Day Three: Getting It Off My Chest

Disclaimer One: This is not a prompt I randomly chose. In fact, this may not even be an actual prompt in the book. It’s more of a therapeutic writing session.

Disclaimer Two: I’m not using names and I’ve let the person I’m writing this to know what I’m doing. As such, I will take whatever wrath, hate, friendship implosion comes my way.

Prompt: Something I need to get off my chest

It was cute for a while but now, more often than not, your blase “it’s whatevs” is seriously starting to irk me. I feel that, in a point in my life where I’m trying to figure shit out, your “it’s whatevs” just magnifies your apathy towards just about everything. Not that there’s really anything wrong with being content with an easy, okay paying job. It’s just that is not where I am right now.

I’m in a moment of flux. I’m figuring out what I want to do both in the immediate and more distant future. I’m looking to move away from barely surviving to establishing myself and maybe even setting down some roots in the next 5-10 years by buying a house (daunting, even to type!). Basically, I’m done with living solely in the moment and I’m looking towards the future.

Look, I’m not saying that you aren’t doing that (the whole, looking towards the future thing) because you might be. I’m not even saying that you really conform to the whole “it’s whatevs” attitude; maybe its just a facade. Either way it’s just not who I am at the moment and the fact that it comes up almost every time we talk is infuriating and confusing. Sometimes I just want to scream when you say those two words; sort of like how Andi did every time Juan Pablo said, “it’s okay.”

Another thing that’s been bugging me with this whole “whatever” attitude; and, if I may, a piece of advice for your future. Don’t ever respond to a girl (no matter how silly, or annoying) pouring her confused heart out by saying basically do whatever you want, it’s whatevs. I mean, I know that the things I told you while I was in Costa Rica were stupid; I acknowledge that. But I was telling you so you could reaffirm the fact that whatever I was thinking/feeling was something I needed to get away from. A really vague you do you reaction just doesn’t cut it.

If you’re reading this you may feel like I’m throwing you under the bus and am calling you out. I promise I’m really not. I just had to get this off my chest. It’s sort of been gnawing at me and I just needed to let it out without getting an apathetic response. If this ends up causing some weird rift in our friendship, I’m sorry. Hell, maybe, in some unforeseeable future I’ll take your “it’s whatevs” for granted; just not right now.

 

Day Two: Winos

Catchy blog title, right? I struggled a little with this mostly because I kept deleting text instead of striking through it. Also, I’m pretty sure I went over the allotted 30 minutes.

Prompt: There are two types of people: drunks and survivors of drunks. Which are you?

I never saw my parents drink or express any desire to drink until I was in high school. Drinking and alcohol were pretty foreign to me; reserved for tales my grandparents told me about their young days, boisterous stories told by my Navy veteran uncle, and in whisperings of failed marriages.

I remember the day that it all changed; well not the exact day, but the place. The Sam’s Club in dusty, flat, waiting-for-another-oil-boom Odessa. Even though I was old enough to stay at home I always enjoyed those trips, mostly because it meant the possibility of buying a cheap paperback.

This time, before heading to the checkout lanes my parents detoured to the wine aisle. It was a foreign space to me and to my parents. They walked slowly up and down the aisle and stood around, seemingly confused by the plethora of chardonnay, shiraz, pinot, and malbec options.

The anger inside of me was quick, fierce, and (looking back at it now) comical. A fury burned in me guided by the fact that my parents did NOT drink. “Why are you even looking at this stuff? You don’t even know what it is,” I remember hissing at my parents. I remember a very distinct look, one of surprise, confusion, and mild amusement. They ignored me, and I huffed away across the aisle to the books and magazines.

That day we went home with a bot I went home empty handed and my parents with a bottle of some nondescript red wine. It sat underneath the kitchen sink for the longest time. “Right where it belonged,” I thought “with the other poisonous substances.” What a foolish girl.

Since my quest to stop them from purchasing the bottle didn’t work I changed tactics: proclaiming what had transpired to the high heavens. Well, not really; maybe just to my family.

I spent so much time hounding them about it that I never really paid attention to when they opened it. I remember one day opening the fridge and seeing it; unceremoniously jammed into a nook with the ranch dressing, half-used jars of pickles, and array of jams and jellies. It stayed there for a good, long while.

I took my first sip of alcohol a few years later, as a junior in high school. I was working at Texas Burger with a bunch of kids that were more worldly than I was. I was invited to go cruising down the drag (out of pity?!)stopping at the 7-11 to get a pack of beer–Coors Light. (one of the girls was over 21). By the time I drank a sip it was lukewarm, looked like piss and tanged all the way down my throat.

 

 

Aside

Day One: Austin, I Love(d) You

I’ve slacked on the whole writing challenge. This post will serve as the first one; although it’s not really a prompt from the “642 Things to Write” journal. Onwards, the “prompt” is below!

A few years ago I co-opted a few lines from LCD Soundsystem’s “New York, I Love You” for my Facebook status. It went something like this: “Austin you’re bringing me down…but you’re still the one place where I’d happily drown.”

I can officially say that I’ve grown disillusioned with Austin. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many great things about the city; there’s a reason why it attracts so many people from in and out of state. However, I’ve realized that it’s not the place where I am supposed to be. I want so much more than working two part time jobs just to scrape by and pay rent and bills each month.

The Kubler-Ross model breaks down grief into five distinct stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Now, I’m not sure if I’m grieving at the thought of leaving Austin but I still feel that the stages apply. If I really think about it and am honest with myself I’ve been in denial for pretty much the entire time I’ve spent in Austin. I mean deep down I always knew that Austin wasn’t where I was supposed to be; but stubborness tempered that knowledge; overshadowed it.

Anger was one of the stages I came back to again and again. Anger at the situation I was in; hustling for jobs, spending days upon days looking for jobs, settling for jobs that I immediately hated. Anger at not getting the full time position at the museum that would have, in my mind, solved all my problems.

It was that last burst of anger that finally melted (devolved?) into bargaining and depression. Even as I sat with my supervisor crying (so lame) and listening to her as she tried to make me feel better my mind was racing: “I liked this job and the people so maybe I could just get another part time job, I could sacrifice my evenings to work retail, heck maybe I could even take up tutoring and babysitting again.” Man, I was bargaining with myself like crazy during that talk.

I realized that, truthfully, I couldn’t bargain my way out of it and the next stage sucked. I spent the next day; a Saturday, curled up in my bed. The only thing that got me moving was the fact that I was leaving to Costa Rica on the following Monday.

Honestly, that trip saved me. It limited my depressive, woe-is-me stage to a good two days. It also gave me plenty of time to seriously reflect on what I really wanted; or more importantly what I knew I didn’t want. That brings me to the final stage: acceptance.

I accept the fact that what I want at this point and juncture in my life is probably not in Austin. I accept the fact two part-time jobs will not cut it. I accept the fact that I failed in Austin. I accept the fact that come August I will no longer be living in Austin. I accept the fact that in order to move forward I have to leave behind friends, a fulfilling and challenging gig as a volunteer ESL teacher, running clubs, and a great place to work.

This acceptance has been made easier by the fact that, to some extent, I’ve fallen out of love with the city. It frustrates me that for a many people living in Austinis only a reality reached (rather precariously) by hustling and having several jobs and living with several roommates. I hate that the cost of living is so high that living in the city proper is inaccessible to many: teachers, life-long Austinites, and some families with two full-time incomes. I hate that there hasn’t been a more serious discussion in regards to controlling the rise of rents, making housing affordable, addressing the huge increase in property taxes, in having a working and sensible form of public transportation, and in keeping the cultural and historical integrity of the city.

A small part of me doesn’t want to give up just yet. That small part of me is still applying to jobs in the hopes that at the last minute something will come along and keep me in the city. But, that small part of me is tempered by the larger realization that what I crave is not in Austin; at least not right now.

 

5 AM Dallas ramblings

Thanks to technology, I’m writing this as I sit in the Dallas airport waiting for boarding to start.

I caved. I totally went ahead and paid for my carryon because, in the end, I could budget for $45/way vs a potential $100/way.

Apologies, in advance for any errors or nonsensical ramblings (more so than usual!) I’ve only had like 2 hours of sleep.

CNN’s hard hitting story of the morning is: what’s going on with all these freak bouncy house accidents. Lol, seriously guys. Oy!

So, what do I want to “accomplish” in Costa Rica? I want to relax and relieve the stress of not planning this trip. I want to just go. I want to run. I want to meet new people. I want to be confident in my solo adventures.

I want to read equal parts fluffy reads and intellectually stimulating tomes. I want to make the most of every single day; even if it means getting to San Jose and crashing. I want to eat maracuya ice cream. And, because I’m hopelessly shallow, I want to get a badass tan.

See y’all on the other side

SOC #3: Boston and Human Nature

Disclaimer: SOCs are stream of consciousness posts meaning that, in many cases, it’s documenting what I am feeling, thinking at a particular moment. That being said, their ideas that may be fleeting; and in a few months or years I’ll be shaking my head to. As SOC posts, these opinions are obviously my own. 

Is there a fine line between empathizing with a tragedy and selfishly associating with it? This has been nagging at me this entire week. Obviously, the tragedy in question is the Boston marathon bombings and, to a much lesser extent, the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.  

I personally didn’t really address either of these two tragedies on any of my social media sites, with the obvious exception being this post. For me it was a matter of not really being able to put into words what exactly I felt as a result of shock and not indifference. It was also because i was unable to synthesize how these two incidents. 

And to some extent, I didn’t want to selfishly project myself on these tragedies because, their horrible nature aside, these two incidents are also very intimate. One of the popular words to have come out of this past week is “community”. For example, in my yoga bootcamp the instructor noted that the marathon bombings reinforce this sense of community found in runners. I agree, the running community is supportive and accessible, but; for most of the community the events this past Monday are far removed from their everyday life. It’s important to, as a community, come to the aid of those directly affected by the tragedy; by offering solace, by making themselves available, by providing hope and strength. However, this sense of community should not diminish the intimacy of the event, again no matter how tragic, that those running the marathon are now a part of. In a sense, the runners of the Boston marathon are a smaller, more intimate community within the larger running community. 

As much as we want to comfort those involved it’s important to not invade their experience by injecting ourselves into that experience. This is especially true for those of us who don’t have close ones that were actually in Boston; that weren’t directly involved. 

I think it’s human nature [more on this in a little bit] to want to empathize and relate what’s happening in our lives with what happened in Boston. To parallel our experiences as it were. Example: One of my Facebook friends was shopping at her local CVS when one of the walls collapsed. She documented her experience on Facebook and ended the post with something similar to “I can’t imagine how the people in Boston felt.” While, no doubt, a wall collapsing is traumatizing in its own right, what she tried to do, even though it may not seem so, is associate her experience with the larger Boston experience. You may think, “oh, but she explicitly said she couldn’t imagine…” so she isn’t paralleling these two experiences. But really, if you think about it, she is. Just the mention of Boston automatically prods those reading the post to associate and compare/contrast these two separate incidents. 

I’m not saying that she did this consciously and in a way to garner more sympathy; in fact, it was probably a spur of the moment adrenaline induced post. However, ultimately, in my opinion it also reinforces this selfish, if subconscious, streak in us. This desire, again conscious or not, to want to be part of the action as it were. To associate ourselves with something larger, regardless of its positive or negative nature. Again, it’s this sense of community. I mean, it’s innate in our nature right; to be part of a group, clan, family; community. We are social creatures, after all. 

Although I didn’t acknowledge, or address what happened this past week on my social media platforms I did stay up-to-date with what was happening. We collectively as an office, a community you might say, tuned into the final moments of the manhunt as the youngest Tsarnaev gave himself up. One of the images that resonated with me was this one

It reinforced the feelings (of disgust, sadness, and anger) that surfaced when I read my friend’s post. I mean, who are we as Americans to selfishly want to integrate ourselves into this personal and intimate tragedy. The picture reinforced this idea because here’s a group of individuals; young and old who have a very real and visceral tie to what happened. I mean, these people deal with bombings; of their homes, neighborhoods, schools daily. It’s a fear that they constantly have to live with. 

It brings to question why we don’t empathize and inject ourselves into this constant terror. I know that it’s not in our immediate vicinity and it’s not happening to “people that could have, conceivably, been us; but still. It brings to light the fact that this sense of community is limited; to geographical areas, similar backgrounds and culture, and religion. This sense of community that is confined is evident, sadly, in the immediate reaction after the bombings; of scapegoating those that seem to be Arabs, middle eastern, those that when things come to push and shove are not a part of the community. 

I guess I’ll end this rambling, extremely stream of conscious post with the notion that instead of being selfish and injecting ourselves into the intimate tragedy of others we should look to community as a way to overcome these notions of us vs. them that are especially apparent in times of great tragedy and anguish. I know its really kumbaya-ish of me, but really its just an extension of our human nature as social creatures. 

 

 

I Am Not Yummy

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance regarding our views on relationships. At some point he mentioned that although he usually had a penchant for “Latina chicas” he had recently become more attracted to Asian women. To put it in his words, he found them to be…yummy. I found this correlation to be a bit strange and awkward but attributed his choice of words to his social awkwardness.

I’ll admit I sort of called him out on it but also laughed it off. However, the more I thought about it the more it began to bother me. I think that my uneasiness with the adjective “yummy” when talking about the opposite sex stems from two things. First, it reinforces this unhealthy relationship that American’s have with food. Secondly, it objectifies women (and men).

We like to tie food to different aspects of society. For example, Revlon has a line of lip butters that associate food items (mostly sweet) with different shades. Feeling fiesty? You’ll probably want to wear a loud shade like lollipop or candy apple. Feeling more demure? Maybe try creme brulee, cupcake, or sugar frosting.

Food references are also found in English language cliches. You might say that the test you aced was “a piece of cake”. A nice, charming individual is seen to be “as sweet as pie”. If someone tells you something that you’re skeptical about you might take it “with a grain of salt”. We go over a cliche each week in the ESL class that I help out with. The students find it baffling, amusing, and absurd that we incorporate so many “foodisms” into the language. I mean, you don’t have many Spanish language counterparts to these English foodisms*. Personally, I’ve never heard someone say, “Oh, her temper is as spicy as menudo.”

The American people’s penchant to use food words as descriptors, freely reflects the unhealthy relationship we have with food [A weighty topic for another post but basically: Food is for nutrition and survival NOT for overindulgence and gluttony]. This is reflected in the English language; cliches and such and in how freely non-food items–in this case women–are associated with food descriptors.

However, I think the aspect of this “women are yummy” idea that is really unsettling is the way it casually and in a largely unassuming way objectifies women. The argument has been made for the sexualization of food but what about the other way; the food-ization of the sexes? [Yes, I made up a word. Deal with it].  To be fair, there are the more innocuous food related nicknames: honey, sweetie pie, pumpkin which are used for significant others, kids, and strangers alike. “Yummy”, on the other hand, is different. If something is yummy one assumes that it is delicious; to the point of enticing one to devour it.

All blatantly sexual connotations that can be associated with the word yummy aside, the word still conveys an unsettling sense of objectification. To describe a woman as yummy disregards her other aspects: her intelligence, her sense of humor, her physical appearance and instead focuses on her relationship to food; something that, once consumed, is no longer needed. It has a misogynistic connotation to it.

I asked a couple of friends their thoughts on the use of “yummy” to describe women and, for the most part, they had a negative reaction. One deemed being called “yummy” as disgusting. Another friend’s visceral reaction was, “[He] sounds like [a] Hannibal Lecter who eats Asian women”. I hadn’t thought about it from the creepy, almost literal angle. My friend Rebecca added that it was gross considering the recent conviction of a NYPD officer who plotted to kidnap, kill, and eat women.

So, I think that we should move away from using the adjective “yummy” when talking about each other. There are so many more appropriate, descriptive, and flattering words that one can use. For example, I’m guilty of once saying that my ex-boyfriend’s facial hair was yummy. But, really, how can facial hair be yummy? Sexy, rakish, alluring; yes, but never yummy.  Keep using yummy at the risk of seeming like a Hannibal Lecter (or his female equivalent).

*that I’m aware of.

SOC 2: Yes, lets continue to push the marriage = happy ending myth.

A couple of disclaimers.

#1: I encourage you to read this article before reading this SOC. #1.1: I hope that the article is a joke.

#2: I have a few friends that are married that are pretty amazing. Clearly, what I write here is my opinion and doesn’t reflect upon aforementioned amazing friends.

#3: This is a Stream of Conscious post.

Okay.

If you didn’t click on the link here’s the premise: the salon.com article from January 15, 2013 by Katie McDonough compiles advice from around the web on how to nab the guy of your dreams who just happens to be “floating around the internet”.

I read “Amy Webb lived every red-blooded woman’s nightmare when, at 30, she still wasn’t married” and cringed. My immediate reaction was to think “this has to be some kind of joke” , look at the article’s tags, and check other articles written by the author. I felt my stomach turn as I realized that this article was probably not a joke but an attempt at serious (hard-hitting?) journalism.

I’m not going to sit here and lie. Yeah, sometimes the fear of never having a significant other, married or otherwise, does creep up. And sure, I admit that sometimes that fear is intensely stifiling and horrific. However, i don’t define myself and my daily actions solely on this quest to mitigate the “nightmare” of never getting married. Conversely, who exactly deems this solitary life as a nightmare? I find it horrifying that women such as Amy Webb continue to saddle 21st century women with the archaic idea that becoming a spinster with cats (as the video at the end of the Salon article highlights) is a sad, horrible existence. The parenthetical consolation that Webb’s story has a happy ending since she gets married is just…absurd, demeaning, and sad.

Continuing with the article: Webb comes up with an ingenious way to decode, as it were, what men like and don’t like in women. Men, it appears, are not attracted to curly hair, do not appreciate a sense of humor in dates, and are put off when they feel their manhood is threatened. [Aside: according to the article I’m doomed] Women can threaten a date–and potential husband–by having a better paying job, a more complex job description, or by having “scary hobbies” like karate. Really. Really?! Basically, what Webb and McDonough are essentially saying is that women who are interested in finding a man online would be wise to conform to a set rule of standards men have. To, sadly, change who they are if they want to be successful with the whole internet dating thing. Especially curly haired women that practice taekwando, own a thriving business, and can think for themselves. Ugh.

Other advice so graciously compiled by McDonough includes: being more open to taking small gestures–like a man sneezing (!) on you as flirting, wisely being less internet available (read: don’t join every dating site) to reinforce what a “precious, limited commodity (!) you are”, and not dating guys like Jacob from this article.  [Aside: its an interesting read and Jacob is a douche]

This is getting ridiculously long and borderline ranty (or maybe its already fallen off the edge) so just a few more things. Out of curiosity I looked up the definition of “spinster”. According to  Miriam Webster a spinster is an unmarried woman, especially one past the common age of marrying. I think what this SOC all comes down to is that, in the end, women need to stop letting others, regardless of sex, define them. After all, who is in charge of allocating “the common age of marrying”? Why should there even be a common mean age? Why should women let themselves be lumped into “happy endings” and “sad spinster-y” endings complete with cats?

I could write and write about this but for the sake of brevity (HA!) I’ll end it with this: I’m not trying to be completely gung ho “Girrrl Power” (although i do believe in female empowerment). I’m just trying to advocate common sense, especially when other women write this sort of, I’m sorry, crap.