leave out all the rest.

Okay, so before we start this can you please push play on this video and listen to this song. Like just stop and listen to it all the way through.

I decided I would write a post about what Linkin Park, and Chester Bennington specifically, meant to me. I was trying really hard to come up with well thought out and eloquent things to say to describe something that is a mixture of big and messy feelings. Then today I read this article. Number one: it made me cry (again) and number two: it describes a lot of my feelings in a far more eloquent way than I ever could. So you really should read it. All of the quotes in this post are from that article, but they don’t give the full message. Hanif Abdurraqib wrote it and it is beautiful and you should read it. All the way through.

Linkin Park was the first band I ever loved. They were the first music I ever loved. Before them I didn’t know that music could be a release. That I could work through my emotions through music. That a singer could somehow reach what I was feeling and relate. Chester made me feel like I wasn’t alone. And sometimes that is the most important thing. I didn’t need someone to fix it, I just needed someone to understand. Hanif Abdurraqib says it much prettier: “… Linkin Park, and specifically Bennington, kicked in the door to our respective darknesses not to spark a light, but to sit with us for a while.

It was life changing. Music has become so important to me. It became therapy, a coping mechanism, a way to escape. And it all started with Linkin Park. Hybrid Theory came out when I was eleven. I listened to that album every day. I had a paper route back then and every day when I set out I had my discman and that album. I listened to it on repeat; I knew every word to every song. When Meteora came out three years later I alternated between them. I still know every word to every song on both of those albums.

And Chester, Chester was my favourite part of Linkin Park. In the same way that Linkin Park was the first band I ever fell in love with, Chester’s was the first voice I ever fell in love with. When you were sad his singing was comforting, when you were angry there was something about the way his screaming cut and either way it felt like you knew he felt the same as you.

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His death has hit me harder than I would have expected it would. Never has the death of someone I never met had such a profound effect. But you see, if I close my eyes and listen to Hybrid Theory I can almost feel again how it felt to be twelve. I can almost feel how it felt to be young and confused but somehow to feel seen and understood. And I think that is why. I may have never known Chester, but he feels like a part of me. Like I wouldn’t be who I am today if he hadn’t been a part of my life. And I feel like that is significant.

Over the last few days, I have seen so many people trying to express what seems like a version of these same feelings. There are a lot of people who are saying that he kept them alive.

I love Hanif Abdurraqib’s article for the way it talks about Bennington’s voice and his authenticity and his presence. But I love it most for the way it talks about his death:

“I want to say that I hate the thing we do where we talk about suicide in terms of winning and losing: a person either beating their demons or losing to them. It boils down an ongoing struggle into a simple binary, to be celebrated and mourned — as if every day survived on the edge of anything isn’t simply gearing up for another day to survive and another day after that.

I believe that any of us who faces trauma and still survives is heroic, even if we aren’t keeping anyone else alive but ourselves. But I don’t like to think of anyone who gives in to whatever they imagine waits on the other side of suffering as someone who has lost. We have lost them, sure. But who does it serve to create a narrative where there is a scoreboard for our pain and how we navigate the vastness of it? Death is the action — the end result, of course. But I have known people who didn’t want to die as much as they wanted to stop feeling a desire for death. A world without that always-hovering cloud. And I don’t think of those who are departed as people who lost, and when we frame these grand and nuanced battles as absolutes — with the “strong” people surviving and sometimes suffering and the “weak” people falling into the arms of absence — it does an injustice to the true machinery of the brain, of the body, of the heart, of anything responsible for keeping us here on the days we don’t want to be. 

Whatever engine pushes a person towards death is made up of a lot of parts that are not always singing to each other, or not always singing at the same pitch or volume. Chester Bennington was a whole, brilliant, successful person and a survivor. But that which he survived still sat on top of and underneath his skin. There is no fix for that, no matter how many of us want to see one.”

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I’m so tired of hearing suicide talked about as a net loss. Like our lives can be boiled down to either winning or losing. Defeating your demons or being defeated by them. That is a cheap, unfair way to look at a life. What about everyday before July 20? Everyday he chose to stay alive. Why are those days all erased? Just because he is not here does not mean that he was weak. Or selfish. Or that he lost. It makes me sad to hear people say that since he could not save himself, the hope and peace he gave to us is somehow lessened or cheapened. Just because he is gone doesn’t mean that the help he gave to those who listened to him wasn’t real. He was light and hope and peace and his death cannot erase that. That is not a fair thing to think or say. Again, allow me to use Hanif’s words:

“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the artist who chooses to make themselves a mirror. It is brave work, and it should be hailed as such. The work of allowing people to see bits of their pain in your own pain is often thankless but needed labor — labor that takes on a heavier weight as the platform of an artist grows. But even if you are able to make a map out of your grief and trauma with the chart of a generous mapmaker, it doesn’t mean the mapmaker has figured their own way out of whatever maze their trauma has trapped them in. There is a difference between the work of not wanting others to die and the work that comes with keeping yourself alive.” 

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I don’t know when I’ll be able to listen to Linkin Park again without being sad. I think it will linger. Music is such an important part of my life and I can trace the origins of that directly back to him. It is such a clear and distinct starting point that it makes me wonder how differently I would have turned out if I had never found him.

Please listen to this song too.

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don’t resent me / when you’re feeling empty / keep me in your memory / leave out all the rest

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I tried really hard to find the original source of this photo. All I could find was that it was posted to tumblr here. The feature image is from the Linkin Park twitter account.

 

Farming

I’ve been going at my garden hammer and tongs the past week or so, and all I want to do is talk gardening with everyone I see. Right after we got the house we didn’t spend a ton of time here (so many weddings to attend) and the previous owner hadn’t done a ton of work in the garden, so it was pretty much a jungle. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and did some general weeding and digging, but wasn’t quite sure what all I should do or where to start. Then a pal gave me some advice re: weeds and then gave me some poppies (which have since, sadly, died), and Josh’s parents came to visit and they’re big gardeners and they helped me out. And so! I now have bedding plants and better soil and a handle on the weeds and a new shovel which I love. It was also discovered that we own an edger, which I didn’t even know was a thing until Josh’s mom was like “this is an edger!” and I was like “it’s been hanging in the shed this whole time?!”

(I want you to know that I just spent an hour looking at gardening websites instead of writing this post)

Gardening has involved so much digging, and since Edmonton is currently riding a heatwave, I have been taking long, cool showers after hours in the garden to cool me down and wash off the copious amounts of sweat. Gardening has also involved some community building. Josh’s mom and I spent two days working in the heat, and she brought me all kinds of bedding plants and some irises. A friend gave me poppies, an iris, and some peonies (all suffering, it’s a hard life). Another friend brought me a Maltese Cross and some Icelandic poppy seeds. There’s a community garden near our house, and twice when I’ve been there I’ve gotten encouragement and advice from neighbours. I learned from a woman there that goji berries will grow in Edmonton’s zone, and I asked about goji berries on the facebook and got connected to someone who might give me some. Basically, I’m being connected into a group where perennials and knowledge get shared around and everyone is excited about gardening.

After a few days of work in the garden I realized that a travesty had occurred and I had neglected to take any before pictures, so you will have to be satisfied with these almost-current photos (they are missing a plant with burgundy leaves and white flowers, a small strawberry, and the aforementioned Maltese Cross) which I took at like the worst time of day for photos I’M SORRY.

I FEEL LIKE THESE MAYBE AREN’T AS IMPRESSIVE AS I WANT THEM TO BE but let me tell you all about it. Here we have a couple general views of the garden in the side-yard (we have a truly giant yard. Please come visit and see how big it is.), which used to be entirely choked with Creeping Bellflower and didn’t have an edge to it at all. The grass grew right up to the flowers and weeds. And then, top right, we have an overhead look at the echinacea I bought when I was at the garden centre and realized that Josh and I can buy and plant whatever we want. What a world. It’s our yard! We can do whatever we want with it! Amazing.

And then the bottom two pictures are the front garden bed (left) and the itty bitty mint and mystery-plant-but-probably-sage bed beside the barbeque (right).

I have a couple different views of the front garden to show you.

That plant is a variety of stonecrop called Old Man’s Bones which is, let’s be honest, totally hilarious. How could I not have it in the garden?! And then the other pic is so you can see the large rock and the plants we’ve added. There used to be two plants in this section along with a bunch of grass and NOW LOOK. The iris in the middle is suffering but I have confidence in its recovery.

GUESS WHAT I looked through my phone and found a couple before pics of the front garden which I only have because I was joyfully taking pictures of Barney, the cat who visits sometimes.

Do you see all the grass? All the weeds? I used to be slightly ashamed of the garden and now I look at it and say “I rejoice to see my children walking in the truth.”

I want to add more poppies (I bought one of the last ones of the season at the garden centre), a goji berry bush, more edibles (rhubarb, raspberries, more alpine stawberries), another garden bed in the back (need to get the rototiller working(, a raised bed by the garage, and then sunflowers, spinach, pumpkin, zucchini, tomatoes in the corner of the backyard next summer. Working in the garden makes me feel productive and accomplished. It gives me something to care for and makes me feel better about my body. I feel pleasantly tired at the end of the day when I’ve spent some time weeding and shoveling and problem-solving. I want to turn our backyard into a sanctuary and a retreat.

I’ll end this post with a picture of Barney as he joined me the other night to help me do some digging. He’s the sweetest cat, loves belly rubs.

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The friend zone isn’t a thing. Please stop.

Today in things that Raiah has absolutely zero patience for we have: the friend zone.

I have absolutely no patience or understanding for any guy who uses this term to describe their situation in relation to a girl. I would say that this goes the same for vice versa, but I don’t think I have ever heard a girl use the term in a serious way.

Why do I hate this term so much? It is essentially a way of stating that they have blatantly ignored a woman’s statement of her intentions and feel that they are owed something beyond friendship, usually because they believe themselves to be a “nice guy.”

Here is how it usually goes. A guy likes a girl. He expresses either directly or indirectly to her that he is romantically interested in her. She tells him that she is not romantically interested in him. Sometimes she says “I think we should just be friends” because she honestly wants to be friends with him. Sometimes she feels like that is an easier way to let down a guy she is just not interested in.

Either way, the guy starts referring to the situation as being “friend zoned.”

Here is why it is a blatant dismissal of her feelings. If he really did hear and understand her clearly stated intentions (I am not interested in being in a relationship with you), he would not refer to it as “the friend zone.” He would say, “we are friends.” The fact that he calls it “the friend zone” gives the impression that he is not content with the situation and will continue to try to change it. There is a lot of talk about making it out of the friend zone. Men are applauded by other men for breaking down the friend zone and finally dating the girl. That is not cool. Guess what, a relationship is not a reward for friendship. The goal of friendship is not to end up romantically involved. And if a girl tells you that she is not interested in dating you, THEN SHE IS NOT INTERESTED IN DATING YOU. That is not an invitation to try harder. Or to be her friend long enough to earn her love. If you truly respected her, you would listen to what she is saying and back the eff off. If she says, ” I just want to be friends” and you continue to be friends with her but have an ulterior motive of winning her over, you are lying to her and ignoring her feelings, her personal boundaries, and her clearly stated motives and intentions. This is not fair to her and is both manipulative and unkind.

There is this idea that if you are a “nice guy” you are somehow deserving of a relationship with the girl of your choice. That even if she is not attracted to you, she should be willing to give you a chance because you are nice. Which is a ridiculous. There is this stereotypical “nice guy” character that we see in movies and tv who pines after a girl who is clearly not interested in him. After months (or years) he finally wears her down and she goes out with him and they usually fall in love and live happily ever after. And because of this made up but heavily used narrative, there is now this expectation that if you are “nice” you deserve to get the girl.

Guess what. That is not how it works. Girls are always told that they need to adjust their expectations because romantic comedies aren’t real. “You aren’t going to fall in love at first sight or have a man show up on your doorstep in the rain or fall in love with the guy you hate at work.” Those are unrealistic movie plots created to manipulate your emotions. I need to tell you men that this is the same thing. She will not fall in love with you slowly because you are nice and ignore her deflections and pine after her for years. Yes, I’m sure it happens the odd time. Just like people probably do chase each other through the airport or meet their future spouse at the top of the Empire State Building. But those are the outliers. Those are the flukes. The majority of the time, if she says she is not interested, that is not going to change. It doesn’t matter how nice you are. She owes you nothing. You need to accept that and either actually just be her friend or let her go entirely.

Because what is the friend zone really? It is a way to deflect the rejection of unrequited love. Unrequited love is when your feelings toward someone are not returned. It is not their fault, they simply don’t have the same feelings for you as you for them. You can’t force someone to feel a certain way. You must now deal with that fact and move on. But the friend zone becomes this way of blaming someone for not returning your romantic feelings. Instead of it simply being “I like you but you don’t like me back and that makes me sad” it becomes “I like you but you put me in the friend zone and that is unfair.” Instead of accepting that you can’t control other people’s feelings it becomes a way to blame them for not feeling the way you want them to.

And I get it. Rejection is hard. It hurts. But if you really are the nice guy you claim to be, you will understand that respecting a woman’s choice and her feelings is more important than your own wounded ego.

So, basically, when you use the term “friend zone” what you are actually doing is blatantly advertising that you do not care about or respect women’s boundaries or feelings and are trying to blame them for the fact that they do not reciprocate your feelings. Therefore, if you use the term “friend zone” I will probably just assume you are an asshole and treat you as such.

Also, is there someone we can talk to in the television industry about these ridiculous male characters. Should we start a petition? No more Ted Mosbys or Ross Gellars please. More Jake Peraltas and Ben Wyatts. Thanks.

In conclusion, please read every single one on this list.

Also, I got the photo at top from this tumblr post

A TV Recommendation and then a Lot About Hair

Tonight Josh and I made steak, fried mushrooms, and threw together a salad. It was all delicious, so of course we put on an episode of Chef’s Table. The latest season of Chef’s Table is truly inspiring, and makes food seem very important and influential. Which it is! It also makes me talk a lot about whether or not I like the chef in each episode, a sentiment which largely revolves around whether or not they have an external locus of control. When someone has an external locus of control they believe that there are outside forces in control of their life. People who think that they are suffering at the hands of the world and don’t take personal responsibility for their problems/failures/setbacks have an external locus of control and I cannot abide it.

That wasn’t what I planned to talk about this week but I HIGHLY recommend Chef’s Table.

As you know, I was in Fernie last weekend. I was at the hotel, getting ready for the wedding, and I realized that I had forgotten my razor. Fortunately our hotel had one of those signs that was like “forget anything? We have it at the front desk!’ So I ran down to the desk, asked for a razor, and came back to the room with the most absolutely basic razor I have ever seen in my life. Think those disposable bic razors, but with fewer features. I held out hope that I wouldn’t get razor burn in my armpits and sallied carefully forth.

bic razor

This tricky experience (I ended up with a couple nicks on my legs, of course), plus a memory of someone being grossed out by both my saying I have body hair and talking about removing body hair has inspired this post. I feel like people only get to be grossed out by one of those. Either having hair is gross or removing it is, choose one, you don’t get both, you know? Or neither is gross. But not both.

And so: a chronicle of how I remove hair from body.

Let’s start with the most simple. Shaving! Surprise surprise, shaving sucks. I have had enough ingrown hairs in my pits to last me a lifetime. I started out with the aforementioned bic razors when I was around 13 and discovered that women grew hair on their legs and worked to remove it; it wasn’t just magically absent. What a weird thing to realize. The first time I shaved my legs I was on holiday in BC and a friend helped me do it. I was astounded by how smooth my legs were and soon after noticed the hair in my armpits, so I started shaving them as well.

Shaving was not without mishap. I can remember getting distracted and taking a chunk of skin out of both of my heels. I had to tiptoe very quickly across the bathroom floor to keep from bleeding on and staining the bathmat. It was a truly impressive amount of blood. I also managed to take a one and a half inch gash out of my shin, and later found a weird, shriveled piece of dried skin in my razor which matched the shape of the cut in my leg. After I once again cut my legs, this time neatly in the back of my knee, I decided it was time to upgrade and got a better razor. My better razor served me well for awhile, but was never quite what I wanted. It left my skin itchy, bumpy, and irritated, especially in my armpits and at my bikini line.

So I started using a depilatory cream on my bikini line and tried to wax my armpits by myself. Depilatory creams, for those who don’t know, are a strong-smelling, thick cream that you spread on your skin where you want to remove the hair, wait for a few minutes, and scrape it off. It basically burns your hair off/out chemically and I very much dislike doing it. But I wanted to be clean shaven. I also attempted waxing, but I was skint, so I attempted waxing my hair by myself. Shaving my legs was going fine but my armpits were very hairy and I was embarrassed by them, so I had the bright idea of waxing my armpits.

Never wax your own armpits.

After that experience (there was blood) and on the recommendation of a friend, I bought an epilator. An epilator is a medieval torture device that is very scary to use. It is basically a set of rotating tweezers that you run up and down your leg/armpit which then pull the hair out by the root.  Anyone who tells you that it doesn’t hurt is lying to themselves and to you. I hardly ever use mine because there is a giant mental hurdle to even turning it on. It hurts! So much! The thing is: my epilator was $70 and it pays off in the long run so I feel like I should use it, so I also feel guilty when I don’t. Similar to my menstrual cup: better for the earth/my wallet in the long run, scary and painful to use. Fun.

epilator
these things are a death trap

Anyways I still wanted less hair and I knew people who swore by threading or who swore by waxing so I tried both on my face. Once again, I was skint as, so I did it myself. Threading on yourself doesn’t really work so that one went out the window and I was back to tweezing my eyebrows. After awhile the follicles in my eyebrows where I was tweezing were so thoroughly damaged that either hair stopped growing there or it stopped hurting to remove it, which is a true bonus. I’m so glad this part of my body doesn’t function properly any more (????????????????????). As for waxing, alas I suddenly started getting weird, painful acne whenever I waxed my upper lip, so that method is out the window. I haven’t figured out a replacement removal method yet, so sometimes I am rocking a bit of a ‘stache. I think I’m going to get it professionally threaded, which is fairly inexpensive.

You know what isn’t fairly inexpensive? Professional waxing. But I still wanted to avoid that when I started getting my armpits waxed so instead of going to someone with a good deal of experience, I went to a beauty school in Calgary and got waxed by students for fewer dollas. This was good and bad. For one thing: it was cheaper than full-on salons. For another thing: they took a very long time because they were new at waxing, the results weren’t always great, and one time someone ripped some skin off along with the hair in my armpit so that was fun. Eventually I decided it wasn’t worth it to gamble my skin, hair, time, and general well-being on students any more, and I booked in a real salons. This is my most recent foray into hair removal.

Getting waxed is a very weird experience. For one thing, depending on what you get waxed, you are at varying levels of undress while lying on a bed as someone else stands over you with hot wax which they apply and then rip off of your body. For another thing, it makes a weird ripping noise. And for another thing, you are in a small room with a stranger for awhile and you’ve got to talk about SOMETHING. Things I have chatted about while someone is tearing hair out of my legs/pits/bikini line with wax include, but are not limited to: how many siblings I have and whether or not I liked growing up in a large family, librarianship and how you have to get a masters degree to be a librarian, postal carriers, the rabbits that lived in someone’s backyard until the magpies came and ate them, how the library offers a lot of different programs now, gardening, and weddings. It is a very strange thing to talk about magpies and baby rabbits to someone while she directs you on moving your leg so she can more easily pull hair out of it by the roots. And then after they wax you they sometimes tweeze out the strays so I’ve also had conversations with people while they are tweezing my armpits. I always want to ask what made them want to get into their field, but it seems rude to ask while they have their face all up in my pit.

I’ve thought about getting my hair lasered, especially my armpits, but once again: expensive. I’m a good candidate for it (dark hair, pale skin) but I’d still have to do a few sessions and I’d rather sink a few hundred into a sweet tattoo than into laser hair removal. And I recently learned that if you have any large hormonal changes, your body will probably reboot hair growth in whatever area you got lasered. Hooray for a female body and birth control and large hormonal changes. So as it is, I’m going to keep working with a combination of waxing and shaving with the occasional use of my epilator while gritting my teeth in pure terror.

Let’s face it, removing body hair is weird, but I do it all the time, and pay people to  do it for me.