2018: Part 1

Within the first moments of 2018 I entered my apartment in Omaha to find that I had left all of my candles burning. My house was filled with the Volcano scent from Anthropologie. The paper-thin walls of my apartment complex were moments from being incinerated. At least, this is what I told myself. A forever martyr. The first days of 2018 I was a month out of my grad school fiasco of 2017, still taking calls from Pepperdine, trying to quell whatever issues I had left there. The first days of 2018, I, the control freaks of control freaks, truly let go. I don’t know what happened. It’s like I learned how to “chill out”. 2018 was indeed my chillest year.
I started this year with a full-time job, that came with full-time job things, that I never bothered to figure out because I was twenty-three, and still on my parents insurance that I continue to milk for all that it’s worth. I started this year in Omaha, and I would have been happy to end it there. I love Omaha, I always will, it’s been my great love. I just wasn’t supposed to be there. When I sent our my applications, and feelers for my future, I gave it up to the universe. The Pepperdine fiasco was because of my need to control, and constant discontent with my current situations. I just thought, if I’m supposed to move back to New York, and go to grad school for writing, then it’ll happen. I can do my part, but there’s nothing I can do to force anything. I could not have predicted where this year took me. In a million years I could not have looked at my life now, and had even a guess as to what would be happening. Serendipity and luck have been my friends this year, and for that I am forever grateful.
I’ve made strides this year trying to figure out how to relax. I cut back on my caffeine consumption, per the recommendation of my therapist, because I would almost always show up cup in hand, hands shaking. Now I’m down to just a few cold brews a day! Progress! I figured out how to live in my body and with my mind this year. I started treating myself better. I’m nicer, I’m prettier, I invested in Glossier, who really is to thank for all of this. I cut all of my hair off. Body autonomy baby!!
I’m not into religion, or telling people to do *mystical* things to make themselves feel better, and I’m not about to do that, so I don’t know why I started this sentence that way, BUT I’M KEEPING IT BABY!! In 2017, something felt off, within myself. I was out of balance, volatile, unhappy. I truly truly for the first time in years am so happy. I don’t know. I’m lucky, I’m so stupid lucky it’s not even funny. I’m just saying, if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Change it if you can. I’m so lucky I could.
2018 could not have happened without my friends, family, URBN (thanks for employing me for 2 years!), my therapist, Glossier, and Whole Foods Breakfast Bar (this was the greatest discovery of 2018). 2018 I have loved you, but I’m hungry for 2019 baby!!!

For your entertainment, here are my top five memories from the last year!

1. I got to meet and work with my comedy idol, but right before that happened, I ran into him and was trying to pass by him very delicately and accidentally body checked him into a bunch of brooms, and then I also fell into said brooms. He wouldn’t look me in the eye! ❤

2. Getting one last summer to teach tennis to little turds, and wipe bird poopy off of the courts, but my coaches are my parents and I love every second I get to spend with them.

3. Matt Timmons! Coming to New York! Eating Banana Pudding in Rock Center! The LOVE of my LIFE (Banana pudding)!!!

4. Going to Fort Tyron with another LOML (TBQH all of my friends are the LOMLs Best Friend isn't a title is a tier!), Greg Smith, and him pointing at the statues and saying wow "Look at those people" and I said "wow they're such good actors", and then we got up close to them and they were STATUES.

5. When Emma Bonebrake ordered Lou Malnati's when all of the true LOML and I were in Chicago together, because what would this year be if everything I did wasn't motivated by food!!!

2018, thank you, I love you, on to the next.

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Clogged the Drain

Nebraska is victim to Brain Drain. We, I, leave, get a kick ass education at a top tier school, and stay in whatever thriving metropolis is nearest. I have always been very conscious of this. I had the opportunity, the privilege, to go and do whatever. I’m at Sarah Lawrence (how I slipped through those cracks we will NEVER know), the liberal arts school of liberal arts schools. I am lucky. I also know that my program is two years, where I have the privilege to decide where I go after that, with *hopefully* a job on the horizon. If there isn’t a job on the horizon I have very nice parents who will let me sleep on an air mattress in their guest room, in Arizona.
Whether I was to return to my parents basement or a cute apartment by myself, I always saw myself coming home. Whether it was in May 2020 after commencement, or in 2036 when I finally convinced my Upper West Side husband to settle down in Omaha, because we can’t afford the Sacred Heart school in New York, and I will be damned before I send my girls somewhere else. They would go to the same schools I went to, and we would go to Creighton games, and go on walks around Regency and try not to step on the goose poop, and my parents would live just a few miles away, and we could see them all the time. The jarring decision of my parents emigration has taken this final fantasy away. My family will be raised elsewhere.
The grandeur of this loss I’m feeling, is not appropriate. I’m profoundly aware of this. Those of us who have had the pleasure of being raised in Omaha know that this isn’t a place, it is an entity. To both my glee and detriment, Omaha is encapsulating. Things never change here. Thank god that they don’t.
There are more practical questions I’m asking myself, do I change my license, how long do I keep my 402 area-code, if I do change my phone number how will my long lost high school crushes reach out to me? How do I make a dentist appointment when my mom has made them for me my entire life at the same place .5 miles from my house? Can I take Jacobo’s on the plane? Could I potentially make a horcrux and store it just outside of Duchesne? How do I scatter little pieces of my heart all over this city so I can’t forget it?
What I’ll miss most of all is a summer night, driving down Dodge, something horrible like Fleet Foxes is playing, and I’ve just dropped off my friends at their houses, because for some reason I always drive. The summer air goes through my hair, that’s definitely a little bit sweaty, from laughing so hard all night. I pull in my driveway, and sit in my car for just a moment longer. My hear it fullest in this place, with these people. It’s unique and beautiful.
These next 48 hours that I have to call Omaha home I hope to say thank you to all the little places that have made me. It makes me nauseous to think about. I have never loved a place so wholly. I love New York, but I know it’s trash, I saw human poop the other day. New York will never be Omaha. I’m so sorry I left in the first place. I’ve been stuck in this drain for too long, and it’s time for me to go home.

Body, Mind, and SoulCycle

This is likely already a title to some article in Men’s Health or something warning men that they may become vulnerable if they start taking care of their bodies and mind with something other than creatine. Too bad! Plausible deniability!
My body/flesh-suit has been my worst enemy for twenty-four years. I want to one day know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and be excited about what is standing there, who is standing there. The inadequacy of my body is entirely mental, but proving a greater hill to climb than any one that it physically has.
I played competitive tennis for ten years, I ran a half marathon, I’ve been to SoulCycle. I shop at H&M and Urban Outfitters and Madewell. I can buy jeans without trying them on first. What a privilege. I can sneak through small spaces, and I truly eat whatever I want. I do not have a heavy step. I am not in any health danger, and my 12/14 frame has not prohibited me from living my life in anyway. I hate this body anyway.
My gregariousness and designer clothes (no not my clothes from H&M you idiots I’m a Ted Baker SLUT), have been a perfectly crafted mask, or should I say character for the person who they hide. I am certain in that I have spent more time (and money) making sure that my clothes match the same facade and narrative that I’ve been striving to form. No matter how much self-care and self-love have been trending lately, they seem to be mantras that I cannot keep. I was never taught these racial ideals.
To be frank for a moment, I know I am objectively pleasant to look at. There are times when I come across good lighting and put some thirst material on my Instagram story for all of my unrequited lovers. But for those fleeting moments of love for this body, I have lived in a million more full of hate. Every room I walk into I assume that no one wants to speak to me, not because of my horrifying takes of pop culture, but because of my body. I allow my body to speak for me. Every person I have liked, whether or not they liked me back, I haven’t allowed myself past a certain threshold, because god forbid they find out that the girl who literally lives off of red meat and frozen yogurt doesn’t have a flat stomach. God forbid, someone I like think I’ve beautiful despite the dent in my butt from when I broke my pelvis freshman year (true and now everyone knows). The thing is though, even if I were Hellen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships, I’d still be counting my calories and running the Central Park loop five times a week. I don’t know what it will take for me to believe that this vessel is of any worth.
I mean, is anyone happy in their body? Isn’t that why the fitness world is a billion dollar industry? Don’t we all hate ourselves in some capacity? Granted, I love exercising, and I am a true blue competitor, I almost barfed in my spin class today trying to go faster than the teacher. I love to challenge my body. I love Chinese food, and beer, and sitting. Oh my god, I love sitting. Sitting is only bested by laying. I live to lay. My weight has been fluctuating within the same thirty pounds since I was a sophomore in college, that’s probably not healthy, but it’s where I’m at. I wouldn’t care if I weighed 1000 pounds if that meant I loved myself.
Maybe I wrote this as a proclamation of a goal to love myself more, or to work harder in the gym. Mostly, this is a proclamation of fear. Admitting my insecurities is admission of fault. I’d like to think that if I don’t mention to anyone what I look like, or even how I feel about my look, then no one will notice, and that is comforting in some way, isolating, but fine. I don’t know how my relationship with my flesh suit will end, but it sure as hell is going to last a long ass time so we better figure it out.

Omaha

Omaha is melancholy. Omaha Delaney continues to be the same. My coming home is to revert back, to crave the moments when we were seventeen and dumb and didn’t have a care in the world. It is repeated adolescence. Omaha is easy. The homecoming process we have a few times a year brings back the feeling of, I could live here, only to return to the place that holds all of the reasons of why I left. Who are we if it weren’t for this place? Omaha is luck. It’s the sheer will of the universe that I had the opportunity to be born, live and grow there. Make life long friends there. Fall in love there. Omaha carries the seasons of life. It’s like that scene in Lady Bird when she calls her mom from New York, asking her if she remembers her first drive through Sacramento. Sacramento is merely a placeholder for that feeling of being grown up in the place that raised you, but what we come to find out as we grow up is that everything continues to remain the same.

Moving back to Omaha after not living there for six years gave me the opportunity, albeit short, to have a sense of what could have been in the unrequited love affair with my little city. I’m not sure that’s any different then my visits though. When I moved back in November I adjusted my mindset to, this is my life now, and I am going to have a wonderful life here, whether it’s for 3 months or 30 years. There wasn’t an adjustment when I realized I was leaving. We are never visitors in our own city. We are always longing for something that we need Omaha to be.

Omaha continues to remain the same, thank god. But so does New York, or LA, or Milan. Any place that you have given your heart to (I have not given my heart to Milan YET, and I CERTAINLY did not give my heart to LA), will no longer be a place, but a feeling. Omaha will still be the feeling of driving up Leavenworth at 2am, windows down, trying not to look into the cemetery, because of your distinctly Catholic upbringing. There isn’t a single person out. You arrive to your sleepy house, on a sleepy drive, to your sleeping family. Your heart can rest because everything you love is resting and well and good. You wake up the next morning, way earlier than you should, but your mom said she would take you to Target, like you do every Saturday, and even though it’s every Saturday it’s still special, because she’s your mom and she loves you and she loves Omaha. You know that Omaha will let you rest when you need it.

People don’t get Omaha, and that’s fine, they don’t need to. We get Omaha. We get that we are the luckiest people in the world to have had that weird little city as our nest. Honestly, it sucks to have loved a place this much because it makes leaving other places very easy, even when you know it’s not the right choice. Omaha is a little miracle, because it produced everything that I adore. I am so lucky. See you next time my love.

Denouemont

Five months ago I would have wrapped my own story. Like the beautiful, talented, and gentle, Timothée Chalemet, I would be crying into the fire listening to Sufjan Stephens. The credits would role over my face, like the millions of people who kept walking and living while I sat in my parents basement unclean and unkempt.

I know that my story, and level of peril, it not significant in terms of the universe. The weight that crushed me came from the injustice of others, helicopter parents, and an over-treated anxiety disorder. Flint still doesn’t have water, Syria is genocide, and TRUMP IS OUR PRESIDENT. The world was too much with me, it felt like at that time, and I needed to get out.

I feel as though what I have been given over the past five months has been an abundance of love and support. I always say in therapy that I feel so alone, and my therapists reminds me to look around me. I don’t know how it happened or what I did, but I am so lucky to be surrounded by this kind of support. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Whatever I am given next is a bonus. My denouement is what some people would consider a beginning, but that would discount everything that has happened so far. So many components of my story seem so long ago, but they were there, they happened. I have to start again. I am so lucky to start again.

My future would not be possible without the outpouring of support I have gotten over the past five months. I want to thank my parents, URBN Inc for gainfully employing me across 3 states and the entire country. My friends, all of my friends. My high school friends who keep me grounded, and love me with a love that honestly I’ve never felt before. I am so lucky. My college friends, who despite growing our friendship during the other hardest time of my life, have shown me unconditional support and love, and have listened to all of my crazy ideas about the future. I love you all so much. Thank you to my therapist, who my mom frantically called on our way across Wyoming, and got me in right away. I would, literally, not be standing here without you. Thank you to my high school theology teacher who I ran into at Noli’s pizza the day I got home from California, and without knowing the story, letting me know it’ll be ok. Mostly I am thankful for time, and being 23, and having the privilege and ability to start over and try again.

Thank you.

On Love

I’ve been pillaging book stores looking for a book that will move me. I’m lucky, I found one, it was Call Me By Your Name. But now that’s done, and I have to move on to find the next book that will affect me in that way. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for the right book, and I’ll go on hiatuses of reading for months and months if I’m not passionate about the book in my hand. Until I read Call Me By Your Name, it had been a long time since I had read a book like that.

Reading, and books, and literature have been my lifetime loves. I would crawl into any secluded, quiet space, and tear through books at record speed. The wanderlust of books had voided the feelings of living for so long. Books had made me smart and witty, and prepared my brain for any challenge. My heart, in a way, had been lied to. I read the Symposium through idyllic eyes, not realizing that the book was about grown philosophers trying to decipher what love was. If Plato can’t figure it out, how could I? The promise that in whatever world I was in before this I shared a body with the one I was meant to be with was a beautiful notion, and one I could more easily grasp than likening myself to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

I’ve turned away from writing about love, because there’s nothing more cliché than being a young woman looking for love in all of the wrong places. My writing has been hardened because of my inability to love myself. So often I’ve told myself that I am unworthy of another because of how I feel in my own body. It’s not right. I doubt that there are many of us who can love themselves as unconditionally as they love another. Comedy has been a tool to put my insecurities on display and capitalize on them. I have to stop it. We need to stop it. We are strong, we are beautiful, and we say thank you to (warranted) compliments.

At the dawn of my adulthood I must push myself to be softer, not for men, but for me. I need to recognize that love is a need, not a want, and I must deeply pursue it. My strength is derived from searching for love, not rejecting it. The singletons in their early twenties are flippant in negating their wants, their needs. We see our friends get engaged everyday, and it’s ok to want that for ourselves someday. Not right now, for most of us, but someday.

Young women like myself will continue to rifle through Barnes and Nobles before we find the story that fits us. Some of us will be writing our own love stories. I hope to author one that’s realistic, and reminiscent of all the melancholia that we experience in our lives. I do believe that there is some strange and deeply troubled man out there for me, for all of us.

I’m Not Famous, and Neither Are My Assaulters

I feel like Aria Stark as I list the names of every man who has crossed me every morning, and every morning a new name is added to the list. Up until the last few months I have thought myself lucky to be in the company of men like Al Franken and Aziz Ansari, and very sincerely looked up to them. I proclaimed in a Uber less than six months ago I believed Aziz to be the man I would one day marry. The next time I heard the words Aziz and Uber together is when I was googling “Aziz Ansari and sexual assault”, into my search bar this morning. This girl, who is the same age as me, came forward with her story, likely in the wake of him winning his Golden Globe and donning a “Times Up” pin. I am so grateful that she did

I, like many of my constituents in Womynland, were brought up to be modest and kind, and not to speak too loudly about our sexual encounters, but I am mad. I’m mad that a million different things, but mostly I’m mad at myself for believing that I should be treated as less than for so many years. “Grace”‘s story is one that I have lived, that so many of us have lived, the only difference is that I wasn’t assaulted by Aziz Ansari. It was done by friends, strangers, acquaintances. The repercussions met in cafés and lunch tables, begging myself to laugh at the previous night’s encounter, just like my friends were. I would repeat mantras to myself that what was happening was ok. I would let it happen again. I can’t write in to The Atlantic and put X Y and Z from years ago on blast. No one would pick up this story.

Not being in the public eye makes it scary to admit that we have been victims of the oppression perpetuated by a male dominated society. It becomes easier to sit with our silences than run the risk of ruining the friendships that we hold so dearly. By admitting that I have been sexually assaulted in the same way as “Grace” I am not gaining any press or a date to the Golden Globes, I am merely defining myself to society as broken. I am running the risk of friends and family seeing me differently. I am admitting to myself that my life has become more difficult because men do not see me as their equal, rather an entity to be dominated.

Just because our assaulters have not won a Golden Globe does not mean we are not entitled to the same audacity that “Grace” showed us by publishing her story. I hope I win a Golden Globe long before any man who has touched me against my will, and then I can tell my own story. We can tell our own stories now, when we are ready. We have a right to have ownership of our own stories, and our own bodies. Time is indeed up, but not just for the Hollywood Elite, it’s for all of us. The witch hunt extends to every corner of the world, and ESPECIALLY in the Oval Office, and wherever Woody Allen lives.

Maybe one day I’ll run into the men who have hurt me, and like Aria and Sansa taking down Littlefinger, I too will have justice. It will be in a café or over a lunch table, and I won’t have to laugh. I will be able to say how they hurt me, and made me feel unsafe. Our time for justice will come, but for now, we just have to keep on being strong.