Filthy Stinkin’ Rich

This post is going to be a little expository (aka annoying). Bear with me.

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I want to be disgustingly wealthy. I want to be rollin’ in it. I want the world to be like, “Dang, who’s that woman saturated in prosperity. She MUST have her shit together.” No, silly peasant, I don’t want that wealth in money. I want it in other stuff, non-tangible stuff. A piece of advice my parents gave me when I was a wee lassie is to pay attention to four essential areas of life:

1. Emotional
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2. Spiritual
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3. Physical
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4. Intellectual
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Now, technically there’s more to this. There are 7 areas studied that you should pay attention to, but I’m not technical and those weren’t part of the equation my Mom and Dad gave to me in my crib. This is my version, so we’re all just gonna deal with it.

(You shouldn’t ask me anyways because if I were to add three more areas of wealth to my life they would be: trendy home goods, quantity of pets, and chocolate chip cookies consumed – areas that are important, yes, but not vital. Areas which I am happy to say I think I have my shit together.)

The thought of self-improvement at its base level is enticing. Choosing where to start with that self improvement all of a sudden turns that enticement into a Mt. Everest sized pile of options (Mt. Everest sized pile of options = anxiety). That’s where I stop and think, hell no dog, I can’t lift that – and then I get all itchy and start picking at my nails furiously.

So I’m not going to choose where to start. I’m going to do something else cause I walk to the beat of my own guitar strum, ya dig?

You can join me with this mission too, or you can watch it happen, or you can ignore it. Whatever floats your wealthy boat.

I’m going to focus on general mindfulness and gratitude and be open to what that presents. Now, what does that look like as an action goal? ALLOW ME TO EXPLAIN….

I’m going to take a picture of something everyday that makes me feel grateful, happy, important, or understood. I believe in details. I believe the devil is in them, but more importantly I believe there’s a hell of a lot of love in those details too. These pictures will be moments, moments that I look out for during my day – moments to be truly present.

I’ll be posting on Instagram using #LookIFoundIt when I discover these moments each day. Then, through some brief intrinsic reflection I’ll use one of the following hashtags: #Emotional #Physical #Spiritual #Intellectual to try to categorize it. I’ll also keep track of the days with the good ol’ #day1 #day2 #day3 tags.

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I recognize this isn’t a unique idea. I’ve done this before, and maybe you have to. Heck, here’s a link to the 100 Happy Days Challenge, a challenge I previously tried and failed (even though you can’t really fail at this). Maybe you want to give 100 Happy Days Challenge a go! Maybe you want to join me with #LookIFoundIt.

Perchance you’re of the mindset that it’s bragging, too public, annoying, or more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe social media gives you the hebegeebees. Perhaps you think I’m, dare I say it, basic?

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I really don’t care. I just don’t. It took me a long time to get the boat out to sea, but that ship has sailed. I’m done invalidating my problems and feelings. I’m done putting pressure on myself because my negative emotions are “first world problems.” Yes, I am privileged, but I’m not doing the world any favors by being poor – I want to be hella wealthy (and spread it around).


Ohp! Catholicism for Atheists Tangent…

Actually I take that back – I do want to be poor in one area. I want to be super duper poor in spirit. Let me break this down Catholicism-for-Atheists style.

What I mean by having an impoverished spirit is simply to be humble. This means I aspire to have high levels of humility and low levels of arrogant dickishness. Perspective and mindfulness are all about knowing love is bigger than you. Love being bigger than you means you respect the things and people you’re grateful for…. and even those people and things that you’re not grateful for.

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Regardless of who you are and the things you’ve done. I love you. Tough shit.


It is my promise to you to keep this hashtag business as real as can be – which is the same promise I give to readers of Anna’s Alibi. Some days you’ll see flowers and pancakes other days you’ll see prescription bottles and sunburns. Both are important. Both are a part of the journey.

Hopefully by the end of this I’ll have a better idea of what areas of my life (Emotional, Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual) need nourishment. Then I’ll feed those area as many fat stacks of self-improvement as I can.

Follow my #LookIFoundIt journey: @annabellabaum

xoxo

Anna

 

 

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Vampire Cat

My cat got all her teeth removed except for her canines because of gum disease. She is now a vampire cat.

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a list of names I have called my security blanket, one true love cat at least once:

Cookie, Fluff Face, Boo Boo, MeMe, Stupid, Butterbutt, Weirdo, Strudel, Kitty, Catnip, Ding Dong, Poof, Baby, Babe, Beep Boop, Grump, Pussycat, Stinky, Dumb Dumb, Watermelon, Softy, Burger, Sweety Pie, Shy Guy, Scaredy, Anna Kendrick, Pook, Pretty Eyes, Glob, Squinty, Pretty Girl, Muffin, Sleepy Head, Booger, Squeaky, Best Friend, Shloopy, Puppy, Woofer, Princess, My Kitteh, Milkshake, Doo Dop, Perfect, Schlub, Mini Me, Bunny, Bun, Schmoopy, Moo Moo, Kit Kat, Turd, Pookie, Scooby, Pyshco, Dogge, Flip Flop, Blee Bloop, Butterscotch, Angel, Spooky, Derp, Derpy, Fussy, Sassy Face, Lil Dumb, Kitty Pie, Snookie, Lovely, Kit Kat, Pushpop, Baby Girl, Floppy, Spaz, Lil Bub, Precious, Button, Vampire, Toothless.

I promise I’m not a crazy cat lady. I’m just crazy.

Now go kiss someone you love. Happy Valentine’s Day party people ❤

xoxo

Anna

 

Crying in Public

If you haven’t cried in public, you’re missing out.

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I’m going by the legal definition of public here, so think of it as all the places you’d be arrested for public sex.

Bathrooms, cars, parking lots, classrooms, offices, checkout counters, airports, churches, the DMV… I’ve cried in them all. I angry cry, I sad cry, I happy cry, and I stress cry. I wouldn’t call myself “a crier,” but the majority of my loved ones have seen me cry, and boy-oh-boy have some strangers see me cry.

Theatrics. I’m good at them. Even when it’s not intentional.

I know I’m not the only one to explode in public, and I thought it might be handy to dish out a guide to how to cry in public better… because if we’re going to do it, we might as well commit.

I promise I’m not getting in a habit of writing listicles, but eat up kids.

Tips and Tricks to Crying in Public:

  • You’re eyes start welling up. You’re in the middle of Target. Rub them furiously. Say things like, “Oh my God, what is with the AQI in here?” and dismiss yourself to a bathroom.
  • You’re in a bathroom stall. Someone walks into the bathroom. You’re immediately thinking this person knows I’m crying OR WORSE, they think I have a shy bladder or something is wrong with my butt. For some strange anxiety reason, this feels like your entire reputation is on the line. Don’t worry. Instead, frantically unroll toilet paper. Mess with things in your pocket or bag. Make it sound like you’re unwrapping a tampon. Drop something. Cough. Do whatever you have to do to feel comfortable while you imagine this stranger is there solely to focusing on your every move…. even though, I promise you, they are absolutely not.
  • You’ve started crying. Cry HARDER. Cry as hard as you can. This is the rip-it-off like a bandaid method. Sneak into a corner, stairwell, or some place with a mirror you can watch yourself cry it all out.
  •  Someone of importance catches you crying? Leave it vague, leave it semi-serious. For example, “family issues.” They don’t have to know it’s because Panera got your order wrong and it was the straw that broke the stress camel’s back. When that person follows up with you later because they’re a kind-hearted not-soulless individual, calmly assure them that your “family issues” are resolved and thank them for their concern.
  • You’re crying in a bathroom stall in a place you won’t return to, try laughing at the same time. It’s strangely satisfying. Nobody knows your face. Worried a stranger is going to memorize your shoes from underneath the stall and give you wicked side-eye when you emerge? Jump on the toilet seat. Laugh harder. Hide those shoes and you’re golden.
  • You’re not an ugly crier? You’re an elegant crier? You have nothing to worry about and someone will probably ask if they can take your picture. Be flattered.
  • A stranger notices you’re crying and reaches out with an “Are you okay?” No. You’re not okay. The world is caving in and everything is darkness. It’s 100% acceptable to lie here and answer with an “I’m fine, really. Thanks though.”
  • Got your phone with you? Great. Emergency text your friend with a casual “What’s up?” Get into a conversation about nothing. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT tell them the world is falling apart and you’re sobbing because they’ll probably say something along the lines of, “What’s wrong!? I wish I was there,” or “Don’t do that, I love you!” and you’ll be hit with a confusing wave of love and comfort that will make you sob even more because the world is equally beautiful as it is awful.
  • Got your phone with you? Need to be honest, get it all out? Text a friend that you know will handle you super well if you send something like, “The sky is falling. I’ve been crying in the bathroom for 30 minutes, do you think my date will notice?” knowing they’ll reply with this, a simple “they’re stupid anyways,” or a “well, did you eat dessert yet? Because if so, you can probably just leave.” This works best if you make a cry-pact in advance so your friend knows not to overreact.
  • Got your phone with you? Don’t have friends? Who needs em’ anyway? Watch this, this, or this. You don’t think animals are the source of all comedy? I can only help you so much. You’ll have to consult elsewhere for soothing content.
  • If you find yourself at a movie, concert, or attending a Broadway show and you feel the urge coming on because you’re witnessing pure glory… embrace it. This is 2017, it’s cool to lose your shit. You’ll just come off as having a deep appreciation for art. Take those free brownie points.
  • You’re in your car. You’re about to start sobbing while driving and that’s dangerous. Pull over if you can’t help it. Any parking lot will do. Lock your doors. Have a good cry and ignore the outside world. Turn on your windshield wipers, blast some washer fluid and know that your car is crying right there with you.

Lastly, know that not only is it okay to cry in public, it’s good to feel feelings. It’s healthy. It’s okay to lose control of your soggy, salty eyeball drops once in awhile. If someone judges you, sincerely fuck them.

I think everyone has had those moments when you physically need to get out a feeling. It’s different at different times. For me it’s tears, yelling, calm conversations, or writing in a notebook. Depends on the day.

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So let’s cry it all out. Let the salty sea flow.

Normal is a construct. Let’s dismantle that bullshit.

xoxo

Anna

Sayonara Sucker: 2016, A Year In Review

Ah 2016, you glorious bastard. You were definitely on my naughty list, but if there’s one thing I’ve got to say to you it’s that you were a year of growth…. growth and change. And nobody has growing pains quite like my dear old friend anxiety. You really run in the opposite direction, don’t you buddy?

It was a year of facing demons, unboxing skeletons and other spooky adventures. I made new friends – both fictional and nonfictional. I wrote and laughed and adopted a kitteh. I even managed to come out on the other side.

So here’s my alibi for the past year, bullet-point style because this was 2016 and listicles rule the world…

  • I put Frankenarm behind me. Fully mobile, fully healed, I could now return to working out on a regular basis… but didn’t, like, at all. Hurray recoveries!
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I didn’t intentionally work out once, I SWEAR. This is not a brag.

  • I nested in my apartment. We bought real mattresses. My parents shipped everything I own out on one wooden pallet. My roomie and I bought furniture, decorated, and started calling our apartment home. I stopped aching for Michigan and all the people there so desperately. It’ll always be home and all that jazz, but it’s nice to not feel like I’m post-breakup with my home state anymore.
  • I dated some goons and some not goons. Overall, I trust people less, and that sucks. LA is a weird place to date. I now fear finding and making a genuine connection with someone – something to work on?
  • I played 4 challenging characters and memorized the most lines I have ever memorized in a year (Mostly, I blame Rosalind. Rosalind and Billy Shakes.)
  • I adopted a best friend. She’s perfect, cat anxiety and all.
  • My Mom visited me. We ate French food, she sat through Shakespeare twice, and she was confused why my Scientology neighbors use a cross as their symbol. Perplexing indeed.
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My flawless Mama bear.

  • I started using eyebrow pencil. My Dad now constantly asks me about my pet caterpillars.
  • I fell more in love with my job, TV, writing, jokes, butts, puppers, and bagels
  • I only got one haircut. It was in LA and $100. We’re not in *Kansas anymore.
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110% took this picture while drunk because I thought I looked hot…. but just LOOK at that hair cut.

  • I had a handful of anxiety attacks. One was during intermission of As You Like It and my Orlando held me while I gasping cried in the bathroom. The director came in, barely phased, and said, “You ready?” to which I replied “Absolutely.” What a guy (He’s now one of my favorite people). I dried my tears and gave a billion more monologues. Anxiety is weird.
  • I started calling myself an actress for real for the first time.
  • I ate a lot of Indian food. Like a lot. Mostly of the Trader Joe’s frozen variety. I barely cooked at all. It was great. I regret nothing (which is easy to say when your roommate could be on MasterChef).
  • I made decisions about who to keep in my life. I feel good about the choices I have made… although I’m constantly stressing that I’m not loving them all enough at all times (Okay. I’ll calm down.)
  • I wrote songs, but not enough. I put down my guitar for too long, and I need to pick that bad boy back up.
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The gentlemen that inspire me to be my best songwriting self.

  • I met a whole glob of theater people who have genuinely become dear friends (no showmance friendships here. We’re legit).
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My glob.

  • I wish I could tell you how many times my Mama bear has called me and said ANNA I’M WORRIED YOU DON’T HAVE ANY GIRLFRIENDS IN LA, AND YOU’RE GOING TO WITHER AWAY. Well, along came a lady who I’m keeping forever, and while I wasn’t going to wither away (MOM!), I do feel less lonely in this big ol city.
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We did some Shakesdeer together too.

  • I published 15 blogs on Anna’s Alibi and over 20 freelance articles. It’s a start.
  • I wrote my first drama TV pilot. It’s about Mars and I got to use all my nerdy engineering siblings to fact check everything. They impress me to no end.
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Just a bunch o nerds.

  • My best friends went through the highest highs and the lowest lows, and I laughed, loved, and held some broken hearts. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude when I look at the people in my life. They make me a better person. If you haven’t found your people yet – don’t worry, they’re out there.
  • I wrote a short film about sexual assault called Disfluency, got a super rad team on board to create it in 2017, and partnered with an organization called SafeBAE that shares my vision for making the world less terrible. I’m blown away.

 

  • Okay, so demons… I outed myself as a rape survivor to family, friends, dates and the entire Internet. It wasn’t fun. Some handled it better than others. It was the best, most “right,” and worst thing I’ve done this year. I’ve had people call me brave. Maybe, but I’d rather just be right.
  • I overcame PTSD, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and the urge to shush and firmly hold everyone’s hand who said something stupid, misogynistic, or voted for Trump this year.
  • I had people confide in me about their own assaults, anxieties, and mental disorders. They thanked me for the things I’ve written, and my heart grew three times this year (jokes on you, cause you reaching out to me helped me more than you know).

*Michigan

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2017 doesn’t look so different – except for the adult puppy.

Now I feel like a new boy, fresh out of the 2017 womb. Here are my resolutions to prove it:

  • Read a book a month.
  • Eat more bagels.
  • Post 2 blogs a month.
  • Follow a made up rule I call the 10-10-10 rule: block out 10 minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening to do something unplanned that’s productive, relaxing, or tasty.
  • Send more postcards and packages to the people I love.
  • Find a new therapist.
  • Workout. I know, this is infamous as the New Year’s kiss itself, but I have to not be a slug, ya dig?

Expecting something a little more bananas? A bit subdued, right? Naw, that’s the point.

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Bring it on 2017. I’m coming for you.

Xoxo

Anna

Post Show Blues

I said I’d write next week, and then it was next week. I didn’t have anything good enough to say, so I kept my mouth shut and my keyboard quiet. That was the first anxiety brick I set on my chest. Then the next week rolled around, and I stacked another brick on my chest… then the third week, and another brick. Now it’s the fourth week and I need to breathe.

The short version of this is LOL SHOULDA SAID I’D WRITE NEXT MONTH, but that’d be a lie.

And I hope by now we all know how I feel about lying. I care not for it. I care not for it indeed.

So instead of lying I’m going to hit you with a big ol’ excuse – I’ve been much too busy to write because I’ve been prancing around performing Shakespeare.

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It’s time to hang in there my non-actor, non-showbiz friends, cause this is about to get hella theater romantic up in here.

I’ve been busy falling in love (told you) with a character named Rosalind, and yet again, a glorious female spirit has come to my rescue during a difficult time. She has helped me find my bravery, and I owe her nothing short of requiring the highest expectations of quality from the people in my life. She’s reminded me of my integrity and beauty, and reassured me that, yes indeed, my wit can be my greatest ally.

I’ve been working on stage with people I feel fearless with – an invaluable trait to gain from cast members, coworkers, or whoever you surround yourself with on a daily basis. They push me, inspire me, and support me onstage in a role that I wasn’t sure I could pull off (yet in typical Anna fake-it-till-you-make-it fashion I didn’t allowed myself to realize those doubts).

But now, with a full month long run of the show ahead of me I feel that oh-so-familiar impending doom of post show blues knocking at my door (and we opened this past weekend, can a chica calm down a bit?**). Post show blues are that brief period of feeling down after a show or production wraps. It’s a lonely feeling that involves missing the show that just concluded. We’re not as special as we’d like to think cause you can have post-anything blues after any major life event: graduating, getting married, birthdays, telling a really good joke, eating a most pristine sandwich etc.

You miss the experience, but ultimately you move on after a few days.

This all gets at a deeper anxiety I have for the past and the future all while being in the present. It’s a fear I’m doing my best to stave off – which requires constant awareness of how many bricks are on my chest.

I’m not only already missing Rosalind — I’m already aching for all the people around me. I am with a show family that will inevitably drift apart in many ways – as most show families do at the end of final bows. Because it’s normal. Because it’s natural. Because most good experiences come to an end, and that’s okay.

(I mean, I’m definitely keeping them and they’re not allowed to have an opinion about it BECAUSE I SAID SO, but my point being: our relationships will shift, even if they’re not disappearing.)

I’m about to lose a constant, a routine. It’s been keeping me steady, focused and on track, but it’s also served as a way to avoid problems in my life. I’ve always been very good at coming up with “productive excuses” that appear to be important – and they often are – but I lean on them to prevent myself from tackling the monsters in the closet. This show has been my latest excuse — just like for my writing, it’s a way to not deal with things.

But I can’t leave you with that! That’s a garbage way to think about this lovely show, the rehearsal process, the dedication, and the love that I’ve put into this along with all the other members.

I mean to say, I shouldn’t let Anna take advantage of experiences like this by drifting so far away from real life, by using it as an excuse to handle real life. I need to show both aspects of my life more respect, the project and the reality. I need to do both at the same time – because I can. I know I can.

It’s what Rosalind would want from me methinks.

**No. No she cannot.

 

xoxo

Anna

Getting My Shit Together

 

This post is the birthday card I forgot to mail and held onto. This post is doing the dishes — the easiest chore on my list that I decide to do first so I have something to check off right away. This is the text message I’m afraid to send to a friend that I keep blowing off seeing – not because I don’t want to see them, but because I feel like a bad friend for waiting so long. This is my overdue speeding ticket that’s going to cost me twice as much, and even though it’ll cost me even more if I wait, I still don’t want to face the music. This is complacency and anxiety and fear of coming back to something I started, even though it’s been awhile.

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That’s simply what this post is – the first steps to continuing.

See you next week kids. I’ve missed you.

Pt. 1: Here’s Some Rape Math.

If you’re looking for a trigger warning. This is it. 

Let’s all take a break from my yip-yapping for today and do some math <3.

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I personally know three rapists – one of them being my own – and all graduates of the University of Michigan.

I personally know a dozen survivors, and this is just a matter of people who have chosen to confide in me.

These are personal statistics. These are the University of Michigan’s. In June 2015 it was estimated that “more than 20 percent of University of Michigan female students have been sexually assaulted on campus.”

Ready for that math?

43,625 students attend the University of Michigan
49.1% of U of M students are women
21,420 students at U of M are women
20% of those women have been assaulted

That’s 4,284 assaulted women in one year at U of M alone.

I bet you can’t even name 4,284 people. I bet you don’t even know that many.

Could you imagine if 4,284 women were murdered at U of M each year? It’d probably decrease the assault stats cause there would be less women around cause, you know, they’d be murdered.

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This past year U of M’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) released 97 balloons, each representing 50 survivors assaulted at U of M this year. (Oh, and here’s the math on SAPAC’s site of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence report for 2007).

Ah, their estimate was closer to 4,850 women, so just slap an extra 500+ assaulted women on my math for 2016.

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You know what. I’m terrible at math. I’m not even 100% sure if I did that math correctly. I probably didn’t. Let’s say I screwed it up. Let’s say I’m off by a hundred – hell, let’s say I’m off by a thousand. Let’s just go easy and say at least 3,000 women are assaulted every year at the University of Michigan.

Oh thank God, just 3,000. The relief I feel… there’s just so much of it.

By now we’ve all seen this, this, and this article about one of the rapists at Stanford (I promise you there are more), and this well-earned, powerful letter from the survivor. Everyone has been appropriately freaking out because of his slap-on-the-wrist sentence and the way he’s been treated in headlines. I’m not going to sit here and recap them all, you can read them for yourself.

In her letter she states, “I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt.” Irreversible means there’s no going back. This is not something that happened. Rape is something that is happening. That’s present progressive tense people. Rape lives on through PTSD. It does not leave you. It’s irreversibility is what makes it truly horrifying. Being raped is contracting a sexually transmitted mental disease.

Enough chatting. Let’s do some more math, yeah? Let’s do some Stanford math.

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Stanford’s math is a little trickier. They released this delightfully descriptive campus climate survey in Oct. 2015 (the same time U of M’s). They filled their results with fancy, narrow definitions. Silly Stanford, not only can I do math, I can do words too!

According to Stanford:

Sexual assault “[includes] a nonconsensual sexual act – involving intercourse, digital penetration, oral sex or penetration with a foreign object – accomplished by use of force, violence, duress, menace, inducement of incapacitation or knowingly taking advantage of an incapacitated person.”

Sexual misconduct “includes nonconsensual penetration or oral sex that occurs without the condition of force, violence, duress, menace or incapacitation that is involved in a sexual assault under state law and Stanford policy. Sexual misconduct also includes acts of sexual touching without consent and some acts of clothing removal without consent.”

I’m going to go ahead and say both of those definitions are describing sex crimes, even though Stanford ran around being like, “Yo guys, look at all the rapists we don’t have cause we chopped up the statistics, check it out!”

Here’s the breakdown:
16,136 students attend Stanford
1.9% of students (male & female) reported sexual assault
14.2% have additionally reported some other form of sexual misconduct.

That’s 1.9% sexual assault + 14.2% sexual misconduct = 16.1% of students have been assaulted (by my calculation after digging through their bullshit.)

That’s 2,598 sexually assaulted students in one year at Stanford.

 

There’s conflicting statistics out there too, that think these numbers are bullshit too. Ohp, here’s some more.

That’s not even all the math that’s out there. This is just a math appetizer, a mathetizer per say.

This is math without the other math. The other math that includes every student – not just the ones who took the surveys – the math we’ll never get that includes all the survivors out there who will not speak up – especially on a school administered survey – and the math that doesn’t accurately include male survivors.

I wish if you were a criminal and committed sex crimes you’d immediately turn blue. I wish that survivors never had to tell their stories in the pursuit of justice and progress, so that we would never be humiliated and shamed. As a society we’d just have to say, “look that guy turned blue, get him boys!” and a couple of British cops from the 30s would pop out of nowhere singing a four-part harmony. Then, with wooden police batons, they’d bonk the blue people on the head and haul em’ off to prison forever and ever.

But rapists aren’t going to turn blue, and we’re going to have to keep speaking up.

I’m so tired. Actually, I’m exhausted. I don’t have an answer today. Today I just have math (math, and some terrific imagery of British cops).

If you’re looking for more information, please visit http://www.seeactstop.org/act/ or your school’s sexual assault prevention center.

Hate is a Strong Word

 

Growing up I was told never to use the word hate.

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I was told I was allowed to extremely dislike someone, but never to hate. You could be angry and be upset, but hate was reserved for Satan and his demon friends. I distinctly remember being taught this at Catholic school and accepting it at face value. I grew out of saying things like I hate you at the ripe age of 10 anyways, and then it was mostly for petty revenge because I was a lil brat sometimes, and when someone tells you “don’t say this” in grade school you immediately have to give it a go.

Now I’m adultish. Things are different. Face value doesn’t cut it. Apparently I have to experience stuff first-hand to learn from it (ugh, Anna, you fool). During the past few weeks I’ve experienced the closest thing to hate I’ve ever really felt.

Hate is a strong word, and now I know, cause DAAAAAMN is hate a powerful feeling.

Having hate in my heart – for what seemed like the first time – has been totally messing with me. Seriously guys, I’ve been feeling extra crazy recently. I’m saying and doing things out of character. I’m short tempered and bitter. My thoughts are clouded with pessimism. I wish I could take a shower and wash this off of me. I’ve started assuming the worst in people around me, and it sucks.

Yeah. That’s it. Hate sucks.

I don’t want to be a hater (have you seen the shit the Internet thinks about HATERS? It’s not pretty). I want to be a lover. I’ve been straying from that because I’m scared. Recently I’ve been stabbed for giving people the benefit of the doubt. Finding that balance between loving and over trusting is HARD (if anyone has it figured out, let me know – I’ll throw you a Tubman when those suckers come out. Oh shit, you may have to settle for a Jackson cause it might be awhile).

jc.pngNo, JC, you did not stutter. 

Nothing good comes from hate. It’s like fighting fire with fire but inside your own being, and that’s a totally garbage way to put out a fire. Love is the water within that extinguishes that feeling, but I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places . I have to physically put myself around people that are good influences and around situations with good vibes.

Yes, there’s something to be said for letting yourself feel the way you feel, but finding a balance so it doesn’t consume you – aka wallowing – is critical. Wallowing, or dwelling, is my specialty as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Repetitive thoughts keep me up at night and invade my dreams, desperately asking me to go back and fix the past by avoiding situations and people.

My anxiety thinks it can time travel. Well, guess what anxiety, YOU CAN’T DO THAT. I’ve repeatedly sat myself down and had a talking to about the fact that wallowing will not change the outcome of past events – yet it won’t go away. I’ve dove into distractions, but this feeling of hate is an ugly leech. It’s suckin’ the blood out of me, and I like having blood thank you very much.

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I’m going church shopping this weekend since my homeboy JC has some pretty good ideas about love (that I haven’t given much attention to recently), and love is the cure for hate (if I’ve done my math correctly). I’ve been in pursuit of other ideas and concepts, trying to keep an open mind, but I keep coming back to the core values of Catholicism. Yeah, there’s a lot of not great stuff in there too, but we’ve got this guy – Pope Francis, aka Pope Cool Pope – stepping up to the plate now and keeping it holy n’ humble.

I get it. Maybe you’re not about that religious life. You can still go church shopping, but your church might be a mountaintop, a movie theater, yoga studio, roof, or an album. Find a place to be grateful and love will follow.

In the meantime I’m going to keep the lovers close – friends, family, cats, cactuses – and the haters out.

Xoxo

Anna

Learning the Hard Way

“Sometimes you just have to wash your fuck boy sheets and forgive yourself,” Shy LaBeouf (my cat) advised me after bearing witness to a downright wonderful night, average sex, and a horrific morning of betrayal.

Cat1Shy LaBeouf giving it to me straight.

Eh. I’ll get back to this later….

Cool Girl Anna – the down-to-Earth, down for anything, somewhat reckless, super fun Anna – and Anxiety Anna – self-explanatory – are fighting in my brain. (Note: not schizophrenic, just trying to use a metaphor here). Whenever I start to worry and stress creeps up, Cool Girl Anna blames Anxiety Anna, she says stop being such a total boner killer Anxiety Anna, everything is FINE, BE CHILL DOGGY. I’m actively attempting to ignore Anxiety Anna’s instincts because I know they’re inherently exaggerated – but then I’m overcompensating, and I end up ignoring my instincts altogether.

Ignoring all of your instincts = bad stuff. Instincts = there for a reason.

I’ve got another glaring problem: I like to see the best in people. In fact, I love to. I love to blind myself with the good that other people have to offer. I’m not bragging. This is kind of a very dangerous quality I’ve come to learn. While I recognize the bad, I put more weight on the good (this is Cool Girl Anna telling Anxiety Anna to shut up & enjoy). The thing is, I am not Cool Girl Anna, and I’m not Anxiety Anna. I’m both of them and so many more. I can’t let these two dominate the conversation (and I seriously have to tell Cool Girl Anna to take a dose of humility and stop bossing everyone else in my head around).

I have to quit fighting with myself. I can’t keep this up.

boyjackBojack Horseman keeping it real since 2014

While I think this is a lovely and important quote from Bojack, I don’t entirely agree in my case. In my life I don’t feel blind to the red flags. I fully recognize and embrace the red flags. I know they are there. I’ve convinced myself that knowing they are there gives me enough power to overcome and look past them. If I can see them, they can’t hurt me.

Well. That’s not true.

This is the “learning the hard way” part.

Acknowledgement is a step in the right direction, but you can’t stop there. Acknowledging you’re an alcoholic doesn’t make you sober, acknowledging someone is treating you poorly doesn’t make them treat you better, and acknowledging you acknowledge things doesn’t change those things. Knowledge is power, but it is not a solution. I’ve finally reached a breaking point, and I’m calling on myself for a solution.

In the beautiful words of Tina Fey and out of the mouth of our favorite Cady with a C, “When you get bit by a snake, you have to suck out all the poison. That’s what I had to do, suck all the poison out of my life.”

So I’m working on sucking out all of the poison out of my life.

I need to detox. I can’t exist this way, and I need to keep existing.

meangirls Sweet, sweet Lindsay Lohan

Here’s the game plan folks.

I am removing the toxic relationships.
These are the people I lowered myself to. These are the ones who have caused me to dislike and doubt myself. These are the relationships Cool Girl Anna has been convincing Anxiety Anna are worth so much. I’ve consistently misplaced trust and forgiven disrespect, but I’m fresh out of tolerance. Rational Anna cannot stand for the carelessness, recklessness, selfishness, and dangerous behavior from others that Cool Girl Anna brushes off so easily.

I’m not God. I have no right to judge, but I do have a right to who is in my life. I don’t wish ill will on these people despite the harm they’ve done me. Honestly, I wish better for them – and for the sake of those they interact with – but I refuse to be a casualty in their lives. I am going to be the hero, the protagonist, of my own story, and stop trying to be a supporting, disposable character in someone else’s.

I need to cut the ties, despite the goodness I will lose with them. I need to do the most difficult thing in my life and accept the worst parts of people I’ve kept so close. For the sake of my health and safety, I need to distance myself permanently from the toxic ones. Removing the monsters from your life isn’t a straightforward or fun task – especially when those monsters so frequently wears the disguise of love and trust.

I am transferring that energy and attention to the ones who matter.
I’ve been neglecting my most stable, reliable, and loving relationships because I’ve been chasing after the difficult ones. Then I’ve been spending my time with these loved ones by talking about the toxic relationships. It’s an ugly cycle that needs to stop. I need to support and embrace the people that I’ve never second-guessed: my rocks, my worlds.

Accepting responsibility for the neglect and mistreatment of these is another one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

I am going to forgive myself
Now back to my opener, Shy’s words of wisdom: Sometimes you just have to wash your fuck boy sheets and forgive yourself.

Going into detail won’t add any value here, so I’m gonna spare us all the drama/gossip. The important things to know are lies were told and health was jeopardized (recklessly so, but everyone is fine, not to worry).

In my case, however, the process of forgiving myself for opening the door to this toxicity very literally began with washing my sheets, washing the literal filth out of my life after a dear friend betrayed me in a very intimate way. I washed all of my bedding. I washed my mattress cover. I cleaned my throw pillows. I used every washer in my building. I used extra soap. I put too many dryer sheets in the dryer. I made my bed perfectly. I tucked every fold in.

After that was done there wasn’t much else to do (aside from taking a Xanax to prevent the panic from setting in cause let’s not forget anxiety and the lack of control that comes along with it). An anxious brain is one that dwells. I’m very good at dwelling on the past (repetitive thought patterns are the bread and butter of anxiety). I’m definitely homies with guilt.

I had to start the process of making peace with myself. It’s going to take me awhile to forgive myself. I know I’m not responsible for other people’s actions, but I need to take responsibility for mine. I need to shake that feeling of guilt. I need to forgive myself for the way I’ve behaved as a result of these relationships. I need to forgive myself for feeling so very ashamed. I need to forgive myself for the embarrassment. I need to forgive myself for over-trusting.

poobearI know this wreaks of cliché, but my sisters, my Mom, and I all have plaques of this quote.
It helps me remember I am never alone, neither are you.

Toxic doesn’t have to mean lethal. You’re going to get through. You’re going to be stronger too. I love you. All of the Annas love you. We’re gonna be okay everyone.

Not as hilarious or easy going as usual, I KNOW GUYS. I gots ta get real sometimez. I’m there with you though. Forgiving myself is the hardest thing I’ve had to do. Looking my shame in the eye is almost unbearable, but you know what? I’m stronger for it.

Sometimes you just have to wash your fuck boy sheets and forgive yourself.

It’s as simple and as hard as that. I promise.

Xoxo

Anna

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

I am pleased to introduce my new roommate, Shy LaBeouf.

 Shy (cause she’s adorably shy) LaBeouf (because every cat needs a good strong last name)

This is a story about making decisions and animorphing into a maybe cat person. (Don’t worry, this might make sense by the end of this post).

It starts with me wanting a pet.

“Why a pet at all?” my Mama Bear asked me (who wants me to spread my wings with nothing tying me down for a few years). My response is the same as why most reasons people want pets: companionship, physical cuddly contact, something to care for that’s all mine, a replacement/forever boyfriend, and an excuse to cut off all ties to the human race because my social needs will be met so I can focus on taking over the world…. stuff like that.

I have never been a cat person. Dogs. Dogs are what I’m on board with (but dogs + apartment +full time job = no bueno). I grew up with a golden retriever (she was my parent’s favorite child), and exactly zero cats.

It’s dogs though. Dogs for me all the way.

Oh, yeah. Horses too. Horses I’m cool with.

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My whole life I’ve felt the same way about cats as I do about kids – I could take em or leave em (teaching grade school has never been in the cards for me). They say, however, it’s different when they’re your kids. You could be a not kid person, have kids, and still be wild about em’.

I decided to find out first hand if this theory translated to cats (the next best option to dogs in my mind). Maybe I could be a general-not-fan of cats and still love one that was my own. Tbh, I’ve grown to enjoy their company when I’m out and about at mah pals’ abodes, and I love me some of that Neko Atsume (it’s a cat collecting app, like modern day tamagotchi). So hey, maybe I was making the transition to cat person.

                               Neko Atsume                                   Real Life Neko Atsume

It took all of two months of searching for a cat to call my own for me to go back to the first cat that I met and choose her. I opted to do a 2 week trial period, or foster-to-adopt, because even with cats I feel better with the purchase knowing there is a return tag on it (and hey, I want to make sure the cat doesn’t hate my stinkin’ guts either because I want no business with a cat that’s sad that I picked it. I want general happiness on all ends). This issue digs deeper though.

See, my anxiousness is calmed when there is an out in any situation. I chatted with my therapist about this. If I’m not 100% sure on all ends about any situation, I feel that metaphorical cement block start to weigh down on my chest. A decision is forever with a rippling butterfly effect throughout all of eternity (#reallyfe, #melodrama). I expressed my concern to my therapist that I was not only making a decision for present day Anna, I was also making a decision for 35-year-old Anna. Would she want a cat? Would future Anna’s maybe-family-at-the-time want a cat? What if the cat died prematurely? How would that weigh on me?

Impressed by my thoroughness, but concerned with the amount of pressure I was putting on myself, my lovely talk doctor reminded me of the 80/20 rule for decision making. Basically, in order to make a decision, you need to be 80% sure of it. Not 100%. My problem, and I think a lot of people’s problem, is that I’m usually somewhere between 60%-70% sure. Even when I do breach that 80% (and let’s just take a moment to point out that we’re trying to quantify feelings here…kinda silly), I’m super reluctant because that 20% feels heavier. That 20% of doubt is cement, and the 80% certainty is feathers. Even when I reach that 100%, commit to the decision and execute, I’m haunted by it for an indistinguishable period of time. Sometimes it keeps me up for a few days, sometimes a few months, sometimes years.

Anxiety is a spooky ghost that lives in your head hiding doubt around every corner.

This is exactly what I’m working on with myself. Professionally, I have less trouble coming to decisions and sticking to them. In college, I had years of practice managing projects, making decisions, and then grinning and bearing those decisions. Personally, I’m still struggling to accept the color of the bath mat I chose 5 months ago. Go figure.

Brains are a strange thing.

Hey-bro-time-for-bed-Lets-go-over-every-mistake-youve-ever-made-Scumbag-Brain-meme.jpg

Alright, back to Shy…

This story has a happy ending. Obvi, I’m keeping the cat. I did say roommate earlier, didn’t I?

Despite doubts flooding my brain – like this kitty is a nocturnal predator that’s either gonna explore my room with her cute, furry, built-in night-vision, or she’s gonna PLOT HOW TO CLAW THROUGH MY EYES AND EAT MY BRAIN LIKE A TASTEY MOUSE; and the fact that I’ve been texting her previous foster-Mom with questions like Is cat breath normal? Should she sneeze like that? Why is she sleeping so much? Is she allergic to me? – it’s a week later and things are going pretty well. I’m starting to get attached. I think this could work.

The most ironic thing about Shy is she reminds me of me. We’re both skittish, jump at loud noises, love sleep, hate being picked up, can watch Netflix for hours, have trust issues, love being pet, and have seen some shit in our short lives. It’s become clear to me that we’re a match made in Los Angeles (because I’m not gonna pretend to know what heaven looks like).

I’ve also come to accept that a cat does not make up for all human socialization, is not a replacement boyfriend, and I might have to start coming up with a different strategy for taking over the world (this is a discussion for a different time) – but she does help with the loneliness.

Decision-making is a life-work-in-progress (every time I order lunch without regrets is a step forward). Shy, however, is one I’m glad I made.

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xoxo

Anna