Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Dark Day

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That gibberish up there is a result of me laying my head down on my keyboard and rolling it around from side-to-side. For the record, that's about as much energy as I feel like expending today.

It's a weird day, one where it almost feels like I'm walking around in a dream. A hurricane is on its way to my neck of the woods (or maybe just past my neck of the woods, I don't know, I'm not a meteorologist). His name is Joaquin, and I already hate him. In anticipation of his arrival, the wind has kicked up, the skies are just the weirdest grey, and the smallest, heaviest rain drops have been dropping on my face all day. It sort of feels like I'm being poked by nature.

I'm also bizarrely hungry. My stomach is just this bottomless pit right now. Or actually, not bottomless, I guess. It's more like there is some creature living inside of my body that is getting at the food before I can, sort of like my stomach is the sarlacc pit from Return of the Jedi.

And if I'm being honest, I'm also extremely emotional, tense, and easy-to-provoke today.

All of that being said, don't ask if I'm pregnant. I'm not.

And don't tell me Mercury is in retrograde. I don't know what that means.

It's just a rough day.

And the sarlacc stomach and ghostly weather aside, the truth is I know exactly why this particular day is getting the best of me.

But before I get into that, a disclaimer: I know that I usually talk about joyful stuff on this blog. Cats, cabin trips, chasing your dreams -- you know, stuff like that. So whenever shitty things happen in the world, things that I care about and things that really matter, I find myself torn. On one hand, this blog really is all about spreading positivity, so if it ever were to become a collection of political rants, I'd like for you all to demand that I leave the Internet. On the other hand, there are some things that just cannot be ignored.

Still, if you'd prefer to just stick to the cat-cabin-dream-loving aspects of this blog, now's the time to step out.

Anyway, look: something awful happened today. Something unforgivable and something that deserves to be talked about. It happened in Oregon where at least 10 college students were shot dead in their own school. Right now, families are receiving calls that their loved ones will never be returning home. It is a truly terrible day.

But of course, this is not the first tragic incident of this nature. Before today, in just the year 2015, this same sort of earth-shattering event occurred 293 times in various parts of the United States.

Mass shootings are honestly commonplace now. It's a problem that is well-documented as being unique to this country. No other developed country sees this specific type of violence on such a grand scale. I mean, the numbers are simply unbelievable. Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, there have been 142 school shootings to date. That's 142 incidences where children and adults attempting to receive an education were victims of gun violence.

But nothing is changing. No solutions have been agreed-upon.

And now these tragic events are all sort of starting to blur together. As we mourn the loss of life today, we are unconvinced that we will not be in mourning again in the not-so-distant future. And to borrow a phrase from our president, we're becoming numb.

As much as our hearts should be full of prayer and sadness right now, and they are, I have to confess that my initial response in seeing the news about Oregon today was just outright anger. It's infuriating that these families have lost their loved ones today. It's infuriating that this sort of thing happens in houses of learning. It's infuriating that it happens anywhere, and it's infuriating to think that it could, and likely will, happen again.

And honestly, that's all I can say on the matter right now: I'm mad. Pissed, actually. And I am clinging to that emotion today because, the thing is, if I'm mad then I can't be numb. If we are angry enough, outraged enough, caring enough, then we can't sit and wait for this to happen again. We just can't.

So today I'm thinking a lot about what my responsibility is in all of this. And I have to admit: I'm not entirely sure. I know that many of you can sympathize with these feelings of helplessness on days like this.

But we can't lose hope. And we can't forget. As far as I can understand, that's our greatest responsibility right now: to remember. Remember Oregon. Remember Oregon to the point that it motivates us to hold those who represent us accountable. Remember Oregon until this unique, reoccurring tragedy ceases to reoccur.

It is a simple, but harsh truth: "Our thoughts and prayers are not enough."

Friday, September 18, 2015

No One Is Paying As Much Attention To You As You Are

Right now, as I write this, my face looks like this:

Now, hang on, fellas. Put those engagement rings away. I'm taken.

But seriously, though, I'm working with half a face today. I just got done with a trip to the dentist in which I received some delightful fillings and a brand spanking new set of retainers. It took three shots of novocain to numb one side of my sensitive little mouth, and now the whole left side of my face is taking a bit of a break from life. It's cool though because it's made my smile really cute and it's made eating thai food for lunch downright hilarious. 

Now, here's a fun, disgusting fact about me: before this week, I hadn't been to the dentist in over four years. I know, I know, shut up. That's a long ass time. I get it. And I'm not even someone who gets squeamish about the whole dentist thing. In fact, I welcome it. I actually enjoy the feeling of having my teeth drilled and scraped. My previous dental providers have even remarked that I'm an exceptionally good patient, and by the way, yes, I would like that engraved on my tombstone, thank you.

So why didn't I go to the dentist for four years? Well, for a couple of years there, I didn't have dental insurance, so I get a free pass for that time, obviously. But after that, I just kind of forgot. I was having so much fun getting married and moving to New York City and working that I stopped paying much mind to these little rocks sticking out of my gums.

But all of that changed recently when I realized something alarming regarding my teeth. Before we get into that, though, let's back up a minute. Lots of minutes, actually, all the way back to my childhood.

This creature, my friends, is Seven-Year-Old Christy. I actually took this picture when I was competing in a beauty pageant, but I have to confess that I've since added the trippy space background whenever I was learning how to use Photoshop for the first time. While there is a lot to look at here (my tremendously thick eyebrows, my impossibly short bangs, the fact that I'm wearing a shower curtain maybe? etc.), what I'd like for you to focus on is my teeth. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I count three in total. 

And while it's pretty normal for a seven-year-old to have some teeth missing, the truth is I looked like this for a majority of my childhood. I was born with a couple fewer teeth than most (for example, I only have one wisdom tooth, WHAT?), and up until I got my braces I had a big ol' gap between my two front teeth. In fact, the only reason I got braces in the first place was to correct my gap-toothed smile.

By the time I got my braces off, all of my teeth were together at last, and as far as I knew that was the end of my precocious grin. That being said, you can imagine my surprise when eleven years after my braces had been removed, in the year 2015, I looked in the mirror and realized that my gap was BACK.

WHAT IN THE LIVING HELL?! How did this happen?!

When I noticed this seemingly sudden change in my dental structure, I immediately went into an obsessive investigative frenzy. I basically became the Nancy Drew of my own dental mystery. I scoured photos of myself from the last year. For reference, this is what my teeth looked like in March. 

I probably should have asked you beforehand if you wanted to be this close to my mouth. Sorry.
Look! My two front teeth were practically inseparable! SO WHAT HAPPENED?! WHY HAS MY CHILDHOOD GAP RETURNED?

This is the question I brought to my dentist on Tuesday. His initial response was, "What gap?" And when I gestured to what I considered to be the Grand Canyon-sized hole in my mouth, he squinted his eyes, got very close to me, and said, "Oh, that. I guess I can sort of see it." 

For all of his dentistry know-how, he had no theories as to why my teeth had made such a sudden shift, but he was clearly far more perplexed by my obsession with it. Still, he was patient. He told me my options: I could either pay a million-kagillion-flablillion dollars to get Invisalign (those clear, retainery-braces things) or I could just, like, live with it. He gave me a couple of days to think about it.

I walked out of there with stooped shoulders and sad Charlie Brown music playing in my head. However, as I lamented the situation with my husband later that day, he told me it was not a big deal. In fact, according to him, I looked exactly the same as I always had. "Really?" I made him promise. "Really." This made me feel better, and when I consulted some friends, they said they never would have noticed had I not brought it to their attention. 

Really? Really. 

And the thing is, actually, I'm pretty sure they're not lying. I recently read this article from NY Magazine that's been on my mind a lot lately called "You Are Probably Pretty Self-Centered, But So Is Everyone Else." In it, the author, Melissa Dahl, talks about people who are always preoccupied with what other people must be thinking about them. And the good news she offers is that people probably aren't paying much attention to you because they are far too busy paying attention to themselves.

That might seem like a bleak view of humanity, but it comes with a scientific backing. The article sites an interview with behavioral scientist, Nicholas Epsy, whose work centers around the egocentric nature of human beings. That's right, according to SCIENCE, we are all self-centered. Every single one of us. 

In fact, we are so self-focused, says Epsy, that we actually reach the level of "expert." Especially when it comes to our physical appearance, we know our own features so well that we can look at a picture and see when a hair is out of place or an eye is a millimeter too squinty or we have a sudden gap in our front teeth that no one but the Lord could have predicted.

So this means two things for us as humans living in the world together: 1) We can chill out on accusing people of being self-centered (even people who post four pictures of themselves in a blog post) because, welp, we're all guilty of it. And 2) It means that our self-centeredness also means that the things we freak out about and obsess over are likely only noticeable in our own minds. We are the experts of all the weird stuff happening on our face or feet or brains. And everyone else is just too preoccupied getting their doctorate in Self to notice what you've got going on.

That being said, here I sit, with a gap in my teeth. When I went back to the dentist today, I told him I'd hold off on Invisalign, but he still had to fill two cavities, so there's that. I'm sitting at a coffee shop with only half my face in functioning order. I'm trying to sip some cold brew out of a straw, but it's coming out in dribbles on my chin that I am catching in the palms of my hands. 

And you know what? No one around me seems to notice.

Got any weird hang-ups about yourself (that probably nobody but you notices)? Shout em out in the comments section so that I can shower you with compliments instead!

Oh, also, shout out to all my gap-toothed beauties out there. I hope I haven't disparaged us as a group by wanting to rid myself of this gap. It's just a childhood insecurity, so don't mind me. Plus, I hear we're super fashionable now! Now every girl I see with a gap in her teeth, I'm like -- YO is that a model? 

Friday, September 11, 2015

4 Things I Liked On The Internet This Week

I'm back today sharing all of the things I've been digging on the Internet over the last week! So let's not dilly-dally, ya bunch-a-dilly-dallyers. Here's what's good:

Ice Bun

This morning in NYC, it's a nippy 70 degrees outside, but if you're still living somewhere hot and miserable, then I've got some fun information for you! Kelly Bourdet recently wrote a piece for Refinery 29 about an ingenious hairstyle she calls the "ice bun" and by the way, it's exactly what it sounds like. You stick an ice cube in a bun and go about your merry way. How do you keep it from leaking all over your face and neck? I have no idea, but if you try it out, let me know! (Props to my sis for sending this article my way)

Disappearing roommate

This story from Just A Trace had me all like -- wait WHAT?! It's the true-life account of a woman named Tina whose freshman roommate suddenly disappeared without warning. There is an unexpected twist at the end that is as good as any M. Night Shyamalan movie.

Apply Magic Sauce

Did you know that Facebook knows you better than you know yourself? Well, that's not necessarily true, but according to the good folks at the University of Cambridge, Facebook can indicate a whole damn lot about the person you are. They've created an API test called Apply Magic Sauce with an algorithm that predicts your "psycho-demographic profile" based on your Facebook likes, with categories including age, sexual orientation, religion, and political inclinations. And you know it's totally accurate because, according to Apply Magic Sauce, my Facebook likes indicate that I am more intelligent than 92% of the population.

Via Apply Magic Sauce

It also predicted that I might be a gay man, but let's not split hairs here.

Periscope ideas

Periscope! It's a miracle, right? I pretty much click on every Periscope session I see in my Twitter feed because I'm a big ol' stalky stalker. There's just something so exciting about these interactive live-streamed videos, and I've been itching to try it out for myself. However, I've been feeling a little self-conscious about it because every blogger seems to be preaching the idea of using Periscope as a way to do consultations and teach stuff about blogging or business, which I'm not going to lie -- that's just not my thing. But then, Katie from Something Winnderful posted a blog post this week titled "How To Use Periscope as a Non-Business/Consulting Blogger" filled with tons of creative ideas for how to use this awesome platform in a not-so-business way. After reading it, I heaved a sigh of relief, and I'm pretty sure (nay, CERTAIN) you will see me on Periscope very, very soon!

Welp! That's all I've got for you, frands. Have a freakin fantastic weekend!

What were some of your favorite favorite finds on the Internet this week?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Blogging Process

Blogging, my friends, is not an exact science. It's more of an art. But like a weird sort of art. Like the kind you'd accidentally sit on if you weren't paying attention.

And every blogger (or excuse me, ARTIST) approaches their craft in a different way. Some work in the wee hours of the morning, others in the way more fun hours of the night. Some do it as a hobby, some do it professionally, and others do it to complain about their estranged family members or to share erotic Harry Potter fan fiction or whatever. Blogging is a diverse game, y'all.

And since I find it so compelling to learn how my fellow artists work, I thought it might be interesting to give you a glimpse into my own blogging process. If you've ever wanted to know how the sausage gets made here at Avoiding Atrophy, here's a step-by-step account of how blogging usually goes for me:

I sit down at my laptop with a half-idea for a blog post.

I am very excited.

This is going to be good.

I write two words.

I delete those two words.

Then I write one word.

Then I give myself a much-deserved break.

I consume anywhere from two to seven small pickles.

Then I return to my desk, heave a labored sigh, and write, like, six more words.

I think to myself, hey, I'm getting the hang of this. 

Then I delete everything. All of it. All seven words.

I write eight words.

Then nine more.

Suddenly, I've got a paragraph.

I copy that paragraph and paste it into a Word Document.

At this point, I'm pretty sure I don't want to use this paragraph in the blog post, but I want to have it around just in case. I mean, after all, I put all that work into it.

I am back to zero words.

I stare at the blank page.

I write a title, which I will inevitably change later.

I try to check Facebook, forgetting that I've blocked all of my social media using my Freedom app.

I pat myself on the back for being so prepared.

After this, I take some time to feel guilty about my lack of self-control.

Then I eat two more pickles, and I write 300 words.

I am invincible.

I am a blogging machine.

I read through my 300 words, and suddenly I am overcome with the feeling that I am reading the ramblings of a madwoman.

I delete 50 words.

I press Command-Z, which restores those 50 words.

I delete them again.

I make some kind of frustrated noise like, "Eeruuggh" or "Yeesh" and I press Command-Z again.



Write write write.

Blogging fuel

Then I realize I should probably put in some photos.

I spend an hour looking through iPhoto, reminiscing about old times.

Ohmuhgorsh look it's Frasier when he was a kittennnnn.

I decide to go look for Frasier.

Not Kelsey Grammer. My cat, Frasier.

I set him down in my lap.

He runs away.

I pick him up again.

He bites my hand.

Truly, I am alone.

I insert some photos.

I write 100 words.

Delete, Command-Z, Delete.

100 more words.

This blog post is too long.

I write 200 more words.

I've finished...maybe?

I read through everything.

I read it again.

I read it again.

I read it out loud.

I read it out loud, but louder this time.

I hit publish.

I go back and read it again.

I discover 50 typos.

I quit the Internet.

Do you blog? What's your process?

Friday, September 4, 2015

7 Things I Liked On The Internet This Week

I'm back today sharing a bunch of stuff I found online this week that made me say, "Huh, I guess the Internet world isn't such a crap pile, after all." But before I get to all of that, I've got something crazy to tell you: Today I have been dating my boyfriend for 10 YEARS! Not days, not minutes -- YEARS. I mean, he's my husband now, but did he ever stop being my boyfriend? I don't think so.

Anyway, how unbelievably weird and awesome is it that our relationship is a full decade old?! Depending on your worldview, it may be more weird than awesome, but whatever, we're pretty jazzed about it. Since I recently wrote a post about our four year anniversary, I'll spare you the sickeningly sweet details of how much I love that guy, and instead I'll simply share with you the #1 song in America the day we started dating: We Belong Together by Mariah Carey.

Okay, now onto the main event. Here's what I enjoyed on the Internet this week:

1. Did you ever own an Easy Bake Oven when you were a kid? I had one and used it only once before deeming it useless. After that, I pretty much put Easy Bake Ovens out of my mind entirely until this week when Sarah Burton from Buzzfeed decided to use one to cook her dinner for a week. Obvi, she's hilarious, fun, and she includes a GIF of her delicately spitting out an Easy Bake-pretzel, so definitely check that post out if you want a healthy combo of nostalgia and disappointing, processed food.

2. And while we're on the subject of nostalgia: this morning, my friend Andrew posted on Facebook that he was listening to the Pure Moods soundtrack on Spotify. If you don't remember, Pure Moods was THE quintessential New Age album in the 90s. It featured tracks from Enya, Kenny G, and a bafflingly terrible remix of the X-Files theme. Even if you didn't have the album, you likely remember the following advertisement that ruined your life during Nickelodeon's commercial breaks:

Man, I love that the Internet allows us to reclaim these bizarre relics from our childhoods.

3. This week, I finally caved and downloaded the Freedom app. It blocks social media and distracting websites while you are working, and let me tell you, it's a pain in the ass in the best way possible. Whenever I start to get even slightly stuck in my writing, my temptation is to pull up Facebook, and having it blocked is making me realize how little self-control I have in life. If you struggle similarly, I highly recommend it.

4. I feel like the belle of the ball whenever I get to write a post for The Nectar Collective because, y'all, Melyssa is an actual genius walking among us. She's so transparent about how she has built her business, and her site is just so chockfull of real, practical advice. This week, as I was reading her post all about affiliate links, I felt like there were lightbulbs exploding in my brain. It was so inspiring to hear from someone who can share exactly what she's doing to be successful. Read it, and then sign up for her new e-course, and then proceed to become a star.

5. Erin from Living In Yellow revamped her home office this week, and it has me ALL KINDS of jelly. I mean, THAT is what a workspace should look like. I was so excited when we moved into our new home and I settled down to work in my office, but lately, not so much. I mean, I don't mean to sound like an ungrateful little snot, but I kind of hate that tiny room right now. I've just never gotten around to really putting work into it, so these days, it's just wholly uninspiring to me. That being said, I'm going to start taking the plunge in updating my home office, and seeing Erin's painted ceiling has got my wheels turning....

via Living In Yellow

6. Nadia Bolz-Weber is a pastor in Colorado who says "shit" a lot and does Crossfit and writes books and I just love her. I heard her speak this last spring, and I fell hard for her approach to the teachings of Jesus and her message for people who have never felt quite right about their place in the Church. This week, Emma Green did a stellar write-up on Nadia for The Atlantic, so if you're looking to hear more about this salty pastor and the message she's sharing, this is a great place to start.

7. Heather Havrilesky is the author of that viral post from a while back on The Awl on how to write in which she details a day in the life of a distracted writer (which is every writer, by the way). She's also the voice of Ask Polly, an advice column for New York Magazine. Last week, she answered a question that was so heartbreakingly real that I teared up reading it in the middle of an H&M. The question: Why is everyone succeeding except me? If you've ever asked yourself this question -- either in the quiet of your heart or at the top of your lungs during the middle of a spin class -- Polly has a truly satisfying, grace-filled answer for you. I'm crying again just thinking about it.

Welp. That's what I've got for you this week!

What were some of your favorite favorite finds on the Internet this week?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Why I Love My Meat Sack

I posted the following image last night on Instagram, and I thought it might be a good idea to share it here too:

You know what? I'm honestly a big fan of this body of mine. �� Is that an okay thing to say? I think it should be. Whenever I catch myself getting all nitpicky about body business, I like to reflect on all of the things this bod allows me to do. This last month, my body gave me the chance to hike up a mountain, splash in a river, cycle underwater, cycle not underwater, power through hot yoga, deliver meals on foot to people in need, venture through a massive sculpture park, trek through NYC with my family, walk up countless subway station stairs, and jump around like a maniac on a beach. If you're struggling to figure out what's good about the meat sack you're scooting around the earth in, remember that the fact that you can do stuff with it is pretty damn cool. ❤️�������� Also, PS. Hope you don't mind me referring to your body as a "meat sack."
A photo posted by christyoshoney (@christyoshoney) on

Now, I don't typically use my Instagram as a platform for posting pictures of myself in a bikini. But for some reason, I just felt called to share this particular one. It was taken the other day at Jones Beach out on Long Island. Something you should know about me: whenever I go to the beach, I pretty much immediately go into full-on toddler mode. I jump around like a madwoman, do cartwheels, karate chop the ocean, and just act like I've never seen a body of water before in my entire life. This particular day, I was in rare form toddler-wise, but honestly, I couldn't help it. The place was practically empty, the water was glittery and perfect, I had a giant bag of Munchies that was giving me life, and I was just really, really happy.

When I got home and looked back at all of the pictures from the day, I couldn't stop laughing at this weirdo running around the beach like a rabid animal. But as I continued scrolling through, I also had another thought: Damn, I look good.

It feels like such a scandal to say that. On this blog, I've talked about my views on body image, I've shared my actual weight, and I've also talked about why it's important to boldly enjoy things about yourself. And still, despite all of my pontificating on the importance of loving the person you are, I recognize that it's a really difficult idea.

But here's what I know: when I see a picture of myself smiling, laughing, and using my body to do fun things that I enjoy -- I just...I think I look good, okay? There are tons of things I could pick apart about my meat sack (by the way, henceforth, I will be subbing the word "meat sack" for the word "body" because I just like it better and I feel like I'm getting repetitive here), but honestly my meat sack enables me to do some really cool stuff. It is not THE most important thing about me, not by a long shot, but it is pretty damn important. From where I stand, it's a gift to be able to haul this thing all over the world. It's strong and soft and short in some places and long in others, and I love it because it's mine. If my meat sack were differently-shaped, I'd certainly find things to love about it, too. But regardless, the good Lord gave me this one meat sack with which to build my life, and I'm not going to act like I'm not totally psyched about it.

So if you've been struggling with your meat sack lately, perhaps it's time to reframe the way you think about it. Don't think about what it is or isn't, but instead think about what it does. Maybe you can jump, kick, dance, or parkour your way up the Empire State Building. If so, whoa, that's amazing. Or maybe you can't do any of those things, but you can breathe in and out, laugh, write, blink in morse code, GROW A HUMAN INSIDE OF YOU, etc. While you may not always realize it, all of those things are pretty amazing too.

Now, that being said, it's totally okay if you want to change some things about your meat sack. Seriously, don't feel guilty if you don't wake up every morning, shouting, "I'M PERFECT JUST AS THE WAY I AM!" But all the while, know that you get points for just existing, so even if it bulges out in places you wish it didn't or it has scales or whatever, show your meat sack some love. It's gotten you this far, after all.

Why do you love YOUR meat sack?


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