Midway through seventh grade the Army relocated us yet again. From then until I finished my freshman year of high school we spent our days smack dab in the middle of nowhere in a pale blue, aging, two-floor duplex on the crest of a wooded, grassy hill in sprawling Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
If you look at a map and draw a line, slightly curved to follow the course of the various US and state routes involved, starting at St. Louis, then some one-hundred-thirty miles to the southwest you arrive at Fort Leonard Wood. Draw a similar line from there for a shade over two hundred miles northwest to Kansas City, and you have just sketched yourself an arm with the military base at the elbow.
If you ever lived there, however, the more appropriate analogy would involve a little more work. Continue your art by drawing yet another mildly arced line from Fort Leonard Wood until you reach Jefferson City, the capital, exactly eighty miles due north. Add another line from Fort Leonard Wood two hundred twenty miles southwest to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and finally one more from Fort Leonard Wood two hundred sixty five miles southeast to Memphis, Tennessee, and you can stop. Now set down your pencil and appreciate your little stick figure with his hands raised, as if dancing and exalting the Almighty, with Fort Leonard Wood serving as the skinny little worshiper’s armpits.Continue reading →
How many times am I going to encounter the wall, stand facing it, and with a sigh of resignation retreat? How many times will I find my back against it, chafing, before curling into a ball at its base, I give up. I resent the wall. It springs up before me both unexpectedly and predictably. I’ve been crushed against it without warning, and I’ve seen it coming a mile away. The wall is immovable and unchanging, holding me apart from reaching my highest potential, blocking the way. I can’t change it. I don’t even try. Continue reading →
When I was a kid I was accused of taking advantage of the situation on a frequent basis, usually by my dad, who was at times desperate to polish his only child’s impulse control flaws right out of what he saw as her diamond soul. At the time, however, I was unaware of his parental longings, understanding only that I was constantly in trouble for behaviors that felt fluid and natural. We’d come home from a camping trip, and as my parents were busy unloading gear, I’d furtively grab a marker and write the cheer “Woooo!” on the kitchen counter, heart pounding from my daring indiscretion. It was OK, because the washable ink beaded right up upon contact with the gold-flecked 1950s formica, and rubbed right off without a trace at the slightest touch. Scrawl, rub, scrawl, rub. I did it over and over, testing the limits, until I cut it too close and my dad walked in the back door with an armload of REI, catching me in the act. Face tightening into the disapproving scowl I sought to avoid at all costs, while directly courting it with my impulsive behavior, (what an exhausting paradox for an eight year-old psyche to bear), he took my arm, saying through angrily pursed lips, you’re taking advantage of the situation! And I was in trouble again. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago I published a post called A Direct Appealwhere I called on men and boys to fight systemic sexism and shift rape culture out of existence. I asked men and boys to get involved on a micro level, to challenge other men and boys, to change the conversation, to call out bad behavior, and support women and girls. I asked them to leverage the power afforded them by their gender to put an end to violence against women. But if I’m not working the same angles for other oppressed groups, what am I? If I am not leveraging the power afforded me by my skin color to put an end to violence against people of color, what am I? Continue reading →
It’s a horrifying, gut-wrenching time to be human. I suppose it always is, and always has been, and maybe none of the staggering hate-motivated events are new, just our ubiquitous recording capabilities and 24-hour news cycle are. We’re sick with hate. Sick from hate. I’m starting to hate humanity. But before I seek refuge in my dark feeling that the sooner humanity is wiped off the planet, the better, I return to an adaptation of a Hillel quote I once saw on the front of a Seattle synagogue that makes me do the work. Continue reading →
I’ve been doing things the hard way for as long as I can remember. As an only child who grew up to be a lone wolf, rugged individualism was but a way of life. I did not question that my life, my plans, my love, my struggle were all of me and for me, a perfect vacuum. I was responsible for 100% of what went on, and I was proud to grab my bootstraps over and over to grind it out and get it done, whatever it was. Continue reading →
I started hiking about 18 months ago, after swearing it off as a young teen. Many weekends of my childhood found me struggling along behind my dad on various trails in Washington State. I hated hiking. I hated it so much, in fact, that I promised myself I would never do it again once I became an adult. And I didn’t. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Do you find yourself often apologizing, as a matter of course? Is “sorry” a word you deploy throughout the day, throughout your life? Is it how you often begin or end your sentences? Is it how you open or close interactions with strangers? Is it the platform from which you move through the world? Well, I’m sorry, but it’s time to stop using apology as your method of social conveyance. See what I did there? Continue reading →
I didn’t know I was putting everyone above me until a friend pointed it out one day when we were in our mid-20s. Having just moved to a new state after living in the same place for 17 years, I was feeling overwhelmed and under-equipped to deal with my new life. Having been removed from the city of my birth and transplanted 1,500 miles away, I was awakening to some new ideas and understandings about myself. Namely, that the way I’d been doing things wasn’t working, and I needed a change. But what that would look like was beyond me, until Jenn matter-of-factly told me I’d been putting everyone up on pedestals and that’s why nothing was working. Oh. Continue reading →
I don’t go in for AA. I’ve not found a way for the Twelve Steps to resonate with my atheistic soul, and I think it’s a cult. I’m not saying it doesn’t help people, just that it’s not for me. That said, it was in AA I learned I’d been living in a state of deep lassitude, shades of grey which matched the skies I was under. Continue reading →