Thought Catalog


What I Wish Everyone Knew About Sylvia Plath

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 09:28 PM PDT

Today is Sylvia Plath's birthday. She would have been 83 years old today. Maybe in an alternate reality she's living in a cottage somewhere at the edge of the cold, grey Atlantic where she paints and writes and keeps a hive or two full of bees. Or maybe that's what the afterlife looks like for her, not that she believed in an afterlife. Is it wrong to wish something on someone if they don't believe in it? Probably.

You don't have to be much of a detective to figure out that I love Sylvia Plath. I mean, I named my blog after her only novel. I'm obviously a pretty big fan, but I'm a fan for different reasons than you might think.

I write a lot about mental health, and I think a lot of people assume that I love Sylvia because we're both part of the Depressed Ladiez club. And it's true that both of us are card-carrying members of that group. But another truth is that this is not the sum total of my relationship with La Plath.

“The problem with Sylvia Plath is that her work is so often obscured by her suicide. When people think of her, they picture her in her last awful hour, her head in the oven, her face dark with the stove's grime. Her death is romanticized; men like Ryan Adams write songs about how they want to fuck her and love her and maybe save her. She's seen as a martyr to something, although none of us are really clear on what that something is.”

I love her because she was fierce and unabashed and so fucking ambitious and hard-working. I often hear an argument among writers about whether good writing comes down to talent or hard work. Sylvia unarguably had a natural gift for language – she published her first poem when she was eight, after all – but my god that woman worked so hard to hone her talent. If you've ever read her journals, you know that she spent most of the pages alternately giving herself pep talks and berating herself, often on the subject of writing. She was determined to create great works, and she was willing to put in the time and energy necessary to do so.

For Sylvia, writing a poem was like solving a puzzle – it meant turning it this way and that way, trying to fit the words together just right. She was dogged about it. Once a project was started, she wouldn't or couldn't give up on it. One thing Ted Hughes wrote about her that has always stuck with me is this:

"To my knowledge, [Plath] never scrapped any of her poetic efforts. With one or two exceptions, she brought every piece she worked on to some final form acceptable to her, rejecting at most the odd verse, or a false head or a false tail. Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn't get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity."

I think about this quote a lot. Whenever I am in the middle of working on something and I am angry and frustrated because it's not going the way I want, I stop and ask myself, "If this is not going to be a table, can it be a chair instead?" Usually it can.

Sylvia was funny. So darkly, brilliantly funny. Even when things were terrible she still often managed to be funny. One of my favourite lines from her journal comes from a moment when she is pretty sure Ted is cheating on her with one of his Smith students. She writes, "Who knows who Ted's next book will be dedicated to? His navel. His penis." From one dick joke lover to another I salute you, Sylvia.

And she was angry. So fucking beautifully angry. She was angry because her father was dead. She was angry because she felt her mother was a "walking vampire," feeding off her emotions. She was angry because she feels she isn't supposed to hate her mother; in her journals she wrote that "in a smarmy matriarchy of togetherness, it is hard to get a sanction to hate one's mother." She was angry because Ted left her for another woman, just like she'd known all along he would. She was angry because she was a woman, a woman who was not supposed to sleep around or hold her own or walk home alone at night.

She had the frantic anger of a caged animal whose occasional glimpses of freedom only enrage it more.

Her rage is what shines most clearly in her last poems. Her huge, perfect, unfeminine rage. In her last months she finally shed her good self, the self that wanted to a nice girl, a well-behaved girl, a girl who sought everyone's approval. Like Shakespeare's Ariel, for whom she named her final book, she had finally burst out of her prison and was soaring, winged and lethal, towards the sun.

The problem with Sylvia Plath is that her work is so often obscured by her suicide. When people think of her, they picture her in her last awful hour, her head in the oven, her face dark with the stove's grime. Her death is romanticized; men like Ryan Adams write songs about how they want to fuck her and love her and maybe save her. She's seen as a martyr to something, although none of us are really clear on what that something is.

But she wasn't a martyr. She was someone who was tired and worn down and in a moment of despair took her own life. It wasn't meant to be a gesture or a call to action or anything like that. She was tired, and all the people around her had failed her by one measure or another. and on one particular bad night she could no longer see her way out. That's it.

Here's the thing I want people to know about Sylvia Plath: she was a survivor. She survived years of debilitating mental illnesses, she survived a suicide attempt, and right up to the end she was trying her damnedest to survive.

Sylvia Plath died on February 11th, 1963, in the middle of the coldest winter London had seen in 100 years. She had moved to the city hoping to find a better support system there and more writing opportunities, but things weren't working out as she had hoped. The pipes in the flat she had rented kept freezing and bursting, her two small children were often sick, and she didn't even have a telephone. She was isolated because of the people who had been her friends were, in truth, Ted's friends. The Bell Jar, which had come out the previous month, was met with critical indifference. Meanwhile, Ted was becoming increasingly well-known in the literary world and, while Sylvia cared for their children in her icy flat, was planning on taking his mistress on a holiday in Spain.

Sylvia fought hard to live. She was seeing her doctor on a daily basis and had just started taking antidepressants. Recognizing that she might be a danger to herself, she took the children and went to stay with a family friend. Meanwhile, her doctor was frantically trying to find her a hospital bed, but none were available. She was trying. You could even argue that Sylvia didn't die from suicide; she died from the deeply broken infrastructure of mental health care. She died from a system that failed her when her when she needed it the most.

Sylvia Plath was a fighter, and she went down fighting. She did not lose the battle or give in to depression or whatever weird euphemism you want to use. She did not die because she was weak or had a moral failing. She died because she was very sick and did not have proper care. There is nothing more to than that, not that there should be. Dying because there is no room for you in the hospital is tragedy enough without embroidering it.

It's a full moon tonight. Sylvia would have loved it. She was obsessed with the moon; it featured heavily in her poems, and she mentioned it literally hundreds of times in her journal, dissecting its colour, shape and size. It had a sort of elemental pull on her, just as her writing tugs indescribably at something in me. I keep returning to her, reading her, writing about her. No matter how much I dig up and sort through, I'm never done. I don't want to ever be done.

I hope there's a moon wherever she is. TC mark

Attractive People Are Not Necessarily The Luckiest In Love, But Here Are 9 Traits Of People Who Are

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 07:00 PM PDT

pedroolopezz
pedroolopezz

We have a very unfortunate belief that only attractive people find and have love, and that the degree to which you are more objectively attractive is equivalent to the increase in likelihood that someone will love you. It makes sense on the surface. But have you ever mentally surveyed all the people you know who are coupled vs. the people who aren't? All the people who are in long-term relationships vs. the people who aren't? Hell, all the people who genuinely feel and exchange love and care, and don't?

You'll quickly realize that attractiveness has almost nothing to do with it. And maybe that's what we're actually afraid of: if love is more about who we are than how we look, we're no longer in control of whether or not we're going to get it. (Ah, that good ol' human condition thing again.) But there is a light at the end of that particularly unsettling tunnel: there are traits common to people who have love (or, at least, have better luck in finding love) and interestingly enough, embodying them never has anything to do with becoming more of who you aren't, but more of who you are.

1. General approachability, or in other words, a willingness to say "hi" first.

You know the campus heartthrob who remained single for three and a half years because they just seem "too good" to get? (Yeah. I know you do.) General approachability is comprised of just being good at small talk, friendliness, and willingness to reach out first. It's so minuscule, and yet it's the make-or-break for so many people.

2. The ability to accurately interpret how others may be perceiving you.

Most people are really, really bad at this, and a lot of their anxiety is born of assuming people are thinking the worst of them always (spoiler: it's you thinking the worst of you, that's all). But being able to understand how you are perceived is just being able to evaluate a social setting and then see how your actions, expressions and impulses differ or don't differ to the groups', as well as being conscious of people's subtle reactions and responses to you. This is absolutely essential to navigating that first mysterious phase of a relationship.

3. Not needing to be "right" all the time.

When your sense of self is very fragile, you usually require (and thrive) off of situations that insulate your worldview. You require external affirmation to feel validated, so your opinions, thoughts and ideas can't healthfully coexist next to someone else's. This means you're pretty unable to listen objectively, communicate well, or appreciate someone for who they are as opposed to what you need them to be.

4. A willingness to get hurt.

Being willing to get hurt is synonymous with being willing to try. You can't put your heart into a relationship while trying to preserve the safety of it as well. You'll only be giving bits and pieces of yourself, and ultimately, you'll feel as though someone else entering your emotional safe zone is threatening, and they'll feel as though you're not being yourself. Either way, it's doomed.

5. Being conscious of what your biggest personal issues are.

People who aren't aware of what they struggle with the most are the ones who let it wreck their relationships. This is because when you put so much energy into resisting or suppressing a particular thought or emotion, many different parts of an intimate relationship can be triggering, and you'll take it out on the other person.

6. The ability to be okay with uncertainty.

Nobody likes being unsure, but some people handle it better than others, and to much more fruitful ends: if you only act on what you know "for sure," you'll only ever go after people who you know definitely like you (even though the person you're lusting after just hasn't made it apparent) or you'll only date within your predisposed idea of a "type," which could close you off to someone better than you'd think for yourself.

7. A general habit of seeking out the best in people, not the almost-good-enough.

Most people are on auto-pilot to hunt out other people's weaknesses (it's a weird survival thing, I don't know) and what that leads to is just building ideas of people off of why they're "lesser." I think this goes without saying that this is both at ends with the kind of acceptance a romantic relationship requires, and that seeking the best in others is akin to just having an open heart.

8. Knowing why certain relationships previously failed, knowing why others definitely worked, and being able to talk about both of these things without being triggered.

You're over a relationship when you're at the point of dissecting behaviors and conflicts not as ammo against someone, but as material to graft into a new understanding of yourself. Knowing what works and what doesn't is important, because knowing who you are is one thing, but knowing who you are in the context of a relationship with someone else is another.

9. Loving more than just the idea of yourself.

A lot of people who think that they "love themselves" just really love a very particular idea (or set of ideas) they have about themselves. For instance: they love themselves because they're fit, or because they have a certain job, or because their interests can easily be defined on a 140-character bio. This is not real love. This is conditional acceptance on which their egos thrive. The reason why people who love just the idea of themselves usually struggle in relationships is because they have yet to explore who they genuinely are (for fear of how much of their lives will have to collapse to do so) and so they choose relationships based on the idea, rather than the reality. TC mark

8 Reasons Why People Who Love Horror Are The Most Down-To-Earth

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 06:00 PM PDT

Scream
Scream

1. Horror is the entertainment version of spicy food – some people just find more enjoyment in things that are harsh. Like heavily seasoned foods, horror certainly is a taste that you either naturally have or grow to acquire – people who love it aren't usually emotionally torturing themselves for no reason – they enjoy it.

2. Pain and pleasure are the same thing. Both our pleasure and pain responses come from the same part of the brain. The "pleasure chemical" released when we feel joy is also released when we feel pain. We love pain, which is why we continually seek it. What we don't like is resistance and suffering, which is what happens when we deny the parts of ourselves that are slightly masochistic in nature.

3. Horror is like a psychological challenge. It's like brain training for how worked up you can get over fiction. It helps you respond more placidly to real issues, and not create mountains out of molehills IRL.

4. People who enjoy horror are okay exploring the dark and seedy parts of themselves. We're under the false belief that resisting or denying these parts of ourselves (and we all have them) will make them go away, but in reality, it's emotional suppression or the full denial of self that creates violence or anger or destruction. Hence why people who love horror tend to be calmer in nature.

5. They're in touch with a fundamental aspect of the human condition. They aren't in denial about the horrendous and strange things that can happen in a life. This makes them far more understanding of other people's intentions, motives and struggles.

6. The best and most worthwhile things are often scary, so the less resistant you are to being afraid, the more you can accomplish. People who love horror love to test just how far they can train their "fight" response before it turns to "flight." Doing this while sitting in front of a screen is crucial for learning to do it in your actual life.

7. Horror is a genre of fun for people who aren't naturally bubbly. It lets them express an extreme emotion that feels as exhilarating as joy, but doesn't have to be so forced.

8. If you can survive the monsters in the movies, you feel more equipped to deal with the demons in your mind, even if just by virtue of not being as afraid of them. If we were all controlled by our desires, we'd be much more successful than we are. We're controlled by our fears, especially our hidden ones. The more you can shine a light into the dark closets of your mind, the only monsters are in the movies (and sometimes on the news). TC mark

The Rise And Fall Of The Sugar Baby: 15 Women On How Being A Sugar Baby Changed Their Life

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 05:01 PM PDT

giorgette_p
giorgette_p

Ask any girl if she would like to be pampered, showered with gifts, and treated like a princess, and her answer will rarely be ‘no.’ The idea is very tempting. If you are a young and beautiful girl, you can have the world at your feet if you know how to play your cards right… or so believed some of these hopefuls. But the world of being a sugar baby can be dangerous, lonely, and emotionally damaging. 

Here are stories from 15 women who experienced the good and the bad of being a sugar baby. All names have been changed.

1. 

"One morning I came home and I couldn't scrub all the filth off my skin. It was like an invisible tattoo, which was a constant reminder of how I used my body to be able to afford a Chanel purse. Sometimes it takes one choice to sell your life away, and see your soul crumble."

-Violet, 24

2. 

"Manipulation can take you so far, unless someone more manipulative beats you in your own game. I just wanted to be taken care of and there were plenty of men out there willing to do that, but for a price. What started as innocent dinner dates ended up being more, and I got more than what I bargained for."

-Rose, 27

3. 

"Robert was supposedly an entrepreneur with money to burn. We met for weekly dinners, and I got $600 per date. I only had to be his available plaything as needed; overnights hiked up the allowance to $2000. One designer bag for one weekend."

-Lily, 29

4. 

"Before I entered the world of sugar and spice, I was a driven college graduate with an entry level job, and more respect for myself.  My friend told me with my looks, I could make easy money, and men would literally pay to go out with me. Like most girls, I thought nothing wrong of some dates with a rich man. I loved the presents and the attention, but not how I felt the morning after my date night."

-Savannah, 25

5. 

"Since last month, I quit the life of sugar baby and started working as a server. I have the scars from the 10 weeks and they still give me nightmares. I am still unsure how I went that far; I did not think I would ever be that type of girl."

-Sarah, 22

6.

"Every heartbreak affected my self esteem so I decided to become a sugar baby.  What I wanted more than money was love and attention, but I got cash and vacations. I entered the world to be treated like a lady, but ended up feeling dirtier than I could ever imagine. No man will shower a girl with presents without expecting anything in return – but they say it is not prostitution."

-Madison, 24

7. 

"The world is filled with sick, twisted people. They call it an arrangement made between a sugar daddy and a sugar baby. It is plain business, with the transaction of favors you are willing to do for what their money can buy."

-Zoe, 19

8. 

"I met a 54-year-old, John, who cooked me dinner and served expensive wine while discussing Nietzsche. I was a couple of years younger than John's daughter. He paid me $500 a date. I had what he wanted, and he was ready to pay."

-Elsie, 21

9. 

"I met David, 28, a rich restaurant owner who asked me out to dinner and then to go back to his place. It was $500 for dinner and $5,000 for other activities, he said. When I declined the latter part of the date, he offered me $1,000 for just a date, and said he had respect for my ‘kind.’ He said he was looking for a relationship, and a wife."

-Olivia, 24

10. 

"I thought Nick was sweet, and I felt we clicked. He was polite enough to ask to kiss me and I said yes. As we kissed I imagined a life with him, then he offered to pay me more than my usual rate to go home with him. It crushed more than just my dreams. I had never felt that cheap in my life before, I experienced what it was like to be a whore. But I don't blame him for asking, I knew what I was getting into, but with wishful unrealistic thinking."

-Angela, 27

11. 

"The relationship between a sugar daddy and a sugar baby is very clear and obvious. The rich men are there to pay for what the sugar baby can provide, and if a girl thinks it will be different, she is being delusional. I had one date and that is the last time I will ever date for money. "

-Jennifer, 28

12. 

"I had my reasons for testing the waters in the world of sugary treats, but I got more than what I bargained for: it was not all nice. What may seem like fun in the beginning comes with a high price because most sugar babies lose their innocence and their faith in men and love after one transaction. I know I did."

-Nicole, 24

13. 

"Sometimes a girl just wants some attention, she wants a bit of the glamorous life. But it’s nothing like it is on television and movies. It is dark and it is sinister. It exposes you to a side of men you never want to see. It makes you do things you never thought possible. It makes you someone you cannot recognize anymore."

-Katie, 28

14.

"Just ask yourself, can you live with yourself for what you have to give up for the monetary exchange? It did not seem like it from the stories I had heard, but could be different for others. Personally I can't live with that guilt."

-Emily, 23

15.

"I never thought it was possible to be ashamed of myself, but I proved myself wrong when I decided to take money for a date. And I knew damn well what I was getting myself into. There is no coming back once you have crossed that line." 

-Alyssa, 22

After This Terrifying Incident, I Will Never Step Foot Into The Wilderness Ever Again

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 05:00 PM PDT

Flickr / Gabriela Pinto
Flickr / Gabriela Pinto

Since I was a child, I have always found peace in the outdoors. It began when my father took me camping at a National Park for my eighth birthday and it is a passion that stayed with me all through my life. Growing up, I would read Gary Paulsen's Hatchet novels and imagine myself in the North American wilderness alongside Brian, captivated by the wonders of nature around me. Even now, as I begin to enter my 30s, it is still my preferred means of escape. Each and every winter, I clear my schedule nearly half a year in advance and I ask for time away from work, and begin to prepare. I ready myself to escape the cramped confines of the city, to leave all the noise and people behind me as I make my return to the wild, but no more.

Never again will I venture into the untamed wilderness, whether it be a national park or something a simple as an RV park. For nearly two decades, I have deluded myself into believing that I could handle any hardships the natural world threw my way, all because I read some books and subscribed to outdoorsman magazines. Years were spent trying to persuade my husband to join me on these trips, coming to terms with the fact that he wasn't as passionate as I about the outdoors, but no longer. Still he asks me why I refuse to return, but there are just some things I can never tell. Some things even a husband would dismiss as hallucinations or madness.

It was little more than a year ago when I embarked on my final journey into the wild. There was a national park I had come to love over the years, a place I once considered so beautiful that I took no issue with the hour-and-a-half it took to travel there by air. It was blessed with numerous hot springs, many of which were too hot to bathe in, yet breathtaking to admire, especially when the snow had freshly fallen and all was frozen save for those pools of near-boiling water. There was one hot spring that I loved in particular. The fact that it was nearly a two-hour hike from the campsite never deterred me. It was nestled neatly away in the middle of a small valley where I would sit as close to the edge as I deemed safe and gaze out into the winter wonderland, music playing softly in my ears as I found a peace I was certain few had ever known. Upon my last visit however, peace was fleeting.

It scarcely took me more than a few minutes to circle the waters edge, yet when I came upon the site, I froze.

It wasn't until the second day that I was able to trek into the valley. The deciduous forest was absent of leaves, the winter winds weaving through withered branches with its biting chill attempting to force its way beneath my winter clothes, all to no avail. The hike itself was uneventful, almost uncharacteristically so. There was no sudden movement of a rabbit diving for cover or a fox chasing its quarry, not even the tracks of deer that I had long since come to expect to find dotting the snow. My arrival at the hot spring was as unceremonious as ever and the first hour was spent drinking hot chocolate from a thermos, reading a copy of Brian's Winter with music playing softly in my ears until I felt a sudden chill. Whether it was the wind or some other sense I do not know, but something called my attention to the other side of the hot spring. Looking out across the water I caught a glimpse of colour, out of place in this world of white. Was it an animal? Another camper? I did not know, but I was drawn to find out. It scarcely took me more than a few minutes to circle the waters edge, yet when I came upon the site, I froze.

Frozen blood stained the snow, highlighting the carcass of a grey fox at its centre. The body of the animal was stiff and ice had begun to form around the corpse, clearly having been there for some time. I found it odd that no scavengers had stripped the corpse, as there was no shortage of raccoons, and coyotes in the area, but my question was quickly answered as I stepped closer to investigate. I felt my boot collide with something solid, disturbing something not too far beneath the snow. As I knelt down to examine the item I found that I felt much colder than before, until I exposed the object beneath me and my breath caught in my throat, all thoughts of cold suddenly leaving me.

It was the body of a coyote, dead like the fox and just as frozen. Beside it lay the buried paw of another animal and I suddenly found myself quickly moving to dig out more snow. Another coyote corpse lay beside the first as well as what looked like the frozen form of a dead raccoon. All three bodies had what seemed to be large wounds on the back of their necks, deep enough that I could see what I can only assume to be their severed spines. It was then that I became aware of a sound in the distance, through the trees in the higher parts of the valley. A haunting sound that sounded impossibly beautiful, alluring and terrifying all at once, the sound of singing.

beetlejuice

Hurrying back to the campsite I spent most of the journey looking back over my shoulder, listening out for that eerie, wordless song. Upon my return I sought out the first park ranger I could find and relayed to him the things I had seen and heard. He assured me that it was nothing to be concerned about, that coyotes would usually fight over food and that once the snow melted it revealed all manner of animal bodies that would begin to decompose in the springtime. As for the singing, he excused it as either an animal call or howl, possibly some bird late in its migration, reassuring me that there was nothing to worry about. While I admit that his words did put me at ease, I still did not return to the valley for three days.

When I did return it was after much internal deliberation coupled with periodical pep talks whereupon I would tell myself that I had been coming here so long, camping most of my life knowing full well the risks and taking care to act as responsibly as possible. Even with all of this motivation I still did not depart for the valley until after noon, arriving later in the afternoon than I would usually like to.

Looking back on it all now I realize how naive I really was. I wasn't behaving responsibly, I wasn't aware of the risks; I was just some city-dweller who'd fallen in love with a story, a romantic idea of what nature was. I'd spent so much time pining for an idea that I ignored the reality held within the pages of the story I treasured so dearly. The dangers of animal attack and of traveling alone, unarmed with no reliable communication. I was no outdoorsman; I was a tourist with a high quality tent nestled cozily on the camping pad of a National Park out who was out for a walk. I was a fool so blinded by my own fantasy that it was through my own folly I found myself in that valley under a setting sun.

The moment I first realized my dilemma was when I noticed that the words upon the pages of my book were becoming difficult to read under the dimming light. To my credit I'd had enough sense to carry a flashlight with me for no other reason than "just in case," yet the light was still rapidly vanishing in the valley. It was as I was turning to leave that I heard the singing, coming from the other side of the hot spring like before yet growing closer, descending into the valley. My first instinct was to stay and listen to the song while a deeper, much more primal part of me screamed to run, to hide from the approaching sound. For a moment I was frozen in the vanishing light of the valley, unable to commit to any one decision until I saw a glow beyond the trees. Faint yet unmistakable in the darkness of a rapidly approaching night sky and causing me to first take a step backwards, followed by several more until I found myself backed against a tree, instinctively ducking behind it, only to peek around its trunk in an attempt to see the approaching glow. To this day I still cannot fully believe what I saw as it entered into the clearing and made its way to the spring.

I saw God.

17 Stereotypes About Scorpios That Are Almost Always True

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 04:45 PM PDT

Twenty20 / cmit19
Twenty20 / cmit19

Horoscopes are said to have developed in ancient Egypt, although Babylonians are credited with inventing these so-called astrological charts. This is according to most recordings of the history of what is now called Western astrology.

For any modern scientific culture or individual, the idea that one can predict events or occurrences or an individual’s state of mind based on the position of the Sun at one’s time of birth due to “celestial influences,” is at best, silly and at worst, absurd. But as a religious, spiritual, and scientific proponent – all these things existing in an imperfectly contradictory union – I believe in leaving room for the unknown; that no singular body of philosophy or path to knowing can explain the world.

All of the above aside, I like to humor myself by reading horoscopes every once in a while. Scorpios of course are particularly interesting because they exist in three stages: The Scorpion tends to be ruled by their passions. The Golden Eagle tends to put forth their intellect above all. And The Dove of Peace and Phoenix manifests power through love, healing, and transformation.

As a Scorpio – often considered one of the more contentious signs in the Zodiac –  the scientific part of me finds it a mild coincidence that many of the attributes often assigned to Scorpios, I have found to be true in myself and other Scorpios. The non-scientific part of me is humored. The following are 17 stereotypes about Scorpios that are almost always true. Humor yourself.

1. Intuitive and Spiritual

Scorpios have a tendency to trust their intuition, often failing when they don’t. They tend to have foresight and insight into things that many people miss. And because they believe in this intuition strongly, they tend to think of it as a sort of supernatural force that guides them.

2. Secretive and Private

Good luck getting a secret out of Scorpio, especially about something that really matters. They are not the type to disclose everything you need to know, and they are most certainly not going to tell you the entire truth about their insecurities and failings.

3. Jealous Creatures

While on the surface it may seem otherwise, Scorpios tend to be ridiculously competitive, believing they deserve the best. And when they don’t get it, the green-eyed monster comes out to play. They are especially jealous in relationships if they don’t believe they are getting your undivided attention.

4. More sexual than you average…

Scorpios tend to be well-known for their generally sexy aura and for being particularly sexual beings. This doesn’t mean what most people think it means. When a Scorpio is in love and committed, they are very sexual, and will supposedly go where others won’t. But Scorpios don’t fall in love easily.

5. Obsessive and Possessive

When Scorpios become fixated on a thing or a person, it’s game over. They desire to know everything about that thing or person. It, he, or she becomes theirs in their mind and then they will do what they need to do, for it, he, or she, to be actually theirs.

6. Prone to melancholy

Scorpios tend to be prone to melancholy for two reasons: Firstly, their love is hard and deep and they often feel they won’t get it back the way they gave it. Secondly, because Scorpios tend to be more private and secretive, few people really know who they are and this leads to a certain sadness. But all in all, Scorpios just tend to have a deeper understanding in making sense of the world, and this leads to melancholy too.

7. Distrustful

Scorpios do not trust anyone easily. In their mind, you have to be put to the test, and test you they will. Of course the person won’t know they are being tested but they will eventually know if they have failed or passed.

8. Loyal

When you do have a Scorpio’s trust however, they will be loyal to you for the rest of your life. Scorpios never forget a good deed done to them and will always return it.

9. Vengeful

Hell hath no fury like a Scorpio scorned. Scorpios also never forget a bad deed done to them, and they will likely pay you back tenfold. Scorpios who exist as Phoenix’s however might show more restraint but if you are dealing with a Scorpion Scorpio, good luck. But whichever Scorpio you’re dealing with, remember: A Scorpio never forgets.

10. Independent

Scorpios are fiercely independent to the point of fault. Their need to be in control while refusing to be controlled often means they’d choose being alone more than the average person in many situations.

11. Brave

Scorpios tend to be brave in a unique way; oftentimes by the very way they lead their lives. Scorpios tend to be risk-takers. And they also tend to be able to act courageously when particular situation arises. Scorpios also never ever let anyone hurt their loved one in their presence.

13. Resourceful

Scorpios are resourceful creatures, and they know this well. They know that no matter what, they will make a way for themselves.

14. Shrewd

Scorpios can be calculating creatures reflecting good decision-making but also with the potential to be manipulative when the situation arises. And if you try to manipulate a Scorpio, just know they are probably miles ahead of you. The joke will eventually be on you.

15. Perseverant

Scorpios are hard-working creatures, even when they don’t come across that way. They are always working on something. But most importantly because Scorpios believe in their strength and spirituality, when bad things happen, they also believe they are reborn stronger after every bad situation.

16. Passionate

Many Scorpios are ruled by their passions. Only when they start to become Golden Eagles and maybe eventually Phoenixes do they learn to temper it. A Scorpio’s passion is fiery and constantly burning in an oftentimes cool, calm, exterior.

17. Mysterious

Scorpios have a mysterious aura about them. And just when you think you’ve got a Scorpio figured out, they turn around and do something to remind you that you will never 100% understand them. If it makes you feel better, they too are oftentimes a mystery to themselves. TC mark

What If You Just Can’t Tell If He’s Into You Or Not?

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 04:00 PM PDT

Twenty20, pastaroll
Twenty20, pastaroll

Hi Melanie,

I started seeing someone new over the summer and it’s been going great, but lately I’m just not sure where his head is at. I’ve always been straight-up and honest with him about what I want. I’ve also told him that if he decides at any time that he’s not into me anymore, he should tell me. He’s 32 and I'm 22. Some days I’m so sure he wants to be with me, and then there are days when I text him and don’t get a reply. I understand that he’s a grown man and that he has a grown man's job, but I’d rather know that he’s not really feeling it than be so unsure about whether or not he wants to keep seeing me. At the same time, I don’t want to sabotage what we have by making a big deal out of nothing.

Sincerely,

Seesawing


Dear sweet Seesaw,

It seems there are two related issues underpinning your current heartache. First, relationship uncertainty. Plus, general frustration with your partner's unpredictability.

Let me start by sharing a bit about my own situation. I’m lucky to be dating the Man Of My Dreams. Annoying, but true. I’m with the guy I lusted for from minute one. We’ve been together officially for about five years now (or eight, depending on how you count). We live together, we know each other intimately, and we talk about growing old together regularly. He's even asked me to marry him a few times, but I'm honestly in no rush to tie the knot because weddings really aren't my thing. The point is, we are madly in love in an obnoxious, unconventional storybook kind of way.

And yet.

The other day, I found myself preoccupied for at least an hour by thoughts of my devoted, loving, attentive boyfriend cheating on me. I tortured myself with imagined scenes involving some faceless leggy blonde wrapped around my partner's body. I agonized over how I would feel in the moment, were my boyfriend to confess to all the hypothetical crimes I’d conjured. Then I pondered exactly how I’d respond to my mind’s vision of his admission.

It was an otherwise ordinary, peaceful afternoon, but something triggered those thoughts in me. Something urged me to consider that my wonderful, caring boyfriend might one day stray. That he might head out with his buddies and meet some young beautiful gazelle of a woman and have sex with her instead of me.

Why? Because the truth is, love doesn't immunize people against temptation. And no matter how strong your bond is, you will never feel 100 percent certain about things.

When you enter into a relationship, you make yourself vulnerable to another human being whose behavior and daily experience of the world are mostly outside your control. The possibility that they will hurt you always lingers. So the doubts you're entertaining will probably never go away. If anything, they might very well get stronger. Because the more you love someone, the more power they have to rip you apart emotionally. Fragility isn’t romantic but it is realistic. It’s also what makes love so wild, passionate, and beautiful—but also maddening. The good news is, any relationship worth maintaining—through commitment, hard work, and pure will—involves awesome stretches of unadulterated joy in between all the torment, self inflicted or not.

I mentioned that you can’t control this person you're dating. But guess what? You do get to control you, at least to a certain extent. If you focus on being the best version of your authentic self and the best girlfriend you can be, you won’t have many regrets. That’s all you can offer anyone, really, and it should be enough. If it's not, you're definitely dating the wrong guy.

Hopefully, your significant other appreciates your value as a human being and treats you as well as you deserve. In this day and age, I'd argue that texting your girlfriend back within a reasonable timeframe is part of the Respect Your Mate equation. For what it's worth, I'm a busy grown-ass woman with a grown woman's job, and I always reply to my loved ones within an hour or so because I make time to address my priorities.

I'd suggest giving this dude some leeway on the texting front for a given amount of time, and if he doesn't change his behavior within that period, move on. During this unofficial trial, I wouldn't voice your concerns or make an "issue" of your partner's glacial response time. Why? Because you shouldn't have to explain to a grown-ass man that not replying to a message from the woman he's sleeping with is downright unacceptable.

If the man you're with doesn't want to behave like a grown-ass man should, then good riddance. You still get to be the best you, and seek out someone new who actually deserves you.

Love, hugs & unicorns,

Mélanie TC mark

I’m Tired Of Explaining To White People Why Blackface Is Not Cool

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 02:00 PM PDT

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

When that whole Rachel Dolezal thing happened over the summer the first thing I thought was, “Oh, Lord. She is going to be one of the hottest Halloween costumes this year. Mark my words.” And sure enough, as if on cue, here comes Miss Kelly Osbourne with a parody of herself on Instagram, stylized as Dolezal. The image left a bitter taste in people’s mouths. They were outraged, and the whole thing resulted in Osborne quitting Fashion Police.

Whether or not you go as Dolezal this Halloween, somebody somewhere in America is going to make headlines on a national website or blog for a costume that broaches or is actually blackface, a costume that comes a little bit too close to cultural appropriation, a costume that is beyond offensive.

Put down the black face. Do not buy that Native American headdress. Just say “no” to every single “ghetto” party you have been invited to.

I don’t know why people don’t understand that blackface is offensive and has always been offensive. More to the point, one of the dominant privileges of whiteness is that you can “put on” other people’s colors, clothes and hair styles without having to deal with all the racism and the exhaustion of explaining to people why it’s offensive. When you put on blackface you get to take a shower, pull that wig cap off and pow: you’re white again.

Other people’s cultures are not a costume.

Because it’s Halloween we think we can get away with anything because the rules and laws of everyday life have been put on hold for a single night of candy, drinks and costumed hook ups. The irony in all this is that one Halloween I went as Lenny Kravitz, with my chest out, a bunch of necklaces on, skinny jeans. I thought I was really working it. But I got called “faggot” several times that night, on a day when it’s supposed to be “OK” to dress like other people and make a fool of yourself. And yet I saw several guys in blackface that night, all laughing about it and having a good time by the looks of it. So they get to be black, which they’re not, and I don’t get to be a faggot, which I am?

I guess the real issue is isn’t it possible to go as something non-ethnic on Halloween? A musical instrument! A cartoon character! You could go as Netflix and chill! You can even still be Olivia Pope without making your skin darker! Be creative.

Before you step out of the house this weekend stop and think about what it is that makes you want to “put on” another culture, even if only for a couple hours. Is it because you find it funny or amusing? If so, you should have a think about what exactly is so funny or Instagrammable about pretending to be black for 5 hours. TC mark

3 Ways You Can Find More Free Time To Learn Something New

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 01:00 PM PDT

Time is the most valuable commodity we have.

Unlike money, every minute that goes by is another we can never get back.

We have to maximize the time we have each day to focus on what will improve the quality of our lives, like learning a new skill.

Whether it's improving your writing skills, learning a new language, or picking up a new instrument, learning something new is proven to improve our career opportunities, enhance brain health, and accelerate learning speed.

While the benefits of learning a new skill are clear, the main problem we have is finding the time in our schedule to learn something new in the first place.

Here's how you can find more time in your schedule to learn something new.

Track Your Schedule

Before we dig deeper in finding more time in our schedules, we have to know how we spend our day in the first place to learn something new.

Start by tracking everything you're doing during the day on your calendar. Keep it simple by categorizing each task into two colors representing:

  • Work time (blue)
  • Free time (green)

Screen-Shot-2015-10-12-at-3.01.40-PM

Looking at my personal schedule, it looks like I have some extra time from: 3:30–5:30pm, before breakfast (by getting up earlier), lunch time, and after 7pm.

This is already more than enough free time to spend 30–60 minutes a day to learn something new, instead of checking social media or during lunch time.

When you keep track of exactly what you're doing each day, you'll be surprised to know how much free time you have to invest to learn something new.

Prioritization

To prioritize your schedule, we're going to use a framework developed by the 34th President of the United States, who led one of the most productive lives ever: Dwight Eisenhower.

Eisenhower's most famous productivity strategy is known as "The Eisenhower Box." This powerful organizational framework allows you to prioritize the numerous tasks you have in the day into 4 categories:

  • Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  • Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  • Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  • Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

What's powerful about this framework is that there's a simple action task with each categorization.

"What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important." -Dwight Eisenhower

The first thing you should focus on is what you can immediately delgate or eliminate from your action task. Whether you have a to-do list or a calendar schedule, ask yourself:

  • What's my ultimate goal that I am trying to achieve? (learn Spanish, increase your business revenue, etc.)
  • Which of these tasks will bring me closer to my goal?
  • Which of these non-impactful tasks can I outsource or eliminate completely?

Too often we give prioritization to unimpactful tasks and waste a big chunk of our day, instead of delegating it or eliminating it.

As the Pareto's Law states, only 20% of our efforts will result in 80% of our desired results, so makes sure you choose your "do" and "decide" sections of the Eisenhower Box strategically and thoughtfully.

After filling in your Eisenhower Box, re-examine your schedule again and delete all the tasks in your schedule that belongs to the "delegate" or "delete" sections.

"Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action." — Tim Ferriss

Optimization

The next step is to optimize your schedule.

You can do this in either three ways:

  • Shorten your work tasks
  • Cut out your least important free time
  • Bundle your free times together
optimizing-your-work-schedule
Image courtesy of Sean Kim
  1. Shortening your work tasks — most of us are talented at procrastinating. Best explained by the popular Parkinson's Law, the amount of time that one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete it. This means that if you think a work task will take 2 hours, give yourself a deadline of 1 hour. It's likely you'll find a way to focus in order to get it done in time.
  2. Cut out unimportant free times — are there spare times in your day, where you simply do nothing or time-wasting tasks? Perhaps you find yourself going on social media in the late afternoon everyday, or checking email more than 5 times per day. We all have them. Cut out one of these unnecessary free times and replace it with your skill acquisition time.
  3. Bundle your free times together — this is a quick hack that can give you the best of both worlds. While I don't recommend multi-tasking when you're doing important work, it can be effective in saving you time when you're slacking. For example, rather than giving up social media or email time, you can perform these tasks together. While bundling these together may not allow you to focus 100%, it won't affect your output since you're multi-tasking during your free time, not your work time.

Once you have completed all three or even one of these optimization processes, you'll discover anywhere from one to several hours of extra time that you can dedicate to learn something new. TC mark

The Family That Killed Over A Dozen Travelers: The Bloody Benders

Posted: 27 Oct 2015 12:00 PM PDT

Chicago Daily Tribune, October 31, 1889.
Chicago Daily Tribune, October 31, 1889.

In the aftermath of America's Civil War, the United States government forcibly relocated Osage Indians from Labette County in Kansas to a designated "Indian Territory" in what would become Oklahoma. The land formerly occupied by the Osage was made available to non-Indian homesteaders.

Five families of "spiritualists" settled in western Labette County in 1871, a few miles northeast of the area in which the town of Cherryvale would be founded in 1872. One of these families was the Benders who presented themselves as John "Pa" Bender, Sr., wife "Ma" Bender, son John Jr., and daughter Kate. Both John Jr. and Kate were adults when the family settled in Labette County.

Pa and John Jr. went there before Ma and Kate. The men diligently constructed a cabin and barn and dug a well. When the buildings were almost finished in the fall of 1871, the male Benders sent word to Ma and Kate to travel to the area.

The cabin was partitioned into the Bender home in back and a combination inn, grocery store, and restaurant in front. Kate placed a sign reading "Groceries" above the cabin's front door.

John Bender, Sr. without a beard.
John Bender, Sr. without a beard.

Located in a lonely section of the Osage Trail, the Bender business appeared to offer a place to dine and sleep for weary travelers. The Benders would run this establishment from the winter of 1871 through the spring of 1873.

Ma and Kate planted a garden and orchard on the property. They were often seen cultivating vegetables and fruit trees.

The Benders had emigrated from Germany. Pa and Ma both had heavy accents that sometimes made it difficult for people to understand their English. John Jr. and Kate spoke fluent English with slight accents. Pa Bender was a tall, big-boned man with piercing black eyes under bushy eyebrows and a ruddy complexion.

Ma Bender was heavyset and unfriendly. She claimed to be a psychic who could communicate with the dead. She boiled herbs and roots that she claimed could be used in spells. Neighbors sometimes derided her as a "she-devil."

John Jr. was tall, slender, and handsome. He was friendly, but sometimes burst out laughing for no apparent reason so some people called him a "half-wit."

Ma Bender
Ma Bender

The stunningly attractive Kate was the most outgoing Bender. Calling herself a psychic and spiritual healer, she gave lectures on spiritualism and conducted séances. The Benders distributed notices advertising her supposed supernatural talents. She sometimes lectured on spiritualism. Although she was popular, some viewed her occult interests as "satanic."

People in Cherryvale and surrounding areas began noticing that quite a few travelers in the area were never heard from again. By spring in 1873, the number of disappearances triggered alarm. The Osage Township called a meeting at the Harmony Grove schoolhouse in March 1873 to discuss this concern. Among the 75 people who attended this meeting were Pa and John Jr. Bender.

At that meeting, people expressed special concern for respected physician Dr. William H. York who went missing while searching for George Loncher and his elementary school age daughter.

Both Benders remained silent as those around them decided to obtain a search warrant that would permit them to search every farmstead in the area.

Within three days, Bender neighbor Billy Tole was driving his cows past Bender Inn and noticed that the Bender farm animals appeared unfed and the property abandoned.

Tole reported this to Township Trustee Leroy F. Dick who formed a search party. Dr. York's brother, Colonel A. M. York, joined the search party. Searching was delayed for several days due to bad weather. When the search party went to the Bender property, they found the Bender cabin emptied of food, clothes, and other personal possessions. They were shocked by the terrible smell inside the former inn and home. The discovered a trap door that was nailed shut. After prying it open, they found a hole that had clotted blood but no bodies.

John Bender, Jr. was actually a man named John Gebhardt
John Bender, Jr.
Actually a man named John Gebhardt

The entire search party worked to physically move the cabin to one side so they could search underneath. No bodies were found there either.

A man noticed an area around the garden on which the dirt appeared disturbed. Almost as soon as they began digging, they found the body of Dr. William H. York because the grave was so shallow it barely concealed his feet. He had been buried face down. Upon examining the corpse, the search party found that his skull had been bludgeoned and throat slit.

Further digging turned up 10 intact bodies and some dismembered body parts. Most bodies were those of adult men, but there was one woman. An adult man and small girl were buried together. They were determined to be George Loncher and his daughter, the people for whom Dr. York had searched. No marks were found on the child's body, so some believed she had been buried alive. A body was found in the well.

A brother of Dr. York who was not part of the search party offered a $1,000 reward for the arrest of the Bender family. Kansas Governor Thomas Oborn offered a $2,000 reward for the group's arrest on May 17.

Investigators soon learned that the Bender family was not what they appeared to be. Kate Bender was Ma's daughter from a previous marriage and John Jr. was not related to anyone else in the family.

Kate Bender
Kate Bender

Pa Bender's real name was John Flickinger. Ma Bender was born Almira Meik. As a teenager, she married George Griffith. Almira had several children including Kate, whose real name was Eliza Griffith, during this marriage. George Griffith died suddenly and she married several times afterward. Investigators believed she murdered her first and subsequent husbands before finding her homicidal soul mate in John Flickinger. She may have killed three of her own children to prevent them from reporting her crimes to law officers. John Jr.'s real name was John Gebhardt.

Regardless of how the fiendish family formed, their modus operandi was diabolical. Tired and hungry visitors would stop in for a meal and were seated at a table with their backs to the canvas that separated restaurant, inn, and store from the Bender living quarters. They were seated in a chair directly above a trap door. Friendly Kate would chat with visitors until either Pa or John Jr., on the other side of the canvas, struck them from behind with a hammer. Kate and Ma Bender would go through the victim's clothes, taking cash and valuables. Kate would ensure death by slashing the person's throat. The would be dropped through the trap door into the hole. Later, at night, the corpse was buried.

Since many travelers intended to settle and purchase machinery, horses, and livestock, they often carried large amounts of cash. Even if they were not carrying much cash, the Benders could steal their horses.

However, these ghastly crimes did not make the Benders wealthy. The total take from their victims was estimated to be $4,600, a pony, a saddle, and two teams of horses and wagons.

Reporters from as far away as New York and Chicago, along with the merely curious, flocked to what was soon known as "The Devil's Kitchen" or "Hell's Acre." Many people grabbed pieces of a bloodstained bedstead, the cabin itself, or surrounding shrubbery as mementos.

While 10 intact bodies were found, the unidentifiable body parts coupled with reports of missing travelers led many to conclude that the Benders murdered over 20 people.

A search party organized to find the Benders learned that they had traveled to the town of Thayer approximately 12 miles north. There, they bought tickets to a train traveling north to Humboldt. The train's conductor reported that John Jr. and Kate left that train at Chanute and took a train southbound for the Red River area near Dennison, Texas. There were reports that they went to an area along the Texas and New Mexico border while Ma and Pa Bender stayed on the train until Kansas City where they transferred to a train bound for St. Louis.

Reward poster for Bender family
Reward poster for Bender family

The Bender story then gets mired in myth. Many people claimed to have been with posses that found and killed the Benders. However, no such story was ever proven and no one ever collected the rewards offered for Bender capture. Sightings of Benders continued into the early 20th Century.

In 1961, the Bender Museum was founded in Cherryvale for the Kansas Centennial Celebration. A replica of the Bender cabin was built with antiques inside to duplicate its furnishings. More than 2,000 people visited it during its first three days of opening. The Dick family gave three Bender hammers to the Bender Museum in 1967.

Some Cherryvale residents found the museum ghoulish and disliked associating the town with the Bender crimes. The Bender Museum closed in 1978 and a fire station was built on the site. The artifacts that were in it were transferred to the Cherryvale Museum where they remain.

A "Kansas Historical Marker" of the Bender murders is displayed at the US-400 and US-169 interchange at the Montgomery County Rest area.

The tale of the Bloody Benders remains one of the most horrifying stories of the Old West. It is also one of the most haunting because the ultimate fate of these terrible murderers is likely to be forever cloaked in mystery. TC mark