Sunday, May 08, 2011

word to your mother

According to the word of the Lord Wikipedia, the founder of Mother's Day in the United States, Anna Jarvis, was so disgusted with the commercialization of the holiday that she spent the rest of her life protesting it, even getting arrested for disturbing the peace at one point. I think that's gorgeous. Not because I have a real problem with Mother's Day, but because I have a problem with expectations.

I love my mom. Point blank period. We have a fantastic relationship and pretty much always have, even during some of the hairier adolescent years. We're extraordinarily different people with personalities that could otherwise clash, and we certainly don't see much of the world the same way, but she's amazing. For all that I could find fault with, she really is the perfect mom -- not because she has no flaws, but actually because she does. As a parent, she has never been motivated by anything other than what she sincerely believed were my best interests, health, and happiness, and I don't think I could ask for much more than that. Especially as we get older and our relationship evolves, I really like her as a person, too. She's funny, smart, kind, and interesting. I just love the lady, what can I say.

My mom is fond of the saying, "Don't stand on ceremony," which I've always taken to mean, "Let's not let our behavior be dictated by what day it is on the calendar, or the setting we find ourselves in, or what we think we're 'supposed' to do at this moment." Instead, let's be authentic. That's why it takes me an hour and half to buy my mom a greeting card. I have never been a fan of letting someone else's words speak for me, especially when they're dripping with manufactured sentiment. I understand why Anna Jarvis railed against the holiday she'd created -- it had gone from a means of honoring one's mother to a largely empty exercise in commerce. Honestly, the part where we're supposed to buy our moms cards and flowers and go out to dinner doesn't bother me -- the part the bothers me is the expectation of what our relationships with our mothers are supposed to be like. Like most other holidays, there is an assumption that we're all celebrating in the same uncomplicated way, and if not, there's something wrong with us. Well, that's just crap.

So I'm going to say this (and I'm really saying it to one friend in particular): Mother's Day gets to be whatever you want it to be. Doesn't matter what Hallmark, or your coworkers, or even your mother tells you it should be. If you grew up without a mom -- or wish you did -- it doesn't mean that today you have to sit in a closet and feel like shit. It means that, while some of us are celebrating the people we are because of our moms, you can celebrate the person you are despite yours. You can celebrate the mom you will one day be. My mom, who as we have discussed doesn't stand on ceremony, would tell you the same thing. And then she'd make you a sandwich.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

one wedding and a funeral

Ugh. Just ugh. After an extraordinarily sad Saturday, I am still emotionally hungover. This is notable, given that I have regularly scheduled mental breakdowns all the time and I seem to bounce back okay. Maybe it's because this time, my sadness is almost entirely empathetic. In a rare moment, I didn't make someone else's pain about me, and that's kind of significant. (Of course, the fact that I feel the need to point it out is pretty immature and self-centered, but it is my blog after all.)

Saturday, I went to a memorial service where an old friend laid to rest someone very close to her. I am being in no way sentimental or melodramatic when I say it was utterly heartbreaking. As I alluded to earlier this week on the day I found out the news, it's not my place to give details, so I won't. And earlier when I mentioned it,  I was making it about me -- seemed I couldn't help but look inward at my own shortcomings. But on Saturday all I could do was imagine what my friend and her family were experiencing, and it punched me in the gut, repeatedly. And still.

There are those friendships that, over the years, dwindle down to virtually no contact. Nothing has to "happen," exactly, it's just that people change and so do our lives, perspectives, and priorities. That's fine -- I can do without a lot of the people that were in my life at one time or another. But there are some people, and my old friend is one of them, about whom I will always give a damn. It kind of sucks, to tell you the truth. I wish I could have just gone to the service, been appropriately sad for the duration, and then moved on during the car ride home. But that's the problem when people mean something to you, even if that meaning is grounded exclusively in the past: You care.

So yeah, the royal wedding. I said before that I just don't get it, and I don't. To put a finer point on it, I neither get it from an I-love-weddings point of view, an I-am-interested-in-royalty angle, or the this-is-historic-so-pay-attention perspective. I do not love weddings. I find royalty as tedious as I find most "normal" people. As for whether it's historic -- well, yeah, I guess technically it is historic, but I don't buy that that means I must pay attention to it. Simply by virtue of its historicity it will have been more than amply recorded, analyzed and cataloged for future generations' reference. If one day some kid, perhaps my own, asks me about it, I will point them to a book. If books no longer exist, I will point them to the internet. If the internet no longer exists, I will tell them to go ask our alien overlords, mommy's tired from working in the embryo fields all day.

As for my feelings about weddings, let me just say that I am not anti-wedding, and I am certainly not anti-marriage (which is a very different thing entirely), but I am anti-every-little-girl-dreams-of-this-day bullshit. I used to be a little girl, believe it or not, and I guarangoddamntee you I never, not for one second, dreamed about my wedding. I never designed a dress or a cake in my head. (I should clarify that I never designed a wedding cake in my head. Truth be told, I actually think about cake a lot.) I pay no attention to celebrity weddings. In fact, the last one I read anything about was Chelsea Clinton's and that's only because she had a gluten-free wedding cake (what did I tell you?). Look, I don't even think very much about marriage and motherhood, but at least those things occasionally cross my mind. My wedding? Never. This particular wedding? Not even once. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy learning of some things wedding-related after the fact, but it was not an event in my life.

Important: If you're reading this and I've been (or will be going) to your wedding, please don't take this post to mean I didn't/won't care. I do. I've been genuinely moved at many a ceremony, and I sincerely appreciate being asked to attend. It's just not my thing, that's all, and I resent the 79 people who asked me on Friday if I had watched the royal wedding and were shocked and dismayed to find that I hadn't. It's just like anything else -- I don't care what you do to entertain yourself as long as it doesn't involve taking advantage of children, the elderly, or horses. I would appreciate if that was reciprocal. No one gets to tell me what's important to me, and if I don't like what you like, that doesn't mean I don't like you. Except of course when it does.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Don't threaten me with a good time

It's Saturday morning. People all over the world this time zone are waking up bleary-eyed, taking stock of themselves, gradually and woefully realizing that they just can't account for all of Friday night's events. Who's van is this? How'd I get to Canada? Why won't my eye stop twitching?

These are the questions one must ask oneself, but really, they're a small price to pay for a night of wanton frivolity after a long week. After all, what's a little memory loss when, surely, it's the result of a good time?

Or, if you're me, your Saturday morning holds slightly different revelations. I wake up, turn on the blessed Keurig, pad over to the computer and open up my email. What's this? A message from myself at 2:56 a.m.? There's no subject. I'd better open it... 

genie bra

Um, okay. I think back -- what was I doing at 2:56 a.m.? Was I on my way home from the bar/club/house party I was surely attending? Was I still at the bar/club/house party I was surely the life of? Oh, wait, no, I remember! I was in bed, as usual, watching TV and emailing myself, stone sober and simultaneously COMPLETELY OUT OF MY MIND.

So what is this "genie bra"? Surely it must be magnificent to have moved me, in my semi-conscious state, to want to tell Future Me about it. Obviously, this product must necessarily be The Most Amazing Bra Ever -- beautifully engineered, comfortable yet stylish, available in every color of the rainbow and likely very expensive (one must pay for quality and ingenuity when one finds it, after all). I mean, it's a genie bra -- it grants wishes! All of my problems, boob-related and otherwise, are about to be solved. I'm so excited!

Whatever this mysterious and intriguing device is, all I know for sure is that it's definitely not a glorified sports bra that they're desperate to sell you in bulk and I will definitely not feel like an asshole when I find out...

Sigh. I'll take twelve.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alone Again (Naturally)

Someone once told me that hating hipsters makes you one, to which I say bullshit. I hate hipsters and no one who has ever met me would accuse me of being a hipster. I am too fat, too old, and too tired to live ironically. I am not attracted to men with deliberately stupid facial hair, or to women who sell vagina jewelry on Etsy. I choose my clothing based on what doesn't chafe. Yeah, I know, no hipster would ever admit to being a hipster, but it doesn't follow that everyone who denies being a hipster is, by definition, a hipster. I'm not the Batman, either, and saying so doesn't make me the Batman. Or does it?

The thing is, I am not, nor have I ever been a ____. Whatever goes in that space, I haven't been it. The closest I ever came was when I was about 14 and all I listened to was metal and I only wore black, but that was more about me being REALLY FUCKING ANGRY than being a part of something. I think it's because being a part of something involves other people, and I have a longstanding policy against that. Yeah, I have friends, but I don't have a group. Seems to me like hipsters exist in which they make bad art and listen to bands you've never heard of (for a good reason) and just generally feel superior together. Shit, I don't know what they do. I don't really care. They look smelly.

Pop culture tells us that attractive, successful and likeable people travel in packs. That's normal. That's what social animals do. Well, I hate packs. I hate the way people act in them -- groupthink and peer pressure and all that. I was asked a few years ago by some hipster dude what my "community" was. Pretty sure he was just trying to figure out which team I played for, but I looked at him blankly, in his stupid little t-shirt, eating his stupid vegan lunch, and told him, "Oh, I don't really have a community. I'm kind of on my own." What the hell kind of question is that, anyway? Are you working on a degree in sociology? Are you going to invite me to join your cult? He seemed to imply that I needed a community in order to have an identity. Well, I don't. If you've got a community, good for you, but please take me off your mailing list.

I don't know who the hell I am and you probably don't, either. I used to think it would be nice, or at least easier, to have a label. Sure, I've considered many communities, but I just don't like package deals. I'm an a la carte kind of gal.

And I am not a hipster.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On the divinity of toffee

The reason that I don't like to be too serious online is very simple: Life is hard, man. The better you get to know people, the more you find out that most of us have been through some truly awful things. Not everyone, of course, just most people. In fact, the older I get, I'm more amazed to find someone who defies the Law of Universal Shittiness and has had a fairly easy time of it. I'm not talking about people who, at least by certain standards, haven't had any "real" problems but are nevertheless unhappy or discontented, because that actually is a real problem. No, I'm talking about people for whom life just kind of works.

Instead, it seems to me that most of us are just trying to get through the day. People have all kinds of coping mechanisms. Like religion. Or Ben & Jerry's. Guess which one has answered more questions for me? It's pretty basic and highly personal: Ben & Jerry's makes perfect ontological sense to me and, really, isn't that all anyone can ask for in a belief system? In addition to ice cream, though, I'm a pretty big fan of diversion -- the more mindless, the better. I can't really shut my brain off, so I depend on bad TV, good movies, and the black hole of uselessness that is the internet to at least slow it down from time to time.

The problem, of course, is that the more time spent diverting, the less time spent living. I don't do a whole hell of a lot with myself. Seems like managing my mind is a full-time job. That's why it's good that I'm writing this. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying this is art -- but it is an outlet that's at least not completely bereft of value. Value for me, at least. The rest of you are on your own. Why are you reading this, anyway? Have you asked yourself that? Because you probably should.

At any rate, I'm also having a raging internal debate about what to share and how candidly to share it. Avoiding a pity party on Facebook is one thing, but this is a blog, and unless it's a blog about Something, (golf, Uzbek politics, nail polish), it's about the blogger. And while I try to find humor in my life wherever I can, the fact remains that there has been and continues to be a lot of seriously unfunny shit going on, and sometimes I just can't spin it otherwise. So do I keep these things to myself, or do I put them out there, as is, in the clearance section of my oeuvre? (Yeah, I said oeuvre. Deal with it.) Even in my small online world, there are some very brave people sharing some very personal and difficult things, and I think that's important for them and for their readers, but it's just not my style. Or at least it hasn't been. Now, though, I realize that even a little authenticity goes a long way in this medium, so I maybe I need to loosen up a bit.

I do want to try to keep the blog somewhat fun, or at least not entirely focused on the perpetual cycle of depressive realism and oddly motivational delusion that is my existence, but it seems I can't completely hide myself, and perhaps I shouldn't. At least for today, though, I'm not interested in and/or ready to really open up. I suspect a few of you know (or have at least figured out) more about me than I'd care to realize. I suppose some things are pretty transparent if for some reason you're paying attention. Some of you, of course, know quite a lot about me, and if you leave any of it in the comments I will cut you. I am working on a finely crafted mystique here, people. Do not trifle with me.

Really, though, it's better this way. I don't want to talk so much about the heavy shit and you probably don't want to hear it. I'd rather direct my efforts more toward restocking the universe's supply of diversionary material. It's simple reciprocity for how much of it I've depleted over the years, and it seems somehow morally right. That and a pint of Coffee Heath Bar Crunch might just lead me to enlightenment.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In case you didn't get the memo

WARNING: The following words are not upbeat. I probably shouldn't even post this, given that I've always tried to keep what I say online fairly superficial and extrospective (that's the opposite of introspective. Don't question me, I've read a lot of fancy books), but this is what's on my mind. If you want to skip it and go visit Cute Roulette instead, then by all means...

Today was rough. I heard some very sad news about a friend and I've been reeling from it all day. I'm not going to get into it -- it's not my story to tell -- but, scientifically speaking, it really fucked with my head.

Let's just say this: Life isn't fair, and realizing that, accepting it, and moving on is perhaps a working definition of maturity. It's hard to move on, though, when your past keeps pushing you into the lockers and giving you wedgies.

I don't know about you, but when bad things happen to other people, my brain tends to bring the focus back around to me, and not in a good way. Everything negative in this world is just a big arrow inward, pointing at my own defects and mistakes. Don't get me wrong -- I don't think I'm a bad person, just perpetually and irrevocably flawed. If literature has taught me anything, (see above re: fancy books), it's that most people feel this way to some degree. If you don't, odds are I don't like you very much and I think your scrapbooks are stupid.

But what do you do with it? I guess, most days, you get up and try to be better than you've been. Those are the good days. On the bad days, well, you try not to think about it and hope something deliciously shitty is on TV. Thankfully, there's no shortage of that. Bad TV is so therapeutic that I'm pretty sure that Andy Cohen has a background in clinical psychology.

To be fair, today wasn't all bad. I had off from work, went to Costco, paid people to wash my car and paint my toenails, and watched this:

So all in all, I'll be okay.

Monday, April 25, 2011

If you can read this, you haven't seen me in 20 years.

Don’t let this two-posts-in-as-many-days thing fool you – the pace will dwindle, slowly at first, and then drop off precipitously, and then it will die, exhaling a final, ghostly breath of thwarted potential. Or, I’ll get a book deal. Whichever comes first.

So I’ve been thinking about Facebook. But really, haven’t we all been thinking about Facebook? I didn’t have an account when I was last writing this blog. I didn’t actually join until mid-2008, and that was only after I’d spent a few weeks dicking around under a fake profile I’d created for Radley in order to spy on people without making myself available. (What did I know from privacy settings?) Anyway, it was better than having Veronika email me microscopic pictures of people we’d had class with. Or was it? All’s I know is, if certain people knew just how often I looked at their shit, I’d be on some sort of official watch-list. The stalking I did in the last 5 minutes alone…

Not that I really know anything about Facebook, (although I did see The Social Network, which I assume is totally accurate and comprehensive). I don’t even really know how to use it properly. I’m just on it to look at other people’s lives and make downward comparisons to my own – I find it helpful to have visual aids for my low self-esteem. I’m also on Twitter , which I understand and know how to use even less. I missed the whole MySpace thing, I don’t use foursquare because of the aforementioned hermit-like existence (Nina checked in to her living room with 0 others), and I’m not on LinkedIn because I just don’t give a shit.

It’s not that I don’t like being connected – and god knows I enjoy the attention – but living online is weird. People either over-share (I do not need to see a picture of your sandwich [not a euphemism]), or create online personas that are either diluted or enhanced versions of ourselves made to present to the “public.” I prefer the latter, of course, since I pretty much believe people are full of crap most of the time, anyway, and, like I said, I don’t care about your sandwich (still not a euphemism).  At any rate, it’s nice to have reference materials for our social lives. I certainly wouldn’t know when anyone’s birthday was without Facebook, that’s for sure.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look at certain people’s vacation photos. Again.