I grew up in a household with constant conflict. My mother yelled at everyone for the smallest infringements, ranging from my brother for looking at her the “wrong” way to me for walking with too much bounce in my step to my father for wearing a t-shirt outside instead of covering his psoriasis-affected skin. I remember sitting in the basement listening to every creak of the floorboards upstairs, to see if I could sneak into the kitchen to get some orange juice to drink without having to see her and risk her wrath.
Now, I live in an apartment on the basement level where no one screams at me. My life feels conflict free. Though I do love me some drama and gossip, I wanted to write a blog post to celebrate this quiet period of contentment in my twenties, because as writers we tend to gravitate toward the bad stuff, the pain and the conflict and all of that. I want to capture this time of great self-love and love of friends and love of community, so I and others can look back on it when
I write blog posts about my future crushes inevitably disappointing me I grow older.
I feel like writing a list exudes an air of not caring enough to invest the energy into not writing a list and writing in paragraphs instead. But, I subjected myself to a Hemingway seminar in undergrad so now I get to do whatever I want after surviving that misogynist homophobic dumpster fire’s writing. So now, a list of some great life things in this period of stability, contentment, and happiness:
1. Lizzo’s iconic song “Truth Hurts” for inspiring us all to love ourselves and not waste time on men who do not deserve us! I modified the lyric “fresh photos with the bomb lighting” from the song to make the title of this blog post, because I wanted to have some of Lizzo’s internal and external beauty rub off on me. My little cousin said the first time she heard the song and every time she listens to it she thinks of me, which is basically like saying she thinks of me whenever God comes up.
2. My best friend Bri is in town and is blessing me with her presence twice! I went to her family barbecue yesterday where the two of us literally talked for five hours straight about everything personal and societal, and tomorrow we’re getting dinner and ice cream with my newer close friend in the DC area. I don’t think the three of us necessarily agreed to the ice cream part but I’m obsessed with Jeni’s ice cream so that’s that. Whoever Jeni is, she could step on my face, especially if I get a scoop of Brown Butter Almond Brittle afterward.
3. Ugh okay I hate to give space to men on this blog but I just played three hours of tennis and two hours of those hours I played with the cutest guy and I’m still swooning. His name rhymes with “molten,” he’s tall with a lanky yet firm build. He has a super gentle tennis demeanor which I’ve noticed I find attractive in tennis players because toxic masculinity is so 10,000 BC. His first serve comes into the court like a rocket and I’m just like, could you serve your “tennis ball” into my “court”? At one point I volleyed a winner into the far left corner of the baseline and he said “nice placement Thomas” and I was like, can you “place” your “mouth” on “mine” (the quotations are unnecessary in this second debauched thought, idk, emphasis makes things smolder I guess)? I friended him on Facebook ten minutes ago and he has a girlfriend and I think he’s 20 years older than me, so, man whose name rhymes with “molten,” please forgive me if you find this blog post somehow, you have an amazing personality and I definitely will respect all the boundaries you enact if we play tennis together in the future and I’m also not always this weird, even though I am.
4. Juice, because a lot of juice is fruity and sweet and tastes good, like me. Also Lizzo has a song called “Juice” which is a bop.
5. I do feel connected to the tennis community where I live, where most people know my name and my red hair, and I also feel connected to my close friends, my social justice-oriented book clubs, and my online communities! We have to stan meaningful connections to others outside of romantic contexts in this patriarchal romance-obsessed society! Why are there so many exclamation marks in this blog post, I’m literally on the edge of passing out and falling asleep as I write this in my apartment!
6. Speaking of attractive men
even though I wasn’t speaking of attractive men, I haven’t had any new active romantic possibilities over the past couple of months, but I have read a bunch of iconic queer books. We all know books are more fulfilling and stabilizing than dating men; I’m sure there’s a peer-reviewed study that proves that somewhere. Two books that stand out so far include Mean by Myriam Gurba and Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala, both by people of color, because I’ve had enough of white cisgender gay men dominating the queer community and perpetuating racism. I’m going to read Ocean Vuong’s new novel soon soon even though I’m apprehensive because he’s also a queer Vietnamese man and I know like 1.5 queer Vietnamese writers so it sucks to put all this pressure on his work, and it’s like, wow, white people are so lucky that there are one billion white published writers out there so not every single white person’s books is reflective of the quality of every white person’s book. Whew that was a long sentence. The main point is that the publishing industry is racist.
7. I feel excited to start providing therapy again in mid to late-August or early September because I miss that space of vulnerability, compassion, and connectedness.
8. As I wrap up this blog post and the time approaches midnight, I feel grateful for my grandmother who taught me how to embody kindness, my feminist inspirations for helping me see the value of my femininity and fighting the patriarchy, and my own perseverance in the face of life obstacles. I know I broke the rules of this whole list thing by including three things in this one list item. Anyway, I also feel grateful for Rihanna and this tweet that is a perfect personality pic moving forward for the rest of the year:
What gives you stability in your life? What are some things you’ve felt grateful for lately? What keeps you coming back to reading this blog despite this post erupting into 17 different spontaneous directions that may or may not really form a cohesive whole? What will it take for me to die and enter an afterlife where I live in an independent bookstore with a Jeni’s Ice Cream inside of it? Please feel free to answer any of these questions or share your thoughts on life or this post in general, and until next time.
14 responses to “Fresh Blog Post with Some Great Life Things”
Such a great post, Thomas! I love your Lizzo story–I recently went through a break up (I initiated it–was a pretty toxic relationship) and Truth Hurts has been getting me THROUGH. It’s amazing what music can do sometimes! Hope you have a lovely day! x
Thanks so much for your kind words Holly! I’m glad Truth Hurts has been getting you through your breakup and I’m glad you’ve left a toxic relationship even if it feels hard. Hope you’re well. (:
Thomas! So good to read this post, and I’m feeling the same way about Lizzo. This summer, I’m very grateful for finally feeling like I can relate to Caroline Knapps’ merry recluse; in college, I’ve found easy to be a “recluse” but especially hard to feel merry about it. I’ve finally been able to experience genuine happiness on my own, instead of craving romance as a salve.
Aw yay we stan Lizzo stans! I’m wondering what about this summer has helped you feel able to relate to Caroline Knapp’s merry recluse, though no matter the cause it makes me happy to hear that. I’m so glad you’ve been able to experience genuine happiness on your own, that inspires me.
I noticed you started the blog with your mom and ended with your grandmother. The two women who have shaped you in different ways. Have you figured out why your mom behaved that way?
Your blog is so interesting to read even though it takes me in many different directions. It’s like trying to follow a firework as it explodes. But it’s your honesty and openness that I like and appreciate. You’re also a wonderful story teller. Your tennis story is so charming and cute. It reminds me when I used to play squash and sometimes I would just give a pat to someone’s bum after a game (only to the guys I liked).
Oh – here’s an article about Ocean Vuong although you probably read it already. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/06/going-home-ocean-vuong-on-earth-were-briefly-gorgeous/590938/
I get a lot of strength from my friends that I’ve met or connected with online. It may sound weird to outsiders. And while our taste in music is different, it’s also another source of stability for me.
I wish I could try the ice cream but my tummy can’t handle lactose. And even if I take those lactose pills, I’ll probably have to spend a day in the gym to burn all those calories.
Finally – your strength comes through in your writing. Maybe it’s the influence from your grandmother.
Aw thank you so much for yet another meaningful and compassionate blog comment. (: Interesting that you point out how I incorporated both my mother and grandmother. With my mom I def think there’s some undiagnosed mental illness (perhaps narcissism) with some heavy anger management issues. Perhaps I’ll delve into it in my writing at some point.
Thanks so much for complimenting my writing, that means a lot to me! Your firework analogy made me laugh, I shared it with some of my friends – that analogy parallels my high energy in real life too. (: And thanks for sharing the Ocean Vuong article, I really appreciate it, I read it and enjoyed it a lot. Gives even more context to his novel that I just finished recently.
Glad to hear you get strength from your online friends, I don’t feel like that’s weird at all given how I’ve done the same. And I’m also glad music can be a source of strength for you. Thank you (three times in one comment, lol whatever) for affirming my strength and for taking the time to read and comment as always.
I read your posts because you’re in my Feedly feed so they’re served up to me! And also because it feels like a sort of living memoir, having followed your progress for a few years now. And because you’re honest and funny and clear-sighted and muddled and always interesting.
I draw calm from reading and running. I have set my life up to avoid any conflict but that mediated by my hobby working as an athletics official with a rule book.
I love the idea of a living memoir, thank you Liz! And thank you for all your compassionate words, they mean a lot to me because I respect your writing and how you live your life so much. I’m glad you draw calm from reading and running.
Thanks for another open and honest post to read while I procrastinate getting anything done at work! Now you have me craving Jeni’s ice-cream, an Ohio hot commodity! One of the reasons I like to read your posts is because you offer up a different insight than what I normally have access to, I appreciate you letting us all in! Also, my fiance is a counselor in training and we both are obsessed with Sociology so I enjoy getting to hear from a like-minded person once in awhile. Also, I enjoy following you on Good Reads!
When it comes to stability in my life it comes from putting in a lot of work to keep myself centered. I try to make sure I’m setting aside time for myself to relax and not think about what needs done. This time usually involves a book, though lately I’ve been slacking on my reading in lieu of Jessica Jones, Stranger Things, and The Office. I’m the type of person who will usually make time for whatever someone asks me to help them with ( and sometimes I don’t get asked, I just volunteer willingly). While I do get a lot of fulfillment through community involvement, it often leads to burnout and so I am trying to get better at protecting my own energy. I’m also trying to build up my business and clientele while staying sane and while I do enjoy my job I often find myself daydreaming of becoming a librarian, spending my days reading and organizing shelves.
Lastly but most importantly, dying and entering an afterlife where you live in an independent bookstore with a Jeni’s Ice Cream inside of it sounds like the best afterlife there could ever be.
Oh wow I just looked it up and Ohio does look like it has a ton of Jeni’s, if you live there I’m jealous! I appreciate you naming what you appreciate about my blog and it’s cool that you have that background you mention in Sociology. (:
Thanks for sharing what helps keep you centered. One thing I’m hearing is that the process to have stability is ongoing and is something you’re working on cultivating over time, which I like. I’m glad to hear you’re getting better at protecting your own energy, I hope building your business goes well, and that librarian dream job sounds amazing. (: I would be curious to hear if you do end up pursuing that librarian dream job, as well as being kept up to date with your other personal and professional endeavors.
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment and for validating my Jeni’s obsession!
Thomas! Such a joyous post! Loved reading through every point. Lizzo is a God, 200% agreed. Your swooning over “Molten” made me smile and laugh!
It’s interesting how the more I grow as an artist, the more I realize some of the pain I inflict or keep in myself seems to feel necessary in its aesthetic purpose. Sometimes it gets to be a little frustrating, but overall I feel like if I can keep up with creating, then the pain becomes more of a release than a grip. But sometimes it’s nice to not be emo. 🙂
Stability around me (people, environment) gives me stability. Change in healthy doses also gives me stability! Currently, I feel very grateful for my parents, my bike, summer weather, and the forest near my house.
Sending you warm and sunny vibes,
Aw thanks for taking the time to read and comment and call my post joyous! That’s so interesting the point about inflicting or keeping yourself in pain for the aesthetic purpose – it makes me think about the Leslie Jamison quote about how pain is interesting, but so is getting better. Glad that keeping up with creating helps the pain become more of a release. And I think it’d be interesting to investigate that idea of pain as aesthetic too. (:
Thanks for sharing what gives you stability, sounds like a nice mixture of social interaction as well as the environment. Hope you’re well, sending lots of strength and compassion your way!
So true ❤
'We all know books are more fulfilling and stabilizing than dating men… '
Thanks for the solidarity! (: