Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Or just bring a flashlight...

I finally figured out what I want, at least writ small...
I want to write in large letters;
"Look!  Look how much people love me!  I'm worth loving!  I promise, I'm loyal and dedicated, Love me back!  Promise to try to love me for years and years!  Please!  Others have done it, why won't you?!"

And as I shout these words into the empty spaces of my mind, the darkness whispers back,
"maybe you're wrong, maybe he was the only one...maybe there's no one.  What id you break everything you touch?  What if it's always been you?  Maybe you are the problem.  You are unlovable, unloved."

This, I think, is one of the central challenges of life, to silence the dark whispers, to fill one's own head with light and shrink the shadowy corners down.
To live in the light of one's own self love.

That's security.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

My Boyfriends

Someone once asked me if I was a monogamist.  Having never given it much though, I immediately responded in the affirmative.  As life has gotten progressively more complex, I have been asked the same questions more time, in different contexts, and I tend to believe that, yes, I do refer the concept of two individuals committing to a romantic/familial relationship with each other, even though I no longer expect it of others.

That being said, I do have multiple boyfriends.  I mean, there's only one guy I sleep with, but there are other guys I go to for other needs to be met. 
B is my guy, smart, funny, and above all else interesting.  We talk about literature, science, theology, music, culture, and food.  We listen to music, watch movies, then we eat drink, and...be merry.  But he's not around that often.

So I have J.  Smart, funny, and willing to criticize my terrible outfits, we talk about relationships and work together.  He turns me on to new music and we debate ideologies and talk about how much we hate people.  But he is often busy with his own fulfilling life and cute young girls.

D is my gay boyfriend, cooler than I'll ever manage to be, a blast to drink with and a fantastic artist.  I go hang out with him in the city and feel like I'm living a slightly more rad version of my life.  Or we just have boozey google hang-outs where he gives me new nicknames.

G is older, and needs my help with things. He makes me feel smart, young, and pretty, and buys me sandwiches.  He drives me places sometimes and tells me about his problems, and when I tell him about mine he puts them in perspective.

S has known me forever, and we hate and love all the same things, so there's never a debate about what we're going to do when we're together.  Because she's successful and smart I get advice on financial planning, organization, and mental health in between nuggets of pop culture gold, and S is almost always awake and down to talk for an hour or two.

C has been around for a while, and is demanding but supportive.  He knows all my secrets, but still thinks I'm perfect.  While he might be a train wreck, he always manages to make me feel important, even if it's for the wrong reasons.

M is my back up date for movies, weddings, and dinner parties.  She promises to marry me if we're ever single together for too long, nurses me back to health when life gets me down, and always hates who ever has wronged me blindly.  Plus, she has kids, which are great for playing pretend family, and birth control.

There's also K, who I don't see very often, but can be counted on to share in good-natured arguments and philosophical debates, and shares comic books with me.   And R who is easy on the eyes and makes small talk seem like an art form.  Running into him fulfills me need for chitchat for at least a few hours, and never fails to put me in a good mood.

And when all else fails I can rely on the coven of beautiful women I call my roommates, all of whom have other relationships but can be counted on to hear me complain about my day over a meal or a drink.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sneaky Internet

Ladies, gentlemen, and individuals who choose no gender normative title, I have an announcement to make; I broke up with my boyfriend.

Like, six months ago.

I know, I know.  I am a terrible person.  How could I not tell my best friend, the inescapable insatiable maw of the internet the very second it happened?

But I didn't.  I decided that ending the longest and most meaningful romantic relationship of my life garnered a certain amount of delicacy, and deserved a degree of privacy.  So I told people slowly, and in person, and even then mentioned it infrequently.  I skirted indirect questions and said nice things about my ex because he's a nice person, and just because I don't want to spend the rest of my life with him doesn't make him Hitler.  Or Moussolini.  Or Stalin.  It turns out there are literally millions of people in the world that I don't want to spend the rest of my life in an intimate relationship with, who are also not terrible people.  Apparently there is some middle ground between committed loving affection and bitter abject hatred.

But I digress.

Lately people have been bugging me.  And by people, I mean those many charming casual acquaintances I would have forgotten the names of by now if it weren't for facebook, linkedin, twitter, etc, reminding me periodically of their existence.  And by bugging, I mean they want to know what's going on with me.  Like something's wrong.  As though, after 6 months of saying nothing, carefully maintaining my privacy and conveying no explicit details about my personal life, they can all sense something is wrong.

It took me the better half of an unproductive work day to figure it out, but I have a solid theory.  I look super happy.  In my pictures, in my comments, in my interactions with new and old friends, everything in going really well in my life.  All the evidence shows me as a woman who is winning at life; my career is on track, I have strong relationships with old friends and new ones, and I am going out into the world regularly to have fun and enjoy the simple things in life.  I am actually happy.  And I didn't conceal that.
Which was my fatal error.
All the pictures and new job postings and exchanges with loved ones paints the picture of someone who is happy, unburdened, and somehow wrong.  Because how could I possibly be okay?

So I get the occasional message, "Hey, sweetie, it's been a while....how r u?"  "Just checking in, how are you and whatshisname?"  Sometimes I get a couple a week, like this week, and I run back to check that I've maintained my privacy.  No chinks in the armor, but the internet has ways of knowing...and apparently my happiness and success is disquieting, and they want to know what's up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Hotness Loop

I was recently talking to a friend, we'll call her Ol Dirty Sheez, about a dude who she found somewhat hot, but for no discernible reason.  How, she asked, could a guy with obvious physical deficiencies have so much game?

I have an answer, and I call it the Hotness Loop.  My theory is based on the assumption that hotness is a spectrum, with super hot people on one side, super ugly people on the other, and the majority of us charming normies somewhere in the middle.  Most people can agree on this premise, so I take it one step further; the spectrum is actually a loop, and people on either end of the spectrum can take a few steps and hop the line separating super ugly from super hot.  These are people who start out as ugly teenagers, then get an interesting hair cut in their twenties, or become a hipster and start wearing their coke-bottle glasses ironically. 

Think about high-fashion or uber-famous people, with their hyper-angular faces and over-sized features.  They are really just one bad day away from fugly, aren't they?  And if you think about it, isn't a bear just a few sandwiches and a shave away from unpleasant at best?

I am sure there is an evolutionary/genetic component in there somewhere, something about how facial features are indicators of certain traits, and enhanced features can indicate enhanced traits that are both alluring, from a potential genetic growth standpoint, and frightening from a 'dangers of new things' stand point.  But I am on my lunch break and have neither the time nor the caffeine to go into that level of detail.  So instead, I will close with a prescription; find out which side you are on and dive towards the center!  You never know...

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Betrayed by my Body...and Timing

Part of being a woman is  living with the realization that your body will betray you.  When you least expect it.
Walking down the street, feeling super hot and sexy in something light colored?  Yeah, you have a blood stain on your ass and everyone sees it.  No, they aren't going to tell you.  You will find out when you get home tonight.
Feeling confident in the knowledge that you have chosen the right path, that you aren't that in to kids and  even if you were now is not the time?  Estrogen doesn't know that, and will flood your body with poisonous hormones that make you coo at hipster infant clothes in target.
Total proud of a successful weekend that sets you up for success personally and professionally?  Here comes crippling loneliness and depression, because as a woman in your thirties your PMS now includes a drop in serotonin that induces clinical depression!

Or, in my personal case, I spent last night bragging about my ability to process wine due to a family history of alcoholism and a highly evolved liver, then wake up to find that not only did impending menstruation inhibit my body's ability to process toxins, but the flu-like symptoms of aches, fever, and nausea, combined with both diarrhea and a feeling of constipation are not sudden onset of Ebola as I first suspected, but just my period.  Making me feel like shit.  Again.

Rather than spend $10.19 +tax on airport advil, I opted to spend the same amount of money on an airport beer. Because that was the obvious adult decision, giving me both pain relief and an improved sense of self, necessary now that I realize that I might also be bloated and gassy.  Sorry, fellow air travelers, but this is happening.  Right now.
I neglected to realize that the betrayal wasn't over, because with beer came the inevitable questioning of all of my life choices, ever, and the deep desire to call my ex.  Oh, silly estrogen, silly, seratonin.  Silly uterine lining shedding that fucks up an entire day.

As much as I believe and know that woman can do anything, I often feel like werewolfing myself the day my period starts.  It has become a day of physical and emotional pain that seems to beg for a break for society, rather than the powering through of my youth.  I don't have as much to prove, maybe, or maybe I just think I am due a day off from life more often now.  But, as much as it is possible for any and every woman to power through the worst day of the monthly torture that is part and parcel of being a biological woman for the sake of the perpetuation of the species, don't we deserve a few more days off?
I feel like I do.  Damn his for happening 5 hours before i am scheduled to eat and do laundry, when I could ease into a hot shower, elastic waist-band pants, and some raw cookie dough and cheap white wine with frozen fruit in it.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Here and there

Lately I find myself on the prowl...
all the time.
Like I'm somehow twenty two and insatiable again.
At first I figured it was a normal reaction to ending the longest, deepest, and most serious relationship I've ever had.
But something new struck me this morning as I hesitated to leave the soft, cool comfort of my bed.  It's all strategy.
If I spread myself nice and thin, and give pieces of myself away to several people,
I'm safe,
in a sense
from the trauma I'm still recovering from.
Because no one will have my whole heart,
and no one will be able to break it.
Which is sad.
Because how can I ever be whole again
with pieces scattered hither and thither?
How can I make myself whole again?

Friday, August 08, 2014

Overheard at the San Bernardino Greyhound Station

Charming guy across from me
You going to vegas? Let me give you my friend's number; he can get you in at Wet Republic...

Guy who's stuff I am now watching
Did I bang her? well...I mean, I hooked up with her there was a situation...she was throwing up so yeah...it was a stinky situation.
Yeah, I think he's going to get a house and I can get a room in it. Better than getting an apartment...a bunch of places around here just don't rent to felons...they all say they do a background check and all...like, if you have even one violent felony against anyone they will not rent to you...yeah. it's messed up man.
Yeah, he got picked up this week. You remember that girl I was seeing? the one with the face tattoos...the leopard....she told me. he got picked up on something...i guess he kidnapped a girl and raped her with a gun....yeah...well, if he's not PCP'd yet, he'd better get there...yeah...well, you know these young guys, they got issues with women.

Girl I've never met, to me
Oh wow, your hair looks so good, I didn't recognize you....
in reference to getting water out of the drinking fountain
...sounds like sleeping with an old man

Guy shorter than me, right in front of me
I'm not doin no faggot ass ass kissing shit. I paid for my ticket, I'm gettin on the bus!
he did not get on the bus...

Guy carrying walking stick with a wooden pigeon sticking out of his backpack
I see you noticed my lizard, and I saw he noticed you... Not many people like reptiles, but I do, so I put them on my walking sticks...Sometimes I do it just to freak people out...can I borrow your phone charger?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Yes...


The #YesAllWomen hashtag got me thinking.  Which obviously, besides opening dialogue, is the point of ‘social media movements’, if you believe in that sort of thing.  I have always felt a little bit special, and in a way left out from some feminist discussions because I have been rarely victimized.  But then I remembered, I had an incident or two I could parse down to 140 characters 
Yup, that shit happened to me.  A friend of mine, in the midst of a debate about women’s rights, reached out with both heads and tried to shut me up by choking me.  At my best friend’s birthday party.  And no one did anything.  Or at least, I did something first.  You see, I don’t remember it through the lens of being victimized because my hands were free, and so I reached out and punched at his face with both hands as hard as I could until he stopped, and then told him he was fucked up and got another drink.  Because I was raised in a home where my father told me the only reason I couldn’t be a professional football player was because I ran with my tongue out, and because I grew up with a mother who never stood up for herself, so she never tolerated me not standing up for myself, and I was raised with boys who taught me how to use my body sometimes, instead of my words, because sometimes that just works better.  So, even though this incredibly fucked up thing happened, it never stuck in my head as a time of fear and helplessness.  But only because I was fine, I was able to handle it, and I had been taught to do so repeatedly in life.  
When I look back over the record of my life, there are thousands of moments like this.  Moments walking down a dark street alone at night, where I have to remind myself to throw my shoulders back confidently, and shift my keys in my hand just in case I need a weapon, and the color is as an example of my strength.  Moments when I decided it was easier to just give in to a guy’s advances and chalk it up to the story or the experience, because fighting it could have ended badly.  Moments where something happens that I shake off, and tell myself I how strong I am rather than ask why I have to wear armor in social situations.  These choices have been mine, and would not work for everyone.  Which means that I am not immune to the prevalent, violent misogyny, I have just developed coping mechanisms for the hundreds of small and large ways that my gender and sex can make me a target.  I’m like the person in a stock photo of China, wearing my air mask as I bike through the city.  I’m not breathing different air, the fact that my lungs are cleaner doesn’t mean there is not pollution.  I have just found a way to mitigate the unpleasant reality to the point where it doesn’t affect me as much.  Except that is does.  I am wearing a mask.  I have to take measures.  I know how to hold keys as a weapon, that’s called Being a Woman 101.  I have worked my whole life to feel strong, confident, and independent, and that I am and can sit here and write relatively unscathed is not an example of how fair and just the world is.  It is simply evidence of my luck and my work to not let the harsh environment I exist in control me.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Motivation, please?

A very talented friend of mine recently completed a side project. Not for a deadline or a paycheck, but just for personal improvement, shits and giggles, and because she wanted to. I beam with pride. That shit is hard to do.
For some reason, the vast majority of us humans are hard-wired to need to be forced to do anything not strictly meeting the definition of leisure. Which is pretty dumb, when we all admit we would be happier/healthier/more productive if we just did the things on our To-Do list in a timely fashion. And yet, our personal projects sit un-completed, while our netflix que swiftly empties.
Philosophers, and more specifically economists try to describe and predict human behavior with a few simplifying premises in place. One of these premises is that we are rational, which is clearly flawed. There are new theories being tossed around, trying to explain why a rational person would do irrational things, concepts like "bounded rationality" and "time inconsistency" get tossed around to explain why we basically act like teenagers when it comes time sit down and work one something without an external force pressing us.  The basic idea is that we think differently about the present than we do about the future, in terms of wants, desires, money, and expectations.  Which makes sense to anyone who ever spoiled their dinner with a sugary sweet treat because someone brought doughnuts to work.
Another theory is that of supernormal stimuli, which basically says that our recently evolved brains haven't caught up with all of the amazing, yummy, shiny things in the world, and so rather than consume them in any reasonable fashion approaching moderation, we go for it with the all-you-can-eat buffet of sugar, fat, fun, and leisure. Think eating State Fair food while sitting in a hot-tub recliner watching every season of your favorite show in a row. With beer. Who wouldn't want to do that?!
I suppose the boring answer is, an evolved adult human being with shit to do, like, walk the dog, read that book I bought 2 years ago and/or wash myself. Booooring.
This is of particular concern to me because I have a pretty large project staring me in the face, and after a short burst of enthusiasm, have completely halted production. I have, however, used up all my lives on whatever online video game was handy so, there's that. But actual work on a project that I care about and will contribute to my future in a real way? Nah, I'm going to need a deadline or, better yet, a troll with a giant mace standing behind me to get that done. And maybe take away my internet connection.
Luckily, human beings are highly adaptable creatures, meaning we can always change.  Seek out new civilizations and boldly go back to what we started, and finish it.  Good habits, though much less fun, are just as plausible as bad habits.  




Wednesday, April 02, 2014

On Life and Getting Older...

Not that I'd used this label before, but I had a fantastic mentor for a while. As is the trend for young people, I did not realize how good I had it until it was gone. When he died a few weeks ago, I was devastated. How strange it is, to be surprised by the effect a person has on your life. You would think I would have noticed something like that.
After the memorial, I went through the old emails he'd sent me over the years, searching for some of the humorous gems I remembered and hoping for some previously undiscovered words of wisdom. Even in death, he did not disappoint:
My point, to close, is that it really is not so much important where you start, and how long it takes, just so you get to your destination, and not when you are too old. You will have to work until 75, I am certain, so you have plenty of time to amortize your investment.
Keep going, he tells me. It is not too late, not by a long shot. It only feels like I am old because this is the oldest I’ve ever been. But don’t worry, life says with a chuckle, you are going to get older. Much, much older. You’re welcome! That is the funny dance of our modern lives, trying endlessly to hold death and old age at bay, as though they are twins rather than rivals, each stealing numbers from the other. How do we not see that old age is the prize we gain for surviving a raucous adolescence? Wrinkles are the door prize you get, in addition to the degrees, jobs, raises, pink slips, leases, relationships, and other life detritus we collect year after year.
Remember how old you felt five years ago? Or ten? Extrapolate that sensation for ten years from now, and listen to your older self when she tells you that you aren’t shit yet. You are still a baby, fumbling through life. We all are. For ever. Fumbling through life, making mistakes, feeling younger than our age and older at alternating intervals, and wondering what on earth happened the entire time.
Assume that this is just how life feels, marvel at it, and move on.