Tuesday, December 18, 2012

in which there is poorly shot iphone video

So...it's been an interesting week. And by interesting, I mean ROLLER COASTER OF FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS, and switching meds, and realizing once again that my brain is, as Jenny Lawson so eloquently puts it: "A g*dd*mn mess up there."
(I censor because I love you, delicately eyeballed sister, and for no other reason.)

Basically, I've been absent from the blogging world because I've been too busy stress-eating, and stress-dancing, and stress-painting.

If you think this is bad, you should see the dancing. 

However, as I spent most of this morning engaged in an involuntary feelings-purging nap, I think things are under control again. Also, if you've never taken an feelings-purging nap, you should get on that. Or don't get on that. Sleep is a bitter form of refuge. Your call. Moving on. 

Anyway, as I don't yet feel capable of saying anything new or interesting, I'll give you some video clips I took on my phone on the drive into work yesterday. It's really impossible to tell what's going on without being told beforehand, so I shall enlighten you: There is a stretch of beach I'd say is maybe the length of a football field called "University beach" where all the Senegalese dudes work out, apparently. Basically they all run back and forth on this same stretch of beach. Sometimes it gets to the point where there are literally hundreds of them, running back and forth over the span of about 100 yards. Which wouldn't be so weird, were it not for the fact that they literally have MILES AND MILES of beach available to them, and they pick this stretch. Oh, Senegalese. You so silly. 
They also have a weight lifting area where they pick up tires and stuff. It's like the Dakar version of Muscle Beach. They've recently acquired a nautilis-type weight machine, rumored to having been dumped there by the special forces in the middle of the night, which they haven't quite figured out how to use yet.  It's great. 

Also if you listen closely you can hear my dad explaining the finer points of Apocalypse Now, so...Bonus!

TIA, body builders, TIA. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

in which I give the gift of cookies

For many of us, this week is finals week.
What this means for me is that I'm splitting my time into 1 part studying and approx. 8 parts hating myself.
Next week I'll spend registering and unregistering for classes while weeping uncontrollably.

College, holla!

So today I'd like to talk to you all concerning the ultimate comfort food, too often neglected this time of year, frequently replaced by horrible grocery-store replacements.

Friends, I'm talking about the chocolate chip cookie.

I had five of these for breakfast.

There is an odd phenomena I have noticed among my food-eating fellow humans. Everyone believes that they have the best recipe and method for cooking 1) a steak and 2) chocolate chip cookies. 
Now, I'm not saying my pan seared in garlic butter steak is the best. It's pretty good, but I'll allow for the possibility that you can make one better. 
However, I've been making these cookies since I was six. They are the best. There is no doubt in my mind. And I have eaten a LOT of cookies over the years. 

They are always chewy. They have like, this slight carmel-y thing going on. Also, chocolate. 

If you're wondering why I haven't made these for you personally over the years, the answer is because I'm lazy. But now, as I grow old, I am once again awakening my cooking skills in the hopes to add another charm to my trophy wife bracelet. To be clear, I do not actually own a trophy wife charm bracelet, nor am I sure that such a thing exists, but now I totally want one. I'd use it to seduce men, probs. 

Anyways, because it's Christmas, because I love you, and because there's no way I'm the only one who needs to drown her sorrows in calories right now, here is the recipe. 

I've doubled it, and doubled it makes about three dozen cookies the size of your head. If you think you need less than three dozen head-sized cookies, it may be time for us to re-evaluate our friendship. 



2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 tbs vanilla
4 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 bags (24 oz) chocolate chips- usually I'm all like, MILK CHOCOLATE BIZNATCHES, but these are so sweet you probably want to go with semi sweet, or even dark chocolate.  Your call, though. I trust you guys. 


Okay, first you should put on your june cleaver  apron equivalent to protect your clothes and make you feel like a lady. If you're a dude, you should do the man version of this. I still haven't made my  mind up as to what that is, but it is not taking your shirt off. Friends, just say no to topless oven work. The scars of the second degree burns on my stomach agree with me. So I'm thinking the manly version may be a tool belt looking contraption, but again, it's really your call.

Next, put your butter in a larger-sized saucepan and melt it. As soon as it shows signs of browning, throw in all of your sugar. Feel like Paula Deen. Stir. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. 

In a small bowl, combine your eggs and vanilla, then whisk them together.  Set aside. 

In a big bowl, combine all of your dry ingredients, stir. 

By this time your butter sugar concoction should have cooled some. You're probably already eating it with a spoon. Stop doing that. It gets better, I promise.  Go ahead and throw your eggs/vanilla business in there, mix that in as well as you can. 

Now you can add your sugary goodness concoction to your flour. Stir it up. Stop eating it with your fingers, you won't have enough for your cookies. Add in your chocolate chips. Eat a little more of it with your fingers. 

At this point, you're supposed to put it in the fridge for an hour so it can harden up a little. I don't have that kind of patience, so I say chuck it in the freezer for the duration of a How I Met Your Mother episode  and pre-heat your oven to 375. 

Then you go ahead and plop your cookies onto an UN-GREASED sheet. I use a melon baller because, again, I like mine-head sized, but it's up to you. In theory you cook them for ten minutes, but if you have a janky third world oven/ obscenely large cookies, it may end up being more like fifteen. Basically, the moment you can scrape them off the pan with a spatula in one piece, they are done. 

Finally, eat the cookies until you feel better about your life or throw up. Whichever comes first, really. 

aaaaand you're done!


Friday, December 7, 2012

in which accidents happen

10. Describe your most embarrassing moment.

Let me preface this with some fun facts about myself:

I don't really get embarrassed.  I have a sneaking suspicion the part of my brain that is supposed to get embarrassed is currently being squished by a cyst/ too busy memorizing song lyrics. Lots of embarrassing things have happened to me, sure, I just don't typically classify them that way.  I mean, I flashed like a zillion people a week ago and followed it by saying "meh, boobs."(Follow up story! My crutches have managed to snap the underwire in ALL OF MY BRAS, so if that incident repeats itself, it's going to be a lot more National Geographic than Mean Girls, if you know what I'm saying. So prepare yourself for that blog post, my friends.)
Basically, I'm the girl you send to buy your tampons because the cashier's too cute, or whatever- I get that things are supposed to be embarrassing, I just...don't really feel it.

This is a face that knows no shame

So this is really more of an anecdote I think people will relate to as being embarrassing- but it wasn't my  most embarrassing moment, persay. If you find it does not fill your embarrassing anecdote needs, I will be more than happy to tell you about the time I puked at walmart (twice!), walk of shamed in front of my then-home teacher (college!), or ugly cried in like, six different countries (snot!).

But first, a continuation of the fun facts!

As I've mentioned on numerous occasions, I drink a lot of water. The estimation of an average 5 liters was by no means exaggerated- I totally drank a liter of water while writing this.
I also have a delicate lady-bladder, so I end up sprinting to the bathroom many, many times a day.

I also really love road trips. Actually, that's not totally true- I love grown-up road trips. I love children, I do not love being in cars with them for extended periods of time, and furthermore I don't believe that anyone does. So, I love grown up lady road trips, where you can listen to the explicit version of Some Nights on repeat for six hours to perfect the four part harmony instead of Barney's greatest hits, or whatever.

I am also a notedly terrible driver. I will be the first one to admit this. At the earlier point of my driving career, it was the responsibility of the passenger to yell "It's okay, we're from Europe!" out the window after my traffic infractions. My most frequently cited reasons for wanting a man are: to drive me around, kill spiders, make out on demand and occasionally assure me that I'm not crazy. Luckily three out of the four can be accomplished by gay guys, but that's a story for another day.

In order to survive driving during the aforementioned road trips, I've perfected a formula over several bouts of trial and error: Driving mix CDs played at full volume, a constant rotation of energy drinks and water, and a route of planned bathroom stops along the way.

The only flaw in this glorious formula is that between the excessive water drinking and the caffeine from energy drinks,  I sometimes need to, ah, make some additional bathroom stops. Which wouldn't be a big deal, if it weren't for the complete lack of civilization in most of utah -where the majority of my driving took place- and the fact that I have never mastered peeing in the wild. So more frequently what happens is I'd pull into the nearest building I thought will have bathrooms, park in a manner that would make Jason Bourne weep at my recklessness, and throw myself into the the building like a cannonball on fire, disregarding all who might work/live there until my needs are met, or rather, relieved. It's for this reason that Vegas houses multiple casinos they would really prefer I not visit again- sorry, security guard at Circus Circus! Maybe you should mark your fire exits from the outside, too!

Anyways, there came a night when I was driving from Vegas to Cedar City by myself at around 3 AM.  I actually prefer to make long drives at this hour of the night- less traffic. However, this also led to my drinking more energy drinks than usual, and taking more breaks than usual. I thought I was doing okay, and making good time at that, about twenty miles outside of Cedar. I figured I'd stop at the walmart on the edge of town, and I'd be good until I got home. Ten miles later, I realized this was not the case. Luckily there's a nice rest stop about six miles outside of the city- why I'm not sure, there aren't exactly any big tourist attractions there. Empty venom cans rolling at my feet while lady gaga sang about not wanting to be friends, I swung into the lot and started running for the building.

I did not make it.

My friends, I totally wet my pants. In a big way. Had I been in kindergarten, this would have merited a call home and request for dry clothes. Honestly, this is not the firs time I've done this, I'm sure it won't be the last (lots of water! delicate lady bladder! poor timing!) and it wouldn't even be noteworthy, except at that point I heard a car door close behind me.

I turned around to see an entire family of Asian tourists who had evidentially witnessed the entire event. To this day, I'm still not sure what they were doing there- again, it was three in the morning- but I did what I had to do.

"Welcome to Southern Utah!" I said, "Enjoy our picturesque mountain views!" And I waddled back to my car to change.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

in which ambien is turning sleep-me into a horrible person.

To be clear, ambien is still mana from heaven and keeps me sleeping through the night like a well-trained baby.
It's just....my dreams are really weird. And violent. And kinda racist.

First of all, the fact that I'm having dreams at all is kind of an anomaly- usually people on ambien don't dream. They occasionally sleep-walk, sleep-eat, and sleep-set-things-on-fire, but they don't usually dream. I mean, given those options I'd pick horrible dreams anyways, I'm just saying...it's weird.

Second of all, I'm a nice person, I swear. These are not the kind of story lines I scheme up when I'm awake. Just....sleeping. And only recently.

This is basically how I wake up now.

Okay, so three days ago I woke up freaking out because "the gays ate my baby" which is probably the most horrible sentence I have ever typed. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST HOMOSEXUALS.  Several of my absolute favourite people are gay. Even though I occasionally say wildly awkward things to them, we're all pretty tight as a general rule. Furthermore, no one I actually know was in this dream.
Anyways, I dreamed I was living in a house with my baby, Rachel, who had glorious flowing red hair and looked adorable in a little wool coat and beret, and a gay body builder named Mike. Also, while I have nothing against gay individuals, it should probably be said that body builders freak me the hell out. Like, why on earth would you want to make yourself look that creepy. I don't even comprehend. Anyways, then Mike the gay body builder kidnapped Rachel and took her to his gay body builder cannibalistic cult, who had a giant cauldron of water which they danced around ceremoniously, as cannibalistic body builder cults are no doubt wont to do. And then they ate my baby. It was horrible.

The next night I dreamed I was in some sort of hunger games/gladiator fight, where the prize for winning was a new iphone. It should be noted that I have a perfectly functioning iphone, which I knew in the dream, I just had to have a new one. Dream me is a materialistic bastard. More so than conscious me, that is. Oh, and the arena was filled with the family and friends of the apple workers who committed suicide. So. Hordes of angry asians, basically. And then I rode into the arena on the back of a lion (which was awesome!) and bludgeoned everyone to death with my old iphone (which was NOT awesome.) At least I won? I guess? HOPE THAT NEW PHONE IS WORTH IT, YOU MURDEROUS HAG.

Last night, however, was particularly violent. First of all, my best friend in the world called me at three in the morning, in real life. I didn't pick up because it was three in the morning and I was too sleepy and stuff. I'm still not actually sure why he called then? (It was not an emergency though, because he left a voicemail saying as much.) So then I went back to sleep. And dreamed that I was trying to teach him a lesson for calling so late. By murdering him WITH AN AXE. Like IN THE SHINING. It was HORRIBLE.

So...yeah. I'm a terrible person when I'm asleep.
Love me anyways?



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

in which I write the Obligatory Birthday Post

Friends, there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who think birthdays are a time for quiet introspection, possibly accompanied by an intimate celebration, and those who go all out in a happy explosion of self-obsession.
I'm somewhere in between the two, so I guess that means there's three kinds.


I awoke at the sunny hour of Five AM, and by that I do mean I accidentally woke up and couldn't get back to sleep, so I spent the next fifty minutes looking at discount wedding dresses online and smacking my face against the keyboard (an attempt to lull myself back to sleep, not an expression of my relationship status). Alas, by six I gave up and put some clothes to go to the Embassy.

I had a nine o clock appointment at the embassy health unit (for the usual complaints: "I think I have cancer/aids/sleep apnea, may I please be med evac'ed to Germany?" and "CAN I STOP USING THE CRUTCHES NOW?") but since the embassy is so far from our house- half an hour- I went with my mother and father at the same time he goes in for work (seven fifteen sharp, or God help you).

In our family, on your birthday it is tradition that you may pick any breakfast your heart desires, usually of the pastry variety. I wanted pain au chocolat from the fancy downtown bakery, which my mother went and bought. They were delicious. She also got some kind of savory croissant that was markedly less delicious. Oh, Senegalese bakeries, you're so weird.

The doctor's appointment basically went like this:

Dr: Let me see your foot.
Me: [shows foot. foot looks kind of corpsey and gross, it is still covered in bruises. I have tried to mask this by painting the nails a charming shade of mango, ended up looking like the decomposing hooker foot they find on CSI, or something]
Dr: [dying on the inside]
Me: So....no more crutches, then?
Dr: I don't know. Let me poke your foot in a manner that would be painful on even non-broken toes.
Me: [biting back screams in the hope my hardcoreness will result in the loss of crutches] So...good?
Dr: Actually, I think your foot is EVEN MORE BROKEN  THAN IT WAS BEFORE!
Me: So..crutches. Yes? No?
Dr: Have you been putting weight on your foot?
Me: Not really...except for when I fall on it.
Dr: [audible gasp] WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?
Me: What part of "I have the upper body strength of a squirrel and I keep falling over because of these crutches" did you you miss before?
Dr: Well, you need more X-rays. And more crutches. Probably for the rest of eternity.
Dr: But here's a nice Ace bandage for you! Also you don't have cancer, stop asking.

So. No trip to germany or regular mobility for me. Alas, Alas, Alas.

After we got home we had lunch- I wanted to go out for sushi, but I'm po, so we had grilled cheese instead. Grilled cheese is amazing.

The main activity of the afternoon was shopping for my birthday presents. But first, a few words about birthday presents.

Of their own accord, no one in my family would remember to buy anyone presents ever. Those family members who are reading this and protesting, hush your collective mouths, you've only gotten that way after YEARS AND YEARS OF CAREFUL TRAINING. Basically, any time anyone in my family has a birthday, I compile a list of things I think they would like and send them out to the rest of the family several weeks in advance. I then spend the remaining weeks hounding them to make sure they actually get something.
And that is how the members of my family have presents on their birthday.

Of course, to repeat this process for presents for my own self would be tacky, so instead I compile a thoughtful pinterest board of items I would not mind possessing, and distribute it about six weeks before my birthday.
And yet, at least half the family came up to me yesterday morning and asked what I would like for my birthday.

And that is why we went shopping.

(also because shopping brings me insane amounts of joy)

Obviously, shopping in Senegal is not quite the same process as shopping in the states. There is no walmart here, friends. Instead, most of the shopping takes place in markets or "boutiques". The contents of the tiny, un air-conditioned boutiques are the same as those of the market, just better organized and more expensive. So we went to the HLM market, instead.
There are three main markets in Dakar, each specializing in different things, so far I have been to two of them. This market- the HLM- is mostly fabric, but also has a lot of jewelry, shoes, and bags. The siblings were looking for pillowcase fabric (homeschooling a sweatshop, remember) Lark was looking for more dress fabric, and I wanted a bag- so HLM made the most sense.

HLM- pronounced "aschelem"- is a catacomb of narrow dirty streets and poorly lit warehouses. I'm all over that as a general rule, but it's CRAZY hard to navigate with crutches. We also had our guest missionary in tow- in the country to get his visa straightened out, didn't speak a word of english- who, in addition to a crutch, also had a false leg, which made me feel like a total pansy.
We walked all over HLM for about two hours, found a lot of fabric, but no bags that I liked, so we started heading back to the car when TADA I FOUND ALL THE BAGS I COULD EVER WANT.
I got this one- the tag on the inside claims it's a Fabrizio Poker, which, I'm sorry, sounds like an Italian sex toy to me.
Whatever, it's fabulous leatherrrrr.
I like it because it looks like a tiiiiiny doctor bag.

After the great HLM adventures, I went upstairs and took a tiny baby nap- which is what grown up ladies do when they've had four hours of sleep and can't feel their arms anymore after walking on crutches for so long.

For birthday dinner we had steak, potatoes and broccoli. Food of the Gods! Also the first time I've had red meat since I've been here. Or broccoli.

The broccoli cost more than the steak. TIA.

However, the best part of the meal was cake and ice cream.

If you've never lived in Dakar, you do not understand the value of good cake and ice cream.
Seriously, you don't.
I've mentioned this on facebook several times- ice cream here is expensive. Obscenely expensive. We've found a brand of chocolate ice cream we can occasionally afford- I think we've had it three times in the three months I've been here- the name is "super budget chocolate!" and the first ingredient is water, which I think paints a pretty accurate picture right there. But for my birthday we splurged at the French grocery for a tiny container of amazing mint chocolate chip.
I've also never had a decent cake here- though admittedly I've only tried maybe three before giving up. Besides, I don't have regular cake on my birthday- I have cheesecake. Have for the past five years, at least.
But there is no cheesecake to be had in Dakar. There is not even cream cheese with which one can make her own cheesecake.
I'm going to go ahead and say this is the new qualifier for third world countries- if you have no cheesecakes, you are a third world country. The end.

HOWEVER- after a recent trip to Italy by a member of our family, a glorious cheesecake may or may not have made it's way into our freezer. Suffice it to say there are better uses for diplomatic passports than smuggling drugs, my friends.
Hello, they say, Hello I love you.

I almost cried.

The original plan for after dinner was to put the little kids to bed and watch Drop Dead Gorgeous (one of the funniest movies OF ALL TIMESSSSS) but I'm not embarrassed to admit I was way too tired for that. I'm a grown up lady with possible cancer/sleep apnea, remember? So instead I painted Celia and Riah's toes to match mine (I'm calling the color "dead hooker mango" now) and the three of us watched  an episode of My Fair Wedding, then retired for the evening.

Cilia, Myself, Riah
Happy Birthday to me.

(more thought provoking birthday post in the works)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

in which my boobs don't discriminate

Just got back from the international bazaar with my family- it was lovely. The Austrian Embassy hosted, around a dozen different countries represented by selling goods and foods from their nation- further solidifying my desire to have beautiful things from all over the world.
I may or may not have conned Brianna into buying me some bejeweled Indian flats for my birthday [which is on tuesday, but I will accept presents throughout the remainder of the year] because, you know, jewels.
My own dear siblings represented by hawking their handmade pillowcases- because what is homeschooling if not an excuse to open a sweatshop? They're actually pretty cool, they make them with local fabric. So far they've sold pretty well.
I'm sure my mom's got pictures, I should commandeer her camera and post some of them..

I also learned that when not tucked into something, using my crutches causes my shirt to ride up.
Like, all the way up.
Which wouldn't be that big of a deal if I was still rocking the sports-bra-and-running-shorts-under-everything look, but today I decided I should actually make an effort with my clothes, so it was really something more along the lines of this:

And you thought I'd post the whole thing. 

So now, in addition to the Americans and Senegalese, I've pretty much flashed every culture represented in Dakar.
You're welcome, Africa. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

in which I share five happy-making things

number five of my thing that I'm sort of doing. 

5 things that make me happy right now:

5. This video:

To be clear, I'm not really a big fan of infidelity music -Robyn, you home wrecker, you- but I've totally been replaying this for the past fourty eight hours. It sounds like a reject from the original footloose soundtrack, in the best way possible. Although honestly, is it possible for a song to sound like it belongs on the footloose soundtrack in a bad way? I would  argue, no, it is not.
Furthermore I'm pretty sure she planted hidden cameras in my home to capture her choreography inspiration. Rolling around on the floor is MY move, Robyn. MINE.

Plus, I totally want her outfit. I'll just make a sweater from my own hair, but I'll get these pants instead.

It will be excellent.

4. Blistex fruit smoothies chapstick, but only the green one.

Friends, I will be the first to admit I have a chapstick problem. I love chapstick. And lipstick. And lipgloss. And lipstain. And lipbalm.  I could say something about oral fixation issues, but I know the jokes that will come of that.
Anyways, I buy a lot of chapstick. Burt's Bees (the peppermint one!) and Blistex's melon medley are my favourites.  Burt's Bees makes me feel like a magical ice princess, Blistex makes me feel cool and artistic (Melon Medley was the chapstick of choice for the artsy girls in my middles school). Oh, and the Blistex tastes delicious. Just in case you have to kiss someone. Perhaps in an Emergency. You know.
I brought three tubes of this with me to Senegal, and I've already used one up. It's kind of a problem.

You can buy these here.

3. My super janky iphone
Oh man. I get how people get addicted to their smart phones. I don't think I'm quite there yet, but I love it. Best hundred bucks I've spent in a long time. (It's a 3g with a sticky home button, hence getting it on the cheap) If it is stolen/ breaks tomorrow, it will have totally been worth it for the ability to still text and call people stateside fo freeee- because ultimately, there are few things that make me happier than a phone call from a good friend. 

My mom made our driver drag our old culligan dispenser upstairs so I could have delicious beverages and not have to die of dehydration or [literally] drag my butt downstairs.
WATER IS THE ELIXIR OF LIFE. I drink upwards of 5 liters a day (hopefully this is not a symptom of cancer, or anything). I'm totally serious when I say drinking a liter of water will make you feel better. It is the universal cure for all ailments! Closely followed by chicken mc nuggets, which I really miss.

1. Living with my Family
While I do admittedly miss having an identity beyond "Col. Jones' daughter," there are a lot of things I love about living with my family again. (No worries though, still moving out in August) Getting psyched about Christmas again? Awesome. Talking for an hour with my mom after dinner? Very awesome. Right now I'm watching 10 Things I Hate About You with my sister and dad. It's such the greatest. 

Basically, for all the time I spend whining about my life, there are a lot of things in it that make me happy- and yes, some of them are pretty materialistic. I think that's okay. And for these and more, I am grateful. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

in which I offer some bedroom advice

(Note: by bedroom advice, I'm not talking about sex. Beds are for sleeping. Couches are for fooling around. [juuuuust kidding {sort of}] )

Kids, my advice repartee is limited. It's basically restricted to "Drink more water," "Be nice to animals," and, if I'm really worried about you, you may get a come to Jesus talk along the lines of "Don't drink/Do drugs/Sleep around so much" or "Counseling could be very beneficial to you!"
But today I'm adding a new one: "Don't take your ambien and then watch American Horror Story."

But first, some background:

Getting ready for bed is my favourite time of day, easily. I don't know why this is. I have a very set routine that I follow, and I find it very relaxing. It's also no big secret that I love sleeping, so that's probably a factor too. Basically I change into my pj's-aka boxer shorts and hoodie- wash my face, put on my night time sunscreen (okay, it's lotion, but it has spf in it) and chapstick, take my meds, drink a liter of water, crawl into my mosquito net of solace and  log my food and feelings for the day into my phone (shout out to my iphone- you make me a better person and I'm sorry I dropped you on the floor). Then I basically watch friends until I fall asleep around 22.00, 22.30.  It's marvelous.

However, as I've mentioned before, my sleeping habits of the past few weeks have not been stellar. A fabulous combination of insomnia and waking up at 3AM, added with the fatigue side effect I've learned to anticipate from my meds, means I've been really tired all the time. In and of itself, that sucks. It also makes me even more emotional, and believe me when I say I have more than enough feelings to go around. But it was getting to the point where I couldn't be awake and form thoughts at the same time, so I convinced my brain doctor to give me a sleeping pill.

Children, listen to me. Sleeping pills are tiny pieces of mana from heaven.


Like all medication, they should be taken properly. If your doctor says only take a tiny little sliver that you carefully chop of, then you only take a tiny little sliver. Do not take them with alcohol, ever. Do not take them back to back in order to black out for as long as possible. As the killers so eloquently wrote, sleep is a bitter form of refuge. Do not take them- even your recommended dose- and then go about doing things that are not sleeping. BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU. Also you'll probably make some weird confessions to people, and God help you if you find a phone, I swear it's worse than drunk dialing. It's like, being drunk but then blacking out and then thinking all you did was take a refreshing nap, or something.

"She's dressed in traditional Colonial garb..."

Because I am now a responsible grown-up lady, I take my sleeping pills in a responsible grown-up way, at the same time I take my anti-malarials. I mean, see my above bedtime routine. I'm thirty one flavours of responsible. 
However, last night I was all excited from book club (I am nothing if not easily excitable, after all) and I thought I would change my routine up a bit by finishing an episode of American Horror Story in place of my usual friends. 
Basically, at one point I thought my computer was on fire and the nazis were coming to kill us but I was too tired to do anything about it. 

And that is why we dont' take our ambien and then watch American Horror Story.

(Oh! and I'm totally less tired now. Mana from heaven, I say!)

Also- anytime I think of computers being on fire, I go straight to that scene from the IT crowd. 

Also Also- does anyone else watch American Horror Story? If so, can you please explain to me why you like it? I haven't made up my mind on how I feel about it yet. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


TIA = This is Africa.
It's a quote from Blood Diamond, which I have not actually seen, but they did film it in a country where my dad was then working and Leo Dicaprio had to go into the embassy to get a visa issue ironed out and my own dear father could not be bothered to WALK DOWN THE HALL to go and see him. DOWN. THE HALL. TO LEONARDO DICAPRIO.
I feel this is an accurate portrayal of my father's work ethic and lack of appreciation for beautiful men.
I mean, he could have at least gotten me an autograph.

Anyways, here are some of my thoughts about Africa today:

-I keep forgetting this is a muslim country, which means they have delicious food to be had here. (Greek chicken wrap from the embassy caf, I am looking at you, my love.) They also totally have polygamy, which I keep forgetting about until I overhear conversations debating which wife should be invited to events. I'd say bring all the muslim sister wives because
a) I love me some sister wives, and
b) Ladies love to be invited places.
Then I realized that would not work out, as there would be no one left to babysit. Sorry, sister wives!

-To the toubab girls in booty shorts and mini skirts:
If we were in your home country, I'd be all like, yeah! wear whatever you want! girl power!
BUT WE ARE NOT IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY. You are being disrespectful to your host nation, and your home nation. Shame on you.
(I am looking at you, French hipsters. You know better than that.)

Oh, also I've been walking down stairs on my crutches wrong (apparently you're just supposed to hop?) and I've been putting my life in danger THIS WHOLE TIME.

bonus african iphone picture:

Go home, Dakar taxies. You are drunk. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

in which I speak vaguely of hard things and forgiveness and God

I seem to be awake at three A.M. a lot these days.
It's probably a side effect of meds, but I'm having a lot of trouble falling asleep. If I take a pill to fall asleep, I still wake up at three in the morning.

I think about a lot of things at three AM: what I'm going to eat for breakfast, what homework I need to do, this damn 30 days list.

On the off chance you haven't noticed, my plan to write things every day is not going so well. It's not for lack of free time, or even lack of commitment- the problem is that I don't want to answer some of the questions on this list I chose myself.
Well, one question in particular:

Number eighteen- What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

This is a question that I think about at three AM; but not because I don't know the answer.

So now I'm going to skip ahead and try and answer this question, because I think maybe I need to, and because I'm allowed to break out of order on my own blog.

This is me, speaking vaguely of hard things and forgiveness and God.

If you've known me for any significant period of time, you probably already know that I'm quick to offend and slow to forgive.  I've probably expected you to mutually hate someone with me based off a minor miscommunication. Basically, I have the social skills of a middle schooler, and it's likely that I always will. However, once I've forgiven a wrong-doing, whether actual or perceived, it's like it never happened.  I've always considered that to be one of my better traits.

But there is one thing that, no matter how much I feel I've forgiven, I keep coming back to.

When I was fifteen, I experienced an injustice that threw my world off of it's axis. I'm not going to go into detail here- this is not a event in my life I like to talk about with anyone, no matter how much I love them. Not even myself.
I was the victim of other people's choices, and in a way I was robbed of the right to make my own.

I don't know if I will ever fully forgive this.

For a while, I really thought I had-  I'd tried to rationalize the actions of my transgressors, tried to understand the social, political, psychological, and emotional aspects that would drive someone to those actions. I thought I had it figured out, thought I had let it go.

And really, I was okay for a while. But after a few years, I started running into triggers- a name in a book, an overheard piece of conversation, a familiar scent- that would set me off, and I would completely lose it. If you're looking to test your conversation skills, try explaining to the management of your gym why you've spent the past ten minutes in their locker room, sobbing so hard that you can't breathe.

I may always be one word away from rage, from paralyzing fear, from a sadness so deep it will swallow you whole.

That's one of the bigger things I struggle to forgive- not that I was hurt, but that I was hurt at a time in my life that would effect my entire adult being. I once spoke with a woman much wiser than myself who had experienced a childhood trauma, and one thing she said in particular stood out to me: "Maybe I would have been someone who laughs."
Maybe I would have been someone who trusts. Maybe I would have been someone capable of maintaining a healthy relationship. Maybe I would have been someone who laughs.

There are countless resources I've pursued in my search for forgiveness: a lot of books, a hell of a lot of therapy, God.

Oh, God.

I was once a devout and unquestioning Mormon. Granted, I was fourteen at that time, so I think that hardly counts. But I was. I believed that I was born to experience hard things, and that belief helped me cope with several aspects of my life, from moving every few years to my quickly blossoming mental illness. I believed that how I reacted to these things would ultimately lead to blessings and happiness later in life.

When I was fifteen I believed that I was born to experience hard things; things so hard I would not know how to handle them on my own. I believed that when the time came, I would be able to turn to my religion to get through them. But when I sought my religion out for support, it did not come through for me. God still loves you, their mouths said, while their actions screamed: But we do not.
After a while of finding no relief, my beliefs shifted. I still believed in God- I always have, I always will- I just didn't think he was particularly concerned with me. I'd be lying if I said I don't still feel this way, some days.

I also started to think that if God wasn't worried about me, maybe I shouldn't spend so much time worrying about him. I still went to church most of the time, but I also started to seek relief from other, ultimately harmful sources. I thought a lot about suicide.

This is what I looked like at fifteen. I loved scented lotion and mystery novels and sufjan stevens. I also tore tiny holes in my skin and tried to think of a way to kill myself without having to make my whole family fly back to the States. 

I'm twenty years old now, twenty-one in a week in a half. I am once again a practicing Mormon. I still believe in God. 
I also have a folder of tattoo ideas, and when I'm not respectfully restraining myself I swear like a sailor.  I don't think this makes me a bad person. I don't even think this makes me a bad Mormon.

I believe in a religion of justice, and mercy, and love, and forgiveness. 

I know those qualities are not always reflected by the members of my religion. I am becoming okay with that. I still occasionally walk out of a meeting being governed by opinion and not doctrine, but I am trying. 

I believe that the God I pray to views our actions on a case by case basis. I believe the God I pray to is one of ultimate understanding and forgiveness. I personally don't think the God I converse with would be inclined to send someone to hell for drinking coffee, or marrying a person of the same gender, or even for hurting someone the way I was once hurt. 

I still don't understand why I've had to experience certain parts of my life. I am still learning to forgive. 

I believe that I was born to do hard things. 

What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

I know we had this talk at three this morning, but I forgive you, God. 

In the Sun- Michael Stipe & Chris Martin

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

in which we interrupt our regularly scheduled blog post to bring you a PSA on hair washing

Ladies and Gentlemen, for the first time in two weeks I can say with the upmost certainty that my hair is clean.

Before ya'll get too grossed out, please remember that I broke my foot at the Marine Ball Saturday before last and have had a ghetto cast on my foot since then.

Here's a visual reminder for you. The cast is the bit that looks like it's growing out of my shoulder.

Anyways, since then I've pretty effectively been lazing about, because crutches are REALLY HARD YOU GUYS. And before you start thinking back to the time when you had crutches and were just fine, in fact you could to handstands on them, gee aren't crutches fun, I would like to raise the following two questions to you:
1) Do you currently have the upper body strength of a woodland squirrel? By that, I do not mean the amount of upper body strength proportional to the amount that a squirrel has, I mean do you have the upper body strength of a lil' tiny baby squirrel in your human sized upper body?
2) Are your balancing skills on par with that of a broken weeble wobble, aka, a weeble that wobbles and then falls down and can't get up?

If you answered "no" to either of those questions, then please hush your mouth because you obviously don't know my problems.

As I was saying, my hair has been super grody  [spellcheck says "grody" isn't a word, I'm still going with it] since then. To be clear, I've still been washing it- though I did throw around the idea of no bathe November, because I hate your facial hair and think you should be punished for it- but no matter how you cut it, washing your hair while straddling a bath tub while trying to keep six towels wrapped around your leg is just not that effective. This has also led to my having to explain a whore's bath to my mother. She did not find the title amusing.

However, today I was particularly depressed and whatnot, going through my mental list of things that usually cheer me up (by this point I had already watched grey's anatomy and cuddled a cat, so those were out) and I decided that the time had come for my hair to be thoroughly cleansed. Because clean soft silky hair cheers everybody up, my friends.

So, I took off my cast.
Before you freak out, it's not a full cast. It's like, three quarters of a cast plus multiple ace bandages. Though my Dr was all like, you still can't walk on it, and I was like, I wouldn't dream of it, and he was like, I just saw you walking on it like five seconds ago and I was like, yeah, but that was the part of my foot that ISN'T broken, and he was like...sigh....
Honestly though, the man moved my crutches and then expected me to sit still for twenty minutes without getting my book. I didn't have any other options, if you think about it. 

Anyways, I took off my cast, it hurt like crap, my leg looks super janky, I did not take pictures. There's also this super sketch bruise around the base of my toes that makes them look like they are about to fall off- is that normal? I'm too chicken to google it. 

Ordinarily I'd actually classify it as a pretty mediocre shower, also I kinda slammed my broken foot down, so that hurt, but still. GLORIOUS. Exfoliating and singing songs that degrade women and everything. Side note, I sing really offensive songs in the shower, I do not know why I do this, also I have mad rapping skills. 
(Drop it drop it low, girl)

So the moral of this story is that my hair has been thoroughly washed, and now looks like this:

Shower fresh hair and crutches. This is my life now.

As I was taking my shower of all showers, and enjoying my squeaky clean hair, I marveled at my own grooming prowess and decided to bequeath you all with my beauty wisdom. 

So without further ado, here is Lissa's guide to washing your hair properly:

1) Don't do it.
For reals, you are probably washing your hair wayyyy too often. Even if yo stanky self needs to shower twice a day, every day (also bad for your skin, nbd) you do NOT need to wash your hair that many times. At the most, you should probably be washing your hair about three times a week- if you think your hair would be a total grease ball by doing this, you're probably wrong. It's very likely that your hair is over producing oil to compensate for the over washing you are currently forcing it through. Wash it less. Your hair will adapt. 
Ideally, though, you should wait as long as humanly possible to wash your hair, like that one week when you decided you couldn't stand your roommates and played musical beds and wore a lot of hats until you finally had the place to yourself long enough to deep condition (college, amiright?) No, but seriously, wait. Throw some baby powder around up there, nobody will know the difference. 

Baby powder. 
Also, I've started wearing a sports bra and running shorts all the time.
It makes me look sporty.
It also helps me not flash people when I fall down on my crutches.
Which I do like six times a day. 
This picture caption is ridiculously long. 

2) Shampoo the crap outta your crap.
Fun fact: you only need to shampoo the roots of your hair. If you're shampooing anymore than that, you are wasting product and money. Speaking of money, go buy yourself some nice shampoo and conditioner, guys. You're now only washing half of your hair, and you're doing it half as often, ergo you're using 1/4 of the product and can afford to buy shampoo four times as expensive that will actually make your hair look nice. 

The best shampoo money can buy!....at walmart. I'm still poor, guys. 

Also, get yourself a really big box of baking soda. I'm pretty sure there is nothing baking soda can't do. It's got like 15 different uses as a beauty product alone, it's awesome.  If you like your hair super clean, shampoo your hair twice: the first time you should combine equal amounts of baking soda and shampoo into a glorious hair cleaning paste. It's super awesome at removing product buildup and campfire smell and the beer that got spilled in your hair and other stuff that usually requires multiple showers. 

Here is a huge box of baking soda!
3) Condition your crap.
Fun fact: you only need to condition the ends of your hair, your natural oil takes care of your roots. So basically, slather a ton of that in your hair, comb it through, pull it back if your hair is long enough, do other shower things. Shave your legs. Wash your face with your baking soda (double points if you use a sonic brush). Sing the real slim shady. You know. Regular people stuff. 
Once you're done with your other shower stuff, rinse it out. Marvel at the smoothness. Ideally, you should rinse it out with ice cold water to close the cuticle of your hair, but I know some of you are babies and won't do that. I pretty much take cold showers to begin with because they're super energizing, and because I did swim team for years and years which means I'm hardcore and impervious to cold water, basically. 
Also, get yourself a jug of apple cider vinegar. It's like two dollars. Like baking soda, it also has a bajillion uses as a beauty product- but don't try to combine the two to try and save time, trust me, I'm speaking from experience. Anyways, to make your hair super shiny and soft, mix about 2 tbs with 1/4 cup of water, rinse your hair with it once you're done with your conditioner. It's awesome and you won't smell like a salad, I promise. 

Here is a huge bottle of vinegar!  
Also I've quit putting on makeup because it's too much standing.

4) Bonus step- Deep condition your conditioned crap.
Like once a week, dump like a fistful of deep conditioner in your dry hair and sleep in it. Your  hair will be silky silky silky.  I use orjon oil because I freaked out and splurged on it after I bleached my hair and fried the ends this summer. In all honesty, coconut oil works just as well and smells a heck of a lot better. 
I was going to take a picture of my deep conditioner but it's all the way in the other room.
Here's a sample size bottle of hair spray! It's so cute!

Thus concludes my guide to hair washing. Maybe next week I'll teach you to put on chapstick, or something equally as mundane. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

in which I am afraid of 3 things

Day two of my thirty things

I'm having a hard time thinking of three things I consider myself afraid of. There are plenty of things I'm not particularly excited to experience, but I don't think I'm afraid of them. Dying, for example. I'm not in any real big hurry to die. I would be deeply sad if any of my family or loved ones were to die. It would suck, and when the time comes, it's going to suck, but I don't think being afraid of it will prevent it from happening, or help process it better when the time comes. I'm not saying I choose not to be afraid- I'm just...not.

There are lots of things I'm not afraid of anymore- some of which I have control over, some of which I don't. I'm not afraid of the dark, of what's underneath my bed (all the stuff I can't fit in my dresser, mostly), of being raped and murdered (but please don't rape and murder me), of losing my mind.

However, there are still a few things that really creep me out; here are three of them:

1. Parasites.
I am terrified of another living, moving creature inhabiting my body. The very idea of getting mango worms super freaks me out, which my mother uses to her advantage whenever she humanly can (it's not funny anymore, MOM.)
Yes, I am aware that this might make my ever getting pregnant super awkward. No, I don't know what I'm going to do about that.

2. Being Paralyzed.
I'm not sure if this stems from reading Johnny Got His Gun (EXCELLENT book), or that reoccurring nightmare where no one can see or hear me. I imagine complete paralyzation would be something like that.

3. The Monster from Forbidden Planet.
Forbidden Planet is a sci fi movie from the 1950s that my dad showed my sisters and I when we were 8, 6, and 4 years old (one of these three children would refuse to leave her room at night for years because of this movie. just saying.) It features an invisible monster that keeps dismembering members of the space ship crew- and the only time the monster is seen is when it crosses into the field of the electric fence.

Ultimately it's revealed that the monster is controlled by the subconscious desires of its creator, the scientist who lives on the planet. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

in which I share 20 facts about me

Day one of my thirty things- thing.

1. I was vegan for four years. Not strict vegan, by any means, but still. This may come as a surprise to anyone who's ever seen me around dairy products-  I love me some milk, yo.

2. I love to talk. More specifically, I love to make people listen to me talk. My conversation skills are actually pretty lacking.

3. Physical contact I don't initiate makes me really uncomfortable.

4. February is hands down my least favourite month of the year.  Seriously, it's a horrible month. If I'm ever wildly wealthy, I'll take February as my mental health month to vacation in the Caribbean. This hatred, as far as I can tell, stems from the typical weather at that time of the year, and not Valentine's day. Though now that I mention it, I also really hate Valentine's day. Significant others are usually counseled to ignore the holiday all together. Ugh, February. Ugh, Valentines day.

5. My shopping skills are ridiculous. If you ask me nicely, I will extend them to you.

6. I'm a terrifically bad dancer. However, I love to dance, and will happily do so at your wedding, club, prom, or zumba class. Alas, in the words of Fozzy Bear, I don't got rhythm.

Oh, muppets. You feel me. 

7. Way too much of my self esteem hinges on other people thinking I'm funny. I don't care if you think I'm ugly or stupid or don't have silky hair (okay, so I also care about all of those things) but please, please find me hilarious. 

8. I am a practicing Mormon. I don't 100% believe in 100% of the LDS doctrine. I'm okay with that, and I'm not looking for you to convince me one way or the other. 

9. When I'm excited, I get really loud. Eventually this escalates to wordless happy screams punctuated by drunken seal claps. When I'm mad, really mad, I tend to be more eloquent and quiet. When I'm furious there may even be a British accent involved. It's pretty weird, actually.

10. Sunflowers are my favourite flowers, closely followed by anything that resembles a sunflower. 

from google

11. I unabashedly love cats. That fake e-harmony video where the girl starts crying because she wants to hug all the cats? that's basically me. As soon as I'm in a settled, stable living arrangement I'm going to foster kittens, and if I'm ever wildly wealthy I'm going to start a kitten therapy program where I take kittens to orphanages and mental hospitals and stuff because honestly, WHO DOESN'T LOVE KITTENS? oh man. Kittens. Aisch. 

Oh, Debbi. You feel me. 

12. I tend to listen to the same song over and over and over again, particularly if I've just discovered it or if I'm trying to focus on writing or homework. Today it's Ivan & Alyosha's Easy to Love.

Oh, Ivan & Alyosha. You...write nice music. 

13. I've always been hyper-critical of books, movies, and music, but for whatever reason this has never extended to TV. I'll watch pretty much anything on TV. I love television- I love how neatly a plot can be wrapped up in a 22 or 46 minute period, I love how a subplot can extend for a season or a series, I love not having to think about anything for the duration of a show. I know that last statement in particular is a valid argument for television rotting one's brain, but sometimes I can't deal with my own brain for hours or days or weeks on end, so I'm grateful that I have TV as an option.

14. Little-known fact here: I love weddings. Since I already have the crazy, cat-lover thing going for me, that's not something I like to throw out there that much- I don't really get the logic behind that either. Over the years I've restricted my wedding obsession to Sundays- church really stresses me out, so I reward my religious endeavors with hours browsing lace overlay gowns and flower arrangements involving lilies. 

15. Someday I would love to start a book club that only reads the memoirs of funny people. 

16. I take an obscene amount of pictures of myself. Always have. 

17. Fall is my favourite season- particularly fall on the east coast. 

18. I have no idea how to comfort or advise people. This is unfortunate, because for some reason people keep choosing to confide things in me. Why do you do this, people? Surely I am not the most trust inspiring person you know. I never shut up. Basically, if you come to me for advise I will tell you to drink some water. If you come to me because you are sad I will probably buy you some food and try to make you laugh. This is all I know how to do. 

19. Driving still terrifies me, but I love going for drives and listening to music. Really, the best way to listen to music is in a car, with the volume up so high that you're basically traveling in a sound-coccoon. 

20. I'm really tired of being really tired all the time.

Bonus Muppets video:

You and I and George

in which I plan to write 30 things

Here's the thing: I need to write more. I also don't feel like writing. So, in an attempt to deter my lack of motivation and build good writing things habits, I'm going to tackle one of these a day, every day, for thirty days.

Remember when I started a blog to chronicle my Africa adventures and then only wrote four posts, most of which were about my feelings? Sorry about that. Hopefully we'll get back to fun African story time soon. 

Here goes:

1. List 20 random facts about yourself.
2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
3. Describe your relationship with your parents.
4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.
5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
7. What is your dream job, and why?
8. What are 5 passions you have?
9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.
10. Describe your most embarrasing moment.
11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
12. Describe a typical day in your current life.
13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have.
14. Describe 5 strengths you have.
15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
18. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?
22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
23. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.
24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?
28. What is your love language?
29. What do you think people misundertand most about you?
30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In which I just have a lot of feelings. And drugs. Oh, and also I swear.

We meet again, Tiny Pill

I have decided to go back on medication.

As most of you know, I struggle with mental illness and have spent the past several years juggling medications.
As a few of you know, I made the decision to go off of meds in early May. I spent the summer talking to shrinks about my feels, learning to be a more trusting person, learning to accept parts of myself and past experiences I would rather ignore, thankyouverymuch, and experimenting with herbal supplements- this is not a euphemism for weed, we're talking straight up nasty vitamins, prescribed by an herbologist and everything. And that was good.

And now things have changed, and I am going back on medication.

[Also, I feel now would be a good time to jump in and say that I am absolutely terrified of writing this. Is talking about mental illness on the internet something that will prevent me from getting a job in the future? Is it going to make my friends feel uncomfortable around me? And if so, why is that?]

Let me tell you about myself.
My name is Lissa, and I am one of the 26.2% of Americans who suffer from mental illness. I am still capable, and lovable, and at times a total bad-ass. I also take medication a good deal of the time, and today I'm going to talk about what that's like for me. This is my personal experience: I am not a doctor. I am not the authoritative opinion on brain weasels and the drugs that can treat them. I'm just talking, because that's what I know how to do.

I feel like there are two versions of myself- Lissa on and off meds.

Off-meds Lissa is who I spent the first seventeen years of my life being. She's awesome. I hope to spend many more years as off-meds Lissa. She's brilliant, and passionate, and funny, and creative. She's also wildly emotional. Her life is markedly comprised of a series of dramatic highs and lows- beyond the "good days" and "bad days" one is expected to experience- she is either furiously happy or totally submerged in darkness.
And you know what? Those highs are awesome.
During those periods I feel like I'm running headfirst into the whole world, and I will conquer all of it. My best artistic work is absolutely created during these periods, because it is during these periods when I feel most creative and inspired, and when I have enough energy to dedicate to it.
These are also the times when I feel free of inhibitions- this girl is not scared of anything. This is the person who will talk to anyone, who will try anything. And I love that.

I absolutely realize that I could be projecting into these highs- and they probably aren't nearly as much fun for the people around me to experience. I mean, this is the girl who thinks throwing milk at people is absolutely hilarious (to be clear, medicated Lissa also finds this hysterically funny, but she refrains from throwing milk.) Actually, that's probably a fairly accurate metaphor: I throw milk, everyone else has milk thrown on them. That's basically what it's like to live with me.

And then there are the lows. Depression is the technical term, and the one I use with doctors, but when describing this period in my mind, I use the word "melancholy"- a deep, pensive, long-lasting sadness. I think I settled on this descriptor after watching Paint Your Wagon (my all time favourite cowboy polygamist musical starring Clint Eastwood), when Clint Eastwood finds his partner, Ben, lying by himself in the road during a rainstorm, and Ben says the following:

"I get melancholy every now and then.
It's a disease common to
mountain men who live alone a lot,
but if you stay with me such times,
l'll be OK."
I can remember thinking this was an incredibly accurate sentiment, easily summarized in a single word: melancholy. 
I too, get melancholy every now and then. My mind becomes void of traceable thoughts, which are replaced with emotion and irrational impulses. It is very hard for me to function during these periods- when things are really bad, I won't leave the house, or even my room, for days- I spend most of this time sleeping, or watching TV. Well, not so much watching TV as having TV constantly playing. There's a difference, one that I don't know how to explain. 

I do not believe having these periods is inherently bad- no more so than, say, having brown hair or asthma. I appreciate them as being a part of who I am. Even the lows have benefitted me in more than one way- from them I have learned empathy, and sympathy, and how to appreciate art/music/film/books that I otherwise would not have been able to understand, I have learned how to cry, and how to better value the highs in my life. 

But over the last several years, the high periods have gotten shorter and the low periods have gotten longer, and lower. I've often felt like I was clinging to the high periods with the tips of my fingernails, desperately trying to maintain a state of being that was quickly slipping away. In attempts to prolong these highs, the lack of inhibitions quickly turns to recklessness, which has lead to my involvement in more than one stupid, if not dangerous, situation. 

Off-meds Lissa is a fantastic, amazing person. But she can be kind of hard to live with. 
And on a couple of occasions, she makes it kind of hard to live. 

I first went on medication my junior year of high school. It was a hard decision then, it's a hard decision now. I don't like the idea of having to depend on external sources to survive- and yes, I realize how stupid that is. I also feel there's a stigma around having to take medication to better handle your life- and, weirdly enough, while I've never judged another person for taking medication, I think I may be applying that stigma to myself. 

It's okay to supplement your brain's chemistry with medication if you feel you need to. It's just as okay for me to take my asthma medications to breathe every day, and just as okay to take vitamins or eat food to survive. 

Again, I feel like I'm a different version of myself on medications. I still have high and low periods, but they are much less extreme- more a collection of good and bad days. I have much more control over my emotions, in part because my emotions are restricted to a more limited range. I cry less. I also laugh less.  It makes my life easier, but somedays it also sucks.
I don't take medication to be happy- I am still responsible for my own happiness. I take medication to prolong contentment. I take medication because I have yet to find a job with three months of sick days a  year  to accommodate my need to spend large amounts of time hiding under a blanket.
I'm still brilliant and passionate and creative and funny and frequently melancholy- just in smaller, more regular doses.

Taking medication is a personal choice, and one that I feel is not suited for everyone. From what I understand, medication for mental illness is a tricky business, and one that comes with lots of nasty side effects. On medication, I've been plagued with insomnia, lack of appetite, dramatic weight gain and loss, and one particularly fun year when I slept 16 hours a day.

There are lots of aspects of taking medication that suck. Really suck. But sometimes the benefit outweighs the side effects, and earlier this week as I sat on a psychiatrist's couch, bawling my eyes out and attempting to explain through a series of hiccups that "my life is going nowhere and I just want to sit in my mosquito tent of isolation and Finn and Rachel's breakup was really sad to me and I just have a lot of feelings, okay?" I realized that such a time had once again come.

I may be taking medication for the rest of my life.

And that's okay.

Here are some things that are not okay:

It's not okay to tell me- or anyone else with mental illness- to go take some more pills. Even as a joke. Unless you are my practicing physician, you have no say in my medication. I feel like this is becoming the cray cray version of "Geez, are you on your period or something?" WHY IS IT OKAY TO SAY THESE THINGS? I am allowed to have bad days, an I am allowed to be irrational and emotional as long as I am not endangering myself or others. Hell, I am allowed to go off my medication if I decide that is what's right for me. I am enough, with or without them.
And you have no say in it.
If you really love me, you will continue to do so regardless of what dosage I am or am not taking. Ditto if I gain a hundred pounds. Or adopt five cats. Or move to Tibet. Okay?

It's not okay to suggest that my need for medication stems from a failure in other aspects of my life, ie, if I just ate more spinach I wouldn't need drugs. I am aware of the studies showing the effects of alternative treatments. I don't need you to quote them to me.  I am also eating my vegetables, exercising, engaged in my religion, and actively communicating with a wide support group of friends. I'm not taking medication because I'm too lazy to try anything else, or because I'm "sticking a bandaid" on something. So unless you've found a spinach genetically modified to include SSRIs, let's not have this conversation.

It's not okay to call me at home to tell me how depressing I am to be around. Admittedly this has only happened once, but WHAT THE HELL, RANDOM GIRL FROM HIGH SCHOOL. WE WERE NOT EVEN FRIENDS AND NO ONE WAS ASKING YOU TO SPEND TIME WITH ME. I HOPE YOUR CHILDREN ARE UGLY.
so...if any of you are considering ever doing that...don't.

My name is Lissa, and I am one of the 26.2% of Americans who suffer from mental illness. I am still capable, and lovable, and at times a total bad-ass.
And today, I am taking medication.