Typically narcissistic blogging.

Posts tagged “friendship

On Being Switzerland

“I’m staying neutral.”

This phrase, or some version of it, gets used all the time when adults within a community or friend circle have drama, fight, or have some sort of awful friend breakup. It needs to end.

First of all, people use it to mean any number of the following things:

  1. I have too much on my plate to think clearly about what is happening.
  2. I just don’t want to deal with it.
  3. I don’t care, figure it out.
  4. I’m a complete fucking coward who doesn’t want to do the work it would take to help all parties get the help and validation they need.

This is valid when one of your friends is not causing harm to another. Be adults. Figure your shit out and don’t track it in my home. Same with utter lack of spoons—if you can’t deal, and others can? That’s just how it goes.

neutral

However, I see this constantly when somebody has harmed or is in some way doing something really fucked up to somebody else. And when poor treatment, abuse, cruelty, resentment, shit-talking, lying, and other behaviors are involved, and people stay “neutral” I kinda want to vomit all over their shoes.

Because the thing is, you don’t have to stay neutral to remain friends with the person causing harm. It is okay to recognize that your friend is being an asshole and still be friends with them. But when you do decide that neutrality is your best option, here are some things that can happen:

For the person being wronged:

  1. They are likely not getting the level of emotional support and validation from you that they deserve, if you are calling them your friend. You might even be gaslighting them a little, making them doubt their own experience.
  2. It’s likely you aren’t actually talking to them about what’s going on, and thus any assumptions you make about what’s happening is coming second- or third-hand and is likely not terribly accurate. This can cause extra harm.
  3. They get to see you continue your friendship with the person hurting them through all of this. Although nobody has the right to tell anybody who they can be friends with, that can also be traumatic, and talking to them about it is useful.

For the person who is doing the harm:

  1. They often don’t get the real help they need because mutual friends are too busy being Switzerland to address the issues at hand and try to get through to them.
  2. Again, not talking + assumptions = bad.
  3. They get constant reassurance and validation from your continued friendship-without-challenges and you never really help them learn how fucked up they are being and therefore never help them grow. We become better humans when we can learn from our shitty behavior, not when people help us sweep it under the rug.

This has been something I have been fielding a little bit lately, but it’s also something that has come up repeatedly in stories friends have told about people allowing others to treat their friends atrociously under the guise of being “neutral”. Come the fuck on, y’all. This shouldn’t be how we operate, not as true friends to each other. It’s just another path to the missing stair (which, while specifically used to describe the issue of sexual harassment, can be broadened significantly).

PeteFallsDownVulture

To the various individuals who regularly name themselves “Switzerland”, instead of telling people you are “neutral” try thinking about what you really mean by it, deep down. And say that out loud instead. Because “neutral” is nowhere near the entirety of what you mean by it.

The fact is, being “neutral” helps nobody but yourself. And that’s cool. We have to indulge in self-care. But let’s call it what it is.


Lost Stories

For me, books are basically the best thing ever, immediately followed by pibble puppies and whiskey. I read and re-read them, I discuss them, I occasionally greet them when I walk into a room. They rescued me from a miserable childhood, helped me navigate a difficult young adulthood, and have provided me, in their own way, with the most stability I have ever experienced in my life. If somebody told me I had to choose between books and food for a week, I’d need at least a day to consider.

lost sotries 1 This wouldn’t be a difficult choice for you?

So when I say I tend to think of the new (or new again), super-exciting people in my life as books, I hope you realize that this is a rather extraordinary compliment. It’s a similar form of twitterpation for me—I can’t wait to pick a good book up again, hang out with it, learn more about it, read every story. I don’t know how many of you have seen what I am like with a book I can’t stop reading, but it’s like the briefest of beautiful romances, the sweetest of crushes (with a guaranteed bittersweet ending, of course). New friend crushes work the same way for me (well, mostly—endings are a little less clear). Most people seem to recognize it for what it is; a select few will always decide I have fallen in love with them out of the blue and they must cut ties. That is often startling for me, and then disappointing, although I do admire their egos.
 
But if people are books, and if the ones I truly want to…read…are also incredibly rare and impossibly valuable (and they are, they really really are), then when, for whatever reason, I lose one, I can’t help but mourn every story lost. Everything I could have learned about their world, their perspective, gone. Every story we might have written together, gone. If I have lost this friend to tragedy, I mourn on every level;  occasionally instead I lose friends to terrible miscommunication. Regardless, when it happens it feels like this new, amazing, one-of-a-kind book, which I can never find anywhere else again, has been torn from my hands mid-chapter—just when the action was really getting good.

lost stories2Hey look: a gif that says what I just said! Thanks, Internet!

This is heartbreaking. I hate to be that book nerd who harps on the library at Alexandria. But I’m an historian, a geek, a reader, a lover of detail and stories and information. I don’t bitch about Alexandria because there are so many other people still wailing about it for me. But as far as I am concerned it’s one of the most tragic losses in history and I occasionally mourn it as I might mourn an amazing relative I never got to meet. Oh, shit. I am that nerd. If you relate, just go ahead and scale it down to just one of those books, and you’ll be in the ballpark for what I’m trying to get across, here.

And while I could write a great deal about the potential friendship I lost yesterday, I would instead prefer take a moment to thank those new (and old) friends of mine who have so patiently accepted my genuine (and perhaps occasionally overwhelming) enthusiasm for their company, their friendship, and their stories. Y’all know who you are. Let’s hang out.

Year of the Whiskeypants

Normally around this time of year, I do a retrospective, but while a retrospective post (of sorts) is coming, right now I am looking forward.

I am so fucking tired of being asked why I am single. Why I don’t date more. Why I don’t have women just crawling all over me. 

I don’t know how I am supposed to have the fucking answer to that question. Is it my failing? Theirs? Did the stars not align that week? Who fucking knows? What I do know, is that I have played and lost at this game so often that I know all the rules, all the side quests (including the one with the firebreathing dragon), and how to navigate many of the annoying puzzles. 

At this point I have a fair idea of when I am being manipulated, managed, gaslighted, and when I should be waiting to be dumped by somebody who maybe thinks I haven’t noticed when they have suddenly disappeared from all forms of communication for a week even though I have had to chase them the fuck down. 

The question is not why I am single. The question is why I put up with this bullshit at all. And I do, way too often. 

Fuck. That.

So, 2015 is going to be the year that I stop. I am going to stop trying to chase down women who won’t be honest or communicative with me. I am going to stop trying to convince the people I date that I’m the one (or one of the people) for them. I am going to stop being the anchor for people who can’t fucking commit. I am going to stop putting up with the gaslighting and the radio silence. Fuck all of that. If people can’t recognize that I am worth chasing, wooing, caring for, and communicating clearly and honestly with, then I’m out. 

2015 is the year of the Whiskeypants. I’m brilliant, hilarious, kind, generous, and loving. I have a short pudgy body that is soft, warm, and extremely cuddly, and you’d be lucky to feel it next to you.

And if it turns out nobody is into that, fuck it. I have a cat, a Roku, and a sexy fucking motorcycle. I’m good.


Hold Me Closer…

So, this happened: 

tiny panther

 

But then I thought about it. And I decided that the world needed this:

tiny panther2

Sincerely grateful for the healing, joy, laughter, and love this little guy has brought to my life. And for every single one of you who thinks I am as funny as I think I am. Happy Thanksgiving. 


Monster

Last month I lost my best furry friend, Thumper. He was pretty much everything to me, so his passing was heartbreakingly difficult. When the vet took him from my arms one last time, she begged me to consider getting another cat someday. In the moment, I couldn’t imagine loving another cat, but I acknowledged that, maybe after an extensive amount of time to grieve and heal, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself.

And then I spent a few days at home. 

And it was quiet. Too quiet.

There was no sound of paws padding across the hardwood floor. There was no cat waiting at or near the front door for me to walk in at the end of my day. There was no critter to tell me that there was insufficient food in his dish, or too much poo in his litter box. There were no cuddles, no nuzzles under my chin, no paws to hold, no motorboat purrs.

I started losing my mind almost immediately. I am a person who needs a critter to love and care for; it’s an integral part of who I am.

So, a few days later I walked into San Francisco Animal Care and Control and met some cats. I wasn’t expecting immediate results, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to visit with some animals and give them some play time and love.

I met several kittens that day. They were all adorable. I wasn’t feeling terribly well, and I was a little overwhelmed by all of the animals. Being who I am, I felt immediately guilty for not being able to give all of them homes. And I did not connect well with any of the kittens I had met. So I was ready to go home, when the volunteer who was helping me pointed out a slightly older black kitten. “What about this one?”

3

SPOILER: I TOOK THAT ONE HOME

I shrugged. Well, if nothing else, he matched my wardrobe. So I allowed her to usher us both into the get-to-know-you room and sat down on the floor as she came in with the carrier box. She opened the top. And I knew somewhere between 45 and 60 seconds that this was my cat.

Unlike the rest of the kittens she had brought in for me, he needed no help getting out of the box. He hopped right out and strutted about the room1, tail straight up, full of fucking swag. He cased the room, and then checked me out. When I reached for a toy, my foot shifted and he pounced on it. When I grabbed him, he didn’t object, and when I flipped him onto his back and rubbed his belly he merely grabbed my hand with both of his paws and purred.

When I was finally able to pick him up from the shelter (thank you, Tristan!), it was pretty clear that he knew I was his human, too. The cuddles were immediate, and he followed me from room to room. That first night, as I lay in bed, he curled up beside me, wrapped his paws around my arm, and purred, occasionally stretching to lick my nose.

It was as if he knew how badly I needed those cuddles.

So now I have this kitten. He is made of love and purrs and headbutts and a willingness to burrow under my chin and a love of hugging my hand when I pet his belly and of gently tapping me on the face to get my attention at 5am.

To paraphrase my friend Valerie, nothing will fill the Thumper-shaped hole in my heart, but having this little guy curl up in it is a huge comfort. 

Also, he does this:

4

I love my Monster. 

(For hot and cold running pics of an adorable kitten, you can follow me on Instagram.)

 


On Facing the Mortality of Our Wee Beasties

thumper6

This is Thumper:

thumper6

He has been my best buddy for fifteen years. In the last few days  of those fifteen years, I have watched Thumper go from older, but still moderately spry, to weak and wobbly. Or rather, it feels that way; it’s entirely possible that this has been creeping up and I’ve been willfully ignoring that motion in the corner of my eye. I don’t know.

Our last trip to the vet left me feeling optimistic. She couldn’t believe how old he was. His teeth, ears, coat, weight—everything suggested that he was several years younger than he is.

But, now.

Now he sits in front of me, swaying back and forth as he tries to maintain balance and not have his paws slip out from under him.

Now he’s lost significant weight, and the joke that he’s really all just fur and fluff is becoming less of a joke and more of a truth.

Now he doesn’t jump down from things so much as fall as strategically as he can, and it really makes a difference to him when I help him up to or down from my bed, which is less than two feet off the ground.

Now he feels almost impossibly fragile when I pick him up.

thumperAnd I am fucking wrecked over it.

I know that one of the things we sign up for when we bring home our four-legged friends is a life span that is far shorter than
ours. I get that, intellectually. I understand that we don’t get to have them forever, no matter how well bonded we are. But that doesn’t make the thought of losing the best friend I have had for almost 15 years any easier, as it turns out. That doesn’t make me feel any less like my world is going to fall apart a little bit when it is time for him to go.

Note: if any of you feel the need to tell me how lucky I am to have gotten so much time with him already, please shove it somewhere dark and mildly uncomfortable, okay? 

Thumper is the closest thing to one of Philip Pullman’s dæmons I will ever find in this world. While he may not be the metaphorical embodiment of any soul I may or may not have, he still knows me better than any creature on this earth and has been there for me through more heartbreak, tragedy, loss, depression, loves, victories, and achievements than anybody else in my life.

thumper2He knows when I am hurting, or sad. He knows when to walk up to me and shove his head against my side until I drag him onto my lap, or when to rest a giant mitten paw on my leg to tell me he’s right here. He knows when I need him to butt his head against my chin and purr for me, endlessly. He knows that when he walks up to me and yells at me that I know exactly what he is yelling about even if I pretend not to. He knows that if he catches my eyes, we will spend minutes just gazing at each other. He knows that if thumper5I walk through or out of a room, and I see him reach out for me with one of his massive paws, I will be unable to resist giving him the cuddles he is requesting. I know that when I put my face in his face, I will be rewarded with a kiss or nuzzle to my forehead. I know I can bury my face in his big white soft belly and all he will do is purr.

In human years, Thumper is about 80 years old. I don’t know how much more time I have with him. Might be a while, yet. Hell, we’ve been expecting each Christmas to be my friend’s cat Elliot’s last Christmas for years, but he has clearly made a deal with Death or made friends with a voodoo priest because that fucking cat is apparently not going anywhere until he is damn good and ready. So it’s possible that I have years left with my cranky old beast of a cat.

I have spent the last 15 years telling him he has to live forever, like I was casting a spell on him through sheer force of love and will. But I’m no magician.

I’m pretty sure Thumper got all the magic.


[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. 


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