Sunday, July 24, 2011

.:Home is when I'm alone with you:.

My body is saying something to me and I'm not sure I like it. To put it quite honestly, I'm trying to fight it. How am I to listen to my beautiful, young, vibrant internal self when it's saying things like, "A home of your own would be nice. You know, the kind with a garden and a pet."?! Soon, I'll be trading my g-ma's Ford Taurus [Read: Old lady car! YES!] for my ma's Toyota Sienna XLE [Read: MINI VAN.] - and I'm excited about it. I've been craving home-ness and warmth and closeness for months now. How can I take myself seriously when, at the ripe, old age of 25, my body is telling me to...

Settle down.

WHAT?! Never! Me?! Settle down - you've got to be kidding me. I can't settle down. That's for 60-year-olds or something, right? How is this possible? I'm totally ok with "growing up" but good grief, this is a disaster. My whole M.O. revolves around being constantly on the go, up for anything, living life to the fullest - and then this comes along and I start getting all sentimental and start looking at house porn, dreaming of buying a home that looks so... I can't say it. I can't!

So permanent! UGH! What is happening to me?! Whyyyy is it happening to me?! I'm so young. I have dreams of traveling the world and sleeping (illegally?) on beaches far away, nothing tying me down, but then I get sidetracked by the American Dream. You know, that one. That one that haunts everyone, including me now, I guess. It feels so shameful. What am I supposed to do? I don't even have the finances to support such a dream, so it's not like I can do anything about it, but still, there it lurks. Around every corner, in every mirror, I see an older version of me, taunting me to give in to this idea of settling down. *Shudders* That is so not for me... Or is it? NO! Oh, the horror! What have I done with myself? Who is this person? Why does she want home-cooked meals every night with a fireplace (the perfect picture of settled adulthood right there) and something permanent and ... and ... and ... stable.

I think my life is over. There has to be some way to fix this.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

.:When the rain is blowing in your face and the whole world is on your case:.

I miss the rain in Thailand. It was the only time one ever felt chilly during the hot months of the summertime. The drops of rain would dance along the tin roof of our apartment, making music so organic and subtle. It cleansed the earth and the buildings of their layers that kept holding on to the days before. It was restorative. It was fresh and new.

In the Deep South where I am from, people would pray for rain all the time. Farmers' children went to my school and we knew plenty of people with farmland in our small town. The rain was essential to their crops, their livelihood. It brought them peace and prosperity, silencing inner turmoil that would arise during times of drought.

One of my favorite things about rain is how it changes things so dramatically when it is simply drops of water from the sky. It is so special to life for it is essential for our bodies and for everything that we do. It is also symbolic, and few things make me happier than to sit alone on my couch with a cup of hot tea, just listening to the rain, watching it fall from the sky, washing away the dirt and sadness, bringing new life to whatever it kisses.

Today, I am praying for rain.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

SlutWalk | My Story

I attended my first ever rally demonstration yesterday. I was getting really excited earlier when I realized it was my first, and it also happened to be a feminist rally against sexual violence, particularly against victim-blaming, called SlutWalk.

SlutWalk came to be when a police officer made a statement that a woman who had been sexually assaulted could have prevented her situation if she “hadn’t dressed like a slut” in the first place. This sparked a lot of anger in some people’s hearts, as it should for all of us but we will get there in a minute, and thus came about SlutWalk.

I was there at the Capitol Building steps in sunny Austin, TX, alongside one of my favorite people on the planet, my best friend Gina. We were thinking about all of the people we knew in common who we wished could have joined us – former college peers, one of our professors, and several of our friends outside of the small, liberal arts college we attended – and I believe that we carried those absent people with us on our march.

Before taking off, there were several speakers from different walks of life, including a very loud gentleman that made me think of my good friend Rob, and some of them really spoke to me in light of my experience with sexual violence. They shared facts, statistics, and personal experiences, most of which were incredibly heartbreaking like the fact that 2 women are sexually assaulted/raped every day in Texas (maybe she even said Austin more specifically) and the sexual assault victims in Austin have ranged from 6 months old (SIX MONTHS.) to 80 years old. Also, it was stated that about 95% of sexual violence victims have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I seriously do not doubt that.

When Dr. Kyle spoke about how victims often feel embarrassed, ashamed, and depressed after an attack, that’s the part that made my heart rip in half. I stood there in a crowd of amazingly strong, wonderful men and women, and felt that most of us there had experienced the things she spoke about and had the same reactions afterward. Dr. Kyle and the other speakers encouraged victims to speak about their experiences and I felt ready.

When I was 17, I was sexually assaulted by a former friend. He wasn’t someone I knew very well or spent a lot of time with, but he was close enough for me to feel comfortable inviting him to my hotel room where I was staying alone.

“Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes, no means no!” was the first chant of the rally yesterday. I couldn’t join in the chant. I couldn’t even speak. My eyes welled up with tears, I covered my mouth, and I began to cry as I recalled that it was what I was wearing that changed the mood of that night.

I had bought a dress that I adored at the mall earlier that day. I was pretty well known for wearing low cut halter dresses, and this was by far the most revealing garment I’d ever purchased. He wanted to see it on me, so I changed in the bathroom and then came out to reveal my new favorite dress. His face, his composure, the air in the room changed dramatically when I came out. Knowing this, I decided to change back into my pajamas where I was more comfortable and then, hang out with my friend without him looking at me in such a manner that was foreign to our seemingly platonic relationship.

“When women’s bodies are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” was the first chant I recall truly participating in, trying to muster up some strength for my teenage self.

He wanted to make out with me, so I figured, why not? I don’t go any further than that. Plus, he had a curfew he wasn’t supposed to break. I turned on the tv to hopefully distract him a little bit, but he was forceful and I felt his hand going down my pants.

“I really don’t want to do this,” I said to him, pleading for him to stop.

“It won’t hurt. You’ll like it!” he replied, as he began to thrust his hand into me. I've never heard anyone more wrong in my entire life, and it was unfolding right before my eyes, inside my very own body.

His face – I remember it so vividly I could paint it – was so cold and unfamiliar. I literally felt like I was with a total stranger. I felt alone and violated. I tried to say no a few more times but it was as if he couldn’t hear me. I felt so numb and out of place that I didn’t know what to do. I was just barely 17. The most I’d done was get topless for some guy. Was this the way it was supposed to happen? It didn’t feel right.

Finally, it was as if he snapped back into reality and realized what he was doing. He stopped abruptly and went to the bathroom to wash his hands. While he was away, I hugged my knees on the hotel bed and just cried. He ran back into the room in a panic, saying, “Oh, God! I’m sorry! I don’t… I… I’m sorry! I have to go!” and ran out.

Shocked and confused by what had transpired, I froze for as long as I can remember. When I finally collected myself, I phoned my closest guy friend and tearfully told him what went down. His response: I shouldn’t have been alone with the guy like that. What did I expect?

“My little black dress does not mean yes!” read a sign at the rally. The rally was an attempt to end slut-shaming and victim-blaming. I wouldn’t identify my 17-year-old self as a slut, but a victim, yes, and in no way were his actions against me my fault.

I called my best girl friend after the first phone call, feeling more alone than ever. She offered me sympathy and her voice was what enabled me to sleep a little that night.

It has taken me over 8 years to speak about this incident, and part of me believes some of that is the shame that I felt when I was told I was to blame. The dress I wore did turn him on. I will agree to that, but I can confidently say that I am in no way to blame for his actions that violated my body after I said no.

When the rally was approaching the capitol steps, our chant was waning, but at some moment, I felt empowered enough to take the lead on the last chant. With all of my breath and vocal strength, I yelled, “Whatever we wear, wherever we go-“ and was followed by, “Yes means yes, no means no!”

I’ve never felt more powerful in my entire life.

I have forgiven my assailant. I honestly hope that was the only time he had ever done that, realizing it was a huge mistake. Everyone makes bad choices and I am a firm believer that each person is worthy of forgiveness. I wish him the best on his journey.

As for mine, I will continue to educate others about victim-blaming and how to fight back when he/she may be in a similar situation. I will share my story as often as I need to, and I will listen to anyone who needs to talk.

Silence is not the answer. Share your story – when you are ready.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

.:You are what you love and not what loves you back:.

Blogs make me spill my heart out, not that it wasn't on my sleeve to begin with. This just makes it even more transparent. Lucky you. ;)

Last night, I went to bed heartbroken (well, more like heart-chipped) and woke up pretty much the same. Didn't even leave my bed for a few hours. Such a mess that broken heart can make! 2 hours of productive time I spent in the comforts of my pillows and blankets and warmth... Ok, so maybe not such a bad idea on virtual paper, but there was something plaguing me that kept me there so long, tears streaming intermittently, and here is the real truth.

I am exhausted with lust.

Perhaps some of this is due to the fact that I recently came back from a wedding, and we all know that weddings really make you think about your own whether you've had one (or more than one?) or haven't. (Don't deny it, ok? You know weddings do that. It's no big secret.) So, spending days in another state celebrating the union of 2 people who actually want to see each other every day for, like, EVER and want to make a contract out of it could make me feel exhausted with the whole "we're just sleeping together/fooling around" mentality. But that doesn't seem like the problem, though. Could it be something ongoing and not just event-driven? Maybe it's because I've never had a boyfriend longer than a year and that was 6 years ago? *pause for reflection* No, that can't be it. Wait. I know! I've got it.

I am the girlfriend type.

*headdesk* Casual flings are not for me. Realizing that I am the girlfriend type makes me feel so much more alone in our day and age than ever before. I say "ever before" because I already felt alone when I chose to be abstinent (of the penetration variety, you know). Yeah. How about them apples?! I'm a social weirdo, which is totally cool because I have a laundry list of reasons for it that I am confident in, but the fact that I am the girlfriend type is absolutely solidified right there. Simply put, I don't put out. Finding a guy who is comfortable with this idea (HAH! That's a stretch.) and won't sleep with someone else behind your back (Cue scenes from every relationship I've ever been in.) is near to impossible. Ok, we know where to find some of those, I don't have to say it, but I guess I'm REALLY picky when it comes to men.

Maybe I'm just too pessimistic. But seriously, what happened to relationships? What happened to actually getting to know someone before you took their clothes off? Call me old fashioned, but I consider it a common courtesy to find out what someone's world is all about before you work your magical, one-handed, unhook-the-bra/unbutton-the-pants trick. The bra trick is *real* impressive guys, but you'd impress me more if you actually did call the next day - and, while we're at it, even the next - to see me with my clothes ON. Don't get me wrong - I do like the hours-long make-out sessions and whatnot. It's all great and natural, I'm totally not knocking that, but for someone who gets attached when intimate actions are involved, my heart is obliterated when the night ends with, "Well, that was fun. See you around." (Just stab me in the chest, for crying out loud!) Maybe this whole real life relationship thing just happens to other people and it's just not my turn yet. That's fine. I'm sure that turn will happen one day and honestly, I'm not in a rush because I'm a bit preoccupied. But today, I am simply exhausted with lust, and I think that's ok. So from now on, let this be my introduction to the male society:

Hi. My name is Anslee. I will date you if we gel, but keep your penis to yourself until this is a forever-ever kind of thing. Got it?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

.:Where is my mind, where is my mind, wheeeerrreeee is myyy mmmiiinnnddd:.

South by Southwest (aka SXSW) just happened. It didn't happen quite as drunkenly as it had for me in the past. In fact, I was sober the entire time. I actually drank nothing but water - with exception to the 3 Zico coconut waters, which are entirely delicious, by the way. In any case, I did feel quite energy-zapped by yesterday afternoon just from all of the walking around (I probably averaged a good 3 miles/day) and all of the awesome live music and crazy people everywhere. But even in all the craziness, I came to a few conclusions about myself and my life. Here goes...

1) I desperately want to write music again. I've been DYING [Repeat: DIE. ING.] to sing again for a long time. I think about it every day. So, I decided I will write again and try to play all of my songs on a sweet little ukulele. I'm currently searching for one as I type this. (Etsy rox.)

2) Speaking of writing music, I'm gonna write happy little love songs. And when I sing them, I'm gonna wear a cute, brightly colored dress. That's just how it's gonna be. Why? Because I'm a happy person. And that's what happy people do. Ok, not all happy people wear cute dresses and sing silly love songs while playing a ukulele, but it seems appropriate. At least, for me it does.

3) I'm going to wear ridiculously awesome dresses. I'm kind of going to give myself a makeover, essentially. I make my own dresses, so I have the capacity to re-create what I do. Not that I don't have awesome dresses now, I just think I've been playing it safe lately. I need to throw myself into myself, right? So, why not throw out all of the safety regulations with that?! That's totally me! And I love me! YAY!

4) I'm gonna learn Spanish. End of story. (And I'm gonna be really awesome at speaking it, too.)

5) I'm going to get that super sweet car wrap I've been dreaming about for a while. It's going to happen in the next year. No one can stop me.

6) Photography is another huge passion of mine. I'm gonna do more of that. I'll have more shows. And I will not care (or try not to if I do) if things don't sell - because honestly, I don't do it for the money. I do it for the love of art and self-expression. I should express myself more.

All of these things - these numbers above - are mere attempts of me just being me. I get ideas and I want to explore them. I haven't done this as much lately because I've really thrown myself into work - as I should, of course, since it's a rad ass business that is picking up - but I've made the decision to do what I really want to do as well. I don't care if I can't find a minute of sleep. If I live my life the way I think I should live it, I'll die one day the happiest lady ever. With happy love songs on her ukulele. And bright colors everywhere. I want to delve into my life because, let's face it, it's my life! My life is great and I love it so, so much, so why wouldn't I want to get deeper into it? What do I have to lose? I have no one but me to contend with, at least, for now, so I'm gonna make me happy, and hopefully, that will make others happy. I've concentrated so hard on the outward expression - which, don't get me wrong, is a beautiful, beautiful way to live life - but I've been wondering what the missing link is, and I think it's me. I need to foster my relationship within myself. That sounds so selfish, but I truly, deeply believe that if I do, then it will probably have some sort of effect on the happiness of others. After all, laughter is contagious, right?

I wanna laugh - all. the. live. long. day.