Typically narcissistic blogging.

Posts tagged “communication

Animal

Hey, kid.
Hop off your tricycle.
Listen.
It’s never too soon to know what you are.

You are Black.

You are.
Black.
A diversity statistic.
A token.
A shoplifting risk.

You are.
Potential trouble.
Definitely trouble.
Going to be suspended.
Not a job prospect.

You are a tangible threat.

Terminology is essential, so keep these in mind:
Y’all don’t rally, you riot.
Y’all don’t assert your rights, you resist arrest.
Y’all don’t find, you loot.
Y’all are not persons fighting for equality, you’re animals.

Animals.

Hey, kid.
Don’t worry.
We’ve got your back.
Three squares a day.
Once we manage to pack you away.

Hey, kid.
Hands up!
Just kidding.
That never works.

Hey, kid.
Nice trike.
Now tell the truth:
Where’d you get it?


Whiskeypants, on Dating

I

There’s this woman, with whom I have almost become acquainted. Almost. By that, I mean I have spoken to her, once. Sorta. I don’t actually know how drunk I was when I managed to get those words out, but the fact that enough whiskey had been consumed for me to talk to her suggests…very.

The thing is, I find her so mindbogglingly hot I cannot bring myself to talk to her. I cannot even look her in the eyes. When our eyes do by some accident meet, I feel like I’ve been knocked on my ass, and every last bit of the clever snarkiness you expect from me vanishes. Gone. Poof. So, you know. It totally makes sense that I don’t let myself within five feet of her.tumblr_inline_mzciw327KL1rup8k6

 

II

There’s this woman I’ve known for some time, now. She’s ridiculous; talented; brilliant; strange. I love looking her in the eyes; her eyes are so expressive, they practically have their own vocabulary. I am certain I can never tell her this, or how beautiful I think she is.

cat-loves-dog

III

This is why people get cats.

 


[Guest Post] #notalldrivers

Reading many of the #‎YesAllWomen posts from most of my female friends, one thing comes repeatedly to mind. It’s from a radio interview Marisa did in regard to being a female motorcyclist in the Bay Area.

During the interview a man called in with so much hatred towards motorcyclists, it was terrifying. He even went so far as to promise that any time he sees a rider in his side view mirror he tries to “put them into the guard rail” and that he hoped all motorcyclists died horrible, painful deaths.

Traffic

                               #notalldrivers

This is as close as I can come to understanding that feeling of what it’s like to be female in this society. EVERY TIME I RIDE, I think about that guy on the radio and remind myself that he—and many others like him—are behind the wheel of some of those cars I ride past every day. I will never know who those people are until it’s too late, so I always treat every driver like they’re that one guy I heard on the radio that day, vowing to kill us all.

It doesn’t matter to me at all that most drivers don’t think that way. I only care about the 1 in 100,000 who does.

The kicker to my analogy is this:
I can stop riding my motorcycle any time I want.
Women never get to stop being female. (Not that easily, anyway.)

Thanks to all of you who have been brave enough to share your experiences thus far and those that will in the future. It has been enlightening, even for those of us who are trying to be the good guys.

 

Ben Davis is a SF/Bay Area web developer and 12-year veteran motorcyclist. Ben has appeared on ABC News 20/20, The Wayne Brady Show, and in the National Enquirer—for reasons you can’t possibly imagine. 


Fitting Rooms

For various reasons I am not going into right now, I lost a little over 30lbs over the course of the last several months. End result, simplified? My knees hurt less and my pants don’t fit. I should note that, as a person who will never, ever be “skinny” and never plans to be, I find myself caught between two body weight dogmas. The first tells me I am just buying into systemic fatphobia and the diet industry. The second tells me I should lose weight because pretty=skinny.

Neither is true for me, but it makes me profoundly self-conscious about a personal decision I have made about my body and what I choose to do with and to it. But that’s not why I have decided to write this post.

I have decided to write this post because people keep talking to me as if this weight loss is the Accomplishments of Accomplishments. They exclaim over it with greater enthusiasm than they offer over the fact that I have a law degree, that I know Latin, that I am brilliant, hilarious, and great in bed. Okay, I do get some outright skepticism over that last claim, but whatever. Ladies, you can approach that claim scientifically if you like. My number is [redacted].

I hate being told that I should be super proud of my weight loss. I hate people acting as if it’s the best fucking thing I have ever done. I hate people asking how I feel, as if they have just handed me a fucking Oscar and I am supposed to make a fucking speech.

You know how I feel? Fat.

You know how I would feel if I lost another 30lbs?

Fat.

It has nothing to do with my weight, you see.
fat hearts

The fact is, I’m pretty much okay with this. I’m okay with being fat. I’m less okay with how society has made me feel about being fat. I realize this is something of a contradiction. If I am okay with my body, then why the issues? It’s complicated; I’m a multifaceted Whiskeypants. Let’s leave it at that for now.

What gets me is how much people are not okay with it. How eager they are to praise me for my recently pronounced cheekbones and the fact that I can barely keep my pants up, even with a belt.

What gets me is how they say, “Sweet! You can go shopping now!” —as if all of my body image issues have disappeared and standing in a fitting room no longer sets off every single  issue I still have, no longer fills me with anxiety, no longer makes me wonder why designers won’t even acknowledge people above a certain size. As if pride in my body is directly correlated to my weight loss. (Hint: It isn’t.) Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of what I have accomplished, here. But not because I look 30lbs “better” according to society’s fucked up standards.

What gets me is how they think that my reward for losing weight is getting to wear smaller clothes. Shopping for clothes. Trying on clothes that were designed for people 1/2 my size and never my shape. Buying the clothes that look the least stupid on me.

23NOc6p
Yeah. Tell me more about how I should be excited about that.


Hiatus

In the last few weeks I have been asked a number of times in a number of ways, where the hell I have been and why I have not been blogging. My answer has been simple: I’m taking a break.

The thing is, I didn’t take this break intentionally. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I was on blogging vacation (mmmm, vacation), and I didn’t hang up my blogger hat (now you have to wonder if I actually have a hat for blogging) with the idea that I wouldn’t be wearing it any time soon.

The fact is, after the dustup from the last two posts, I’m on the emotionally exhausted side. The rather extensive group of people who felt that my post was necessary have thanked me for “taking that bullet” (their words), but the thing about bullets—even figurative bullets—it takes some time to recover from them.

Please don’t mistake this for whining—I knew what I was doing when I wrote and published the first of the last two posts. I accepted that fact when I hit “publish” and as I became more and more exhausted by some of the responses I had to actively and consciously own it. 

I’m not done here. I still have a wealth of opinions (popular and not-so-popular) and probably some new flowcharts to make. I have guest posts I still haven’t put together and published from my friends Allegra and Sasha. I’ll be back, but probably not in a Schwarzenegger-y sort of way.

So…yeah. I don’t know how to end this post gracefully, so I’m just gonna leave you with a picture of my cat.

cat


Death and Social Media

Not too long ago, my Facebook feed was suddenly peppered with vague posts about the death of somebody who was part of a broader (but quite small) community of which I am a member. People refused to post the name of the person who died.

I was immediately filled with fear and anxiety that I was out of the loop on the death of somebody I might know and care about. It had happened to me with Sparkly (learned about her on Facebook, by accident), and I had been the person filling in people who were out of the loop on Donovan (learned he was in a coma when I was, without warning, added to a Facebook group to discuss it). And what I learned from both of those tragic events is that:

1. It totally sucks to learn these things via Facebook;
2. Learning these things via Facebook is inevitable;
3. Nobody, nobody should be out of the loop when somebody in a close-knit community is seriously injured, near death, or dead;
4. We need to take a serious look at how we handle tragedy on social media.

In the most recent circumstances, a small but very visible and active group within the larger grieving community seemed to think that not naming names would protect privacy, even as they posted details about his death that were far more invasive than his identity. This group was also inclined to criticize those asking for more information. When my very dear friend Rachel, who has lived through more brutal loss than the vast majority of the people I know, finally demanded that people name names, another friend commented, “If you are frustrated by not being in the in club over grieving with us, consider yourself lucky.”

Now, I understand that grief totally kills our communication skills. And this is why not a single one of us called him out on this comment. However, the essence of that comment should be addressed, because Rachel was not the only person who was essentially accused of being a vulture for asking.

I think we need to start with the assumption that nobody actually wants to be in that club. Nobody. If you really think somebody wants to be in that club, it’s time to do some unfriending and maybe look into a temporary restraining order. Okay? So let’s start with that foundational premise. Nobody wants to be in that club. If people are going to glom on for drama, that will become readily apparent, and they will not be anybody’s problem but their own.

I think we should continue with the general awareness that people die. I know, it’s something nobody really wants to think about, which makes all of these discussions about death much more difficult. Rachel’s response to the accusation of wanting to be in the mourner’s club nailed my reaction to this series of vaguebook posts: “Our community is very high risk, and I have lost more friends than I have digits to suicide, drugs, and motorcycle accidents. I found out in a million different ways. Because of this, fear strikes my heart EVERY TIME I hear ‘motorcycle casualty on the 880′ or any time [people] are posting about some unnamed tragedy.”

Marisa filled it out: “I’ve known too many quick-and-deads to ever, ever think that ‘if I knew them, I would know.’ I found out last week about a dear friend…via Facebook. But at least names were named. [...]Creating this kind of stress and anxiety in this incredibly high risk group is rude. It’s not telling anyone how to grieve; it’s asking for basic consideration.”

I’m not sure I know more than a tiny handful of people who have not been affected by tragedy and/or sudden death. Hell, just in case you think I am being insensitive, I have been struggling with depression and suicide ideation since I was a child. To top that off, I ride a motorcycle. In reality I–or any of us–could die any day. Every day. So many of my friends are similar: they suffer from extreme depression, are risk takers, get into accidents, and some of them have died. We are high-risk. With regard to the death of loved ones, I have not always been in the immediate loop. Nor would I expect even my closest friends to be in the event of my injury or death. Too many breaks in communication can happen. So assuming:

A. that everybody who should know does know is wrong.

B. that not naming names has no effect on those who didn’t know the individual is wrong.

C. that people who ask for the identity of the deceased are just social media vultures is—you guessed it—wrong.

I think we also need to think about how we handle information. Talking about a death in the community, not naming names, but offering other extremely private details is kinda like creating a really screwed up guessing game and it protects nobody’s privacy, ultimately.

For the record, when people understandably don’t want to guess, calling them vultures for asking for information is going to result in some ruffled feathers, especially when you have given just enough information to create the need to ask for more. You are hurting. I get it, and I have been there. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. But freaking out a bunch of your friends and then slapping them down when they ask for information is not the way to handle it. As my friend Normal pointed out in an analog example, “I don’t go to Lucky 13 and yell ‘one of us died and I feel sad!’ and then walk off to the bathroom without expecting a lot of follow-up upsetness.”

fat amyNorm gets a gif for that, because she nailed it.

We have all lost people. We are extremely aware of how truly fragile are the lives of our friends, family, and loved ones. And when somebody in a close-knit community feels the need to say that somebody who was a part of the community died, but not who it was, it does far more harm than good.

If you are going to withhold information out of respect to families and partners, consider withholding all of it and finding a more private forum for your initial response. In examples I have seen and heard of, some folks refused to name names publicly but explicitly offered to if contacted privately. It turns out I didn’t know the deceased, and I had the amazing and unfortunate privilege of getting to struggle with a feeling of intense relief even as I watched people I care about grieve.

I have read everything his friends have posted about him, and I have let those posts give substance to the person my friends have lost. This post is not about the fact that I don’t care; I do. This post is about the fact that people need to know, even if just to learn that their hearts won’t be breaking, this time. 


A Checkered Year

I suppose it’s time for my increasingly traditional annual retrospective. 

If 2013 were a cartoon animal, it would be the Cat in the Hat, balancing too much shit and ultimately failing. Oh, don’t get me wrong, many, many good things happened in 2013. 

  • I went to Puerto Vallarta, my first vacation in six years.
  • My friends generously helped me get Iago, my beloved motorcycle back on the road.
  • With some overlap, my friends also helped me raise significant funds for the organization for which I work.
  • I moved into a fantastic apartment in SF (with laundry AND a dishwasher AND hardwood floors AND natural light AND off-street parking).
  • I met Allie Brosh.
  • I got three raises (which add up to, in just a little over a year, a 29% raise from my first salary here).
  • Luke and Marisa got married.
  • Jay and Jenneviere got married.
  • What I am hoping is becoming a Christmas tradition of spending one of the most annoying days of the year with my friends Lisa, Matt, and Elaine.
  • I have met some new people and made some new friends, at least two of whom are definitely keepers (and one I just fucking love so much I gave her, as somebody pointed out when I mentioned the book signing, an original Allie Brosh drawing).
  • I beat my all time best bowling score. Which isn’t amazing, but I’m still pretty pleased with myself. (Current best: 157.)
  • I learned some new things about who I am and how my brain works that explains A LOT about me and is helping me to make sense of my life and who I am.

But 2013 also slipped on a gigantic pile of shit, twisted its ankle, and landed on its face in yet another gigantic pile of shit with its mouth wide fucking open, for me and for people I love.

Losing Sparkly Devil broke more hearts than mine, and I think some part of me is always going to be wondering when we are going to go get our next cocktail and talk about everything. I still make notes in my head for things I want to chat with her about. Apparently it’s going to be a while, so I should start writing them down.

  • I have watched my friends lose people, family members, partners to death, relationship failure, and drama. Broken hearts everywhere.
  • There are friends who have been too far away for me to give them the kind of support I wanted to give.
  • I am having to face the fact that my beloved constant companion, my purrbucket, my cuddly, affectionate, loving, and deeply annoying cat Thumper is officially old. He still looks great in a bowtie, though.

I don’t do the resolution thing, really. I know what I want to accomplish in the next year. I don’t know how I am going to do all of it, yet, but I’ll figure it out. 

Happy New Year.


Different Lenses

Not too long ago I was in Mexico, at a beautiful hotel with a beautiful view. And I took pictures, and posted various photos and experiences to Facebook. And I was told by more than one person to put my phone away and just enjoy my vacation.

My gut reaction, which I did not share with anybody but my girlfriend, was: “Fuck you for telling me how to enjoy my vacation.”

middle-finger-x-ray_large

I’ve been thinking about it since then. Sure, there are the workaholics who really should try to leave their work at home, who can’t stop themselves from responding to work emails, reading up for the next big meeting, doing final edits on memos, briefs, and other shit nobody should be doing on their vacation (on the other hand, work at a beach > work at an office, so it’s still an improvement). But I wasn’t doing any of that. I was merely doing something I find fun no matter where I am, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how posting pics and articles to Facebook was ruining my vacation.

It didn’t stop me from enjoying poolside cucumber margaritas. It didn’t stop me from spending hours on the balcony hammock, watching sunsets and pirate ships. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the ridiculously tasty food. It didn’t stop me from interacting with and talking to people.

I enjoy the shit out of social media. I love having platforms on which I can be my usual opinionated self and where people can quietly block me if they are tired of my voice. I love having a place where I can share my experiences, thoughts, pictures, blog posts, and found material with my friends. I don’t think of social media as some kind of addiction holding me back from experiencing life. I think of it as a place where I can show people I love what I am experiencing, how I am experiencing it, why I am experiencing it that way, etc. Before social media, and some of the people reading this may remember it, I did this via mass email. Without social media, I’d find another platform to do all these things. It’s just part of who I am, and being able to share what I share, how I share, and when I share it makes me happy and ultimately enhances my experience.

I’m reminded of a complaint that, if memory serves, came from the ridiculously talented Audrey Penven, that people too often tell photographers to stop taking pictures and just experience the moment. I’ve seen such comments before and I have always wondered why people cannot realize that, for some, being behind the camera is experiencing the moment. We all see and share with the world through different lenses, and some of us come equipped with extra.

2013-07-23 20.42.10Yeah. How can I ever appreciate this sunset if I take a second to click a button on my camera?
VACATION RUINED.

Now, here’s the thing: I don’t care what you think about the evils of social media. I don’t care if you think it’s a blemish on society, if you think it’s ruining our children, if you are tired of selfies and pictures of cats. I don’t care if Obama himself appointed you the Sheriff of Phoneville and the Minister of Social Media in one. I don’t care if you are the fucking King of Twitter. I don’t care if you see pictures of people on their phones and heave great big sighs of disappointment that tech has ruined EVERYTHING. I don’t care how many shitty smartphone-related anecdotes you have to share with me. I. Don’t. Fucking. Care.

I don’t care that you would choose to experience your vacation differently. I don’t care that you think vacations should = a lack of online connectivity. I do care if you decide that you are the expert on the Whiskeypants Experience and that you need to tell me what I should be doing to enjoy my life. I do care if you decide that you are the authority on when and how I can use my phone*. Because here’s some fair warning: if you do, I’m going to tell you to shut the fuck up. I’m going to tell you it’s none of your goddamn business. And I’m going to do it on Facebook, with hashtags, in all caps, just to make it even more fun for me.

Got it? Good. Have an A1 day.

*Note: This is about quiet, non-invasive use of phones, not the I’M GONNA TALK REALLY LOUDLY IN THIS PUBLIC SPACE LIKE A COMPLETE ASSHOLE use of phones that is just obnoxious to everybody.


Alone Time: A helpful metaphor

SHHHH. I’m thinking.

Okay.

Now you can talk.

One of the generally accepted fundamental differences between extroverts and introverts is that extroverts recharge their batteries through human interaction and introverts recharge their batteries through quiet/alone time. I need a lot of alone time, or I get socially, emotionally, and mentally strung out. When that happens, I stop hanging out with my friends. I stop enjoying that moment when my girlfriend gets home. I am overwhelmed at the thought of making plans. My social anxiety stops hovering at 5-6/10 and goes to 11.

Not good.

But I live with an extrovert who doesn’t quite get the value of alone time for me. She doesn’t understand the full extent of the necessity. This has caused some trouble between us—partly because she doesn’t understand that my need for alone time isn’t just about needing time apart from her (and if you guys can come up with a way to make that really, really clear, your comments are welcome), and partly because the need itself is esoteric. Explaining the difference between enjoyment of alone time and the need for it is difficult.

intro

Pic by Allie Brosh. Click through to her awesome blog.

We live in a tiny 1-BR apartment in SF in which the layout is such that, if there are two people home it is impossible to have alone time. My mental health has been deteriorating for months because in a given work day I get at most 20-60 minutes of alone time between when I get home and when she gets home. On the weekends, unless she goes out of town, I get none. I finally made it as clear as possible that I need to live in a place where I can have my own room: a Whiskeypants Cave. But we kept running up against the same problem in communication about it. She could not fathom the idea that I would need alone time so badly that it was worth stretching out our budget as much as we would have to in order to afford a 2-BR in this city. I couldn’t fathom the idea that she could not acknowledge the fact of my need.

One day after arguing about this, on the drive home I finally found the words:

Imagine that the way you recharge is through sleep.

You try to sleep every day, but you can only get an average of about an hour with an absolute maximum of 2-3.

Even when you lie down to sleep, you know that, no matter where you are, you will be woken up by the person you live with.

Imagine that, day after day, week after week, month after month. This is what alone time is to me, to my brain, to my emotional buffers and my ability to enjoy time with you, with my friends, and out and about.

She went home that night and found us the place we are moving into at the beginning of next month.

Introverts who date extroverts and vice versa: how do you communicate your needs to each other?


Privilege II: Yes, You Have Privilege

Since I posted “Privilege“, I’ve had a number of discussions with clueless folk about the privilege they do not believe they have or would like to discard because they are tired of being called out on it.

First, I am going to go over some basics in a list that is not comprehensive (please note, I am offering examples of experiences on a systemic level. Just because you, personally, have experienced something different doesn’t actually negate what I am saying below):

Congratulations! You have privilege.

White people: You have privilege. You aren’t immediately flagged as potential trouble in stores and airports. You are more likely to get a job than the more melanin-enabled. People don’t assume you will be lazy, or late, or trouble on the streets. You don’t get extra targeted by cops. There is no such thing as Driving While White. You get to wonder why the brown people are upset about racism in movies and tv, because it’s just entertainment.

Men: You have privilege. You don’t worry about being sexually assaulted if you go out alone. You don’t have to automatically wonder if that guy in the elevator with you is a creep. You get paid more than women. Nobody assumes that you don’t know what you are talking about professionally just based on your gender. You don’t have to sue companies for promotions, universities for tenure, newspapers to be allowed to get out of the researcher/secretary pool. You get to wonder why women get so upset when you approach them on the street.

Rich folk: You have privilege, and everybody knows it. You get to wonder how families can possibly live on only $250,000/year.

Straight people: You have privilege. You don’t have to constantly fight for the legitimacy of your intimate relationships. Your right to marry is not up for a vote. Nobody says things like, “I’m not heterophobic, but…”. You don’t have to wonder if your state will let you adopt a kid, or if you will have any parental rights over the kids you are helping to raise. You don’t get bullied, beat up, maimed, or killed for being openly straight. You get to wonder why the queer folk want to deal with the misery and complications of marriage.

Cisgendered people: You have privilege. You haven’t had to go through an extensive (and expensive) medical, psychological, and emotional process just to feel like your body is your own. You haven’t faced bigotry from every single community around you because your outsides don’t match your insides and you need to do something about it. You don’t get bullied, beat up, maimed, or killed for identifying as a gender that does not match the one on your birth certificate. You get to say stupid shit like, “That’s so weird. I would never put myself through that.”

Educated people: You have privilege. You have never had to have somebody read a document to you because you cannot. You have never faced the embarrassment and shame that our culture heaps on the uneducated. You aren’t stuck in jobs that nobody else wants because you never had the opportunity to finish grade school, let alone high school and college. You have never been without a voice. You get to wonder about and mock all the godawful grammar on the internet. (Approximately one in seven people in the US can’t even read this post I am writing.)

Able-bodied people: You have privilege. The world is basically designed for you. You don’t have to worry about elevators being out, people getting bitchy because you take up more space and time on public transit, or aisles being too narrow. You aren’t limited to specific jobs, specific forms of entertainment, or even specific locations. You get to complain about your inability to use handicapped parking spots.

Tall people: You have privilege. Just kidding! I know it sucks to be able to reach everything.

Second, I am going to make a point I seem to have to make repeatedly, but never seems to get taken to heart:

tumblr_lo6twkrWwN1qgy0fio1_500

The lack of one kind of privilege does not cancel out all other forms of privilege.

Grew up poor as shit, but still straight, white, cisgendered male? Guess what? You still  have privilege. Grew up poor, brown, gay, and male? Guess what? You still have privilege. Poor, brown, queer, female with an amazing education? You still have privilege.

I can keep going with the combinations until this looks like an LSAT question, but I won’t, because the LSAT sucks. (I get to make that shitty joke because I get to claim educational privilege.)

Third, I am going to expand on what I discussed in “Privilege”:

meme-privilege

It’s just something you have.

No, you didn’t ask for privilege. You aren’t necessarily looking for the special treatment you receive because of it. You may not even be conscious of it. That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have it.

The thing about privilege is that the benefits are automatic and not always visible to the privileged. Which is another way of saying, you don’t notice you aren’t being discriminated against. Men don’t notice that they aren’t on constant alert against being sexually assaulted on the street. Straight people don’t notice that they aren’t being treated differently when with their partners.

When you get called out on  your privilege, nobody is telling you to change it. Nobody is telling you that you are a bad person because of it. Nobody is saying that it’s your fault. What you are being told is, people who do not field specific kinds of discrimination have a very different perspective on the world than people who do. What you are being told is, what is an intellectual exercise for you may not be for somebody else.

What you are being told is, take yourself out of your privileged shoes and put them in somebody else’s (let me guess—they don’t fit. Kinda uncomfortable, right? You’d like to take them right back off, right? Yeah. That’s what people are talking about when they call you out on privilege). This goes back to my initial post. Because ultimately you need to recognize that you have it. You should acknowledge it. And while acknowledging it doesn’t change the fact that you have it, it does go a long way toward helping you understand where people are coming from when they say, “Dude. You realize you just spilled a bunch of cold unpleasant privilege into my lap.”

In conclusion:

Don’t be afraid of those uncomfortable shoes. Seek them out. Walk in them for a minute, if you can. Marvel at the blisters and bruises. So that when you put yours back on, you can appreciate how well they fit, and how comfortable they are. That, metaphorically, is what you should be doing when your privilege is pointed out to you.

ETA: Since enough people have the need to make this argument, I feel it ought to be addressed. There seems to be a new “solution” to the use of the word “privilege” that seems to have been created by people who are deeply afraid of the word. I have tried to unpack it in this post, but I guess I can’t stop people just reacting to it instead of seeing that. So please let me state: calling discrimination “human rights violations” instead of using the word “privilege” changes absolutely nothing about the above post. All it does is try to shift focus and say, “I don’t have privilege, these people are simply being wronged.” Not only is the use of “human rights violations” a bit overwrought, it doesn’t work that way. People are being wronged, it’s true. But it is on a systemic level, and thus it is what actually creates privilege. The fact that people are suffering from various kinds of discrimination and lack of safety on a systemic level is the very reason that people who do not suffer—on that same systemic level—experience privilege. Taking the focus off of the privileged for these discussions does nothing to change that, it just makes those who are uncomfortable with it and think people who are using it are calling them bad people feel a little better in the moment. My suggestion is that you stop reacting to the word and start really considering what it means in this context.


A New Year

I had high hopes for 2012. 2011 was such an unbearable year, I thought that it could only get better. Briefly, it did. And then it all went to hell, for me and mine.

The death toll of 2012 rivaled the first five minutes of a Michael Bay movie. Loved ones and loved ones of loved ones were lost to accident, suicide, illness, and just shitty, shitty luck. When I wasn’t powerless with regard to my grief, I was powerless in the face of grief suffered by people I love deeply and dearly.

My attempts at finding love or even a halfway interested lover failed repeatedly, and early 2012 brought me a very badly broken heart and an utter loss of hope, not to mention a great deal of frustration and confusion. Many of my friends were unlucky in love and went through relationship strife as well.

There were a number of friendship upheavals about which I remain unsure, and I believe 2013 will involve some restructuring. 

Things began to turn around for me toward the end of the year. Slowly, like the Titanic attempting to avoid the iceberg. 

  • I finally got a full time job at an amazing organization, working with phenomenal people and the best office dog in the world. I love my job. And it almost pays me enough to live on.
  • As part of a last-ditch attempt to find somebody I might want to date, I showed up to a bar one evening with a book and a thirst for Scotch, and hoped that the woman I’d messaged on OKC wasn’t going to be a complete waste of time. Since I was pretty much over dating by this point, I wore the same unwashed jeans I’d been wearing for the past several days and a shirt I never checked for stains, and I didn’t bother to wait to start in on the whisky. I’ll go ahead and skip to the end of this one: She’s wonderful, hysterical, loving, caring, and has the prettiest, smiliest eyes. We just finished moving the rest of my possessions to her apartment in SF. She likes my cooking. (ETA: She has corrected this statement to make sure I know to call it OUR apartment.)
  • My cat Thumper is in good health and happy in our new apartment, which is much smaller than our house in Oakland, but cozier and has many soft and warm things for him to sleep on. He even has his own chair, from which he can observe his neighbor cat girlfriend, Foxy. He and my lady absolutely adore each other.
  • I opened up about a very serious topic in a very public forum and was rewarded by a show of love, support, and trust from individuals known and unknown to me.

2012 still sank, but I and many of my friends ended up on life rafts, paddling toward 2013.

I don’t think anybody expects 2013 to be amazing. But I am hoping that we all have the space to recover from losses, strengthen new and old foundations, and remind each other that we love and care for each other, that we are there for each other, and that we may occasionally want to give up on everything, but that we won’t give up on each other.

I can’t help but be a little optimistic; I’m in the best place I’ve been since maybe 2008. I’ve found love and employment, I have a roof over my head, and my cat has the most adorable mitteny paws in the world. Things are not easy; I don’t know if they ever will be. But it isn’t all difficult, and for the first time in a long time I really feel like it’s worth it to keep working, keep fighting, and keep pushing through. I am not in a place where I can say, “Bring it, 2013, I can take whatever you have to throw at me.” I am, however, in a place to say, let’s do this. 

So. 2013. Let’s do this.


Dear “Nice Guys”: The Friendzone is a Lie

Friendzoning.

It’s all over the internet. On blogs. On Twitter. People bitch about it on Facebook. As you can see on this informative Tumblr, it’s all over OKCupid.

It’s bullshit.

There is this whole idea that, just because a dude is nice to a girl she should want to fuck him. It’s an inherently misogynist perspective on what it means to be friends with a woman you want, but for whatever reason, cannot have. It implies that said woman owes you something for your kindness and friendship. Sorry “nice guys”, she doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing, and the friendzone is something made up by “nice guys” who would rather blame the girls around them for the fact that they are single than take a look at themselves. condewonkazone Why are those other guys getting the girls? It’s not because they are assholes. It’s because they go after what they want. It’s because they make themselves desirable—and I am not just talking about looks and money, I am talking about charm, wit, and a willingness to use them both when the times are right. I’m no looker, guys, and I am broke most of the time (hell, I spent two years way, way underemployed), but I have never had any problem convincing women to spend time with me. And I do this by virtue of 1. Humor and wit; 2. Intelligence and observation; 3. Not being a whiny little bitch who can’t take responsibility for my own shit; 4. The ability to say, “Hey, I totally dig you”; 5. The ability to accept it if the feeling is not returned.

So let me make something clear: You have NOT been friendzoned. You are a FRIEND. So, dude. Stop thinking with your dick and be a good friend. When your crush is telling you all about her relationship problems, don’t make it about you and whether she should be with you. If you must be narcissistic in the moment, then pay attention. You are learning what not to do in other relationships. Don’t decide that being an asshole is the answer. Don’t put that ridiculous bitterness all over the internet. It accomplishes nothing and—big surprise—makes you look like an asshole, and one that no woman is gonna want. Turns out, chicks don’t dig whiners. Weird, right?

If she doesn’t have romantic feelings about you, don’t whine about it. Your options are: 1. Decide you are cool being her friend and let go of the fantasy; 2. Let go of the friendship if you can’t let go of the fantasy (sticking around and pining isn’t going to change her mind about you, but moving on and growing will make you feel better and may help her see you in another light); or 3. Stick around doing the same old thing, pining and listening and wondering why she isn’t fucking you instead of that other dude when you are SOOO much nicer to her.

But dude, if you really think she owes you something because you have provided a willing ear, you are not a nice guy. If you really think she’s obligated to want to be with you just because you give her relationship advice and are always there for her, you are not a nice guy. If you think a girl should be something she isn’t just because you want her to be and you think you deserve it, you are not a nice guy. You are just a dude who needs to grow up and move on.  snape


Underpants Hack

 

Guys, remember The Misadventures of Ed and Bob? And The Misadventures of Bob? Well, C and I don’t stop at goats, you guys. GOATS ARE JUST THE BEGINNING.

No. No, you don’t get to see the rest of the conversation. Use your imagination. It’ll fall short.

 


In Which My Cat Pouts and Plots

 

Some number of days ago, I took this photo of my cat:

I rather liked it, but over drinks one evening, C expressed some concern over the fact that it looks like he is plotting my death. So I made this for her:

But then I couldn’t decide whether he was plotting or pouting. So I made these:

And now…now I just don’t trust my cat anymore. Let’s not forget: he’s got thumbs. There’s no telling what he could do if he set his nut-sized brain to it.


Red Dead Redemption With Nijinsky

I’m sure y’all remember Moto, by now.

This handsome fellow is Nijinsky. Nijinsky is Moto’s long-suffering-yet-charmingly-(mostofthetime)-neurotic older brother.


Nijinsky is never more affectionate than when I am playing Red Dead Redemption. Without fail, every session of gaming involves a variant on this conversation:

Nij: Ummmm….whatcha doin’?
Me: Playing.
Nij: Soooo…. *headbutts my knee*
Me: Just a sec, buddy.
Nij: No. Right now. *paw on my leg*
Me: Nijinsky. Can’t you—
Nij: But I love you. So much. Right NOW. *nose on my nose*
Me: NIJINSKY I HAVE TO PROTECT THE WAGON FROM THESE BANDI—Well, fuck it. Now I’m dead.
Nij: *purr* *gentle headbutt*


Babysitting is Fun


Yes, folks, this is the same Sasha who feeds and cuddles with Otto and occasionally submits guest blog posts. Thank Dog their baby sleeps through noise, because once the DJ showed up with the marina girls the house was rockin’…


A Plea to My Jew Fro

Dear Jew Fro,

You’ve been getting a little uppity lately, and I need you to chill the fuck out, already. You’ve been an active half of my hair situation all my life, and you know damn well that you have got to function in tandem with the afro to make this work.

So, what’s with you? Is the mid-day frizz fest some kind of farkakte passive-aggressive bid for attention? Or is it actual aggression—are you fighting for dominance? Is my head a battleground, Jew Fro v. Afro, Jets v. Sharks?

When you’re a Jew,
You’re a Jew all the way
From your first frizzy hair
To your last holy day.

Look, you’ve seen West Side Story with me enough times to know that this does not end well. And if you have seen me in the mirror at the end of the day over the past week or so, you probably already realize this, so what’s the deal, Jew Fro? You are not Old World enough to be able to pull off that special brand of cranky schwarzophobia, and any way, it seems a little late in life for that to be surfacing. 

Tell me what gives, because this meshugass must end, and it must end soon. This is all about teamwork, Jew Fro. Put aside the issues you have working with the afro; do it via montage if you must. 

I don’t care how you do it, really. Just…just do it.

Love,

Whiskeypants


My Friends

Twitter is, among other things, a forum for people who think that they have the ultimate definition of life, love, and friendship. Most of those tweets make me sigh and shake my head. Every once in a while, one resonates. 

This tweet, which somebody RT’d, is one of them: “The best way to see who your real friends are? Lose your job, lose your BF, lose yourself[...]and see who’s left standing beside you.” — @Ms_Moneypenny_.

In 2010 I lost my job. I lost my girlfriend. And over the course of the next two years I lost myself. And you know who stood by me? My friends. ALL of them. 

For two years of unemployment and being constantly on the edge of losing everything, my friends showed me consistent and unfailing generosity with not so much as a hint that they expected anything in return. Loans (of not insignificant amounts) were forgiven, dinners and drinks purchased, groceries subsidized, shifts at clubs found and arranged for me, computers, Scotch, and other necessities and luxuries crowdsourced. My best friend has covered my rent more than once. The very computer on which I am writing this post, and which I use at work, was purchased with money donated by my friends. I posted a link on FB to a guitar I desperately wanted and couldn’t afford, so my cousin made me one

For two years of decreasing belief in my ability to find gainful employment and eventually get my shit together, my friends have sent me leads, passed on my resume, and expressed repeatedly their belief that I would find a good job, one that I deserve. Even when I wanted to give up, they wouldn’t let me. And their faith made it impossible to give up.

For two years of anxiety, stress, depression, and decreasing buffers from my anger and frustration at my situation, my friends have provided advice, love, patience and comfort. They’ve endured my increasing negativity and what I am sure amounted to quite a bit of self-involvement. They’ve helped me work through various issues with regard to relationships, work stress, money stress and just generally trying to make it through. 

For two years of failing to find a healthy, steady relationship (of any sort) with a woman who cares for and respects me, my friends have been encouraging, supportive, and satisfyingly outraged and confused whenever a woman decides not to keep me around. 

For two years, I have been at my worst and not a single friend of mine has given up on me. On the contrary, their love, support, and faith in me has been nothing less than stunning and humbling. 

For two years my friends helped carry me in so many ways without once showing fatigue, frustration, or  a desire to drop me and have done. 

I know who my friends are. And you know what? My friends are fucking magnificent.


The Misadventures of Bob

In case you missed The Misadventures of Ed and Bob, here’s a tiny bit of context.

So, C. has been on her way home from Oregon in a minivan she is not driving. This apparently has meant that she has become intimately familiar with all of the on- and off-ramps from Oregon to California. She may even have named a few. I didn’t ask. Seems kinda personal.

So I thought I would mention that sometimes you just gotta take the wheel.

 

Hoof to the pedal, Bob. Hoof to the pedal.


Hierarchy of Breakup Methods

A handy reference for people who date other people.

 


Suicide

Last night I was talking to a friend of mine who is going through a really tough time, and she mentioned something that I related to entirely: the active and conscious effort she is having to put in to not jump in front of a bus. Now, before you all start screaming about intervention and 5150, let me explain something, first.

Because I think, given some of the ridiculously stupid shit people say about suicide to me and to others, it’s time to come out of the closet: almost every day for the past couple years (and actually, for much of my life) has included the conscious decision to survive the day. Some days, that’s easy. Some days I have to actively remind myself of why I should choose to live. Some days I just make myself numb with weed, watch tv and let the hours slide by, because that’s all I trust myself to do. But I choose to live, every day, whether it is a good day, or a bad day, or a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

People talk about suicide in terms of weakness and strength, selfishness, rudeness. All of those things are factors. But there’s also the issue of perspective. Which is to say, what might seem like piddlyshit to one person might be devastating to the next. I have yet to meet the circumstance that would be sufficiently devastating to send me over the edge, but that doesn’t mean I won’t (doesn’t mean I will, either).

2010 and 2011 were brutal, and 2012 has brought blow after blow after blow and let me tell you, I am fucking tired of wishing that my heart had an “Eject” button. I am tired of living with everything I’ve had to live with (here is where I will get the “Buck up! That’s just life!” comment from some jackass who has never experienced the desire to just fucking end it. Save it. I know life is hard. But when every day in a given week—or every other day, or even a single day—feels like being thigh-deep in the Swamps of Sadness after watching Artax die, it becomes a little overwhelming).

Thus far there is nothing I haven’t been able to weather. People call this strength. But strength is a trap. When people expect you to be strong all the fucking time, showing weakness is nigh on impossible, which is why for the vast majority of my friends, this post is going to be news. There is no real break from being strong. There’s (prescription) drugs, but in the rare event that they work—my body laughs at most drugs and tells them to come back with something stronger, next time—while they mute the depression they also mute everything the fuck else, and I would rather feel everything I am feeling than feel nothing. I will resort to them when I know it is impossible to drag myself out of some pit without them, but not before.

And it’s really difficult some days when somebody says, “You’re strong, you can do this” to respond with, “I know,” and not with, “Fuck you. I want to be weak, this time. I want to give up.”

I don’t call it “strength”. I call it “determination”.

People talk about how selfish people have to be to commit suicide. Sure. Ultimately and in essence it is a selfish act. It is an act done for that person and that person, alone. They may have convinced themselves that people would be better off without them; obviously most of the time they are utterly incorrect. They may no longer be able to see the love and care of the people around them. They may be the only person in the entire world at that moment.

The experience will be different for everybody, but part of my conscious decision to live involves remembering all the people who would be hurt and confused by my death. But, as I said, I have yet to experience something devastating enough to make me lose sight of them, and I remain fully aware that this is a possibility. So I never judge people who have genuinely attempted or committed suicide—not for their selfishness. I just assume that the decision was made at a point where the people they loved stopped being real to them in the face of whatever anguish drove them to the act.

I find that the people who don’t understand this have little-to-no experience with that level of depression and pain, and are assuming that whatever depths of sadness they have experienced are the most extreme anybody else might suffer as well. I have begun calling it “emotional privilege” in my head. I’ll never forget the day I was watching The Wall with a woman I was seeing and she turned to me halfway through the movie and said, “But why doesn’t he just get over it?”

(Click to see entire picture @ the source)

Now, let me make something clear: I am not defending suicide as an option. If I thought it was viable, I might not be sitting here in my messy room writing this post while I have Top Gun on in the background to unheavy this shit a little bit. I have lost people to suicide. Both friends and family. I have experienced that particular hurt and confusion, the search for answers, the need to find meaning in an act that causes such extraordinary pain to those who have been left behind, the endless questioning—what if I had been there, called more, texted back, remembered to say “I love you”? Oh, God, what did they need? What could I have done?

But what I am saying is that this has been my experience. And I am not the only one who feels that way. And talking to my friend yesterday was helpful to me, and hopefully to her, because when it becomes a shared experience, when you can remember that one other person has some understanding of it, then it becomes more difficult to forget that there are other people in your life, in general, and more difficult to lose sight of them.

Most days I’m fine. I’m not always walking around in a lightless slimy pit of despair, and I don’t want to give the impression that I am. 

And I have never seen this guy anywhere.

This post isn’t a ploy for attention. It is not a plea for help. I am not writing this for your advice (in fact, unless you have something in mind that is mind-blowingly new and possibly alien, don’t fucking bother. I’ve been dealing with my own issues far longer than you have and I have made my decisions for how to manage my situation consciously and with pretty comprehensive knowledge of what is available to me). Actually, it was really difficult to make the decision to write it, because I don’t want my friends to change the way they act around me or talk to me. I don’t want people to freak out, or worry. I am hoping that everybody realizes that this is not new and that I am still exactly the same person they knew before they read this. I want the opposite of attention.

This post is partly an attempt to educate, but mostly putting myself out there in the hopes that the people who need to find this post, do. And when they do, I hope they reach out. I’ll be waiting right here.


The Misadventures of Ed and Bob

Okay, so the very first thing you have to do is spend 30 seconds watching this video. Yes. This post has a video component. Watch it. Waaaaatch it.

.

Okay. Done? Now, this is what happens when C and I are allowed to:
  1. Run rampant on YouTube
  2. Think we are very clever and hilarious; and
  3. Text each other.

For reference, I am Ed. C is Bob. For this convo.



iPhone: Free (thanks again, Nate).
YouTube: Free.
Data Plan: Suck it, service provider.
Woman willing to participate in text convos like this one: Worth at least 100 goats.Priceless.


Memorial

Last night, C. and I came home from the memorial party for Donovan, fell into bed, and wrapped ourselves around each other, seeking warmth, comfort, affection, love. I lay there, forcing myself to be in the moment for as long as I could, and focused on appreciating how absolutely perfect it was: her head resting on my shoulder, my arms wrapped around her, our legs tangled together—like we were puzzle pieces that had been snapped into place.

She eventually slept, and I did everything I could to memorize how wonderful she felt in that moment.

Memorials exist as things or events that help us remember. Monuments, sculptures, benches, trees, parties. They are how we attempt to honor those who have left us behind, how we create ways to maintain a connection with people we can no longer see, hear, or touch. Simultaneously, death reminds us that we live and are surrounded by the living and that we must remember to connect with the people around us, to not take them for granted.

But often the moments we most want to remember are the ones we are least able to capture.

The past couple of weeks has also reminded me how random and stupid life—and death—can be and as much as I want to, I can never assume that such a moment will happen again. That reminder is terrifying; it has made me face how vulnerable we all are when we allow ourselves to love our friends, our families, our boyfriends/girlfriends/partners/lovers/husbands/wives. It has made me face all the ways in which we cannot protect the ones we love. We just have to let them go and hope they come back to us safe, whole, with the smiles, laughter, hugs, and voices we adore. We have to let them go with our blessings every day, and be grateful when they think to let us know they are okay. And we have to do it like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Most of the time, I can, and do. Right now, it’s incredibly difficult for me, and it will be until the rawness from and hyperawareness of this fades with time.

I kissed C. goodbye this afternoon and sent her off to her cousin’s, and I did it with a smile. But I would be lying if I said there was no part of me that wanted to hold her tight for hours longer, days longer, possibly just forever. It’s just not a part of me to which I wish to succumb. As we all learned from the ever-amusing Strictly Ballroom, “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” But acknowledging the fear is as necessary, sometimes, as acknowledging the grief that it follows.


Grief, and the Process of Totally Not Dealing With It

According to Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, there are five stages of grief, which may happen in any order:

  1. Denial: I’m fine. Whatever. This isn’t even happening.
  2. Anger: This is bullshit, I want to blame somebody or something and rage against it.
  3. Bargaining: pretty self-explanatory.
  4. Depression: Fuck it, I give up.
  5. Acceptance: Okay, fine, I’m mortal and so are my friends. I get it.

Currently, my five stages of grief seem to be:

  1. Acceptance: This is going to happen, and it hurts.
  2. Stowing: This isn’t about me. Time to man up, pack it up and deal with it until I know my friends and family have everything they need from me. Totally not an excuse for not dealing. Really. Stop looking at me like that.
  3. Drinking: Is that an open wound? Let’s treat it with alcohol. Shut up, it’s helping.
  4. Picking Fights: What do you mean I didn’t stow that grief deep enough?
  5. Going Fetal: This is potentially a lengthy process that may or may not involve steps 3&4.

Last night, after spending time with some of the family I shared with Donovan, I managed to dive head first into a series of miscommunications, pick a fight with and thoroughly upset the woman I’ve been seeing (Henceforth known as “C.”, because that shit’s too long to type every time), and to start crying in a moderately busy bar. Then, feeling absolutely awful about picking the fight and feeling absolutely awful about crying in public, I spent the rest of the night berating myself for letting my grief and anger bubble over onto these two women (her friend from work was also there, so I am sure I made the best first impression, EVAR) while trying desperately not to start crying again (floodgates were showing signs of opening at any moment) and wanting a do-over on everything.

The cab ride home was a somber affair, as I could not seem to stop the tears from falling but was still trying desperately to maintain some semblance of control (LOLZ). When we finally got home and went to bed, C. fell asleep instantly (she does this—to a ridiculous insomniac like me, this is nothing short of a superpower and I am phenomenally jealous), and the floodgates opened. I don’t remember stopping crying before I passed out, so I think it’s fair to say I actually cried myself to sleep, which I haven’t done since I was a kid.

I woke up this morning feeling entirely wrung out, still kicking myself over last night’s critical fumbles, not entirely understanding why C. even wanted to come home with me after my utterly dickish behavior and trying to sort out everything I was feeling. When one of her alarms went off and it was Mumford & Sons, “Little Lion Man” (a song that I associate almost entirely with Donovan), I discovered that I really was wrung out: I couldn’t cry any more. I did let out a rather pathetic whimper, though.

I have been trying to figure out what last night accomplished, apart from instilling in me the need for Gatorade and the desire to apologize to C. and her friend profusely and repeatedly. Perhaps the realization that my stages of grief, as they currently are, are not working for me or for the people around me. Perhaps the realization that dealing with my shit is better for me, which is better for everybody. Perhaps it was a giant slap upside the head alerting me that maybe, just maybe, I need to be more aware of what is going on internally. Perhaps it was all those things.

Oh, and a blog post that is way too long.


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