Inspirational Anthems

It speaks to my simple and caustic personality that my favorite sage life advice comes from the plucky ladies of pop:

Take a chance, you stupid ho. – Gwen Stefani, What You Waiting For

You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? You want a Maserati? You better work, bitch. – Brittney, Work Bitch

 

 


Don’t speak

When chronically poor communicators come out of their caves to be upset at your failure to parse their mysterious, nonexistent communications.

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Watching House of Cards

I love watching House of Cards. It’s so blisfully optimistic; like how they hold entire strategy meetings about a bill needing to pass in order to influence an election, as though voters in aggregate
  1. know the first fucking thing about bills that are attempted or passed from their states,
  2. find out whether those bills help or hinder their own lives, or
  3. give a shit when they do and allow that information to inform their decision.
These types of data are at the fingertips of nearly all Americans from a plethora of agencies and reporting bodies, but people will vote for dismantlers of a system they themselves know little about beyond their 7th grade illustrations of the three branches and the occasional headline that government is “bloated” and “wasteful” while the next headline insists the Army fill more warehouses with contract-ordered tanks they can’t use.
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On-Call Saturdays

When your bosses talk over you in response to clients’ questions but then ask you their questions again behind-the-scenes. This is supposed to be on-call Saturday. Do you even go here?

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A Dark Friday

Teaching children that God hates everything about them as a person and then cutting them off from their family and safety nets leads to depression, poverty, drug use, and suicide?

You don’t say.


Phase III of “30 and Dirty, The Makeover”

The end of my second decade has been a time of transition. My previous relationship’s end spelled many uncertainties for my future and spun my mind and body down a spiral of confusion, depression, and deep introspection. Luckily, I am made of star stuff. My confusion worked itself out through careful attention to my thoughts, needs, and feng shui, and I emerged fully prepared for 2017. Looking back, my self-care journey had three distinct phases.

 

Phase I. Looking Outward

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I didn’t know what to think or feel. So, my therapy began with working on my outward appearance. Tale as old as time, right? What a cliche. Well, I completed 5 months of Invisalign and a series of teeth whitening treatments to finally get the perfect smile I’ve wanted ever since I was child. I also lost some weight, fixed my hair style & maintenance routine, and changed my make-up.

Akin to changing my look, I also changed my room. I got rid of everything of his that I could and reclaimed the space, cleaned religiously, and began reorganizing and downsizing in preparation for what I knew was coming: an eventual full-scale move to another home. No matter how depressed or confused I might be, a clean and thoughtful feng shui begins to treat my woes.

Towards the end of this phase, I also invested in bikram yoga again–a repetitive and thoughtful activity that gives me great pleasure at the same time that it tones and burns calories.

 

Phase II. Looking Inward

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The hard part, but also the most important: I began an introspective journey through my decisions, my realities, my experiences, and my ultimate goals. Many late nights alone, conversations with treasured friends, and comforting media made Phase II of my therapy successful. I don’t want to linger here because I’ve made a few other posts about my thoughts from this time, and there’s no need to beat those dead horses. Suffice it to say, these months were hard but peaceful.

 

Phase III. Launching My New Life, Separate from the Old

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Phase III has been in progress for some time now. I could argue that it began when I started dating my new guy seriously. However, I recognized it by name today when I signed a lease with a luxury apartment complex. It occurs to me that I naturally moved into new life adventures once my emotional health and world outlook (Phases I & II) finished playing out. Phase III can be summed up by the following unique additions to my life this spring.

  • New trips:  I spent two weeks in LA at the beginning of December, doing what I love to do and training new staff for my company’s projects. During that time I drank wine, ate sushi, soaked in hot tubs, met fabulous strangers, and wandered the neon urban lightscapes alone. There are few things so therapeutic as time away on company dime. When I came back I knew I needed to take a trip just for myself. So, I planned a solo adventure to Key West, a locale to which I’d always wanted to go. Traveling with an incompatible companion can be misery–never wanting to do the same things, finding differing sights uninteresting, complaining about driving, complaining about the sun, arguing about food…. I didn’t want any of that garbage, and for the first time I went into a luxury trip with zero inhibitions because I knew I could do whatever I wanted, however I wanted to do them. Traveling alone is simply the greatest way to travel. Key West was the most freeing, beautiful trip I’ve ever taken in my life. I spent too much money on all my spa packages, but I have no regrets about it.
  • New dude: I had my emotional alone time over the winter (and most of last summer and fall; let’s be honest). Then, this spring I met a lovely fella who shares a variety of my interests and personality dispositions. While I don’t know where we’ll go yet, I look forward to our journey.
  • New digs: In a few weeks I’ll live alone for the first time in my life; no family, roommate, flatmate(s), or housemate(s). Just myself, my fish, and my garden. Of course, I’ve never done this because I couldn’t afford to live alone; not by a long shot. Surprise, I still can’t. However, I want this so badly I can taste it. In order to achieve solitary living in this mecca of safety, comfort, amenities, and convenience, I’ve been working a second job in the evenings driving for Lyft. With the help of my second job and my careful tracking on expenditure/earnings spreadsheets, I am making it work.
  • New job responsibilities: From assistant to analyst to study manager. After nearly a decade with my company, I’m pleased to see my trajectory becoming clear in more eyes than just my own. I will not be taking these new duties for granted and am looking to impress and continue to climb (especially for the financial perks; I don’t want to need that second job, after all.)

 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The last twelve months and my transition into my thirties was difficult, but it’s brighter on the other side. I’ve regained my personhood, my freedom, my living space, and begun fabulous new adventures. I’ll be sure to post ample pictures and updates from the new digs this summer.


When law-bae sends you updates from the courtroom.

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Continue reading

New Male Tears Campaign in India

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See Bust for more (don’t give the source any clicks)

Powerful, isn’t it?

No, not the message. The gall. To feel so victimized as to proudly equate feminist appeals to stop raping and killing women with the self-inflicted duties of …holding doors and handbags.

Pour one out for the meninists and their struggles on Ladies Night Thursdays, when half-price cosmos challenge their holds on their masculine identities.

Women don’t want free drinks, your seat on the subway or your sympathy. Women want equal pay, equal job opportunities and to walk home late at night without their keys poised between their fingers. – Elissa Sanci for Bust.com


I’m not afraid of trying new things; I’m afraid I won’t like them

With every new relationship one fights the inner battle of “be yourself” against the opposing impulse to please a partner. For over thinkers, a meta-battle also wages behind that; the question of which side is more true to the situation? E.g., are these my true feelings, or have I convinced myself of something in an effort to please?

Chronic people-pleasers deal with this phenomenon, and I’m sorry to have counted myself among their number in the past. Recently, a longtime friend said these words to me over dinner: “I’m glad [prev. relationship] ended. It seemed as though you’d lost something of yourself, but I’m happy to see you’re yourself again.” My friend had thought for years & easily recognized what I had only just then begun to consider: I had said yes to everything that was Him and held on to precious little of what was Me.

Knowing this, whenever I’m with my current partner I am conscious about maintaining my identity against all influences, perhaps to a point now where I’m getting paranoid and questioning every detail. “Am I actually interested in this? Would I actually try this? Do I care? Am I being honest with all parties, including myself?”

The paranoia might seem extreme, but I think it’s a natural backlash from people-pleasing, a behavior of mine that was so rampant with [prev. partner] that I can barely stomach to think about all the ways in which it manifested. I could not possibly archive all my people-pleasing sins I committed with him, but a simple and quick example to paint a picture for you would be music. He always played his music. He’d sometimes offer for me to play mine in the car, but I honestly preferred silence to hearing negative comments and/or sensing the lip curling that went on during mine. I am very empathetic, and so if I perceive any disapproval, I get anxious and just want to escape the situation in the easiest way. So, I went nearly four out of our six years together never playing music. I held keeping him pleased above most of my own desires, and he was more than happy to accept my deference to his whims.

After a while though, as my friend alluded, identity degrades under such pseudo nonconsensual weight, and our lack of connection (him being so boldly outward with his identity and me becoming so inward with mine) morphed into permanent boredom and loss of communication. There was nothing to discuss–our relationship was us both enjoying his identity and hobbies. There was no I, only he or us. And I allowed it; often encouraged it or was its architect.

So, eventually I dissipated into space: fantasizing about made up characters, writing fan fiction, creating tumblrs, binge television, watching porn…. anything unreal was a thousand times more interesting. And, again due to his natural selfishness, he kept to himself and devoted all of his time to his own hobbies during that era, only to be alarmed and disappointed at how I “didn’t talk to him anymore”. Talking requires two parties, of course, but selfish people don’t think this way. We didn’t talk; ergo, I was ignoring him, and it was my fault. Simple. He surely doesn’t remember all the times I asked him questions in the car or at the table to a resounding silence as he scrolled through his phone not hearing me. Oh, how I hated his phone the first few years. I fantasized about lighting it on fire, hitting it with a hammer, beating it to a battery acid pulp, throwing it under bridges…. You name a violent thought, and I can cite you a phone-related violent fantasy I’ve had. Eventually, though, and perhaps in defense of my sanity, I gave in and stared at my own phone in return.

I don’t want to imply poor things of [prev. partner] as a person, because–as I’ve written before–the crux of our issues was our incompatibility; he was a naturally selfish person, and I was an emotionally subordinate pleaser. That has Bad News written all over it, but I was too emotionally invested to ever rationalize a breakup. He’s not a bad kind of selfish, per se. Rather, he is the kind of selfish that requires a particular kind of partner–one that is not, for example, an amiable doormat, but instead someone who will openly and proudly challenge him and bullhorn him back with her own demands and her own gas lighting; someone to act as a mirror and who can lead to self-evaluation. I was not capable of this. My stalwart silence and bending to his whims were not capable of this. A selfish person thinks “she’s not talking to me, so I am on my phone.” An empath thinks, “he’s on his phone, so I won’t talk to him.”

The challenge with romance is staying true to every important aspect of my identity while simultaneously being open to exploring someone else’s. This is a dance I will need to dance with eyes wide open going forward.

Which…. brings me back to my original impetus for this post. I am not afraid of trying new things that are important to him. I’m afraid of not liking them. While I’m dancing in the empty space that comes beforehand, I can relish the idea that maybe I’ll like it. There’s an excitement in the possibility of it all. But, I know that in protecting my identity’s validity I won’t hide my reactions, which means that once I try things and hate them, it’s over. He’ll be gone. And that makes me very melancholy.

In my quest for perfect compatibility, how many potential partners will I drive away? What’s a red flag and what’s a red herring to a paranoid, ex people-pleaser?


The Handmaid’s Tale Viewing Notes, Episodes 1-3

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The power of the Handmaid’s Tale is how perfectly believable it is. It’s a modern woman’s nightmare. Men (and certainly numerous women as well) like to think we’re in a post-racial and post-sexist society in the United States because everyone has equal rights on paper. However, regressives frequently challenge those rights in courts or through legislative gymnastics. Women made incredible strides this century to be sure, but modern women fear the recoil. After all, the first African American girl to attend a desegregated school is still alive today. She is only 62 years old. American women have held the right to vote for fewer than 100 years. Let that sink in. The men who wanted women to be voiceless raised an entire generation that is still alive and, in many cases, in power today. In fact, they whittle away at women’s reproductive agency and bodily autonomy every day at their jobs. Watching the Handmaid’s Tale while a woman (WHTwW) will surely be a buzzy health condition this month. I wonder how many right-wing viewers will miss the mark, though. “Isn’t it just the pits that women aren’t trusted to make their own bodily decisions?” an anti-choice viewer will muse to his or her neighbor.

In an emotionally grueling scene, one of the handmaids opens up about her horrific gang rape experience at school. Afterward, the other handmaids are forced (by threat of bodily harm) to shame her for “leading the boys on” and bringing the gang rape upon herself. In the Handmaid’s Tale, as in many real-life modern societal circles, women are unironically viewed as powerless and meek at the very same time that they’re thought to wield the all-powerful weapon of sex. From the show’s reception, these scenes clearly strike deep chords with women today. Rape victims are generally viewed as liars until proven raped in a court of law (see: nearly any case involving sports figures or celebrities ad nauseum), senators and congressmen argue whether pregnancies can biologically result from “legitimate rapes”, judges ask if victims bothered to move their butt around to avoid the penetration or if they kept their knees together, and even legislators go so far as to uphold rapists’ parental decision and visitation rights.

Still not convinced? Still think women’s closeness to this novel and mini-series is self-indulgent paranoia? Try playing Refinery29’s game, “Republican or Handmaid’s Tale” and see how well you do.

Another blogger delved into Atwood’s real-world influences for the novel that make it almost biographical:

“When Atwood was writing it in Berlin in 1984, she determined that she would put nothing into it that hadn’t already happened to women somewhere on earth. …. The novel has its origins in the 17th-century Puritans who settled in America, and in contemporary Afghanistan, and in Romania’s Decree 770, which dealt with a plummeting birth rate in the 1960s by outlawing contraception and abortion. That so many women feel so keenly attuned to it now demonstrates an acute awareness that the impulse to police women’s behavior and reproductive systems is as old as history itself.” – Sophie Gilbert for The Atlantic

Beyond the glaring premise of the show are other human rights atrocities that are just as believable. LGBTQ people gathered up and executed? Happening right now in Uganda, Russia, and Chechnya to name a few off the top of my head. And who can forget the ISIS video last year of a gay man being flung from a roof in execution. Female genital mutilation? Rampant in northern Africa and some parts of the middle east. Rape? No citations needed. These are common human rights crises happening at this very moment around the globe. One does not need a tinfoil hat to see the plausibility of American society’s downward spiral as illustrated by this television show. In the story, all it took was desperation and fear. One gruesome, alleged terrorist attack, and the bible belt handed the reigns of governance over to martial law. Welp, have you watched Fox News yet today? Its viewers are frothing at the mouth to do just that and support every idea that reroutes funding from critical services to the ever fattening military industrial complex (while inexplicably fighting for the right to stockpile guns in case a tyrannical government turns on them?) And did the show’s march for women’s rights remind you of a certain Women’s March on Washington in defense of women’s healthcare (among many other issues)? It’s startling to think that this scene was likely written and filmed long before our real march occurred. Yet, here we are.

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Front and center to the show are the women of privilege–the military wives–who seem to help enforce the new social constructs and keep select women enslaved. We hate them at first as we view the plot through a lens of the “have everything”s versus the “have none”s. Almost as soon as we begin watching, though, we see that many of the privileges the wives enjoy are barely that, as they still cannot work, own property, or have their own money. We’re also led to believe they may not have chosen their husbands and that all companionships are assigned. Take Mrs. Waterford. She looks pristine and clean at all times: hair, makeup, dress, high heels while she walks around the house. Her husband is out of town, yet she must still don her uniform of the privileged woman. She may visit friends that day, but that is the totality of her freedoms. She can’t even enter her husband’s study in their home. Privileges are thrown at these military wives like bones–nice homes, macarons and ice cream, fancy clothes–but bones are all they are. And these women, desperate to maintain what little status and few privileges they have, will do anything to keep them, including keep slaves. In this same way, the Handmaid program’s leader, Aunt Lydia, takes delight in lesbian Ofglen’s court-ordered “reformation”, a genital mutilation to remove sexual arousal for the wrong gender. Aunt Lydia rose to power for her pious devotion to conveniently cherry-picked dogma that supports the current powers, and she won’t abide women whose positions (or very existence, in Ofglen’s case) challenge her. This show does an incredible job of including the reactionary ways in which women help to uphold patriarchy and the ways in which women’s complicity are integral to its continued existence. It would have been easy and safe to focus on the male over female power structure in this adaptation, but that would not have been entirely true to Atwood’s tale nor to the reality of patriarchal structures.

When I was reading reaction blogs today, a piece in The Atlantic echoed my thoughts on this topic:

“The complicity of many wealthy women in the tyranny of Gilead is another aspect of the show that sharpens its topical relevance, particularly after an election in which a majority of white women voted against a female president. But casting women as co-oppressors in the novel, Atwood told me, was merely another way of remixing history. ‘They’re the roles that women have always played,’ she said. If someone were creating Gilead from scratch, she said, the most intuitive thing to do would be to enlist women in the policing of it, offering them limited power over other women. ‘There are always takers for that.'” – Sophie Gilbert for The Atlantic

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In the same way women are antagonists, the show is also careful to include men in an ally role. In the women’s march scene, men are gunned down on the front lines alongside the women, and of course we start the show with Offred’s husband dying in order to give his wife and daughter a running shot at reaching Canada. This inclusion is, of course, great on its own. But every now and then, it did make me laugh out loud. For example, while taking notice of men during the march scene I had the simultaneous thought, “this is to placate the MRAs who will surely frame this show as us versus them, anti-men propaganda.” If it had been a few men included in the march scene, I would have smiled at the simple inclusion and moved on. But, it was a gratuitous, slow motion homage to men at the women’s march. It even looked like a 50/50 gender split. It was as if the episode director was shouting preemptively, “See? We KNOOOOW #notallmen, you guys. We get it. Just look at all the men we put in this protest scene for you!” See, I know they had to, and that annoys the living shit out of me. But, as I find myself saying a lot lately, “here we are.”

In conclusion, it is the law of the internet that comments on any post about feminism justify the need for feminism. And, where men can look at the entirety of human history and still have the absence of mind to find the Handmaid’s Tale (novel, movie, or Hulu miniseries)  “hysterical, criminally unerotic, and a symptom of the author’s misandry“, let these same rules apply.


Something to be basic and white about in the summer


The day arrived: unicorn frappuccino day. The marketing was pointed and strong, and I was Rainbow Pepe the whole week prior to product launch, pressing refresh on the home page and waiting for it like a 16 year old standing outside the movie theater (e.g., full of giggles and thirsty for a frappuccino).

What is the unicorn frappuccino? A preteen fantasy: a maelstrom of creamy, fruity sweet tarts topped with whip and colored sugar crystal sprinkles. It’s a liquid Fruity Pebbles, if you will. It’s a tropical dreamsicle push-pop, but in a cup. It’s Halloween candy, but none of the chocolate ones, and during the summer. It’s a Nickelodeon slime drop over your senses, but instead of slime it’s a tarty pink and blue cream. It’s like if a mango and a squirt of vanilla got lost in the creme frappuccino assembly line, but the baristas just went with it. It’s a sugary smurf poop. It’s like if Spengler asked sweet tarts and pixie sticks not to cross the streams, but they did it anyway because they’re candy and don’t understand English. It’s like if Starbucks had its own Master Chef Junior where the kids were the baristas, and this is what they presented to Gordon Ramsay. It is colorful and silly and sugary and whimsical but also kind of disgusting, and it will cost me 90 minutes of bikram in caloric intake. Someone on my facebook feed called it “mixed berry confetti cake”, but my taste buds didn’t pick up any cake. I might have enjoyed it more if they had.

This drink is not for me despite my love for both unciorns and fun beverages. I made it a grand total of five sips, and that’s only because I kept drawing new, curious flavors into the straw, and I wanted to be able to accurately describe it.

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Pusheen approved, though.

In closing, this was not one of my prouder moments, but I can’t turn my head away from amazing marketing.

 


Narcissists

Just a reminder that there is no room for your hopes, dreams, jokes, or problems in the headspace of a narcissist. Your words deserve more than to live in the vapid limbo where a narcissist is waiting to speak again.


Life After 30

We enjoyed a decaden Saturday morning brunch at  Caribbean restaurant: fresh buttery cornbread, pulled pork, corn grits, greasy chorizo, and scrambled egg soft tacos. Now we lie in bed, lounging in fresh sheets and an afternoon sunbeam, our minds bubbling with the lingering buzz of mimosa and dreaming of the boundless possibilities for our day. The gardenia and balsam fir candles waft calming scents through the room, warm the carpet, and set the mood.

He cuddles me, I cuddle back. We roll over. I rub his butt in seduction, and then we hold each other close. Consciousness fades.

We wake up two hours later, groggy and confused.

Me: I thought we were going to have sex.

Him: *shrug*

We fall back to sleep.


Darcy-ism

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^ Yeah no. I saw this and sundry other doormat lifestyle posts today on the web about giving people chances and finding the good, and I arched a brow and made a pfft noise into my coffee. I don’t subscribe to the social requirement to abide toxic relationships. I am no martyr, I do not give of myself ceaselessly, and I see no reason why people should give back to those who hurt them. Those are the types of people who are chronically unhappy despite the smile they force themselves to wear while being stepped on. So, why take the wrong lessons from them? The biblical stories of Jesus are parables, but not in the way their devotees think. Give of yourself completely, and the world will take everything from you in kind; that’s the lesson of Jesus’ murder from the gospels, folks (but also, don’t be a political rabblerouser in classical Roman colonies?)

On a serious note, humanity is not all good, nor is it all evil; it’s a marbled mixture of millions of walks of life. You will not and can not be compatible with everyone. Some people are not meant for you, although you know them personally through family, friendships, romances, colleagues, clubs, or casual encounters. And I’m here to tell you that it’s fucking OK not to reciprocate interactions with toxically incompatible people purely because they want you to. It’s also OK to hold on to your bitterness about it (albeit in a way that doesn’t overtake your psyche) because that shit will evolve you for future endeavors. Never miss an opportunity for a teachable moment.

Want healthy social wisdom? Try these gems that I live by:

My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever. – Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou

Once you learn to be happy, you won’t tolerate being around people who make you feel anything less. – Germany Kent

Self-respect knows no considerations. – Ghandi

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I realize that happiness is a maelstrom of variables such as environment, privilege, skill sets, and other circumstantial items in addition to personal choices, but I firmly believe that regularly excising toxic people from your bubble (and then keeping them out) is central to your well being and happiness.


Vitamins

My body has never held up well in the fight with nature. I think I’ve spent two weeks out of every month since this past fall with some kind of congestion cold. I’m sure that hanging out in a sweaty yoga studio doesn’t help. My colleagues keep telling me to go to a doctor, but I’m not in a hurry to waste trips and co-pays just to be told the obvious; “Yup, you’re sick. Drink fluids. Rest. Have juice. Eat healthy.” Thank you, oh wise health advocate. What would I do without you?

So, in an attempt at self-help, I’ve built a vitamin regimen for myself. I’m posting it here to a) help me understand what everything is and b) as reference for making modifications later. If you’re knowledgeable, please feel free to comment and suggest modifications too.

  • Women’s multi (miscellanous stuff, I guess)
  • Vitamin C (immune)
  • Iron (energy)
  • B-12 (metabolism [and to recover from my vampire draining, obvs])
  • B-100 (energy)
  • Magnesium (muscle health for yoga)
  • Metamucil (digestion)
  • Melatonin (at night, to help my sleep patterns extend)

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