Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Confession: Little

More than Cheese and Beer is hosting another Sunday Confessions. Here is my contribution. Also, feel free to visit her page and read everyone else's take on this prompt.

Small chubby legs bouncing to the beat, twirling around on cheap carpet. Giggles. Red lips on the tv screen singing words that make so much sense---

"girls—they wanna have fun
oh girls just wanna have fun"

That is the only really clear memory I have of being little—dancing along with Cyndi Lauper in her red dress while she sang Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. I loved it so much, in fact, that my dad must have bought the record, She’s So Unusual, for me. When I combed through his record collection after his death, there it was. It’s hanging on my bedroom wall in a hand-painted bright purple frame these days. That memory is one of very few that I have from my life before my parents divorced when I was around 12. Almost everything else is a blank. If it wasn’t for that scene that plays like its own music video in my head, I’d have nothing much except a handful of fuzzy glimpses of interacting with classmates and my parents fighting along with some clear snapshots of being hit, seeing my brother hit, or being called names. It’s no wonder I still cherish that song even now—it’s currently playing in the background and as always it gives me a little grin.

It’s the absolute best memory I have of little me.

When children live in high stress environments like ones where a parent is a mean son of a bitch with a drug problem and a hitting problem and a calling-his-children-fat-and-stupid problem, memory gets glitchy. In fact, the brain, my brain, can be permanently altered. Stress releases glucocorticoids in the brain. These are steroid hormones. The hippocampus which is responsible for memory processes contains quite a number of glucocorticoid receptors. Eventually, the hippocampus is permanently altered. It becomes smaller. Memory functions are impaired. There’s nothing repressed. Nothing hiding in a locked memory file somewhere waiting to pounce on me. Most of my childhood was simply never stored. That’s probably the best thing possible all things considered. I can’t imagine what a mess I would be if I actually remembered more of that life.

I used to be a bit envious of people I knew that could recall things from their childhood so clearly and with so much fondness. I’d wonder why everything was such a blank for me and why I couldn’t remember things that my mom or my brother would tell me about. “Do you remember that time…?” became a hated topic because, no, I don’t. I can’t. I felt like such a freak for it. Now, though, now I realize how much not remembering has helped me to be a person and a better mother. The few memories I do have created complexes and self doubts so strong that even now as a 32 year old woman, I sometimes cringe when I look in the mirror despite how much I have told myself that those things that were done and said to me were never my fault. I can’t shake those short bursts of shouts that echo in my head when I see my unclothed body or even when I’m fully dressed.

I imagine remembering more would have made life so unbearable that I might not have had the strength to make it to 32. The sadness that I feel now would surely be magnified to a weight that my poor shoulders, stout as they are, could not bear carrying it for even one more day. As it is, though, it is, thankfully, not more than I can take.

My environment may have led to permanent changes in my brain…the structure altered by too many fight or flight episodes…but it’s more of a blessing than a curse. The little me that lives in my head can continue dancing without a care to Cyndi Lauper free from the darkness that so often surrounded her life.
“I want to be the one to walk in the sun”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Confessions: Awkward Moments

It's time for Sunday Confessions again with More than Cheese and Beer!

I have no fucking idea what I was thinking when I dyed my hair so many times with kool-aid that it looked like fruity-pebble-vomit, but that was me at 13 through most of my teens. When you live in South Georgia in the Bible belt, you really don’t have to try too hard not to fit in. In essence, all you have to do is denounce God (check), vocally hate high school football or any kind of football (check), and mock country music at every turn (check, check, and check). But I’m a firm believer in driving the point home. That started at a young age. In my makeup bag, you would likely have found black lipstick, blue lipstick, black as night eyeliner, a few joints, and a myriad of “smoky” eyeshadows. In my closet…a full selection of baggy clothes including diy pants, thrift store specials, and band tees (all horrible metal). I was undoubtedly a walking series of awkward moments crafted from my intense rebellion of everything Southern.

I was living with my father the drug dealer/welder at the time all this started. In my defense, I was, if you haven’t read any of my other blogs, raped while he was on a drug run one weekend for which he vehemently blamed me. How is a kid supposed to deal with that immediately following the divorce of her parents coupled with years of physical and mental abuse? I don’t think there’s any way to deal with it well, so my choice, seemingly, was to get weird with it.

I mean, I covered my school notebooks in mugshots of Marilyn Manson…without the makeup. That kind of

Some days I faked drunk at school to cover up being stoned. I made friends with people who, like me, didn’t manage to really fit in anywhere else. We could have been the Misfit Toys from Rudolph. I skipped classes. I cussed at other kids who dared threaten or bully or even mock the few friends I did have. I didn’t go to football games or dances or do extracurricular activities. By all accounts I was Ally Sheedy from the Breakfast Club with Judd Nelson’s weed stash. I still made all As and graduated with honors in the top 10% of my class, but that’s only because social skills aren’t part of the grading requirements. If those were added, I surely would be a high school dropout.

The awkwardness didn’t exactly stay behind once I left my teens either. Being awkward, I am also a magnet for it as these following tidbits will show:

In a discussion about phone sex, a guy jokingly uttered the phrase, “I’m going to fuck you on a goat, girl.” Years later, that phrase is what he used to successfully find me on Facebook.

Once while heavily making out with a date, I slid my hands inside the back of his jeans to grab his ass. He pulled away from me and said, “I have a hairy ass.”

I have actually made the statement, “Even I wouldn’t blow Michael Bolton in a truck stop bathroom.”

Hugs from me always look like this:

I thought it would be a good idea to let my ex-husband and a girlfriend be my roommates for a little while when they needed a place to stay, But, then, she came to me for relationship advice…

I wrote a couple of things about guys I had dated/sexed on a social media website I was on… They weren’t exactly flattering, and the two guys in question found and read them and (of course) contacted me about them.

I also wrote something about coworkers of mine. I referred to them as The Bitch Twins because they were really fucking awful. At the time, I didn’t realize how much time they spent stalking me online. One of them found what I had written and told my boss about it.

I volunteered for a period at a mental hospital on the forensic unit. The very first day in a group therapy lesson, a patient (consumer/client) started furiously masturbating under his shirt and staring at my tattoos while a very angry lady talked about being ripped from the Garden of Life and being forced to live among the houseplants. I refused to look at either one of them.

My ex’s newest girlfriend was helping me paint my son’s room one weekend. She found some things left behind by my ex and his old girlfriend (the one he lived here with for awhile). I was honest about whose things they were. I mean, given that he has a son, I was pretty sure she understood he had a sex life before she came along. Unfortunately, she was under the delusion that he existed in a bubble of sexlessness, however, because she immediately ran from the house shaking and crying.

My dryer is broken, but I use a clothesline to dry my clothes anyway. It saves on my power bill. Occasionally, though, when the weather is rough, my best friend/roommate’s mom will let us use her dryer. She always insists on folding up the clothes before we get back to pick them up, though. Once, I forgot to check for things I would rather her not see in my laundry and she folded a pair of crotchless panties.

I think that probably says everything anyone ever needs to know about my awkwardness, so I'll just leave it with you trying to imagine my friend's mother as she recognized (or wondered about) what she was folding....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What If I logged Off

More than Cheese and Beer has a new weekly writing prompt. We're supposed to write for about 5 to 10 minutes on the given topic.

Martin Luther King Jr said:

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

I am a Facebook activist. Say what you want about the laziness inherent in posting articles and sharing statuses about politics, feminism, and equality, but for now, it's all I've got. I don't have the money to travel the distance to participate in protests and marches. Plus, quite honestly, I don't have anyone to watch the 17 animals I live with while I travel around doing such things. So, at least at this point in my life, I can share articles, debate topics with others, sign petitions, use my vote wisely, and email politicians.

Yes, that means I am that annoying Facebook friend who clouds your feed with articles you probably don't care about or that make you angry because you NEED MORE CAT MEMES RIGHT NOW.

If I logged off, I wouldn't be able to do that any longer. I wouldn't be able to sway anyone's opinion on any important issue or learn from the friends I have who are more versed in topics I'm only beginning to explore. Instead, I would live out my existence in a state of ignorance, tending my garden, raising my kid and be blissfully unaware of the sour state of things in this nation.

I'm still of the belief that you're supposed to be the change you want to see in the world, though.

Being blissfully unaware and allowing this downward spiral to continue without even the hint of a fight would probably send me on my own decline. That loss of passion means complicity, and what's the point of life if I spend it giving in?

So, fuck it. I will never shut up.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Confessions: Never Again

In the midst of a whirling circle of shirtless men whose pungent musk brought tears to my eyes and whose fists and elbows kept, magically I suppose, connecting with my breasts, I had a Final Destination moment.

I was certain I was going to die before the night was over, and this spot, the bar I was in, would become another stop on someone’s cross-country music tour like The Station—the place that caught fire during a White Snake concert killing 100 people.

I was in this bar to see a NOFX concert. I know, I know…I really should have thought this through since I’ve never really been much of a punk fan anyway. But there I was. Slightly terrified yet also somewhat amused.

My Final Destination moment was based on several factors:

1. I was on the second floor of this bar, The Masquerade in Atlanta, Georgia, and I can feel the vibrations of the bass drum from the band playing on the floor below me.

2. The entire building seems to be made completely of wood.

3. There are numerous “men”, many of who are rather large, jumping around and punching one another.

4. When these “men” jump, the floor under my feet actually bounces up and down like I am on a fucking trampoline.

1+2+3+4= Death Trap.

In my mind, I see the jumping and chaos eventually pushing the floor past its limits. It would splinter like a frozen sheet of ice covering a lake and break away beneath us. The stage would begin to collapse, sparks would fly from the equipment, and all the wood, alcohol-soaked as it was, would begin to burn just as fast and hard as the music buzzing in my ears. The entire place would be engulfed in minutes. After suffering a broken ankle falling from the second floor, I would be trampled while trying to drag myself to the exit eventually drowning in the fat cells of the motherfuckers who fell on top of me in their unsuccessful push to freedom.

It was a dark moment. But, I didn’t die. I might have had marginally more fun than had I lived out my Final Destination 17 scene alongside the guy that had just elbowed me in the tit while spastically punching and jumping around to the tune of My Orphan Year. The key point there is “might have.”

I don’t understand the point of throwing a ham sandwich at a Jewish guy. That is the theme of the evening.
We all paid money to go to this event (ok someone paid for me and dragged me along, but still). So, why would you pay to see a band headed by a Jewish guy and plan before hand to purchase a convenience store ham sandwich packaged in a flimsy, white, triangular package; shove it in your pocket; then, throw it at him in the middle of his performance? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a worse crowd in all the many concerts I’ve been to in my lifetime and I’ve been in some rough ones. It doesn’t take much when you’re 5’4 and have a vagina. Unless I’m there with a guy as a pretty, tattooed accessory, I’m in the way. But still, Metalheads seem to have nothing when it comes to the sheer unadulterated ignorance of a collective punker crowd.

“We’re going to hurl crushed, mostly empty beer cans at a band we paid 30 bucks to see. We’re going to insult them by tossing processed pork. We will smoke pot in the middle of the crowd because we’re rebels, baby. We don’t have any rules. It’s anarchy, bitches. Fuck yeah. And we’re going to run around a room in a circle punching and kicking other people in a mass of sweat and stink and cigarette smoke. It’s ironic dancing. Everything we do is ironic. And that’s how we fight the system to take it down, doll face. We do drugs that people have negative opinions about then act in completely inane, violent ways. IT’S THE GREATEST PLAN EVEEEEEEER.”

What? What’s that you say? That doesn’t seem like a sensible approach to accomplishing a single fucking thing? Yeah, you’re probably right.

NOFX, though not exactly my thing, put on a great show. But as I stood there frozen to the spot in midst of my Final Destination montage with beer drying on my Chucks and jeans, sore, possibly bruised and bleeding, makeup ruined from the water that had been splashed in my face from a hurtling plastic bottle, I realized this is really not how I would like to spend the last few moments of my life. There’s no value in this experience to say the least. So I squeezed through the crowd to go sit in my car to work on my book. I’d rather have been mugged and murdered sitting in my car in the middle of Atlanta than drown in adipose while flames licked my toes and creeped up the legs of my beer soaked jeans. In fact, after measuring my options, the risk of getting mugged and murdered on my way to the car or while in the car seemed trivial in comparison to sharing one more moment of my time with such a negative entity. Never again.

Tips for Punks (and anyone else at a music-based social event):

1. I don’t care how hot it is--do not take off your shirt in a crowd. You look like a dick. Keeping the shirt on minimizes the amount of sweat you insist on depositing on someone else when you rub against them on your way to do more punching.

2. A band will likely not come back if you throw lunchmeat at them. I know this is hard to process, but I would never lie to you.

3. Learn phrases like “pardon me” and “my bad.” When you trample someone a foot shorter than you, he or she may be less likely to elbow the fuck out of your ribs on your way by if you simple use such a phrase.

4. It’s probably a bad idea to pound 8 beers while participating in the equivalent of the Running of the Bulls.

5. Having a standard look is the same as a uniform. Uniforms are, ironically, a symbol of oppression. This leads me to think you are, likely, oppressing not liberating yourselves. Being a “punker” is not a way of dress. It’s supposed to be a way of life.

6. Respect the fact that some people came to actually watch the band. It’s tough to understand right now, I know, but it’s true. Just think about it for a while. There are people in these crowds who have no less right to be there than you who absolutely do not have any desire to run around all crazy-like and get punched or knocked down onto a hard concrete (or alcohol-laden wooden) floor.

7. Some of you come to these events just for the punching. I know you got made fun of when you were younger, but let it go. Between fight-dancing and Call of Duty addiction, you’re all becoming pretty scary, and you will never get laid.

8. Not wearing some form of deodorant is not a form of rebellion. It’s fucking smelly.

9. Those guys at the front of the crowd who work for the venue get tired of picking your drunk asses up and redistributing you when you’re having a “blast” crowd surfing. They’re doing it for a reason. If one of you happened to fall and break your neck while this was allowed to go on, your pathetic ass would sue the shit out of said venue. This rule has a reason. No one wants to pick up 30 people over the course of 4 hours because you all persist in your stupidity. You’re not sneaky. You’re not cool. It’s not cute, and you’re not funny. Some rules are created for a reason and are not made to be broken just for the fuck of it.

10. If 1-9 are still giving you some trouble, perhaps you should stick to something simple. Use some common fucking sense.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Confessions: Celebrate

This week's confessions topic with More than Cheese and Beer is "celebrate."

Everywhere I look in my life there are reasons to celebrate. 

From the beauty of the scenery around me here in this small, quiet town
to my rockin' son to my pets and my record collection, I find fulfillment. There’s a reason why the people with the dirtiest, hardest jobs, the ones down on their luck, even the homeless can smile through it all or be thankful over the smallest gestures of kindness. We’ve learned the importance of celebrating the little things in life. Since I can’t afford to fill any voids in my life with material possessions that help me escape any emptiness I feel, sunsets take on new meaning. Each one may look the same to others, but when my everyday life is a struggle, those cloud shapes and splashes of color take on a beauty that leaves me breathless and fulfilled and at peace.

When I’ve had a long week, walking outside to quacking ducks that love the sound of my voice and respond to it by waddling up to my feet and loudly professing their adoration makes me celebrate the work I put into raising them from downy babies that loved to tread water in my sink to fully grown adults.

 Celebration is listening to my sweet old dog and my adoring niece snore in sync during their daily nap hugged up together like "best friends" as I fall asleep beside them victorious in squeezing in an extra hour of sleep.

The first cherry tomatoes of the season growing rounder and fuller then finally turning a bright red is reason to celebrate especially after that first one is picked and popped in my mouth right in the garden rows, delicious juices threatening to spill from my lips because I can't contain my grin.

I can celebrate a hard life lived in spite of obstacles by delicately slipping one of my dad's old records or one I have added to the collection myself from its cover, place it slowly on the player, and carefully and lovingly lowering the needle in place. The cracks and pops feel the hollows of the room just before the songs kick on and it is everything.

When times are their hardest, the gorgeous views around me, the love of my many, many (17 in all) pets, the sound of crickets at night, the evenings spent playing air guitar and sharing tunes with my child can all be reasons to celebrate my life when the obvious reasons seem to elude me. I've learned to stop obsessing about where I should be and celebrate where I am right now in the moment. It truly is the little things in life that bring me peace...every day I find new reasons to keep living and to do it with a smile on my face and a fullness in my spirit. It's that tenacity that will keep me going and working and striving to better myself despite every time I have been knocked down. I may be financially poor and struggling, but I have a life that begs to be celebrated and I will gladly give in. I am rich despite my financial woes. I am strong in the face of the adversities that have threatened so often even from childhood to hold me back, and that will always be reason to celebrate.

celebrate these with me: 
vinyl decorated walls

feline friendships

tall pines

overgrown, blue streams

ancient and majestic oaks

shadowy  farm buildings

lazy streams hidden in the forest

still-as-glass ponds

dirt road walks

country sights

Silos in fading light

Lydia's silliness

Strummer's obsession

Dog love

cat snuggles

epic halloween costumes

warm sunsets

pen pal flash art

Friday, March 7, 2014

Secret Subject Swap

Secret Subject Swap is hosted by Baking in a Tornado. She lets bloggers submit writing prompts then divides them between us. We all post our responses on the same day at the same time and try to generate discussions between ourselves. It’s a challenge and a great way to promote one another. This is my first time. I’m a total Secret Subject Swap virgin. I hope it is as good for you as it was for me.

My subject was submitted by the always lovely Hot Ash from More Than Cheese and Beer.

"St Patrick's Day is coming up soon! They say everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's day...but what heritage are you really and what do you feel are the most notable traits of the people? Are there stereotypes, and are they true?"

Given my pale skin, freckles, and the red hairs that always grew in my dad’s burly beard, I am inclined to believe there is some Irish in my family somewhere along the line. My maiden name (I never changed it back after getting divorced) is Smith which does have roots in both England and Ireland, so it’s quite possibly the truth.

This is something that has never really been a big issue for me. I’ve never researched it nor has anyone in my family (not to my knowledge anyway). I think it’s probably like that for a lot of people who grew up the way I did—poor. We weren’t poor in a shanty kind of way. We had a roof over our heads that was a sound structure my father built with his own hands. We didn’t go without food or clothes, but life wasn’t comfortable most of the time especially given how much money my dad spent on drugs and alcohol. There were plenty of family fights over the lack of money and second mortgages and addictions. There were probation fees and attorneys’ fees for the times my dad got himself into trouble for possession and distribution. There were times when money had to be borrowed from my grandparents who would give it just to hold it over my family's head that they had done so. We weren't so poor that I went to bed starving at night, but we weren't better off than that by very much.

I never really understood the whole big deal about it until I was old enough for kids at school to make fun of my clothes…kids I had been friends with in my earlier years of school suddenly couldn’t be my friend. And the only friends I had were other poor kids. No one ever really cared what my heritage was. I was just a poor white kid living in the South. That’s all anyone ever saw.

By the time I was old enough to get past that, I had bigger things going on in my life. A lot of other things. I was raped at 13. I had leftover anxiety issues from parents and grandparents always putting me down. I was angry over my mom moving on so fast after leaving my dad and from my dad bringing in woman after woman that made it her mission in life to compete with me for his attention even though he never gave me any positive attention in the first fucking place. I was tired of never being seen or heard. I was beaten down, hurt, and confused. I alienated myself socially. And, I numbed the pain with alcohol and drugs. Anything was better than the way I felt. There was nothing in my life that honestly made me give a shit where my family came from by that point. I didn’t and still don’t even talk to most of them.

The more salient cultural perspective that remained a concern for me was socioeconomic status. It’s hard to escape being poor when you grew up that way. My lineage was one of low class, white trash and that’s what stuck. That comes with a highly negative stigma much in the way my accent does. I don’t know that people who didn’t grow up in poor families will understand how hard it is to break away from it pervades every aspect of your life and constantly threatens to pull you under the water you're barely treading like a weighted backpack caught around your throat. The stereotypes that we’re lazy, that we expect handouts, that we’re nasty and ignorant and uncultured are not, even in general, true. There are so many people who have walked in shoes so similar to mine that struggle hard, who work hard, who are wickedly intelligent and who strive to break free of the mold placed upon us by way of our parents’ then our own earnings. None of those things define us despite how often those labels get placed upon our persons.

The most notable traits of my people, the people of all races, genders, and ethnicities that I feel so much closer to because we get it…we really get it, is that we have a passion for life that cannot be denied and keep on trucking no matter how tall the obstacles our government and the wealthy put in our paths. We may no longer believe in the American Dream, but you will not find us laying down and giving up on living our lives to the very fucking fullest.

Give me your tired and poor any day of the week, America…my people.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

All Your Balls Are Belong to Us

Truthfully, this title has nothing to do at all with the content of this post. Perhaps things will come full circle the way writing sometimes does. I would relish that moment and sigh a contented sigh like I always do when things work out that way--when an idea strikes you and you honestly make it work and work well. But, I'm not even going to lie and try to pretend like that will happen here. How could it when that line is twisted from a badly translated japanese NES game? Things like that don't come full circle. So, I'll just tell you that the more appropriate title is Why You Can't Give Up on Love.

No woman will ever satisfy me. I know that now, and I would never try to deny it. But this is actually okay, because I will never satisfy a woman, either.

This line is from an essay in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. It’s something people almost instantaneously disagree with whenever I bring it up in conversation, but it’s also something so inherently true that it reverberates in my mind each and every time I attempt to dwell on the ideas of love and relationships. Invariably, talking about love leads to talking about marriage and the belief in finding that one person out there for you—you’re other half, soul mate, the yin to your yang. People are looking for another person to complete them, to fulfill them in ways they have never been able to do on their own. 

I can’t help noticing the absurdity of this.

With life-long, monogamous relationships, people believe there is one person in the world who satisfies all their needs, that no one else will ever do, and that in turn, they will satisfy all their partner’s needs. Forever. Despite the fact that people grow and change, people believe they will always grow and change in complimentary ways which never puts their union at odds. You will continually support each other’s endeavors even when you’re not in agreement with those endeavors. You will be an anchor for your partner even when that partner is being a selfish baby and even when they are too busy to be there for you. There’s no marriage clause about picking up your dirty underwear, not picking your nose in the sanctity of your bed, brushing your teeth EVERY single day at the very least, or blowing loads of cash on useless toys. And, even if there were, people would violate them left and right because marriage is wholly unreasonable as it is understood today. That’s why adultery is so commonplace. Vows mean nothing in the long run. They're not, at all, legally binding in that real consequences exist for breaking them. 

I know a lot of people are ready to argue with me here; it wouldn’t be the first time. I have friends who do it all the time. Plus, we've all seen the memes about making marriage last by working on it (memes that fail to mention those two people likely hate each other's guts and only stayed together because divorce was way more of a social taboo for their generation). Memes that attempt to make divorced folks like myself feel like pieces of shit for giving up on something that so obviously wasn't working no matter how much effort we put into it. Memes and comments that somehow imply that forever is possible as long as you believe in it. I mean, if belief counted for anything, my ass would fit in a size 4 dress because I believe it should be.

So, to back up my marriage argument, I decided to conduct a little social experiment. I opened profiles on 2 dating sites just to see how many married men would contact me in a month’s time. What I hoped to show was just how callously people treated their vows even if they truly love their spouses. It seems to be a fairly common occurrence, and people tend to argue that it only happens when a weak minded individual caves to temptation.

Or not.

In just 1 month, I was contacted by 15 admittedly married men. That’s nearly 4 adulterers actively seeking an affair per week. And these were regular dating sites not the kind which caters strictly to affairs like Ashley Madison. On these sites, I filled out my profiles completely, and the messages poured in on their own. I never looked for anyone to contact myself. I never sent the initial message—never reached out to anyone. Obviously, I didn’t have to…those men were ready, willing, and able to find someone.

Adultery seems more forgivable, more understandable when a person loses all will power in a moment of weakness....a whiff of perfume on the cusp of some fierce flirting, the shape of a woman's ass in her pencil skirt, the hint of aftershave on a man's skin, the touch of a hand on your arm...they're all likely to crumble any resolve in just the right scenario. If those were the only cases of adultery that happened, then perhaps it could be chalked up solely to weak-minded individuals. But, in my experiment, that wasn't the case. In actuality, men (and likely women though I didn't conduct the "research" for that apsect of things) knowingly and purposefully sought complete and total strangers with whom to fuck outside of their marriages. No strings attached. No pictures. Sparse profiles. The intent, it seems, is not to satisfy the lack of a connection that could be forged through flirting and shared experiences culminating in a state of weakness. It was to purposefully seek out something new and novel because it's taboo...risque...the call of the forbidden fruit was just to strong to resist. 

Even more telling, though, were the men who weren’t married but were absolutely unconcerned about what I want. I state numerous times in my profiles that I am not looking for any type of relationship and that I don’t believe the commitments, boundaries, and expectations that go along with traditional relationships actually work to make and keep people content. Still, I received messages in droves from men who stated they were clearly looking for long-term relationships. Even when I pointed out the discrepancies to these would-be-suitors, I was told it didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter? What I think and want is so vastly different from what you want, but that doesn’t matter…. Because, in the end, all I need to do is find the "right man" or just get a "good dicking" to straighten me out. That's what I've been told at least.

I think I’ve found a big part of the problem without intending it.

People (generally speaking of course) are very much self-absorbed. That’s the whole idea behind capitalism and the very principle this country demands. Each person worries about his or her self and when it comes to other, the attitude remands to “survival of the fittest.” In essence, what another person needs or wants is of no concern when it comes to your own happiness. We let others suffer so we can succeed. It’s the American way. Relationships haven’t seemed to escape that selfishness even though the idea is to form a union with your other half. The actions of partners are completely contradictory to the very fundamentals of the union they so readily joined.

I blame, at least in part, movies and television for this.

I think media sources have played on and intensified dramatic life events. People go from enemies to lovers before 2 hours have passed. People in the strangest circumstances fall in love and live happily ever after. Men go to great lengths to woo and win over women that had never before given them the time of day. People marry within families, screw best friends, and rekindle with scorned lovers with a dramatic flair that cannot be contained. In movies and television, people fall in love so quickly and fiercely and love so intensely that we set our expectations for what love could (should) be at a high level. Real life can never compete. With capitalist ideals, we feel we each have an opportunity to be successful. We’ve grown to desire our lives to be meaningful; we feel life has no purpose unless it’s spontaneous, dramatic, and intense. Yet, most people fall into daily routines and ruts which vastly contrasts the type of life they crave. Media feeds into that. We selfishly want the kind of life we see play out before us on screen without giving it, and that is why monogamy and marriage fail more often than not. People fail to realize that finding meaning in life is more than a romantic dinner on a roof-top or a tear-filled declaration of adoration. It's more than what can ever be portrayed on a screen because life has more dimensions than that. It's more complex. But, when we don't see real love materialize like it does on a screen or see it peak with no pits, that boredom sets in, and then, apparently, you find yourself surfing Plenty of Fish for the next available easy lay who won’t (maybe) get you in trouble with your spouse if you manage to sneak away long enough to get in a good screw. It's all about the novelty.

We’ve killed what love can be by putting boundaries and unreasonable expectations on it. The media constantly reminds us of the love we’ll never really have, and every failed marriage just strengthens our resolve to find it. That’s why no one I know can sit down in a conversation and agree with the points I’ve made. Their eyes often betray the truth, but to admit it out loud would mean the end of their search for the one thing which can make them whole and finally bring them true happiness. And, it’s so much easier to find that happiness in someone else than to do some self-exploration and find it within themselves---when that happens, there is not a constant need for someone else to do the satisfying and fulfilling, there's no emptiness when routines take hold, and no push to always find something to entertain and escape to...When media-driven ideals are left behind, people begin to realize that being part of a union means compromising and that giving up doesn't mean failing--that it's a natural consequence of human relations. We can't give up on this idea of love we're continually force fed because it seems so much more amazing than the real thing. But, that's exactly what we need to do--give up on the idea of it, and find whatever version really makes us happy for whatever time we have it.

No balls were harmed in the creation of this post.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Confession: Exhaust/Exhausted

I noticed the car across the parking lot as soon as I stepped out of the side door at work. It was parked in an odd spot in the empty funeral home across the way and packed full of people. It was near dusk, but I was still able to notice at least a couple people inside watching me as I walked to my car. It struck me as odd. It’s not something I would normally see at the end of a long day.

I sat for a few minutes waiting to see what they would do. I did work at a pharmacy, and that car full of people may have been waiting for the right time to break in and steal a few narcotics. Duragesic patches had been stolen that way before. Nothing happened, though, until I pulled away from the parking lot; the car followed. When I pulled into a Rite Aid a few blocks away, so did it.

I was a bit panicked.

I walked, quite obviously in a rush, into the store and browsed at everything and nothing for what seemed like an eternity. I was shaking, sweaty. My pulse raced faster, maybe, than my mind. The makeup aisles blurred together until I was sure the cashier must have thought I was on drugs. I surely must have looked paranoid because, in all honesty, I was freaking the fuck out.

I don’t know exactly how long I stayed in that store…probably much less time than it seemed. When I walked back to my car, the other car was still there. Waiting. By the time I made it to my car, a woman hurried in my direction calling my name.

I turned, heart in my throat, and she flashed a badge. She was with the Georgia Drugs and Dangerous Narcotics Agency. She wanted to talk about my boss. My boss. The guy who had, a couple weeks prior, hit a truck head-on and killed a man. My boss who had been breaking the rules left and right at the pharmacy where I worked for years to the point that I had actually considered called in an anonymous tip. My boss, the guy who had been on a downward spiral for years, who fell asleep standing up at work, who never made it in on time and some days not at all, who made everyone uncomfortable with his off-color jokes, and who couldn’t be counted on to make a schedule, address workplace problems, handle customer complaints, or even get paychecks done on time…. the guy who nearly let our electricity get turned off on countless occasions.

I paused, unsure of what to do or what to say. Eventually, I told her that I couldn’t afford to lose my job, that I couldn’t talk to her about the man who signed my paycheck. That’s when I noticed the huge, muscle-bound dude who had started walking up behind her. HE flashed a badge and identified himself as a FEDERAL DEA agent and told me, in no uncertain terms, that either I was going to talk to them about my boss or I was going to be in quite a bit of trouble myself.

That may have been a scare-tactic. Most likely it was. But, in that moment, I thought back on all the bullshit I had gone through at the place where I worked for the last 8 years…all the times I rescued situations, solved
At least I look good in a pharmacy smock
problems, went out of my way to help customers without any apreciation. I thought about all the times coworkers timed my bathroom breaks and made outlandish claims about what I did at work and at home while my boss laughed it off instead of telling them to mind their own business. I thought about all the stress and the hurt over the years and how it really wasn’t worth it. I thought about all the lewd comments, the lack of organization, the lack of true management, and I caved. I caved hard. I was just so fucking exhausted with all of it.

They took me to a small hotel in town where they were staying and questioned me in a conference room. There were two state agents, the federal agent, and several local drug enforcement officers that took turns assaulting me with questions for 4 hours. By the end, the tension wasn’t quite as palpable, and we were more often taking turns cracking jokes, but it was still undeniably intense. For 8 years, I had worked in this small
pharmacy. I had worked, in entirety, with or for my boss for nearly 11 years. I had worked with several of the other workers for years (though none of them were good years). It felt good to get things off my chest that I should have told someone a long time ago, but it also felt like a betrayal, and I knew with every answer that things would never be the same.

Apparently, a coworker that my boss had fired previously in the year had already gone to the authorities with these issues, but no one had really taken her seriously until the accident happened. At least, that’s the way it seemed. When a pharmacist is late for work and plows into oncoming traffic killing a man and seriously injuring a child, shit gets real, I guess. I answered their question and finally liberated myself of all the bullshit I had kept hidden even from the people I was closest to for years. When I was done, I took a trip to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face and collect myself, still shaking, still sweaty with thoughts and heart racing. By the time I returned, my boss had already been arrested leaving the pharmacy at nearly 10 at night with drugs on him. Oxycodone and Adderall.

The next day when I arrived at work, the place was crawling with officers. I was told I couldn’t work and that I would be needed to print reports for the agents. I was the only one out of the 5 employees present (including another pharmacist) who actually knew how to do that. I stayed there through more questioning and report printing for nearly 10 hours that day. The place was wrecked but not quite as much as my emotions. It had been a long 2 days by that point, and to be perfectly honest, it has been 8 months now, and the nightmare has yet to end.

My boss was charged with vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, driving while intoxicated (drugs), reckless driving, texting while driving, unlawful possession, trafficking, and several other things that I can’t even remember at this point. Needless to say, the business was closed after he didn’t make bond right away. I was out of a job and on unemployment. As of now, he has spent some time in rehab, but there has been no trial. I sit here completely unaware of what might actually happen with the case. I do know that he’s driving again, and I’ve heard he has a brand new truck. He’s even trying to get his pharmacist’s license back. It’s exhausting knowing that his rich parents were seemingly able to buy his way out of trouble. It’s another case of affluenza, I suppose.

While he is trying, rather successfully, to put his life back together, I have yet to be able to do that with mine. I live in a county where the unemployment rate is nearly 12%. I live close enough to other cities that I can commute, but those places are far more concerned with hiring locals rather than reaching out and hiring outside the area. That’s why their unemployment rates are so low. Tallahassee, the closest larger city for example, has an unemployment rate of 5.5%. If they’re hiring people like me from 30 miles across the Georgia-Florida border, their own rate suffers, right? That’s the way it seems anyway. The last time I had a local interview, 106 other people were out for the same job…most of us over-qualified. Being over-qualified for some positions costs me opportunities. Employers think I will quit as soon as I find something that pays better. And, given that I’m not quite finished with grad school, there are still plenty of jobs I don’t have enough experience for yet. I’m exhausting from trying so hard for nothing.

On December 28, Congress let federal unemployment expire for millions of people. 1.6 million to be more exact. I was one of those people. I apply for dozens of jobs every single week with nothing to show for it and deal with a Congress that cares more about politicking than taking care of Americans in need. I’m exhausted with checking news stories every day hoping with every fiber of my being that someone on Capitol Hill will finally be able to move forward with legislation to approve the extension. I’m exhausted from hoping that the idiots people have elected will actually pull their heads out of their asses. For that matter, I’m fucking exhausted from reading news stories about how clueless Congress members are when it comes to the issue of rape and women. How can I expect these asshats to care whether or not I get $275 a week to still drown in debt if they make statements that women should be raped if abortion is legal?????

I’m exhausted with the disparity in our system overall. Income, gender, sexual orientation, and race all hold people back in ways that are unbelievable—ways that are completely denied by the majority as we are forcefed the idea that the American Dream is a real possibility. I’m exhausted from the realization that it IS a possibility for White men who are born to middle class to wealthy families and exhausted from wishing it wasn’t that way.

Exhausted doesn’t even really begin to cover the lack of hope I feel in my own government, in this society, our culture, this country…it doesn’t cover the upsets of the last 8-9 months that have hit my family over and over again—things that are completely and totally out of my control. I don’t know how to express that my situation isn’t due to laziness or overreliance on the miserly stipend I was afforded on unemployment, but even if I could put it into proper words, no one is listening anyway, and perhaps that is what has me completely and utterly wiped the fuck out these days.

All I can do is pull up those imaginary boot straps I hear so fucking much about and keep on trudging through the days hoping that sometime soon I will be exhausted from earning a paycheck rather than from begging for an opportunity.