Thought Catalog

He’s Not Going To Change His Mind

Posted: 17 Jul 2015 10:44 PM PDT


You learned at an early age how important it is to listen. It wasn’t just the act of silence while another person speaks — it was being an active participant. Looking at them. Hearing them. Seeing them. Being engaged with the conversation.

“Are you listening to me?”
“Hey, listen to me!”

So you would. Or, you’d try. Honestly, you weren’t always good at it. Your mind often feels like a horse racing field, so much dust being kicked up and movement, it’s hard to stay focused. Stillness, you realize, is not something you were born knowing how to do. You’ve had to train. You’ve had to practice.

You’ve had to listen.

And so you do. You look people in the eyes when they speak and make mental notes to store away. They are upset about this or they love a band — you remember. Stow it away in the deep recesses of your brain in case it ever becomes information you’ll need.

You start to close your eager mouth. Fight your impulse to interrupt, though sometimes, you still do. You just have so much to say, thoughts that never quite stay inside. They come bursting out with an excitement. You’re always bursting, running, circling that track with a speed others can’t always understand.

So maybe it isn’t that shocking that you don’t listen to what he says. Not really. He warned you. He told you. Your friends prepare to villainize him, but they can’t. You tell them not to. Because he isn’t the bad guy.

Maybe you are.

The one who refused to listen.

You convinced yourself he was being dishonest, perhaps from fear or an addiction to detachment. Or perhaps you foolishly hoped he would just change his mind. That’s how it happens in the movies, right? They change their mind. They fall in love. They give some dramatic bullshit monologue in airports, “It was you! It was you all along!”

But that’s not what life is. And you knew that.

You knew that people rarely change their minds. We are creatures set in habit and routine, change isn’t a process we are used to. And when we do? It doesn’t happen overnight. We evolve slowly. Too slowly for this. You know he will not come around simply because he has kissed you and held you. He will not go back on his word.

He warned you.

So you fall into regret and self-blaming because you didn’t listen. You forgot.

But darling, it’s okay. We all forget sometimes — we’re human.

Next time, you decide, you will listen. Even when it hurts. Because it’s better than breaking your own heart. TC mark

My Childhood Home Movies Are Being Used To Torment Me And I Don’t Know Who’s Sending Them (Finale)

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 04:53 PM PDT

Flickr, Cam Evans
Flickr, Cam Evans

Read part 4 here.

I ran three red lights on my way to the old house on Turner Street where I grew up. How I wasn't pulled over is some kind of miracle because I was doing easily 15 over the speed limit but the important part is that I wasn't pulled over, I didn't pass a single cop the whole time. Good thing, too, because the very first DVD had laid out the rules — no cops.

The old neighborhood was just as I remembered it: small, dirty, and depressing as hell. Low-income housing seemed to have sank even lower in the 10 years since I'd moved away.

My car screamed into the driveway of the little yellow tinderbox. There weren't any other cars parked outside; a sadly sagging FOR SALE sign was jammed into the badly-tended lawn, faded to almost white by the sun.

Now that I was here it occurred to me I'd have to actually go inside. My stomach lurched violently.

I was going to have to go into that house, into that bathroom where Clay stole my innocence over and over again. I was going to have to face whoever was sending the DVDs. My only comfort was that I knew it couldn't be Clay; he'd passed away in 2010. Brain aneurysm. Dropped dead in the middle of Home Depot while shopping for a new power drill.

I attended his funeral because he was my step-dad and Mom needed me there. She didn't know what he'd done and I couldn't remember, but the next day I went back to the graveyard alone. I stared at his grave for a very long time before gathering all the phlegm I had in my throat and spitting on the fresh dirt.

I hadn't known why I’d done that. Now I do.

I took a deep breath, steeled my nerves, and went inside.

The front door was unlocked; it was late afternoon but dreary-grey outside. No power, so the house was dark and every shadow felt ominous. I repressed the urge to call out "Hello?" like the dumb girl in a horror movie.

I crept quietly up to the bathroom and found I was wrong —- there was power. A sliver of light shone from the crack at the bottom of the door. That made sense, Gretchen and Erin had been lit in each of the videos. It also meant she was in there.

I tried the doorknob. Locked.

Since when had the bathroom door being locked ever mattered?

I felt along the top of the doorframe for the slim metal key. Wouldn't you know it, there it was, just where Clay always left it. When I found his hiding spot I started throwing the key away but it didn't matter because they kept appearing, like he had a stash of them or something.


I slid the key into the hole on the metal doorknob and heard the familiar click of the lock disengaging. Slowly, carefully, I opened the door.

Behind a MacBook propped on some old plastic crates and a strategically-placed floodlight sat Erin. The ski-cap was gone but she was wearing Gretchen's old glasses, the wireframe ones; they made her eyes look like pinpricks. Erin has perfect vision so I knew she probably couldn't see a thing and I was right — she started thrashing violently against the chair, mistaking me for her captor.

"It's me, Erin, it's Amanda," I whispered, unsure where said captor was. I moved towards her and noticed that iMovie was pulled up on the screen of the MacBook. Must've been how they were making the DVDs.

Hearing my voice made Erin stop, then shake her head violently. She tried to speak but the duct tape kept her voice muffled. I couldn't understand a word she was saying.

Her wrists were tied behind her with that yellow plastic-y rope you buy when you tie stuff down in a moving van. The skin beneath it was rubbed raw, red and chafing.

"I'm gonna get you out of here," I said in a hushed voice, but before I could look for something to cut through the rope I heard,

"Well, aren't you a good friend."

I turned around and for a moment I couldn't see anything but a dark shape in the doorway; the floodlight was too bright. Then it went out and as my eyes adjusted I saw her.


She was dressed normally now, just a plain pink t-shirt and jeans — no glasses or duct tape. Her bad eye sagged but beneath the destroyed scar tissue of her face, she was smiling, holding the unplugged cord of the floodlight.

"Gretchen?" I said, because I could think of nothing else to say.

"Oh, so you DO recognize me," she said, sticking out her lower lip. "I'm shocked. I mean, I've been sending these DVDs for a few days now but you never showed up so I was starting to suspect you didn't even remember who I was."

"Of course I recognize you," I said, stunned.

"Really? Because I think I put on a pretty good show but you didn't show up like Prince Fucking Charming to save ME." Gretchen gestured vaguely towards Erin with the end of the cord. "I had to up the ante and bring this one out here to get any sort of action out of you."

"I didn't know where you were." I stepped closer to her, wanting to put distance between Gretchen and Erin. Gretchen made a clucking noise with her tongue and produced a small black handgun from the back pocket of her jeans.

"Don't move," she said, pointing it at me. "Not another step."

Have you ever had a gun pointed at you? Your stomach goes all cold. It feels like the bottom has dropped out of your world and you're stuck in a freefall. But I didn't have time to be scared because it was Gretchen, Gretchen who'd been sending the DVDs and had never been in any danger at all and was clearly out of her god damn mind.

"I'm sorry I didn't come sooner," I said, trying to make my voice soothing, placating. "I didn't recognize the bathroom until yesterday and then you told me to wait for one more, remember?"

"You expect me to believe that?" she scoffed. "This bathroom was your fucking nightmare, Amanda, come on. Don't fuck around with me. I know you better than that."

"I'm telling you the truth." I kept my eyes on her face and tried not to look at the gun. "I repressed it, blocked it or something. I didn't even remember — remember what had happened here."

Her face softened a little but she didn't put the gun down.

"Do you remember what you did to me?" Gretchen asked quietly. "Do you remember this?" She touched the burn scars, the skin near the corner of her sagging eye.

"Not until you sent today's DVD," I said, and it was the truth.

Gretchen stayed overnight for New Year's Eve 1998. Clay and Mom had some stupid office party to go to so we were left home alone with popcorn and some movies from Blockbuster. He had the nerve to say he "trusted" us because we were such "big girls" now. Fucker even winked at me like the secret we shared was a tasty one.

That's probably the only reason I told her.

"If I tell you something, do you promise not to tell anyone else?" I asked hesitantly. We were watching "Balto", one of my favorites, but I could hardly pay attention.

"You can tell me anything," Gretchen said, squinting at the screen. "You know, I think that goose is the fat detective from 'Roger Rabbit'."

I paused the movie. She glanced at me, about to protest, then saw that I was chewing on my thumbnail. It was one of my tells when I was upset; that winter, I had chewed both of them down to the quick.

"What's wrong?"

I waited a moment, my throat working as I tried to get the words out, then suddenly I was crying, great heaving sobs bursting out of me like gunfire.

Gretchen put her arms around me and stroked my hair and soon enough I told her everything.

The next morning, I woke up much earlier than usual to find Gretchen missing. Clay and Mom were sleeping off the New Year's festivities so I snuck quietly around the house trying to see where she'd went. Her ski-cap was missing and so were her shoes.

Puzzled, I looked out the living room window to see if she was playing outside or something and there she was, standing next to Clay's Camaro. She was holding Clay's video camera, too, the big bulky one that recorded straight to VHS tapes. It was pointed at her face; she was saying something to it.

I slipped my parka over my nightgown and hurried outside. If she broke that thing I'd be in some serious shit.

"Gretchen, what are you doing?" I called from the steps. She glanced up, eyes wide behind her glasses.

"Oh dang, you weren't supposed to see this yet!" she complained. "It was gonna be a surprise!"

"What are you doing?" I repeated as I hurried across the cold pavement to meet her in the driveway. Gretchen turned the camera off and set it gingerly in the frosty grass.

"I'm blowing up Clay's car," she said, face beaming.

"You're — you're WHAT?" I looked at the rag in her hand and for the first time noticed the can of gasoline at her feet; it was the one Clay used to fuel up the lawn mower.

"With this," she said, waving the damp rag in my face. It reeked of gas. "I saw it in a movie. You soak some cloth in gasoline, stick it in the gas tank, light it, then — ka-blooey!"

"Gretchen, that's crazy," I said, shocked. I wasn't sure what I'd expected after telling her but not… this.

"He deserves it," Gretchen said firmly. "You told me what he's been doing to you, and we're just kids, no one will believe us over him. He'll win. This way, he loses SOMETHING."

She paused, thinking, then handed me the rag.

"You should do it. You should light it, you should be the one who does it."

"I don't want to do it," I insisted, trying to give the rag back, but Gretchen wouldn't take it.

"You have to. You'll feel better."

It was something about the way she said that, I still don't know what it was but I felt a vital part inside myself snap.

"Don't you get it, you dummy?" I cried, throwing the rag back at her. I threw it hard, harder than I should've, and it hit her in the face, covering one of her eyes. "I'm not going to feel better! I'm never going to feel better, I'm going to be broken for the rest of my life and nothing can change that and this is a STUPID FUCKING IDEA!"

Gretchen took the rag off her face and stared at me, hurt.

"I'm doing this for you," she said, sounding confused.

"I don't WANT you to do ANYTHING for me!" I screamed. It was coming out, all the anger and fear and self-loathing and it was directed at Gretchen which wasn't fair but it's what was happening. "We're only friends because I had to move to this shithole neighborhood and someday I'm going to go somewhere else and I'm never going to think about you ever again!"

She looked at me for a long time, like she was waiting for me to take it all back.

I didn't.

"Fine," Gretchen said at last, turning a light shade of pink beneath her freckles. "Fine." She looked down at the rag in her hand and seemed to make a decision. She fished one of Clay's cigarette lighters from her pocket and clicked it to life, intending to set the rag on fire. I guess she meant to throw it at me.

"Wait!" I cried, but it was too late.

The rag caught quickly but so did Gretchen. Her skin erupted in flames where I'd thrown the rag at her, most of the left side of her face. She began screaming. I've never heard a sound like that, before or after.

It didn't take long for her hair to go up, too, and she was just standing there, flailing, so I did the only thing I could do once my panic-stricken body decided to listen to me: I threw her down in the frosty grass of my front lawn, face first, and started slapping madly at her smoldering hair.

It just happened so fast. Mom heard us screaming and came running outside; after a brief moment of shock she reemerged with a wet towel which she threw over Gretchen, putting out the flames at once. Clay followed shortly after her and stomped out the burning rag where Gretchen had dropped it on the driveway. He looked at the rag, at Gretchen, at the open gas tank of his car. Looked at me. Then he went inside and called the police.

"You let them take me away," Gretchen said now in the bathroom of my old house. She was still pointing the gun at me but had lowered it slightly. "I went to the hospital and then they sent me to a different hospital, a crazy person hospital, and you let them take me."

"I was just a kid," I said weakly.

"And what the fuck was I?" she demanded, raising the gun again. "I was a kid too, for god's sake, I was just trying to help you and you could've told them about Clay but you DIDN'T, Amanda, you just let them take me!"

I didn't say anything. What was there to say? She was right.

"And the worst part is," Gretchen said grimly, "that you visited me once. ONCE. In six fucking years."

"Clay wouldn't let me," I said in a small voice.

"Yeah right. You just didn't want to. Admit it. You said what you really thought that day in the driveway, say it now. You didn't want to see me because we weren't ever really friends."

"That's not true." My throat felt like it was closing up; tears stung hot in my eyes. "I didn't mean what I said, I was just upset and — and fucked up — of course you were my friend, Ducky, you were my best friend."

"Don't fucking call me that!" she screamed.

I winced but went on.

"I visited you the first week in the hospital because Clay was at work and I had bus fare but that was all I could do," I explained, trying not to cry. "He was watching me like a hawk, said I shouldn't hang out with the girl who tried to kill him and Mom backed him up and there was nothing I could do!"

Gretchen didn't say anything. She waited for me to go on.

"And then high school happened and I had to get a job to help out with the house and I just — I just got so — and then it got to where it was easier not to think about it, you know? Because he'd finally stopped, you scared him enough that I think he knew you knew and he STOPPED and eventually it was like it didn't happen and—” I drifted off, helpless.

"And when you moved out?" she asked, gun still pointed at me.

"I just wanted to get away from here," I said weakly. "I had to. I had to get away from this house."

"Like I said you would." Gretchen's mouth was a thin, grim line.

"I did come," I insisted. "I came to the hospital on my way out of town but you were so out of it, Gretchen, you wouldn't even look at me. You don't even remember. So I left, yeah, you're right. But it wasn't to get away from you. It was never that."

Gretchen let out a bark of humorless laughter.

"Seriously? You think I'm going to buy that bullshit? Please. You know what I think?" she said. "I think you didn't want to see me because you couldn't bear to look at what you did." She didn't gesture to her face but I knew that's what she meant, the destroyed flesh and drooping eye.

"I didn't get that gasoline out, Gretchen," I explained softly. "I'll take the blame for a lot of this but let's be fair: YOU did that. And you could've killed all of us, you know, that car could've taken out half the block."

"Now you sound like my fucking therapist," she said, and let out another humorless laugh. There was a pause; Gretchen looked at me, then Erin, then raised the gun higher, leveling it at my face. "How about I make us even? Wreck all that prettiness with a nice big hole through one of your cheeks?"

I froze, unwilling to say anything that might anger her more.

"16 years, gone," she spat. "16. More than half of my life. And all I've got to show for any of it is this awful fucking face."

Gretchen cocked the gun. I felt my limbs go watery.

She paused, then looked past me at Erin. And then she did the worst thing yet: she smiled.

"You can have her," Gretchen said, then put the barrel in her mouth and pulled the trigger.

That was more than two years ago. Two years since Gretchen sprayed her blood and brains across the flower-and-vine wallpaper in the room where my step-dad used to rape me but I still see it in my nightmares. Sometimes they're both there, Clay and Gretchen, laughing at me. She holds the gun while Clay does what he does. It always ends the same way: she eats the bullet and I wake up screaming.

Erin and I don't speak anymore — well, no more than the polite "hey how are you" on Facebook or an occasional "like" on one of our pictures. It's the 21st century way of ending a friendship, I guess.

I try not to think about it but my therapist says that's not right, it's what caused me to repress all these memories in the first place. I tried to explain to him the thing about avoiding sharp teeth but I'm supposed to work through it. So this is me, I suppose, working through it.

He also says it's not my fault. None of it — Clay, Gretchen, it wasn't my fault. I didn't ask to be raped. I didn't put the lighter in Gretchen's hand. Or the gun, for that matter.

I don't believe him.

They found a box of home movies in my old bedroom. I think Mom must've left them behind when she and Clay moved out in 2007. Gretchen found them after being released from the mental hospital — I guess she just went straight to the house on Turner Street — and that's how the whole thing started. They've been sitting in my hall closet ever since.

For some reason, tonight, I've decided to watch them. All of them.

Who knows how many sharp teeth I'll find. How many times I'll get bitten by the barbs of my past. But it's something I have to do. Friendship bracelets and baseball games and teen magazines and flowers being choked by weeds… I need to live it all again. It's the only way to leave my poisonous childhood behind.

The only thing I'm really afraid of — really, truly terrified of — is what else I'm going to remember. TC mark

6 Extremely Scary Haunted Locations In Ohio

Posted: 17 Jul 2015 09:08 AM PDT

1. Satan's Hollow — Blue Ash, OH

YouTube / "Believe" A Paranormal Experience
YouTube / “Believe” A Paranormal Experience

Known as Cincinnati’s portal to hell, this site is actually located just fifteen minutes away from my hometown. I have always been way too creeped out by it to ever actually scope it out, though (also I’m pretty sure it is trespassing). The "hollow" itself is actually a series of sewers that lead to the infamous "altar room." It is here where cultists supposedly sacrificed animals, and eventually a human, all in the name of Satan. Apparently their activities managed to open a “portal to hell,” which summoned Satan himself as well as a gatekeeper of sorts known as “The Shadow Man." Legend states that the Shadow Man still patrols the tunnels.

People claim to hear screams echoing throughout the sewers, as well as seeing floating faces near and inside the tunnel system. The area is so notorious that David Scott of the Illinois Paranormal Research Association visited this site for his YouTube show “Believe.”


2. Mansfield (Ohio State) Reformatory — Mansfield, OH


Built in the late 1800s as a rehabilitation center for first-time criminal offenders, the “reformatory” soon developed a reputation for being a place filled with rampant abuse.

As the facility aged, more than a few people died grisly deaths within its walls. Ghost hunters claim to frequently hear footsteps around the whole building, see “shadow people” wandering about, and sense angry (maybe dangerous?) presences. Perhaps one of the most notorious locations on the site is “The Hole” a tiny holding area for inmates who were misbehaving. Countless prisoners took their own lives in these chambers. According to legend, after one prison riot, over 150 inmates were crammed into these tiny cell blocks, and at least one was murdered with his corpse unceremoniously hidden under the bed.

A former prisoner talked about his time in the prison.

Understandably, many of the spirits here are incredibly hostile. A “Munroe Falls Paranormal Society” video shows a Reformatory tour guide talking about a time where he was physically assaulted by a spirit while giving a tour.

Other haunted areas in the building include the infirmary, the chapel, the cell blocks, and the administrative areas.

“I was showing the last handful of people around on a ghost hunt and we got up into this area and I didn’t feel anything, didn’t seem like anything was going on, and I’m just standing there in the main hallway and next thing I know I am punched in the left kidney, and pushed down on the ground, it left a bruise.”

Fun fact: the Reformatory was the filming site for the popular movie “Shawshank Redemption.”


3. Majestic Theatre — Chillicothe, OH

Flickr / CharmaineZoe's Marvelous Melange
Flickr / CharmaineZoe’s Marvelous Melange

During the Spanish flu epidemic this theatre was used as a temporary morgue for the dead bodies. Embalmers would work on the stage, dumping the blood of the victims out an adjacent alley that is still referred to as “blood alley.”

Guests claim to see a man in a top hat and dark suit float down the aisles, and multiple patrons have claimed to witness a dead body appear on stage. The ghost of a girl has also been seen putting on makeup in the dressing rooms.

The theater continues to operate to this very day!

4. Gore Orphanage — Vermilion, OH

Wikimedia / JoshH21
Wikimedia / JoshH21

Subject of a 2015 film, the “orphanage” is considered one of the most haunted sites in the midwest. Legend states that two parents founded the orphanage after their own children died, but it soon closed due to financial troubles. The orphanage reemerged a few years later, but a spiteful man who despised children set fire to the building and it burnt to the ground.

People say that you can hear the screams of the burning children when passing near the site, and rumors have surfaced that satanists have used the area as a place to conduct rituals. Mysterious figures and audio sounds have been reported frequently in the area.

On the other hand, there is also quite a bit of skepticism with these stories. No credible historical evidence has surfaced that suggests there was ever even an orphanage in the area, and many claim that the whole story comes from the name of a road called “Gore Orphanage.”

5. Franklin Castle — Cleveland, OH

Wikimedia / Cricchetti
Wikimedia / Cricchetti

Franklin Castle was built in the late 1800s by German immigrant Hannes Tiedemann. Within a few years of its completion, however, four of his children and mother had all died within its walls, leading many to theorize that the deaths were not of “natural causes.” When Tiedemann himself died in 1908, nobody was left alive in his family to receive his inheritance.

Visitors claim to hear babies crying through the house, and the spirit of Tiedemann’s wife is said to occupy a room that is consistently ten degrees colder than the rest of the house.

Rumors have surfaced recently that the building’s new owner is looking to restore the building and use it for a personal residence. Adventurous guy 💀.

6. Old Chestnut Grove Cemetery — Cleveland, OH

YouTube / Christine B.
YouTube / Christine B.

Apparently the location of a witch’s (some legends say multiple witches) execution, the condemned sorceress is said to have never left this place. Instead of giving her a proper tombstone, the townspeople merely erected a fence around the land where her body was buried. Rumors warn that terrible things will happen to people who approach to close to her “grave.”

The remains of this “fence” may have been found by

Many people claim that there are frequent unexplainable bangs and clashes throughout the graveyard. Certainly not somewhere I would want to be alone. TC mark

The Two Of Us — We Just End And End And End Again

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:39 AM PDT


Every morning, I wake up and take a pill to make my heart beat slower. My doctor prescribed it to me under strong recommendation that I don't forget to take it, but I always do.

In the afternoons a truck drives by and drops off big boxes for my neighbor. I wonder what's in them. Packages come for me too, but it's mostly vintage dresses. I buy them on Sunday nights when I feel lonesome, which lately has become every Sunday night. I always say that if I could have a man only on Sundays, I would be happy. He'd cuddle with me and eat some eggs and then leave me alone the rest of the week.

In my building, they've changed the locks. The keys I gave you don't work anymore.

We sit opposite each other for hours at the old restaurant we always used to go to and crack mussels and dip our bread into the broth like normal people and then suddenly it all goes off the rails in just a few sentences and I walk home in the dark crying. I text him and tell him that, and I thank him for the ab workout. That was not my first bad decision.

My inhabitable body, his constant crisis.

"We just have bad timing," he says to placate me. I want to spit in his beer. I hate him so much in that moment. I swore I'd never let him fuck with my heart again, but here we are.

The two of us – we just end and end and end again. I guess we like the sound of a book slamming shut, a door closing, a chapter ending. We like it so much we do it again and again. We say we're done, and then we kiss and fuck and start the story again. The most beautiful and terrifying sound in the world is a car crash.

An unhappy beginning, I said to him once. We'll always be that unhappy beginning now.

Sometimes when I'm sad I read the comments on "Humans of New York" and then I feel better. Everyone is so nice there.

My friend Jennifer is cleaning her garage. She drags out three huge wool Turkish rugs, the really expensive kind, and says they've been eaten by moths from the basement. She doesn't want them, even though there are just a few spots where moths have made their mark. The rugs are extravagant gifts from an ex-boyfriend. We spend an hour cleaning them and spraying them with noxious chemicals disguised with a cedar scent, spread them out on the driveway to bake in the sun. It's a silly project, I know, but it's something to do with my hands, to divert my attention from catastrophe.

I don't know why I am so eager to accept these tokens of her failed relationship and bring them into my own home, but I am. I think they look elegant a little bit torn up. That's how I feel – a little bit torn up. And the worst part is that it's my own fault. TC mark

Amor Fati: Learning To Love And Accept Everything That Happens

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 08:00 AM PDT

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.59.33 AM

One of your greatest assets is your willpower, your decision-making, your discipline.

This is what we're told. It's also what we see. Most of us wouldn't be where we are without hard work or ability to change our circumstances.

And so we come to expect that the world will always respond in kind. That it will do what we want. That things will more or less go our way.

It's this, I think, that makes a relatively simple and straightforward piece of advice so hard to accept. Especially when we're young. Especially if we're ambitious.

Acceptance. It's just fucking hard.

Not just hard because it means tolerating things we don't like, but because it feels weak. What am I supposed to do, just let things be?

Yes. Yes, exactly.

The psychologist Albert Ellis called our tendency to object to this: "musturbation." The faulty and damaging belief that things must be the way we want them, or must be the way we expected.

It's about as productive as regular masturbation. It feels good for for a few minutes but ultimately accomplishes nothing. The only effect of musturbation is that our day is ruined. The only effect is that vital force is dissipated.

And it prevents something really crucial too: working with what actually is.

"You ought to be preparing yourself…to hear truths, which no inflexibility will be able to withstand," James Madison once wrote to Thomas Jefferson.

What he means is that stuff is going to happen to us in life. You gotta be ok with it. That which one resists persists, is the old proverb.

People are going to be a certain way, events will occur as they do. Shit happens. Bad shit.

Not only that, but there's the little stuff too. People are rude. Things are said. The weather is nasty. The news is disappointing.

The solution to all of this is not to fight it with incredible amounts of energy. As Epictetus put it:

Do not seek to have events happen as you want them but instead want them to happen and your life will go well.

Or, as the lyrics to one of my favorite songs goes, remind yourself "All is just as well." All is just as well.

The Stoics called that idea the Art of Acquiescence. Horace wrote feras non culpes quod vitari non potest (what can't be cured must be endured). Lincoln's favorite saying was "And this too shall pass." In the Book of Five Rings, Musashi says "Accept everything just the way it is."

"Evolution is necessarily slow since we resent it so," Florida Maxwell Scott observed at the end of her life. Schopenhauer quotes an analogy from the Roman playwright Terence when he says that "life is a game of dice. Even if you don't throw the number you like, you still have to play it and play it well."

This is where acceptance comes in.

You don't have to like it to work with it–to use it to your advantage. But it starts by seeing it clearly and accepting it unconditionally. Amor fati–a love of what happens. Because that's your only option.

The Stoics had another metaphor for what they called the logos or the universal guiding force of the universe. We are like a dog tied to a moving cart, they thought. We have two options. We can struggle with the foolish notion of control and dig our hind legs in, challenge every step and get forcibly dragged. Or we can go along for the ride, enjoy it and take our freedoms where they come.

Look, if you were in the car with friends and they seemed to take traffic signals or road construction personally, you'd consider them insane. Yet this is the equivalent of what most of us do. We get angry at the signs. We say: But I don't want it to be true. Maybe if I grip the wheel real tight, it will change things. Maybe if I yell or breathe really hard…

Because why? Because things are supposed to be another way?


As Cheryl Strayed put it:

You can't cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It's just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it…

The world around you, it is what it is. The events that happen, they are what they are. The people in your life, they'll do what they do.

Accept them. Understand them. Empathize with them. TC mark

What We Forget To Thank Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type For

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:19 AM PDT

Alagich Katya
Alagich Katya

ENFP: Thank you for believing in us even when we do not believe in ourselves.

INFP: Thank you for knowing all the darkest parts of us and loving us anyway.

INTJ: Thank you for sharing your unique worldview with us, with patience and depth.

ENFJ: Thank you for helping us to realize our own greatest strengths.

ENTP: Thank you for reminding us that there are a thousand ways of getting around any problem and that we are never, ever stuck.

ISFJ: Thank you for offering your huge, selfless heart to others without ever asking for anything in return.

ISTP: Thank you for intricately understanding how basically everything works, so that the rest of us do not have to.

ESFJ: Thank you for taking care of us during the times when we cannot take care of ourselves.

ISFP: Thank you for reminding us what a beautiful world we live in whenever we're at risk of forgetting it.

ESTP: Thank you for reminding us that so many risks are worth taking.

ESTJ: Thank you for protecting and sheltering the people you love.

INFJ: Thank you for helping us see what we need out of life and the future when we cannot see it ourselves.

ENTJ: Thank you for always pushing us to reach our full potential.

INTP: Thank you for remaining as open-minded and tolerant as you are intelligent.

ISTJ: Thank you for being somebody we can always rely on.

ESFP: Thank you for making life an adventure. TC mark

Why You Don’t Need A Wingman

Posted: 16 Jul 2015 04:57 PM PDT


I like to describe myself as wildly independent. Independent to the point where I could probably get stuck in a Tom-Hanks-Castaway-style situation and would just describe the whole thing as “I was fine, it was just a little boring.” I tend to hold my own, speak for myself, and fend for myself in the most awkward of situations. Very rarely do I ask for another woman to accompany me to the bathroom, unless I feel like I am at a super sketchy place. I am independent, I can speak for myself, and I am very much not in need of a "wingman/woman.”

I never thought I would be someone who would describe themselves as wanting to live a private life. Hell, I constantly update Facebook, Twitter – I’ve even divulged some of my deepest feelings on Thought Catalog without so much as a blink of an eye. But there are certain things I want to myself. Things that I don’t want people to insert themselves in. These things could range from the obvious, like my health and financial matters, but other things – like dating or issues with friends – can be complicated. The lines get blurred to who you can confide in, who you can trust not to spread your concerns, issues, life matters to anyone and everyone who’d hear it. For me personally, I have encountered this on a number of occasions with dating.

While I like to write about dating, talk about dating, think out loud about dating – there is only one other person I want to be involved in my dating life besides me: the person that I am dating. I remember looking back on my last relationship, and I did not tell anyone about it. Well, I didn’t tell anyone about it for a week. I didn’t even tell my mom or my best friend because I wanted to just enjoy the feeling of being with someone without other people’s opinions or input or issues with the whole situation. I simply wanted to live in the bliss of having someone without everyone asking, “So, what’s his deal? What does he look like? Where does he live? What is his Social Security number?”

When it comes down to it, if I really am working towards an honest to goodness relationship with someone, I rarely indulge the people around me with the details. The only exception is if it is something outrageously great or outrageously bad. You may hear their name and the basic fact that a prospective love interest exists, but really I kind of like to keep the progress of the relationship to myself. So you can imagine the frustration that proliferates when a friend slinks off to talk to your current crush about you without your request. All of a sudden, subtle flirtation or interest with someone becomes a BIG DEAL, and your game has been shot. You have no idea what they have said, and let's face it, they're going to deny saying anything. All of a sudden everyone gets weird and you’re on to your next prospect, begging and praying people will mind their own business.

You are just, quite honestly, not a fan of having an unsolicited wingman.

And not to say that having a mutual friend isn’t beneficial. I have had successful relationships all because someone that we both knew was there to reassure each other that we were still interested, or perhaps would drop hits that one of us should call the other. And that’s great! It’s also always wonderful to have a friend to be there for you when you decide to put yourself out there to a stranger at a bar – a true wingman, so to speak. But there is a difference between having a mutual friend or a true wingman who is looking out for you in a very abstract manner, versus someone who is inserting their “expertise” into your flirtation without it being warranted. Because when it comes to the game of love, it’s all about timing. If you just began talking to someone, perhaps it’s not the best time to have a friend intervene and be all like “So, are you guys going to get married now or what?” Stop yourself, friend. I love you, but don’t do that. If I want you to do that, I will ask.

At the end of the day, you know yourself the best. You don’t need someone to play cupid for you. You don’t need someone speaking for you when you do not ask them to. You do not need someone asking questions. What you need is to be confident in yourself, so when an unsolicited wingman or dramatic person gets involved in your love life, you have the strength to be better than that and move on. TC mark

18 Things You Should Know About Dating A Girl From The Northeast

Posted: 17 Jul 2015 07:04 AM PDT


1. If you're one of those people who just doesn't get sarcasm, then it's probably not a great fit.

2. When she compliments you, at the very least, you know she actually means it. She isn't one of those people who just says nice things for the sake of being friendly. She's not fake.

3. She has a general sense of decorum and properness (or is very capable of appearing that way). Unless someone decides to seriously disagree with her, in which case bets are probably off.

4. She'll talk your ear off about how perfect the first snow is because it's honestly one of the most magical times of the year.

5. But then she'll spend the next 8 weeks bitching about the cold, debating moving somewhere warm and ultimately deciding against it because that would be "selling out."

6. Alternately, if she does like the winter there's a 99% chance she's from a huge ski or snowboard family in which case she won't shut up about how excited she is for Killington this year. (Or Okemo, or Sugarbush, or even Tremblant if her family is into crossing the border.)

7. Depending on her area, she's going to have some very specific opinions on foods that you will absolutely be forced to try and love. Things to know: Hot lobster rolls are from CT, cold lobster rolls are from MA, and if you order a cheesesteak the wrong way at Pat's, they'll send you to the back of the line. And just learn what a garbage plate is incase you're trying to woo a girl from Rochester.

8. If you're dating a girl from NH or VT demonstrate an appreciation for Smuttynose or Heady Topper and they'll go from on the fence about you to very interested.

9. She's not going to be forthcoming about feelings, money or family issues. She grew up in the a land of Puritan ancestry (or nearby at least). She can be a little closed off and she doesn't want to share her whole life story on a first date.

10. She knows a surprising amount about the Salem Witch trials, Paul Revere, The Scarlet Letter, Walden Pond or the signing of the Declaration of Independence, depending on what state she's from. It's been pushed on her since grade school because people from the Northeast REALLY like their history.

11. If you're from somewhere outside the Northeast (especially from a very conservative part of the country), be prepared to be impressed by how ~progressive~ her family is. If you're not appreciative of that fact, that's not ideal.

12. If she grew up in the Northeast, she is absolutely 100% convinced that the Northeast is the only acceptable place to raise children.

13. She's not bitchy, she's not being unreasonable. She's opinionated.

14. Her driving skills are something else. Be prepared for her to yell unnecessarily when someone cuts her off, but rationalize it if she's the one cutting them off. Respect this method.

15. If you go back to her hometown and you'll notice that she's be surprisingly enthusiastic about showing you little parts of her town (even if she says it's a boring place). Also, she's probably still shit talking the adjacent town that beat her in soccer 9 years ago because like, who doesn't love a good rivalry?

16. If you try to explain to her that you grew up in a place without seasons and still had a perfectly nice, happy childhood, she straight up won't believe you.

17. There are basic bitch things specific to the Northeast and you should learn to embrace all of them, gift them often and even take part in them. In no particular order: apple pie, pumpkin muffins, fall sweaters, the first snow, spiking hot cider, bonfires in the summer, going down the cape, to the shore, or even to LBI, and snow tubing.

18. She is always genuine. She may not always be the cheeriest individual, but if there's one thing to love about a girl from the Northeast it's that when she's being kind, you know it's real. When she shows she cares about you, you know it's sincere. And if she occasionally gives you her best snark, or attitude, it's because she thinks you can handle it. TC mark

21 Reasons Your Crush On Cara Delevigne Totally Makes Sense

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:10 AM PDT

Paper Towns
Paper Towns

1. Because she has sex with her dinner.

2. And she’s definitely not vegan.

3. Because she fully appreciates the cultural significance of Magic Mike.

4. Plus, she crushes on celebrities—just like us!

5. When she says she’s in love, you don’t really know if it’s with a man or a woman.

6. But she has a super profound way of expressing that love.

7. Because she’s outspoken about equality for everyone.

8. Including Caitlyn Jenner.

9. Because she’s got a “dirty” mouth.

10. And she willingly makes herself the butt of bad jokes.

11. When she’s not posing an awesomely ridiculous question, that is.

12. Or executing a masterful photobomb.

13. Because she can quote Shakespeare without seeming at all obnoxious.

14. And when she’s gotta go, she goes.

15. Because she admits when she’s homesick.

16. And she knows how much a good-bye can suck.

17. Because she’s not afraid to self-promote.

18. Or to say thank you to her famous friends.

19. Overall, she recognizes that her life rocks.

20. As it should when you’re a certified member of Taylor Swift’s squad.

21. Last but not least, those eyebrows are seriously on fleek.

TC mark

The Life Advice Of Running Downhill

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 07:12 AM PDT

Flickr, Raúl González
Flickr, Raúl González

I've been a runner in some fashion since I was 15. I've learned countless strategies as a sprinter, as a casual jogger, as a mid-distance runner. There's always a new technique, a slightly different way of moving your legs or your arms or your torso. A way of becoming more efficient with your running or less likely to get injured.

Unless you're a sprinter or only run indoors, you will eventually encounter hills. Running uphill is no fun, but there is this misconception that running downhill is somehow a runner's delight. That running downhill is easy. And, while a gentle downwards slope is a nice change of pace, running down a hill can actually be harder than running up one. Improperly running downhill can lead to all sorts of injuries, including shin splints and twisted ankles and torqued knees. And, even if it doesn't injure you, it can exhaust you as much as running uphill.

There's a strategy to counteract that. You strike the ground in a slightly different manner — you let yourself go flat-footed. You lift your knees a little higher, let your leg movement be a little slower, and let your gait be a little longer. But the biggest thing is to make sure you lean forward, not back. The natural inclination is to lean with the incline, to fight the forward momentum.

I'm a yoga instructor, which means my job is to teach something physical and seemingly unrelated to real world and then show the overlap, the representation, the skillset you are creating during these seemingly irrelevant activities. So I can't help but see the metaphor in downhill running. I think about it every time I run down a literal hill, when I go through the checklist of ways I should change my pace, my way of running, in order to accommodate the change in elevation. I think about that checklist and how much it applies to life.

Because you're going to hit those downhill runs. Life isn't a sprint, and you certainly don't get to spend it sheltered inside. You're going to inevitably find yourself running uphill, out of breath. You're going to make it to the top, only to realize that the only reprieve you are going to get is that gentle crescent at the summit — because running downhill is going to be just as much of a challenge.

And that's life: sometimes that the type of terrain you're up against. Just because people outside of the situation — people who have no idea what it's like to run — might think it's easy-going for you, that doesn't mean it is.

So, like it or not, you're going downhill. You wish it were easy, but it won't be. This is the path you're on and it makes no sense to wish you chose a different course — because, let's face it, you'd probably have to deal with hills on those as well. So you've got two choices:

1. Fight it tooth and nail, needlessly exhausting and potentially injuring yourself.

2. Take your own advice, change your stride, lean forward, and embrace the forward momentum. TC mark