June 12: Anne’s Legacy

The 12th of June marks the second anniversary of the PULSE nightclub massacre in Orlando, which I wrote about extensively last year in the entry “PULSE: One Year Later”. Two years on, we as region are focusing on how to live with the pain and sadness the events of that day has left with us, and those most deeply affected by it are continuing the healing process day by day.

Today I would like to focus my writing on another victim of hate, one who made her legacy by just trying to survive in the most difficult of situations and writing vividly and truthfully about her experiences. Anne Frank was born on this date in 1929 and would have turned 89 if she had survived to the present day. Of course, she is best known for the diary that she kept during the years she and her family spent in hiding in her father’s office building in Amsterdam in order to escape from the Nazi regime that had been occupying the Netherlands at that time. She began her diary just a few months before going into hiding, a diary which had been given to her as a gift for her 13th birthday in 1942.

Her family (consisting of Anne, her sister Margot, and her parents Otto and Edith) went into hiding in the summer of 1942 after her sister Margot had received a call-up from the SS (although Anne was not informed of this until they were on their way to their arranged hiding place). The Frank family were joined by her father Otto’s business partner Hermann van Pels (who was given the pseudonymic surname “Van Daan” In Anne’s diary) and his wife Auguste (“Petronella Van Daan”) and son Peter (who also only received a change in surname in her diary). They were later joined by an eighth person, Fritz Pfeffer (“Albert Dussel”). All through their ordeal, their sole contacts with the outside world were a trusted group of employees of Otto’s and Hermann’s who provided them with food, supplies, educational materials for the three teenagers, and even the occasional stash of yarn. (Seriously! Anne Frank was a knitter! In one of her diary entries, she talks about asking one of the helpers to bring her some wool so that she can knit herself a jumper/sweater to help her keep warm in the winter. She begins knitting said jumper in September 1942. There is also a photo of her from 1941, aged 12, knitting. Based on the image, she was right-handed and a thrower.)

Anne maintained her diary from 1942 until just days before she and her family were arrested in August 1944, beginning the last tragic act of their fate as victims of the Holocaust for all but one of those eight. The group was detained at Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands for a month following their arrest before being sent out on literally the last train to Auschwitz, a notorious concentration camp in Poland. The men and women were separated upon arrival, the last time Otto Frank would ever lay eyes upon his family. Anne was spared from the gas chambers that day because she had turned 15 just three months before arriving; due to his age and his slight frame, Anne falsely believed that her father had been killed. In October 1944, Anne and Margot Frank and Auguste van Pels were transferred to Bergen-Belsen in Germany, while Edith Frank stayed behind, dying of starvation in January 1945, just three weeks before the Allies liberated Auschwitz. Both Anne and Margot contracted typhus at Bergen-Belsen, and the two sisters died within weeks of each other in February or possibly March of 1945. The Allies would liberate the camp in April 1945. As for their fellow annex-mates, Hermann van Pels was gassed to death in October 1944 at Auschwitz; Fritz Pfeffer died at the Neuengamme camp in Germany from illness in December 1944. Auguste van Pels was transferred to Buchenwald just weeks before the Frank sisters’ deaths, and then was (according to an eyewitness) murdered by Nazis during transport to Theresienstadt in what is now the Czech Republic, about a month before the Allies liberated that camp. The last to die during the Holocaust was Peter van Pels, who is believed to have died at Mauthausen camp in Austria sometime between 11 April 1945 (when he was listed as being transferred to the sick barracks there) and 5 May 1945 (when the Allies liberated that camp), at just 18 years of age. Otto Frank was the only member of the group to survive the Holocaust.

Otto received Anne’s diary from one of the helpers, Miep Gies, after the war. She had not read the diary in order to prevent it from being used to incriminate anyone. When he finally read her diary, he decided to translate it into German for some relatives in Switzerland. The relatives convinced him to compile his late daughter’s writings into a manuscript as a testament for those who suffered persecution under the Nazis, and so he compiled and edited the manuscript himself for publication. It was eventually accepted for publication in the summer of 1946 and released in June 1947 as Het Achterhuis. It would receive its first English publication in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl. Otto remarried to a former neighbor and fellow Holocaust survivor in the early 1950s, and would spend the rest of his life living in Switzerland. He made it his life’s work to honor his family and friends who had died in the Holocaust and to preserve the memory of his daughter as sort of a monument of what the Holocaust had stolen from her: not just her life, but also her ambitions and her potential.

Anne’s story is only one of millions whose lives were stolen during the Holocaust, but hers is one of the most widely-documented and also one of the most relatable. A lot of this is due to her young age. She kept her diary between the ages of 13 and 15, and in those two short years, she managed to grow along with her writing and it became much more introspective in the later entries. She explored a lot of issues and feelings that so many girls deal with at her age: boys (including a brief infatuation and a few shared kisses with annex-mate Peter van Pels), periods, sibling rivalry, and personality conflicts with a parent (in her case, her mother, with whom she had difficulty connecting with; Anne had an extremely close relationship with her father, who she affectionately nicknamed “Pim”), just to name a few. Although she loved movie stars and had pasted pictures of them to the walls of her bedroom in the secret annex, she had aspirations of becoming a journalist after the war (as written in her diary on 5 April 1944). She had such an astute skill in observation, even if the “story” she was observing was just her everyday life in hiding and her reactions to developments in the war going on around her. She probably would’ve made an incredible journalist, much like Nellie Bly before her and Christiane Amanpour after her (which would’ve been an incredible accomplishment as a female journalist). The Nazis took all that from her, and the only crime she was guilty of in their eyes was that she was Jewish. That is the only reason why Anne Frank did not get to live to fulfill her potential: she was Jewish and was under the rule of an oppressive regime that believed that the Jewish people were not worthy of fulfilling the ridiculous vision that their hate-filled leader had for his “Thousand Year Reich” that would ultimately last all of 12 years. In those 12 years, 6 million Jews (about two-thirds of the European Jewish population at the time) would be murdered at the hands of the Nazis (most of them systemically between 1941 and 1945). Millions more Roma (Gypsies), handicapped people, ethnically Polish people, LGBT people, chronically ill people, political opponents, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Soviet POWs would also die at the hands of the Nazis during that time.

Anne Frank’s legacy is not just a testament to the persecution she and millions of other European Jews faced as a result of the Nazi regime. She also left a legacy as a female writer, writing about her own truths and experiences in a way that became so accessible to readers all over the world, especially girls the same age range she was when she wrote her diary. I first learned of her story in an issue of Reader’s Digest when I was about 8 years old, and it has stuck with me all these years. Her story inspired me to keep my own diary as a tween and teenager, writing about my own experiences and feelings that I went through at that age and trying to make sense of news developments during my growing up. Even now, her story inspires my desire to keep blogging. Essentially, Anne’s diary was way ahead of its time, serving as her blog to her own experiences during World War II. The only differences between a diary and a blog are the medium and the audience: a diary generally is handwritten for an audience of one, while a blog is digitally written for an audience of many. Thanks to Miep Gies preserving it and Otto Frank compiling and editing it for publishing, what began as Anne Frank’s diary has become a bestseller and a forerunner to what we know today as the blog. And it is a work that continues to enlighten and serve as a source of inspiration for young writers everywhere. Anne Frank did not die in vain. And because her story continues to be told, the Nazis failed in trying to extinguish the voices of her and millions of other European Jews.

I know this post was a long one, but her story is one that has always grabbed me, first as a young person, and then as a woman, and now as a writer. I close this post with the picture of her I mentioned earlier in the post of Anne at around 12 years of age in 1941, knitting.

(I think Anne would’ve absolutely been amazed at how much knitting has skyrocketed in popularity these days. And also at how colorful a lot of today’s yarns are.)

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My First Blogiversary

Yesterday, I came across this little message in my notifications:

And indeed, the first entry I posted here was posted a year ago as of this past Wednesday. For those of you who would like to read it, it is called “Dipping My Toes” and serves as my introduction to this blog and my philosophy on blogging in general.

So I figured that in observance of my first blogiversary, I’d talk about the things I’ve learned over my first year of serious blogging. And this is something I hope to keep doing every March from here on out, recapping things I have learned either about myself or my blogging in the prior year.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • People are actually, genuinely interested in what I have to say. This is a somewhat big deal for me because in my life away from blogging, I am actually quite quiet and at times I feel like most of the world around me ignores me or tells me that my words don’t matter. My audience is not very big compared to some blogs (as of now, I am only at about 60 followers), but the followers that I have gathered over the last year have had quality blogs of their own and have seemed genuinely interested in my writing. Some of them have been constant sources of encouragement and advice, and many of them have genuinely interesting blogs themselves, even if I don’t get enough time to read each and every single one.
  • Blogging is the new newspaper column. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have thought of Carrie Bradshaw and her newspaper column for which Sex and the City is named. Granted, I don’t post on deadlines like Carrie had to, but the process of coming up with a new post each time is very similar to her creative process. Ultimately, our best writing often comes from what we know and experience ourselves, and we often write these experiences into our posts. Sometimes I wonder if Carrie had actually existed, how would she be approaching her writing now? Would she still be writing for a newspaper, or would she be blogging about life and love and relationships and Mr. Big and growing older, while making some money by writing for magazines or lifestyle websites? Real or fictional, there are a lot of similarities between blogging and newspaper columns, and each relies on audience building for success. I hope to grow my audience even more over the next year, that’s for sure.
  • It’s okay to share some of your secrets and vulnerabilities. I have allowed some of my posts to delve into my insecurities and vulnerable spots in my life, and I’m glad to have been able to have control over just what I reveal before I let it out into the world. Like the saying goes, “Three can keep a secret if two are dead.” I’ve had to explore some of myself emotionally in making certain posts and having to lay my thoughts out on the table. It’s been scary, but at times necessary.
  • There is inspiration in the mundaneness of everyday life. So what if I’m not a Fortune 500 CEO or an Internet celebrity? My life is still interesting and still worth writing about. This my little corner of the planet, and I like the idea of letting people into my own thoughts and insights, even if my everyday life is boring as hell. And boring though my life may be, at least others find my own experiences and reactions interesting. And of course, it always feels good if a post or a comment of mine made someone’s day. I’m not looking to shake the world to its core, I’m just looking to bring a little brightness to the people who live in it…and I like that.

Thank you all so much for sticking with me in this first year of The Snowless Knitter! I hope the year ahead for this blog will continue to teach me so much about blogging and life itself, and I hope you all enjoy the ride.

My First Love Letter 💌

Earlier this month, I saw a videoclip on The Talk where actress Laura Dern was taking part in a fragrance campaign for Kate Spade, in which several famous women compose “love letters” to themselves. Harper’s Bazaar has an article detailing the ad campaign here. Being that I have never received a love letter from another person, who better to write my first love letter to myself than me? So, today being my 31st birthday, I have decided to celebrate it by writing myself a love letter. And I encourage you out there to do one for yourselves as well. Just write what you love about yourself and give yourself a little encouragement or advice where you may need it.

Dear Crystal,

I know you have times where you feel like, for whatever reason, that you are worth less to those around you and that you feel like the world is turning a blind eye to you. I’m here to remind you why you are the amazing human being that you are. I’m here to remind you that you yourself are worth loving.

First and foremost, I love that you have always been fiercely independent and marching to your own drum. You may not have always been willing to do this in your life, but once you figured out that the only person you are sure to please 100% of the time is yourself, you took both drumsticks and ran to the hills. There were times when you yearned to be part of the “In” crowd, unsure of your own worth and identity and so desperately looking to others to validate you, to make you think you were normal. In the end, all that did was push those who truly cared about you away, but the ones who truly mattered always found their way back. It took a long time for you to figure out that normal was a subjective concept and that you yourself were not normal…you were one of a kind. And once you did figure that out, you embraced it. I wish for you to continue to do that for as long as humanly possible.

Secondly, I love your kindness. Even in the most trying of situations where your patience is tested (and I know you go through a lot of them these days), you manage to keep as calm of a head as you possibly can (even when the impatience starts to get to you). Whether it’s helping your brother cook his first Thanksgiving turkey for his young family or helping your neighbor’s daughter with her science project (despite the flaws she made in her experiment process beforehand) or helping your dad install a TV despite you not being the best lifter, you are unafraid to lend a hand to a friend or a family member in need. I hope you are able to carry that attitude with you through as much of your life as you possibly can.

I also love that you are an adapter. No matter what life, both the big situations and the small, seems to throw at you, you almost always find a way to make it work. And I know how much you hate change. When your mother’s condition started to show itself, you seamlessly transitioned into her caretaker, no questions asked. When you find that you are missing a major ingredient for a meal you were planning, you still find a way to make it work. When times were lean and we were short on money, you found a way to make $40 weekly grocery budget work, and now that times are better, you still find a way to make your current grocery budget work. Have leftover yarn in your stash? You can figure out what to do with it, even if you didn’t originally get the yarn for the purpose you end up using it for. You hate change, sure, but you are also willing to accept it.

Finally, I love that you are one of the best and truest friends a person could have. When you befriend a person, those you befriend deeply know who you are and love you anyway. Your closest friends are like family to you, and they have seen you at your most vulnerable and helped you through it. You have also seen your closest friends at their most vulnerable and have tried to help them through it. You and your friends have each other’s backs and are willing to stand up for each other in times of trouble or torment. When your head was way up in the clouds or you got too full of yourself, your friends were the voices of reason and brought you back down to earth. And you have learned from those experiences and have tried to become a better person as a result. With your ambitious mind, your friends taught you humility. And in today’s world, humility is hard to find.

I hope this letter finds you feeling more confident about yourself. I hope this letter reminds you of the many strengths that you have within you in the times when you are feeling weak. Sometimes when you feel that your life is going south on you, think of this letter and realize that you’ve got this. Think of this letter and find your grip. You are more capable than you realize. You’ve got this, and I love you for it.

Love,

Crystal

This felt good. Sometimes we just have to evaluate ourselves and put down what we love about ourselves in writing ✍️. It can be challenging, but it can be done. Happy birthday to me.

Up and Down the Road Apiece

Friday marked only the second occurrence in my entire life of its kind: I set foot in South Florida. See, unlike a lot of Floridians, I had never really explored the region that a lot of people like to refer to as “SoFlo”. South Florida to me has always been a bit of a mythical land, like Asgard, Shangri-La, or Dallas*. I had only been there once before, to visit one of my mom’s cousins in Port St. Lucie, many many years ago…when I was, maybe, 10 years old.

*= When you see somebody on “Undercover Boss” enthusiastically choose Dallas as their destination when said boss offers them a trip to literally anywhere, you might as well consider Dallas’ appeal to be as mythical as that of other, actual mythical places.

So a few days ago, we got an invitation to visit my mom’s best friend from high school at her place in Ft. Myers before said friend was scheduled to leave to bring her longtime boyfriend’s mother home to Massachusetts before spending the spring and summer in New Hampshire (which they used to call home full-time, but have now moved to their home in Florida). When my dad asked me if I wanted to come along, I jumped at it. You may remember me mentioning this friend in one of my earliest entries, “You Might Be a Floridian“. Over a decade ago, before my mom’s memory had started to cloud, she had found her friend’s ex-husband online and sent him an email asking about her. He sent a reply back saying that he and my mom’s friend had divorced years earlier, but was able to provide her with contact information. When she and her friend, who I will call L., talked to each other for the first time in over 30 years, it was as though they hadn’t missed a day. One of the first things L. said to my mother was, “You have an accent!” (This referred to the fact that my mom, after growing up in New England for most of her childhood, had long lost her New England accent and currently speaks with more of a Southern accent, although even now the New England accent will occasionally sneak back in.) We have met with her and her boyfriend, who I will refer to as W., many times over the years, even as my mom’s condition has worsened. (I still don’t feel completely comfortable talking about what my mom is dealing with, but I may do so at some point in the future. Only my closest friends really know the details right now, and I still feel like keeping it that way.) L. is genuinely one of the nicest people in the world, not a single mean bone in her body, and she has such a gentle, warm personality that welcomes anyone around her. She wears her blonde hair in a short bob with bangs, her slender frame tan from years of enjoying the sunshine and the beach. She greets everyone in a soft-spoken but friendly voice accented with the same dialect that my mother grew up speaking, New England (specifically northwestern Massachusetts). My mother’s face lights up every time we see her, a sight that is hard for us to see on most days.

We made plans to go down to visit her Friday, but it would be quite a trip. We’d make it a day trip, but it was gonna be around 400 miles round trip. So, we got into the Jeep (a Grand Cherokee that my dad traded in his truck for a few months back so that it would be easier for my mom to get in and out), and after having to leave the local McDonald’s drive through due to their card reader being out of order, we ordered some breakfast sandwiches and iced coffee from the Burger King across the street…but they forgot to put straws for the coffees in the bag (which meant that we had to take the lids off and drink them the old-fashioned way). I had sausage biscuit sandwiches, which were okay…but not quite as good as McDonald’s version. McDonald’s version has a nice, buttery biscuit that is not too moist and not too dry. The iced coffee was good, though; its flavor was a nicely-balanced blend of vanilla and coffee. Burger King’s version had the biscuit a bit more softer than I like, but it wasn’t terrible. I ate the second biscuit somewhere around Tampa. (Mom and Dad both ate sausage and cheese croissant sandwiches.)

We made our way to I-4 and then to the 417. Now, normally we don’t take toll roads (and the 417 is a toll road), but if you need to know anything about Central Florida traffic, it’s this: driving on I-4 through Orlando on a Friday can be hell. Taking the 417 around Orlando ended up saving us about an hour…or so we thought. That hour got eaten back up when we made the switch over to I-75 around Tampa. You see, there is no one particular driving style unique to Florida, and that is because Florida (being a popular tourist destination and retirement state) is a microcosm of the United States as a whole: it is a salad bowl of different states and states’ cultures. And much like the immigrants that have brought their traditions and incorporated them into American culture from the very beginning, the same goes for people who move to Florida from other states (and that includes driving styles). There are many people who drive like idiots on Florida highways, essentially treating Florida’s interstates like a game of Frogger, seemingly crossing into any open space in a lane and waiting until the last possible second to make their exit, which of course increases the risk of an accident. My dad, having driven in Florida for most of his life, has learned from this extremely well and is very well-versed in the Art of Florida Driving. Watching him drive and navigate his way through I-4 traffic, knowing I will at some point have to learn how to do this myself (and it scares the 😈 out of me at the thought of it), I have learned that the number one rule of driving in Florida is Expect the Unexpected. (Also known as “Prepare for Idiots”.)

It took us about two hours to get to Tampa, and then about another two or two and a half hours to finally make our way to Ft. Myers. We found our destination with help from the Jeep’s GPS system, and we were glad to be able to get out and stretch our legs when we saw L. and W.’s mother (who I will call F.), as W. was not there at the time; he was at the local flea market selling holographic pictures they had ordered in bulk. More on those in a moment. L. & W.’s House was located in a retirement park where the streets were lined with lots of small, trailer-like houses (not unlike the one that my maternal grandfather lived in up in New Hampshire for many years before his illness, although L. & W.’s house was a bit smaller than what I remember of my grandfather’s home). Their house was a light blue color, a favorite of L.’s, as almost every memory I have of her is of her wearing either pastel blue or pastel pink. The front door (on the northern end of the house) opened to two steps leading up into the combined living room/dining area; the living room section had a squishy armchair with a sky blue cover, a small white coffee table, and a couch that could seat three (and possibly also had a fold-out bed for guests). There was a Roku TV set up, but not on, in the living room, and a radio playing ’70s and ’80s music in the kitchen. At the end of the living area opposite the front door was white dinner table with white chairs that could seat four. The walls were decorated in all sorts of tropical colors and wind chimes present in almost every corner of the room. What caught my eye, though, was their Christmas tree (still up in February). It was not an actual tree, but lights strung up across a conical, Christmas tree-shaped structure, and in almost every space between the lights’ wiring hung a small, glass wind chime. Imagine these spread across an entire Christmas tree. A curtain of seashells separated the door between the living area and the kitchen. Their kitchen was actually the largest room in the house, with their stove and appliances situated on the southern end and a small, narrow hallway on the northern end that led to a laundry room, a bathroom, and the master bedroom. The bathroom was just as tropical in appearance as the rest of the house.

Outside, their front yard had a small palm tree 🌴 and a display out front with a witty message. Out back there was a coconut palm tree (one of two in the immediate area) which had at least a dozen coconuts in various stages of growth attached to it. To the right was an area covered in seashells (which L. had told us were gathered from the beaches of Sanibel Island, not far from the Ft. Myers area), in which sat a lime green lounge chair, some decorations, and several pots with small, round trellises inserted to guide the vines of cherry tomatoes that grew within them. While most of these tomatoes (planted and grown by W.) were still green, there were a few that were ripened enough to pick, clean, and eat right from the vine. We ate a few of the tomatoes, and they were juicy, flavorful, and absolutely delicious. I just wish she’d have been able to put some in our chicken salad that she had made for us. That was delicious, too. L. gave Dad a couple of the holographic pictures she and W. had been selling for most of the winter, one for his office at work (that consisted of three different images of eagles), and one for our house (a black and white image of a girl and a wolf that appeared incredibly three-dimensional).

All in all, we stayed for just three hours, as L. and F. were planning on going to bingo that evening for one last time before they were scheduled to leave for New England the next morning. I didn’t get to see any beaches. Then it came time to make our drive home. After a few moments of me falling asleep in the backseat after just barely leaving Ft. Myers, we stopped at a McDonald’s in Charlotte County to get some burgers, fries, and Cokes for the road. Barely a few minutes into that, one of the packs fries fell straight onto the floor. Back onto I-75, where I watched the sun set from the back seat of the Jeep, mused about the ridiculousness of a flat Earth (assuming such an Earth rotated on a vertical axis), and then hoped I could see stars through our moonroof. Sadly, I did not. My father, at the wheel, all the while did his best to avoid being stuck behind idiotic drivers, those likely to be out in full force on a Friday night. We got back to I-4 before 8:00, refueled at a gas station in Polk County, with ’70s and ’80s rock music blasting on our radio. We found our way back to the 417 and then had to take a bathroom break at a rest stop along the way. We stretched our legs while I consoled my mother, who got anxious. Dad cleaned the fallen French fries from his floorboard and then took his own bathroom break. We took a brief stroll back to the Jeep, and on the way I was able to look up and see both the constellation Orion and nearby, the waxing gibbous moon. We helped my mother back into the Jeep, my dad and I got back in once again, and then we set out on the road one last time, riding the 417 through the various toll booths until we found I-4 and were able to find those familiar roads back to my hometown. We arrived home at about 10:30, a bit tired, a little cranky, and to the greetings of our excited American Bulldog/Jack Russell mix, who ran to us with glee before proceeding to dart around the yard. She kept showering us with wet, sloppy canine kisses, even when we didn’t want her to. We finally settled down for the evening. I didn’t go to bed until 1:00 in the morning on Saturday, a full 18 hours after I had first gotten up. It was the end to what was for sure a memorable day in my mind.

Charlie Brown Syndrome (or, Chronically Single on Valentine’s Day)

Last July, I wrote this post about my experiences of being a 30-year-old single woman. It still holds true for me. One downside of this, though, comes along every February. February 14th of every year marks Valentine’s Day, or as I like to call it, “Singles Awareness Day” (as in it makes me aware…very aware…that I am single). In a time of year when people are talking about dates and flowers and love and special moments, it often leaves me feeling sad, lonely, and oftentimes jealous because I somehow always feel left out. For all intents and purposes, I am the real-embodiment of Charlie Brown.

This is not a new experience for me. I experienced it all through high school. In a time of one’s life when people are normally pairing off and experiencing the wonders of things like dating and making out and relationships, I was one of the ones who was shut out (I came close to it a time or two, but it never worked out). I’d see classmates receiving things like teddy bears, flowers, and candy from their significant others, and it almost always made me feel sad and jealous. Some classmates tried to “help” me out of pity one year, but unlike Charlie Brown when a girl named Violet finally sends him a (used) Valentine, it only made me feel worse. After a while, I just got tired of it: the gift-giving, the making dates, and even seeing the shelves of the local Walmart lined stem to stern with boxes of chocolate and similar candies, loads of large stuffed teddy bears holding little red hearts populating other sections of the store, and greeting cards proclaiming messages of love was enough for me to feel sick to my stomach.

In my younger years, my friends knew and understood this and would try to help me feel better. A lot of those friends are now married themselves and have their own traditions, so my community of fellow singles has shrunk considerably over the years. Now being 30, almost 31, and still never having been in an actual relationship…it’s more of a feeling of general loneliness now than actual sadness. My loneliness has accompanied me through life, not as a friend or a companion, but as more of something familiar that has just kept me company for all these years. I’m used to it by this point. A lot of times, I wish it would just go away, but I’m used to it being around me…I know nothing different.

I know I’m not the only one out there who’s going through these feelings. There are many, many other people out there, chronically single, who are feeling similar emotions to the ones I feel every February. If you are one of those people, I just want to let you know that you are not alone, your feelings are valid, and that it’s okay to feel sad, jealous, and lonely on Valentine’s Day. But it’s also okay to take those emotions and do something positive with them, and that’s something I try to do every year. That’s what I’ve been doing in writing this post. It’s okay to love things about yourself and try to celebrate those things. It’s okay to celebrate what you love about your friends and your family instead of trying to find a date for the sake of finding a date. It’s okay to stay at home and watch Netflix with your dog, if that’s how your plans are turning out. And it’s okay to just hang out with your friends, maybe watch some movies, play some poker, or spend the evening making lots of snarky comments on some ridiculous TV show…perhaps The Bachelor? (FYI, I can’t stand that show. I usually watch wrestling instead. 😆) Don’t have a spouse or significant other? Make Valentine’s Day what you want of it. You will get through this day, one way or another.

For me, there is always a bright side in getting over the hump that is Valentine’s Day: My birthday will be coming up around the corner. I start to look forward to my birthday once Valentine’s Day passes, as it is about five and a half weeks away. It is a day that is mine and one that I can get excited for as I know the year ahead will be an unpredictable ride. I know I’ll be okay. I won’t be happy tomorrow, but I know I’ll be okay.

Blog Wars, Episode II: The Blogger’s Block Strikes Back

I know it’s been quite quiet on my end since the holidays, but it’s not for lack of trying. Sometimes one just has to admit when the bug has bitten again, and unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with blogger’s block once again. Not even the Daily Post prompts have been enough to inspire me to write.

Doesn’t it get annoying as a blogger (or a writer in general) when those little monsters in your creative zone in your head like to take over and block any sort of inspiration or motivation to want to write? It sure does for me. And that’s been the main reason why I haven’t really been writing since Christmas. Everything else has been fine for me lately. Nothing major or catastrophic has occurred in my family or in my hometown. My reading of Hidden Figures is going okay, if not progressing as quickly as I’d like to, mainly because either I’m too sleepy at times or my iPad just keeps calling my name. I am trying to make an active effort to try and read it, though, when the minutiae of domestic life isn’t getting my attention. Knitting on Forestry has stalled a bit because I haven’t been able to get more yarn for it (I need at least a couple more colors for it to start progressing for it). Heck, my scrap yarn is calling to me to try and do something!

My life at this point has been just fine…I just haven’t had the motivation to write about it lately. However, my least favorite holiday of the year, Valentine’s Day, is just around the corner, which may finally give me some motivation to write, so…yay?

Simply put, Blogger’s Block Sucks.

The Pot of Gold

I was inspired to write this after a post I made on Tumblr talking about the relationship between Rory Gilmore and Logan Huntzberger on Gilmore Girls. For those of you who don’t know the story, Gilmore Girls is about a single mother and her daughter, both named Lorelai (although the daughter goes by “Rory” to differentiate), and their lives and relationships as Rory grows into a young woman in a small Connecticut town called Stars Hollow (where Lorelai chose to raise Rory, away from her Connecticut blue blood parents in Hartford, but she slowly lets her parents back into her life after Rory is accepted into a prep school called Chilton and the girls agree to Friday night dinners with the grandparents in exchange for Rory’s tuition). In later seasons, Rory attends Yale University and dates a guy named Logan, who comes from the type of Connecticut blue blood family that Lorelai was trying to keep Rory from their influence. Here is what I wrote in response to a post where a fan admitted that they did not particularly care for Logan:

Maybe because he came from old money and despite Lorelai’s old money upbringing, she made the decision to raise Rory away from all that influence. And just about everything that Rory has achieved, she worked for it (even though yes, her grandparents got her into Chilton, her graduating as valedictorian was 100% Rory’s effort, as was her decision to go to Yale). When she and Logan got together, it was as though she was betraying her roots to be with him. He spoiled her, for sure. (Not to mention his dad was an ass to her, and his mom looked down on her.) I think Jess was actually better for her, once he found himself and got his act together. Sometimes searching for that pot of gold is better than actually having it.

Note that last sentence: “Sometimes searching for that pot of gold is better than actually having it.” It gets me thinking. When we aspire to greatness or success, is it better for us to achieve our goals or are we better off constantly searching for more? Are we better off in a state of perpetual aspiration or settling for what we have?

Think about it. We all have had dreams and aspirations that have seemed to be out of our reach: I want to be rich, I want to perform at Carnegie Hall, I want to own a successful business, I want to marry that person I’ve had my eye on since kindergarten, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But of the people that have gotten lucky enough to achieve such things, why do we hear of people who’ve gotten the pot of gold and then squandered it (especially in the case of large-jackpot lottery winners), or married that person and then cheated with someone else, or became successful and then lost the drive to continue being successful?

I normally would not be one to quote German techno music, but here this makes sense. In the beginning of their song “How Much Is the Fish?” (hold your laughter, please), Scooter’s frontman H. P. Baxxter tells us that “The chase is better than the catch.” (And then proceeds to babble and rap before asking the title question, “How much is the fish?”) Now, sure, the song itself is a bit ridiculous, but I think H. P. Baxxter may have been on to something. The chase is better than the catch. Why is that? As the cliché goes, getting there is half the fun. Trying to pursue that dream, or woo that person, or making that money (if you’re doing it the hard way and working your butt off) is part of the adventure. We can’t reach our end goals without forging the path ahead first. This is what it means when you are following the rainbow 🌈.

But of course, the pot of gold at the end is only a myth, and many times our realities don’t quite turn out the way we fantasized about them when they were only dreams. Sure, some people who become rich are able to stay that way, but there are just as many tales of people who go back to rags through bad investments, frivolous spending, and irresponsible management of their money (either by themselves or others). Businesses go under all the time. Fame can be fleeting…how many ’80s stars still get airplay on Top 40 radio? How many of today’s pop stars will still get airplay 20 years from now? How many Hollywood stars are a scandal away from losing their entire reputation? And no matter whether or not you’re famous, marriages end all the time, even those between high school or childhood sweethearts, for all sorts of reasons. I’m not a nihilist by saying this…I’m just being realistic.

I think as long as we keep that drive and that fire 🔥 to want to be successful and happy alive, though, we can all come much closer to getting what we want out of life. So I say, keep chasing the pot of gold. When you find it, look for another. Getting there is most of the work anyway.

And to end this entry is the Scooter song I referenced, “How Much Is the Fish?” Yes, I realize the song itself is a bit ridiculous. That’s why Jimmy Fallon featured it on The Tonight Show’s “Do Not Play List” earlier this year.

https://youtu.be/cbB3iGRHtqA