Sunday, August 24, 2014

15. go backpacking

When I wrote this list item, I think I meant that I wanted to go on one of those trips where you hike out to where you are camping and wear a big backpack with all of your supplies.
Well, screw that, me of the past.
On my trip to Ireland (yes, evidently you’ll be hearing a lot about this. Sorryish), I knew I would want to carry around a… bag of some sort. I bought this purse at Ross because I thought it would be big enough and was also cute. But then I hemmed and hawed over it for ages until I finally realized I couldn’t convince myself to like it and I should just return it. So I did. And in a stroke of sheer brilliance I searched for “day pack” on Amazon, and lo! I found a whole world of lightweight, durable, folduppable backpacks! I ordered myself a hot pink one and used it the whole time I was in Ireland, exclaiming to Niall at least daily “Have I mentioned how much I love my backpack?” and he would wearily nod his head.
See what I did there?
I still use it on the weekends now that I’m home. It’s excellent for shopping or errands because I can have my hands free, and it’s great for bringing an extra layer or several since I tend to get cold. It was also oddly comforting to have the other day when I went to my trauma survivors speakers’ board meeting; putting it on felt like I was getting a little hug. Or perhaps I really have gone insane. Whatever. We’re all just going to have to accept that Julia? Comes with a bag!
I’ve affectionately nicknamed it my pa-pack because that’s what my 2 year old niece called it. It’s… probably cuter when she says it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

4. milk a cow

I thought I had an idyllic childhood of excessive romping about the yard and swimming from dawn till dusk, until I saw where Niall grew up.

That’s his family’s dairy farm in Ireland. It's... pretty awesome.

When we went to Ireland in May for my vacation and his visit home-and-show-everybody-his-American-girlfriend trip, we managed to have a nice balance of spending time with his family and friends interspersed with doing touristy/travelly things for me since I’d never been there before.
We saw the Cliffs of Moher, dined and walked around at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, I kissed the Blarney Stone, we saw the Book of Kells, and drank a pint at the Guinness Storehouse. We also spent five days staying in holiday homes in Kenmare with his parents, sisters, and their kids and visited his extended family at the dairy farm. They are spread out in several houses on the farm property and we visited them all. I’ve never had so much tea in my life.
I embarrassed Niall by taking photos of the gorgeous scenery and we got to see his uncle’s fancy new milking machine. The lads were intermittently in and out doing chores and cutting silage. We visited the little calves and walked down to the lake.
In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I... um... did not actually physically milk a cow, BUT I had a good long visit with Niall’s grandmother, aunties, uncles, and cousins on the Irish dairy farm. And I’d much rather do that than announce hey it’s been nice talking to you all but I’ve got an item to cross off a list so can somebody point me in the direction of the nearest cow teat. It’s a scavenger hunt, not a checklist. There’s no prize crossing off each item; the fun part is the experience.
Especially if the experience includes getting Niall to stand awkwardly in front of things while I take his photo.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Story Time

My sister told me a story about her friend who lives down the street from a cemetery:
Her friend bought a house down the street from the cemetery and a couple years later she and her husband started noticing bubbles forming in the epoxy floor of their garage. They had builders out who discovered that under their house is a natural spring and the water had caused damage (and epoxy bubbles). So they had the floor dug up and the garage, basement, and foundation redone.
And under the foundation they found miscellaneous horseshoes, pottery, tombstones, and, oh oh, not to mention several BODIES. Evidently their property was part of the cemetery back in the 1900s. The bodies were supposed to be moved when the land was re-zoned, but evidently someone fell down on that job.
So, what would you do in this situation? (Move, right? You’d have to move.)
Apparently the land/remains/odds and ends were deemed as not historically significant, so the builders diverted the spring water to the neighbor’s yard for their garden, and then DUG THE FOUNDATION DEEPER, TOSSED IN THE BODIES AND CEMENTED OVER EVERYTHING. And then told my sister's friend afterward.
Sis: “Right? I couldn’t make this up. It’s like the legless man who robbed the bank in Crescent City.”
Sis: Oh, there was a legless man who robbed the bank in Crescent City. I don’t know why he didn’t just pay someone to drive him away because he got away with 35,000 dollars but then he waited for the bus and they had to lower the handicap lift for him since he was in a wheelchair.
Me: …. O_o

This is what conversations with my sister are like, you guys.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


The problem with July is that the end of it always runs into the beginning of August.
My birthday is in the end of July.
The anniversary of when I was violently sexually assaulted is in the beginning of August.
It’s basically a recipe for disaster.

I tend to get a little sad around my birthday, which I HATE admitting. Before this year I thought I was just sad around my birthday because of crappy things happening, but I’m realizing that perhaps I’m just one of those people who gets Birthday Blues. Which is LAME and STUPID, because I can try to logic myself out of feeling sad but the FEELINGS don’t go away.
Anyway, I’m generally a little sad around my birthday.

Two years ago, I turned 30 and then a few days later I went on a trip for a conference/vacation combo and came home a rape victim/survivor.
The conference I went to is an annual event, in late July/early August.
This year, the conference just happened to perfectly coincide with my birthday.

I didn’t realize how much that would affect me until I collapsed into a puddle and had a good long cry, after leaving the bar early where I had met up with a few friends for my birthday.

People I know went to the conference this year. They schmoozed and gossiped and had a grand time at the conference that I was attending when I was raped, that also happened to be on my birthday. And that’s fine. Nobody owes me anything (except for my rapist who owes me a new pair of underpants and ALSO THE LAST TWO YEARS OF MY LIFE).

It’s LAME and STUPID that I would be sad that people I knew went to the conference. It’s LAME and STUPID that I would be offended at the very existence of the conference. The conference didn’t hurt me. But trying to logic myself out of them doesn’t make the feelings go away.

So apparently the end of July and the beginning of August are just going to suck for… who knows how long? And it’s nobody’s responsibility to make it suck less, except mine. The world didn’t change when I was raped, just my world.
But that doesn’t stop me from irrationally wanting apology letters from the conference and perhaps a burning effigy or SOMETHING that makes my pain and feelings real and tangible to somebody else because sometimes I feel like I’m still going crazy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Labyrinth Epiphany

I was hanging out with my nieces the other night and we decided to watch my favorite movie, Labyrinth, because they had never seen it and also because I bribed them with popcorn and sodies.

Upon this watching I realized:
1.       I really love this movie.
2.       I REALLY love this movie.
3.       I really LOVE this movie JUST AS IT IS.

Spoilers ahead!

I used to love this movie with an asterisk because I always got annoyed with Sarah for not falling instantly in love with Goblin King Jareth and his riding crop.
In my imagination version of the movie, Jareth would successfully seduce Sarah and they would return the baby to her dad and stepmom or maybe they would keep the baby and raise him together in the Goblin Kingdom, but either way they would run off together and Sarah would be a magical queen of David Bowie's tight pants.

But instead! Sarah holds her ground against Jareth and gets the baby back and then returns to her regular life as a more worldly and mature young lady (with a little bit of magic on the side).
This used to frustrate me to no end, but now I realize that homegirl was right on! She picked up on Jareth's shady behavior and made it clear she didn't want what he was selling.

Sarah asked that the Goblin King take the baby away. He took him.
But then she changed her mind (which a lady is allowed to do at any point if a situation makes her uncomfortable AHEM) and realized it's a mistake and she wants him back.
And then Jareth goes all date-rapey creeper vibe on her. Oh what? You’ve changed your mind? You don’t mean that, LOOK AT THE PRETTY CRYSTALS. You still want the baby back? Okay, come and get him. But first, allow me to introduce you to this impossible situation in which I will set you up for failure, turn your friends against you, and manipulate your emotions! I LOVE YOU. YOU ARE MAKING ME DO THIS TO YOU.

And Sarah’s all: Nope. Give me my brother back. You have no power over me.
You go girl.