Guiltless pleasures and that cow I bought.

*technically a baby steer. We’ll come back to him.

Summer isn’t over until I rejoin society, I think, and that’s definitely not happening until after my brother’s and my roadtrip next week. So this is still summer, and I’m pretty sure when I look back on the spark notes of my life if I get to be an old lady someday, this chapter’s gonna be “Marvel, Fall Out Boy, and I Bought a Cow.”

Marvel, because in the midst of a total personality crisis last April I found myself alone in the back row of a movie theater watching Captain America; The Winter Soldier. I think something about Captain America’s isolation and loneliness hit home because I, as they say, lost my shit and proceeded to go on a five-month (and going strong!) Marvel binge that’s rivaled my teenaged obsession with Johnny Depp. Like, hot diggity dawg, gimme super heroes with tragic back stories and mental illnesses! The Hulk tried to commit suicide? Gimme. Iron Man has panic attacks? GIMME.

I hit all the levels of fangirling, including spending hours at my buddy Brian’s apartment reading old comics by his pool.

I ate that shit up.

I was embarrassed about how much I adored the Marvel franchise until I realized, hey, when I’m really, really depressed, I don’t like anything. I don’t get excited or nervous or heated about anything; I’m listless and tired. It’s like when you’ve been swimming all day and there’s still a ton of water in your ears, distorting the way everything sounds. Depression is like that watered-ears feeling, but with emotions.

So I realized, oh my gosh, I can’t be that sad! I LOVE MARVEL!

From then on I totally owned it. Hell yeah, I know the back stories of every character in the MCU. Yeah, I dressed up as the Winter Soldier during Super Hero week at camp and cracked myself up saying, “who the heck is Jess?” when kids called my name.

Sometimes it’s the silly things, and sometimes all you’ve got to hang onto is the mantra at least I’m not as sad as I used to be.


Fall Out Boy.

Ah. This. So, a couple months ago my little sister and I really liked the band New Politics, and I saw they were opening for the Monumentour. Some bands called Fall Out Boy and Paramore were headlining, but whatever, NEW POLITICS. I bought us tickets and waited.

Meanwhile, my sister did some “research” for the concert.

In May when I made it to LA, she frantically introduced me to the Holy Trinity of Pop-Punk; Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, and My Chemical Romance. All of the sudden the music I may have listened to at thirteen was all I wanted to hear at twenty-three. It was amazing; all the intellectual sad bastard music I’ve listened to for the last ten years or whatever faded until all I resonated with were these eyelinered emo boys.

I told my sister that “pop-punk” was my guilty pleasure and she gave me a really weird look.

“Really?” She asked. “You feel guilt about something harmless that you enjoy?”


So I stopped feeling guilty. I started just openly enjoying these fun little bands I should’ve liked when I was in high school.

fishnets are for when you wanna feel awesome

We’ll come back to Fall Out Boy after I tell you about the cow steer.

Mine.  This one's mine.

At camp this year I had a baby dairy cow named “Boca” to care for. He came to me skin and bones and nervous around people. My co-worker and I worked fervently to put some weight on him, feeding him separately during the day and making sure to spend extra time petting him. Soon he was like a puppy, following us around and mooing when we left the arena. Everyone at camp fell in love with him.

The last week of camp we learned he was to be auctioned off in the Fall as cheap hamburger meat and again, my shit was lost. I don’t know what happened, but I went to my boss in tears, mortified that this baby creature who we all loved and who loved us was going to be slaughtered for such a wretched industry.

And like any absurd person with a heart…I decided to buy him. The camp director donated a hundred and random counselors pitched in, and we bought the cow. I thought my dad was going to cry when he realized I was serious.

I found Boca a home near San Francisco and last week my mother and I rented a trailer and drove halfway there to transfer him to his new owners. Now Boca lives with another cow in bovine paradise and I’m short a few hundred dollars, but grinning like a loon because I did something I believed in and frankly, I don’t care how ridiculous it is.

Ridiculous, like knowing everything about Marvel and listening to bands that were all over Teen Magazine ten years ago.

Sometimes in life you feel like you’re losing yourself, like you have no idea what the point is or who you are anymore. And sometimes it takes an act of futile compassion to regain some sense of direction. Driving down from the halfway point, after leaving Boca with his new cow apologists, I thought of Marvel and the Pop-Punk music I’m usually too “mature” for, and felt like myself for the first time in a very, very long time.

It’s a soul thing.

It’s taken me longer than it should have to realize a few things, like how life doesn’t follow a linear trajectory and how even if I felt like I was soooooo far beyond this point three years ago, this is ok. This is more than ok.

Friends, I urge you like I urge myself; lighten up. This is a season of becoming. This is a season of rediscovering. This is a time to be moved by things other people may not be moved by, because it shapes and solidifies our personalities into something that can be used to uniquely rock our sphere of the universe in a good direction. Yeah, some of its futile, but it’s a soul-thing. It can’t be translated and it doesn’t need to be, because most everyone has their little pointless, soul-enriching pleasures they can’t explain.

I like superhero stories and catchy music and it made a difference to me to make a difference to one baby animal.

What are your soul things? What are the pleasures you shouldn’t feel guilty for anymore?

“Life’s a bitch and then you die,” my friend Amber says. It’s really hard and we need each other, says my old pastor.

So damnit, enjoy those things you enjoy.

We can talk theology and philosophy and all that stuff later on. Right now though? Relax your shoulders. Breathe. Listen to whatever you wanna listen to and watch all the Iron Man movies in one setting, and spend your paycheck on something frivolous and pointless and foolish because you need to do it for your heart.

Two nights ago was that Monumentour concert I was telling you about. You know who’s a good front man? That punk-rock pretty-boy Pete Wentz. And you know why? Because he never once even humble-bragged. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show where the band’s frontman spoke so intentionally to positive self-care, camaraderie, and work ethic. This guy knows where he’s been and he knows where his fans are, and he uses his platform to speak about mental health and to encourage people to stop the “it gets better” rhetoric and just make it better.

pete wentz no h8

I was impressed and encouraged and somehow reaffirmed. Yeah, I started listening to Teenager Music in my twenties, but did you hear these bands applaud the kids in the crowd who are beating suicide’s lure?  Did you see how happy my punk ass little sister was?


So yeah, that’s Summer ’14 in summation. And that’s how we’re moving forward. Tell me what makes you happy, tell me what gets your heart worked up, tell me if this friggin’ rambling post was too long.

See you soon, P-Town.

6 Comments on Guiltless pleasures and that cow I bought.

  1. (Crying with a smile). YOU. You make me happy and reading a long, rambling (it never comes across that way, by the way) blog post by you is my guilty pleasure. “I love this girl from a deep place and I’ve never even met her. I identify with everything this 24 (25?) year old girl says and that makes me feel better…and I’m 51.” I save it until I have ‘time’ and can really enjoy it and can really listen to you.

    Please say alive and please never stop writing and sharing it with us.
    :) Lucy

  2. You make me happy, as do your adventures and the fact that when your long summer is over you are coming home to my home to be my fake daughter and day drink with me and blow bubbles with your boys. Everything in that sentence makes me ridiculously happy. :)

  3. Hi Jess, It’s been a long while since I’ve chimed in. I am so glad you are doing well, finding good in people and experiencing happiness in life. I can say personally that those things have been hard to come by over the last couple of years. I check in to your blog from time to time mostly when I’m having a tough day but the truth is, I do so because I think Leah would want me to. Young lady, you are brilliant writer with a unique way of sharing that both brings a story to life and relates to many in that you are humble enough to share your faults. Tough to do for a lot of folks. Through conversation, I know Leah very much appreciated that in you. Made you real for her. As I think about now, 2 years without my daughter and the huge hole it’s left in my life, I would encourage you with your own words as I know you’ll feel a pang in your heart again come mid-September as well.
    “Friends, I urge you like I urge myself; lighten up. This is a season of becoming. This is a season of rediscovering. This is a time to be moved by things other people may not be moved by, because it shapes and solidifies our personalities into something that can be used to uniquely rock our sphere of the universe in a good direction. Yeah, some of its futile, but it’s a soul-thing. It can’t be translated and it doesn’t need to be, because most everyone has their little pointless, soul-enriching pleasures they can’t explain.”
    I certainly carry some of the same guilt burdens you have intimated and while “soul enriching pleasures” have been somewhat foreign to me lately, I appreciate the sentiment of the statement and I think you nailed it. Good for you!
    Thanks for sharing, God bless and I wish you the very best!

    • Ah Brian, I really hope I get to meet you one day. Just knowing you look in on me from time to time brings me so much encouragement. Encouragement to do right by Leah in living well and using whatever I’ve got to be the kind of blessing to others as she was to me.

      I’m nervous for this month. I’ve been walking around pretty shifty-eyed and apprehensive all week, waiting for that aching loss to really take over. I don’t think, for me at least, it will be as awful this year as it was the first. But we’ll see. I don’t how you plan on spending Friday, but know that however you spend it, I’m with you in prayers and mourning.

      Brian, can I send you letters? I would love to keep in touch better than simple blog posts that the whole world sees. I try to limit how much I talk about Leah on here, because while I’m pretty open about how much I miss her, I know that no one who didn’t love her wants to hear about tragedies all the time.

      All the love in the world,

      • Not only is that a wonderful thought about Leah, but you are making that intention happen. For that, I have nothing but respect. Make no mistake, losing Leah has been the most gut wrenching thing I’ve had to endure, but I agree that the 2nd anniversary of her passing won’t be as awful. Time has a way of taking care of that as well as I’m now more equiped to feel a thought/memory and let go for the sake of my sanity. :-) As much as I have beaten myself up for what I did and did not do, I now know I had very little control. That path was happening and, as much as I tried, I couldn’t change it. I know you’ve felt a similar exasperation with that.
        So my Friday will consist of hosting/entertaining a MN wholesale sales group at a resort in northern MN. It was not my intention to spend that day working (think of hearding 20+ people where I need them all weekend) but the dates just worked out in that manner. I’m sure I will need to excuse myself for composure somewhere or even several times along the way. Know I’ll be thinking of those close to her and hoping we can all be consumed by more fond thoughts of her and less of the crappy aspect of what happenend.
        So perhaps, while golfing that day, I’ll feel a “Hollywood” gust of wind that I’m going to pretend is her letting me know she’s now o.k., looking out for us and missing us as well. Wishful thinking…

        Please feel free to reach out Jess. The thing about this tragedy we’ve lived through is, well, we’ve lived through it. We understand it’s nuances in ways not many can or want to. Scars and all… I’d be glad to share.

        Snail mail –
        349 120th Circle NW
        Coon Rapids, MN 55448

        All the best!

  4. Hi, writing and saving animals, two of my favorite things. thanks for the compost bin idea using an old garbage can. Luckily we have two on the side of our house just waiting to be turned in to something good. We have chickens so we have to do something with all their poop! Get writing. Oh, and I also love Marvel and Star Wars too.

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