A (True) Story About A Traveler Who Hates Commitment

A (True) Story About A Traveler Who Hates Commitment

Once upon a time, there was a girl.

We’ll call her Schmanjali. (*Editor’s note: this name and story are completely fictionalized so any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.) (*Editor’s second note: I’m lying.)

Schmanjali was a really fun chick, sometimes. She was pretty scared of a lot of things, but she did them anyway. She was pretty unsure of what direction she wanted to take most of the time, but she normally picked a direction and went for it anyway. She didn’t believe in “adulting” – as a concept – so she chose to just live life having the most fun possible, all the time.

Schmanjali was also a little wacky. Despite that she loved to have fun, she also had a couple of things that she felt really strongly about, that she really didn’t want to change. She was a hippie, and she believed everyone should love everyone all the time. Not so bad, right? Well, she was also fiercely protective of her own freedom, and anything she saw as hindering her freedom she dropped like a bad habit.

In short, Schmanjali was a girl that hated commitment. So she tried not to have any. She left a tied down office job, she didn’t believe in monogamy, she didn’t stay in relationships very long, and she avoided tying herself to other people at all costs.

What was interesting about Schmanjali, though, is that despite that she hated being tied to people, she actually did tie herself to people, a lot, intentionally. Schmanjali believed strongly that the only thing that matters in life is our connection to and relationships with other people. So she hated commitment – but she loved connections to others? Schmanjali liked to have a big circle of friends – not acquaintances that she spoke to once a year – but true friends that could call her at any time for anything. Schmanjali also often happily made a lot of new friends.

And Schanjali had a puppy that she loved very much. A puppy that happened to be sick with liver issues and required lots of pills every day and very specific care.

Schmanjali was also really close to her family. She had an older brother, and younger sister, and two parents who were all amazing people. And like all families do, sometimes this family went through things where they needed each other. Once, Schmanjali’s dad had to have open heart surgery, so of course, she went to be with him. And when these things happened, Schmanjali didn’t feel committed, or bound, or tied down to the needs of a family. She just felt love.

So, one day, after Schmanjali had quit her job to travel full-time, she planned a trip to South America. And she was really excited about that trip. And she made all kinds of plans and reservations and had events to go to and things to see. And she couldn’t wait.

But then, a wrench: just before the trip, Schmanjali fell in love. And she freaked out, because she thought romantic love and relationships always meant feeling tied down. But then something interesting happened: the man Schmanjali fell in love with told her that he loved her because she loved her freedom, not in spite of it. And he told her nothing about how he felt about her would change, so that she should continue being her and going on trips and being happy in whatever way she wanted and he would still love her, even if they weren’t together. And he told her that even if she chose not to be in a relationship with him (because she didn’t really like traditional relationships), he would still intensely value and love her and be happy that she existed.

Schmanjali had never heard that before. Normally, men wanted her to commit, immediately and without reservation. And when she didn’t want to, they didn’t even want her as a friend. So she had learned to be skeptical and she had learned to hate commitment even more. But this man reacted way differently than anyone ever had before.

So Schmanjali was surprised: she didn’t think it was possible to be in love but also still feel free. But she was happily surprised. So she kept planning her trip and looking forward to it excitedly.

Then, another wrench, this time bigger: Schmanjali’s baby sister got hurt. And she had to have a second surgery for her hurt, right before Schmanjali’s South America trip. And it didn’t go so well, so when she got out, she couldn’t walk. For about four weeks. And Schmanjali realized that she wasn’t going to end up taking her South America trip.

So, she cancelled it.

But Schmanjali didnt feel bad. She felt a little bummed, perhaps, but she didn’t feel suffocated or bound or committed. She had never had to cancel a trip for anyone else before, but still, she didn’t mind it. She realized she’d rather be at home with her baby sister, while she healed, getting to spend time with her family as they all dealt with this crappy situation.

And when she realized all of this, Schmanjali also realized that she had been looking at everything like an immature child.

Freedom, of course, would always be Shmanjali’s number one value. That, likely, would never change. But Schmanjali thought she was living life by avoiding commitment as much as possible. She hadn’t – she was wrong. She had actually been living life committed to a lot of things, and a lot of people, and a lot of plans for the future with those things and people. And puppy.

So at some point, she realized that freedom didn’t mean a lack of commitment. Freedom just meant the ability to choose your path, and sometimes, your path included lots of commitments to lots of people. Not because they demanded it. Just because you loved them fiercely.

Schmanjali’s path of commitment may never again include being tied to stupid shit – like a 9-to-5 job or soul-sucking tradition. But it would likely include commitment to other humans and animals, and maybe even traditions that she dressed up and made her own.

So is it an unfortunate cliche that a life of travel often means you discover more about yourself than about foreign destinations? Yes, probably. But is the self-discovery also really important? Yes, probably.

Schmanjali figured that out somewhere along the way.

And then did she live happily ever after, no matter what life threw at her?

Yes, definitely.

*Editor’s note: The End.

How To Plan A Wedding In Two Weeks (There’s A Trick)

How To Plan A Wedding In Two Weeks (There’s A Trick)

Good morning again, LITMO Lifers! I am so happy to be back writing and sharing my new adventures with you!

Yesterday, I came back to writing to you after a long hiatus. When you heard the reason though, I’m sure it all made sense – I got married! And I talked a little bit about the rebrand The LITMO Life will be going through in the coming weeks. In that vein, I wanted to continue sharing things about my new life with you – and trust me, I kept a LIST of things I wanted to blog about during the wedding-planning process!

The first – how do you plan a wedding in two weeks? We technically got “engaged” three weeks out from our wedding, but that was just the beginning. We didn’t do any real communicating with anyone – including our parents – about it, for about another week as we were adjusting to the idea ourselves and figuring out if it was something we were really going to do. Then, two weeks out, with everyone on board, we hit the ground running with the plans.

Well, I use the term “we” loosely.

So – to answer the question posed by the title of this blog before I go any further, how DOES one plan a wedding in two weeks? There’s a trick, involved, are you ready? Marry the best man in the world that will plan the perfect wedding, because he loves you for you and knows he’s not marrying the world’s best bride.

Let me explain: I’m not very bride-y. In fact, I may even be the anti-bride. Several years ago, I wrote a piece for The Huffington Post called “Is Modesty In Women Overrated?” In that piece, I railed against the cultural traditions of marriage and babies being the thing we celebrate the most for women. What – because we could get married and give birth, we weren’t supposed to be heavily celebrating our other huge accomplishments? Like grad school, or published papers, or professional awards? I also talked about the fact that a woman engaged isn’t supposed to want to talk about anything other than being engaged and the wedding planning process – but the same ridiculous standard doesn’t exist for men. A man engaged will get congratulated, sure, but he will then be asked about the other things going on in his life, like work or play. A woman engaged, on the other hand, gets congratulated, and then is expected to sit there for minutes a time fawning over all of the wedding planning she is supposedly doing because for a woman, a wedding is considered the most important thing in her life.

It’s some serious fucking bullshit.

Beyond the fact that I hate that idea in theory, in practice, I also really hate planning and organizing. I am not one to spend longer than 3-4 minutes in a store – if they don’t have what I need, I’m out. I hate shopping, I hate making decisions, I hate figuring out what other people are going to want to eat or do or where they will need to sit, and I just don’t like getting my shit together enough to throw an even semi-formal party. I like the types of gatherings where you can tell a bunch of friends to come over, bring something, and chill out as long as they want at your house. I LOVE having get togethers – I just don’t love planning them all the time.

That wasn’t the worst of it, though – the worst of it was that I was dealing with some serious emotional difficulty leading up to the wedding. I knew, of course, from the moment we discussed it that Jonathon (which is how he will be referred to henceforth in The LITMO Life, because it’s not what he goes by with other people and I somehow like it better!) was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Hell, I knew he was the man I WOULD be spending the rest of my life with. I never had any doubts about him or about us or about the strength of our love.

What I did have doubts about though, was me. I had doubts that I could be someone’s wife in the way that they would need without imploding myself. I had doubts about whether I could continue to be me, in exactly the way that I am, without torpedoing this relationship that mattered so much to me. I had doubts that I could continue to be free and open and honest and build all of the other relationships in our lives that mean so much to me while I was also focusing on building a strong marriage.

In short, I had some serious freak outs.

I love him more than I’ve ever loved anyone or anything. I sincerely want and wanted to be his wife.

And yet, I had some to-be-expected freakouts.

You see, regular readers of The LITMO Life will know that I’m not a huge fan of commitment. I’m a huge fan of freedom. I’m a huge fan of doing whatever I want, whenever I want. I’m a huge fan of bouncing from place to place and thing to thing. I’m a huge fan of having no restrictions on me.

So, despite that I really, really wanted to be with this person – this cute, perfect, handsome, intelligent, kind Jonathon person – forever, it’s safe to say I was having a little bit of an emotional struggle. I was having a hard time focusing in the weeks leading up to the wedding, and though I was IMMENSELY excited to be married to him, I was slightly less excited about having a day where I was supposed to be the center of attention and everything was supposed to be “perfect.”

You see, I’m one of those people that believes firmly in the fallibility of a wedding day. Shit will go wrong – someone will be late, it might rain, the officiant might get caught in traffic, your dress might rip…anything could happen. Better to expect and roll with these punches, right? But that’s not the way most people see weddings – in fact, in the weeks leading up to our wedding, multiple people told me they had checked on the forecast, which was so nice and considerate of them! But my attitude was, well, if it rains, we’ll get married in the rain!  My groomy felt the same.

I also firmly believe that your wedding day should never be the “best day of your life,” as people make it out to be. It should be a great day – a wonderful day – filled with family and friends and lots and lots of love. But the BEST day of your life? Fucking no. It should be the beginning of a series of BEST days. And your best day should always be in front of you, rather than behind you (a wise friend gave me that one).

Anyway, the point is – with all of this swimming around in my head, I was having a hard time calming my shit down to plan the wedding. Not only was I also busy working full-time, I was also just not sure how to even go about planning a tiny beach wedding for just a few people and still make it fun and interesting. Plus, of course, I was freaking out.

So, what did I do? Well, I called my own personal superhero: Jonathon.

The Monday before the wedding, I called him early in the AM and told him, in no uncertain terms, that I was freaking out and that I needed him.

Pause to breathe if you must, because yes, I have the world’s best husband and we are building the world’s best relationship where we’re unequivocally honest with each other about everything, all the time. I don’t believe in veiled honesty, I don’t believe in partial honesty – as I’ve written on the blog before, I believe in RADICAL HONESTY. So naturally, my future husband was going to have to be someone who also believed in it, and more importantly, could handle it.

My superhero, that Monday, had a lot of special superhero things planned to do that day. He was working the next day, he had worked the day prior, he had just come off of studying really hard for a few weeks, he needed some stuff he had to do for the wedding – in short, he had a lot of shit going on. He didn’t really have time to deal with a freaked out bride that had no idea how to screw her head on that morning.

But since Jonathon is, of course, the superhero of our story – his superhero powers kicked in as soon as I called.

And you want to know what he did?

He blew off his entire day to come over, hang out with me, shoot the shit, and naked tie-dye in our living room.

Not only did my superhero not get freaked out about my freak out, he stayed calm and wonderful and assured of my love for him and his love for me and our perfect soulmate connection, and ignored everything else he had to do to spend the day with his future wife, calming her nerves and giving her the fun time that she needed.

And then, he did something even more amazing: he took over planning the wedding.

And he planned the most perfect, beautiful wedding I could have imagined.

See, while he was over, I told him that while I really wanted to contribute, I was having trouble dealing with my emotional shit and dealing with the logistics of the physical wedding shit. And I was working. So, without blinking an eye, my sweet, perfect husband told me he would take care of it.

“I got you, baby.”

And that was it.

So what’s the secret to planning a wedding in two weeks?

Marry the world’s best man, that will be there for you no matter what you’re going through, even if it’s directly related to him.

And then appreciate every moment.

P.S. Yes, you’ll hear more about the afternoon of naked tie-dying later.

How To Have A Fun Marriage: Get Naked As Often As Possible

How To Have A Fun Marriage: Get Naked As Often As Possible

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one Monday before our wedding, my own personal superhero Jonathon blew off his beginning-of-the-week plans to come over and naked tie dye with a freaked-out bride (me). I also promised that you’d hear about it later. Well, it’s later now so let’s talk about getting married and getting naked!

(I’m going to pause here to make sure you know I will not be not sharing naked photos…today. Maybe a different day. If you must close the window and move on, I understand. But be warned: you may miss future updates for nudity.)

That Monday, I had no idea what I wanted. I just knew that I was nervous and needed him. When he got here, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted of him, but we had had in the back of our minds that we would tie dye his shoes together at some point before the wedding. The truth is, I’m not exactly sure how it turned into naked tie dyeing, but it did. And it was awesome.

You see, I’m a big fan of nudity. When it comes with sex, it’s obviously a huge bonus, but I also just like the idea of being without clothes as much as possible. The hippie in me thinks that clothes are a stupid, societal construct and that we were born naked so we may as well get used to our own nudity as well as each others’. The logical side of me just thinks it’s more comfy to be naked.

So naked tie dye we did. He stripped down completely and I ditched everything but my tiny g-string of a thong. And then we started prepping the tie dye space. I already had a plastic sheet laid down from working on my dress earlier (more on that later, too!) so we figured out some colors he might want to use on his shoes and a shirt that he had brought over. Then we got to work! In the middle of it, he realized that his boxers were white and he wanted to tie dye those too, so we did (I got to write “Anjali” on the butt of my husband’s boxers and it was amazing). And it was an incredibly fun afternoon, filled with bonding and closeness.

Now, of course, naked tie dyeing wasn’t the only reason that my freak-out calmed down. A lot of it had to do with the sensitivity of my husband and his ability to listen to me and relate to me, even if he wasn’t feeling what I was feeling. But the naked tie dye definitely helped! It was, in a way, a vulnerable experience, but one that didn’t feel vulnerable as it was happening. When you’re naked and tie dyeing, you’re not exactly looking your best. You’re twisting and contorting and getting dye all over. But you’re also having fun with your partner!

I could lie and say our naked tie dye session didn’t lead to fucking. But of course, it did. Multiple rounds. But that wasn’t the goal of the afternoon – the goal was to connect in a new, fun way. So in that vein, I wanted to share some thoughts I got out of the experience (and other naked experiences we’ve had together) on ways to have fun in a marriage!

1. Get naked.

This is clearly a no-brainer, because this entire post is about nudity. If you want to have more fun in your marriage, get naked more! Please note: I am not talking about fucking more, though that is obviously a perfect way to have more fun in your marriage, as well. I am just talking about getting naked more! Throw your clothes off in a situation you normally wouldn’t: watching a movie on the couch or cooking or even folding laundry. Let yourself be totally open and free with your spouse – you’ll be pretty fucking amazed at how close you feel doing so.

2. Do something new.

If you haven’t tried naked tie dyeing, I highly recommend it. But even if naked tie dyeing isn’t your thing, you can still find a new, fun activity to do with your partner, in the privacy of your own home. What many people don’t realize or don’t place enough emphasis on is that novel activities make you feel exhilarated and increase neural activity. If tie dye isn’t your jam, pick a different craft project – one you’ve never tried. Or create something useful together, like a quilt. Or play a new board game. Do something new and different to continue stimulating yourself and therefore, continue stimulating your marriage.

3. Do something old…in a new way.

Okay…so this one may be more about sex than my other points. Along with doing something new to help stimulate your brain and your marriage, try doing something old, in a new way. That was our first time naked tie dying, but since then, we’ve tie dyed on other occasions – new things (like our sheets) with new designs. Although we might be doing the same activity, we’re finding ways to make it more fun each time. This, of course, is true of sex, as well! When you decide to get married, you go in knowing that you will be having a lot of sex with that person for the rest of your life. In a traditionally monogamous marriage (which ours is not), you go in knowing you will ONLY have sex with that one person for the rest of your life. That makes it even more critical to continue reinventing the wheel when it comes to sex! Despite that we’re nonmonogamous and plan to swing and explore with others, I still want to make sure that sex continues to be fun and interesting and awesome for the both of us. This includes things like: greeting him at the door in a transparent slip, asking him if he wants to do naked yoga in our living room, and even, on one occasion, placing bets on a minigolf game where the loser….well, you get the idea.

4. Throw something dirty on in the background.

Yes, I mean porn. People feel different ways about porn – I accept this – and the porn industry is by NO means perfect, especially for women. That said, if you happen to be into (responsible) porn, try being into it with your partner. If you aren’t, try making your own. Yes – I’m serious! You don’t have to film a YouTube video, downloadable for all. You just need one private device (hell, buy an old camcorder) for some fun movie-making with your partner. Not only will you have fun making the actual movie, but it’ll be perfect to throw on in the background on your next naked event night! You don’t have to even be actively watching it to be having fun getting turned on with your partner. You may get super engrossed in whatever activity you are doing (like tie dye) but you may also need a break at some point and when you do…

5. Set some rules.

Dirty rules. I don’t mean set rules like, “One of us will do the dishes and one of us will make dinner.” I mean rules like, “One of us gets tied up and the other isn’t allowed to touch,” or “One of us gets to kiss anywhere we want and the other of us gets to touch anywhere we want but with no reciprocity” or even “One of us is the librarian and one of us didn’t pay our late fees.” Get creative. The whole point of being married is having a best friend for life, isn’t it? How much better is it if that best friend is one you are wildly attracted to that you get to fuck as often as possible, for as long as possible, with as much creativity as possible?

6. Find inspiration.

Inspiration for nudity, I mean. Loading the dishwasher? Try loading it in a thong. Watching a courtroom drama on a Wednesday night? On the next commercial break, try changing into a blazer and some glasses, with nothing on underneath. Find inspiration for your nakedness anywhere you can! I do – and I love it (and I suspect my husband does, too). Marriage isn’t about finding someone that is forced to love you forever because they signed a document with the state. It’s about GETTING to love someone forever because they picked you, too, and having fun with them every step of the way.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask.

For the things that you want. Or the things that you aren’t sure that you want. Or the things that you want to talk about. Healthy communication isn’t just a general marriage staple – it’s a necessary sex staple! It’s no fun if you’re having plain old boring vanilla sex just because you are too scared to communicate. Your spouse should be the person you trust most in the world, the person you can tell anything to. Ask for what you want (naked) – and then get excited to receive!

In case I haven’t made it clear in this blog, I think nudity is awesome. Especially when it leads to fun, naked time with your spouse.

And yes, I accept that I might sound nuts, but before you judge, go ahead and schedule a naked tie dye session with your spouse…then come back and tell me whether you’re happy to be called nuts, too. 🙂


The End Of Justification

The End Of Justification

Justification, to self or to others, is bullshit.

Let me start over.

Lately, inconsistency and I have been pretty good friends. Well, Internet inconsistency anyway. The act of blogging, or Youtubing, or social media-ing….these things haven’t come consistently or easily to me lately.

And that’s not exactly new for me. You see (despite that I realize I am about to say something completely paradoxical) inconsistency in certain areas of life has been somewhat habitual for me. I am not often consistently challenged, and therefore, I am not often consistently engaged. While I often undertake tasks for my own personal happiness (challenging or not), I also often find that what makes me happy changes faster than I or anyone else can keep track of.

In any case, I’ve been lately inconsistent with writing on The LITMO Life.

And truth be told, writing in general.

Writing has not been making me happy lately. Actually, with more precision: public writing has not been making me happy lately.

And here’s why: people have not been making me happy lately.

Let’s back up, one more time.

I began writing exclusively for myself. As a kid, I kept journals on journals on journals. As a teenager, I actually enjoyed the creative writing prompts many of us were subject to in high school. As an adult, I abandoned creative writing in favor of the legal career I was pursuing, only to happily rediscover it later at a time of great transition.

At some point, I started writing to share. I realized I liked sharing my experience with others because it helped me connect to others. Anyone that has known me for any length of time knows that my interest has always been first and foremost in creatures. Human creatures, animal creatures. Creatures that feel pain. Creatures that love. Creatures that have strange motivations for doing the things they do.

I love creatures. And what are humans but the most complex creatures of all? Humans often don’t even know why they do the things they do. Humans get caught in a trap of believing what other humans tell them. Humans struggle to find ways that they want to human for themselves.

So it was nice, in my experience, to make significant connections with other humans through writing.

And I always wanted to see the best in people. I always want to believe that even when someone does something shitty, they are doing it because it’s coming from a place of insecurity, or instability, or inability (to comprehend, to empathize, or to love in the moment). I never, ever want to believe that humans do shitty things to other humans just for the sake of doing shitty things to other humans.

I continued to believe that even when, by all accounts, it was clear that sometimes humans do shitty thing to other humans just for the sake of doing shitty things to other humans.

And here’s the other thing about humans: the ones that choose to comment on the Internet are often shallow, maudlin, one-dimensional, repugnant, swamp-like hyenas who likely have no idea how to connect with other humans in real life, and therefore spend their days screaming to be heard in the anonymous world of ones and zeros.

In short, Internet commentators are bullshit.

And writing, especially on the Internet, will naturally draw commentators. I have mostly had a personal policy of not reading the comments on my pieces published in more established outlets. However, as my career grows, so too does the violability of my inner sanctum. I’m on the Internet, so I am highly reachable. Via comment, or Facebook, or Twitter, or email. It’s the nature of the beast.

And (here’s where I get even more frank): I have also lately become sick of all the bullshit.

For me, reveling in the joy and excitement of a new marriage, it has been fun to write about love and marriage and relationships. Much of my prior writing career, though, was in the land of politics and social justice and cultural reform.

Writing, as any other art, is inherently valuable.

That said, living in the world of personal essays about relationships and sex and travel and food and trips felt fun for me for a time, but has now begun to feel hollow.

When the math is done, all of the reasons that I wanted to pursue public writing in the first place are all disappearing slowly but surely.

I am no longer finding enjoyment in the connection with other humans, because other humans know first and foremost how to judge instead of connect. The essays I was writing as an invitation to connect are being seen instead as an invitation to criticize.

I am no longer finding enjoyment in social media, as it’s become just an avenue for people to contact me about everything they need without once asking how I am doing in return.

I am no longer finding enjoyment in writing about light-hearted lifestyle topics because the world is feeling too heavy.

In a world of Trump and First Amendment rights and terrorism and “terrorism” and walls and rape and stupid, idiotic, hollow memes about “covfefe” and judgment on comedians without appreciation of comedy as commentary and broad, sweeping designed distractions like mindless television shows and national pastimes, writing publicly about – and being judged for writing publicly about – things like my views on monogamy and my marriage and my travels hasn’t felt worth it to me.

I occasionally go through periods of change that I refer to as personal metamorphoses. I start shedding the friends that are more like “friends,” I sleep more, I think more, I journal more, I spend time assessing what hasn’t been working. And inevitably, I make a change. On the last of these such metamorphoses, I quit my job, left a huge part of society, and went to travel full-time. Now, a year later, newly married, newly assessing the value of things in my life, I feel I am going through another metamorphosis.

And in that vein, I’ve been cocooning. I’ve been responding to bullshit texts and emails and messages less. I’ve been present with my cell phone a lot less. I’ve been focusing on my physical fitness more. I’ve been happily engrossed in a bubble of marriage, and puppy, and kitty, and family. I’ve been spending my days alone, working, and my evenings with my husband or our family or our animals or all of the above.

Even friends with the best of intentions (perhaps) have been feeling like too much. We often advise others based on what we’re doing, or what we would like to be doing, or what we wish we could be doing, instead of advising others based on what they need. Further, we also often advise others without an invitation to do so. I have been very happily cocooned in my newlywed, newly-living-close-to-family bubble. For a while, I felt it a necessity to “get out” and “do more” but now, I don’t. Cocooning is what is making me happy, so cocooning is what I’ll continue to do.

I don’t know what will happen at the end of this transformation when I de-cocoon. I suspect, like other transformations, I’ll find myself happier, more fulfilled, with less friends perhaps, but with more meaningful relationships with the friends I have left. I suspect I’ll also find myself even further removed from the societal norms of a 9-5 work day, a white picket fence, bills, debt, a mortgage, insurance…and every step designed to keep us in the system. I hope that I will continue writing about the things I love – even the lighthearted things like fun and travel and love and relationships – but I am not sure what will come.

The truth is, I didn’t have to write this long, rambling blog to get to the simple premise on which I will wrap up: I am sick of it. I am sick of nearly all of it. I am sick of the judgment. I am sick of the selfishness. I am sick of the idiocy. I am sick of people allowing themselves to be distracted by television shows and social media. I am sick of people ignoring that the world is falling apart around us. I am sick of people letting bullshit networks like Fox News and CNN and MSNBC dictate what they focus on. I am sick of people finding worthwhile uses of their time in making fun of a president for a mistyped midnight tweet, instead of finding worthwhile uses of their time resisting everything else more insidious that president does. I am sick of cultural appropriation. I am sick of white privilege. I am sick of the power we give stupid words. I am sick of the “safe space” bubble so many of us have helped create, where jokes, comedy, and even serious conversations about issues like race, weight, gender, mental health, and so many other things can’t be discussed for fear of “triggering” something.

I am sick of the need of all of us to justify ourselves. To our own individual psyches and to others.

So, I’m opting out for a little while. Opting out of what, exactly? Everything that doesn’t make me happy and make me feel like I’m contributing to the world in some way. I will still write on The LITMO Life, when I want, about what I want. And sometimes, I won’t. The “blog as business” idea didn’t work for me, it just made me feel like a sellout. So I’m opting out of blogging on a regular schedule. I’m opting out of YouTubing and deciding, instead, to start building a quieter life. I’m opting out of social media, for a little while. I’m opting out of feeling obligated, to anyone, for anything. I’m opting out of saving people’s feelings when I think they are acting like terrible human beings.

I hope, soon, that I will go back to some of the things I loved. I hope I will want to write more about fun topics, and things like love and marriage because I truly feel more centered, more like myself, and more ready to take on new adventures than I ever have. Sometimes, being anchored in a certain way – anchored to a love, to a marriage, to family, to animals – makes you realize all of the ways in which you are still floating about. The ways in which you want to continue to float and the ways in which you’d like to float less.

If we are friends – true friends – and a friendship with me still feels valuable to you, then I hope you can understand that I’m going through a change. I don’t know what it is yet or how it will continue to manifest, but I do know that I’m done doing anything for anyone but me. At one point, I wanted a life filled with connections with others, online or in-person, and filled with sharing and openness and making allowances and little to no boundaries. Everything I’ve experienced in the last year has taught me that that kind of life isn’t sustainable – for me, anyway. That I’m too sensitive, too introspective. What I want, at least for now, is a life filled with love, family, and more often than not, quiet. So in that vein, unfortunately, I won’t be able to be the best friend at the moment. I want off Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and YouTube. I want the space for reflection, not mindless browsing.

Though I didn’t have to write this blog to explain how I am feeling, I am glad I did. So much of my life over the last year has been public, and there have been parts I have loved about that. And my desire to start The LITMO Life before I began my travels was based on my belief in the power of one thing: honesty. Life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine, and too many bloggers, Instagrammers, Facebookers, YouTubers, etc. project an image of life that is pure perfection. There are, however, hardships, too. There is change, there is growth, there is the busting out of things that don’t fit anymore, and the less-than-graceful transition to a new path. Sometimes, you stumble into perfection in one area, like marriage, and it makes you reassess what you’ve been settling for in others.

So yes, I would like to continue the journey and if at all possible, I would like to continue it with my readers. Alas, certain old adages become ensconced in the public consciousness because of their blunt truth: the only constant in life is change.

And often, if you allow it to be, the change is the best part.

So here’s to change.

To Love Is An Act Of Rebellion

To Love Is An Act Of Rebellion

To love is an act of rebellion.

In this world of us, them, borders, walls, autonomy, chains, openness, lies, the act of loving is an act in defiance of all we are conditioned to do and be.

To love does not mean just to love romantically. To love means to love those that impact you: family, friends, neighbors. To love means to love people and animals, all creatures with the capacity for pain and love. To love means to love all others, despite their perceived “otherism.” To love means to love all.

To love also means, most importantly, to love yourself. To love means to be true to yourself. To love means to search for your own personal happiness at all costs and pursue it relentlessly, despite what you’re told or how you’ve been conditioned to stop.

To love means to be better. In a world where “they” don’t want us to be better, to love is the ultimate act of rebellion.

Who are “they”? The creators of modern society. The heads of state. The greedy and wealthy.

“They” are the ones that have built the system of perceived – but false – freedom. “They” are the ones who can’t think beyond their system of bills and debts and jobs and buildings and mortgages and insurance and monogamy and white picket fences and bondage and cowardice.

In a world where everyone is the same, and everyone needs to continue to be the same for their systems continue working, to love means to be different.

To love, unfortunately, means to do what others aren’t. To love is to reject the hatred that necessarily comes with forming small unions. To love is to accept that while perceived personal similarities seem to form bonds, they actually form ruptures, among those who who are perceived different.

To love doesn’t mean to be silent. To love, in this day and age, means to fight.

To love doesn’t mean giving up your personhood. It doesn’t mean relinquishing your body. It doesn’t mean laying down before those that would harm you.

To love means accepting that the world as it’s been built for us can’t continue.

To love means to ignore those that would question your love of self, of humankind, of animalkind.

To love means to ignore the silly answers to the silly questions, the silly solutions to the silly problems.
To love means to stop parsing the silly words.

To love means to reject the silly distractions that have been created for us to look the other way.

To love means to stop watching the silly television. To love means to stop reading the idiotic articles. To love means to use social media as a means of human connection and if you can’t, to love means to give it up. To love means to focus on what matters in the world – love – and change and growth.

To love – to rebel – means to understand that nothing really matters except love. Except, as the world stands now, rebellion.

To love means to reject the narrative we’re given. To love means to decline to believe that black teenagers deserve to be shot, that Muslim store-owners deserve to be terrorized, that women deserve to be raped.

To love is to understand that it’s a fallacy that good people don’t do bad things. To love is to realize the hallmark of those that shape history isn’t good versus evil. It’s strength versus weakness.

It’s the strength to stand up for love.

Good people often do bad things. Strong people do not.

To love is to be honest with yourself and others.

To love is to unchain.

Here’s Why I Think We Sometimes Lose Friends When We’re Happy

Here’s Why I Think We Sometimes Lose Friends When We’re Happy

Since we’ve been married (just about four months now!), both Jonathon and I have watched in surprise as certain friendships have fallen from our lives.

I’m a bit more of an all-over-the-place-social-butterfly than he is, so I had a big circle of close friends, then acquaintances, then just-more-than-Facebook-friends, then Facebook friends. He mostly had his pretty good friends and then his slightly-more-distant friends.

Either way, since we’ve been together, and especially since our wedding, we both realized our friends were dropping away from our lives faster than we could count. And it wasn’t just our far-away-type friends: For me, it felt like I was losing friends in all of my circles, even my close friend circle which I never would have imagined.

It bothered us both, at first, a lot. And we talked about it a lot shortly after we got married, too. He reasoned that some of my friends were just keeping their distance to give our marriage room to grow – which I can appreciate as a noble act, but I didn’t really buy it, save for one or two good ones. I even ended up reaching out to people asking if that’s what they were doing and telling them that while I appreciated it, I didn’t need it, because I could make my own decisions about how much time my new marriage needed and that I still wanted to maintain close friendships with them.

It didn’t seem to matter a ton.

I also had a few friends (the close ones that stayed close — more on them later) tell me that they suspected that what was happening was that people just weren’t used to my marriage yet. Most people, they told me, go through a long period of dating and then a long engagement and then marriage, so their friends and family have time to adjust to the relationship. Since Jonathon and I went from first date to married in eight weeks (and since I was pretty anti-relationship before), they said, people didn’t get the time to fully adjust to my new partnership, and that’s why not only were they keeping their distance, they were also having a hard time understanding how to treat Jonathon (as in, not treat him shittily – and yes, this happened, people made the worst comments to him or just generally treated him like kind of a disease in my life).

One day I told my mom all of this while she was taking me to run an errand, wanting to hear her thoughts on it.

“Bullshit,” she said.

“Well, I mean I can understand…” I started.

“No,” she said firmly. “One day you weren’t married, and then you were. So what? Good friends don’t need time to ‘adjust’, good friends understand who you are and how quickly you make decisions and accept your new husband with love, too.”

You know, she had a point.

To be fair, I know I hopped off social media recently for a while, as well, so that makes a difference these days on how easy it is to connect to others. That said, I hopped off social media like just under three months into my marriage, after I had realized a lot of these friendships were already falling apart.

I know what you’re thinking: It’s me. I’m the one that fucks up and my friendships fall apart. Well, while I admit that I’ve been happily ensconced in a marriage bubble for a while, I got into that deep marriage bubble because so many people were dissolving from my life in really shitty ways, not the other way around.

And this wasn’t the first time — I also lost friends when I went through my last big change of quitting my job to travel full-time. And that had nothing to do with being in a relationship.

And don’t get me wrong: I’m not talking about the friendships that just naturally drift away in the progression of life. I get that some people are in our lives just for a season and it makes sense to even grow apart.

I’m talking more about the people that abruptly vanish when something good happens.

So, the big question is: Why does this happen? Why do we sometimes lose our food friends when we’re at our happiest?

I’ve got some thoughts.

1. They’re not used to the new happiness.

The simplest (and least bitchy) explanation is that they’re just not used to the new happiness — whatever it is. Whether it’s travel or a new relationship or a new, successful job, sometimes people don’t know how to deal just because they aren’t used to it.

The thing is, people will (theoretically) get used to it. So if you, like me, have lost some friends in a new realm of happiness, the answer might be to just give it some time and continue to remind people that you love and value them and then let them bounce back into your lives as they will.

This worked for me for a few friends — when I realized they really were just trying to give my new marriage room or that they just didn’t really know how to act with “Married Anjali.” It didn’t, though, work for everyone.

2. They’re not used to your focus switching from them.

A more insidious reason (and a far more bitchy one than up top) that we lose friends when we’re happy is because people don’t like not being the focus of our attention.

When we first got together, Jonathon was surprised at how much I was on my phone all the time. But it wasn’t because I was mindlessly scrolling Facebook or Insta, it’s because I was responding to texts and calls from people about various things in their lives. I liked to — and like to — connect to people that way.

That said, when I got married, I realized a bunch of these people fell away because I just didn’t have the time or the energy to solely focus on their shit anymore. That sounds awful, but I only mean it so angrily because it seemed like the same people who wanted me to respond to their every text or every call or every email about the problems in their lives couldn’t even be bothered to send me a “Hey, how are you?” text when they didn’t need something.

If your friend-loss situation is like this one, I say, good fucking riddance.

3. They’re jealous.

Unfortunately, the age-old reason for losing friendships is still something we have to talk about here: jealousy.

It’s not fun to think about it, but if you’ve lost friends when experiencing some new happiness or a new, healthy transition in your life, it may just be because they’re jealous.

And to be honest, there’s not much you can do in this situation. If you love them and care about them, you can go out of your way to remind them that you do love them and care about them. That said, you can’t work through their jealousy for them and it’s not your responsibility to do so.

I might have a shittier view on it than other people, but that’s because I think jealousy is bullshit. My view on nonmonogamy informs my view on jealousy in friendships, too: No matter where the jealousy is from, it’s bullshit.

We should be able to be happy for our fellow humans. And if you’re friends with people that can’t be happy for you…well, then, be really real about it and just go, “Bai…..”

4. You’ve actually neglected the friendship in your happiness.

Sometimes, it is actually your fault if you lose friendships when you’re happy. Sometimes, in our happiness, we really start to neglect people and we turn into shitty friends.

If this is you, the key thing is to recognize it and then acknowledge it. You can’t recognize it and then just be nice to people and assume they are going to know it’s because you have been MIA. You have to actually talk to people about the fact that you get that you’ve been sort of absent for a minute, and you realize that, but that you plan to be back to your normal, present self.

Then it’s up to them whether they want to deal with you or not. If they don’t, well, that sucks but it’ll leave room for you to grow and learn to be better in the future. It’ll also open up space for new friends.

5. Misery loves company.

This one doesn’t apply to me, thank god, because I’ve always made a concerted effort to be happy, but I think it could easily apply to other people.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are unhappy, they follow paths already written for them, and they don’t stop to figure out why they are unhappy or how to make it better.

If you have been miserable with your job or your life situation or with your partner or without a partner, changing one of these things to where you are suddenly happy can throw off the people who were miserable with you.

And if this is the case, there’s also nothing you can do but be glad that a miserable person who only knows how to be miserable is gone from your life.

*6. People get invested in you living your life one way, and then freak out when you grow or change.

[Writer’s note: This point was added after a friend told me that I might be reading things in a skewed way and not allowing for anything outside my own brain.]

And sometimes, I guess, you lose friends because you have a blog and write about certain things, and then you start writing about other things and people aren’t sure how to keep up.

Yes, I was never a fan of commitment before. Yes, I wanted to travel no-strings-attached before. And yes, the idea of another marriage freaked me out.

But I grew. I changed. Like we all should. If we kept our exact same views and stayed static over time, we’d all be boring AF.

I understand that people like to read about how I’m screwing all the men and how I love traveling solo and how I think commitment is stupid. And I did like to have all the sex with all the mens and I still love traveling solo and I still really often think commitment is stupid.

That said, I also met this person that I fell in love with that I wanted to give it a try with. I don’t have all the answers for everyone – I don’t even have all the answers for me. I’m just figuring it out one day at a time and growing and learning as much as possible.

So if my views happen to change on anything overnight, it’s because it was the right step for me. Unfortunately, it has seemed like that’s meant losing friends in the process, as well.

I get that because of this blog people think I’m a character that they can follow – like on a TV show. The thing is, I don’t actually follow a script, I just live my life however I want in that moment (LITMO, remember?). So my development won’t follow the natural, clean arc of character development in a TV show.

One year, I’ll have met 40 people that I would never, ever consider being in a relationship with. The next, I’m married, because I met one that was different. It’s not a show, it’s my life.

After getting ridiculously salty over people being assholes for a few months, I realized that this was an opportunity instead of a tragedy. Instead of looking at it like, “I lost these friends when I got married,” I started looking at it like, “Getting married allowed me to see who my true friends are.”

Because the reality is, for all the friends that didn’t stick around, there are several that DID and are happy for me and are around and checking in and being awesome people. These are the friends that understand that a newlywed couple – well, hell, a newly COUPLED couple – will inevitably exist in their own bubble for a while but then will find their way back to their normal outgoingness.

So, maybe sometimes we lose friendships when we get happy in a new way. But that’s life and it gives us a chance to truly value that peope that do stick around.