The beauty that emerges when you are finally heard.

During the Kavanaugh hearings, I emailed the Dean of Penn Law after some truly awful remarks from a professor were said about Dr. Ford. Because the professor was tenured, she continued to be employed (and I think still is) by the school, but as an explanation, it was said that her classes were not mandatory but elective.

To put a face to what this means, in the email I explained that my Peer at Penn could have elected to take the class, but I couldn’t choose whether or not he raped me. Long story short, we had a very long and wonderful phone call discussing how this is such a bigger issue than one single incident. That mental health as a whole is being ignored in the school and that is going to carry over to life after Penn Law. That you can do everything you can to prevent rape, but if and when it happens, it’s the environment you’re already in that will help determine whether a woman or man seeks help.

Credit where credit is due. Dean Ruger, thank you for listening. Not just to me, but to the countless others who I’m sure spoke with you.

I woke up to find this this morning:

https://www.thedp.com/article/2018/12/penn-law-first-mental-health-well-being-attorney-upenn

Don’t ever give up. Keep fighting.

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Break

It’s funny. My first post ever was about leaving my lawyer job for a “break.” I had no idea how long that break would last, but I knew without taking it, without that leap of faith, my already broken self would crumble into smaller pieces until I would just disappear. Take that as you will. That was on June 1, 2017.

The year and some change that followed was difficult, as many of you know, but full of many moments of.. just living. Of experiencing. Of being capable of feeling again- the good, the bad, the extremely ugly. All of the things that I had suppressed through my immersion into work and avoided through conscious avoidance. All of the things that are worthy of human experience and deserving of attention.

At the end of August of this year, 2018, I not only broke again, I crumbled. In an undated journal entry, I wrote:

“I don’t know why I’m on this earth any more. I don’t know why I exist. There is not much difference between my physical existence and the pen that is slowly moving in my hand. I am here to help others, but by failing to help myself, I have failed to help others and in turn, no one needs me or wants me. I am used to me not wanting me. But to not even feel like my perishing would be a disappointment to one person, this is new. I don’t need to be needed or need to be wanted, but I need to have meaning. Otherwise, why am I still fighting for myself? What is there to fight for? I am certainly not the light of anyone’s life at this point, and if for some reason I should become that, this overwhelming sense of darkness that inevitably overcomes me will make them walk away. It always does.”

I went on. I called a friend to come over that night and she did. I brushed it under the rug.

I joined the Beto for Senate campaign just a few days later. Everything turned around. I was needed. I was helpful. I was productive. And for a little bit, I was the light of some people’s lives.

For a little bit, the stress of the campaign was the fuel that kept my life going. Not always graceful, I pushed through with pride and joy. Somewhere along the line, however, real life… “real me”.. made my light flicker and other people took notice.

In the end I remember all of the beautiful faces of the campaign. The potential voters, the non-voters, the volunteers, and most of all the gorgeous faces of my teammates. The fellow warriors. The shared faces of confusion, love and determination.

I don’t know how much to write here or to not write here, because I think sometimes writing things down in a public manner seems like a “vindictive” thing to do. All I know is some of the highest highs I had during the campaign.. surrounded by people who I felt understood me. For the first time ever. Part of understanding me is understanding my lows. My failures. But also my deep empathy for others. I fuck up. A lot. I also trust that people are good on the inside. I know I am good deep down. I may not be great to myself, but when I can be, I am great to others.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my biggest struggles is understanding how someone so scarred could be lovable. I don’t mean always in the romantic sense, but in a more familial, friendship sense as well. I am beyond scarred. This is nothing new. When wounds have started to heal, somehow the stitches are ripped open. That being said, I have pushed and pushed to heal myself and move forward. I’ve done a pretty damn good job of it.

In the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the beauty of what was and will always be the Beto for Texas campaign 2018. We made something big. We created something beautiful. And by we, I mean every single person who is a part of the community that did this. It was an honor.

One thing I didn’t expect was the feeling I have right now. Feeling lucky to have made new beautiful friends, especially post-campaign, but also knowing that their gorgeous kindness is likely due to the beauty within them, and not because of a light within me. The light within me right now is flickering, and I’m at a loss of what to do.

During the campaign, when I lost grace, I also lost a friendship I thought I’d have for my entire life. I still can’t wrap my head around it, and I still don’t know why it hurts so badly. I think it’s because I let the friendship in and I knew I shouldn’t have. I know myself and I know better. I know I most likely did something to cause distrust, but I also know it was not intentional. I can’t be angry about it, but I am confused. It’s strange when you aren’t able to even speak to someone to express something. All I know is the worst feeling in the world is feeling silenced and helpless. I have a pit in my stomach every single day. I can’t shake it and I don’t know why. I’m “stronger” than that.

This friendship lost, other factors in my life right now, I am once again not much more than that pen I have now misplaced. Useful when those who need it need to get something done, express their feelings, or simply have a means of distraction. Aside from that, easily misplaced and of no use when the ink runs out.

On the night before Election Day, I told the out-of-state volunteers and the staff my story of how the election saved my life- win or lose. It did. Somehow during the election, with as much as I gained, I lost so much more.

Here’s to hoping.

Arson

I had presented myself with warning labels, and even presented some malfunctioning activity to give signs of what may lay ahead, and for some reason, he still proceeded, albeit with caution.

I had been given reason to believe that I’m not good enough, and and hadn’t been, enough, from the beginning. He had not given me reason, but I knew it. It was preordained – I. Am. Not. Good. Enough.

Of course this is false and, of course, it is unreasonable, but throughout my young..ish life my truth has become clouded by perception. There were reasons to know it would not be, it never was and never could be.

The irony that this is my only truth I choose to believe is not lost on me.

And so, I cashed in on my insurance policy. Burning up the possibility before undoubtably my strike of luck would end and my profits diminish. Fraud, is the technical term.

28

I never thought I’d have a birthday during which I could reflect and be certain that the year that preceded was better than the year before. A few weeks ago I was able to. I was moved to tears and filled with disbelief.

What goes up must come down is an adage I know to be true. Well, since the 4th, the marking of my survival, it has come down. It may be temporary, but the hurt is the same.

28, you are a cruel mistress. I said I wanted to know, but perhaps it was better being just a tad younger, none the wiser aNd willfully naive.

Cheers to finding out how much deeper the path will go, or seeing if I can make myself fly. It all works out in the end right? I guess that depends on how you want to market yourself.

The pick me up

Now call me controversial, but I am in the “not all drugs are bad” camp. Of course, I am not saying that I advocate heroin or the abuse of alcohol, but some addictive drugs just aren’t that bad. Shaking your head?

Exhibit A: Coffee. Gotcha!

If you don’t think coffee is a drug, you’re fooling yourself. It is addictive, alters your mood, and if you’re like me, can cause withdrawals when you go too long without it. Not into my drug talk? That’s ok. I’m not sure I’m loving where this is going either. It’s just a way to start writing as I currently sip on my non-fat cappuccino turned 1% fat cappuccino because they ran out of non-fat, or so the barista very nervously told me. (For the record, I was more than gracious and willing to accept my 1% of fat)

Note: From now on, I will be saying covfefe because it is more entertaining and will create a spell check game for me as I write this.

Anyways, covfefe is one of those things for me that I “wish” I could quit drinking it, but at the same time, is it really harming me if I don’t? Yes, I just paid $3 for a cappuccino that I probably didn’t need, but it was delicious, it allowed me to use the wifi at these awesome local coffee shop (and it doesn’t hurt that the proceeds here go towards ending human trafficking), and gave me an activity. The boost of energy also doesn’t hurt. Plus, I could quit if I wanted to… Eventually.

The point of the matter is, covfefe gives me a sense of comfort. No matter where I am, the state of mind I’m in, or the state I’m in for that matter, drinking a good cup of coffee gives me a sense of belonging. Belonging to that moment in time and to my routine. When done right, it is a relaxing moment in time that is just for me. When done wrong, it is a rushed chugging of burnt shit that will likely give me a stomach ache, but at least gives me a bit of a  boost. I guess not as comforting, but still comfortably part of my routine as well.

About ten minutes ago, I was sitting here at this covfefe shop, talking to the barista (because let’s face it, I talk to everyone) and giving him my unsolicited life story. Part of said unsolicited life story included how I just finished my three-month stint working in-house counsel for a company and am now looking for a new legal position. He talked a little bit about his wife being from Maine and we bonded over the bitter cold of Boston. I took my covfefe with 1% milk fat and sat down at the bar to begin my job hunting research. About two minutes later, this beautiful woman close to my age looked over to me and asked if she heard correctly that I was looking for a job in the legal field. I said yes, to which she stated that her boyfriends firm is looking. I sent her my resume and our conversation changed to talking about different yoga spots.

This conversation with this woman (who is still sitting next to me.. #meta) was so comforting for my soul. After a rough Friday which spilled into the weekend, a strangers kindness, even if self-motivated, was just the boost that I needed.

The thing is, in today’s American world, I constantly feel like we are taught that we don’t need anyone else to have worth. That if you love yourself, you’ll do great, and love and support from others is an added bonus. Well folks, maybe we don’t need it, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt to have it. Like covfefe, it’s comforting, it feels natural and it’s reassuring. When you drink a cup of covfefe, for me, it feels like my day might turn around. It gives me hope that this boost might be just what I needed.

The kindness of the beautiful woman next to me just gave me that same hope. In a way, it was a nod of approval that I belong in this “community” of humanity. As much as I was fooled by the last guy, this woman’s smiling face sent me the comfort I needed today. She may not follow through and I’ll probably never see her again. Human interaction is addictive. You might say I don’t need it, but I think it’s only natural that we seek approval from others. It’s just a matter of finding it in the right places. So thank you covfefe shop woman, for taking 4 minutes out of your day to give me your email address, some yoga recommendations, and a much needed smile.

How to go from SOLO to YOLO

(so sorry for the title…)

So, part of why I moved home to Houston was because I missed my family and friends here. While ultimately, I have many beloved friends from my time in the chilly northeast, that wasn’t always the case. Many days, when I finally would have a day off, I would find myself alone and without friends to necessarily look to to fill my time. This meant that (1) I had to find a way to be comfortable enjoying parts of life on my own that, in the past, may have felt uncomfortable doing solo and (2) finding ways to make friends and create my own social sphere. Sure, I had my undergraduate network and Penn Law crowd to lean on, but I would have to say that some of my best friends came from actively pursuing friendships and putting myself out there. I frequently am asked how I know so-and-so and my answer is just “around” or something of the sort, which oftentimes results in a look of shock. So, dear friends, I decided to put together a list of ways to not only be happy when you don’t have those friendships developed yet and want to enjoy a day outside of the house as well as unconventional ways that I have made friends outside of the work/school environment. For many of you, this may seem like common sense, but for us younger folk, some of this can be a challenge to do solo. You can do it!

Solo Activities and Adventures

  • Market Yourself. Always wanted to learn to cook? Already know but want to try that new recipe you found and have been putting off? Find a fun recipe that probably requires going to a specialty market and go on an adventure! There are so many amazing middle eastern/Asian/Italian/etc. markets out there waiting to be explored! Even if you are not cooking, heading out and perusing the aisles makes for a great afternoon and if you’re one of those millennial instagrammers I’ve heard so much about, it can make for some great eye candy.
  • Lose Yourself. At least for a couple of hours! Lose yourself and immerse your mind into the fabulous world of the cinema! Can’t find someone to see that movie you’ve been wanting to see? Who the eff cares. Go see it! I promise, after you try it once, you’ll never be scared to do it again. I especially love doing a matinee at smaller, independent theaters. In Boston, I love the Coolidge Corner Theater, the Philadelphia Film Society Roxy Theater in Philly, and the River Oaks Theater in Houston. These wonderful places are made for those who love the movies and can allow you to get out of the house. Yes, you can Netflix at home, but believe me, it’s not the same when you need a mental break.
  • Send Yourself Flowers. Or at least buy yourself some. Having something to add life to your home never ever hurts. I personally love going to Trader Joes and taking a stab at making flower arrangements.
  • Think it Out. Journal! Don’t know how? Just start writing. Best thing about it is, you can journal from anywhere. Home, coffee shop, subway.. great way to get out of the house and have some alone time! When I was particularly bored, I purchased this book which provides great writing prompts. Highly recommended!
  • Stretch it Out. The best solo yet surrounded by other people activity there is. Simply put. If you’re nervous about trying yoga, I highly recommend places like Black Swan in Texas, which focus on community atmospheres.
  • Get Lost. Go on a day trip on your own! In the city, in the country, wherever! By foot, by car, go on your own. You’ll see more than you could ever imagine!
  • Dine like You’ve Never Dined Before. Never try a place because you heard it’s impossible to get reservations or the line is too long? Well, if it’s just you, I bet you you can get that solo seat at the bar and dine like royalty.

So You’re Sick of Yourself and Ready to “See Other People”:

  • Be an Alcoholic. Just kidding. Go to your local bar on your own. Go just at happy hour or at a slower time of day where it’s quiet enough to talk but there will likely be others sitting at the bar. Nurse a drink. Keep your ears open and if there’s a break in the conversation or you hear something of interest, don’t be scared to chip in. A “pardon my interruption, I’m bored” mind if I join, surprisingly works. Just don’t say it in a creepy way. I literally have an entire friends group from doing this. Also, don’t be scared of chipping in in group conversations. If you get the vibe you’re not wanted, no worries. Back off. But, most of the time, people are more open than you would think. Just don’t be creepy!
  • Talk too much. This is a kill two birds with one stone scenario. For those who have always wanted to work on their foreign language skills, language exchanges like Conversation Exchange or Language Exchange Community offer a great way to meet someone new AND to improve your language skills. Here’s how it generally works: You sign up online and indicate what interests you have, what languages you speak, your availability, and your proficiency level. Then, most sites will help you match with someone with similar interests and proficiency level – but in the language you are trying to learn. You then meet up, you know you have something in common, and you talk about it! Half in your language, half in his or hers. Boom! New friend opportunity and learning!
  • Be a Book Worm. Join a book club. Just do it.
  • Be a Dog. Have a pup? Hit up your local dog park. Talk to someone! Human someone I mean. It’s a great way to have conversation, even if it ends at that.
  • Alumni Associations. Become involved with your local chapter of your alumni association. It’s a great resume booster, great way to meet people you have something in common with, and surely will keep you busy. No association in your area? Contact your alma matter and see if you can start a chapter!
  • Expand Your Network. Sure, most of us dread networking events. A lot of us bring a “wing man” so we don’t have to suffer through them alone. Don’t! Go on your own! If you’re not looking to change a job immediately, see if you have anything in common with anyone there. Whether it be a mentor or a new friend, no time like when you’re not looking for help to make connections and work on these relationships.
  • Add Some Sporty Spice to Your Life. Social Sports Leagues are a great way to meet people that are looking to make friends as well. Leagues like Better Off Bowling and ClubWaka are chalk-full of others who are ready to drink some beer and “play” sports. Teams are always looking for “free agents” and it’s a great way to get out of the house and have a weekly event to look forward to.

Some rules when it comes to trying to make new friends:

  • Never bond over negativity .I fall into this trap way too often. I’m at a party or event, not thrilled to be there and just want someone else to talk to and we end up bonding by either making fun of others or complaining about our surroundings. This is not making friends, it’s making negative energy. It will not ultimately lift your spirits and it certainly will not make for a healthy, long lasting relationship.
  • Show up.
  • Lose that Insecurity. I know I’m naturally an extroverted person. That being said, I get nervous doing this stuff too. But, when it comes to turning strangers into friends, the worst that can happen is you fail. You know what that means? They’re still strangers.
  • Follow Through. Just like with dating. Meet someone you like? Don’t be scared to say, “hey, it was great meeting you. Would it be alright if we go on a “friend date”” sometime?” And then call them! Make concrete plans. Brunch, meet at a dog park, whatever!
  • Don’t Settle. Most importantly, you know your worth. You know that even if you can’t find close friends, you can be happy on your own. If that isn’t true, work on this. If it is, don’t spend all of your time with “new friends” just because you finally met new people. If they’re not meant to be your friends, don’t force the situation.

I hope this list can help some of you get started! The point is, if you’re feeling down about being alone, there are solid, concrete steps you can take to better your situation. It is OKAY to enjoy being alone. It is also OKAY if you hate it. Either way, you.can.do.it.

Draining the Reflection Pool

It’s funny, I usually have a lot to say on New Year’s Eve about the past year and hopes for what is to come. I won’t act high and mighty about the person I am today versus the person I “was before” and say this year is so different. The fact is, it is different, yes. But, I truly believe I was a good person in past years and was highly self aware. I knew what accomplishments I had made and what I struggled with. I do know that this year I’ve made a huge change and that in many others’ eyes, this change probably trumps most others I could have made in the past.

I’ve been struggling a bit during the past few days with some of the comments I’ve been receiving on my posts. All have been so truly kind and have praised me and my openness. Many stated that I’ve seen the light and am going in the right direction. With the intention solely to be to air my musings and not at all to belittle any of these kind comments, I do want to say a few things about why they’ve made me uncomfortable.

For me, at least, this big change in how I live my life was brave yes, but a “seeing the light moment”… maybe not. I truly believe that if I had been even mildly happy at a firm in Boston or even one thing had been just not quite as bad, I’d be laying in my luxury high rise apartment procrastinating bringing my dog out in the freezing weather and being stressed about whether I really needed to go out for NYE tonight. It was the fact that every single thing happened the way it did, the fact that I had no one and no thing to hold onto anymore, the fact that this slow progression into misery had suddenly accelerated over the course of six months that I knew I needed to make a change. Almost a year earlier, when studying for the bar, I distinctly remember someone Asking why I wasn’t also taking the Texas bar. I responded I would never in million years (or at least the 5 I’d have to wait out before waving in) return to houston.

So, anyways,It wasn’t necessarily seeing a light or corporate lifestyle vs happiness and I chose happiness, it was I had no other option if I was going to keep going. I’m not saying suicidal, at all, but I, for the first timE, could truly understand how someone could be. I saw that Houston had a support system that Boston did not. I do think if I could have somehow been offered a similar position in Houston that could’ve happened immediately, I probably would’ve taken it. And I probably wouldn’t have been as happy as I am now, but I wouldn’t have been drowning.

So, the thing is, for some I do think it’s happiness vs corporate/money. For me, it was misery vs. life with some speckles of joy in it. In the end, I, thus far, have been given the gift of a life bursting with joy. I think the reason I’ve been struggling with the comments is that come this new year, I’ll be applying for positions in big firms again. I’d be glad to be making money again. My hours probably won’t be great, at least for now, but the rest of my life is. Before I moved home, if one little thing had been different, I would’ve been able to stay. But one little thing wasn’t different, so I needed to leave. That required changes to every single thing in my life.

As I digress, I simply mean to say that I think the reason I have been uneasy with all comments saying that money isn’t everything etc etc, is because if I choose to go back to a more corporate work environment, I don’t want to feel like a fraud or like I chose to give up my happiness. I know I can’t have it all, but I can also start a career with a different mindset. A job where I have boundaries. I have broken the golden handcuffs. It will be different knowing that misery isn’t the only option. If I make mistakes this year, they’re my mistakes to make. In the past, I’ve made mistakes and gone down paths because it felt required, not because I chose to.

So, I think I’ve done enough reflecting that I don’t need to do anymore just because it’s New Year’s Eve. I’m going to the lakers/rockets game tonight with my boyfriend and cooking some crab cakes. We might be asleep before the ball drops and that’s a-okay.

Happy New Year’s from my family to yours!