essays, my truths, tv, write it out, writing from the heart

On ‘Girls’ American Bitch & having your shoulders rubbed

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Last night, as I do most Monday nights, I crawled into bed, gummy bears in hand, and watched the latest episode of GIRLS. Usually it makes me laugh; sometimes it makes me rage-y (MARNIE IS THE WORST). So I  wasn’t expecting anything too extraordinary. (I mostly watch because I love the recaps and commentary on the Man Repeller.)

But this episode was p h e n o m e n a l. Phenomenal in its timing. Phenomenal in its social commentary. Phenomenal in its telling of millions of women’s stories. Phenomenal in its response to so much of today’s public discourse and victim blaming.

To sum the episode up: A prominent author asks Hannah to come over to talk after she publishes an article about his predatory ways. He plays the victim card over and over again until winning Hannah’s forgiveness. Then he abuses it.

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker of course, puts it a thousand times better than I ever could.

The key to “American Bitch,” Sunday’s scathing and timely episode of “Girls,” is the compliments. “Hannah, you’re clearly very bright,” Chuck Palmer, a novelist celebrated for his confessional work, says. “I could tell that from the first sentence you wrote.” He reads the sentence, as Hannah struggles to hide her pleasure: “ ‘If one more male writer I love reveals himself to be a heinous sleazebag, I’m going to do a bunch of murders, create a new Isle of Lesbos, and never look back.’ ” “You’re funny!,” Palmer says. “That’s a funny sentence.”

This initial intro scene was enough to make me put the gummy bears down and pay closer attention. As the episode progressed, the more I wanted to crawl inside myself and cry, while simultaneously wanting to run outside and scream THIS THIS THIS.

Nussbaum continues:

In certain ways, it’s a classic exchange between an older artist (rich, decadent, in print) and a younger artist (poor, moralistic, online). Chuck scores some points: it’s the women who throw themselves at him, he argues, because they are seeking stories to tell. Who really has the power, he asks: the zitty older virgin—him—or a beautiful young model? Hannah resists those arguments; she scores her points, too. “I’m tired of gray areas,” she tells him in disgust, when he waves off any sense that he’s even powerful. She shares a story about having being groomed by a grade-school teacher, another older man who selected her, making her feel chosen and special (a story that’s one of Lena Dunham’s own real-life stories, which she wrote about in her memoir). Chuck sympathizes. Eventually, he asks Hannah about herself—as, he suggests, a form of ethical payback for the exploitative relationships with his fans: he never really listened to the other young women, but now he’ll listen to her, see her as a person, in order to make up for it.

This scene made me cry.

Because I can count not one, but two teachers (one a professor), and a boss from a restaurant I worked at in high school, who would all rub my shoulders or touch my waist without my consent.

The first time it happened I was in elementary school and didn’t realize how inappropriate this behavior was. I’m lucky in that it never went further, and I was ignorant to know what this meant.

The second time was when I worked at a restaurant and the regional manager came over as I was working on the cash register and placed his hands around my waist. I immediately turned to him and told him to “please don’t touch me,” and I was fired a week later for a random reason. When I was fired I told my manager about what had transpired, and what was no doubt the reason for my being fired, and asked if I could have the contact information to file a sexual harassment suit, he told me “no such thing exists.” Though my parents encouraged me to take it to the corporate offices, I decided to just let it go.

A few years later, in college, a professor came over to my desk while I was working on a story and put his hands on my shoulders and rubbed them. I spun my chair around and told him to not touch me. He laughed it off. I reported it to the Dean. I have no idea if he was ever disciplined. But I’m glad I said something. Both to him and the higher ups.

These weren’t the only occasions this occurred, and I’m sure they won’t be the last (what a tragic reality to admit).

Being a female in today’s world, though we’ve come incredibly far, continues to be a incredibly difficult thing to be. Often I’m asked why I so strongly believe in the women’s movement and why I march. My response could be summarized into one simple sentence:

I march because I never want my nieces or nephews to have their shoulders rubbed predatorily.

Because this one sentence says so much more than the words used. Because this one sentence says everything.

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goodbyes, heartache, heartbreak, patrick, words from my heart, write it out

Always have. Always will.

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“I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time? The misery of keeping a dog is his dying so soon. But, to be sure, if he lived for fifty years and then died, what would become of me?” – Sir Walter Scott

Patrick was a pup who lived life big. He didn’t just have one stuffed toy, he had twenty. He didn’t enjoy a bite at a time, he snarfed it up in one bite. He loved car rides, snuggles, taking up the whole bed, chasing the ball, barking at the neighbors’ dogs, and pats from anyone and everyone.

The first time I laid eyes on him he was in the back of my parents’ car, sitting tall with a tennis ball in his mouth. He arrived for the first time like he had been created just for our family and was ready to live his best life and teach us his ways in the meantime.

Boisterous, hilarious, and the best Scooby Doo run imitator you have ever seen,  I’ve never met a dog that made me belly laugh as much as he did.

We said goodbye to our sweet, goofy boy yesterday. Him in my parents’ arms as I wept from thousands of miles away. He got sick and within days was gone. My heart will forever regret not being there with him, but I know that he knows I love him.

Always have. Always will.

More Patrick stories.

 

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adulthood, anxiety, brilliant reads, healing heartbreak, life, read it love it, write it out, writing from the heart

Broken but hopeful

Life can be really hard.

I’m writing this during my lunch break; a break I haven’t taken in some weeks so as not to drown in to dos. My apartment’s a mess. My clothes scattered around, as though about in a fury. My refrigerator is empty. My cabinets sparse.

A month ago it wasn’t like this. I had a full fridge and even hosted my first dinner party. I had a hand to hold regularly and looked forward to the weekends.

But life just happens. And things get heavy, fast. No matter how much you think you have everything under control the truth is that sometimes you have no control. Being OK with that fact is half the battle, I suppose.

So here I am, surrendering to what is. Accepting what may be. Holding on tight to what I know to be true.

In the meantime, I recommend this piece from “Ask Polly.” Because it chewed me up and spit me out and put me back together all in the course of 5 minutes. Now I reference certain lines as reminders. As hope. As a grace to get me through.

Until my fridge is full again. Until my laundry is done. Until my to-do list is finally completed.

I have two daughters, and this, for some reason, is my biggest fear when it comes to them, that they’ll waste their lives chasing men in circles instead of recognizing how much sunshine and genius and expansive, outrageous possibility they carry around with them everywhere they go. But this anxiety of mine isn’t just about young women and their tendency to ignore their own value and worth and potential. It’s also about 30-something men and 40-somethings and 50-somethings and everyone under the goddamned sun. We are all so completely poleaxed by our own longing, by our own magical thinking, by our own physical resistance to hard work. We put our faith in prefabricated fantasies instead of reality; we believe in easy answers and short cuts instead of craft; we admire popularity instead of originality; we find ourselves reaching for shiny dreamworlds and ignoring human beings. The world tells us that we should be disappointed in ourselves, every single day. The best party is across town. The best party is across the universe. We should be fucking a ghost that looks like Chris Hemsworth, gently, in some galaxy far away. 

Let’s just be ourselves instead, broken but hopeful, and let’s be right here, right now. Let’s look around and see the scrappy, mediocre, mundane details of our lives and proclaim them exalted and glorious. Imagine for a moment that I can see you clearly for the first time. I can see you clearly, and you are radiating pure, lusty, brilliant grace and divinity. Feel it. Believe it. Carry it with you.

xx

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growing up, hamburg 2015, healing heartbreak, moving on, november 2015, vulnerability, write it out

When nothing goes unsaid.


Have you ever puked on the subway? Well, not on the subway, exactly — or the Tube, in my case — but gotten that feeling of utter nausea, the kind that starts in your heart and the next thing you know you’re running off the train to find the nearest trashcan, bush, whatever?

I have. This past weekend, in fact.

I went to visit some friends in London. London and I have had a lot of interesting moments together. Mostly brilliant. Some rather sad. London isn’t a city where you have a mediocre time. It’s really not. You either have the most magical time on Earth, or you end up puking on the Tube from sadness, or maybe you experience both in a mere 12 hours span, as was my latest adventure.

I could go into details. Give you the play-by-play of what happened. But I think there are some things that should be reserved for my personal memories… or until I’m a little bit less fragile.

But here’s what I do want to say: if you have something to say, something near and dear to your heart, say it. I know my saying that probably comes as no surprise, I’ve had a pretty strong track record of doing just that.

This weekend I did it again.

And it wasn’t pretty. It was full of ugly tears, confessions of love, and utter rejection. A lost friendship to boot.

(And some puking on the Tube.)

But I walked away with not a single regret, well, aside from wishing i hadn’t done that type of sob where you can’t catch your breath; the one that takes you back to when you were 3 years old and your mom wouldn’t buy you that doll you had to have.

But ugly tears be damned, I regret nothing.

When I’m 40 or 60, I’ll never have to wonder “What if I would have just said how I felt?”

I said how I felt. And that’s all I can do.

That’s all we can ever do.

Love, love, love. I’ll keep on if you promise you will.


“I hope one day 5 years from now you stumble across me when I’ve grown out of you and finally then after not seeing me for all this time it will break your heart.”

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heartbreak, munich, write it out

This isn’t your Munich City Guide and I’m sorry.

I’ve received many emails asking me about Munich recommendations. With each one I’ve read I’ve been simultaneously flattered, happy, and desperately sad. The kind of anxiety that I encounter when thinking about compiling my thoughts into one guide is on par with trying to decide what you should wear when you know you’ll going to see an ex.

This may sound incredibly insane. It may be. It probably is. But it’s how I feel.

Pictured above is my gorgeous, perfect (in my eyes) room, in my sweet apartment in downtown Munich. It was airy and lovely and even though it was old, and didn’t have air-conditioning, and was beyond noisy at night because of the traffic below—I loved that tiny apartment more than words could describe.

It was home.

And I felt like my dreams were coming to fruition and I never felt as happy and as excited as I did those big city days.

But, for reasons unforeseen, reasons having nothing to do with me, it all ended. I had three months to savor this life, if even for such a short amount of time. I never wanted it to end.

I remember the day I had to say goodbye and I remember what I wore and what I felt and what was said and what wasn’t said and it pains me. I said goodbye to too many dear friends and had one piece of luggage too many and I sobbed the entire cab ride to the airport. I remember my cab driver asking if he could do anything at all to help. And I remember saying: I wish there was. I wish there was. 

But there wasn’t anything anyone could do really. I needed work. I needed to extend my Visa. All logistical nonsense that always is the problem for dreamers like me.

Sometimes I think it may have been better had I never gone back at all. Because sometimes getting a sample of your dream, knowing that it can and does come true, well there’s no coming back from that.

So what I’m saying is this: I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I don’t have the closure yet to be able to write about my favorite Munich haunts and where I loved to picnic on Friday nights in the park and why I’ll never forget that summer and the reasons why. Does this make me sound completely immature? Naive?

Well then, so be it.

I’m sorry. 

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being brave, growing up, heartbreak, life, march 2014, relationships, spring 2014, words from my heart, write it out

Some rules plus other things.

We talk too much.

This is what he said after asking me to call him. After he texted me the whole evening.

We talk too much? 

Yes. It’s strange. I don’t talk to my best friends as often as I talk to you.

I managed to stutter an OK out while hoping he couldn’t hear my tears through my voice. 

I’ll talk to ya in seven months then, maybe ten, who knows. Whenever. Whatever.

That’s a bit harsh, Anna. Don’t you think?

I’m merely repeating back your suggestion. It’s what you want.

You make it sound so cold.**

I don’t make it sound like anything except the truth.




**We debated this “our talking too much for an hour. Kind of defeats the point, wouldn’t you agree?
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I’m so tired of the norms and the insecurities and the hiding behind fears. I’m exhausted from reaching out, opening up, and being told that I have to “not care so much.”

That’s precisely what the world needs more of, not less. 

We need to care. About others. Ourselves. The future. The past. Being apathetic is not why we we’re here. There’s a difference among getting by, being cordial, and being apathetic. A time and place for each.

With relationships, I don’t want to remain indifferent. One of the most important things in our lives, most influential, how can one remain indifferent? I cannot.

I’ve tried. 

I’ve attempted to live a life of being passive, going with the flow, playing dumb, and merely trying to fit in. It was one of the most miserable times of my life. I felt as though I was living one way on the outside, only to suppress my true self within. Never. Again.

And that’s what I’m trying to learn and practice and honor this year: caring. Caring so much that I live each moment, each relationship to the hilt. We weren’t put on this Earth to be robots. We are not Stepford people. I am me, and you are you, and we’re here to help each other and learn from one another. How are we supposed to do this if we’re all the same?

We can’t.

And that’s one of the saddest things in the world.

Do your thing.

Own it. Speak it. Live it.

And if your thing happens to be–gasp–caring about people? Care on, my friend. Care on.


Live to the point of tears.
— Albert Camus


I’ve used this disclaimer, if you will, in the past, almost exactly a year ago, in fact, but I stand by it to this day. Also, to clear up any misunderstandings about what I mean when I use the term “care” in my writing: *And let’s not confuse caring for overbearing. Hand to Heaven, I worry so much about being “clingy” that I become the exact opposite. So it’s all a bit weird. 


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anxiety, february 2014, growing up, healing heartbreak, heartache, love, read it love it, words from my heart, write it out

Heart to Heart.

I had dinner with my dear friend Gabby earlier this week and was reminded of how important these conversations are. How talking with a kindred spirit is always crucial in not losing sight of what you’re hopes are and why we get out of bed every morning in the first place.

I have so many wonderful friends who take time to talk me through my inevitable over-analyzing and moments of complete confusion. I can’t imagine what I’d do without them.

It’s weeks like this that I need them most. You see, I tend to let myself fall for people that aren’t necessarily right for me, and this time was no different. (Well, only slightly, because falling for a close friend only complicates everything. But that’s neither here nor there. For the moment, anyway…) But even in the wake of hearing “I never cared as much as you do” or “I will never feel that way about you” I manage to always come slinking out of the trenches, crawl right back into the arms of my friends, always waiting there to take be back in, wipe off my tears, and remind me of what this whole thing is all about, in the first place:

Love. (And self love, at that.)

So as I sit here, a bit blue because of certain revelations, and I can’t help but be absolutely astounded by how many great friends I have in this beautiful (though albeit, sometimes a bit emotionally treacherous) life of mine. And, how many people I have rooting me on along the way. I can’t even begin to convey how much this means to me.

Lastly, to you: thank you.

Thank you so much for your support throughout the life of this blog. It’s a blessing to have such wonderful support from so many wonderful people. And if you’re struggling right now, know you aren’t alone. And to soldier on, no matter how bleak things seem.

Because if you will, I will. Promise.

One moment at a time, dear ones. That’s all we must do.

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Some especially great words of wisdom that have been sent my way lately:

p.s. This on repeat.

How wild it was, to let it be.
— Cheryl Strayed

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