Thursday, December 15, 2011

Probably Not Politically Correct

In modern America, gender and sex are two different things. Sex is determined by biology: body parts or perhaps chromosomes in unusual circumstances. Gender, however, is social construct, and (apparently) left entirely up to the individual. I think, though, that this system is socially counter-productive in a way, because even if you choose your gender, you're still saying I'm this gender because I have/desire qualities that are typical of this gender, thus perpetuating related stereotypes. Ideally we would all be genderless and our sexualities would all be less defined, but that will likely never happen.

I've been pondering my place in our society as a woman. I suppose everything you read from this point on is a long-winded diatribe derived from a matter of semantics.

What's it mean to be a woman?

Yeah, I have ladybits. That thing that babies come out of. Those things that babies suck on.
(The whole sexualization of breasts is a weird thing, to me. Think about it. Men have nipples too. What's the difference, really? Why are ours obscene? Because they're fattier? Fat men get boobs too, but they aren't forced to hide them. That's hardly fair. Titties aren't any more special than other parts of the body, like the neck, or navel. They aren't sexually explicit, they just aren't.)

But there's more to it than that

Every society has it's own gender roles. I don't need to spell them out, you ought to be well aware. Girls like shopping, boys like video games, blah blah etc. Traditional roles are being defied more often, but we just come up with new ones in their place.

I've always hated being female. The sexes are equally capable, but there's no denying they are naturally suited for different things. Social intelligence vs. mathematical intelligence. Balance vs. strength. Hormonally speaking, if I had more testosterone, I'd be naturally more motivated and goal-oriented. One of the reasons I stopped taking a medication of mine was for the concern that the excess estrogen was diminishing these traits. Are these traits I should value, though? Have I been completely misguided? I am always taking on more challenging tasks in an effort to prove people wrong. Should I just embrace my strengths? There is nothing I value more than the pursuit of knowledge, but does that mean I have to pursue it? Why not accept my place in nature as a female? I could contribute instead by nurturing men, be they partners or offspring, who are more suited to this pursuit than I.

Alas, in the manner I was raised, I don't think I'd be content with that. And in the society we live in, I don't think men would allow us to be content with that, even if they say otherwise. Because no matter your skill or intelligence, you will still be ridiculed for your decision to follow the homemaker route. You have to prove yourself. Nurturing a great thinker is not as good as being a great thinker. We just don't place as much value on the natural strengths of women.

And as I soon learned upon finishing puberty, being a woman sucks when you want to make friends. Men (the vast majority of the time) don't want to be your friend unless they think intimacy might eventually be involved. Theoretically that's fine if you are okay with having sex with all your friends. I imagine that would be exhausting, though. And women? Well, honestly, I just haven't tried very hard at making friends with women. I guess I don't have the right to complain until I do. I am at a disadvantage here because I am a sexist fuck and I think women are manipulative, vapid and boring.

My given set of circumstances has put me in a position of self-hatred. I don't like being a woman. I don't want to be a woman. It doesn't align with my set of values and life plans. What the hell do I do about it, though?

I realize personal testimony doesn't mean shit, but I offer this: On the few occasions I have dressed in drag to appear as a convincing male, I found that people took me more seriously, even if they knew me well and were aware that I was a female.

As far as I'm concerned, you're sexist even if you aren't sexist. I am too. It's okay.

Soft Machine

Sometimes I am painfully or pleasantly aware of how human I am. How alike I am to everyone else, how different I am from everyone else. I take a moment to use my senses to their fullest, to marvel at the world around me and the vehicle I use to experience it. I flex my fingers, I inhale deeply. I think of the blood in my veins and the impulses winding through my nervous system and the mechanics of my eyes and ears. I see, I think, I feel, I am. I am an animal yet I am unique. I am machine, with many complex components and programs. I am animate. I am fragile.

At work with my mother today, many machines hummed with the exchange of information. An accident had occurred one building over.
Then, in an inexplicable instant, after Ms. Hart placed one foot inside, the elevator suddenly lurched up, its door still open, according to the Fire Department. It dragged her until she was pinned between the elevator and the wall, between the first and second floors, the police said.

How horrifying.

Of all the things Ms. Hart thought about on her way to work that morning, I don't think "I might die today" was one of them.

It doesn't seem fair.

What intricate, delicate machines we are.
Machines with programs to conceptualize and fight for things.
Machines with true intelligence, ability to learn and apply knowledge.
Machines with ability to use logic and reason.
Machines with ability to purposely ignore such things.
Machines capable of working together or independently.
Machines capable of great destruction or creation.
Machines that can collect and record many varieties of data.
Machines that can connect to each other in ways worth dying for.
Machines with ideas, beliefs, passions and questions worth living for.

Our world fascinates me.

I think that, no matter what I do in life, I will always appreciate it for the fact that I am alive.

Yep, sums me up pretty well.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I consider myself a good person.
My moral compass, is probably a lot different than yours. I won't, however, deny that I've done wrong.

I've "cheated" on everyone I've ever been in a monogamous relationship with. Cheating is bad, of course, because it hurts people. I can't stand hurting people.

My solution? Fuck monogamy.

Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [love]) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

 I spent an inordinate amount of my short life enamored with one person. The infamous first love. They greatly shape who we become as people.

For about a year and a half of my time in a "relationship" with this person, he was also in a relationship with someone else. Why did I let shit go on that way? I was naive as hell, and I did stupid things in the name of love. I was assured he was only with her for the company, and that I was the one he loved, and that he would leave her to be with only me again when the time came. This trained me to have a very odd mindset. I'm okay with him fucking other girls as long as he still loves me. I later found out he'd also lied about being in love with me.
From then on I divorced the ideas of sex and love. They became, for me, completely different things that do not necessarily go together all the time.

Through the duration of that disaster of a relationship, I believed that one can only romantically love one person at a time. This was the origin of most of my pain. Many people suffer from this same notion, however, it simply isn't true.

Firstly, there are many kinds of love. The way a parent loves their child, the way a person loves their pet, the way you love your first, and each love thereafter. Arguably no two loves are the same.

Secondly, consider this: When a family with a child has an additional child, do they love their first child any less? A friend shared a beautiful analogy with me, that I will paraphrase:
When we had our next child, we explained to the older one... that your mother and father's love is like a flame, and you, the children, are the candles. When one candle lights another, the flame doesn't go away, it grows. So we can give our love to your younger brother too, but it doesn't mean we love you any less.

The realization dawned on me. That same idea does work with romantic love. We love different people for different reasons in different ways. Why not be able to be intimate with all of the people you want intimacy from? Go to concerts with this person, go to museums with another. It's a matter of needs. We spend our whole lives being exposed to something contrary, but that doesn't make it true.

I am, for the first time in my life, in a polyamorous relationship. With someone I've yet to lie to. Which is a big thing for me, because I lie like a motherfucker. And so far, it's the healthiest relationship I've ever had. I don't fear replacement. I don't feel jealousy. Hell, he could have a harem of women and I'd be fine with it, as long as we were all aware of eachother's existences. Admittedly I'd vie for position as the matriarch, but I'd submit to the right woman. I mulled over the logistics of it, and really, the main problem with polyamory is that there are people that don't want to take part in it. This approach to relationships is still new to me, I can't say I've fully experienced it yet. But so far, it really works. In theory it's more stable and better than monogamy in every way.

Alas, not many people welcome this idea, or even comprehend it. And because of that, there are people in my life who I love, but will never hear me say it, and who I would make love to, but will never know it.

Did I adopt this approach to relationships for fear of being hurt? Originally, yes, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

I do believe in something like "true love," which I think is more appropriately referred to as "complete love." And I think it is attainable with just one person, but how likely is that?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Obligatory Religious Post

My parents had very different ideas of how to raise children.

They both did their best to raise me in their own ways, and you know, I think I turned out pretty damned great. But sometimes their values conflicted. My mother wanted me to be a good girl, and my father wanted me to be inquisitive. When you're a little kid and your divorced parents are throwing you different ideas, and each claims the other is wrong, it gets a bit confusing.

Despite this difference in opinion, when I was small I was taken to church every Sunday, regardless of which parent had custody of me that weekend. I think my dad may have taken me because I would actually ask him to. I was a good girl and going to church was a good thing to do. If you didn't it would make god sad. To paraphrase what my mother told me, so my five year old ass could comprehend, god made us and everything around us and he just wants us to visit him once in awhile to say thank you.
"But if god is everywhere, why do we need to visit him at church?"
"Because that's his house."
 I never questioned it too much. I hardly ever paid attention. I actually found mass rather boring, but I liked singing the songs and reciting the prayers. Going to church made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I went to catholic school for a little while in kindergarten. I don't remember why I changed schools. I remember one really bad experience with my teacher and that's about it.

I started getting sent to CCD (catechism classes) every week so that I could get my seven sacraments (Roman Catholic thing). At this point (around seven years old) I got really serious about this shit, even started taking pride in it, because suddenly my religion was school, and I was all about doing well in school. I memorized more prayers. I started praying more, on the school bus in the morning, before meals. I learned to genuflect properly and how to use a rosary.

I also started reading the bible, and paying attention in mass. And I think this is when I started to doubt.

I don't remember the progression of my doubts very well, but I know I started doubting the institution of religion long before I started doubting the existence of god. One Christmas Eve, I had a discussion about religion with my cousin Melissa, someone I really looked up to, who talked about it in a way I'd never heard before. She said that she viewed religion as a personal thing, that you should have a relationship with god in your own special way and that the church should have nothing to do with it. She talked about some of the ways the church changed religion for the worse. I started talking about it more, and asking more questions.

In my preteens I started to resent going to church. My father stopped taking me. My mother had to drag my stubborn ass.

I began my freshman year of high school still referring to myself as a Roman Catholic. Then I got my laptop, my very first entirely personal computer. I had the internet, and access to millions upon millions of personal opinions. A classmate of mine also introduced me to LaVeyan Satanism, which wasn't at all what one would imagine, and had a set of virtues I could more easily get behind.

Satanism depicted Lucifer, the dark bringer of light, as the hero of the bible. God placed Adam and Eve in paradise, and gave them everything except knowledge. Adam and Eve were stupid, and god wanted them to stay that way. He just wanted them to walk around in paradise and eat and sleep and fuck and sometimes talk to him. (I wonder what they'd talk about?) But essentially, god wanted us to live no differently than any other animal, he just wanted us to be obedient. And at the same time, he knew we would disobey him and gain knowledge and self awareness, and then he punished us for it. I found the thought abhorrent. I had a thirst for knowledge, I loved learning more than anything. And according to the bible, this is what Satan gave us. The bible was no longer a thing of value to me, fact or fiction.

Furthermore, I began to examine the goal of Christianity: getting into heaven. That was it. But what if there was no heaven? How sad is to to spend the brief time you're given as a conscious being trying to attain the unattainable? And if there was a heaven? It sounded incredibly boring. This seemed like a lose-lose situation. I much preferred Dante's description of limbo:

Charon ushers you across the river Acheron, and you find yourself upon the brink of grief's abysmal valley. You are in Limbo, a place of sorrow without torment. You encounter a seven-walled castle, and within those walls you find rolling fresh meadows illuminated by the light of reason, whereabout many shades dwell. These are the virtuous pagans, the great philosophers and authors, unbaptised children, and others unfit to enter the kingdom of heaven. You share company with Caesar, Homer, Virgil, Socrates, and Aristotle. There is no punishment here, and the atmosphere is peaceful, yet sad.

I grew hatred the idea of the Christian god and started forming one of my own. I quietly renounced my religion. I started calling myself agnostic.

But my mother continued taking me to church and sending me to CCD so I could receive the sacrament of confirmation. I could understand why, she wanted to do what was best for me. I mean, how often does a fourteen year old know what the fuck they ought to do? But I started being a smartass about my assignments. We had to listen to the gospel every week and write what we learned from it. I started writing the same exact lesson for every week: "Have faith in Jesus."

One morning before school I worked up the courage to tell my mom I wanted to stop going to church, I didn't want to be Catholic anymore. She wasn't very happy about it. It was kind of scary, but the whole thing dissipated quickly. I was still forced to attend church and CCD, but I knew it wouldn't be for long, and it felt good to have that off my chest.

Sometime after that my mom started going to church less an less. I always wondered if it was my fault, to some extent. I didn't know how to feel about it. I wasn't too unhappy about losing my own faith, but you know, I imagine it wasn't quite the same for her. It made me kind of sad.

Through high school and college my ideas about religion and god evolved constantly, and change still. I learned the semantics of gnostic vs. agnostic and theist vs. atheist, and can now refer to myself as an "agnostic atheist." I fit a few different labels, such as "spiritual without religion." No matter how you boil it down though, I'm completely secular. I find no personal value in religion which you can't get from philosophy.

I have have an idea I refer to as "God," but it is not a deity. It's a possibility. It's a name I lend to that which I do not know or may not be able to comprehend, and I acknowledge that. It allows me to enjoy the use of the word as a metaphor in art, music, literature. It's not a big part of my life.

I don't have a particularly valuable or witty closing thought.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thoughts on Love and Intelligence

Do you think those of a higher intelligence are able to love more deeply? (Please try, for just a moment, to not turn this into a semantics argument.)

When this question was first posed to me, I answered "yes" automatically. But then I immediately reconsidered. Why? Why did I answer yes to that?

 My younger sister, Maggie, is one of the most energetic thirteen-year-olds you'll ever meet. She has an innate vitality that follows here everywhere. Sometimes it's almost as if she has more than her physical being can handle. She has a very active imagination, good memory, and impressive logic and problem solving skills.

Maggie is also autistic. She's in the "special" class at her middle school. You don't have to be around her for long before you realize that there is something very off about the way she behaves and communicates. She is extremely stubborn, fervent and temperamental.  She is a creature of habit completely uncomfortable with change. Her skills in speech, reading, and learning are all several years behind where they ought to be. Overall, she's not very well adjusted, though I think she is entirely capable if getting there with time.

Growing up with her, I always thought I understood her better than anyone else, at times moreso than her own mother. I introduced her to video games at a young age and was a diehard advocate for her continued exploration of them as she got older. They were something she became passionate about, just about the only thing she was passionate about, and I believed the skills she could learn from them to be invaluable.

The only time she really communicates openly is when she's talking about video games. If you ask her about her day at school she won't answer. She won't talk about books or people or anything really. But if you ask her about the new treasures she's found in Pikmin 2, she could go on for hours. Video games, in a way, are her world, and a common means for someone else to enter her world. (Being the only one in her immediate family to also play video games, I always thought this fostered a special connection between us.) Some might think this is unhealthy, but I disagree. If not for video games, what would she have instead? Television?

At any rate, I think that in certain areas she is very intelligent, much moreso than people give her credit for. But her social intelligence is lacking, as are her communication skills. It made growing up with her an unusual experience. She doesn't usually make eye contact. Her sentences are often ambiguous or disjointed. She does not understand or experience emotions in a way that I can compare to the average human being. You know, I don't think I've ever in my entire life heard Maggie say, "I love you."

But I know she does.

Sometime in the past year or two, while I was off 500 miles away from my immediate family who I hadn't seen in months, I received a call from my mother. She was sitting aside a hospital bed, calling to tell me Maggie had gotten a serious MRSA infection. I could heard loud, aggravated grunts and groans in the background, as if in protest of something. My mother informed me that Maggie was angry because she absolutely insisted my mother didn't tell me she was in the hospital.

I felt a pang in my heart. I don't know how it seems to an outside observer, but as someone that's known Maggie her entire life, what she did that day was the greatest expression of love I had ever seen from her, and perhaps ever felt in my own time. She understood the severity of her situation, and despite her own pain and difficulty, she wanted to spare me the burden of worrying about her. It was absolutely beautiful.

In reflection, I know why my gut reaction was to answer the initial question in the affirmative. Those with higher intelligence are often better capable of expressing their love, and so they can more deeply share their love, and by this line of thought, those of higher intelligence can more deeply fall in love with eachother. Communication is incredible that way. However, I must disagree with the sentiment that they can feel love more strongly, because at this point in time, I know better. My dear Magpie has shown me otherwise.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The class applauded at the end of her speech and she returned to her seat, feeling confident she'd done well. She made only two mistakes, and they were likely noticeable only to herself. There was a lot of effort and rehearsing put into that speech. She sat through the rest of her public speaking class with mild interest - she resented having to take such a course given her academic plans, but she enjoyed learning either way.

She was going to be a vet. And using this as a springboard, she was going to do great things. Maybe inspire an animal rights reform. Maybe research astrobiology and Mars. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do exactly, but she knew she wanted to do things.

Class ended and she stepped out into the November air, cool and thin, carrying the faint smell of rotting Halloween pumpkins and decaying leaves. She fastened her coat and mounted her bike, and as she rode home she ran through her schedule in the front of her mind. I am going to go home, start dinner, take my dog to the park, and then study chemistry until my brain leaks out my ears. Maybe I'll even have time to practice the violin or watch a movie with Daniel.

But then a dull pain throbbed in her lower abdomen. Almost forgot about that. Pharmacy, then dinner, Fort, and study. Not too much of a hassle, it was on the way anyhow.

Halfway there she swerved to avoid a car and hit a pothole. Suddenly her bike was handling quite funny. She braked and dismounted to find that he back tire had gone flat. Pharmacy, then bike shop, then dinner, the park, and studying.

But wait, that's too late to take Fort out. And I still have to go to the pet store before eight. Shoot.

The entire way home she was preoccupied with these events, trying to arrange them in a suitable manner. She walked in her front door with a bike that was still flat. She greeted her dog cheerfully but was distracted by other things.

She walked up the stairs, still thinking of other things to be done, when suddenly her very enthusiastic dog bounded up behind her and ascended the stairs by weaving through her legs. She was thrown off balance, and tumbled head over heels down a very steep, narrow staircase. On the second landing her head hit the wall in such a way that her neck snapped, and she died almost immediately.

"But I have so much to do."

Thursday, October 27, 2011


This morning I went to the doctor's for a simple procedure: the placement of a copper IUD. I'm now baby-free for ten years. Hurrah, etc, etc.

In order to prepare for this procedure I was instructed to take 800 mg of ibuprofen before my visit, as well as a drug that would soften my cervix and make the procedure easier. I was told that the procedure would hurt a bit, a kind of pinching sensation, in addition to cramps during and after.

I was not prepared for the agony that ensued. I screamed. Tears ran down my face. That shit hurt way more than I could have possibly anticipated. And after everything was in place it didn't get much better. I tried to communicate the crippling pain I was in, but the procedure had gone perfectly and I think the doctor probably thought I was being a wuss. I was instructed to take 400 mg of ibuprofen every six hours for up to a week if the cramps persisted.

The pain was intolerable. It washed over me in waves. Walking home in this condition was a nightmare. In the cold and and rain, no less. The moment I got home I promptly tore through my apartment in search of something to take the pain away.

I had taken 800 mg of ibuprofen just three hours ago (and it wasn't helping me for shit), and I couldn't possibly take more. So I took 1150 mg of a combination acetaminophen/caffeine/pyrilamine maleate for menstrual cramps. And 10 ml of codeine left over from when I had strep throat. And 50 mg of trazodone left over from my hospitalization in hopes it'd knock me out. And a glass of wine, for good measure. I laid on my couch crying and writhing in pain and wished for relief.

After about ten or fifteen minutes, relief finally came. The waves of pain gradually ebbed away. I felt more comfortable than I've felt in a really long time. You don't realize just how many minor aches and pains you deal with on a day to day basis until something removes them.

I sat up and the room spun. It then occurred to me that I was stoned off my ass.

My first reaction was to think: can I get in trouble for this? No, of course not. I had done nothing illegal (save the wine, I guess, though I think my state was mostly attributed to the codeine), and all the medications were even in my own name. I was amused by my own worry. Why did I think that? I was nervous about possible repercussions over the fact that I was high. This is the part of the paranoia instilled in us by our country's hypocritical, misinformed, propaganda filled, completely bollocks drug culture.

Have I done something wrong? The idea still plagued me. I couldn't think of any reason why I might have. I was in pain, I sought relief. I found a short term solution for a short term problem. I wasn't harming anyone, or even myself, as the doses I had taken were nowhere near dangerous amounts. Though my perception was most definitely altered, I was still thinking rationally, and still entirely in my right of mind. But I thought of a close friend who would most certainly frown upon my current situation. Why?

 That same friend claimed drugs should be used only for medicinal use, not recreational.

What's the difference?

What if I treated my terrible pain by smoking pot instead?

Marijuana is currently available for medicinal use in parts of our country. It's used to treat pain, asthma, nausea, glaucoma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and dozens of other diseases in conditions.
Yet in other parts of the very same country, possession of it can land you in jail.

Poppies can be used to make opium tea, a brew that has been used around the world for centuries as a pain reliever, both physical and mental. It's served at funerals in the middle east to help loved ones deal with grief.
In the US, growing poppies and having knowledge of what you can do with them is sufficient to get you arrested.

Hallucinogens of all sorts have been used in various cultures for many generations as a means to a "spiritual experience." Native Americans living in reservations in the US are still allowed to use them because it's part of their religion.
Meanwhile, possession of four tabs of LSD can get you 5-10 years of jail time.

Drugs like oxycontin are prescription-only in the US, yet available over the counter in Canada.

How come recreational amphetamines illegal, but we essentially shove it down the throats of children who have a bit more trouble paying attention ("ADHD")?

When you have a look at all the different ailments, diseases, disorders and conditions that are treated with drugs, you have to wonder, what the bloody hell is the difference? How do you know what ought to be treated and with what? How do you know when something needs to be treated? It's difficult to tell, and at this point not always necessary. Doctors dole out prescriptions so easily people pretty much choose how to medicate themselves. Narcotics, barbiturates, psychedelics, amphetamines, stimulants, opiates, cannabinoids, stimulants, depressants, steroids, sedatives, dissociatives, empathogens. They're all just chemicals. They all have potential to be abused, and become dangerous to the user. But they all have beneficial uses as well.

So how do you differentiate medicinal usage from recreational? That guy getting prescription codeine for chronic back pain could be faking it just to get high and feel good. And that guy smoking pot without a medical marijuana card could be doing it to combat depression or arthritis. How do you know, and does it matter? Is the guy who enjoys a cup of coffee in the morning that different from the guy who enjoys a hit from his bong before bed? Is the woman who destresses by going fr a run or playing video games (releases endorphins) that different from the woman who does the same by having a glass of wine?

Drugs are a part of your life whether you like it or not. Sometimes you need them to combat sickness. Often your brain makes them automatically. Sometimes people just like to add a little more to their lives, does the reason really matter?

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I resent my part time job. I know I shouldn't, I'm lucky to even have it. However, it sometimes gets the best of me. Namely because it is mentally exhausting to interact with hundreds of people hours at a time, especially when you have to force a smile and a happy mood. To be fair I think there is a certain advantage to working such a job at some point in your life, it can really do wonders for your perspective.

On the other hand, it can be entirely dehumanizing. When you're standing behind the counter, not everybody seems to remember that you are a human being. I will open with a friendly greeting and often the customer will interrupt by just barking menu items at me. I tend to take pride in my work, and I take things personally, and these two traits are awful vices to have when you've got a job in fast food.

From time to time my thoughts give way to the "cog in the machine" mindset, and I feel rather worthless. Here I am, selling my my life (for time is a very precious commodity) for $7.40 an hour. I find it remarkably degrading. I think I'd rather be a stripper. I just feel like I'm better than this, like my time is worth more.

Yet I can't get a better job for the life of me. Am I that inept? A kid who has been working at our store almost exactly as long as I have just got promoted to shift manager. Why not me? I can't even get the managers to train me on anything but the register. What am I doing wrong? It's not like I lack work ethic. Am I that unskilled? I've long thought of myself as being "above average," but evidence points to the fact that I may be lacking. Am I completely inept and I just don't realize it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Burning Bridges

When I was a child (moreso than I am now), I was awful at making friends. I had a few in passing, sure. A Puerto Rican girl in first grade that turned out to be really mean, a quiet girl in second grade who was into all that Lisa Frank shit, this chubby girl in my neighborhood who was super nice and who I actually got pretty close to. By and large though, I got picked on a lot, and I only ever had one friend in all of grade school that I still consider a real friend.

My dad would try to make me feel better by saying I didn't "need" friends. This may or may not have helped lead to my current mindset.

When an acquaintance of mine whom I highly respect said that "friends are expendable," I found myself agreeing with him. And I feel bad about thinking this way, but I don't think I'm at fault for it.

The number of friends I have depends on what mood I'm in and how you define "friend," and therefore ranges anywhere from zero to three-hundred eleven. But it's usually about six. This number recently dwindled to five.

I seem to have a knack for getting close to people who eventually cut me out of their life entirely. This is entirely understandable. If someone is poison to you, for whatever reason, then you ought to cut them out of your life. It's what's best for you. We can't all go around sacrificing ourselves for the sake of sparing other people's feelings. At the same time though, I can't comprehend it, because nobody has ever done something to me awful enough to warrant this. Does that mean I have done things to other people that are awful beyond my own comprehension?

Anyhow, I find it increasingly difficult to become close to people. When they disappear they do so quite suddenly, and I feel like I always have to be prepared for that.
I'm certain I'm not alone in that, as a matter of fact, I'm willing to bet most college students my age might say the same thing. Or not, I don't exactly have a large sample size at my disposal.
I wonder if it can be helped.

The Princess and the Pie

When I was a child (moreso than I am now), my father used to make up bedtime stories for me. They were full of magic and castles and all that great Disney stuff. I can remember a handful of them, but there's one that sticks out in my memory, and it goes something like this.

There once was a beautiful princess in search of a prince to marry. But her father, a very wise and powerful king, would not let just any prince marry her, he had to test them to find one that was smart and kind and worthy. So he sent a message to every corner of his kingdom, offering his daughter's hand in marriage. But only to a prince who could make her cry... without hurting her or being mean to her in any way.

And so princes from all across the land came to the castle, one after another, to try and make the princess cry. They sang her sad songs, told her sad stories, told her scary stories. But nothing anybody came up with could make her shed the slightest tear.

Then one prince came to her and asked her to show him to the kitchens, because he wanted to cook for her.

The princess found this very unusual, because royalty do not cook. They have servants to do it for them! But she was curious, so she led him to the kitchen and watched as he began to gather his ingredients, saying he was going to make her a mince meat pie. She watched him work, curious and questioning, and wanting to be polite, she also asked if there was anything she could do to help.

"Why yes! Could you please do me a favor and chop up these onions?" So she picked up a knife, and slowly but surely began cutting the onions, and before she knew it, tears began to roll down her face.

So the prince and princess were happily married with the blessings of the wise king, and they lived happily ever after and made mincemeat pie together every week.

I'm not even going to list all the ways this bothers twenty-year-old me. What the hell, dad?

I feel like, if I were to tell a bedtime story at this point in my life, it would go more like this. If I had a daughter.
(I hope I don't.)

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who fell in love with a handsome prince. He was kind and charming, very smart and he made her laugh. They did everything together, and one day got married and went to live in a beautiful castle.

But they didn't live happily ever after. The prince turned out to be an evil sorcerer in disguise, who used magic to trick many princesses into falling in love with him. When the princess discovered this she was frightened and heartbroken, and she fled the castle and escaped to her old kingdom. But not before the sorcerer cursed her, and covered her heart in ice so she could not fall in love again.

The princess was bitter and scared, but still very lonely. So she once again began the search for someone to live happily ever after with. Many princes came to court her, but the curse around her heart was so strong they could feel the evil coming from it, and it scared them away one after another. The princess grew very tired of meeting princes only to have them run off, and she began to lose hope of ever breaking the curse.

But one day something unusual happened. One certain prince did not run off, he came back to see her a second time. And then a third, and then a fourth. He came to visit her over and over, and they talked for hours, and walked through the castle gardens, and began to smile and laugh with each other more and more. Little did the princess know, the prince had the same curse as she, only cast on him by a witch! And every time they spent a day together, the ice on their hearts melted a little more, until one day it was gone entirely. They fell in love with each other at long last, and finally live happily ever after.

See? It's magical and realistic. Sort of.
I can't believe I just wrote that emo bullshit. Was it funny? Let's pretend it was funny.

I'll try to write about something less trite next time. Like how I think adults should talk to children about sex.
Yeah. that'd make a good youtube video.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Simple Pleasures

She was beautiful in a very delicate way, wearing a simple dress with pockets, a collar and a belt. Her plain brown hair framed her face and fell over her shoulders, and thick-rimmed glasses rested on her pale, perfect nose. I didn't know anything about her, but I imagined her to be smart and sweet and quiet.

"She's pretty, isn't she?" The young man adjacent to me had caught me staring.

"Yes, she is."

The entire group chatting outside the coffee shop went silent and turned to look in. For a few moments, we all sat and enjoyed the sight of a pretty woman as she bought herself a coffee, exited and walked off into the chill morning.

I smiled. "The best part is, she's completely oblivious."

"Yeah, that is the best part."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


A well-groomed young black man talked about nothing in particular to anybody who would listen. He wore a blazer and jeans with a fedora and pointed boots. The glint of gold chains was visible through his mostly unbuttoned shirt. The rhythm of his speech was complimented by ZZ Top playing in the background, and he punctuated his thoughts with a puff of his cigarette. I thought to myself that if he were wearing shades he'd resemble Jones from A Confederacy of Dunces. Regardless, he was certainly a character. Anybody who loitered on the side of Buckeye Donuts at 3am on a Wednesday was a character.

I write a whole lot. Sometimes I am simply compelled to. The digital realm of my laptop is strewn with documents that I fill with a paragraph or two, or maybe just one lonely sentence, then saved to a folder akin to a junk drawer to be forgotten.

I doubt very much of my writing is good or interesting. I think I only write out of some bizarre form of self-preservation, that if I document small snippets of my life and thoughts that I've had, it will somehow make my life more meaningful or permanent. The thought of forgetting bits and pieces of my own life is frightening to me.

Or maybe it's just narcissism.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"How To Pick The Right Guy"

I recently ran into this blog, which is sad, hilarious, and incendiary.

And in response I offer some of my own advice when searching for a partner, of any gender. Not necessarily what to look for, because that is for the most part a matter of taste, and for that you can use your own judgement and good sense. But this is my insight on certain behaviors and what they mean for you.

1. Previous relationship experience.

I don't know about you, but when talking to someone significantly younger than myself, I find this fact floats around the forefront of my mind. There exists some sort of bias there, because I feel like I should inherently know more than them, though this isn't necessarily true. Age, experience, maturity and wisdom are all separate things, and do not always go hand in hand.

There is a reason we study history, and that is because history repeats itself. People are bound to make the same mistakes time and time again before they really learn from them. So pay attention. Did your prospective mate have that one really big heartbreak? How many times did they try again with their ex before they moved on? How recent was it? You may very well be the rebound, and they may very well not be over that one love. That first is a bitch to get over.

How much experience has your prospective mate had in general? How many serious relationships, short term relationships, sexual partners? Do you guys agree on what qualifies "a lot" of sexual partners? How many people have they dated? How many times have they been in love? If you two are significantly unmatched in any of these areas, a red flag should go up. There is an appeal to going after someone with less experience: they seem more pure, less callous, less likely to break your heart. But in truth, these folk are very unstable and more likely to do so, because they don't yet have enough experience to know what they want out of a partner or a relationship.

2. "You should _____."

You should pay your bills on time. You should try eating sea urchin. You should grow a goatee. I don't care what the blank is, big or small, good or bad; someone you are interested in for a serious relationship should never tell you that you should do something. This is a sign of someone trying to change you, and that is never acceptable. Asking someone to try something new? Sure. Encouraging someone who wants to change something about themself? Great. But you the word "should" is one to be wary of, along with all other unsolicited advice.

3. Influences.

Be aware of the influences that face you, and try to maintain your logic and reasoning. Be aware that when you do feel a connection with someone, it may be for reasons other than compatibility. Keep your head on straight and make sure you share the most important things, like aspirations, philosophies, and values. Do you both believe in god? How do you deem something morally wrong? What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime? Can you agree to disagree? Do you plan to circumcise your kids? Someone can give you warm fuzzies fucking galore, but that wears off after awhile, no matter who they are. When the passion fades, will the intimacy and companionship hold together? Will you even be the same person by then?

Everything else is... really just a matter of taste. I personally try to stay away from anybody that likes Glenn Beck or Papa Roach. You can nitpick a million little things, but it's all small beans. You have to know what you want, realize what you have, and recognize the other party's stance regarding these.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Most Disconcerting Feeling

I was napping on the large circular chair in my living room when I felt a hand on my arm. I forced my eyes open groggily to see the person was standing behind me in such a way that I could only see their hand. It was a man's hand, rather tan. I turned my head to see who it was but got increasingly groggy as he entered my vision, and my eyes were forced closed again. This bothered me, but I tried to ignore it and fell back asleep.

I awoke to the hand on my arm once more. "Look at me," a voice said. A familiar voice, but I couldn't pin it down. I turned my head slowly and the same thing happened, something forced my eyes closed by the time I was facing where he should be. I began to panic, and tried my very hardest to open them, and I was able to see through for just a moment. Where I was facing, there was nobody, but the feeling of the hand remained. I could see only static, nothingness, a non-entity. My eyes shut again but my heart raced because I knew what I was facing was not possible, and it was the most terrifying thing I'd ever seen.

"I can't." I felt extremely agitated and started to cry. I felt like I was suffocating.

"Why won't you look at me?"

"...I see death."

And then I awoke properly.
I was scared to look behind me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Desires and Convictions: When Being Childish is a Good Thing

When I announced to my friends and acquaintances that I was going to be adopting a puppy, I was met with a barrage of negativity and seemingly well-intended (though unsolicited) advice. A fairly large number of people older and wiser than I told me repeatedly that is was a bad idea, that it would tie me down and just about destroy my life. I did let it get to me somewhat, enough to crush some of my initial excitement, but I still went through with it, because I really wanted a goddamn dog.

Roughly one year later, I have a healthy and happy dog named Fortinbras sharing a house with me. He has destroyed numerous possessions, caused a fair share of trouble, and been quite an inconvenience at times. He also curls up with me in bed at night, and makes me laugh and smile every time I come home or take him out, as well as many times in between. He is the only thing in my life that consistently makes me happy, and I love him to death. He satisfies my instinct to nurture as well as my need for companionship. Adopting him was arguably the best decision I ever made.

When we are children we are told we can do anything we set our minds to, and encouraged to follow our dreams no matter what. We want to be things like astronauts, doctors, ballerinas, inventors. When we get older though, realism comes into play. "I'm not physically built to do this," or "I'm not smart enough to do that," or "I'll never make a living that way." But more often than not, it is merely a case of "I don't want to put in the effort."

We develop schemata for ourselves that seem to fall into two main categories. Those who believe they can't, and those who believe they can. The way we think shapes our decisions, actions and behaviors so drastically that it has a significant effect on our futures, and our lives are directed thusly. So much that, if you expect some new food to taste bad, then it probably will, and if you're hoping that girl you meet on your blind date will be awesome, she probably will be. Many people give up the things they want in favor of a "smarter" decision. They favor settling for something less instead of using it as a stepping stone for something better. They develop notions of what they "should" do and what is easier to do and set themselves up wasted potential without even realizing it. Oftentimes they simply let a fear of failure hold them back.

Then there are people who keep dreaming, who never lose sight of what they want, and constantly try to figure out how to get there. A fine example is Randy Pausch, an extraordinary man who managed to fulfill most all of his desires in his short lifetime, including working for Disney and being launched into space. People of this sort hate to be told there is something they can't or shouldn't do, on principal, and will often go out of their way to prove themselves. They may develop a pattern perceived as childish stubbornness, being drawn to goals specifically because of the notion that they're the sorts of things they're expected not to do. These people want things, and they are motivated and invigorated by frustration and dissatisfaction, and their convictions are made stronger by people who disagree. And with enough effort, they can usually get shit done and make themselves happy.

I have realized something about myself recently, which is that I fall into the second category. After going for a long time with no desires in particular, I find myself wanting things because for very strange reasons. Why does joining the army veterinary corp sound so enticing? Because it's precisely the sort of thing that is not expected of me. Why did did I get a dog? In part, because I was told not to. And I don't regret a thing.

What kind of person are you?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Back of House

I stared at the raw chicken in front of me, lying on its back with its legs splayed.
There's something obscene about this.
Knot, loop, loop. Knot, twist, flip. Loop, loop, knot.
A nicely trussed chicken if I do say so myself.
The phrase "chicken bondage" flit through my head and I smiled. I used my index finger to push underneath the skin on each breast and make a pocket, which I then filled with two garlic cloves. Positioned properly these looked somewhat inappropriate as well.
I never knew working in a kitchen would be so graphic.

"HANDS," someone shouts in front of the line. That means someone working the front of house has a plate to deliver.

The young but motherly hispanic woman training me today seasons the prepared chickens with a spice mix and then impales them on rods three at a time. She mounts them in the rotisserie machine. I can tell she's a tad impatient with my speed. In broken English she suggests I go get drinks for the employees working the line. When I finish doing so I walk up and look at her with an unsure smile. "What can I do now?"

She pulls down a recipe book and flips to a page. "Make this, half." I need the prepared cream sauce, peppers, and spinach. I venture into the walk-in fridge but I'm not sure where these things are. Everything is hand labeled in very sloppy writing. I take a tub of white cream and a tub of peppers and bring them to the prep area. The woman looks over, shakes her head, and takes the tubs from me without a word. She walks into the fridge, and comes back out with different white cream, different peppers, and a glob of spinach. She plops them in front of me and goes back to her business.

"Sorry, but you said to make half the recipe, right?" She looks over and nods. I have been double or triple checking on everything I do to be sure I don't screw up. Which I suppose is very annoying to the people around me, but I think it works out alright, as I've yet to screw up. I weigh out the ingredients, do some chopping, and mix everything together. It gets poured into a prep tub, labeled, and stored back in the walk-in.

I am entirely happy doing prep work, because even though it doesn't require much thought, it means I'm not working the dishtank. Really though, prep means I get to practice a variety of basic but important cooking skills. Do you know how hard it is to clean and cut butternut squash? Very hard. I weigh out nineteen pounds of black beans for the veggie burgers. Then I get to cut up the pickles and turkey with the electric slicer, which is a whole lot of fun.

I think to myself while I cube the turkey, anyone who claims to enjoy cooking is admitting that they like to play with knives and fire and dead things.

The third person working prep is a grumpy but cuddly hispanic man, and the sweet potato hash he is making smells delicious. I sneak tastes of the finished hash in the fridge every time I go in to fetch something. The woman leads me over to the baking section of the kitchen to show me how to prepare the parbake dough. She chops it up one 6oz chunk at a time and tosses the pieces around the wooden counter. I watch as she picks them up, flings them off her fingers in front of her, and kneads them into smooth little balls before plopping them in trays to rise. I follow suit, kneading them two at a time with curved fingers in a circular motion. Christ the culinary world is dirty.

It's time to clean up and I stand around awkwardly, not sure what to do with myself. The man tries to give me some direction but I can't understand him in the slightest. The woman pulls me aside and shows me how to separate the clarified butter. Do you know what clarified butter is? Me neither, but it smells delicious. I accidentally splash some butter onto the low shelves and curse myself silently. It could have been worse I guess.

We scrub down the walls, the counters, everything. We sanitize the knives and send every part of the kitchen possible to carry through the wash. "CORNER," I shout every time I carry a piece of equipment around to the dishtank. We splash soapy water on the floor until it resembles a small ocean, and squeegee it in waves toward the main drain. After we clean out the drain we're done for the night. Between my sore feet and slippery shoes, I am walking like an old lady, but I make it to the computer to clock out.

I never imagined working in a kitchen would be like this. I think I like it.