The Departure: Part Two

Over the past year, I’ve written extensively on my departure from Facebook, and how leaving has not only improved my life significantly, but has also shown me how much more I hate people, than I had originally thought. It’s quite clear how I feel about Facebook.

But did you know I also don’t Twitter? Or SnapChat? I don’t know any other things people use, but I am guilty of having an Instagram account, and I’m not sure if I’m using it right. I say this, because every time I log into the app, I see the same vain showboating that I hated on Facebook.

Sure, it is much less pervasive than it was on Facebook. I don’t have to see everything that my friends have “liked” that day or that week. I like that, because of the fact that I don’t care about what they found interesting. If it’s interesting enough to share it, they can share it. Their internal gauge of the importance Khloe Kardashian’s bikini body isn’t something I need to be involved in. I appreciate that Instagram keeps these dull friends from “showing their work” as they say in Mathematics.

I also don’t get tagged in shit that other people think I would be interested in. I like that, because I find that many of the people in my life don’t really know me at all. And if you’re trying to tag me in something that you think is funny, DON’T. I probably don’t think it’s funny, and I don’t want to pretend that I do.

But Instagram is just social media, at the end of the day. It’s still the same thing, isn’t it? As much as I don’t want it to be, it is. I log in, and see content that makes me like people less and less. It’s a constant reminder of how much I don’t fit in with the people around me, and I never will.

I don’t want to appeal to others in a way that makes them think I’m attractive. That’s not important to me. I don’t want to be revered for my looks, or act flashy, or pout at the camera with makeup and filters all over my face. I don’t want to show my ass, or talk about my tits. I don’t want to be in the front of every photo, claiming to know that life is about me somehow. I don’t care what influencers are doing. I don’t want to be like anyone that’s out there. And yet, these are the people I see when I log in. I hate it.

I do hate Instagram. It’s literally the only social media I have, and I probably (definitely) couldn’t even tell you the names of 5 other social media apps. I just don’t care enough about that kind of human interaction. If I want to reach people, or send a message, I want it to be for something other than just what the fuck I look like.

I began this site, because I use my writing to reach others. Sometimes, my topics and viewpoints piss off the people I know. Just as I know that I’m going to get 15 messages regarding this post, and they’re all going to say, “Was that about me?”

Of course! Isn’t everything about you?!???

Listen: if you read my shit, and you think “Hey, that sounds like she’s talking about me,” THEN I PROBABLY AM. I didn’t force you to behave that way. You did it on your own (with the influence of famous people you like) and I just talk about how I don’t like it. I don’t have to like it. Just like you don’t have to stop doing what you’re doing. Free country.

I write about society. That’s my target topic. What happens when you’re so repulsed by your target topic, that you want to quit? I’m sure political writers run into this all the time. How do you keep going? How do you subject yourself to something that is completely optional, when you disagree with it so wholeheartedly? Why would you?

There is no answer. The truth is, I recognize that different people have different strengths as objective pieces in life’s game. We have automotive experts, psychological experts, medical experts, etc. The world is full of people who know what they’re doing, more than you do. They’re trained in their field, or they’ve studied enough to have figured shit out. You take their advice and expertise, and you apply it to whatever needs fixing.

That’s what I do. I pick apart the shitty things about people, and let them know how they can be less shitty. Of course, that’s just according to my opinion. Some people call me anti-feminist. Some people say I’m a prude, or closed-minded. It’s funny to hear these things as responses to my writing, because they’re really just shots from an empty pen, from the desk of John Q. Butthurt. People get so defensive of their habits, that they never stop to think about why they actually do them. Why do you need to take the same picture of yourself, making the same face, every day? In case someone forgot what you look like? Why do it? What is the reason?

The reason is, because you find yourself attractive, and you want others to see you in that attractive moment, so they can find you attractive too. That is the only reason. There is no other reason, so stop trying to convince yourself. No one is trying to monitor your subtle changes over the years, so just admit that you’re doing it for your vanity.

Now you’re saying, “Well, what’s so wrong with feeling attractive?”

Nothing. Nothing is wrong with feeling like you look good. I encourage people to find good things about themselves all the time. The point is, when you minimize your existence to just your looks, you’re basically advertising that there’s nothing more to you than aesthetics. Unless you’re a contracted model, you should probably have more substance than just a pretty face. Give me something else. Anything.

So I’m a prude, because I think girls/women giving their images away for free on the internet is still a bad idea. I don’t know when or how I became the minority on this, but this new “feminism” wave has convinced everyone that everything is acceptable. I still remember when people worried about provocative pictures of themselves being out there in cyberspace, where any sicko could get their eyes on them (and if they like what they see, they’ll check out the rest of your profile, and see your kids, and see what the back yard of your house looks like, or the route that you travel on your Instagram stories).

Now, I see friends of mine in their underwear, or with their clothes barely on their bodies at all, or with a caption that directs the viewer specifically to see it sexually. You may feel like you’re powerful, but it’s basically free porn, and people who see it probably don’t think you’re powerful. They think they’re getting something for free, and they are.

But it’s your body, and your life. Go ahead and do it, if you like it. What’s the worst that could happen? That your children will have to deal with seeing their parent naked a bunch of times, when they may not feel comfortable with it? Or even better, they will grow up thinking that’s a good idea, and then a bunch of strangers are looking at your naked teen child for free on the internet. It’s ok. Mommy does it too. Future bosses or prospective colleges or loving grandparents or potential mates will allll see it as powerful.

Maybe that’s fine with you, too. But stop claiming that your attention-seeking behavior is feminism. You’re not inspiring anyone. You’re not “sticking it to the man” or shattering stereotypes. You’re not doing anything progressive. You just want to be seen and admired. That’s normal. But it’s not feminism. The idea of equality is so far outside your wheelhouse, it’s not even rolling down the street in your wheelneighborhood. Let’s call it Vanity, which is what it actually is.

I can say that I am anti-feminist in this way. I tell women why they’re grating against the feminist ideal of equality, but that is why I’m seen as not a feminist. In my mind, I define a feminist as someone who doesn’t create expectations of any gender, and believes opportunity should be available to everyone, in all areas of life and living.

That means every woman should be free to do and think as she pleases, regardless of what others think she should or shouldn’t be doing. Feminism! True feminism would suggest that means ALL people can do the exact same thing. No gender should be able to do something another one can’t do, right? Everyone gets to do everything. No one isn’t allowed to, if someone else can. That’s equality, and that’s what feminism is about.

So when I say I don’t like seeing my friends posing for free on the internet, or being completely wrapped up in their appearance, I am definitely being anti-feminist. They can do what they want. It’s their body. If they’re comfortable showing tits to the world, let them! If they’re comfortable with their 16 year old son sending out dick pics to his classmates, that’s the same thing, right? Nudity is for everyone who wants to bestow it upon the world. I mean, if a dude wants to whip out his wing-wang at you on the street, you just have to accept it, because everyone gets to be nude; not JUST YOU.

That’s part of my problem: I see people showing their shit off freely to the world, after talking about how a guy exposing himself to a woman is harassment. I’m not talking about cornering someone with your dick out. I’m talking about photos and videos of male anatomy being shown the way women show theirs online. If it’s not some sculpted, hairless, tan guy, it’s not acceptable. How is his choice to be nude considered harassment, and your choice to be nude is considered a right? That’s the issue. Nobody ever thinks their nudity could be unwelcome. Theirs is beautiful art that mother nature made, and other people’s nudity is rape.

Well, wake the fuck up and start considering that the world doesn’t always think your selfies are great. Sometimes, they’re boring. Sometimes, it reminds me that you really have nothing more going for you in life, and that makes me want to cry, because NOBODY is just looks.

But apparently a lot of people in my orbit are so self-obsessed, that they readily immerse themselves into today’s culture of vanity. They need the tally of “likes” to be shown in bold on the screen, so everyone knows the measurement of their worth. If you haven’t “liked” their recent photo, they’re going to make sure you know about it, so you can go “like” it.

These people aren’t my people. They’re free to exist in their world, but I am no longer able to stifle my gagging. I don’t like pretending to like people. I write about it all the time. But society has just worn me down. Rather than keep this site going with rants about how much I think people are full of themselves (and also excuses), I would rather just walk away.

So this is my last post. I hope you have enjoyed my experiment in observing and recording what I see around me. I’m sure it has taken many years off the end of my life.

Adios, amigos.

-jg

Score.

“Four score and seven years ago” is a phrase that is familiar to many (though increasingly fewer in overall percentage, as time goes on) as part of the opening line of the Gettysburg Address. There’s no way I’m turning this into a history lesson about the Gettysburg Address, or the events surrounding it in time, so if you’re curious, crack open an Encyclopedia Britannica.

Four score and seven years is equal to 87 years. Obviously, a score is equivalent to a span of 20 years. I say it’s obvious, but I’m not sure it is. I’ll just go with this, and say that it is obvious, because only geniuses read my blog. (That’s you.)

My 20 year high school reunion is coming up next month. It’s hard to believe I graduated that many years ago, but then, it seems like I’ve lived so much more than 20 years of time and experience. Have I crossed into a new block of storage, and disconnected from my early life’s feelings?!

If you’re curious, the answer is no: the 20 years of changes in the Bumfuck Egypt Class of ’99 is not something that has made it onto my radar of interest, beyond shredding the idea for an article. I don’t think I’m currently in touch with anyone from my class, and if I am, I don’t remember who they are.

If you’re one of my classmates, and you’re reading this now, I’ve forgotten you. Do better.

I’m not saying none of my classmates were cool. There are a bunch of them who I actually have interacted with in the past decade, maybe even in the past five years. My class was very small, and our school was stuck in the backwoods, so the people who did make it out of there, have long gone. I don’t even know how to inquire about the reunion, aside from contacting the school directly, but I don’t actually want to go that badly.

I’ve been toying with the idea of contacting my class president (who was a close buddy of mine, and would probably pick right up where we left off, if I ever saw him again) and asking him to hook me up with a live microphone during the reunion, so I could sneak in through the back door, and do an impromptu roast, before quickly exiting without any classmate interface.

I wonder how smoothly that would go? Matt says it wouldn’t.

I have other ideas.

It’s not like they can suspend me, or ban me from events I don’t even want to attend. They can’t fine you or arrest you, just for being hilarious in front of people. I don’t see how it could go badly.

Matt says I’ve alienated friends before, during times of differing opinions, and that I run the risk of pissing someone off.

Please, Matt. Please.

If I want to get up there, and say, “Hey, 20 years since we graduated. That means only 15 more years until they start to think about replacing our textbooks,” I should be able to say it. It’s no secret to my classmates, that we were being taught from archaic text, while science was growing in complexity and discovery all around us. They know that.

How many times did I open an active textbook, to see someone’s name in it, and find out they were dead from old age? More than once.

“It’s not funny that they have a very serious lack of funding for curriculum because of the exorbitant overspending around athletics at that school. Some schools just don’t get money.”

When I was in school, the policy around academics was re-written, so that the Senior basketball players who were failing Chemistry could still play ball. The prior policy was that you couldn’t fail anything, or sports and extra-curriculars were off the table for you. But then, they had to account for the jocks who literally had nothing else to rely on. They couldn’t lose them. What would they do? Who would play basketball?!

I’ll tell you what they did. They decided that more basketball practice was what those guys needed, not more study time. If the school loses sports money, there will be nothing left to spend money on. Solid logic, for anyone who knows what it’s like to be the principal of a shitty class D school.

Just so you know, if you write an article about how stupid that is, and then have it submitted to the school paper for distribution, you get in trouble.

My high school prized preppy rich kids who wouldn’t dream of questioning authority, and the jocks happened to fall into that category, almost entirely for the most part. Not many athletes were non-preppy kids, or vice versa.

My group of kids was their arch enemy, and some of us (myself excluded) fell into the middle of that Venn diagram, making them Cool Athletes. I was not a cool athlete, but I did know some. They were always talking about how the Preppies weren’t that bad, and I wondered if they said the same thing to them about us. They called us the Crunchies. The Preppies and The Crunchies. The new Sharks and Jets.

To think that nobody changes after high school is a weird concept to me, and a good movie idea. Sure, it’s probably been done in different iterations, but I think there’s more to it. I think there might actually be truth to it, in some areas of the country. Prom King and Queen get married, and their kids marry the kids of the Prom King and Queen from the next school over, and so on. Or the Arts kids just stay close with each other forever, and nobody ever stops being interested in what everyone is reading for at the moment.

A lot can happen in the course of 20 years. In my case, everything significant in my life has taken place within the past 20 years since I graduated high school. High school is very much a thing of the distant past, for me. It’s so far gone, that it doesn’t even seem like it occurred in this life that I’m currently living.

And in a few short years, high school will be a thing of the past for my kids as well. That shit scares me. I wanted them to be able to enjoy teenagerdom so much more, before the searing pain of life comes showering down around them. I wanted them to do all the things I didn’t get to do, and regretted not doing.

My childhood and teen years were fairly uneventful, and the things that were meaningful, were few and far between. As an adult, I have had the disenchanting experience of discovering that meaningful doesn’t always equal great, and that great doesn’t always equal positive.

As I said up there, I didn’t do much as a teen, so I watched a lot of movies and TV, or had music on constantly. In movies, you always see the part where the characters are at their high school reunion, and it’s supposed to be funny, and everyone looks almost completely different than they did, and for some reason, everyone still worships the high school hierarchy that causes them to feel intimidated by the “popular kids” still.

I’m no expert on society (or so I’d have you believe), but I think that when people grow up, they stop giving a shit about who was the King of the school. Once you’re out of there, you see it as the pre-school for life that it really is. Even if I did see someone as “better than me” or “cooler than me” in school, I seriously doubt I would give a shit about that now. Clearly, high school doesn’t determine success in life. I see a lot of jocks pumping gas around here.

But at the reunion in the movies, the asshole jock is still the King, and everyone is still intimidated by him, and they all still think he’s the coolest. And the most popular girl in school is still the hottest chick around, because somehow, none of the other women managed to ever become better looking than her, which is really what matters, isn’t it?

Side note: I’ve written an article on this topic before, and after revisiting it, I decided it was mean. Not intentionally mean, but it certainly came across that way, and it didn’t reflect how I truly feel, so I’ve done away with it, and integrated it into this one. You all know how good I am at finishing things, so here we go. Back to the thing.

Examples of why I think high school kids – WHILE AMAZING TO STUDY SOCIALLY – annoy me: 20 Years Later Edition.

This particular current(-ish) event was a banquet at my son’s school last year. I would like to stress again, that all of these kids are cool as fuck, and they’re smart, and driven, and they embrace fun in everything they do. Pretty good crowd, right?

Allow me to set the scene of said banquet: in the room, there were 20 tables. Each table sat 8 people. It wasn’t going to be a very big event, so when my family of 4 arrived, we just chose a table and clustered ourselves around one half of it. Another family of 4 could sit on the other side, or 2 families of 2, or a family of 3 and a family of 1.

There was only a total of 8 kids there at the time. Do you think they all sat at the same table? Of course not, and I wouldn’t expect them to. Let ‘em spread out. That didn’t bother me, but here’s where my first example begins: as the other students started arriving, the sitting students would scream their names, as if they hadn’t seen them for like, THREE WHOLE HOURS.

And one by one, these kids were verbally invited to “The Cool Table” at the front of the crowd, leaving the rest of us peasants to feel collectively excluded, like some old people at the back of that rock show you like s’damn much.

Honestly, I didn’t even know that “Cool” shit still existed. I mean, I had my suspicions, but this was weird. How is it The Cool Table, if everyone is sitting at it? Wouldn’t that just be A Table?

And what about the fact that MY table WASN’T The Cool Table?! I mean, my family is hysterically funny, and we have THE BEST dinner time conversations. If our table isn’t The Cool Table, then I don’t want to be cool, I guess, and it’s my choice, not because they said I wasn’t.

The Cool Kids started taking the chairs from the other tables, while those people were up at the buffet, WHICH WAS AMAZING. The buffet, I mean, not the stealing of chairs. That was pretty annoying, because they took 6 of the chairs from our table while we were gone, and we had to steal them from other jerks from Less-Cool-But-Still-Pretty-Cool tables.

It wasn’t my proudest moment, but I have principles, and I was not about to eat a whole plate of delicious meatballs while standing up. Those kids thought I wouldn’t be that lazy, but they obviously underestimated me.

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Well, my kids don’t do that stuff.” And I would say to you: shutup and stop lying to yourself. Just because your kids aren’t doing these particular things, doesn’t mean they aren’t acting like little shitheads when you’re not around, and they’re allowed to be “cool.”

Believe me, they’re doing just that. And they’re good at it. No matter how great you think your kid is, I guarantee there is someone whose nerves they love to work on. Maybe it’s you. Who knows.

Some people like to say, “When you were their age, you did that too,” and to some extent, they’d be right, but I wasn’t even remotely excited about anything my peers were doing in the 90s, so they’re also kinda wrong. I mean, I remember being annoying, but everyone is. Everyone is annoying, including your kid, remember?

But there’s a difference between being annoying, and being an experience that everyone has to live through. So maybe yours is not screaming at the top of their lungs, to welcome a peer to the table in the most extravagant way possible. Maybe they’re the peer that is being showered with those feelings, making them believe they are extra special, just like everyone else who walked in.
Maybe yours is wildly unpopular, and would die to feel the acceptance that others so freely give away. Maybe yours is like me, and realizes that, after you graduate high school, shit changes. Prom King and Homecoming Queen don’t translate well on a resume, and certainly not when it comes to keeping yourself alive.

My high school experience was full of days that I swore I had wished away hard enough, but seemed to drag on forever. Every day was a struggle, in and out of school, and graduation day seemed like an eternity in the future, to the point where I couldn’t even decide what that would look like. I just knew high school was not what I thought life would be like. So my master plan was to laugh through as much of the bullshit as I could, which as it turns out, is a lot.

And as soon as I graduated, life got real, and that shit wasn’t pretty.

I was back at the starting line of life, with everyone else, even the popular kids, and the century was turning. The next generation was already being born, and technology was changing the way we perceived each other (and life).

Like many of my classmates, I became a parent, and then the internet taught us how to be the right kind of parent, and we took those tips (sometimes from people who weren’t parents, and had no education on the topic) and we ran with them.

We kept checking back, to make sure we were doing what everyone else was doing, and NOT doing what everyone else thought was wrong. It changes all the time. One day spaghetti is the best thing for kids, and the next day, it causes brain death. We could no longer afford to make the mistake of not being in-the-know.

Spaghetti doesn’t cause brain death, so if you’re not one of my regular readers… I exaggerate sometimes. Go ahead and feed your kids spaghetti. Or don’t, I mean, I’m not your kid’s parent, so that’s just some advice you can take or leave. I feel like they won’t die without spaghetti, but I’m no doctor.

Innovations in social media and personality branding, as well as unrealistic hyper-active parenting woes, as well as the deadly peer scrutiny and judgment, have all created a monster. Kids are being held to impossible standards by their peers.

They feel the need to change. They feel the need to chase perfection. They feel the need to fit a mold. They feel the need to replicate what others admire. It’s just an image, based on the heavily edited photos and videos they see online and on television and in magazines, and we know this, but girls and guys alike are all susceptible to it.

That’s right. It isn’t just the ladies who are feeling the pressure. It’s everywhere, and if they aren’t adhering to the latest tweet or post from a major influencer (which is a fucking job now), they can expect to be rejected everywhere in their physical life. Guys too.

That’s something I find annoying, and new. I didn’t have to deal with social media when I was in school, so maybe that’s why I think things are so much worse now. Remember, I thought high schoolers were annoying before; there is nothing new about this. The part I find new, is the immediate broadcast of every feeling and reaction people have, before they have the opportunity to process the emotion.

A minor tiff between friends, once easily solved by a little time and space, can easily escalate to someone’s entire life being ruined, because social media allows us to share our feelings (about a person or event) across a wide net of people. The bigger the audience, the more people to share in that view, and the faster that immediate reaction turns into a group opinion.

I’m not sure how I would have made it through high school, if I had to deal with social media. Could I have shut it out, as I claim it to so easily be done? Who knows?

I do know one thing I could have benefited from, that would have changed my whole experience. It’s something that my son’s high school sees as a basic need, and that’s faculty support.

I never had any teachers or counselors or mentors telling me that they believed in me, or saying anything about my potential. I didn’t know I could do it. I didn’t work toward any goals, because nobody ever told me there was anything to work toward. Nobody cared what happened to me, as long as I was doing what I was told. A mentor could have really helped me see what I was capable of achieving.

My son’s high school is full of that type of thing, and it’s so beautiful to see it everywhere. These kids are nice, even where exclusion exists, and the teachers really care about what the students’ lives are like. They invest the time in getting to know them, and they encourage them, and rally around them, not just for the students themselves, but for the ripple of positivity that it causes.

There are infinitely more clubs and organizations, and there is so much talent that is being proudly shown in so many ways. At my school, anyone who showed pride in a talent was quickly torn down, until they didn’t believe in themselves anymore. We had no band. We had no clubs. We had a shitty drama department that was student-led, and poorly supported by the school. The teachers just waited to get out of there each day, and interacted minimally with the students. No interesting courses were offered, and we only had two foreign languages: French and Spanish. When I began foreign language, they only offered French.

My school was full of people who were not informed of their potential. To see my son going to a school that celebrates hard work, is a blessing to me. It doesn’t mean there are no challenges or downsides, but to have peers and faculty believe in you is a powerful thing. I don’t think I ever had that, anywhere.

Looking back, I don’ t know what that would have changed, because I eventually did just stop expecting anyone to believe in me, and learned to believe in myself. 20 years later, I only regret not caring more about myself, or subjecting myself to criticism more. It never occurred to me to care what others think, and I’m sure I wouldn’t feel any differently now, just because it has been 20 years.

I used to hate school, mostly because of the school itself. I have no problems talking negatively about it, because it was a terrible place that didn’t value education, and didn’t recognize the important role of a student/teacher relationship (not that kind). It made me hate the idea of school. It made me look at it as a waste of time.

But time is valuable, and if students are expected to respect teachers’ time, then teachers need to reciprocate that same thing in students. Students should automatically assume that their time is also valuable.

You know what happens when it isn’t? They grow up bitter. They grow up thinking they can’t lean on others. They grow up to write articles about how shitty their high school experience was, and that it taught them how unimportant goals and dreams and confidence and talent and determination and self-actualization were.

I know I’m doing myself a disservice by not going to the 20 year reunion, because of the fact that it’s in my writing wheelhouse to analyze situations like that, and relate them to measurements of time, and break down society’s affect on people I used to know. I should go, even if I can’t roast my classmates. Though, that would absolutely be a deal-maker.

But in the end, my time is just too valuable to waste another minute of it in that school.

1999 and forever!

-jg

Lost In The Supermarket

As much as I hate to admit it, I am what is called a “loyal shopper” at one of our local grocery stores.

It wasn’t planned. It very much happened by accident. I used to shop at the store that was closest to me, not just out of laziness, but also because the chain is local to my state in particular. It was just a grocery store, beyond that. Nothing special.

I had experienced several mishaps in that store, including, but not limited to:

  • burned by oil from rotisserie turkey that hadn’t been closed properly by the employee,
  • served raw chicken from the “Ready To Go” “prepared” foods section, and
  • sold expired meat.

So, mostly meat related, as you can see.

My first instinct, was to buy everything except for meat there, and then just hit the butcher shop for that stuff. That worked out. Briefly.

Long story short (this is short, for me), I ended up switching to a different grocery store altogether, which only turned out to be 1/4 mile further from my house. They do sales and coupons and all that fun stuff, where the old “local” grocery store doesn’t (my understanding is that they now have a loyalty program, which started right after I left – ironic), so I was already interested, because I fuckin’ love saving money. Right away, I began saving money, and it wasn’t two weeks, before I was hooked to the fullest extent of the (grocery) law.

Or so, I thought.

One day, I walk up to the register, and my favorite cashier, “Ginny,” says to me, “Hey, man.” (nods at me) “Do you do the preferred pricing program?”

Guh??? Preferred pricing??

Why on Shaq’s flat green earth, would anyone pay anything other than the preferred price??? It reminded me of that episode of King Of The Hill, where Hank finds out he’s a dumbass for paying the “preferred price,” which actually was sticker price the whole time, and he thought he was getting some sweet deal. Why was I paying sticker price for my asparagus?!

I immediately joined the program that day, and the addiction only got deeper. I imagined myself on Extreme Couponers, talking about ten cases of popsicles that the store needs to go get from their deep freezer out back, so I can pay 14 cents for them. I don’t know why I chose popsicles for that scenario. I don’t even like popsicles. I guess there’s still time to change this part, though I may just go with this.

So, I get this preferred pricing, and each week, I get my “frequently purchased items” at a discount, because it shows that I’m predictable, and they like that. One of my most frequently purchased items is Brown Success Rice (shoutout to Success Rice!) so I usually get a special deal on that. In my case, anything is considered a special deal, as long as it’s less than whatever you’re paying.

I put the rice on the list, and prepare myself to pay the preferred price of $2.48 per box (wooo!) for my tasty brown rice, which I did do. But when I looked at the regular civilian price, it was literally only one cent more. I saved a whopping ONE FUCKING CENT, on something that I’ve purchased TWO OF, every week, for the past 156 weeks. Not seeing how that’s a deal, but I did set the bar pretty low, so technically I got a deal. God damn ass loop holes.

In addition to special pricing, I also get freebies from time to time. Usually, they’re in the form of reward points, which I can then convert into free items, but that’s not too much work for me to do, so I do it. The free items are always something I need. Butter, eggs, shit like that- so even though they’re Store Brand, I get them.

Here’s where things get tricky with the Store Brand.

I get a coupon for Store Brand British Muffins (I think you call them English Muffins). I go to the store to get the Store Brand British Muffins, and I get to the bread aisle, and they only have Store NAME British Muffins. They have Store Brand BAGELS, but no Store Brand British Muffins. Only Store Name. Needless to say, they didn’t honor the exchange, despite the fact that they had given me a coupon for a product they didn’t even sell. Dealio!

Sometimes, they give me a coupon for a free item that is out of stock, even though I get there at 7:00 AM on the first morning of the sale. That’s a fun one. I’ve completely given up on asking for those items, because the store employee generally doesn’t return from that fact-finding mission.

Last weekend, I went to buy spinach pasta, because I like to trick myself into thinking Alfredo won’t undo any nutritional benefits brought on by the pasta. (I can see the green through the sauce, so the veggies are still alive, I feel like.) The package says there’s spinach in it, so that counts.

The store didn’t have my brand (Delverde, if you’re wondering), so I went with a different brand that looked pretty similar, and was delicious, just not as delicious as my normal brand. Out of desperation for spinach-laden pasta, I went with the large, inconvenient box of spinach pasta nests, that dwarfed everything else in the cart. When I got to the register, and unpacked my groceries, the cashier- who sees me in that store every single week– asks me the question I absolutely hate:

“Did you find everything okay today?”

Fuck you. I’m literally here every 168 hours, and never have questions, so unless the store has completely remapped itself, I could probably tell you where to find shit. Don’t ask me that.

Another thing I hate, on a side note, is this shit:

Cashier: “How are you today?”
Me: “I’m doing well. And yourself?”
Cashier: *crickets fucking*

Why can’t you answer me? I am right in front of you, and I have never once been accused of being quiet, so I guess it’s just down to you being a rude-ass, isn’t it? I realize dragging a bottle of dish soap across a laser beam is demanding of your focus, but surely you can spare a second of attention for the consumer?

Let’s get back to this weird checkout shit with the pasta, because I’m not done yet. The cashier picks up the big awkward box, clearly confused as to what it is, and makes an attempt at the Small-Talk-About-What-You-Bought game; another thing I absolutely hate.

“Is spinach pasta really better for you than white pasta?”

I looked at Matt, as if to ask him, “Are we on a hidden camera show?” But we weren’t. We were in real life, and this woman, who is around all the food, all day, every day, was asking me if the addition of a vegetable that is known to have some of the strongest nutritional benefits, would make a food healthier.

I told her, “Not the way I use it!” And then I ran out of there, without my stuff, just for dramatic effect.

The newest frustrating obsession this store has cursed me with, is the Monopoly game. If you’re one of those people who hands me their tokens after you shop, because you don’t play the game, you must take it from me: don’t even start playing. 

Most of the things I win, are either more tokens to play, or free donuts from the bakery. Last year, I won a whopping $5, but the whole thing was so convoluted and annoying, that I didn’t even cash it in. I haven’t thought about what the threshold would be, as far as making something worth the effort to redeem the prize, but it’s probably not in my future, so that can just go unsolved. At this point, the answer is: big.

A relative on my stepmom’s side is one of those extreme couponers, and I see her at the store all the time.  She doesn’t really say hi to me, and tries to avoid me, even though that’s dumb. I guess XC (extreme couponing) really turns you into a turd. While I admire her savvy spending, I can’t help but realize that I also could probably feed my family on $30 per week, if I still thought a diet of Honey Buns and Hot Pockets were a good idea. I’d rather just pay full price for the real food (like Success Rice!)

One of the funniest things I see at the supermarket, is how unorganized some people are. Their cart is all mixed up, and shit is getting squished, and their raw meat is stacked on top of their bread and fruit, and they just pile everything on the conveyor belt. No plan. I’m hard-focused when I shop, complete with a legal pad of every item I need, down to the price I am expecting to pay. Not everyone is like that, and that’s cool. Some people don’t have a list, and don’t care about the brand they’re buying, and don’t have any sort of agenda, so they don’t come unglued on their partner in front of everyone.

Sometimes, when I snap at Matt in the store, other ladies will laugh, and encourage me. Especially older ladies.

Other times, when he’s in the way of someone else, I tell them it’s okay to hit him. Then, when they laugh, I act like I’m not even there with him, and I’m just encouraging random acts of violence.

A lot of times, I just straight-up leave him at the store, if he doesn’t win me something in the skill crane.

(I’m just kidding about some of that. I’m not a mean partner, and I don’t condone violence. I mean, really, it’s Matt’s fault that he’s always in the way.)

One thing I DO like about grocery shopping (all shopping, really) is the part where they want me to give my customer feedback in a survey. Oh, honeychild, I fill out the surveys. I complain. I call the corporate office, if I feel so inclined. But the fact that they’re asking me to give my ideas on what would improve my shopping experience, is a bonus I always expect, but never get tired of.  I think I have my own folder in my store’s customer service inbox.

If stores could do one thing to improve my experience, I would definitely say the number one thing would be, “Shutup.” Just shutup. Just stop talking to me, and offering me things, and asking how my day is. I promise, you don’t want me to engage in some fake-ass conversation, because it’s going to probably look like this:

Cashier: “How are you today?”

Me: “Fuckin’ terrible.”

Cashier: “Oh no! Well I hope it gets better.”

Me: “Yeah, I thought it was going to, but then I got stuck in some dumb conversation, and now, here I am …”

Cashier: *weird nervous laugh*

Me: “Are you laughing at me? I had a step-uncle who used to laugh. He’s dead, now.”

And that’ll be that, because there’s no way any cashier has enough in them, to shut me up once I start down that dark, dark road. Nobody can. Not even my step-uncle.

Improve my shopping experience by letting me bag my own groceries. I want to. I tell the baggers to get lost, when they try to come help me. “I can do it better than you.” I should start telling them other stuff, like, “Yeah, they fired you. Nobody told you? I just heard them talking about it over there. I think one of them was the manager.”

There is one major upside to bagging your own stuff, and that’s knowing that your alcohol won’t be thrown willy-nilly into the bag with your canned vegetables. It also means you won’t be bitterly surprised once you get the groceries to your car, to discover that there are a ton of singular items that are bagged alone. Has no one told them about microplastics? Or about how my Bag Hutch is dangerously close to 12 bags, as it is??

This post has taken me about a week to write, which is not as much sad, as it is pathetic and sad. I go grocery shopping every Saturday, and I have been shopping twice, since I started this. (Matt said to stop it with the self-deprecating posts, because nobody is as tired of my writer’s block crap as I am.) I rolled up to the checkout yesterday, and my favorite cashier (“Ginny” from before) was there. There was nobody in line, so that was a bonus, and when we brought up our cart, she says, “Yes! It’s my favorite couple!”

My motherfuckin’ money skills are bringing her joy. She knows I’m going to save money, and she absolutely loves that shit. She also knows I’m going to tell the bagger to fuck off, so she just ends up telling them how great I am, as soon as they try to “help.” She tells them I could teach them how to do their job better. She’s fully behind my skills and opinions.

I always feel bad for the next person in line behind me when I go to Ginny, because they watch her be so excited and engaged during our interaction, and then she turns to them, and the smile fades from her face, as she says,

“Hi. How are you? Did you find everything you were looking for today?”

 

-jg

This Is All Very Normal

I was grocery shopping the other day, and while I was trapped in line at the checkout counter, I fell into the subsequent trap within the trap, of reading tabloid headlines. When I get to this point, there is only one thing left to do, and that’s to make fun of everything around me.

Those magazines are fuckin’ popular, let me tell you this. In the age of the internet, how the fuck are these magazines still making money off anyone who isn’t a doctor’s office? I see so many people holding them, clutching them, if you will, in their tiny little talons, and you know they just can’t wait to get home and read about what Jennifer Lawrence did at the Oscars. The internet can be a tricky place, so you know “Ok!” magazine is going to give you the straight dope on Kim Kardashian’s seven pink leotards she wore in Miami, and you don’t have to worry about fake news. The only fake thing, will be Kim Kardashian.

One magazine said, in big, bold letters: “CELEBRITIES ARE JUST LIKE US!” The inset photo had Charlize Theron throwing her garbage in a can, and another one showed Bradley Cooper going -gasp!- FOOD SHOPPING, in a pair of sweatpants … just like us.

These are things I do. How in the world can a celebrity do them too?! I was under the impression that skills were delegated to people, at birth, based on their future ability. Some people are garbage men, some people are movie stars. Never both. Time isn’t unlimited, and you can’t shop for your own food, if you have scripts to read!

I saw Tootie from The Facts of Life at an airport in Atlanta, once. She was flying coach. Just like us (unless you’re too fancy for this rant, in which case, what the fuck are you doing here, if not to discover me!?)

“Celebrities are just like us! They throw up that bad-choice Chinese food out the car window, on the freeway!”

I’ve met a bunch of celebrities, and I’m not name dropping any other ones, besides my near-encounter with Tootie. I will say, however, that I have seen some of them doing some incredibly normal shit. I went back to meet a music group that I love, and they were way too cool to come say hi to a fan. We were literally the only two people out there, and they sent one guy out to shake our hands, while the rest of them said “fuckit.” That’s a pretty average thing to do, I think. Some people just don’t even come out and tell you that their friends couldn’t stand the thought of getting sucked into a conversation with you. That might classify this as going above and beyond, but I’d say it’s more of an “above OR beyond” situation. I wonder how they decided which of the 7 of them would come out and break the news that we weren’t gonna burn a doob together? I bet it was a rock, scissors, paper shootout, because that’s totally what normal people do, and what celebrities would do, when they’re being just like us.

Another time that I met famous people, it was at a comedy show that I hauled ass for hundreds of miles to see. I did some pretty uncharacteristic things in those moments, but it was totally worth it. One of my comedy idols told me I was the coolest person in that crowd, so I had to appreciate not only his honesty, but his absolute accuracy in that truthful statement. He doesn’t say that to every fan, I’m sure of it. He was connecting with me on that normal, regular person level. I can tell when celebrities are schmoozing, and when they’re being just like us. This was definitely the latter.

I went to a festival, where the celebrity in question left the show right after their set. They literally only showed up to perform, get paid, and get the fuck out of there before the midnight rave in the forest started spilling over into the main stage. I probably would’ve done that, too. And some celebrities wouldn’t do that, but this one did. It took me by surprise, how normal it all was.

I saw a celebrity on TV, walking their dog. I was like, “What?!” Shouldn’t a celebrity have a dog walker?? How are they going to influence people, if they’re out doing things like walking? I know, as soon as I get famous, the first thing I’m buying is a dog walker, and I’ll never take part in peasant activities such as poop-scooping or jogging, ever again. I won’t even waste time playing with them. Heck, I might not even give them their own Instagram account!

“Celebrities are just like us! They buy their kids a car when they turn 16!”

Aside from the fact that celebrity kids don’t even know how to drive, I don’t know if they’d want to, unless they had to. You certainly could drive while dicking around on your phone, but that would be stupid, because why the hell would you want that kind of distraction from your phone?! They ride with Mom and Dad, like normal people (us), to the Cartier store.

Do you think celebrities are getting in fights with their kids, about how to plunge the toilet effectively, so it doesn’t overflow? I feel like they’re not. Not when there’s always the option of hiring someone to deal with that whole bathroom action for you, but I’m way too broke for that. I might be able to afford someone to just yell at my kids, but I can just do that for free.

“Celebrities are just like us! They yell at their kids in public, and say they’re not afraid to look like an asshole in front of everyone in the restaurant!”

I think if a celebrity saw some of the “normal” things in my life, they might try harder to stay famous. My new car just made it through its first winter, and it now rides like a horse-drawn carriage on a cobblestone street. And that’s AFTER getting it double-checked by my mechanic, AND ALSO having the tires rotated and balanced. This is just my life, now. It’s normal to feel like your vehicle is playing tricks on you. James Dean was a celebrity, and look at his car. Mine’s normal.

So, if celebrities are just like us, could we then also assume that the inverse is true? Are we just like celebrities??

“People are just like celebrities! They wake up at 4:00 AM, to get in full hair and face, and Vaseline their teeth to shine and sparkle, while scotch tape holds their eyes open, and they suck in their gut, while flashbulbs send them directly to temporary blindness!”

I saw someone do some celebrity shit, once. She was sitting in her car, taking some pretty dressed up photos of herself. She kept changing the light in the car, and adjusting the mirrors and windows and her seat and her hair, and she touched up her makeup, and then ran the fuckin’ gamut of poses. She got the southern light, and the western light, and the northern lights. At one point, the inside of the car was glowing. I think it was the Black Hole filter, which is so easy to click on, accidentally. It’s right next to the Black Culture Appropriation filter, on most devices.

I saw a guy at the ice cream place we go to, and he was definitely on some kind of hidden camera show that we didn’t get to know about. I can sense when a celebrity is around, and I think he was it! His outfit was magically delicious, first of all, in a way which doesn’t happen much with us non-celebrity folk. The outfit, I need to stop talking about, because I want to move onto the ice cream. This guy ordered a Fluffernutter Parfait. He talked endlessly about college football, and then steps up to order a Fluffernutter parfait, which I have to guess is probably mostly marshmallow fluff. Did that guy not eat enough Fluffernutter sandwiches as a child, or at least as a college student, that he just had to go to a famous ice cream stand, and order the fuckin’ chicken nuggets of ice cream?? Only a celebrity could be dazzled by such a juxtaposition of novelties, as college football, fashion, and a Fluffernutter parfait. Not in my town, Hollywood.

Perhaps, one day, I’ll be a celebrity. And when I am, I’m going to revisit this article, and I’ll write a new one, where I’m like, “I’m just like I used to be.” Only, more people will be reading those words than now, and most of those people won’t actually have a connection to the words, but they’ll probably act like they do. That’s the normal way. The normal way, also, is to swear you won’t change. So, I’m already living my truth.

What if celebrities started being so much like us, that we didn’t know how to tell the difference? Maybe Luke Wilson is my brother (he is), and I just didn’t know it (I did)? Maybe my neighbor is Larry The Cable Guy, and all the signs are obvious? I’ve confused a lot of people for Gary Busey, now that I think about it. Is this The Matrix??? Oh no, I think I incepted too far …

_EOF_

Vacation, By Accident

I’m taking a break from writing, which was completely unintentional. I’m at such a loss for writing inspiration right now, because I’ve been doing this for so long, and I still feel like I’m writing only for myself. If I’m writing for myself, there really is no reason to commit anything to page, because I probably will never find the time to read it again.

Matt says not to give up, ever, and I can see why he would say that, but you can’t pull motivation out of thin air, and there isn’t exactly a ton of drive for me to write anything. I didn’t even know how to word that first paragraph, and found myself getting distracted by Matt’s singing. That’s how I know I can’t write.

When I started this blog, I had tons of shit to say, and now I feel like it doesn’t really matter what I say, because nobody is actually listening. I’ll never be paid to write, and even the people who used to say they loved my writing have stopped reading. So the inspiration is lacking, and thereby, I see no reason to write.

I think back to some of my old posts, and I am thrilled with how funny and insightful some of them are, and it doesn’t even seem like I wrote them. I’m an empty well of ideas, where I was once overflowing with thoughts and philosophies and perceptions. Those old posts were so beautifully written, that I would read them over and over, but very few people have even read them once. Why keep writing?

If you haven’t read my old stuff, here are some of my favorites. I figure, if I can’t entertain you at this time, I may as well entertain you from the past.

Feel free to share, if you enjoy them.

The Feverish Brain

“Why Now?” revisited

Hey! Stop Blowing Me (off)

Manic Depression Is A Frustrating Mess

I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!

Mothers’ Day… Just ONE?!

Last Day of School 2017

Covfefe

Why Women’s Empowerment Is Important To Me

Vacation… Nothing Like What I Wanted

WOMAN…Whoa, Man…

Can I Help, Or Be Lazy?

There’s some love, some satire, some truth, some messages, and some ranting. I hope you enjoy it all, and I hope to see you soon.

-jg

Too Many Pies (Not Enough Fingers)

It has been quite awhile since my last post, which has been driving me batty with anxiety, so I hope you’re happy.

The truth is, I’ve been extremely busy with all kinds of things I can’t tell you about now, but mostly it’s because I’ve been working. I know it’s shocking to think that I don’t make a living off my amazing writing, but I do have a day job, and with the opportunity to work as many hours as I fucking feel like, I tend to push myself.

So part of it is work, and part of it is recovering from working too hard, and a lot of it is also self-medicating to get through said work. I love my day job, though it’s sometimes way more than I can handle, but at least I am my own boss, so I can’t complain that much. Other than the complaining I’ve already done, of course.

Besides my day job, I’ve been working on a show that I’m writing, and I can’t get my mind off of it. It’s consuming me. Every time I stop thinking about whatever task I’m doing, a new idea pops into my head, and I just feel this smile start creeping up on my face, and I just know I have to get to a computer or some note taking app, or whatever, because those little hand held voice recorder things would look super fuckin’ weird these days.

Anyway, I still love writing. I still have the passion to entertain you, and educate you, and broaden your very horizons, but I just have too many things going on at the moment, and I can’t write 1,200-2,500 words that don’t have to do with my show. I’ve tried. Look. I’m trying now.

I did start a piece about a topic that I’ve chatted on before (sports) but I just felt like it would’ve taken my brain in a completely different direction than where I need it to be, so that’s going to be coming soon. If you hate big corporations, and you think they have too big of a hand in sports, that’s something you’ll want to read. I’m trying to make it funny, but I think it’s more of a satirical shredding of a widely accepted idea, than a string of jokes. It’ll be totally different from everything else I do …

That was sarcasm. I was rolling my eyes, but you couldn’t see me.

I mentioned a few years ago on social media, that I was working on a web show with Matt. This is not that. The web show is still being filmed all the time, and we have several episodes that badly need to be edited. That is the bottleneck stage for us, currently. Once we get over that hurdle, and all the editing is done, the shows will be released. Until then, I’ll continue to start projects and then leave them undone.

This show I’m currently writing, is basically writing itself. It’s a series, and I’m finding myself struggling to pack all of these brilliant ideas into 20 episodes, but there’s just way too much. And the more I think of ideas, the more I think of ways to expand those ideas. I am very excited about this, because it’s nothing like anything that’s out there right now, and I’m going to work my ass off to pitch it.

Before I can pitch it, I need to organize it, and that’s been a fun process. It’s like doing a Rubik’s Cube, and every time you turn a row, ten more rows pop up out of it, and you win a prize, and you become stronger and faster. It’s addicting. Hence, this has taken both of my front burners, for the time being.

I promise to have something special for you sweet readers soon. This article does nothing to really ensure that great things are coming, so I guess you’ll just have to trust me.

-jg

Concatenation Nation

cause and effect. intent vs action. will vs outcome.

Just because you have a good heart about something, doesn’t mean you can project that positivity in any way upon what comes next. (In fact, Word doesn’t even recognize the word positivity at all, so there’s that). There are countless examples of this type of cause and effect throughout history. I don’t have to name them specifically, I’ll leave that to you. But think of the pain, loss, betrayal, and chaos imparted in myriad ways, all riding on the tail of a comet made of altruism and benevolence.

How can we know when our well-mannered actions are going to be offensive? By waiting for the effect? Does that teach us anything? Make us more knowledgeable on how misconstrued intent can make us look like an asshole? Rarely, do people realize that you can’t ever know how someone will react to what you have said or done, until it has transpired. And at that point, it doesn’t matter how honestly you can claim ignorance or sympathy. What’s said is said, and what’s done is done, and you get to watch your intentions get filtered through that person’s brain, through their emotions, and then morph into whatever follows. You did that, good or bad. That was you.

I sound like Mary Poppins. I believe she also said, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” as she poured medicine down the throats of freckled British kids who just didn’t want to clean their fuckin room. Did she think that old school cough medicine was going to get them cleaning, or get them more obedient? I think about what I know about cough medicine, which is A LOT, and then I think about when Mary Poppins was supposed to have taken place, and I know that cough syrup was loaded with the good shit. Way to go, Mary Poppins, you pusher.

What’s that you say? That’s a bible quote (it’s not a bible quote) and you’re not religious, so it doesn’t relate to you? Well maybe you’re a woman or man of science? Newton’s Third Law states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” I always wondered why it had to be an opposite reaction (ex: why can’t a good intention end in a good reaction, and vice versa?) and, how can you measure the reaction as being equal or unequal? What is the quantifier? I know, I know, forces come in pairs, blah blah blah. I want to see the force.

Show me the forrrrrce!!!

Basically, if you do something, something will happen. What they don’t tell you is, when you do nothingstuff can still happen. I’ve tried it. I just stayed at home for three days, and then two days later, my boss said, “hey, don’t come in on Monday” like I even was gonna.

Also, I remember I didn’t pay my phone bill once, and the shit got shut off. You want to know a convenient time to have your phone turned off? Pretty much any, as far as I’m concerned, but when this example happened, I wasn’t quite in that mind set. I am now, and now I just wish I could afford the hassle of living without my phone. One day, the internet will go bye-bye, and we’ll be alright again. It’s just a matter of taking the choice away. I’ll be okay with that.

But you know what’s going to happen before the internet goes bye-bye? A whole mess of shit. And actions and reactions, and causes and effects are all going to be broadcast to the world, for all to see, and then you can all have your own reactions to that, and it’ll just keep grinding on that way, and oh yes, it will be televised.

The decline, that is.

The decline that was brought on by the good intentions of convenience. The convenience of the internet makes us think we need it, because it introduces micro-conveniences, one by one, until you have a whole pile of conveniences stacked up, all interwoven together, and it keeps you from leaving. It’s like strapping yourself down with bungee cords, until you can’t move. Sure, with one or two or three bungee cords, you could probably still get away. But once you have ten or fifteen of those fuckers, you’re probably not going anywhere. That’s the internet. Don’t fight it.

Or, do fight it. We’ll all watch it, streaming live on the internet. Hell, there’s a whole demographic of folks out there, who would pay to see that. There’s money to be made in everything, including the horrific effects of good intentions.

Good intentions such as wrestling. I mean, the people need to be entertained, don’t they? It’s the will of the people to be entertained, and the line of willing entertainers is not only neverending, it’s highly competitive. Why not let them fight it out? We like watching a fight, don’t we? It’s entertaining. Those are some good-ass intentions. 

One of my favorite ways to recognize cause and effect, comes in the form of expressing appreciation. I was raised to defy the value of people as anything but pieces of shit that didn’t matter. My father did a terrible job of teaching me how to behave around people, and he was way too strict to allow school dances or games, sleepovers, parties, school clubs, or trips to the movies or dinner with friends. He did a wonderful job, on the other hand, of teaching me to hate everybody, and to search for the fault in others; preferably the fatal flaw that could eventually be used to destroy them if I felt so inclined. I was not asocial, but quite literally anti-social, meaning I was against people… period.

As I’ve gotten older the effects of my father’s influence on me have worn off, and as a result, I have discovered what kind of person I am. I reflect on times when I brought people (who cared about me) to tears, because I didn’t fully realize they were a person – just like me. I feel shame and embarrassment when I think of how cruel I was to others, and so, I have worked consistently (though not completely) to be a better person.

People often get lost in their own shortcomings, and their biggest failure is the failure to recognize when they’ve done something good. But the flip side of that coin is, the lack of positive reinforcement. When you feel confident about something, and everyone’s reaction is underwhelming or non-existent, it becomes difficult to feel inspired to persevere.

I try to have the reverse effect on people, and overwhelm them with positive reaction to their work. Of course, no matter how hard I try to be friendly and eloquent, it’s just gonna come off as creepy sometimes. For example: I am not above writing an email to someone, to let them know they have affected me in some way, whether moving me to tears with a musical piece, or catching my eye with a photograph they’ve taken. A poem, or a piece of philosophy. An act of kindness I witnessed. And most of the time, these people don’t know me. They’re just getting a message from a complete stranger, about something they may not have put much thought into. I think celebrities get this all the time, just for being famous. Why should a regular person feel strange about getting an unsolicited Attaboy from me? I’m pretty great. And safe. Believe me, I don’t want to come kidnap you. I’m way too lazy for that.

But I will gladly freak out 100,000 people (give or take), if I make one person feel like they’ve made a positive ripple in the world. People need to know those moments exist. They need to feel like their presence on this planet is making a difference. There are plenty of opportunities that people will jump at ferociously, to point out the ways you’re fucking up. I say, as long as Participation trophies are a thing, surely we can spare a few words to let someone know they didn’t fuck up. This action rarely results in someone feeling worse about themselves, I promise.

I saw a young man give a speech about diversity at a rally a few months ago, and even before hearing that he was an aspiring journalist (yesssss), I was really feeling the connection to his speech. He spoke about the things that made him stand out, some of which I share, as if they were badges of honor in a world that doesn’t recognize that kind of honor. That kid is going into a field that will eat him alive, and he couldn’t have looked more confident. 

On another fairly recent occasion, I watched a young lady perform as Rizzo in Grease, and her rendition of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was so emotionally charged, that it brought tears to my eyes. I saw it three times, and I cried each time. She was it. I bet that wasn’t an easy thing, and she was next level. I said, “giiiirrrrlllll…”

There’s an anchor on the morning news, who is consistent as hell  with her impressive wardrobe, and every day, I would see her and say, “look at that dress!” This woman had a fashion sense that I found to be more sophisticated and pleasing to the eye, than most people in our area could ever dream of. She most likely put a lot of thought into her attire, and I felt she deserved to hear some positive feedback on her style. So I sent her an email. (Most of my surprise appreciation comes in the form of something they can re-read, and feel good about more than once.) I don’t watch TV anymore, but she still wows ’em, I bet.

None of those people had any idea that I felt such a connection to what they were doing, and very likely (and understandably) were freaked out by my sudden praise. But it didn’t deter me one bit. Being freaked out is just another form of surprise, which I told you I was doing to people.

I wrote an email to my 3rd grade teacher, last year, because I just had to apologize for being such a little fucking shit when I first moved there. He was the first teacher I had in that school system, and even though he had a reputation for being a hard-ass curmudgeon, I still had no problem testing his patience (he failed). I was constantly disruptive: telling jokes, talking back to authority, and aggressively daydreaming to lure him into the idea that I wasn’t paying attention, only to “snap out of it” in time to answer his question correctly. Other students weren’t yet at the level I was, and I knew that, so I was also a show-off.

I was a dick. Like I was saying before.

So, I wrote the teacher an email to apologize, and to let him know that I appreciated that he had dedicated his life to educating children, and that surrounding yourself with 200 kids every day is a ding-dong move, if you value your sanity at all. I think he already knew that part, though. That age (3rd grade) is terrible, especially for boys. They have endless energy, and they want to scream it in your face, so you know about said energy at all times. That’s also the age where kids want to be a dick for no reason, and I’m trying to tell you that I was no different.

I’m different, now. I’m not a little shithead anymore. I’m way fuckin taller.

I appreciate when things look nice, when they smell nice, when things work out smoothly, when people are polite, when people are genuine, when something sounds pleasant, when someone has gone out of their way, when my time is not wasted, when I know I’ve done the right thing. I think recognizing these things has caused me to not be the person I used to be. I value kindness and simple things, even when it makes me look like an old corny person that I used to think was lame (and now know, isn’t).

I no longer feel the need to make myself look attractive, and rarely look closely at myself in a mirror. There’s no reason not to, but there’s no real reason to. It is not so important what I look like; I’m just happy my body is cooperative from day to day. Even that isn’t guaranteed, but as long as I can impart my will on the working parts to compensate for the broken parts, there’s not really anything wrong, is there?

I no longer strive to get the upper hand on people, or make myself look “good” by making someone else look bad. That competitive nature was hammered home in my childhood, and I used to delight in my victory being a lone one. This has caused me to try to understand where people are coming from, and think about what I could do to help, if anything at all. Sometimes, it’s nothing. Sometimes, it’s nothing to me, but everything to them.

I no longer value getting things handed to me easily. Not that I’ve ever had anything handed to me, but I no longer wish for that. Hard work has been more of a reward than anything else has been. I don’t think about taking away from someone else, to be able to have something they don’t have, because things aren’t important to me.

People are important to me.

Time is important to me.

Those are the two things which change us throughout life, and shape who we are. And once either is gone, you don’t get them back. Appreciate somebody, before it’s too late to tell them. Far too often, people think of what they should have said, after they can’t say anything. Don’t wait for that moment. Make the Aha Moment happen now. Cause some effect. Ripple that shit.

-jg

P.S. please don’t go stalking people, and sending weird messages. That’s not the kind of surprises I was talking about. I can’t express enough, that you have to choose how you approach people. Your intentions may be innocent, but there are more factors than just that. Consider how that person is going to receive your praise. I have changed my outlook to catch the things that evoke true emotion, and then present my appreciation in a safe way. Just to be clear.

 

 

 

Your Chocolates Would Have Been Discounted, Eventually.

You think you’re soooo special, don’t you? Just like everybody else. How can everyone be special, if they’re all doing the same thing? Of course, I’m referring to my least favorite annual tradition: Valentine’s Day, AKA Love Day.

This particular greeting card “holiday” has been long hated by me, ever since I was a smart-ass kid with no Valentine cards in my (expertly crafted) Valentine box. I hated it when I was in my first relationship in my teens, and I hate it as a 38 year-old woman in a committed partnership. To betray myself every year, I graciously receive chocolates from people who love me, and I eat them (the chocolates, not the people), and it’s a tradition I plan to uphold for decades to come.

But I won’t spend my money on anything that is marketed toward love in any way, on or around February 14th. Love is such a huge part of consumerism in this country, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the current generation of “First Loves” equates love directly with money spent. I have seen this be the case in many individual relationships (and fucked up people who are happy to admit it) and the more DeBeers and Hallmark and Victoria’s Secret make you think “more money = more love”, the more difficult it will become to find those remaining lost souls who still believe in true love, even without money.

I know, I’m just making shit up.

Basically, corporate America wants you to spend your money, and they have plans to go for the jugular when it comes to casting aspersions on your relationship.

Didn’t you get her chocolates and flowers the first year you were together?

It’s been a whole month and a half since Christmas… it’s time for the measurement of how much you love her.

How much do you really love your wife???

It’s usually aimed at the dudes, when it comes to the buying of chocolates and flowers and stuffed animals and jewelry, but it doesn’t work that way for the ladies. When you’re a woman, the gift for your partner is actually something that you buy for you to wear, for them.

I know you ain’t lost. The ladies are expected to go pick out some slutty lingerie, to display upon themselves as the present to their companion. That’s the gift. The woman’s body is the thing, and the lingerie is the wrapping paper that you are secretly trying on while she’s at work. Do what you want. Some people like to keep the gift box for future use, and you’re clearly no different.

I always thought it was super strange, to be someone’s gift, as an object for them to use. It has made me shudder since before I ever even had sex, and it makes me feel like a prude for not understanding the “logic” behind the gesture since being sexually active. It just feels weird. I don’t like to feel like I have only one specific purpose, and I don’t like to be vulnerable to someone’s desires, especially ones I may not have correctly anticipated.

Here’s your present! It’s my body! You’re in control of my movements and choices, now.

I am not sure my body would be a good gift like that. It has a few issues. I’d have to get some slick fuckin gift wrap for that present, and it still wouldn’t be exciting. Mine would be more like this:

Surprise! Yeah, I know you look shocked. This is your present! My body! Good luck.

Speaking of giving your body to your lover for Valentine’s Day, AND speaking of chocolates… there is apparently this dude named Magnus, who will take a mold of your asshole (outer portion only, I think. I don’t know for sure how far you can take it, with the right kind of money AKA love), and then he makes chocolates out of the casting of your sphincter.

For you to eat.

This Valentine’s Day, tell that special someone, “Eat My Ass.”

I should mention that he typically has them made in the shape of the butthole model they used for the prototype, but you can have special sessions in his apartment if you want. That’s not something I’m going to pay for. If I’m going to be ass-up in some strange dude’s apartment, I’d better be the one getting paid.

So the chocolates look strangely real. They might not freak you out, but I think if they were like, chocolate with any sort of liquid center, that would be a wrap for me. A cordial cherry would have me running for the hills, after the winter I’ve had. Okay, it’s not my aim to ruin chocolates for you, so picture one of those fancy soaps that are all delicate and detailed in their shaping. Molding can work that same way. They look a bit like those Chocolate Orange slices, really, but it’s supposedly a tight pucker that makes them look suh damn good.

Anyway, since I’m already giving a major shoutout, I may as well link his site www.edibleanus.com and yes, that’s real. He apparently didn’t want to leave any mysteries as to what he sells (I understand he goes through authorized sellers, so you might be redirected to lovehoney.co.uk; be prepared for that). As you can see, I wasn’t joking about the Chocolate Orange slices. Mind you, if you order from the website, you will be eating someone else’s starfish. Just to be clear.

Completely changing the subject altogether, there is a tradition in Japan (just stick with me, here) that began in the mid 1950s, and it’s a Feb 14 day just like Valentine’s. Except for a few things.

So, it starts on our traditional Valentine’s Day, Feb 14th, when women are forced/pressured/made to buy gifts and chocolates -called giri choco, or obligation chocolate– for the men they fucking work with. Not just guys they’re dating, or guys they can actually tolerate, but regular dickheads at work. It’s such an obligation, that they have extra shitty “ultra-obligation chocolate” called cho giri choco, which is reserved for the extra shitty coworkers you absolutely can’t stand. It’s still chocolate; just lower quality.

It gets worse. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention the part where the men do anything for that whole entire day, while the women of the company come in to work, and lay candy at their feet before continuing to work for less money. That’s because men “can’t” return the favor until a full motherfucking month later, on March 14. We’ll talk more about that in a second. I want to talk more about this workplace chocolate thing.

If I had to give chocolates to the males at my workplace, you’d better believe there would be some homemade ipecac chocolates being given, and subsequently eaten, and very immediately barfed up. No one would ever know I was the culprit, because of their sexist rules about every guy getting candy from every female. They’d have to shut that shit down, and I’d be a hero. Because that’s how I feel about forced relationships with coworkers, whether male or female. You don’t get my candy just because you’re a dude. Of course that was a brainchild of the 1950s!

And while we’re on the topic of gender, I’d like to know how the Japanese tradition addresses the issue of transgender, gay, and asexual people. Women are forced to give chocolate to men, regardless of their relation to them, and then a month later, the men have their gyaku choco, or reverse chocolate. And no, it’s not a promise to all women that there will be chocolate in their future.

No no. The men are forced to give chocolate to females, yes, but ONLY the ones they’re interested in dating (or are already with).

Let that one soak in.

The men get a choice, which… bully for you, men. At least you don’t have to give everyone the wrong idea that you’re interested in them. But what if you want to give chocolate to someone of your own gender? Can you? Are you then allowed to not give any chocolate at all on gyaku choco day? And how does the female-led choco-shower on giri choco day make you feel? You feel dirty, don’t you?

Speaking of dirty, Japan also has this “spa resort” where you can soak in steaming chocolate water. Just like you always wanted, you dirty girl.

When I was researching this asshat chocolate thing, I was pleased to see that a chocolate company had recently campaigned for women to boycott Black Thunder, which is apparently a popular candy, and not a porn star. How could I have known that? Word on the street is, they want the ladies to just start buying the chocolate for themselves, instead of the usual repayment to men for all the help they have given us women all year, because women just need saving, and men are the only ones who can save us.

I like the idea of the boycott. Anything that involves more chocolate for myself, I’m on board with.

The part that made me laugh, was their reasoning behind the campaign. It seemed perfectly fine in its obvious message to buy ourselves some chocolate, but they couldn’t leave it alone. The company took out full-page ads, because they so badly wanted to make sure everyone knew that “Valentine’s Day is a day when people convey their true feelings, not coordinate relationships at work.”

Well, we almost had it. I just can’t get behind the idea that people save their “true feelings” for one day out of 365, and either don’t show any feelings at all, or just show false feelings for the rest of the time. Or, most of the time. It did say “a day,” to be fair.

They convey their true feelings, not coordinate relationships at work! Workplace relationships are for other days of the year. Not this sacred one that is about love, and nothing else! Not revenue, not profit, not consumerism and demographics, not manipulation of the economy, and definitely not a weird mind trick being played on society. Just love.

So the ladies are buying themselves the chocolate at full price, and eating it in front of their coworkers who don’t get shit. Good. What the fuck is the deal with women being pressured to please the men they work with, so the guys can pick and choose which women are worthy? That’s fucked up. I’ve worked with some assholes, and I most definitely wouldn’t spend my money or my time, in trying to please them. I wouldn’t even buy them discounted chocolates at the end of the month. Not even if they were 90% off. I’d still just eat them, because to me, chocolates never go bad.

Imagine even having to do that. Imagine all the years women were stuck having to go out to the store to get candy, while thinking about all the dickheads they work with, and bring it back to their homes, while thinking about all the dickheads they work with, just knowing that they have to include every. single. one. Even the abusive ones, the ones that are on a constant ignorant power trip, the ones who have ten fingers to point at everyone else who is to blame for everything, the ones who go out of their way to embarrass you, and harass you, and make your life a living hell, just because they’re a natural piece of shit. And you have to walk up to them the next day, with the candy, and probably a smile, and you give them the fuckin candy, and you go back to doing your job, because that’s the real reason you’re even there to begin with.

And they may return the favor, a month later. But only if you’re worth boning, of course.

This Valentine’s Day, if I’m going to be around a bunch of assholes, they’d better be made of (or holding) expensive chocolate.

-jg

Are You Ready For Some Football (fields)??!

Americans love football. This is no secret. We spend TONS of money on football merchandise, paid streaming services, game tickets, gambling (the various methods would astound you), ugly interior decorating choices, and old fashioned general idolization of football teams and players. That dollar amount is only rising each year, and it makes me wonder how our ecominny can be so bad, when we’ve clearly got that dizzough to spizzend.

FIFTEEN BILLION DOLLARS.

That’s how much was spent on super bowl weekend last year. That’s a $6 BILLION increase over the course of the previous 10 years. Money that we claim to need, but are willing to throw away, for the sake of entertainment. That’s not to say I don’t have my share of frivolous spending, but FIFTEEN BILLION DOLLARS. 

Just to give you a little bit of a basis for comparison, I’ll give you some examples of what $15B could otherwise pay for (as referenced in an article I read, regarding the $15B requested for our dumb president’s Dumb Wall of Manliness and Big Dick Swinging Power):

  • 7,500 miles of new roads (from New York to Seattle, two and a half times). Are we in the early 1900s? Do we have to still negotiate paving some fucking roads to drive on?
  • 388,600 college degrees (for 4-year students). I mean, or we could just relieve student loan debt, and stimulate the shit outta this economy. That’s something else, though.
  • 21,500 families of 4, eating $180 in groceries per week, for 75 years. As much as I would love to see this as a benefit, I can’t help being torn over the fact that we have a disgusting amount of food waste in the US each year, and more food certainly can’t be our solution.
  • 150,000,000 ounces (or nearly 5 tons) of dank bud from my medicine man. It should go without saying that I won’t disclose his name, but rest assured, we get the diggity-dankest cannabis there is. We’re only known for a few things here, other than the Patriots, and we’re just as successful in the flower field as we are on the football field.
  • 10 years of police force in Chicago, or roughly 3 years in New York. Of course, this could also buy 5 billion boxes of hot cocoa, which would be much more valuable to our current president.
  • 45 new VA (veterans’) hospitals. Then again, the government would have to start giving a fuck about veterans first, and we know that’s not something, so that will never happen.
  • 27 years of Planned Parenthood funding. Hahahahaha, oh man, we must have entered the “jokes” section of this list, because that was a good one.

Oh, here’s something that Americans can get behind: $15B would pay for 12 Big Macs for every American!

As stupid as that whole thing sounds, it’s not even what I consider to be the dumbest part. The most embarrassingly “oh shit, I’m the same species as them” moment I can think of, is when someone tells you the length of something… and then follows it up with “That’s equivalent to the length of thirteen football fields!”

Kah?

Why are we turning things into football measurements, as if they’re a baby that’s 72 months old?

First of all, can you even picture in your mind what thirteen football fields looks like?? I’m pretty sure you can’t, because even taking into consideration that it’s an abstract idea, you’re not going to come back with, “Oh, wow, that does end up being quite long; I see what you mean about the extreme length of that mass grave you were talking about, now that you’ve put it into a perspective I can understand.”

And that comparison is thrown around, willy nilly, in mathematics, science, and a host of other statistics – AKA, things we should be taking seriously. And while we’re on the topic of official scientific methods and terminology, I’d like to sidetrack, and demand to know who gets to say if the length of the end zones even counts, when considering the length of “a football field”? Why is it even a question? The end zone is technically a part of the field, as it aids directly in the scoring of points. Big part of the game, right there.

Or maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know the specifics, and I secretly don’t give a shit. My point is, why are we perpetuating this cycle by dumbing things down, putting them into terms that “the lay-person” can understand? Why can’t the lay-person just try to think a little bit harder about what is being explained to them, instead of expecting that it will be turned into a football analogy later on?

Seems reasonable enough, but this is America: Land of the Foot, Home of the Ball, and sports trump everything else. We have to cater to the masses (them asses) with our comparisons, and Americans overwhelmingly want to use football fields as the standard of measurement. America is so big, it’s 47,168 football fields wide, from coast to coast! It would take 80 of us, lining up our Big Macs from end to end, to make up a football field, and another 16 of us in the end zones! That’s a lot of people on our team!

Our team.

That’s another thing I can’t fuckin’ stand, and I hear it every single time someone talks about football (which, around here, is the Patriots, because we’re in New England, and we only have one football team for all of us, but it’s the only one that matters, isn’t it buddy? Sidebar: this thought is much funnier, when read in the voice of the slack-jawed turds that live around here). They want to tell you who “we’re” playing this week, and what “we” have to do to reach “our” goal, and who “we” have that’s strong, and how far “we’re” gonna go!

Stop it. You’re not part of the team. You’re part of the fanbase, which means all you have to do to reach your goal is spend your money on football shit so players can get paid, and spend your time watching the games so networks can get paid. You’re not playing anyone but yourself, if you think otherwise.

Over 100 million people (ahem, I mean, “team members”) watch the Super Bowl now, and for many of those viewers, the measurements on the football field are the extent of their exposure to measurements, period.

But it’s never used in the opposite way: nobody ever says “That football field was huge! It was like, if you lined up 11 London buses!”

And so, I am here to offer you some alternative uses for the football field standard of measurement. Here goes.

“That football field was so long, if you stood it up, it would be the height of 8 and 1/2 telephone poles”

“… it was like 6 and 1/2 semi trailers long”

“… it was 5 bowling lanes long”

“… it was like, if you let the statue of liberty lay down, with the torch arm stretched out”

“… it was like, if a giant sequoia grew to its full potential, and then fell over, right next to another sequoia that only grew to about 20% of its full potential, and they ended up laying end to end. It was like that.”

“… it’s like… you know the Chicago Water Tower?”  “Yeah, I know it. why?”  “Well, it’s like two of those, stacked up, but sideways.”

“That football field was long.”   “How long was the football field?”   “Picture this: 9 brachiosaurs, laying down, sleeping.”

Next time you hear someone tell you “The runner then finished the race, limping a distance of 6 football fields, despite her broken leg,” you will have your choice of comparative imagery to choose from.

You’re welcome.

-jg

 

 

What Was I Theenking??

You know what I was thinking? Of course you don’t. That would be ridiculous. I’d know if you were reading my mind, anyway, so don’t try anything funny. I’ve been thinking about way too much stuff lately, and I can’t have people mis-reading things. So here’s the scoop on what I’ve been thinking about during my recovery.

One thing I thought – and laughed – about, often, is celebrities. Sometimes I’ll be reading a magazine, and it’ll say in big letters: “Kim and Kanye go to BlahBlahFuck Island for the holidays” and underneath it’ll have a picture of them on a yacht or on the beach, and there’s the little inset picture that sits at the foot of that picture, and it shows them at the hotel pool, relaxing and being waited on. Sounds great, right?

But what is the fucking point?

That’s what I’d like to know. You’re just soooo tired of your gorgeous house that’s loaded with amenities, and servants, and a nice pool, and a bar, and private beach access… so you go to a gorgeous beach house that’s loaded with amenities, and servants, and a nice pool, and a bar, and private beach access. How is that a vacation, you rich asshole? Some joker is going to pay $2.99 to read about your fake-cation, on their unpaid lunch break at their menial job, or in the waiting room at a shitty dentist somewhere. But please, by all means, get away from your tired life for awhile.

That would be like if I rented a shitty apartment in the poor section of some small cold town in northern Europe, and my car stranded me in the middle of nowhere, miles from where anyone can hear me scream. But how can you scream anyway, when you’ve been starving for days, because the local cuisine consists of cabbage, and meat that is much too dark for your liking?? It’s not a vacation. It’s simply existing somewhere else.

I read this “Shower Thoughts” entry online (jah help me, for passing this shit along) and it said, “Have you ever gone along with last minute plans, and it turned out to be one of the greatest times of your life?” Which, no, but also, just about everything I do is a last minute plan. Even the planned stuff… cancelled at the last minute. I shake things up. Especially if it’s something that requires me to shower. I have to shower in order to motivate, and if I have to motivate in order to hang out with you, you’re asking a lot. I need to be easy, not scheduled. I don’t want to be your tense friend.

Matt tells me, “I hate showering before work, because showers make me want to relax.” I can see where he was going with that, because I also tend to become relaxed after a long steam, and that’s where last minute cancellations become real. They’re born in the fog of the shower, and mature in the coziness of the bathrobe. Sure, things start out promising, but they take a turn for the less-promising once the showering process begins.

Specifically, if I decide to look down at the drain, and I see there’s some hair on it. I have rather thick hair, and it tends to grow very quickly, and falls out just as fast. And that’s just me. When I say there’s always hair in the drain, it’s an understatement. And when it comes to pulling hair out of the drain, there’s a severely limited number of options you’re presented with, when considering a proper place of disposition for the drain hair.

I’d like to pause, and say that I know of at least one person out there, who is obsessed with shower drain hair, because I saw the guy on one of those Strange Addiction shows, so I hope that if he’s reading this, I hope he isn’t.

Option One: this option consists of a quickie little ineffective tip-toe-run-of-weirdness across the bathroom, to drop the hair spider (that’s what I call them) into the garbage or toilet. This exercise in futility is generally employed “before you get too wet,” which, let’s be honest, isn’t a real thing. The floor is going to be wet. It’s worse than option two.

Option Two: this option is technically split into two categories of its own (Temporary, and Started As Temporary) and can only be distinguished by how long you can live with the choices you’ve made. This temporary solution is meant to be just that: a brief fix until it becomes more feasible to throw the hair away. You swipe the hair out of the drain, and *ka-pow* you fling it at the wall, or in the corner, where the water stream won’t reach it. You let it sit there until you’re done showering, or if you’re smart, you wait until the hair dries on the wall of the shower, and you grab it and throw it away. Or if you’re dumb like me, you let the hair dry on the wall of the shower, and then never do anything about it, and then it falls back into the shower, only to be washed into the drain by the water, and that’s why it’s called Started As Temporary.

I pulled the hair spider out, and Started As Temporary. But then I had this slime on my hand, where I had touched the drain, and I’m sure it could be shampoo or soap, but I know that 50% of my house’s population is of the male gender, and I’m not taking any chances with hair in the drain of the shower. So I rinse my hand under the shower water. That should be okay, right? It’ll be super clean once I shampoo my hair.

Won’t it?

Or will I be rubbing the drain slime into my hair, massaging it deeper into the strands as I lather, rinse, and possibly repeat?

Well, if you think about it, my hair is going to end up in there anyway, right? No big deal, could be worse. Someone once told me that a co-worker of hers got a moldy infection on her scalp, because she always put her hair up in a bun without drying it first, and that’s something I have done my whole life. I don’t want to dry my hair. It’s enough that I even do anything with it at all. When I get out of the shower, I’m good for sitting around, for about 45 minutes to 2 hours… right about the time it takes for a towel to officially become an outfit. It’s coincidentally the same amount of time it takes my hair to dry in the weirdest position possible. I can’t have that happening.

But I also can’t deal with the whole blow-drying/ flat-ironing thing either. I mean, props to those women who put in the conditioner, then the leave-in treatment, then the vitamin oil, and then torch it with an iron. They’re taking their hair into their own hands. I couldn’t think of any other way to word that, but I’ll bet there are some pretty literal instances of that happening.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about, is the fact that my birthday just went by, and it was my first one since quitting the ‘book. I figured it would be interesting to see how people handled it. Even more interesting, it turned out, was how  handled it. For over a decade of my life, I was personally celebrated by those near and far, whenever my birthday came around. The people I went to high school with, those I have worked with in the past, friends who are exes of my siblings, and family I don’t get to visit often, were all given the chance to tell me how awesome I am, and how happy they were that I was born, and that they hope this next year is kickass in every sense, and that it’s one of the most important dates in history because it’s the day I was bestowed upon you all. It’s nice to feel like your existence has somehow made people happy, even if for a day, and facebook helps facilitate those good feelings.

When you’re not on facebook, there is no birthday reminder. People don’t know it’s your birthday, because the robot isn’t telling them, and the robot isn’t telling them, because the robot doesn’t know, because you (or, in this instance I) didn’t want to interact with the robot. To the robot, I don’t exist. But, to the family and friends, I think I still very much physically exist. Before I decided interacting with the robot was an exercise in futility, I told them how they could reach me, without the assistance of the robot. Imagine my surprise, when practically nobody wished me a happy birthday this year.

Clearly I wasn’t worth remembering. 

I’m sure there is a host of other reasons why practically nobody remembered that I exist, but that’s the reason I default to, because nobody remembered, except for the members of my family and friends who barely interacted with me through the robot to begin with. I noticed a lot of my family didn’t say anything at all, despite their timely birthday wishes of the past decade. Did they only care about me when the robot told them to? Ten times of repeatedly doing something always at the same time, sounds like enough conditioning to be able to do it on your own… eventually? Well we don’t have to do that anymore, because the robot is here! And if the robot doesn’t know about it, you don’t need to know about it either. Save your dwindling fucking brain power. You might need it for a buzzfeed quiz.

The thing that is sadly ironic about social media, is that it’s your fault if you miss something, due to not having facebook. Say your brother gets engaged, and receives 180 “likes” on the post, and everyone says congratulations and posts emojis and shit to show how happy they are, but you didn’t see it, because you don’t have facebook. A month or so goes by, and you hear about it from a family member or a friend, and you say “Heyyyy! Why am I just now finding out about this?” It’s your fault. You should have been on facebook. A phone call, letter, or text isn’t applicable anymore, so if you’re waiting for someone to share their important news with you specifically, you’re just being selfish. They’ve already made a post about it, which is the new age equivalent of yelling through a megaphone, which people used to make a concerted effort to gather around.

I had surgery twice during “the holidays” 2018, and even though it was just a small area of my body, it affected so much of my life. I think about everything I do, everything I eat, every movement my body makes, the position I sleep in, the time I spend sitting down, it’s all part of my obsession with prevention. The days of prevention are here, people. You could say I think too much about the worst case scenario, but I see it more as priming for future possibilities. How will you know what to do when some weird-ass drives up onto the sidewalk, unless you’ve envisioned it in your mind 267 times? Will you know where is a safe place to jump to? Will you be able to defuse the situation somehow? I would, because I’m planning my escape route everywhere I go, even safe places. Maybe that specific example doesn’t work for you. It’s morbid, but that’s the point: rarely are we afforded the luxury of being surprised by wonderful things. Take it from me, for I am a master at predicting tragedy, and have not yet been able to manifest the whole “I’ve got a golden ticket” thing.

This is already nearing 2000 words, and I’ve barely said anything. I’m hoping to be able to write more in 2019, and get back on the cycle of posting things that are interesting. It’s sad to know that you possess a talent you are unable to use, and embarrassing to publish something you’re not proud of. While I’m not proud of the quality of this content, I’m proud of myself for finally finishing one of the 4 posts I’d started. I’ve always lived with the mantra of “Stop starting, and start finishing” because I’m terrible with follow-through, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. But the hope is very much alive, that I will continue this stream of consciousness that I call my blog. Thanks for sticking around. Don’t forget to tell your friends. About the blog, not about you sticking around. Nobody cares about that.

-jg

 

 

 

The End of Good Times

Upon reading the title of this week’s post, one might be under the impression that the subject matter is regarding the cancellation of the hit 1970s sitcom, Good Times. The series finale of Good Times was, in itself, a good time, because everyone lived happily ever after. Like… every single character had some pretty awesome closure on their respective arcs. I don’t recall all of the details, but I remember Keith gets to go play for the Chicago Bears, so there aren’t many good times that could top that one. Continuing his arc would be pointless (until 25 years later, when television ratings started to truly rely on how badly someone once-famous spiraled out of control after achieving fame).

Also, Willona and Thelma found out they get to stay neighbors, so that was also a pretty good time that would be tough to beat. Perhaps not for James.

Alas, this isn’t about the show. It’s about something people don’t usually talk about openly: The Happiness Hangover (I would love to take credit for that term, but I only just learned it, while researching this phenomenon). Think about a time in your life, when you were having the best time, and everything was perfect in your world, and nothing stressful or worrisome was taking up rent space in your head or your heart, and things just seemed to be exactly how you would want them to be forever… but then when it ends, you feel like you’re standing at the end of a long road, and there’s no clear way to go. The happiness of the experience is still fresh and vivid, but the experience itself is over. You wish it wasn’t over, because that means you’re back to the way things actually are.

Maybe you just graduated high school, and you’ll be parting ways with your friends, and you’re finally taking that step into adulthood, bound for work or for college, and you can’t help feeling that it’s the end of something, (note: it’s the beginning. Buckle the fuck up). Or you just came back from the most relaxing and fun-filled vacation you’ve ever had, and now you have to get back to The Grind, and you find yourself bored with the things that used to be a part of your everyday machine. The feeling is the same. You want to ride the high, or keep smiling and laughing with people, or keep pushing yourself to discover who you are, or keep seeing more of the world, or whatever it is that is keeping your dopamine flowing. When it stops, we feel a chemical dump that sends our spirit crashing down, and ordinary life seems bleak.

I talk about this, because my son has recently felt this for the first time. He has never been very popular or made friends easily. Even when he did have a “circle” of friends, they were a small circle. Like, not even a circle. More like a line segment. He’s always been an avid reader, and he looks like the stereotypical “nerd,” so people don’t approach him, and he’s never had success in approaching others, so he’s content to just be alone. He always sits alone at lunch, and nobody has ever tried to sit with him. It’s a mystery to me. Besides being intelligent, funny, considerate, and clever, he’s also interested in a wide variety of things, and could hold a conversation with any person of any age. He holds doors for people, and opens my car door for me EVERY time, even when it’s not exactly helpful. The sentiment is there, because it just occurs naturally to him, to be a good person. But he’s not very outgoing, so he generally goes unnoticed.

He was in his high school musical recently, and played a major part. He was incredibly funny, delivered his lines comically, and sang his heart out! He had a great time for the months they worked their asses off, and became friends with everyone in the group, finally showing how much fun he can be to hang out with. As a Sophomore, he is experiencing a sadness over the fact that the people he hit it off with most from the musical, are Seniors. They’re all friends with each other, and they all hang out after school, and they all have clubs and activities together, and they all have classes together, and they’ll all leave everyone behind together. Now that the musical is over, those students have no inclination to socialize with my son. He hasn’t felt that feeling of being left behind before, and it’s not tasting very good the first time.

We feel a sense of sadness when the rug is ripped out from under us like that, and though the feeling eventually wears off… and even though there will always be more good times… they will also end. Life is just a chain of good times, with painful idling between the links (I’m not calling them bad times. You call them that.) If we didn’t have that “down time” we most certainly would not appreciate the moments of happiness as much, so it’s necessary to feel that crash at the end, to keep us grounded to reality. Isn’t it fucked up that we can’t go flying away with the notion that any high can last forever? Some religions see life as suffering; to live is to suffer, and we die, and then we live again to suffer until we die, and it goes on, in a cycle called Samsara. This is what I think life would be, if we didn’t have this balance. 

Let me explain.

Opponent Process Theory tells us that when we experience a strong emotion, the opposite feeling is bound to follow. So when we go to a concert, or visit loved ones, or receive praise, our brain will try to counter the dopamine release (produced by the brain, during the good time) by swinging you back into balance with some mundane shit. That’s why life can seem gloomy and rather boring, after you’ve experienced something that causes your brain to release the drugs of pleasure. In my son’s case, he experienced months of happiness, culminating in high praise from his peers and his audience. When that was over, and he was no longer performing, he felt like there was no excitement to be had. The drugs from his brain had worn off. Going to school, reading, playing video games, and other ordinary daily activities brought him back down to homeostasis, and while his “normal self” is incredibly fun to be around, he doesn’t feel the same happiness that he did when he was being accepted by his peers. It’s a simple pleasure, but it’s something that was meaningful to him, and seemingly not very meaningful to anyone on the other side of the equation. Opponent Process Theory tells him that he’s going to feel accepted and appreciated by peers, only to go back to being ignored and alone. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

So now that we know good times are a fleeting luxury, what can we do to ease the pain of the crash? Have more good times, and try to limit the time in between, just in case? I wonder how good that could be for you? Is it possible to overdose on your own transmission of dopamine? Or worse: do we just not take the chance, by limiting ourselves to how much happiness we experience? I speak from experience, when I say this: THAT’S NOT THE RIGHT ANSWER. But it made me really think about it. Why has nobody ever talked about this around me before? This is the shit they need to be teaching in school, because it sucks to not know.

The other night, Sonny had a chorus concert, and it was the 4th time I’ve seen him sing in public. I still cried like a baby. I love seeing him be so involved and dedicated and versatile and confident in what he does, and his good times often reflect as good times for me, too. So when he crashes, I crash too; his attachments are to the people he does extra-curriculars with, and my attachment is to him. If I have to see him be sad or lonely, it stops being a good time for me. He is still on the high of the praise he received for his singing the other night, and it happens to coincide with the beginning of his next endeavor in theater, so there may be some minimizing of “downtime” happening there. If that’s how he manages it, I can only hope he doesn’t burn himself out. I’ve been told, “by always looking forward to the next thing, you’re wishing your life away.” I wonder if any of that’s true?

-jg

Opening My Fourth Eye

WARNING: this post talks about my b-hole, otherwise known as the a-hole. You know, the one that is (slightly) less-sexualized than its close neighbor, the vagina. Read at your own risk, but be warned that this post contains educational statements.

Nothing says “quit taking shit for granted” quite like having a rectal cancer scare. Every day, we hear about all varieties of cancer, and unless we’re a total sociopath, we sympathize with the person that has the cancer, and we think about people we know (or knew) with cancer, and it stirs up a lot of conversation about what could happen during treatment, after treatment, or in the absence of treatment.

It also gets people talking about what led to the cancer. There’s medical history evaluation, lifestyle questions, and a whole lot of being honest about what your regular habits may include. In my case, they wanted to know all the good stuff: how often I take a shit, what it looks like, how much pressure I use to wipe (and how much time I spend wiping) afterward, what kind of underwear I wear, whether or not I have anal sex, and if I’ve ever had hemorrhoids before. Not exactly First Date Questions, but that doctor definitely got to third base within 15 minutes of meeting me. Would the butthole be third base? I feel like it is.

Actually, I feel like I slid ass-first into home plate, and the catcher was waiting there for me with a red hot poker, because I had a rather invasive surgery that has changed me forever. I don’t even like baseball anymore because of these analogies. I don’t even like the word analogies because it just looks like something I don’t want to deal with. Anal oh-jeez.

I have spent the past 4 days on my couch, agonizing over what my brother-in-law Dave likes to call: The Second Butthole. Born out of necessity, this misery was coded as “elective surgery” on my chart. I suppose you could elect to suffer for the rest of your life, if you want to be technical about it. I figured 3 years was long enough, so I had a choice to make: throw my pride to the wind and start mooning my doctor without hesitation, or keep suffering like it’s not a problem. Let me tell you, IT WAS A PROBLEM. I’ve never been shy, but it takes a certain kind of suffering to get to that place where you’re talking openly about your shit within the first 5 minutes of meeting someone.

I didn’t have any problems with my digestive or intestinal systems, necessarily; my gut worked just fine. There aren’t many foods I can’t tolerate. The problem was with the “back door” not opening, due to a large mass that kept reopening and re-scarring, reopening and re-scarring, causing blood-clotting, as well as hardened, thick tissue formation. I tested for (and took medication for) all types of intestinal worms, despite never having them. I tried creams and ointments and special diets and all kinds of bathroom hygiene etiquette. The symptoms were unrelenting. The constantly healing wounds were also constantly itchy, in addition to the enlarged pulsating veins that were being compressed by the thickening scar tissue.  It was a nightmare. There wasn’t one minute of the day when I wasn’t thinking about it.

So I got the elective surgery. Hopefully my insurance covers it, though, at this point I don’t really care. I have a dime-sized hole next to my actual b-hole, and it can’t be stitched or closed in any way, because that promotes bacterial growth. It wasn’t packed with gauze or dressing. Because of the nature of my problem, I had to have tissue biopsy done as well, which means I also have a bunch of random “snips” that were left open as well, in and around my rectum.

IN and around it. IN IT. There are open wounds inside of my rectum. Who the fuck in their right mind would elect to get that kind of surgery, if it wasn’t necessary?! That shit isn’t exactly fun. I got my surgery last Friday, and I’m only JUST well enough to lay here on my side and type this now. It’s fuckin Tuesday. If I could have elected to just somehow live through an unwelcome mass growing ever more disruptive inside my asshole, believe me, I would.  Turns out… not that easy. Even now that the major player was removed, I still don’t know the status of the pathology, so I suppose I feel a little better?

Okay, I took a couple of days off, to wallow in my pain and suffering (because that’s what I do) and now it’s Thursday. The pathology came back NEGATIVE FOR CANCER (best news I’ve gotten in years) which is wonderful for my overall health. The downside is, my recovery is not going well. I still feel like I’m clenching in a razor blade that acts like it wants to come out, but is really just messing with me. I’ve been doing all the post-op care as instructed, but when it rains, it pours. Or as the French say: “Jamais deux, sans trois,” which means “Never two without three.” In my case, it means “you’re fucked.”

Have you ever compounded a blood pressure medication with lidocaine, and applied it to your bootyhole? Guess who has to… yep, me. I didn’t even know that was a thing, but I certainly know now! Anal fissures are another fun thing to have, post-op. Did you know about those? (Read this, for info) Did you also know you can get muscle spasms in your butthole, that actually slow down your healing? Well now you do, and you can just take my word for it, that IT’S WORSE THAN YOU’RE THINKING. That’s the reason for the blood pressure medication, explained. It’s almost as if not being able to poop, pee, eat, sleep, sit, stand, walk, or drive, just wasn’t enough. My body in my late 30’s, ladies and gentlemen. That shit doesn’t even have to make sense, for me to suffer from it.

Listen to me: don’t take your body for granted. Don’t just eat whatever you are able to survive through. Just because you can eat a ghost chile pepper without dying, doesn’t mean your body isn’t going to hate it. I don’t understand these people, who think it’s some kind of accomplishment to stand in front of a crowd of people, with a mile-long snot dripping out of their nose, tears pouring out of their beet-red eyes, their lips burning with the heat of a thousand suns, unable to taste anything but pain for the next week, knowing they’ll be shitting out red fire. Congratulations? Your body hates you. You’re just not listening to it, when it tells you how unhappy it is. Trust me, I’ve been having plenty of conversation with my body lately, and all it wants to say is “I tried to fuckin tell  you,” with its arms crossed.

If I’ve learned anything from this whole ordeal, it’s that there are good doctors out there. Ones that make you feel completely comfortable with winking in their face from the back end. Ones that explain to you what is going on, and reassure you that butt surgery is not on everyone’s bucket list. Ones that don’t make you feel like you’re being a pain in the ass; you just have pain in the ass. I don’t know what encouraged this doctor to go into Proctology, but I’m glad he did. Nobody has ever cared about my b-hole as much as he has; apparently not even me. From now on, I’m going to treat my body like a temple, because you never know when you’re going to have to just stop eating potatoes and pasta and cheese and meat out of nowhere, and THEN what are you going to do? Just sit there and watch your family eat all that stuff, while you eat nothing?! Don’t be that person. You’re not invincible. Don’t be an asshole.

TAKEAWAY MESSAGE: If you’re having rectal issues, get them checked out ASAP. Mine could have been treated much more simply, if I had not waited. Don’t be embarrassed. I just tell myself “This doctor has seen some nasty buttholes, so mine is probably like the Sistine Chapel.” Don’t let your rectal issues go untreated, because they could turn into surgery you didn’t even know you were getting (and subsequently ruin your entire Christmas vacation trip back home). What starts off as a simple biopsy, could leave you with a second butthole: one which you can’t use at all, other than to test how much pain you can endure without dying, or how much your significant other loves you, because they have to apply the medicine. Do yourself a favor, and get over your ego, and have the butt exam. Just do it. I’m telling you, you don’t want to give up your precious scroll time on the toilet, to be replaced by awkward squatting and screaming and crying.

Love thy butthole.

-jg

MisterRogersMamaRu

When I was younger, my siblings and I used to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I say “younger” instead of “a kid” because I watched the show well into my adulthood. Though Fred Rogers has passed, one thing I’ve never been able to get over, is the spelling of the title.

I mean, possession would be indicated by the “apostrophe before the s” at the end of any singular noun (or proper noun). So wouldn’t Mister Rogers, the singular man whose neighborhood we’re visiting, be the host of Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood? It’s not like there is more than one man named Mister Roger, and they’re both living in the neighborhood and hosting the show. That’s what the title leads me to believe, and I don’t know if I like it, because I feel like that is what that means, and I’m missing out on an entire other Mister Roger! I would like to double my fucking pleasure, please. If I’m watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, I’d better be looking at two dudes. At least.

An important thing I learned from watching Mister, is that every one of us has something that nobody else has: ourselves. I forgot to spoiler alert you about your mind being blown. He says, “there’s only one person in the whole world like you… and I like you just the way you are” which is also kind of weird, because it sounds like he’s telling me that there’s someone in the world like me. Is he telling them that he likes them just the way I am? Who is it? Are they old? Are they a baby? Are they a dog? Those are really the only three choices.

I took that idea of there only being one Me in the world, and I ran away with it. I used to do the most outrageous shit to get a reaction from people. I did dances, I wrote songs, I mastered different voices and impressions, I created characters, and on top of being my own biggest fan, I was extremely loud (voted Biggest Mouth and Class Clown in my senior class, thanks). If there is only one of me in the world, the world has long since gotten their money’s worth. I’ve forced friendship on people who didn’t really like me, because of the fact that I was so loud, but I thought I was funny, so they must have thought I was funny too. I used to talk to my friends’ parents like they were my friends, even though they probably thought I was too young to be saying some of the shit I was saying to them, but it didn’t matter because it didn’t feel wrong to me. I was just being myself. And I wasn’t sorry about it, because nobody told me to stop.

As much as I learned from Misterogers, I have to give credit where credit is due, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for ten years has taught me more about being myself, than Fred Rogers ever could. It taught me that I could not only be myself, but that I also shouldn’t feel bad about my lack of giving a shit what anyone thinks about it. Everyone has their darkness, and everyone has their suffering, and we all deal with it in our own way, and we all just try to do the best we can, until we die. I never heard that on PBS. And I probably could have used that wisdom in my teens, because the ’90s were brutal, and being a feminist back then was not very popular, especially in Bumblefuck, Maine. Wanna know who didn’t like me? Pretty much everyone, at some point. But I won them over with my humor and lack of shame, and then they had no choice but to hear me when I wasn’t being funny (but still loud), at least for a little while, until they could get out of earshot. And I wasn’t sorry about that, either.

The difference between what I learned from Mister Rogers, and what I learned from watching RuPaul, is how it pertains to me. I found Mister Rogers to be informative on how to be a good person, but I never felt like it was realistic to my world, because when I turned from the TV to the window, I was sadly disappointed in the disparity. People weren’t good, and they weren’t nice, and the sun wasn’t always shining, and things didn’t always work out in the end, and there wasn’t always a lesson to be learned, and nobody helped anybody that day, and everyone returned home with a frown. It wasn’t the same, so why should I try to be that nice person? RuPaul and the queens on the show are open and honest about ugly struggles, and have seen that people aren’t always kind, and the sun never shines on some people. It doesn’t set the expectation that everyone is doing good deeds and being selfless to make the world a better place, because the world is not like that. It can be made up to look pretty and sweet, but underneath, it’s really a hairy man with a dick.

I don’t love everything about myself, but that’s mostly because I hate feeling the physical pain that comes with being out of shape and almost old. The fact that I have stretch marks, cellulite, uneven boobs, body hair, a lazy eye, E.T. fingers, and hobbit feet… doesn’t bother me one bit. I will gladly take those things, because they’re just little things. I don’t apologize for being myself, even still. I realize not everyone is going to like me, but it’s important to remember that not everyone is going to be liked by me, either. They’re just doing their own thing, and trying as best as they can until they die. I’m a blip on their radar, if they want me to be.

I don’t even think my big mouth is my biggest drawback, to be honest with you. I’d say my lack of follow-through and ambition is probably the worst thing about me, besides the fact that I’m always right. Kidding about that ambition thing. I’m totally ambitious, just not in the way that everyone else is.

Don’t apologize for being yourself. No matter what it is, even if someone can rattle off 20 things they hate about you, so what? Fuck it. You’re you, you’re gonna be you when that person is a distant memory, and nobody else is going to be you, so you might as well fuckin just do that shit to the fullest. My kids have asked me for good comebacks for when people are putting them down, and I always tell them “Fuck off” works for me, because it literally does not matter what someone else thinks of you. It’s what you think of yourself, and how you want to represent your time on this planet.

“There’s only one person in the whole world like you… DON’T… fuck it up!”

-jg

The Feverish Brain

Flu season is upon us, and in New England, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a reminder to “get your flu vaccine FOR FREE!” What they don’t tell you on the sign, is that the medicine you’ll have to buy when you do get sick (and you will) is definitely not free.

I’ve never been the type of person to get sick, and managed to get through most of my childhood and adolescence without throwing up at all. Iron stomach, diesel immune system, and a colon that could beat up your dad. I was as healthy as a malnutritioned middle child who was good at absolutely nothing could be. No sports to keep me fit, and my dad didn’t exactly stress the importance of getting your heart rate up, much less any real physical activity to speak of*, so I developed very little muscle tone. However, my brain was always sharp, and I could probably successfully run away from most people if I had to. What is “healthy” anyway?

*My dad, like most dads in the 1980s, was pretty big on the whole martial arts craze that came along to make every man in the Western world feel like he could do anything! He considered his interest in this subject to be the extent of his exercise, and forced us into it briefly as well. So in that way, I guess you could say that he did encourage us to be somewhat active, until his car accident gave way to a pill addiction (which he was able to overcome with the help of cannabis) and he stopped being able to force us into his dreams of being a black belt.

As an adult, when I get sick, I feel like the world is ending. I never had to deal with such pain and suffering, growing up (I guess jumping off the roof of a burnt house, into a pile of dried horse shit isn’t without its benefits) and it took me by surprise that I wasn’t dying the first time I got pneumonia. I stayed up all night, because I thought I was going to stop breathing in my sleep.

I didn’t die, by the way. I’m still here. And I still get sick, and it still sucks. That’s why I am so empathetic to others, when they’re sick: because I know what it feels like, and it’s not always obvious to the outside world that you feel like a walking zombie. When I’m sick, I don’t want to be expected to do a fuckin thing. I just want someone to say “Aw man, why don’t you sit down, so you can fixate on how shitty you feel, and I’ll make dinner.” Matt is really good for this. The kids try to ask me what they can do for me, but that just ends up looking like this:

Sonny: “Mom, what can I do for you?”
Me: “Nothing, just hang out and be good.”
Dot: “Can I get you anything?”
Me: “No, I just want to lay here.”
Sonny: “Well do you want a cold rag?”
Me: “No, I just want to lay here.”
Dot: “Do you want an ibuprofen?”
Me: “I took one already. I just want to relax, please, thank you, you don’t have to do anything for me.”
Sonny: “Want us to turn the TV down?”
Me: “No, it’s not bothering me.”
Dot: “Do you want me to make dinner?”
Me: “NO! Please don’t, I can’t even think about that right now.”
Peter Jennings Sonny: “Does your head hurt?”
Me: “Yes.”
Dot: “Have you been coughing?”
Me: “I have been up all night, coughing, with a fever, and haven’t slept in days.”
Sonny: “Do you think you have a cold?”

And that’s how I relax, when I’m sick. The sickest part of the whole thing, is that both of them were sick with separate illnesses the week before, and I fuckin got both of them. I think they saved up every question they weren’t able to ask when they were sick, and piled them on all at once. I’m no stranger to fever thoughts myself. I had a fever for almost 5 days last week, and I not only had some strange thoughts, but I apparently committed a few of them to a Google search.

“Can a human live off just broth alone?” – the answer is no. Depending on what your broth is made of, that is. If it’s made with proteins and stuff, I’m sure you could probably be alright, but I don’t think that’s the kind of broth I was drinking.

“Is lava the same temperature as my face?” – again, the answer is no. Turns out, lava is anywhere from 1,100- 1,600F, and hot snot averages around 102F. I’ve sat in hot tubs that were 115F, and that’s not that much hotter than what was stuffing up my entire face. There was steam coming off that water. Might as well be lava, when it’s that close to my brain.

“Can I overdose on Ricolas?” – this would be difficult. The closest you’d probably come to overdosing on any cough drop, would be severe nausea, caused by too much menthol. I always thought minty shit was supposed to alleviate nausea, but that wasn’t even close to being my problem.

“Nobody cares that I’m sick” – I stand by this statement.

“How can you poop if you can’t eat?” – oh, believe me… you can poop. It’s just not going to be food. Not gonna be food, because you didn’t eat, and you didn’t eat because your face was full of lava. And if you can’t even eat a baked potato, you need to get used to pooping out broth.

“Flu vs Cold” – I think I’m going to wait until I finish medical school, to lend my expertise on this one. From what the internet tells me (the internet is a doctor) there is minimal difference between the two, other than the fact that one comes complete with the Triumvirate of Suffering: fever/chills/headache. Remember when I said nausea wasn’t my problem? The Triumvirate of Suffering was the star of that show.

“Can a cold last forever?” – besides the fact that I didn’t have a cold this time, I would have to say that, historically, 100% of the time, my colds have not lasted forever. Could be a fluke.

“My pee is too cloudy” – lack of fluids, probably caused by too much broth and not enough water. Luckily, it wasn’t indicative of a bladder infection – or worse, kidney stones – because that may have very well sent me over the edge. When I’m sick, I have very little energy to do anything other than whine and complain, so driving myself to the doctor, and subsequently the pharmacy for antibiotics, wasn’t happening.

“Is it today, or yesterday?” – this was something I typed into my phone’s search function, so I didn’t get an answer. Is there an answer? I don’t think so.

Having a fever can also affect your judgment, such as your concept of time. I showed up to pick up my daughter from school, and ended up crying in the car, because I was 15 minutes early. I legitimately wondered – aloud – why she wasn’t coming outside.  When my son had a last minute practice, I could have jumped out the window of my car. That didn’t happen, mostly because I couldn’t move.

The worst part about being sick, at least this time, was the idea that I couldn’t sleep, which meant the sickness was going to either get stronger, or at least maintain its stronghold on me. When I tried to sleep, the lava mucus in my face threatened me with brain boil (just an FYI, brain boil isn’t real, unless you were in the Vesuvius disaster). If you can’t sleep, and your face is on fire, you don’t necessarily wake up with hope that things are improving. Maybe you do, but I think you’re lying. Waking up with a fever and headache, then wrapping yourself in a blanket and cranking up the heat because you’re freezing, only to immediately realize you’re roasting… not a great morning routine. Especially when you know that you’re probably going to drag those symptoms around with you all day, and they’ll be accompanying you to bed.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, being sick is fuckin stupid. It kept me from writing, and made me feel like a turd for not being able to power through it. I would like to be one of those humans whose will is stronger when they’re sick, simply because they want to be the one behind the fight, and claim the recovery as their victory. Instead, I rag on myself until every ounce of self esteem has been flushed from my body, like three days’ worth of chicken broth. When I do feel better, it’s because the universe has finally decided it’s fucked with me enough for now, and it lets me go free so I can run home to my mommy to nurse my wounds… until next time it gets bored and decides my suffering is entertaining. Who would’ve known that sickness was my weakness?!

Now that I’m feeling better, I can get back to my life of no irrational fear or unreasonable judgment. It’s gonna be great.

-jg

Did Someone Just Fuckin’ Say “Christmas”???

It’s only October.

But it’s late October, which means a few things in this consumerist society in which we’re drowning. The first, is the Party City enema everyone is forced to endure on television. I don’t watch much television, but Hulu shows enough commercials to offset any lost time we may have experienced otherwise. Thank you, Corporate America! It’s virtually impossible to miss the fact that it is, indeed, Halloween, but that doesn’t stop us from putting up our own decorations, even if our neighborkids are just going to rip them down and destroy them anyway. We’ll probably make our own costumes, like we always do in my family because we’re cheap, because we just love the idea of being someone else, for just a few hours. It’s an escape no other holiday can offer. In my opinion, costumes should be heavily marketed all year round, but that’s not this blog post. It’s another one.

You may have also noticed that it’s prime season for pepperings-in of holiday commercials. While still few in numbers, there is no denying that these earlybird companies are merely the first to dip their toes into the icy cold water of the dreaded SHOPPING SEASON. That means more commercials, more catalogs, more magazine ads, more store displays, more articles about the “big toy of the season” that you’ll definitely have to pre-order, because just the very mention of something potentially becoming popular, is enough to make everybody want it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, really; it’s only popular because consumers were afraid it would become too popular, and so they take “precautionary” measures, and those precautions result in what we call A Clusterfuck.

Since I’ve been cognizant of the phenomenon of holiday product pushing, I’ve always noticed the stark absence of commercials for clothing, other than Macy’s or Kohl’s, and those ones are fuckin strange. The ads show a group of people usually laughing, and they’re bopping around or moving in some unnatural way for hanging out, and literally nobody is saying anything. Everyone is just laughing and smiling. What was that shoot like? Was it… like this….?

Director: “Hey, put these pants on, and get in there and laugh.”
Actor: “At what?”
Director: “I don’t know, just laugh. You’re having a great time wearing that sweater and scarf and super tight pants.”
Actor: “That’s not funny, though. What am I laughing at?”
Director: “Think of something funny. It’s method acting.”
Actor: *shrug* “Okay.”
Director: “Pick up that giant red ball, too, and throw it at her.”
Actress: “Me?!”
Actor: “You want me to throw the ball at her?”
Director: “Yeah, it’s fun. It’s what people do in scarfs and jeans. Make sure you get that kid laughing too.”

I’ve seen some good old fashioned snowball fights on commercials for clothing, too. Mostly for outdoor clothing, but some featured people without coats -but with scarfs and earmuffs and gloves- throwing snowballs at each other. I don’t know.

The majority of holiday ads are geared toward children and teens. You know why. It’s because they’re the ones who are doing all the watching; watching TV, streaming Hulu, or they’re checked into YouTube to watch some idiot watching something else. They’re getting their daily dose of commercials, and they’re going to know exactly what they want for the holidays, because it’s not just the adults who lose their minds over the next Tickle Me Elmo, it’s the young ones too. They know what The Big Ticket is, and if they don’t see it for themselves on TV, they’ll hear all about it, and you bet your ass they’re going to let you know. And then, the deal is fuckin sealed for you, because if you don’t get that thing, you didn’t do enough. Doesn’t matter what else you get them. If it’s not that particular thing, you get to hear about how you should have pre-ordered it, and you’ll learn the names of 16 other kids who did get it, and you realize holiday consumerism is a scam, and watch your hard earned money just sit there on the floor, because it’s not The Big Ticket.

And then they play with something they already owned. Is that in the holiday ads? Where the kid just says fuckit, and starts playing with the Legos he was playing with the night before? Or where they get mad that they can’t have candy canes or bell-shaped chocolates for breakfast? Where are those ads? I remember one time, my dad put dry Lucky Charms in my stocking, just to get me to eat cereal instead of candy. I ate the marshmallows, and left the rest. Holiday Loopholes.

Speaking of loopholes, there needs to be one for relatives, because physics has forbidden me from being in two places at once. I’ve used up all of my freebies with the universe, so now I can only be in one place at one time, and that essentially guarantees that someone is going to be feeling like the asshole (spoiler: it’ll be me). I have to tell somebody no, or at the very least, reschedule for a time that is convenient. You know what isn’t convenient? Having to tell someone that they are the person you chose to reschedule. Friggin holidays… creating unrealistic expectations and incredibly realistic arguments since too-long-ago.

I don’t know if you know this or not, but there’s a holiday we celebrate here in the United States, and it’s called Thanksgiving. It’s a bullshit holiday by its very existence, but it’s cloaked in an air of “appreciation” so people aren’t allowed to talk shit about it. You have to be thankful. Don’t be a dick. That’s for the other 364 days of the year. Surely, you can spare one day of your year to not be so greedy, because that’s what Thanksgiving is about!

NO IT ISN’T.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a food holiday that we use as an excuse to eat more than we normally do, and we pretend to be nicer than we really are. There are not usually gifts involved, but like Christmas or Chanuka, there is a fair amount of prep work that must be done, in order to successfully drive you insane execute the holiday. There is usually a big-ass turkey as the star of the meal, unless you’re a vegetarian, or you have a weird bird thing. I don’t know what people eat, if they’re not having turkey. I could eat turkey every day for the rest of my life, and be alright about it. Aside from that, you gotta have potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and pie. That’s the big four, as far as I’m concerned, and I would need nothing else on my plate, to make it a good night. But for most people, that’s just the appetizer.

I used to run a Biggest Loser competition at my old job, and when Thanksgiving came around, I had to tune everyone out, because even someone who is trying to lose weight will still glorify the horrific extent of consumption that happens on this holiday. It’s almost a necessity to over-indulge. Americans are convinced that this day just doesn’t count, and their bodies won’t pay for the random day of odd dieting that could easily equal 3 days’ worth of caloric, sodium, and fat intake. The fact is, if you give a day a special name, Americans will find a way to incorporate food into it, even if we’re unhealthy. It’s what we do. It’s why we are the way we are. If you try to figure it out, you will get lost (make sure to bring some snacks, in case you get hungry along the way).

I’ve seen some Thanksgiving dinners that were ridiculous. My sister and mom are notorious for doing way too fuckin much. 3 turkeys, AND ribs, AND roasts and stuff. And that doesn’t even include the milliondy-four sides they have prepared. You’d think they were going on vacation, and wanted to cook up everything in their house before they left. Nope, just cramming enough food for 50 people into 10 people. Because it’s a celebration! It’s weird how far we have come, from celebrating our hard work paying off in a plentiful harvest, to spending $500 on a meal that normally costs you $40 to make. Happy Thanksgiving.

The funniest thing on Thanksgiving, I think, is the sheer number of hours we spend watching the Christmas commercials. You think you’re watching football, or the Macy’s parade, but you’re just being violated by the grubby intentions of corporate America. They know you’re watching. They can practically smell the food on your breath. They know the kids can see, and if they aren’t in the room, that’s okay, because the toy ads play just a little bit louder than the show you’re watching. The second that one kid hears the annoyingly sugary voice of a woman excitedly telling you about a tiny plastic dog that just shit out some puppies, the stampede is imminent. They need the toy, but they also need to see the commercial for the toy. Right after that, while you’re still reeling from the sound of screams, it’s the commercial that tells you what your wife wants for jewelry. They know your wife can see, and if she isn’t in the room, that’s okay, because the jewelry ads play on EVERY FUCKING STATION.

Let me tell you something about jewelry ads: they’re funny as hell. The only commercial funnier than jewelry ads (and As Seen On TV ads) is a food commercial. Sidetracking for a second… What kind of reality exists, where someone takes a bite or a drink, and they close their eyes and breathe in deeply so their shoulders shrug up toward their ears, and they smile, so you know they’re thoroughly enjoying what they just consumed? Seriously. It’s lunch meat. It’s coffee. It’s a pasta dish. It’s a damn chocolate that is gonna send you to heaven, apparently. I have never eaten anything like that, in my entire life, and I love food more than I love some of my siblings. But jewelry ads are so fake, they make the food orgasm scenes look like Shakespeare in the park.

“This Christmas, show her you mean forever. Get her the Eternal Sweetheart Wife In Love diamond set from Shitz’s.”

Let me stop you there. I like the fact that they’re encouraging people to show love, instead of just saying it with dumb old words (who does that anymore?) but this is a pretty expensive way to say it. Diamonds? I’d much rather have $400 in nachos, or massages, or shoes, or cookware, or books, or paint, or scrap wood. In fact, don’t even spend that much money on me, unless it’s in car repairs or vacation details. Diamonds have no purpose, and still, they’re constantly pushed on couples, as a means to prove how strong their love is. Why not just get her the 100% steel set instead? That shit is strong. Not even jet fuel can melt it.

Christmas is the time for buying a car. If you have been putting off buying a new Lexus, now is the time. If you have perfect credit, come down and get the best deals, so we can work on your credit score. Get $1,000 off a $45,000 car, with no money down, and 0% APR. There’s no better time to surprise your spouse with a major expense, without discussing it with them first, financially. Hurry in to your Lexus dealer, before all of the cars are gone… because that’s something that ever happens. When this sale ends, it ends, until our New Year’s sale, and then our Presidents’ Day sale, and then the St. Patrick’s Day sale, and the Easter Sale, which is right before the Spring Clearance! See your Lexus dealer TODAY, and get a large red bow at no extra cost! The large red bow indicates that it’s a gift, even though the payments will be a joint expense, and you’ll probably also drive or ride in it. It’s a gift for them, which you’ll be able to successfully hide until Christmas morning, because they’ll never look in the garage. No garage? That’s okay, we will drive the car up into the driveway for you, when you’re ready to present it to your spouse (as a gift, for your spouse) and then sneak away stealthily on foot, back to the dealership on Christmas day! We have nothing to do, trust me, it always works out this way. It’s the Christmas miracle.

It would be funny to see holiday commercials change with the season, to reflect how tired we are of the ads by mid-December. The guy has the sweater on, and he’s making the Angry Dad Face at the kid, who has half of his clothes off, and the pants have grape juice and cheesy fingerprints on them, and the dog is working on the turkey, on top of the table, while the woman is drinking a glass of wine and running away. There’s half-written Christmas cards on the floor, without stamps on them. A toddler is pulling a Santa costume out of Dad’s bottom drawer. Nana is snapping the Christmas records in half. The director might tell them: “I don’t give two fucks, I just want this nightmare to end,” and they’ll all be motivated by that.

I’m not ready for the holidays yet. I can dig Halloween, because I love candy, and free candy is always good (well, maybe not always, don’t listen to me, Kids). I don’t want to think about Thanksgiving, and I certainly don’t want to think about Christmas yet. There are so many things that have to happen between now and then, and if I start thinking about the holidays, the other things will just become unimportant bumps in the road, and I don’t want that. I want to enjoy each day, and experience each bump for what it is. We are always so obsessed with time going by, that we’re forever reminding ourselves of what’s to come, instead of just living it when it gets here. When it finally does arrive, we are too busy thinking about what’s next, to fully appreciate what is happening. Let the days go by, but don’t forget to live them. Make something special out of each day. Just like Mr. Rogers said for you to do. I’m copying him, is what I’m trying to say.

It’s only October. Let it be.

-jg

I Was Almost Vinced.

Last week, I learned the meaning of the word “vincible” in more ways than one. Obviously, I looked it up in the dictionary, and wasn’t surprised to see it there. It literally means the opposite of “invincible,” which we all know, means you can’t be vinced.

I also learned the definition the hard way, by getting into a car accident. It’s worth mentioning that everyone survived, so, this isn’t that kind of invincibility (or vincibility, as it were) story, you can relax. It’s more about realizing that you’re human.

As of the day I am writing this, it has been a week since the crash, and I have experienced a metamorphic transformation of sorts, in those seven days. Nobody ever expects an accident, and when you get into one, it happens so fast, that you can easily get lost in the true events of what you’re experiencing. You ask “How did that happen?!” which is a fair question to ask, unless you were doing something risky and it just caught up with you. In that case, be your own detective.

Not only do you wonder how it happened, you can actually block out the details of what happened. One minute, you’re driving, and the very next moment, you’re spun around in a ditch on the other side of the road. If you were rear-ended, it can be extremely unclear, and you’re left with unanswered questions because the other driver probably isn’t going to want to incriminate themselves for the sake of your peace of mind. Sometimes, they’re an old couple, who you run over to check on, and they’re grouchy fuckin dicks to you. Or, it’s a redneck who wasn’t paying attention while driving way-too-fast mph on a back road in the winter, and they tell the insurance company that it was your fault. Or, sometimes it’s an extortionist who wants to make a quick buck on an insurance payout, and isn’t afraid to lay low for awhile to prove how useless injured they are. In any case, even if they’re nice, they aren’t worried about you, as much as they’re worried about themselves. But feel free to call them for an interview, if you think you’ll be able to figure some shit out. I wasn’t so lucky.

This was my second accident with my son in the car, and I’m grateful beyond all that is powerful in the universe, that he was not hurt in either one. This one was a bit less intense, but he was a champ throughout the whole thing, and has been ever since. The thing I haven’t been able to shake, is the feeling that, if we had collided one second sooner, my son could have been killed. I don’t know what I would do without him in my life, but if something happened to him because of my inability to protect him, I would struggle with being able to recover and cope. Again, I am so thankful that he is okay, and that he isn’t also caught up in this line of morbid thought that I can’t seem to get out of.

Another thing I have been struggling with, is the fear that everyone is going to come out of nowhere and hit me. I can’t check both ways enough times before pulling into the street or turning a corner. I can’t slow down enough, or allow enough space between myself and other vehicles. I know it’s normal to feel this paranoia after a crash, but I feel like it’s becoming ingrained in me. I am always a cautious and attentive driver; I never text and drive, I don’t look at my phone at all, I watch my mirrors and blind spots, and I minimize my interactions with other features in the car. I have impeccable reaction time, and have always been able to work around the poor planning and neglectful habits other drivers. I do well with rotaries, highway traffic, crazy drivers, construction, darkness, inclement weather, and distractions from my passengers. I can drive for long distances without falling asleep, and even though I’m a terrible navigator, I can follow direction. So, being in the mindset that I need to be even safer than that or we’re all going to die, is so unhealthy. Matt says the more I think about it, the more distracted I’ll be. I do know this already.

Perhaps the oddest piece of this puzzle, is that, no matter how hard I try to relive the crash, I cannot figure out where those old people came from. They weren’t there, and then they were. They were not there, and appeared in the same space as me, at the same time, and my car fell apart, while theirs was virtually untouched. Not a scratch on it. And not only that, but neither of them were hurt even a little, and they didn’t call their insurance company, or talk to mine. Didn’t even give their names. Which leads me to the conclusion that they weren’t real.

Maybe I’m just trying to compensate for my momentary lapse of perfection on the road, but I have been so confused about their existence, that I can think of no logical explanation to account for their involvement in the accident. There was nobody on that road with me, in any direction, and it was broad daylight, bright sunshine, no distractions. I didn’t just imagine this; my son is also perplexed by the fact that they literally came out of nowhere. This is some Unsolved Mysteries shit, at the highest level. Someone needs to open an X-File, not an insurance claim!

When your car becomes worthless, it’s what they call a Total Loss, which means your car has sustained more damage than it could ever be sold for again. I think mine was already at that point, prior to the accident, but if someone thinks they want to give me the Kelley price for it, then I’ll take it. It certainly helps, when you have no idea how you’re going to get around all of a sudden. If you’ve ever been one of those people who doesn’t have multiple working vehicles, ATVs, boats, snowmobiles, and motorcycles in their garage, you know the struggle. In my area, everyone has 450 trucks and cars in their yard, but you can’t borrow one for a few days, because that person needs those cars to sit there, in case all of their other vehicles somehow mysteriously stop working at one time. You figure your own shit out, but don’t forget… they’re there for you if you need anything. Just ask.

Since the accident, I have driven over 400 miles, and I may as well be walking on eggshells. The anxiety I feel over the responsibility to keep my family safe has been great. Not great, as in good. Great, as in MASSIVE. I have a brand new car, and every sound is making me obsess over whatever the worst case scenario could be. I hate that feeling. I feel like I already live my life that way, ruled by irrational fears, due to traumatizing experiences in the past. (I am aware of what PTSD is, thanks) I just want to be able to shut out those thoughts, so I can be happy and enjoy life while it’s going well.

But the dilemma is, if I relax, I might miss something or neglect to act somehow. I know I’m vincible now, and that I have to rely on more than just my instinct; I have to be mindful in every second. How can I just sit back and enjoy life, when I am responsible for so much? I don’t have the “working” job, I have the job where everyone’s well-being rests in your hands. They eat, because you shop for food, cook the meal, and feed them. They go to school and work, because you take them and pick them up. The bills are paid, because you call the company when there’s a problem, and when there isn’t, you are making sure that things remain problem-free. The laundry is done, because you took care of it between other tasks. The appointments are scheduled around each other, however plentiful they may be, because you pay attention to the packed schedule, and ask what everyone is doing, or needs. Teachers and counselors stay informed, because you keep them in the loop. Unspoken issues get attention, because you notice that something isn’t right, and you dig. It’s not a paid job, but it takes from you. You end up being the one who pays, because the worry and responsibility of being a parent at home is a lot to bear.

That is, if you love and care about your family. I don’t know, some people don’t. Some people let all of the responsibility rest on the child(ren). Some parents don’t even like to be considered a parent. They want to be the Best Friend. In my opinion, a Best Friend would offer to do my dishes once in awhile, or clean up their shit around the house. Might be why I don’t have a best friend (just kiddin, Matt!)

I’ve learned about the fragility of life, and how easy it would be to just stop living, if we don’t take the time to care and consider. Even when you think nothing is happening, even when you think you’re not in danger, even when you think you’ve taken every precaution… it’s important to realize that we are not invincible, and that we are constantly surrounded by circumstances that we don’t even notice. Circumstances that can change your life greatly (great, as in massive). Even the most cognizant of people can miss something, and everything can be taken away in that instant.

But don’t forget to relax.

-jg

p.s. nothing heavy next week, I promise! I will come back swinging, whatever that means in the writing world.

 

“Why Now?” revisited

*EDIT: apparently I’m going to lose some readers with this one.

Earlier this week, my son was talking to me about the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. This is a current story in the news, so naturally, his “Social Studies” (for a lack of better description) class talked about it. I’m glad they’re talking about it. They should be talking about it more classes than just that. But I’ll take what I can get for now.

One of the things he asked me, was “Doesn’t it make it less believable, that she came forward so long after it happened?”

Of course, we already know how I feel about this, but in case you don’t, I have linked it below, as this week’s post. I find it important to repost it, because it’s clear that there are people who truly don’t realize what others go through, particularly when it comes to sexual abuse/assault survivors. It isn’t just my 15 year-old son, who is lucky to have a mother that encourages he pull apart the patriarchal traits that have been sewn into the youth of this generation. It’s not just right wing misogynists. It’s not just the wife beaters. There are some really good people- some of whom may be closer to you than you think – who just don’t know the answer to the question:

“Why didn’t they come forward sooner?”

(click link above to jump to article.)

-jg

Oldies, Not Goodies

I like just about every style of music (almost) and when I find myself getting “bored” with one style, I just start binge-listening to another style until I get sick of that one too. Right now, I’m back on “oldies” music, because I’ve been listening to a lot of old hip-hop, and I get fixated on the samples, so here I am. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the genre of “oldies” music, it refers to the clean-cut, radio friendly, seemingly innocuous songs of the 1950s and ’60s, which mostly focused on love and happiness.

In the spirit of the zeitgeist, this post is to highlight some of the things music artists used to get away with, that just sound ridiculous now. Society has changed, in the way we interact with each other, our interests and priorities, and the way we express ourselves. People don’t sing about the same subjects, because we don’t worry about or value the same things we used to. That’s not to say music has gotten better, where profanity is now encouraged to be as explicit and sexual as possible, but there is at least a new taboo around certain slurs that used to be allowed (I don’t even want to go into the numerous songs I found, which used “faggot” and “retard” freely on radio versions). Different things bother us, as well as delight us, and as a result, music is drastically different.

Take the song “Down In The Boondocks  by Billie Joe Royal:

Down in the boondocks/ down in the boondocks
People put me down cause that’s the side of town I was born in
I love her and she loves me/ but I don’t fit in her society
Lord have mercy, I’m a boy from down in the boondocks

People don’t really sing about caste or class in songs anymore. With the advent of Tinder and Bumble, as well as online services like Match.com, people can date across the tracks, and not have to face any backlash. I tried thinking of a recent song that deals with this issue, and I could only think of “Sk8r Boi” by Avril Lavigne. He wasn’t good enough for “her” but he was certainly good enough for Avril (wait- was Chad Kroeger the sk8r boi??). He just had to stick to his own demographic, which is something Billie Joe Royal couldn’t abide.

Have you ever listened to “The Wanderer” by Dion a million times, like I have? The message in this upbeat tune is pretty questionable on its own, without Dion actually doubling down on it: “You say to a chick, ‘Stay away from that guy,'” Dion said in 1976, “and she would say, ‘What guy?’ Chicks loved a rebel.”

How charming, Dion. I mean, you told her to stay away from the guy, and she didn’t listen to you?! The nerve! She must be asking for it, I guess. It’d be like, if your buddies told you to stay away from a girl, and you didn’t, but then when your buddies were right, you blamed it on the chick.

Oh wait, YOU DID. On the SAME RECORD. Let’s talk about “Runaround Sue” a minute, shall we?

She likes to travel around, yeah
She’ll love you and she’ll put you down
Now people let me put you wise
Sue goes out with other guys
(-Runaround Sue)

Okay, so what about:

Oh yeah, I’m the type of guy that likes to roam around
I’m never in one place, I roam from town to town
And when I find myself a-fallin’ for some girl
Yeah, I hop right into that car of mine and drive around the world
(-The Wanderer)

So let me get this straight: The Wanderer is some mysterious sex bomb, born to drive the women crazy (which is clearly all we want in life), while Sue doesn’t even get the luxury of being called by her first name, without the slut-shaming prefix? Interesting.

If you’re wondering why she goes out with other guys, it’s probably because you’re out fucking every girl in the world, not even telling them your name, because to you, “they’re all the same.” If you were home once in awhile, perhaps Sue would be happy to get a good dicking, but you’ll never know that, because you’re drivin’ ’round the world in your car.

I mean, you literally talk about how, when you’re spending the night with Janie (not Sue), you tell her you love Rosie (again, not Sue) the best, so Sue probably has the right to be going out with other guys. It’s only fair. Sounds like you either drove her ass crazy while you were in your “Wanderer” phase, and she couldn’t take it anymore, or, maaaaayyyybeeee… she was such a powerfully crazy whore, that you finally broke down and turned into a whore as well, and now they call you The Wanderer.

Still, if the latter were the truly the case, you said it yourself, “ask any fool she ever knew, and they’ll tell you” so why the fuck didn’t you listen?? You knew she wasn’t trying to settle down. It’s like when you tell a chick to stay away from a guy, and she doesn’t. Don’t expect monogamy from someone who is sexually liberated, and then go blaming them for your own transgressions.

Here’s another song I’ve always hated, that still makes me shake my head:

The purpose of a man is to
love a woman
and the purpose of a woman is to
love a man…
Come on, baby
‘Cause the time is right
Love your daddy with all your might
Put your arms around me
Hold me tight
Play the game of love

c’mon baby, let’s play the game of Love
(- The Game of Love)

Say what???

First of all… let’s just say we’ve learned our lesson on sexual attraction being limited to heterosexual couplings. Let’s pretend we all Oops!ed our way away from that whole tragedy, and agree that it’s a horrendous indoctrinating mindgame. Beyond that… I’d say the purpose of a man, back then, was mostly to either serve his country, and/or go to work and be the breadwinner, and provide discipline to the family, and wash the fucking car in the driveway. He didn’t have much purpose, beyond that. And let’s not glaze over the purpose of a woman, which is apparently to love a man?? Can we still pursue our dreams, though? Or rear our children? Do we have any other options, or can we do other things with our lives, while waiting to fulfill our life’s purpose? Just checking, for someone else.

Don’t even get my overly-analytical ass started on the disgusting Daddy/control issues at work in the last part. He feels the need to tell her that the time is right, as if she has no say in the matter, or simply can’t tell if the time is right or not, and then he keeps bossing her around like she’s some kind of voice-commanded sex doll. Why does he have to call himself her daddy? Why?… because daddies are bossy? Let’s shrug the daddy shit off, shall we?

Also, why have we not updated this song, to say “The purpose of a human is to love themselves, and the purpose of other people is none of your fucking business“?

Much better.

Tommy James had a song that goes: “My baby does the hanky panky”  over and over, for the whole song. I never actually knew if he was excited about it, or if he was slut-shaming, but he apparently felt the need to tell everyone about it in a song. I mean, there are only a couple of ways a person could take that line, both of which I’ll go into now.

If his baby does the hanky panky, and one assumes that he is the one doing the hanky panky with her, then why is he putting all of the focus on her? In that case, he and his baby are both doing the hanky panky, and he’s telling everyone that she’s doing it. Not cool. Own that shit, dude. If you’re proud of your lady, and you’re open enough to let others know she’s boning, be proud of the fact that she’s boning you.

That is, assuming “hanky panky” means boning.

On the other hand, if his baby does the hanky panky, but he is not doing the hanky panky, then he sounds unnaturally upbeat bout her doing the hanky panky with other people. The whole thing smacks of Open Relationship vibes. In either case, it sure does seem like he wants everyone to know about his “baby’s” sexual appetite, and could think of little to say about it.

Not exactly a ’50s or ’60s song, but in 1970, there was a fun little summer ditty called “In The Summertime“, in which Mungo Jerry celebrates all of the free-spirited excitement and adventure the warm weather brings. You’ve heard it in movies and TV, on the radio, in stores, and probably just in passing, more times than you can count. But have you ever listened to the lyrics? Particularly these ones:

“Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find
If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel”

Couple things: if you’re drinking and driving, it’s bad enough that you’re taking your own life into your hands, but your lack of compassion for other motorists on the road… not a cute trait. I don’t know about you, but I don’t make it a habit to get into a car with a drunk driver, much less, one that has been trolling around for “whatever he could find” before settling on me. This song doesn’t relegate the singer to his own class, as mentioned in the lyrics, though I’m still unsure if he truly understands the distinction between rich and poor. Who knows, maybe he’s spot on. Just seems more logical that the girl with the poor daddy is going to need that meal a little more than the rich girl. She would probably also be more inclined to be financially conscious at said meal, or at least bring home the leftovers, and probably eat them, and definitely not just leave the doggy bag in the fridge, like I do.

1970 produced another gem, called “Vehicle” by a group called Ides of March (like the warning). The very first line in the song lays it all out on the table, in the creepiest way possible:

I’m a friendly stranger in a black sedan
won’tcha hop inside my car
I got pictures, candy, I’m a lovable man,
and I can take you to the nearest star”

Uhh, what the hell?? That guy is using every cliche available to rapists in 1970. I mean, at least he’s friendly, but damn, he’s still telling you straight-up that he’s a stranger! Apparently he wants you to hop in his car, based solely on your looks, which just doesn’t ever lead to anything substantial, but if he can get you to the nearest star, he’s wheeling and dealing extremely well. Pictures? I can get those anywhere. Candy? You’re speaking my language, but again, I can buy my own damn candy. But when you start talking about taking me to Alpha Centauri, well, I just might be putty in your 1970s hands.

Not to further my point about the ’70s being equally weird, but in 1972, The Four Tops decided it was time to remind us what #RelationshipGoals look like, with “Ain’t No Woman.” I admit, I used to love this song, because it’s otherwise romantic as fuck, and I still do enjoy listening to it, but I cringe so hard when he sings the line “I would kiss the ground she walks on/ ’cause it’s my word, my word she’ll obey.” 

You mean, her value above others in your world is strictly contingent on whether or not she’s going to do whatever you say? Why does she have to obey your word? Do you have some unreasonable expectations, on which bullshit has been called? Not to be a buzzkill or anything, but that ain’t romance. It reminds me of that line in The Labyrinth, when Jareth says “Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.” What is it with guys thinking that’s a fair exchange?

“Hey girl… your free will, for some dick?”

I think we have arrived at a point, in our current society, where it really isn’t safe to sing or talk or write about anything, without incurring some backlash. I have come to accept this, and it seems that more and more performers are coming to the same conclusion, plowing past the red tape of PC civil rights and humanistic compassion, and glorifying misogyny, rape, murder, and racism. If you think the lyrics from the 1960s were questionable, just turn on your radio today. There is nothing to even question anymore; between the lyrics and the video themes, the messages are clear, and they set both genders (and society as a whole) back so many decades, the 1950s seem like yesterday.

But remember: nothing is safe to say, so even this post itself will come off as “anti-feminist” to someone, because they could argue that music videos nowadays are sexually liberating for [insert gender here] and I should break free from the chains of sexual repression in the media. I like to think there is a happy medium, where sexuality and the human form have their platform to be celebrated, AND creativity and ingenuity get to shine on their own platform as well. Sexuality can be liberating for people, and anxiety-inducing for others, but it has its place. Using sexuality as a replacement for anything, seems to surrender your own power over it, defeating the purpose of it in the first place.

Love and sex and relationships between people will always be changing. We will look at each other differently in the future, than we do now, than we did 50 years ago, and hopefully learn from our poor choices. I wonder what we’ll be singing about in another 50 years, when Li’l Pump and 6ix9nine are considered “oldies.”

-jg

Is This Real Life?

I have been thinking about what (or when) my next post would be, after posting 2 days early last week out of a completely unexpected -but still very welcome- burst of ambition. Since then, it’s been a whole lot of nothing, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been “getting inspired” shall we say. (it’s okay to keep reading, it does get funny, if not solely for the sake of keeping you reading)

I’m never left with a shortage of inspiration, because I study the relationships between people, specifically where it pertains to technological advancements. The world has changed dramatically in the way we interact with each other, but of course the world does tend to do that, especially as our civilization society booms (in number, not in strength or intelligence). But the advancements have made things so “convenient” for us, that often, we glaze over many of the not-so-obvious changes that come with them.

Social media has been one of the biggest catalysts in the decline of our manner toward each other. That sentence alone, alienates so many people, almost as if I were trying to shame people off of social media, but I’m really just spittin’ the facts. Highlighting truths, such as the fact that we spend less time talking face-to-face, we trust less of what people are saying, we become “friends” with people we don’t actually know or like, we spread information that has no basis in fact, we spend our money differently, we give out our most personal information to strangers, and those are just to name a few.

Here’s another big one: without social media, we would have to remember everyone’s birthdays. Do you think everyone who wished you Happy Birthday this year (or last year) just happened to remember that it was your birthday because they had committed it to memory? I guarantee you, most of those wishes were to save face and to abide by the code of facebook ethics, which also requires the response that goes something like this: “Thanks, everybody, for the birthday wishes! #soblessed”

Tell me I’m wrong.

I’m not trying to say the internet and social media don’t have their place. Obviously, this blog is important as fuck. This post is about how stupid people sound when they’re bullying, which isn’t exactly trolling, because sometimes -sometimes- trolling can be funny. The bullies are the keyboard warriors who definitely know MMA and could beat you up, and if that doesn’t scare you, it should, because they can find where you live, and they’ve kicked people’s asses for less.

The bullies are the Comments Section Heroes who see one sentence they don’t like, and spend 540 sentences letting you know about it, and then letting you know what they think of you and your family, and what they’re going to do to all of you, when Hulkamania comes for you!

The bullies are the ones who talk a whole bunch of shit, based solely on your profile photo, and whatever you are so liberated to let the world see, because you honestly don’t give a shit who sees it. If you thought you were ugly before… you just better think again, because you’re gonna know how ugly you are, when they let you know about your ugly face and your ugly body and clothes. You’re so ugly. Isn’t that just the most clever, and hurtful thing you’ve ever heard??

The bullies definitely have no flaws or personality traits that are disgustingly repulsive, making it so that nobody wants to date them or admit to being their relative. That’s why they’re looking through the comments for things to say to strangers. Because they were charming and considerate, until you went and fucked it all up, by being ugly, with your stupid, ugly face.

I’ve been trolled plenty online (the funny and not funny kind), and I have admitted to trolling as well. Harmless stuff, on my part; no personal attacks or bringing family members into it, just some light poking at their ideologies, in an attempt to educate them. Something like that. I’ve never tried to “get” someone by hurting them, or sinking to the level of dissecting their profile. It’s not in me to do that stuff, because I study the internet with one purpose, and that is to LAUGH MY ASS OFF at everyone who is trying so hard to live the #internetlife.

Let me explain to you what I mean by that. #Internetlife is when someone super-edits their photos before selecting the one (of thirty identical photos) that will go online. The background is staged to subliminally convince you that they’re living a specific way, or that they’re into a certain thing, but it’s not necessarily the subject of the photo; it’s just a little static for you to build up the version of them that they prefer you to have.

#Internetlife sometimes requires you to do a certain challenge, which people readily jump for, but not if it’s exercise or charity work. Just if it’s a dance, or game, or something else you can quit when people have moved onto another trending topic and stop paying attention to your thing. Is there a “Pick Up The Trash” challenge that people are doing? No? A “One Sit-Up Per Fucking Day” challenge? No? Okay, that’s what I’m talking about when I say #INTERNETLIFE.

I invented a personal challenge back when I was on facebook, and that was to say something nice to someone every day. I also did a separate mini-challenge, where I would text a delicious compliment to any friends who needed to hear something that wasn’t bad news or insulting. We face way too much negativity in life, and our compliments are limited to emojis and ‘likes’ on the internet. That’s mostly why I hate to compliment people on their looks, but I still do it. If someone has amazing eyebrows, I let em know how jealous I am, with my practically non-existent eyebrows (and lashes, honestly). If someone is wearing a cool-ass jacket, I say they have great taste, and that it looks good on them. If someone has a new haircut, I notice it. Rarely do I just say “You’re pretty!” and when I do catch myself saying it, I almost always follow it up with, “like that’s what’s important” just to let them know how much I can’t stand the stronghold society has placed on our physical looks. I guess that’s the real challenge: stop placing importance on looks. But it will never happen as long as we have social media, because it does little else beyond offering a snapshot of a person’s vanity.

That was too sad. Let’s get back to laughing.

Here’s something that never fails to make me laugh:  people who “chase” others out of threads, as if they had no other choice, and no other reason to leave. After you have gotten bored and left because they’re not quite making you laugh the way you thought they were going to, they brag about how they “SHUT THAT BITCH UP.”

Seriously? C’mon, Hero, has nobody ever told you that you were boring before? Or that they didn’t want to be around you? Or just straight-up walked out of the room while you were talking? That’s this. You’re literally bragging about someone realizing that they’ll never get back any of the minutes they have already wasted on you, and deciding to forget you exist. Just to be clear.

In a way, I sort of feel sorry for the chasers, because it’s obvious that they’ve dealt with rejection many times before, and have yet to cope in a healthy way. But then I remind myself that those are the same types who hold their significant others hostage with empty threats of self-harm, but real threats (and actions) of harm to the significant other. I know that narcissistic asshole, and robbing them of their target/audience is the worst thing you can do to them. Do yourself a favor, and “leave the chat room,” if you catch my drift.

(But also, just leave the fucking chat room, for real.)

I laugh at how fake the internet is, and it makes me laugh SO hard, that I forget I’ve been sitting there for fifteen minutes, watching some stranger get legitimately angry. The internet can be so real for some people, that it can affect their ability to control their anger. Think about it: have you ever had someone say something dumb as fuck to you, and it made you mad, and your muscles started to feel flooded with adrenaline, and your pulse quickened, and your face became hot, and you just wanted to savagely shut them down? It’s familiar, because lots of people say lots of dumb shit all the time. It’s how we deal with that anger, that differentiates us (me and cyber-dumbass in this situation), because even though my brain is saying “Hey, aren’t we gonna do something about this, and roast this fucker to pieces?” I know the person doesn’t even truly exist in my world at all, in any capacity. They’re a piece of matrix in my hand-held device’s brain. I don’t need to saddle myself with that by worrying about it. But there are some people who just live to say the nastiest thing possible, and nothing really shuts them up, so I refer to previous tip, “Walk The Fuck Away.”

In a time when internet bullying is so prevalent and cruel, that we have kids committing suicide over their experiences, we have to place importance on distinguishing between what is real, and what is NOT FUCKING REAL. Don’t let someone on the internet end your real life. I mean, don’t let anyone end your life anyway, but social media is a choice. It’s a choice you’re making, and if you’re allowing yourself to keep feeling worthless, it won’t end well. You need to shut that shit down. If you have a problem with what someone is saying to you online, shut it down. Walk away. Turn off your computer for three days. Turn off your phone’s data. See if you don’t realize that social media is an option for you to accept or refuse, or curate to be what you want. You don’t HAVE to deal with that shit. Make your profile private. Disable comments. Sign up under a generic email. Or hell, stay off social media. These are all better options than killing yourself, I promise.

If I get really honest with myself, I think the reason I laugh at Comments Section Heroes, is because I see those people believing in the internet version of themselves, and it reminds me of when you see someone’s shadow in the silhouette, and they look huge, but then when they come out, they’re tiny. That’s the way we have inflated our egos, to appear bigger and badder and meaner and more powerful and hotter and sexier and richer and tougher than we really are. It’s scrawny young boys, dressing up in their dads’ clothing, pretending to “go to work.” It’s little girls with the high heels and lipstick on, looking ridiculous but passing it off as “cute.” It’s a chihuahua with the bark of a doberman. It makes me laugh, because they are buying it 100%, even if you aren’t.

The internet is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

I mean, it can actually convince you that you need it. It can convince you that you’re a better person than you are, and convince others of that as well. It can swing an election. It can get laws changed. It can make you think a color is a different color, or a word is a different word, or that someone looks better with a mustache than with a beard. Sheep mentality guides us toward the popular opinion, which we don’t want to be excluded from, and social media is the mecca for that weird shit. There will always be assholes, fake news, distractions from reality, and unreasonable standards, just as there will always be inspirational humanitarians, beautiful photos, poetry, and art. Social media is forever shaping our society. We can take it or leave it, but whatever you do, don’t be a Comments Section Hero. It’s just ugly.

-jg

The “Custumor” Is Always Right

I’m one of those people who drives around checking out billboards and signs, looking for typos, or unintentional suggestive images, and other clever shit. Awhile back, I saw a sign outside of a strip mall near me, which has a Kmart and a grocery store and Verizon store and all that fun consumerist crap. The strip mall has that stuff, not the sign. But the sign said:

“Custumor Parking Only”

What the fuck is a Custumor? I’m not saying I never make mistakes, because I think I have before, but this was no mistake. The sign had to go through a process, consisting of at least two – if not all – of the following steps:

    1. whatever writing/typing/printing that went into writing the description to begin with, which
    2. then goes to a proofreader, which
    3. then goes to someone who approves it, which
    4. then gets typed up and finalized and
    5. sent to a media company for print.

And yes, I realize the company is probably going to quote policy on printing “exactly as the custumor presents it to you.”

But what about when the sign got delivered to the store? Nobody caught it, even then?! Not the idiots who received it against the packing list? Not even the idiot manager?? When the idiot putting the sign up was drilling the holes in the metal, did they completely miss the glaring error??? They should hear of their idiocy. Perhaps if someone had broken the news to them sooner, this idiot shit wouldn’t be happening (but then I wouldn’t have this brilliant material, so nevermind).

Know what else I hate?

“Let me put you on hold, and I’ll see if I can find the answer for you.”

Only, when they come back on the line, they tell me that they’re transferring me to someone else. That’s not an answer! That’s a fucking repeat performance, on my part! I don’t want to have to ask my question 4 times, just to not be helped by anyone. I called you for help! That’s when I hit ’em with: “Cool, let them know what my question was before you transfer me, would you?”

It’s especially nerve-grating when you have to transfer to numerous departments, because nobody knows what’s going on, and you have to give your access information every single time. “Ok I’ll need to access your account, can I get the last 4 of your social? Your zip code? Okay, and your date of birth? Aaand, your address? Yeah, and the exact time you last took a dump? Okay, and, your account number, please? Great. Now how may I help you?”

Well you fucking can’t, I’m sure, but let’s bring more people in on this clusterfuck, what the hell. The more people who get to deal with me, the better. I actually almost sort of pity any customer service representative who has ever had to deal with me. Even on my best day. On my best day, I love messing with reps. On my worst day, I channel all of my frustration from the days when I worked in a call center, and I convince myself that my wrath is a rite of passage for the rep lucky enough to be making the choice to work in a call center now. They deserve it. They need it.

I’ve worked in every side of customer service, and they each come with their own specific agony. I’ve done cold calling, insurance claims processing, inbound sales, member services, billing, collections, and mail correspondence calls, to name a few. I’ve sold CDs, clothing, phones, and dietary supplements. I’ve worked as a competitive employee, and as an equally competitive team member, as well as in thankless positions that got no recognition or reward. I’ve dealt with state departments, doctors, angry parents, sick and injured people, and people who threatened to “come find me” if I didn’t stop calling. There wasn’t anything about the easiest of customer service jobs that was remotely enjoyable. So please believe me when I say I understand how much it sucks to wake up to the knowledge that you have to drag your ass to a customer service job. Truly.

I also know that I don’t care how you make your money, as long as you do the job you’re being paid to do. And if that includes going back into training, so you can more effectively help me when I call and ask you for the low-down on your area of expertise, then that’s probably what you need to do. I’m just a consumer, though, what do I know?

I went to Wal-Mart, a chain well-known for having terrible customer service at their brick-and-mortar locations. Maybe it’s the area where I live, or maybe it’s the caliber of people who are willing to show up every day, but the customer service at the location in my town is probably one of the worst ones. If they’re not loudly reading your full name and address off your license in full earshot of anyone in line, they’re playing(?) dumb until you just give up and do their job for them, or just walk away. I would rather throw away a gift card, than to have to troubleshoot it at customer service. I’m that petty.

There’s a gas station/convenience store chain in our area, that doesn’t require their cashiers to provide anything more than the bare minimum customer service. They count the money, and put the stuff in a bag… sort of like a bank robbery. They don’t acknowledge you; they just start scanning your shit, and yell at you if you don’t drop all of your items quickly enough. They don’t tell you the total; they just expect you to read it off the screen yourself. They don’t give you a receipt unless you ask for it, and they don’t say anything to you once the transaction is done. It’s an oddly cold practice, but it doesn’t require people skills, which is probably the main perk to the job. A high school diploma/GED is not required, and you can be any kind of felon or addict you want. As long as you don’t mind spending a lot of time refilling kerosene right next to the register, you’re in! Welcome to the team! (they don’t probably actually say that, because they’re rude).

There is also a local restaurant, which I won’t name, because I don’t want to give them any free advertising, and it’s about a stone’s throw from my house. They usually have live music and pretty good food, but it’s a bar, basically. The guy who owns it is an asshat, and the employees are all junkies, and even though that’s status quo for most places, this was some velvet rope treatment type of shit. Matt and I got overcharged one night when we went there to see a friend’s band play, and the next day, we saw that we had also been charged for another table’s bill. We brought the statement (online banking on an app) to the restaurant to see the manager about getting it cleared up, and shit went all kinds of wonky from there.

First of all, they wanted us to just take their word for it, that there was no double charge, even though two different amounts were showing as debits from my account. No evidence to back up their claim, no reasoning they wanted to share with us, just their word. Of course, I don’t take anyone’s word for anything, especially when it’s money at a bar. I wasn’t having any of it, so the guy asked if he could take the phone out back so that they could “double check against the database of charges.”

That’s a hard FUCKNOTHANKYOUVERYMUCH. There’s got to be a better way!

The guy says, “I’ll go get the printed list of transactions.” Well why didn’t you suggest that first? That seems way easier than taking my phone back there. The guy comes back with the list, and he’s looking through it like a proper accountant, and he looks at us and says he can’t find our credit card swipe anywhere. He double checks. He triple checks. This is a bartender, by the way, not the manager. We haven’t even gotten to see The Wizard at this point. The bartender tells us the chargearen’t on the ledger, and just looks at us, hoping we’ll take his word for it, like he suggested already.

“So?” I says to him.

“Soooo…. It’s not on there.” Spinning my wheels with this guy was getting old, so I demanded the manager come out. And before I knew it, he appeared; his banana yellow shirt looked almost distorted, or like an upside-down light bulb, as it clung to his gravity-defying beer belly. The oily sludge in his hair seemed to be permeating the skin on his face and neck, and probably his back (*shudder*). His Dockers were horizontally crinkled at the top of the thigh, telling that he had been sitting for a long time (probably doing nothing). But the only thing I could focus on, were his annoying gold chains swingin’ about. He was so slimy and disgusting, that Matt still talks about him, to this day (he encouraged me to be more descriptive, because this did no justice to how vile he was. He was the epitome of a sleazebag bar owner.) His smug-ass face (smug ass-face?) made it abundantly clear that he didn’t want to be bothered. I don’t know what he was doing back there, but it was only 10:00 AM, so he couldn’t get the waitress to offer us a beer, and that put him at an obvious unease. He wanted to get back to whatever he was doing. And this time, free alcohol wasn’t going to get us to cooperate. So he started looking through the useless ledger, and asking us – in what can only be described as the whiniest voice I never expected to come out of his mouth – what we thought he should do.

Not my company, asshole. I don’t think you’re paying me to make your business decisions. In fact, you’re not paying me any of the money you owe me, so let’s get to that. I tells him, “I think you should give me the $25 you charged me for someone else’s drinks.” And you know what this clown decided was the best response to throw back at me?

“What if that extra charge doesn’t go through, how am I gonna get my 25 bucks back?”

I walked away at that point. There are not many things in this world that are worth $25 to me, and that was absolutely not something I would have thought was worth $100/hour. I would have gladly paid the $25 again just to avoid the exchange altogether.

The worst part about being “helped” by someone, is when the actual transaction/exchange is over, but they have about 140 more things to say. So you get to the point where they’re no longer useful to you, but they still want more of your time than what you’ve already given them. They want to tell you about their website, and all the dumb shit you can do on there, and they want to tell you that they’re available monday through wednesday, and friday from 8-4, except for the hours of 10-3, and they want you to know that they strive to provide the best customer service, so you’ll be getting a follow-up call to ask you some questions about the call where you asked them questions. For someone who does as much Consumer Reporting (ahem*complaining*ahem) as I do, you’d think I would be watching the phone for that call, for the opportunity to recount all of the things the rep did that weren’t up to my standards.

Well I hate that call. I don’t like any automated calls, and I get a ton of them. Appointment confirmations, school updates for my kids, surveys about whateverwhocares, or some cruise that I definitely did not inquire about. I didn’t inquire about a cruise. The only inquiry I will ever make into a cruise, is to ask why the fuck anyone would ever go on one. That’s the end of the inquiry. If there’s anything I hate worse than interacting with a robot on the phone, it’s being isolated in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of humans.

Cruises are a lot like life on Earth, in that way. We’re just a bunch of beings isolated in the middle of nowhere (space). And life, like the ocean, is unpredictable and powerful. I guess the difference is, I just don’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of rich assholes in the middle of the ocean. I’ll take my chances with my friends and family and all my cool stuff, on dry land.

Are cruise-takers even called customers, when they’re on the ship? Are they cruisers? (I just checked, and they are called cruisers, so I guess I know my yachtie lingo, and can now set forth on my journey to swindle a rich dude to take me as his trophy wife!)

I was joking about that last part, before anyone comes for me about being anti-feminist, or misandristic, or whatever. I am nobody’s trophy, nobody’s wife, and nobody’s anything. I am sometimes a customer, though, depending on how you use the word.

An entry from the late 14th century (spelled “custumer,” which might explain the typo, possibly, a bit) states that a customer is a: “customs official, toll-gatherer,” but the entry after that, referred to the Shakespearean definition implying prostitution. So if someone is described as “a cool customer,” that guy is probably getting some that night. Currently defined as “someone who buys things,” it’s safe to say that neither definition carried over into the 21st century very well. It also currently has a second definition:

2.

a person or thing of a specified kind that one has to deal with.

Now that’s more like it. I think we can agree that I’m the good ol’ 21st century definition. The jury is still out on whether or not the strip mall guy’s boss’s boss is a fan of 14th century English. 

 

-jg

Writer’s Block

How do you get writer’s block, when your writing style is “journal”? It hardly makes sense for anybody, but I am especially surprised that I personally am unable to talk about myself. How do I have nothing to say, and I’m me? I was voted Biggest Mouth in my Senior class in high school. I always have something to talk about, even when I don’t.

I sat down to get my writing surroundings in order, and I’m moderately comfortable, for how hot it is, and especially for how humid it is! I have my fully charged laptop, my pillow chair that I customized to my own weird comfort needs, my coffee (okay, that’s gone now), my fan on, my lighting dimmed, my mood elevated, and my hair out of my face (for now)… I even put on some tunes, to get my brain primed for entertaining.

Unfortunately (I don’t find it unfortunate) for me, I chose to listen to Aesop Rock, and I don’t know if you have ever listened to Aesop Rock before, but he doesn’t exactly make you feel like you know a fuckin thing about the English language. And here, I thought I was exclusive in some sweet love affair (with super light expectations) with the English language. Then I met Aesop, dude. Then I met Aesop.

I didn’t meet him, but I did see him at a small show a couple of years ago, and he was like, pretty much sweating on me (during the show, guys…) because of how close I was. He looked really good, too. Hey, Aesop. What’s up with you coming back? My boyfriend is totally cool with me asking.

So as I was saying, Aesop Rock magically uses language to create stories from beyond my wildest dreams, and when I listen to his music, it reminds me of how good I think I am, only to then realize how good I could be, but still am not. He plays with parts of speech, and captivates the listener with relatable anecdotes, pop culture, double entendre, and philosophy, all blended by his hypnotic vocal style. To say the man has an extensive grasp on vocabulary would be an understatement, and I almost always learn some new word or foreign phrase from his songs. I am so captivated by wanting to listen and dissect, that I find it impossible to be able to write. How could I? Nothing I say matters.

If you haven’t listened to Aesop, that’s fine, because you still can. I recommend the entire Labor Days album, as well as Float, but that’s just because I luh dat old shit. His new stuff is great as well. You may not be into hip hop music, and I think that’s fine for you, weirdo, but even you may still enjoy his work. I don’t know if you will or not, but I don’t much care, so that’s where that part ends.

I wonder how many times Aesop has gotten writer’s block? I doubt he ever could get that deep into nothingness, rather, he probably has writer’s floods; always having so many ideas-per-minute, that I can’t imagine he would ever have a moment’s peace inside his mind. I wonder what it would sound like in there, or what a scan of his brain would look like. I remember that movie 8 Mile, which I am in no way admitting to having viewed, where Eminem is talking about the song “just coming to him” or something like that, and basically just naturally forming in his mind, and that seems like a very very mild version of what happens to Aesop. But with considerably more talent. Like Little League vs the MLB, except I hate Eminem.

That’s not to say Eminem hasn’t written some funny and clever punchlines, but I did drugs too, before, so… bravo, Eminem. I don’t do drugs, and I stay making people laugh.

I wish I could make someone laugh right now. Perhaps my writer’s block is due to the fact that my kids are back in school now, and I feel like I have no purpose. Today is the worst day to feel that way, considering how much shit I have to do, but “writing” was also on that list of shit to do, and we’ve seen how well that turned out. I’ve just bitched about how good of a writer Aesop is, and how good he probably smells. I still have to bake a fucking cake, and make turkey meatballs, and pick up Sonny’s glasses (which I was supposed to do yesterday, but have since forgotten about 4 times), pick up Dot from school and go to an appointment, which we have to rush through, to get to her second appointment, which takes place inside the house. I mean, counseling has to be in a comfortable setting, and already being at home is nice for when the counselor leaves, because then I have to get back into doing way more shit. There’s always more shit to do. Forever.

I did a professional dye job of 3 colors on Dot’s hair (’twas slick as fuuuuuck), gave Sonny a tight fade, cut my own hair, and surrendered a bunch of my old awesome clothes (that Dot thinks are cool all of a sudden), just in time for the 4-day weekend that will make me feel like I did all of that shit for nothing. Because here’s something I never understood: the whole “school-starts-before-labor-day-but-then-there’s-an-immediate-long-weekend-to-get-your-kids-back-into-the-swing-of-being-lazy” thing. I mean, start it after labor day.

There. I figured it out.

And, since I know there are some of you saying “Well that’s too late,” I say to you this: I am a proponent for year-round schooling, and think it’s ridiculous and counterproductive to get a break for such a long period of time, especially one which is completely unrealistic to the “real world” (whatever that is). People have to work at a company for many years (TOO many!), and that is, if they ever earn 15 weeks (plus holidays) off! If kids aren’t in school, they need to be doing something sustainable, like farming or gardening or fishing or carpentry or electrical work or mechanics of some kind… just like an adult. My two cents, which is coincidentally how much I got paid for all that cosmetology work I did on our hair.

It makes me sad to not be able to give you something worth reading this week. But then I start thinking about all the stuff I’m supposed to be remembering, and I stop feeling bad. It reminds me of that scene from movies, where the sleeping guard is like “wha-? oh shit” and jumps up to do his fuckin job. That’s what my brain does. The part where it’s “sleeping” is the feelings, and my brain just needs to wake the fuck up and get back to work. Maybe next week, I’ll care more about you, than I do about focusing on the unattainable goal of not forgetting any of the eleventy-billion things I am expected to remember, whilst micromanaging the individuals and collective family life.

But who knows. It’ll be a surprise for us all! See you then!

-jg

 

No FOMO, or A Summer Without Facebook

Just after el cinco de Mayo of this year, I closed my facebook account. I didn’t just deactivate it; I shut that bitch down for life. I remember that it was right after el cinco de Mayo, because one of the last things I posted was a story about hearing French people say the phrase “sink-o duh my-o” while telling each other their plans for the ‘holiday‘ upcoming. Not many people of Mexican ancestry up here, but everyone was celebrating, thinking they were being supportive of some sort of Mexican Independence.

El sigh.

For the final couple of weeks on the ‘book, I was simply going through the motions: waiting to close the account, because I had already gotten myself super amped up about it, and I just generally hate anticipation. When I decided I was leaving, I gave my friends and family 2 weeks to provide their contact information before I fell off  the planet facebook. I didn’t even want to stay on for those 2 weeks, and several times, I’d considered just closing it anyway and saying “fuck the 2 weeks!”

Not many people responded with their information, but they all seemed like they couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. Ones that said “please don’t go!” haven’t talked to me in the past 4 months, and those that said “don’t lose touch” have barely replied to my correspondence outside of facebook. (I guess those were threats, after all.) That’s not to say none of them have talked to me, but it’s clear that facebook makes you think you have a lot more friends than you actually have. On the contrary, you probably have a ton of *ahem* friends who are curious about what is going on in your life, but don’t want to get involved in any capacity, other than bystander. That’s more like it.

A lot of people who do see me in real life, have uttered the phrase “oh, you’re not on facebook, nevermind” to the point of exhaustion. Yes, I am the outlier, and thereby, require other forms of communication in order to stay in the proverbial loop, as it were. It doesn’t mean I am incapable of understanding what is happening to people, and can even be told/shown in the exact same manner as if I were a facebook onlooker. Simply show me, or tell me. Just like a computer. Or a kindergarten class. But, you know… me.

I used to share a lot of lengthy and opinionated posts (no, it’s true), which turned into this blog, and I used to share a lot of photos, which turned into google photo sharing, and I used to get bothered by shitty articles and sourceless stories, which turned into being bothered by my general news search. Some might say I’m making lateral moves that don’t mean anything. To them, I say, “Remember Cambridge Analytica?” (and then I disappear into a cloud).

I mean, sure, someone is probably still spying, but it ain’t facebook. I’m not taking quizzes and bumping polls and registering for this-or-that-side in some stupid faceoff about candy or the color of a dress… AKA Profiling Myself For Free. I don’t care to argue about my political beliefs anymore, or argue about whether I should be trying to understand the current racial atmosphere, or get into arguments about *anything* with people who probably aren’t even real, because facebook isn’t real to me. It doesn’t exist, that is, until I try to look up a business, and their only fucking web representation is their facebook page. Why would anyone limit themselves in such a way? My favorite blogger changed her platform to facebook posts, which devastates me, because now I don’t get to read it. In times like that, I want to miss facebook, but then instead I just don’t.

Another thing that I don’t understand anymore, is how the over-all organization of your life on the facebook platform – dates, concerts, baby showers, birthdays, political gatherings, holidays, educational institution details and dates, career specifics, area of location, photo documentation of your family’s upbringing – makes anything easier. I used to think it was convenient, but in reality, it’s just a nice compact version of everything about you, sold to the highest bidder. It’s a social media platform, not a government file (well, it is now), so why are people trying to get so intimate with everyone, that even the most distant connection is one worth letting into your innermost circle?

Matt has asked me several times if I miss facebook, or if I wish I had it back. The answer never changes, and I wouldn’t even be thinking about an answer if he wasn’t bringing it up, because I literally never think about it. I hear people say “Did you see on facebook…” and I immediately interject “nope” but then they start pressing to figure out what the problem is, like my computer malfunctioned somehow, or I just was “too busy for facebook” somehow, or facebook must have malfunctioned somehow because I hadn’t seen it yet.

Nothing is wrong. I haven’t seen it. I’ll never see it. I don’t want to see it now, or tomorrow. If you have a photo to show me, show me the fucking photo. Not the facebook post.

ANNNNND… And and and… I don’t want you to do that move where you “share your phone” in some ridiculous side move where I get to see you scrolling through your feed for 3 minutes in order to find the picture. I didn’t like that when I was on facebook, and I don’t like it when it’s your crap.

Not that your stuff is crap. I’m sure it’s great.

So, not having access to the many “good times” people have been checking into, or the books and drinks they’re enjoying, or the articles they thought were shareworthy, has given me some perspective on life. Perhaps a selfish perspective, but one that I’m willing to live with. I don’t have to worry about who likes my photo, or my rant. I don’t have to see other people praising the disgusting things I hate about society. I don’t have to wonder if I’m living a life that is better or worse than anyone else’s. I don’t feel as anxious, I have been much less skeptical because I can choose what news to read, instead of following a prompt based on my scrolling, and I don’t feel like I’m being constantly judged for what I say.

Which brings me to the most serious part of my fexit. I write things sometimes, and have opinions sometimes, that aren’t regarded as “awesome” by some people, and that’s something I am okay with. But other people aren’t okay with it, and they react. Truth is, there will always be people out there who don’t agree with what you’re saying, but social media has created a breeding ground for hate to flow freely and, seemingly, without consequence. Everyone can see what you’re doing and saying, far beyond when you have said it or done it, and just because 250 people have “liked” your comment, doesn’t mean you’re in good company. I’m sure there are a million pieces of shit strangers out there, who completely agree with what you’ve said, but the one person who takes offense to it, could be someone who you care about and truly affects your life. Facebook has created a platform for people to do and say things they wouldn’t do or say in real life, if faced with those same circumstances. Bravery can soak into your bones and make you feel invincible, but once you bring social intelligence into the physical interaction, I guarantee people will act completely different. People have already started acting different, but for the worse. The 2016 election kicked everything off, and facebook is the reason we have the president we have now, and thereby, many of the societal problems we have now.

Wait, don’t go.

If you disagree with that statement, I am going to bet my first child that you are still on facebook (and like it), but let’s say for shits and giggles that you aren’t.

You’re not on facebook, and you’re so very woke to the drawbacks and breach of privacy, and you read all about the Zuckerberg hearings, and you actually followed the election outside of facebook,… and you also happen to be of the opinion that the election was clean and fair, and not carried out via facebook. For this to be the case, you would have had to completely ignore the very word “facebook” in the news for the past 3 years, as well as any relayed information given by facebook account holders, even if you trust them.

I can tell you, to witness firsthand, the galvanizing of people who think the way the president does, was terrifying. These are people who, prior to the consequence-free zone of facebook, were ashamed to take their beliefs public, because the established collective morality tells us to be socially intelligent, and our brains tell us how to act (or not act) when in a physical confrontation. Well we can remove that stigma, because the president has glorified some of the most divisive and abusive behavior, and has reinforced the idea that you don’t have to ever answer to anybody, and you can take whatever you want. I watched hate groups form on facebook at an alarming rate, between 2014 and 2017, and people really stood behind the messages.

Also on facebook, as with other social platforms, if you express an opinion that goes against someone else’s, they will rake through your profile for something to hurt you with. Some people actually go after others, because their exchanges become so intense. And if they can’t get at your profile, they’ll google your name until they find something else. People have committed suicide because of facebook. People have lost their jobs. People have been stalked and killed. People have been separated from their children.  Imagine that in a real situation: when you’re having a heated argument, the person gets to start rifling through your things, and reading your journal, and going through your phone and computer, and screaming obscenities at you the whole while. They threaten you with physical harm, they threaten you with murder, threaten your family with murder, tear down your looks, your family, your job, your place in life, with no basis for it, other than the fact that you disagreed on ONE THING.

I act completely different now, and I feel like that’s a good thing. I know there were times when I let my reactions to someone else affect how I treated people around me. I think back on that, and I’m like “What?” People are still doing it right now on facebook. I also know there were times when I tried to connect an ordinary app to facebook, and it asked for access to my personal information, both on my computer and my phone, among other unreasonable requests. People are still accepting that request right now on facebook. I remember getting friend requests from people without names or faces that I recognized, and deciding I didn’t really want strangers having a full view into the details of my life. People are still happily and excitedly accepting those requests right now on facebook. A friend is a friend is a friend (even if they’re a bot or a spy).

Unfortunately, facebook has created a monster in that way. Vanity has taken over our interests, more so than anything in the past has, and has dumbed down our vision of what society is. We yearn for more approval, more friends, more likes, more requests to follow, more affirmation. Often, that is the only point behind a post. Nobody is dolling themselves up, taking a selfie, face-tuning themselves, and posting the photo cropped all to shit, unless they were looking for compliments. Next time, just show the fishing pole in the photo. It will bring less confusion. Or, how about #fishingnotfishing.

I’ve discovered the difference between those who call themselves my friend, and those who are just looking to call people ‘Friends’. The reason people send/accept friend requests, is so they can reach more people, because when you reach more people, they can see all of the great things you’re doing that are reflective of your real life I swear, or the totally selfless act you’re performing solely for someone else’s benefit and not for your own karma points no way, or that amazing update about your efficiency at doing laundry AND going to the gym AND tanning…all in the same day! How else would people you know (as well as those you don’t know, as well as the bot accounts, as well as the marketing spies) know about all of those highlights, if not for facebook?!

And the more people who get to see your perfectly groomed profile (instead of the nightmare you are in real life), the better of a person you actually are, and the more advantages you’ll have in life! You need to have thousands of friends, because that’s what regular people (not celebrities who make money by simply existing) normally have in life, right? A close circle of 2,500 friends you want knowing every detail about where you are, at all times, and what you’re doing, as well as who you’re with? Nobody has 2500 people who actually like them.

I was not serious about that last part. I know there are at least 2500 of you who really love me.

I’m not saying facebook is the only place this happens, but facebook is the only place in my world that ALL of this stuff happens. It’s a fucking app. An app that could ruin your world, and the worlds of those around you. An app that HAS ruined MANY lives. An app that shows us how deep into our vanity we can get, while stealing our identities behind our backs. How is that not ironic? We admire the outer shell so much, that we’re too distracted to notice as our insides get sucked out the back door.

That was a poor choice of wording. But you get the idea.

So, after 4-ish months of being free, the only question that still remains, is this: why would anyone ever go back to facebook? With everything that is already wrong with this world, it seems like walking away from an explosion, only to go back and bask in the nuclear winter. It makes no sense. If you are smart enough to walk away, and take control of your life, what makes you revert back? Is it like one of those brokeback mountain relationships, where you just wish you knew how to quit it? It would be interesting to see a brain scan on someone as they reactivate a new facebook account, after having ditched. I bet that would show some significant mid-brain activity, and probably not much else.

The obvious compartmentalizing of people, exposure of their information, hijacking of their time, and exploitation of their weaknesses, all at the willing hand of the victim, has convinced me that I want no part of it. There is no benefit to being on the platform, and even from the outside, it is clear how quickly and dramatically it is deteriorating the world. I officially have no FOMO.

-jg

The Indignant Chef

I spent this past week visiting with family from out-of-state, and I had an interesting interaction with my mom, while preparing food for the horde.

She was making a rather “involved” dish, that wasn’t necessarily complicated, but included many steps, and ingredients you probably didn’t just have laying around (unless you did, then, whatever). In short, it was more time consuming than I would have been happy with, but I was merely a bystander, so I didn’t actually have to do any of the work.

Despite that fact, I still found myself getting frustrated while I watched her neatly dice every veggie, and patiently mince the garlic and cilantro (with a filet knife), and expertly blend the fresh limes and herbs and oils, and the whole thing was orchestrated with such a calm demeanor! It made me want to run screaming, because I would never be able to do that.

Matt was laughing, as I watched, horrified. “Are you really her mother?” He asked my mom, obviously recalling all of the times I have made him question whether or not it was a good idea for me to have sharp knives.

When I cook, everything is a weapon, and I’m always ready to use one on whoever wants to “help” that day. I don’t mean to be a dick about it, but I just can’t use your help, because it’s actually more work. And no, I don’t have time to relax, or stop shaking, or blink, or any of that. I have to do multiple moves at once, and they’re all taking too long. I never want anyone’s help. I tell my kids they can watch, but then when they stand by the counter, I tell them to get away, because the stove has a potential blast radius of 12 feet whenever I’m using it, and there are rogue oil droplets flying everywhere, or bubbling starchy water is popping off, or meat is sizzling, or I’m just tired of listening to questions while I’m clearly working shit out in my head (not always to solution).

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a great cook. I can make anyone like anything, I’m certain of it. I used to make some fatty delicious meals that would have you in a coma, but since I’ve started caring about how food affects my family, I have dialed it back. Fried chicken is not off the table completely, but I use canola for the oil, whole wheat flour, skim milk, and boneless skinless chicken breast. I don’t know how to make it any healthier than that, without eliminating it altogether, which I don’t want to do.

I’ve always cooked for people, and sometimes I even enjoy it. The process, however, is not pretty. I fuck up a lot, and I correct it, or at the very least, make it palatable. If all else fails, I make a sauce or a dip that can save the day. I rarely go beyond the point of no return, when it comes to preparing food. That’s not to say it has never happened, but I can’t recall any examples off the top of my head. I think it would take a lot for that to happen, but I get close sometimes. I flirt with disaster, and riff a lot, which is a big no-no when you’re cooking multiple things at once. If I tried to bake something, forget it.

Hey, did you know that potatoes will never ever be done at the same time as your other food? Did you also know that potatoes are my favorite food, and I’ve prepared them over 3,000 times? No matter how many times I give them a go, no matter how early I start them, I will never be confident that we will be able to eat them with the protein and veg at dinner time. The more you motherfucking know.

My family is always telling me “You could go on one of those cooking competition shows, and win!” Which, of course, is not true. I don’t cook well under pressure, and I would be swearing so much, they couldn’t use any of the footage. Plus, as good as I am at cooking, I don’t think I can just replicate a dish on command. I make what I want to make, and sometimes it changes form during the cooking process, but what is the real difference between Fish Fillet With Lime Rice, and Fish Tacos with Lime Rice? I’ll tell you the difference: I fucked up the fillets, and ended up shredding the fish with spices, and it became clear that my Mexican heritage was fed up with not having tacos. I always have fresh corn tortillas in my kitchen, so whatever I fuck up, I just make into a taco. If you said “I want This Meal, cooked This Way” I wouldn’t be able to help you. You’d probably get a taco.

My mom has infinite patience. That’s probably why she makes gourmet stuff, and I mostly live on Success Rice. (Shout-out to Success Rice!) I made Fair Food Night once, which was more of a nightmare than it seems like. It didn’t taste good enough to make it worth it, and I beat myself up (mentally, don’t worry, that’s the good kind) in the middle of the night, thinking about the heart attacks my son will have in 30 years. I don’t cook that shit anymore. That was a bad idea, and I owned up to it immediately. My kids still mention it to this day, but when they talk about it, they say the food was good. They also think Fried Chicken and Waffles is my signature dish, and has been named as the Death Row Meal in our house. I don’t know how we aren’t dead already.

If my kids made their own meal plans, I don’t know how we would survive, honestly. I asked them to each name three things they wanted for dinner this week, and the first thing Sonny said was Chicken and Waffles, followed by Baked Mac and Cheese with Prosciutto. I told him I wanted him to live, so he said “Well, are stuffed peppers going to kill me, or can I eat those?” I think he was mad when I said “I’ll stuff them with turkey sausage,” because he rolled his eyes at me, growled, and said “Nevermind!”

I ended up getting the ingredients for stuffed peppers, mostly because the peppers were on hella sale, and I found some nice meaty ones. I like to eat the males. Did you know, that if the pepper has three knobs on the bottom, it’s a male, and if it has four knobs, it’s a female? Sometimes, there are little baby peppers growing inside of the females. Sonny likes to eat those. Hopefully someone doesn’t tell me they’re poisonous. *Looks up whether they’re poisonous* (they’re not). The turkey sausage only came in the Hot Italian variety, so I said what the hey; I’m part Hot Italian. I can make that work out, I’m sure, right? There’s a chance I might end up eating beer cheese and Triscuit for dinner, but nobody is going to tell me I can’t!

I think, when people are shopping, they end up getting more crap than they need, because sales tell you that you’re going to save money that way. But really, I mean, maybe I don’t want to spend $10 on a “deal” just because it’s a great value, and I just want to spend $3 instead. I just saved $7 by sticking with my original plan, and telling you to go fuck yourself.

That’s not to say I don’t get suckered in once in awhile. It’s usually with meat, because I am always looking for a reason to “use that steak before it goes bad” and if I buy it in bulk, that’s more that I get to eat, in the same amount of time. Some people say that’s gullible, but joke’s on you, because I’d eat a full protein diet if I could, and I’m still iron and protein deficient. (I’m also calcium deficient, and should very much be eating a ton of ice cream.)

I think it’s time I really let Sonny and Dot get hands-on with dinner, and watch how easily they do the work. Maybe they will inherit my assholish nature in the kitchen, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll take after Matt. He usually skips around the kitchen, and does a lot of double-takes, and that shuffle that makes you look like you’re wearing an invisible blindfold. But he does try to help. He is almost a great sous chef, and in my kitchen, that’s the scariest job. “Work closely with me, among my unpredictable anger, near the fire and sharpened blades!”

Maybe I’ll just stick with the old tried and true: “It would take less time for me to do it myself, than to teach you how to do it.” That’s my terrible parenting at work. I don’t normally shit on own parenting, but that’s the one that is always there. I never have the patience to teach them to cook, because they always approach me when I’m keeping up with cook times of like 4 different things.

I could just train myself to be less anxious, like my mom, but I know myself, and that looked really weird to me. More power to her (she is the queen of patience, unless she’s driving) but I don’t think I would get anything done, that way. Except maybe a taco.

-jg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Anybody Talking About The Humidity?

Here in New England, nobody talks about the weather.

Just kidding, fucking everyone talks about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s an inch of snow, or ten feet of snow… if it’s 50 degrees in July or 110 degrees; someone is going to point out how much different it is than last year, or they’re going to talk about how next season is going to be a doozy, or how this is the worst they’ve seen in awhile, or whatever it’s doing to affect their plans. It’s the first topic of conversation for so. many. interactions. 

“Boy, it sure is hot, but this humidity…” Of course, thanks for reminding me that it’s the humidity that is making the heat worse, as I was beginning to get confused about what was happening. I was content to write it off as an invisible wet plastic bag to my entire body, but this theory seems much more likely.

Humidity isn’t just a shitty thing when it’s hot. It’s sometimes humid when it’s not  warm, which only serves to make you feel like you’re suddenly dead. Nothing is worse than cold and clammy, because there is no way to get away from it. We had that weather a few days ago, and it wasn’t pleasant, but thankfully it lasted all of 2 hours, before we were back to the blistering sweat bath. I feel like a corpse now, but one that has been left in the hot sun for a few days. (And in the humidity!)

So, it’s realer-than-real-deal-Holyfield hot. New England isn’t exactly the first place you think of, when you think about hot climates, but 90 degrees is hot, in my opinion, and when you slap the humidity on, it feels like the End Of Times. As much as I hate the heat, I’m not one of those A/C junkies who can’t go anywhere without it, and has A/C in their house, and their cooled garage, and then their car, and their parking garage, and office. I don’t have a garage, or access to a parking garage, and certainly don’t have an office, but I also don’t use A/C in my house or my car, because I’m allergic to something about it, and I don’t know what it is, but I wish it wasn’t real. Allergic to relief: that’s me.

It’s fucking hot, what the hell??! How can it be possible, that my mood is so affected by the weather?? I mean… I’m really irritable! I can’t sleep at night, I don’t want to shower, I don’t want to put on clothes, I don’t want to cook any food, I don’t want to walk around or do any fucking thing, because IT’S TOO HOT TO BE ALIVE!!! I proposed the idea to my sister, that this is nature’s eugenics; killing off the weakest people who can’t deal with how oppressive and strangulating this heat is!! It’s not just the heat, it’s all of the natural disasters that have been happening, that support my theory that Mother Nature is sick as fuck of us, and is going to make us all deathly uncomfortable, or uproot us with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and tsunamis and hurricanes and wildfires and sinkholes and blizzards and tornadoes until we just give up.

But it’s also this heat.

Some of my readers live in places that are hotter than 90 degrees, pretty much all the time, which horrifies me to think about. Even if I was waking up to a tropical paradise, 90 degrees loses its flair after about 50 seconds. My friends love it, and tell me I would totally get used to it, but I tell my friends they clearly don’t know a damn thing about me, and to let me complain, or just get out. I sound like a crybaby to them, and that’s okay. I think I sound like a crybaby to a lot of people, on account of how much complaining I do. But to be suffering in heat worse than this and still wanting to read my writing… my complaining must not be that bad after all. Man, people must really love me.

My parents are coming to visit us this weekend, from out-of-state (and I still wrote you something!). That means I have been running around like crazy, to every store in the city, and experiencing their varying levels of A/C usage. From my adventures, the Goodwill store clearly has the right idea about keeping things cool. I’m not sure why, since all of the stuff in there is musty and damp anyway. Surprisingly, the grocery store was one of the warmest places I stepped into, which was off-putting, considering I went to the auto mechanic (again) too, and even that was cooler than the grocery store. Plus, I got a pat on the back for intuitively recognizing that something wasn’t right with my car. I guess it wasn’t even noticeable to him, until he inspected what I says, and there be the solution. Do you know why I knew something wasn’t right with that bitch? Because I’m one with her. Also, because there’s always something going on with that car. But she’s still alive, though, so I guess I should be knocking on wood (or whatever your religion does). She and I are a lot alike, in that way. I told you we were one.

I just took a break from writing, because I had to paint the bathroom. I chose a brightsy-darksy-ish red color, which I was excited about at the store (when I was buying all of my other colors, for all of the other rooms that look dy-no-mite), but when I got home, I started to think this red would remind me of a menstrual period. It’s pretty much that exact color, on the wheel. My kids didn’t feel the same, although, Sonny did say it reminded him of where he should go when he was bleeding out and needed first aid. (So, same thing.)

You know who ended up needing first aid? Me. Because my brilliant ass decided to paint the bathroom, on a 90 degree day, with the bathroom being one of the many rooms in my house that does not have a functioning window. It’s an old building, and we’re right on the water table, so the building has settled a bunch. The windows don’t all open, what do you want? I’ll tell you what want: a window that opens! There’s no ventilation in there, so guess which second-floor-bathroom-without-a-window-that-opens was being painted in the apex of heat and humidity in this house? Shutup. That red bathroom will forever remind me of the anger and frustration and heat and flames I endured, just to end up with the stark reminder that you definitely need multiple-multiple coats when you paint with red, because it’s the most nightmarish color to paint with. The humidity is never going to let that damn bathroom dry.

I ran out of paint, and am nowhere near done, so I guess writing this is the real break. I remember this morning, I texted Matt and told him “It’s too hot, I don’t want to do anything today,” and he said, “Don’t.” Hahahaha. Those were good times.

I went to Goodwill today, and there was a guy there, who was seriously asking if the framed print on the bottom shelf was an original painting, or if it was a copy, and he smelled so strongly of Adidas cologne, which I recognized from my days of dating 18 year-old wannabe gangsters. I didn’t have the heart to tell the guy that there was no chance I would tell him if I recognized something as valuable, or that his stench was making me want to run back out into the humidity, so I just said, “You never know what you’ll find here.” Which was really about the situation.

You know what you will find there? A/C, which, it turns out, doesn’t bother me if it’s not directly near me. It must be something that the appliance emits, that my histamine blockers can’t effectively fight off, because I’m doomed to be miserable. Who is allergic to A/C?? I’ve literally never met another person who is.

Okay, it’s too hot, and I still have to make lamb chops, which I’ve never done before, but I’ve been successful at winging so many things, that I’m not that worried about fucking up. What I am worried about, is the kitchen getting hot, and I’m worried about eating all of the beer cheese that I made for my step-dad, and I’m worried about not sleeping tonight because it’s HOT AS FUUUUUCK. I’m sure that in reality, I’m going to crush all of this shit, and the only person who will even be judging is ME, because if I didn’t have self-torture, who would I be? I think they call that motivation, and I need all the motivation I can get right now. I’m being smothered by the humidity.

-jg

 

 

 

Please Will You Not Be My Neighbor?

Recently, Matt and I weighed out the pros and cons of moving. Again. Some of you who know me more personally are probably rolling your eyes, because you never know where the fuck to find me. My grandmother has replaced my last initial page in her address book so many times, it scrolls out. My ex has (effectively) used my roaming ways against me in court, as a means to imply I am not stable. Why he chose that for the example, I’ll never know.

In the time Matt and I have been together, the longest we have lived in one place has been less than 4 years, and it’s the place we’re currently in now, which is most likely why I want to move so immediately.

It’s always nice being able to move, because I think I might be a gypsy, somewhere deep in my heritage, and I don’t like being in the same place for long. I also don’t like things to look the same for too long. I have to move furniture around, or switch it out for something else, or re-decorate, or cut my hair, or alter my clothes, just to keep things interesting. I wouldn’t say my need for shaking things up has caused me to change my boyfriend scenery multiple times, but you won’t hear me deny that fact (read: FACT) either.

(It’s okay, Matt and I are still together, as of this post)

In this case, we are desperate for a change of scenery around our neighborhood. When I say the “neighborhood,” I am referring to exactly that: the neighbors.  If there’s a medical term for pain and suffering at the hand of your neighbors, I have it. We currently live in a side-by-side duplex, and the family on the other side of the wall is a full-time anxiety attack. There are, at any given point in time, anywhere between 5 and 10 people living there, depending on the day, and only 3 of those people are adults. They wake up early (not the adults), and run around the house, jumping up and down the stairs, screaming, hitting the walls, playing on our stairs outside, hitting baseballs around our car, ripping our roses off the vines, oh, and did I mention shouting? I can’t understand how the acoustics in their apartment are so clear and vivid, but my kids can’t hear me shouting to them up the stairs (even though I can hear every word they’re yelling saying). Everything is amplified in the wall that separates our apartments. I’m sure next door it seems like “just a crayon” dropping on the floor, but it sounds like they’re dragging a body down the stairs.

They are a church family, too, which is fine by me. Whatever you want to worship is your own thing, but my problem doesn’t stem from their theological preference. It’s the stuff that requires *me* to live the church life. Like when they’re up at first light on Sunday (weekend) morning (when you sleep), so they can all take showers before leaving for church, so they wake up everyone in the building, including those of us on the other side of the fucking property, with loud industrial fans that don’t do anything to dampen the shrieks and thumps that echo through the frame of the house. I’m saying, those kids are LOUD. They need boot camp for sure. At least.

On top of that, they’re incredibly afraid of us. Like, super scared. I don’t know why, because we’ve never been anything but kind and outwardly sweet to them, smiling way more than I normally would (or should), but there they are: whiny little quivering babies. Even if they’re having the best time outside, and the sprinkler is going, and there’s a parade, and there’s ice cream, and Spongebob is outside asking them to be his best friends… it doesn’t matter; they will still run into the house as soon as they see us coming. They scowl and frown, too, immediately, from smiles and laughter, and stare at us like they are preparing to see something unexpected. One day, I heard one of the kids tell the others that Matt was evil, which I thought was weird, given that the kid was waving around one of the roses she had just freshly murdered out of my yard. I guess killing things makes you less evil, somehow, but okay, Matt is the scary one. I used to be confused by it, and then I didn’t care, and now I think it’s funny and have even toyed with the idea of really playing up the part of the mean lady that hates all the kids. Just flex the shit out of my “acting” chops, and really make ‘em believe I don’t like ‘em. (I don’t.)

Speaking of all the kids in the entire god damn world, it isn’t just those kids next door. It’s a whole bunch of houses of kids who all want to play in MY yard. I know what you’re saying now: “Isn’t it everyone’s yard?” and you’re wrong. There is a clear line of demarcation between “their” yard, and “our” yard, and they are going to the far side of my yard, to the fence that divides our property from the other neighbors. That’s where they’re picking the roses from; nowhere near their yard. That also happens to be where they prefer to play, and have invited every kid in town to join them. They must love how shiny my beater car (that I’m stuck with, out of necessity) is, or how uninviting my glaring out the window is making the curb appeal seem. They obviously aren’t out there for me. They like the kids next door. (I don’t.)

So, we have kids from our street, and the next few streets over, all congregating on our front porch. It’s a shared porch, but as I mentioned, there is a divider down the center, which is invisible to children, I guess, because they use it as a tool to drive me to drink. It’s that weird kid shit that I don’t find fun. I didn’t like it when my kids were little, and I especially don’t like it, now that it’s a bunch of kids that I already wanted to send to boot camp. No special feelings there. I wish no harm upon them. I just don’t like them.

Perhaps it’s hardly their fault. I mean, I used to roll up in people’s houses uninvited and unannounced when I was younger, even when my friends weren’t there. I just didn’t know any boundaries, because my dad didn’t teach that kind of stuff. I stole things, I destroyed property, I spray painted a lot of things that weren’t mine. If that happened to me, or something of mine now, I would probably go directly to that parent and tell them to send their kid to boot camp. It’s probably the parents’ fault anyway, right?

Is it really too much to ask, to be able to go out on my porch and watch the sun set, without tripping over bikes and McDonald’s toys? Can I please go outside and write for a few hours in the breeze, without catching foam bullets with my teeth, or at the very least, some major 8 year-old side-eye? Can I sleep past 5:30 AM on a Sunday morning, just once? I leave everybody alone. I mean, I clearly don’t like neighbors, so I do as little as I can to attract their attention for any reason, believe me. It just so happens that every single time I go outside, they’re sitting out there. And any time I pull up into the driveway, and they’re not in the yard, they arrive within five minutes. This sounds like I’m embellishing, but that couldn’t be a bigger wish for me right now. I get no time away from the kids next door, and I BARELY want to hang out with my own! (Kidding). What makes them think I want to sit awkwardly in my witch rocking chair, while they stare me down? I’d rather they just go spinning off into the alley to play, but they don’t. They sit there scowling and it’s weird as fuck.

I don’t get down with the neighbor scene, even if they’re cool. I’ve seen some situations where all the tenants in the building leave their doors open, and they just walk in and out of each other’s places. Fuck that! That would never be my thing. Ever. The minute I saw that happening in my building, I’d be putting a guard dog outside my door. Don’t try to walk in my house without being invited, you fucking vampire. That’s against the rules. You need to be invited, just like Jesus. What makes you think you have privileges over Jesus?!

Speaking of lords, we didn’t tell our landlord we were thinking of moving, because we really really like them. They’re lenient when we need extra time on rent, they fix something as soon as we report it, they don’t come around and get nosy, they care about our kids, and they want us to be comfortable in this place. That goes a long way with me. Plus, they love us, even though I just made us sound like nightmare tenants. We’re actually very cool. Trust me. I’m also trustworthy. And cool.

Nevertheless, if I told them that it was, in fact, the neighbors who were driving us away, he might try to kick them out instead, because we’re so much cooler than they are. As much as I think they should be in boot camp, turning those brats into homeless kids would be something my conscience couldn’t handle. One of those kids is almost a little bit cute. So, I worked hard to avoid that whole conversation altogether.

It ultimately worked out, because we decided not to move. Instead, we’re fixing up the place we have, and NOT moving the hoard of shit we have accumulated over time. The rooms have been switched around, AND painted, and everything has new life. Including old Jupe.

Now if I could just convince the neighbors to send those kids to boot camp, all will be perfect.

-jg

It Ain’t No Fun

No formal post this week. I had a (super lengthy and poignantly funny) post written out, but the entire plot is fucked, so the post really has no meaning anymore. Does anything? Anyway. I was recently dicked around by someone who can’t help but say “anyway” for every 6th thought, and as a result, I am hereby setting out on a crusade to stop fuckin saying it. We’ll see how that goes.

No post. Sorry to disappoint anyone who may have just started following me. Please go to the index and read (and share!) some of my other pieces, and just pretend it’s from today.

I promise I’ll be back next week, with something hard-hitting and edgy. Or at least a sarcastic complaint peppered with tiny jokes. One can never be too sure which way I’ll be swaying in the unpredictable breeze (see: tsunami) of manic depression.

-jg

Well? How Did I Get Here?

My daughter turned 17 years old this week. Remember the shit you were doing when you were 17? Well, she’s not doing that yet. But she wants to. She watches enough movies and TV to know that she is held back from a lot of interesting trouble. She is also a much younger 17 than I was at that age. She’s still more of a 14 year-old level, aside from realizing she’s almost a legal adult.
She has a boyfriend, who shouldn’t even be blessed with the privilege of sharing her air. He has no ambition, no plans toward which he could apply that ambition anyway, and no concept of consequence. He starves for attention, and will say anything to get it, which caused my daughter to fall behind in school. I’m not saying she’s absolved of responsibility there, but I’ve seen first-hand what it looks like to ignore him. He doesn’t go away. She already has a difficult time focusing, and I can’t imagine he’s very good at standing by while she studies.
He also has a habit of just showing up. Showing up at our house. Showing up at the school (after he graduated – yeah, he’s 18, by the way). Just dropping by whenever he feels like it, or at the very least, just texting incessantly until the midnight hour (to my phone, and yes he does know this).
I don’t want my daughter dating him, but she is in the phase of falling head over heels for whatever dumbshit happens to say the right thing to her. He has never been mean to her, and hasn’t disrespected her, rather, he seems to prioritize her happiness and safety. That being said, he also puts major emphasis on her presence in his life. He doesn’t want to lose her. Everything he does out of anger is someone else’s fault because they said something about her. He repeatedly crashes his bike because he is always speeding around town with no brakes, but insists that she ride around with him. I’ve made some poor choices in my life, especially when I was her age, but when everyone around you sees that you’re settling so hard you’re practically collapsing, it’s time to step back and think about who you’re dating.
Are they good for you? It’s one thing for your partner to want for your happiness, but there comes a time when they have to be unpopular, and help you reach what you need, instead of what you want. If you have $10 to your name, and you want to go to a movie, but you also need gas money for the week, you gotta make the better choice. It’s not always the one you want. If your partner doesn’t support that same mindset, they’re not good for you.
Are you giving up something important, because you want to make them happy? A college degree, your dream job, a hobby, your social life, your family relationships, your personal regimen of care… if something is taking a backseat to your relationship, and it’s not a necessary compromise, GET IT BACK. Relationships need give and take, and it’s completely inappropriate for one person to sacrifice, without the other person reciprocating. If your dream is being smothered by what your partner wants, speak up for yourself, and decide how much you really want to spend your life with someone who doesn’t want you to reach your goals.
Do they encourage you to grow and better yourself? Same thing as above. Do they tell you to go back to school, or quit smoking, or draw more (even when you don’t want to), or get the body you want, or go for the job you don’t know if you’ll get? Do they pump you up, when you feel discouraged or unsure of yourself? Do they push you to find the best parts of yourself, when you want to crawl in a hole and die of guilt and shame? Wallowing in your depressive state alongside you, has its place I’m sure, but when you need to stop being so harsh on yourself, your partner needs to shine. They need to show you why you lean on them, why you let them into the most private parts of your life, why they are good for you.
Do they show that they love you, without holding you hostage? That’s the one that gets me the most. I’ve heard “You can’t [leave/break up with me/do that]. I love you!” Let me tell you something: love is strong. It can make people see things that aren’t true, and things that others don’t see. It can change a person completely. It can convince you that things are going to be okay forever. But most of the time, things aren’t going to be okay. You’re going to break up with a bunch of people, and it’s going to suck, regardless of which side you’re on.

But, we live on, because love is strong, but not stronger than your personal will. You can’t get that from anybody else, no matter how much they love you. So when someone suggests that you overlook a personal principle about your life, just because they happen to express love for you verbally, look for how they treat you. Do they back up those confessions of emotion with actions that show their love, or do they just kinda say it over and over again, and expect that to be enough? If someone loves you, they’ll show you. You won’t have to hear it all the time, because you’ll feel it and see it in how they treat you, as well as how they treat themselves. Telling someone you love them is not enough, and love alone is not a reason to stay with someone, if they don’t even have the respect (for you, them, or your relationship) to stop a behavior that is damaging. If they love you, they will show you, by growing and maturing with you. If they are just focused on the way you make them feel, and not about how you feel, they will try to use their “love” to guilt you into staying, without actually changing the behavior. They know what you want to hear, and exactly how to say it to you, and you’ll melt in their hands, and nothing will have to change, because you remember how much they love you. That’s love, right?
I’ve been a love hostage. A few different kinds, actually. Ones where the guy was lingering and submissive and still clinging to me, after I essentially told him to fuck off because he was too passive for me. The tears and wailing and moaning about what “we had” was embarrassing to stand around for, and I felt like I was in a bad movie. He loved me. I’ve also been a love hostage to someone who was in fatal attraction mode. He repeatedly stole cars and drove them 50 miles to my town, only to ditch the car and break into my apartment. He loved me. The point is, everyone was okay afterward, and the shitty situations dissolved once the shitty relationship was severed, despite whatever “love” remained unrequited. Had I stayed because they were in love, I may still be miserable to this day.
My daughter will be fine. I want to guide her toward loving herself, accepting the great things about her, as well as the areas for improvement. I want her to know that she doesn’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. She needs to be a strong, independent person, because that’s how we come into this world, and that’s how we go out. You can’t let someone love you, if you don’t love yourself. If/when the time comes, I hope she is with a good guy, but she’s currently madly in love with this guy, and I just have to deal with it for now. I was so smart when I was her age, and I still made such stupid choices. I can’t imagine the ones she’ll make. She so naive and trusting, and admittedly gullible (why she tells people that, I have no idea!) so people will take advantage of her, and that scares me. I want her to find love with someone who knows how to live with her, and that isn’t easy. It took me 32 years!
Being with Matt has been great, because he knows how to live with me (for the most part) but we’re still learning. We’re learning how to be together, and how to be ourselves. We have battles, but we try not to say anything that we would want to take back. Love has very little to do with why we stay together after a fight. We argue, but then we de-escalate because we have mutual respect for the great things we do together, and for the challenges we face, and we each realize how the other one is integral in making things work. It’s a finely tuned machine, and it wouldn’t run without both of us. I want that for my daughter.
Hell, I want that for my son too! He will one day find a girl that will most likely break his heart, because he’s very old-fashioned, so that will bring a whole different set of challenges, where my daughter likes the attention and acceptance of someone admiring her, and is easily swayed by it. My son is a gentleman, and we all know girls like assholes, until they grow up and realize their worth, so once he does find a good girl, he’s probably going to do everything he can to respect her. Some women don’t want to be respected. They should stay away from my son.
The past 17 years have not flown by at all whatsoever, and actually feel more like 27 years, but I’ve just been unguided through too many terrible situations. I’ve let too much happen to me, since becoming a mom. I never thought about how my personal sacrifices were affecting my kids. My daughter wants to be like me, because she has no idea how many years I was just a shitty person, and just didn’t get help. If I have anything to do with it, my daughter won’t have to go through those years of doubt alone, because I’ll be right there beside her, even when there’s some asshole there, trying to convince her that he loves her more than I do.
Psh. Losers.

-jg

Andy! You Goonie!

It’s Friday the 13th, y’all, which is my faaaavorite! Sometimes, there is a full moon on this night, and that’s extra special, but tonight, there is a new moon, which means you can’t see shit. Still, Friday the 13th is a fun day, because you get to act like your bad luck is a result of the day, when it’s really just because life wants to shit on you.

As you may know, I am digging for answers all the time, and some of you know from my previous article I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!, that I am currently seeking answers regarding an unfortunately-named product called Man Dip. In the article, I mentioned that I had contacted the founder of Man Dip, Andy, in search of the answers to my questions. I used the email address given in the contact information on the website, so thinking I would get an answer soon, I hesitated to post the article, but ultimately ended up just putting it out there. I’m glad I did, because the process is taking a bit longer than I’d anticipated.

Matt thinks I’m coming off rude, pushing it too far, and that I probably scared Andy with my raging feminism (uh, humanism, thankyouverymuch) but I don’t think I was that mean. Judge for yourself. Below, is a copy of what I’ve sent to him, so you can see that I’m just a woman, looking for some conversation on the topic.

“Andy,
I have a huge issue with your product. Don’t you realize dip is for everyone, regardless of the ingredients, and calling it “Man Dip” is purposefully alienating the majority of the population? Given these divisive and exclusionary times, branding your product under this name is a huge mistake. I urge you to reconsider your mission statement, where food is not given a gender label.
Feel free to contact me.”

I didn’t receive a response, so I wrote to Andy again, just to check in and make sure everything had been received okay.

“Good morning Andy,
I am following up on the email I sent to you 9 days ago, regarding the name of your product Man Dip. I had figured I would get a canned response, but I got nothing. I realize Public Relations 101 would tell you that saying nothing is better than saying something that might make you look like a dick, so I understand your lack of response altogether. I also realize that I am just one woman, in a sea of many women, whose opinions you probably don’t care about. That may be a rash generalization, but I’m mostly just assuming based on the content of your website. I’m sure you didn’t “get where you are today” by caring about a woman’s opinion.
So when I didn’t get a reply from you, I wrote an article about your product, your website, and your company. Also, being that it’s in the public domain, I mentioned you by name when I talked about the part when I emailed you (and you didn’t reply). Now, you may be on a two-week vacation with your family, or just working really really hard, but you should probably have a canned response for inquiries like mine.
The article is getting a lot of attention, so if your website has seen a recent spike in foot traffic… you’re welcome.
Thank you for your time.”

I included a snippet from the article, for his viewing pleasure, thinking he would be so impressed, that he would write back immediately!

That was on June 16th. As of today, I still haven’t received a reply from Andy, or from any other PR people, or any kind of agent or assistant or customer service representative. I haven’t written a third email (yet) since there is purpose behind their radio silence; a conclusion I came to, when I realized that any positive emails or good feedback is probably getting through just fine. I wonder what is happening with my emails, then? I have ideas…

I picture a big board room full of powerful females, sitting around a big table, reading my email. They’re impressed by my outlook on this stupid matter, and they’re all wondering how such an exclusionary idea could have ever been marketed from their company. How did it get by their brilliant minds? Oh, some dude’s Frat Bro nephew gave it the green light, even though he is only working at the company because of nepotism? I see the powerful females educating him on how fucked up the country already is, without adding chip dip to the list of things that promote divisiveness… they’re showing him a slideshow of products that are marketed to women for more money, for less of the exact same product, just in a flowered scent… they’re showing a slide of the dip, with the red Ghostbusters thing around it, because it shouldn’t be a gendered item…  they’re offering the branding and marketing job to someone else now… it’s a woman… she’s taking the Jersey Shore mentality out of the dip industry… she’s sitting on the desk… she’s eating a big scoop of dip out of the container, and laughing at how delicious it is… the taste of victory, that is. (I find this to be a legitimate use of time, and thereby, an acceptable excuse for not returning my email.)

Or, some old rich grumpy asshole is yelling at his grandson, because he got my email from an assistant of some kind, and he’s mad that his grandson used family money to start a business, and “This is the best you could do?!” He’s super embarrassed. The grandfather is yelling, because he has spent his whole life working hard, and his grandson doesn’t know the meaning of struggling, and doesn’t think things through. He throws the printed-off email on the floor, and the grandson looks at it with failure in his eyes. Man Dip? Really? He asks himself, as he realizes how dumb it sounds.

Or what about like, the wife is checking the email one day, and she sees the email, and she’s like, “Yes, girl, I thought Man Dip sounded stupid too. It may come as a surprise to you, but he didn’t listen to me when I told him that it’s borderline sexist to target a food to one specific portion of the population. When I offered him alternate names, he swiped all of his containers of dip off the desk in a fit of rage, and ran out of the room.” But before she can send the email reply, something happens. I don’t know. I haven’t figured that part out yet.

Or maybe it’s the woman who came up with the name in the first place, and she doesn’t realize she’s a grade A turd? Maybe she thought she was being “clever” somehow when she thought of it, even though it really just sounds like she’s trying to impress her man and his buddies. It also sounds a lot like someone just wants to be One Of The Guys. That’s cute. Now ship me out some free dip, while you think about how you’re setting back our gender 70 years.

These are just ideas. Change or no, at least acknowledge when someone is contacting you about the product you put out there for consumption. Don’t just ignore them. What kind of business plan is that? How busy is the dip industry, that the founder of the company can’t even get a minute to respond to an email? Is he back there, making all the dip by himself? Milking the cows, tirelessly, for the cheese? Mixing the delicious Chorizo sausage by hand?? Harvesting the Habenero Habanero peppers into the midnight hour??? What is consuming so much of his time, that he can’t even get a break? Does OSHA need to pay a surprise visit, to make sure he’s okay? Let’s get legit concerned for Andy, guys. Dude needs a break. #Andyhumanizing

I didn’t ask him for a miracle. He could just write back and say, “Hey, your email caught me off guard because the whole Gendered Food game is new to me, and I hadn’t thought of literally any of the things you said.” At least open up the conversation, dude. And throw me some free dip. Damn.

Customer service is something that goes hand-in-hand with consumer reporting. If you are fine with listening to good feedback, you need to be able to take the bad feedback as well, and use it as an opportunity for improvement. It’s not just about making money. You have to be a mindful businessperson to be able to survive marketing, because your advertising and branding is the face of your company; it’s what represents your name, your employees, your company culture, your mission statement, business plan, and ultimately, you. When someone approaches you with an issue in your advertising, it’s probably a good idea to pay attention to it. These days, you never know who is going to see the bad review of your product… it could be a much bigger group of people than those who see the website itself.

-jg

 

Decal Matter

My sister lives in an apartment complex, in one of those places that has the pool and the clubhouse and all that, and those delightful speed bumps every 6 feet throughout the entire parking lot, which should come with a ribbon-cutting ceremony if you ever manage to make it out (suspension damage notwithstanding).

Her leasing company doesn’t allow tack holes or nail holes or screw holes or bullet holes of any kind in the walls, and they fine $50 PER HOLE! Even if it’s just a tack that holds a mirror up to society! No holes. No exceptions. No mercy.

So, her apartment is pitifully bare, other than the decorations she managed to put up, and believe me, she got creative. She is a decorative person, and always has tapestries and posters and blankets and pictures and paintings and all types of shit all over the place at all times. Ancient coins and shit. So, the “Fifty bucks per hole” bit is a little restricting, and it sounds like a proposition, if you ask me. Even though my sister made the place look nice, there was still… something… missing. And I knew what it was.

I called around to 17 different decal companies, asking for them to make a custom decal for my sister. (See, I told you I knew what she needed!) A decal leaves no holes, it’s customizable, reusable, and I knew my sister would be responsibly diligent with keeping the paper backing so she could transport it to whichever room seemed most appropriate, and probably to future apartments because of how awesome it was. I found quite a few companies who would be willing to make a custom decal, but none that would make the one I wanted.

It was frustrating. Weren’t they listening to my story about her leasing company, and the trials of decorating without puncturing the wall? Obviously not, because some representatives didn’t even respond when I sent them the prototype, and two of them actually engaged in a thread about how they were a “family startup company,” and how “profanity” doesn’t lie within their family values, and thereby, not within the scope of their business! Good DAY sir!

You’d be surprised how many people got offended. I guess the customer isn’t always right. This customer wanted a decal that depicted beautifully scrolled lines, curling around one of life’s great questions:

“Can We Get A Muthafuckin Moment of Silence… For This Small Chronic Break?”

Not only would they not answer the question at hand, but they were unwilling to make the decal for me, too. Obviously someone (a bunch of em) needs to take a muthafuckin moment (a bunch of em) of silence.

At first, I said “There’s not even any profanity in there!” But then I read it again, and realized I was overlooking the word ‘muthafuckin,’ oops, but because I wanted to preserve the quote, I couldn’t bring myself to censor it. Who wants a decal of a f*@#&ing censored word??! No one. That’s who.

I was kinda mad, because of a few reasons, but the fact that many of those decal companies would have gladly printed “Kickin’ Ass” for an ATV or truck, was really upsetting me. It was a double standard with which I could not compromise. I know for a fact they would have done that, because I live in the boonies, as they’re called, and everyone out here has a big ol’ truck, and the louder they are, the dumber the driver seems to be. Everywhere you look, someone has decals bearing clever sage-like phrasings, such as “Pantydropper” and “Put It In The Mud,” but nothing about a chronic break. My sister lives in the city, so a “Kickin’ Ass” decal was out of the question.

I realize this is ridiculous to complain about, since our “melting pot” of a country is currently overflowing with marginalized people, including (but not limited to) people who can’t even get a cake or flowers for their gay wedding, people who can’t get prescriptions filled because the pharmacist has personal views about why the patient has/needs them, and people who are being denied jobs, housing, and entry into open spaces just because of the color of their skin. I shouldn’t consider this decal thing a big deal, and I don’t, really. I just operate on principles, and big or small, I don’t like policies where the owner/operator can pick and choose and be selective based on whatever criteria they choose at the time. This country is a playground for that kind of thing, especially nowadays, and it’s sickening to see people grin as they defend their exclusiveness. They know they’ll be backed up by hundreds, if not thousands, of people who think just like they do, and there’s strength in numbers. There’s false confidence in numbers. And even worse, there is collective ignorance in numbers. For a Live In Color demonstration of this, one needs to look no further than facebook.

As much as the internet is a place that is generally devoid of expectations of honesty, facebook is a glaring example of the blind following the blind. I am currently in a case study of a GenerationX-illennial who is successfully quitting facebook after ten years, so I would like to speak minimally about this particular viewpoint right now (I could, and definitely will, go on about it) but let me just say, in an effort to further my point, that we have the Great Pumpkin as our president because of facebook. That’s how bad facebook is: shit doesn’t need to make ANY DAMN SENSE for it to become reality, as long as enough people believe it.

How did I get to this, when I was talking about decals and stupid company policies?

Ah, yes. Stupidity rules. How could I forget?

Maybe I should ask for a decal that has the American flag in the background, and it says “Stupidity Rules” in Comic Sans in the foreground. Sometimes, when you type things out, or say them out loud, it becomes clear how stupid it sounds, and I think this decal idea would most likely get me arrested… unless I put a nice rifle on it. Americans like when there’s a rifle and a flag, because it’s a symbol of freedom and toughness. Kickin’ Ass.

I don’t know if I want to be an American in a time when Kim Kardashian – who came (ahem) to fame, via sex tape – is in the Oval Office doing anything. Listen, I’m glad that woman was set free, instead of serving life for a non-violent drug crime. I think she should have been set free a long time ago, and I think there are thousands of people who are still in prison, who will sit there for years to come, and they should be out of that system. But there is no celebrity going to bat for them. There is no viral video getting them attention. The prison industrial complex is an issue that doesn’t get nearly the attention it should, and it never will, because there is too much profit to be made.

That being said, there HAD to have been someone prior to Kim Kardashian, who vied for a pardon/change. She is absolutely not the first. There have been victims’ families, attorneys, protesters, lobbyists, and human rights groups who have taken the same approach toward a change in legislation for non-violent first-time offenders of drug crimes, and nothing was done. But because she’s famous, and she’s interested in ONE high-profile story, the president has taken action. Where is the Kim Kardashian for all of the other people, whose lives are just as valuable, but their stories lack the glitter of a viral video? Why does it take a celebrity, who is literally famous FOR BEING FAMOUS, for our president to take action? Because our president is a celebrity.

That was a sad sentence to type. Hence, the pause for nausea. There’s a clever portmanteau in there somewhere, and I’m missing it, because I’m sick to my stomach over this morally bankrupt bullshit.

Okay.

Don’t let me start down the road of inappropriate actions, failures to act, and just completely wrong things he has tweeted and said. I’m not here to recite his presidential rap sheet. I’m just sickened by the dumbing down of this country, and the shallow things in which the president (and then, the population) places value and interest. I wouldn’t trust him to lead me on a tour through one of his buildings, much less lead me through life as a citizen. How is he in charge of anything? Oh, that’s right: facebook.

So, if you haven’t guessed, I live in the United States. If you’re not from here, let me describe it for you: it’s like a big apartment complex, with lots of dumb rules, and it’s hard to navigate around the place. The property manager got hired by trickery (fake resume, probably; no work history, but the references were impressive!) but hey- there are flashy amenities to keep you appeased while you wait to die. I mean, while you live your life. The property manager refuses to fix any of the major issues with the complex, such as the plumbing, heating, wiring, foundation, or roof, but instead spends his time trying to find the best gardener, so his landscaping can take your mind off the fact that it’s just lipstick on a pig. He knows the best gardener, because it’s totally someone you’ve heard of. He’s the best. That’s why everyone knows him. This complex is gonna look great, to everyone passing by.

My part of the complex of America has legal cannabis, which is pretty nice. It’s a good amenity, I think, because a lot of other buildings in the complex are full of pills and miscellaneous injections (including injections of your own body parts, just stuck into another part of your body- ughh), and that’s no way to live. That’s not to say there aren’t junkies in my building, because… there are SO many. It’s an epidemic here. More tenants need to be smoking cannabis in my building. Not literally the building I live in. That was still part of the metaphor.

I think cannabis is a much better option than a prescription drug habit, which I have discussed before, I’m sure, and so I probably also said “Hey, I know not all prescriptions can be replaced by cannabis” so you don’t have to remind me that not all prescriptions can be replaced by cannabis. Like, I know diabetes isn’t going to be cured by it. But it can help you cope with symptoms of a myriad of illnesses and diseases, as well as the side effects of the necessary medications and treatments you do need, and your doctor is not going to offer to tell you about it. What a great person to put in charge of your health.

In fact, I have had doctors purposely perpetuate outdated information, when I asked them to confirm studies in cannabis use for migraines. That was years ago, and it’s common knowledge now, but she was counting on the idea that I hadn’t done my research. Obviously, doctors aren’t telling you the whole story. You should do some reading (do your research!!) and decide what you really believe.

Do you believe you need all of those prescriptions? Do you believe every word that anyone else in your life says? Is there anyone else, besides possibly a significant other, that you trust that much? Probably not. Then why a doctor? They’re just another person, walking around living their own life. Why just blindly believe what they recommend, especially where it concerns how they make their money? It’s not your doctor’s job to care about you. It’s their job – meaning they are getting paid – to treat (not cure) you, and they get more money if they can get you on a regimen of pills, which makes you what they call a “repeat customer.” They just also have to not do any harm. They don’t have to even keep you alive. And did I mention that they make money off your ailments? Why would you put unconditional trust in them?

Ask your doctor about medical cannabis. See how they respond. They treat you like a pariah. Ever had the nurse ask you “Do you take any street drugs or marijuana?” That’s a loaded-ass question, because NO, I don’t take street drugs, but YES, I use marijuana, in a variety of ways to enhance my health and life. You know what I DON’T use? The array of prescription pills that have been “suggested” over the years, that I didn’t need, that I would get addicted to, and then need supporting co-prescriptions for, and probably have some pretty gnarly side effects to deal with. I don’t do those things. Aren’t you gonna write that down on your little clipboard, doctor??? I have no idea why medical professionals are still grouping those things together, you know, since cannabis has been proven to kill cancer and prevent seizures, and crack was invented by the government, to kill people of color. Same thing, right?

All too often, doctors jump to prescribe an anti-depressant for someone who is just sad.

When did it become wrong to feel sad?

It’s a natural human emotion, just like happiness, but we never see a doctor prescribing a drug to buff out the happy times. We live through those moments. Just like anger. It’s not that anger is a bad thing; it’s the way you let it affect you that matters. Feel the anger. Think about why you think you’re mad. Then think about where the anger is truly coming from, if you’re being honest with yourself (even if you can’t be with honest with others, start inside your mind). Don’t project the anger outward. Learn about what makes you angry, and explore it internally. If you still need to vent the anger, break shit… preferably in a place where nobody has to worry about being impaled. And preferably not some shit you’re going to wish you hadn’t broken.

If you don’t want to break anything, that’s perfectly understandable. Being destructive can sometimes exacerbate things. So instead, I suggest you scream into a pillow! Like, at the top of your lungs. I used to have a stuffed animal that I would bite as hard as I could, when I was mad. I would get my teeth around his stupid face, and clench like the world was about to end, and I remember feeling the clinking of his plastic facial features on the side of my teeth, and trying to bite through the eyes when I was particularly mad. I never bit one off, or in half or whatever. I just wanted to get my anger out, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone.

When I’m sad, I feel the same way. I want to get it out of my soul, but I don’t want to hurt anyone with it. I’m a humanist. Not everyone wants to make sure nobody gets hurt. So they tell their doctor, “Hey, I think I want to hurt people.” The doctor writes it down, and that is enough to warrant a prescription for a psychoactive medication, which (as they tell you) increases the risk of hurting yourself or others. Instead of just working through the feelings, you’re instructed (chemically altered) to suppress them, and just hope the feelings go away. While your doctor is out golfing, you’re in your bedroom, sweating and crying, and getting the jitters, and when you’re able to even fall asleep, you have crazy nightmares that seem real. Your doctor isn’t going through it. The only time they’re going to even think about it, is the next time they see you in six weeks, to see how the medication is working. Getting through six weeks of chemical adjustment, seems like way more work than doing the permanent fix of understanding your emotions. But I’m no doctor.

The point is, we follow the advice of people who see us for maybe an hour per year. They don’t see you at your most vulnerable, and are most likely not even listening to most of what you’re saying. I know you think your doctor is great, but you should think about that shit a bit deeper. Of course they’re nice to you, when they know you’re paying for their time. I could fake a nice bedside manner for 20 minutes at at time, if I knew I was going to be paid well for it, because that person essentially only exists when they’re paying me. Just like you, to your doctor.

I know a bunch of people who are doctors by profession, and they’re kinda pieces of shit in real life. I’ve also worked in medical offices. They catch up on your overall story right before they walk in to see you, and they type a lot of stuff while you’re answering their questions, so they miss a lot of what you’re saying, and then they’re essentially just cross-referencing symptoms with a database. If you have an ongoing issue, and you’re seeing a specialist, same thing. You matter while you’re there. What about all of the other days of your life, when you’re not paying for their time? They see a multitude of patients, and I promise you, they’re not at home thinking about your health and well being. If you’re suffering, oh well… it’s just a fact of medical science that there will be a rough adjustment period to new medications. Do you want to get better, or not?!

And to make you think about it even deeper, I can tell you that I also know a few pharmaceutical reps, and they aren’t bound to secrecy when it comes to their stories. They get an easy six figures, and all they have to do is push the latest lab creation. And do not even get me started on the embarrassment of clinical trials that don’t last long enough to gather real information, or that fail to report horrific findings. I swear, there could be a video installation of clinical trials gone wrong, PLAYING IN THE WAITING ROOM of every doctor’s office, and people would still put full faith in whatever they’re told. It’s an obsession, to the point where we’re unable to do anything but constantly turn the other cheek on the bad things. It’s like we have unlimited cheek-turning ability, and we’re twirling like drag queens through the halls of hospitals, asking our doctors about the new drug we saw on TV.

“Is it right for me, doc?”

Everyone these days is so hung up on their appearance, and preserving their youth, and afraid to feel emotions of any kind, and we’re so overloaded with preservatives and pesticides and vaccinations and medications and hormones in our milk and our chicken and our beef, and everyone needs a trophy or they’re “at risk,” and everyone needs to keep having sex all the time or something is “wrong” with them and they need to fix it… there is a neverending market for pharmaceuticals, and doctors know they’re going to make money off prescribing them to you, month after month. And as the medication starts to plateau, you’ll need to up your dose, and possibly take a “stabilizer” or an “inhibitor” or a “booster” because you’re strapped the fuck into the pharmacoaster now! Enjoy the ride, courtesy of your doctor. Did they forget to mention that you’ll be charged hundreds of dollars per month for the rest of your life?

No? They didn’t mention that up front? I bet they mentioned how highly they suggest that you start taking it now, in a low dose, which really just means they can charge you for more stages of the medication, because you’re definitely going to eventually be on the “highest dose for you.” That’s when you need the co-prescriptions. Cha-ching! (For the doctor, not for you. You’re gonna be broke.)

And don’t even think about trying to quit one (or – GASP! – more) of those prescriptions, to save money, or ease side effects, or whatever. If you do, your doctor will shame you. First of all, that’s shitty, but, second of all, it’s legal. Also, you’re gonna be in detoxification CITY!! You may do things you normally wouldn’t do, such as harm yourself or others, or possibly even KILL yourself or others. But hey, those are side effects of most medications anyway.

Even if you yourself are not on medications, there is a high (heh heh) chance that most of the people around you probably are. Many of them are being over-prescribed, misdiagnosed, or unmonitored, which creates a chemical imbalance, and puts you all at risk. At any moment, someone around you could snap, because of a trial medication they were “adjusting” to.

Think about how many kids are being diagnosed with ADHD every day, just because they’re more excited than other kids, or because they aren’t constantly happy and accepting, or because they do things a different way. You may (or may not be) surprised to learn how many children are being made to feel like they’re NOT NORMAL, just because they feel their emotions. Just because they live in the feelings, and show them. Just because they feel their emotions, but they don’t match what someone else says is The Standard. They are medicated, because someone says they’re not normal, and there is literally no medical evidence to support the need for this “normalizing drug,” but the parent trusts the doctor, and starts the chemical re-programming of their child. “Medicated” is the new “normal” when every kid is so doped up, that nobody feels anything anymore. Everyone can be the same.

If every kid that has ADHD were gathered in a room, and we conclude that 80% of them are being medicated for it, they’re most likely on a medication that alters their brain chemistry. I know, some parents don’t go that route, which is why I said “most likely” so calm down. If you give a child or pre-teen (or even a teenager) a brain altering medication, you’re attempting to re-wire something that is not yet complete. The human brain is not fully grown (for that person’s life) until the mid-twenties, so until then, the brain is still growing. If you give a child a brain altering medication, thus setting off a chain of chemical reactions in the brain, they will start to focus on an activity they know they can master, and in this country, sadly, that’s usually video games.

Think about the percentage of people you know, not just family, but people you know from work or school or community or nephews or friends’ kids, who play first-person POV games, such as Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty, etc. I’m sure you’re familiar with quite a few. When a child or teen becomes focused on these games, in the midst of a chemical re-programming, their brain starts to assimilate the game into their emotional intelligence and problem-solving skills. The game content imprints on their brain, because as it’s growing and changing, the brain develops coping skills to get through life (ie, the fire is hot, so i’m not going to touch it) and many of the scenarios in those games are not something these children/teens will likely encounter in their lives. But, the content gets loaded into their brains, and when everyday conflict does come along, they use what they’ve accumulated for problem-solving tactics, and that’s why we have so many instances of young kids shooting each other, and such rampant bullying and violence. The medications help them center on the game, and their brain can’t tell the difference, because it’s in standby mode.

This all sounds like a narrow view of an otherwise larger problem, but it’s merely a slice of the pie. I am by no means trying to leave anything else out, to suggest that mental health isn’t equally important where it pertains to medicine and our country’s violence problem. I could lecture for days, but where this is an already lengthy post, I have to say I’m surprised that anyone is still reading at this point. It can be alienating, to talk so openly about the damaging side of pharmaceutical medication, because such a majority of the population is currently taking a medication of some sort. They don’t want to feel like they’re failing at caring for themselves, or making a wrong decision, and I’m not trying to make anyone feel that way. It’s YOUR health, and you don’t deserve to feel like you need to be “normal” by anyone’s standards.

Everyone DOES deserve to know the truth about their health being sold for profit, and everyone deserves to know there are other options out there, not just the ones your doctor will make money from. IF you choose to explore that information, which I highly (heh heh) suggest, you may decide it isn’t for you, but at least educate yourself on the truth. There is so much misinformation surrounding medical cannabis, because it’s so sustainable and beneficial, and it threatens the pharmaceutical industry as a cash cow. If more people took advantage of the benefits of medical cannabis (eating edibles, using concentrates, or vaporizing are all great methods, if you’re not a smoker), they would see their health improve, they would see saved money, and they would see that they’re spending less time thinking about what time/day they took this pill or that pill, and less time going to the doctor. But mostly, doctors would see that they’re starting to lose money they would otherwise have made through prescribing medications to you. Medications you probably don’t need. Nobody wants to see their money taken away from them, so they’ll just keep doing what they have to do, to keep the money moving. Even if that means putting you on 10, 20, even 30 prescriptions at a time. The side effects are your problem.

Next time you see your doctor, ask them if getting a muthafuckin moment of silence for a small chronic break is right for YOU.

-jg

Hey! Stop Blowing Me (off)

I know I don’t normally do this, but I need to rant for a second, or 900.

I get so tired of people blowing each other off, all the damn time. Not everyone feels this way, and I discuss that briefly further down in the post, but this specific article is about how damaging I think it is, socially. Believe it or not, there are some people who aren’t able to see things the way I see them until I’ve told them about it, at which point, they think to themselves: “Oh yeah. That’s totally true.” Broken commitments are more than just an inconvenience; they’re changing the way we interact with each other, as a society. It’s time people start saying “Oh yeah, that’s totally true” about it.

It can be annoying to be cancelled on, or it can bring anxiety to have to cancel on another person, or it can actually be ironic, sometimes, like when you’re planning something for other people to come together, and not one person can commit to it. It can leave you in a state of frustrated confusion. Sometimes it makes no sense at all, until you put yourself into the role of the person doing the blowing-off: it seems perfectly harmless at the time, because you’re just one person cancelling one plan, on one day, where a bunch of other people were invited, and they’ll all surely show up, and the person who planned it will get over it, right?

But what happens when you’re just one of the many people who are collectively blowing-off the plan, all at the same time? What happens when that event was intended to uplift and strengthen our circles in society, to expand our collective consciousness and intelligence, to gain solidarity? Everyone misses out, and the broken plans then morph into a broken society, because we aren’t allowing ourselves to listen to the experiences of others. We all follow the same plan to just not show up.

We regularly prioritize our own comfort and preference, over something that could improve our outlook on others, or possibly aid in understanding something new, all because we think we might not enjoy it or “get anything” from it, or because we just prefer to do something else that brings satisfaction. We already know we will be rewarded for watching Netflix and eating cookies, so we feel no remorse in breaking plans to do that. What happens to our society when we do this over and over and over again, to more people, on more occasions?  The answer is, we become accustomed to this as The Norm. We assimilate this behavior into our own social standards, and it no longer is seen as a damaging pattern, because “it happens to everyone.”

And I think that’s where we are. We are letting ourselves down, by allowing ourselves to shirk responsibility, by allowing ourselves to break commitments without consequence, by allowing ourselves to have such little respect for others, that we can’t honor our word that we have prioritized them into a block of time in our life. We turn these into harmless traits, because we don’t care enough to put ourselves in the shoes of the people we cancel on.

Sometimes, some of us sickos love when people cancel plans on us, and we celebrate that we don’t have to actually show up when someone was expecting us at an event, or host someone at our home. It can be relieving, especially when you have an already frustratingly busy life.

There are times, conversely, where we are upset by someone’s cancellation. When we have gone through the effort of honoring our own commitment, even if we were resistant to do so, and now we have to adjust to a new plan because our “friend” found something better to do. It gets annoying, not necessarily at first, but when it happens to you all the time.

Allow me to speak from experience.

Recently (recently can be any time within the past year), I found myself trying on some very specific “shoes.”

I have a lot of friends who are going through the fucked up shit in life, and they constantly say they don’t have any strong females in their lives to help them through it. So, I take all of these stories, and I say “I need to be the one to do something, because  I’ve already been through hell, and I found strength where it definitely didn’t exist before.” I want to pass this on to other women who need it.

I organize a clothing swap, in a central location, so more women can attend. I host it, I gather a bunch of my clothes to donate, and invite the ladies to bring their kids if they want to, I even offer to go pick up women who need a ride there. I make every effort to make them feel welcome and comfortable… and nobody responds. The responses I do get are few and far between, which- I understand, people are busy, but the responses only say “maybe” and they never actually get any more specific than that, regardless of how many times I say “I need a definite motherfucking headcount, if anyone is even showing up.” Nobody commits to it, and so sadly, I cancel it, knowing that it has nothing to do with me. Some of them cannot schedule an hour for themselves, because they are slaves to their lives, and aren’t considered people… but they can’t figure out how to get off the speeding train for an hour, so they allow it to perpetuate.

Time goes by, and the chats with women continue, and I am still hearing about how badly these women need a solid network of support, so I approach it like a Women’s Support and Empowerment group. Everyone tells me “What a great idea!” or “I will make time for this!” or “I need this so bad!” but when the invite goes out, I get a shitload of MAYBE responses, again. The ones who said they would make time for it, suddenly have other things to do. The ones who said they need this badly, don’t know if they will want to do anything at 3 PM on a Saturday. The ones who said they think it’s a great idea, are nowhere to be found.

I think: “What the fucking hell do I have to do, to get these women to get together and feel good about themselves?!” I offered to drive to their houses to make them feel better before heading to the group. I offered to hang out with their kids while they were at the group. I offered to change the time to a more feasible hour. I offered to have it be an open forum, where no hard structure was scheduled, to make ladies more comfortable. What is the problem?!

Now, I should mention that these are some very specific “shoes” because some of them had some extenuating circumstances, being in a way-fucking-less-than-ideal situation. Cancelling plans, for them, is probably not a good thing. But that was certainly not the case for all of them, and this trend of cancelling on people goes far beyond this example, with the biggest offenders doing it out of selfishness only. They have found another option to be more desirable than the commitment they have made to you, and they are unable to prioritize you above it, regardless of the fact that their word is at stake.

Yeah, I said it: Their Word. When you tell someone you’re going to be somewhere, you should do it. Even if it creates a conflict elsewhere (that you can probably realistically live with), even if it becomes difficult to be there… you hold yourself to what you have committed. The other person is going to be somewhere, at a certain time that they have set aside for you. Time in their life, which is in such short supply… they have given you some of their life. If you cancel on that, your word probably doesn’t mean shit after that.

The problem is, our society has grown accustomed to breaking commitment without remorse or consequence, revealing two very toxic types of people in your circle: those who cancel all the time and don’t care, and those who haven’t yet gotten to the point of feeling no remorse… they just don’t commit at all, to save themselves from breaking commitment in the end. I almost feel more offended by the latter type. Even when there is a 98% chance they know they aren’t going to show up, they will withhold that information, and let you go on believing that they will be give you a definite answer at any point in time, ever. You will get plenty of “maybe” or “I’ll try” responses, but never a solid yes or no. You will wait until the last minute to find out, when everyone else is canceling on the definite answer they previously gave you. So everything falls apart at once. If that part isn’t happening to you, you won’t recognize how harmful it is, and you will keep doing it to other people.

STOP IT. If you don’t think you’re going to be there, just say no! Say “I don’t think I can make it,” and if it turns out that you CAN make it, ask the host “Hey, is it okay if I stop by? Turns out I can make it after all.” It is literally that easy. I guarantee, people are going to be much less hurt about one of their invited guests being able to go to their event, than if their guests just surprise them by not showing up.

Keep your damn plans. Even if you don’t want to. Make some more plans, and stick to those. Far too often, I hear “Let’s make some plans!” when friends are having a good time that WASN’T EVEN PLANNED to begin with. It’s confusing, because when you think about it, you were having such a good time with your friend, that you offer to have a good time with them again in the future… but you don’t want to tell them when it is. How does that make sense???

Don’t plan to hang out. Just do it! Are you bored? Ask your friend to hang out and shoot the shit RIGHT NOW. If they live far away, give them a call and listen to their voice for awhile. Nothing boils my blood quite like reading the sentence “We should hang out sometime!”

Yeah, we should. What about right now? You’re working? What are you doing after that? No time for a chat? What about coffee in the morning of your next day off? Busy? Really? Every single hour of your day off, you’re busy? There’s no way – unless you’re that crazy-scheduled soccer mom, or a doctor/nurse on call – that you absolutely cannot schedule one hour out of the next 336. If that is the case, then I’m sure we’ll probably never hang out again, until I bump into you again by accident, because it doesn’t sound like you really want to hang out.

I have so many friends that say that shit to me: “We should really make plans.”

What? We should make plans? When? You’re literally making a plan right now, to make plans in the future. Please just make the plan to hang out, and stop making plans to make plans. It’s weird and confusing. Do you want to hang out? You do? Okay, well, tell me when you’re willing to fit me into your life. Every time you say the sentence “We should make plans” to me, it takes another 3 seconds of my life, not including my response and/or subsequent discussion about plans. That’s not fair. That’s a lot of my life that I’m giving you right there. The least you can do, is tell me I get 30 minutes of your life on Saturday afternoon before your better plans (yeah right, bitch) start. I mean, 30 minutes? That’s only 10 times of you telling me we should make plans. (Which you have).

I know I sound like a dick. I’m trying to. Shaming With Love is my style. All I want is for people to look at what they’re saying and doing (and for everyone to be able to eat delicious dip). If someone is trying hard, and continuously putting themselves out there for you, reciprocate that shit! Live up to your word, at the VERY least! I don’t care if you miss your fucking cats and wonder what they’re doing in your absence. If you choose to blow me off when I’m trying to give you a part of my life’s timeline, but still expect me to give you more time in the future, you’re selfish and I have no time for you. My time is short, man, I fucked up a lot of times as a young dumbass, and have practically heard the sound of years coming off the end of my life. I can’t afford to waste minutes on listening to you make yourself feel good. Stop being so greedy,  and start thinking about what kind of human you want to be while you’re here.

But don’t think too long; you still have to dedicate time to actually making plans.

-jg

Manic Depression Is A Frustrating Mess

There’s a commercial on TV right now, for a medication that targets the “misunderstood side” of Manic Depression, and that is the Manic Episode.

Now, for those who are unfamiliar with Manic Depression, that’s okay. It’s a term that is going away now, with Bi-Polar Disorder being the new moniker taking its place. It sounds a bit more immediate, in my opinion, being that you can go from a high point (in mood or behavior) to a low point within a short period of time, and I always understood Manic Depression to be more of long term thing: weeks or months of “high”, followed by weeks or months of “low” and so on. Now, they’re saying it’s both. Schizophrenia is a completely different thing, though Manic Depression and Bi-Polar Disorder can make you feel like multiple people exist within you at different times. So here we are, up to speed on our terms. I will refer to them by acronyms, from here on.

I have always identified more with the MD symptoms than the BPD symptoms. I think everyone has the capacity to change their mood during the day, based on whatever situational stimuli they have going on. BPD is an extreme version of that, and can be dangerous, depending on the person. I have not ever been that way, outside of the normal heated arguments I (again seem to) think everyone has. I don’t think I ever get overly energetic or “hyper” for lack of a better word, and the only problems I have with sleeping involve my back pain, which is an unrelated issue.

I do, however, experience periods of time where I am creative, and the execution of that creativity is gratifying, and I am motivated to do more, and create more, and clean more, and get rid of excess things, and show people the attention I think they deserve… followed by periods of time where I can do nothing but sleep, and be in a fog, and feel no motivation, and don’t enjoy anything (music, tv, movies, painting, photography, writing, time with family) with no explanation for it. These peaks and valleys are noticeable and oddly predictable, and I always try to take advantage of the peaks while they’re around, because I know I’ll be fucking useless once those valleys come around. So, that’s what I do.

I should mention, I am not currently being treated for MD or BPD. I have taken Psychology and Sociology and Mental Health and Human Development and Philosophy, and I have watched a TON of TV commercials, but I have also talked to multiple doctors about the symptoms. I choose not to medicate for it, because I don’t personally think I need it, and even though my doctors are probably paid by the pill, they agree that a prescription is not necessary. I also am not interested in unsolicited advice that I don’t want and am in no way asking for. So like the medication, don’t fuckin offer it to me.

The TV ad shows a woman making sandwiches, and she gets through a few, and starts thinking “Why don’t I make a shitload of sandwiches, while I have the Mustardayonnaise out?” So she starts making hella sandwiches, and she’s wrapping em in foil, and some sandwiches are all rushed and sloppy, and I think that’s supposed to be a metaphor for how our work suffers in quality on Manic Monday. She makes like 100 sandwiches, at least, and then the camera pans out, and she’s on a fuckin house of cards. I don’t know, I might be mixing up the two ads that are run by this pharmaceutical brand (one is the sandwich lady, and the other one is a fuckin crazy post-it note queen going to town on some shit). Anyway, the message is: “Manic episodes can leave you on shaky ground” or something like that. I think that might be the actual tagline.

When I was watching the commercial, and I saw her being a damn sandwich wizard, I was captivated! “Go, girl!” I yelled at the TV, because I was excited for her progress and her forward thinking. I was impressed by her productivity. I wanted to make a sandwich. I wanted to be her kid. But then they were all weird about it in the ad, which made me feel pretty violated, first of all. I felt like they lured me to the van with the candy, but when I got there, it was just a bunch of candy shamers. I didn’t want to feel guilty for cheering her on, and it was a sick move on their part, to make me feel that way. They started talking about the Manic episodes being “the misunderstood side” of MD.

Excuse me? I’m pretty sure the DEPRESSION is misunderstood as something people can just “snap out of” and “feel better” and “try to look at the positive things” to get through. To compare one to the other, is just ridiculous. Both elements are equally misunderstood, and this medication is only making a bad thing worse! It targets the Manic episodes solely, leaving you with nothing but an indefinite Depressive state, and a laundry list of side effects – including, but not limited to, suicidal thoughts or actions, headache, dizziness, loss of vision, or it may worsen your depression. Why would anyone want to pay for that, much less ingest it, and form an addiction they have to continually pay for, not only out of pocket, but through the insurance plan they also pay for? Are people that opposed to smoking a joint before bedtime and calling it good, that they would rather put themselves through the addiction and financial hardship of a chemical blast to the brain?!

I guess I just don’t get it. I live in a pretty liberal state, so I feel like people should always try cannabis first, before climbing on board the candy wagon. When someone takes a medication for MD or BPD, they aren’t just taking one – they’re taking co-prescriptions with it, and they’re paying for those too. And not only are they paying for them, but they don’t even think about what the “medicine” is doing to them! I don’t understand what needs to happen, for people to realize how beneficial cannabis is, and how poisonous prescription drugs can be. Every day, I read about 20+ new class-action lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, and they’re never in the newspaper or digital news or even on TV news. It’s a quiet class-action settlement that you wouldn’t otherwise know about, unless you were looking for it (or following new lawsuits all the time, like I do). You’ll never see it in the news, because there’s not enough time between prescription drug commercials. If you think your doctor isn’t being paid kick-backs by pharmaceutical companies, you’re one of the people making me laugh right now. Seriously. That level of stupidity and denial makes me laugh my ass off, because I know there is a moron walking around, and it isn’t me.

At this time, I am currently in a Manic state, but that could be because school just got out for the summer yesterday, and that means I get to go to the track at 5 AM now. It also could be that I am 35 minutes from my deadline to post this, and I am still writing. I have been awake for 7 hours, and haven’t eaten, so that’s probably not a great thing, and the coffee will make me crash soon. At least I’ll be surrounded by my kids, so they can pick up the slack.

I don’t think I could afford to take a medication that took me out of my brain, because my kids would probably fall off the face of Shaq’s flat green Earth. In my Depressive episodes, I end up reminding (torturing) myself about how much I love my kids, and how they’ll be gone soon, and making stupid choices, and I want to be there for them, and I want to hear everything they ever have to say… and then when they won’t shut up about dumb things, I scold myself for wishing they would stop talking. I bully myself into participating in a conversation about Lego superheroes or Reader’s Digest, when I’m dying inside and just want to fall asleep to see how much time passes by. I make myself do it. I use it as a reason to never forget what I have. I take the shitty things, and I turn them into silver linings. It’s not easy, and I don’t know how I even do it, but I’m sure that not everybody can do it, and that makes me feel sad too. My sister tells me the same thing about herself, and that makes me feel sad too. The misunderstood spiral goes on.

When I get Manic again, I try to think of ways to show appreciation for people, and I end up flooding my mind with ideas, and get my gears jammed, so I ultimately spend an hour just thinking, and not actually doing anything. Mostly, I just end up cooking a lot, and sometimes if I’m lucky, writing. I haven’t been in a peak for awhile, which is why my writing has been struggling. I promise to try to “snap out of it” really soon, and “just feel better” so perhaps a good upward climb on the ol’ house of cards is just what I need.

-jg

En Garde, Ne Touchez Pas

Nobody has ever really considered me to be their Best Friend. Or at least, they’ve never told me about it. I grew up before the “selfie” thing began, so there aren’t any pictures of me cuddled up to my bestie, or manicured photos of us dressed up and ready to go somewhere fun. No home videos of me and my bff doing something funny or interesting. Those things don’t exist, because they never happened. Nobody ever looked at me that way. Unless you count dudes, who generally felt pretty safe around me, because I was “one of the guys,” which is a phrase I CAN’T STAND. But they weren’t jumping to preserve those fun candid moments in a photograph. They just didn’t do that stuff.

The fact of the matter is, I wasn’t the type to have a bestie, in the traditional way. I found the posing and posturing stuff to be forced, and was uncomfortable with hugs and arm holding and being physically close to my girl friends. I noticed them doing it, when they didn’t notice they were doing it, and I would think to myself, “Why don’t I do that? Why do I want nobody to come near me? Why does it feel weird and unnatural?” I didn’t feel that way around my male friends, because most of our contact was aggressive (shin kicks, arm punches, pushing and shoving, head smacking, etc) so there was nothing out of place about it. It seemed like what everyone did, but at the same time, I wasn’t going to smack my girl friends, so I just cut off the physical contact piece altogether, and thought that was fine.

Guys felt comfortable to me, because I grew up with my older brother and his friends. I also wasn’t particularly girly, I didn’t mind getting hurt or dirty, I swore a lot, I was abrasive and confrontational, but somehow also the funniest person in the room. It was (is) nearly impossible to offend me, and I think I was a breath of fresh air, for the guys in my class. I think they liked when I swore, and when I said things about boobs. That’s not why I hung out with them, though: to make them laugh and want to hear more, though that was a draw, for sure. I liked making people laugh, and it seemed like I was always more successful at making guys laugh, so I naturally gravitated toward that feeling. It had nothing to do with the girls not being fun to be around, because I definitely had a few kickass female friends, who I still love and respect. No, I hung out with the guys because it was just easier. I didn’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings, because I grew up when guys were still afraid to show their vulnerability outside of their bedroom. They weren’t offended by my humor, which I KNOW is over the damn top sometimes, and it feels great to not have to filter yourself, and just let shit land. I could just be myself.

I couldn’t do that with my female friends, for the most part, because (in addition to the awkward physical contact) they had some real feelings. We were pre-teen/teenage girls, growing up in a small town, during the aggressive second wave of feminism. I had to pretend to be something I wasn’t – or rather, hide parts of myself that just wanted to be crude and playfully insulting. I used a lot of insult humor, and felt like I was being constantly fed opportunities by my classmates and teachers, and I didn’t want to pass on ANY joke; I wanted to say everything that I thought was clever, and put my wit on display when I thought the timing was perfect. I felt conflicted… I didn’t want to hurt or offend my friends, simply because it felt like it was the wrong thing to do. Even though my jokes were fueled by timing and set-ups, there was seldom any truth to them, and were usually not meant to hurt. Still, I didn’t want to put them in the situation where they had to work out whether or not I was truly making fun of them. It was a tangled web. I did make my female friends cry a few times, and I’m not proud of that, but at the time, I don’t think it mattered much to me. I cared about being funny, and barely stifled the urge to roast everyone at all times.

One friend did consider me their Best Friend for several years, and he happened to be a guy. I look back on our friendship, and I don’t know why he thought I was better than his other friends. I was pretty mean, and didn’t realize I was being such a relentless asshole about it, until probably right now as I write this. We can’t ever see ourselves the way other people see us, no matter how we scale ourselves back, no matter how funny we think we are, or how harmless we think our intentions are. In that same way, we can’t see what others value in us, either. I never thought to ask about my qualities as a friend, and never told him why I valued him. He was a fun and patient person, and that made me feel comfortable to be myself. I wish I had given him credit for that, because the act of not letting myself disappear completely, was probably the most integral part of my upbringing.

When I was a teenager, I once told my mother, after not seeing her for many years, that I didn’t want her to hug me, and that it made me uncomfortable. It broke her heart, and I can’t imagine one of my kids saying that to me, and on top of that, I probably was a fucking dick about it at the time. I was so guarded, that I didn’t know why anyone would be shrouding me in hugs. I thought I was such a rude and abrasive person, that everybody else saw me that way too, and that they all knew that they were all better than me. Like they all saw through my façade of defense mechanisms, and were ready to expose how sub-par I was, at any minute. Why did I feel that way around my own mother? It didn’t make sense. I had gotten so far into my own head, that I felt like I had been rejected by everyone, simply because nobody wanted me to be the traditional “friend” to them. I felt like I was being left out of something on purpose, because I didn’t belong. They went to each other’s houses, and went out to do things on weekends, and went to school functions, and played sports, and took dance, and had all the things I wanted… but I was left out, so I must not have deserved to feel included. It was me, not them. They all liked each other. I let that toxic mindset cause me to reject my mother, which is such a terrible thing to realize.

As an adult, I am still fairly guarded. I’m still not a hugger, though sometimes a person’s vibe can strike me in just the right way, and I’ll hug them. My daughter isn’t a hugger, either, other than with me, which is ironic. I think she’s as guarded as I am, because she has a similarly minimal group of friends, but unlike me, she places importance on having a best friend. Where I wrote off any interest in being a part of that culture, she does want the affirmation and acceptance, and to feel like she identifies with someone. She takes the selfies, and is comfortable with the casual physical contact, and wants to be included, but doesn’t like too much attention. She likes attention, but she doesn’t want the focus to be on her, is a better way to describe it. She uses voices and sound effects and random moves and faces to capture people’s interest, if even for a few seconds. I used jokes and sarcasm to do the same thing. Who’s to say which method is correct?

My son is one of the most personable people I’ve ever known in my entire life; he’s so intelligent and funny, with an incredibly mature and dry sense of humor, and an outgoing attitude that adults find charming. He’s polite in a way that is practically non-existent in this society, always holding the door for someone, or shaking hands with people he encounters, even casually.  He is involved in clubs and organizations, loves to act and sing and play music, and rolls with whatever everyone wants to do. Despite these great qualities, his peers don’t like him. The males like to assert their dominance over him, because he is non-confrontational. The females don’t know he exists, because he’s not an athlete, and that just happens to be the big deal in our area. He also joined his class in the middle of 7th grade, so he never outgrew the New Kid label. It doesn’t help that his sense of humor is so much more elevated than those around him, so the only people laughing are usually the teachers or parents. The kids don’t get it. They don’t realize he’s so funny, so one of his two biggest personality traits misses the mark with them. His other boldest trait would be his intelligence, and his classmates don’t appreciate that, either. The truth is, my son is what you would call a “Know-It-All.” He loves knowledge, and will read or watch anything in order to gain it. He reads copyright information. He studies people throughout history, that you would never think to care about, much less think to memorize their entire life story. He recites timelines, origins, and little-known facts like someone is testing him. He asks everyone’s opinion about everything, all the time. He wants to gather information, and if you don’t have information for him, he’s going to give you information instead. He uses that interest to his advantage, earning Honors in school consistently, and killing the grading curve on tests. He likes to show off how much he knows. In high school, people don’t really like that. They’ll appreciate it much later in life, but right now… not so much.

Therefore, his net of friends is widely cast, but sparsely populated. He will be the first to admit that he prefers it this way. I wonder how much of that confession is a defense mechanism of his own. Like my jokes. Like his sister’s outbursts. We create our own comfort zones, where we get to show the person we want everyone to see, and we acknowledge but still hide our true feelings, and we convince ourselves we don’t want the things that aren’t available to us.

Eventually, we find people who don’t make us feel excluded. We feel like we’re accepted, even without putting on the front. We don’t have to hide the rejection, because it’s not present, and we don’t have to create a comfort zone, because our true personality traits are naturally valued by those around us. The good ones and the bad ones, and we don’t have to make excuses for it. We can be unapologetically US. I think all of my classmates found that in each other, and I just never did, so that’s why I didn’t fit in. I put up the guard like it was my idea. Now, I get to be with people who make me feel comfortable and real, and so, I have stopped hiding my real personality. It’s about living my life, and accepting that not everyone will like it. Those who want to accept me, will. Those who don’t want to include me in their selfie, can fuck off.

 

-jg

I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!

Recently, while perusing the online shopping ad for my local grocery store, I came across a product that caught my eye, and refused to let go. That product was called Man Dip.
Now, I admit I was curious about it, but I had some immediate thoughts that ruined any chance that I would ever pay for the item, regardless of how much I wanted to try it. Aside from the obvious reason that I, myself, am not a man, there were some moral stances, as well as some fairly practical stances, that kept me from buying. Let’s just take the name itself, for instance.
A product called “Man Dip” should only ever be two things:
1. A dip that is made from human meat, or
2. Something you stick your dick into.

If neither of the two aforementioned situations are happening, there should be no reason to call a product Man Dip.
Especially when the product is a food. But here it is: www.mandip.com, and yes, I realize I’m giving them free advertising, because their products actually look fucking delicious. There’s chorizo and habanero (which the site spells as ‘habenero’) and all kinds of shit I would totally eat in a dip, and it looks cheesy, too, which is my absolute favorite dip base! When I look at it, all I can think is, TAKE MY CREDIT CARD INFORMATION AND MY HOME ADDRESS AND GET THIS TO MY HOUSE IMMEDIATELY. Which is a huge reason why I have a major problem with this tasty treat being called Man Dip. I mean, I’m no Man, but I have some questions.

Questions such as, can ladies not also enjoy it? The site says it’s “Man tested. Man approved” so I know that every man will like it… that is, unless they’re not into heavy fatty dips for medical health reasons, or if their taste preference differs from the traditional pub food palette.

But CAN a woman enjoy it? Is it possible? The advertising leads me to believe it is NOT “Woman Tested,” or at the very least, just not “Woman Approved.” Which brings me to my next question:

Is there a Woman Dip? I realize the site is called www.mandip.com, so just on that alone, I should be able to deduce the answer. If you go to www.womandip.com, do you know what you’ll find? Not a fuckin thing. GoDaddy says you can create a Woman Dip site, to represent all the ladies out there, who are just looking for a site that has all that dip we love! I’m a lady who is looking for a site with a variety of dip to love. And so, I went on a quest.

My quest only led me down a rabbit hole of subsequent questions, but I also got some answers: Hot Corn Dip, Roasted Corn Dip, Hot Corn Chili Dip, and Spinach Dip are the top search results when one feels inquisitive enough to google search for some Woman Dip. Why is corn the main ingredient in all of these dips? I have literally never ever eaten a dip with corn in it, so I’m not sure why it appears to be the most commonly used ingredient. Is corn a woman thing? I’d considered that I was peeping through a narrow scope, when it comes to the wording, so I opened it up a bit, and searched a few broader (haha, get it?) terms:
– Lady Dip: the top three results included two results for The Dip Lady, who will give you ideas about what to make for your next dinner party, and one result for this amazing post that I thoroughly enjoyed.
– Girl Dip: the top three results included Pretty Girls Dipping: the video, followed by another video of a girl sticking dip pouches into her vagina, and a third video of a Hot Girl taking a Fat Dip… all tobacco products, no food.
– Chick Dip: obviously all recipes for buffalo chicken dip.

So, no Woman Dip exists. But why not? Is it because no lady has ever been smart enough to think of ourselves exclusively, where dip is concerned? It can’t be that hard to figure out, but I mean, we don’t exactly have any Real Men boldly leading the way in the female dip market.

Don’t they know we also want to test and approve things that are only meant for us?

Don’t they know we also want to proclaim that a large portion of the population, including some Non-womanly types of women, need to go get their own dip, for women who aren’t Real? I’m taking cues from the Man Dip site, which I should not be doing.

So if Woman Dip is to be what it claims, would we also have to exclude certain gender groups? Like, all you UnReal Men (and UnReal Women!)… as much as we recognize you’re under-represented in the dip game, we need to leave you out of this one too. It’s harsh, because we know you can’t handle the Man Dip (just like we can’t) and you want some Woman Dip, but you can’t have it. It’s for Real Women. That’s just how the dip game is going to work, now. Thanks, Man Dip!

“SOUR CREAM IS FOR SISSIES
EAT LIKE A MAN!”

Also, since Real Men love sausage and spices, and despise cream dips (I don’t know what they were trying to say there), what would be the ingredients of Woman Dip? Something we could handle, is a must. Nothing fatty, nothing spicy, nothing hearty, and nothing a Real Man would ever be caught dead eating. Flowers? Dish soap? Lace? Summer’s Eve? Whatever the ingredients, the quality would be as satisfactory as Man Dip, but it would cost 78% less, so I think we have a market here… *rubs womanly hands together excitedly*

Their website has guidelines and tips to try, in case you are a man who communicates mostly in a series of grunts.

“And now, with six varieties, there’s a dip for every meal of the day. That’s right – that’s MAN math.”

It is definitely Man Math at work right there, because I recognize it from my old job. Working in a “Man’s World,” AKA a manufacturing plant, opened my eyes to what opportunities are available for women, and apparently the kitchen is no different. Men get 6 meals per day, because that’s the Man thing to do. Women should really only have 2 meals per day, because if we get fat, men may not desire us. That’s why we save the chorizo and cream cheese and spices for the Men. The Real Men.

And while we’re on the subject of Man Math, I’d like to take this opportunity to point out our country’s raging obesity and heart disease problem. 6 meals of big fat dip per day has nothing to do with that. That’s right – that’s MAN science.

The Man Dip website, interestingly enough, also has a merch tab, where you can peruse the (now closed) store of Man Dip memorabilia. Included in their items: a LADIES’ t-shirt with the Man Dip logo on it. Wait a minute- the ladies can’t have the dip, but we can advertise it on our tits? Oh, I get it. Because Real Men also like tits. Makes sense.

Of course, www.mandip.com isn’t the first place to make this delicious concoction. A simple google search will bring up a number of recipes for homemade man dip, so this is hardly their brainchild. But they chose to brand the product – and essentially their entire company – with this gender-specifying label. They could have called it anything else, but they called it that. No biggie, right? Well, they didn’t stop there. They also put recipes on the site, for other Man foods you can make (if you’re a Real Man, or if you’re the titty-sporting wife of a Real Man), and geared all of their statements toward the importance and the glory of being a Real Man. I find this to be excessively divisive, in a society where gender is already a hot-button issue, not just where people are concerned, but where consumer products and reporting are concerned.

Being the consumer reporter that I am, I decided it was only fair to start by reaching out to Andy, the owner/proprietor of Man Dip.

My email to Andy was not rude (shocking, I know), because it wasn’t my aim to call him out on his bullshit, but rather, to guide him toward an understanding of the zeitgeist in which we currently exist. I am not making any rules, nor am I speaking for anyone else, but my guidance comes from my own understanding of the vastly different and constantly varying viewpoints of those around me. I am smart enough to realize we live in a consumerist/capitalist society. We use the preferences and influence of our audience, to make money for ourselves. If Andy had looked a little more closely at the sign of the times, he would see that assigning gender to this product is a huge mistake, and I urged him to reconsider his mission statement.

Whether or not he bites, is his choice. I am hoping for a response that doesn’t include a condescending statement. Appeasing the curiosity of a lowly woman might be the order of the day, but I want more than answered questions. I want change. I want everyone to be welcome to eat that dip, whether they’re a Real Man or a Fake Man, or even a Woman. I am a woman who eats like a Real Man, so I don’t like being told ANY dip isn’t for me. I want that dip.

Unless someone has stuck their dick in it.

-jg

Living in Fear of Living

My son said something to me recently, that made me sad. He was talking about something that was difficult, or undesirable; not something that would hurt or kill him, but a common situation he just didn’t want to experience in the future.
“Well, that would make it so I had to (do this bothersome/uncomfortable thing) so I’m definitely not going to do that!”
While I would normally applaud him for making a decision to avoid an undesirable outcome, I did not teach him to live in fear of feeling or experiencing things that aren’t necessarily ideal. I have lived through many things that were dark and scary, and when I look back, I realize those situations could have ended in my death. Several times. But I went through them, and I made more bad decisions, and I experienced more hurt and loss and sadness and failure, and I went back and did it again. I wasn’t afraid to feel those things, because they’re necessary.
I have been completely broke and starving, staying awake all night in my car, because I didn’t want to be late to bring my daughter to school the next day… and at other times, I have also had more money than I could spend.
I have lived in my car, I have lived in a trailer, and I have lived in a beautiful split-level ranch. I have lived with my parents, as an adult. I have lived with toxic people who I depended on for help. I have lived with people who I had no idea were keeping me hostage.
I have felt like I had nowhere to turn, and I have had enormous support all around me. I have felt smothered by attention, from those who love me, and those who don’t.
I have submitted countless pieces of my writing, and had them all be rejected. To this day, I have not been paid for one word I have written, and I continue to write for free.
I goofed around in school and got poor grades, and I went to college at 26. I dropped out of college, and went to work. I have quit jobs, been fired, and been promoted, only to then be laid-off indefinitely.
I have been married, I have been divorced. Twice each. Stalked countless times. I’ve been “loved” in ways that terrified me.
I have been very overweight, and I have been severely underweight. Both because of choices I made, to not care for myself.
I have loved myself, and hated myself. I have contemplated suicide, and I have been grateful for resisting the urge to do so.
I have been in trouble that was so bad, I thought it had to be a dream. I have been in situations that were less than ideal, and if I had known they were coming, I may have said “I’m definitely not doing that!” But I went out and lived those shitty things, because that is where you grow.
The idea that my son thinks he can pick and choose what he can feel in his life, or what he will experience, is unfathomable. I realize he is trying to make as smooth of a path as possible for himself, but he needs to let things happen: good AND bad. He needs to go for things that lie beyond the destruction of his ideal picture. He needs to be brave. He needs to be scared, and do it anyway. He needs to feel sad, bored, and let down, because that is life, and we grow from the pain. The happy times are beautiful, and should be cherished, but they do nothing to bolster our fight. I want him to fight.

-jg

Cold Turkey, Hold the Guilt

I have learned many things in the past ten years of my addiction to facebook. I have recently learned that I wasn’t always addicted to it. It was for fun at first; sharing photos and funny quips with my friends and family… and then it was a daily interaction to find out what everyone was up to. And then it was to keep in touch when I moved and connected at new jobs. And then it was to promote my writing. And by the time I realized I was hooked on making excuses for my addiction, it was too late.
I talked for years about leaving facebook forever. I even made a few half-assed attempts to do so, but I ultimately went back every time. I was a fiend! Not a fiend for likes and shares, but for the interaction with people. Many of my friends travel the world, which I have not been able to do yet. That’s not to say I haven’t been to some beautiful places, but I’m sure I will never see the architecture of Iceland, or the peak of Mount Fuji before I die this time. I just know I won’t, because I’m not going to those places. So, living vicariously through my friends and family, became my drug of choice. It also became an excuse for not actually visiting those friends in real life. Facebook makes it “good enough” to just be connected passively, without carrying the weight.
Even as I type this entry, I am peeking at my facebook messages, but this time, it’s for a different reason: I am actually quitting facebook. This time, for real. I have set an exact time for execution, and hopefully the world will be watching as I disappear. It’s ironic to want to be noticed when you’re leaving, but I am reluctantly leaving a lot of people “behind.” Some have asked me to stay, some have asked why I’m leaving, some have pledged their support, and some have just hit the “sad emoji” reaction button. My value to many causes has not been lost on me, and I will miss being able to open people’s minds and hearts to things that are happening beyond their scope of perception. I have some very dedicated followers, who not only enjoy my writing, but also enjoy the way I point out stupid things that others don’t think to notice. It’s hard to jump from being able to just post a song lyric about how I feel, to having a standard of content to be able to share with my readers. This blog is going to be a lot of work. Right now, I’m an hour and a half from my deadline to post this very piece.
When asked why I’m leaving facebook, I find myself at a loss for rapid explanation. So much good has come from my logging on and reconnecting, but there was also a lot of bad shit that was happening behind the scenes. My information was being used for purposes I was unaware of, some of my “friends” were complaining about me behind my back without understanding what I am really about, and I was leaving a gaping hole in my everyday privacy just by carrying my facebook portal around with me. I also saw a lot of propaganda being passed around and shared, without the poster even thinking about what they were posting. I saw so many of my intelligent friends be ignorant and loud.  I had my pseudonym taken away by facebook officials who wanted to see a photo ID from me, while they let other RIDICULOUS names and nicknames stay. I saw hateful rhetoric being spewed from the mouths of people who (I thought) were good people. I saw facebook – and all of the world’s events, tightly packed therein – tear apart my circle of friends and acquaintances.
Mostly, I just DO NOT NEED it. Not that I need this blog, but I WANT this blog. I want it to be great, and I want to reach people with my experiences, and I want to cut out the memes and propaganda. I want to cut out the videos and articles. I want to cut out the obligation that came with some of my friends. I want to keep the good things, such as my opinion and my unique point of view. I want people to feel my words, and not just see them amongst photos of girls in their underwear, and big fat pictures of trumpy. I don’t want to be screened. I want to be loud. I want to make people uncomfortable, and I want to BE uncomfortable. I want to argue with people who get the message. Real people. I don’t want to be told that something isn’t for me to understand. I want to talk about everything. I want to include everyone who is willing to contribute without trying to keep up appearances. And yes, I want to complain to my heart’s content, without the forced makeover suggestions, courtesy of some fake-ass people who are trying to make an image for themselves as being “Woke.”
The short version: Facebook was always fake. It’s a pacifier for you to suck on, to comfort you, while you are being sold. That’s all it is. And the more we try to tiptoe around things, and try not to ruffle feathers, the less human we become. We have to own what we say, and stand confidently behind it, and if the opportunity to learn something comes along, we always have the freedom to change our minds. That’s what makes being a self-aware, singular human so great. Don’t be the coward who just agrees because someone bullied them into thinking their ideologies were better. Don’t be a facebook profile. Don’t let technology shape who you are.
In the past 50 years, we have seen technology come a long way. From when we started carrying our phones in our pockets, to carrying our entire computer on our person, to having a robot control every aspect of our lives, we have only devolved as people. We let the car control our fate, instead of paying attention and being careful. We let the computer and phone supply us with those good feelings of being in love, or the pride in our hard work. We attach those feelings to the phone, because it’s the phone that is present with you while your brain is releasing that dopamine. We let the computer take over, to make up for our fears of coming up short. How lazy do you have to be, to not know when your own family’s birthdays are, without having to rely on a prompt from the computer? Why is it more convenient to put all of your most vital information – credit cards, medical issues, addresses, phone numbers, the things that could kill you, the info about where you work and worship, your child’s schedule – in one, easy to find location? What would you do, if all of that information and access suddenly became unavailable to you? When we allow computers and robots to run our lives, down to the most menial task, we allow ourselves to become dependent on them. We take the task off our own responsibility, thinking we’re doing ourselves a favor, but we’re really allowing our brains to die. We’re no longer priming ourselves to be responsible or accountable for what we do, and who we are. We experience our child’s most important moments through the screen of a smartphone. We tell ourselves we’re “documenting” but we’re not even retaining the actual memory.
Not all technology is bad, so save those comments for later. I just want to eliminate the poisonous technology that is doing more harm than good. I want to get back to being held responsible for *seeing* my friends, instead of just catching up on what they’ve been up to recently. I want to know that someone’s birthday is coming up, because I cared enough about them to commit it to memory, and then I want to tell them “Happy Birthday” with my voice. I want to reach people without organizing a facebook event. I want to go out and experience life for the prizes it provides, when we rely on being a human. I want to have a real personality, that is not dictated by what people *choose* to see. I want my progress in life to be real, not just a page on an app.
T- minus 24 hours and counting…

-jg

Mothers’ Day… Just ONE?!

In honor of this upcoming Day of Life, as I like to call it, I have decided to post a piece I had written last year, because I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to top it. Enjoy….

Being a Mom is SUPER FUCKING HARD.

Oops, I mean… spoiler alert. Being a Mom is literally THE most difficult job on the planet. I can say that, because I’v e worked at every job on the planet. No, that isn’t true, and of course I don’t care what job you think is more difficult, I still stand by the original statement. This job is taxing on every single part of your existence. There is nothing else.

But for shits and giggles, let’s think about a difficult job: underwater welding. Sure, getting fried in the water sounds cool, but not when there aren’t drugs involved, and we’re talking about a life-ending shot of electricity to the body. That never sounds cool. So, you’re an underwater welder, and that’s a tough day, I can admit, which is why I chose it for this example. I’m just warming you up, see. So I can yoink the proverbial carpet out from under proverbial you. Underwater welding is dangerous, and I would never want to wake up in the morning to the knowledge that I had to report to underwater anything, much less for 10 hours of welding.

But picture this: life is good, you’re underwater welding, you have your underwater welding coworkers, and you’re all eating lunch, and it’s time to get back to work, but one of your coworkers barfs all over you! Like, everything they just ate, is now being pulled by gravity, down the front of your whole body, each piece of disgusting food searching for a place to crust onto. They even got some in your mouth. Then, another coworker gets diarrhea all over the place, before they can get to a bathroom, and it’s in their hair, and it’s just leaking out of every microscopic hole in the fabric of their clothing. And another coworker says he’s hungry, and doesn’t want anything he has in his lunchbox, even though he has all of his favorite foods that he liked as recently as yesterday. Oh, and another one has taken all of his clothes off, and is trying to stick a piece of his apple in his butt. All of them are looking to you for solutions, NOW. They’re touching you. They’re whining at you, in stereo, like some hellish choir. And don’t even think about taking a nap! There are bodily fluids in the form of toxic sludge, just waiting to be cleaned up. Cleaned up by you. You could ask another coworker for help, because you have one available, but he has his own job to do, so you probably have to handle this one yourself.

All of this, of course, comes after the First Day of Work, where you have to find a way to push something large through an impossibly small opening, while somebody rips your very soul out of you, without giving up, without asking for anything, without killing someone. Congratulations, you’ve made it through the first day! Here comes the diarrhea….

Now, don’t get me wrong: I know there are men who do all of these things (other than the First Day part) every day, and they’re fucking spectacular at it. There are men I know, who are better parents to their children than the Mother is. There are men I know, who do all of the parenting. I am speaking in a generalization of our society, which is the only one I can speak from with accuracy. This piece aims to highlight the things Mothers are typically expected to handle, regardless of the number of parents in the household. When baby shits himself, it automatically prompts the person holding the baby to exclaim “Oh boy, someone has a present for Mommy!”  Huh?! Why the fuck is it for Mommy? What if they were so inspired by your face, that they shit their pants and gave it to YOU as a present? That shit is your gift, and you’re trying to re-gift to Mom because you assume that that is the process of things. Why should someone who has probably changed a few diapers in their life be expected to change a shitty diaper? No, that’s Mom’s job, here you go.

That shit used to drive me insane! I will gladly change a friend’s baby without even blinking an eye, because THE BABY NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. If you were bedridden for some unfortunate reason, and weren’t able to use the toilet, would you expect a hospice worker to come over and say “Oh gross! Someone else…. I am NOT doing this!” No, you’re lying if you think that would feel ok to you. The diaper needs to be freshened, it doesn’t matter who is doing it. I’m sure the baby has no preference.

Same thing with puking. When a friend’s baby pukes on me, it doesn’t occur to me to be grossed out or flinch. I will take care of the baby, and then clean up myself afterward. The baby is helpless for their own care. Ridiculing it for puking is not necessary, I can assure you. Change the damn baby and stop whining about how gross they are. You’re gross.

So, Mom is expected to keep everyone clean of bodily fluids of all types, keep everyone fed, keep everyone’s clothes on, keep everything picked up, even though there are thugs following her around, fucking up her shit in her wake. Moms have to have everything in order, which if you didn’t know, is impossible to do when kids are involved. It’s barely possible with a grown man in the house, much less ANY number of tiny relentlessly wild humans who apparently aren’t aware of just how many strings they can pull at once. These things have to be done, and if by some miracle, someone sees your house on a clean day, I’m just kidding, that never happens. But if it did happen, like I said, by some miracle, then you get zero credit for everything that happened up until that point. It’s like in the movies, when the house is trashed, and the parents are coming home, so everyone is hauling ass to clean the house, and they get the last thing cleaned in the nick of time, and the parents think nothing has been going on. It’s status quo. All of your hard work and effort has gotten you to the point of looking like you haven’t done anything all day, because nothing is out, and nothing is going on.

And don’t even get me started on how much of a slap in the face it is, when someone comes home to the part where the thugs are fucking shit up behind the woman who has been frantically cleaning and trying to keep food and bodily fluids from being expelled (sometimes unnoticed, where it dries onto the surface, and you only realize it’s there when it starts to smell really really bad) all day long, and she hasn’t had a chance to brush her hair or eat a piece of toast, and the partner says, “You don’t even do anything but stay home and play with the kids.”

Jah, please help.

Being a Mom is difficult from day one, and for the rest of her life. Your Mom had to watch you make mistakes that tore her apart inside. She knew about things you didn’t know she knew. She didn’t approach you, because she wanted to see if you would do the right thing. Sometimes, you didn’t, and she loved you anyway. But when you did do the right thing, it was everything to her.

She had to watch you leave her home, which no Mom is ever ready for, no matter what she says. Yeah, I’m blowing it up for all the tough-as-nails Moms out there. It is never easy to say goodbye to your child, and it doesn’t matter if they’re leaving for the weekend or the semester. Moms spend hours of labor trying to get you into this world, then spend years trying to prepare you to leave her home, and then when you do, they want you to come back. She calls you and hounds you to come visit, and it gets annoying, but you were everything she knew for decades, and now she can’t hug you when she wants, or see if you’re doing alright. Your Mom will never stop wondering if you’re okay, even when you’re old enough to take care of her. She made you. She spent years of her life putting you first, not considering herself a priority for time, money, food, love, or care. She has worked endlessly for your happiness, and has felt the pain of your misdirected anger. She has cried for you more times than you can count.

There is a reason why so many people talk about how special their Mom is/was. Moms are something that gets woven into us. Some people have had a less than positive experience with their Moms, and can’t relate at all to any of what I’ve said. Again, I’m speaking from a basic cultural standpoint that is prevalent in even the poorest of homes. Income and status need not have anything to do with it. To some children, their mother is their security blanket, and the mother doesn’t even pay attention to them, but just knowing that she is physically there is enough to create a bond.

Mothers experience a change when they have a baby, and whether that change is positive or negative, it never leaves her, and it never leaves the baby. The baby will grow up with feelings toward the woman who felt at least positively enough about them, that she would let her body be defeated by pain, just to bring them into this world. Even for Moms who don’t show their children affection or support, there is still an emotional tie that never goes away. Even cases of greed and deceit early on, can turn into guilt and anguish for women who are incapable of manifesting the “Motherly” manner toward their children. So there is always an effect.

I think, generally, Mothers teach us that women can MAKE a human being. They can make a person. They can produce the vessel, to be filled with good or bad, and present it to the world. Women make the mark on society by even choosing to have a child or not. It’s a process that makes a person realize they could have been nothing, but instead they are here, and now they too have the choice to create something to present to the world. Without Mothers, there is nothing to present. We make the world.

This day is for every Mom, even the Mother of that evil spray-tanned toddler wearing the president’s hat. I’m sure she has the superhuman ability to love him, which is pretty impressive for any human (she’s human, right?). You gotta give it to the woman who dealt with that shit,….so then I guess probably the nanny?

No worries, nannies. You will have your own special relationship with the child/ren, because it’s been shown that children develop similar bonds with nannies, for the same reasons as they do with their Moms: when needs are met, the child feels safe, and trusts that they can rely on this person for care. The only difference is, the child grows to realize that this nanny is not their Mother, and they thereby create the separation, but the genuine emotional feeling of security is still there.

Even in respect to the nannies, Moms have to make the decision to let another person care for their child, and I am sure there are some Mothers who would prefer a better situation, but can’t for whatever reason. This is difficult for those Moms, because women are expected to return to work so quickly after maternity leave, that they miss out on the essential bonding that happens between a Mother and baby. For Moms who can’t be bothered by their children’s presence, there are some much more toxic underlying issues happening in that world, and it’s probably better for the child to be cared for by the nanny. This will create a bigger bond between the child and nanny, but the child will learn that their needs are being met by somebody and it very well could have been nobody. The Mother had to make sure the child was cared for, so there is some semblance of love toward the child, whether the Mother wants to acknowledge it or not.

Becoming a Mom is easy. BEING a Mom, every day, is the tough part. Giving up will cross your mind. You lose a part of you that for soooo long, used to belong to you, but now belongs to someone else. You cry, you laugh, you pray to nobody, you eat a plate of French fries at 2 o’clock in the morning because it’s the only time you can eat without someone stealing your food, you starve for five days straight because you put the kids first, you wonder if you will ever pee without an audience again, you forget how many days it has been since the last time you showered (tub with baby may have been it), you find things within you that you didn’t think were there, you find things within your toilet that you did not want in there, you stop giving a fuck about anyone else, you surprise yourself with how long you can go without sleeping, you silent scream wishes that the baby would just go to sleep, but then when they do, you just stare at them and stroke their fat little hands, wondering how they can be that beautiful.

And then they wake up and they’ve shit themselves, and removed their diaper for you already, and painted a beautiful poop mural on the wall. That full body electrical shock is sounding pretty nice, isn’t it?

Happy Life Day!

-jg

FOMO, MOFO

For those of you who may not be hip to the new lingo, FOMO is just Fear Of Missing Out. We have all felt it, whether on a minimal scale or a grand scale, myself included. I remember back when Matt and I first started dating, he was still in his band, and I had to miss a lot of his shows because I couldn’t find a babysitter, and it would drive me crazy to know that everyone else was there watching him perform. Everyone except for me. I knew what the songs were, and I knew pretty much everyone who was going to be there, but something made me feel resentful about them enjoying themselves.
That’s FOMO.
And that’s what we face when we make a leap like social media abandonment. Closing facebook means you don’t get to hear what your friends are up to, as they live spontaneous moments of their lives. It’s not as easy as emailing your friends and family every day, asking if they did anything cool or noteworthy, or if they had a frustrating experience that needs to be talked about, or if they have any photos they feel like sharing. Facebook is responsible for the reunion of old friends, the discovery of family, the assembly of mass groups, and the spreading of knowledge we may not otherwise have access to. I’ve been to surprise birthday parties that were organized on facebook. I met someone that made a huge difference in my life, on facebook. Hell, I met Matt on facebook. We tether memories to facebook, and expect that each day we will be able to relive old memories from years prior. It’s comforting, because we expect that they will always be there.
So when we leave facebook, the FOMO turns on. We lose the connection to friends. We lose the stream of knowledge that flows between people. We lose the comfort of our memories. We lose the ability to allow facebook to handle birthdays and graduations and concerts and gatherings. We lose our private audience. We miss out on memes, trending topics, and the opinions of others. We miss out.
It’s a sick, sick thing. It’s like a drug, and we think we need to go back, so we don’t completely delete our account; we just deactivate it for awhile. The fact that it’s even an option to do that, is so fucked up, because it shows that they KNOW it’s an addiction, and we’ll be back! If they were smart, they would make the initial account free, and then charge to reactivate if you deactivate at any time. Just like a drug dealer.
I am currently transitioning away from facebook, which is truthfully a FOMO moment for me. I don’t have phone numbers or email addresses for many of my friends, and most of them may as well be on another planet, since I live way out in the sticks. I don’t want to miss my friends. I also live half the country away from my family, so it’s hard to convince myself that I’m not missing out. I have family I have only seen on facebook.
Life is short, and I hope I am able to maintain relationships with people I’m close to, even without facebook. I went ten years without speaking to people I once considered my best friends… and then I got facebook, and spent ten years becoming reconnected to them. I hope the next ten years is full of real-life visits with those friends, experiencing their laughs and smiles, smelling them, which sounds weird, but I’m a smell person. I’m not going to sniff you, or anything, but I can smell you. I smell you. I want to smell you in real-life.

-jg

Uncomfortable Comforting

When I think about the kind of person I want to be, I generally just say “I don’t know” because that’s just easier than really allowing yourself to be completely selfish for a minute. Forget who everyone else wants me to be. Who do *I* want to be?
I want to be strong, but some people would argue that I am the strongest person they know. Others have called me weak. Some have said I was my own worst enemy, which would be crazy to think about: having me as an enemy. Yikes. I would be anyone’s worst enemy. Except for the people who think I’m weak. So maybe I don’t think I’m weak at all, and just don’t recognize just how formidable of a person I truly am. I know I’ve made it through some bullshit, and even look like it’s effortless at times. It’s never effortless. My whole life is a struggle. I don’t ever want to be someone who doesn’t struggle. I want to be strong.
But I also want to be kind. Despite the fact that I would give my right leg to develop the power to spit acid in the face of my enemy, I feel the pain of others. I feel that everyone goes through some shit, and the ones who are hurting the worst are the ones who are going around hurting others. They are unable to work through their feelings, and I feel sorry for them. It is a scary world when you’re unable to connect with yourself and be honest. I have gotten so good at doing that very thing (out of necessity) that I have had to rediscover that process in the form of participating in my daughter’s counseling sessions. I bite my tongue when I can sense she is going to talk about something that would normally be none of her business. But the fact is, she has witnessed something that may not be her business, but still has an effect on her, and still evokes feelings that she may not be able to process. When she gets her gears jammed by something unfamiliar, she gets anxious, and then her skin flares up. The past couple of days have been particularly bad for her, and her skin is breaking out. She talks about subjects that I am comfortable with processing internally, but am uncomfortable  with facing in front of others. It helps my daughter to be able to recognize that struggle, and how deep the ripples go. It isn’t often that she sees me become uneasy, so when she plows through those conversations anyway, it makes both of us stronger in the end. I place great importance on strength, but equally important is kindness.

-jg

Free Thought (with every purchase)

You don’t have to like me.
You don’t have to have the same outlook as I do.
You don’t have to respect my opinion, or adopt it as your own.
You don’t have to ‘like’ or ‘share’ my stuff.
You don’t even have to have a full conversation with me about our differing views.
I respect that my friends don’t think exactly like me. They feel differently about things, they react differently to stimuli, and they rationalize in their own way.
I do NOT respect flip-floppers.
I do NOT respect cowardly people who wait until my back is turned, to talk about how they didn’t like what I said.
If you’re going to say it at all…
Say it to me.
Don’t voice your opinion ONLY when you feel safe from potential backlash. It doesn’t matter then. It matters when everyone around you is pushing you to feel like you NEED to agree with them, and you still don’t.
And that’s okay. Stand by your true opinion.
But also don’t expect that your opinion will be everyone else’s opinion too. And don’t piss your pants when it doesn’t happen.
Own your view of the world, regardless of how other people think it should look.
If your view of the world means you feel the need to be two-faced, and tell people what they want to hear in every situation (regardless of how genuine it is) then there’s something deeper there.
Don’t be bullied into an outlook that isn’t yours.
And if you’re the outlook bully, what the fuck is wrong with you? Do you really need justification that badly, that you’re willing to force your ideologies on others, just so you don’t feel alone?
What happened to being an individual?
Why is it so frightful to disagree with people?
Go against the grain! It doesn’t even hurt that badly.
Once you realize you’re living for yourself, you know what freedom feels like.

-jg

Be Kind, Remind

Five years ago, I almost lost my kids in a car accident. They were passengers in a car with my ex husband, on a nice and sunny, clear afternoon. My ex husband (who has a lengthy history of accidents due to drunk driving or just being fucked up on whatever he could find) went off the road, later blaming it on swerving to avoid hitting a dog (the other 7 witnesses said there was no dog, and he simply drifted off the road). What happened next, has left both of my kids with nightmares they can’t escape.
The car blasted through the guard rail, rolled down a steep hill into a ravine, where they hit a tree, and the car caught fire. Their seatbelts were stuck, so they had to work their way out of them (driver never wore one). Their doors were stuck as well, so they had to climb out of the window. No sooner did everyone get out, then the car exploded, sending my ex husband flying.
He got no charges on him, despite the fact that hypodermic needles were found in his car wreckage. No sobriety tests were administered, which would normally seem weird to me, but I read it in the police report so I guess they didn’t care about his OUI history (*eventually they did, after a few more offenses and several years). The tow company that pulled the car said that nobody should have survived a crash like that.
I got a call from him that night, and he told me it was “no big deal, just a little accident.”
I can’t imagine experiencing that, EVER, much less as a 9- or 11- year old kid. It’s so much a big deal. They’re lucky to be alive today, and I don’t know what I would do if they weren’t here. I don’t even think I would still be here.
Cherish your loved ones, let them know you appreciate them. Be there for them, even if it doesn’t bring you anything extra, it might make all the difference to them. You never know when you have said your last word to someone. Try not to make it a hateful one.

-jg

Let Me Write ’em

I hate how bad I am at correspondence.
I don’t call people as much as I should, I don’t even really text people to see how they’re doing. I feel like facebook has done this to me, because I used to be a letter writer. I would write letters about nothing, just random jibber jabber, but I would send it out, and the recipient would know that I was thinking about them. I don’t do that now, mostly because I know what everyone is up to, thanks to social media. And they know how I’m doing. So the letters are almost obsolete to today’s society, but I miss them.
I had an infection in my right hand awhile back, after a burn refused to heal properly, and the muscles have deformed. I can’t hold a writing utensil properly, or force my muscles to create smooth strokes on the paper, and it’s frustrating. I used to be praised for my beautiful penmanship, and now everything I write comes out like a 2nd grader wrote it.
Don’t get me wrong; I am thankful for the continued use of both my able hands. I just wish I could write more than one sentence without giving up. I hate crossing things out when I mess up, and I do it all the time now. I can’t afford to just start over again, because I would have a stockpile of essentially blank paper crumpled up on my floor. So I write emails.
I hate writing emails where a handwritten letter is appropriate. While I recognize that it’s even worse to say nothing at all (because an email isn’t enough), I sometimes let it go that way. I feel that I will just crank out an ugly thank-you note that is unpleasant to look at, and I never know what to say. I mean, I say Thank You, but again, that’s not enough. I let my standards keep me from saying “I appreciate you” to people who really deserve it.
That all being said, I have a confession to make. Over the holiday season, I received so many shipments of art supplies for my daughter’s art room, a gift that I was trying to set up for her with little resources. The outpouring of love and generosity had me in tears every time I saw the name of a stranger on a large package on my porch, because I knew it was full of supplies that would facilitate my daughter’s future in art, and support for her from the community which she would one day become a part. I was THANKFUL. But I still haven’t gotten through the thank-you notes. It’s so far past the holidays, that I now think it’s too late. I have half-started notes that turned ugly, and I gave up on them, but I still want those people to know that I truly am grateful.
It’s my goal to finish writing the notes, and show my appreciation for those who helped in such an important time. If you’re one of the contributors, please please please know that not a day goes by that I don’t beat myself up for this failure to deliver. I am a work in progress.

-jg

I’m “Irreplaceable”

I’m intrigued by the reactions some of my friends are having, regarding the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook profiling scandal. I remember not so long ago, Me and Matt were talking to people about it being a current event that they should pay attention to, and a lot of our friends and family told us (to our faces, as well as our backs) that we were conspiracy theorists, and tinfoil hats blah blah blah, and “they’re just for fun, let people have fun.”
Now that it’s an open social media thing, people are talking about it as if they’re trying to educate me on the gravity of the situation, when a year ago, they were the ones telling me that I “look too deeply into things” and that “not everything is a conspiracy.”
Ahhh, the opinions.
I’m not saying it’s wrong, but I don’t understand why people find it so entertaining to put their most personal details about who they are into a generator that “might be fun.” Any info I feed into a generator is going to be all over the place, and in no way reflective of my true answer, because I like to shake things up. I try not to be accurately catalogued, if I have to be catalogued at all. Even still, I was targeted, and I was aware of what was happening!
If you choose to live in blissful ignorance, that is fine with me, not that you need my permission, but don’t pretend to be awake all of a sudden. It’s cringey. It looks weird. I’m glad you’re concerned all of a sudden, but you’re not really going to be able to do anything about it now. Your privacy has been breached, your data has been sold, and nobody is trying to give it back to you. You’re statistics now. But at least you know which Beyonce song is your power theme!

-jg

It’s My Shit In A Box!

I think it’s funny that they have all of those profiling/documentation services out now, such as 23andMe, or ancestry.com. While I do see the value in those services for information and entertainment purposes, I can also recognize how (some) may alert you to diseases and hereditary traits that you didn’t know existed in your bloodline. That’s helpful.
That being said, I laughed so so so hard this morning when I saw the commercial for whatever service it is that requires you to take a shit in a box and send it to them in the mail. I was laughing much too hard to be able to see what the commercial was actually for, but I think I saw all the important stuff. How long was THAT advertising meeting?! “Ok people, we need to think of a nice cheery way to ask people to shit in the box and send it in the mail…”
I’m fine.

-jg

Safety First, Danger Second

I have thoughts on all of the new “safety features” that cars are coming out with. People get so freaked out about the idea of self-driving cars, because they are being introduced to us without it being our idea. But then, we have no problem accepting the “conveniences” of self-driving cars, if they’re in the form of safety features. We want to pay MORE MONEY for the extras that will keep us seemingly safe, even though these very features are what cause the car to be self-controlled. So really, it is just that people like the IDEA of being in control, but don’t actually want to be responsible for the outcome. Give me a car that has crank windows, push locks, pull headlights, manual transmission, and no bluetooth, no computers, no TV screen, no wifi, no corrective steering or automatic braking system. That’s my preference, because I truly do want to be in control of my vehicle, and don’t need extra distractions, or excuses to not give my attention to the fact that I’m driving a deadly weapon. I don’t think advances in automobile technology are a bad thing, because I’ve had my life saved by an airbag (and another time when it failed to deploy). I understand the desire to be safe, and encourage people to want it. But don’t rely on your car to do it for you. Corrective steering isn’t a license to text and drive. Automatic braking isn’t a free pass to wait till the last minute to slow/stop. A TV screen on the front seat is never a safety feature, so I’m not even sure why that’s a thing. My point is, if people want to be safe, JUST BE SAFE! Remind yourself that YOU are in control of a deadly weapon, and nobody is invincible. Your carelessness and shitty priorities (gotta read that text, and scroll Facebook!) can’t be corrected by a computer, and can affect other drivers and riders, as well as yourself and your family!! If you really can’t help yourself, and you’re a moron who insists on driving while intoxicated or while dicking around on your phone or reading the paper… please give up your license, because you suck. Take a cab. Get a ride from a friend. Jump into a self-driving car, for fuck’s sake. It’s safer than being a dumbass with a bunch of “extra features” you paid for so you wouldn’t have to pay attention.

-jg

My Conundrum

Yesterday, my father had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his prostate.
I haven’t spoken to my dad (other than briefly at my sister’s wedding) since last summer, after coming to the understanding that we have differing views, priorities, and values. He can overlook the differences, but I cannot. He is willing to sweep it all under the rug, but I am not. He wants to start over, and that is one thing I AM willing to do, but there needs to be progress and growth achieved in the process.
I insist upon it.
I demand it.
I demand that he look at himself – past and present – and truly think about how he has treated people, and realize that you (generally) can’t treat people that way. And then I demand that he actually do something to keep himself from treating people that way in the future. You can’t lie and manipulate and gossip and embellish and false-alarm people for very long, before they become wise to the fact that they’re being treated poorly. It’s an easy thing to see. I demand that he sees that.
He wants to skip that part. He just wants to start over.
It seems like he is trying to be the bigger person, and it makes sense why everyone would believe what he says about me holding a grudge. After all, I am not exactly out there campaigning my side of the story. The truth is, I don’t care to. I don’t care if everyone I know is under the wrong impression of me, because I have yet to hear anyone approach me about it. Perhaps it is because they, like I, respect that this is none of their business.
After years of false claims and scares perpetrated on his family, my father was diagnosed with stage 3 prostate cancer.
He has never taken care of himself, so this was no surprise. One cannot exist in the “I’m gonna live forever” mindset forever. Your body truly is your temple, and you get what you give it. My dad’s body is giving back in the form of cancer.
He will be fine, and I have full faith in the science behind the surgery, as well as the robot that performed it. He will live longer than anyone has yet predicted, so I guess that’s a win, being that we all thought he wouldn’t live to see 60 (a product of the many times he told us he was sick or dying, only for him to be completely fine).
I thought about calling him, to tell him that I hope his surgery goes well, but I already knew it would be fine. No good could come from my call, because it would only serve to convince him that I have swept everything under the rug.
There is no rug anymore.
It got too dirty, from sweeping things under it. The threads fell apart, and the color disintegrated, and it had to be burned because it smelled like shit.
I can’t even call my dad the day after his cancer surgery, because he will use it as a way to reconcile without doing the essential hard work that is necessary for OUR wound to begin healing.
I love my dad, and I hope for only good things in the future. But I don’t want those things bad enough to enable him to get away with hurting people. I know I’m right in feeling this way, because I have already lived the life where I just look past everything he does, and I know I don’t want it.
We can’t always hold others accountable; sometimes we just need to hold ourselves accountable, and hope that others will do the same.
Reflection. Atonement. Commitment.
I don’t know why I started writing this. I haven’t written anything in a while, and have been in a writer’s block slump from hell. I have plenty of thoughts and feelings to convey, but so many things come with consequences, judgments, and overreactions. I have been feeling guilty about certain things, and tortured in other things, but perhaps I will feel some clarity soon, and finish my book.
Wish me luck.

-jg

Tot Finder Gonna Find You

There is too much.
Too much to pay attention to.
Too much capable of distracting you from what you were paying attention to.
Prioritize all you like- something is going to interrupt it.
There’s so much happening. To you, to people you love, to other people you’ve never met, others you’ll never meet. 
There is too much information, coming from all directions. There is information you want, which is not always easy to find. It’s tricky to pick through the haystack, to find what is real.
The information you don’t want, is impossible *not* to find.
There is so much deceit. How do you know what is real? How are we to distinguish between what is a lie, and what is just perpetuation of incorrect “facts”? Left unchecked, that game of telephone can have serious repercussions.
My dad once told me that the “guy on the Tot Finder sticker” would come and find me in the night, if I was bad, and he would know where to find me, because the sticker was on my window.
There is too much blissful ignorance. There is too much angry ignorance. There are too many people who are right.
There are too many things to pay attention to.
Easy access to “All The Information” is a poison injection, because a good majority of that information is misinformation.
There is too little research.
Too little empathy.
Too little self-reflection.
Too little interest in the human condition.
Too little realization that we can choose what to believe, and discuss our beliefs with others, but we can also choose to ask questions about what we believe.
There is too little question asking. What did you read/hear? When was it published/said? Who said it? How did they come to this conclusion? Why is this meaningful to you? Can I find out if this is legit or not? Should I spread this information? Will I sound insensitive or exclusionary or reductive? Does it benefit anyone, to spread this information? Could there be an agenda behind it, where the validity would come into question?
There are so many questions.
There are too many statements.
There has been so much advancement in communication and research, that the truth is indistinguishable from fiction.
We are literally living in a science fiction novel.
Which came first: the science fiction, or the dystopian reality?
Or did the novel serve as a guidebook for what “could work”?
What happens beyond the novel?
What happens after the dystopia has found its end? What happens to the society after that? Will we see it? Will our love for advancement be our own end?
There are so many questions I have.
Is it ironic that I’m posting them on social media?
Like and share, or the guy from the Tot Finder sticker will come and kidnap you in the night.

-jg

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“Write.”

I told myself I was going to write more often, if I left my job last January.

I left my job last January, and have definitely written more than I had expected. By quitting my job, I was able to exceed my own expectations. What a country we live in.
Just kidding, this country sucks, and is getting steadily worse. Not steadily at all, actually. It’s more of a sporadic jerking off motion, with a really dry and calloused hand. With sand in it. Or like, those boxing gloves that get dipped in glue and glass.
I always go on descriptive tangents. Maybe that’s my thing. Or writing exactly as I’m talking to myself in my mind. It helps me, but then other people are like “keep writing, we love you!” which gets confusing. I talk about weird things, such as talking about things.
I wrote a list of things I wanted to do today. Writing that list wasn’t on the list, though it should have been. I avoided it for longer than some of the actual items on the list. I do that sometimes. I’ll put something on the list, that I’ve already done, and just check it off. It makes me feel accomplished, and reminds me to always count my victories, even if they happened before you started counting. Anyway, about that list. Writing this piece was on there. It just said “write” because I’m tired of trying to make myself sound like I’m doing something. Before, I was saying “write something” or “do some writing” and it just seemed like too much work.
The neighbors (the kids) are outside, screaming. Not yelling – I mean the scream that sounds like a gym whistle. I think only kids and horror movie women can do it. I used to be able to, and I remember I used to sneak up on my siblings and scream the gym whistle scream directly into their ear. That was always good for a backhand. That’s what you have to expect when you surprise someone with your funny funny joke. They just reach out and swing on the nearest thing, which is you, because you brought the joke to them just now. Instant karma, they say. I’ll take it, because I still feel like I won.

Another time you just want to beat the shit out of whatever is at arm’s length? When you hit your tailbone. That is a pain that can’t even be legal. Every time I hit my tailbone, I wonder how I survived it. It’s a complicated response. But it’s intense, and powerful. And you know what? I have a story about that very thing.

In high school, you’re not allowed to wear anything you want to wear, unless it looks like the non-existent school uniforms the school board is definitely against. Our district doesn’t enforce uniforms, but they’re narrowing it down naturally. When I was in high school last century, things were a bit more relaxed, but still very stupid. I wore a really cool tank top that had whales and turtles on it, and I loved that shirt, and it covered my bra straps on both sides, and it didn’t show any cleavage, and it didn’t show my stomach or my back or my hips, or anything else that may distract the boys from learning. Despite all of those great reasons to rock that shirt, the principal pulled me into his office to chat about it. When I look back on it, I picture him pulling me in with a cane by my neck, like in Laurel and Hardy. But this wasn’t funny, it was just stupid, like I said before. He didn’t like the shirt, and it needed to be changed, or covered up, because the print of the whales and turtles *got wider around the breast area* and drew attention to them. After explaining to him the very obvious fact that the shirt was not printed to be stretched and still maintain the same size print, I asked if I could leave, because I felt uncomfortable with his conversation. For those of you who went to school with me, and remember the principal back then, you’ll know how uncomfortable he was to be around. I walked out of his office, and felt like I had gotten away with something somehow, and started to prance like a moron down the hallway.
In the midst of my victory lap, I missed the “wet motherfucking floor, moron” sign, and was met with a sudden return to reality. I slipped and landed directly on my ass, which apparently makes you need to quickly inhale as deeply as you can, probably in an effort to just pass out. With that, at least for me, comes the squeezing shut of your eyelids, and the clenching of every muscle that has juice left in it. I saw stars. Luckily, I also saw that nobody had witnessed my fall, since I was also wearing a skirt, and my pride was hiding in a nearby locker.
I slithered into the women’s bathroom, and stood on a toilet across from the sinks. I had to assess the damage. I should have thought about the very likely instance that someone would walk in and see me mooning myself in the mirror, but the thought hadn’t occurred to me, since my gray matter was still settling. The girl felt bad for me, which -my mistake- I thought meant she would keep quiet about it, and not go get a teacher for help. There are a lot of fun times in high school, but that was not one of them. That was one of the times you block out, but it’s always the first thing I think of when I hit my tailbone.
Aren’t you glad you know that? The things that go on in my head… they’re your problem now.
I think people are obsessed with facts nowadays. Everyone has a device that can give them the facts if they want ‘em, and there’s all kinds of ways to get the facts. People don’t believe anything anyone says anymore, unless they have the facts to back it up, which I think says a lot about society. Before we had newspapers and internet and broadcast journalism, people relied on the word of others, to determine what was going on in the world. Now, you need facts and you better cite a source THEY agree with, because your source might not be getting the facts, so how can you trust them??
People want to know everything, which is something I love, but people don’t need to know all the facts, because that means there is nothing to discover or explore anymore, there is no variation on existence, and there is nothing to improve or change with the times. It means there is complete trust in those facts alone, but no trust in people themselves. Nobody wants to know how people feel or what people think anymore, only what the facts are.

When my kids are in school, it’s their duty to try. Put forth an effort. I don’t expect you to get 100% correct all the time, because life is not like that at all. It sets a false expectation for them, that they can possibly be right all the time. But definitely respect your teachers as people with deadlines and responsibility to 100 little asshole students for 8 hours every day.

I feel that it’s far more important to know how to deal with people, rather than know how to recite facts. There is not a single job or career or placeholder in society that doesn’t need to know how to deal with people, because everyone is a person outside of their job. They live a real life, where they pay bills to someone, and they buy clothes, and they stress over relatives and health and making a life. Everyone has something to deal with, and there is almost always another person on the other end of it. It isn’t always the facts that get us through those situations. We need to value our social intelligence, and not just the facts. We need to teach it in school and at home. We need to teach our friends and our enemies. We need to teach our neighbors and our strangers. We need to make sure we don’t lost touch with humanity.

In the era of the electronic device, we are inventing new ways to speak, that are limiting our vocal interaction altogether; we shorten words to one syllable, we speak acronyms, we use emojis in the exact same way we used to use hieroglyphics. We spend our lives looking at a screen, instead of each other.
How many armed robbers or street rapists will be interested in facts and statistics, do you think?  What’s that plan look like?
Robber: “Gimme all your money, or you’re fuckin dead!”
You: “Listen, 44% of street attacks end in a minimum of serious injury to the attacker, with another 13% of attackers actually being killed themselves.”
You can’t rely on facts at that point; you’re going to need to know how to deal with that shit. So stop trying to get the facts all the damn time. You need social intelligence.

It’s 11:28, which means my kids will be down here in 33 minutes, asking if I called them. They just want food. I’m a butler to them. I just live here, and clean up after them, and do what they need, and get shit for them. I’m literally a maid. I should at least be like Mary Poppins. She was a bitch, but they respected her, because they knew they were fucked without her. My kids apparently don’t know that.
My son just said I have a definitive style of drawing, and I thought that was important enough to switch topics. He asked what my book was called. I didn’t tell him. He asked if I needed someone to design the cover, and I said no. He asked if I was going to do my “regular thing” myself, and then pantomimed scribbling some lines on paper. “The squiggly lines that never touch, and create a maze, and then you just do block lettering in the middle?”
“Is that my thing?” I ask.
“Yeah. I’d say.”
I never thought much of it, because I never considered it “drawing” by definition. Leave it to me, to have “my thing” be something that goes against its artistic definition.

-jg

Signs, Symbols, Metaphors, Clairvoyance

I don’t remember always being clairvoyant, but I’ve been told quite often as an adult, that I’m “scary psychic.” Of course, I’m not actually psychic, but I do have a sharp intuition, and a heightened awareness of my surroundings, and I pride myself on being highly observant. I had the luxury of attending Psychology and Sociology classes in high school and college, in addition to the independent study hours I’ve racked up for free, and live by some mundane philosophies where society is concerned. I’ve been called Liberal, Conservative, Communist, Socialist, Progressive, and crazy. I have loved men and women. I have connected closely with people of other races. I own a fire arm. I believe in free education. I believe in the death penalty. I believe in equal pay and consideration in the work place. I would fight any day for the rights of those around me, because I believe we all have a duty to each other, to take responsibility in our happiness. If you want to live a happy long life, don’t cause waves. There isn’t enough of a focus on how our actions affect others, and that is the key to a happy life. If we are good to each other, and not selfish for the things we can own, there is less of a need for things like the death penalty. But we are not there yet, and religious persecution is still a deadly business, and people are still being sold and traded and raped and killed and abandoned and poisoned and disenfranchised, and women still don’t have equal rights. If you love the wrong person, you don’t have equal rights either; even if you are a white, college educated male in his mid 20s, you are not entitled to those rights if you love another man. We are far from where I thought we would be. There is no way we could have predicted that we would be here. My ideals don’t come anywhere near the reality that is alive around us, and it’s getting increasingly tricky to know what is going to come next. The best we can do, is prepare ourselves, educate, strengthen, and care for ourselves and each other.
When I have moments of clairvoyance, I tend to act like it’s a magic trick, when I know it’s just me being highly observant and my intuition being sharp, as I mentioned before. But sometimes, I question whether it isn’t magic? I’ve predicted deaths, births, and even a specific old man (in a crowd of people) being rushed to the hospital. It’s never something I brag about, and I don’t do it on command, or anything like that. Sometimes, I don’t even like when I’m “right” about things I’ve said. It gets creepy, and sometimes I think I jinx myself into bad luck situations with my jinxer mouth.
The first time I really remember seeing into the future, was when I was about 10 years old. My brother was at a baseball game, at a school in another town, and my sister and I went walking on the trails in the woods behind the school. We walked up to a small clearing with a boulder in the middle of it, and a Walkman* was just sitting there on the boulder, all unsupervised. We both paused, my sister and me, because we had obviously never encountered a better surprise than this before (we totally did one time after, though). Before approaching the rock, we decided what tape would be awesome to find in there, and since it was 1991, I said “Dr. Feelgood” by the incomparable Motley Crue. I don’t remember what my sister said, but it doesn’t matter, because it was “Dr. Feelgood.” I opened the Walkman, and I said “What the fuck!” I couldn’t believe I had told the future! And it was about a tape I wanted! And a Walkman!
If you’re wondering how that ended, my dad saw me (happy and had to extinguish the happiness as quickly as possible) and was like “Hey, what did you steal this, or something?” and I was like “No way. I found it.” And he didn’t believe me, so he took it and probably found the rightful owner, I bet.
If you’re wondering about that time we found a better surprise than that, it was in Florida, when I was I think 15 years old. My dad took us to Universal Studios somehow, and he was dicking around in a gift shop for the free A/C for like 75 minutes. My sister and I stood outside by one of those planted trees with the potted soil that is waist-high on a grown man, and I leaned against the cement pot, and found this huge wad of money. It was an insane amount of cash just sitting in that dirt, because it probably fell out of some asshole’s pocket when he didn’t deserve it anymore. I’m talking like, $500.  So, because I knew I would never be able to spend one cent of it without my dad finding out and accusing me of mugging someone since I’m Oliver fucking Twist now, I gave my dad the money.
I didn’t want to.
I handed over the money, and he said “Hey, what’s this?” I don’t know, maybe I stole a lot when I was really little, and he was just working off patterns. But he wasn’t nice, even though I did the “right thing” whatever that was. He found the rightful owner right after that, I bet.
That wasn’t a clairvoyance story, but I guess you could say it was a signs story. That was part of the title of this chapter, too. Look at the top of the page. See? Told you.
Anyway, it was a sign that my dad would never believe anything I said, so I might as well just never say anything to him again. That’s a metaphor for life, and a symbol of forgetting what you were saying in an effort to bring the title back into the whole thing.
So, I work off symbols and I look for meaning where there is none. I get told that a lot. I think too deeply about things. “You’re going to cause something to happen because you’re thinking about it so much!” I swear that is something I have been told. One place where I’m really crazy, is advertising. I listen to radio commercials, and I say “Who wrote that fuckin jingle?” Seriously. “How did they cast the singer for that jingle they wrote, and how did nobody object to how annoying and underproduced it sounds?” I think about the commercials for kids’ toys and snacks, and I picture the casting for those kids, and what the green room must be like. Essentially, they have to get to know the other kids on a weird level, because they have to be familiar with them, but not too familiar, because it’s just a commercial and you’ll forget about them in two weeks. When the producers talk shit about the kids – because you know they do – I wonder what they say? I would love to hear some of that hot mic feed. I hate print advertising, especially logos, because I always think they’ve included some secret message in there, and I make a whole side story about the company, in order to justify it. I can’t say for sure that some of it might not be true.
People say “Stop thinking too much into things.”
And then I see 14 posts on facebook about “45 Company logos that you didn’t know had hidden meanings!” How am I supposed to think everything is the polished end result we see on television, and nothing more? That’s why I go looking for shit. Because sometimes I find it.
That’s another reason why I look like I’m psychic: because I dig on everything. I’m not always successful, but the more you dig, the more times you hit success, and when you start to rack up the sheer numbers, you look as though you experience more “hits” than the average person, and therefore, you must be clairvoyant.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t predict the near future quite a bit, and have no explanation for how it happened. It goes beyond the common predictions of the next song that will play on the radio, or knowing when someone would call. I know what people are going to say next, so often it’s become almost boring and annoying to my family. I solve the Wheel of Fortune puzzle before any letters are shown, I shout out the correct response to Final Jeopardy before the clue is even given, I tell them I know what they’re going to ask/say in many situations, and am usually correct.
If you pay attention to the universe closely, it gives you clues, and all you need to do is fill in the blanks. In that way, I can be clairvoyant. But I think anybody could do that. I just make it look really impressive.

-jg

*a walkman is like an ipod, but it had batteries that you could change out, and you could put tapes in it, or listen to the radio on it.

Last Day of School 2017

(It’s important to know, that this blog did not exist when this particular piece was written. Hence, the title.)

It’s so unfair – to everyone without kids –  that I have a son and a daughter, who provide me with a constant, free, endless stream of hysterical material. I feel like I’m cheating, almost, because I can heft up this book with a bunch of stuff about them, and know that I will never reach the bottom of that money pit. I won’t do that, though. I’ll talk about myself, for you.
As I type this, there are sirens going off in my neighborhood. This is not a rarity here, in fact, it may be a daily occurrence. That may not sound like a lot, but please keep in mind that this city is pitifully small for a “city.” I think the sirens are going off today, because it is the last day of school. Great. And the local police have a fetish for letting their sirens wail for school functions, which is what leads me to believe that this is no different. Today is the last day of school. Great.
My kids had a “half-day” today, which means I was much more inconvenienced than any normal day during the year. My son just graduated 8th grade, from a school that doesn’t have 8th grade graduation. No sirens for this one, but he wouldn’t have wanted to hear them anyway. Navigating the parking lot at the Junior High is like trying to drive a car where all 4 tires are bald and over-inflated, and you have no brakes, and the cars keep changing, and everyone is on cocaine. I’ve only ever seen that 2 other times, but believe me, this is exactly like that. Some parents drive like it’s their very first time in that parking lot, parking in the driveway to exit (facing the wrong way, in fact). Some parents know the deal, and park far far away, by the unused school buses, waiting for their child to come to them. That’s me. I don’t mess around with the flow of traffic. It’s too risky for everyone but me. The kid comes to me, and I cut everyone off to get out, because it’s the last time I’ll ever got to that stupid parking lot again.  All of that happened after I had picked up my daughter at the Senior High, where I sat on a bench in front of the school for 20 minutes before realizing she had gone out another door and was waiting at the car.  This school parking lot navigation stuff….not for me.
As you may know, my kids aren’t known for helping around the house. They never do. Even when bribed and threatened. I can’t even blackmail them yet. I actually wrote a piece earlier today, about how much they never help, but want to feel like they have done something. After I wrote that, I started making dinner. It was an excellent dinner, and it was perfectly executed, for my cooking style (I don’t use recipes or measurements, and I never taste my food while cooking). I put 3 plates on the table, one for each of the kids, and one for myself. I yelled up the stairs for them. No response. I called through the vent to the second floor. No response. I yelled “Feed bag’s out!” which is what usually gets them, regardless of how quietly I say it. No response. I hear them moving around and talking in normal volumes, but they are oblivious to my existence, because they don’t know it’s time for dinner.
The only time I usually see my kids, is at meal time. They come downstairs for breakfast, and go back upstairs. They come down at exactly 12:01, but they’ll say “Did you call us? No? Oh, look it’s time for lunch!”  Same thing after lunch: they’re back upstairs until dinner. I don’t exist to them, unless there is food involved. So, I didn’t feel too badly that I sat at the table and ate my dinner without them. When they think about food, they’ll come downstairs, and their food will be cold. They won’t say they missed the time spent with Mom at dinner. They’ll moan and complain about having to reheat their food because I “didn’t even come get us!”

-jg

-jg

Covfefe

According to Urban Dictionary, I live in a “Big Town” because we fall between 7,000 and 20,000 people.  We have a population of about 18,000, but it’s one of the larger towns in the state, so we call it a city. Everyone who has been here longer than 5 years knows everyone else, at least by reputation, and you can easily get from “uptown” to “downtown” on foot without getting tired. I wasn’t raised here, but many of my friends -including my boyfriend- were, and they’ve watched businesses close, affecting numerous families in the community. They’ve seen their own friends die from drug overdoses, following a sad trend that has existed in this area for decades, with no apparent end in sight. They’ve burned bridges with employers that they have had to interact with again down the line, whether waiting on their ex-boss at the store or restaurant, or having to do outside business with them in their new job.
But there are also times when interactions just get weird. You don’t need to live in a big town to know that, but it certainly helps. I believe in signs, to a certain extent, and like to follow the lead of the universe in a lot of what I do. Coincidences and clairvoyance are an everyday occurrence in my life, to the point where it freaks out those around me. I don’t feel like going into that right now, but maybe I’ll forget that I wrote that, and still say something further down in another paragraph.
I normally go to the same Cumberland Farms (gas station in the Northeast) location for my coffee, whenever I can. The clerks all know me as a “regular” there (haha, coffee jokes) and I always get the same thing. Sometimes, I get up to the counter, and someone has paid for my coffee already. That’s the thing with Regulars. It’s like a communal offering. Only it started happening more and more frequently, so I started calling my stalker (I finally saw who he was) “Coffee” and avoiding entering the store if I saw he was there. This is tough to do, when you run on a routine that is similar to someone else’s. It makes for a lot of awkward dodging, and apparently for a 25 minute visit to the gas pump until I finally go inside.
I didn’t want to deal with “Coffee” anymore, so I started making my own coffee at home, which of course was not the same. I had to get back to the real stuff: the Primo shit straight from Africa or Colombia.
This morning, I told my boyfriend that I wanted to go to Cumberland Farms, and he joked: “Six guys are gonna pay for your coffee.” Haha yeah right! We laughed and laughed.
Then, at Cumberland Farms, someone paid for my coffee.
I don’t normally even go to this location of Cumberland Farms, but I was on that side of town so I stopped in for my fix. As I approached the parking lot, which is on the corner of a busy intersection, I noticed that there were 2 parking spaces available, but I was quickly cut off by two (separate) guys driving pickup trucks. They each slid into one of the available spaces, forcing me to have to back up and park near the garbage dumpster in the dirt. I mumbled something about the patriarchy, and how ladies are only allowed to let men to do EVERYTHING for them, or NOTHING – we can’t pick and choose which things are okay, and then not accept other things. I mean, if we can accept a man holding the door open for us, we should also be happy to accept their catcalling as they pass by. I ended my mumbling by shrugging and saying I don’t care about parking in the dirt.
When I went inside, it was a much different story. There were 3 female patrons, including myself, and about 15 guys. To be clear: it was 7:00 AM, which is change of shift in a factory town, so I was expecting there would be more men than women, it wasn’t a big deal. I made my coffee, and without making eye contact with anybody, I scoped out the other patrons, because that’s what I do. I have to make sure I know what people look like, in case I need to identify them in a lineup or something. I could see that I didn’t know anybody in the store. By the time I went to pay for my coffee, there were significantly fewer people in the store, and the last of the other two females was paying for her coffee in front of me. I got to the front of the line, and the clerk says “He paid for your coffee.” I thought he was talking about that woman, so I say, “Hey, she’s a woman.”
“No, the other guy paid for yours.” He says.
So, I say to the clerk, politely yet still confused, “Who paid for it? I literally know NOBODY in this store right now.”
The clerk chuckled. Ok, I do know the clerk, but only from having stopped in that store before. I don’t know if he knows my name, but I’ve seen him in there on the night shift, hating his life. He has seen me in there on the night shift, looking like a voodoo doll that got stuck in a garbage compactor.
“He’s gone now,” says the clerk. “Just some older guy.”
Me: “Well, did he pay for everyone else?”
“No, he must have just liked you.”
Now is a good time for me to bring it back around, that I had scoped out the people in that damn store, and I didn’t see any older guys, unless the clerk was being an ageist and the guy was like 40. I realize I myself am no spring chicken, but 40 doesn’t seem old to me. In this case, I wasn’t willing to let age be the deciding factor, because I instantly remembered that I had seen a 40-something asshole cutting me off in the parking lot just minutes prior. Now he was willing to pay for my coffee, like “Hey, here’s a charity coffee, on me. Now walk your ass to the other side of the parking lot, where I made you park.” It’s a fucking dollar, dude. Please, don’t do me any favors.
So now I had all kinds of principles telling me to pay for my coffee, because WHY the fuck didn’t he pay for the women in front of me (I watched them pay for their coffee)?  Why should anyone in that store think I would walk in, with no means to pay for my purchase? Did they really think I needed to save that ONE DOLLAR?
I put my buck-oh-six on the counter, and said “Here is the money for my coffee. Mystery guy just bought the next guy’s coffee.” It made me feel awesome that the guy ended up paying for another man’s coffee instead of mine. The other people in the store (all dudes at this point) were like “wtf?” but you know what? Fuck that. They don’t even know me by reputation, if they think I want some coffee ghost following me around town.

-jg

Why Women’s Empowerment Is Important To Me

I have been asked what made me start a Women’s Empowerment Group. There is no simple answer, being that I became interested in women’s strength when I was just a teenager in the 90’s, looking for some feminism. While I would love to credit that interest for the reason I became active, it simply isn’t the case.
I started the group because I was once a damsel in distress. I had nobody to help me out of the darkest, deepest hole of my life:  a failed marriage with children involved. My husband had slowly controlled every small aspect of my life, while making it invisible- almost enjoyable -to me, until there was nothing left. He literally walked away from me and the kids like we were a detonation site. I had no job, no money, no phone, no computer access if I even had wifi to turn on, no car, no tv, no friends, and no family to lean on. I know my parents will read this, and they’ll feel insulted that I’ve said no family to lean on. The truth is, I’m certain I could have gone to my grandparents or my mother at any time, and they would have helped me, with no questions asked.
But I would have asked questions of myself, and I didn’t want you to see that process, so I didn’t ask. Asking you for help would entail me finding a dollar in change somehow (because apparently there is a place I haven’t checked for change before…) and piling my 100 lbs of children into a 50 lb stroller, and finding a payphone, telling you about how my husband found a younger woman without kids, and tried to stretch out two lives for as long as possible. I would also then have to tell you that when it stopped being possible to cheat on me for that long, he decided it would be better to leave the three of us behind, and not ever come back or check on us. I would probably also have included the information that he had his girlfriend come to our house to pick him up. But then, I would also have to face the questions (there they are!) about why. Why was I not enough? Why was my passion and dedication to our children not enough? Why were my domestic efforts not enough? Why was my faithfulness to our marriage not enough? There are questions of how as well. How did I become so undesirable, when he had just married me the year before? How could I not notice the signs sooner? How am I going to word this to my grandparents, or to my mom, in a way that won’t sound like I need them to save me?
I felt alone. In a way, being alone was better than being pitied. When I wasn’t alone, it meant someone was sitting around, listening to my plight, and agreeing that it sucked. Nothing changed, and nothing got better. They just agreed that my situation was fucked up, and thanked “god” that it wasn’t them.  I wanted to minimize the circle of people who fit into that category of “visitors” and decided being alone was the way I needed to go. I had my kids, and immersed myself in being with them, and taking pictures of them. But I still felt an emptiness inside, where my pride used to be. I had lost what people like to call “my voice.”
For years.
So, when I noticed a sadly obvious trend among my girlfriends, I couldn’t help but feel a duty to them; a duty to help them understand that there IS someone out there who wants to listen. There ARE other women who know what she is going through. She just doesn’t know, because she has lost her voice for everything other than asking herself the same questions I suffered through.
I started the Women’s Empowerment and Education Group online, and invited all of the ladies I thought would benefit from it. I posted articles from psychology journals, educating women on things that were happening to them, that they couldn’t understand. I posted funny blogs by women who used humor to ease their pain in their own situations. I posted links to events that could be helpful to women, for whatever reason, which I didn’t need to know. It was a casual forum, where women could read about issues females face in our society, as well as other cultures. But I didn’t know how effective the group was, until our first actual meeting.
There were only a handful of ladies at the first meeting, including my teenage daughter, which upset me at first. I had put the event together, because of some very specific ladies who had been coming to me for advice. Imagine my surprise when many of them didn’t show up. My disappointment didn’t last long, and the meeting was a great success. I met a new friend, and was able to help old friends vent out frustrations they had been sitting on. There was a TON of “Yes! Exactly!” and even talk of our next meeting. My new friend messaged me the following week, and said she couldn’t wait for the next time we could meet in person, because she loved the group. My other friends said they loved the small setting, and felt like they could talk about anything, despite having just met each other that day. My daughter said she had a good time, and learned a lot about what life is like outside of the nuclear family. I found it eye opening to see how my friends easily interacted with each other, and decided this had to happen again soon.
As things have progressed, I’ve seen both the rewarding side of helping women in less than desirable situations, as well as the scary side that tests your conscience to see how much you really want to help. I’ve been in the position where I’ve had to consider that someone would come after me and possibly harm myself and my family- or worse. I’ve considered my name being dragged around the internet, I’ve considered that I may be followed, or my car may be tampered with, or my house might be broken into. I don’t know what will happen. I do know that Matt recently lost a great friend because he tried to help his sister-in-law escape a violent relationship. Her boyfriend drove 600 miles to find her, kill her, and then kill the family who had tried to help her. Three people were murdered that night, including Matt’s friend and his (friend’s) wife…in front of their 4 year-old daughter. Months after, I read about a woman who I had known to be in a very violent situation for years, getting shot by her boyfriend. This was after people repeatedly told her that “nobody risks their freedom to get back at a girlfriend.” I guess he was willing to risk it. Her mother stood fearlessly between them, and saved her daughter from being killed by her attacker, though she did end up in ICU for her injuries.
Matt has been worried that I will end up on the unfortunate side of things because I tried to help. This is a very real concern, but when I think about what would happen to these women if I abandoned them, I can’t bring myself to leave them. They have nobody else to go to. Nobody else to trust them, or let them know that their feelings are valid. Nobody who cared enough to listen, much less give advice or make moves happen. My role in these women’s lives is important. They gain strength through my love and support, and are able to look at themselves differently, and are able to fight their way to something better. Even inspiring one woman is enough for me to not turn my back. If I stopped helping because I was afraid, I would be leaving these women to fight alone, when they are much more afraid than I am.
I started a Women’s Group, because I wanted women to stop being told nobody is going to listen to them. I started it because it was necessary. I tell them to be strong and never give up. How could I not practice the same for them?

-jg

Many Hats, Many Questions

As a writer, I feel compelled to share stories of life, with others. Sometimes, we don’t recognize certain struggles that we ourselves aren’t facing, and thereby we become blind to them while others are eyeballs deep. There are observations to be made, and our goal on this planet is to pass on the information we obtain through those senses. If I can help even one person see something they hadn’t noticed, I feel like I’ve made a difference.
As a woman, I feel compelled to share strength and inspiration for other women to steamroll into strength of their own. I have survived some impossible situations, and I am fortunate enough to remember how I felt during those times, as well as what I had to do to keep myself alive. Not every woman needs someone to save them, and some of them don’t need to be saved at all. They just need to hear that someone knows their voice is unique and valuable, and that they will also survive.
As a mother, I feel compelled to shield my children from the harshness of the world, and the cruel intentions of the people they will face on their own, one day. I can’t give them the false sense of security that the world will not hurt them, because it definitely will, and I prepare them for that, but there really is no way to make them cognizant of that hurt until they experience it. I don’t want to see that, and I know those days are coming soon, so in a way, I also have to shield myself. I have to show them that I stand up and stick out my chest and pull back my shoulders and throw my chin high in the face of anything that comes toward me. Whether I get hurt or not is beyond the point; defeating those unknowns brings the victorious feeling that grows into confidence that you can do it again and again.
As a partner, I feel compelled to defend and destroy. While I may not agree with everything my partner believes in, I never betray him. I am not at his side, and he is not at my side. We are equals, and we are back-to-back in this fight of life. He doesn’t need to hold my hand to feel my strength and support, he only needs to lean back and trust that I will be there. When challenge comes knocking at our door, in our most relaxed and vulnerable moments, I have my armor on for him.
As a friend, I feel compelled to be better than I actually am. I want to be able to provide better conversation, more interesting anecdotes, stronger reliability, and a willingness to listen. I’m a shoulder, an ear, a hand, a strong back, whatever a friend could need, but I want to be bigger. I want to not offend, or misinform, and I want to be able to be there when I say I will be. Sometimes, when I can’t be present, I bathe in guilt until I’m convinced I’m everyone’s worst friend. I’m sure I have friends who understand that certain things are beyond our control, but I absolutely have friends who have zero concept of “shit happens.” I want to be good enough, that there is no need to complain about me behind my back. That’s the kind of friend I want, and want to be.
Does this make me a whole person? What about the things that don’t involve other people? What about my internal struggle? What about my controversial thoughts that I don’t share? What about my conscience? What about my thoughts of the future? What will I be? What values will I inherit from my own experience, that change how I see the world? Will I like myself? Am I a friend to myself? How could I be better as a temporary vessel, as well as a better soul and mind?

-jg

Am I Write?

I am having a difficult time organizing my thoughts to write.
I have a notebook of graph paper next to me, as well as a black sharpie, a blue papermate, and a black v-ball pen, just in case inspiration strikes in another form, because this whole writing thing isn’t working out for me.
I have nobody to whom I can express my distaste for my writing. Everyone says they love it, but I am not sure anyone would tell me if they didn’t like it. I can’t even imagine what that would look like. I can’t even imagine why anyone would want to read my writing, because it is essentially just a lot of this. I am literally reading my own thoughts on screen, as I’m having them, and that’s what the reader gets from me too, in a way. Why would anyone want to waste their time just observing someone else’s thoughts? Weird.
I struggle with finding topics to write about. Matt says I should write a fiction novel. I don’t know what fiction is. Everything is fiction to me, so I just write about what sounds like a story to me. I see artistic elements in interactions, machinery, and nature. When I recognize patterns in people, or see emotional intelligence in “real time” where most aren’t cognizant of what is truly happening, I try to capture how I would deal with the same circumstance. I used to not be very emotionally intelligent. I remember what it was like, and wonder if other people see things like that too. Of course, they have to. Or else there would be nobody to teach it to me. But why isn’t it more common? Emotional intelligence is right up there with disease and natural disasters, when it comes to human demise.
I don’t write self-help, because I don’t feel that I’m in the position to help anyone, because I don’t have any of my shit together. My shit is living in separate houses, separate neighborhoods, different zip codes, diverging paths in the future. My shit doesn’t want to get together. My shit wants to be happily separated, providing multiple Hells for me to suffer.
Some people say I should write a book about being a parent. That is a mistake, and I can’t believe anyone would say that to me. What they really mean, is that I should document my parenting mishaps and surprises from the past 16 years, and relay them in a hysterically relatable way, because I have no problem with divulging the bad stuff. I don’t care about the pretty stories as much as the real ones that people encounter like “What?! Literally none of my friends put this on Instagram! What’s happening?!” That’s what I tell people about. I have nothing to hide. That’s probably why it’s a terrible idea for me to write a parenting tale. I’ll sum it up here: Having teenagers is like getting to the end of Chutes and Ladders, only to land on the slide that kicks your ass back to the beginning. You know why? Because teenagers are a special kind of rude and inconsiderate; a kind that saturates your insides with boiling blood, because they are quite capable of being considerate to you when they want something. But you love them anyway, and that makes you even more furious, because I can tell you that (at least for me) you don’t want to show the love when you’re trying to be a hard-ass.
It is possible to have a respectful and considerate teen. I just haven’t had that experience, so I can’t speak to that. If that describes your reality, please let me know what medication your kids are on.
Just kidding about that medication thing. I take the over-medication of American citizens very seriously, as it -ironically- sickens me.
I have done a lot of things in my life, which would more than fill two autobiographies, but then we would have to go back to the whole “sharing too much” aspect of things, because I would need to mention quite a few people, who would undoubtedly be described too specifically for it to remain any sort of a mystery. As long as I don’t use names, all bets should be off, and I should be able to plunge cleanly into the not-so-clean waters of my past. What could go wrong?
I have survived situations that could have been the end of me. I would have died, surrounded by idiots who may have weighed their options between getting help or dumping my body, and chosen the latter. Nobody would have heard from me again; not my parents, my grandparents, my siblings. I was so selfish, I very well could have passed on a life of my kids explaining why they don’t know their mother, years of sadness and confusion, filling in the blanks of who I was. I was their only reliable parent, and I shook the dice on abandoning them. I was in such a dark place, that I put myself in danger, and I am lucky to have come out alive. Ever since, I have decided being present in my kids’ lives is the only thing I care about.
Things are mounting in my life right now. I don’t have a job to go to, where people can tell me I’ve succeeded at something, or “hey, good job.” I don’t have much of an existence outside of taking care of my family, so while they are all away, I don’t feel like I’m powered ON. I feel like a robot that someone drags out of the toybox when they get home, and then I have meaningful purpose again. I sit here and stew on the things that are going wrong. And then at night, I stew even more, on things that may go wrong in the future. Or, they may not happen at all, and I just torture myself all night. Waking up in the morning, is like being pissed on by a volcano. I know I’m going to somehow manifest these hypothetical scenarios that are rooted in my imagination. That’s probably why I hate my writing so badly. It just reminds me of my negative outlook too much. Puts me in my own head.
I know I am a victim of my own circumstance, as I chose to take advantage of the opportunity to be a  domestic wizard (or “stay-at-home parent” as some people call it; like a woman doctor, or a male dancer, because you have to remind people that even though you’re doing something crazy -such as being a woman- you can still be a person -such as a doctor- just the same, or even be a parent despite the fact that you’re staying home!) I did choose to stay home, for the benefit of the teenagers I talked about up there a few paragraphs ago. I do my best work alone, and prefer to be in control. I don’t work well for other people’s success, especially when I’m taking my stress home to my family, so I eliminate any chance of that, by immersing myself in things I can control. I can make my home the way I want it, I can cook whatever I feel like cooking, I can plan things for the future,  I write, I draw, I paint, I design houses,  I take pictures of things that draw my eye. I let my creativity guide me, but far too often, I revert back to stresses as a parent. After all, that is my #1 purpose in life. Why do I sound so defeated when I say that?
I wonder if people think I don’t like being a parent. I’m strict, I’m unreasonable about certain things, I’m unwavering on principles, I expect my kids to do the right thing without being told, all despite the fact that I know their brains aren’t fully developed yet. I understand they are teens, and I try not to rush them into growing up, but they need to learn that the real world is a cold-ass place, and I don’t want them to learn it by getting hurt. Of course, I can’t avoid that, and now I sound like every parent before me. They have to get hurt. They have to be treated like shit by people. They have to be let down. They have to be told what to do. They have to be unfairly judged. They have to be stolen from, taken advantage of, and betrayed. All of these things will unfortunately occur in their lives, and it pains me to think of this, so how do I prepare them? I want these years to last forever, so they can experience love and care for as long as possible, but that won’t teach them to form any sort of tough exterior, and they’ll get eaten alive in life.
People with smaller children aren’t thinking about these things the same way. Obviously they don’t want any harm to come to their kids either, but it’s a different kind. Acceptance among peers, forming bonds, learning at a “normal” pace, are all things parents of young children are focusing on. Suicide, hopelessness, lack of direction, pregnancy, internet predators, college finances, learning how to drive a deadly weapon on the road, violence, truancy, drug use, problems with the law, are all things that a parent of teenagers must think about. At any point, my kids can make up their mind to get into one of these situations, and there is nothing I could do to prevent it.  The best education about risk and danger, the biggest net of love and support, the most open mind, the strongest bond, the deepest trust, can only go so far. They make their own decisions, and their brains haven’t yet made the “Don’t do that” connection in a lot of potentially dangerous areas. It is absolutely NOT easier or better when they start to gain independence; just because they’re not eating small objects that aren’t food, doesn’t mean they aren’t making equally poor decisions. Their perceived “free will” encourages them to explore unknown things in environments that you can’t always predict. At least with a small child, you’re hip to pretty much everything they can possibly do, and you’re much faster than them, so you can prevent a lot of accidents. If you’re reading this, I don’t think I need to tell you what teenagers are capable of doing. We know it’s worse.
As much as I complain about how difficult and unrewarding it is to be a parent, I wouldn’t trade it for all the writer’s inspiration in the world, because to me, they are LIFE inspiration. They keep me going, by ensuring that I struggle and grow, and never let my brain or nerves rest. You couldn’t fill a library with that kind of art.

-jg

Vacation… Nothing Like What I Wanted

the kids are on vacation this week. i feel like it puts my life on pause, because i have it set in my mind that we’re going to spend all this time together, and we’ll walk away from the week with the satisfaction that we had fun and did something productive, and our time wasn’t wasted. you know it doesn’t work like that. why am i always thinking of things that don’t work like that?
i swear my kids *only* look forward to being bored. it’s like their entertainment secretly comes from watching me sweat when they look at me with those dead eyes and say “i’m bored.” they expect that i will reply with a whole list of options they can choose from, to take advantage of all their free time and willful energy. and i will do that, but they will be unable to choose from that list, because there are so many logical and practical options, that they can’t even begin to think about how much work that would entail. that’s not fun. they say that, “that’s not fun.”
my daughter likes to ask me about dinner. as soon as she gets home from school, or even sometimes right after lunch. she isn’t the only one. they all do it, all three of em. they want to know what it is, and what the ingredients are, and when it’s going to be done, and how many more minutes mom are you kidding twenty minutes that’s soooooo long!!!! they have to know the details, because if they don’t, they might just have to wait until the food is in front of them, and nobody wants to find out that way.
i’m confident that, if my daughter could somehow combine the eye rolling with “what’s for dinner,” she would find a way. food might be her dominant thought these days, even when she’s not hungry. she likes schedule too, so it really makes her day when i make a meal plan for the upcoming week. that will keep her occupied (as far as the boredom) for awhile. i don’t know if she is picturing what the dinners will look like, or how good they’ll taste. i don’t even know why i do the meal plan, because i usually end up dreading whatever i’ve locked myself into. and if i try to change my mind during the week, look out…
when my son is bored, he gets incredibly awkward. he won’t tell you he’s bored, he’ll just impress a weird presence upon your situation until you ask him what’s up. go ahead, ask him. what did he say? i bet you i know exactly what he said. he said “just hangin.” because that’s what he wants you to think. he doesn’t want you to find something for him to do; he wants you to guess what it is that he has already decided he wants to do. it’s a twisted-ass mind game he likes to play, and it’s sick. he likes when you can’t guess it, because he will just sit there and breathe forcefully out of his nose until you say “computer?” and that’s definitely what he’s gunning for. but he won’t give you the victory of coming up with the correct suggestion… he’ll just say “sure.” and play it off cool. before you know it, he’s surfing seizure cartoons on youtube, and you’re saying “did i get it right?” yeah. that’s his boredom, preying upon your confusion. just let it happen.
they’re bored. my first suggestion to them is always “take a shower,” because teenagers STINK. i mean, i knew that back when i was a teen, but i never knew how vast the spectrum of stink – the stinktrum- was. i didn’t know how far down the stink rabbit hole – the stabbit nevermind – went, until a few years ago. in some weird way, you kind of justify the armpit stink, like “whew, what’s that smell?” and you sniff the armpits, and you say “it’s definitely me,” or “nope, not me.” but you don’t freak out about it. armpit stink is easily identifiable, and easily remedied. but that’s not the only game in town, is it? no. it isn’t. there’s a whole host of other stinks that you don’t notice until they’re joined together in a vicious assault on your olfactory world. is it ass? is it breath? is it hair sweat? is it feet? is it safe to breathe anymore? there are questions.
i don’t know what half of the stinks are, and i don’t wish to make anyone feel badly for smelling a little rotten, so i generalize. i say “wow, one of you is bringin the funk, and so you both have to shower.” they start blaming each other. they smell their armpits. they talk about their most recent shower. they attempt to postpone the whole ordeal of showering. now who’s thinking of things that don’t work like that?
i remember my feet stinking, when i was a kid. i didn’t like to wear socks with my sneakers, and because i was so active outside, it was pretty much the most vile thing you could ever imagine. naturally, my parents hated me for it. i think i got in worse trouble for having smelly feet, than i did for spray painting private property (multiple times). i can see their frustration, because i probably had stink lines coming off my very existence, and i didn’t give a shit about it. i’m not sure when i decided it was extremely important to be clean and smell good, but i venture to guess it jump started alongside my excessive deodorant application in my mid-teens. grunge was “in” before that, so everyone kinda smelled like a bag of dirty dishes.
i’ve forced the kids to hang out together. hooray for small accomplishments. boo for boredom, because now i have nothing to do. i’ve already taken a shower, and my kids don’t like hanging out with me apparently.

-jg

Crock of Ages

I’m neither a GenX-er, nor a Millennial, by standard. Some sources say I am the last year of GenerationX, being the last few stragglers to belong to the pre AND post-internet age, some say I am a Millennial by definition, but neither could truly describe what it is like to be a child of the 80’s and 90s. It was such a different time. I know, I know, every decade is “special” because we are each nostalgic for our own childhood- a life without worry or priority, caring about nothing more than soaking in the influence of your culture. The children of the 80s became the teens of the 90s, and we lived a very specific experience, falling through the cracks of generational labeling.
When I was young, single digits, I could fly to China if I felt like it, just as long as I came running when my dad told me to. Nobody cared where you were, or what you were doing, if you weren’t causing harm. We could ride our bikes to the next town. We could play at the park, and then walk to a friend’s house, and then go explore the arcades and stores and any cool architectural or industrial structures that caught our interest. We didn’t take anything strange that might be drugs or medicine, but we ate food off the ground. We didn’t approach strangers, because we were taught that there are fucking creeps out there, and people get kidnapped (or worse) every day just for talking to strangers. We had code words, just in case a stranger approached us. We knew the “No, Go, Tell” rule (for those not familiar, that means 1: Say ‘NO!’ 2:GO away and 3: TELL an adult what happened) so if someone came around to fuck with us, that would become an adult neighbor’s problem, and the creep would get his ass kicked. It’s funny now, looking back, to think the correct action when confronted by a stranger… is to go tell another stranger. A truly good kidnapper could easily loophole that shit, I think. I don’t know any, but I’ll ask one, next time I see one, see what he or she thinks.
When I think about a textbook Millennial, several of my friends and relatives pop up in my mind. Coming of age as the century/millennium turns… not just for teenagers anymore! Many of my acquaintances have clung desperately to their childhoods, possibly to slow the sands of time, and make the good things last a little bit longer. I can’t be mad at that. The part with which I take issue, is that it results in a culture of  40 year-old men subsisting on microwavable food, because their coming-of-age was not facilitated by any rite of passage. Some cultures still have religious rites of passage for boys transitioning into manhood, but outside of that, family traditions have done little to preserve the importance of proper rites of passage confirming that the boy has met the maturity and responsibility of manhood. These days, we let 10 year-olds act like grown adults, by placing them in front of first-person shooter games, conditioning them to take lives without thinking, rather, rewarding a higher body-count or more brutal kill. No 10 year-old is ready to take a life, and we shouldn’t be using that as a way to shepherd them into being a grown-up. We encourage girls to wear layers of makeup on their faces, and show more of their body skin, only to feel the reward of more ‘likes’ because it really is a chemical reward. People want to be so beautiful, that they will do whatever they need to do for the approval of others. They want to know that someone else – even if it’s a complete stranger – finds them attractive, and it has gotten so out of hand, that we no longer value how WE feel about ourselves.
I like to think I came of age long before I became an adult. I was forced to grow up very early, and was exposed to a lot of what professionals call Adult Themes before I knew what the fuck a theme even was. As much as I knew about being an adult, I couldn’t wait to be one. I read books that probably weren’t for me. I watched movies and heard music and eavesdropped on conversations and studied people and memorized lingo and developed ideas and wrote books and poems and didn’t give a shit about how old I was. I became cognizant of things my peers couldn’t even comprehend when pointed out to them. I got laughed at, because I was thinking too deeply. I found it difficult to relate to my age group, and sought relief in older friends. It helped me stay on the trajectory of growing up as quickly as possible.
I remember when I was in 8th grade, I went and knocked on every single door in my town and my neighboring town, for a fundraiser. I can’t imagine my kids doing that in today’s society, because today’s society has erased those golden times of safety and security. Stranger Danger has taken over, and now we don’t want to NoGoTell, because getting to that point is even too much. Perhaps everyone already thought that was a weird idea, and I’m late to the party. There you go, kids… proof that we don’t know shit until we’re grown. So stop thinking you do. I didn’t even know everything, and if I didn’t, then you didn’t either, because I knew EVERYTHING.
Today’s society is so afraid of what bad things could possibly happen, that we rob kids of any chance of great things happening. “Only 0.09% of kids are successful in that field, so he shouldn’t waste his time and intelligence doing that… he should definitely go and change the world!” That’s an actual quote I overheard, said by an otherwise great father. He wants what is best for the child, so he wants to keep him primed for intellectual growth and success, but doesn’t realize he is willing to sacrifice the WANTS and GOALS of the child himself. They are equally important; a child will try much harder to succeed in an area where they are interested, and the positive reinforcement by the parents should be supplemental to that. We get too afraid of our kids failing, and in effect, reduce their opportunity for individuality and autonomy.
Let me put it this way, and this is not regarding the dad previously mentioned: if you’re trying to control your child’s path, don’t ever expect them to know what the fuck to do next, because their free thought is clearly unimportant. They can’t do the right thing until you tell them what the right thing is, and it had better be in line with what YOU think they should do once they actually are a free-thinking adult. They are just letting you do all the work in the meantime, which is really what you want, right? Oh, it’s not what you want? You want your child or teen to pick up some slack and do some of the thinking and work themselves, to reach YOUR goal? That’s a bit of a contradiction.  They’ll never learn to do anything, if you’re doing it all. Don’t tell them they shouldn’t do something they’re passionate about, out of YOUR fear of failure. That is delivering a very unsupportive message that reads: “Your confidence does not matter.”
Parenting is impossible to do right, and I can prove that, just by informing all of you who have been blessed enough to go this long without realizing this shit, that kids say things like “I hate you” and “I wish you were dead,” no matter how good of a job you do. They’ll tell their friends all about how mean you are, and they might tell their counselor something in anger that can seem much worse than it is, and they tell their friends’ moms “I wish YOU were my mom” no matter how good of a job you do. They will say “That’s unfair” before they say “Thank you” for the most part, no matter how good of a job you do. Kids’ brains are so far from being fully developed, it’s ridiculous to think they ever know the right thing to do or say. It’s ridiculous to think there IS a right thing to do or say, and parenting is a shining example of that.
Parenting is hard, and everyone is constantly judging you, and you get tons of unsolicited advice, and don’t forget that everyone is scrutinizing every decision you make, either way you make it, and childrearing standards change every day, so you’d better keep up so you don’t get DHHS visiting you, and that’s just on top of the constant state of worry and disaster prevention that is the involved parent’s mind. It doesn’t end when the toddler turns into a walker. It doesn’t end when they are adults, either, but instead GETS WORSE! I don’t want to start down the road of arrests and drug addiction and poor life skills creating even the most minimal ripple effect in my family. We all want our kids to do right, and to be okay, but there is so much out there that appeals to our mid-brain (aka, the pleasure center that makes us love gambling and sex and drugs and being all wild and chancey) that we can’t possibly control. Parenting sucks. You worry, but you don’t want them to know about it. So you foster their current state of happiness and you try to enjoy the moments in real-time, while still worrying in your mind, hoping that you’re not making a face that says “hostage.”
I wonder what kind of generation will be after this one? Will we ever go back to childhoods without screens 14” from our faces? How will Screen Babies raise their children, not having grown up with varied experience with the outside world? Will their kids talk to each other? Will they ride bikes and jump out of trees and swim with leeches and explore and get hurt without having to be kept home “for a few days, to monitor”? Will they make up handshakes that you have to be IN PERSON to perform? Will they have a better NoGoTell? Will trust and independence given by the parent create a more responsible child, maturing at a younger age? What will the studies on Screen Babies be, once they become adults? The future is an endless branching of uncertain paths. There are so many questions to ask. Will one of yours be “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

-jg

It’s Esteem of Your Muthafuckin Self!

When I was a teenager, I did not think I was pretty. I was told I was, but I figured everyone’s inner circle regularly boosted them with praise, to keep their spirits high, so that’s what was happening to me too. It’s that whole bit about teaching kids self-esteem. I tried to find things wrong with me, where there weren’t things to even be wrong, and the few times I heard “stop, you look fine” were not enough to combat the job I did to myself mentally.
I didn’t wear makeup, and I didn’t have acne, but I did have a neo-pubescent mustache that wouldn’t have been hidden by makeup anyway. My tiny, lash-less eyes were buried behind androgynous features, combined with a fashion sense that screamed “I obviously don’t care” and all of this was supported by a father who didn’t let me wear anything that was tight or short, or showed the curvature of my body. My hairdo situation wasn’t any better, and at one point, I looked exactly like a boy. There was nothing “pretty” about me.
My father often made me feel ashamed of my femininity. He would ridicule me for trying to wear dresses, and talk rudely and endlessly about how short they were, no matter how tasteful it really looked. He would bark at me if my shirt hugged my chest at all, and would pull at the neckline to see how easily my cleavage would become noticeable. He never let me pick out my own school clothes, and I never once got my hair “done.” When I had an argument or objection to something he said, or if I didn’t laugh at his crude and disgusting humor, he was sure to let everyone know that I was on my period, and needed to “change my plug.” Women were nothing to him, and any sign of femininity was looked down upon, in a means toward it ultimately being hidden.
I used to wear pants that were baggy around my hips and butt, because I was “fat.” Not only that, but I would also tie shirts around my waist, which was in style, lucky for me. I wore nothing but granny panty underwear that I was certain my father was unable to properly shop for. I wore oversized shirts, mostly men’s size “Large” when I barely tipped the scales at 75 lbs. In fact, all of my clothing was either actual boy clothes, or just gender neutral. I cut my own hair, and pierced my own piercings. Everything I did, was to cover up how shitty I felt about myself. If it looked like I didn’t care, people wouldn’t expect that I should want to show my beauty off…wherever that was.
I wasn’t allowed to date, or spend the night anywhere, so the only time anyone saw me without clothes on, was during gym class when we changed in the locker room. When I developed stretch marks on my thighs, I was so embarrassed that I began changing in the single stall, which included standing in the drainage water, and usually getting my clothes wet. I didn’t want anyone to see how dark and red my legs were, so I wore long shorts, when the other girls were dressing normal. There were times when I felt so disgusted with myself, that I wouldn’t come out of the locker room at all.
One time, there was a girl already in the stall, and I panicked and just walked out of the locker room, out of the gym, and into the office, pretending that I had been sent there. Why? My stupid teenage brain, that’s why.
I spent my entire first 18 years in this mindset. I would cover my body with my arms, even when I was fully clothed. I would sit in positions that were awkward and uncomfortable, to avoid anyone seeing how disfigured my body was. I would swat hands away when people hugged me, to keep them from touching any “fat parts.” I smiled with my mouth closed, so nobody could see my teeth, that were far from white or straight.
When I finally found out that there was nothing wrong with me, 30 years had gone by.
As an adult woman, I am curvy. I have an hourglass figure, but I also have cellulite and stretch marks and extra skin that used to be round with fat. When I walk around, or twist or bend, my stomach sometimes pops out of my shirt, and I don’t care. I used to be so mindful of the possibility that anyone would see even an inch of my pre-stretchmark stomach, that I would hold my shirt in place and just work with one hand for whatever I was doing. I was on patrol at all times.
I have spider veins and patchy leg hair and crooked knees. I remember being 18 years old, and wearing jeans every day in the summer, because I didn’t want anyone to see the tiny little microscopic veins that were on my calf. It was 100 degrees for several days that summer, and I was committed to covering myself up. Now, I wear what is comfortable. As long as my butt cheeks aren’t hanging out, I wear whatever shorts are most readily available.
My boobs are two different cup sizes, and I often don’t wear a bra, despite how uncomfortable that might be for some people with weird mixed emotions about breasts. Finding a bra that fits two different sized boobs is not an easy task, so I like to give up on it. If I need to wear one, I break out the granny bra, because if I have to wear one of those strangling fucking things, it better be comfortable and it better support the ladies. When I wear no bra, I just stop caring about what size either of my boobs are. Makes a huge difference for me.
My neck is now disproportionately long and slender, when compared with the rest of my body. I don’t care that it makes my body look extra round.
I have arm flab, and inverted elbows. That sounds funny, and you may have a difficult time picturing it, so let me help you. When you look at someone’s elbow, from the back, there should be a pointy bump where the bone protrudes and creates the “elbow.” Mine isn’t there. It’s an indentation, where the arm flab completely eclipses my elbow. You know how much I care? None. When I wave, my Hello Bettys get their glory in the sun. Just as it should be.
I still have the mustache, and I still don’t wear makeup, even when I get the largest blackhead in the whole world right in the middle of my face. I don’t care. If my zit grosses you out, go home.
I don’t spend any time on my hair, other than the annual cut that I still do myself. I have gone weeks without even brushing my hair at all…recently. I don’t care. It looks fine, and I even wash it a couple times a week.
I don’t look at clothing sizes, and some days, I don’t even look in the mirror to see if I’m dressed appropriately to go to the store. Clothing is fucking weird, and I am realizing how much it messes with people’s minds. It doesn’t matter what the number on the tag says. Sometimes, you just need to put the clothes on, and let your personality do the rest. I’ve seen some well-dressed people act like assholes. Just saying.
I don’t work on my nails at all, and actually tend to chew them off. Looking at them right now, I have 3 nails that I would consider “long” (any white showing beyond the nailbed) and 3 that I would consider “too short” (cuticles missing, scabs where the nailbed should be, deep pockets where hangnails were ripped free). The rest are just sitting there, recovering from their own “too short” status. I also have knuckle hair, and hair on the tops of my hands. And a bunch of scars. When I make any sort of exchange with someone, I catch them double-take at my ET fingers. I don’t care. I’ll use my alien hands to eat your Reese’s Pieces.
I smile with my teeth showing more often than not, and don’t care if my freckles or dark circles are showing. The fact that I’m smiling, probably means I don’t care about whatever you have to say about them.
I’ve never worn high heels, mostly because of those slack knees, but also because I’m built like a starfish. My legs start out meaty at the top, but get suspiciously skinny and chicken-like once you get past the knees that don’t work. My calves have zero definition to them, and don’t even want to be noticed, so just check out how skinny my ankles are… holy shit my feet are just toothpicks. When you have a child’s size 4 foot, and non-existent ankles, holding up a wide set of hips and ass isn’t physics at its best. The second I even look at someone wearing high heels, my ankles give out, even if I’m not standing up! When I put on any shoes, I have to prompt the ankle roll, just to see how likely it will be that I fall. The answer is: VERY. Like, even if you’re walking extra cautiously down the flat sidewalk in the middle of downtown Chicago, on the way to your brother’s wedding, you can still roll your ankle and end up on the ground. Believe me, I’ve done the research. So, I stay the fuck out of heels, because they don’t look “better” in my opinion, so why go through the trouble?
Speaking of my feet, I would like to point out that I was told at 16 years old, that I had Hobbit feet. Hobbit fucking feet. I have some toe hair, and some stubby toes, but I feel like they’re pretty normal, other than that. As a 37-year old, I still have the toe-fro, and still have the tiny feet, but guess what… don’t care. My boyfriend rubs my feet every single day, and if he can get past it, then what the fuck do I care what you think?
My point to all of this, is that I thought my body image was normal, when I was a teen. I thought that it was how every girl felt, and that we all thought we were fat, and we all had things we were hiding, and that nothing was going to look okay as long as we were in school. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve realized something important: where I used to think none of that shit mattered, I now know it does matter. All of it matters. It matters at the time, it matters 20 years later. A girl goes through self-esteem changes with the metamorphosis of her anatomy and physiology. Nobody pulls a caterpillar out of the chrysalis mid-way through and says “wow, that’s fucking ugly, and will never be beautiful.” Every stage matters, because we don’t lose that sense of how we felt about ourselves, even when the thoughts were harmful, even if we change our minds down the road.
These days, I love the way I look. I like that I have a soft body. I don’t mind when my clothes don’t fit perfectly, because my body isn’t made for the clothes, so I forgive. I don’t try to look any better than my normal self, because that’s who I am. I don’t discredit any women who do spend time and effort on their appearance, because that makes them feel beautiful. I consider myself lucky to feel so blessed with my natural body, even if it is revolting against me in my 30s! I still love it. It gets out of bed every day, and brings my boyfriend to work, so he can be the best he can be. It gets my kids to school, so they can educate themselves on how to read other people and accept their differences. Hell, it brought those two humans into this world! It gets me to the grocery store so I can feed my family. It provides me with a canvas to tattoo. It takes the food I feed it, and makes it into energy for me to use. It glows in certain light. It provides hugs when others need them, and strength when I need it.
Loving the way you look is a great feeling.
Loving the way you feel is a great look.
Just love yourself.

-jg

WOMAN…Whoa, Man…

let me kick this piece off with an explanation: i’m a woman.
ok, here we go.
recently, i went to hannaford, which is a local food store in my state. i had been driving around for quite awhile, slugging back large gulps of coffee between running errands and rocking out in the canyonero, so naturally i had to pee like nobody’s business (except for yours). i’m the type of girl who likes to walk briskly through the aisles of the store, just barely eking my way past your cart full of crap, leaving enough air between us for you to gasp it in, because *you* thought i was going to clip you. man (or woman), i know what i’m doing. you know how long i’ve been driving carts? forgetaboutit. i need to go pee.
this particular hannaford is the smaller of the two in my town, and was last updated several years prior to the other one. the other one is always crowded, so they have the multi-stall bathrooms. the smaller hannaford has 2 single-person bathrooms: you guessed it, one for men and one for the ladies.
now i don’t know if you know this is happening all around the country, but society has taught *me* that i don’t belong in one of those two bathrooms, despite their identical privacy and similar features. the outside of each bathroom looked the same, other than the sign on the door. both doors locked. both bathrooms had a sink, with soap and hot water, and fancy automatic paper towel dispensers. both had a toilet, which was really the hot ticket for me. they were in the same location in the store, and neither had a line outside. the only difference i could perceive, is that one was occupied and one was not.
so i went into the bathroom labeled MEN.
when i got inside, it was a world of wonder! you may recall that i mentioned the similar features inside. normally, i would have gone heavy-handed on the hyperbole and said they were “identical in every way” just to further serve my complaint, but this was not the case today. this bathroom had something the WOMEN rooms don’t have: a classy hole in the wall that you can pee into.
there’s a toilet, which you can also pee into, and a sink (which you could also pee into, if you needed to) and even if times get desperate, there is a grated drain on the tile floor. so many options! granted, women get most of those same options, but if we can’t aim our streams into a classy hole in the wall, who’s to say we’d be any more successful at peeing into a drain? that’s the MEN brain talking.
despite the seemingly endless possibilities, i went with the ol’ tried and true. not gonna lie; i was curious about the urinal (that’s that classy hole in the wall) and was tempted to test my own aim. i’ve peed in the woods and on the side of the road a TON of times, and i passed those life tests with flying colors! am i getting off topic? sort of. the point is, men are offered these special separate receptacles simply because they have dongs, but that should never limit anyone without a dong from using a urinal! if they’re able to use it, let them! some guys have tiny tiny tiny dongs, and they still manage to use the urinal, so i’m fairly confident there are women who could pull it off just as well (if not better!)
i’m getting to the point of my story, too.
i washed my hands, with the equally powerful soap and equally warm water. the equally dry paper towels dried my hands just nicely. i opened the equal-in-quality door to exit the bathroom, and there was a woman standing outside the door. as i moved past her, i say “pardon me,” and give her a polite smile and nod. at this point, i’m confident the interaction is over.
only it wasn’t.
anita (that’s what i’m going to call her, because she looked like an anita) turns around and says “oh no, why did you make me almost go in the men’s room?”
first of all, anita, i didn’t MAKE you do anything. if i had the choice to force you into action, i would have made you pay for my groceries. trust me. you *almost* walked into a perfectly legit bathroom, with perfectly legit facilities, that you could have peed all over. but you chose not to go in there, and instead turned around and projected your ignorance on me.
you should have gone in there, anita. it was magical.
it would be rude to ignore someone’s obvious cry for help, so i replied to her question.
“well the other one is locked, so… i used that one. there’s nobody in there, and it’s clean. go on in!” i encourage her.
i realize now that i am making her out to be an old lady, and she wasn’t. she was probably in her 50s, and that’s pretty young for today’s standards. i can assume she is aware of the stigma surrounding gender-exclusive bathrooms, so that was most likely what was driving her to distress, and it was showing. her face turned red. her tiny hand flew up to her mouth, in horror. she pivoted on a tiny foot and headed toward the tiny hannaford customer service desk, presumably to complain about my defiance. after a brief exchange, anita returned to the restroom area and stood outside the door labeled WOMEN.
i finished my shopping, and went through the self-checkout, which is located by the restrooms. it had been fifteen minutes since my interaction with anita, and i had all but forgotten about her, until i saw her *still waiting* outside of the door labeled WOMEN. a man walked out of the bathroom for MEN, and anita smiled at him as he passed her.
what the hell, anita??
need i remind you, that this is the 21st century?! we’re all pissing into the same pipes, we’re just a foot away on the other side of the wall (whoa, that was deep). it made me wonder if she has separate bathrooms in her house, as well? could her daughter face the same horrific reaction, after using the same bathroom as her (MALE!) brother?? we willingly eat from the same silverware as strangers have used when we go out to eat, but let’s lose our fucking minds over which side of the wall we piss on.
explain it to me, anita, because i’m having a hard time. you glared at me, and smiled at him. i can only assume you glared at me for using the wrong toilet, but did you know that he peed into a hole in the wall??? i could have done that too, but i didn’t, even though i totally wanted to use less water. maybe that’s why you smiled at him? i’ll never know.
another thing i’ll never know: how long did anita wait to use the restroom for WOMEN? she was still standing outside the door when i left, which made for an estimated wait time (as far as i witnessed) of about 25 minutes. she very well could have waited 45 minutes by the endt, for all i knew. i safely ruled out emergency status, because she would have used the other one in that case. this was a matter of preference, for which she was willing to wait. one for which she was willing to fight nature. morals and principles and shit.
well i have morals and principles too. for instance, i won’t pee in the middle of the road, only the side. i won’t pee in the top of the trees, but i will next to one. i probably* won’t use a urinal, but i will use a men’s toilet. that’s just how it works. complete exclusion is ridiculous, and only serves to drive apart a just-barely-functioning society. pick your battles.
takeaway messge: let people use whichever single-stall toilet they want! i’m not even trying to force the anitas of the world to share a bathroom with the opposite gender. it seriously is a choice. you can use whichever bathroom you want, and the world keeps on spinning. if you don’t like that there are other people using the bathroom you want to use, go use your own bathroom. i feel like this isn’t even a problem.

-jg

Can I Help, Or Be Lazy?

Sometimes, my kids come up to me and say things like “What can I do?” or “How can I help?” That sounds pretty endearing, I know, but let me also provide you with a short list of things that I have told them they “can do” “to help”:

  • Put your shoes in the hallway, where the shoes and coats are.
  • Put your backpack in the hallway, where the shoes and coats are.
  • Do your homework.
  • When you are finished eating, clear your plate and rinse it off.
  • Stack your dishes with the others stacked on the counter – not in the sink.
  • Put your dirty towels in the laundry as soon as you use them, instead of on the floor in your carpeted room.
  • Put your dirty clothes in the laundry as you wear them, to ensure you always have clean clothes.
  • Pick up any trash you leave around the house.
  • Care for your pet.
  • Wash your blankets because they stink.
  • Close your window during the day when it’s above 80 degrees.
  • If you really can’t avoid soaking the floor during your shower, please at least clean it up.
  • Plunge the toilet when you clog it. Definitely DON’T NOT tell someone.
  • Go outside.
  • Fold your laundry and bring it upstairs.
  • Don’t wait until everything is done, to ask “What can I do?”

 
Do you think they have done any of these things, regardless of how many times I have given them these options? I’ll tell you what happens: the minute they discover something none of us have done, they turn an annoyed eye at me, and say “You didn’t save the leftovers!” That’s when I say “Well, technically, none of us saved the leftovers. If YOU had saved them, there would be some, but I don’t see any.”
Or when they come downstairs in some ridiculous outfit, and try to tell me they have no clean clothes, like I’m supposed to feel some sort of blame for that. My kids differ in this situation, in a very funny way. My daughter will say “I don’t care if my shirt is dirty,” but my son will pretend like he’s had an aha moment, and run upstairs to change into that shirt he “just remembered” he had. Of course, that shirt is also wrinkled, and probably smells like his bedroom. He comes downstairs looking worse than when he went up there, and presents his new get-up with what I can only describe as an expectation of some rather impressed nodding.
I remember when I was their age(s). I didn’t care about much, but I also didn’t have cool parents living in my house, trying to hang out with me all the time and do fun stuff. I guess it doesn’t matter what approach you take; things will go the way nature wants them to, and your kids will ask you “What can I do to help?” when what they really mean is “How can I make you think I’m responsible, but still actually be lazy?” If they only knew how many times I have felt like asking them that same question.

-jg

Why Now?

I find it nauseating, reading the comments made by people with whom I share a society; comments that suggest women are LYING ABOUT BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, because they “waited so long to come forward.” I’ve seen people -men and women- comment that they’re seeking publicity, or looking to ruin someone’s name/life, or digging for money, or suggesting that they’re lying because they didn’t say anything at the time.
If you’ve ever been sexually assaulted, or even touched in a way that made you feel uncomfortable, however innocuous on the part of the person touching you, you are familiar with the feeling of freezing in time. You know exactly what I mean by that, because that’s what it feels like when you’ve experienced sexual assault: you freeze in your body, in your mind, in your tracks. Should I say anything? Will I sound like I’m making it up? Am I just being too sensitive? Is this going to ruin something, like our friendship, or my job, or my life, or their life? Will they hate me? Will they try to hurt me? What will other people think? Does this make me a bad person? Am I supposed to like it? Do I like it? Do other people like it? What if they do it again, or something else? Should I say anything? Should I laugh? Should I cry? Am I gross?
There are questions no woman or man should ever have to ask themselves. When you’re in the moment, you aren’t thinking clearly, because your mind is clogged with an adrenaline stream that is carrying a constant cycle of questions you have no answer to.
In many cases, women are violated by men of power, and would have undoubtedly ruined their lives by coming forward, so they chose to say nothing. In many cases, something is directly threatened by their coming forward, such as their job.
Can you imagine being told, to your face, in that confusing moment of being touched WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO BE, that if you say anything about feeling uncomfortable, your monetary support system will be ripped out from under you? What would you do? Would you say something? It’s not an easy choice to make when you’re faced with not being able to pay your bills or eat or have a place to live.
Can you imagine losing a friend or family member, or your spouse even, because you didn’t play along with their sexual demands? The effects would ripple into your entire universe if you said something. It could tear apart your family, and remember, the aggressor has a side of the story they’re likely going to tell everyone. Who will they believe?
Can you imagine whistleblowing on a fucking president? Not just a company president, which would be bad enough, but the president of your country. Could you rationalize in that moment? You suck it up, is what you do. Because it’s easier than living out the consequences of your actions over something “small” like being touched WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO BE.
Some women never come forward. Some men never come forward. Some men DO come forward, and are immediately discounted because of their gender. There is no shortage of people who are unwilling to believe you. There is no shortage of people who want to prove you wrong. No shortage of people who need you to prove it to the whole world, that you were RAPED, because that’s the only kind of sexual assault that people recognize, and EVEN THEN, people will choose to call you a liar. An attention seeker. A slut. A homewrecker. A scorned woman. A liberal. A lesbian. An angry feminist. There is no shortage of subsequent uncomfortable moments to follow a sexual assault, regardless of what decision you make in the moment.
That’s why people wait to come forward. They wait until they feel like someone is listening, and often, that never comes. If it comes 20 years later, it doesn’t make it any less legitimate. Think about living with that feeling for 20 years; the questions, the nervous feeling that worms through your body when you think about it, the emotional and physical repercussions that come with it all.
Think about finally feeling okay to come forward, because you think someone is listening, and you finally tell your story even though you feel like dying inside, and all of a sudden, it’s your fault. Or people will say that you’re just lying. They are more comfortable to live with the idea that it didn’t happen to you, than to believe that someone is capable of touching something that didn’t belong to them.
Women don’t come forward at the time for many reasons, ALL of which are none of your fucking business. If you want to play judge on a sexual assault case, go to law school. Until then, keep your toxic opinion to yourself, unless you’re offering support in some way. Victim blaming is a disgusting trait that needs to stop, like, yesterday.
-jg

Good Mom.

sometimes i wonder if i’m a good mom. i should actually have said, sometimes i convince myself i’m a terrible mom. it’s not something that i beat myself up over (yes i do), but rather a general feeling that i’m just not doing enough.
my sister likes to say “when you think you’re not doing enough, remember this moment” when i’m venting something that i would otherwise just hold inside until i burst. stupid things. i mean REALLY stupid things. the purpose behind this post, is to tell you about one specific stupid thing.
i made a chili in the slow cooker, which is my favorite favorite favorite favorite favorite favorite favorite thing. i cooked it for a whole day, so that we could all enjoy it the next night for dinner. at dinner time, we were serving the chili. there was enough for everyone to have a bowl, with one bowl extra for Matt’s lunch the following day (leftovers are the best lunch, and you don’t have to buy anything additional, so please don’t suggest that it should be any other way).
my son immediately poured hot sauce on his, because he likes things spicy, and has always been this way. many times, we have caught him drinking hot sauce out of the bottle, or just licking spices out of the palm of his hand. that’s his thing, far be it for me to take it away from him.
unfortunately, he didn’t realize there was fuzzy white mold in the top of the bottle (we have a billion hot sauces, so some of them sit around awhile) and it all ended up in his bowl of chili.
NOW….
i’m the kind of mother who will never ever watch their child go without dinner. if they don’t wake up in time for breakfast, that’s their problem. if they are too self-absorbed to skip lunch, that’s their choice. but dinner is mandatory. i don’t let them go to bed hungry. so, of course, i gave my son my bowl of chili, meaning i would go without.
without. without tasting that delicious chili i had spent so much time perfecting. without getting full off the rich sauce and spicy proteins. without farting right alongside the rest of my family all evening.
i didn’t think twice about this, you see, because it’s not natural for me to think about myself before my kids. but i did get mad at my son for wasting food, by not paying attention to what he was putting into it.
i may have yelled.
i may have made him feel bad.
but i wasn’t mean.
and i ate ramen (insert disgusted emoji). normally, i would say “yay, ramen” but this was the crap from the package. so no, no “yay, ramen” today. if you’re wondering, it was just as vile as you think it was. probably more.
and later, i felt like a dick for making him feel bad. was there a lesson to be learned there? i mean, what are the chances that there will be mold in the hot sauce? probably not very high. it was an oversight. it was an action he normally takes, only this time, he got different results. was he at fault? i would say no. but he should pay attention. i could have been nicer.
i was really just mad about the chili. i wanted that chili. but not enough to make him eat the ramen. that would have sent me over the edge, because then i would have been obsessing over the sodium and lack of nutrients, and the chili would rot in the pit of guilt in my stomach.
this entire weird interaction took place in a matter of seconds, and i beat myself up about it all night. what is wrong with me???

-jg

The Eye of the Beholder

I saw a friend recently, who I hadn’t seen in a very long time. She had gained some weight, and looked better than I had ever seen her in years. She looked healthy and happy and grown up, and like she had her shit together. She was glowing, and smiling, and there were no bags under her eyes, and her hair was shiny, and I just thought she was so content with herself.
But it’s socially unacceptable to comment on someone’s weight gain, so I couldn’t even pay her that compliment.
Why do we find it okay to delight in someone’s weight LOSS, but taboo to mention their gain? I have another friend who would look much better with some more meat on their bones, but more importantly, they would be much healthier, and for whatever reason, they are tiny. They can’t gain weight, even though they want to. And you know what? I constantly hear people complimenting them on how good they look. It drives them crazy.
Another friend is considered “obese” but is happy, gorgeous, and healthy as a horse. Her family is always asking about her dieting, even though she eats like everyone else, and never mentions dieting or weight loss.
We get so fixated on other people’s body type, that we let our own discomfort about their body take priority over their comfort and preference.
I wish my friend could hear some positive reinforcement about her health. How do we approach conversation that goes against our social norms?

-jg

“How Are You?” “Hi.”

Sometimes, people ask me how I’m doing, or how I’ve been, and I find myself automatically going for “Shitty,” as a response. Because life is shitty quite often, and I don’t like to sugarcoat things.
If I catch myself being that pessimist, I *can* cut it off, but then it just sounds like I’m telling the person to “Shhh-” which also works.
Life is busy and hectic and stressful, and it’s great to have so much to live for, but when your body wants you to just sit the fuck down, sometimes you need to.
And sometimes you can’t, so when someone asks how you’re doing, what do you say?
“I’m tired.”
Well everyone’s tired.
“I’ve been feeling the pressures of life wearing down on me.”
Yeah, we all have problems, no?
“Oh, things could be better.”
No shit. Can’t they always?
“I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to fart.”
Oh tell me about it, here’s everything I’ve been doing in my life….
Nobody wants to hear that things are shitty, but I’m not going to lie. Sometimes things are just shitty. I could say things are hectic, but that is such an understatement so much of the time. I just say “Shitty, and I don’t really want to talk about it.” That way, if I do change my mind and decide to talk about it, it’s on my own terms, and not a reply to a complicated question. Chances are, upon evaluating what life has been like, I’m probably going to have a mini-nervous breakdown on the spot, so it may be best to just say “Pass.”

-jg

They’re Giving Out Free Blogs, Guys.

This is sort of my first official blog post. I say it’s official, because now it’s on a blog, as opposed to facebook, or a review site. I write tons of reviews, and even my facebook posts can come off sort of reviewy in nature, because (as you will soon find out) I am constantly on a rant.
It never ends.
And it never ends, because life never ends. Even when you die, life will go on. When I die, same thing. Life goes on. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da. Just like the Beatles said. Two of them are dead now, and life appears to be doing just what they said it would.
I’m excited to embark on this adventure, and by adventure, I mean copying and pasting everything into this sucker, to beef it up and make it look like I’ve been doing this all along. The truth is, my writing has been happening (like, in the cool way, for all you cats) but it hasn’t been read much. I hope to change all of that, and I hope I get rich off being cognizant and opinionated.

-jg