Typically narcissistic blogging.

Posts tagged “friends

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?


Sparkly Devil

I’ve been staring at the title of this post for about 20 minutes, now, and it’s not working. It’s not writing this post for me. It’s not finding any words. It’s not bringing my much-loved, talented, brilliant, and complicated friend back to life. I would prefer, out of the listed options, the last one.

So I guess I’ll just start writing.

Sunday afternoon I returned home from the movie theater to see that a friend had posted to Facebook: “FUCK THAT.” Being generally in favor of such sentiments, I commented, “WORD.” But then I checked in privately, and was informed that Sparkly Devil, internationally renowned burlesque performer, journalist, and all-around fantastic person, was killed in an auto accident on Highway 101 Saturday night.

My righteous indignation about the Star Trek sequel disappeared.

sparkly5

When I first met Sparkly, I was appalled. She was loud, brash, fierce, socially intimidating to my not-so-inner introvert, who wanted to flee. But my friends adored her, and she kept coming to various social gatherings and I very quickly figured out why.

When people say somebody is “larger than life”, what they really mean is, “almost like Sparkly”. Her creativity was big. Her ability to enjoy herself in any given situation was big. Her love for her friends was gigantic. Her hugs were epic. Her ass apparently problematic. She could bruise you with the enthusiasm of a kiss, blow you away with her insight, make you fall over laughing with her sense of humor.

And that was sometimes before you even got in the door.

But it wasn’t until her wedding, to which I somehow got invited despite the fact that we were not yet close, that I realized what a caring, considerate, deeply emotional and thoughtful person she really was. And it was sitting in the audience for that wedding, watching her make her vows to Bones, that made me realize how fortunate I was to know this woman.

sparkly1Patrick McCracken

Photo courtesy of Patrick McCracken.

Some of it was just little things. The fact that I was invited in the first place. The fact that, because I had recently injured my knee, and despite the fact that we barely knew each other, she reserved a chair for me in the very limited seating available. The fact that she was patently thrilled that I was there.

Some of it was just her. Sparkly being Sparkly. Effusive, so in love with Bones, so in love with her friends and family, so in love with life. And that’s what it comes down to, with Sparkly. That’s a huge part of why her friends and family are and will remain in denial about the fact that she is no longer with us. She was in love with life.

It’s difficult not to love people like Sparkly. I think that we, as a species, tend to fall in love with people who are in love with life. Those people who seem bigger in some way (no, Sparkly, I’m not talking about your ass).

But when somebody is larger than life, it’s easy to forget how relentlessly human they are.

And Sparkly was human. So very human. She experienced pain and disappointment like the rest of us. She made mistakes. She cried very human tears. She had very human needs. Sparkly wasn’t just larger than life. She lived her life, and experienced life, and was derailed by it just like the rest of us.

The difference for me was, when I grew bitter about life and wanted to tell life to fuck right off, Sparkly would publicly join me in my bitterfest and privately remind me that living life was worth the cost of…well, of living life.

Now life is apparently supposed to be lived without her. And I want her to publicly rage with me at the unfairness of this, and privately tell me that my friends and I are awesome and will totally get through this. I want her to be waiting with all of us for Bones to recover from the accident, I want to be able to hug her close. I want her to be there when he fully regains consciousness, because I can only imagine and dread the despair he will feel when he knows that she is gone.

The last time I saw her, we’d met for dinner. I got sick, and had to cut the dinner short. We were in the process of rescheduling, so we could hang out again, and she could give me advice on where to go in Puerto Vallarta later this year. I owed her either a drink or a bowl of mashed potatoes (look, what you do with your friends is none of my business). She told me she had faith in my ability to have fun regardless. I am going to try to live up to that. Sparkly knew fun.

Her husband, Raul “Bones” Padilla, is still in the ICU. We are all hoping and/or praying that he will come out of this okay, but even if he does, he won’t be okay. He and Sparkly were very much in love with each other, partners. And there will be a plethora of expenses for him and his and Sparkly’s families. Please consider donating to the fund we set up for medical, legal, and burial costs. It would mean a lot to me, to the community Sparkly and Bones created and gathered around them, and to their families.

RIP Sarah “Sparkly Devil” Klein. I love you.

sparkly6Brian Sørensen


In Memoriam

A year ago, I was in the middle of a fantastic evening. I’d gone to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with C and some of my favorite people. C & I had parted for the evening, she to Muni and I to BART and I was turning on my phone and trying to decide if I had enough power to listen to music the entire ride home. I was high on my friends and C’s company, and a relentlessly silly movie.

So I had to read the words on my screen several times before I could make sense out of them.

A year ago began a time of waiting—less than a week. It was a time of hugs, and of stress, and of quietly and desperately wishing to be able to do something, or help, or find magical healing powers. It was a time of rediscovering an intense dislike of Oakland’s Highland Hospital, of sitting in painfully stark waiting rooms with friends and family while waiting to spend 15 minutes talking to a man being kept alive by machines. It was a time of everyone remembering to express love and appreciation for everybody else, before our oh so powerful minds stepped in once more to protect us from the constant awareness of the fragility and impermanence of life. It was a time of trying to believe in miracles.

The call was made. The machines were turned off. The time of waiting ended.

I wrote this post about Donovan when I was finally able to put something of how I was feeling into words. I wrote this post as I realized I was feeling, but not dealing with, my feels. I wrote this post as I flirted with coming to terms once again with the fact that I cannot protect everybody I love.

And this post? I guess it’s just to say…fucking hell, Donovan. I miss you.

donovan

Hat: Totally goth. Art: Sid Nicholson


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


Not So Fresh

“Emotionable”: I don’t know what it means, but I made it up by accident one day while drinking whiskey and C and I are damn well gonna use it.

Also, I promise a real blog post soon. In the mean time, you just get to learn about C’s belated lessons in womanhood.


Raccoons Episode II: The Vermin Menace

Just FYI: The raccoons on the UCSB campus will gather, stalk, and chase you to your car. They don’t give a single fuck.

 

(Also, I am sick and cranky, so Star Wars nerds, if you feel the need to correct my Episode II/Phantom Menace mashup, I will happily shove an attack of the clones up your ass.)


Raccoons

I have officially typed the word “raccoon” too many times and now it doesn’t look like a real word. What the fuck, raccoons? What the fuck kind of word is “raccoon”?


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’…


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 with a woman who loves 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.


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. Yes. Ultimately 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. But that justification at its foundation remains a selfish one.

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.


Death Makes Us Selfish

Most humans are no strangers to pain, and the older we get the more loved ones we have lost or nearly lost to accident, illness, self-inflicted injuries, and even (if we are very lucky) old age. Death has been a guarantee through the ages, and yet we still have no words, no language set aside for the devastation we feel when we have lost somebody we love. To accompany that lack, we have yet to manage to find or create words or language for when we are faced with somebody else’s devastation. It’s this second failure I would like to discuss here.

Death makes us selfish. Other people’s pain makes us selfish.

“Oh, no,” You are saying, right now. “No, I’m not selfish. I just wish there were something I could say or do to make it better.” Of course you do. You know why? Because it will make you feel better. If you knew what to say or do, it would ease the pain your loved ones are feeling, and thus ease your own pain. And no, I’m not calling you out, Gentle Reader, and I am not saying it is a conscious thing you are doing. I’m not saying it’s your primary goal, even. I’m just saying that it’s there.

Honestly, why do you think I’m writing this post right now? Tragedy struck the life of somebody I love and care about very much, and I would climb mountains, fight dragons, and raze cities to make her hurt a little bit less—but of course, I can’t make her feel better. So to make myself feel better, I’m gonna focus on something else for a minute: blogging.

Death and tragedy turn us into comfort-seeking missiles, and it can be incredibly difficult to change course. We want the comfort to be easily found, too—in answers to questions we should not be asking the recently bereaved, for example, and the search for some kind of explanation for the loss, something that will help us sleep at night. We want to feel in that moment that whatever happened could not possibly happen to us.

But while we are asking our questions, and trying to make sense of what happened (as if there is sense to be made), and trying to be comforting and aggressively supportive, and trying to direct the emotions of the bereaved in a direction that makes more sense to us, and wondering what flowers to get and what kind of casserole to make and what kind of whiskey to bring to the memorial service…? While we are doing that, the people we are asking and “comforting” are trying to fathom their loss, to understand how it is that there is somebody in their lives they can never call again, or see again, or be able to run to for love or comfort or silliness.

2012 has brought a soul-numbing amount of death, loss, and injury to my immediate and extended families. This is not my first experience with death and loss by any means. And I may not be an expert, but I’ve had a lot of practice this year. And this is what I have learned:

  • There is NOTHING, NOTHING you can say that will lessen the grief in order to make the recently bereaved feel better. There is nothing you can say that can possibly mitigate the loss, nothing you can say that will bring them peace, soothe the wound, or fill the sudden gaping hole in their life, heart, family. Nothing. [ETA: Since people feel the need to tell me what people said to make them feel better: obviously mileage may vary. I mainly make this point in order to manage expectations: don't think your words have more power than they do.]
  • “I love you” and “I’m here for you” might not help, but they don’t hurt, either. Especially if you mean it.
  • Asking the bereaved what happened, or why it happened, is criminally insensitive. You are basically requiring them to make sense out of something that may not yet make sense to them, and it’s not their responsibility to do that for you. If you fear being considered uncaring and genuinely want to know, try something along the lines of, “If you want to talk about it or tell me what happened, I am here for you, but I understand if you don’t.”
  • It is unlikely that you are the bereaved’s first priority in the wake of recent loss. Come to terms with the fact that you may not always get a response to questions or expressions of love and support. Assume that your love and support is appreciated and be patient. It feels good to be wanted and needed, but what the bereaved is experiencing is not in any way about you, so don’t feel bad if you aren’t.
  • You are not the only person offering comfort, hugs, love, time, talk, or a safe place to grieve. Related: it’s okay to hang back and let people who are closer to the bereaved do what they do. I have done that a lot this year, and it’s not because I don’t love the people who have lost. It’s because I do.
  • The first weeks or months after loss are the most painful, but that doesn’t mean everything is suddenly better, or that the bereaved has stopped grieving just because the wound isn’t quite as raw after that. You may not have to face their grief, but it’s still there. They are still missing the person they lost, still reaching for their phone to text that person, still wanting to share whatever it is they shared with that person. Don’t stop showing them that you love them and that you are there for them. It doesn’t have to be specific to their loss. It just has to be real.

Consider these things before you approach somebody who has just lost somebody they love. You don’t have to have the right thing to do or say. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to feel bad because you also want comfort and because there might be a selfish streak to how you want to handle things—hurting because somebody you love is hurting is not a bad thing. What you do have to be is loving, patient, available and always aware that it’s not about you.


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.


Donovan

I have been waffling about writing this post, because I haven’t the faintest idea of how to describe where my mind and heart have been over the past few days.

Sunday night I learned that Donovan Pugh, a friend and member of my essential chosen family, was in the ICU at Highland. He was comatose after a severe head injury.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I lost my shit. I lost my shit, and then prepared to visit Donovan, to see him in his bed in the ICU, to tell him I love him, to hope he could hear me. Monday afternoon I told him everything I could in the twenty minutes I had with him. Monday night I went to work and tried not to let everything I was feeling, all the anguish and the fear that I was losing my friend, show. I failed, of course.

But this was true of all of us, to some extent or other. For some reason, as my friend Marisa observed, time and the world didn’t stop and wait for us to catch up with them. And the people around us—at work, on BART, in the corner store—somehow didn’t know that one of the most magnificent people in the world was fighting for his life in a tiny, ugly room in Oakland. I almost got into a fight with a guy who was self-righteously butt-hurt that I didn’t take the time to sign his petition when I was on my way to visit the ICU.

So all of the people who love Donovan had to somehow keep moving and keep functioning as if we weren’t terrified that an integral part of our world might be ending.

Thursday evening Donovan moved on to the next party, and we were all left behind to keep this one going.

*** 

I have been wrestling with grief, and the forms it can take. I’ve been fundamentally relieved and confused by the way in which my grief over the loss of Donovan is so intertwined with the joy I have been finding with this woman for whom I have fallen so very, very hard. I’ve been comforted by the fact that he would be the last person in the world to begrudge me my happiness despite this loss, and he would have loved her for, if nothing else, the fact that she’s been so wonderfully supportive and kind throughout.

I have been reading people’s stories and memories of Donovan, and looking at the pictures they have been posting, and it’s been truly amazing. He managed to touch so many people (some of them appropriately) and it shows. People have displayed a fantastic combination of love, exasperation, and humor in their efforts to remember Donovan at his best and at his most improper. It has made me think about this post, which I wrote after attending the most depressing wake in the history of wakes, and realizing how true it remains.

I have been avoiding imagining a world without Donovan, and his soundtracking tweets, and his Ren Faire shenanigans. I have not been allowing myself to fathom family events without his hugs and his ability to throw dignity and decorum to the wind (if he even arrived with them in the first place, which was unlikely). I have not been allowing myself to see the ways in which the world has grown visibly darker without him. And when I do, I know my heart will continue to break.

If there is a party in the sky, I hope they have plenty of pickle juice. If there is another destination, I hope they appreciate the occasional reacharound. If there is an afterlife, it just got a hell of a lot more fun. RIP, Donovan Pugh. I love you.

Wherein the P stands for…Party? Pickle? Prank? It’s unclear.


GUEST BLOG POST! — Painting With Otto

Remember Otto? As it turns out, he’s much better with paint than he is with unfamiliar musical instruments—as my beloved friends Sasha and Nate discovered while painting their imminent baby’s room this week (“Imminent Baby” is now my Britney Spears cover band name). He likes to help. And by “help,” I mean, “‘help’”. Sasha submitted this for your perusal and enjoyment, Gentle Readers.

So with no more ado, Conversations Sasha Gets To Have With Otto, and don’t forget—Otto speaks in all caps. It’s a thing.

Sasha:  Hey, Otto. What are you up to?
Otto: NOTHING!
Sasha:  Wait, what’s that on your whiskers?
Otto: NOBODY!
Sasha:  Your whiskers are green and blue.  And you have paint on your face.
Otto: HELPING!
Sasha: Oh, no, have you been in the baby’s room?
Otto: HELPING!
Sasha: Dammit, cat! I’m eight months pregnant. Don’t make me chase you. Oh, shit. Stay out of there!
Otto: *running away* HELPIIIING!

WP note: It’s true. He was definitely HELPING. I visited the apartment last night, and Otto had at least two different colors on his neck and whiskers. Good thing everything goes with black.


Puppies, Flowers, Happiness, and Light

So, not too long ago, I posted this status on Facebook: “In a weird turn of events, I might be about to start dating somebody who actually likes me.”

While to my delight this post received a surprisingly high number of “likes”, there was also some concern (both on Facebook and off) that if somebody were busy making me happy, this blog would become, as my friend Mike put it, “all fluffy bunnies and hearts.”

Gentle Readers, don’t worry

This fantastic, amazing girl may be making me pretty stupidly happy thus far, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a million things to be angry or frustrated about in the world. Privilege and privilege deniers still abound. Wall Street is still fucked up. The Republicans are still waging war against women, minorities, and the poor. The queer community in general is still comprised of second-class citizens in some way or another. Black kids are being murdered by racist fucks, who seem to be getting away with it. I remain constantly teetering on the edge of being unable to support myself. I still suck at guitar. I still work at two clubs. I still ride public transportation. I am still surrounded by other human beings because the stupid zombie apocalypse is late.

I could go on. But you get the point: This blog will never, ever be all fluffy bunnies and hearts. Or fluffy bunny hearts, because I want to keep the five or six readers I have.

I promise: if I have accidentally found actual romantic happiness, almost nothing will change here. The irritable snark is alive and well at terminallysnarky.com. And while I would find it extremely disappointing, this girl could always decide to dump me in some horrible way that includes kicking me in the shins and laughing while I’m down. It seems unlikely, but for those of you who are still worried about the potential for this blog’s descent into cheerful bliss, you can always hope for the worst.


Caring For Your Introvert

To my delight, this little placard has been making its slow way through Facebook and Twitter:

Designed by Becky of Questionably Late, from text taken from this.

I would like to have this little placard in card form, so that I might hand it to new friends and new lovers, since asking them to go Google introverts and INTJs is like saying, “Yeah, I’m awesome and everything, but I’m assigning you some homework before we go any further.” However, it has been made abundantly and repeatedly clear to me that such homework is actually necessary.

Three years of my life were spent in love with an extrovert, and if that taught me anything, it’s that extroverts make the social rules by default. They are the point of reference for how such things as social aptitude and behavior are measured. They are the people against whom introverts are measured, which is inherently unfair, but true.

Media enforces this. It’s the rare movie or television show that allows introverts to remain introverts; most paint it as a triumph when an introverted character is brought out of his or her introvert cocoon to become a beautiful extroverted butterfly. Introversion has become something that can and should be “cured,” somehow. It is often conflated with antisocial behavior, which is bullshit, because introverts are often very social beings. Just not within the same parameters as extroverts.

Thus, in order to make their way in the world, introverts must somehow meet the social expectations created by extroverts. If they don’t, they are often misunderstood and shunned. If they do, this means they are constantly functioning outside of their comfort zone, which just isn’t healthy. It’s exhausting, and makes social interaction that much more work. I have managed to learn how to navigate as an introvert in a sea of extroverts, and because of this I have many wonderful friends. I fake it so well, in fact, that people still respond with surprise and horror when I tell them I am an introvert. However, the extroverts among my friends are generally pretty sensitive to the needs of the introverts in their midst. I would not be able to maintain the level of social interaction that I do if this were not true.

So this placard, which offers a dozen very simple, but very essential ways to respect the introverts in our lives, to consider their needs, and to understand that they are not just waiting for somebody to turn them from sad little introverted seed pods into bright and colorful extroverted flowers, is just freakin’ rad.

Thank you, Internet.


I’m Sorry, Puppies

As girl quickly traverses the spectrum from Young to Asshole, this week just keeps getting better.

Click image to make readable.
You won’t regret it.

“Better.” (11-second vid, has audio—in case you are reading this at work/school.)
Stupid compression.
Well. Maybe.


“Oh, But We Didn’t Mean *You*.”

I spent St. Patrick’s Day at a punk rock show, which is the only legitimate way to spend SPD unless you are working or playing in a punk rock band. And I spent it with one friend who is pretty much family and two people I like very much. But that didn’t stop me from getting truly pissed off and simply walking away when, during the course of conversation, prejudice against fat became A Thing.

But that wasn’t even the entire issue for me. I understand that people have all sorts of stupid anti-fat prejudices and while I don’t necessarily accept it, I pretty much expect it and understand that I am going to have to field it to some extent or another (See: You Look Like You Lost Weight!). Tonight was extra special, though, because when I said, (and I am totally paraphrasing myself), “Wait a second, here, what’s with all the fat hate,” what I got in return was, “We aren’t talking about you, of course. We are talking about the really fat people.”

Yeah. No.

You don’t actually get to decide when your anti-fat prejudice becomes offensive. I don’t care if you are sitting in a room full of skinny people who have never been fat in their lives. You have no idea:

  1. Whether the skinny people around you have always been skinny;
  2. Whether the skinny people around you even see themselves as skinny;
  3. Whether the people around you see themselves as fat, pudgy, overweight, etc.;
  4. Whether the people around you have some body image issue(s) that you may be exacerbating with your weight prejudices; or
  5. Whether the people around you have been told they are fat by family, friends, society, magazines, movies, whatever.

Additionally, you don’t get to choose what level of fat is okay or not okay. First of all, you don’t know whether the really fat people are really fat because they take breaks from eating giant pizza pies by eating chocolate cake or because there are other things going on with their genetics and health. Second of all, why are you even judging people for eating giant pizza pies and following that shit up with chocolate cake? Honestly, fuck you if you do. Pizza and cake are delicious.

Look, skinny people, I am not actually looking to be part of your skinny club. I don’t need or want you to tell me that you think I am okay even though the rest of the fat people in the world are kinda gross to you. That’s right up there with, “You aren’t like all the other Blacks/Jews/queers/Muslims/etc.—you’re cool.” Or the asshole I worked with last year who was confused that there were non-Blacks who were upset at his use of the word “nigger.” Or the woman who came up to my mother when we lived in Savannah, who was so excited that I was light-skinned enough to “pass.”

No. I’m not trying to be like you. I’m trying to be accepted as me. Not-skinny, not-white, not-mainstream me.

I guess the moral of the story is, when somebody calls you out on your prejudice, don’t try to bring them into your circle to make them feel better, somehow. Stop. Collaborate and listen. And look at what you are saying, what you really intend to say, and whether what you have to say is prejudicial or bigoted. Because what you have to say probably does not become less prejudicial or bigoted just because you don’t think your audience is in any way affected by what you are saying.


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