This is water.

water

This post started out as a homework assignment my therapist gave me last week. And if you follow me on any sort of regular basis, you know that M (said therapist) possesses voodoo magic. DAMN HER AND HER METAPHORS AND FOR MAKING SO MUCH DAMN SENSE AT THE RIGHT DAMN TIME! GAWD! SRSLY. What follows is what I was asked to do for M this week. She didn’t TELL me to blog about it but it became so powerful and such a huge epiphany to me that I HAD to blog about it. And I will be giving her this as my “homework” and I expect a fucking A with a + AND a gold star next to it.

What I was asked to do by M was to just mindfully listen to this speech (the irony of her asking me to do this will come in a moment) called “This Is Water” by David Foster Wallace once. Then I was to listen to it AGAIN and “respond” to it/discuss it when M and I meet next. What follows is my response. I will attach the YouTube video I listened to at the end of this post but the transcript of the speech will be right here in italics with my personal thoughts/epiphanies in bold.

2005 Kenyon Commencement Address ~ May 21, 2005
Written and Delivered by: David Foster Wallace

Greetings and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005.

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. [Srsly. Think about it. What is right in front of you right now? What are you thinking about right in this moment? What are you feeling right now? For me personally, I’m going to say life in general…it is such a simple “topic” yet my thoughts and ideas regarding it cannot be neatly put into words or a box and given or said to someone. It’s a hard thing to notice and talk about even though it’s, quite literally, right in front of my face all the time.] Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance [Seriously. You may think this is figurative but by the end, you will realize it’s literal. Keep reading.], or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I’m supposed to talk about your liberal arts education’s meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about “teaching you how to think”. If you’re like me as a student, you’ve never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think [DAMN STRAIGHT!], since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. [Right?] But I’m going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. [Your light bulb should be coming on right about here. The key word is “choice”.] If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I’d ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious. [Do NOT roll your eyes at me…or Mr. Wallace. Keep. Reading.]

Here’s another didactic little story: There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says, “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God. It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out ‘Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.'” And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.” [If you’re anything like me, able to “put yourself in another person’s shoes”, your next light bulb should have gone off here. Mr. Wallace will explain this more in a minute but this is my homework and my blog so I’m going to “spill the beans.” Perspective. The religious man (and even I myself, retaining some knowledge from my “Jesus Years”) could easily turn this around and say that God put those Eskimos in that man’s way and answered his prayer. The atheist, being “close-minded”, clearly will not see the situation that way. This is called a dialectic, people…there are TWO sides of the coin…two sides to every story. Neither side is completely right and neither side is completely wrong. Each side is its own truth for whichever person that side “belongs to”. AND YES I AM GOING ALL MARSHA LINEHAN ON YOU. Let’s take God and religion out of this. M says to me often, in all sincerity because she believes it, that “It will get better.” My first reaction is to scoff at her and say, “Bullshit.” because I don’t believe that things will ever get better. But is M wrong? Is she right? Is her statement possible? Am I right? Am I wrong? Is my statement possible? None of the above. Each statement is each person’s truth and belief. I can choose (keyword there) to do one of two things: A) I can continue to be close-minded and not give M’s statement any credence at all and continue to be miserable while I choose to be self-centered and believe my own statement as truth. Or B), I can choose to be open-minded and acknowledge that M’s statement is just as valid as my own (which, knowing M, is probably the whole fucking reason she’s having me do this damn assignment). Neither statement is true or right and neither statement is wrong or impossible. But the acceptance of THAT truth (that neither statement is the ultimate truth) is where true knowledge and freedom comes from. And I would probably make M’s job a lot easier if I would do this more often and quit being so stubborn.]

It’s easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people’s two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. [See, I told you he would tell you.] Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy’s interpretation is true and the other guy’s is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from INSIDE the two guys. As if a person’s most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice. Plus, there’s the whole matter of arrogance. The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They’re probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists’ problem is exactly the same as the story’s unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up. [Read that last sentence again. Blind certainty. Close-mindedness.]

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. [DING DING DING! BINGO!] Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. [Here is where I’m going to caution you if you are an over-thinker like myself: this does not mean that you are wrong for thinking this way. Re-read what he said: it is our default setting. It’s “natural”.] Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

Please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being “well-adjusted” which, I suggest to you, is not an accidental term. [Insert another light bulb here. What he’s getting at and, correct me if I’m wrong, what a lot of therapy is trying to get at is to get you to “adjust” your thinking in a way that allows you to see what is beyond your eyes and your mind…stepping into other people’s shoes and seeing the world from a different point of view. Again, a very simple concept it seems…but it’s actually quite hard to do. You may be able to do it for an hour here or there or during a conversation with a struggling friend, able to empathize with them. But can you do it all the time? I didn’t think so. It takes practice and a lot of hard work.]

Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. [Another light bulb. This concept has absolutely NOTHING to do with how good your grades are/were. You could be Einstein and it would not matter in executing this “skill” or concept. You have to find and learn it yourself in your own way.] This question gets very tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education – least in my own case – is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me. [GUILTY! And to put this into DBT/therapy terms: this is the whole point of DBT mindfulness…to just be in the moment, pay attention, participate. The goal is not to change what is going on, it is simply just to notice what is going on be it good, bad or indifferent. After two years, I still personally struggle with this immensely. I want to over-analyze and think about everything instead of just letting it be. I made the mistake of doing the first part of my homework, listening to this once “mindfully”, at 5 AM. I should have known, coming from M, that whatever she was going to have me listen to was going to make a million light bulbs go off in my head. Remember, the first time I listened to this, I was not to respond in any way and it took immense self-restraint (and a few Benadryl) to make myself STFU and NOT say/write anything. Again, my bad for choosing to do part one at 5 AM.]

As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). [GUILTY!] Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. [JOHNNY! Tell him what he’s won!] It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. [I don’t even think I can add anything to that sentence…he nailed it…on the head. All the shit I put myself through, all the worrying and over-thinking I do is a CHOICE. It’s a hard to NOT do that stuff because it’s a habit…it’s natural…it’s how I roll. The choice comes in when I become aware of what I’m doing to myself (and possibly those around me), what I’m CHOOSING to pay attention to and being conscious of what I’m doing/thinking enough to CHOOSE to change either HOW I’m thinking or WHAT I’m thinking or doing.] Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master”. [AMEN!]

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. [TOTALLY off-topic, but when I read “great and terrible”…I read “terrible…yes…but great” and heard it in the voice of the actor who plays Mr. Olivander in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Just me? Okay. Moving on…] It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger. [Again…he nailed it…on the head. I never thought of a gun suicide that way but if I ever choose that route…I would totally go for the head…to make my brain STFU…forever.]

And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head [A SLAVE!] and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let’s get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what “day in day out” really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I’m talking about.

By way of example, let’s say it’s an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there’s no food at home. You haven’t had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It’s the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it’s the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it’s pretty much the last place you want to be but you can’t just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store’s confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren’t enough check-out lanes open even though it’s the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can’t take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.

But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line’s front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to “have a nice day” in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. [THAT VOICE. You wanna get under my skin? Tell me to have a nice day in the most cheerful way possible when I’m having the worst fucking day EVER! A death stare, you will get.] Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.

Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn’t yet been part of your graduates’ actual life routine, day after week after month after year. [I don’t think I count because I’ve graduated and I TOTALLY get what he’s saying…boring…mundane…routine.]

But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. [Lord Jesus issa fire…] Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. [OH…MY…GOD. RIGHT?! If I don’t shift my thinking and I stay “stuck” and focused on how miserable I am standing in this fucking long ass line, I’m GOING to be miserable…but if I think about, perhaps, a really cute cat who is anxiously awaiting my return home…maybe I can NOT be so miserable standing in that fucking long ass line.] Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.

Or, of course, if I’m in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV’s and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest (this is an example of how NOT to think, though) most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. And I can think about how our children’s children will despise us for wasting all the future’s fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on.

You get the idea.

If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn’t have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the centre of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities. [I prefer to think of this as “auto-pilot”.]

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways [TAKE NOTES HERE!] to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. [Empathy. The dialectic…the other side of the coin.] Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way. [Would you like “The Other Side Of The Coin” for $800?]

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do. [Very possible.]

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it’s hard. [Yes it is.] It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to. [Amen.]

But most days, if you’re aware enough [“Mindfulness” for $200?] to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. [There are so many options/possibilities, you can’t even begin to count them.] It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down. [Pretty deep stuff, huh?]

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it. [Boom.]

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship. [And guess what else? You don’t need a degree to be able to do it.]

Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles – is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. [Whether you are aware of that fact or not, you DO know all this already.] It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. [I get it, M. I. GET. IT. Working on it… And chances are, I will ALWAYS be working on it. I don’t think it will ever be automatic.]

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing. [Ever heard that phrase about people only seeing what they want to see?]

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving… The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. [I couldn’t have said it better if I tried.]

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. [Captial-T True.] But please don’t just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. [A. M. E. N.]

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge [Yes!], and everything to do with simple awareness [Mindfulness.]; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

“This is water.”

“This is water.”

[It is neither hot nor cold…there is neither a lot nor a little…it is just there. It…is…just…water.]

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. [True knowledge comes from being aware…mindful…not from knowing that 1+1=2. Anyone can be taught that 1+1=2…not everyone can be taught how to just observe and describe and be aware of themselves, others, thoughts and surroundings…to just be in the moment. And even then, you CAN be taught HOW to be mindful, but to actually be able to do it and become a master of it is the true test…the dissertation of a lifetime. When you figure out how to do it ALL the time without fail, please e-mail me.] And it commences: now.

I wish you way more than luck.

Advertisements

It smells like teen spirit…

20130505-013725.jpg
I haven’t been keeping you all “abreast” of what’s going in my life but this blog wasn’t created to keep you all up-to-date on everything…it’s a dumping ground for all the things I can’t say and for things that are on my heart…this post being one of them.

To catch you up to speed, I have been continuing one-on-one therapy with M and will continue to do so and I’ve just been…here. Not doing a whole lot or making a lot of “progress.” M would probably beg to differ as I’ve started working again. DON’T get excited because it’s nothing like what you might be thinking. I’ve started babysitting again. Just one to three times per month for two to three hours at a time for a four-month-old baby boy. Some of y’all might be going, “WTF?! A CRAZY SUICIDAL DEPRESSED OVERLY ANXIOUS NEUROTIC IN CHARGE OF A BABY?!” Cool your jets, kids…because I love kids, especially babies and while I may be crazy, anyone who truly knows me and my heart knows I wouldn’t do anything stupid in front of/with a baby. It’s not even a thought that ever crosses my mind. My own therapist, knowing all the shit she does, has said she would trust me with her child. If that’s not a good endorsement, I don’t know what is. I’ve had 15+ years of childcare experience and I don’t need to nor do I want to list it all here…but suffice it to say, “That bitch is gooooood.” I have mad skillz.

I’ve been watching a four-month-old baby boy, D, for just about a month now…just a few times so far. I usually watch him in three-hour chunks so I usually get a feeding, some play time and a nap, which suits me just fine because snuggling a sleeping baby feels better than popping a Xanax. Baby D has a 13-year-old sister, LL. D’s mom is NOT LL’s mom…but they have the same dad. So D’s mom is technically a first-time mom and that couldn’t be any more evident…she’s not a bad mom at all, it’s just very obvious that she hasn’t been around kids much and lacks experience with babies.

I watched D earlier this week and it was a later shift than I usually do. I usually watch him in the late afternoon but this shift was a dinner to bedtime shift, which was fine with me. Both mom and dad went out, so it was just me, baby, and big sister LL. LL had gotten in trouble for something earlier in the day and was in her room when I got there but she came out after mom and dad left. D had just finished eating so I was burping him, and LL sat down and just started talking to me. A 13-year-old…talking to a 29-year-old. Not a bad thing but definitely something I hadn’t done in a very long time, if ever. She sat down on a stool near where I was sitting with the baby and she stayed there…just talking to me…for three hours. She even mentioned at one point that she had never done that with her dad or step-mom (who, even after five-ish years, can’t even say the child’s name right). When she said that to me, it made me really sad. I may be almost 30, but I remember what being a teenager was like…it’s a time in my life that, unfortunately, was very hard for me and probably won’t ever be forgotten. I hope I am able to stay with this family for a while because I would love to be a…a “positive role model” doesn’t sound like a really good thing to say given my history but…maybe I could at least be someone she can talk to, confide in, feel comfortable with…because I’d rather have her talk to me, someone older, someone who’s been around the block, someone that’s not a part of her family, than have her keep all her feelings inside. Speaking from experience, bottling up all that shit doesn’t benefit anyone.

I’ve become a cranky old fart over the last ten years or so, despising today’s teenagers. They piss me off. They are disrespectful and don’t even know street names anymore because their heads are always down, texting or playing games. I stumbled upon a Facebook post a few months ago of a teenage girl that was SO heartbroken because her parents bought her the wrong color iPhone for Christmas. I would have taken that damn phone back to the store and told her to stuff it. Pissed me off, that post did.

20130507-043704.jpg

But while talking to LL…I didn’t feel like I was talking an ungrateful, ditsy 13-year-old who has no idea what the “real world” is like. After last Tuesday night, I think she taught me a lesson…to not write off all teenagers so quickly. (However, I will continue to write you off immediately if your pants are around your knees instead of your waist.)

She started out the evening just asking me about my piercings and tattoos, if they hurt….expressing her desire just to get her ears pierced. She asked me a few questions about how I grew up and what it was like “back in the day”. (Man I felt old saying stuff like, “Back in my day, we got actual report cards sent in the mail…you know…pieces of paper a real person puts in that thing called a mailbox? My parents could not just log on a computer…we had just started using computers back then!…to check my grades and check on any missing assignments the minute first period was over.) She talked to me about makeup and boys, asked me what I was allowed to do at what ages…what I think about certain things. We talked about our love for scary movies and loud music. Nothing sticks out as “major” or a big deal…just girlfriend chit-chat. And, much to my surprise, conversation flowed easily and naturally because the next thing I knew, her parents had returned home three hours later and I was all, “Whhhaaatttt?” It was very evident to me, by the end of the night, that LL did not have anyone to share/talk about this kind of stuff with. I’m sure she has her little school friends but they are probably just like her…curious and need/want someone older who is not family to just talk to without the fear of being judged or “tattled” on. It didn’t take her long to start opening up to me, it seemed…which I took as a compliment because it’s hard to engage any teenager in a conversation that doesn’t involve talking via computer or cell phone and in any conversation involving real feelings that does not involve gossip about what the most popular girl in school is doing. It was obvious she just wanted…even needed…to talk. I came away thinking that she’s probably a lot like me…shut down a lot at home, not encouraged to talk and/or invalidated when she does talk/share her feelings. For three hours, I just empathized with her, shared a little bit about myself and my living situation…how even at almost 30, I completely “get it”…because even at almost 30, I sometimes feel like/am treated like I’m 15. Life, no matter what age you are, isn’t butterflies and rainbows all the time; there are still bullies and I wouldn’t even say that it gets easier (but I didn’t tell her that…she’ll figure it out soon enough).

In a nutshell, LL’s biological mom is around (as in she lives locally and wants to be involved) and from what LL has told me, she’s quite sane and functioning, doing just fine. I didn’t know her father had full custody of her until last week because custody is usually given to a mother…and even then, there’s usually a joint custody agreement. LL’s father (who is also baby’s father) forbids LL to have any contact with her biological mom whatsoever. For the life of me, I still don’t know why. LL says her mom has a great job, she has other children and is not a “dead-beat mom” with drug or alcohol issues or anything that would normally prevent her from having custody or at least be in LL’s life. LL doesn’t even get to see her every other weekend…in fact, her father has forbidden contact between LL and her biological mother until LL is 18. I felt absolutely horrible (and astonished!) at this because at 13, a girl needs a mom and/or a positive female figure in her life and baby’s mom, LL’s step-mom, doesn’t seem to fulfill that role. This poor 13-year-old…being the psych major I am, I can just see all the mommy issues that may come up later in life for this girl…and it makes me sick…and only strengthens my resolve to attempt to be something for her, hoping her family situation doesn’t fuck her up more than it already has/will.

I have, thus far, skirted around telling LL the real reason(s) I’m at home and not working, choosing to watch her brother instead of getting a “real job”. 1) I’m still learning to trust her and her family as I’m sure they are doing with me. 2) I don’t know if those kind of topics (depression, suicide, etc.) should even be discussed with a 13-year-old, especially when I’m not family/her parent. I don’t want to give her a subliminal message of, “If she can do it [suicide], I can too.” (This would be totally different if it went in the direction of, “If she can overcome suicide and adversity and come out on top, I can too.” but I haven’t made it that far in my journey yet, so that message isn’t there to share.) I’ll have to ask M what she thinks regarding these topics and how one would go about discussing them with a teenager who is not family…if it’s even appropriate at all. LL’s parents seem to heavily supervise anything she has access to…like the internet and such, which isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t want her parents to look down upon me for “opening the door” on certain topics, of which their daughter may have been ignorant of before I came along. [Annotation: I have not and don’t plan on ever talking to LL like I talk to my therapist, divulging my feelings and thoughts. But LL is curious so if it gets to a point where she asks me what’s going on in my life and why I am where I am and why I am who I am, I don’t know what’s okay to tell her and what topics I should refrain from mentioning given her age. I’m sure there’s a fine line and I plan to find and identify it before saying anything to LL. I am just trying to say that I’m here FOR LL, for her to talk to and trust…not for me to talk to her as if she were an adult/friend. I can skirt around things and “dull” the intensity of my feelings but I refuse to lie, to her or anyone.]

I know I’m still new to this family but it astounds me how people will act one way in front of others (me) and then you find out that they are so not that way behind closed doors. My heart broke for LL. Not only can her step-mom not pronounce her name correctly (it’s not hard…I was able to do it just fine the moment I met LL), she is quick to correct anyone that says LL is her daughter. “No no no, step-daughter.” I get that that’s the truth, but how demeaning and unloving does it feel for LL to see and hear that on a regular basis…having her step-mom, someone who is going to be in her life for a long time and already has been up to this point, take no “ownership” of LL. Sure, there is no blood connection, but she is, for all intents and purposes, the mother figure, especially since she forbids LL to have any contact with her biological mother (which I don’t understand, but she’s not my child…not hers either, apparently). LL is at a crucial point in her life and if there is not a strong female figure in her life, shit’s gone get real pretty damn fast. And if she doesn’t trust her parents or talk to them, she’s either going to do a lot of bad shit behind their back and/or she’s going to bottle up all of her feelings because she doesn’t feel like she can trust/talk to them and that, in and of itself, will lead to a lot of bad shit. I can’t imagine being 13, in a split household, no contact with her seemingly sane biological mother, a brand new baby brother and a massive attention shift. It doesn’t sound like LL was ever the focal point in her father and step-mother’s life even before the baby came along, and she’s definitely not now. She’s expected to help out with the baby…during my second time watching D, her father said she could not go over to a friend’s house because he said she had to stay home and help me with the baby. I’m like, “Dude [I didn’t actually say this!], I got this…srsly. I’m cool. It’s a gorgeous day…let her go play.” If I didn’t have 15+ years of experience and know what the fuck I’m doing, y’all probably shouldn’t have hired me in the first place. Jus’ sayin’. There also seems to be a lot of double standards in the home. LL is not allowed to watch TV at all on school days…fair…but her friggin’ 4-month-old baby brother gets to watch TV all damn day and I shit you not people, he does. I have never seen a baby that young able to stare at a television screen with any semblance of attention. And I am, at my age, going DUMB watching the shit that’s supposed to make him SMART. Trust me, when he gets older and can play a little more, that shit’s not gonna happen on my watch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a TV whore myself…but I’m also an adult who can make my own decisions and granted, I have no kids and therefore have nothing to offer/say to someone who does, but I don’t agree with using TV as a babysitter, especially when you go out of your way to hire a motherfucking babysitter. Jus’ sayin’. LL is expected to live up to very high standards…standards that, even at my age, I’m not expected to meet. And there is no positive reinforcement for all that she does…which I can TOTALLY relate to. Example: I will empty the dishwasher without being asked. No problem…something I should do anyway. But instead of a thank you or acknowledgement of some sort, I get chastised for putting the cups away still wet and not taking the time to dry them off more before putting them away. Okay…let’s ignore the fact that I just emptied the dishwasher and tidied up the kitchen for you without being asked…let’s focus on how wet the cups are (that will be dry by morning due to a little thing called “evaporation”). LL gets treated the same way. This child is expected, without being asked, to perform many feats…but instead of thanking her or rewarding her, everything she did WRONG is pointed out to her. I can just see the therapy sessions now. My heart seriously aches for this girl and I want to shake her parents and tell them, “Look at what you are doing to her! You are going to fuck her up in ways that will be irreparable if you don’t rectify your parenting methods. Trust me.”

After three hours talking to LL, it seemed to me that she just really needs someone to talk to. Anyone. But preferably someone she can trust, someone that won’t rat her out. (Don’t take this to mean I wouldn’t tell her parents if I thought she was in danger and/or engaging in dangerous behavior. I’d give it some serious thought first, not wanting to break LL’s trust but depending on the situation, if telling her parents saves LL’s life…fair gamble/trade in my opinion.) After three hours, I saw a beautiful, intelligent girl who is SO awesome, but her parents don’t know/see that because they don’t let her show it. If she were given an opportunity to just be herself (not “no holds bar”/no rules…but just if her parents would lighten up a little and see what a beautiful young lady they have growing up in their home), she would truly astound her father and step-mother. I’d put money on it. Because she IS awesome and beautiful and she made me rethink my disdain for teenagers…because she is proving me wrong. I just want to scoop her up and hug her and tell her how beautiful and awesome she is (she is on the boy’s wrestling and football team, kicking ass!) and how she has the potential and “balls” to be and do anything she wants. I want to tell her that the world needs more girls like her and how grateful and humbled I am that she chose to open up to me, a perfect stranger, so quickly. But doing that showed me how much she desperately needs a strong female in her life. And if I can do/be that female, I would love to. I may be fucked up and crazy but by golly, if I can save ONE teenage girl from the insecurities and doubts so many teenagers experience today…or at least help make it bearable, I’m all for it…give me the job, sign me up.

This will require some thought and probably a lengthy discussion with M and possibly LL’s parents, but I want to be able to be here for LL whenever she wants/needs, not just when I am over watching her brother. It appears that the child has no e-mail or cell phone, so I’m not sure how she would prefer to go about communicating. I prefer writing over talking on the phone (I can’t hear to save my life and writing gives me more time to edit myself and turn the profanity filter on), so I’m hoping to possibly be able to communicate by e-mail. It doesn’t have to be deep discussions of the heart…it can be that, but it can be as simple as, “Hey LL! How are you? How is school?” Basics, girly chit-chat…the things she’s not talking about with anyone now. I’ll be damned if I let one more teenage girl grow up thinking she’s not worth the gum stuck to someone else’s shoe. How she is being treated and listened to (or not) now will impact (probably even predict) what she will be/act like as an adult. Look at me…living proof of what it will do. And I am F to the U-C-K-E-D UP. If I can have any part in preventing someone else from ending up like me, I would love and relish the opportunity. She is a like a sponge at 13 and the smallest and most trivial things matter, even though they seem petty to us as adults. They matter at that age whether you want to acknowledge it or not. And whether or not you listen matters. If you don’t want to hear about how the most popular girl is being a mean snob, she’s not going to want to tell you about the new boy she met who is pressuring her to have sex.

My original intention for this post was to be an open letter to LL but clearly that didn’t happen. Some more thought and discussion will have to be given as to how I will be able/allowed to communicate with LL because I don’t want to go behind her parents’ back. If nothing else, I hope she knows that when I come over to watch her brother, I’m there for her too…not to watch and babysit her, just to talk and listen.

Who are you?

20130401-004626.jpg

This is an adventure that was making the blog-rounds a while back and I was tagged…and I feel that I now have some semblance of sanity to respond to it…finally. And writing about something non-emotional at the moment seems like a fantastic idea.

Here are some questions, the answers to which will make up this blog post, which I need right now even if it’s not the typical emotion dump I want/need to write right now. This will have to suffice until I start making change out of things that make no cents and can give birth to a real zinger.

So…um…bottoms up?

1. Where were you born?
In a hospital. I think I’ve said enough to imply that I live in the Pacific Northwest, which I have my entire life.

2. Were you named after someone?
My grandmother had a best friend with my first name and growing up, my mother put an “Aunt” in front of it and I guess my mother vowed that when and if she had a daughter, that name would be bestowed upon her (sans the “Aunt”). Kinda funny to me now because I was supposed to be a boy. My room was even painted baby blue. Sorry for the let-down, mom…

3. How many children do you have?
NONE. ZERO. NADA. ZILCH.

4. How many pets do you have?
One beautiful little girl kitty. I’m happy to be her human. She makes me smile. She also makes me laugh out loud when I give her catnip. I’m an enabler…I know…

5. What’s the worst injury you ever sustained?
A broken heart? Uhhhh…hmm…I’ve never broken a single bone in my body or been to the hospital for any reason other than for kidney stones and suicidal ideations…but I did knock my two front teeth out when I was little. Thank God they were baby teeth and not my adult teeth. I have a scar where one tooth went through my lip.

6. Do you have any special talents?
Fuck if I know. I seem to have an uncanny ability to find the most perfect song for any life moment…or the song finds me. It’s weird. I got a speeding ticket a while back and after my panic attack subsided and I felt calm enough to re-enter the freeway, “Jesus, Take The Wheel” by Carrie Underwood came on my stereo and I was all, “Really?!”

7. Favorite thing to bake?
*snort* Uhh…I don’t cook…like…ever. (Note: I said “don’t”…not “can’t.”) For one, I don’t live on my own so I don’t have free reign over a kitchen but I do get home-cooked meals every now and then. But if I am left to my own devices, I can cook a mean frozen pizza, Spaghetti-O’s, Top Ramen or macaroni and cheese. I can make a mean batch of million dollar brownies (brownies with caramel made with German chocolate cake mix) and Rice Krispie treats if I feel the need to get my bake on…but…it hasn’t happened in years. I was once given an oven mitt for Christmas that says, “If it fits in a toaster, I can cook it.” Microwave and oven are interchangeable with toaster in some situations.

8. Favorite food?
Oh Lord…Kraft Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese with hotdogs or a cheeseburger, french fries and a Coke. I used to be a pretty picky eater but I’ve gotten better. I’m super easy to please (and cheap)…and by that, I mean I would so go to Red Robin over some over-priced French restaurant downtown. Srsly. If you want to meet me for dinner or something, use the KISS method: Keep It Simple Stupid. F’reals.

9. Would you bungee jump?
I think in a weird sort of fucked up figurative way, I have already “taken the plunge”…but yeah…bungee jumping is on my Bucket List. I’m not saying I’d have the balls to do it say…tomorrow…but it’s on the list.

10. What is the first thing you notice about people?
Whether or not they like me. I can spot that from a mile away. After that assessment, it’s probably a toss up between eyes and smiles.

11. When was the last time you cried?
I think a more appropriate question would be, “When was the last time you weren’t crying?” I haven’t been AWOL just picking my nose.

12. Any current worries?
Are you fucking kidding me?

13. Name 3 drinks you drink regularly.
Coke.
Water.
Vodka.

14. What’s your favorite book?
Mine. As soon as I write it.

15. Would you like to be a pirate?
Where the fuck did this question come from? I can see how having a hook in place of a hand and ramming it up people’s asses would be therapeutic for me…for a day…but not as a permanent lifestyle.

16. Favorite smells?
Oh God. I think it would be easier to tell you about my least favorite smells. I love anything clean/fresh. If fabric softener were a perfume, it would probably be my signature scent. My hair always smells really good, too. I have a candle hoarding problem…again, clean/fresh scents…I like lavender too. And babies. I love sniffing babies.

17. Why do you blog?
Because there are a lot of people talking in my head and if I write down some of what they say, they seem calmer overall. It’s also a pensieve dump…like in Harry Potter when Dumbledore takes his thoughts from his head and puts them in his pensieve…that’s what writing is like for me. Sometimes I write without the intention of publishing it…quick thoughts for my therapist or an idea for a great invention which, come morning, usually doesn’t sound so great. I have been known to leave voicemails or e-mails for my therapist at 2 AM just because I need to “spit it out” before I can go to bed. I usually tell her that she doesn’t have to respond/call me back…I just needed to get it out of my head. I also write in hopes that something I say might make a difference for someone, let them know that they are not alone, that they are not crazy, maybe someone can learn/benefit from my mistakes, and if nothing else…I hope I make people laugh or smile…because I like to laugh…and smile.

18. What song do you want played at your funeral?
You’re asking a suicidal music whore this question? Good God…umm…I think it depends on how I die, to be honest. But I guess for generic purposes, “Paradise” by Coldplay.

19. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
Fuck. I have lower self-esteem than a slug. Right now, I don’t like anything about myself. Maybe I’ll come back and give you an answer later…when I’m in a better place.

20. Favorite hobby?
I used to have hobbies. Now I have Facebook. It’s like crack. I used to really enjoy reading and scrapbooking but I stopped scrapbooking after my dad died…I don’t know why. I still love to read but ever since my first suicide attempt, I haven’t been able to finish a book to save my life. I’ll read a paragraph and go, “WTF did I just read?” It pisses me off and I’m not trying to be funny. I don’t know if I just have so much shit going on in my head that I can’t focus enough to read or if I really fucked up my brain during those brief moments it was deprived of oxygen. The verdict’s still out on that one.

21. (FML…how long is this? I thought this would be a quick blog post.) Name something you’ve done that you never thought you would do.
Try to take my own life. I enjoyed the first attempt so much that I tried it two more times.

22. What do you look for in a friend?
Honesty. Integrity. Love. Give and take. Smiles and laughter. Respectful. Empathetic. Someone who can roll with the punches…the good, the bad, the ugly and the in-between. Someone who can handle me, tolerate me and love me FOR ME. Someone who can cry with me and then turn around and make me laugh while tears run down my cheeks.

23. Favorite fun things to do?
In a normal, sane, functioning state of mind I enjoy movies, concerts, stand-up comedy shows, bowling, vegging out on the couch with a great friend talking smack. I’ll try almost anything once. Well…lightbulb…I enjoy, even in my insane, non-functioning state of mind, making and giving/delivering warm fuzzies. Sometimes I’ll attach my name (the post office demands a return address at times) but I like leaving anonymous ones for people I know and also for people I don’t know. It gives me warm fuzzies…and immense joy…to know I made someone smile and/or feel special/loved.

24. Pet peeves?
*snort* I have a lot. Most of them involve driving…and most of them involve other people’s complete incompetence at driving. Talking in movie theaters. Interrupting. Pity-party/attention-seeking behaviors. Complaining about your life but not doing anything to help yourself. Annoying sounds that you can’t stop or don’t know where they are coming from/what they are. Snoring. I could go on for days…

25. What was the last thing that made you laugh?
Wow…not much of that happened this weekend. Umm…*watching the end credits of the weekend roll by in my head*…probably Hannah Hart of MyDrunkKitchen and Grace Helbig from DailyGrace (my favorite YouTubers). Grace tweeted (on Easter Sunday): “YOLO!…sike” – Jesus …I damn near fell off the bed laughing so hard.

26. Oh…no 26? We’re done? Praise the sweet eight-pound home-birthed baby Jesus.

Now you. If you’re a blogger that reads my blog, consider yourself tagged…YOU’RE IT!

You’ve got a friend in me…or do you?

friend (noun) \ˈfrend\
1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.
4. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement.

Where. The hell. Do I even. Begin. Let’s start with me. I am an introvert. It doesn’t mean I’m painfully shy (just normal shy) or antisocial, it just means that I prefer my own company over the company of other people. People stress me out…be they family, strangers, parties, whatever the case may be. Too much social interaction will send me into panic mode. My idea of a nice Saturday night is a hot bath, drinking a Coca-Cola and a good book or movie…not being at a packed bar getting shit-faced drunk. I’ve always been this way. It doesn’t mean I don’t have friends, but I’m a tad more selective about who I choose to let into my private world and I don’t have a lot of friends and that is purely by choice, not happenstance. Sometimes I wonder if something is wrong with me because I see a lot of my friends on Facebook have friends into the 300’s and I’ve never had more than 90 at any given time. I’m also not one of those people who sends a friend request to anyone and everyone I’ve ever met over the course of my 30 years of life. My Facebook friend rule is that you don’t have to be my BFF, but you have to have known me (e.g. went to school with me), know me now (e.g. you’re in my contacts list, work with me), or you have to have meant something to me, are more than just an acquaintance or someone I said hi to once back in ’96. I try to keep my insanity at bay “in public”…be it on Facebook or in real life. I have my good days and my bad days and I may post a snarky comment here and there but you will never see a status update from me that says “I hate everything #slashwrist”. If you’re around me in public and I’m having a rough day or week, I’ll probably just be pretty quiet; I try really hard to not bring people down with me when I myself am feeling down. Also, if I’m not in a good place, you probably won’t catch me out in public anyway…but commitments are commitments and I tend to be someone who follows through with what they say and doesn’t break promises, appointments or commitments.

I have some absolutely amazing and awesome people in my life that I am beyond grateful for and I am honored that I am their friend and that they are my friends…my best friends. I have two friends in particular that I just love the shit out of. They both insist on living on the east coast which is their only fault, but I like to think we’ve done a pretty bang up job keepin’ it real with each other despite the distance. One lady, C, is the Ethel to my Lucy…the Patsy to my Eddie…the Thelma to my Louise…the Shirley to my Laverne. And I’m quite sure, if there ever comes a time when we do live closer to each other, there will be some new state laws passed. The thing that makes me sort of giggle about this relationship and makes me appreciate it all the more, is that C is over 50. But if you look at our text/e-mail/Facebook conversations, you wouldn’t ever know that (I’m not calling her immature). How we ever even came to be so close given the age difference escapes me because it was just one of those magical awesome things that just happened and I’m so grateful to have her in my life. She plays many roles in my life, however. She can be that level-headed mom voice because I despise my own mother and am more apt to go to and listen to C than I am my own mom. She also has that experience thing that older friends and moms have…the kind where they tell you that the adventure you are about to embark on is a really bad idea, but they know you’re gonna do it anyway, so they just grab a bowl of popcorn and sit back and watch…and you come back to them later with your tail between your legs because you know they were right and you hate that they were right and you’re kicking yourself for not listening to them…and then you turn around and do it again. Yeah…that. But C never says, “I told you so.” She’ll more than likely just laugh at me, call me a “mattrez hag jynseckz hooka ho” and tell me she lives me (yes, I meant to type live…inside BFF joke). C is also someone who will help me hide a body and if you can’t say anything nice, come sit by us. C and I have some of the most epic conversations in the history of friendship (made even more humorous by our autocorrect typos) and we can cover everything from LOLcats, World of Warcraft, dickwagons, relationshit (we’re really good at making up new words), why certain laws exist and why they should be banned…and how to import shit to get around those laws. In summation, C and I often tell each other that we know too much about each other to NOT be friends…so I’m pretty sure we’re in this for life…which is fine by me.

(I am on the right, the darker text bubbles.)

C1

C2

(Ignore the arrow; I have this weird thing where I ALWAYS catch the clock at 11:11, AM or PM, doesn’t matter. I’ve been keeping track since December. Add that to the list of reasons I’m insane.)

C3

(If none of the screen caps/conversations made sense or made you laugh…it’s not you, it’s me and C.)

BFF

My other BFF for life, B, is just a couple years older than me, but in a very different place in life…and in the country. Also on the east cost, she’s married with kids. (For clarification purposes, C is also married and has a grown child…who, coincidentally [or not?], has the same name as I do. C had to invent a nickname for me so her daughter and I know which one of us she is yelling at.) B and I have a relationship based on just pure love and nerdiness. We like to be crazy, off-the-wall, different…we don’t follow the crowd, we make our own damn crowd. Our conversations often consist of baby poop, breastfeeding, The Beatles, Harry Potter or Twilight. (As an example, I will be trying to communicate just how much I heart her face…in a text message…and I’ll say, “So the lion fell in love with the lamb. What a stupid lamb.” B: “What a sick, masochistic lion.” I let her be the lion because she is so totally Team Edward…I even bought her a Mrs. Cullen t-shirt for Christmas one year.) We also talk about normal 30-year-old shit and she bitches about her hubby when he’s being a douche-nugget and I’ll tell her that if he doesn’t get his shit together, I’ma go all Lorena Bobbitt on him and cut his dick off and throw it out somewhere in Texas, where hopefully a chupacabra will eat it so it can’t be sewn back on so he can’t make porn movies after B dumps his ass. And she knows I’m not kidding. (Hmm…maybe I should edit that part out…”premeditation” gets thrown around WAY too easily these days…) We are totally convinced that we were separated at birth and when we’re actually physically together, people think we’re sisters; we look that much alike. I think it’s awesome. I just hate the distance. But if you really want to test a friendship, keep it going from across the country and if you still have it after 5+ years, you got something worth holding on to. Both B and I and C and I get into some crazy shenanigans just through texts and Facebook alone; you should see what happens when we’re actually together. I think people are slightly frightened when we are in the same state together at the same time…and people should be frightened…because it’s awesome…and really loud…between the music and the raucous laughter. (Did you a hear a raucous? I didn’t hear a raucous. Can you describe the raucous?)

(A typical afternoon conversation with B. Again, I’m on the right, the darker bubble.)

B4

B3

B2

B1

(We’re dorks…I know…but this is love.)

I would call those two, and probably a few other people in my life, my tried and true friends. They love me for me, all of me, good and bad, and with all the shit I’ve pulled over the last two years (and over our entire friendship), they’re still the ones who’s texts wake me up in the morning and the ones who can make me laugh from a couple thousand miles away with a single word. Aside from all the awesomeness and fun stuff, we’re always there for each other during the bad stuff too. We’ve stayed up late for each other, talking, making sure one or the other is going to be okay. We listen to any rants and always keep close tabs on each other. We don’t have to constantly “check in” or “report” to each other…we know each other SO well, that we just know when something’s not right…when there’s a disturbance in the force. That’s how strong our bond is…for both B and C.

That stuff is all fun and awesome, but it’s not why I’m writing this post. I’m writing this because I’ve had the topic of “friendship” on my mind and some questions that have kept me up late at night. As an introvert, I’ve already told you I don’t have many friends and that’s the way I like it. Quality over quantity. Another reason is because it will take some time and patience on your part if you want to be a part of my life. I don’t let just anyone walk in and out of my life as they please. As harsh as this may sound, you have to prove to me that you want to be in my life and that you’re not gonna fuck with me before I even consider letting you past the threshold of the door. (Some of you will end up fucking with me anyway, but that’s the way the ball bounces. Don’t be sorry I trusted you; my mistake, not yours.) If I tell you I trust you, don’t make me regret it. If I tell you I love you, I mean it. I love hard and with all that I have and if I have been given the opportunity to be your friend, I will do my best to be an awesome friend for and to you. I’m not saying I will be perfect…in fact, I’ll probably tell you straight up that I’m gonna fuck up here and there, but we’ll talk about it and I’ll apologize and we’ll resolve the issue and then hug…promise. To those that mean the most to me, I try hard (especially with those girls on the east coast) to remind them that I do love them, that I think about them often, and that I value and appreciate them. I’m the kind of person who will mail you random cards and shit just to make you smile and/or give you a warm fuzzy. I will post stupid YouTube videos and pictures on your Facebook wall that will make you snort-laugh. If I’m out and about and I see something that makes me think of you, I will buy it and give it to you, take a picture and text it to you, or just holla somehow and tell you, “Yo bish! I saw dis and I thought of you! I heart your face!” That’s just how I roll. That is how I like to be a friend for someone. I do the same shit for people who live down the street as I do for those who live across the country. (And just to tell you how corny B and C and I can get, we’ll watch the same movie/TV show at the same time and text our commentary and sarcastic remarks back and forth to each other or on Facebook for the public to see [the SuperBowl was festive this year]…because we are dorks and that’s how we roll. It’s also quite entertaining to our mutual friends…especially C’s daughter who thinks her mom is insane when C is in the computer room busting a gut reading my running commentary on Downton Abbey.)

(Side note: If I’m weird around you, it means I’m comfortable.)

I am also that friend who, despite her own insanity, will drop everything to be there for you. This sometimes backfires on me. I am SO gun-ho about wanting to be needed and wanting to be liked, that at times, I forget to take care of myself because I’m so busy trying to take care of you. I know what it means to feel like you have no one to turn to and no one who understands you, especially in regards to mental illness. But sometimes I question if I am really THAT friend you should call if you are experiencing/going through some of the same hell that I am (e.g. depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, etc.). On one hand, I’d like to think that I’d understand more than most and that I can probably empathize better than those who are not in the same boat. But…it’s kind of like AA. In AA (I only know this because my half-brother is going through AA/rehab), you are told to NOT associate with other people in recovery. It’s not hard to fall off the wagon, be it alcohol or depression. Yes, people in AA will probably understand you a lot better than your never-been-drunk-in-her-life BFF, but you and that person may be at two completely different places in your recovery. One of you might have been sober for 15 years and can easily say no to a beer…then the other one of you sees an episode of the Simpson’s where Homer is chugging a beer and you don’t have the tools to stop yourself from running down to the corner store to grab a 6-pack. I learned this lesson the hard way during my time in group therapy.

As I’ve said before, I was initially very quiet and closed down in group, not even letting the therapists into my world and there was no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that I was going to let the OTHER crazy people that made up the rest of my group in. That just sounded like a bad idea from get-go. BUT…it happened anyway. Right after I opened my mouth for the first time, I was invited to a little coffee date with some of the “groupies” after group. They had been doing the Starbucks thing for some time and I knew that, but I never had any interest in joining them and there was something that just didn’t sound right about it…I just didn’t know what it was…until I started going. Then I was like, “THIS is the reason this is not a good idea.” Picture this: a bunch of crazy people (across the board from BPD to bipolar disorder and everything in between, a lot of whom have interpersonal relationship issues, including myself) sitting at a Starbucks…talking about…what else? Crazy shit. Suicide. Depression. Issues. And I was like, “No no no no no no…see, we just spent 90 minutes in a group therapy session doing this shit…I ain’t gonna do it in PUBLIC at a Starbucks with people I don’t really even know or trust.” I went a few more times but then things started going downhill and I saw the drama coming from a mile away and got out before shit hit the fan (praise the sweet eight-pound homebirthed baby Jesus!). Some of the others weren’t so lucky and I’m sure they needed extra individual therapy time after that fiasco (even I needed extra therapy time because they dragged their drama into the group room and I said, “HELL. NO.”). I told myself when I started going to that group that I was not in it to make friends and I slipped a little because I was trying to give myself a push and get my butt to do something out of my comfort zone and get some bonus points with my therapist…but I ran the hell away from the Starbucks group when I saw things starting to go awry. Group therapy was not/is not meant to be a social or support group, it’s a skills training group and it just does not sound like a good idea to make friends with people who are just as fucked up as you are.

But what do you do when you have people like that who were already in your life before you lost your marbles? I’ll tell ya right now: I don’t have a fucking clue. Hence the reason for this post.

I spend a lot of time alone, voluntarily (introvert, remember?)…and I don’t mind at all. The less people you chill with, the less problems you deal with. One of the cons to doing that is that I don’t get a lot of “practice” interacting with others and really, I am not usually called upon by my friends and the people I know to be a friend…or in other words, I go to them if I need them but people don’t usually come to me when they need someone (B and C are probably the only exceptions to this rule). I also find it REALLY easy to go into “friend mode”…dropping all my shit, however heavy it is, in order to be there for someone in need. And I usually don’t mind because I enjoy being wanted/needed/chosen…I like being there for people…being that person they can always count on. Contrary to popular belief, I love to love…I enjoy caring about other people because I know how much it means to me when I know someone cares about me. I feel that I am really empathetic, non-judgmental and a good listener. I try not to act like someone’s therapist or give them advice because I know it drives ME nuts when people do that to me. I may inadvertently dispense advice in the form of sharing my own experiences and what has or hasn’t worked for me, but I try not to tell people that they should do A, B or C. Being called upon to be someone’s friend is also a great distraction for me because even though my load is heavy, it’s a nice break/distraction when I get to focus my attention and energy on someone other than myself. But this can sometimes backfire. I am SO gun-ho about wanting to be there for another person that I forget that my load IS really heavy and while that person deserves my attention (and I want to give it to them), I also need to pay attention to myself and my needs and throwing myself into someone else’s crisis sometimes makes me forget about me and then later, when the other person’s storm has passed, I’m a mess because I’ve neglected my own emotions. As much as I would like to think that I am a great friend, I sometimes wonder if I really am…and I don’t say that in order to be told that I really am a great friend and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Here’s where I’m going with this: a few weeks ago, a friend that I got to know while attending my pharmacy school sent me a message on Facebook telling me she was feeling suicidal. I’ve known this lady long enough and I know enough about her to know she has some legitimate depression issues and that was sort of the thing that brought us together as friends in the first place…that mutual understanding and empathy. I also know that she’s been struggling with depression for a long time but she is also someone who talks about suicide “lightly”…and I say “lightly” because she’ll talk about it while having no real intent or plan to carry it out…sort of a flippant “I would be better off dead” thought…a thought that, in my opinion, everyone has (“normal” or otherwise) at some point in their life. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think most people, at one time or another, have just gotten pissed and frustrated with life and wished, for a split second, that they could just disappear…but most people don’t give it much more thought than that. I do not like pity parties and I refuse to respond to flippant comments like, “ohmygod I’m so fat/ugly/stupid”. I’m not a “chaser” either…if you want to cry and run out the door hoping I will run after you…forget that shit. I will hold the door open for you, wave, and go back to what I was doing. I don’t play that game with my mom and I don’t play it with any of my friends or acquaintances. It is not my job as a human being or friend to meet your attention-seeking desires and to pump you up and blow smoke up your ass by saying things like, “No, you’re not ugly Narcissa…you’re so pretty!” Don’t fish for compliments in my pond because I’m not biting. Please don’t take this to mean I am a cold-hearted biatch and never compliment anyone…but I do it when it’s not “expected” of me, if that makes sense. If you post a picture that I find gorgeous, I will leave/give you a compliment that says as much…or I’ll send you a random text/note or something and just tell you that I think you’re awesome, thanks for being my friend. If you take me shopping and you try on some pants and ask me if they make your butt look big, I will fucking tell you to take those damn pants off because your ass looks HUGE. I’m not in the business of lying, no matter if it’s a “white” lie or a lie that really won’t hurt anybody. If you tell the truth all the time, you don’t have to remember anything. Some people post more serious things, but it’s done very flippantly…case-in-point: the aforementioned friend…H. H drops suicide bombs a lot…either on me personally or in public on Facebook. I don’t fuck around with suicide. I am also not someone who “announces” a plan to kill myself for the world to see because if I am intent on carrying that plan out, I ain’t gonna tell nobody…I’m just gonna do it. The caveat is that when people do things like this, be it H or someone else…I get confused. Is it really a flippant comment I can/should ignore or is it a legitimate cry for help? Do I send her a text or message and ask her if she’s really okay or just ignore it because I know that she does this kind of attention-seeking stuff? I never know and I prefer to err on the side of caution and ask if she’s okay because I don’t want to dismiss a suicide comment and find out later that it wasn’t flippant; it was a serious cry for help and I ignored it. It’s kind of like the boy who cried wolf…you do/say things like that one too many times and people will eventually stop believing you/responding/taking you seriously…and then the one time you’re NOT crying wolf, people ignore you when in actuality, that was the one the time people should have really responded. So H sent me a message on Facebook late one night and I saw it as a very serious crisis (I still don’t know if it really was…if she really was minutes away from offing herself…or if it was another flippant comment said in exasperation). Again, I don’t take suicide lightly so I stayed up to talk to her (and this was the day after a mini road trip and I was tired as fuck) and made sure she was going to be okay or if she/I needed to call 911. Based on the conversation we had, I determined she was fine, at least for the night…and I made her promise to call me or 911 if shit starts going to hell in a hand-basket. In another conversation, she said she could really use some support right now and would like to see me because she knows a little bit about the last two years of my life and she knows I have the kind of empathy and understanding that only people who have been/are in similar situations can have for each other. I agreed to meet her for coffee after an appointment with M one afternoon. After confirming a time and place and saying goodbye, telling her to call me or 911 if she needed to, I began to wonder if I really should have done that…agreed to meet up with her. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to see her…but I wondered if I was really the kind of friend she needed right now because I myself am in the midst of my own personal hell and entertaining my own suicidal ideations. On one hand, I can probably understand and empathize with H more than most of the people in her life…but on the other hand, I have my own suicide and depression issues and I wondered if it was a good idea for me to involve myself in her situation. One, I’m pretty open and blunt about suicide…I don’t sugarcoat the facts or the gruesome details of my own experiences and I didn’t want to exacerbate H’s emotions. Two, is it a good idea for one suicidal person to try to talk another suicidal person out of suicide?…kind of an oxymoron if you ask me. Three, was I okay/secure enough with my own issues that meeting up with H wouldn’t be a trigger for me? In hindsight, I probably should have run this idea past M or K before doing it…but I wasn’t thinking straight when I made plans to meet H…it was late at night and I was delirious with sleep deprivation. In the end, it all worked out I suppose because after H canceled that date on me, she proceeded to cancel two more and after the last one, I said fuck it and stopped trying. So I never met up with her. If you really want to meet up with me, I’ll go…but I don’t play this “let’s make a date and cancel” game…drives me bonkers. H is also what I like to call an “askhole.” An askhole is someone who constantly asks you for advice and always does the complete opposite of anything you say/suggest. It’s like…why even ask? You’re killin’ me, Smalls! Over the past few weeks, H has pushed my buttons one too many times, to the point where I am considering unfriending her. But I hesitate because 1), I don’t like hurting people’s feelings and 2), I don’t want to kick someone when they’re down. Based on my own observations and knowledge, H does a lot of talking but not a lot of walking. She’s in an abusive marriage (I don’t think it’s physical, but it’s very much verbally and emotionally abusive) and she hates the guy and the guy hates her and if she’s telling me the truth, it’s really not a good environment to be in whether or not you have psychological disorders to add to the top of the sundae. H has kept me up WAY past 3 AM on many nights telling me just how bad it really is and in my own fucked up crazy mind, I see an easy fix: leave. I get that battered wife syndrome and all but H has SO many people, more than just me, that have her back and are willing to help her get out and get a divorce…but I guess she prefers to stay and bitch about it on Facebook. She always has an excuse/reason not to leave as she’s giving me all the reasons why she should leave. (I know that I also live in a toxic environment…but it’s not abusive to the point where law enforcement could intervene and I know that I don’t have a whole lot of other options right now. It is what it is. And I know that. Do I like it? No. Do I bitch about it? On my blog and to certain people and my therapist, yes. But there’s a difference between my situation and H’s. And that’s radical acceptance. I don’t really have a choice right now…H does. Also, I’m working on trying to find a way out. H isn’t. I’m not saying I’m better than H or any of that bullshit…I’m just trying to explain that I am in a similar situation but I’m doing my best to cope with it in the here and now while brainstorming ways to get out. I have a goal. I’m trying to be proactive and help myself. H is just sitting there complaining and not doing a damn thing to help herself.) H has asked me about my own journey and my own suicide attempts and what I’m doing to help myself in my own toxic environment. I’m not ashamed to talk about my suicide attempts or what I’ve attempted/how I’ve attempted to do it…but H was asking for details and I’m all, “Aw hell no!”…I am NOT going to give you step by step instructions on how to off yourself. 1): I put a lot of time and effort into researching that shit. 2): They were all lethal methods; the only reason I am sitting here typing this now is because I was caught/found. 3): I am not going to be responsible for you ending your life by giving you the tools/knowledge to do it. I once steered a conversation in the direction of therapy, DBT therapy specifically, and H messaged me last week to talk to me about it. And we did. And H, verbatim, said to me, “Will it make me stronger?” I did a *facepalm* and then, being the honest and blunt person I am (plus, I was getting a little irritated and pissed off at her by this point), I said, “No, H…it won’t. Not if you just go and sit there. You have to want it to get it. You have to decide you want it more than you are afraid of it. DBT therapy is great…if you are willing to make it work for you and if you are willing to put the effort into making it work. It isn’t magic and it will not happen overnight.” H didn’t like this answer because she quickly changed the subject…back to her abusive husband. By this point, I was pretty much about done. She sat there and told me all the shit I already knew and, being the tactful person I am, I called her on her bullshit. I said, “H, you are pissing me the fuck off. You sit here with me, night after night, telling me how much you hate your husband and how much you want out, and the minute he travels out of town, you blow up his Facebook page with ‘I love you’s’ and ‘I miss you’s’…this is so counterproductive and maybe I don’t know jack because I’ve never been married…but if I hate someone I once loved, you can bet that there will be no ‘I love you’s’ coming out of my mouth anytime soon, if ever.” Five minutes of silence passed and she said, “Well…thanks for talking. I’m gonna go.” I didn’t even say goodbye. I just logged off the computer and gave birth to this post. I am now Googling how to politely unfriend a “friend” because I think I have decided I do not want this person in my life, even if it’s just on Facebook. I don’t need it and I don’t want it. But what stops me from hitting that button is my heart. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings and if H is really in the pits of despair as she claims, I know how much a simple “unfriend” can hurt, imagined or legit. I don’t want to kick her when she’s down and I don’t want to give her another reason to hate herself or her life nor do I want to be the reason she posts her next status update of, “I have no friends; everyone hates me.” I also don’t ever want to be listed in a suicide note as one of the reasons someone took their life. “The person I thought would understand and validate me the most left me.” I would never get out of therapy. So it’s a catch-22. I HAVE made it so her shit doesn’t show up in my news feed but I haven’t taken the final step of actually unfriending her…because I don’t know how.

I have another post to spit out tonight, but I’ll post it separate from this one; it’s a follow up to my “It’s not you, it’s me.” post…do’s and don’ts, friendship edition. Stay tuned.

Why?

Why

I’m not trying to justify this or persuade you to think it’s okay to do…that it’s not wrong. I’m just exploring a thought/question that came to mind. Yes, I think about suicide a lot as it relates to me personally…planning, questioning if it’s really something I want, all the pros and cons, etc. But I also think about the subject in general…I am that proverbial preschooler who incessantly asks, “Why?” So I want to know…what makes suicide wrong? Why is it the “wrong” choice? Who decided it was so wrong, bad and taboo? Is it because of the aftermath that often lies in its wake…all the people that would be hurt…all the unanswered questions…leaving all of your affairs behind for someone else to pick up/deal with? Is it because we think that someone who wants to end their life is crazy and therefore, that person is unable to think clearly and make a rational decision? Is it because a/the Bible says it’s wrong, that it’s a “sin”? I did not choose to be born…I did not choose life…it was given to me. No one asked me if I wanted to go hang out on planet Earth for 80 years or so. I also didn’t choose the path I am on now. I suppose, indirectly, that I did choose this path because of the choices I made and what I’m dealing with now is the consequence for making those bad choices…it is my punishment. Is suicide so socially unacceptable because life is viewed as precious and to just “throw it away” is the ultimate form of disrespect and irreverence? Or is it because other people have passed away without being consulted…they didn’t choose to die (e.g. cancer, auto accident) and therefore, because I have the chance to experience and live my life, to end it would be disrespectful to those who aren’t able to? I have to live because I wasn’t chosen to die and I have to live my life for all the people who died when they didn’t want to…like I owe my life to those who have died. They lost their life and therefore, I am obligated to keep mine out of respect. It’s like the proverbial guilt trip about the starving children in Africa. Finish all of your food and don’t waste any because there are thousands of starving children in Africa that would give anything to have the food left on your plate. Most people don’t think that returning an unwanted item to a store as wrong…so why can’t I return a life I didn’t ask for…a life that isn’t the right color or size for me? Why can’t I choose to spare other people the misery I would inflict on them if I choose to keep living? Yes, it would be painful for some people if I passed…but in the grand scheme of things, is the temporary pain “better” than a lifetime of the pain and misery I would inflict because I chose to stick around and people have to deal with me? I think of it like ripping off a band-aid…it’s going to hurt no matter what…so you have a choice: rip it off fast and deal with the momentary discomfort or rip it off slowly and experience the pain of prying off the band-aid from each and every hair and skin cell it has attached itself to.

People think suicide is selfish…and on one side of the coin, I understand that…but on the other side of the coin, in my opinion, not only would I be committing the act, in part, to end my own pain (that’s the “selfish” side)…but I would also be doing it to spare others’ pain. I hate hurting people and their feelings and their lives would be so much better and less chaotic without me around. Thinking in terms of minute details…I would be saving people time and money (and probably their sanity and emotional well-being too). Give that time and effort to those who want to be here, those who are more deserving and those who would make the best use of their time on earth…don’t give it to someone who will only flush it down the toilet. This is where my own guilt comes into play. I feel guilty for taking up so much time…the time of other people, therapy time, individual and group time. I feel guilty for being a financial strain on my mother and for being a pain in everyone’s ass. Give your time to someone who wants it and needs it more. I don’t believe I can be fixed. I missed the boat. I missed my “golden window of opportunity” somewhere and I can’t rewind time in order to go back and seize whatever opportunity I missed…whatever boat I missed. I don’t think I get a second chance. What makes me and my life so valuable? Why am I worth someone’s time and energy? Am I simply valuable because I am breathing? Why am I worth all of this?

How did suicide become so wrong? People can’t put a price on someone’s life…most of us agree with that…yet life is thought to be so amazing, such a precious gift…so valuable, in fact, that to throw it away or take it away is viewed as the ultimate sin and insult (be it abortion, suicide or murder). We, as humans, have been given the freedom and right to be alive and stay alive…a right to seek medical treatment and/or fight whatever battles we encounter that threaten our lives. On the walls of hospital ER’s, there is always a sign that states that any and every person has a right to medical treatment regardless of their inability to pay. So I have every right to have and save my life, but absolutely no right to end it (a living will is irrelevant). If you walk into a hospital or a police station and you are clearly in need of medical attention (e.g. bleeding badly) or you tell someone that you’re experiencing a serious symptom (e.g. chest pain)…people don’t hesitate to get you help and save your life. But if you walk into the same hospital or police station and tell someone you want to end your life…people still won’t hesitate to help you…but it usually comes in the form of being thrown into a padded room and being reprimanded for wanting to make such a stupid and selfish decision; people will sustain your life for you (I view this as a violation of a person’s right to choose) and that is not the “treatment” you were seeking. I get mad about surviving my first (and most serious) suicide attempt because I feel violated…out-numbered…out-voted. I didn’t do it on impulse. Some may disagree, but I didn’t do it because I was crazy. I coolly and calmly calculated every last detail. I weighed all the pros and cons and gave it a lot of thought and then I purposefully and consciously made an informed decision that I was completely content with and one I felt was right for me. People took a decision I made away from me. I didn’t want to live, however stupid my reasons were, so I made a choice to end my life…but even though I made it to a point of unconsciousness, blue in the face and not breathing…air was forced back into my lungs against my wishes. How is that fair? How is that not a violation of my rights and my freedom to choose? I have the freedom and opportunity to do anything I want with my life…but I don’t have the freedom to end it. I can do anything I want to…as long as I do it while breathing. People see suicide as wrong…I see not giving me the choice of suicide as wrong. (Yes, I know I technically have a choice…but if anyone gets wind of my plan…they do anything and everything to prevent me from carrying it out…from making that choice. So I have a choice…yet I don’t really have a choice.) I see no value in my life at all but people still tell me that every life is so valuable and precious…that to end it and throw it out with tomorrow’s trash would be wrong and would be the ultimate form of disrespect…a slap in the face. Why? If I wanted to move across the country to pursue a futile dream of being an actress…a dream that is likely to never come true and a dream I would waste so much time and money on, you wouldn’t stop me. You may express concerns and try to reason with me, yet if it’s something I really want, you will more than likely support and encourage me to go and try. BUT you’ll go to great lengths to stop me from ending my life. And I don’t understand why. My possible importance and worth is irrelevant…I’m only talking about the choice. Why is it wrong?

25 Days Of Nice

20121201-204308.jpg

If I haven’t said or communicated this before, words are very powerful. That “sticks and stones” ditty is a load of crap.

I haven’t had a great past few days and until recently, that would be “normal” for me but over the last couple weeks, I have been in a great mood and have had some really amazing days. (I don’t dare say “happy” because it’s been so long that I’m not even sure what happy feels like anymore.) Someone popped my awesome balloon on Thursday. Granted, I had the choice of letting that person pop my balloon or not and I don’t blame that person for my current mood. But it reminded me of a philosophy/conviction I have: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. (Thank you Bambi, Thumper and Walt Disney for teaching me this lesson.) You may say something to someone (nice, mean or unintentionally hurtful) and not ever give what you said a second thought…but the person you said that to may remember your words for days, weeks, months or even years. I hear kind words so few and far between that if I can, I screen cap a comment or save a voicemail just so I can read/hear someone’s words again.

As I settle in to commence this year’s countdown of the 25 Days Of Christmas with ABC’s Family Channel…I found myself wanting to celebrate my own countdown with 25 Days Of Nice. I invite you to try it with me. Let not one mean, angry or hurtful word come out of your mouth for the next 25 days. Think it all you want, but do not let it come out of your mouth (or your fingers if you happen to be typing/texting). Think before you speak. If someone flips you off on the interstate, don’t cuss them out (however deserving of your expletives that person may be). If you’re questioning a comment, think about how you would feel or interpret your comment if someone were to say it to you. As much as I want to tell some people that it’s not “Happy Holidays,” it’s “Merry fucking Christmas”…I’m not going to do that this year. If someone takes a parking spot I was headed for in a busy mall, I will not leave a passive-agressive note under their winshield wiper. You don’t have to go around complimenting everyone…just monitor your words. Carry on with your normal daily activities and conversations, just think before you speak. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, this time of year is supposed to be about love and joy and kindness…so exude it…be an example. What you say can make or break someone’s day.

He’s making a list and checking it twice…he’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice…he knows if you’ve been bad or good…so be good for goodness sake!

At The Movies In The Year 2012

Recently, I went to a movie I REALLY wanted to see…so badly, in fact, that I went by myself. The movie was one that would have appealed to many teenagers, whom I have a general distaste for these days. Choosing to see this movie in the afternoon and during the week gave me a pretty good chance of dodging the crowds (the movie just premiered) and the unruly teenagers. I was, however, taking a gamble at the 2:30 PM time slot as the high school up the hill from the theater had just let out. I don’t think I need to express my joy when I walked into the theater to see only two other people in there who were also “flying solo.” My heart dropped a little after I sat down because a group of about six or seven teenage boys and girls walked in and sat RIGHT behind me, bumping into my seat in the process (I had airplane flashbacks). I had naturally chosen the best seat in the house, smack dab in the middle and remember that there were only like two other people in there so that group had the ENTIRE theater of seats to choose from and they chose to sit behind me. (Yes, insert an eye-roll here.) Due to my excellent time management skills, I had arrived a tad early to the movie so I was given the wonderful opportunity to listen to their teenage banter. The idea that, ten to fifteen years ago, that probably would have been me was not lost on me…but I’m an “old lady” now and teenagers piss me off as a general rule. Hell, they pissed me off even when I was a teenager. They had every right to talk and chat (they weren’t being obnoxious) as the movie hadn’t started and I had no choice but to sit there and listen (and laugh). (I was impressed and very pleased when they managed to keep their pie holes shut for the entire movie.) I was even serenaded by a couple of them singing along to a new Taylor Swift song that was emanating from the theater speakers (and not at any volume that would have been acceptable to me).

As I listened to this group, I actually found myself grumbling about the price of movie tickets nowadays. I realized that I had just paid $8.75 to see a matinee. I was all, “Back in my day [I quickly chastised myself for saying something I told myself I would never say], my mom could give me ten bucks and that got me into a matinee AND bought me a meal at McDonald’s after.” As the pre-previews were rolling to Taylor Swift’s sweet voice, a few more people trickled in but I would say that there couldn’t have been more than twenty of us in there, if even that. I was quite pleased with the turn out and I even got to enjoy my rule that states no one is allowed to sit directly on either side of me…the one-seat-in-between-each-party rule. I then gave another “back in my day” speech when the screen lit up with a message telling us to not use our cell phones or text during the movie. “Back in my day, we were only told to sit down and shut up…”Silence is golden.”…none of this ‘no texting’ crap.” I was going to then throw my popcorn (I didn’t actually have any…I probably would have raised the national debt average had I purchased some) at the guy way down front as he was playing Words With Friends on a very bright phone. “Dude! They just told you to put that shit away…DO IT!” After the movie started, a couple (who clearly lacked time management skills) came in and sat down on my left yet obeyed the one seat rule…but that was not enough to prevent the smell of cigarette smoke emanating off of their clothing. I wasn’t pleased by this (I don’t like stinky people/things…who does?). The chickadee further cut her life expectancy short when she started using her cell phone after the movie started. Apparently, since she had come in AFTER being asked to not use her phone, thus missing the announcement, she was exempt from having to conform. I used The Force and eventually got through to her. I was not subjected to pre-movie previews…the movie started immediately which pleased me greatly.

The movie was awesome and I lived happily ever after (well…not really, but it’s “the end” of the story…it seemed appropriate).