Category Archives: Throwback Journals

Throwback Journal: Money Talks (with Roberto)

 

Photo credit

My good friend, whom I call Roberto, works in finance.

Back in 2005, when I was a ripe 22-year-old college student, he advised me on whether or not to get a credit card via AOL Chat (Good ol’ AOL chat).

Here was his advice. (WARNING: Explicit language ahead).

12/30/2005

Roberto: I mean, it’s usually a bad idea to get a credit card unless you know you’ll have a steady source of income in the near future
Roberto: because everyone says they’ll use it for necessities. That’s what I said when I first got a credit card, but now I’m in debt
Roberto: it’s to the point where I just don’t care anymore, and I swipe the card more than I wipe my own ass
Roberto: And honestly, there are NO good credit cards out there
Roberto: They charge a ridiculous amount of interest, and they rape you up the ass with fees
Roberto: And if you’re ever late or go above your credit line, they stick their 15-inch dick in baking soda, then shove it ALL the way up your asshole
Roberto: you’d almost be able to feel it come out of your mouth
Roberto: like, with most cards, if you have a 13.99% APY (which is the usual), when you default (violate terms of the credit card), it usually goes up somewhere between 23.99% and 27.99%
Roberto: so for every $100, you’d get charged $28 a year to carry that debt
Roberto: if you default
Roberto: BUT
Roberto: if you’re responsible
Roberto: it would only cost you about $14 per year to borrow each $100
Roberto: get what the wise man is saying?
Roberto: so let’s say you carry about $20,000 in debt
Roberto: I’d say averaging the rate of each of my cards, I probably have an APY of about 15%
Roberto: so $20,000 x .15 is… (looking for a calculator)
Roberto: yeah… so you’d pay about $3,000 per year in credit card interest
Roberto: do you know what you get in return for that credit card interest?
Roberto: NOTHING
Roberto: I could go into east Boston right now and get about 500 blow jobs for that amount

Throwback Poetry: In Honor of Emily Dickinson’s 184th Birthday

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Wednesday (Dec. 10th) was Emily Dickinson’s 184th birthday.

Dickinson’s poetry was introduced to me when I was 12 years old. I wrote poems here and there, mostly about nature. My poems reminded my Dad of Emily Dickinson’s poems. He bought me a book of her poetry and we also went to the local library to check out a biography about her.

She quickly became one of my favorite poets. She also happens to be from my home turf of Massachusetts, living the majority of her life in Amherst, Mass., where I went to college. I was fascinated to learn what a gentle and introverted soul she was, more than likely dealing with what is now recognized as agoraphobia and depression.

Dickinson spent much of her life observing the world from her bedroom window and through letters from friends and family. I am constantly amazed at how perceptive and brilliant she was amid her limited resources. She gave birth to American poetry at the same time as Walt Whitman did, perhaps without knowledge of Whitman’s work.

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Emily inspired me to continue writing poetry, gaining inspiration from the trees, the birds, the ocean, and all of the beautiful things nature offers.

Here are a few of these poems. I was about 12-13 when I wrote them.

In This Lovely Forest

Today I danced with butterflies
talked to the river
visited flowers
flew up to the sky
running through clouds
and climbed a tree
in this lovely forest.

Birds
having a friendly conversation with me
They said:
“The world is beautiful,
and everything in the world is beautiful.”
And I agree with them.

Flowers Are Pretty (Haiku)

Flowers are pretty
These bloom only in the Spring
Soon it will be Fall

The Light of Day

The sun sets on my heart
Leaving it in darkness
I hear you and the sun rises
I see you
Your face is the light of day

Swallowed

The ocean takes a deep breath
and Exhales
with its marvelous strength
and it’s horrible breath
onto the rocks
who have drowned every high tide.
The water breathes me in
swallows me whole
and I am no more.

On another note, remember when there was only one known photo of Emily Dickinson (above, at age 16)? According to the official Emily Dickinson Facebook page, there is now another!

The following photo was released in 2012 by Amherst College Archives and Special Collections and the Emily Dickinson Museum, in Amherst, Mass. It shows a copy of a circa 1860 daguerreotype purported to show a 30-year-old Emily Dickinson (left), with her friend Kate Scott Turner.

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HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! (Okay, I’m a nerd.) The frumpy civil war era hairstyle is unfortunate, but I am so glad we now have evidence of a much older, mature, and beautiful Emily Dickinson. Yay!

Leaving Him

This is the final installment of my story about being in an abusive relationship as a teenager.

Here’s Part 1.

And here’s Part 2.

I’m sharing this because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this is an issue that affects so many. If you suspect abuse in your own relationship or that of a loved one, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. And please consider donating to an organization that supports victims and raises awareness. Thank you.

Leaving Him

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1/17/02.

I feel fine. Notice how my penmanship is completely normal right now.

Dick thinks I’m not fine. He thinks that I need to learn respect and what I believe in, etc. I need to find out who I am and what I want even though I’m like, 18 years old.

I’m afraid of him. I know he always apologizes and that he “really doesn’t mean it.” But this feeling I have inside just doesn’t sit right.

If my friends drove me home, I would have been fine. I wouldn’t have cried my eyes out, or gotten stuck in the middle of nowhere being yelled at. I wouldn’t have almost been killed going 110 miles an hour on the highway in a car where the passenger seat seat belt is broken.

No. None of that would have happened.

If you love me, then why do I fear you?

You said you would blame it on me if the car crashed. You said you would tell the police I turned the wheel because I was “drunk” (after three drinks over the course of three hours). You said you would make it look like my fault.

FUCK YOU.

1/18/02

Had a nice, long talk with Dick tonight… phew. It went very well. We covered a lot of topics that we needed to cover and decided to cool off for a little bit… because I really don’t know what I want and I need to figure it out… alone.

I do love Dick. I will always love him. But I’m not sure if we’re perfect for each other. We are so different in so many ways. So this is good. I feel a lot more relaxed right now.

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5/26/02.

It seems like every time I’m with Dick now we argue. I don’t know what keeps us together. I wish we had more in common. I wish it could work out better, but I’m just so afraid of life. Whereas he’s ready and set to go. What makes me so immature? I don’t know.

I want it to be fairy tale-ish. I want my parents to love him and for his parents to love me. I want to have someone who makes me laugh all of the time. I want it to feel new and exciting every day. I don’t want it to be predictable.

I want someone spontaneous and someone who doesn’t mind my spontaneity. I want someone not to tell me to quiet down when I feel angry or upset. I want to have the right to raise my voice. I want to have the right to make a scene, because what do I care what others think?

I want to be free to be different. I want to be and act like the person I am.

I want to have time to be with my friends alone. I don’t want to be afraid of offending Dick by some trivial action I make.

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9/8/02.

Today was a fun day. I just wish Dick and I didn’t argue so much. And I wish he didn’t leave me at Six Flags by myself, waiting for the last bus to Amherst at the end of the night.

But I guess I had more fun by myself. I waited in line for two hours to ride the Superman Ride of Steel. It was well worth the wait.

12/23/02.

Got into a big argument with Dick (once again) this afternoon and it wasn’t cool… apparently I’m a very difficult person to communicate with.

My friends understand me. At least my close friends. We don’t have to speak one word to express how we’re feeling. We just know how the other is feeling. It’s hard to describe.

UMass Laura Tina Lisa

Life feels like such a movie lately… the constant struggle, the high stakes, the music playing in the background of my mind. I don’t know if I like it much, but it sure makes life interesting.

Christmas is almost here. I don’t deserve anything. I’m so awful. Dick is going to get me something nice like he always does, yet all I do is hurt him and bring him misery. I’m such a bastard. Sometimes I just want to punish myself.

7/9/03.

Went to Sebago Lake in Maine the weekend of June 28th. It would have been great if I was with anybody but Dick. I’m sure he felt the same way.

Went to the Cape with Robbie J. and Greg Squared for July 4th. Good times, good times. (Lotsa burgers… mmmmmmmm)

P.S. I met a guy who’s really cool and nice. Ohhhh Jesus.

Me and the ocean

The Aftermath

That weekend at Sebago Lake was the last time I willingly saw Dick. I didn’t journal about it all, but that weekend he hurled literally every insult in the book at me. He was mad that I “got fat” at college (I only weighed 135 lbs. at that point), that I continued to wear clothing he didn’t like, that I didn’t have my life figured out yet, that I was disrespectful, you name it. I felt like complete shit. And I felt like I deserved every hateful word he spewed at me. Because he made me believe I deserved that.

I became so upset that I considered drowning myself in Sebago Lake.

Instead, I cried the entire day and begged Dick to take me home. He refused, but then agreed to do so early the next day. He treated me like I was being such a pain in the ass and disrespectful to our hosts.

When he dropped me off in front of my house, I told him to never contact me again. He continued trying. Luckily, I was two hours away from him when I returned to college in the Fall. He kept trying to call me, and my roommate kept taking the calls, telling him to never call again, and hanging up on him. He also showed up at my brother’s wedding, even though I didn’t invite him to be my date. He acted surprised when I told him he couldn’t come to the reception.

One day that Fall, I was visiting home and went out to a movie with friends. When I returned, my Dad told me Dick had called.

“Why?” I asked.

“He told me he’s engaged.”

“Oh. Why does he think I care?”

Dad shrugged. “He wanted you to call him back.” My Dad is such a nice guy that he likely spoke with Dick for a little while and congratulated him.

After that, he finally left me alone. I was lucky.

10 years later, Dick Facebook messaged me to apologize, because he ran into a mutual friend of ours. It was only then he realized that he had treated me poorly.

I accepted his apology, asserted that yes, he was abusive toward me, and essentially told him to have a nice life.

And I hope he does. I hope he has changed.

The happy ending to the story is that during that July 4th weekend I mentioned above, I began dating Greg, the amazing man who is now my husband.

Looking back, I’m thankful for the experience I had with Dick. If I could go back in time, I would still choose to be in a relationship with him. It taught me that I deserved better. And it led me to being with someone who is kind, caring, and accepts me for the person I am.

I’ll count that as a win.

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Fun With Dick and Jane

This is Part 2 of a series of throwback journals. Read Part 1.

Warning: Some mild sexual content (Don’t read this, Mum).

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4/8/01.

Fuck Dick. Fuck him for being so God damned obedient to scripture. Today he asked me if I “pleasure myself” and I said yes. How stupid can I be? I shouldn’t have even told him.

He started going off about how scripture says that it’s wrong and all. Well I don’t care. I don’t see the big deal. I’m not hurting anybody. Not even God.

SIN, SIN, FUCKING SIN. Everything to Dick is a sin.

He needs to loosen up. We went to a movie tonight and he kept trying to cover my eyes during the nudity. The movie showed only a little flesh. Not even significant parts. I just wanted to yell at him in the middle of the theater, “FUCKING STOP!”

Christ, I’m a big girl. I’ve seen a bunch of nude bodies in movies, paintings, and real life and I’m totally fucking over it. Looking at a body doesn’t even turn me on at all… it’s just a human body. It’s beautiful and all, but I’m not going to get all wet over it or anything. I simply see a human body as art. As a work of art by God.

Who is Dick to tell me what’s right and what’s wrong? I don’t know, but I can’t help but listen to him because I love him. My love makes me weak and therefore I barely argue with him. I just get depressed. Like I am right now.

I know he’s right. I know God’s right. But sometimes I don’t like what God likes. I can’t help it. Some rules were meant to not be abided by. I mean, why can’t God understand this?

4/19/01.

I’m so lonely. Nobody calls and I have practically nobody to call. Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but it seems like nobody likes me anymore. I’m so scared of losing everybody.

dickandjane3

1/1/2002. New Year’s Day.

My New Year’s Eve was depressing. Rebecca, Jenn, and Melissa didn’t invite me out with them because apparently I “don’t drink anymore, so [I] wouldn’t want to come.” I still drink, just not as much as I used to.

I don’t care. I just wanted to spend time with them. But they decided to not invite me out with them anyway. They’re so fake that they can’t even admit they dislike me. They’ll probably pretend everything is okay the next time they see me. Fucking cowards.

Then I got into an argument with Dick over this and he concluded that he was, quote, “Tired of [my] games. Bye.”

I cut myself a few times, took a few Sominex, and went to bed around 9:30. I didn’t care about the New Year. I didn’t care about watching the ball drop on TV. I didn’t care about eating Chinese food and staying up until midnight to ring 2002 in… I had nobody to experience it with anyway.

I hate everyone except my family. They’re the only ones who care. Not even God cares anymore.

me and parents

1/2/02.

I miss Dick. I want to call him, but I don’t know if I should because he’s the one who hung up on me. Therefore, he should call me back.

I have such a big pride issue. I feel like I will be giving in to some weakness I have for him and will therefore allow him to walk all over me. I don’t want that.

But I love him.

I think it is love. I imagine myself spending the rest of my life with him. I’m so scared that if I don’t spend the rest of my life with him then I won’t find anybody else and I’ll be lonely forever.

I don’t know what to do except cry. I don’t want to be alone. I’m so afraid to lose him. Will anybody ever love me like this again? Will I ever love again? What is love?

me2

1/7/02

Top Things That Are Bad About Dick:

  1. He’s pushy.
  2. More than half of my friends don’t like him and think I shouldn’t be with him.
  3. He doesn’t appreciate the things I appreciate.
  4. He criticizes me all the time.
  5. He has incredibly high expectations that I can’t live up to.
  6. He doesn’t know how to do anything domestic, such as laundry, ironing, or dishes.
  7. He can’t tolerate my mood swings.
  8. He thinks I’m trying to offend him when I wear something he doesn’t like.
  9. He has bad taste in movies and music.
  10. He doesn’t understand me.
  11. He is chauvinistic.
  12. His mother buys his clothes for him (he doesn’t know his own sizes).
  13. He drives crazy when he’s mad and won’t slow down when I ask him to.
  14. He gets mad over trivial things.
  15. He complains that I never call him, even though he knows I hate talking on the phone.
  16. He gets jealous easily.
  17. He thinks he should have more priority than my friends.
  18. I can’t act like myself around him.
  19. A lot of his friends are superficial, ignorant assholes.
  20. He gets mad when I don’t invite him out with my friends.
  21. He makes it a point to hang out with my friends without me, even though they’re MY friends.
  22. He gets horny and expects me to “take care of him,” because if I don’t, I don’t love him.
  23. He is trying to convince me to attend school somewhere nearby, even though I totally don’t want to.
  24. No one makes me feel as bad or guilty as he does.
  25. He can’t accept the fact that sometimes I have a bad day.
  26. He thinks I “can’t deal with life.”
  27. He’s arrogant.
  28. He thinks that just because a guy has a nice car and is attractive, he will have no problem getting a girlfriend.
  29. Whenever I tell him about another guy, the first two questions he asks are: “Is he bigger than me?” and “What kind of car does he drive?” Like it matters.
  30. He sees nothing wrong with women who dress like prostitutes, even though he wants me to dress appropriately for church.
  31. He thinks I’m “weird.”

Part 3 will be posted next Thursday, documenting when I made the best decision of my life: leaving Dick.

 

Introducing Dick, The Asshole

It’s October and I’m frankly tired of pink. It’s so overdone and I don’t think wearing pink really honors or helps breast cancer fighters. But that’s just cynical, awful me.

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The official color for the month is purple. I really would prefer the NFL ditch the pink gloves and make a monumental donation to the issue that so recently shamed them and continues to trouble them.

stop the violence

Domestic violence month is important to me. I’ve known more women affected by domestic and dating violence than breast cancer (but that doesn’t mean one issue is important than the other). I also personally knew a young woman whose life was stolen by an ex-boyfriend with a gun.

I was in an abusive relationship myself at one point. It became mildly physical only a couple of times. I was really lucky. Most of the relationship consisted of emotional and verbal abuse.

And you know what? I verbally and emotionally abused him too, in response to his consistent insults and controlling behavior. Because I thought, at 18 years old, that is what couples do. Couples fight. They don’t agree all the time. That mindset made it really difficult for me to recognize that what I was experiencing was abusive behavior.

Fortunately, I was able to leave the relationship without much consequence and I didn’t end up marrying him.

My favorite organizations that support domestic and dating violence victims are:

The Shannon Lee Meara Foundation – educating high school students about dating and domestic violence
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
New Hampshire Coalition for Domestic and Sexual Violence

Please donate if you can.  Here’s part 1 of my story.

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This is how I met Dick* The Asshole.

*name changed so he can’t sue me.

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Wednesday, 3/7/01 12:34 a.m.

I met someone. I met someone who is really nice and actually smells good, too. (I broke up with my last boyfriend because he had terrible hygiene. True story.) He might have a personality also… but I will have to get to know him a little better before I decide on that one.

His name is Dick. He is an average male height with black hair and mysterious brown eyes. He has a sly smile and a passive walk. He doesn’t stick out. He tries to blend in and not be noticed.

Yesterday we played pool. I thought I was okay at it, simply out of practice, until he taught me how to actually shoot. He kept criticizing my every move. I almost wanted to go somewhere and cry, but I held my own. His advice and constructive criticism were helpful. He said, “It doesn’t matter if you get the ball in, as long as you have a good shot.”

“I feel the same way,” I said. “I usually only play pool just to feel myself hitting the ball.”

“Me too,” he said. “I don’t really care about the game itself.”

He won all three games. But I suppose I’m just a beginner.

Then we went to dinner. We talked about religion and found that we have the same beliefs. We are both Christian. He was so excited that we have the same beliefs. I’m happy too, but even though I believe in God, I’m not that religious. That is, I don’t let religion take over my entire life. Perhaps I’m a hypocrite. I don’t know. But Dick is definitely one of those people where religion is like, his life.

Oh well. Maybe he can lead me closer to God. But yeah… we talked about religion and stuff and he is really, really nice. He paid for dinner and opened doors and all.

I am hopeful. Perhaps this will lead to something good.

Thursday, 3/15/01 7:55 a.m.

I don’t really know where to start. I was talking to Dick last night and we began talking about how some of our friends and family are going to hell because they don’t serve God and that we need to help them change.

This is what I hate most about my religion… changing everybody and realizing that a lot of people I know are going to hell. I can’t stand it. It makes me want to cast away my beliefs, reject everything that’s true and go to hell with them.

I got angry at Dick because he told me I need to lessen my association with my best friends because they are going to lead me into temptation. He said that I needed to tell them that they’re all wrong because they don’t believe in God. I got so angry… I told him I had to go. He wouldn’t let me go. He wouldn’t let me go…

He wanted to know what was wrong with me. I began to cry, saying it was too hard to be a Christian. That I couldn’t do it. That I just want it all to be easy again.

I am going to be hated by most everybody I know… and I don’t want that. I cried out of love for my friends, my family, and Dick. Even though he was making this so difficult and trying to make me speak through my tears, I loved him. He was trying to do something good for me. He was trying to encourage me. He said that he only wanted the best for me and didn’t want to see me fall into sin because I’m such a great person.

I cried and cried, but I loved him. His words encouraged me and made me feel so much better.

He said that no matter what, he and I would always be friends. Even if it doesn’t work out relationship-wise. He said he would always be there for me, day or night. He would be near me in a second if something went wrong.

I cried so much, and I think it was because I was angry, but weak with my love for him. I was totally helpless. I knew he was right.

Working at the Newspaper

abilene

6/13/07. 11:46

I am eating my lunch outside today, even though it’s a bit humid and cloudy. I have been going to lunch at different places in town or eating outside lately because the break room is so unpleasant. Same goes with the entire building- it smells like ass, there are cracks in the ceiling, and I think I might be breathing in mold. (Side note: black mold was later found in the building and had to be removed).

The building, in general, smells like old water damage (kind of a musty smell), body odor, and shit. Why would anybody want to eat their lunch in this kind of environment? It’s gross and can ruin your appetite.

6/15/07. 16:46

Today was all right. Writing down police reports is so boring and such a pain in the ass! The police department here sucks and they are too lazy and stupid to make copies for us. Instead, we have to sit there for hours copying shit down by hand. What a waste of time. I’ve only done it for two days and I’m sick of it already.

My boss thinks he’s hilarious. Yesterday he called PBS “The Communist Channel” and implied that women are raped and kidnapped because they wear revealing clothing. AWESOME.

He’s such a fucking idiot.

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6/18/07 17:42

I partially tore apart this beautiful journal today, and I feel awful about it.

What happened was I was covering the circus set-up this morning and I had absolutely no paper to write on- nothing! We ran out of reporter’s notebooks at work and the new ones hadn’t come in yet. I was a nervous wreck this morning because I was supposed to take pictures of the circus set-up, then run to some antique shops to interview their owners for some stupid Summer Fun Tab story. I hate tabs so much. They’re full of stories that just pander to the local businesses.

One antique shop owner was a complete BITCH to me today and almost made me cry. Apparently, two ads that she ran in our paper were wrong somehow and she felt like taking it out on me. I don’t make the ads. I have hardly anything to do with them anymore. FUCK OFF.

I felt like quitting today.

I also had no batteries for my recorder, which was great, plus the newspaper doesn’t supply them. All they supply are the reporter’s notebooks. I have to buy my own pens, tape recorder, batteries, and gas (they only reimburse 20 cents per mile, which is pathetic and makes it not even worth it to turn mileage sheets in). (Side note: the newspaper regularly disregarded labor laws, including not paying workers for overtime. This happened very often and I was regarded as a problem when I refused to work overtime without being paid.)

If I had my choice, I would have stayed and covered the circus all day. There were oodles of people to talk to and there was so much going on.

I can honestly say that I hate my job, but I don’t know what else to do.

I hate it! My editor is a sexist, homophobic idiot and everyone in the newsroom has this awful, defeatist attitude that I can relate to now. I don’t want to relate to it. The whole place is so fucking depressing!

The entire town seems to have that defeatist attitude as well. I wish they would wake up and smell the damn coffee.

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The First Time I Visited Kansas

Yesterday I received a Facebook message out of the blue from my college friend, Jared Fiske.  He said he was going through some old files on his computer and found something I wrote back in 2004. How random is that?!

Jared and I went to UMass Amherst together and became friends during our freshman college writing class. Jared was one of the few writers in that class I enjoyed reading (it was a required course for freshman and most of our classmates were only there because they had to be there).

Jared was and is a very talented musician. I remember being blown away when he first shared his lyrics and music with me. I think we ended up in few other English classes together and continued to share our writing with each other during our college years.

I was so glad to learn that Jared continues to make music and perform. Check out his website. His recent EP, The Twisted Man, is AMAZING. As I listen to it, I am reminded of what a great writer he is.

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Throwback to Jared in 2003 – with his guitar (as always).

Here is the piece Jared found. It’s about the first time I visited Kansas.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow*

Undated, circa 2004

Before leaving school for the summer, I was asked by several friends if I had any exciting vacation plans. When I told them I was going to Kansas, I received strange looks and questions like, “What the heck is in Kansas?” Well… there are a lot of things: cows, wheat, telephone poles, tornadoes, college football rivalries, and Sonic Drive-Ins. But seriously, I went to visit my boyfriend Greg’s family. Before this, I had never been farther west than New York.

Kansas wildlife

Before touching down in Wichita, I peered out the airplane window and saw miles and miles of green and gold squares divided by perfect straight lines. These were roads, which were mostly empty except for the occasional tiny pick-up truck. Then the landscape blended into an impressive, bustling city with buildings and sporadic traffic. I remembered Greg being amazed at the traffic reports on the news in Massachusetts, because Kansas, for the most part, doesn’t have traffic reports.

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The Mid-Continental Airport in Wichita is tiny compared to Boston’s Logan.  There is one terminal and 12 gates. It’s not a hassle to park and get in and out of there. When my Dad dropped me off at Logan, we were dodging buses and taxi cabs in the pickup/drop-off area.  In one swift movement, he hauled my suitcase out of the trunk and gave me a quick hug goodbye. I entered Terminal A to Boston’s crazy off-beat soundtrack– beeping and yelling away. It was nice to feel my heartbeat slow down when I got off the plane in Wichita.

I met Greg’s family and we drove out of the city. I was surprised how much Wichita reminded me of the suburbs of Boston. Somehow I got the idea that it would be a farm town (perhaps from the White Stripes song “Seven Nation Army,” where Jack White sings about going to Wichita and working the land). Businesses and billboards decorated each side of the highway.  One billboard in particular told me to “Fear Not… God Fights Your Battles,” citing a verse in Exodus. I snapped a picture.  It was something I would never see in my home state.

wheat

Soon I saw all the cows and farmland that everybody talks about. The sun was shining on the near-harvest wheat**, and it was absolutely stunning to see all these fields of gold. How Elysian, I thought. The simplicity and peace of this place was spiritually moving; proof that Kansas, being on a much higher sea level, must be closer to Heaven.  Even at night the stars are more apparent.  The Kansas state motto is “Ad Astra Per Aspera,” which means “To the stars through difficulty.” At first I wondered what was so difficult about it, but I think the point of the phrase is to always aspire to a higher place, even if the journey already feels quite finished. It makes sense when I recall that this is Amelia Earhart’s home state.

Driving across the great plain, one can see for miles in the distance. I ask Greg’s family about how many tornadoes they’ve seen, and only Greg’s mother has seen one. The natives don’t worry about tornadoes as much as one would think, and now I can understand why. First, the regular storms make themselves very obvious with dark, fast-moving clouds. Second, the view of the landscape goes on for miles, so if a tornado forms and it’s far enough away, you can sit and watch it on the porch until the sirens go off, telling you to take shelter in your basement.*** The warning system is also very good, compared to less predictable disasters such as earthquakes.

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We were handed the above card at the Warren Theater in Wichita when we bought movie tickets as the area was under a tornado watch.

One night Greg and I went to the Warren Theater in Wichita and had a good half hour before the movie started. A storm was brewing outside, so we sat in the parking lot after purchasing our tickets and watched it. There was a tornado watch, but nobody starts to worry until the weather service puts out an actual warning, which means that a tornado has been sited somewhere nearby. The sky was a dark green, and the clouds were moving in opposite directions. I was both terrified and fascinated. I wanted to run into the theater, but I was in such awe that I couldn’t bring myself to leave the car. The radio reassured us that there wasn’t enough rotation in the clouds for a tornado anyway. Lightning filled the sky cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground, and thunder crashed and roared. I’ve seen thunderstorms before, but nothing like this. The gods were certainly pissed off about something. The warning came out that a few tornadoes had touched down in Salina (about an hour and a half drive north of Wichita), and we ran into the theater as a near-biblical flood rained down upon us.

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The sun was setting as we approached the small town of Cunningham, population five-hundred and twenty-something. Greg’s family pointed to both ends of the town, which were made visible by the lights coming on in various homes. It looked about a square mile. In the center of town were grain elevators… otherwise known as “Kansas skyscrapers.” This is where the grain is stored throughout the year after it is harvested. Each town has them, and they are usually located right next to the train tracks where rail cars can load up directly and pay by weight.

I took one look at this and thought, “I’ve a feeling I’m not in Boston anymore.”*

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*After I moved to Kansas in 2006, I learned that people in Kansas HATE Wizard of Oz references. I became one of those people.
**Wheat is the dominant crop grown in Kansas, not corn. There are some corn fields, but they probably make up less than 20% of the fields you see in Kansas.
***This does not apply to most night and rain-wrapped tornadoes.

Top 40 Things To Do With Life

Each Thursday, I’m going to choose a random journal entry from my past and share it with you.

Not dated. From a notebook I kept during my freshman College Writing class in the Fall of 2001.

Here’s a pic of me in my Freshman dorm room. I’m 18 and pretty dumb. That’s Ewan McGregor from Moulin Rouge in the background, on my old desktop I only had the heart to throw out a year ago.


OMG eat a burger, bitch.

Top 40 Things To Do With Life

1. Not sell out and become a tool like most everyone else.
2. Travel lots & write about it.
3. Write something meaningful.
4. Get married if I’m in the mood.
5. Not have babies.
6. Indulge in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
7. Steal from Walmart as much as possible.
8. Continue to be active in community.
9. Adopt if I feel like it.
10. Stay beautiful gorgeous.
11. Read lots.
12. Learn new skills for shits and giggles.
13. Own a typewriter.
14. Maintain a healthy appetite.
15. Make awful ex-boyfriends regret the day they met me Get off meds.
16. Have good karma.
17. Get closer to God.
18.

The list ends there. I’m not sure if it’s because I ran out of time during an in-class exercise, or I got distracted.

I’ve accomplished most things on the list. The one thing I regret is not owning a typewriter. I need to get on that.

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