Category Archives: Ezra B. Dotty

Big Butts Are The New Black

I get it. Big asses are in. Big asses are fashion. Big asses are the new black. There’s a surge in butt implants. I get it. I am assaulted with images of big asses from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep. Well, I have to undress don’t I? Yes, I can finally claim something that I have as an enviable commodity. My waist isn’t as tiny as I wish it were, but I have that round thing that may get some men sprung. I didn’t ask for it. I was blessed by the ass Goddess. I’d like to think of her as a cross between Athena, fierce and wise, and Aphrodite, flirty and sexy.

But, let me the bearer of bad news. I am a feminist. I believe I am more than just my ass. I don’t really care for the motto, “If you got it, flaunt it.” I am more into my motto of, I have it and I am aware of it, thank you but I am fine if we don’t talk about the size of my ass. But I am talking about it now because I just saw Nicki Minaj’s video for her new song, Anaconda. The song itself is rather unimpressive except for the fifteen seconds that Minaj raps exceptionally well. Everything else is just a remix of Sir Mix-a-lot’s, Baby Got Back. There’s nothing innovative about it. The most disappointing part is how Minaj puts “skinny bitches” down. It took my cringe levels to uncharted decimals.

Is that all there is? Is that all there is to a big ass?

I remember when I was a teenage girl sitting outside my parents friends house, I sat there in the muggy summer sulking in my angst. And as I sat there, a man sat next to me and I got up quickly because he was drunk. And as I stood up, he slapped my ass. I will never forget the chuckle and the look on his smug face as I walked away feeling ashamed of what I was.

If that’s all there is, my friends, then lets break out the booze.

 

It took me years to accept my bodacious curves. Part of it had to do with pop culture’s obsession with ASS. All of a sudden, rap and hip hop became the new rock stars and with that, an assault of booty. Thick women with big thighs, big butts (but flat stomachs, something I cannot boast about) and big hips became popular. I didn’t look exactly like them but I had some of their features. The look started to get hyper sexualized. I started having sex and my partner at the time would grab my thighs and butt in a fun and sometimes, passionate way. It felt great not to be ashamed of what I had. I had always felt ugly or embarrassed at the way I looked.

Now that big butts are fashion, I am scrutinizing myself once again. Now I compare every single dimple on my thighs and butt to the minimal dimples on Beyonce’s or Minaj’s butt and thighs. It’s like, great I won a battle and now there is a coup against me. The revolution has turned against me.

There are two prevailing thoughts in mainstream pop culture: Ass and Titties. The female artists themselves push the limits of their own ass and titties. I understand that female artists are not a guiding voice or a moral campus for young women. But they have a platform and I don’t think they realize how important and big that platform is. Yes, in the end, they are just women who are learning about themselves everyday just like many of us. But many of us don’t have a platform in which we can voice our opinions or be listened to. I can just imagine how groundbreaking it would have been for Minaj to deliver a strong female powered rap against the objectification of her body, to the the sample of Baby Got Back. But no, she decided to degrade women’s bodies that do not look like her own. She used herself as a prop and not the talent she is. She gave Drake a lap dance.

As a feminist, I want other women to succeed. I want to see women in engineering jobs. I want to see a female president. I want to dance and not be groped by creepy men. I want simple things, you know? I am a firm believer that female solidarity is the only way for female empowerment to succeed. I am not advocating against men. Most people have the notion that being a feminist is being anti-man. Talk to me on good days (or buy me a beer or three) and I’ll tell you exactly how much I love men.

As a feminist, I want Nicki Minaj to know that her ass is amazing and beautiful. I want her to know that she is talented. I can see her rapping better than male rappers. Those fifteen seconds of her rapping were impressive. We can have it all. We can have ass and brains without having to give Drake a lap dance. Which, by the way, felt voyeuristic and creepy. I’m not against lap dances. That lap dance just gave me a creepy vibe.

I don’t want to bring other women down just to make myself feel better. For years I was taunted with fat jokes. My little cousins in Mexico called me a horse because of my butt. All those things hurt but now that thick women are reclaiming their bodies, I am not jumping on the mean girl train. I would say that the dance floor is open to everyone, not just fat ass bitches. I like to include all bitches on my dance floor. Even the smallest of revolutions need solidarity in order to prevail against whatever body of oppressive politics it’s fighting.

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South Africa From the Dorms

On the third night of my arrival, I went out drinking at the Observatory area near the University of Cape Town. I have quickly learned that in South Africa, good beer is hard to come by. I value my quality beer. Most of the beer sold at pubs is light beer that is the equivalent of Dos XX or Heineken. Back home in the States I go out of my way to purchase a good Duvel. Here, I can’t find those high percentage beers unless I find myself in the hipster, perhaps gentrified, places in Cape Town. I don’t like to drink for the sake of drinking. I can’t stand mixed drinks because they give me pounding headaches. Wine is really big here in South Africa. I prefer that cheap comforting bubbly; my main man Andrè. I have found one beer that I have stuck with, Bone Crusher. It’s a heffenweiser type of beer. Better than Blue Moon in taste but slightly similar. It’s only 6%.

I don’t know why I say it like it’s a bad thing. I can hold my alcohol but the older I get the less tolerance I have. I have noticed that as I age, my alcohol tolerance has lowered. It hits me faster. Even after a good meal, I start to feel that buzzing dance party on the corner of my temple. That’s a dangerous area to be in because I just want to keep drinking and start dancing or just start talking about all the wonderful and shitty aspects of the universe. The older I get, the more I want to talk, the more I want to share and the more I think I want to help.

Being on a trip with 20 girls has tested my patience to its maximum. Being around 21 strangers is harder than walking around a city with the highest rape rate in the world. The other day I took a stroll on my own and it was the most valuable time I had. Back home, I am used to doing things alone. I like going on bike rides on my own. I like taking drives on my own. I like eating lunch alone. I like shopping alone. I love walking alone. I like being alone. When I am around people, I am alone. When I am being held, I feel alone. When I talk to my mother, I am alone. When I fall in love, I am alone. I have a love affair with my loneliness. It’s there at the center of my heart whether I want it or not. I suppose, like a good clingy boyfriend, I just accept it.

I am lucky that I met and picked an amazing roommate. I want to dedicate a whole book on her because our conversations are like a supernova. They are just an explosion of feelings, thoughts and exchanges that when photographed, they look completely still, serene, aligned and perfect. Everything inside the conversations is filled with the chaos and beauty of our past, present and dreams. She says I remind her of her boyfriend. One week of sharing a space with her and I think I am ready to settle and look for a relationship as soon as I get back home. I’ve never shared this much space with anyone but my sister.

I should be focusing on the history I am experiencing. After all, I am older than the democracy of South Africa. I should be typing up my research, whatever the fuck I decide that may be. I had Black Consciousness and Hip Hop and then I found out about Franschhoek and the Huguenot “refugees” after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in the 17th century, and then I went to the library and Bev, the librarian, would not give up on helping me find resources and she deviated my research into wine making and slave/child labor. There’s too much to learn and take in in such little time. It’s actually quite bad for an impulsive personality such as myself.

All I know right now, at this exact moment, is that I have to wake up early because I don’t want to miss the ferry to Robben Island, the island prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in. The island that I totally fucked up on my map quiz here in South Africa.

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Totsiens Vir Nou, Boys

When I travel, I have no sense of time. I don’t know what day it is nor do I care. On Sunday I left on a two day flight to Cape Town, South Africa. Once I said goodbye to my family right before the TSA check at LAX, I forced myself to produce tears. My eyes watered a bit. I felt I should have been sadder at the thought of not seeing my family for a month. But this is a journey of self-discovery and blah blah blah so my selfishness didn’t care to produce tears.

 

I had not flown internationally since 2007, so all these TSA regulations were completely new to me. My x-ray showed I had sensitive areas so I had to be patted down and warned that if I didn’t pass my pat down, I would be privately screened. The TSA makes you question yourself, “Am I carrying drugs?” The last time I checked I was not a drug mule. Right before boarding my plane I was stopped by what I think were the feds. It was a Hispanic lady and a light colored Hispanic looking male. The lady reached out to me with a huge smile and I returned the warmth because I thought it was curious that there was a Hispanic lady on a British airline. When she asked where I was going, I thought she was genuinely interested in my journey. She quickly stopped smiling and started interrogating me about my trip. I looked down near her chest and I saw a badge and became nervous. Of course, she noticed. Suddenly, I was being asked how I paid for my trip and why I was I going, where is my school located, where do I wok and other pointless questions. I felt this inner rage building up inside of me. Is it hard to believe that a short Mexican girl from nowhere can fund her own trip across the Atlantic? She let me go as she looked at me up and down half believing my story. It’s hard not to feel like my ethnicity played a part. Everybody else that traveled alone didn’t have this happen. Everyone else is light skin, white or traveled together. I was a brown girl alone in a British airline destined to Cape Town. I felt some rage. The first of its kind.

 

My first trip was straight to Heathrow airport in London. It took nine hours. My connecting flight to Cape Town took eleven hours. Before I left, I was running on two hours of sleep and hung over. My journey started that Sunday morning on a boy’s bed. We talked all night Saturday as we drank ourselves silly. The more we talked, the more he surprised me. Before Saturday night, he was just a cute quiet guy. By Sunday morning he was naked and had me wrapped up in his arms. The occasional adjustment of our bodies called for a kiss on my forehead or intertwining his fingers with my fingers and resting our locked hands on my stomach. I wasn’t sure how to process what was going on. All I knew was that it was different from everything I had ever experienced. It felt like a stupid sentimental pop song about feeling a connection, or some bullshit like that. I felt his loneliness as he pressed his chest on my back. There was neediness in his eyes every time he kissed me with his cigarette stained lips. He told me we didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do, but I said I wanted to. I don’t normally say that.

 

I did things I had never done. I felt emotions that I never allowed myself to feel. I gave in to the sentimental side that I was forbidden to give in to with others. I never thought someone could make me feel that way. I never thought someone would rather hug me tightly, kiss me on the forehead and look me in the eyes with compassion. I never imagined someone would think I am interesting enough to give me real kisses.

 

At least it felt real, but it is typical of girls like me to fall so quickly for a guy who is mysterious, good looking and interested in my pleasure only. Whether it was physical or sentimental, it was all about me and he was there to comply with either.

 

Sometime during my eleven hour flight to Cape Town from London, I fell asleep hard after the brutal nine hour flight from LAX to London. My seven hour layover and being under my quiet rage and hangover, I fell asleep even through turbulence. Just as I fell asleep, I suddenly woke up maybe two hours later. I looked around the cabin. It was dark and everyone was sleeping. The only sound was the sound of air in motion. That night came into my mind and I smiled but then it quickly turned into a clench of my lips. I tried so hard not to cry and then I started to breathe rather fast and tears poured down my face.

 

I’m such a god damned stupid typical girl. He won’t be there when I come back. That’s how it always is. I’m flying across the fucking world. I’m going to be in the oldest city known to humankind. I’m going to see fucking real wild lions. Yet, there I am. Exactly like the stupid early twenty-year-old girls in my program who take out their wad of cash in a city with the highest crime rate in the world. I’m just stupid and naive. I’m just thinking of what to write on his postcard even before I land.

 

Earlier today in Cape Town, I visited the V&A Waterfront, the real touristy side of Cape Town. It’s a mall that I don’t really care for except for its Ferris wheel outside, the beach on the front and the big screen broadcasting the World Cup. I entered a small café. A South African young man who called me a princess greeted me. He advised me to sit inside and drink my coffee so we could make conversation. We did and he was incredibly charming. He said I was beautiful. Cape Town people are the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve only been here two days. Our guide, Arlene, has an incredible history that I will share soon. The locals on our first bar night out on Main Road down by the University of Cape Town were more than willing to share their views and perspectives on race. Somewhere in our drunken conversation we decided to bash ourselves and proclaim that Americans are arrogant…and loud.

 

Two days here but I’m still sprung on some guy across the world.

That’s how it goes when you try running away from yourself.

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Spending Summer in Winter

Next week I’ll be across the world.

I had to physically stop after I wrote the sentence above because I took one big breath before a dozen little fast ones. I keep having anxiety about it. I am terrified of flying because dying in a plane crash has always been one great big fear of mine. Dying a violent random death is my number one fear. I keep picturing myself right as the plane is taking off. I’m getting higher and higher and the speed of the airplane is accelerating in an upward slope. The plane rattles, it jerks a few times, and then it stabilizes in midair and we’re flying. I imagine that that is exactly how limbo physically feels. That’s a terrifying feeling.

I hate flying, so why did I sign up for a two-day flight across the world?

Because I am an annoying American. Experience and the pursuit of knowledge are my driving force. Yet, my heart looks like a miniature Teddy Roosevelt, clad in safari gear and a fanny pack to top it off. I am going to Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. Ultimately, the decision to go was based on how boring I think my life is and an incessant need to “discover” myself. Don’t worry. I rolled my eyes harder at myself than you did. I couldn’t think of a more selfish American reason to go.

Experience has taught me that when I push myself into scary or unknown places within and outside of myself, I come out with a different perspective of who I am, who I was and what I want. I’ve come to realize that I am very selfish but I relinquish in that feeling. I’ve experienced a freedom and a self-awareness that has brought on many positive changes in the last five years. Of course, that selfishness has brought on many headaches and tears when I refuse to do what everyone else wants me to do.

I don’t know what to expect in South Africa. There is a cold front hitting Cape Town this weekend. Light snow is expected in the high mountain areas. I’m staying right near or below Table Mountain. It sounds like the place that expects snow in cold fronts. Snow in Africa, what? I’m ignorant of geography. South Africa has the highest crime rate in the world. I’ll be traveling with loads of cash because my bankcard won’t work. Getting travelers checks is pointless. It’s like a sticky note on my back, “Rob me…kick me, too.” I’m taking my laptop. I’m supposed to keep a journal of my trip. I’m studying abroad and 45% of my grade depends on this journal. I’m taking my phone because I can’t live without it. I hate myself for it. I’m taking a camera since I’ll probably use up all the space on my phone with “selfies” of me (that’s redundant, right?) with captions like “Beautiful Cape Town” but it’s only my fat round face that will be the focus.

While in Cape Town, I’ll be studying Apartheid history and researching burials at the Cape Town Library archives and the archives at the University of Cape Town. I’ll be taking pictures of documents written in Afrikaans. I won’t know what the hell I’ll be doing but I’ll be doing it. My most pressing concern is how will I get to and back from a bar to watch the World Cup soccer matches. I’m not a soccer fan, but again, I’m interested in the experience. Soccer reminds me of my friends, family and my native Mexico. Not to mention imminent destruction of national identities, riots and idiot tourists, such as myself. I want to be as far away from the American Dream as possible. I suppose now a day the dream is to get away from America.

I’m also going to be in Paris for six days. I’ll be there for the final World Cup match. I’ll be there for Bastille Day. Someone on reddit advised me to go party at some district where firefighters, sorry, Fire Men are abundant. They throw the best parties with really good-looking people but with really bad music and cheap champagne. I like a good party, and cheap champagne is never a bad time. Parisian Fire Men plus cheap champagne sounds like a really bad porn movie I’d direct and the perfect opportunity for any hedonistic tendencies I may have. But I’m terrified of catching Parisian herpes or worse. I don’t think that’s any different from local herpes. Most of my male friends say that I need to get me some international booty. I say, condoms don’t always protect against STD’s, pregnancy or rape. I’m an international prude, what can I say? I’m not opposed to kissing in well lit public places but we all know that’s rude and unsexy. Is it normal for us to think about sex first when traveling?

The second thing I thought about was visiting the catacombs and the graveyards, because sex and death are universal experiences. So it’s normal to think about hot French men and piled up skulls underneath a city. While I am away, I’ll be narrating my life for a month in Anthony Bourdain’s voice.

I don’t know what to expect and I am really terrified. I don’t know what I got myself into but five years ago, I would have never thought I’d do this. Five years ago it was a just a daydream. Just something that my cultured University educated friends did. Not me. But here I am, one week from Winter across the Atlantic. I’m the type of person that wants to write about detours in Victorville. I have a feeling my professor will hate me for writing a book instead of a journal.

 

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Snapshots of My 20’s (so far) As Told by a Pending Playlist

Volume 1
The Strokes, Is This It

24 years old

I bought this album when I was a junior in High School. The garage rock revival was big back in 2002-2003. I should know, I was the music ambassador for my school’s newspaper. In my head I was. If you look back at the archives for my High School’s newspaper, I wrote a lot of music articles. But that is neither here nor there. I bought this album when I was 15 or 16. I saw The Strokes twice in my teens. Then they faded away after their second album, Room on Fire, and I just got tired of the first album and didn’t play it again until years later. My early twenties were riddled with booze, confusion and love sickness. I used to have drunk sex and felt confused while suppressing my intense feelings of love. It all came full circle a lot of the times. I was only having sex with one person. The only person I ever wanted to have sex with at the time. But I also wanted to watch movies with him. I wanted to have dinner with him. I wanted to go shopping with him. I wanted to help him pick out clothes and new glasses for him. I wanted to share my fears, dreams and desires with him. I wanted him to share his secrets with me. He did. All of that happened between us.

One night, as I was driving home after one of our sex rendezvous, the song Is This It started playing. You know how it goes. It starts out with this weird synth like recording that slows down after 4 seconds and the snare of the drums kick in. I think they’re snares? I don’t know the jargon but you know what I mean. Then Julian Casablanca’s sweet voice starts singing, “Can’t you see I’m trying. I don’t even like it. I just lied to get to your apartment. Now I’m staying here just for a while…Is this it? Is this it? Is this…it?” At the same time the guitars synchronize into a warm harmony like the rose blush on my cheeks on a good day. Then the second verse comes in and the bass does as well. The bass sounds as if someone is skipping in slow motion. When all the elements are combined, bass, drum, guitars and voice, it’s a sweet melody that feels nostalgic and defeated. It feels bloated with that sickness that unrequited love brings. Naturally, that night I began to cry on my way home. I didn’t want to leave his bedside but I knew the drill. It was a routine. Put the sheets back on the bed. Put my clothes back on. Never a kiss goodnight, just a tight hug for a job well done and a coy smile for the things we had done. In the morning, it never happened until the next night he felt lonely.

Joy Division, Isolation

20 years old

My grandmother died when I was twenty years old. To this day she is the only loved one that has passed away. The afternoon before she passed, I was working. My cousin called me at work to inform me that I should leave work because my grandmother was not going to make it another night. I thought I was okay upon hearing that. She had slipped into a coma a couple days before and we knew she was not coming out of it. I went into the restroom and my knees started to bend involuntarily. It was that feeling you get right before you pass out but I wasn’t passing out. My lower body was just caving in. I felt this immense weakness throughout my body and I sat on the dirty restroom floor and I cried. My grandmother died on a Saturday around 12 or 1am. In fact, I think this month was the anniversary of her death. The anniversary of her funeral is March 2nd or 3rd. I am sorry I can’t remember the dates. If you knew my grandmother, you would know she probably would not have given a shit about the exact date of her death.

It was later on that March in 2007 that I took a trip to Mexico with my best friend Hector. Hector and I are like brother and sister now. In 2007 we were just friends not quite adopted blood yet. In retrospect, it was half a disastrous trip and half amazing. Back in 2007, my self-esteem was at an all time low. I was still dealing with the death of my grandmother. I neglected school and withdrew from all my classes. I never told that to anyone though. I did not know what I was doing or where I was going. I thought the trip to Guadalajara and Guanajuato would be a good escape. Instead I just dwelled in my self-loathing. It did not help that the morning of our flight I started my period and wanted to die. While in San Miguel De Allende, a small bohemian like but mainly American populated city in Guanajuato, I hated Hector. God, I hated him. I wanted to cry over how much I hated him. He didn’t know how I felt. He’s never been ugly or fat. In Guadalajara we stayed with his family and they were all thin and light skin. His cousin’s friends were Mexican hipsters and he introduced me to them. Me, this chubby brown 19th century corn mestizo-looking girl to a bunch of Diego Luna (well not as good looking) Mexican hipsters. Yes, I was being over dramatic but in San Miguel, in our hostel room, while Hector went to drop off postcards at the post office, that is what I was feeling. I did not want him to come back. I just wanted to be alone. I wanted to lie in that bed all day and cry.

…Isolation, Isolation, Isolation…

Ian Curtis’ deep voice resonated in the deep cracks of my brain, that monotone voice that conveyed all the sadness and loathing that was bubbling deep inside me. I know Joy Division is something you discover when you are a teenager, and I did. However, when you are a teenager every song represents exactly how you feel. That is why Limp Bizkit was so popular. As a teenager, I felt like breaking shit up but thankfully I went with the route towards classic emo, also known as, post-punk. Instead of breaking shit, my soul just tore apart in an Ian Curtis kind of way, sort of.

Hector didn’t (and still does not) know how to deal with my petty emotions. At the time, they were real and legitimate. Now at 27, I am confident and strong…most days. Though, Hector, my best friend, is the type of guy who will tell me during my PMS ridden days that there is a bright side to gaining weight. I like clothes, right? Well, at least it’s an excuse to buy more clothes. He means well and I love him but he’ll never live that comment down.

But like I said, the trip was not all disastrous. Hector and I wound up drinking Palomas (tequila and grapefruit soda) at a corner café bar. We watched the sunset while a Mariachi group played. He recorded it for his ex-girlfriend. I apologized for being a downer. We exchanged drunken memories of how our weak childhoods made us feel. We walked back, somewhat drunk, to our hostel on the cobble stone sidewalks. Sidewalks that I like to imagine where there since the 19th century. Cobble stone sidewalks where corn mestizo brown girls stepped on every day in the days leading up the to Revolution.

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The Limits of My Pacifism

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A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a bar dispute. I wanted to tell my mom but I knew she would judge me for being at a bar in general. I was fairly proud at the way I handled it. However, there was a split second where I looked at the beer glasses in front of me and clenched my fist and thought about throwing one of those glasses against the face of the woman who was testing my patience.

I’m not the type to fight. I always say that if someone wants to hit me, let them. I’ll press charges because that would be my ultimate revenge and lesson against them. I’ll ruin their record, hindering them from getting a decent job or at least making it harder for them to do so. They’ll remember me every time they apply for some aid and are denied and I’ll faintly in a ghost like way say “Was it worth it?” That’s my ultimate revenge. But if they end up murdering me then I’ll just haunt them and that’s just as good a lesson.

So this woman drops her drink on my back. Complete accident but I’m on my third or fourth drink so I’m annoyed. She keeps apologizing to me and I accept it, still annoyed. Her friend tells her “Don’t apologize. She’s making a big deal” I’m not but I say “Uh, yeah it’s a big deal” so she looks at me and says “Don’t apologize, maybe that way she’ll lose some weight”

HOLD THE FUCK UP. WHAT.  I’m trying to internalize what she just said. “What did you say?”

“You heard me. Maybe you’ll lose some weight” Oh yeah, because getting beer spilled on my back somehow will change my eating and exercise habits. It was that moment when cheap Bud Light beer started to run down my back and onto my butt crack that I said, “Oh man, I’m going to lose some weight. If I were 20-30 pounds lighter, this would have never happened”

I stood there for a few seconds deciding to either cry or retaliate.

I was teased horribly throughout my elementary and junior high years. These are scars that are still fresh and I revert back to when I’m feeling singled out, rejected or talked about. I was teased over my weight, my skin color (even though we were all brownies. Kids always justify their dumbass logic. “Yeah but I’m not as brown as YOU,”) my hairy arms and my looks. Basically, I was teased for just being ME. For years I never knew how to defend myself. I never knew what to say back. I never learned how to stand up for myself. Then I worked in fast food, retail and at a public library and now at 27 my skin is a reinforced steel tank with grenade launchers. Kind of.

So I turn to her and say “That is a rude fucking thing to say.” It wasn’t the most earth shattering thing to say to someone who feels this pointless superiority over you. I’m a smart lady and I know that these people just want a reaction. They want to feel better about themselves by putting other people down. I won’t give them that satisfaction.

Other things were said and I can’t remember all of it due to the level of alcohol but I do remember feeling the bar around me going deaf because as she spoke non sense and pointed out her husband to me, “I don’t give a fuck who your husband is. You’re a rude bitch,” I felt this anger boil in me. This anger that has been boiling up inside of me for 20-23 years. I kept looking at the glasses feeling ready to just throw one for the satisfaction of my impulse and to shut her face up.

In those moments, my friends stood up for me. My co-worker called her a Cunt. Her husband came over, “Hey bro, this is between the ladies. You hurt my girl’s feelings you know?” WHAT ABOUT MY FEELINGS! I did manage to yell that over to him. Her husband seeing they were severely outnumbered grabbed her by her arm and left.

I still wanted to cry. I felt incredibly embarrassed in front of my friends. Someone had called me fat in front of them. It made me feel insignificant. It made me feel like I was 7 again and these two girls came up to me and kicked me in my legs for being ugly. I ended up crying on the way home. But I wasn’t crying because she made me feel fat or because I believed it. I thought of Mindy Kaling in that moment. “I’m not overweight. I fluctuate between chubby and curvy.” It’s one of my favorite quotes from her show. I was crying because I let some dumb stranger get the best of me. I wasn’t proud of calling her a bitch. I vowed not to use that kind of insult against anyone because it’s cheap and ignorant. In hindsight, calling her a bitch was probably a better decision than hurling a glass at her face. I had to choose the lesser of two evils and I daydream of working at The Huntington Library so I value my clean record for that reason.

I started crying because I was crying. It makes sense when you’re drunk.

“She’s not worth it. She is dumb. You’re beautiful”

“I know I am! I am smart. I am awesome. I am way smarter than her. Her life is over. She has saggy boobs, that other lady told me so. She hates me because I am obviously cute and awesome. But what’s the only thing wrong with me? I’m “fat.” I’m not fat. I am but I’m not. I don’t care. I like being thick but that’s the only thing ignorant people can attack me with. And I hate that and I’m crying for that”

I know I’ll never see this woman again. She has three kids and an obvious inferiority complex. She probably doesn’t have a very good life or didn’t have a good life. Someone who is secure with themselves and happy with themselves does not verbally attack strangers. Normal people do not do that. Everyone commended me at the way I handled it. The lady who originally dropped her drink on me told me “No you’re beautiful. I’m way fatter than you and she has saggy boobs and you don’t!” Bras are really awesome at making boobs look great. I told her she didn’t need to say that. She didn’t need to put herself down. It wasn’t about being fat.

When I got home, I woke up my sister and started crying to her. It wasn’t about being fat. I kept crying because I just thought, why do people need to be that way? It’s a rhetorical question. Why do women need to be that way? I know why. Millions of psychological issues. Not knowing how to control impulses and passions. Not being able to internalize the differences between people. Not knowing how to let go of petty thoughts and insecurity. I’m a fucking nice person and I really just wanted to go back and ask that woman, “Hey, chill out. Why are you so insecure? It’s ok. We can talk about it” Call me a sissy or a little bitch, because I’ve have been, but if people talked about their problems and had a healthy outlet for their thoughts, the world would be a better place. That’s some hippy utopian shit but I know a lot of people that quote John Lennon’s Imagine but would never actually practice peace, understanding or pacifism in altercations.

I almost didn’t. I don’t think I would ever actually hit someone or throw a glass at them. But it’s scary to think that I contemplated it for that second. I don’t want to be that type of person. I also don’t want to be the type of person who hurls cheap insults. It’s a reflection of your character. But it’s also hard to keep a stoic temperament when you’ve had three or four drinks.

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21st Century Happiness

This week is international Stoic Week. A week where one lives according to the principles of Stoicism, a philosophy founded in the Hellenistic age of Athens, made prominent during the Roman Empire and demonized by early Christianity. Throughout the years, Stoicism has had a bad reputation. When one describes a person as being stoic, a connotation of indifference or cold comes to mind.

I like to explain Stoicism as a way of life that could have ended the war in Westeros, Rob Stark could have kept his head and Joffrey would have died at the hands of the Starks. If Rob Stark had been a Stoic, he would have put his passion and love aside for the good of his people, his land and his family. But no, he chose to wed Talisa and break the alliance between The Starks and The Freys. Everyone was rooting for Rob Stark. That moment when he looks over to Catelyn, chest pierced with arrows, and says “Mother…” is both heartbreaking and enraging. I was rooting for you Rob and not only did you betray bitter old Frey, you betrayed me. ME. This is something that keeps me up at night and is probably a big reason of why I am still single.

But to those who don’t watch Game of Thrones, the principles of Stoicism teach us that humanity belongs to a single universal order. We are all part of nature, equal in reason and free of mind. It teaches us to keep our passions in check (Ahem, Rob Stark.) Passions such as love, greed, vanity lead us to stray from “the good life” or a virtuous life. Well, you can love partners and family but when it starts to cloud reason and judgment or when your army and kingdom depend on you marrying a Frey girl, then it’s a problem. Pursuing glory and fame for ones name is not a virtue. Apathy in state affairs or apathy in ones well being and health is not virtuous in Stoicism. Promiscuity is not virtuous. Marcus Aurelius, the last great Roman Emperor and Stoic, believed that homosexuality was not virtue either. Most ancient Stoics probably didn’t include women in their philosophy. The more I start to go on, the more it starts to sound like some early blueprint for Christianity. If this were a research paper, I’d make a case for that and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  Hell, I’d say Plato was a proto-Christian.

But this isn’t a research paper tracing the beginnings of Christianity. This is a whiny post about war tactics in Fantasy worlds and post modern anxiety. Despite some of the negative attributes and connotations about Stoicism, I believe it’s a relevant philosophy that can and should be incorporated into some of our daily lives. I don’t consider myself a religious person but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am an atheist. Mainly because I don’t like to be associated with groups. I do me and only me. I am a spiritual person. I do believe in natural order, justice, equality and some universal energy that predates human, animal and cosmic existence. Not science necessarily but just something that has guided life, air, water and energy. I want to believe there is some purpose to our existence. Whether its defined by ourselves or by something bigger than us, we do have a purpose. It’s scary to think there is nothing outside of this realm of existence. I am a firm believer in balance. Naturally, I am a libra but whatever that’s some new age shit I won’t get into. If there is Balance in my life, I am happy. Stoicism is teaching me balance and patience so I can achieve a happiness that is bigger than my self.

I bring up Stoic week because I recently became obsessed with Marcus Aurelius and the Roman Empire. I started to read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I began to read it just after my holiday meeting at work where some of my co workers where recognized for their hard work throughout the year. I was not recognized. It was a serious blow to my ego because I as I sat in my chair, I began to think about what kind of strut I should do while I went to collect my Nightmare Before Christmas bobble head or some shit. I just thought, I’m going to be recognized. Why wouldn’t I? I’ve taken the responsibilities of a superior knowing full well I’d only get a quarter increment in my pay. I do it because I like taking care of shit and I do it well. But I didn’t get my stupid bobble head nor the recognition of my store in front of my peers. Naturally, I thought fuck this shit. My performance as of late has been flaky. I’ve called out more times than I should. I can’t do the minimum job requirements because I just don’t work that way. I planned out all of our Black Friday plans without the help of anyone and detailed and outlined it for the managers, because I’m just that person. But I still think, fuck this shit. 

For the record, I am not one those people that is obsessed with The Nightmare Before Christmas. I actually have to repress my disdain for those things because everyone seems to love all that shit. I already have a reputation of being a hater. It’s not that I hate it, I’m just not into it.

Anyway, what does this have to do with Stoicism? After reading some of Meditations, I came across a passage where Marcus Aurelius talked about glory, fame and name. One must not seek these things. Simply do your work, do it well and go on with your life because there is always work to be done and if you seek glory for your work, you risk falling into the trappings of the vanity of your ego. I thought, well isn’t this appropriate? I always seem to think that the Universe is somehow against me. That I try and I try and I try and the Universe is just some mean dick yelling ha-HA at me constantly. Along with Meditations, I started to read Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. Now this is a guy who got bludgeoned to death for elevating Philosophy near Religion. In it, Philosophy is this angelic figure telling Boethius to quit his whining because everyone suffers; how dare he think that Fortune was forever. Laugh now, cry later motherfucker. That was my scholarly interpretation.

So I didn’t get recognized. For a few days I was depressed about it. It wasn’t just solely that act but just feeling alone, rejected and just frustrated with my lack of career or social level depressed me. The fact that I work in retail and I am part this empty failing corporation brings me no satisfaction. I can’t thrive in numbers. I don’t thrive on quotas or sells. I tell people not to buy dumb shit because it’s expensive. I can’t accept this as a livelihood but I am forced to because of my circumstances. And yes, I realize I sound incredibly whiny and privileged (big popular word now a day.) I know I am being self centered because there are a million and billion things that could be way worse.

When I walk into work thinking fuck this shit and I do the minimum or act like I am at least doing the minimum at work, I daydream about what it is to be happy. The definition of happiness that is. I’m sure this isn’t an earth shattering thought but Happiness is never out of fashion. From the moment we became self aware we started to ponder our happiness. Every philosopher and rich lazy thinker have written so many books throughout history about it. Happiness has never changed. Technology evolves, regimes rise and fall, revolutions come and go but we still can’t figure out what makes us Happy. Well, we still can’t figure out how to keep happiness. As Hobbes put it, the joyless quest for joy. I hate him so I’m not quoting him because I like him. I daydream about what makes me or what would make me happy and I get sad. Oh how I suffer, sarcasm. I’ve learned to be grateful and patient but what happiness is to me is simple: I want to ride my bike to a job where I contribute to  something much deeper and greater than consumerism. Where my worth is not a number. Where I have a level of creative freedom and serve a part of a community. To be part of the greater good. To contribute not just in my own pursuit of the good life but to influence other people to pursue the good life. I want to be part of something much bigger than myself.

But when I come back to reality, I look around me and I think uuuuugh. 

If I summed up my 20′s it would be uuuuugh. 

I know I went into a terrible tangent because I am sleepy and I am a terrible writer but getting back to Stoicism, I’m slowly adopting some principles of this ancient Philosophy. It goes really well with the spirituality of yoga, it meshes well with Religion and it restores a balance that is sometimes offset by our 21st century anxiety. I can be really egotistical and self centered but Stoicism (and getting back to my History studies) has been teaching me to practice patience, letting go when I need to and living virtuous according to the law of own spirituality. So what I didn’t get recognized at work, I am going to school to get a better job. So what that boy didn’t text me back, there are a million other dudes in the world. I am not happy right now but there are going to be worse things in my life, in my future, that these moments will be completely insignificant. Just as there will be worse things, there will be way better and happier moments to come and I will be that much stronger and grateful for them. These are just my uuugh years and they will be over one day.

However, I do admit that this Friday will be one of my biggest challenges as a baby Stoic. Like I said before, I work in retail. I cannot harmonize my spirituality and philosophy with my work. I work with books but we all know most people buy shitty books anyway but that’s okay because at least they are reading. I don’t think I have ever been this angry or bitter about Black Friday. I don’t expect tons of people being at my work but I just get so angry at the idea behind Black Friday. I will try to stay patient throughout the holidays and try hard to think of the purpose of each human that I encounter, even the mean ones. I kind of had the same attitude last year, until a man sneezed on my face and left snot in my hair and dress. I just wanted to cry. What would Marcus Aurelius do? I think he would have probably said, fuck this shit uuugh. 

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Like A Dirty French Novel

If you have read my “About Me” on this blog, it’s just a Velvet Underground lyric. It’s taken from Some Kind of Love. It’s one of my favorite songs, not just from The Velvet Underground but one of my favorite songs, period. It makes me happy because it’s so simple and it expresses that playful dirty charm that one experiences when they discover a new kind of love. The Velvet Underground have been with me since I was 15. Since I purchased Andy Warhol Presents The Velvet Underground at Tower Records. I bought it for $15. I’ve seen it now for $6, new. Lou Reed’s voice was always my favorite, obviously. Nico is an acquired taste. Not Lou. Lou was something special.

What can there be said that hasn’t already been said? Countless Rock and Punk documentaries will always showcase the tremendous influence Lou and The Velvet Underground had on music. It’s a given. Like The Beatles, like The Rolling Stones, like The Blues and Elvis, VU is among them. Lou was the James Dean of Rock N Roll. When you look at the black and white photographs of Lou back in the 60′s, there is an idealism within those snapshots. It’s this idealism of true artistry. A raw power that he held behind those dark Ray Ban sunglasses. There was no bullshit in his expression.

Back when I bought that iconic album, I only had one incentive. I bought it because  I read an interview with Albert Hammond from The Strokes and he gave me this image of smoking pot and listening to The VU. But then my mom found out I smoked pot so there went that vision. I listened to the album in a complete normal state of mind and I felt something incredibly new within me. It exposed me to music that I didn’t knew existed back in the 60′s and 70′s. It exposed me to literature and poetry. It exposed me to the avant garde and post modern art and thought. It exposed me to different aspects about sexuality and sensuality. Of course this didn’t all happen when I was 15 but it certainly was a trickle down effect throughout the years. Most of my phases can be traced back to Lou and The VU. I went through a Beat phase, because Lou had been compared to Beatniks so I thought “hey what’s that?” I went through a phase where I only read dirty “high brow” literature. It started with Venus In Furs by Masoch because, well, I don’t have to explain. From Masoch, I went to Miller, Nin and Batailles (who combined the absurd with the vulgar, trust me.) Lou introduced me to Patti Smith, the goddess of Rock N Roll. Lou’s voice was there when I was enthralled with a boy. He was there singing, “Sometimes I feel so happy, sometimes I feel so sad, but mostly you just make me mad. Baby, you just make me mad,” when my heart broke every time with that boy. 

On Sunday, I woke up hungover and checked my phone. I saw probably five people quote or put up a Velvet Underground video with the letters R.I.P next to it. I gasped. It’s a really different type of sadness that is felt when someone you never knew but was there all the time passes away. There was a kind of selfish or vain guilt that I felt for being sad. Since I didn’t know him at all I just felt like I was taking away the sadness or the feelings of those who did know him well. I immediately started listening to Sunday Morning. A fitting song, right?

Later on that afternoon, I went to pick up my sister at Starbucks and when I was getting ready to tell her bummy news, I chocked up.  I dropped her off at home and ran errands on my own. While driving around, I took the long way to the places I need to go and back home. I was driving around listening to Lou and The Velvet Underground.  And I just started to cry. Full swollen tears ran down my face.

When I was hearing Stephanie Says and Candy Says through the speakers, it felt like this will never happen again. Not the moment I was having but the music, the lyrics, the song. Lou Reed will never happen again. I don’t mean, oh he’s physically gone. People die, that’s life. He lived to 71 which is a pretty damn long time. What he took with him was almost the end of an era, a generation. It might sound trite to say that but in his death, a little bit of truth, raw artistry and originality went with him. At least in the public spectrum he lived in. I’m sure there are real artists out there but I can’t shake off the feeling that with him, the idea of just making music for the sake of rock n roll, broke. We live in very vain times.  We live in a society where the pressure to be seen rather than heard is valued more. Maybe I’m just cynical, I don’t know. But in my car, my fat swollen tears just kept squeezing out with every word Lou sang. Lou Reed was just one of those people, artists, that you never think will go away. They just grow old, make weirder music, comment about the state of mainstream music once in a while, collaborate with Metallica and embrace Kanye West. Lou was just being Lou and he was supposed to just be all the time.

But we’re all human and we’re all destined to experience a final flash of white light. We all have blood circulating that makes our heart pump, like Mo Tucker’s drum beats. We all go through an agonizing love affair of some kind that leaves our soul pale, for a moment at least. We experience little or big moments of love from the touch of a shoulder. And some of us drink Sangria in the park. Moments that Lou captured in his words, his music and his eternal soul.

Thank you, Lou.

between thought and expression, lies a lifetime…

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Nostalgia

Sometimes nostalgia waltzes in aggressive meters up against my spine,

In the dead of day, in the gray chill of an afternoon,

Like a Spartan soldier, like a raven

Perched upon my chest.

 

The shards of my sanity scattered throughout my sleep,

In the blood and chills throughout my day, you flicker in and out

My eyelids and in the form of bad prose structured

In terrible sentences that my ego calls, Poetry.

 

I guess I loved you because I never loved anyone before or after

In the struggle of retrospect, I cannot say

Yes, yes I  always did

No, no I never did.

 

But if I loved you, I loved you like a still life painting

In silence and boredom, your face on a ten foot frame

Hung on the Louvre, I stood in front of you

Pretending to understand everything that made you, You.

 

It’s unfortunate what a piano, some violins

A British voice suffocated in blue

And a repeat button can do to me

When my ovaries start to run down my thighs.

In the Pursuit of Knowledge and Virtue

This past New Year’s celebration, before reaching that level of intoxication where there is no return, I sat in a stool against the wall fighting off a virus sprayed onto me by the snot of an awkward middle aged man at work. I sat there, sick in body and brooding mentally. I began to feel old. I began to feel inadequate. I began to feel unfulfilled. Love has never been kind to me. I find no comfort in the embrace of lovers because they’ve always been temporary and mostly trivial. Part of it is my fault since I am too selfish to give up my time and pursue or care for someone else. But I am prone to constant silly crushes that make me act like a 17 year old. For most people, if they have nothing else they at least have a companion. The moment I think I may have a companion is the moment the universe spins the other way and scoffs at me “Did you really think it would be that easy?” I sat there wishing I could just turn off my brain, so I got drunk. I got drunk and made out with some guy that was in awe of my “nerdiness” and kept declaring he really liked me and I kept assuring him that he was really drunk. After the excitement of swapping spit wore off and telling everyone about it, I felt pathetic. I felt self conscious, maybe I had been a last resort? I haven’t made out with anyone, I’ll take that dumb drunk chubby girl there. That’s probably what he thought. And soon I started my first bout of private depression of the year. It’s fairly common for me to get depressed after things escalate from light flirtations to full make out sessions or drunken hook up sessions. Don’t get me wrong though, these aren’t things that happen every week. They happen very randomly, sparse and unexpected. One thing is for sure, I always get depressed. It’s hard to find people to make out with or sleep with who have any remote concept of the passions defined by Anais Nin. I daydream of that bohemian kind of love. That abstract passion that brings an undefined kind of longing found in modernist literature. Sure, misery is a by product as well but it’s the type of misery that yields itself to the beauty and power of ones unrestricted passions.

But this is 2013 not Post WWI Paris. Hemingway is dead so I get texts that read “why you gotta be like that yo” or get called a prude if I don’t want to shove my ass against a guy’s crotch in public. Whenever I seek advice about my post makeout or hook up blues, one of my best friends will often ask me, “Did you at least get anything out of it?” and I will respond, “I guess so? Maybe. I don’t know. No. Not really.”

Socratic ethics taught me that the good life lies in virtue. A virtuous person is a happy person. A virtuous person can transcend their passions. A virtuous person lies neither in extremes nor disparity. The good life is compromised of moral virtue and intellectual virtue. By nature, we yield to impulse because most of the times impulses feel good at their conception. The pleasure of impulse dies upon reflection. I don’t really tend to think about Plato, Aristotle or Socrates when I’m about to swap some serious spit. That’s just stupid. It’s upon reflection that I think, I must be the only fucking loser who would think about Socrates and sex. Socrates probably never hooked up with anyone. He died not for his passions but for his pursuit of the good life.

I went back to school today after a weekend of being depressed about the condition of my bruised ego and scarcity of love. Giving in to the passions of the moment brought on by pointless Dionysian like nights left me emotionally bankrupt. Sitting in class today, after a 2 year hiatus from real critical courses, I stepped back into my element. This was my first day of “real college.” I’ve been in community college for what seems like an eternity. I let my apathy and depression take over the first half of my 20′s and in turn hurt my goals and aspirations. I decided to stop that shit. I sat in my European History course and for the first time I was confident in my ability to recognize and dissect the material shown to me. I sat in my political science course and my mind flourished with ideas and concepts that I was once familiar with. I sat in my Museum Methods course and absorbed the zen of my hippie like left wing long haired professor. I sat in my Science and Technology course in a room stuffed with 150 students watching a documentary about technology trap. At the end of my day I was exhausted and overwhelmed with the amount of reading I have for this quarter. I got myself into this. I apologize if this sounds flashy or snobby but bear with me, I’m coming up to the point of it all.

I have nothing. I feel like I have nothing. Ok I have my family but besides that, I don’t have much. I wish I had a better job or at least a job that reflected my abilities. Don’t work at Barnes and Noble if you like books. Work there if you’re good at selling people stupid memberships and if you’re good at not taking no for an answer. I wish I was better looking. I wish I was thinner. I ate a cheeseburger yesterday so I’m not really helping myself there. I wish I had that thing that some girls just have. That thing that just makes guys want to get to know a girl. I was told I lacked mystery about me. I’m not really sure what that meant? Maybe this blog is to blame. I’ve been self conscious about my lack of mystery. I don’t even know exactly how I could be self conscious about something I don’t understand. Nevertheless, I have nothing and now I don’t even have mystery.

Nothing. I guess I should define Nothing in this context. Nothing as a first world problem. Nothing in western society. To have nothing means I don’t have what everybody else has. To desire what the many or privileged have. Money, beauty, status, basically to have things that are fleeting and have no spiritual nor ethical relevance. I’m conflicted. I’m a 26 year old brat, at least I’m aware of my faults? The first step is acceptance, totally. I have a week until my return of Saturn so after I turn 27 I won’t be so selfish and self diluted. Maybe.

The only thing I do have is my passion. Sometimes that passion is misdirected. Not being intellectually stimulated detours that passion because I have no other outlet but pointless shenanigans. Sitting in my classes today made me sentimental. This flood of Rousseau like sentimentality overcame me. That, oh my life is so pained but I must yield to and transcend to something bigger than me, because I was born this was way, sentimentality. I was born free but everywhere I am in chains, oh pitiful life. Ok, I’ll stop now. Anyway, it was that sentimentality and grandiose conjecture that I am destined for something bigger. At the end of the day, I was content. My classes brought a growing fulfillment that I haven’t felt in a very long time. I am probably being naive but who cares for now. I may not always show this commitment but I am married and tied down to the history of ideas. That’s the only thing I have. I have nothing else but my education and my passion for it. I’ll probably die alone in a dusty room filled with cherry wood furniture and spiderwebs hanging from the corners of the ceiling. I suppose people who lack mystery die alone, it would just make sense. I guess?

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