when bagels become a big fucking deal

Atticus said that Jem was trying hard to forget something, but what he was really doing was storing it away for a while, until enough time passed. Then he would be able to think about it and sort things out. When he was able to think about it, Jem would be himself again. – To Kill a Mockingbird

The past few days I’ve been stressed. Abnormally stressed. The type of stressed that makes its way deep into your bones and, no matter what, will not shake itself free. I’ve tried running, listening to sad songs so I could maybe cry it out, and long drives in my car. I’ve tried distracting myself with TV shows or hanging out with my friends. And, honestly, I don’t have the time for all that. My bills are falling behind, my room is a mess, and my to-do list seems to double itself every half hour.

On the way to work I listened to angst-y punk rock bands hoping it would be cathartic. Then I switched to Adele and belted out sad tunes. When that failed, I pulled up to Dunkin’ Donuts thinking a French Vanilla coffee and a bagel would help. I had fifteen minutes until work but the store was right around the corner, I’d make it in plenty of time.

The line was longer than usual. I practiced my order ahead of time, since I usually get nervous and blank when I get to the counter (much to the annoyance of the people behind me in line.) When it was my turn to order, I gave a flawless delivery and even gave myself a mental pat on the back for making great time. I haven’t ordered a bagel this well since before I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in 2007. Things were looking up.

However, there was a new employee behind the counter who didn’t know how to use the computer yet. I repeated my bagel order 3x and immediately all of the stress I was trying to run from started bubbling up within me. This morning “treat” was supposed to help my stress, not aggravate it! Still, I kept calm knowing in my head that everyone has to learn when they first start a job. It wasn’t that I was rude to her and I didn’t completely lose my shit like you might see in a movie, I just didn’t like the way this minor road bump made me feel. But I guess that’s why people tell you that it’s valuable to learn how to sit with negative emotions rather than always acting on them.

After three people who were behind me in line got their orders before me, I realized that my bagel was taking a very long time. And while fifteen minutes is usually long enough to grab a coffee and bagel in the morning, I was now three minutes late to work. But, from the way my blood was boiling, you’d think it took a half hour.

It must have been written on my face, because the guy behind the counter apologized 20 times, even though I really hadn’t complained.

As I got into my car and drove to work it hit me. The man behind the counter apologized so many times because some customers would probably lose their shit about it. Knowing how close I was even though I’m usually a relatively calm person made me a little bit scared.

I started to think about why our society is so high strung over simple, minuscule things like bagels, and I realized that our society isn’t strung out about bagels. We are strung out over the stress we endure at jobs we hate every day. We are strung out because between all of our obligations we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. We are strung out because we want people to like us but it’s exhausting to always be on our best behavior. So, when the poor guy behind the counter messes up our order, it’s easier to take everything out on him rather than take it out on someone we actually know and love, like our family members.

I thought about the night before when I laid in my bed and actually tried to cry, hoping it would release some of the stress. But when it wasn’t really working, I decided that I could better spend my time watching New Girl or sleeping so I could get up and run at 6 am.

I don’t know where it stops. I don’t know when “giving ourselves a break” becomes a normal habit. Maybe sometimes people get depressed because sinking into a deep depression is the only way we can call off the shots for a while and recuperate. I’m not sure. I can’t even figure out how to relieve my own stress, let along solve the problem for society at large.

But for the sake of bagel makers everywhere, I hope we can all figure it out soon.

elias doesn’t play with toy guns

daddy brought me candy
a different piece each day
on weekends we’d take walks
or sit outside and play
my favorite game was hide and seek
but i never played with toy guns
my dad told me they were dangerous
and in real life they weren’t for fun
i never saw my dad take his out
until one day in the spring
when i thought i heard thunder
and the alarms started to ring
daddy kissed mommy
and before he said goodbye
he told me he’d be back later and
i believed him ‘cus he never lied
but the days went by
and we couldn’t find dad
we couldn’t even look for him
because the bombs were too bad
i worked hard in school
so if he came back he’d be proud
but soon mommy kept us home
as more of the city burned big clouds
she made that decision
when nazir was sent home
after the bad guys invaded his class
and lodged bullets in bones
last week we decided
the war was just too bad
mommy was a nervous wreck
but we took the chance we had
she sold our three mantel pieces
made up of pure gold
they had been kept in the family
for years and years never sold
but she said it was necessary
and the boat would take us away
to a place where we could find peace
and i’d be able to once again play
after she paid the men money
we loaded the small boat
and for days and days on end
we did nothing but float
i didn’t know it then
but a surprise i would soon get
because our final destination
didn’t turn out to be a tent
instead we ran into a storm
and our boat blew upside down
while i struggled to catch my breath
an angel gave me my crown
just when i got nervous
and bit my lip not to cry
daddy came to pick me up
and lifted me up into the sky
my family is a family again
i play with nazir in the clouds
and i no longer wake up
from the civil war’s loud sounds
to the other families back home
our memory may make them sad
but i’m happy we live in peace
and i can eat candy with my dad

i woke up in the spring

I lay down to rest in a bed made of leaves
And felt the crisp air dance on the edge of my sleeves
In a big burly scarf and an oversized coat
I thought about you and the note that you wrote
You told me not to worry, the deep pain would soon leave
That time brings us through darkness, in light I’d rise from my knees
But in this field blanketed by dark overcast skies
Mother Nature could handle the tears in my eyes
The trees in the distance shed bright colored leaves
I envied that letting go was their God given expertise
So I threw myself down on the hard cracking ground
My sobs and deep breaths the only loud sound
Then the grass softened itself to wipe up my tears
The wind swirled around me then carried my fears
As winter came forth and froze up the land
Mother Nature reached down with her long aging hand
She said, “Let your heart freeze, trust me sweet child,
And when the spring comes, we’ll let it thaw for a while
It may seem impossible, but i think you’ll soon see
You can learn to let go just like my dear trees.”
And because it was calm despite my chaotic wild heart
Listening to nature seemed like a great place to start
So I crawled into the shelter of a big sturdy rock
Hibernated while winter played down the clock
When Mother Nature woke me gently in spring
The ice melted in my chest with no pain lingering

soulmates

they say you get a soulmate
everybody has just one
and when you finally meet them
the world becomes more fun
but i’ve met people near and far
no two are quite the same
and in their laugh or pretty eyes
i’ve found the cure to pain
the painter i loved dearly
taught me how to chase my dreams
and the one that loved nature
showed me things i’ve never seen
the guy who loved music
opened my world to something new
and the one that found me in the dirt
taught me love is true
none of them worked out
because it wasn’t meant to be
but pieces of their souls
I’ve kept safely within me
the problem i’ve found with soulmates
is they can never stay too long
for they open up a part of you
that you need to carry on
their spirits can be kept
but they were never meant to stay
because this is your journey
only you yourself can pave the way
for when it comes to soulmates
you love them just too much
it almost seems to break you
every time you touch
so gather what they’ve taught you
and soon i think you’ll see
those soulmates were there to show you
the person you should be
think fondly of the painter
while you boldly chase your dreams
and keep your thirst wide open
for the things you’ve never seen
though you may have hoped
they would stay and never leave
trust me, child, when i say
you’re where you need to be
so hold your chin up soldier
and wipe away your tears
use all that they’ve taught you
to finally face your fears
your journey isn’t over
because your soulmates went away
in fact you might just find
they are with you everyday

only mean

i sat quietly near the ocean
when he told me i’m too nice
trying to pick up frazzled thoughts
that felt like scattered rice

not long ago, one called me mean
so now i was confused
how one person could see one thing
and the next saw something new

all of a sudden it occurred to me
that i was more than just a word
to fit myself into a single flat description
felt a lot like caging a wild bird

still, this all did very little to help;
the realization didn’t set me free
i was curious who would
like me for the one and only me

then a bird sat upon my shoulder and
whispered wisdom in my ear
“people only echo the things
they themselves have grown to fear”

so next time someone tells you
that you are not worthy of their love
i’ll bet more times than not
it’s themselves they’re thinking of

don’t forget that they are carrying
their own heavy burdens, too
so when you feel like striking back
know you’re not the only one that’s blue

simply sit beside the ocean and think
you have more depth than the sea
therefore you could never be boiled down
to only nice or only mean

I haven’t weighed myself in an entire year and the earth is still spinning

“That can’t really be how much you weigh,” he said, shocked.

“Yeah, it is!”

“It doesn’t seem that way. I mean, not that it’s a bad thing, I just never would have guessed.”

Apparently the number was a little higher than he expected and while he didn’t intend to be hurtful, I immediately I thought twice about the second round of Sam Adam’s Summer Ale that I just ordered. In fact, I immediately thought twice about everything I ate that entire week. I also wondered what bar would think it was a good idea to have a scale in it, anyway.


If you’ve read some of my past writing, you might have an idea that 2013 and 2014 were rough years for me. I can’t exactly pinpoint one reason that made these years tough, but rather, it seemed like a bunch of little things all at once. After it was all over, it seemed these years helped me grow a backbone, gain perspective, and develop a type of “emotional skin” that I was lacking prior. As a result, I wouldn’t choose to relive these years, but I do understand why they were necessary.

One manifestation of my inability to cope was my reluctance to eat food. What started out as “being healthy” quickly morphed into harsh rules about food, and at my worst, I adopted a belief that eating was hardly necessary at all. I am hesitant to describe this as an eating disorder, because I do not think that is fair to people who struggle with EDs at a more chronic, severe, and life-threatening level. See, once I sorted out the rest of the problems in my life, my appetite came back and I’ve been fine since. I am ashamed to say that I believe I was being too dramatic.

Regardless of its correct label, for a few months’ time, I lost a ton of weight and developed unhealthy eating habits. In order to get better and learn how to eat normally, I visited a dietician. I felt that this was a good idea either way, because my relationship with food was so confusing and threatening to me that I felt it might be nice to learn a little more.

Upon my first visit, she advised me to stop weighing myself at home. I was hesitant initially, because weighing myself was a daily ritual. My main fear in taking this step was that I wouldn’t notice if I gained a pound or two, and, as a result, my weight would get out of control in no time.

It’s pertinent for me to explain that if I saw that I gained even a pound or two, I would immediately begin panicking and figuring out how I could cut calories, fat, etc. Looking back, I think I felt so out of control in my life that I easily believed my weight could become out of control if I didn’t watch it closely enough.

I came around to the idea because I was at wit’s end. I was tired of being miserable and depressed because my body was lacking nutrients. I was tired of not being able to complete my usual run/workout because I had no energy. I was tired of being cold all the time.

So, I agreed; I would not weigh myself. In fact, I would not look when doctors weighed me, I would not discuss weight if not necessary – basically, if I was going to do this, I was going to do it all the way.

At first it was weird not knowing. I felt out of control. I was raised to worry about weight, to identify with the number I saw on the scale, to discuss it, etc. I also felt like a fraud because people didn’t understand. I was not overweight, never had been, so why was I so worried about eating and gaining weight? Good question, I thought many times, as I asked myself the same exact thing. I don’t know why, I just know that I did. Eventually, it became necessary for me to stop asking why and just accept it and move on.

Over the past year, nurses have rolled their eyes and told me that I was too thin to be worrying about seeing a number on the scale (this tends to happen when you tell them you preferred to be weighed backwards). I know their comments come from a good place, but since I am at a healthy weight, I find that it is none of their business.

I know I am at a healthier place in life – a healthier place than I really have ever been – and therefore, I’d probably be okay with weighing myself now. I still choose not to, though. Because I don’t want to go back to those days where I would worry about every single thing I ate because the number on the scale was a few digits higher than the day before. I don’t want to berate myself for indulging in a delicious meal that left me a little bloated.

The truth is, our weight fluctuates for many reasons – the weather, salt intake, hormones, etc. While I find it important to have a general sense of weight and healthiness, for me, I feel a whole lot better cutting that stressor out of my life. I’m still conscience of my weight – but I trust that the eating habits I’ve developed over the past year will keep me at my ideal weight, and so far, all of my clothes still fit.

I do understand that obesity is an issue in the United States, so some people have different needs than my own. I am not saying this is a behavior we all need to adapt – everyone is different. I’m just merely stating that I tried it and it works for me. It’s been a whole year since the last time I’ve weighed myself and the world still spins. I am still healthy. After all, why are we reducing our self worth to a number, anyway?

My 6 Rules for Staying Sane on Social Media

If you hate social media, maybe you are using it wrong.

I get the pitfalls of social media very well. I, too, get sick of endless pictures of babies, engagement rings, and the steady stream of humble bragging (“Guess who got a 4.0!”) It’s annoying and overwhelming. Also, the drama created and displayed on the network is enough to make anyone puke. Add the annoying need to creep on your ex-boyfriend and you’ll wonder why anyone thought we needed to advance past the 1800’s when the world was small. Like I said, I get it.

Still, underneath all the piles of crap, there are a ton of good things about social media, too. For example, I recently read about a kid who anonymously created an Instagram account and posted pictures of everyone in his school along with words of encouragement towards each. Humans of New York is a daily reminder that we aren’t alone, but rather, are all imperfect humans working on making our lives better. This is not to mention the amount of fundraisers I’ve attended as a result of acquaintances posting about it, the friends from high school I recently re-connected with via Facebook, and the endless laughs I’ve shared with long-distance friends that I don’t see every day. For these reasons, I have not deleted my Facebook.

I think it is also important to note that many people who haven’t watched the news in years keep up with current events using social networks. When I took a break from Facebook last year, I felt a little out of the loop when people were talking about the latest viral video or article. So, as much as people complain that social networks are the end-all of human contact, I beg to differ. I actually think it gives us some material to talk about when we see each other face-to-face!

Still, as with every type of communication, it depends more on how you use it rather than if you do. I know that in order to keep myself on track and live a balanced life, both on social media and off, I’ve compiled my own list of rules that I follow.

No ex-boyfriends. (This includes ex-hook-ups.)

This one is seemingly simple to me, but surprisingly many people disagree. It’s kind of confusing to me, though. If you stop speaking with a person in real life, why would you continue to torture yourself with updates on their life via Instagram and Facebook? Why would you want them to know about your life?

As a rule of thumb, if I date a guy – whether it is casually for a month or serious for years, once it is over, they get deleted from all social media. It saves me from those icky, confusing feelings I get when I see them in pictures with females that aren’t me.

I do realize that some people do not need to do this because they are not as sensitive as me and that is totally cool. But as someone who has a hard time with break-ups and good-byes, “out of sight – out of mind” is a great way for me to focus on the positive aspects of my life.

Scrub your friend’s list often.

If I haven’t communicated with a person in ~2 years, it is no longer necessary for me to be Facebook friends with them. Of course there are exceptions, like distant family and some high school friends, but that obnoxious girl that lived in my dorm freshman year of college gets the hack. Because truthfully, I post on Facebook fairly frequently, and as weird as it is for me to see her updates, I find it weirder that she sees mine.

This rule usually cuts down on the sensory overload you can get from seeing so many people on vacation while you are stuck in your gray cubicle. It’s okay to delete people – most times they won’t even notice. (However, a friend of mine uses the Birthday updates to find friends she lost touch with and deletes them on their birthday – this is a little cruel.)

Careful with the personal emotions and details.

We are not robots and we have emotions, which is why I do not suggest never posting an emotional status on Facebook. I know some people will disagree, but I think showing some emotion is okay. After all, emotions are great ways to bond with other people and not feel so alone.

That being said, there is a fine line between showing a bit of emotion and creating a status you will regret. Just as you would not walk into your high school reunion and start screaming about what an asshole your ex is, creating a status about it is also frowned upon.

My rule of thumb for this one is a lot like my rule of thumb when picking out professional clothing: If there is even a chance that it will be considered inappropriate, don’t buy it (in this case, don’t post it!) We’ve all been out-of-control angry or ugly-cry heartbroken, and it almost feels necessary to pour out our emotions immediately. Facebook provides a great outlet for this when no one else is around. Still, do whatever you can to stop yourself from posting in the heat of the moment. You will never regret not posting that angry tweet.

Live and let live.

In geek terms – do not be a troll. Nobody wants to know that they spelled “your” wrong. The amount of people on the internet who feel the need to prove that their spelling is above average is amazing to me these days. Did you know what the post meant? Yes? Good, now if my spelling bothers you, please go to your journal and write all the mean thoughts there.

For real, though. People post stupid shit all the time and it’s annoying, but publically berating someone for it is pretty unkind. Let’s go back to the high school reunion scenario. If someone is being obnoxious/bragging/what-have-you to your face, you are very unlikely to tell them to shut-the-fuck-up. Rather, you will probably politely excuse yourself from the conversation and walk away, or continue to put up with their bullshit. If you are annoyed by a person’s constant bullshit on Facebook, politely delete them and move along. Otherwise, live and let live. Who cares what your neighbor down the street posts, anyway? Your ability to rise above the nonsense says more about your character than their obnoxious Facebook post says about theirs.

Use social networking as a valuable tool for more than posting selfies.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s always nice to feel pretty in a picture and want to post it for a little confidence-boost. I really do not think there is anything wrong with that. However, please realize that social networking could also be used as a tool to spread ideas, make contacts, and shed light on some of the positive events happening in our lives.

People post about their engagements because the world mostly sucks and is boring, so when something significant happens, they want to sing about it. And why shouldn’t they be excited anyway?

Not only that, but social media has gotten me more than a few friendships in the past. Sometimes, when you meet someone at a party, you hit it off just as friends. Asking for someone’s number can be seemingly forward, but if you send them a message afterwards with, “Hey, I had a great time meeting you, let’s get lunch!” you may be on your way to a new friendship.

Used the right way, Facebook can be a tool used to promote fundraisers, community events, and friendships. Twitter is a way for you to see how other people are reacting to crazy world events, and Instagram has a way of telling beautiful stories with pictures. As with all aspects in life, see the good.

Know when to take a break.

This could mean just simply putting down your phone to have dinner with a friend or taking a month hiatus.

Truthfully, not many of my friends are on the phone all the time anymore. I used to notice it more in college, but I’ve found that it’s becoming common knowledge that it’s rude to neglect company in favor of checking your Facebook or Instagram.

In regards to taking a longer break, last year I deleted my social media accounts for most of the summer. It was a time when I was going through a ton of big changes and felt a bit depressed. In order to focus on myself and healing, I needed to take a breath of fresh air from social media. It was constructive and it helped and I would do it again. The great thing about many platforms is that you can delete your account and open it up again when you are ready (there is a way to permanently delete Facebook, too, just FYI!)

Social media isn’t for everyone, but used with a bit of self-discipline, I think it is mostly a positive medium that has impacted the world in more ways that in harmed it. Feel free to share your thoughts and/or rules!