Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why I March

When I was little, I wanted to be a boy.

I'm not saying that I believed that I should be a boy.  No, it was very clear to me that I was a girl.  This is evident by the fact that some of my earliest memories are of sitting in my stroller, or atop my dad's shoulders, and precociously telling strangers "I'm a girl!" every time I was misidentified due to my bowl cut and brother's hand me downs.

I was (am) a girl.  I liked being a girl.  I was PROUD of being a girl.  But somehow, even at such a young age, I had learned that being born a lady meant that you were getting the short end of the stick.  This was not something my family taught me.  Gender roles/norms were not forced down my throat in my home life.  My parents were SUPER cool about me dressing as the Tin Man for Halloween in the third grade.  When they decided to repaint my room, they let me pick out a blue and green color scheme.  And I don't think anyone is going to forget the time my mom bought me a tutu for dance class and I freaked out.  My parents signed me up for sports after that.  I grew up in an environment where your interests need not be dictated by your gender.  I was lucky enough to be surrounded by strong, smart, loving, interesting women AND men.

And yet, somehow I still had this idea that being a girl meant you were weak.  And I didn't want to be weak.  Boys got to play sports.  Professionally.  Boys got to be president.  Boys were good at science and math.  Boys got to have adventures.  Boys had the best parts in musicals.  And if not the BEST parts, they definitely had MORE parts to choose from.  Boys were not ruled by their emotions, and boys were never scared.

Obviously, now I know that these things aren't true.  About girls OR boys.  But I was a fiery little kid.  Who was oddly aware, and against, gender-specific stereotypes.  We had to do a project about our favorite colors in first grade.  I was the ONLY girl who did not choose pink.  There was a healthy amount of diversity amongst the boys, but all the girls' names were stacked up in the pink column.  Save one.  As a huge F*CK YOU to the Man, I picked blue.  And purple.  Because I was accidentally given two of the work sheets, so I assumed that I was meant to do twice as much work as everyone else.  I was an odd little overachiever.  And I asked to keep the chart as proof.

What I'm saying is that, even though I grew up in an empowering, accepting family, I still sensed that there was some underlying difference between girls and boys.  Society had been informing me that I wasn't quite equal, that there were things for girls and things for boys.  It seems cute and innocent when kids are cute and innocent, but then things get more serious, and the damage is lasting.

I know my experiences are far from the extremes, but I still feel like I need to share them.  We are all aware of the BIG issues, the BIG inequalities that face women in our country, and in the world, and many smarter, more eloquent people have spoken for those causes we are all fighting for.  But I want to share my small experiences.  Those small, specific moments, that I know many will relate with, and hopefully will shine a light on how those tiny things add up and lead to a need to stand up.

So why do I march?

I march because I was taught that "It's the girl's responsibility to say no".

Because wearing a shirt that said I play like a girl. I win. was an open invitation for snide comments and teasing.

Because, starting in middle school, I thought that the only way to keep myself from being sexualized was to wear boy's pants and extra large sweatshirts.  Something I did through most of college, even though I LOVE fashion.

Because I found it necessary to have someone on the phone when I walked across campus alone at night.

Because when I moved to Portland by myself, by brother felt he had to buy my pepper spray.  Or a two-by-four with a nail in the end.  (He went with the pepper spray.)

Because I cried at the fifth grade camp dance.  A boy counselor asked me to dance, and I was scared of boys.  I told my teacher it was because I was homesick.

Because when I cut all of my hair off for a show in high school, someone called me a dyke.

Because there were so few women in the history books for me to look up to and admire.

Because I wasn't that into love stories, but there were so few female children's characters who were NOT the object of romantic interest.  Seriously guys, why do you think I love The Wizard of Oz SO. MUCH.

Because these were two of my favorite books growing up (non-fiction, of course, and no one is surprised): Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought)
Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought)
In one, five out of the twenty artists are women, in the other, I think it's two of the twenty musicians.

Because someone once told me that "Fritsch" must stand for "Frigid Bitch".

I could go on.

These are not "I was raped" moments.  These are not "I wasn't promoted because I'm a woman" moments.  These are not "I can't afford childcare" moments.

But they are moments that I've kept with me.  Moments when I felt like I had to change my behavior.  Moments when I didn't see myself represented.  Moments where I felt threatened or insulted or less than.  Moments when I felt unsafe.

Moments that make me march.          

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Autumn of Humanity

Autumn is a really weird word.  That's not at all what this post is going to be about, but as I typed the title, I couldn't help double guessing at the spelling (which I actually do for most words) and growing suspicious that spell check wasn't catching my mistake.  A-u-t-u-m-n?  So odd.  I'm going to have to remember that the next time I play Scrabble.  That's got to be worth a good chunk of change, while getting rid of a few 'u's.

NOT THE POINT.

So distractable.

This post is actually a condemnation of the autumnal phenomenon that has taken place for the past seven or so odd years.  It's what one of my friends has termed "the uniform".  We've all seen it.  Tween, teen, and not so teen girls and women galavanting around in their black leggings and hip-length zippy (usually North Face).  What's with that?  No.  Really.  Someone tell me why this is a thing.

Is it a status symbol?  "Look!  I'm not old enough to make my own money, but I am allowed to make my own wardrobe choices, so I'm going to choose these name brand things that everyone recognizes!"?  Because Lord knows a North Face fleece is not that visually pleasing.  The most that can be said for them is that sometimes they're brightly colored, and I've heard people say they're comfortable.

Is that what this is about?  Comfort?  I will always get on board for being comfy, but there are so many more interesting ways to do it.  THAT NOT EVERYONE ELSE IS WEARING.  You don't like jeans?  Neither do I!  I don't own a single pair of blue jeans, and yet I still manage to put something on the bottom half of my body that covers my butt, is comfortable, and is interesting.

I don't know why this bothers me so much.  It really shouldn't.  What does it matter what people are wearing?  It has absolutely no bearing on my life.  It's not hurting me, or anyone else, in any way.  But it's still THE WORST.

Maybe it's because I love clothes so much.  To me, clothes are a wonderfully functional way to express who you are as an individual on a daily basis.  There are so many different colors, patterns, fabrics, cuts, silhouettes, and combinations!  Clothes can make you feel happy, protected, sassy, sexy, playful, relaxed, confident, professional, fun, epic, fierce, festive, smart, sporty, or numerous other things.  I can't begrudge you if one day you wake up and say, "You know what?  What I really need today is to feel the comfortable safety of my favorite black leggings and my warm and comfy North Face.  Especially considering I'm just going to be hanging around the house."  Great.  Perfect.  Live your dream.  But don't tell me that that's how all those people feel everyday.

And, let's face it, we all make judgements based on how people dress.  We are a visual species.  I'm not saying all these judgements are negative or exclusive, but we form ideas about others based on what they're wearing.  I feel like it's poor communication if you aren't portraying who you ARE when you pick out your clothes.  WHO ARE YOU???  But I guess you're doing me a favor if you're dressing like that.  I'm probably not going to talk to you.

Also, pack mentality scares me, and when it's as obvious as seven girls dressed in all the same outfit, I get really uncomfortable.  Ha!  See!  It does have bearing on my life.  Scary teenager clones make me uncomfortable.  Are you really that afraid to stand out from your group of friends?  Why do you need so badly to belong?  Sure, you may eventually grow out of this phase, and maybe being an anonymous part of a group allows you the luxury of self introspection and growth without calling attention to yourself, BUT WHAT IF YOU DON'T?  These humans are only associating with other humans who think like themselves.  And have the means to buy these pricey items.  How are you going to gain perspective if you only hang out with the legging crowd?

Anyway.  I hope everyone is having a good fall thus far.  I've already had my requisite Pumpkin Spice Latte, so I'm feeling pretty good about things.  

 

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Party's Over

I would like to preface this post by stating that I love weddings.  I love my friends and family.  I love parties, giving gifts, celebrating joyful events, and the chance to get together with those who mean the most to me.  I love love.

But I HATE bridal showers.

I have reached that magical point in my life where I know people who are recently engaged, getting married, or at least talking about the prospect of marriage with their significant other.  And all of this sends me over the moon.  Really.  I'm not being sarcastic here.  There is nothing I want to see more than wonderful people deciding that they want to spend the rest of their lives with other wonderful people.  Sign me up, I am ready to ugly cry with joy at your ceremony and dance in that endearingly awkward, white girl way all night long.

I may be skipping out on your shower, though.

Why are they still a thing?  Does anyone else find them outdated?  I mean, there was a time when getting married meant that it was the first time you were moving out of your parents' house, and you didn't own anything of your own, so I guess that made a little more sense.  Maybe.  But there are still wedding presents.  Was it some kind of dowery situation?  As in, "Well, we're handing you over to this man now, who is going to be supporting you and any children you have for the rest of both of your lives, so the least you can do is show up with a few extra goodies to make him a pot roast with.  Plus, you have no idea what you're doing, so let us elder women tell you the facts of life while we dictate what kind of pots and pans you need to be a respectable lady."  Why?  WHY?!

I understand giving gifts at weddings.  It's an exciting event and a new chapter of your lives together, and it's nice to have things that belong to both of you.  But why do I, literally POOR little I, have to give you TWO gifts and take TWO days off of work when you are about to have a dual income household with someone who actually ENCOURAGES you to walk around without your pants on?  How is this fair?!?

Do I sound bitter?  It's because I am, although probably not for the reason you think.  I honestly don't care if I ever get married.  If someone gave me the choice between seeing all of my friends get married and having my own wedding, I would probably choose the former.  I was never that little girl with the secret wedding binder under her bed, and I'm not that big girl who has a secret wedding Pinterest board.  No.  I'm bitter because no matter what I achieve, it's never going to measure up to having some guy pop the question.

I graduated from college.  Twice.  I PAID for college.  Twice.  (Alright, one was mostly scholarships and I still have a few student loans, but you get the idea.)  No announcements, no gifts, no parties, so yeah, I'm a little bitter.  I can go through college, move across the country and back, have a really great job, but do you know what happens when I go to bridal showers?  Someone's great aunt Tess asks me if I'm single, and when I inevitably say yes, she pats my shoulder pityingly and tells me that I still have some time and that I'm cute enough to nab a man.

Excuse me, MA'AM, but I am MOTHERF*CKING adorable, but that's beside the point.  I am highly intelligent, witty, and compassionate, and luckily self-possessed enough not to punch old ladies in the face or have my self-worth defined by whether or not I have a man.  But I may burp my feminist rage in your general direction.  

Also, why no shower for the groom?  Because "Groomal Shower" sounds stupid?  And what about same-sex couples?  No shower for the gents and two showers for the ladies?  When my lesbian friends get married am I going to have buy separate gifts for separate showers?

I'm all for baby showers, though.  Baby stuff seems to be ridiculously expensive, and no one should be expected to purchase it all for themselves.      


Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Chat With Elizabeth

So, February has basically been a flaming turd storm.

That being said, I've been spending a lot of time with my favorite human (me) and trying to give each of those poo nuggets a silver lining.  Easier said than done, my friends.  I am the high reigning empress of motivating pep talks, especially for myself, but at this point a Hall's cough drop wrapper is probably more inspirational.

During my free time this past month, I had decided to embark on a quest.  Not a journey of self-realization or spiritual peace.  Oh no.  The most pressing matter in my life had suddenly become finding Outrage!, the official Tower of London board game, which my dad and I had purchased on one of our British excursions.  PLEASE NOTE: I haven't played this game in years.  I haven't SEEN this game in years.  And why I have had a violently abrupt need to play this particular game is largely outside my understanding.

But I knew I could find it.  I HAD to find it.  It must exist somewhere within the confines of my parents' house!  Or so I though.  My parents made a fine effort in aiding me.  They asked me if I looked with all the other board games (I had), helped me sift through perilously packed trunks and chests, and basically poked around.  It was an ill-fated mission, though.  Mom confessed she didn't even remember the game, and if MOM doesn't know where it is, let alone WHAT it is...?

DOOMED!  That game might as well had never made it back to the States.

All of this is beside the point.

The POINT is that while I was tearing through every box in our attic and basement looking for that dratted game, I came across a veritable trove of childhood memorabilia.  There were even things completely unrelated to The Wizard of Oz.  Not a ton, but some.  (I don't think anyone will ever truly fathom the amount of Oz merchandise I own.)  There were elementary school projects and drawings, plus an assortment of half-forgotten toys.  As I was reading through the words written by my former self, marveling at the fact that no one thought it necessary to correct my backward "s's", I began to wonder what single digit Elizabeth would think about twenty-something Elizabeth.

So I decided to have a little chat with her.  You know, just to get a little perspective.  I know the number one rule of time travel is to never cross your own timeline (duh), but I figured I'd let it slide, just this once.

Let's say that Former Elizabeth (FE) is somewhere in the eight to ten range.

FE: Gah!  OUR HAIR!!!

Present Elizabeth: What?

FE: It's all long and red!  We go red?

PE: Yup.

FE: Like Queen Elizabeth I?

PE: Yup.  And the Weasleys.

FE: Who are the Weasleys?

PE: Oh... you'll find out.

FE: Can't you just tell me?

PE: No.

FE: PLEASE?

PE: NO.

FE: FINE.  And glasses?

PE: For a while now.

FE: Oh man!  Maybe Mom was right about reading in the dark so much.  And sitting really close to the TV.  Did you try eating carrots?  They make your eyes better.

PE: Um... I don't know if they can cure nearsightedness.  But yes.  Plenty of carrots.

FE: Do we still eat them like a corn on the cob?  Carrots have a core, you know!

PE: Oh, I know!  And of course!  Is there any other way to eat a carrot?

FE: So... are we living in Paris?  Tell me we live in Paris.  We're an artist, living in Paris, and we speak fluent French!  Say something in French!  Wait, how old are you?  Say it in French!

PE: I'm 27, but we don't live in Pari...

FE: YOU'RE 27?!?!? AHHH!!!  WHY ARE YOU SO OLD?  AND SHORT!  WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE TALL!  YOU'RE GOING TO DIE SOOOOOOOOOOOON!

PE: I'm not going to die soon!

FE: You might!

PE: I guess that's true.

FE: Why don't we live in Paris?

PE: Because I decided I wanted to be an actor in London instead.

FE: OOOOO!  Are we in London?!  Why don't you have a funny accent?

PE: We're not in London.

FE: I'm confused.

PE: We're not in London, we're in Oak Park.

FE: But WHY aren't we in London?

PE: Because laws and money are a thing you're going to have to come to terms with.

FE: Ick.

PE: Tell me about it.

FE: So what DO we do?

PE: Currently?  Well, we get at job at Greenfield Village...

FE: WHAT?!?  Really?!?  That's where we work??  We actually do it?!  I've always wanted to work at Greenfield Village!  Yay!  I like you!

PE: Yeah!  It's super fun!  I get to sing and dance and...

FE: We don't dance.

PE: We learn to kind of dance.

FE: That's weird.

PE: Trust me, we had to try to learn to dance.

FE: But I like sports.

PE: I know, but we can make money by dancing, not by playing sports.  Because we're a girl.

FE: Girls still don't get professional sports?!?  That's not fair!  Stupid future.

PE: Super stupid.  So we learned to tap dance.  It was fun!

FE: No tutu?

PE: No tutu.

FE: Poofum.

PF: BAHAHAHAHAHAHA, I totally forgot we used to say that!

FE: So we make lots of money at Greenfield Village?

PE: Well... let's just say I have another job or two.

FE: Like what?

PE: I get to go into elementary schools and do assemblies about creative writing!

FE: You're an assembly person!?  Assemblies are the best!  Assemblies are only topped by field trips!  WHICH IS YOUR OTHER JOB.  You are living the best part of school EVERY DAY.  No one ever picks me for assemblies.

PE: Yes, but now WE get to do the picking!  HA!

FE: So... why don't you still live at home?  I mean, you live really close to home, why not AT home?  Home is nice!

PE: Uh... living here is better for everyone.  And Mom redid our room.

FE: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  How could she!  Nothing is ever supposed to change EVER!!!!!!!

PE: Want to see my room?

FE: Maybe...

PE: Come on!

FE: Oooo!  It's yellow!  Like our aura!  And you still have lots of Wizard of Oz stuff!  And Sara Doll! Why is she naked?

PE: Because I lost her clothes.

FE: We should be more careful.

PE: We really should.

FE: I love our bed.

PE: BED IS THE BEST.

FE: Do we still like cookies?

PE: COOKIES ARE THE BEST.

FE: Good.  You may be old, but at least you still know what's important.

PE: Gee.  Thanks.  Hey, did we always hate people, or is that a new thing?

FE: Remember how we used to tell Dad, "No questions!" in the morning?  Or that we used to pretend to be asleep at slumber parties because we didn't want to talk to anyone?  Or that we wonder why EVERYONE in class always has to make such poor decisions?

PE: Okay.  Not a new thing.

FE: So, anything else exciting?

PE: I'm auditioning for Disney!  And I'm thinking about moving to Washington, D.C. ...

FE: THOSE ARE MY TWO FAVORITE PLACES!  Do that!

PE:  Haha, okay.

And at the risk of running on forever (because I'm pretty sure I could), I think I'm going to stop there.  I think that Former Elizabeth would be totally geeked about my current life.  Sure, as we grow up we realize that life is more complicated and way harder/fulfilling than what we had anticipated.  I've been feeling very underwhelmed by my present state, but knowing that I've stayed pretty true to who I've always been feels really good.  I liked who I was as a kid, and I think Former Elizabeth wouldn't be too disgusted by who I have become and what road I'm on.

Here's to a better March.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Resolute

I was going to write about how I made it through all of last year without buying any clothes.  Except for socks and underwear.  Sometimes you need new socks and underwear.  That was my 2014 New Year's resolution, and I did it.  Good for me.

But, honestly, how much can be said about the fact that I have too many clothes, not enough money, and a modicum of will power.  There it is.  Blog complete.  Some will be impressed by ability to make it through the year, others will just shrug.  Huzzah!  A millennial was able to show some self control!  Mazel tov!  And so on.

What's really on my mind is what I will do with this coming year.  2015.  The year of Back to the Future II.  There was the classic flurry of resolutions and reflections on the Facebook as 2014 drew to a close, and I wondered where my aspirations would fit in.  There was plenty of "I'm going to love myself this year!" and "This is the year of me!".  "I'm going to finally start taking care of myself physically, emotionally, and mentally!"

NEWSFLASH:

Every year is the year of you.  What has everyone been doing for the past year?  It's beyond me.

I understand that my Facebook/social life (how unfortunate that those two things are so closely intertwined) has become a veritable avalanche of quarter-life crises and babies.  Mom problems, mixed with first world problems, mixed with life changing event problems.  And nobody really cares anymore.  We are all so bombarded with other people's problems that we realize that nobody is listening to our qualms and complaints.  Has it come to a point where our only option is to look to ourselves for comfort and care?  Won't that just mean that everyone keeps focusing on themselves and no one is going to receive the attention and love they need?  Should we all just learn to turn inward for support?  I can say from personal experience, this course of action can be highly effective and dangerously exhausting.

Of course everyone needs to focus on themselves at times.  There is nothing I support more than self-awareness and cultivating self-worth.

But you can't give up on the rest of the world in the process.  There has to be some balance.  And I will be the first to admit that balance is something I can't quite get the knack of.  The closest I get to balance is running from one extreme to the other, so that the average is somewhere in the middle.  So I'm going to throw out into the universe the idea of the dual resolution.  Make a pact with yourself to become a better you, by all means, get to know yourself this year.  But not at the expense of everyone else.  How much would you love for one of your friends to take an extra minute out of their day to genuinely ask how you're doing?  Be that friend.  How much would a call or text from an old colleague or classmate mean to you?  Make that connection.  How gratifying is it when a stranger pays you a sincere compliment?  Fun fact!  YOU can be that stranger.

This past year, I had another resolution.  It was called "Kind word Tuesdays".  I tried to send kind words to someone at least once a week.  I didn't always succeed, but I made an effort, and I think the recipients appreciated it.  Maybe we could make a few more resolutions like that?            

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Good Morning

Some days you wake up and see your car is no longer in its parking spot.  

I mean.  

Some days you wake up, decide you can still sleep a little longer, wake up again, think about if you really need to take a shower, lie in bed for a while, thank the work scheduling gods that you don't have to go in 'till noon, contemplate what you're doing with your life and if it's time to play the allergy gambling game and get a cat, realize that's an idiotic idea and take your allergy medicine, congratulate yourself for keeping your allergy medicine next to your bed, squint at the clock, reposition yourself so the sun stops lancing you in the eye, wonder at what point you changed your pajamas in the middle of the night, roll over, check your Facebook on your phone, curse yourself for becoming someone who checks their Facebook on their phone before getting out of bed, calculate exactly how late you can abandon your bed and still get to work on time, count down the minutes until the time when you absolutely HAVE to get out of bed, slink out of bed, stumble to the bathroom, pee, shed all of your clothes, turn on the shower, realize you don't have your towel, rejoice that your roommate/cousin leaves for work hours before you, saunter to your room and back knowing no one will see you, get into the shower, lament that your $23.00 shampoo always seems to run out the same time as your money, do a little happy dance/Muppet arm routine because you don't have to shave anything until Thursday, wash with your Halloween themed soap that smells like childhood, remember to wash your face, be disgusted by the state of the shower curtain, but not enough to do anything about it in that moment, get out of the shower, dry off, wander downstairs to find clean underwear, put on said underwear, unearth your work clothes, objectively look at yourself in your borrowed pair of blue jeans and decide whether or not you should buy yourself a pair (you shouldn't), dry your bangs, wallow over how you no longer have time to make yourself an egg, tell yourself you're not really that hungry anyway, bully yourself into eating something because you know you won't get any tips if you pass out during your shift, make yourself a PB&J on a tortilla, guzzle down a glass of milk, go upstairs to get your phone, come back down, go upstairs to get your purse, come back down, go upstairs to get your glasses, almost go back down, grab your watch and your hair tie, go back down, ask yourself at least three times if you took your allergy medicine, puzzle over the fact that your mouth still tastes like slushy apple cider from the day before, hurry out the door, grabbing your keys, lock the door, telling yourself that no matter what, Tuesday is going to be better than Monday, turn and see your car is no longer in its parking spot. 

You find your car parked on the street, no ticket, no note.

Your cousin says he didn't move it.

You spend the rest of the day worrying you've started sleep driving.    

Sunday, July 20, 2014

AWESOME

On February 14th, 2014, I spoke with my brother on the phone.  It went something like this:

Zac: I can't wait for my birthday.  I want to see what you write about me on your blog.

Me: (externally) What makes you think you're getting a blog post?

Me: (internally)  ARHHGAHHHH!!!!  ZAC WANTS ME TO WRITE HIM A BLOG POST!!!  HE LIKES MY BLOG!!!!  HE LIKES ME!!!!

So here I am, on his birthday, pondering what I'm going to write about him, the 30 years he's been alive, and the 26ish years he's been my brother.

Zac is a little bit of an enigma, and most of the people in my life don't know he exists.  Apparently I give off an only child kind of vibe.  He is a man of mystery shrouded in a cloud of secrets.  No one really knows what he's doing or where he is, and that suits him just fine.

I am not here to talk about that Zachary, though.  I'm going to talk about the brother I have hero-worshipped and hated, cared about and competed with for my entire life.

Zac and I are like Shrek and Donkey.  That is my go-to simile, and I am sticking to it.  (I know that it doesn't shed my parents in a good light, saying they raised an ogre and an ass, but stay with me here.)  Most of my early years consisted of me following him around, singing, while he found me profoundly annoying, but still loved me.  I hope.  He's also large and scary looking, but that's beside the point.

Let it be know, Zac is awesome, and that's the post I'm going to write.  Zac, I know you're going to read this, so now I'm just going to address it to you.

YOU ARE AWESOME.  But you already know that.  Between the two of us, there is an obscene amount of self confidence, and I like to think that I partly got that from you.  You wore whatever you wanted (the flame shirt), you rocked way cooler glasses than me (I'm catching up), and you have always owned your nerd-dom (thank you for my Star Wars education).  Whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, you at least partially paved the way for my eccentricities and the ability to feel good about my weirdness.

Ugh.  I have so many thoughts, and I have no idea how I want to format this.  I'm completely over thinking how I want to present you.

Hokay.  Remember that time we were at Camp and (apparently) one of the campers said something that besmirched my honor, so you took all of his belongings from his bunk, piled them on the deck of his cabin, encased them in plastic wrap, tin foil, and duct tape, and then wrote on what looked like a giant left-over in ketchup?  Yeah.  That was awesome and probably the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.

I love it when you get all big-brothery on me, even though it's rare.  Like when you came to Portland and declared that you were either going to buy me pepper spray or a two-by-four with a nail in the end.  I feel the pepper spray was a good choice.

Also, I'm pretty sure the best thing that has ever happened to us was me finally turning 21.  When it comes to drinking, you somehow manage to simultaneously be Yoda and Spartacus.  It's really impressive.  You have taught me the joys of a well crafted cocktail, and shown me that a person can drink at the Michigan Beer fest all day, take a power nap, and then party it up most of the night at Cliff Bells.

You know what it was like to grow up in 1825 Dorothea, and be raised by Jim and Debbie.  You know the tragedy of sharing that bathroom between four people.  You understand.

And when we both realized we liked Eddie Izzard?  Completely independent of each other?  That was a great sibling moment.

I think it's awesome that you can pick up and go somewhere new.  You're awesome for being one of the smartest people I know and not becoming a doctor or an engineer just because you could.  You're awesome for always chasing your happiness.  You work harder (and play harder) than anyone I know.

You're hilarious.

I want to hang out with you all the time in New Orleans.

Yes, we didn't/don't always get along.  Yes, you will always wonder why I don't eat more meat and I will wonder why you don't eat more veggies.  Yes, I resented you at times for being older, for being the boy.  But I've also felt honored to learn from your mistakes, to have the luck of having you to look up to.

Happy Birthday.