Parts Unknown

I'm gonna go ahead and preface this post with these three very important words: I'm fine, mom.


This morning I woke up to the news that Anthony Bourdain had passed. Suicide. I literally screamed in bed. And then I burst into tears. I cried in the shower. I cried through the blow drying and the dressing and the (half-assed) makeup-ing.

My 8 o'clock session was going swimmingly until I burst into tears, AGAIN.

I managed to make it through the workday relatively tear-free, but then the waterworks flowed again whilst I sat alone at the laundromat, watching two weeks' worth of clothes toss and turn and churn.

Just to be clear, I didn't actually know Anthony Bourdain. What the fuck is wrong with me?


It's nearly 10pm and I think I've maybe gotten a handle on why this celebrity death has kinda sorta rocked me.

Reader, if you've been a ride or die, you know I, too, have battled some fucking demons. Shit has been tough for me (mostly because I'm neurotic and moody and aloof as fuck), and there have been a handful of times when my brain almost fooled me into thinking life was maybe, possibly just too fucking painful. But then someone saved me. And I think that's why I'm over here bawling my fucking eyes out, feeling all the feels. See, life is pretty good for me right now. I'm doing the things I want to do and building the life I so desperately needed. I'm fine. But there were so many time when I wasn't fine, so many times when frustration and shame and debilitating anxiety threatened to take over.

Like that winter in Korea. You know the one. I was fucking miserable. Life felt empty and weird and all my friends at home were moving on without me. I was nearing thirty, directionless, flying solo, and questioning why the fuck I ever thought it was a good idea to move BACK to the other side of the world. But someone reached out to me and gave me a home. Jamie was the dude who cooked for me, watched Jersey Shore with me, and let me cry in his bed when I just fucking hated everything. He was gentle with my mind and heart, for I think he knew I was maybe a little fragile. His friendship is what got me through that winter and let me come out the other side. His friendship is what allowed me to laugh off all the absurdity of my life in Korea and to embrace the people around me, many of whom I still count among my closest and dearest friends (I'm looking at you, Casey the Human).

Jamie literally saved me from myself.

Or like the fall of 2006. I was kinda sorta newly graduated, definitely newly single, and living alone for the first time. At the time I don't remember feeling lonely or lost, but in hindsight all the signs were there. Things came to a head when I got caught drunkenly fucking a pirate on the bathroom floor at a Halloween party. We were both so hammered, we never skipped a beat. I don't even know how we ended up back at his house, but I do know that his car was outside. I woke up feeling disgusted and embarrassed and ashamed beyond belief. Twelve years later I am able to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all (sorta), but at the time, it was a symptom of a much larger problem. Anxiety and self-loathing are two of my greatest hits and I think that fall was marked by a great deal of both. But someone reached out to me and acknowledged that I was maybe standing on a ledge, if only figuratively. After two days of calling in sick and dodging phone calls, my mom hauled her ass over and climbed into bed with me. She is the reason I went to the doctor that day and finally admitted that I was having a hard time keeping it all together. She was the reason I filled that first prescription and why I kept filling that prescription and why a year later I was able to stop filling that prescription.

My mom literally saved me from myself.

Or like those entire two years after I came home from Korea. No need to rehash how fucking miserable I felt upon returning to a life that was no longer familiar and no longer mine. Reader, I struggled. Every. Damn. Day. But someone reached out with such gusto and conviction that I couldn't do anything *but* surrender to her friendship. I don't know if Erica knew it at the time, but I was in desperate need of a kick in the ass. What she gave me was so much more. She made me believe that I could do the thing, if I just took small bites and didn't look too closely at the big picture. She made me believe that I was smart enough, that I was deserving enough, and that it didn't matter if I sometimes didn't know what I was doing. Every day I still struggle with the battle between perfection and good enough (ask my supervisor how long it takes me to write an eval...), but because of Erica's mad cheerleading skills, I think I'm able to navigate that battle just a little bit better.

Erica literally saved me from myself.

There have been others throughout the years who have reached out to me to let me know they see me (lots, actually). And I think that's why Bourdain's death hit me so hard today. Those people who reached out to me in my shittiest, darkest times are literally the reason I get to sit here today. I'm saddened that Bourdain chose to take this path; I imagine he, too, had loved ones reach out to him. But sometimes it's not enough. Sometimes YOU'RE not enough.

I don't know how else to wrap this up. It seems so fucked up to say I understand that feeling, to say I get his choice. So I guess today I'm thankful my loved ones reached out. Today I'm thankful I'M enough.


ISO Wealthy Manhattan Beach Beardo. Must Love Dogs.

All the rich single men in LA live in Manhattan Beach. Or so the fingerprint tech in Torrance tells me.

Let me back up a bit. For the past year I've been telling literally anyone and everyone that my post-grad plans included moving to sunny SoCal. Lemme tell you, EVERYONE had Thoughts. Usually this was met with some measure of flippant disdain among Idahoans with Opinions. My response was a polite nod, but man it gets tiring hearing asshole Idahoans spout off about what kind of assholes live in the Golden State.

About a month before I left I had to get some fingerprints done at the Idaho State police. The fingerprint tech was a super gregarious lady full of Opinions. She inquired about the nature of my fingerprint needs and where they'd be sent. I told her I'd taken my dream job in LA and was looking forward to all the sunny days ahead.

"Are you from here or there?" she asked.

"Oh, here," I responded.

"Well, I'm from California. San Diego. Get ready for some of the rudest people you've ever met."

Reader, she really said that to me. OUT LOUD. Well, I've certainly met ONE rude Californian, I thought to myself... She went on to add that Californians were the worst drivers. I drew the line there, friends. In 2017 I started taking road rage seriously and called 911 twice to report Ragey Middle-Aged White Men with Tiny Dicks Threatening Me from Stupid Diesel Trucks. California doesn't have a monopoly on rude, shitty drivers, I told her.

Oh, they're probably from California, she informed me. Welp. It's a special kind of Californian who chooses to move to Idaho, and I think we allllll know what I'm talking about...

ANYWAY. When I finally arrived in sunny SoCal I found it to be chock full of sunny, kind, helpful people and one of them was the fingerprint tech at WellnessMart in Torrance.

This dude was so nice, y'all. When my employer neglected to add my name to the fingerprint list (meaning they'd foot the bill), he happily overrode the system and printed me for free. He inquired about the nature of my new job, congratulated me on the move, and welcomed me to California.

Where are you staying, he asked. LONG BEACH! Long Beach is great! The people are nice and chill and unpretentious, he said. Then he pulled out an iPad and proceeded to give me directions home. Don't take the freeway, he said. Take this drive through Palos Verdes, he said. It's full of scenic overlooks, short trails, and the neighborhood is beautiful, he said.

Then: I noticed you weren't wearing a wedding ring, he said. Usually this kind of thing would totally creep me out - like, why do you care, dude? Also, time and place. But then he dropped this nugget: I heard that Manhattan Beach has the highest per capita income among men in LA county, so if you're looking that'd be a good place to start, he said.

Reader, I died! It was such an LA piece of advice, how could I be mad?! Also, nice to know the Wellnessmart dude was looking out for my best interest - he just wanted me to live my best life in Cali, and that so obviously included a rich dude from Manhattan Beach.

Now I wanna know, how many of those flush Manhattan Beach dudes have beards? A question for another (sunny) day.


With so much drama in the L-B-C It's kind of AWESOME bein' Mindy P-A-G silent E

Hey nerds! I'm back!

Yesterday I was having a lovely brunch with my friend Erica. We were playing catch-up and I was regaling her with stories of my new hometown when she interrupted and exclaimed, "That's your thing! Start blogging again about all the cool people you meet in California!"

And you know what? I'M GONNA.

But first, do you guys wanna hear how I got to sunny SoCal? It's a long and winding road, but then again, so is every damn road I travel...

About eight years ago my friend Casey (she of the Casey with Laser Eyes fame) got a list from her dad. See, he was trying to convince her to come home from SoKo to pursue a grad degree in pharmacology, so he sent her a list of the top ten professional jobs with the best outlook/job satisfaction/pay/blah blah blah. Casey had no interest in being a pharmacist (that undergrad in French definitely prepared her for it, amiright?!), but she did find a few professional avenues that piqued her interest. One of them was speech language pathology, which, as luck would have it, also piqued MY interest.

Fast forward a year, to 2011. I was preparing to come back to the States in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. My job outlook was shitty, but I just couldn't yet wrap my head around grad school. The cost alone was mind boggling (not to mention the idea of going back to school after the age of 30...), so I came home and took a safe job with the Boise School District. And for those of you who've slogged through this blog you know I was miserable. That first year home was rough, but grad school was always in the back of my mind.

Fast forward another year, to 2012. I had fallen into a rhythm - work, home, bar, occasional (bad) sex, wash, rinse, repeat. Life was fine (not good), but I was still miserable. I was unwilling and unable to accept that this is what my life would look like. I was unprepared to spend the bulk of adulthood settling for mediocrity, but I felt stuck. I knew something had to change, but change requires momentum and I had zero. Lucky for me Erica (yes, that same Erica) knew just how to push me. "Let's study for the GED together!" she exclaimed. I begrudgingly accepted her offer for a GED study buddy, and so began my long, strange trip to grad school (and a beautiful friendship!)

Fast forward another year, to 2013. Life was marginally less awful and I was legit preparing to head back to school! Oh, and Erica got accepted to USC. She moved in the early summer and I made it a point to visit ASAP. And thus began my love affair with LA...

Lots of shit happened in the intervening five years. I started and finished a pre-pro year of school, applied to and was NOT accepted to any grad programs the first time around (this was frustrating and demoralizing and hella fucking expensive), and then finally, in 2015, I was accepted! No one needs a grad school play-by-play, but suffice it to say I hated every minute. The one thing I always looked forward to during those 2+ years were my annual trips to LA. The more I visited and explored, the more the city felt like a place I could actually live. I fell in love with the art and culture and food and people, and yes, the traffic.

And so, somewhere around 2016, I started telling people that my professional goals included living and working in Southern California. The first step to making a dream come true is to say it out loud to other people, so I figured this was one simple way I could manifest my dream. Also, it required very little effort on my part, so basically, it was perfect.

Fast forward one more year, to 2017. Graduation came and went. I chose to extend my program through the fall so I had ample time to finish up my portfolio, prepare for orals, and finish my externship. I cleared each hurdle with minimal effort and before I knew it, December was looming. So on a whim, while kicking back PBRs at my favorite college bar ON A MONDAY, I posted my resume and CV on Indeed. Within an hour I had more than ten hits.

Shit was happening. Fast.

Within a day I had five interviews set up for the following week, the week of December 18th. I did minimal research into most of the organizations (I'm nothing if not lazy), and one organization stood out to me. They were a nonprofit clinic based in Torrance, with offices in Long Beach and Inglewood, who serviced low SES clients in the South Bay. Everything about this organization was attractive to me - it was basically my dream job. And it just so happened they were my first interview on Monday morning, December 18th. KISMET!

The interview went well - we talked for nearly two hours, and at the end they inquired about traveling for a second interview. I was giddy! But I also knew not to get my hopes up - what were the chances that all the puzzle pieces would fall into place and THIS would be my new job? Slim to none, I reminded myself. And so I tried to go about my day.

And then they called me at the tail end of the business day. Reader, I almost died.

Mindy, you have excellent experience.
Mindy, you have heart and energy and skills.
Mindy, we think you would be an excellent match.
Mindy, we don't need a second interview.
Mindy, we want to offer you the job.
Mindy, when can you start?

Dudes. You all know I had a *really* hard time keeping it together over the course of that phone call, right?! My whole body was tense, my knees were weak, and I was legit holding back tears. What were the chances that all the puzzle pieces would fall into place and THIS would be my new job?! Pretty fucking high, apparently. And so, by the end of that week, I had negotiated pay, a sign-on bonus, and a start date of February 1.

Shit was happening. Fast.

In just four short weeks I had to quit my dumb pizza job, find a place to live, pack my shit, say good bye to friends and family, and move the fuck to Long Beach. And so I did just that.

I've been here a week and I'm already in love, y'all.

And that's the story of how I made it to SoCal. Next time: did you guys know that Manhattan Beach has the highest per capita income among men in LA County?!


Really Real America

I love LA so much. Real live people live here. Every time I visit I feel like I'm getting a glimpse at "the REAL America." I know, I know, but stay with me here.

See, after living the past six years in Idaho, a place decidedly short on diversity, coming to LA and seeing actual diversity all around me is so beautiful. Boise likes to tout itself as a diverse city, but the vast majority of that diversity comes in the form of refugees. The refugee population absolutely adds to the culturally diverse footprint of Boise; however, I don't think it really helps actual Boiseans (or Idahoans) appreciate true diversity. Let me explain.

See, in Idaho, when you see someone who looks different from you, you get to put them in this "refugee" box, which never actually allows you to view them as Americans. This is problematic. When the only diversity you see is in the form of refugees, you get to remove yourself from the conversation - OTHER PEOPLE are diverse, whiteness is the norm. But when your community is truly diverse, whiteness becomes a PART of that diversity, not some starting point from which to judge all others. That's what perpetuates this stupid fucking idea that "Americans" are white. It's also what allows us to assume that anyone who deviates from white is foreign. Now that's not to say that I think refugee resettlement should stop in Boise or in Idaho, quite the contrary. In order for us to reach that true melting pot ideal, my community absolutely needs more people who look different from me. But it doesn't end there.

Boise (and especially Idaho ) also needs a whole bunch of people who believe different shit, too. Living in a place where the local and state government offices are dominated by white Mormon dudes is what perpetuates the  "American = White" idea. It also perpetuates that paternalistic, white savior bullshit. And that's the part that's got my panties in a twist this morning.

The election of Donald Fucking Drumpf has finally shed some light on the shitty voting habits of the so-called "Christians." For decades those "Christians" have touted themselves as the champions of families, the constitution, and most importantly, of Americans, all under the guise of caring compassion. Those "Christians" have systematically chipped away at health care, education, voting rights, women's rights, infrastructure, and immigration in the name of Christ. Those "Christians" have slammed America's door to the world's most destitute and needy at a time when the world needs us most. You want to talk about fake? Ask those "Christians." I have a feeling they know a lot more about what it means to be fake than any Angeleno.

So fuck that shit. I think I prefer the fake tans, tits, and brilliantly white teeth of LA. At least their fake shit looks good.


Mindy is a Social Weirdo, Part 3,841

Whew, y'all. So much has happened since Christmas, where do I start?

Let's see. Still not talking to racist grandparents, but I'm kinda ok with that for now. Still not talking to brother, but again, kinda ok with that one too. Graduation is a week away. DEFINITELY ok with that one. Hmm, feels like I'm forgetting something...

Ah yes, Shon Harris, the Middle-Aged Married Mormon Cliche. Welp. I wrote a whole blog post about what a scumbag he is and how he misled me for five, YES FIVE, months. How he claimed to be a champion of equality, a level-headed progressive in touch with his "feminine side," a single dude who respected and admired strong, smart women. A dude who wanted to be with me. The reality? He's just another Middle-Aged Married Mormon cliche looking for a side piece on the internet. SAD!

But that dude doesn't deserve an entire blog post, especially not after I spoke with his lovely wife...

Anyway, what I really want to talk about is a topic that keeps biting me in the ass over and over - this idea that I am somehow a social, outgoing person who enjoys spending copious amounts of time in the presence of others. Seems this shit won't stop following me around and honestly, I kinda don't know what to do about it.

See, two days ago a woman I know from Twitter and have met *very* briefly in real life tagged me in a post which suggested I might be a person in Boise to follow. On the one hand I'm flattered that she tagged me - SHE LIKES ME! It's always nice to be liked! But on the other hand, oh dear god, now she's exposed me to a whole bunch of people I don't know and who live in my city and fuck my city is very small and I might actually have to see them in real life or what if I run in to them at the bar and they recognize me and... You see where this is going.

For the past two days I have been terrorized. My Twitter mentions went up like 400%. I have had something like 1,000 notifications. The thread convos have touched on inane things like drinking, what to do for fun in Boise, and shit! my kid broke his thumb, etc. Totally normal topics that normal people talk about with other normal people in their normal lives. So what's my fucking problem? I don't know, but it's certainly not new.

At age five I was fucking terrified to start kindergarten. I remember clinging to my mom so tightly, hoping that if I just cried hard enough she'd take me home and the whole business could be over. I made one friend that year, Melissa Palmer, and I stuck to her like white on rice.

At age 12 I was fucking terrified to start junior high. How the hell was I supposed to navigate all those new social situations with people I didn't know while also trying to remember my class schedule and locker combo and teachers' names, and and and?? That year I made friends with a girl named Tiffany Watkins. She was entirely too cool for me and I spent every day of our friendship wondering why she even liked me.

At age 16 I was terrified to start my first job, even though half of my sophomore class applied for and was hired to work with me. It's not like I didn't already know everyone, it's just that this was a new setting to navigate and that filled me with so much anxiety I almost skipped orientation. That first year a girl named Stephanie McCallum forced me to be her friend. She was tall and beautiful and listened to a lot of shitty rap music. We were polar opposites, but she was witty and we had a similar sense of humor. She was my best friend throughout high school (and then some).

At age 19 I was fucking terrified to start college. I holed up in my dorm room for the first two weeks until Lisa Fucking O'Rourke knocked on my door and dragged me to a showing of The Wizard of Oz + Dark Side of the Moon (speaking of cliches). That year I managed to make friends with my suite-mates, but I never quite got the hang of making friends in my classes. It was a rough year, both emotionally and academically.

Somehow I managed to make it through college without making one single friend in any of my classes. Sure, I have friends I made while I was in college, but most of them were friendships forced on me by circumstance. That's not to say I don't love those friendships (Dawn, Vivi, Anji, Melissa!), but it would be wrong to say I *made* those friends. Mostly they were friends of friends who inexplicably picked me; I almost never picked them.

At age 28 I was terrified to move halfway across the world and start a new job in Korea. For three weeks I worked in an office where almost no one remembered my name because I almost never spoke to anyone other than my students. All that changed when I fell down the stairs and broke my face wide open. Nothing leaves a mark on your coworkers quite like a bloodied, wailing woman in the stairwell. When I came home from the hospital that night, Aura and Justin, Tim and Erica and Amanda were waiting to take me out drinking. That first year I made actual, real friends. Men and women with whom I laughed and cried and bitched. I think it might have been the first time I was part of a group of friends. Admittedly, I always felt like I was dancing on the periphery and I almost NEVER initiated, but we were all so close that it *almost* didn't matter. They were my friends and I was theirs.

I have so many more stories of me standing on the sidelines at parties or family dinners or work meetings feeling anxious and weird. I have skipped weddings and going away parties and birthday celebrations because I just couldn't find it in myself to socialize. I even toyed with the idea of skipping my own cohort graduation fiesta next weekend because the thought of mingling with a whole bunch of strangers makes me want to vomit. I have to attend four weddings this summer. This also kind of makes me want to vomit. One of them is tomorrow and I stocked up on Tylenol PM just so I can get some sleep tonight. I don't know why I'm like this. I don't know why people make me feel anxious and weird. But they do.

But that's not the whole story. Feeling anxious and weird around people is not really the problem.

THE PROBLEM is that for some reason, people (ALL the people) put me into the "fun, outgoing" category. That category comes with expectations - not just that you will attend all the social things, but that you actually *like* it. It always comes as a shock to acquaintances, especially classmates and new dudes I might be dating, that I do not, in fact, like doing this shit. Pat was especially caught off guard. He assumed because I was fun and outgoing one-on-one with him, that I had enough leftover in my reserves for others. Stephanie also made this mistake, as have many of my other girlfriends (although, to their credit, they usually come around much easier than the dudes and the ones who GET IT really GET IT). Scumbag Shon even told me, "People are your jam, Mindy." I literally fell off the bed laughing at this comment. It was just so off-base. People are decidedly *not* my jam. I think my Twitter friend may have also assumed I was a "the more, the merrier" type when she tagged me in that thread.

(Which, side note, was kind of a wake-up call for me, too. Seems I'm just as antisocial on the internets as I am in real life. Yay!)

So where do people get this idea that I might want to spend any of my free time socializing in large groups? And to be clear here, it's not just strangers. I don't really like to do *any* socializing with a group of more than, say, five people I know really well.

I like people. I like spending time with people. I like to laugh and joke and learn what makes people tick. I like thoughtful conversation and dirty conversation and trivial conversation. I like learning about others. And this is where the mismatch happens. I like all of these things and actually, I'm fairly good at it. (The socializing one-on-one, that is.) That's where others get this idea that I'm outgoing and social - that PEOPLE ARE MY JAM! They assume that because I do it well one-on-one, that surely those skills translate. BUT THEY DO NOT. When I'm forced to get to know someone quickly, or in a group, or surrounded by people I don't know it presents a huge problem for me. I clam up, I don't know what to say or who to say it to, and eventually I end up playing with the dog or the kid because they are known quantities.

(Which, again, side note, I am soooo sick of those memes about finding the dog at the party. That shit is real for some of us. Jesus.)

So what's a girl to do?

Figure out how to untag myself from that goddamn Twitter thread is step one.


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Christmas 2016, or The One with The Racist Grandparents and The Addict Brother

The last time I saw my brother at Christmas it was 2012. We unwrapped presents with dad and posed for pics in funny hats. His second son was born three months later.

Christmas 2013: my brother on the run, but a family of parents and step-parents, kids and grandkids united. A day tinged by sadness, but manageable.

Christmas 2014: my brother on the run again, presumably holed-up in a shack yakked out on meth. Again, parents and step-parents united. Brother was arrested two months later after a standoff with police. I found out via Facebook whilst on vacation.

Christmas 2015: my brother in jail, Cottonwood actually, getting clean. Parents and step-parents united, along with sis-in-law, her new husband and kids. One big happy family. My brother would be released two months later, only to fall off the wagon, steal a car, and alienate us all within a week. He returned to prison to serve a 7 month term.

Christmas 2016: my brother was released December 14, just in time for the holidays! He is not welcome at our dad's, he is not allowed to see his children, so our Christmas was fractured. He attended NA after dinner.

I have grown used to pretending I'm an only child, so a day with my dad, stepmom, and grandparents could have been lovely. And then grandpa had to go and start talking about the ni**ers. And the sand ni**ers. And his admiration of the KKK.

I hit my limit with Christmas this year, you guys.

I try really really hard to make happiness between Halloween and New Years. I cook, I bake, I craft. I listen to Christmas music and watch Christmas movies and craft Christmas cocktails. I donate money and gifts to those in need. I spend quality time with the people I love. I TRY.

But is it so wrong that I just want to spend this day alone, avoiding humanity, hoping the day passes without incident so that I can forget it for another 364?


February 9, 2016

UPDATE. I also hate being *potentially* homeless.