Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chocolate rocks

I was sweating heavily as I handed him the Toblerone.
"Wow. Cool, Thanks!" He took the giant chocolate bar from me and turned it over in his hands.
I shifted slightly on the bed. There was silence. He looked up at me.
"Do you get what I'm trying to tell you?" I fumbled awkwardly, shifting again and hoping he couldn't tell how much I was sweating.
He looked thoughtful in the way he did when he was discussing Kierkegaard and existentialism.
"Oh. Um, no?"
"I like you."
"Oh."

Let's talk about how uncomfortable it is to be vulnerable. It feels exactly like walking out to the edge of a cliff and hanging out on a wobbly rock while someone pokes you gently with a stick to see if you're able to balance. You're excited by the sheer thrill of being somewhere you don't often find yourself. You're terrified of falling, of getting hurt. You're angry at the stick-poker for making you uncomfortable. Whether you walked out onto the wobbly rock of your own volition or someone sort of cornered you out there, you're not much in a position of power. So what are you supposed to do? You hang out on the wobbly rock for a while, for as long as you can. But at some point, you either fall, or you grab the stick and pull yourself in to safety. Maybe you shove the person holding the stick onto that rock on your way back, so they can see how it feels. But being wobbly is not permanent.

I guess what I'm trying to say, what I'm trying to tell myself, is that you should hand out Toblerone bars your whole life if you can. No matter how sweaty you get. It's hard to not be dissuaded when you get a blank stare or a long pause or your candy handed back to you. But you can't give up chocolate.


Writer Rachel C. Lewis says it better than I can:
"Maybe it’s weird. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be—to just let people know you want them, need them, feel like, in this very moment, you will die if you do not see them, hold them, touch them in some way whether its your feet on their thighs on the couch or your tongue in their mouth or your heart in their hands. But there is nothing more beautiful than being desperate. And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care. We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know who needs us back. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans."
(Read her whole post here.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Push it real good

In the interest of not putting my “best self” on social media and cultivating my online persona so you think I’m cool and quirky and not a big ol' box of anxieties, I’m having an inwardly rough week, so I’m going to tell you about it whether you like it or not.

Stagnancy is one of my greatest fears. I hate the idea of settling, of “alright.” I don’t confuse contentment with complacency, but there’s a difference between being content because you’re where you want to or should be, and being content because you’re scared of doing anything else. You can be content while being uncomfortable.
But the problem is I’m just uncomfortable. I’ve been trying to create newness for myself in multiple areas of my life, but I’ve continually been met with (admittedly often self-induced) frustration. I’m afraid of being the kind of uncomfortable that isn’t “being challenged,” but just “being unhappy.” It’s like trying to scale a wall without having any footholds to start with. I want to be halfway up the wall, I want to be looking for the next place to stepI want to be that kind of uncomfortable, the kind where you know you’re going somewhere, maybe you don’t know where, but you're growing and tackling something newbut I’m still at the bottom. And I don’t seem to have the right shoes, and my climbing gear is starting to chafe.



The past few days I've been overcome with self-doubt, the irony of which is that it makes me become more self-loathing because I hate being the kind of person (i.e., a human) who second-guesses herself. I've always been extremely self-directed and independent, but lately it's become tiresome, and I'm sick of motivating myself; I just want someone to guide me through it or maybe just hold my hand and pat it gently but mostly stand up at the top of the wall and shout down step-by-step instructions to me and give me a hard push forward. 
I am not a patient person. I'm constantly struggling to balance patience with being proactive, but neither nor the balance of both has proved successful. Maybe this is just what being in your twenties feels like, or maybe this is what life will always be like during the interims of being where you want to be, but I'm exhausted and overwhelmed and discouraged. I'm constantly telling myself You're tougher than you think! And I know it's true, but I don't always believe it, especially when I'm crying in the car on the way home from yoga after I haven't gone in weeks, where I can't even twist myself into basic positions. 
The solution doesn't seem to be more yoga or more proactivity or more patience or both or switching into autopilot or settling. It feels like there is no solution, or I suppose maybe I've yet to find it. It just sucks, and I know it won't always, but right now the suck feels too big to not write as catharsis in this blog and be generally bummed out and maybe eat some (or all) of the chocolate I keep in my desk drawer for "emergencies."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The F Word

I go with my gut on most things. I know how I feel about someone very quickly after meeting them. I know if I’m going to be good friends with someone. I know if I could date this person, if I couldn’t date this person, if I’m attracted to them, if I could love them forever or if it’ll last a week. I can usually guess a lot about who a person is, what types of experiences they’ve had, what sort of ideology they subscribe to. I know when people are off, when they need to talk, when they need to just “be.”
I’ve known from just looking at a picture that someone I was involved with hooked up with another person in the photo. (This has happened on more than one occasion. Easiest sleuthing ever.)
I don’t think I’m a wizard, nor do I think I’m exceptional for being able to understand people. Lots of people know how to understand people.
I also know that I’ve judged people too soon, too harshly, and I’ve been wrong a million times.

But when I’ve been wrong, it’s usually because I didn’t listen to my intuition. Some of the bigger screw-ups I’ve made or crapfests I’ve been part of came about because my gut was waving giant red flags in my face and blaring sirens, and I put on blinders and plugged my ears. THIS IS BAD NEWS was blinking on a banner in my brain, and I unplugged the sign. I knew all about other people’s feelings, and I conveniently ignored my own.

My mom likes to give me a hard time when I claim omnipotent powers of intuition while she’s grilling me about any and every male in my life, since, her fingers are crossed, one might possibly be “the one” (hi, mom).
“How do you know you don’t like him?”
“Because I just know. I know how I feel about people when I meet them.”
“But then how come you didn’t know about [insert bad-news-boy #1 here]?”

And that’s the thing: I knew. I knew with him, I knew with others. I knew I shouldn’t get myself in any deeper. But hotness trumped rationale or desire overtook knowing better.
I’ve written blog posts before about “knowing” and how I think I know everything, and I’m consistently humbled to find out I don’t know a fucking thing. This isn’t a blog about that.

At some point within the past few years, I transitioned from being an INTJ to an INFJ. (If you are unfamiliar, these letters indicate Myers-Briggs personality types). These two types are only a letter off, but I like to attribute my current sense of self to that move from T to F. Basically: I let logic take a backseat to finally acknowledging that I had a lot of feelings, and that I was going to express those feelings instead of ignoring them, and I was going to allow them to guide me and inform my decisions instead of invalidating them at the outset.


I spent the majority of my life suppressing my feelings. When it came to sex and sexuality, instead of taking ownership of those feelings, I took on guilt and shame. When it came to romantic feelings, I berated myself for being what I thought was weak and cheesy and stupid and “female.” When it came to sadness and depression, I pretended to be okay, told people I was doing fine. I prided myself on being book-smart and book-logical. I stuffed down my overwhelming sense of empathy when I felt it was making me teary-eyed too often.
I was afraid that having feelings equated to being vulnerable. If you were vulnerable, people could take advantage of you, manipulate you, mistreat you and hurt you. As it happens, pretending to not have feelings is what got me into situations where people took advantage of me, manipulated me, mistreated me and hurt me. And as someone dear to me once told me, “No one has to know you’re being vulnerable unless you want them to.”
So I decided to acknowledge that I had feelings, to say what I felt and to feel all the feels. Sometimes my method for coping is just expressing out loud, “I feel miserable.” Sometimes (mostly) it’s making fun of my feelings. We all have ’em, so sometimes telling your Facebook friends that you just sobbed while watching a dog-food commercial is actually one of the most human things you can (and should) do.

The weird part is, ever since I embraced my feelings as a part of who I am, I feel like I feel less. (feelfeelfeelfeel) But it’s because I’m expressing my feelings that I don’t have to deal with them as much. I go with my gut, and it simply goes. I have a feel, I feel it, and I move on. Instead of bottling everything up and shoving everything down and dealing with the inevitable explosion, things become almost boring. Normal. Healthy.

Who knew?



Thursday, August 1, 2013

I get so emotional, baby

Let's take a trip back in time, friends. To a time when I had all the feelings and wrote grandiose, melodramatic things in journals between pages of French phrases and cookie recipes and notes on Impressionism and the European Union.

Eat all the feelings, Pusheen.

Here are a few snippets from my former Big, Fat Emo Life.


"My heart feels like tiny twigs snapping under footsteps: It's soft, but it still hurts."

"When am I ever going to live in a place that feels like home?"

"Heath Ledger died! Isn't that surreal?"

"How do I live out the impossible desires of my heart?"

"Sometimes I wish I didn't have a heart so I didn't have to feel."

"I need to shave my legs. They're hairy."

"If I didn't like affection, I'd be totally set for the rest of my life, and I'd be the most content single person ever."

"I want him to sing to me and play the guitar for me every minute of the day."

"If being in love helps me understand humans and human nature, then I guess for me it's worth it. But why is it worth it for other people? Happiness seems like a very selfish answer."

"You know, as much as I write about love, you'd think I was obsessed with it."

"I wish we could empty our brains out at night time the way Dumbledore empties his head of memories."

"I can't even cry over not being able to cry."

"I think I want to get married in Scotland someday. But not in a kilt or anything."

"I miss art."

"I need some fucking Cheetos and a slap in the face and someone to spoon me."


Monday, July 1, 2013

This is why you don't give a 21-year-old your phone number and then act like an adult. Lol.

Him: Hey :)
Him: Hey :)
Him: Hey wats up
Him: Hey wats up
Him: Hey wats up? :-)
Him: Hey wats up?
Him: Hey how are u?
Him: Hey how are u :-)
Me: This is getting pretty ridiculous. You can stop texting me now.
Him: Lol why'd u give me ur number then?
Him: Lol ok ill stop texting u but next time don't give me ur number. Don't be dumb lol.
Me: I asked for your number instead when you asked for mine, but I felt pressured by you to give you my number anyway, so next time just let a girl do what she wants to do.
Him: Lol. Pressured? Wat are u in high school? U could've said no I would've been ok but wats wrong with talking? Lol. It seemed like we were getting along.
Me: I'm not interested in talking.
Him: Lol. Wow somebody is rude. Its cool sweetie. Good luck.


Wats that u don't believe me?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shavasanahhhhh

Usually when I'm lying in corpse pose in yoga classeyes closed, body relaxed, breathing deeplyinstead of focused awareness and freeing my mind, I'm usually thinking about what I'm going to eat next. (Which let'sbehonest I find pleasant and relaxing, so to each her own, okay?) But recently I had one of those revelatory moments in which I discovered something new about myself (again, let'sbehonest, it was in the middle of thinking about making brownies): The AC came on, and I immediately felt this wave of peace.
... Which is weird. Because air coming out of a vent does not seem to invoke in the general public feelings of awesomeness.
But this happy nostalgia settled in, so I figured I'd explore the source of it, because what else are you going to do while you're flat on the ground like a dead body?
And it came to me: my closet.
I had two closets in the house I grew up in Texas (OMG SEW MANY CLOSETS R WE RICH?), and one was a walk-in. And stepping into it was a journey to another world for me.
I'd play inside there with friends; it was the living quarters of our ship, it was our home underground, it was our clothing store (so creative, I know). I even used to have dreams about that closet. Sometimes I still have dreams about it.
When I wasn't turning it into something else, I would just go in my closet and sit. When it was cold in the morning, I'd sidle up next to the heating vent in there and hang out for a while. Sometimes I would close the door, turn off the lights and sit in the back corner, letting my clothes drape over my head. I'd breathe really quietly and listen to the sound of shirts on hangers. And paint on the walls. And carpet.
And then sometimes I'd hear rustling, imagine it was a giant cockroach, get really freaked out and run out.
But mostly, it was that vent. I found peace in the soft "whoooooosh" of the air coming out, of the warmth, of the quiet, of the stillness. Sometimes I'd sit in there and wait for the air to turn on, however long it took.
You might think a little girl sitting alone in her closet seems like a rather lonely (and strange and sad) activity, but connecting that vent to my yogic feelings of calm reminded me of a podcast I listened to not long ago about only children. The author talks about the experience of many only children, where we're frequently asked as adults about our childhood: "Wasn't it lonely?"
She argues that it's not loneliness we experienceit's solitude. Loneliness is unpleasant; solitude is pleasurable. And that's what that sitting-by-the-vent-in-the-dark was for me. It was a place I didn't feel anxious, a place I relaxed, a place I could just be. That closet was my childhood shavasana.


Monday, June 3, 2013

My grandma, the human soundbite

"America. There's no place like it. Greatest country on Earth." 

"Did you hear what that Biber...Bieber...what's his name? Jason? What he did? He took a monkey with him." 

"Was he black?"

"Look it up on your radio." -pointing to my iPhone

"You've seen that commercial on the TV. The old people are dancing and doing the computer. I don't need to be with those old people, they're too old."

"Oh that sounds like a good movie. I'll wait till that comes out on video." -referring to The Sixth Sense

"I don't want to see that Gatsby. That's with that Leonardo."

"They were probably Jews."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Post-postal

I put a note on the back of my mailbox--which is not a mailbox, really, but a tiny grey prison-cell box that fills up from just two rounds of circulars among 20 other rusted silver boxes in a block not entirely unlike some Soviet-era barrack--"I think the door on 6 is jammed. Can you please see if there's mail blocking the lock?" fully expecting the rain would smear the blue letters on my little yellow post-it into non-legibility or the mailman would ignore my note, or maybe some child would rip it off just to be cruel (those cruel, cruel, children). I'll never open my mailbox again, I thought.
It wouldn't be the first time; ages ago, the door was stuck from sticky, sugary blue-and-pink goo that coated many of the boxes in what I can only assume was some bizarre cotton-candy explosion. No one bothered to wipe the units down, because after all, who has time for such trivialities? This is a place where cats and children roam free, where puppies with seemingly no owners though dangling tags on their collars race alongside your car, out the gate and into the street, and there's nothing you can do, because you're late to work and this isn't your responsibility and maybe it would teach the dog owner a lesson if your disregard for their disregard led to a tragic end. But you stop your car and yell at the tiny Chihuahua and shoo it back into the complex.
The next day I'm able to open the lock on my mailbox, and my fantasies of hacking into the box late at night with paper clips are replaced with dreams of mailbox doors like manholes or submarine hatches, built horizontally into the ground with absurdly difficult access to the unknown held inside. If only, if only! you could open that door! what should be waiting within? But it's just more tropically colored coupons to inform you of 2 for $3 blueberries and 40 percent off Swedish furniture.

The interactions we have with those who are absent sometimes mean more than the face-to-face ones. Whether they're in real time or just us replaying our memories over and over.

Sometimes I see you walking down the street. At a concert. At the grocery store. It used to be entirely possible, if not all that plausible, that it was you. And my heart would race, in anxiety, and then in curiosity. But now when it happens, I get hit with a delayed thunk to my brain: You are dead.

I wouldn't have known if not for my mother's obsession with the internet. "Did you know Lady Gaga has a head injury?" she says to me with Julian Assange-like authority. "Those Kardashian girls are starting a clothing line--I don't like them. They seem very self-obsessed." My mother, celebrity WikiLeaks. But there's no bigger celebrity for the mother of an only child than her daughter, providing me with my own personal fan base of one: "When are you going to write a new blog post?"; "I saw you tweeted about bacon, that was cute."; "Did you see they put an article of yours up on the website?" Repository of information that she is, I suppose it's not surprising that one December evening before this past Christmas, as we're in the kitchen baking or eating or doing a food-related activity as we often do, she starts whispering in that knowing tone, vaguely hinting at information I "may or may not know," about a certain tumblr post by a certain someone about a certain other someone. I don't even write in my tumblr anymore, so I have no idea what she's talking about. But there it is. We find the post she's already read and processed but hasn't told me about until now that says he killed himself. A Google search for his name brings up his obituary.
He'd done it four months earlier, in September, but news travels slowly when you've cut him and anyone who even vaguely reminds you of him out of your life. You start replaying the already overplayed memories. The extreme highs and lows. The Facebook message hinting at suicide. The texts about "doing as many drugs and fucking as many people as I can." The vague references to a Girl-Interrupted-like event that you can only assume means time spent in a psych ward. And you feel...
What do you feel? What are you supposed to feel when the first person you ever slept with, who was a narcissistic, depressed asshole that hurt you emotionally more than anyone ever had, that made you for almost a year afterward not want to be touched by anyone again, kills himself?
That is not an easy answer.
You feel validated. For those times you tried explaining to friends why the way in which he was hurting you was significantly different than just any-old guy being kind of a dick, but you just ended up thinking maybe you were being too sensitive; maybe he was just-another-guy-being-a-dick.
You feel guilty for feeling validated.
You think, It doesn't surprise me.
You feel guilty for thinking that. You feel guilty for not feeling more sad. You feel guilty for processing your feelings when you hadn't had any contact with him in almost three years, when he wasn't your boyfriend, your son, your brother.
You see him walking down the street, at a concert, at the grocery store. You think: You are dead.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

#copyeditingconversations

S: In the first graph, she writes, "What’s next? Facebook for pets?"
Actually, there are subsites (Dogbook and Catbook) already. Should we have her cite another example?
M: Thoughts? Maybe we could even add a "(Oh wait, there already is)" or something.
Also, why haven't you accepted my Catbook invite yet?
C: Why don't we change it to Twitter for pets…that's funnier anyway.
Are you serious about Catbook?
M: "Just went to the bathroom, noticed no one's changed my litter in two weeks #soovermyowner #petproblems"
C: Nice! I wish we could do Pinterest for pets.
M: Dogs pinning pics of fancy toilet bowls.
C: Or delicious-looking piles of shit.

Friday, May 17, 2013

y so srs?

Here's the thing about my face: It looks angry when it's in the "resting" position. It's something I've been painfully aware of for a large portion of my life, and at times tried to remedy by consciously altering my features to look "happier," or at least "surprised" (although people probably just think Why does that angry girl look so surprised?). But there's really not much I can do outside of surgically altering my mouth, and I don't think plastic surgeons have yet mastered the "smize" operation. The thing about faces is, we're stuck with them. You wouldn't tell a disfigured person "Hey, you, stop looking so disfigured," and yet people seem overly eager to brazenly tell a stranger that they need to stop looking so serious and smile more. THIS IS MY FACE. This is how it looks. You are literally seeing exactly what it looks like.

Been wearing this expression since '87.
If I had a dollar for every person who has apropos of nothing told me I should smile, or made a comment about how I look angry or serious, when all I (thought I) was doing was sitting minding my own business ... I'd have about $17. Which isn't that much, but it's enough to take you out for a drink and show you in person the stupid shit people feel compelled to say. It's akin to one of my friends who often hears from her co-workers (or strangers, and most often men), "You look so pretty without your glasses!" She should definitely stop wearing them so that other people can feel "nice" when they look at her. I mean, she only wears her glasses to see.
I used to do this thing where I tucked my bottom lip in and rolled my chin out into a position that flattened it because I didn't like the way it looked in my profile. So in class or out and about I'd consciously do this chin-flattening thing so that people in view of my profile wouldn't see my rolly little chin. (Instead they'd see a girl with a flat chin doing something really weird and likely grotesque with her mouth and lips.) It became a habit, and I somehow convinced myself that it made me more attractive to shape my face into something I thought others would like better. (You know how people tell you things a million years after you've stopped caring and you're like, "Wish you could have told the me who was sitting in science class pushing her chin down with her fingers"? I told a guy I dated about the chin thing and he said, "But why? You have such a pretty profile.")
Maybe this is why I like Grumpy Cat so much. Grumpy's resting face probably most often belies his actual mood, but he's like I WASN'T ACTUALLY GRUMPY TILL ALL YOU MOTHERFUCKERS STARTED ASKING WHY I WAS.
I shouldn't have to alter my face, or explain why my face looks however it does at the moment, especially to some dildo in a bar who thinks he's flirting with me by telling me I look grouchy. (Because that always works on everyone, ever.) 
People are drawn to friendly faces, certainly, and some people's faces are perhaps naturally "friendlier" looking. (Whatever that means. The corners of your mouth turn up more than mine; I'm so happy for you [though I don’t look it.]) But here's the thing: People are drawn to a lot of things (kindness, drugs, cartoons, beauty, licorice), and it's not up to me to put on display what other people think I should. If I'm hosting a party, I’ll be sure to look lively. If I'm interviewing someone, I’ll be sure to look interested. But when I'm just sitting, I shouldn't feel actively obligated to look cheerful if the things on my face aren't forming into the expression people wished they saw. It's my face, and sometimes it's off-duty. It's not here for your viewing pleasure. Women have enough ridiculous things expected of them as it is; trying to maintain a pleasant visage if it doesn't occur naturally should not be another. 
My face, my choice.