Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Affliction

It seemed to happen almost overnight. Everyone went to bed the evening of July 5th. in their respective corners of the world, and the reports began rolling in from hospitals in Greenwich, London the next day starting at six a.m. in the morning. No one was awake. No one saw it coming. It crept in during the wee hours of the morning when the sky is the darkest, when the night creatures have retreated to hiding spaces and the birds are still in the deepest of slumbers.

The first reports from London were that a high number of people had contacted hospitals regarding a rash, varying in severity. The mildest cases were red and itchy and seemed to resemble simple Contact Dermatitis. The worst cases were painful, red, inflamed patches of fluid-filled blisters.

It later came out that cab drivers, 24-Hour convenience store clerks and hospital staff report were unable to account for their time between the hours of two and four in the morning. The people who were supposed to be awake in those early, silent hours assumed they must have been unusually tired and fallen asleep. Upon waking they had proceeded with their shifts as if nothing had happened, saying nothing out of embarrassment or fear that they would be reprimanded.  All of them wondering what could have happened to explain the rash they woke up with.

Once the news spread that the rash was afflicting people not only in different time zones, but different countries there was a mass panic. Major news sources reported that the President been taken to an undisclosed location. Later, leaks from the White House surfaced that the President was covered in painful, seeping blisters. For the first time in his Presidency, Donald Trump's Twitter remained silent other than a simple statement that he would find the parties responsible for the heinous acts committed against the United States.

People wore hospital masks everywhere, as if those would protect them. Hospitals were overrun. Grocery stores were ransacked. The news alternated between reports on the rash and clips of security cameras showing the violence that had taken place in store aisles across the country. Like a Black Friday Sale from hell, people were assaulting and killing each other in Walmarts over bottled water and canned goods. The United States prepared for war. People swarmed to gun stores, purchasing guns and ammunition. After the guns stores, people flocked to the home improvement stores, raiding the camping supplies, anything that could be used as a weapon, and purchasing everything they possibly could to board up and secure their homes. Pharmacies sold out of First Aid supplies, antihistamines and Calamine lotion as everyone attempted to sooth the itching, burning rash.

Then the World waited. After a few days, it was discovered that no country had been spared. Every country, every major world power, including those most likely to have released a Biological Weapon, was afflicted by the mysterious rash.

Medical professionals looked under microscopes and ran tests, but were unable to find the cause. No one could determine the cause of the rash or why it was severe in some and mild in others. People bought lotions and creams to try and soothe the rash when steroid creams and antihistamines failed; Nothing changed the rash or made it better or worse. No one could determine how it was transmitted or even if it was transferable. In most people, the rash appeared and stayed and the people whose rash got better or worse had no idea what they did that would have made things better or caused a flare-up.

After weeks of being holed up in their homes, cowering in fear, people began to resume their normal activities and life seemed to begin to start rebuilding itself. Slowly at first, people continued to go to work, and children returned to school. It wasn't unusual to see people covered in the rash doing the grocery shopping, buying gas, taking the kids to daycare.

The Centers for Disease Control continued to study and look for the cause. In the fear and confusion, when the medical community couldn't find a cause or a treatment, people began blaming witchcraft. Desperate for answers, the churches were flooded with people who believed the rash was a plague from God. Most people found that while incidences of the rash were less in the church populations, the people who afflicted were some of the most severe cases. Voodoo practitioners were overrun with requests to undo curses. Snake oil salesmen went door to door with bottles of concoctions.

Small children were unaffected. While some children displayed small, light rashes it was more prevalent in older children. Strangely enough, however, the few children that were afflicted were the ones the neighbors weren't fond of because they were the ones most likely to break windows, damage property and torture the stray cats from the neighborhood.

Hijab sales soared. Women who once taunted and abused their Muslim neighbors now sought them out for advice on how to wear Hijab and headscarves as an attractive means to cover their heads after the rash caused them to lose their hair. The most vain women, when forced to leave their homes, wore burqas. The worst of the afflicted, people who refused to leave their homes, were tended to by those who were less affected or unaffected by the illness. Volunteers would make house visits to the homes of the individuals who were identified as suffering the most, assisting them with baths and helping them around the home. Somehow, the volunteers managed to lovingly tend to people who were angry and scared and unwilling to leave their homes because of the rash.

After months of being unable to determine the source of the rash, people began to attempt to move on with their lives. People began to embrace the good and the beautiful things in life and it was easier than ever before. Crime became non-existent. Somehow, the people who had suffered the most severe rashes were often the most unpleasant people. The neighborhood busy body that prided herself on her figure and well-tended garden who handed out squares of Ex-Lax to children on Halloween stopped leaving her house except at night when she would weed her flowerbeds by lantern light in a burqa. Online business and food delivery thrived because people who were rude to waitstaff and Customer Service stopped leaving their homes for fear of being seen; They still didn't tip, but it was an improvement over the verbal abuse and tears they'd leave in their wake before The Rash.

The world was being rebuilt by people without the rash. They were building better schools. They were feeding people. They were caring for the most severely impacted by the rash. And somehow, the world seemed like it was going to somehow be a nicer place in the end.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Comforted By Food



Everyone has their own brand of comfort food whether it's a recipe their Grandma used to make or something that brings back memories or a time when things weren't stressful or crazy.

I love the idea of comfort food.  That something like chicken soup or mashed potatoes can be soothing to your soul and make things right again... I love that.

The problem is.... I struggle with a Binge Eating Disorder.

I want to say that I'm comforted by all food, but that really isn't the case.  It's more like I'm comforted by a lot of food and it doesn't really even matter if it's good.

Stressed about money?  Fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are cheap and easy - have three. Large amounts of spaghetti with butter with just a splash of sauce so the jar lasts a week work great!

Bad day at work?  Eat something crunchy so I can "chew away" those feelings of wanting to chew someone out.   I highly recommend an entire Family Size bag of potato chips.

Hungover?  Eat at least two plates of less-than mediocre, greasy-ass Chinese food.

Fight with boyfriend?  Lay in bed watching reality t.v. or some other thing that he would hate eating something he doesn't like or can't eat.

Upset with my family over a holiday?  Eat as much of your favorite holiday food through tears.  I got into a fight with my sister once on my birthday.... I didn't even get a slice of my own birthday cake.  I cried the whole way home, but still managed to stop and buy myself a cheesecake.  I ate half of it in bed that night.

In a relationship that doesn't leave you feeling emotionally or sexually fulfilled?  That's easy... ice cream or chocolate.  Hell, if it's really been awhile or if you didn't get your "cookies" the last time you had sex, have chocolate AND ice cream because your lack of an orgasm earned it.  Maybe even throw cookies in there too because metaphors.

I've used food to comfort myself through jobs I hated, stressful life changes, bad days, even relationships I was unhappy in.  The truth is... I'm not getting any comfort from it.  What I'm doing is shoving down the things I want to say with food.  It's hard for your feelings to come out of your mouth and confront the people who hurt you when they have to get past $18 worth of Taco Bell softshells, refried beans and "meat product".

It isn't that I'm not trying to change my relationship with food.  I am.  Every day.

Sometimes though, I get tired.

Having a problem with food isn't like having a problem with a drug like crack.

If you have a problem with crack, you can quit.  You can go to rehab.  You can avoid places where crack is sold.  You can avoid other people who have problems with crack.  If you decide you want to stop having a crack problem, you can quit crack cold turkey.  You don't have to see it at every store, every social function, and everyone you know doesn't do crack three times a day.  You can quit crack, never look at it again, and live better for it.

But food?

You have to eat to live. You have to change your mindset from "live to eat" to "eat to live" every time you walk into a store.  Three times a day you have to look your drug of choice in the face and choose to have "just enough".  You can't quit cold turkey and be better for it.  You have to try and convince people who want to go out and socialize around food that you can do other things.  You have to be the odd man out at social functions when everyone is raving about the cookies.  You have to tell your family members who show their love for you through food that you can't eat the cookies they made just for you.

To me, comfort food is like Santa, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny.  Maybe that isn't right, maybe I should say comfort food to me is like my Moby Dick.  Except in this story I'm a big white whale chasing a comfort food that I can have just one serving of and feel loved and nostalgic and comforted.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday Feats & Fails


Let's get to the Feats & the Fails!  I've got a shit ton this week!


FAILS:

- I've done literally nothing to clean up after myself this week.  I'm a gross, gross human being.

- You know what someone goes away and you don't hear from them for awhile, and instead of absence making the heart grow fonder you mostly feel relieved?  That happened. And now I have to figure out what I'm going to do about it.

- I spent too much money on a shampoo that is supposed to make my fantasy hair brighter and last longer.  I'm not entirely sure it's working. I think I have to bleach again.  I hate bleaching.

- I was supposed to do better with my eating this week.  I haven't.



RIPT Apparel


FEATS:

+ THE BIRDS HAVE LEFT THE NEST IN MY DRYER.  I am able to do laundry again if I so choose,.

+  Great week at work this week.  Sales are UP.

+ I got to spend some time with my nephew and nieces this week, which always makes me a happier person.

+  Friday is FINALLY here. 




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Overthinking


I overthink things.

When I was younger, my mom once told me that my problem with doing things is that I'm a perfectionist and if I can't do it perfectly, I don't do it at all. 

She's right.   

She also says that when I decide I want to do something, I always want to do it RIGHT NOW. 

An impulsive overthinker.  

I'm not even entirely sure how that works.  

I've been doing things impulsively lately. 

I read something online the other day that said the first thing we think is what we're conditioned to think.  The second is what defines us. 

It's funny, but what I've learned lately is that by ignoring my first thought and impulsively doing the second, I'm much happier.   In the past few weeks, I've made the decision to get rid of quite a few things in my life that have been making me unhappy. 

Instead of doing the first thing, the thing I've been doing my entire life, I've chosen to do the second and it's working out pretty well.  I've been getting rid of things that I don't need instead of saving it.  I've been getting rid of people who say or do things I don't want to be a part of, that hurt my feelings or insult me, or that I just don't want to be associated with...instead of hiding the offensive posts, ignoring it, being the one to make peace or just smoothing things over. 

Maybe impulsively throwing things and slamming doors on people isn't the best way to go about things, but it works right now. 

An InLinkz Link-up

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Plus One

 I have a problem with ex sex.  

There's no real polite way to say it.  You just have to kind of do it quick, like ripping off a bandaid and accept the personal shame you feel after it. 

Just to clarify though... it isn't every ex.  It isn't like you see in the movies; We don't break up, run into each other a few months later, decide to have coffee and things end with a "bang".  It isn't a situation where one drunk dials the other.  It isn't a situation where one ex keeps calling the still-emotionally-invested-ex to do the Humpty Dance. 

It's one ex.  

I don't know if that makes it better or worse.  He was my first love.  He broke my heart.  He isn't someone I want to be in a relationship with and hasn't been since I was nineteen. He's like a relationship shark and can sense even a drop of break-up in the air. Any time I've even considered ending my current relationship, he contacts me out of the blue as if he is being summoned.  Obviously, I've misunderstood that whole "to get over someone, you have to get under someone new" thing. 

 My significant other and I were having a discussion about people who seem to can't be alone the other day.  People who can't be single for even a few months.  People who date awful people and put up with terrible things for years.  People who complain about how miserable they are in their relationship, but put on a heavy layer of "Everything is Perfect!" posts on Facebook complete with photos of everything they do, eat, or buy with the person they're miserable with.  People who literally can't live alone because they can't support themselves.  People who pretend they live alone, but have people staying with them or stay with someone else all the time. 

Do I sound judgemental?  I don't mean to.  I struggle to understand it though.  There have been periods of time where I've been single for years.  I've never stayed in a bad relationship because I didn't think I couldn't or wouldn't find someone else. I've never relied on another person to pay even their half of the bills, much less mine. The only person in the world I've ever been fully dependent on is my mom.  Towards the end of my relationship with my narcissistic abuser, I realized that I would rather be alone and lonely than with someone who made me miserable and lonely. 

The discussion, however, made me think of my ex: my once first love, now 30-something fuck-boy.  It's been years since we were "together", but he was the reason someone once accused me of not being able to be alone.  I was a mess after my relationship with my narcissistic abusive ex ended.  I felt safer in my tiny, one-bedroom apartment with the deadbolt locked than I did out in public.  After months and months of sitting in my house alone every night, I started going out again.  Eventually, I took comfort in the familiarity of someone I'd spent years of my life with, someone I once thought I was going to marry.  

It was during this time that one of the few friends who had survived my relationship with a narcissistic abuser with me told me that she didn't think I could be alone.  We'd known each other since we were fifteen, but we hadn't ever been close.  We'd gotten closer during my relationship with my ex, but she had nothing to base her statement on and she was wrong. 

The truth is... I don't have a problem being alone.  Just the opposite, in fact.   

I'm good at being alone.  Single.  One.  It's being a Plus One that I struggle with. 

I have no idea how to be in a relationship.  I don't know how things are supposed to progress, change and grow.  I'm clueless.  The longest relationship I was ever in was with a narcissistic abuser.  I guess you could say I know how to let someone treat me like dirt for an extended period of time, but that isn't a relationship.  



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Horoscopes by Hot Ash - June 2017


Have you ever noticed that Horoscopes are always overwhelmingly and unbelievably positive? It's hard to take something seriously when the people interpreting the cosmos keeping putting out these Horoscopes that say everything is rosy.  Life is bittersweet and your horoscope should be too.  

There's just one problem: I'm a writer, not an astrologist. So, I give you "Horoscopes by Hot Ash".  My translation of real horoscopes for people who live in the real world.  And if I'm wrong, well... just keep in mind that these horoscopes are for Entertainment purposes only and you should take advice from some random woman on the Internet with a grain of salt (with tequila and a lime too, if you have it).

April Showers bring May Flowers, but with June comes June Bugs.  Gross.  The truth is, June is going to be a little bit buggy too.  Emotions and energies are going to be flying around and irritating everyone this month - I wish I was kidding.  Here's your slightly snarky Horoscope for June. 


ARIES March 21–April 19
You're going to be needy and impulsive this month. That means if you're single or attached with residual feelings for your ex, consider losing their number. This is also not the time to get a pet. Self-care is going to be your best friend this month because demanding the love and attention you want from others never works out the way you hope. Don't rely on other people for your happiness or you'll never be satisfied.  Practice self-love literally by treating yourself like the Prince/Princess you are and consider having a menage a moi.



TAURUS April 20–May 20
Right now you need to be like your friends' underwear: always near them. Being around is important not only for you but for the health of your friendships so go out for dinner, get drinks or reinforce/create your ass groove on their couch.  Practice your active listening skills instead of "listening" to your friends while playing Candy Crush. And remember that you don't have to agree with your friends to support them. Speaking of underwear, buy some new undies this month.



GEMINI May 21–June 21
You need to handle your shit and not neglect your relationships, personal hygiene or responsibilities because you want to Netflix binge and indulge in your enjoyable but otherwise useless hobbies (I'm only saying they're useless because they don't pay the bills).  I know it's going to be hard because Orange is the New Black starts June 9th, but get your shit together and don't procrastinate or things are going to fall apart between the 12th and the 20th.  If you don't, you'll be busting your ass to fix shit at the end of the month.



CANCER June 22–July 22
Life changes should just come with wine and snacks, but they don't so you should pick some up to have on hand.  June is going to be a time of introspection and to make the most of it you're going to need to quit bullshitting yourself because the only time you're wasting is your own. Be honest and figure out what is and isn't working for you in your life. There is going to be some drama, but don't make things worse by taking your frustration out on everyone. It's time to put your big girl panties on and deal with the energy vampires in your life this month.



LEO July 23–August 22 
Standing up for yourself when someone doesn't do right by you is easy, it's another thing to learn to enforce personal boundaries with the people you care about. You don't need to play games or beat around the bush, just be honest and direct about what you need. Being a good person doesn't mean you have to be a doormat or put up with other people's crap all the time. Pay attention to when people respond like assholes to the boundaries you set - they're telling you something.  Keep working on being the best version of yourself.



VIRGO August 23–September 22
It's a fine line between intuition and paranoia and in the days leading up to this month's full moon you're going to have quite a bit of both. Ick. The trick to surviving the whirlwind is to focus on staying calm enough to look at things rationally (so maybe lay off the caffeine a little).  You should reach out to the people you love most for perspective. Family, whether its the kind you're born to or the kind you choose, will be crucial in helping you pull your head out of your ass if you get lost in your own thoughts.



LIBRA September 23–October 22
Truth can be subjective.  Remember that this month or you're going drive yourself bat-shit crazy trying to get everyone to see it your way. You have a right to your own experiences and feelings, but you aren't going to get anywhere by trying to force people into agreeing with you for validation. It's also a huge waste of your time.  Be willing to compromise with your friends.  Anxiety is going to be a bitch this month, so try to challenge yourself to do at least one thing outside of your comfort zone. 



SCORPIO October 23–November 21
The other signs are dealing with some intense stuff right now, but what is coming up for you isn't anything you haven't dealt with before. Keep letting go of people and things that don't contribute to your best life.  What other people are or aren't doing is none of your business; Focus on your own shit because you need to stay down like four flat tires and keep handling your life the way you have been. Own your feelings. You're going to have to make some decisions this month you aren't going to like, but you're smart and strong enough to make the right choices even if they aren't ideal.



SAGITTARIUS November 22–December 21
Make yourself available because you're going to meet some new people this month that are going to be important in the future. New relationships and new people can be intimidating, but you can't win if you don't play.  I'm not saying you should give people from Craigslist your home address, but if you meet someone new and awesome you should give them a chance to make an impression.  Singles might find themselves catching the feels, don't be afraid to open your heart up.  If you're a part of a couple, you might meet new people to have game night with- a real game night, not the kind where everyone throws their keys in a fishbowl.



CAPRICORN December 22–January 19 
Your sign isn't normally selfish, but you need to be a little selfish this month. Taking care of yourself, your issues and your well-being needs to come first right now and it's really important that you don't forget to do things for yourself the way you do them for other people.  If you don't take time to take care of yourself and work on your personal issues, it's going to be like putting makeup on a zit: the problem will still be waiting for you when you look in the mirror after you take a shower.



AQUARIUS January 20–February 18
"The things we dislike most in others are the characteristics we like leave in ourselves"; People are going to drive you crazy this month because what they do and how they do it is going to be very grating, you should try to have patience and learn about yourself from your irritation.  It's going to be a real shitty time to go on a first date, so maybe turn off your online dating profile but be open to the idea of meeting someone randomly. Perfect is boring, look for imperfections and try to find the beauty in them... if you struggle with this, try making homemade cupcakes. 



PISCES February 19–March 20
You know when you go to a buffet and you see someone balancing a huge plate of food and they keep pouring and piling shit on top of it instead of grabbing another plate or making a second trip?  That's you right now.  Everything might feel like it's really important, but you need to find a way to prioritize.  Don't pull away from the people you love.,  If you need help right now... tell people what you need, accept what people offer you, be grateful and receptive for the things that the people who care about you want to give you.






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