Thought Catalog

The Thing I Didn’t Understand Then Is That People’s Lives Go On When I’m Not In Them

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 08:00 PM PST

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 6.07.15 PM

I can't see in the mornings. My eyes are so full of eyelashes, my mouth so constantly red. I wake up to a fake sunshine light, the kind that people buy in the desperation of a dark winter, or perhaps they add it to their Amazon carts early in effort to beat back the oncoming blues. This light doesn't make me feel any happier or any sadder.

So many boys have watched me dress from the welcoming vantage point of my bed. They've watched me wind up tights in my hand and gingerly slip a foot, a leg, a hip in, careful not to tear the fabric and ruin another pair. I wear the snagged ones out to the bars. They watch me step into black and into pumps, shimmy into bra, tie up my hair or swirl it around a curling iron. We'd part at my front door and I'd sway down the sidewalk to my waiting, purring car, and go.

I used to watch him dress, and it was something I loved. I'd lay in bed sipping at my little cup of coffee and watch him decide who he was going to be that day, and then he'd kiss me goodbye and I'd be there still, quietly shellshocked by that easy kind of love and routine.

People move in and out of your life like that. They depart in so many different ways; they kiss you hard on the mouth in the middle of a dance floor at First Avenue and then leave for years, but return to do the same thing on a street corner.

Some people just fade away, and you don't miss them or think of them until they pop up on your Newsfeed. Or they go, draping big blankets of steely silence between the two of you, and then one day you both decide that it's time to stop acting like children and piece yourselves back together. You find yourself next to someone at the bar that you thought you'd never want to speak to again, someone you wished would get hit by a spiky, murderous bus, and you laugh because isn't that the lovely balm of time? Time just flies, and someday we'll all be obituaries in our newspaper of choice.

When I was in college, I counted on the dependability of life back at home. I'd come back for holidays, for summer, and my uncles were still moving from place to place like clockwork. The mail came at the same time it always had. My grandma was still in her place, rocking away in a navy chair, under a wall of pastel portraits of her children. So much of my life was a rollercoaster, always changing and looping up and down, that the stability of North Dakota, the simple way time flowed, kept me comforted. I always thought that things would stay that way forever, but my grandma died and we boxed up her house and it sits there quite cold and sad, sagging a little, waiting to be taken away. I know she's not in there and that without her, it's just a house, but I still can't step inside without gagging on my sadness.

I moved between wanting to go, go, go – saving money in a little kitty for Los Angeles, the dreams I thought would come true there that I'd never find in Minnesota – and wanting to stay, to plant the big, strong roots I'd grown up with. I didn't go to Los Angeles, told my 25-year-old self still smarting from a heartache to grow up and stop thinking a new city would calm her brokenness, and I stayed. In my early twenties, I wrote about painting myself into my bedroom and hiding until things worked out the way I wanted, asking my friends to slide their treasures under the door the way the Kennedys placed trinkets in JFK's coffin. I wanted to wait out the bad in a safe little place and emerge like a Disney Princess to a rescuing prince. I thought he'd be waiting outside the door, but he wasn't.

The thing I didn't understand then is that people's lives go on when I'm not in them. You can love someone so much, want to consume their very soul and their whole messy being, want to hide out with them forever, but when you're not together, the world still works, still moves in its own ways. The selfishness of youth starts to fade when you realize that time isn't really on your side. TC mark

7 Everyday Struggles Of ‘Looking’ Like An Unapproachable Woman But Actually Being Really Friendly

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 07:15 PM PST

Twenty20 / thompsonlxs_
Twenty20 / thompsonlxs_

Recently, while minding my own business at a social event, a guy who I did not know approached me to inform me that I had a "bitch face." This is not the first time this has happened. Actually, it tends to happen frequently enough for it to be a joke among my social circle, and especially when I'm not actively smiling. (A “condition” known to many as resting bitchface syndrome or chronic bitch face.)

Depending on context, tone, and probably how tolerant of a stranger's random comments I want to be on the day, I respond to such accusation of having a bitch face with a nonchalant, "Well, that's just my face." Sometimes I smile (sarcastically) and ask, "Happy now?" Sometimes I smile genuinely and say, "It's to scare away superficial people." This time, I humorously told the guy, "Clearly, it wasn't bitchy enough because you still came up to talk to me." He laughed, and before long, we were in a deep conversation about the dynamics of demeanor and presentation of self.

Today, there are more than enough think pieces on the Internet explaining in particular to men, why they should refrain from telling women to smile, "be approachable," and whatever other adjectives are the antithesis to bitchy and unapproachable. There has even been a social art project, "Stop Telling Women To Smile" which addresses street harassment of women.

To some, such conversations are minor and are of little significance in a world with many big problems. But it all feeds into a much larger systemic problem of sexism and the unrelenting patriarchal nature of many societies. Think of it as an everyday side effect of gendered perceptions and social inequalities that are sometimes passive and merely annoying, and sometimes active and potentially dangerous.

Thus, as a woman who according to some people (especially but not exclusively men), has this supposedly unapproachable demeanor, but then later is often deemed quite friendly or warm or affectionate after-the-fact, I'd like to share some of the everyday struggles faced:

1. People automatically assume that you're a hostile or cold person and because of that assumption, might treat you in a hostile manner. Which of course might have the outcome of you responding in the manner in which you were treated, and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When in reality you would otherwise not have treated them in such a manner, had they not approached you in a combative way to start. Talk about inception.

2. Your “minor” public/street harassment can go from 0 to 60 really fast. Because you already have an unapproachable demeanor, you will likely be told to cheer up (a lot). Not wanting to escalate the situation (and likely wanting to not give any inviting impression whatsoever in this situation), you will ignore it. The combination of seemingly actively ignoring harassment, as well as already having an uninviting demeanor, can lead to an especially negative, hostile reaction.

3. If you like someone in a platonic or romantic manner, you will have to go out of your way to make that known. People are often surprised that you liked them at all in the first place, because their initial impression of you is of someone who did not remotely want to engage with them at all. Or they overlook(ed) you entirely because of your deceptively unfriendly demeanor.

4. It takes a while for people to grasp your sense of humor. People initially can't tell the difference between your jokes and your candid observations. So you might often be hesitant to showcase your sense of humor around people when you first meet them. This of course has the effect of making you seem even more intimidating to people.

5. You have to go out of your way when it comes to people who work in any sort of customer service. You've learned the hard way that unless you give off extremely positive vibes to people in service professions, you're not going to get very far with them. And without going the extra mile, you know you're going to be seen as the disgruntled customer even if you're not in any way shape or form being uncooperative.

6. People can be callous about how they treat you because they view you as emotionally distant or incapable of being hurt. While your close friends know this to be untrue, other people can sort of see you as someone whose temperament and feelings are unimportant. Even when you are an emotionally strong person, you don't appreciate the lack of respect directed at you under the guise of "being able to take it."

7. You hate to admit it but you worry if your demeanor may be holding you back in any and all areas of your life. More than anything, you wish people knew that having a stoic appearance doesn't preclude you from the same fears and desires everyone else has as they go about their life from day-to-day – it just precludes you from looking like it. TC mark

The Guy You’re Going To Marry

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 06:00 PM PST

Simone Becchetti
Simone Becchetti

He's the one who holds your hand in a dark movie theatre, even after years of going to see movies together. When there's a scary or romantic or sad part, he always manages to find your hand between your seats and give it the littlest squeeze, or just let your fingers rest softly together. He knows that the best part of movie night is not the movie itself, but spending it with you, and getting to talk about it the whole way home.

(Oh, and the buttered popcorn and candy, which you devour without ever feeling an ounce of shame or "oh, I shouldn't." When you're with him, you're a kid again, and kids get the ridiculously-sized popcorn and their favorite box of sweets.)

He can barely contain the secret when he's about to surprise you with something, and you can feel that he gets just as excited as you do about the idea of making you happy. He loves to plan and plot for special occasions, or just show up at the door with your favorite meal on a random Tuesday, because he knows that the only way to keep romance "alive" is to create it. Maybe he's not the best at making storybook scenes, but you wouldn't even want that. The fact that he goes to the bar with the best buffalo wings two hours early so that you guys can have the best seats to watch the game is the most romantic thing you can think of, and that's the kind of guy he is.

The guy you will marry might not be the most handsome, the most funny, the smartest, the strongest. But to you, he's the best in all of those categories, because the love you feel for him will make you change those categories to fit his description. Suddenly, him watching his favorite show on the couch with a little bowl of ice cream will seem incredibly sexy and charming, because it's him doing it. His dumb dad jokes will feel endearing and actually make you laugh. His job might not make the most money, sure, but you would much rather have him at home with you at a reasonable time than have him working nights and weekends at some high-powered job to make you a little richer. He isn't perfect in any one way, but he's perfect to you in all of them.

When you have one of your freakouts about something minor, he'll keep his cool. And when he's frustrated over something small, you'll know how to make him put it in perspective. To each other, you'll be a mix of therapist, doctor, and trusted friend. Sometimes the only thing you'll need to separate the "legitimate problems" from the "all-in-your-head annoyances" will be someone who can talk you down from the ledge. You will always be that person for each other.

With him, everything will be more exciting. Trips to the grocery store will suddenly feel sexy and adventurous. Walks around your neighborhood will make you discover new things you've seen a million times, but never noticed. Little weekend excursions will become oases from the chaos of daily life. Everything will take on a new meaning with them, and you'll catch yourself realizing, all the time, how much you wish they were there when you see something really funny, or really beautiful.

The guy you will marry will feel like home whenever you're with him, because he's the only person you know who can take care of you — without making you feel like you're a kid. He'll make you a warm bowl of soup, but still crack dirty jokes while you're eating it. He'll hold you in his arms, but still take your breath away when he surprises you with a deep kiss. He'll play video games with you all day on the couch, but still get dressed up for a nice dinner out in the evening. And yes, sometimes you'll fight, but you'll never doubt for a second that you are still at home when you're together. If he walks out in a fit of anger, you'll trust that he'll take a walk around the block and come back. And if you say something you regret, you know that he'll forgive you, and hold you until it feels better.

The man you marry will be your teammate, and your favorite friend. He will be the one you want to hang out with, get drunk with, be naked with, be honest with, and laugh with. And if you do it right, your whole life together will feel like one big sleepover that never has to end. TC mark

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Read This If You’re Not Going To Be Home For The Holidays

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 05:45 PM PST

Benjamin Combs
Benjamin Combs

What is your favourite Christmas song? According to a billboard chart dedicated exclusively to Christmas music, Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You is the most popular song in the United States. While Carey is a singer I feel privileged to have grown up listening to as I developed my own tastes in music, when I think of Christmas music, I don’t think of All I Want Is You.

In the home I grew up in as in many other homes I’m sure, Christmas time meant Louis Armstrong’s Christmas in New Orleans, and Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby, and of course that Nat King Cole favourite, The Christmas Song, which is the fourth most popular Christmas track in the United States. As devout Catholics, Christmas was also about the many choruses and choral renditions of Silent Night and Joy To The World and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. For me, these songs make up the sounds of Christmas.

I still listen to most of these songs in my adulthood which bring back joyful memories – really, peaceful memories – that I have of this time of year. In a way, they’ve become a saving grace to the other memories of Christmas somewhere between childhood and teenage years and adulthood that brought stress and sadness. Why do memories tend to work like that? Why does sadness sometimes seem to overwhelm joy?

Sadness, as you may or may not know, is another theme of the holiday season. It seems counterintuitive that a holiday that should be about the best things in life – music, food, family, friends, and goodwill – can in reality also become a time of year characterized by loneliness, disappointment, and anxiety. Indeed, it goes beyond sadness, and into a spike in medical depression.

Some of the reasons given for this sadness and even depression are: failed expectations, the stress of comparing your lives and livelihoods to family and friends, the propensity for this time of year to be for reflection – both good and bad, and as a co-worker put it, conducting “the annual happiness check.” The annual happiness check, we determined, constitutes of mostly mandatory questions we ask when we gather with people periodically: “How’s life?” “How’s your job?” “Seeing anyone?” “Getting married soon?” “How are the kids?” All of which we have a tendency to respond superficially to, because who really wants to talk about the disappointments of their life in the most wonderful time of the year?

There is of course another reason that is more than just individual states of mind for which may bring the holiday blues. There is the reality of many who spend the holidays away from home. Home, of course, is not just a physical place, it is that invisible space where we feel love and safety in the midst of people who we care for, and who care for us, deeply, and if we’re lucky, unconditionally.

Open your homes and your hearts to unexpected friends and lonely strangers.

But the disconcerting reality of life is not everyone can go home or has a home. There are those who may face financial restraints, and there are those who feel unwelcome by those who fate decided ought to be the people who should care for them, but don’t. Yet still there are those who through dumb luck, difficult choices, lack of community, experience, and whatever else, do not have that physical homestead or that invisible but irreplaceable experience of home.

One of those is easier to cure than the other. In my adulthood, I have not always been able to make it to my homesteadto the physical (and sometimes changing) place where my parents and siblings and other family and friends may gather during this time of year. But I have mostly also found my home in those sweet family we choose, whom we call friends. I have said this many times in my twenties so far as a woman who has been far from family and often single: your friends are your family during this time of your life. It’s why I put so much effort into my friendships – they have been my saving grace, my family, and my home.

But even still, a few Christmases ago, I found myself feeling that other lack of home. Far away, and in a particularly difficult year, and my stubborn refusal to reach out and “burden” my many homes that one year. I remember being at Christmas mass fighting back tears. The one place I will always feel safe enough to cry is church, but these were not the usual tears of relief or release, these were tears of loneliness. And I would eventually be rescued by unexpected friends that Christmas, because it is good to be with people. But I will never forget that feeling, and I will never wish it for anyone who knows me and considers me their home.

What I learned from that Christmas however, was one of the most important lessons I have had to learn. I learned that as much as we make homes with the families some of us are born into, and some of the good friends we consider family, we must also make a home in our own hearts; we must make a home in our selves. It’s a lesson I think, that can only be learned through a lonely experience, but it was a lesson worth learning.

The other lesson I learned from that Christmas was opening your heart and home to some unexpected people. Interestingly, it’s a lesson I learned in childhood too. See, every Christmas my mother would make us gather all the items we were no longer using and give them away to the less fortunate. And for much of my childhood, especially because my parents anniversary comes two days after Christmas, we would host friends and friends of friends at our home. So for me, the best of Christmas was about giving, sharing, and being.

In my lonely Christmas I was “rescued” by a friend and her friend – who probably didn’t know they were rescuing me at the time. In truth, we were probably rescuing each other. But I would also spend some time with some of Chicago’s homeless, who more than anything else, just want some company. I had spent many times working with the homeless in some shape or form, but never like this – never getting to know some of their most intimate stories. They were lonely and I was lonely, and although I had more to offer them in terms of the material things of life, in terms of what we had to offer each other beyond that, we were equals. We offered each other what we could: friendship, kindness, and loneliness.

I’ve decided I never again want to be as lonely as I was that Christmas. Which is probably why I’m writing this for those who think they might be, or who already are. To you, I say, tell people you want to be with them this time of year. Don’t be stubborn. You are not a burden and you might be saving someone as much as they might be saving you. Open your homes and your hearts to unexpected friends and lonely strangers. Together, find that other home – that invisible space – where you can care for people deeply and maybe even unconditionally.

Most importantly, even through tears, put on some sounds of the Christmases that you’ve loved or the Christmases that you want to love, be the love you need, and make a home in your heart. After all, home needn’t be in the past or somewhere in the future, home can be right now. TC mark

11 Daily Challenges Only Working Moms Can Really Appreciate

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 05:00 PM PST

Shutterstock, Halfpoint
Shutterstock, Halfpoint

1. You've typically accomplished 25 things before 7:30 AM.

You've changed 1-2 diapers, brushed multiple sets of teeth, made multiple meals, gotten multiple people dressed and watched at least one cartoon or episode of Sesame Street. You have no idea what is going on in the world because your child won't let you watch the news and you're too busy making milk bottles to check your phone. There's also a fairly good shot you've read a board book, colored, mashed Play-doh together and stepped barefoot on a Lego.

2. Every time you walk out the door, someone's got a heartache.

You say your goodbyes to the kid, who either screams and cries like it's the end of the world or, worse yet, completely ignores you and pushes you away when you attempt to kiss her good-bye. You spend the commute to work worrying about whether the crying kid is still crying, if you should just quit your job now or if you can perhaps come home early to spend more time with the crying kid, who most definitely stopped crying 30 seconds after you left.

3. Every moment of peace is quickly followed by torturous worry and/or guilt.

The morning flies by and for about 15 minutes, you indulge in a quiet cup of coffee at your desk followed by an uninterrupted trip to the office bathroom. This is, without question, the most relaxing part of your day because a small person will not barge in on your bathroom time or scream, "Mama!" repeatedly until you acknowledge her or let her watch you do your thing. Then as soon as you actually feel yourself relax, you worry about the 10 things you have to get done at work that morning so you can eventually get home on time. That's when the guilt circles back.

4. You learn a lot of things about your kid from a secondhand source.

You hear about what your kid is doing from your nanny, your spouse or a friend who saw your kid at a music class or play date and sends you a text or a photo of your kid. Your heart immediately jumps into that text or photo and wants to be there, reassuring your kid that you love them to itsy bitsy pieces and just want to scoop her up and hug her to infinity. You spend the next hour worrying that you're not spending enough quality time with your kid and that she'll grow up to resent you being away so much.

5. It's a serious challenge to spend quality time with your kid during the week.

On days where there are doctor appointments, the rare music class that you can attend or the opportunity to have dinner together, you race out of work, paranoid that even though you're leaving a mere 30 minutes early, everyone is judging you for lack of dedication. Then you're cursing the hurdles that are making your commute longer than normal. You can feel your pulse jump out of your neck with anxiety. How much longer until you can get there? Will you make it in time? When you finally arrive, you're usually sweating, starving (because you skipped lunch so you could finish your work) and exhausted.

6. You're a walking collage of kid excrement.

During one of your sacred office bathroom trips, you go to wash your hands only realize while looking at yourself in the mirror that you have milk, oatmeal or snot wiped across your blouse and it's been there the entire morning while you've had multiple meetings with senior executives. You're grateful that it's not poop and regularly travel with hand wipes and miniature organic laundry spray to get stains out. Discovering that the arm of your black blazer is covered in dried glue is not that surprising considering you were wearing that blazer when trying to drop in on your toddler's playgroup's holiday art project during your lunch hour.

7. You're a walking pharmacy.

Your oversized, bowling ball heavy work bag contains most of the following: a pacifier, organic pureed ready-to-eat pouches, hand sanitizer, wipes, children's Tylenol with syringe applicator, a disposable bib, a hair bow if you have a daughter, your wallet which is open and been sifted through by tiny fingers, a few loose credit cards, a Lego or two, a board book, a diaper (hopefully a clean one, but a pee soaked one might make an occasional appearance) and two cell phones (one you use, and an old one you let your kid play with).

8. You always leave work feeling as if you're not quite finished.

You're consumed by the projects that you're working on, but there's always something tugging at your heartstrings like curiosity over what your baby is eating for lunch. How is she spending her day? Is she happy? Sad? Is she wondering where you are? Does she ask for you? Does she understand why mommy isn't there? When you finally make the decision to pack up for the day and head home, you feel unaccomplished and stressed about everything that's left to do. Then you get home and your second job starts. You don't want to take a break because you haven't seen your kid all day, but you're exhausted.

9. You're the worst date in the world the night before.

The day before an actual date night with your spouse, you go from being extremely excited for some quality time to worried about how much the babysitter and a dinner out will cost and whether leaving your kid at home so you can have a peaceful evening as a couple is even worth it. You finally learn to enjoy yourself with a glass of wine at dinner and realize that you need to do this more often. You'll get lost in conversation with your husband, and if you can stop thinking and talking about your children for 5 minutes, you'll find that you're actually having a great time. It will seem like you just got there when you realize that it's been 3 hours and your little night out with your husband that used to be free now costs over $100.

10. Your to-do list is literally neverending.

By the time you get home at night, you’ve been going strong since the early morning hours but there are a hundred other things to do in addition to spending time with the people you've been thinking about all day. You want to chase your kid around and read to her and stack wooden blocks and boxes and watch Bubble Guppies, but there's laundry to do and bills to pay and dinner and mail and grocery shopping and the complete mess of a home you left that morning. You are very aware of the limited free time you have and have enough experience to realize that you'll only accomplish a small fraction of your to-do list no matter how many hours there are in the day.

11. The kid(s) are finally asleep and you can barely keep your eyes open.

You consider it a victory if you make it through an entire episode of Homeland without falling asleep. You tell your husband that you're, "just resting your eyes," but he's on to you and makes you go to bed. You don't argue because you feel like a cross between a zombie, a mental patient, a great-grandmother and a master of all trades for having balanced another day as a working parent. TC mark

10 Reasons Kylo Ren From ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Is Totally Crushable

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 04:00 PM PST

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Let me start by saying: I’m not proud of this. I’ve always been the girl who likes the bad guys — prime examples being Draco Malfoy and Dr. Thredson from “American Horror Story” — but I’m not exactly a “Star Wars” fan. I mean, I appreciate them for what they are, I’m just more of a horror gal than a sci-fi gal. But of course I had to go see the new movie because, well, I’m a human that exists in December of 2015.

I was not prepared for Adam Driver’s subtle, understated performance as Dark Side up-and-comer Kylo Ren. So often, villains are portrayed as vain, pompous characters that follow the same formula we’ve seen for many, many years. That’s why when a Norman Bates or Heath Ledger’s Joker comes around, we (Villain Lovers Anonymous™) get all fangirly. It doesn’t mean we support their choices, just that they’re sexy af. That being said, I present for your approval…

1. That. Hair.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you have also not seen the glorious moment when Kylo Ren takes off his mask and unveils Adam Driver’s thick, luxurious mane of black hair. What’s even better is that, flipping the script once again, Ren removes his mask after Rey has taunted him for hiding behind it — and he’s cool as a cucumber. Just takes the thing off and is all, “Okay, can we continue?” I want to touch it. I want to touch the hair.

2. He’s Got Serious Attitude

In reference to the previous scene (and much of the movie) it was interesting to see a villain so calm and collected in his interactions with both enemies and colleagues. No dramatic laughs, no complicated explanation of his plans. Ren is a straight-shooter; with that deep sultry voice echoing from the mask, he makes almost anything sound sinister and somehow reasonable.

3. Yet He’s Not Afraid To Show His Emotions

Who among us haven’t wanted to throw a lightsaber-fit at some unsuspecting console when things don’t go our way? Plus, tantrums mean you get to pet that hair of his and tell him everything’s going to be okay.

4. More Like Tall, Dark Side, and Handsome, Amirite?

He’s tall. Very tall. And being part of the Dark Side, well, that’s got its own allure I already mentioned.

5. He’s Still Learning And Growing As A Person

Whereas Vader was already a stone-cold supreme leader when we met him in Episode IV, Kylo Ren is not quite there yet. He’s still training, finding out new ways to use the Force. The last thing you want is a Sith boyfriend who refuses to better himself.

6. He’s, Like, SUPER Close With His Grandpa

Speaking of Darth Vader, Kylo Ren idolizes his super-evil grandpa. I, too, hold my grandpa in very high regard. That’s a very important quality in a guy. If Vader were still alive, I imagine the three of us would go to brunch and he’d insist on picking up the tab.

7. …But He’s Got Daddy Issues You Can Help Him Work Through

Not everyone’s relationship with their family is perfect. Ren and Han Solo don’t have the best father-son bond. (I guess you could actually call it the WORST father-son bond.) This gives you the opportunity to lament your own issues with relatives over a few drinks before he finally opens up and lets you in.

8. I Mean, He’s Tortured, But You Can Totally Save Him

Massacres and Force-related attacks aside, Kylo Ren is a complicated man. But we know, like with all damaged goods boys, there’s a sweet side lurking beneath all that black clothing. He just needs someone who truly understands to bring that sweetness out. I CAN FIX HIM. I CAN!

9. He Reaches Out For Help When He Needs It

He was having a hard time deciding between the Dark Side and the Light Side and he was brave enough to ask his dad for help, even though they have their differences. Han Solo was more than happy to help his son figure out how to make that tough decision. See? Progress! (I’m sorry for this one, I really am.)

10. He’s Really Committed To His Career

Murder, lightsaber battles, blowing up planets, you name it. Kylo Ren is climbing that corporate ladder at The First Order and he’s not gonna stop until he reaches the top and reclaims the glory that Grandpa Vader lost. That’s a good sign he’ll be able to provide for the future and all the little space babies we’ll eventually make together. TC mark

A List Of Places In Your Body That I Love

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 03:00 PM PST


I love the places you hold your doubt. The places that are dark because you have forgotten to grow their light. I love the space within your chest, the place you hold your breath when you feel like giving up, the lump that chokes your throat when you talk about your feelings.

And yet I live for the places you harvest your hope. The areas within your cells where happiness thrives, the inspiration that causes your laughter to meet your eyes.

I love the places in your body that hold the hearts you once held. The notches along your ribcage that hang their names like worn out spells. I love how they chime within your mind from time to time, how they taught you about the hands you had to find. Mine.

I adore the areas in your body that are scarred, that are tired. I see the hurt you hold within every inch of your fire, in each and every bone that has broken under the pressure of being enough and loving enough. I adore the strength you hold within those breaks, the brick and mortar of your mistakes, the fight within your wounds.

See, I simply love every piece of you. Every place that houses hope, every dungeon that grows doubt. I love your extremes, your faults, your flaws – the spaces inside your body you have always kept hidden for fear of turning someone away. It is every place within your body that makes me want to stay. TC mark

Read more of Bianca Sparacino’s writing in her new book Seeds Planted in Concrete here.


Graduation Takes A Lifetime

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 02:00 PM PST

Danil Nevsky
Danil Nevsky

It's graduation and you're sitting in the back while the high school sweethearts slow dance wondering what your life has in store for you.

You're surrounded by aviators and brain surgeons, veterinarians and electricians and your chest is tightening because you just don't see it, you can't see you, ten years from now, with a career and a house and a car and kids and you don't understand how anyone here could be so sure of themselves or where they're headed.

Where's the map, you wonder, where's the rulebook on waking up tomorrow because all of a sudden they say you're supposed to be an adult and it's all going much too fast. You wish time would slow down.

You want tonight, for all its white balloons and ballroom gowns and non alcoholic wine and over enthusiastic DJs and teary eyed teachers and proud parents and all of the people you've grown up with the last 6 most significant years of your life, to last forever. You don't want to forget anyone's names. You don't want to leave any of this behind. But you must. And it's okay to be afraid.

Tomorrow the sun will come up, just as it always has, and always will and you will be given two choices, each day, again and again, over and over for the rest of your life: do or don't. And my god I hope you do. I hope you seize every moment. I hope you live fiercely and laugh deeply and love wildly because the truth of the matter is whatever comes next, whether its an eternity of nothing or a kingdom up in the sky, graduation is not the few short hours we're given to celebrate our arrival into adulthood. Graduation takes a lifetime. And what you make of it is entirely and always up to you. TC mark

17 Unmistakable Signs You’re Dealing With Residual Catholic Guilt

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 01:00 PM PST

Ondřej Vaněček
Ondřej Vaněček

1. You reflexively cross yourself every time you see road kill.

2. Masturbating still kinda feels like stroking the devil's paw.

3. Occasionally, you drop a gum wrapper on the street. You take a few apathetic steps forward before quickly backing up to retrieve your litter.

4. You're still dealing with the envy you felt on Ash Wednesdays when comparing your friend's crisp, well-executed forehead cross to your sloppy ash-blob.

5. You’re equal parts morally and physically compelled to give all homeless people and street performers money.

6. When you announce that in most (medieval) portraits, Jesus' abs look like freshly baked challah bread and that he could most definitely get it, you feel a little icky. But just a little.

7. You're determined to have sex in front of an altar…cuz sacrilege.

8. But you've never done it and probably never will…cuz sacrilege.

9. You're still losing sleep over the algebra test you cheated on 10 years ago.

10. Every once in a while, in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, you contemplate resurrecting your religious zeal. But then you remember how stressful saying grace before meals is, and you reconsider.

11. You’re grossly vindicated when using the Bible (and its hypocrisies) to defend your liberal stances on homosexuality, abortion, and basically all other sex-related "sins."

12. You feel a strange need to articulate the difference between a practicing Catholic (your parents) and a cultural Catholic (you) to absolute randos.

13. And while you no longer say your Hail Marys before bed, you have an equally ineffable need to defend organized religion to people who've never been a part of it.

14. You're still haunted by that one TAKE 5 bar you stole from the corner store in fifth grade.

15. When you misplace your iPhone, your first instinct is to say a prayer to St. Anthony.

16. You have creepy memories of feeling personally offended when your Protestant friends would sneak communion.

17. And even though you totally lied about it, you felt sinful when getting "drunk" off your first sip of the Blood of Christ. TC mark