Taboo

Okay. It’s Independence Day in the good ol’ US of A, so I’m gonna freely say it. Everyone is a little bit racist. I meam, there are levels. From “aren’t black babies just the cutest?” to “all people who don’t moderately resemble my physical appearance need to die, like, now”. That’s a level 10 racist, by the way. You can’t get racistier than that. Okay, there’s probably an 11, but that involves space travel and way more advanced technology than we have. And the Borg.

The only problem is in meeting new people. You get past the smalltalk and start to get that “this person might make the friend list” vibe, and so you want to make a comment. A racist one, obviously. But you’re all not knowing their racist level. You don’t want to say something level 5 and totally offend potential friend who’s only a level3, and usually only during rush hour. On the other hand, you don’t want to say a level 4 to someone pushing 7 because it’ll quickly turn into a very uncomfortable, and likely loud and animated, scene.

So you both start at a 1, each feeling out where the other is. It’s exhausting and tedious, but way better than accidentally losing a potential over something so silly as race. Because unless a person is a 9 or higher, it’s really unimportant. I’m a 3. I have friends who are 6’s, friends who are 1’s, and everything in between. It just took us some time to figure out our mutual racisms.

So take the time. It’s worth it. When you can finally make a joke about Mexican bus drivers and get your Mexican friend to say something about all white people looking the same, then you’ve arrived. It’s way better to feel the situation out rather than pretend to be a 1 when you’re really a 5.

Unless you’re old. Then you can whatever the fuck you want, whenever the fuck you want. Because you’re old and going to die soon anyway.

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Beauty On the Outside

Like most of America, there’s a portion of every day spent getting ready in front of a mirror. Before going out into the world we like to check that we’re presentable. And like much of America, after I’ve checked that everything I’ve done is acceptable, I spend a moment looking at my flaws. I have cellulite because who doesn’t, and stretch marks because I used to be 150 lbs heavier. Sometimes I can’t believe it, then I get a Timehop picture notification from 5 years ago and think, “Oh.”

Anyway…I have freckles, frizz, and fur-on-my-lip (I needed alliteration, people!). I have a hereditary double chin and random, un-suspicious moles. I have a snubby nose and a unibrow, a moderately high forehead that looks terrible with bangs, but I feel it gives me a permanently “I’m interested in what you’re saying” look. I’m not, though. Permanently interested. Sometimes I’m bored as hell.

For some random reason, one day this week my self-criticism ritual lingered on my mind after I moved from the mirror. It stayed with me the rest of the day. I’ve heard people say that you’re your own worst critic, and I’m certain it’s true, but I was curious. So I went about my day actively trying to see all the physical flaws of everyone else.

I looked for the random birthmark, the unshaven legs, the blotchy skin. I looked for figure flaws, too much fat, too many bones, bad hairstyles. But I didn’t find what I thought I would find. I saw the flaws, because I searched for them. But what I found weren’t flaws at all. I found people more beautiful. People I wouldn’t have noticed had I not looked for what was wrong with them.

I saw a slightly overweight woman with overly bleached hair, looking like straw. But her hair drew me to her face, to her eyes, to the set of her jaw. I saw a woman who looked perfectly content standing in a slow-moving line at the grocery store. She might have just popped a Xanax, but maybe not. Maybe she was just content. All I know for sure is that if it weren’t for her weight, and then her hair, I might never have noticed that a person like her was out there. That SHE was out there. Shopping for groceries. Contemplating a Crock-Pot purchase. Buying a last minute pack of gum.

There was a man at the bank. I first saw him from behind while I was in line and he was at the teller’s window. He was too short, but not short enough to be considered “little”. He was wearing an oversized and ratty coat, worn out sneakers, and camouflage pants. I assumed he was recently un-homeless or living in a shelter…or a van down by the river. The teller counted out his money to him and the man turned my direction to leave the bank. His face was very dark brown and looked like leather. His race could have been African American, Hispanic, Palestinian, Canadian. His skin was wrinkly, his eyes kind of bugged out due to his coke-bottle glasses. And when I looked at him he saw me, and shared the most beautiful smile. It wasn’t even beautiful on its own; when he spread out his mouth with that smile I saw how it further wrinkled his face and bugged out his eyes, and he was missing teeth. But there was a happiness, or a peace, that emanated from him. His physical oddity only made his joy that much more outstanding.

I saw these and many others, and each time all their differentness managed to do was draw my attention to them, and once drawn there all I saw was beauty. Not merely because they let their inside selves outside, but because their outsides themselves were unique and beautiful.

So I decided to look for my own uniqueness, my own outer beauty. I noticed how the skin of my upper arms is slightly tan and very freckly on the outside and fades to Irish white at my flabby, cellulitey triceps. I saw my poochy tummy, my skinny ankles, the moles on my left cheek and right hand, All the things that appear to make me less than.

And I realized I love them. My triceps are flabby because losing weight sometimes makes skin looser. My tummy is only poochy now, while it used to be just a roll of fat leading from just below my breasts to my pelvis. My ankles have been the consistent skinny part of my body and I’ve always loved them so maybe this example doesn’t count.

The mole on my right hand appeared the day, 11 years ago, that I decided to divorce my first husband; while I’ve kept my fingers crossed all these years that it’s not cancer (not likely, since it appeared and has remained the exact same since then), I also love it. I love it because it reminds me of a good decision I made for myself. It reminds me that I’m worth something, and, more importantly, that I KNOW I’m worth something. Worth being happy. Worth not being hurt.

I don’t know what other people notice. They look at me and create their own story of my life in the brief moment they pass me on the sidewalk, when I go out to eat, when I go to the mall or the bank. They either notice me or not, evaluate me or not, smile at me or not. They don’t know that my hair is frizzy sometimes because I’m too lazy to put product in my curly hair. But if they notice and evaluate me, they’ll have their own understanding of why my hair sometimes looks like I have an affinity for playing with knives and electrical outlets. They create a person out of my flaws, out of my perfections. I hope that person they see shows them a little bit of beauty.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. It all adds up to beauty, if we only allow ourselves to see it.

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Re: My Friends’ Relationship(s)

To the Significant Other of My Friend:

The relationship between________________(henceforth referred to as “Friend”) and ________________(“Other”) has been recently noted by myself as a positive occurrence in the worlds of both Friend and Other. Based on my recent conversations and interactions with Friend, Friend loves/likes/tolerates Other in a way that is conducive to the furthering of said relationship. Due to this, I fully support the relationship, and will do nothing to impede its growth.

This guaranteed support requires the following clarifications:

1. I think that Other and I have the potential to have an active and healthy acquaintanceship, with an option for friendship in the future. We’re cool, dude.
2.  In all relationship matters between Friend and Other, I will always take the side of Friend. I will not be an impartial third party. I will listen and empathize withe Friend, even if I think that he/she is 100% in the wrong. At some point I may utilize the Help My Friend option, which consists of helping Friend repair the relationship and of giving advice. This help will only be to positively further the interests of Friend; while Other is a human being worthy of the same help and advice in his/her own interest, the Help My Friend option only covers Friend and not Other.
3. If Other hurts Friend, physically, emotionally, or psychologically, Other will be on my List. And we will no longer be cool.
4. I will not pass messages to Other from Friend during a time of relationship duress. I may choose to facilitate communication from Friend to Other, if asked.
5. I will not keep Other’s secrets from Friend, but I will definitely keep Friend’s secrets from Other.
6. I will not purposefully advise Friend to cease the relationship with Other unless Friend shares irreconcilable dissatisfaction, at which point I will only advise Friend to rely on his/her heart.
7. If at any point I develop a negative perspective on the relationship between Friend and Other, I will not share my opinion unless asked. If this occurs, the answer will be formed in such a way as to facilitate effective communication, growth, and awareness on the part of Friend.

In all situations, the relationship is of no interest to me outside of what it means to Friend. The lasting happiness of Friend is my only interest.

Addendum: The aforementioned items shall in no way be construed by Other to mean that I have any hidden, romantic attachment to Friend. That is gross and weird and incorrect.

Signed:

_________(Me/Myself/I)

_________(Friend)

_________(Other)

I’ve had situations in my life when it’s been necessary to say these things to significant others or romantic interests of close friends. Usually it’s a bit more, “As long as y’all are cool, we’re cool. If y’all aren’t…watch out, mofo.” But it’s all pretty much the same thing. Make my friend happy or you’ll pay.

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Embracing Nihilistic Beauty

Over the past few months, I’ve had this increasing flirtation with the concept of nihilism. It’s especially noticeable when I’m angry or depressed. “Nothing means anything, everyone is stupid, why do we even bother” and all that bullshit. It’s an exhausting feeling to have, and definitely more exhausting for the people close to me to be around.

But this morning I awoke with a new perspective. What’s so wrong with nihilism? Things don’t have to mean anything except exactly what they are. There doesn’t have to be a grander purpose to life’s trials, there doesn’t have to be some great plan set up by the universe, there’s nothing to say that anything that happens has any other reasoning than what we put into it. In this way, nihilism isn’t negative. It can be positive. It can release us from the burden of trying to make every situation, every encounter, every word have some deeper meaning.

Because the deeper meaning may be this: everything is meaningless, so enjoy every pointless moment. I can use it to find a way to more fully experience everything. I can have meaningful conversations with my people because they have meaning in that exact moment. Maybe I or the person with whom I’m having an experience will interpolate some meaning into it, maybe not. But the moment itself means nothing.

It all means nothing except this: you just had a moment and it was beautiful. Even the fights, even the stress. It’s all beautiful. Because experiences, and how we feel about those experiences, are what being a slightly intelligent animal on this planet is about. That’s it. We see, we hear, we feel, we taste. We converse, we think, we care. We engage with other animals to create our moments and find personal meanings to those moments. And that’s all.

Everything is meaningless. Realizing that can be a beautiful relief.

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Buzz Feed Me

I’m one of the annoying Facebook friends who takes quizzes a lot. Fortunately for my friends, I don’t post the results as often as I receive them. But I do get a bit of entertainment from taking the quizzes and seeing what the quiz makers do with my choice of answers.

Mostly, the results are bullshit and overly generic. Duh. But I’ve noticed something when taking some. My selections from the multiple choice possibilities reveals way more about me than the fact that I’m apparently an ace of hearts. Whatever that truly means, I’ll never know. Or care about.

But my choices are sometimes surprising to me. Given a limited set of options, I choose which is preferable, and sometimes it’s something I wouldn’t have considered,  given the every day limitless options with which I – along with many other people – am presented.

I don’t need to give details, because they truly don’t matter. But I find it interesting. I wonder how many other people do, too.

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Proper Porntiquette

You know how it goes. You’re single (or just alone), bored, enjoying your day off, all the tv shows are caught up, and you think, “Maybe I’ll could use some me time.” Like, up close and personal “me time”. The no-need-to-buy-me-dinner-first-but-wait-i’m-you-so-you-DID-buy-me-dinner-so-we’re-cool “me time”.

So you make sure the bedroom door is closed, turn off the lights, go the computer and turn down the sound and get your porn on.

I’ve had this nagging part of my brain for years that’s wondered something, though. Do other people porn the way I porn? I mean, I know my process, I know my websites. But what if every other computer-owning member of humanity porns different. And not individually different. Like, everyone else follows the rules, uses the “right” sites, has the “right” process. And I never got the memo.

What if I’ve been porning wrong all these years? What if someone discovered my way of porning and would laugh at me? Because literally NO ONE ELSE porns even remotely similarly to the way I porn. Because I’m not just unique, I’m doing it wrong.

It’s not a haunting thought. But it is there, floating around my brain, pestering me like that mole you know you should check out but it’s okay because it’s not exactly growing so you’re probably fine but maybe it’s skin cancer and oh my god what’s the copay on chemo? Maybe I have porn cancer.

But it’s okay. It’s not like there’s anyone ever who will ever know how I porn. Which is why I’m probably doing it all wrong.

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Life is Company

I was having coffee with a dear friend yesterday when he confessed to me that he’s been dealing with serious depression, and how he finally admitted it out loud to a person last week. He came out of the depression closet. Initially, I felt guilty that I hadn’t noticed. Me, a chronically depressed person for going on 30 years. I didn’t notice that my friend was hurting, had been hurting for a while.

But then I thought, “Well, that’s about right.” He’s depressed in the same way I am. It’s not due to personal circumstances, although negative life experiences do compound the problem. He lives his life, he goes about his days the ways he always has. He reacts to things the way he always has. He takes his showers, does his hair, puts on his “this is what smiles look like, right?” smile and goes about his day. He seems the same as he always has, probably because most of him is. Just like me, and countless of other similarly depressed people, he keeps his issues to himself because even he doesn’t understand why he thinks things are so bad, why he feels so awful, why it takes so much effort to simply go about his day and not stay huddled up in a ball playing video games and cuddling with his cats until the inevitable end of the world in a blaze of fire. Or zombies.

He doesn’t want to tell people because he doesn’t want them to worry. He doesn’t tell people because he doesn’t want people to go on a 2 day suicide watch and then give up because he’s still alive so he must be fine. He doesn’t want to sound like the countless streams of whiny idiots on social media who moan and groan about their trivial trials day after day. He doesn’t want to make people worry. Because HE doesn’t want to worry.

He does what he has to in order to pretend that everything is as fine as he tells the grocery store checker it is because maybe, just maybe, one day he will be. Pretending has to be enough for now because the reality of how he feels about himself, while he can logically see the lies within that feeling. He lives his life because there’s nothing else to do, and maybe just that will make him feel better.

I’m glad he told me. While it’s the shittiest way in which to bond with a friend, it’s also kind of amazing. To know you’re not alone. Just knowing that there are other people in the world who share your plight is one thing. Knowing there’s a person who is already important to you sharing it at exactly that moment brings more comfort, erases more loneliness, shows more glimmers of hope than any blog post or Ted talk by a stranger could ever hope to accomplish.

It feels like an ongoing hug in the center of who you are. At your core. To your very soul. It doesn’t make you feel like the depression will end some day. It makes you feel like you’ll have company, even if it lasts to the end of your life. Even if you never have more than a few hours at a time of actually feeling grocery store clerk fine. Someone will be there, someone who can answer a phone call or text, someone who KNOWS. Someone who can remind you that you can have that lasting soul-hug whenever you need one.

It’s beautiful. And sad. And necessary.

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