Of the longest commute ever and physics

It took me almost 7 hours to get home yesterday.

As I’m sure everyone is aware, winter showed up on a Tuesday this year. Depending on the weather source, the appearance of said storm was highly contested. When would it arrive? Morning! Wait, no! Afternoon! How much were we looking at? Well, erm, 2 inches? Wait! It’ll be south of the city itself, fear not! The first few flakes started falling a little after 1230 at my office. They made the executive decision to close the office around 230. And so did the schools. And so did every other establishment in 12 metro counties with a total population of 6 million people. Everyone hit the streets between 2-3p yesterday. I got in the car at 330p. By 915p, we were stuck sitting on a hill. It was close enough to the house, that I got out and hoofed it. I walked in the house a little before 10p. Everyone (*cough cough* those north of the Mason-Dixon line & west of Mississippi) has been making fun of us for nothing being able to handle it. Fortunately, certain bloggers and actual reporters have a rebuttal. As do I.

Yes, people in Atlanta can’t drive. This is a well established fact. Even rain will slow down a commute by about 30 minutes. However, snow isn’t our problem. It’s ice. That’s fine and dandy when traffic is at least moving. The heat of the cars keeps it slushy enough to get traction. Not so when you’re sitting still. That’s simple physics, kids. Show me a Northerner who can drive on ice with no problem (and no snow chains), then I’ll shut up. It’s also no secret that Atlanta is a driving city. We have no public transportation to speak of unless you’re either within the city limits or close to it. Most people had no choice but to get in the car to get home, pick up their kids, or some combination of both. As I walked the 2 miles back to the house, it looked like a scene from a zombie movie. Maybe 15 cars drove by after I crested the hill (a 3 car spinout was the issue stopping traffic in this case). People had abandoned their cars on the side of the road for one reason or another. Seeing as The Walking Dead is filmed here, it would appear life is imitating fiction. My dad ended up spending the night in his office. He rolled in about 930 this morning with reports of so many abandoned cars that it looked like a sporting event. All we were missing was the stadium. Hell, Waffle House ran out of food. the apocalypse is indeed upon us.

The weather isn’t on track to get any better tonight or early tomorrow. The news flat out told people to not go out before noon tomorrow unless absolutely necessary. Everything that melted today will just refreeze. By Friday, it’ll be in the 50s again. At least those in the North have time to get used to the cold weather and it stays cold. I was wearing short sleeves on my birthday 2 weeks ago. I was wearing short sleeves on MLK day. Yesterday it was thick pants, boots, and a heavy coat. It’ll keep doing this until late March. It’s a crapshoot as to what will happen when.

In short, cut us a little slack. The city’s infrastructure sucks, but the people don’t. There were plenty of people who were helping each other out. People offering their houses to people stranded or walking down the interstate offering coffee to drivers. People with 4 wheel drive or otherwise easily driveable cars stopping to pick up people walking and give them a ride. A baby was born on the highway. It’s situations like this which show that the world isn’t such a bad place, regardless of what the news wants us to think. People are still kind and willing to help each other. Here’s to all the good people who decided to help their fellow man, no matter how grand or how small.



Of ten seconds of fame and tiny, smart muscles

Two classes at the new studio with the same teacher. Results so far – my psoas muscles are like “wassup!”. For those not familiar with anatomy, the psoas muscles are largely responsible for lifting your leg up toward your body and vice versa. If you’re lifting your leg and turning out correctly, those muscles do all the work. New Teacher was getting my turnout working more than it has in a long time. I didn’t start ballet until I was 16 which made developing a good turnout a lot harder. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the younger you start something, the easier it is to train the muscles. I’d been doing only jazz (parallel feet) or volleyball up to that point. I have stupid flexible hips, but very little control of the muscles. The ballet classes I’ve been taking don’t offer any corrections, so I’ve developed a lot of bad habits. New Teacher took the time to come around both classes giving physical corrections. The only exception I make to my “no touching if I don’t know you” rule is in class. Physical corrections help you feel the difference in your body when you do it properly. My hips are now very much aware of what I was doing incorrectly.

I took a ballet class and contemporary class over the weekend. Both were billed as “beginner” or “beginner / intermediate”. The thing about levels is they’re fast and loose. It depends on the teacher, studio, and the student’s interpretation. My definition of “beginner” could vary wildly from what the teacher considers “beginner”. In this case, I would have called these classes high intermediate. Of course, the teacher started giving us the professional level choreography in contemporary and realized it later. Thanks dude. I didn’t feel so bad that I spent half the combination facing the wrong way. I didn’t give up, though. He told us during center work to fight for it. Whether your leg is 90 degrees from the ground or you’re barely lifting your toe off the floor, keep the right placement. Don’t just give up. I saw several students flat out stop during the combination. Even if I was royally screwing it up, I didn’t stop. How am I going to get better if I just give up and walk away? Watching the combination will only get you so far. It was a beautiful piece and I could’ve watched the teacher dance all day, but that’s not what I’m paying them for. I’m paying them to learn something. And learn something I did. I may have been a bit out of my league, but that’s okay. There was no risk of grievous bodily harm. Might as well run with the slightly bigger dogs. I’ll be back next week. I’ve got nothing to lose.

CNN will be filming at the second location of Studio 1 tonight. They’re doing a spot on fitness that will run sometime in the spring. I missed it the last time they came through. This also happens to be a class I really like. Sore psoas be damned. I’ll get my 10 seconds of fame even if it’s just the back of my head. Maybe it’ll be my big break. 😛


Of Archer and keeping weapons by the bed

Apparently I’m the only person in my social group who doesn’t like the show Archer. I know this is random, but bear with me. Several friends, including Boy, think it’s hilarious. I’ve always balked at the idea of animation / cartoons that are geared toward adults. Much like foods I don’t like, I’ll periodically try them to see if my opinion has changed. It’s the same result every time. I didn’t fight with Boy over watching it. I left the room instead. Just listening to it through the wall upset me. I was in tears simply listening to the dialogue. At the time, I had no idea why it upset me to that level. It doesn’t make much sense that a cartoon would have me sobbing. It took a few days, then it hit me.

There were plenty of things around the frat house I didn’t enjoy. I would hole myself up in Will’s room. He would do the same even though he hated it and I knew it. I never felt comfortable in the social areas (should’ve been a red flag right there). The other frat boys made fun of him for it and he took it out on me. The other girlfriends would watch TV or play games with them. Why couldn’t I do the same? I should just suck it up and go along with whatever it was. It didn’t matter if I didn’t like it. Deal with it. My opinions and feelings were totally invalid. He was going to fit in, goddamn it, whether I liked it or not. I was constantly the target of his insecurities. He bullied me into doing things in bed that I didn’t want to just so he could one up the other guys. “Girlfriend and I did this”. “Oh yeah? Emily and I did this better / more humiliating thing!”. I was blamed for the frat getting nailed for hazing because he told me about their initiation policies. It wasn’t anything egregious like drinking until the pledges passed out or making them run around campus naked. This is ignoring the fact entirely that all the girlfriends knew what was going on. We talked about it amongst ourselves on our own campus. Somehow it was all my fault. Of course I know now there was no possible way I could’ve been the sole cause. All of them should’ve kept their big, stupid mouths shut. If you don’t want details getting out, don’t talk to your girlfriends about it. Dumbasses. Bottom line, no matter what it was, it was my fault or shortcoming. Somehow in my neural pathways, Archer triggered the same reaction.

I was woken up by a nightmare this morning 20 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off. It was the same song and dance. A guy broke into where I was living and tried to grab / kidnap me. It started with him yelling at his wife. Boy and I saw him out the window and he stopped. Then he broke in, Boy pointed a gun at him, and he was scared off. The third time, he somehow got in again, Boy wasn’t armed, and the guy started attacking me. I was kicking, throwing punches, and fighting back as hard as I could. He laughed every time I tried to fight back. He got up and Boy shot him, presumably killing him. I woke up feeling helpless because I wasn’t able, yet again, to defend myself. When I was sleeping in the house alone, I used to keep a gun by the bed. The mag was loaded, but separated from the gun. If I had to, I could shove the mag in, cock it, and take down anything that came through the door. Was it paranoid? Hell yes. Was I defenseless? Nope. My mom made me store the gun outside the house eventually. Thank you, Second Amendment.

I’m not the girl who allowed herself to be walked all over. If someone wants to watch / do something I don’t want to, I just walk away. I don’t have to make anyone happy other than myself. My friends are free to watch Archer, laugh their asses off, and I’m free to find another room and perfect my French.


Of (not) freaking out and recognizing one’s bad habits

…And somebody hit the panic button.

This meeting Wednesday morning is really starting to freak me out. For those just joining us, it’s the first meeting involving my new position. I’m the facilitator / conduit / middle man of the whole process between the operations side and the programmers we outsource for a particular field facing product. My boss’ boss will be there and her boss will be there. There will be several marketing people (this area really should be theirs but there’s currently no one over the product) and the people from the company who supply us the raw data and programming. First it was just a wardrobe crisis. The office dress code is officially business casual. I’ve seen the CEO walking around in a polo shirt. If I wear my version of a suit, I’ll look like I’m trying too hard. If I wear what I’ve been wearing to work lately, more on the boho side of things with glittery eyeliner, I’ll look sloppy and like I don’t take things seriously. I know I want to wear heels, but that’s about it. I’ve been staring at my closet and coming up with nothing. Ugh.

Today things started to snowball. I noticed I was eating more than I normally do and not just because it’s a day off. I tried to take a nap and had nightmares the entire hour I was trying to sleep. Specifically nightmares about driving and getting caught in a flood. We made it to where we were going, but not without a lot of stress along the way. I’ve given myself a headache from clenching my jaw. I put on Top Chef to distract myself and that’s only working moderately well. My brain keeps going over this scenario again and again in my head. “You don’t belong there”. “You have no idea what you’re doing”. “You’re going to make a fool of yourself in front of important people”. 

I’ll concede your point, brain. I don’t know much about the product in question. I went to a training on it when the product was first rolled out, so it’s not like I’ve never even heard of it before. The interface is probably different, but the raw data is the same. I don’t have to make it look pretty. I just have to make sure that everyone on the operations side knows what everyone else on the programming side is doing. My boss’ boss has made it very clear to everyone else that’s my purpose. I don’t have to be an expert on the topic. I just have to be able to answer simple questions like “Where’s so and so on this issue?”. 

Secondly, no one said I had to talk. No one is expecting me to be an expert up front. If the last meeting is any indication, I sit there with my mouth shut taking notes. My boss’ boss will do all the talking for me. I speak when spoken to and that’s the extent of it. Look presentable, be polite, and show that I’m interested in doing well. That will never hurt in the long run. Smile and fake it until I make it. I’m smart. I pick up things very, very quickly. I retain them well. Even if I haven’t worked with a system in a while, I usually remember most of it after a little poking. My boss’ boss would never set me up to fail. That just makes her look bad. If nothing else, I can walk into that room knowing she’s setting me up for success. I just have to keep my ears open and notes detailed.

I earned this position, brain. No one handed it to me because I’m someone’s daughter or sister or cousin. I worked hard, proved myself, and was rewarded. I’m ambitious and that ambition paid off. It put me over the top to a higher rating on my review. I’m better at not letting people get under my skin. I do belong there because I was hired to be there and she has full confidence in me. She wouldn’t have picked me if that were a question.

Eating a pint of ice cream out of the container and buying things I don’t need won’t fix the anxiety. It’s an intimidating situation. Really the only thing that will solve it is getting through it. I know my vices well enough to know when to stop them in their tracks. Yes, I could buy nail polish, eyeliner, or shoes online. No, that won’t change the outcome. Yes, I could keep eating, feel guilty, and restrict the next 3 days. No, that won’t change the outcome. Not one bit. Chill the hell out, brain. In 48 hours, it’ll all be over.

With that…


Of gratitude and manifestos

I’ve been subscribing to Gala Darling’s Radical Self Love Letters for this year. It’s an email every day on various topics relating to loving yourself (in all senses of the term). I’ve been reading her blog for several years and always found it inspiring. I first stumbled upon it when a friend mentioned her “Things I Love Thursday” posts. This was in 2010 during my strongest self hate period. I’d just been introduced to the idea of a gratitude list from AA. I thought it was silly, it couldn’t possibly work, and didn’t particularly like the idea. Then I read her version of it and thought “Hey, maybe this can actually be fun”. It’s all about presentation, boys and girls. My “things that make me smile” list is my version of that in case it hasn’t been obvious. I have a daily diary at another site and I wrap up each entry with “The Daily Lovefest”. Sometimes it’s a struggle to write it, other days I’ve got tons of things I’m grateful for.

Another writing prompt last week was writing a “Radical Self Love Manifesto”. Everyone should have a manifesto, not just despots. Can’t let them corner the market on that one, can we? So we’re going to play a game in this entry. Let’s write it all out and start the week out on the right foot.

Things That Make Me Smile:

The cat sleeping in a sunbeam * Getting out of bed and making cinnamon rolls * Sitting in a first world country on a laptop with a TV remote, tablet, and cell phone at arm’s reach * Everyone who has hauled me around the past few months * Friends who I would do anything for and who would do anything for me * Laughing my ass off on my Friday afternoon rides with my boss * Having a boss I’m totally comfortable with instead of terrified to say 2 words to * Looking back and being able to see how far I’ve come * Being open to retrying things whether it’s a food, a TV show, or a hobby just to see how I feel about it now * Making people laugh * Stretch class * Being less and less envious of other women’s bodies * Lots of opportunities to travel in the next few months * Getting the chance to be a better big sister * The ability to share my story in the hope that it will help one person avoid the path I’ve walked down or help them see they can come through it all the stronger

My Radical Self Love Manifesto:

Standing my ground and refusing to be bullied into something I’m not comfortable with * Taking care of myself whether it’s washing my hair or going to a dance class * Laughing regularly at myself * Respecting what my body is telling me * Painting my nails, putting on lipstick, and presenting the very best “me” to the world * Sensible spending rather than frittering away money on things that don’t serve me * Not being afraid to let go of things that no longer have a place in my life * Stepping outside my comfort zone, even if it’s just a toe * Not comparing myself to someone else. That’s saying I think they’re better than I am & that’s not true * Setting myself up for success * Devoting time to the things I truly enjoy * Rocking out to Backstreet Boys or Def Leppard because I can * Embracing the 9 year old girl whose ambition in life was to become a drag queen * Channeling my inner drag queen 😀

Hope everyone has a lovely Sunday. For those who have tomorrow off, enjoy!



Of not letting people harsh your mellow and just dancing

As with all promotions, the learning curve is pretty steep. I’m training the new me, still trying to figure out exactly what my new job entails, and picking up the slack where another person left off. People were constantly needing my attention rightthissecond yesterday. One in particular gets extra hyper. That mentality tends to rub off on people. Everything is an emergency with her. She sent an email about something and my initial reaction was to brush her off. Then it occurred to me I was just being petty. What she wanted wasn’t that difficult. It would add a few minutes to the day at most. I was trying to stick it to her because she was being a pain in my ass. Not exactly what I’m going for here. I took a minute to step back, take a deep breath, and not let everyone else’s manic energy get to me. Nothing was on fire. There was no great and terrible emergency. There was nothing that couldn’t wait a few minutes. Instead of trying to juggle each request, I dealt with them individually. It doesn’t do to get overly distracted and forget where I was. Then I wasn’t acting like a startled cat. That keeps everyone happy, mostly me.

Getting back in the dance groove today. I finally got some antibiotics on Wednesday and kicked the sick. I haven’t been to class since Monday. The crazy intense hip hop class is this morning, but I don’t really want to deal with it. I liked the teacher, but the other students are really, really cliquey. From what I understand, this teacher originated this particular class, marketed it well, and brought his devout followers to the studio when he started teaching there. These people only show up for his class then leave. I like the class, but I don’t want to deal with people who have no interest in the studio outside of the location of the class. Part of what I love about the studio is the friendly communal feeling. Even if you’ve never seen someone before, it’s easy to strike up small talk before class. I know that’s my personal bias against these other people, but I don’t have to take the class. Instead I’m taking a different class with a teacher I haven’t see in a while. We’ll periodically run into each other, but I haven’t been in class with her. Then she teaches a stretch class after. I suck at stretching after working out. The structure is definitely a plus.Then I’ll go wherever my inclinations take me.

On that note, 6 weeks from today I’ll be free! Three cheers for being one week closer to mobility! I’ve finally reached the acceptance stage. I’m doing my best to divide the responsibilities as much as humanly possible. Everyone has been really accommodating. I don’t feel *as* guilty asking for rides as I used to. It only took 4.5 months to get there. 


Of Furry Cuteness Friday and things that make me smile

To give everyone a break from big cats, here’s a baby tapir. And his stuffed lion buddy.


To kick off the three day weekend (for those of us in the US), a list of things that make me smile:

*Hugs that knock the wind out of you

*Antibiotics. I can finally get a decent night’s sleep for the first time in 2 weeks.

*Glittery lip gloss

*Taco salads

*Google All Access. Got my “work jams” playlist on right now.

*Getting the second highest rating on my review. 😀

*Being able to go into my boss’ office, scream obscenities, and he just laughs. Then walk out under control.

*The mental image of throwing glitter into the air to release my grudges.


Of deep fried Twinkies and the anniversary of the end of my beautiful scars

In honor of AJ McLean’s 36th birthday today, I dug up Backstreet Boys greatest hits album thanks to Google All Access (seriously, this program is crack like and makes Pandora look like the 90 lbs weakling. Anyway…). It was vastly entertaining to take a little trip back in time to my 14 year old self and what she was crazy about. In my head, I was having a dance party. You know, the trademark Jackson 5, boyband back step that’s recognizable out of the corner of your eye. Their music is the aural equivalent of a deep friend Twinkie. No nutritional value whatsoever, but tastes really damn good. Piggybacking off Carrie’s post, that was half a lifetime ago. Well before I knew much more than pop music, high school, new friends, and living in the dance studio. I had my first boyfriend and my first kiss that year. The worst pain I’d felt up to that point was moving away from the city I grew up in and all the friends who came with it. I would be dumped for the first time with the most ridiculous reason ever, but I didn’t see that at the time. It’s easy to look back at her and smile. If someone had told her where she would be almost 15 years later, she probably wouldn’t have believed them.

This month is the 3 year anniversary of when I finished my final tattoo. I had my first sitting in September 2010. With large pieces, it’s not uncommon to sit for multiple sessions. It’s a phoenix which I thought was fitting symbolism. Three years ago I gave up hurting myself. Quit it cold turkey along with sleeping around. I haven’t had a drink in almost 10 months, the longest I’ve gone since I started drinking regularly. It just took the right motivation that AA lacked. Maybe I just don’t notice it any more, but I get fewer and fewer comments about my tattoos. Maybe because it’s the winter and everything is covered. I don’t get defensive or angry when people ask. The silly questions still make me roll my eyes, but I don’t get angry like I used to. “Did they hurt?”, “Yes, there were needles involved”. “What do they mean?”, “They’re my self injury scars”. That usually backs people off fairly quickly. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I’ve entertained the idea of having some of them removed. Ultimately I decided to keep them. They’re part of my story for better or worse. Some days I hate them and want to scratch them off. Other days, I hardly notice them like I would hardly notice a mole or a birth mark.

The funny thing about the final sitting was how much it hurt. Up to that point, tattooing had been more annoying than painful. I could sit for hours without so much as a peep. Artists were always impressed with how long and how well I could sit. Up to that point, I’d only ever had a hard time sitting once while getting a tattoo. It was at a convention, they’d worked on me for almost 6 hours without a break, and my quads were about ready to die. It took a total of 8 hours and spanned the entire front of my right thigh. While finishing up the phoenix, I could barely hold still. I spent most of the 3 hour sitting trying to wiggle away. I’d had my ditch (the place where your elbow bends inward) tattooed on the other arm with no problem. Not so on this round. It occurred to me much later that it was a sign of healing. To an outsider, it seems strange that cutting or tattooing would provoke an emotional release. It’s all too true. Once I’d begun to heal the broken bits, the ability to withstand pain went away. I was, quite literally, able to feel again. And goddamn did it hurt. I walked out of the shop and never looked back.