20 things i’ve learned

In the last four months, my life has changed dramatically. After our separation, I stepped off of a cliff, not knowing where I would land. Here are some things that I have learned so far.

1. I loved someone and tried my hardest and it wasn’t enough.  I spent years blaming myself and trying to fix it in my brain and in counseling. I read books about how to fix the damage I imagined was irreparable from my childhood.

2. I still love him and want the very best for him, and we will be friends and parent our children together. I can’t imagine a life without him in it.

3. I am not a bad person and anyone who tries to make me feel like I am can go fuck themselves.

4. I am a good parent. This is really hard, and it isn’t perfect. But these boys are strong and we love them fiercely and they will be okay.

5. (I hope they will be okay.)

6. I don’t think I will ever be able to get married again.

7. It has been over a decade since I lived in an apartment complex. It is reassuring to discover that apartment managers still have raspy voices and cry at unexpected moments and wear Minnie Mouse shirts that proclaim, “I WANT IT ALL.”

8. I do not have enough time to file divorce paperwork.

9. I have no back-up plan.

10. There are people I thought loved me unconditionally who have dropped me like I do not exist, who have erased me from their lives. It made me sad, then angry. They are choosing to cut ties, and I am floating away.

11. My father can be kind.

12. My brief foray into online dating was fun/depressing. A lot of men take photographs of themselves taking photographs of their abdomens in bathroom mirrors.

13. I still wake up alone and look at my new curtains and wonder how I got here.

14. I am capable of losing weight without trying.

15. There are people who have lifted me up and changed me with their love and kindness. I am so grateful it is overwhelming.

16. Although it is not a comfortable place, I am learning to rely on others.

17. I thought this was a mutual decision, but then I didn’t know. I am the one who said the words. I am the one who left. I think we have both told ourselves stories about what happened, and maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

18. There are waves of intense fear and joy, and they almost always surprise me.

19. I liked to plan and control things. I thought I was good at this. I have had to admit that I was very wrong. I am 34 years old, and I don’t know anything for certain.

20.There is freedom in admitting this.

 

 

now with more vagina

I have been neglecting my blogging duties for months now. Just as soon as I am done grading this enormous stack of papers, I have something to say about the past four months, which I will post this week. For now, I wanted to say that I am taking this blog in a different direction, and making it more of a woman thang. You may now expect posts solely about tampons, menopause, baby food, and romance. Tell your friends!

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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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Moonmen

I can feel the strain of time

as I hear the months go by

I had pictures on the wall

that have made it past the door

 -

You can be me if you’d like

I will be kind oh I’ll be kind

to those who are me they will see

the space between the moon and sea.

 -

Though the tides have all but crashed

the pull is stronger than I asked

the waves have called me to their door

to reach the moon below the floor

 -

And when I wave you will not see

the craters’ impossibility

And when I drown you’ll look to find

where I was kind where you were kind

 -

Ben is waiting by my bed

asking about the books I’ve read

Steal a cloud, my little prince

You’ll live a thousand days like this

-

And if you don’t let’s share a grin

about the moons and suns we’d spin

around a sea you cannot know

where there isn’t a below.

 

We, who sleep with a knife

A new life

requires a death;

otherwise, it is

just a shuffling

of the same dull deck,

fifty-two cards we inherited

from our fathers,

adhering to rules relayed

before we were born.

Here we are now,

all that detritus

drifting into our eyes;

smoldering ashes,

combed back with a stare.

Anger should be respected,

even when it isn’t shared.

Appetite

My body knew before I did. I woke every morning, for weeks, my stomach roiling and angry. I forced myself out of bed and tied my running shoes on and threw my body out into the freezing morning for my training. I ran 6 miles, 8, 10, 15, 18, on nothing to eat, only water and gels I forced down for the longer runs. I came home and stretched and took a shower and waited to be hungry. I just wasn’t. I’d make a smoothie and drink it down. I’d have a piece of toast. Or I’d just have nothing at all. I have posted before about how much I love eating, all types of food, how I would think about food when I’d first wake up, or on my commute to work, or mid-yoga class, when my mind was not supposed to be on anything at all. This was not me.

After we decided it was over, it got worse. My belts became bigger. I bought a size smaller, and then a size smaller. The pants I once spilled out of hung loosely. My sister, who hadn’t seen me in a while, told me my ass is gone, my prized bodily possession, but that I refuse to believe. It’s there still, and it is good. I did lose 20 pounds in about a month, however, and I now weigh less than what I lied about on my driver’s license. I am not an unhealthy weight, but the drastic nature of all of it is unhealthy. I know that. I had some baby carrots and a beer for dinner the other night. My dad, who has been through four divorces, told me that he lived on beer, coffee, and cigarettes for about a year when he divorced my mother. I’ve been sticking to beer and coffee, but cigarettes don’t sound half bad, either.

I wanted to make a life for my kids that was different than my life growing up. I have tried to be smart and practical and make all of the best decisions. It didn’t matter. I still somehow fucked everything up. My body knows. This probably sounds strange and irresponsible, but in some ways I can understand a little bit about eating disorders. There’s something a little intriguing and exhilarating about not caring about food anymore. I like to be in control, and I am not anymore, so I have been cleaning the house daily and not eating.

This whole experience has been like an episode of Out of This World, that terrible 80s show, when the teenaged protagonist, secretly an alien, would touch her fingers together and freeze the world around her so she could reassess the predicament in which she found herself.

out-of-this-world-tv-show-maureen-flannigan

In the weeks immediately following my moving out, I feel like an outsider, removed from the world in which I once lived, and the one that everyone else still seems to be a part of.  It has given me a sad and bizarre but almost comforting sense of clarity.

In that song “Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley sings,

                          I remember when I lost my mind

                          There was something so pleasant about that place.

                          Even your emotions had an echo

                          In so much space.

I know exactly what he means.

In the past week or so, my appetite has returned. I think about food again, all of the time, and I am always hungry. Before school let out, several students gave me baked goods for Christmas, and I eyed them in their square, holiday-themed plastic containers and thought, I will never eat all of this. But then I did. I ate orange scones, ginger cookies, lemon muffins, and brownies. I ate it all.

I’m still drinking too much beer, and I don’t sleep very well, or enough. But my appetite is back. My body knows. Things will be better.

Photo credit: http://www.fourthgradenothing.com/2012/01/out-of-this-world-tv-series.html

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The Limits of My Pacifism

Image

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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this is real

I used to not know what it meant to laugh and cry at the same time. I mean, exactly the same time, not one bleeding into the other. Several weeks ago, Ryan and I sat in our car, at the top of our city, in the dark. We had been talking and crying for hours. We’d seen the sun set in the side mirrors, and watched the light fade quickly after, and now we couldn’t see anything clearly, just the faint outlines of our faces. We joked about how pathetic we were. I told him I wanted Oprah, and Yoda, and Dr. Phil, and the Dalai Lama to all emerge from the bushes and tell us what to do, and even Dr. Oz so he could tell us what to eat (“and show us a penis,” Ryan added) and maybe this is not that funny, but it struck me as impossibly funny in that moment and I started laughing and crying at the same time, my chest heaving, my face wet. The sound was insane. Ryan asked me if I was okay, and I was not. Neither of us are. I feel like someone has hollowed me out with a giant pumpkin scraper, like someone died, like I am dying. A couple of nights later, he recorded a series of voice mail greetings. The boys were in bed. It was late. We’d been crying, again, for hours. He lay on the floor, I lay on the couch. Strewn all around us were shoes, backpacks, video games, socks, comic books, wrappers, essays I need to grade, unfolded laundry. “My life is unraveling…leave a message!” “Everything is slipping away…leave a message!” We are devastated. There is nothing funny about it, but we laugh out of desperation, I guess.

He is my best friend. We made two beautiful, amazing little boys, whom we both love so much. He saved my life so many years ago. He is a good person. I am, I hope, a good person.

Our marriage is over. Our marriage is over. This is real.

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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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