Sweet Spots

I heard this cool quote the other day, “Slow down, if you live long enough, eventually life teaches you how to live it.”

Now that I’ve almost spent 30 years on this planet, I finally feel like I’m in a good place in my life where I can grasp things more steadily. It’s been a constant ebb and flow on a monstrous emotional roller coaster, but for the first time in years I finally feel like I’m starting to get a hold of things. I’ve spent the last ten years caught in the turbulent aftermath of my dad’s death right as my 20’s came roaring in. The truth is, that even though I spent a good portion of the time feeling like I was trudging black sludge, lost in a subconscious haze of a carousel of characters from Alice’s Wonderland, regrets feel moot. Yes, I was on a high speed train of universal experiences, but through various time frames, various lives lived out in various places and stories shared a long the way, I’ve learned a few of my own sweet spots.

If you don’t know what a sweet spot is, it’s like this perfect amount of time exposed to something where you really enjoy the thing thoroughly that you want more, but you also don’t get so much of it that you are just bored to tears or angry that it still exists in your life. According to the dictionary, a sweet spot is defined as “an optimum point or combination of factors or qualities.” I love this definition though, because it’s so simple and perfectly to the point.

Well, along this period of time bouncing from one thing to the other, life has surely started to teach me how to live it, by revealing to me my very own sweet spots. I’ve learned that I can only take two hits of weed to get that perfect serene high without spiraling into a paranoia hole. I’ve learned that 3-4 beers creates a perfect buzz where everything is funny and things start to flow more fluidly. I’ve learned that any time liquor enters my body, I don’t know why, but the chemical reaction causes me to disappear.

When I got back from South America this time, I realized two weeks is enough time for me now. I don’t need these grand journey’s abroad, they don’t make me happy anymore. I just get irritated that I’m still somewhere else that isn’t home and that I can’t be productive. When I move to a new city it takes me 1-2 months to build a beginner network of friends and colleagues before I start to actually enjoy my new home and it takes a full year to build a real life there.

I’ve realized that all of my best friends came to be that way because of one massive blow out fight. That arguments are natural and healthy in all relationships, it’s just how we respond to these moments that direct the nature of every relationship. We either rise above together and grow closer, or we say fuck this shit, it ain’t worth it, and sometimes it isn’t and we move on.

I like this idea that life teaches us how to live it, a natural pace, natural rhythm, magical numbers that create various moments of perfection. I’m excited to see what life further reveals to me in my 30’s 🙂


Being Honest with Yourself

It’s fucking hard. It’s really fucking hard. It’s easy to tell someone else they’re fucking up, but when you know it’s you that’s fucking up and something has to change? It’s a pain in the ass, because if you really want to change you have to pull your own self up by your bootstraps and climb your ass out of the emotional shit hole you’ve dug yourself into.

I just got back from a month long excursion to Colombia//Peru. I love traveling because I get to silence everyone else’s voices and listen to my own. I get to be in control of every decision I make. So when I realized that I keep making the same stupid mistakes that I was making when I was 25, it’s a wake up call for me. Realizing that my life has been on repeat since I was 25 is just fucking obnoxious to me and something has to change, because I’m not happy in this cycle any longer and that’s always my first cue that some shit’s about to change because I just don’t like being unhappy.

That’s not all I learned on this trip tho.

I finally learned my fucking worth, and that’s amazing. I’ve learned that I have to love myself first and foremost. I have to love myself enough to let go of everything that drains me, everything that distracts me, everything that pulls me down. I have to love myself enough to give myself what I want out of this life. I have to love myself enough to listen to what my soul is telling me: it’s time to grow up and move on.

What I want out of life is always changing, always malleable, always shifting, but what I’m drawn to hasn’t shifted: love, art, creative writing, travel, music, philosophy, psychology, intellectual conversations, dance parties, nights under the stars and millions of sunsets from anywhere.

So here’s to shifting the sails, changing directions and getting the fuck outta this shit hole 🙂



We went down to Grafton today to meet my aunt for lunch. We were telling each other quotes when I said to her, “the best way to clear muddy water is to let it be.” To which she responded, ‘yeah, but then you’ll never get closure.’ It really got me thinking, how much closure do we really need and when is it time to just cut our losses?


Spring Cleaning Came Early this Year

I’m sitting on the floor in the entrance of my bedroom and my hallway, listening to ‘6 Weshoosh’ an Egyptian song I fell in love with in travels, sorting through everything I’m finally ready to shed from the past 10 years of young adulthood. Caught somewhere between my new life and my old one I reminisce on all the memories that flood back to me from each outfit:

That Italian jean jacket I found in the men’s bathroom when I was drunk on a random floor of my students house in London 2011; it always reminds me of Finin for some reason, maybe it was his. That green sweater that Christopher Marvin wore out to the bars and threw up all over in Camden Town when him, Heaz and Bryan came to blow out my last week abroad. That yellow polyester shirt I found in grandma’s old bags that I wore the first time I met Adam Shea in summer 2004 at that Perkins where he scammed that free coffee and we kissed goodnight outside his house. A dress I never even remember buying, maybe Maria gave it to me, but the only memory I have is when we took a roadtrip to Vegas and stopped overnight in San Francisco. Marissa wore it out while Maria told people she was the bathroom attendant and only one scared white guy actually gave her $1. That plaid shirt I wore all the time that I got in Minneapolis with Jessie and Andy Kittel at that bourgeois boutique in Uptown after the Noah and the Whale show. I actually just found the photo of me today, jumping in the backyard wearing it with that orange tank top I found in the hallway that Lizzie left behind that spring semester at Steiner Hall.

My favourite outfit that I always in the end refuse to get rid of because it’ll fit again one day and I just don’t want to fucking part with it! Those scarves, those fucking scarves that I bought when I was inspired by Ari Solar’s bestie’s friend photo in the middle of the desert during Burning Man. That turquoise Hello Kitty zippie that I rocked at the rave party when Ashlie McGaw and I drunkenly danced to Soulja Boi in that basement where we spent all those parties in 2008. That sparkly mauve party dress that I turned into a tank top so I could rock it like a tank top at my voter reg job in Eugene, Oregon fall 2012. That ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIC tank top I made for Betsy and mine’s going away party summer 2013 before moving back to Oregon, where I cut up all my old t-shirts from youth and sewed them on like patches, which maybe wasn’t so terrible, since I did end up with that hot bartender after it all 😀

Those terrible scarves from 2005 that we all used to wear around our necks when hardxcore//thrashxcore//anythingxcore was cool. ALL of the scarves from college that I bought in St. Mark’s Place when I went through my hipster phase fall 2008. ALL of the scarves and hats Jessie and I found lying around campus spring 2009. Those jeans I used to wear to Naomi’s house parties, and Naomi, wow, someone I don’t think about too often, but that flashes me back to ALL of those hotel parties with student government, jolly green giant, pink fucking boots, Oshkosh, Kenosha, Richland Center. We carry all these memories with us. My senior prom dress that I wore to Lutheran High prom 2006 with Christopher Marvin, when I had my wisdom teeth removed only on one side and half my face looked like a chipmunk. That green plaid shirt that Mamaro hated on the rack but loved on me, reminds me of always harassing Josh Mann at the GA in Stevens Point back when Megan and Mark were dating. That Day of Silence t-shirt the students designed for 4/20/12 and all the events that took place after work that day: Christian Moody, shots, beer, Daniel, breakfast nook party, ‘we’re going to the butte, daaaniieell!!’, never go to the butte, end up at some under the sea mario party at some bar that ends in me smoking cigarillos on the front lawn of my house with Kunu.

That ridiculous fuschia dress I ripped the arms off and rocked like a skirt under my clothes. I’ll always remember Hannah Cook telling me it wasn’t fair that I could wear anything I wanted and people would just say, ‘oh, that’s just Libby, but if Hannah does it they’ll be like, ‘what’s wrong with you, Hannah?” I don’t know where the book went, but half of the book cover to my ex’s copy of Brave New World, the only thing that still exists of him. Lucas Worley’s sweater that kept me warm on the walk home after we madeout when I was running from the cops. Thanks Doug!

A few things that maybe never were mine and a few more that never felt like they were mine, returning them all to the ether so they can find their own place in this crazy mixed up world<333

The Revolution is Here

It was 2011, the Walker protests were in full force in Wisconsin. We were the leaders of the movement on our campus. We rented out three buses every day to take people from Stevens Point to Madison to protest in the streets of the capitol. I’ll never forget walking arm-in-arm with Gregs on the first day of the all campus walk out. We thought nothing was going to happen that day, but we got to the sundial and a rage of students marched around the NFAC building and we were filled with absolute joy, that people finally gave a shit about what was going on around them and using their power to stand up and resist it.

In this emotionally charged time it is not these protests that spark my current memory, but more of the words of a psychology professor whose class I was failing. One day I stayed after class to tell him that I was failing. He asked me if I was sure and I told him it is impossible that I am not, as I’ve failed both tests and haven’t turned in any assignments. He did the calculations and it turned out even if I got a 100% on the final and turned in my last assignment I still wouldn’t have enough to pass the class. He gave me a reprieve though, if I turned in everything and got 3 or less wrong on the final he would pass me regardless.

He told me, “Listen, I know that the reason you’re missing class all the time is because of all the protests and walkouts, but you can’t let that distract you from getting what you want out of life. It’s a great thing what you students are doing and it matters, but you have to take care of yourself too. You’re supposed to graduate this semester, don’t lose focus of that for this because when this is all over, where will you be?”

This is important right now because we’re all losing focus. We are all getting wrapped up in the ignorance and hate rhetoric of both sides. It feels like we’re riding the swell of a tsunami that’s about to come crashing down around us and it feels terrifying and worrisome and awe-inspiring and beautiful all at the same time. And as I see myself getting wrapped up in the whole messiness of the situation I find myself now asking the same question, when this is all over, where will I be? Where will we all be?

A Memory from the Memory Bank

This famous Russian poet, Yuvgheni Yuvtushenko, came to our lecture in college. He was from the Beat Generation, my favourite literary movement! Well, he was good friends with Alan Ginsberg, my favourite poet. So I go up to him after class and I ask him about his time with Ginsberg. He told me that Ginsberg called him while he was visiting New York and wanted to see him and for whatever reason Yuvgheni was too busy. Well, shortly after Ginsberg dies and Yuvgheni now carries this guilt with him for never seeing him when he reached out. Then he looks me square in the eyes and said, “It taught me something and make sure you don’t make the same mistake in your life, if you love somebody, make time for them because you never know how much they have.”

Interview – Lybra Ray Olbrantz

I was interviewed by Felan 🙂


lroPlease tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I won the 1st grade spelling bee! I graduated with a BA in Communications: Journalism in 2011. My last semester was spent abroad in London, UK. My favourite place in the world is Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have a tattoo of South America on my left palm. My favourite artist is Beatriz Milhazes. I love how the word ‘peculiar’ sounds in a British accent. I drink Yogi tea because I love the positive fortunes on each tea bag. My favourite thing to listen to when I drop into an art flow is the Nicolas Jaar BBC Essential Mix. I’m falling in love with a boy from Egypt 😀
When you create, what inspires you?
Colours. Colours are the most inspirational thing for me. Sometimes visions come to be of images that…

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Grandpa’s Last Romantic Gesture


I love my grandpa. He was such a rare person. He didn’t need much to make him happy. He fixed everything himself and made things for everyone in the family. I remember when I was little he was so proud of this invention he made to figure out which direction the wind was blowing. He put like two or three of them on his clothesline right away. He was intrigued with the small things and made sure to share those same small joys with us when we were little. He showed me what happens when you put a magnifying glass to the Sunday newspaper in the sunlight. He would let me turn the church organ on in his living room every time we visited even though I didn’t know how to play, I just wanted to hear the different noises that came out in various tones when I changed the instrument styles. Every Halloween my parents would take me trick-or-treating in his neighborhood because it was safer and he would always give me my first two pieces before I embarked on my journey. He kept Mamaro and my aunts Barbies over all the years and recycled them through all the grandchildren. I was so happy every Sunday just playing dress up on the living room floor and he never minded. He just enjoyed a very simple life. He always had a black lab as his chosen pet companion, when one died he went and got another one or someone would get one for him, but always a black lab. He ate soup and sandwiches for lunch everyday and for a snack on the side a slice of bread with butter and jam. If he got really risque he’d bring the cookies out and for those very often rare and special occasions, ice cream would grace our presence.

He spent his whole life working and taking care of his family. Everyone would say he only cared about the money, but I think it was the only way he could show he cared for his family because he always made sure everyone was taken care of and that they understood the true value of money. When grandma died he never dated another woman, maybe he checked out a few women along the 36 year journey alone, but he would never ever be with another woman again. He even died on her birthday, December 29th, which is why I think it was his last romantic gesture. A true symbol of his devotion and even though he probably drove her mad, I’m sure she came to get him and bring him to Heaven with her.

He didn’t always tell us he loved us every time we saw him, but he had small gestures that showed he really cared. When we were cleaning out his house a year ago we found a drawing I did when I was a kid stored in the drawer in the living room. He kept each senior photo of his kids on the living room wall and each of their wedding photos on the hallway walls.

A few years ago we were sitting in the living room of his house. Him in his goldenrod, prickly pear 70’s retro chair. I asked him, “Where’s your favourite place in the world?”

He responded, “Right here.”

I said, “Really?”

To which he replied, “Of course, why else would I stay here this long?”

This conversation alone pretty much sums up the whole life experience I had with my grandpa. I wouldn’t say he was necessarily stubborn, I think he just knew what he liked and what made him happy and it was the simple things that maybe everyone else in the world today seems to be forgetting.


Francis Leary Sr.

The End of the End is Near

Death sucks.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with the loss of someone they care deeply about. The dynamics of grieving in a close-knit family have a tendency for awkward power struggles as everyone begins to lash out at each other for an inability to properly handle the loss of control that death preemptively alludes to, that in the end, we really have no control whatsoever over who comes and goes and when, only that at some point everyone will.

Yesterday we went to see my grandpa for probably the last time in his living time. It’s sweet to watch my Aunt latch onto him and call him ‘daddy’, like she’s the same little girl again, needing him still. I see my own daddy and remember the various stages of death we learned about through the process of watching him die. Everyone is anxious over the end as if afraid to face some inevitable truth.

In these moments I am thinking about my own way of grieving. I’ve always been the strong one, always. Sometimes this strength is seen in others as a certain coldness, some weird inability to show my true emotions in the moment. Maybe some would say I have an avoidant style in my mourning. I don’t believe that’s true. I grieve things in my own way, a way that works for me. I’m realistic about it the whole way through, some deaths are harder than others, some took me years to grieve.

My dad said I had a rough childhood growing up because I was always going to funerals. I never believed this either. I don’t know why, I just always had an understanding with death. It hurts a lot to lose the closest people to you, don’t get me wrong I have cried a lot over the deaths of the closest people to me and it’ll kill me even more inside when my mama goes, but I feel I’ve always had a certain understanding with death.

Shining Star by Nneka

I’m actually surprised I haven’t written about this song yet, but enough time has passed that it’s about time!

“You’re my peace of mind…”

That time we drove the rental out into the Oregon back woods, ‘where are we going?’, ‘does it matter?’, that little path we found to the creek, you looked like you were fishing upstream walking barefoot on those cold creek stones, I looked like I was drowning -terrified I might be, we crawl through the moss, you look like a real nature warrior, ‘does it look like this where you’re from?’, ‘no, does it look like this where you’re from?’, ‘no,’

“I pray my love will give you life…”

That Broadway bathroom, I can still see the trees, feel the breeze of that first June summer air, that plush green lawn, we sang together each and every shower, and I still only think of you every time I hear this song,

“You’re my shining star…”