How I Should Think About My Weight (If I Absolutely Must)


Ah, another day, another chance for you and I, as women, to talk, think, and downright obsess about how much physical space our bodies take up in this big, bad world. At least that’s how it’s felt like for me ever since I came back home from Montreal a year and a half ago and started to steadily gain more and more of a circumference spectrum than I’ve had since at least six years ago. See, for the better part of the last six years of my life I never found myself outside of the healthy-for-my-height (173 cm) range of 64 to 66 KG. At my lowest, I was a spry 63. Today, I am a 72. Not a huge amount by any means, still within a healthy range, and certainly not the heaviest I’ve ever been but still way more than I had become accustomed to for the last several years.

And even for my feminist-defined, thoroughly skeptical, shruggingly blasé self it’s been a struggle. I am a mere mortal after all, not Deepak Chopra. Bu I also think it’s been especially difficult because, in my line of work (the media/magazine industry), you can’t so much as blink without being bombarded with some form of conversation or imagery about the subject of weight. The gaining of weight; the losing of weight; who gained/lost what; how they look; how they did it; how you can too; GODDAMNED ETC. But you know what? Screw that. Here’s how I’m going to personally start thinking about the subject of my own weight from now on (if I do at all).

Try it out for yourself if the idea of owning your own body strikes you.

WEIGHT THOUGHT #1: This Is Some Grade-A Crap Right Here

Okay, coming from someone who is thoroughly embedded within the media bubble system, I’ve gotta tell you that, when the media around you starts pushing the idea of perfect people in your face YOU WOULD BE WISE TO BE EXTREMELY SKEPTICAL. Really, the only correct way to consume images of perfectly tailored human beings in media is with deep, delicious, instant doubt. Saying this is probably hurting my rep as a ‘media-person’ (wait, what?) but, hell, it’s the goddamned truth. It’s advertising, you guys. It’s supposed to make you want something. That fact ALONE makes the whole thing AS FISHY AS THE FREAKING ATLANTIC. So when you see those types of images in your various media outlets (so, basically, anywhere) you really should move forward very cautiously (or better yet: not at all). So, instead of letting yourself feel flawed or even mesmerized by the images that are directly and indirectly telling you to shrink yourself away, I suggest you start seeing it as a sad, slightly hilarious, icky, desperate cash grab. Because that’s what the hell it really is.

Six Lessons Lana Al-Resheed Taught Me Without Even Realizing It

Photo 4-18-2014, 6 20 02 PM

Mentors are not magic. Your mentor is not your Professor Dumbledore. Your mentor is a human being. They are allowed to have flaws and personality quirks and you are allowed to not like those things about them, and vice versa.

I personally grew up in a family of overachievers and in an environment that inadvertently taught me (or tried to teach me) that I should enter into all things either a) knowing everything or b) pretending to know everything. The more I grew up the more I resented this kind of intimidating and isolated attitude especially when it came to work or school. As a result, I tend to seek out indirect guidance and education from anyone around me who I think is a little extra special, regardless of whether or not they are my superiors in a professional environment. In hindsight, I’ve found that this one trait alone has given me such an overwhelmingly HUGE advantage in my careers as an academic, a writer, and as an editor/publisher. Because I’ve always unconsciously tried to soak up as much professional knowledge as I can from literally every single person around me, I think I can now safely say that I have a very extensive, advanced knowledge base in my chosen fields that most people who are my age don’t have and that usually only develop over a period of much longer, more complex work experiences.

Most recently, I’ve had the crazy lucky fortune of working super closely with known marketing badass and general all around awesome lady-person Lana Al-Resheed who, if you recall, was my debut Running in Heels interview over a year ago. The actual story of how Lana and I met, got in contact with each other, and eventually started working together would have never EVER happened without this humble blog. If you think about it, it’s a pretty strong and beautiful indication of who Lana Al-Resheed is as a person and how much risk and support she is willing to put into someone she believes in and feels a special connection to–even if it was someone she hardly knew like me. The story of how Lana and I came into each other’s lives is one of my favorite stories to ever tell just because it sounds so wonderfully unreal and miraculously fated by God. But it IS real and it’s goddamned beautiful.

Even after having worked with her for almost an entire year now I still don’t know what the exact reasons were for her choosing me and believing in me as much as she did (I don’t even think she knows exactly). All I know is that Lana loves it when she sees things that other people don’t see and she has told me that ‘you are something I saw that no one else saw.’ And, because of that, all I know is that I am lucky and so is she.

From my own experience, mentoring relationships usually end up being some of the most rewarding and meaningful relationships for both the mentor and the mentored, and they almost always develop into lifelong, family-tight bonds, even after the fact.

So, since I think that everyone on Earth needs to, at some point in their professional lives, find their own personal ‘Lana’ (even the Lanas of the world need their own Lanas), here is but a short list of some of the most important lessons that Lana Al-Resheed has taught me without even realizing it. (I actually tried to see if she realized it and asked her to list six of what she thought were her most important lessons for me and she didn’t mention ANY of these, which is, of course, proof that wisdom, authenticity, and versatility are second nature to Lana Al-Resheed.)

Everyone Should Know How To Defend Themselves

There is no one I’ve ever met who has such an open, optimistic, and SOLID PLAN to change Kuwait for the better and yet who also knows how to navigate Kuwait’s market and Kuwait’s society–in all it’s flaws and risks–like Lana Al-Resheed. In this double-edged ability, Lana has taught me that there is no reason why you should not train yourself for the world as it is while ALSO working to change it. If you let the world destroy you WHILE you are trying to build it you are under prepared, naive, and a little stupid.

You Have No Idea How An Actual New Field Will Ever Be

No matter how much time and planning you think you’re going to put into a project or a business plan, you will never know it until those training wheels come off and you’re out there on your own FOR REAL. Don’t pretend to be all-knowing and invincible because you will likely just end up looking like a chicken with it’s head cut-off: frantic, annoying, and pointless. Lana’s own open willingness to consider (consider; not accept) a million different ideas and helping hands in the field, despite her own firm knowledge base, has taught me this.

Someone Already Hates You, Even If You Just Started

There is perhaps nothing more delusional than showing up as a new face or project onto a field and just expecting everyone to judge you based purely upon your merit or your quality and not who you know or what you represent to them (i.e. a threat). That’s right: in the real world mediocre people get the most accolades, and hard-workers can be ignored or vilified just cause. Them’s the breaks, kid.  Friends hire friends (or friends of friends), the people in charge can be irrational and vindictive, and nearly every single field has a toxic troll-type, a secret saboteur, and a magic golden child (and often they are the same person! And they are loved! Because they did one thing that was kind of entertaining that one time!). For this reason, Lana taught me the importance of entering any field or workplace neutrally, but armed with the knowledge that no field is ever what it seems.

Everyone Is Out to Take Your Money

This category could also be called: How To Be An Adult. Really, the amount of times that I have seen Lana catch people who have tried to snake more money out of her than was necessary IS SO NUMEROUS AND SO DELIGHTFUL. Seeing how she laughs off the fact that people are trying (and failing) at taking advantage of her and others at every corner is a lesson in adulthood in and of itself. Figuring out that, when you grow up, everyone in business is trying to make more money off you than they should is not always obvious. But if you plan on being a stable, conscious human being out in the world, it is very essential. Not getting screwed over in the world requires a kind of consumer vigilance and a willingness to advocate for yourself when no one else will (or will for a reasonable price) and this is Lana Al-Resheed’s speciality and her secret super-power. She’s a one-woman-show and she makes sure that everyone knows she can’t be fooled.

The Importance of ‘Red-Teaming’ Any Idea or Situation 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, ‘red-teaming’ is basically when you shoot holes in any idea or plan in order to better see it’s weaknesses and faults. This is a valuable skill to have whenever you are considering taking something new on, whether it’s in life or in work. Red-teaming, essentially, improves the strategies in any plan by recognizing the vulnerabilities in that plan. I’ve noticed Lana doing this with almost every big business decision she makes right off the bat. I actually think she does this so intuitively that she doesn’t have any idea that she’s doing it.

No One Has Any Idea How To Make Any Kind of Relationship Work

Since most human beings are horribly poor at dealing with other human beings it’s important to know what we DON’T know so that we can all cut each other a little more slack. Identifying our own shortcomings and triggers, teaching ourselves the critical cornerstones of healthy relationships, understanding the significance of knowing ourselves, accepting that some conflict is HEALTHY and learning how to deal with it, fighting fair, and the importance of having a shared worldview with those you are closest to is a constant learning process and can be very difficult to master. Lana Al-Resheed has taught me that this process never ends and that no matter how much you know your relationships, they can always surprise you and teach you something about yourself that you didn’t know before.

All my love!

On Turning 25 (and Other Glorious Ages)


A little over two weeks ago, I turned 25 years old. And, as does happen to most of us, my birthday (and all the people congratulating me on either staying young or getting old) made me face up to my many feelings about the inevitability of aging. Now, I happen to be blessed with a huge group of friends who vary in a number of age groups, sensibilities, and life trajectories. So, as many of them grow older and reach different stages in their lives at different rates, I tend to notice how they all approach the idea of getting older.

When it comes to most of my female friends (and, for a while, me as well), age was a matter of escalating concern as the years went by. I noticed that, as they grew older (and wiser and stronger), a lot of my female friends were also strangely growing more and more fond of attaining a certain compliment.

The apparent Holy Grail of concerned agers, everywhere: “You look great for your age!

Personally, whenever I hear someone direct that compliment at me or someone I know I find it beyond weird. It’s even weirder when I see how enraptured with happiness other people can be upon hearing that they don’t look like they’ve been on this earth as long as they actually have been.

I mean, if I look great for my age then it’s because the way I look is one of many ways a person can look at 25. That’s one way 25 can look. If you were to round up 100 different 25-year-olds you would get a huge, diverse spread of bodies and faces that vary in accordance to their lifestyles, genetics, and plastic surgeries. But its not as if any of us are going to look 12 or something. At some point, your age catches up. Even if you could realistically find some compelling exceptions to the rule, you can’t deny that aging is still happening on a cellular level to all of us.

On a basic human level, aging just can’t be undone no matter how much you try to customize your lifestyle to accommodate it. I don’t know anyone who looks younger than their age that’s actually fooling anyone–not really. Even the greatest looking, most genetically blessed, impeccably worked on, seeming non-ager on this earth still basically looks about their age. In the most extreme cases of unutterable beauty, some people can maybe buy themselves about 5 to 10 years, give or take a few.

That’s the thing about telling someone they look great “for their age.” It’s weird. And, as I turned 25 a few weeks ago, I’ve had to hear this well-intentioned sentence blurted out at me one too many times for comfort. But, despite how admittedly weird it is, I completely understand why people would think I (and other women) would be delighted to hear it.

I know that for ALL WOMEN ON THE FACE OF THIS PLANET the fear of “losing our looks” is a concerning issue for us all to various degrees. Because the truth is that a woman’s looks are nothing if not currency, and it takes a damn near bulletproof self-esteem to go through your life, birthday after birthday, with enough grace to not care about the inevitable deterioration of that said currency. It’s not like any of us are going to be sad when someone tells us, at 65, that we don’t look 65. Weirded out and  a little confused, maybe, but not sad.

But, you know, as an admitted, completely understanding, formerly concerned, currently ecstatic ager of the world, I’ve gotta say it all sounds like a bunch of crap to me. As I’ve gotten older and as the universe has continued to apply time + gravity to my human body, I’ve realized that nothing will ever quell your fear of aging better than aging itself. Here’s why:

We Actually Age So Slowly That We Don’t Even Notice It Happening

Look, it’s not like you or I or anyone else is ever going to go to bed beautiful and wake up a complete hag. We age so gradually that we only ever notice every once in a while. And sure, those few moments when I DO happen to notice (must use more moisturizer) may offer a pinging moment of mortality, but its hardly a cause for deep depression or concern. Mostly it’ll just remind me that I’m human; that I’m still alive; and that no one lives forever.

There Are Actually A Lot Of Comforting Realities About Aging

If I ever get to be a decrepit, gloriously fat, monstrously cranky 80 year old woman at some point in my life, I know for damn sure that I am going to feel good about the fact that, if nothing else, I’m still alive at this age and still relatively healthy enough in spite of how much I KNOW I wasted my youth. I mean, for God’s sake: YOUR BODY LITERALLY TELLS GRAVITY TO SHOVE IT ALMOST EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE. Pretty freaking amazing.

Sure, You Regret Some Stuff, But Not Like You Think

Think about it: in order for you to have done ANY of the stuff you regret not doing, you would have had to be a completely different person. And this is really the paradox that comes with regretting anything: you think you’d do it differently if you could go back but it took doing all the stuff you did during all those years to be who you are now. And, if you ask me, no amount of recompensation and memory rejuggling is worth me losing the person I’ve worked so crazy hard to be right now. No thanks.  Plus, if there still really is something that you truly and deeply wanna do then just go do it already and be done with it!

You Will Not Believe How Little You Actually Care

Sorry; I know I’ve turned it into a god damned bumper sticker at this point, but hands down THE BEST FREAKING PERK that I’ve ever gotten out of being older is how much better I know myself. Even more importantly: how much more I’ve ended up liking the person I’ve gotten to know, especially when I accept and make peace with her worst flaws. The closer and closer I get to raising that level of indifference to time and my overall self-acceptance, the more liberated I feel. It is honestly worth all the youthful energy and ignorant bliss in the world, without a hint of a doubt.

The Stuff That Will Matter Most In The End Is What You DO Have (Not What You Don’t)

If you feel fulfilled in your life, you will simply not obsess about how old you are. It just won’t happen. I usually end up obsessing about my age and I don’t tend to like what I see in the mirror ONLY when I have nothing else going on in my life. Thankfully, the last time that’s happened was when I was 18 years old. But the point is that THIS CAN LITERALLY HAPPEN AT ANY AGE. Thus the phenomenon of all my drop dead gorgeous 20-something friends obsessing over the deterioration of their looks as opposed to throwing an ongoing party at the fact that they get to write complete sentences while looking like freaking super models.

Appreciating where you are today is the big triumph of life. Fully realizing that wherever you are right now is where you are and seeing all the beautiful things in that, while also looking forward to building a road towards wherever you want to be, is entirely the point.

Your Looks Are Never Truly ‘Lost’

And if so, where do they get lost to? Between the seat cushions of that old couch you gave away? Is there a secret place in the sky that all the young, pretty faces evaporate up to with each passing birthday? NO BECAUSE YOU WILL ALWAYS LOOK LIKE YOU. Because you are you! And you are a growing, evolving human being! A human being that ages!

So, if you happen to be aging (which you are! hooray!) and reading this right now, I say, please, enjoy the living daylights out of what you have in this very minute. Enjoy it and spend the rest of the time paving a path towards the next awesome phase of your life, so that, when the time comes, you can enjoy the hell out of it too.

All my love!

On the Sometimes Horrible, Mostly Hilarious Forms of Hate


Here is an unwavering fact of life: at some point in your life, no matter what, someone (or maybe lots of someones) is going to severely dislike you. They may even dislike you so much to the extent that they will use the word ‘hate’ when describing how they feel about you. Now, before your minds trail off to far-flung pastures, let me just briefly clarify the kind of hate I’m talking about. This is the lowercase kind of hate.

Not violent. Mostly vibe-y. It really just kind of annoyingly hangs around like that errant fly that you just can’t get rid of for several days. I’m talking about super-intense, off the charts dislike. The severe aversion some people may have to all (or most! or some!) of the things that make you you. Either way, it’s pretty much an unavoidable rite of passage in life and growing up, especially if you’ve got any kind of existence online at all. So we’ve gotta learn to deal.

It will probably surprise about 1.5 percent of you that I have some experience being hated. Something about me, especially when expressed in verbal form, just tends to rub some people in all the wrong ways. I have way too many close friends who have told me this. I have a somewhat strong personality and occasionally strong opinions which are, unsurprisingly, a lot easier to hate than your average mild-mannered, get-alongness kind of attitude. Shocker.

But here’s a special caveat that’s important to note if you happen to be one of those people who has been ‘hated on’ one time too many: Not being hated does not necessarily mean that you are a super awesome person. It just means that you are not controversial. ACTUALLY, LET ME CLARIFY: Not being hated ever can SOMETIMES mean that you really are a super awesome person who is consistently wonderful and genuine and just a bucketful of sunshine AND HOW IN THE WORLD COULD ANYONE EVER POSSIBLY HATE YOU, BAMBI’S SECOND COUSIN? But, other times, if you’ve never even been mildly hated then it means that you’re basically human oatmeal. It means that no one has ever even noticed you enough to realize how mind-numbingly blah you actually can be. But, hey, it also means you’re lucky!

And, just because I don’t want to come off as an actual hate-mongerer (i.e. someone who condescendingly thrives on people hating me, i.e. Kanye West), let me just very briefly debunk some common ‘hate-talk’ that I don’t ever actually subscribe to.

“If you’re pissing people off you must be doing something right!”

Fine, sometimes. Sometimes people will hate you because you’re saying something true but uncomfortable.  But a lot of times it can also mean that you were just being a class-A, disrespectful jerk. An easy tell? When almost everyone you know is telling you that “no, you really were just being a super horrible jerk idiot and maybe it’s time to own up now.” Pretty much a sure-fire indication.

Haters gonna hate!

Well, yeah, OK. Sometimes haters really are just going to hate because hating is a part of their genetic makeup and they’re just going to hate everything you ever say or do no matter what. Sometimes that happens. But often times haters are just decent but misinformed people who rush to judgement or may have a short fuse. In which case haters gonna hate a little but maybe not if you actually opened a dialog with them and schooled them? Remember this?

I used to have a REALLY hard time with the amount of hateful vibes I would get, especially so when I started blogging. While this blog has thankfully created a major influx of amazing conversations, comments, tweets, and emails in it’s short lifespan, I’ve also gotten a fair share of negative backlash. So,  if you happen to be a fellow, unknowing, occasional hate-magnet like me, it might be worth your time to ask yourself these short questions to help you get out there and live your life, as hate-free as possible. It’s been helpful to me, for what it’s worth.

Why do people hate you?

You’re a nice person, right? I mean, sure, you can be a little sassy on occasion but you’re not by any means a terrible person. You couldn’t possibly have done or said anything worthy of amassing that much blood-curdled hate from people. Look, sometimes hate is general, misguided, and highly impersonal. Other times it can be extremely specific. Either way, you can probably boil it down to one specific sentiment which you feel like people might be having a problem with. Usually people ‘hate’ you because you’re being annoying about something.

Are you being annoying?

Nope. They just hate me.

Eh. Somewhere out there in the world is some ridiculous freak who thinks baby laughter, sunshine, a cool autumn breeze, adorable kitten videos, and chocolate are annoying. Screw ‘em.

Yes, and I do it on purpose.

Well, then you know you’re going to be hated from the get-go. You may actually be enjoying it a little.

Yes, but I’m not doing it on purpose and now I feel horrible.

If it was an accident and it’s really got you torn up you can do one of two things. You can clarify your intentions, own up to your mistake, and apologize to anyone you’ve offended directly. Or you can just accept that no one’s perfect and you did an annoying thing which we all occasionally do and which got you hated by someone. It happens to all of us. Don’t beat yourself up about it, BUT FIX IT.

Is being hated just another life hazard that you cannot avoid so long as you are being yourself?

So, let’s say you’re a feminist or an environmentalist which are two groups of people who are statistically severely hated. These can be some overwhelmingly powerful, defining factors when it comes to who you are, what you say, and how you carry yourself. Your personality identifies with a group of people who are actively trying to change the system. A group with unpopular opinions, stubborn goals, and marginalized identities. A group that constantly re-examines traditional thinking and can make people very uncomfortable.  A lot of people are just going to want to shoot the messenger or blindly hate on you. So if you’re just being you and that inspires hate but harms no one then, once again, screw ‘em.

But I’m not an activist or anything! I’m just being regular old me and people just seem to hate me easily for my [insert-hateable-quality-here]!

Oh, ok! You’re just out there, living your life, embracing your hate-able self in broad daylight. You’re freakishly obsessed with antique cars. You don’t know how to tell a joke. You’re always an hour late to everything. You’re extremely self-absorbed. You always always ALWAYS forget to pay people back. You’re always ecstatically happy. You tend to brag a little too much. You buy every new gadget the minute it comes out even though you clearly don’t need it. You’re a self-proclaimed ‘yogi.’ You love your dog so much that you treat it better than a human infant. Or whatever.

Look, here’s what it comes down to: you either care or you don’t. That’s it. If you care enough about this hate-trend you’ve inspired and it really seems to bother you then maybe try changing that hate-able tendency so that whichever group of people or specific person you want to impress starts liking you.

And, just as a personal a-side, you have to know that possessing any of the above or other ‘annoying’ qualities doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with you or who you are–just how that particular quality strikes people. And that arrangement can be one tricky tightrope act. Some people really will just hate you no matter what. Why go around pandering to someone else’s idea of what constitutes a ‘good person’ when, in less than two seconds, you could probably come up with something equally hate-worthy about them? I’m not telling you to hate people back, I’m just saying that he who does not possess a single hate-worthy attribute shall cast the first trolly comment.

I mean, someone who doesn’t really know me just comes out of nowhere and starts hating me? And that’s the kind of person I’m supposed to work ultra-super hard to win over? Eh.

When All Else Fails: Embrace the Sweet, Hilarious, Unstoppable Wave of Hate

Look, sometimes it can be downright hilarious and even healthy for you to realize that, no matter what amount of snide, hateful comments get thrown your way, you just can’t stop pathologically being yourself. While some will dislike you to the max for it, odds are that more than triple the amount of people will find it charming and unique. If being who you are is causing harm to people and offending people on a basic level then that’s one thing. But if you just happen to have one of those things that seems to uncontrollably irritate a select few who cross your path just by the mere you-ness of it, and you can’t possibly imagine being anything but yourself, then embrace it. Love and cherish all that these people find hate-able within you. Jump right in to the lukewarm comfort of simply accepting who you are–quirks and imperfections and hate and all.

All my love!

The Complete Guide to Getting Zero Closure (And Being Ok With It)

ClosureGraphLife is a dubious thing. I mean, gosh, even the word itself has this alluring, almost slippery quality to it. Dubious. It’s one of those words that you enjoy reading out loud and like having in your arsenal but don’t ever want to use in a serious conversation about your life. But, lately, dubious things have been on my mind. And for good reason.

Y’see, not in the very distant past (a little over a year ago) I broke ties with a woman who was, in all honesty, an incredibly close friend of mine and whom I had known for many years and shared countlessly personal experiences and stories with. I’m not going to talk your ears (or eyes?) off with the specifics but, over time, it turned into a very dramatic relationship dynamic and I just decided it was no longer a friendship worth salvaging anymore. So we both cut off real communication from each other and the whole thing just kind of tapered off slowly and naturally.

This is a friend who, at one point in my life, I considered one of my very best friends so on occasion my thoughts do return to her and I wonder about her and how she’s getting on in the world. I know that I will always care about her as a person and I do genuinely want good things for her. She’ll probably always be one of those definitive friendships in my life and I’m never going to have the heart to delete her number from my phone. So I figure its pretty normal for people to find themselves recalling these kinds of important relationships from their past at odd, random moments throughout their lives–sometimes on-trigger and sometimes not. Very run-of-the-mill nostalgia stuff happening here. But this friend is a little different.

See, this friend is a fellow blogger.

Now, I certainly will not share any specifics about her or her blog here but, the very nature of the fact that she is a blogger in Kuwait makes recalling her that much more common and that much more uncomfortable for me. Because there’s the occasional social media mention or tag among other bloggers that includes her. There’s the super-awkward, always shocking event sightings. There’s the group emails sent out by companies that find her blog’s name on the list along with my own.

Plus, there’s all the normal human, regularly awkward and slightly baffling social niceties like the ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ and ‘Happy Eid’ broadcasts that I get from her a couple of times a year and which always leave me feeling like I stubbed my toe in a dark corner. Infuriatingly painful and ridiculous.

Point is! No matter how much you think you may be done with a friendship, a relationship, a job, or that annoyingly rebellious strand of unruly baby hair that wont straighten NO MATTER HOW LONG YOU’VE BEEN BURNING YOUR SCALP WITH A HAIR DRYER, it will always find a way to pop back up in your life one way or another. Always. Getting real closure is about as possible as winning the goddamned lottery. We’re all both mystically hopeful of it and deeply annoyed by it at the same time. Because while we secretly know that we probably just threw our hard-earned cash into the wind, there’s always the one in 3 billion chance that we could make beau coup bucks overnight. Usually though we’re just out the time, the money, and the hopeful good vibes.

So, how do we deal with not winning the lottery? Well, apparently, we read. Studies show that people who do not read are more likely to make snap judgements, think stubbornly, and ignore alternatives once their minds are made up. Readers on the other hand have been found to have more agile minds that don’t require “cognitive closure,” don’t hastily judge, and are more willing to consider change and alternate options down the road. So, essentially, readers are just better people.

Bookworms of the world, rejoice! We are justified! All we have to do now is just read read read read read read AND POW! Better critical thinkers!

But I don’t want all you non-readers out there to feel left out of the broad-minded fun (although you ARE reading this blog, so there’s hope for you yet!). With you anti-bookworms in mind, here’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to be totally cool about getting zero closure at all times.

  • Pretend you’re the Bill Paxton submarine explorer guy from Titanic.

Except the Titanic is all your big problems. These are the problems you can’t reconcile with and have no hope of ever re-introducing into your life again. Get down there and look at them all, one by one. Think about them if you want to. Feel all the feelings you can at that moment. Sit there with them for as long as you need to get all the important information down–just like a super-serious explorer professional, deep-sea diver scholar person would do. Don’t make any judgements or conclusions! Just record all the information. My, what a big, strong, information recorder you are! Of course, your heavy oxygen tank will only last for so long and now you have to go back up to the surface, leaving all the Titanic analogous people and experiences behind, carrying nothing back but the dry, raw facts in your mind.

  • Now, forget about it.

Unload the oxygen tank and put down the excavated material. Go grab some lunch or I don’t know some fruit or something. Forget everyone. Smell the air around you. Focus entirely on the taste of the fruit you are chomping down on right now. Is there anything more succulently fresh than a newly ripe watermelon? I ASK YOU. (Fun Fact: Your mind is still working on those deeply buried problems, just not really bothering about ‘em. How gobsmackingly amazing is that?)

  • Pretend you’re someone else.

Think about your problem and try to imagine what LITERALLY ANY OTHER PERSON ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH WOULD DO. Imagine someone who you consider to be the most stress-free, levelheaded, brilliant problem-solver. Imagine how they would find a conclusion to your problem without any added judgments or anxieties to worry about. Now take that conclusion as a rare, judgement-free approach and try to imagine all the possible outcomes that you can yield from this new perspective. Do this again and again until you’ve seen the problem from as many angles as humanly possible. Do this until you feel like you can see every single person’s motives all at the same time.

  • Back to you.

And we’re back! Your own perspective, in your own head, and all the looming anxiety of your own problems all over again. Bummer, but kind of cool BECAUSE NOW YOU HAVE THE BENEFIT OF ADDED PERSPECTIVE.

  • What was the story again?

Look, the only takeaway you can be sure to find at the end of this whole deep-sea metaphorical plunge is this: the story may stop, but it never really ends. The emotions you carry around with you now will not be the same ones you carry around later. They will morph endlessly and ceaselessly and when you least expect it. That’s because no emotion is final. How you feel today will not be how you feel tomorrow. Or the day after that. Or the day after that, or after that, or after that. Odds are you’ll eventually get back into your psychological submarine pod and start poking around the same lost emotional wreckage once again (YES I AM FULLY COMMITTING TO THIS METAPHOR). And you know what? The more times you truly look at something, the more perspectives and interpretations you’ll probably get out of it too.

You may end up realizing that what you initially thought was the whole story was actually just the Cliff Notes version. You may find solace in finally being able to piece together the puzzle once and for all, at least in your own head and for your own peace of mind.

Or you may just realize that despite all the digging and prodding and excavating that you can do, when it comes down to it, nothing ever really wraps together at all. That you just have to go on with your life like so many other people do with this minor, persistent affliction clinging to you, slightly irritating you every once in a while, and knowing that it will never really die down.

And, somehow, that’s okay too.

All my love!

Athnain Magazine: A Polished Thought Experiment


So a couple of weeks ago I got word of the fact that one of Kuwait’s most highly anticipated and editorialized magazines, Athnain (Arabic for ‘two’), would be available to order in Kuwait via Tap (I believe you can only access Tap from your smartphone for the time being) and I pretty much made like the wind to snag that sucker!

Now, like many other starry-eyed Instagram onlookers, I was deeply fascinated by the way everyone had covered the launch of the magazine and the way that Athnain itself had created an identity which revolved around the notion of cultured individuals exploring Kuwait’s untapped and unexposed artistic endeavors in a way that was both meaningful and different.

Lofty aspirations? Sure. But, from what I previewed on Instagram and all the other social media buzz, Athnain seemed to have just the right amount of daring confidence and alternative prowess to pull it off. I was honestly the very picture of human excitement when I received a launch invite and all but kicked myself in the shins when the universe so sinisterly kept me from attending.

But after getting my hands on it, Athnain (at least the premier issue) seemed to read more like a polished thought experiment than the purposeful expression on new modes of art, creativity, and identity in Kuwait that I had initially hoped it would be.

And, sure, ‘a thought experiment’ is not an overtly negative term–not by a long shot. No matter what angle you’re coming from, Athnain will challenge or probe your mind in one way or another. That is good for society by any measure and it’s an admirable effect for anyone to have. It just slightly underwhelmed me and maybe that’s partly my fault too (although that would mean I should lower my standards to appease someone else’s ineptitude, so no). And, hell, ‘thought experiment’ could speak for a whole host of different experiences.

So, because I know that different people buy different magazines for different reasons, and because I don’t ever want to come off as a Negative Nancy (I’m honestly not, I just think the key to a good critique is an open attitude), I’m going to briefly tell you guys what to expect from whichever brand of ‘thought experiment’ you’re particularly interested in getting out of Athnain. It goes without saying, of course, that if you’re not super interested in the concept of thought-provoking media (and it’s totally fine if you’re not–I am an absolute connoisseur of reality TV trash, so I’m not about to judge) then Athnain altogether just might not be for you.

Thought Experiments on Gender/Tradition

This is probably one of the most prevalent themes in this issue. I don’t know if they’re planning on keeping it as a staple of the magazine, but I found it interesting and I’m curious about how else they’re going to try to explore gender identity beyond the inverse roles that they very skillfully pulled off this time around. The cover girl, bonafide social media darling and fashion maven blogger Ascia, set a precedent here. Her cover picture, and really her entire photo shoot, is as polarizing as all get-out and I’d venture to say that it was meant to be that way. You’re supposed to either really love it or really hate it–in either case the end goal is to derive a very strong, palpable reaction out of you. It’s supposed to make you think, ‘can a real woman look like this?,’ ‘can a man possibly look like this as well?,’ ‘where is the line between ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ here?,’ and ‘what boundaries are being broken/adhered to?’ I personally loved this push-and-pull that Ascia and the other features like ‘Unisex’d Revolutionaries’ and ‘Boy Wonder’ created and I think that, if anything, it only allows people more avenues to ask questions about who they and others are/can be, why certain traditions exist, and how we can all diversely co-exist with one another.

Thought Experiments on the Power of the Image

This is perhaps the aspect of Athnain that I enjoyed most of all–the richness, creativity, and the communicating quality of the images. Truly stellar work on the part of the photography and design team. The fashion editorials were super strong and had a real kick to them. They spoke to the various themes and narratives (like ‘Soul Sisters’ and ‘Sizzle My Skittle’) in a way that was meaningful yet subtle. My favorite images were those that were used in the Fashion Profiles of Kuwait’s various fashionable personalities. I like how they tried to (I think) express aspects of the individuals persona in ways which words perhaps couldn’t do. The concepts seemed sort of imaginary and other worldly, but I think they were trying to translate the inner representations of these people as opposed to the outer. It’s a very new take on the use of photography in Kuwait’s magazine market and it definitely gives you an insight on how great photographs can lift meaning off the page.

Thought Experiments on Nothingness

Okay, I’m going to try to make this as short and sweet as I can. The writing is very lacking in Athnain. This is not to say that it’s bad (it’s not great)–its just that there is very, very little of it. Speaking as someone who has spent considerable time and experience in the magazine business I can tell you that the real weight behind any magazine on the face of this earth are the articles and the writing. Really, if you don’t have a solid base of written content then all your other themes, ideas, and aesthetics will just not be able to stand. It’s that simple. The publication and its contents will come off as vapid, superficial, and, most of all, unimportant. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that the people who Athnain featured and the topics they decided to discuss are not worthy of featuring and of discussion. On the contrary. I happen to personally know several of the people they’ve featured in the Fashion Profiles, the bloggers, and have already expressed my opinion on Ascia’s significance. What I am saying is that, in choosing to solely focus on image quality and shock value (which is all good and fine), Athnain may have devalued all that would have potentially had great, real value.

In short: Athnain seems to confuse visibility with significance. It’s like they don’t want to feature talented people because they know how to make things, they want to feature them because they are a magnet for the fashionable. That’s a problem, and its a problem that Kuwait’s been having since the explosion of the social media bubble. The problem where everyone wants to hop the Instagram shortcut train into fame and stardom town. Some people want it for luxury; some want it for acceptance; and some just want to wear the word ‘celebrity’ like a skin-suit all day long. That’s the point behind the ‘Waseet’ bloggers who buy thousands of followers, the secret behind all the overnight ‘designers,’ and all the other social media glamazons who have been cropping up like wildflowers as of late.

And this annoying trend is at the crux of Athnain’s lack of written content. By choosing to not talk a whole lot about the people you feature but merely include a few ‘edgy’ quotes (some of which are actually movie titles and Harry Winston quotes, FYI) and to merely tap the surface in interviews with questions about how it is to be famous, Athnain feels like just another vehicle in Kuwait’s popularity stream. A stream that traffics in artifice, and can use smoke and mirrors to create ‘star quality’ and ‘shock value,’ but, in the end, it just can’t pull genuine significance from neither its content nor it’s subjects. (Again, I’m not saying that the people and ideas that Athnain brings up are not significant, I’m saying that this is how Athnain made them seem.)

The truth is, you can make yourself famous–most of the individuals which Athnain featured are undeniably famous. But there are no shortcuts. Real magic isn’t real. The Secret isn’t real. Pantomiming importance does not make you important. You don’t get to skip all the work and all the important meat of the struggle and just matter without doing all the work that makes people matter. By not focusing on any of that ‘meat’ and that depth, Athnain paints a picture that you don’t need the substance and the work to matter, you just need to be glamorous and fabulous. In this way Athnain honestly did itself and those who it featured a great disservice by choosing to forgo the writing track as much as it did.

Because what happens is that this overwhelming and exhausting feeling of empty content leaves you with no one and nothing to root for.

All of these are reasons why I thought it was important to talk about Athnain and why I think Athnain itself could potentially be very important in the long run. I really hope the editors of Athnain take my critical remarks as well as my encouraging ones with the openness and the good nature with which I present it to them. I honestly believe that, given a few shape-ups here and there, Athnain could be a signifier for exciting change in Kuwait and can be a vehicle for real, cultural shift. I know that this is the premier issue and so mistakes are absolutely fine and they are expected. I will absolutely be buying the next issue and I’m already super excited about it.

All my love!

When Babies Don’t Happen


I have a friend who just turned 36 years old. Another friend who is 34 and another 29. My grandmother has a 40 year old niece. We all have Jennifer Aniston. Some of these women are married, some aren’t, and some are interim. All of them, however, are childless. And they probably didn’t know it would turn out this way.

Because here’s the thing: when you’re young you always just think about having children someday. But then you grow older and you realize more and more as the time goes by that this day hasn’t come yet. And the older you get the more you realize the possible likelihood of the fact that it might never come. This is probably one of the weirdest and heaviest feelings that you could ever experience. For most people going through this feeling nowadays is even weirder because today everyone is “younger” for longer. Vibrant, party-going, ladder-climbing, happy go lucky adults of 25 and 45 are the same. And they are. Absolutely.

Except if you’re a woman, the biological, baby bearing potential of your womb at 25 is vastly different than that at 45. Like every other tired female cliche, fertility is a window that will eventually close and a train that will eventually pass.

Any woman who’s ever had to enter her 30s man-less and child-less or had to endure years in a late marriage without bearing any babies will tell you that they know all about closing windows and passing trains. Whether or not you actually want a child (and its totally fine if you don’t), there will come a point where pretty much every single person on the face of the earth will be staring at you, loudly chanting the words: “BAY-BE! BAY-BE! BAY-BE!”

And regardless of where you’re actually at in your own head, that kind of impossible pressure just gets to you. In those moments, your own life plan and your personal choices disappear and, despite your education, your experience, and your confidence, you are endlessly befuddled.

Take, for example, this literal conversation I had with a friend of mine who is 32, childless, and who inspired this post: “Actually, I want a baby. Actually, I don’t want a baby. Actually, I don’t not want a baby. Actually, I want to not want a baby.” And on and on and on. My friend is an accomplished artist, happily married woman, living in a beautiful apartment, with the world’s cutest puppies, pursuing a PhD. She is the personification of all that a cool, sophisticated, kick-ass woman should be. And even she has the ‘Will I? Won’t I?’ debate playing on a loop in her head.

In the end what my friend is left with are persistent feelings of doubt, hesitation, and fear. That’s it. Doubt. Hesitation. Fear. No matter what she may actually want for herself, these feelings are pretty much there all the time. And it’s the same for so many other similarly baby-less but otherwise awesome women in the world.

You’re afraid of choosing to have children early and then being hampered down in your career or in your other worthwhile life experiences. You’re afraid of not picking the right partner and ending up with a horrible parenting situation. You’re afraid of missing out on the incomparable, lifetime connection and endlessly unique memories that only your own child can bring you.

Of course, what you may or may not realize is that, eventually, not making a decision is the decision. And if a woman does decide to not have children she often has to explain that decision to everyone around her. Which I’m sure can be mortifying.

Still, I know there is a clear difference between a woman who actively chooses to not have children and just waking up one day and realizing that its happening to you. Some women just know that they don’t ever want to have babies. And that’s fine. And some other women love, live, work, and grow only to wake up one morning and realize that they’ve crossed a certain checkpoint in their life. They get up and suddenly they’re in some new territory where everything looks exactly the same, except now you’re that woman who never had kids.

Looking back at your life and realizing this reality is a very strange and unsettling feeling. Because now you have to acknowledge what you are. A woman who is not a mother.

(Doubt. Hesitation. Fear.)

As you watch everyone around you pair up, marry up, and baby up, you start to feel more and more like a straggler at the party. Everyone’s gone home, so what the hell are you still doing here?

And, to make matters worse, in the midst of feeling like a freaky straggler you get to be bombarded with all kinds of mommy propaganda all the freaking time. From the Stalkerish Womb Updates of celebrity culture to Facebook feeds of ultrasounds, first steps, baby bumps, report cards, and the whole lot of it. The decade long tabloid story in which Jennifer Aniston is not a person but a soap opera character who, despite being a successful, fit, happy, and freaking fabulous woman, is actually very deeply depressed about the fact that she is still childless at 44 is a story that will never die down. These are all reminders that if you don’t do what’s expected of you–make beau coup babies–you must be doing something wrong.

Or worse actually. There must be something wrong with you.

(Doubt. Hesitation. Fear.)

But, you know what? Screw that.

What if you don’t have a child? What if you don’t try? What if you’re not sure? What if there are extenuating circumstances? What if you don’t have the time/money/health/right partner? How the hell do you go on anyway?

In a perfect world all these confusing and scary questions wouldn’t be such a huge, social issue. It would be like ‘hey, you do you, and I’ll do me, and everything’s going to be cool, tra-la-la-la.’ Right? Whatever. But that’s not the world. The world is crappy. Because you’re supposed to work hard, contribute, support people, make something of yourself and still, in the end, everyone looks at you funny and goes: But, wait, no kids? (It’s probably even worse when they go ‘no man and no kids?’)

Not having babies, having babies, letting life decide for you, what you want, what you need, unfortunate timing, regrets, the freaking Jennifer Aniston headlines–its a lot and it sucks. Y’know, they say that the unexamined life is not a life worth living. Well, I say that an over-analyzed life in which you obsess over every tiny detail and every past choice is a freaking suffocating nightmare wet blanket. Sometimes you just have to be.

And sometimes its important to get some perspective. Remember that even if you end up staying at this party instead of moving on to the next party, its still a freaking party. A party with plenty of love, late nights, late mornings, good times, travel, shopping, joy, independence, accomplishment, and a million other great pleasures that most mothers in this world don’t have nearly enough of. It may not be the story that all the magazines talk about and that everyone in society obsesses over but it’s there. It exists. And if other people aren’t praising you for living an awesome, childless life, then you praise yourself.

And, for what it’s worth: I totally praise you too.

All my love!

Screw You, Quinoa!


Quinoa usually divides itself into three distinct groups: people who love it, people who hate it, and people who have no idea what the hell it is.

To the people who love quinoa: get the hell out. Seriously, I am so freaking done with you. Kidding, kidding, I love you, please come back. But seriously, please stop telling me how much you love quinoa and how awesome all the proteins are. Enough already. Go fill that yapper with some quinoa instead and leave me alone.

To the people who don’t know what quinoa is: I’m not talking about rice or oatmeal or any other grain that sounds kinda like quinoa. I am talking about something so much worse. See, quinoa is a bag of pebbly, icky sand. That’s it. Its sand masquerading as food. Back in the day, if someone caught you eating virtual sand they’d call you crazy. Now they call you a “foodie” and make you pay beau coup bucks for a cup of water-blasted sand gravel. Progress! If you’ve never actually tried quinoa before THEN YOU MUST PROMISE ME THAT YOU NEVER WILL. SERIOUSLY PROMISE ME THIS. BLOOD OATH.

To the people who hate quinoa: LET’S RAP.

What’s wrong with buying some decent brown rice that doesn’t taste like tiny rocks? When quinoa lovers take me out, make me eat quinoa, and then annoy me with questions of how quinoa tastes, I try to be sensitive about it. So I say it’s ‘water-flavored.’ Usually they take that to mean ‘pure-tasting’ or ‘a little bland’ BUT NO. It tastes like water, which literally tastes like nothing. QUINOA TASTES LIKE NOTHING.

And then the texture! It’s gravel. Really. People are paying 5 KD a cup to eat gravel. They fool you into thinking its a healthier ‘rice substitute’ but that is a load of crap. Quinoa is not rice. It doesn’t even live in rice’s neighborhood. It doesn’t even share rice’s galaxy. Damn all of you swindlers who tried to pawn off quinoa to me as rice! You are horrible and I will never forgive you!

Oh, and another fun fact about freaking quinoa? It’s ruining the farming culture in Bolivia. Oh yeah. Due to all the “foodies” running around and pretending to be cool and decadent and hip by eating a handful of pebbles and overpaying for it, thousands of other people get to suffer. Because in places that export quinoa like Bolivia and Ecuador it’s considered “poor people” food, that is until idiotic rich people came along and started buying it in bulk. Now these countries are exporting so much quinoa that the farmers can barely afford it themselves and are now turning to way less nutritional supplements instead. GOD, QUINOA. How do you sleep at night?

And, to add insult to injury, quinoa has forever ruined Joaquin Phoenix for me because, as I write this, my brain has somehow exchanged “Joaquin” for “quinoa.” And now Quinoa Phoenix sounds like an even douchier name than Joaquin Phoenix and I will never be able to watch Walk The Line again without hating quinoa and hating myself.

SO SCREW YOU GODDAMN QUINOA. Not liking you is Reason 137 that I will never be cool.

Screw You, Bigots!


Look, equality is not complicated. Racial equality, gender equality, social equality are very simple issues, despite what people (who may actually mean well) have always said. Because when people don’t know how to approach sensitive subjects like race or gender they usually chime in (and chime out) with phrases like: “Oh, well, race/gender/social equality is complicated and everyone has a different opinion on it.” Except no. Its not and they don’t.

And you know why? Because racial bias, gender bias, and social bias is some seriously arbitrary and entirely made up nonsense. And imaginary, made up things are, by nature of their deep non-realness, usually not that complicated. I mean, really, they’re about as complicated as goddamn Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny.

Oh, well, that guy’s racial blood lineage is less ‘pure’ than mine so it makes me an inherently better person? Women’s brains are broom-shaped and so they need their own brand of pens and can only operate pink machinery? That dude likes other dudes (or doesn’t believe in God or likes to dress like Darth Vader) and so he deserves to have less rights to privacy, social dignity, or even a hint of human compassion?

Made up. Made up. Made up. Made up and completely messed up.

But, y’know, its not really all that surprising why these messed up things are around and refuse to go away. People benefit from bigotry–hell, I benefit from it every day–and things that benefit people in power don’t just suddenly go away because Halle Berry won an Oscar or whatever. Nope. They lurk around in words like “social background” and “natural-born” or calling every other Indian person “Raju.” Look at where there are deliberate and silent absences of certain kinds of people and there you will find hidden, powerful bigotry.

And the people who watch that bigotry from afar and choose to say nothing about it, or worse purposefully disseminate it and make it grow for their own benefit are The Bigots.

Now, I’m generally a well-intentioned person and so I try my best to give people the benefit of the doubt when they make seemingly unintentional bigoted claims like, “Racism is over! Obama’s president!” So I always ask these kinds of people one simple question: Do you believe that people are born equal? And their answer to this question is usually the deal-breaker.

Because if you claim that you’re not a bigot (or at least that you’re working hard towards not being one, which is the most any of us can really do) then you must at least believe that all people are born equal. And so, if you believe that, then you also believe that things like someone’s race/gender/personal lifestyle choices shouldn’t have anything to do with how successful/socially comfortable they are. Right? And yet you look around and what do you see? Tons of successful traditional men of one specific race who’s success vastly outweighs the people who are otherwise born different than them. And so, if you believe everyone’s born equal, then you also believe that there are external factors that are holding these different, but equal people back. Factors like bigotry. Right? So, then congratulations! You believe in bigotry and you are actively trying to make sure that you are not a bigot. Kudos to you!

Unless of course you believe that all people are NOT born equal in which case you would be a freaking bigot.

See how simple and so not complicated that whole equation was. ALL people are born equal? Not bigot. Maybe not ALL people are born equal? Bigot.

Now, if you think you may be a privileged bigot and you think maybe you wanna try to change your mind about including EVERYONE in the growth and progress of your country/your subcontinent/your world then here’s my humble two cents if you’ll have them:

It’s not easy to swallow your own privilege and to admit your complicity in bigoted actions especially if that’s just what you were born into. Really, I get it and I know how that feels because I, OwlOlive, am in many ways a member of this privileged global class. By sheer randomness I had the good fortune of being born into a white, straight body, in an economically stable family, with ample education opportunities, in a rich, powerful country in a world that implicitly favors powerful, educated, straight, white bodies over all other kinds of bodies. It’d be so easy for me to say ‘Well! That’s just the way it goes, I guess! La-di-da! Thank God for making me so privileged! What’s for dinner!’

So, yeah. I absolutely know that swallowing your privilege is hard but I can promise you that once you do it you’ll be addicted to that feeling. That feeling of opening yourself up to different perspectives, accepting your part in unknowingly helping to build a crappy social structure, and working on making the world a better place for everyone instead of just defending your territory and telling people where their ‘place’ is. It’s something I have to do as a privileged white person and something I still have to work on every single day because it’s the right thing to do. It’s just that: right. And so you have to do it. And that’s it.

Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that you’re a bad person for being born into a privileged life in a privileged body. I’m saying you’re an extremely lucky person and that you should acknowledge that random luck by trying to make life easier for the people who weren’t so lucky. The people who were born with a different skin color, or ethnicity, or ‘lineage.’ The people born as female. The people born wanting to live a different but completely non-harmful lifestyle. You should be trying to make their lives equally privileged and easy as yours not less so. And when you do nothing but stand around and watch (‘What am I supposed to do? That’s the way the world is!’) when you could at least say something, you are making it less equal.

Humans are not complicated. All everyone wants is to feel valued, respected, and to feel like we deserve to exist in the world and all that it offers. So stop pretending like these ‘issues’ are so complicated, because they’re just not.

And, to those horrible specimens of crappy, bigoted people who know and understand all of this but still choose to live their lives at the expense of other people’s safety and livelihood and equality, I have but two words for you: Screw you. Screw you for literally turning the whole freaking planet into a disgusting cesspool of pain and division and a lack of progress just so you can stay the only privileged person in the world. Screw you for holding innocent people back and degrading them just because you’re so afraid of being overpowered and made obsolete by unity and loyalty and respect and equal opportunity.

People like you are garbage monsters who just need to shut up already. So yeah. Screw you, bigots. Please go away and never come back.

Screw You, Cancer!


Cancer has been a persistent factor in my life since before I was even born. My aunt died of it, my grandma died of it, my closest friend in high school died of it, my grandfather almost died of it, and now I know three people who are en route to dieing of cancer.

Cancer is an axe that’s been hanging over my head and my sisters’ head and my mother’s head since literally forever because, as luck would have it, we all share a mutantly rare genetic possibility of dieing of breast cancer. Me and my sisters each have a 1 in 4 chance, and my mother has a 1 in 2 chance. So, basically, the odds have royally screwed us and the higher likelihood is that breast cancer is going to be claiming one of us for sure at some point.

We’ve each suffered multiple cancer scares in our lifetimes and my mother now has a chronic, deep-seated fear of mammograms, hospitals, and anything that vaguely resembles the word ‘cancer’ (answer, dancer, prancer: very scary words for my mother). Somewhere in the deep, dark corners of our mind a part of us is waiting for that axe to drop because we’ve all seen it happen so many times.

And to those of you who have thankfully never been through such a harrowing experience and so don’t know what I mean by ‘seen it happen,’ here’s the basic gist:

Seeing someone die of cancer does not, by any means, look like a movie or a TV show or even a well-intentioned PSA. Nope. Listening to the breaths of someone you love getting so slow and so heavy that inhaling and exhaling literally begins to physically hurt them is something you can never ever, ever prepare yourself for. Never. Because seeing cancer is seeing the surgery scars, the exhaustion of chemo, and the sky-high (and usually crippling) medical expenses. Seeing cancer is seeing the toll it takes on every single relationship you have and seeing someone live in fear of the fact that there’s a good chance they are going to die very soon.

Living in the ‘Cancer Death Bubble’ is like living in the slowest, most horrible purgatory you could ever possibly imagine and wanting nothing more on this planet but to leave that purgatory. Except for one thing: to never ever leave that purgatory. Because once you leave that purgatory, it’s over. The person is over. Your grandparents and aunts and uncles and mother and father and sister and best friend are all over. And all you have to do now is go home without them.

So, I guess no one ever told cancer that my mother would suffer with self-guilt issues for the rest of her life because her sister and mother died suddenly and prematurely and all while she was about to give birth. I guess no one told cancer that I would’ve really liked to have gotten to know my grandmother and to get some great stories and life lessons and endless love out of her. That my friend was only 17 and had an entire lifetime left to live. That my aunt would never get to know her only son who she had to leave mother-less at one years old. Couldn’t someone have told cancer about any of these things? Cancer, you’re fired.

But, of course, the reality is that none of these things matter at all. Which is why me and my sisters and my mother have to deal with the constant and very real possibility that one of us might have breast cancer at this very minute. And to that I say: screw you, cancer!

Screw you for killing my grandparents and other people’s parents and other people’s children and for probably killing me one day. Screw you for not giving a flying dingbat about whether or not someone is nice or mean or good or evil or boring or ugly or pretty or if someone’s daughter or son are going to suffer for their whole entire life because of you. Screw you for just taking people and time and money away. Screw you for making women like Angelina Jolie resort to these measures just to save her children and herself from you. Screw you for being nothing more than a weird organ failure and mutant cell growth instead of something real that I can be mad at. Screw you for surrounding me and my family and so many other people in the world with this feeling of heavy, sad, deep absence that never really goes away.

So, yeah. Screw you, cancer. And screw you most of all because saying ‘screw you’ doesn’t even help.