I will get to it. Basically, just know that my brain takes in too much information and I am more affected than most people when it comes to emotions, sounds, textures, smells, etc. Basically all of the senses are overwhelmed). Point being, it hurts me to my core to see people being mean to one another or even for me to feel hate in my own heart, and I didn't realize just how much that can affect me until recently.

I was having a rough(er than usual) time in the few days leading up to my birthday, and I really wasn't looking forward to our weekend plans. Turns out I really should have, because they changed everything.

So a few weeks before my birthday we decided that that weekend we would take a mini trip to the coast to celebrate a bunch of things. February 7th-15th is big for us because the 7th is my birthday, the 14th is obviously Valentine's day but it is also the anniversary of the day we officially met and started dating (in 2013), and Patrick proposed to me on the 15th in 2014.

We unplugged from the world and left on Saturday morning. Our destination was Astoria, but first we stopped in Tillamook for lunch and ice cream. I had a grand ol' time learning to suck the ice cream out of the bottom of a waffle cone (because apparently that wasn't a thing I learned to do as a kid), got covered in ice cream, and shouted "Oh no!" many, many times.

When we got to Astoria, we settled into our river-view room and took a nap, and that night we went to dinner at our favorite Japanese place in town. Possibly the most interesting thing about Astoria this time around was that apparently during this time of year the sea lions make themselves right at home on the outcroppings of rock, the docks, and basically anywhere they can haul themselves up to... and then they bark. Forever. And ever. They do not stop barking. Apparently they do not sleep. But for some reason even though one would assume that the barking would drive me insane, I found them to be highly amusing and for the rest of the weekend Patrick and I would "Bork bork bork!!!!!!" to each other.

On Sunday morning we packed up and stopped in Seaside on our way home, where we meandered around the aquarium (taking lots of fish selfies) and fed the seals (a lot, because seals are the best and these ones will either snort or clap at you so that you will throw them fish), then stopped in and had lunch at our favorite place on the boardwalk.

Was the weekend super extravagant and long and filled with crazy adventures? No, but I don't want any of that. This was exactly what I needed; all of my favorite things with my favorite person in my favorite place. I woke up on Monday feeling refreshed and calm and simply happier than I've been in months. Apparently sometimes all you need is to get away for a few days to reset your mind, body, and soul.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Maybe 25 Won't Be So Bad

Hey guys,

So I expect that this post will be a little more somber and less upbeat than usual. I mean, I do usually write my posts when I'm in a good mood. But I've just finished crying (good crying, I promise) and I feel like in order to be true to myself and to this blog (which I'm not sure anyone reads anymore since I've deactivated my Facebook and therefore have a much smaller platform to share my posts on) I need to share the good and the bad. I swear that this post has a happy ending, I really do. I have every intention of posting it along with a very nice Instagram collage if all goes well. 

So anyway, let's start with the bad.

I've posted about anxiety and depression in the past, and when I wrote those posts I felt like I was in a very good place. So many people (I literally mean people I've never spoken more than five words to or even flat out openly hated in the past) came out of the woodwork to share their stories with me and ask me How? How did I get better? How did I fix myself? The answer varied in different conversations, but I the bottom line was always that I truly believe that taking myself out of a toxic environment and finding a partner and a group of friends that loved me and embraced me for me changed the game entirely. 

But sometimes the environment can change, and things can get worse again. Sometimes the toxic environment can follow you. Sometimes that toxic environment can swallow up the entire country and make things bad again. 

And it has. 

Since about October I've been feeling more and more down (although as a small bonus, my anxiety has taken a back seat to my depression, which is a common thing I've learned can happen in people who experience both illnesses). I deactivated my Facebook. I cut off communication with a lot of people I couldn't stomach anymore. I've tried to fill my days with kittens and rainbows and things that make me happy. 

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I am definitely getting better. I've done a lot of crying today, thanks to having seen The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the first time (those happy tears I was talking about). But in general, since hitting an extreme low about three weeks ago, I have been doing everything in my power that I'm willing to do (and by that I mean all of the easy stuff and none of that "cardio" my doctor keeps talking about... I'm not sorry) to lift my mood, and it has definitely been working. I'm keeping a chart. I've changed a bit of my diet. I'm keeping up communication with the friends and family that love me and support me. I picked up a couple of new hobbies that I'm working on.

As a result of how I've been feeling lately (which, let's be clear, is because my feelings are easily hurt and the fighting/hatred going on in the country lately is really making me very sad), I've really not been looking forward to my birthday. 

I turned 25 today. I say today because I haven't gone to sleep yet, therefore it is still my birthday. But if you want to get all technical, my birthday ended just over two hours ago. My point is, and the entire point of this post is, I really haven't been looking forward to turning 25. Turning a quarter of a century old is supposed to be one of the "big birthdays,", but it was even less than "just another birthday" to me. Every year my birthday comes with a little bit of dread. I dislike being the center of attention and that just comes with a day dedicated to you, you know? But this year, as the days crept up to my birthday, I just felt numb toward it... And then it got to be February 6th, the day that I was going to celebrate my birthday because Patrick had the day off of work (until the weekend when we head off to Astoria, Tillamook, and Seaside), and I started off the day with a bang. 

Because within maybe a half an hour of waking up, I was sobbing. 

I think it was a combination of things that set me off. First of all, the general feeling of the weight of the world (you guys know that feeling) was really killing me that morning. Then, it was the neighbors below us that have been making us miserable with their stomping since the day they moved in. I had also just woken up from what was apparently too much sleep (?????????), and therefore I was a little off balance. I was out of my good cereal and the cereal I thought would be "just fine" tasted like literal sawdust (pro tip: Don't buy the Kashi GoLean cereal if you care about yourself). I was experiencing an HS flare up after months of peace with a nice, red, angry cyst smack dab at the bottom of my widow's peak which made my entire face extremely painful (and unsightly). A lot of little things were piling up on my heart and in my mind that morning

So midway through my bowl of literal sawdust, I burst into tears. 

After lots of hugs, an English muffin with "so much butter" (as I requested it from my chef *cough* I mean my loving, doting husband), opening my surprise secondary gift from Patrick (because we purchased my official birthday gift together about a month ago), and curling up on the couch to watch Space Jam, I was feeling much better. I rejected my original idea of going to paint pottery at Color Me Mine that afternoon and just opted to go to Benihana later in the evening, both ideas which I initially threw out that morning because I didn't think I could cover my forehead with any type of makeup with as much pain as I was in.

So February 6th, although it got much better in the evening, started off really, really rough. And though it got better in the afternoon/evening, I thought that there was no way in the world that my actual birthday could be even remotely decent. 

And you beautiful people all proved me wrong. My friends. My family. My loved ones who, just when I think I know what to expect from them, continue to surprise me at every turn. And now I'm crying again, but they're still happy tears, I promise. They're tears for you all. 

I'm not the only one who has a lot of stuff going on lately. Every single one of my friends and family members is going through something rather serious right now, whether it be medical, financial, of emotional. Some of them are being hit with more than one. Or even all three. 

With the way I've been feeling, I don't know how thoughtful I've been towards others lately. But regardless of what they've been going through, all of my loved ones came through yesterday and today. You wrote me things. You sent me flowers. You sent me little gifts that made you think of me. You, without even being prompted by Facebook because, as I've said, I'm no longer on there, still wished me a happy birthday. My grandmother even, in her typical nutty spirit, answered the phone when I called her back after a nap and in the middle of buying her bingo tickets sang me happy birthday. 

I've been so frickin tickled and touched all day by all of the little and big things that the people I love the very most in the world did for me. Maybe it's because I'm over emotional anyway (and still raw from a good movie cry), but man am I just feeling the love. 

So yes, I'll continue to struggle with my mood in the future. I'll have good days. And I'll have really bad days. But on those days, I'll remember today, with the happy birthdays and the gifts and the I love yous. I'll eat an English muffin with so much butter. I'll watch Space Jam. And I'll remember that my 25th year of life kicked off pretty damn well.