Monday, May 20, 2013

Keeping It Hardcore

In keeping with our marriage motto and our ultra hardcore personalities, Kyle and I got tattoos today to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary (just two weeks away). We’ve talked about getting a tattoo together for years but could never fully commit to one idea. If you’ve read this part of our love story, you know where the saying ‘no doubts.’ comes from and why it’s so significant in my relationship with Kyle. We literally say it probably 10 times a day. In the morning, when we leave for work. In the middle of the day, when we talk on the phone. At night, before we fall asleep. Any time we’re leaving one another. Sometimes we get silly and say it when someone is just taking the dog out for a walk or going to take a shower. It’s pretty gross to be around us, honestly. So when we started talking seriously about getting a tattoo for our anniversary, it seemed obvious that this is what we’d get. The punctuation was really important to me. Kyle wanted an exclamation point (!!!) but I put a kabosh on that because no. See? A period says it all. But I let him choose his own font because I am a non-control freak like that. …..


I guess I’m stuck with the dude now. This is Kyle’s fourth time getting inked (inked. that’s how I talk because I am, as I have already mentioned, extremely hardcore.) but my first.

Outside: I acted pretty tough. No big deal. I get tattoos all the time. Oh, this little needle in my neck? Whatevs. Want to get some lunch after this?

Inside: OMG OMG OMG. ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. OW. OWWWWW…thisisromanticthisisromanticthisisromanticthisisromantic…I’m 25 years old but I’m pretty sure my mom is going to kill me…I love Kyle I love Kyle I love Kyle…owwwwwwwwwwwwww…

I think all of this is entirely in keeping with who we want to be as a couple – people that have adventures and do scary things together. Bonus: I can cross something off my bucket list for 2013.

Are you a tattoo-type person? Would you ever get a tattoo with another person?

love, elizabeth

Monday, May 13, 2013

I Miss Ben

I don’t have much to say about this. I just miss my brother today. I do. I would like him to live closer.


I miss his hugs.
I miss the way his voice gets high when he laughs.
I miss the crinkles he gets in the corners of his eyes when he smiles.
I miss the one raised eyebrow he gets when I say something he thinks is dumb.

I miss his ability to follow my ridiculous jokes that don't make sense to anyone else. Also, our shared love for doing impressions of other people.

I miss his guitar. I miss his skateboard. I miss his crazy boot camp stories.

I miss his fashion sense. For real. The dude knows how to shop.


I miss his doodling and tattoo designs all over everything. I miss his insanely loud music and eclectic taste.


I miss the way he can make my mom laugh. 

I miss him a lot.

Who do you miss today?
love, elizabeth

PS: Benjamin, I stole pictures off your Instagram for this post. Sorry. Not.


Sell yourself in 10 words or less.



(Wait. Those don’t count, right? Right? Don’t count those, okay?)

Ten words….



love, elizabeth


Day 10…Instead of talking about embarrassing moments, of which I have many, I thought today I would talk about the person in my life who lives without embarrassment. Madigan. My dog.

Mad for Madigan

Madigan doesn’t know how to be embarrassed.

“Hey Mom, I got scared and peed on the bed. #notembarassed”

“I like to drink water really fast like maybe all the water on the planet will suddenly run out and because I like to make you feel guilty for forgetting to refill my water bowl but then I drink so fast that I choke and have to hack up a lung for fifteen minutes. #notembarrassed”

“You guys, I totes ate three chicken wing bones out of the garbage and then took a gigantic dump on your living room carpet because YOLO. #notembarrassed”

“Just farted really loud and woke myself up but I am still pretending it was one of you. #notembarrassed.”

“You were ignoring me when we went to bed last night, so I put my giant furry butt on the pillow right next to your face until you acknowledged me. #notembarrassed.”

Case, in point:

This is Madigan laying on top of a heavy box while Kyle is carrying it across the parking lot. All Kyle said was, “Madigan, are you serious right now?” She did not reply.


People, this is what it looks like to live without shame.



love, elizabeth

PS: I should probably introduce Madigan to some dogshaming but I have a feeling she would not care. At all.

A Moment On The Street


The prompt for Day 9 is to blog about a moment in your day with a picture and maybe some words. This is actually a moment from about a month ago. I took this picture on High Street in the Short North of Columbus. The Garden has been around for a long time. It opened in 1920 and has had an interesting life as a theater space for the last century. It was recently renovated and re-opened after lying vacant for years (and being used for drug and prostitution rings). Part of my dissertation research involves exploring some of Ohio’s historical landmark theaters and I’m hoping to include The Garden in that. And I’m just really into this cool sign on the outside of the building. This is the kind of thing that makes love Columbus.

love, elizabeth

How to Give Advice

I am, like a lot of people, really interested in fixing problems. I like solutions, resolutions, and conclusions. I like identifying the problem. I like finding the answer. And I looooooooooove it when people ask for my advice. It makes me feel important and respected and valued. It makes me needed. But I am learning things about giving advice. So here it is in all its ironic glory…my advice on giving advice:


- Sometimes people just need to be heard.

We’ve all heard this before. “Just listen – don’t try to fix it.” It sounds deceptively easy but I am going to challenge you. The next time someone starts telling you about her fight with her boyfriend or his difficulty sleeping, is your first instinct to mentally prepare an answer for them? As they’re speaking, are you already listing off possible solutions to their problem? As hard as it is, try to redirect your focus to hear what they’re really feeling in that moment. Don’t worry about having an answer prepared. Be in the moment of struggle WITH them.

- Listen for what isn’t said.

My tendency is often to rush to answer the question I think I hear. But sometimes that means I miss what is really being asked. Try to hear the silence. Try to hear the real question under all the stuff that comes pouring out.

- Reflect back what you’re hearing.

This is an active listening tool that many of us are familiar with but we forget to use it. It doesn’t have to be fakey and therapist-like if you use it simply: “Okay, what I hear you saying is that this and this are the biggest problems. Is that you’re feeling?”

- The problem-haver is often the best problem-solver.

Yes, I have some awesome ideas that will probably totally fix your issue. They will make your life easier. You will probably spend the rest of your problem-free eternity dancing with puppies inside of rainbow-covered theme parks. But, in my experience, you probably already have the answer that you need. Chances are really good that you might already KNOW that you have the answer you need. Sometimes you just need someone to help you ask the question. Before I offer advice, I try to ask, “So what do you want to do?” or “So what choices do you feel like you have right now?” If I can help you solve your own problem, instead of me just telling you what I think the answer is, you’re much more likely to find a solution that is a) actually helpful and b) one that you will actually use.

- Ask more, offer less.

This goes with the point above but if my friend is still stuck between choices, I might be able to ask: “So if you made this choice that you mentioned before, how do you think that might feel?” or “It sounds like these three things you mentioned are your best options – which one feels like the best (not the perfect) solution for right now?” Keep asking them to talk about how they’re feeling. Most people don’t have safe spaces to reflect with another person. Help make it safe for them to do that by asking open-ended questions.

- Sometimes there isn’t an answer.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone asked you advice but no matter how many different solutions you suggested, NOTHING seemed to help? They shot down every idea, there was a pitfall in every possibility you offered? Yeah, me too. Sometimes this means what we’ve already discussed here – that they don’t necessarily need you to give them a solution, they need you to hear them. But it might also mean there isn’t an answer. I know. That feels crazy. Maybe the answer exists. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it will be clear later. Maybe there are no good solutions, just temporary fixes or choices that are less horrible than others. Maybe neither of you has the answer. If either one of you has conversations with God, this is a good time for that. Actually, every time is a good time for that. I think sometimes, in the end, it’s okay to say, “Wow, I have no idea how I would handle that situation but I am really feeling for you right now. I’m here to hear you.”

- If you absolutely must straight-up offer advice, try owning it as something from your perspective.

“When I imagine myself dealing with that problem that you are having, I feel like I would do such-and-such a thing and here is why. I don’t know if that helps you. What are you thinking right now?”

- Lastly, don’t give advice unless you’re asked.

That’s just an open invitation to alienate someone you care about. I don’t care how nicely you try to phrase it. “Do you mind if I offer you a piece of advice?” pretty much always feels like judgment. Listen, reflect back, ask questions, hear them. If they ask what you think, own your feelings and advice as your own, not as a universal problem-solver.


So there you have it. Some unsolicited advice on advice. What would you add? Who in your life gives the best advice? What makes their advice helpful? What makes advice NOT helpful?

love, elizabeth

PS: Still working to catch up on blog prompts. Yayyyyy!


No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. 

– C.S. Lewis



I keep trying to write this post and find it hard to type the words. A couple of years ago, I wrote about how death is like taking someone to the airport. That feels truer to me now than ever.

I think about death a lot, actually. Maybe not death as itself, as the thing where someone stops breathing or as the moving from one plane to the next or even as the lack of being in the universe -- I just keep thinking about how death means separation. Separation from your earthly body, separation from the people you love who are here, present in the world.

I think about death a lot. I think it must be hardest on the people who are left, the ones who haven’t left the ground yet. You know that panicky, sick feeling you get when you’re saying goodbye to someone and you know it might be a long time before you see them again and you think, I can’t NOT be with you in the world? That’s what makes me afraid. I keep hearing Heathcliff in my head: “Be with me always…only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God, it is unutterable. I cannot live without my life. I cannot live without my soul.”

I know that death does not have to mean eternal separation. But I can’t imagine anything harder or more frightening than that earthly separation. I am not afraid of death. I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid of being left behind.

love, elizabeth

PS: I’ve missed a week of blogging for the Blog Every Day in May challenge but I am determined to catch up. My apologies, in advance, to your blog feed.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Doing Is the Reality of Being


If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I work in the theatre. So when I started thinking about the idea of “doing,” I remembered one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite theatre practitioners, a guy named Sanford Meisner.

Meisner was trying to explain his acting techniques to his students and this is what he said: “Acting is the reality of doing.” (What he actually said is “The foundation of acting is the reality of doing” but my way is catchier, Meisner.) Anyway, Meisner really wanted actors to stop trying to act and just start BEING on stage, being honest, being in the emotion, and responding however you do as you live and move and breathe in the world. It’s kind of the toughest acting assignment ever. Just be. Don’t act. Don’t show. Just exist in the space. I love the idea of it.

So when I ask myself, ‘what do I do?’, I can think of a hundred things that I do in a day. Study, write, grade, teach, check the mail, answer the phone, blog, watch television, open the refrigerator, close the refrigerator, walk the dog, update my Facebook, make lists, drink coffee, answer emails, worry about money, worry about time, worry, worry, worry, plan, plan, plan, do, do, do.

Sometimes I really wish I could bring more of that sense of BEING, not DOING, to my day, to my real, off-stage, honest-to-goodness life with all of its stresses and fears and discomfort and weariness. I would like to do more being. I would like to exist more. In this moment. Some moments are more built for than others. And maybe part of existing isn’t forcing myself not to worry or plan or stress. Maybe, in the end, all the doing is part of the being.  If “acting is the reality of doing,” maybe doing is the reality of being.



Here’s to more being, less doing.

love you guys,


Sunday, May 5, 2013

What It Feels Like to Be A Teacher

I’m taking a break from the Blog Every Day in May prompts today because I am f-uh-reaking out about finishing my dissertation prospectus while preparing to start teaching a new course on Tuesday.

I feel like the following clip illustrates the highs and lows of teaching kind of perfectly. Plus….Zooey Deschanel. Incidentally, this is from my favorite, favorite episode of New Girl, “Pepperwood.”

love, elizabeth

Saturday, May 4, 2013

There Aren’t Enough Blog Posts in the Universe to Talk About All My Favorite Quotes

So I’m just going to talk about like four. Or five. Maybe six. But no more than seven, definitely. (I realize that this breaks the strict rule for this prompt but Jenni and I go way back –like back to the 3rd grade back-- so she’ll probably forgive me if she ever sees this).

All of these quotes come from books. I choose to believe that this indicates how deep and intellectual and yet creative and interesting that I am. These are quotes that make me think, I wish I had thought of stringing those words together in that particular syntax and order first because that is exactly how I feel and I would like to be given credit for feeling that way.


(Incidentally, trying to pick a favorite John Green quote is kind of like trying to pick which one of your family members you would save from a house fire. Impossible and heartbreaking.)




I settled on four. Thanks for an awesome prompt today, Jenni.


love, elizabeth

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rape Jokes

If you clicked on this, you might be asking yourself if Elizabeth really needed to write a blog post about why rape jokes make her uncomfortable. I mean, you might be thinking, isn’t that kind of a given? WARNING: SENSITIVE MATERIAL AHEAD. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
This post is not going to be a formal argument against rape jokes. It's not going to analyze rape humor or talk about potential ways that humor can be used to critique rape culture. I could probably write one a post like that but Lindy West did it so much better and no way am I going to try and compete with Lindy West. You should definitely read her article, though. It made me do some serious fist-pumps of agreement and general solidarity. I love Lindy. She is the internet-famous person I would most like to meet IRL.

But today we’re supposed to write about something that makes us uncomfortable so I’m going to talk for a second about how rape jokes make me feel.

Bad. Rape jokes make me feel bad. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I volunteer for a local rape crisis center, working with survivors of sexual assault. I’m not going to get into the specifics here but my own life has been touched by sexual violence in a variety of ways. So when I hear jokes that make light of sexual violence, or domestic violence, or child molestation, it actually physically hurts. It makes me feel all kinds of concern for the hundreds of thousands of survivors who get to live in a culture that has no problem victimizing them again and again. Being a survivor of sexual violence means more than just having my consent taken away or having no power over my own body. It means that I will be told by friends and family and strangers, in a million different ways, that what happened to me was my fault, that I did something to cause it, that I deserve it. So when I hear a joke that makes light of an issue (or even the word) rape, it makes me uncomfortable.

When I hear a joke about a woman getting beaten up, it makes me uncomfortable.

When I hear a joke about a drunk girl at a party, it makes me uncomfortable.

When I hear a joke about someone being molested, it makes me uncomfortable.

When I hear a joke about prison rape, it makes me uncomfortable (because men are raped, too, and that is also wrong).

When I hear a joke about how “lucky” a boy was that his female teacher had sex with him, it makes me uncomfortable.

When I hear someone explain to me that they laugh at rape jokes because they “just have a dark sense of humor” or they’re just “edgy,” it makes me uncomfortable.

When I hear someone say that they are a survivor of rape and they think that rape jokes are funny, it makes me uncomfortable (each of us can speak only from our own experience). I don’t want to de-validate why that survivor finds that joke funny but I wonder if part of it has to do with needing to laugh because not laughing is another way of opening yourself up to vulnerability and the possibility of re-victimization. I don’t know this but I wonder it inside of my self.

Uncomfortable is the wrong word, really. It makes me feel exhausted and betrayed.  It makes me feel heartsick and tired and broken. And small.

If you or someone you know needs to talk, here is the toll-free number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). It’s safe and anonymous and you can call any time. You can also use their online hotline by going here.

If you are someone who hears rape jokes, from your friends, your coworkers, your family, even…you can make a difference by not laughing. By letting them know how hearing that might make you feel or make someone else feel. You can help make others feel safer in the world.

love, elizabeth

Thursday, May 2, 2013

6 Things You Maybe Didn’t Know About Theatre

So far, Jenni’s prompts are WAY harder than I thought they would be. I’m probably putting a lot of pressure on myself to say meaningful things. But, like the true university-addict that I am, I am loving the blogging homework. So here we go, day two of Blog Every Day in May…
Today we are supposed to “educate our readers on something we know a lot about or are good at.” I don’t know why it suddenly feels like I’m not good at anything.

My PhD (that I will hopefully finish by next May) is in theatre, specifically theatre history, literature, and criticism. You still awake? I thought I’d share a few of my favorite random pieces of theatre history with you. They make great party trivia…if you go to parties at my house, anyway. Here’s some fun factoids to geek out to:

1. Theatre comes from a Greek word, theatron, and it means “the seeing place.”

2. Musicals are principally an American invention. The first musical was rumored to be an accident during which a ballet company’s performance venue burned down and so they were asked to add their dance routines into a melodrama called, The Black Crook, in 1866. The combined effort was so popular with audiences that it was soon repeated and copied. You’re welcome, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. I’m sure this is exactly what the 19th century had in mind.


3. The words theatre and theater are sometimes used interchangeably but they mean different things. We generally use the British spelling, theatre, to refer to the art form or practice. When we are talking about the building or specific performance venue, we spell it, theater (also when we talk about the movie theater). We don’t mean to be snobby freaks; it just comes naturally.

4. A light gets left on in theaters when no one is in them. It’s called a ghost light. There are lots of stories about why it’s called that. A lot of people say the light is left on for the ghosts to find their way. (On a more practical level, ghost lights help people walk around safely inside the theater on dark days – days when there isn’t a show playing).

The ghost light on one of the stages at school.

5. One of my favorite artists ever, Augusto Boal, started something called Forum Theatre. In Forum Theatre, the audience could interact with the actors and change the ending of the play. They could even step in and take over an actor’s role. Boal’s hope was that this new performance style would help people find solutions for problems and help empower the oppressed to change their communities.

6. Celebrity-following is not a new thing. In 1850, one of the most popular American actors, Edwin Forrest (he was really famous for taking his shirt off in, like, all of his performances) had a much publicized divorce from his wife Catherine Sinclair. The press got involved, their fans followed the case closely, there were repeated reports of adultery and love letters from an actress named Josephine Clifton (read: Angelina Jolie) and public horse-whippings of alleged lovers. Fans brought signs showing their support for either Edwin or Catherine into the theater. In the end, the court sided with Catherine. If you are interested in the story, you can read the entire official divorce case document online here. It’s pretty juicy.

Edwin Catherine
                 Photo credit                                                                   Photo credit
Aaaaaand that’s it. Your life is forever altered. I know. What weird theatre thing would you share? 
Have a weird piece of theatre or performance trivia to share? Do you have a theatre/performance question? Comment below!

Can’t wait to read other people’s posts today…

love, elizabeth

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

250 Words

I tried to do the prompt the way Jenni wrote it. I swear, I tried. Apparently though, I do not know how to write the story of my life in 250 words.

I keep trying to think of a beginning and a middle and an end. But every time I start to tell it, all the stories get jumbled in my head and I can’t remember what happened first. I was born in South Korea. I am about to start my final year of my PhD work in Columbus, Ohio. And somewhere between those two facts, there are like fifty billion tiny microscopic Elizabeths running around, doing things, learning things, screwing up, falling in love, falling apart, mending fences, and crashing through them again, screaming into sun (before it was cool), breaking, blogging, fighting, and I am one of those Elizabeths. Maybe tomorrow I will be a different Elizabeth. I’ve been to school. I’ve graduated. And then I went to school again. And again. I sometimes think I’ll be going to school forever. And I sometimes think I want to go to school forever. And I sometimes think I should have majored in something useful like macro-economics or adolescent psychology or creative writing. I have great friends. Maybe they’ll write that on my tombstone. “She had great friends.” That would be a good epitaph, I feel. My dog is probably my best friend (which will not annoy my human best friends because they are, in fact, my best friends and they get it). Madigan is my dog and she can see into my soul and when I do things I am ashamed of, she knows but she licks my face, anyway. Fin.* **


*Glad to know I am not already breaking my “Blog Every Day in May” commitment since I am posting this at 11:21 PM Eastern Standard Time. Whew. That’s a relief.

**This paragraph is exactly 250 words. I counted.

love, elizabeth

PS: Are you taking the Blog Every Day in May challenge? If not, it’s not too late to join!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Blog Every Day in May

Jenni at Story of My Life announced a blogging challenge for the month of May. And because I have been feeling like a total failure as a blogger this year, I am DOING IT.

You should do it, too! You can even follow Jenni’s awesome calendar of prompts for the month! I’m really excited about this…

Get ready…

love, elizabeth

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making History: Or why your blog matters

Doing some reading for my prospectus tonight, I was reading Peter Burke’s thoughts on microhistory. In it, he quotes an anthropologist named Clifford Geertz who writes about the need “to ferret out the unapparent import of things.” I’ve been chewing on this little phrase all night and finally realized that this has, unknowingly, been a life principle for me, not just as a scholar but as a writer and a blogger. I am fascinated by the tiny little nothing-detail that means something bigger.


That is what blogging has become for me – an opportunity to “ferret out” the important truth inside the day-to-day-everydayness. It’s amazing to me how blogging becomes a way of writing my own microhistory. I could probably write down every teeny life detail, however boring that might be to read, but somehow blogging the little stories tells a big story. And if every blog is a microhistory, then all the blogs in the universe together might tell an even bigger story. This is the strength of the blogger and I have been taking it for granted.

So congratulations. I bet you didn’t know that you, blogger friend of mine, were a micro-historian. Keep on making history.

love, elizabeth

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Some fuzzy adorbs for your Saturday morning

Don’t thank me. Thank my Disney-character-come-to-life-dog. Madigan, stop it. Your cuteness should be illegal.



Madigan1 Madigan2

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’ll be spending most of it trying to write this lit review for my prospectus. Maybe some house-cleaning. If I’m really good, I might even sneak away for a couple hours to see this movie. After all, it is important to support your movie-husband in all of his endeavors. Maybe I can convince real-life husband to take me.

love, elizabeth

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New Day, New Blog

Well, kinda. I’ve been in a major blogging slump the last few months but with the warmer weather and the longer daylight hours, I am feeling the need to start anew.

I’m feeling drawn to blog a little differently than I have. I’m tweaking some things around the blog, editing the design elements. I put word verification back on commenting - so sorry about that - the spam content was getting ridiculous. I hope that won't stop you from commenting! I hope you like the changes and will keep coming back to read…

More soon…

love, elizabeth

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Feels Like Remembering


Maybe it’s the same kind of feeling that trees and flowers get, remembering how to shoot tiny leaves and buds out of themselves. Maybe it’s the bursting out into sunshine and cold spring air that makes them remember last spring and the spring before that and before that. Wherever that feeling comes from, I’m feeling it now. Spring makes me feel restless and reflective and a little bit like running away. I’m trying to figure out what it means…why spring makes me feel like this.

It’s like…that feeling you get when you see an old picture of yourself and you remember and it hurts. Even the happy pictures hurt. I watched our wedding video a couple nights ago. It was the first time I’d seen any of that footage. I kept pausing it to stare at that person in the video because I know it’s me, I see that it’s me…but I don’t recognize her. If I met her now, we’d be like strangers. I keep squinting at the screen, trying to x-ray her, remember what she was thinking and feeling and I can’t. If you asked me what my wedding day was like, I could tell you that I was so happy, that I couldn’t stop smiling, that it felt so quick and perfect but the girl in the wedding video…I feel like I don’t know her anymore.

Maybe it’s not like spring, at all. The way I remember and the way it was…they’re different. I wonder if a crocus wakes up in the spring and remembers all the other springs and thinks, this spring will be better than last spring…? Maybe crocuses just get to be brand new every spring and don’t have to feel the history of all the other springs that ever were weighing down on them like an impossibility.

But for me, spring is all about remembering. Every year, on that first warm-ish day when you don’t quite need a coat and birds sing Disney-style and suddenly everything smells like flowers…that’s the day I remember what it was like to plop fat garden snails into buckets, to dig in dark, earthy flowerbeds with Halmoni, to drive with the windows down and the radio up and think,  I want to drive with the windows down and the radio up every day forever, what it was like to be seventeen and falling in love, to be eighteen and planning a wedding, to be twenty-two and move far away from home, to be twenty-five and scared and tired and somehow okay.

I am one pathetic little crocus.
love, elizabeth

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Voice Drinking Game

Season 4 of The Voice premiered on NBC tonight and in honor of that, I present the thing I did tonight instead of my homework…The Voice: The Drinking Game. It’s going to be a fun season, I think. Two new coaches (I will not miss Christina Aguilera and her clown wigs, by the way) and the “steal” rule that was implemented last season – super excited. If you missed the episode or don’t have cable, you can catch it on Hulu.


Are you a fan of the show? What would you add to this list?

love, elizabeth

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Can’t Help Falling

It’s a snowy March night here in Columbus, Ohio, and as I unpack the last of our boxes (FINALLY), I am head over heels for this crazy-good cover by Twenty One Pilots. They’re a local band that finally got signed to a big label last year but they’ve been popular here in town for awhile. Kyle just showed this video to me. Thought it might make you smile, too.

Isn't that great?

love, elizabeth

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why the Steubenville Ruling Matters

I know this is not the sunny St. Patrick’s post that I was anticipating writing but I’ve got something else on the brain. I’m about to get a little more serious than I normally am on this blog so I’d like to extend a caution to anyone reading who might be triggered by reading a graphic post about sexual violence.

In a world full of troubling things, very little has been as troubling for me as the Steubenville rape case. I’m not going to use this space to rehash the very public and explicit details of the case. All of that information is available online. I recommend extra care be taken if you decide to read or investigate farther. I have been a hospital advocate for rape survivors for three years and have heard some incredibly difficult things – this still turned my stomach in a really big way.


Photo source

So why am I talking about this? Today, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were found guilty of rape and sentenced to a minimum of one year in a youth correctional facility. Mays will serve an additional year for the transmission of nude photographs of a minor. Both Mays and Richmond will be registered sex offenders. Read the news story here. I don’t know about you but that feels like two rapists just practically got away with it. As someone who has been personally affected by sexual violence, I’ve got to say…this doesn’t feel like real justice. But as I’ve been ruminating on this today, a few things have come up for me. So here they are, the reasons I think the Steubenville Ruling is really important:

1. Rape almost never gets punished. I mean, like…almost ever. According to RAINN, only 3 out of 100 rapists will ever spend a day in prison for their crime. 3%. In fact, I am hard-pressed to think of an example of a recent rape conviction off the top of my head. So seeing two perpetrators legally convicted and sentenced for their crimes is a pretty cathartic experience for me.

2. This particular case contradicts some of our culture’s favorites lies about sexual violence: “It’s not rape if she’s drunk,” “It’s not rape if it wasn’t physically violent,” “It’s not rape if he didn’t penetrate her with his penis,” “It’s not rape if she has a reputation,” “It’s not rape if you know the person,” “It’s not rape if you were just joking around,” “It’s not rape if she didn’t say ‘no…” To have a situation like the one in Steubenville held up as an example of sexual assault is important because it loudly says that these above statements are false, false, false. The Steubenville ruling calls attention to all kinds of rape myths.

3. It holds young people accountable for their actions. The heartbreaking truth is that Mays and Richmond are kids. They’re not “hardened criminals” or serial killers. They’re children. As a (hopefully) future parent, I am seeing the ways in which kids are not being held responsible for their choices. I can’t imagine what these boys’ parents must be feeling right now but I am thankful for the Steubenville ruling because more young men and young women need to see actual consequences for sexual violence.

4. Because sexual violence is happening. It’s happening to people we know. It’s happening in our schools and churches and communities. And the reality is, something like 54% of those instances went unreported last year and probably 54% will go unreported this year. So the Steubenville ruling, the stupidly little bit of jail time Mays and Richmond will get, the conviction, the sentence – it matters. Especially if just one more woman, one more man, one more child, feels empowered enough to come forward and say, “This happened to me and it’s not okay and I don’t have to be quiet about it because rape is wrong and rapists get punished.”

5. Maybe one of the most powerful lessons to come out of the Steubenville trial is this pervasive image of the bystander. I was so struck by this paragraph in the news article I read today [emphases are mine]:

"It wasn't violent," explained teammate Evan Westlake when asked why he didn't stop the two defendants as they abused a non-moving girl that Westlake knew to be highly intoxicated. "I always pictured it as forcing yourself on someone." […]

At one point of the night of the incident, Westlake, who was sober, determined that his friend Mark Cole was too drunk to make a 10-minute drive home. At first, Cole refused to turn over his keys, claiming he could operate his Volkswagen Jetta just fine. Westlake was undeterred, though, eventually "tricking" Cole by waiting for him to relax and then forcibly seizing the keys.

Yet maybe a half-hour later, Westlake walked in on the girl, sprawled out naked in the middle of a basement floor. To her side was Mays, exposed and slapping his penis on the girl's hip. Behind her was Richmond, who, Westlake said, was violating her with two fingers.

Westlake said goodbye to the guys and kept walking. A good friend with his eye on the safety of others just minutes before was suddenly unaware or unsure of what to do – or simply uncaring enough to do anything at all.

If Steubenville can teach us anything, it’s that the bystander has power to change the course of events. I would like to believe that most teenagers, or just people, who witnessed this moment would know that it was wrong, that it shouldn’t have been happening. But how many of them would be able to act? How many would know what to say? How many of them would be brave enough? We are all responsible for our own choices and Evan Westlake made a choice to keep his mouth shut. He has to own that for the rest of his life. But what a picture we are left with! The bystander who could have made the difference for this girl. And did nothing. I don’t honestly know why Evan Westlake made that choice. And yet, I am filled with a sense of renewed purpose. If I could speak right now with my future children, if I could offer them something to make them braver, to guide them, I would say, If you see something happening that shouldn’t be happening, say something. You are powerful. Your voice matters. Everyone’s voice matters. And if someone has their voice taken away, HELP THEM GET IT BACK.



Friday, March 15, 2013

Marriage is a Privilege

This is Kyle. I like smooching him. As you can already tell, this is going to be a really deep post. I like smooching Kyle. I just generally like Kyle. Except some times. When he makes me crazy.


Last weekend, we got to see a couple of our friends get married here in Ohio. It was a wonderful reminder of love and the privilege of marriage. Except for the part where Kyle and I bickered the entire drive between ceremony and reception.
“Kyle…the speed limit is 65.”
“Just let me drive!!”
“Seriously, slow down. You’re gonna get pulled over.”
“Will you stop nagging me? Ugh, why is this jacket so hot and itchy?”
“Stop messing with it, you look good!”
And then Kyle kept ruining pictures by putting balloon strings…in his mouth (???) Marriage is a privilege, marriage is a privilege…I repeat to myself as Kyle tries to ditch his suit jacket for the sixth time after leaving the church.


We stopped fighting long enough to take this picture and to dance to House of Pain during the reception. Marriage is a privilege.


It’s taken eight years but he finally has given in and let me dress him in grown-up clothes. Shirts with collars and belts that match his shoes. Shirts with yellow accents that complement my cardigan. Shirts that don’t have pictures of dogs farting on them or band names on the back. Marriage is a privilege, marriage is a privilege…he must repeat to himself as I force him to tuck his shirt in. Again.


Can anyone relate?
love, elizabeth

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Things Keep Breaking

I seriously love this old, ramshackle apartment. It’s cozy and vintage and it feels exactly like home. But the downside to all that vintage is the way things seem to keep falling apart. The sink is leaky, the cabinet is crooked, and a couple days ago, one of the legs on the bathroom vanity came off. A little part of me went, Ugh! When will things just be perfect so that I can finally enjoy living here?

You know how much I love a good metaphor. This one is hitting me hard today. Things break. Things fall apart. That’s what they do. The car will break. The car will be fixed. It will break again. School will get harder and then easier and then harder again. Money will flow and get tighter and flow again. We’ll get sick again and well again. I could spend the rest of my life waiting for things to stop breaking and start being perfect. And I’ll be waiting a long time.

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I keep breaking and am bound up again. Maybe this is what they mean when they say you should live in the moment. I am looking for the joy in the broken. It’s here. Can you see it? 

love, elizabeth

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How to Do Laundry in Public


I recently used a laundromat. I know. Stop the presses. Your world has been forever altered. The truth is, we used to do all of our laundry at the laundromat. Then we got cool enough to rent an apartment with its own laundry room. And we got a little spoiled. It was mere STEPS to wash and dry our clothes. We could (and did) do our laundry at one in the morning. Our new apartment also has a laundry room. It is, perhaps, less luxurious and more limited than our last. After waiting almost three hours to get through one load of laundry in the shared space (that closes at 8 pm), I threw my hands up in surrender and drove to a little place I like to call the Clintonville Coin Laundry. That’s right. They’re so cool, they even have a website. Also, an extra spin cycle, free wifi, and a requisite bespectacled hipster manning the counter. It may have been a few years since I’ve used a laundromat but I have to say, I think they’ve gotten cooler. Maybe you’re a laundromat veteran. But, just in case you’re not, I thought you might appreciate Elizabeth’s Totally Obvious Guide to Public Laundry Facilities.


1. Scope out the joint. Can you see a group of empty washers near each other? If you’re doing more than one load, this will be helpful.

2. Consider the time of day and week. Nights and weekends are going to be the busiest times because, just like you and me (or maybe just me), everyone waits until they’re down to the last pair of underoos before making the pilgrimage to the coin laundry.

3. Practice courtesy. If it’s busy, maybe you really shouldn’t take up six washers at once (like, cough, me). And whether you have one load or ten, be prompt about moving wet clothes to the dryer and dry clothes to your basket. No one likes a Maytag hog.

4. Laundromats require change but luckily, most of them have one of these:


If this change machine is out of service, it is probably because a) you are in a hurry, b) all the banks are now closed, or c) you only have a $20 bill. My advice is to carry small bills and be nice to everyone. You never know when you might have to ask a stranger for quarters.

5. Pay attention to the inside of empty washers and dryers. In a public laundry, you have basically no way of knowing if the person before you used bleach in their cycle and left chemical residue in the machine. If they did, your bath towels might end up discolored or stained like my last three sets. Also, check dryers for things like gum, hair, tissues, crayons, chap stick, tar, or pen ink before loading your wet clothes. If only, if only someone had been around to tell me that an Oxford button-up ago.


6. Follow directions for detergent carefully. Commercial machines can be different than the ones we’re used to at home and you risk over-sudsing clothes or causing other issues.

7. Ask the attendant for help. Every washer model has a different set of terms to define cycle choices. Some machines have little tricks to getting them started. Sometimes dryers make horrible, scary noises. Not sure what’s going on? Ask.

8. If you notice you’re having trouble getting certain heavier items (like denim) to fully dry, try putting one of your bath towels in the mix. The fluffy terry cloth will help absorb some of that moisture and things will dry out a little faster.

9. Fold at the laundromat. Use the handy-dandy folding tables that basically none of us have at home. This keeps wrinkles from setting in (If you sort your loads into clothing type – tops, bottoms, underwear, towels, this will be easier.) It also saves you from the grossness three days later when you realize you never actually ended up folding that basket of clean laundry, can’t remember if you washed that cardigan or not, and end up rewashing everything. Much to my mother’s horror, I speak from personal experience.

10. Stay safe. I’ve never felt too skeeved out in a laundromat but if you’re ever feeling weird or uncertain about someone in the parking lot or someone in the building, do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Keep your cell phone handy. If you’re doing laundry at night, park in a well-lit area visible from the inside. If you don’t feel safe walking to your car, ask the attendant if they would mind walking you. It might feel like an overreaction but feeling safe is that important.

11. Don’t get bored. Bring a book, people-watch, write a letter, live-tweet the entire process, make friends with your fellow laundry-doers.

Alright, your turn. Have a public laundry tip to pass on? Have a weird laundromat story?

Be sure to check out Elizabeth’s Totally Obvious Guide to Using Public Restrooms.

love, elizabeth

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