Drum Roll Please... Episode One of my Podcast is Online

You guys! Holy fuckballs! My very first podcast! After two years of talking about launching a podcast, the moment has arrived! Are y’all ready to hear the sweet, dulcet tones of my voice? And by “sweet and dulcet,” I mean “whiskey- and cigarette-soaked.”

A little about what this podcast is about: as part of my own therapy, as a way to combat my tendency to hole up, I decided to get myself out into the world and seek the happiest people I could find. We’re all out there searching for happiness; the people I interview have found what eludes so many—contentment, peace of mind, a state of zen, living the dream, unbridled joy—whatever you choose to call it. So in each episode, I sit down with a new person and ask them their secrets. Why have they discovered the secret to happiness? More importantly, can the rest of us bottle that shit and have a little of it too? Is it their outlook on life? Are the meditating six hours a day? Do they play bass in an all-girls’ KISS cover band to blow off steam?

I’ll release my podcast every other Tuesday, so be sure and subscribe to my podcast! I’ll be in your ear yammering with some awesome weirdos, as well as taking field trips to the happiest places on earth (like a huge pot farm, for example).

My first episode is with my friend Eddie Blyden, chef and madman. For him, happiness is being elbow deep in a gumbo, smelling and tasting the odors and tastes of his West African heritage. He’s a helluva big personality, Eddie is, so I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Eddie and me, hitting the bourbon and fernet during our interview


Eddie and me, hitting the bourbon and fernet during our interview

And on a final note, I’d like to acknowledge my producer and friend, Thor, without whom none of this would ever have happened. I am a technophobe of the highest variety, and he gets that. But he believed that I had something to say to the world and liked the way I wanted to say it, so I’m humbly and gratefully thanking him from the bottom of my heart. Thanks for believing in me, Thor, and thanks for officially being the biggest geek in the world. I couldn’t do it without your giant brain.

So bust out your earbuds and enjoy!



The secret of happiness is managing your expectations... Plus weed.

So I'm taking an online course about the Science of Happiness. That's right, people are studying this shit now---happiness. It's pretty cool. It's reading a lot of articles about happiness, forgiveness, mindfulness, cooperation, etc. Plus, a shit ton of videos that are basically TED talks. Anyway, being that I can never finish a goddamned thing I start, I've committed to finish this damn course---a challenge since it's all self-regulated.

So I spent Monday catching up on the three weeks I was behind, shut up. But I did it! And I took the midterm and passed and yay me! But one of the videos I watched jumped out at me more than others. This professor, Fredric Luskin, talked about his definition of forgiveness as being the ability to accept "no" when you wanted a "yes." For example, I wanted my partner to be faithful, but I got "no." I wanted my parents to be more loving to me when I was a child, but I got "no." I wanted there to be no traffic on my evening commute, but I got "no." I wanted a boss that treats me with respect, but I got "no."

The crux of his model is this:

But it's so important to be able to understand the unitary experience of this: of objecting to the way life is and trying to substitute the way I want it to be, and then getting upset when my substitution doesn’t take.

That the essence of forgiveness is the ability to be resilient when things don’t go the way you want. The essence of it is: “I create a resentment because something is different than the picture that I have of how it should be.”

So, if my picture is that anybody who goes out with me, they stay faithful, and I end up with a philanderer, then I had the word “no” given to me. I didn’t get what I wanted. If I had somebody who treats me differently than I think I should [be treated], then I got "no" to what I wanted.

The essence of forgiveness is to be able to, after grieving, be at peace with "no"; be at peace with what is; be at peace with the vulnerability inherent in human life---that we can’t always make things the way we want---and be able to, without prejudice, lead our lives.

The forgiveness is the lack of prejudice. The open-heartedness of the moving forward. It's an acceptance without prejudice. It's not just that I accept it because life sucks, and there’s nothing I can do about it---that may be true---but I accept it in a way that I’m willing to give the next moment a chance. 

That’s the acceptance, “I’m willing to give the next moment a chance." It's: "Can I use resilience enough to be able to handle 'no' when it comes my way? Can I forgive whatever it is that caused me no? Can I forgive my unskillful responses that might have intensified it or made it last too long?" But it's all based on a very simple thing of wanting “yes” and getting “no.”

That shit rings so true with me! I think it's because it's an empowering theory---it puts the power squarely in my hands and allows ME to be in control of my mood instead of being the victim and letting someone else control it. It's not absolving other people of their responsibility in whatever they've done, if it's something like your partner cheating on you, but it is putting the power of how long you let it control you and determine your outlook squarely in YOUR hands. It doesn't allow for victim-y behavior.

Given that I have an ever-so-attractive tendency to martyr myself and make myself a blameless victim in any conflict, this idea appeals to me. I don't know about y'all, but when I have a kerfuffle with another person, I construct my narrative in my head, and then I do not let that shit go. Who among us hasn't replayed the speech they want to give someone who has wronged them in their head, over and over again, chewing on it and perfecting it, until it's taking up so much space in your brain, you might as well draw up a lease and have it move in permanently? I suspect a bunch of us have because the practice is so common it has a name: rumination.

Imagine how much time, energy, and general bullshit you would save if you didn't ruminate. Say, you didn't spend all of this month's extra brain space obsessing about the speech you're gonna give your roommate about the goddamned dirty dishes or the letter that you're gonna write to your ex explaining all of the ways he or she hurt you. Imagine if you were just able to let that shit go by basically saying "Well that didn't work out the way I wanted it to, and yeah, that sucks, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, and I have to be willing to trust another roommate or another partner or whatever the next go around and not be bitter about this shit."

I know, sounds impossible. I'm with you. But that's where mindful meditation comes in. One of the main reasons people who meditate regularly are much happier in general is because by meditating---sitting still and forcing themselves back to their present breaths when their minds wander---they have trained their brains to do the same thing---being in the present moment---as they go through their days, not just when they're sitting quietly.

And fuck it all if it doesn't work, y'all. Since I've started meditating on the reg, I've noticed more of an ability, as I'm moving through my day, to stop and force my mind into the present moment. When I'm sitting in traffic that's moving slower than molasses in January and I notice myself starting to get agitated and impatient, I will mentally check myself and think "Wow, what a nice day! The sun is shining. I love this song on the radio right now!" And then let myself enjoy the sun on my face or the notes in the song. And goddammit if that doesn't help. I know, I sounds like Pollyanna, but I'm here testifyin'.

Well that and I'm a stoner. And that sure doesn't hurt either in the "just chill out and enjoy the moment" department.  So, you know, there's that.

IMG_1874-300x212.jpg

I hear she smokes the marijuana cigarettes!

But that's what I'm working on these days---"managing expectations," as they say in Corporate America---trying not to get butt hurt when life isn't working out the way I envisioned it in my head, people aren't behaving the way *I* want them to, 20,000 people are not reading this blog, or the money isn't in my bank account for me to run off to Bora Bora. No since getting my butthole in a pinch because those things aren't happening. But hey, that doesn’t mean one day those things won't happen, and if they do, I will be pleasantly surprised and, hopefully, grateful at my good fortune.

So even if it's just taking 5 minutes out of your day a couple times a day, stop and pause. Notice your breath, or the weather, or a song you like on the radio, or a good conversation with an old friend, and give it a pause and say "This. This is enough right now. I appreciate this." The more you do it, the more you'll just find yourself doing naturally, as though your brain's default coping mechanism is to automatically put you in the present and make you think about the things for which you are grateful.  And seriously, if you can't manage to think of ONE thing for which you are grateful, there's always this:

Word.

 

Hot Realness, Served Up Daily

One of the reasons I’m trying to get a podcast launched, and one of the reasons that I do my HONY-esque @buddhahollah on Instagram, is to force myself to get out of the house and into my community to meet the people in my world, which is currently Oakland, California. This accomplishes, in theory, a number of things: it keeps me off social media, where all I do is read shitty stories about our shitty world; it gets me out of my hermithouse and keeps from wallowing in my own funk; and it allows me to meet people whose perspectives and lives are vastly different than mine. My podcast and #buddhahollah subjects have had wildly different experiences than this white girl who spent her formative middle-class years in conservative Texas and then spent her twenties and thirties hanging out mostly with white, college-educated, middle-class liberals in San Francisco.

I do this because I want to see that while I might be in pain and while I might be depressed, perhaps my struggle has been comparatively easy compared to someone who has spent most of their life living on the street or living in a wheelchair or who is facing terminal cancer. I do this because I can recognize that it gets dangerously easy to lie in my comfy bed wallowing in my own story and how I’m coping with my life as a result of the challenges that have been thrown at me. And when I do that, it also becomes dangerously easy to stay in that bed and believe that my story is immutable, to shrug and say “Oh well, this is the hand I’ve been dealt…what the fuck am I gonna do? Guess this is my shitty-ass life, such as it is now.”

I do this because it affords me greater empathy and allows me to understand that people may be in the situations they’re in because they may not have access to the things I had access to or have had the advantages I had. And when I can open my eyes to that, it allows me a kindness towards others that I didn’t previously have.

Prior to living in Oakland, I lived in San Francisco for 16 years, never in “the good neighborhoods” either. This was pre Tech Boom 2.0. There were still plenty of un-gentrified neighborhoods, and I spent 16 years taking the buses that ran in, out, and through these neighborhoods.

MUNI (aka the San Francisco Municipal Railway) is my ‘Nam, people. I’ve seen things on those buses that I will never unsee. I’m not afraid to say that MUNI, more than any other single influence, turned me into a hard and callous human being. I saw a passed-out drunk, who had pissed himself, fall out of seat into the aisle of the bus, and as the bus made its way down one of SF’s infamous hills, the drunk (and all of his urine) slowly slid down the aisle past all of us as we (barely) looked up from our phones until he arrived with a dull thud at the driver’s ticket machine, and the driver had no choice but to drag him off the bus and prop him up in a bus stop and unceremoniously leave him there. I’ve seen vomiting, shitting, pissing, hooking, hustling, jerking, sucking, snorting, injecting, and smoking within the confines of those wheels. There’s always some crazy bitch yelling about Jesus in the middle of it all, and I wonder how in the fuck she can talk about His Only Son when it is clear that God has forsaken all of us who are stuck on these tin shitboxes. If there are no atheists in foxholes, there is no God on a MUNI bus, for fuck’s sake.

Anyway, I digress. Part of my current journey is to undo my MUNI scars. I need to be less angry and less mistrusting. I need to engage more. But it’s so hard to do when you live in an urban setting, especially when that setting is Oakland, which gets a bad rap that isn’t always undeserved, though often overinflated. It can bite you in the ass. Even your best intentions can go awry. You want to believe that “deep down, people really are good,” but you’ve seen too much to buy it. You know that if you give people an inch, they will take a mile, every goddamned time.

And that brings me to today. I was sitting outside my coffeeshop having a smoke, and a young woman came up and just started talking to me. I was struck by it because who does that? Yes, I understand that if you’re reading this in the Midwest where people still take food to their sick neighbors or a small southern town where people say “Bless his little cotton socks,” this makes me sound callous as fuck. But in Oakland, you don’t just walk up and talk to randoms unless you are mentally unstable, having a heart attack, or asking for a cigarette or money. And this fresh-faced ingénue appeared to be doing none of that.

Who does that? I thought again. Then I remembered: normal, not-jaded people. She was very young, a student. And as she annoyingly chattered away, I immediately thought about how to get rid of her, and then I remembered that I’m trying to engage, so I made an active decision to start talking to this very chipper, very Pollyanna-ish girl. She was very earnest, and I’ll be damned if we weren’t actually having a pleasant conversation, when all of the sudden she busts out with “So yesterday I was robbed at gunpoint!” She said it in the same upbeat cadence that she’d said everything else up to that point. Her eyes may have widened slightly, but if anything, her smile got even bigger. She continued, “Yeah, but I didn’t have anything but my textbooks on me so he didn’t really get anything. It was all caught on camera, so if he gets sent to prison, I hope he’s happy that he didn’t get any money and he’s stuck reading my boring textbooks!”

And the old, bitter, jaded, cynical me thought: “Well there you go. You try and turn over a new leaf and let your guard down and it only serves to reaffirm what you already knew: that the world is a terrifying and shitty place full of people ready to shove a gun in your face. Fuck me.”

And as an addendum to this, as I was relaying this story to patrons at our bar, I was regaled with not one, but two stories of how two of them had recently also been held up at gunpoint within a block of the bar in the last couple of weeks.

What’s the answer? I’m trying, y’all, I really am. I don’t want to be a hermit. I don’t want to retreat into some weird cabin in the woods. Hell, I don’t even like nature. But it’s hard not to feel like the clock is ticking on my inevitable mugging/carjacking/car theft. I was mugged twice within sight of my front door when I lived in San Francisco, but that was over 15 years ago. I guess I’m overdue. One of the dudes who’d gotten recently held up showed me the new Taser he’d bought after his encounter with a sawed-off shotgun; it looks like a cell phone so you can pull it out, and it looks like you’re handing your mugger your phone, but then you hit him with 100 volts of pain. With my luck, I’d be carrying that shit in my front pocket and Tase my own vadge into a sad pile of charred ashes.

Amiright?!?!

But I guess that is my only answer for now. I’m certainly not gonna walk around Oakland staring goofily up at the sky, tripping over my shoelaces, carrying a backpack full of electronics, waiting for someone to shove a gun in my face. I’m now the person who locks all my car doors, carries my pepper spray in my hand (not my purse) at all times (even broad daylight), and stands with my back up against a building when outside having a cigarette so I can only be approached from one direction. Every time I hear about a new mugging M.O., I file it away in my brain and make note of it so I can add it to my little arsenal of preparedness. “Oh now people are reaching in open car windows and stealing purses off of passenger seats? Okay, I will now wrap the straps of my bag around the console of my car. Oh now people are punching you in the face if you refuse to give them a cigarette? I guess I now have to take my pepper spray with me when I go outside for a smoke. Okay.” It’s just the nature of the beast, I guess. 

By the way, it’s no coincidence that pig latin for “beast” is “East Bay.”

Do Not Read While Listening to Leonard Cohen

…you might open a vein.

I’m slowly but surely removing myself from the world right now. That’s what I’m doing. Isolating myself like a motherfucker. I quit my job, which was already isolated enough, working from home, but I severed my last ties to a corporate community. I’ve severed my ties with my best friends, using their kids as an excuse, however valid of an excuse it might be, thereby ensuring that I don’t have to explain my increasingly irrational behavior to anyone. I’m isolating myself from my wife by refusing to be a part of the one and only thing she’s doing right now—her bar. I say I’ve taken this time off to find my passion, but I’m not using this time to explore new ideas and the world around me at all. I’m sitting in a coffeeshop for a couple of hours in the morning, then spending the rest of the whole fucking day lying in bed on Facebook—my last lifeline to the outside world, which just feeds me nothing but horrible news of what an awful place the outside world is and serves as a justification of my behavior to isolate myself in my house even further. I drag my feet on this podcast, fearful of putting myself out into the world lest to world tear me down like it tears everything else down, fearful that my fragile ego couldn’t take it right now, fearful of failure. I don’t do any of the things I know I should do—eat right, swim, meditate, socialize, fuck my wife.

And I continue to blame it all on pain. Maybe it started out that way—my brain so jangled and raw from the constant pain signals it was sending to my feet that it genuinely needed time to learn to cope with this new set of circumstances of all stimulus all the time!—but now I’ve just chosen to be a victim, given up on my own life, refusing to seek out solutions to being a full person again if my life can’t be exactly as it was before. I go through all of the motions right now, motions that I know people expect of me so that I seem like a semi-functioning adult and so that they don’t worry about me too much. I meet friends for lunch, I make dinner with my wife, I post witty things on Facebook, I go on trips. But inside everything is gray and heavy. There’s no joy to be found in any of it. It’s like that video that’s been going around of the color-blind guy who puts on the glasses and watches a sunset for the first time. Everyone else is in the sunset, and I’m not wearing the glasses. All I see for the rest of my days is a lifetime of those bland sunsets. And the awful part is the self-flagellation that goes along with it. “This is your fault. Why don’t you just pull yourself out of this? You have everything handed to you. No real problems to speak of. You and The Wife could have a happy life, but it’s YOU who are ruining it with all your bullshit. Why can’t you just snap the fuck out of this?”

And I’m one of the “lucky” ones whose depression is tied to chronic pain. I was never a depressed person, then I developed peripheral neuropathy in my feet, and like night to day, followed the depression and the anxiety and the withdrawal from the world. I can see a direct cause-and-effect, and in my most charitable moments, when I’m able to stop beating myself up for a half a second, I can say “This is NOT all in your head! You have a reason to be depressed! You’re in fucking pain all the time!” What about all of the people who are simply clinically depressed but who aren’t able to pinpoint it to something? I would imagine the self-torture would be so much worse. And no one who suffers depression should have to also suffer guilt for it as well.

I consider (or considered) myself one of the strongest people I knew before this shit, and this disease has absolutely leveled me. It’s made me weak and pitiful and it’s made me fucking hate myself—an emotion so new to me I didn’t even recognize it for what I was when it first appeared. Self-loathing wasn’t in my vocabulary before depression came along, and now I wear it like a goddamn Snuggie. And I’m pissed as fuck at depression for that. It’s robbed me of my forties as that time in a woman’s life when she’s supposed to finally Have Her Shit Together. If I was confident as fuck in my twenties and thirties, I couldn’t wait to see what I was gonna do in my forties. But nope. Here I lie, in bed, bitching about shit on Facebook, and giving away spoons.

And if I was one of the strongest people I knew before this and I sit here and I continually spin my fucking wheels with therapy and meds and life coaches and doctors and blogs and apps and whatever the other fresh fuck I can think of the stave off depression and I slowly slip from the three-dimensional world anyway, then Jesus. What is the point?

Then what can I say except that it’s now half an hour later, and I can sit here and type that I’m a thousand times grateful that I get to spend this sunny Sunday afternoon with The Wife making a leisurely breakfast in our cozy house that we share with our fucking adorable cat? That I’m awash with gratitude that I have a partner that gets it—that is helping me navigate the morass of insurance bullshit and doctors and meds, that understands my horrible moods and is patient with me as she sees pain wash over my face and body. That I’m full of joy that I had parents who gave me the tremendous gift of a happy childhood and that sacrificed of themselves so that I grew up safe and happy. I see so little of that in the world now to realize what I precious gift that is.

That I can also type that the other day I bit into a ripe peach so sweet and delicious and stood there with my eyes closed letting the juice run down my face and knew fully then what it meant to be alive. That the other night, as The Wife scratched my back and I felt goosebumps rise up on my naked skin in the late-summer breeze coming in through our bedroom window, that I also felt a stir of life’s richness. That, driving across the Richmond Bridge the other night as the sun set on the ocean behind me, the supermoon arose over Oakland ahead of me, Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” blasted out of the car’s speakers, and the wind rushed through my hair, I saw a brief glimmer of the person I used to be—confident, alive, searching for the next Big Thing.

God help me if I ever stop recognizing those moments as they drop into my life. They seem to be the only bits I’m clinging to right now.

Don't Poke the Bear Today

It’s hard to write about depression in ways that non-depressed people will understand. I’ve been spending a lot time with a friend lately who has never suffered from The Big Suck, and he just doesn’t get it. Frankly, it’s starting to piss me off—his stupid “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” or “it helps me just to get up and get shit done” attitude, and it’s been making me avoid him like the plague. I can tell he just doesn’t get it, and my patience for having to explain myself to people right now is fucking nil.

I mean shit, what do you want me to say? That it’s been so long since I’ve mustered up the energy to shower that this morning I discovered that my pubes had rebelled and formed themselves into one long dreadlock in the middle of my crotch, like some angry Vagina Unicorn, ready to poke anyone’s eye out should they happen to look upon me and even remotely find me fuckable? That I’ve been subsisting on a steady diet of bourbon and coconut ice cream—sometimes one poured directly on top of the other—and have long ago started considering the coconut as a “fruit” in my balanced diet? That when my wife makes the very reasonable request to clean out the cat’s shitbox, I view it as a chore akin to working in a diamond mine seven miles down in the belly of the Congo?

All of this Suck is back again courtesy of that cunt, Chronic Pain. All summer long my feet have been the worst they’ve been in a while. I’ve been back in flip flops a lot, which is likely part of the problem, so I got my ass online and Mama ordered herself some orthopedic shoes! Guess what? If you’re depressed, searching for orthopedic shoes online isn’t going to be the thing that brings sunshine and light to your day. Jesus Christ on a rolling bagel, that shit is bleak my friends. It looks a lot like this:

May I interest you in the Quasimodo model?

But I finally found a site that isn’t for nurses and hunchbacks and ordered myself three pairs of shoes. Thank god for delayed tax returns because specialized shoes ain’t cheap, as I’m sure we can all imagine. Because why not kick a girl when she’s down? I’m waiting for them in the mail, but once again, I try not and get my hopes up. The other thing about heading into my NINTH YEAR of peripheral neuropathy is that I’ve tried fucking everything at this point. I’ve gotten my hopes up so many times that I just don’t even bother anymore. Best I can hope for is something that mildly eases the pain and doesn’t leave my feet screaming at the end of the day.

Right now it’s Tuesday and my feet are still recovering from last Thursday when I took a trip to lunch, the grocery store, then spent three hours on my feet cooking dinner for friends in my kitchen. Right after dinner, I was in such pain, I had to go straight to bed and medicate myself with Vicodin and weed until I could fall asleep. Then I spent most of Saturday, Sunday, and yesterday in bed, recovering, doing nothing but scrolling through Facebook for eight hours each day, reading about how horrible the world is and how shitty people are to one another.

I know, I should get out in the sunshine and exercise, right? I can’t. Exercise is out of the question. I should definitely get off Facebook, off my iPad entirely. Yes, I get that too. Go outside! Read a book! It’s like all of the the depression advice mimics my mother. Walking hurts. Concentrating is difficult. Hell, I have a hard time even watching a TV show at this point, let alone focusing on a two-hour movie. Fuck reading a novel. I don’t even remember the last time I read one, and I used to read two books a week, easy.

What do you do when everything you used to love becomes meaningless or impossible? You scroll through social media feeds because they match what’s happening in your brain—ping! ping! shit! fuck! ow! ping! cat video!

Or is it the other way around? Does the rapid-fire scroll of a Facebook feed train my brain to focus on nothing and feed the pain in my feet? Who the fuck knows anymore? All I know is that all the doctors I’ve seen in the past nine years have not been interested in the least in helping me solve this problem. As my wife—who, god bless her, has sat through every single one of these fucking appointments with me, has said over and over again—“I can see the moment on every doctor’s face as you’re telling your story that they give up on you.” If they can’t solve it in the fifteen minutes I’m allotted, their faces gloss over, and they’ve already forgotten me. Peripheral neuropathy isn’t sexy; no one’s spending big research dollars on it even though millions of people suffer from it.

I used to be out in the world, in it, of it, sucking it up, making people look at me, gobbling up new experiences as fast as the world could throw them at me, perched in the center of it all, a bottle of whiskey in one hand, a cigarette in the other, hair on fire, screaming LOOK AT ME WORLD, LOOK AT ME IN ALL OF MY GLORY.

Now I’m white girl with dreaded pubes in orthopedic shoes posting angry rants on Facebook.

Sorry y’all, apparently today is a pity-party day.

God, I Hate the Public

I write a lot here about avoiding the constant barrage of bad news thrown at us in our social media feeds and on the teevee to help avoid depression and anxiety. It’s relentless. So if you don’t want to hear about how the world murders, rapes, kills majestic and endangered animals, pollutes our ever-fragile planet, kidnaps, and is just generally a hostile place to be, I frequently encourage you to stay away from that shit. Not that I’m capable of doing it myself, mind you, but you all should.

But what about the day-to-day, real-world shit? The things you encounter as you are out in the world that cannot be avoided unless you’re Walter White living in some remote cabin in the New Hampshire woods. I noticed something the other day when I left my house and took a simple 20-minute trip to my coffeeshop one morning. Allow me to elucidate:

  • I was driving behind a person who was either searching for a parking place, had no fucking idea where they were going and had zero interest in pulling over to look at their phone or a map to reorient themselves, or was having the world’s longest epileptic seizure. They were driving 15 miles an hour in a 35 and had a line of cars behind them that stretched a block long, but that didn’t matter to this person. They continued their spastic and slow sojourn down a main thoroughfare as though they were the only person on the road and they had all the time in the world.
  • Once I got to the coffeeshop, it was packed. The line was long, and one of the people standing in was one of those sporty bicyclist types that are so prevalent in the Bay Area. He was bedecked in the prerequisite spandex outfit, which was visually offensive enough, but more offensive was the fact that he’d brought his bike into the store with him. While every other person with a bike seemed to be capable of understanding that they needed to lock their bikes up to one of the many poles outside available for that very purpose, this Lycra-encrusted asshat felt that his bicycle was far too special to mingle outdoors with the other cycles. So he just brought his right on inside where it clogged up the main aisle like a giant piece of aluminum cholesterol that we all to negotiate around after we’d picked up our coffees and were leaving the store. He watched us all as we struggled around his piece of machinery and half-assedly pulled his bike an inch closer to him, but not really doing much to get his property out of the way, clearly not caring that he was causing a problem for the rest of the patrons there.
  • Around the corner from the front door of the coffeeshop is a bench where I smoke my first cigarette of the day while I enjoy my coffee. Closer to the front of the store are tables that the store puts out so that customers can sit at them. Two customers sat down to enjoy their coffee but decided they didn’t need their third chair so just shoved it out of the way—into the middle of the sidewalk—so that now every person walking by now had to step into the street to get around a chair in the middle of the sidewalk. As they chattered away, they watched as everyone stepped into the dirty gutter to get around the chair they had placed there, yet they made no moves to get up and pull their chair back in closer to their table.
  • As I’m sitting there, a guy on a bicycle rides up and goes to lock up his bike. Instead of locking it up on one of the empty parking-meter poles, he chooses the one pole that already has a bike locked to it…and locks his bike there in such a way that the person whose bike is already locked there is going to have a bitch of a time getting their bike unlocked when they return to it.

I realize all of these examples make me sound like one of those crazy Berkeley ladies who wears colorful hats and rants at strangers in the grocery store about how they’re not stocking the shelves properly. But I use these small examples as a way to show how easy it is to let other people affect your mood as you walk through the world each day. You can’t control other people’s actions, and people will always act like grade-A fucktards who have absolutely no concept of how their actions are affecting those around them.

And what I’m consistently noticing is that on the days I’m not meditating, those are the days I’m letting the assholes of the world get to me. I definitely notice a difference on the days I start out my day getting all OM and shit. On the mornings I start out the day with my Be Patient, Be Polite, Be Positive, Be Powerful, Be Present mantras, I find it much more easy to sluff off other people’s poor behavior. I can’t overstate this.

I guess what I’m also saying, in addition to the importance of meditation, is this: Be aware of how your actions affect the world around you. I mean, if you think about it, wouldn’t the world be a much better place if everyone—from world leaders to CEOs to corporations to factory farms to police officers to politicians to your boss to you and me—operated that way? If we all just stopped for a second thought about the consequences of our actions?

Hey, if I invade this country under false pretenses, if I inject these toxic hormones into these animals that we’re all going to eat, if I bring my bike into this insanely crowded coffeeshop, if I keep treating an entire race of people like second-class citizens, if I steal this guy’s parking spot, if I keep paying myself $4,000/hour but refuse to pay my employees a living wage, if I keep walking past homeless people on the street like they’re not really human beings, if I keep getting into fights with strangers on the Internet and calling them horrible and degrading names, if I treat the grocery store cashier like crap, if, if if if…

I mean, I know, that’s crazy! It involves levels of empathy on a scale that may no longer be possible. But I think the question you have to ask yourself here is: Is it possible for ME to pay attention to how I move through the world in a way so that MY actions don’t negatively affect others? And then, taking it a step further: Is it possible for me to interact with others so that my words don’t negatively affect others?

Revolutionary, I know. It all comes back to empathy.

That’s not to say I still won’t  engage if an old white man who feels like it’s his right to tell me what to do decides he’s gonna tell me how to do something—no matter how many mantras I’ve said that morning. Old white men telling me how to do shit really fucking rankles my skin, y’all.

The other morning, when I pulled up to the coffeeshop, I noticed there was a city worker who was sweeping leaves into piles in the gutter. About every 15 feet or so, he’d formed a pile of leaves. As I was pulling up to park, I stopped short of pulling right up to the bumper of the car in front of me because the guy had swept a big pile of leaves there, and I didn’t want to drive over them. He nodded to me as a way of thanks.

As I got out, there was a guy in a Range Rover who’d pulled up right behind me (over one of the Leaf Guy’s other leaf piles, by the way), who was getting out at the same time. He immediately started in on me, yelling “You couldn’t have pulled up another ten feet to the car in front of you!!??”

Let me just say, I understand his beef. After 16 years of living in SF, I hate it when people leave half-spaces in between cars that another car can’t fit into when they’re parallel parking—it’s a waste of precious curb space that could be used for parking. I get it. But this was a special exception, being that here was this leaf-sweeping guy, and I was trying to explain this to him, but being that he was Blustery Old White Man Who Knows All, he kept yelling right over me, continuing to chastise my “poor parking skills” (which I’m sure he was crediting to the fact that I had a uterus), and not listening to a word I was saying. I explained again about the guy sweeping and pointed to him, still sweeping, albeit more slowly now, as he was mainly listening to our altercation; Leaf Guy even waved to Blustery Old White Man. No matter; the yelling continued.

So then I let him have it. All’s fair after that. Never be afraid, in those situations, to call an Asshole an Asshole. I told the guy if he would just shut the fuck up for a fresh second and listen instead of running his yellhole, he might learn something. At which point Leaf Guy busted out laughing. Old Blustery White Man stomped off, and Leaf Guy thanked me profusely, and he said this “Thank you for not driving your car over my pile. Most people never even notice. You wouldn’t believe it.” I said “Yes I would, I’m in the middle of writing about this exact thing!” And we ended up having a whole conversation—this city worker and I—about how oblivious people are about their actions.

I dunno, y’all, so that’s what I’ve got today. Pay attention. If you’re wandering through your life with your head up your bum throwing chairs into sidewalks, taking other people’s parking spaces, puttering down the road with your finger in your nostril, or acting in ways that are affecting other people negatively, stop and take stock of your actions. And if you can do it with your actions, you can do it with your words too. It’s okay to live your life like this:

…but it’s a fine line, man. Yeah, you can do what you want because people will surely judge you either way so you might as well, and that’s the god’s honest truth. But while you’re out in the world doing whatever it is you want, can you at least not be doing at 10 miles an hour in front of my ass? Because if I haven’t meditated that morning, I will cut you.

An Open Letter to Walter Palmer

I imagine turning on your computer must be a terrifying venture for you these days, Walter, what with the death threats and the world calling for you to be beheaded and skinned alive or hunted down like prey and the speculations of jail time and the petitions for your extradition floating around. And let’s not forget your dental practice’s Facebook and Yelp pages. Not since bin Laden has so much hatred been focused on one human being, I don’t reckon.

Listen here, Walter, I’m not here to call for your beheading. Not that I’m a fan, mind you. But perhaps you’re hiding out somewhere, working your way through your seventh or eighth bottle of $200  scotch since this whole ordeal began, talking to your lawyers and whatever few friends you have left from home, pacing back and forth, the terror in your voice getting a little higher in pitch each day, saying “Look, how in the #!%*! was I supposed to know the damn thing was so beloved?!” Perhaps you even believe it by now. “Still, it was just a damn lion, why does the whole world want me dead?!?!”

I’m here to explain.

In case you haven’t noticed, Walter, the world has turned into an incredibly shitty place to be these days. There’s really not much good news anywhere you turn, is there? The news, our Twitter feeds, our Facebook feeds, every media outlet—every single electronic device you turn on—is full of nothing but horrible news about death, famine, droughts, murders, sexual exploitation, kidnappings, Donald Trump, climate change, war, threat of war, and on and on and on until we’ve become immune to it. You have to if you want to stay sane.

We create these giant heart-shaped shields over the organ we’ve assigned to our feelings and emotions because we just can’t bear to hear about the rape and murder of another 8-year-old girl or the police killing of another unarmed African-American kid or another unchecked oil spill into a pristine waterway or another political scandal. So we tune those things out, scroll past them in our feeds, hit the “mute” button on the TV, and think guiltily to ourselves, “I know I should care, but I just can’t or my heart will split wide open.”

And then #CecilTheLion comes along, and we learn about how friendly and beloved he was, and how he was a tourist attraction, drawing in money for a poor country, and we see his beautiful mane, his regal visage in our feeds over and over again, and our hearts DO split wide open, Walter, they break right the fuck out of those scabby little shells we’ve carefully built around our hearts, and do you know why?

For the same reason that we can watch Titantic and not drop a tear when Jack dies at the end, but grown men will bawl like babies at the end of Old Yeller or at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows. For the same reason many people will admit grieving harder when their dog died than when their father died. Animals, domesticated, represent the softest, most tender, rawest spot within us that we refuse to let become hardened. Our pets love us unconditionally; they don’t care that you’re a deeply flawed person in a deeply flawed world. Because of this, we pour our hearts into them so completely and selflessly. Aside from our children, our animals are the one sentimental spot that we allow to remain pure and good and unscathed within ourselves. We bask in their love and their light—they represent our kindest and most compassionate sides.

And undomesticated, God, they represent…they represent grace, beauty, magnificence, the untamed, nature at its finest, the beast within and without. And no more so than the lion—what a regal and striking beast. King of the jungle.

But I imagine you recognize that. I imagine that’s why you chose it.

I’ll never understand the arrogance, the fucking arrogance, Walter, of a man not content to leave this magnificence to share with the rest of the world—at least the rest of the world that is fortunate to save the money to travel to Zimbabwe and go on safari to see Cecil—and then, once having seen this magnificence in his natural habitat, gone home with a camera full of pictures to show friends and family.

No, I really just don’t understand the mind who sees a Cecil and thinks “I want that all for myself. I don’t want anyone else to enjoy that. And if that means I also have to kill it to make that happen, well so be it.” You’ve taken us into the Heart of Darkness, Walter. You’ve reminded us that, deep down, Man really IS evil; that, if left to his own devices, he will always Take, even when he has no right to it.

Like it or not, you’ve become the representation for what ails the world—the rapacious greed that has consumed the planet—all of the men that have come before you and have planted their flags in soil, in countries, in lands, in waters—and have said, “I got here first. Now this is mine, and I don’t care the cost to the people (or the lions or the land or the water) already here. I paid my money. I shall do as I please.” You are a reminder that if you are rich enough and white enough and American enough you can kill lions, melt icebergs, shoot black kids in hoodies, pollute things, fail to pay people what they’re worth, dodge taxes, make outlandish statements, avoid jail terms—all of it. All of the ugliness that is Man. Just how gross and arrogant we can be at our very worst. You put a mirror up to our faces, Walter, and said “Here we are! Scabs and all! Aren’t we hideous?!”

Unfortunately, you and Cecil are the “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take it anymore!” moment for a lot of people. It just broke us, Walter. We just couldn’t take you showing us the darkest side of humanity. We lost our shit. Which is why millions of people want your head on a stick.

And it appears you weren’t quite the shot you thought you were; it took poor Cecil nearly two days to die after your arrow missed its mark. When I think about him limping and staggering through the jungle, bleeding, my heart breaks even further. My father, a good man and an educator who taught high school and college for two decades, had pulmonary fibrosis, which is an extremely painful and slow-acting disease. It took him twenty years to die; the last five years of his life he suffered enormously.

While I’m sure you’ll likely be spending the rest of your life looking over your shoulder for a rifle’s laser pointer aimed at your back—and many people are hoping an assassin’s bullet finds you—I don’t think I have a problem saying out loud that I wish you a long and protracted death. Certainly something longer than forty hours. Perhaps two decades will be enough to assuage me. My father was a man who taught people to become doctors, nurses, and EMTs. You were a dentist and a big-game hunter. That ranks just below floor mopper in a porn theater…in hell. A nice slow brain cancer, perhaps?

And I do hope that when you scraped together that $55K to murder Cecil, you managed to gather up a few extra dollars because I imagine your dental practice is through. I’m not sure what’ll you do for a second career at this point. Perhaps you could sell fruit at intersections?

Lastly, Walter, you would do well for yourself by retracting your half-assed apology and taking responsibility for yourself and owning up to what you did. Finger-pointing at your guides is pansy and typical of someone who has coasted through life never owning up to his mistakes. I’m guessing since you were right there with them, in the dark of the night, doing whatever surreptitious shit you were doing to lure Cecil out of the national park, you were well aware that your actions were sketchy. Just own up to it instead of being the rich American who’s pointing to the hired help and saying “they did it.” It’s gross and only makes you look like a bigger coward in the world’s eyes.

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before another asshole does something even more horrible than you and people move on. Or a huge natural disaster occurs, and the world’s attention is diverted. No doubt you’re holding your breath waiting for that moment to happen. Are you praying for a huge tsunami or earthquake right now?

God, that’s so like you, Walter. You’re just that much of a dick.

#WhatCan1BuddhaDo

Two things I’m discovering intrigue me, as I’m on this journey of jobless exploration and navel gazing. I’m fascinated by people (mainly women, but certainly men too) who inspire the concept of healthy body image in themselves and others. Seriously, I’m over the moon toward people who rock a positive body image, even if (especially if) it’s not what society typically defines as “beautiful,” which, as we all know, is a very narrow definition.

Heavier people, people with disabilities, people who have not been blessed with blonde hair and blue eyes and a fucking statuesque figure, who are out there doing their thing in front of the world even though society and internet haters tell them they should be sitting under a blanket in their parents’ basements hiding in shame for being “hideous” are the people that FUCKING MAKE MY NIPPLES STAND UP WITH JOY.

We live in a world full of assholes who sit in front of computer monitors and who just waiting to tell you how gross you look, how fat you are, what a loser you are, how you will fail at everything you attempt. Yet, you are brave enough to put up a video showing everyone what it’s like to live with excess skin since you lost 270 pounds because you hope that it will inspire or help others. You expose yourself to these hateful, small bigots because you think your Instagram page of you kicking major ass at yoga will encourage other heavier people to also try yoga.

Credit: @mynameisjessamyn

Y’all are my fucking heroes. Seriously, good on you. There need to be more people like you in the world. You are inspirational. Don’t ever stop doing what you’re doing.

The second type of person that inspires and intrigues me is the person that finds a need in the community and just goes out and fills it. Just like that. In a never-ending cycle of negative news stories, I try and seek out positive shit, and I’m fascinated by stories like the guys who tricked out a VW van with a washer and dryer and drive it around Brisbane and let homeless people do their laundry in their van. Or, closer to home, the guy who just, on a whim, bought a cement statue of Buddha at Ace Hardware one day and stuck it on a particularly bad corner in his particularly bad neighborhood in Oakland, where it then became an anchor for the community. Buddhist nuns came to pray at it every morning, as did many other non-Buddhist members of the neighborhood. People stopped selling and doing drugs on that corner and stopped dumping trash there. It became a gathering place, and neighbors started getting to know neighbors. All because one guy bought a $50 statue.

Credit: sfgate.com

The common theme here for me is that none of these things involved a major movement. All of these people ended up being an inspiration to large numbers of people through their actions, yet they did it by simply being true to themselves. They did it by showing the rest of the world what was in their hearts, and for those of us that were ready to be inspired, we responded with glee and joy and love.

And I think, in a world where it’s so easy to get discouraged by how impotent we feel all the time, the fact that these people were able to inspire us on their own is enormously important. How many times have you thought about politics, the environment, education, the state of the world “Yeah, it sucks, but what can *I* do?!” All the time, right? It’s demoralizing to feel that powerless all the fucking time. We need to feel like we are capable of affecting change sometimes. These are the people we can look up to. Look at them! Singlehandedly, look at how many people they inspired.

Anyway, to that end, I’m starting a hashtag called #WhatCan1BuddhaDo. So occasionally you’ll see this on my Facebook page and Twitter account. I’ll be highlighting stories of people I feel are just fucking rocking it in the Being True to Themselves department—either with positive body image, or helping others, or just being kickass heroes in their community—and I’ll be using this hashtag to highlight the fact that they’re out there inspiring us on the solo tip. If y’all read stories of people doing this as well, please don’t hesitate to let me know on my Facebook page or by leaving me a comment here. I’m always interested in hearing of these folks!

By the way, are you following me on Facebook? I’m @StrugglinBuddha on Twitter and @buddhahollah on Instagram. FOLLOW ME ASSHOLES!!! And make your friends follow me too!

Florida Man Consumes Part of Bay Area Woman's Brain

Sweet baby Jesus, shit-fire-and-save-the-matches, how I love my fucking shrink. I swear to god, I just wanna take that chick to a seedy bar, buy a bottle of fine bourbon, and just start throwing back shots, (wo)mano y (wo)mano, with her until we’re piss-drunk, hanging off one another, slurring, and saying “no, scherrriouschly, I love you, man! No scherrrriouschly, soooooo much!”

One of the things I’ve been doing differently to try and stave off The Suck this time is to actually communicate with the people in my life; mainly, my wife. Plus, now that I seem to have this cadre of shrinks managing my life, I figure why not use this to my advantage to help me from, you know, being depressed?

So The Wife and I talked about many of the issues I wrote about in my last bleak-ass entry this week in couples’ counseling, and holy shit, was that ever helpful. The shitastic thing about depression is how much it makes you want to crawl into your own hole and hide because you’re ashamed or you think no one will understand you or you think no one wants to hear about your dark thoughts. Trust me, I did it last time, for well over a year and a half. And the longer I did it, the worse it got, and the more and more isolated I felt from The Wife and my friends. It was fucking awful. I am determined NOT TO DO THAT SHIT THIS TIME.

We basically spent the whole hour talking about me because it seems I will do anything to make it all about me, diva that I am. And the more he dug, the more we got into why I was having problems with motivation and achieving things. And we nailed it down to I get myself to a point in a project or endeavor where a voice says “Why are you even doing this? What’s the point? What will this achieve? This is stupid. You should just stop this shit right now. Meh.” Then I lose interest and wander off to start something new because that shitty voice in my head convinced me my original idea was idiotic. So Shrink #1 was all “Since you’re so fond of naming things on your body, you should give this shitty, negative voice a name.” The Wife and I agreed that was a cool idea and decided to go home and ponder over what the perfect name for the no-good, useless, nagging, piece-of-shit part of my psyche should be. I’m a big fan of naming things to make them less scary.

So next day, I drive into the city to see Shrink #2. She’s my pain management shrink, the one I did some EMDR sessions with, and the one with whom I feel a great connection. We’ll call her Jess because that’s her name. I’ve been seeing shrinks, on and off, for 10 years. For most of those 10 years, I never really thought therapy was really anything more than paying a stranger to listen to you bitch about your problems because your friends have finally gotten sick of listening to your shit. My experience is that they didn’t actually solve your problems or even give you the tools to solve your problems. I mean, if you think about it, isn’t in their best interest for you not to get better?

Not Jess, man. From Day 1, she got right up in there and was solving my puzzle right and left. And so I tell her all the same shit I talked about in my last entry, plus some of the stuff that The Wife and I had discussed in our therapy session the day before, and she’s all “You should name your shitty voice.” I’m all “That’s what Shrink #1 said too!” A lot of times, the two of them will say the exact same shit, which always makes me feel validated somehow.

So then Jess asks me if I have a name for my persona when I feel powerful, larger than life, in control, my best self. And I swear to god y’all, if you give me shit for this, I will kick you in your collective tacos, but yes, I do have a name for this larger-than-life persona, and that name is TEXAS. It’s my loud, buoyant, I-own-the-room-right-now, funny, witty, charismatic personality. And yes, there is plenty to mock about my home state, lord knows, but that is an entry for another time. Rational or not, Texas is my kick-ass-and-take-names persona.

God bless her, Jess doesn’t miss a beat, she’s like “Okay, so now we need the opposite of Texas. We need the name for the persona that is useless, serves no purpose, does no good for anyone, you wish it would just go away, it causes nothing but trouble and just pisses you off. It represents all that’s ugly about you.”

We both paused, stared at each other a beat, then exclaimed: “FLORDIA!”

AH MAH GAH, we just fell out.

It’s like the woman is inside my head and knows how much I love to mock Florida, how many times I’ve cackled at Florida, Man’s Twitter account, how many times I’ve posted that Bugs-Bunny-sawing-Florida-into-the-ocean gif into comments sections on the internet, how many stories about Florida I’ve posted on my Facebook page with the simple caption “Because Florida.”

I’m sure she’s a lovely girl.

So we spent the hour talking about Texas vs. Florida. Texas is the very best of me—she is my superhero self, my creative self when all the juices are flowing, my energy is high, and all pistons are firing. But she isn’t sustainable for long periods of time. When I feel like this is when I sit down to write. The words pour out of me onto the computer screen. I don’t think; it just comes.

I know there are any number of famous and successful writers who claim they treat writing like a full-time job; they lock themselves away in their studios for eight hours a day at 8:00 a.m. every morning and clock out every night at 5:00. They are scheduled and disciplined. For me, things are percolating in my head all day long. I’m observing, storing away little witty lines in the back of my brain, observations and notes, putting together allusions and connections. Then suddenly my brain ties all these little bits together, and like an explosion, out it all comes in a two-hour torrential brain dump. Jess asked if afterwards I felt exhausted, and I said I did. She asked if that’s when I most felt like smoking pot and binge-watching Netflix, and I said “as a matter of fact…” She said “THAT’S California! You also need California to help you recover from Texas. Texas AND Florida are both so fucking intense, California is where you go to recover from all that intensity. I’m giving you permissionto hang out in California and not beat yourself up for that. You need California.”

Fuck, seriously y’all, she’s rad.

Jess says we all have a Florida in our heads—that negative little bitch that is there telling us why we will fail at something, why something is bad idea, why it will never work, what all of the sticking points of a plan will be. She says the next time Florida starts yammering away, she wants me simply to observe her. Yup, there that bitch is, chattering away, talking her smack again. She says there will be days I will choose to give into Florida, to wallow, and that’s okay. But if I just start observing her from a distance, there will be more days than not that I will make a conscious decision not to give into her bullshit. “Yup, I hear ya sister, but I’m not feeling your shit today. I’m making a conscious decision to get off my ass and get out into the world today and work toward one of my goals instead.”

Credit: Allie Brosh

It ties back into one of my Five Ps (Be Patient, Be Polite, Be Positive, Be Powerful, Be Present). By observing it when it’s happening, I’m being present in the moment instead of just being swept away in it. I’m sitting with it and really observing it and asking myself “Is this really where I want to be today?” And it’s being powerful too, I guess. It’s not letting that trashy whore, Florida, in her tube top and cutoffs, have control over my life for days at a time.

So here I am, with all my states of being (get it, states of being), coexisting up in my melon, yammering away, battling for which one will be king of the sand pile on any given day. Will it be scabby Florida, all high on bath salts, scratching at my brain with her negativity, telling me why I can’t accomplish my goals? Will it be stony, unmotivated California saying “Dood, come do some day drinkin’ and chill,” which is fun for my id to give into, but maybe should be used more as a reward rather than a way of life? Or will it be Texas, who represents the best, most creative part of me, the part with vision and dreams, the part that, yanno, wants to do some shit with her life?

When I look at the big picture like that and take the approach of trying to observe them objectively, I’m hoping it will allow me to be more present and more powerful so that I can take a more active role in which one I want to occupy the most space in my head on that day.

And y’all know every time I wake up and it’s a Florida Day, my go-to vision in my head will forever and ever be this:

Sucking on the Big D

I have a bad habit of only writing here when things are going well, when I’m feeling peachy. I’m trying to force myself to write when I’m in The Suck too because that’s when I need to write more than ever. So if you’re here to read The Funny, you might wanna skip this entry. It’s a fucking bummer. The blog is called Struggling Buddha, not Happy Motherfucking Buddha, and I’m laying down some messy shit today.  

***

I’m one Struggling Buddha these days, y’all. I’m struggling with the exact things I knew were my weaknesses—the things I knew would be my roadblocks—lack of discipline, lack of motivation, inability to set goals, failure to see things to completion. And when you’re someone who has quit her job and is planning to have a go at it alone, these are some fucking huge hurdles to overcome. It’s basically a recipe for Netflix binge-watching and day-drinking with other unemployeds. I can’t say it hasn’t been fun, but when you spend half the time engaged in these pursuits beating yourself up because you know you’re not living up to your potential, then it sort of makes the binge-watching and day-drinking a little sadder.

I don’t lack for trying, y’all, really I don’t. I believe I’ve mentioned my addiction problem with apps. Apps are the new black-tar heroin. You heard it here first. I’ve spent a small fortune and wasted countless hours on my metaphorical bathroom floor writhing around in pain trying to figure out new productivity, time-management, and goal-setting apps. Some of them I use for a month, maybe even two. Then the love affair fades, and I delete them like so many discarded needles in the internet’s dumpster.

I downloaded a certain fitness app to force myself to go to the gym a while back. I figured since I clearly lacked whatever fortitude it took to make myself start swimming again, I would bribe myself. Shit, I ain’t proud. If what it took was cold, hard cash to pull myself out of my sofa quagmire, then so be it. And I went full bore too. I wasn’t plunking down five or ten dollars if I missed a gym date. I decided to make it really fucking hurt if I didn’t do what I was said I was gonna do. I committed to starting small—twice a week—if I didn’t get myself down to the pool twice a week, I gave the app permission to deduct FIFTY SMACKEROOS from my bank account. I wanted to make sure it stung.

The way the app worked is that you had have your weekly goals set by Sunday morning and complete them by Saturday midnight. You’d set your gym goals for the week (fives times a week for 45 minutes each, leg day three times a week, etc.). The very first time you went to your gym, you checked in with your phone’s GPS, and the app verified that this was a bona fide workout facility (gym, dojo, pool, boxing ring, whatever). After that, every time you went to the gym, you opened the app and checked in. It verified that you were where you said you were. When you were done with your workout, you checked out. It tallied the amount of time you’d been there and ticked off that you’d made one of your marks for the week. If you really wanted to be a joiner, you could be part of the Community and cheer others on and have other people send you little badges and shit when you went to the gym. That sounded Smarmy As Fuck to me, so naturally, I poo-pooed it.

You see how this story ends, don’t you? You see that it comes to its inevitable and sad conclusion of me sitting alone in my car in the gym parking lot at 11:30 on Saturday night. My car is the only car in the parking lot because no one in their right mind is at their gym at 11:30 on Saturday night. No, those people are all out enjoying active social lives being that they were somehow able to meet their obligations to themselves and are now reaping their rewards. They are hanging out in bars with friends, pumping alcohol into their bodies, laughing, dancing, and being socially normative creatures. They are not smoking a joint alone in their car, watching the stopwatch on some stupid app tick slowly by, waiting for it to hit that magic 30-minute mark so that they don’t have to pay out fifty dollars to whatever pimply-faced Silicon Valley tech asshole thought of this terrible, terrible idea.

Our hero is imagining the app’s inventor right now, as she sits there, watching the time tick by. He’s easily ten years younger than she is. He’s probably in some bathroom in a Mission bar—a bar she used to go to a few short years ago before she got sick and depressed and before his type moved into the neighborhood and ruined said bar—he’s crammed into a stall with some vapid chick, doing coke off her tits, telling her about how he’s a millionaire. It’s probably a stall she herself did coke in more than once when life was simpler and more carefree. And before she knows it, she’s down the rabbit hole of “when did life get so fucking HARD?” And she knows that once the clock hits midnight and she’s fulfilled her financial obligations to that little coke-snorting shit, she’ll be freezing her account and deleting the app.

Welcome to the mind of a depressed person, where even software can make you question your entire existence.

So no apps. I also tried my Board of Motivation. Hell, I even went full New Age and got a fucking life coach. That stuck for a while, but then the effect wore off and I was back to my old patterns. I currently have two therapists to manage my life. As I say, it’s not for lack of fucking trying. I’m trying like a motherfucker, clawing like crazy at the dirty sides ofthis deep and murky hole that is depression.

Image Credit: Allie Brosh/Hyperbole and a Half

I don’t want to be here again. I don’t want it for me. I don’t want it for The Wife. I don’t want it for my family or friends. But unless I find a way to get some structure in my life—to set some goals for the things I want to accomplish then find a way to meet those goals—I fear the worst. And I’m really, really trying to avoid meds. I already take so fucking many pills for the pain shit, I’d like not to heap on more antidepressants. But I’m getting to that place where everything is starting to feel so damn overwhelming again, and by “everything” I mean “putting on my bra in the morning.”

I will not go here again. I can’t.

Forgiveness

I met Marc three years ago when we moved to Oakland. It was during a difficult time in my life. We’d moved a mere 10 miles from our urban tribe in San Francisco, but a body of water separated us, and although there were any number of bridges and a variety of methods of public transportation that could easily reunite us at a moment’s notice, you would have thought there were piranha and electric eels in the water for how isolated I felt from them.

Many of them gave birth, literally, right around the time we moved, so they were busy learning the ropes of motherhood. No fan of crotchfruit, I, this made me feel even more isolated and remote from them, for I knew I was losing my drinking buddies. I knew I was saying farewell to a way of life that we’d all enjoyed for the last decade. Granted, it was a way of life we’d all drawn out a lot longer than we’d probably should have, but at the time I didn’t want to hear any of that nonsense. All I could see was that my 2:00 a.m. days were disappearing in my rearview faster than a dead armadillo on a West Texas highway.

And then I met Marc, who lived with his girlfriend across the street from our new house. The Wife and I had spent the last decade-and-a-half living in various apartment buildings in the city where the only time you might talk to your neighbors was when they accidentally opened their front door as you were leaving them a passive-aggressive note to tell them to stop fucking so loudly at 4:00 a.m. for chrissakes and did their girlfriend have to sound like she was being chopped up with a pickaxe when she was climaxing. So we were pleasantly surprised to discover this new environment called a “neighborhood,” where people came over with pies and cookies and wine and got to know us.

We were also delighted to discover Marc was a contractor, so we hired him to do a bunch of work on the new house. It became apparent pretty quickly that Marc and I were cut from the same cloth. We were both rough around the edges, but had soft, chewy centers that we didn’t like showing too often. We were both fiercely loyal to our partners. We were both crass as fuck. We were both inveterate shit-talkers. It wasn’t long before we became fast friends. He had a habit of stopping by our front porch for a beer after he’d get done with a long day’s work. Not every day, mind you, maybe once or twice a week. We sit on the front porch, legs dangling off the front balcony, me with my Jack and Coke and cigarette, him with his watery piss-beer. We’d chew the fat in the waning light of the day and grouse about stupid people we’d dealt with that day—two peas in a pod.

It was a dark time for me. I was missing my friends. I was having problems with The Wife. I hated my job more than ever. My pain levels were through the roof. My dad had just died. My depression was all-consuming. In short, I was not Living The Dream. Our Porch Time had become something I looked forward to enormously. What’s more, he seemed to need it too. He and the girlfriend didn’t seem to have a lot of friends. They didn’t go out much and didn’t entertain much that we could see. He was a construction foreman, which meant he was the boss of a crew of Latino dudes with whom he didn’t socialize outside of work. I think he was a little lonely and relished the unlikely companion he’d found in me. Over the next two years, we developed a tight bond. We were givers and takers of shit betwixt each other. He was the big brother I’d never had.

And then, Porch Time stopped happening. Slowly at first, around the holidays, so we excused it, as in “Well, maybe they just have a lot going on for the holidays…” The Wife thought it was personal, something I shrugged off for a few weeks. “It’s not all about us, honey.” Then I saw them have a very public fight on their front porch that ended with her peeling off down the street. I texted him to ask if he needed to talk. His reply was a curt “No.” A couple more texts to him in the following weeks were also rebuffed, until finally I was giving into my wife’s paranoia, and I texted and point-blank asked him if it was something we’d done.

And then came The Day. He came over to our house, sat, literally, with his hat in his hand and told us he couldn’t be our friend anymore because his girlfriend was batshit crazy and hated us and was currently blaming us for all of the problems in her life—her failing relationship with him, the fact that her home business was in the shitter, and the fact that she was generally unhappy. And yes, it made no sense, but wasn’t that the definition of batshit crazy? And look, he knew this made him a horrible person, he said, as he stared at the floor with tears in his eyes, but he was getting up there in years, he just discovered he needed a heart operation and yet another hip surgery, he wasn’t getting any younger, and he was too tired to start this process again with someone else. And so, for now anyway, this was his last-ditch attempt to try and keep the peace.

And so we let him go.

I mean, what could we do? It’s not like I couldn’t empathize with what he was saying. Being 62 facing heart surgery and mortality alone has got to be daunting. Hell, being 62 and facing fucking dating again has got to be daunting. But just because I understood his motives didn’t mean I agreed with them. Yes, he was aging and didn’t want to face that alone. But Jesus, you’re gonna subject yourself to those levels of fucking insanity just to avoid the prospect of having to come up with a match.com profile?! Damn. Part of my heartbreak wasn’t just losing my friend, but how much respect I lost for him too.

And her? Don’t even. Her bony ass I confronted in the middle of the street like a scene straight outta Desperate Housewives. Christ on a rolling bagel, I wish someone had been there to videotape that shit: both of us in our giant sunglasses, her sitting at the wheel of her car, her entire body tight as a nun’s twat; me standing at her window in the middle of the street, hands on my hips, all like “Bitch, you best get to explainin’!” In the end I asked her what gave her the right to unilaterally and singlehandedly destroy two friendships based on her own hysterical paranoia, and she couldn’t give me an answer. I said “That’s what I thought,” and I called her a crazy, woman-hating cunt.

And it was with no small amount of schadenfreude that we peered through our front curtains and watched their inevitable breakup shortly thereafter. They had been together over a decade, so it was a drawn-out process, but at last, he finally seemed to have removed every trace of himself from her abode across the street. And her crazy ass holed up in her House of Sad, and we stopped seeing him altogether. The wounds started to close up, and Wisteria Lane started to get back to normal.

Except that I missed my friend.

***

Forgiveness is a funny thing, y’all. There are so many things that stand in the way of it: pride, stubbornness, bravado, martyrdom, genuine rage, fear, the desire to protect oneself. In general, I find that I’m bad at it. That ex-girlfriend I told y’all about a few entries back? She wrote me an email a couple of years ago asking for my forgiveness for the way she’d treated me all those years ago. My reply? “Are you on Step 6 or something? Fuck off.” No mercy.

He wanted to meet for coffee to see whether there could be some chance of reconciliation. His text came one day as I was sitting on my front porch having a smoke, staring across the street, and wondering for the umpteenth time how much a graffiti artist would charge me to come spray paint CUNT in an artistic, flowery manner across the ex-girlfriend’s front fence so the entire world would know just what a horrible person she was as well. My other plan had been to leave two lumps of coal on her front porch at Christmas with the note “From Santa: one for each friendship you destroyed this year.” But now Christmas was long past, and my mind had moved on to other devious, less seasonal modes of revenge. It wasn’t that I didn’t hold him just as accountable in taking our friendship away; it’s just that her house across the street was a daily reminder of what I’d lost. But make no mistake: he was a grown-ass man. He made his decision; he had been just as culpable in the termination of our relationship as she had. And now here he was, alone, and asking to be accepted into my good graces again.

***

I recently watched the video where the relatives of the victims of the Charleston massacre got to speak to Dylann Roof and, to the person, each member of the slain members’ families told that racist little shitbag that they forgave him for what he’d done to them, forgave him for the unbelievable grief and torment he’d caused them. Not days after he’d taken their loved ones from them in a violent and unspeakable manner, they stood in that room and told him they forgave him and that he’d be judged by a higher authority, but that it wasn’t their place to judge him. And I was just thunderstruck by the sheer grace of those people who opened up their hearts in the middle of their unimaginable grief and let go of their anger and despair and were able to say “I forgive you.”

***

I am currently sitting in a hospital waiting room waiting for a doctor to tell me Marc came through a minor surgery with flying colors. And I’m thinking about those family members and what they’ve given up and the futures they’ll never get with the loved ones they lost. And I think about how I’ve gone from “fuck you, Marc” to “sure, take that crazy bitch ex off your hospital forms and make me your emergency contact” and how small that is compared to the levels of charity those families summoned up in their hearts to forgive. Marc has asked for my forgiveness earnestly and sincerely and has repeatedly said that doing what he did to The Wife and me was one of the shittiest things he’s ever done. I am choosing to take him at his word and open my heart to him again. I was sick of being furious at someone I loved. My heart and head were weary at having to be so hardened against him. Plus, I just missed my big brother.

Life is short, people. And while it’s unlikely a murderous asshole with racist delusions of grandeur will take away someone special to you, it is undeniable that we’re all here on this spinning blue dot for but a minute. Is carrying around your rage and anger really the way you wanna spend that brief minute? If someone gives you the opportunity to let your rage and anger go—hell, even if they don’t—find a way to bridge that gap and release that shit because listen up: the world needs more forgiveness right now. Use those beautiful people in Charleston as a shining example of what is possible. This society we’ve created has become a very unforgiving place; don’t let your soul be unforgiving as well. Be better than that.

Haters Gonna Hate...No, Seriously, Like All the Time

A sad thing happened in the hamlet next to ours. Two nights ago, in Berkeley, one of those little apartment balconies you see hanging off the sides of buildings collapsed under the weight of 14 revelers, killing 6 and injuring another dozen or so. They were all Irish work-visa kids affiliated with UC Berkeley, celebrating someone’s 21st birthday. It was truly a tragic accident. And in true internet fashion, the threads have been quick to heap blame on the victims for being “stupid enough to all be piled onto a balcony” [so they got what they deserved] to “I hope their families sue whatever shoddy contractor was responsible for construction on that building” [they should rot in hell].

I mean seriously, there was nary a nanosecond to digest this tragedy before the negative cocksuckers were out in force tsk-tsking and wagging their forked tongues. Jesus, when did we move from being an empathetic society—a society where, as a group, we feel genuine sympathy and caring for what victims and their families must be going through in times of grief—to one where it is so utterly necessary to assign blame, to get positively red-faced and shaking at the thought of someone paying for what is often just an unfortunate accident?

What is it that drives us now to finger-point, blame-heap, rock-throw, and crucify others (often the victims themselves) in the face of something horrible like a balcony collapse, a hurricane, a rockslide, a house fire, a disease outbreak, or any other one of the countless tragedies that simply befall humans across the planet every day?

The same fucking culprit that’s to blame for every other failing in society these days. Y’all know I’m fixin’ to say the Internet, don’t you? God love the World Wide Webs and all the knowledge it delivers to our doorsteps each and every day, but mostly it is Satan’s butthole, spewing forth bad news, hatred, ugliness and, if we’re lucky, occasionally, videos of cats and baby pandas. Oh fine, here you go.

But it’s the same Internet-generated mentality that allows rapey fraternity fuckboys to post pictures of passed out naked girls and pimply-faced, basement-dwelling redditors to fat-shame unsuspecting overweight girls that spurs what might be otherwise good people to jump into a hive mentality and start piling blame on the victims in public forums.

You see, it seems as though everyone secretly wanted to be a Heather in high school. And with the internet, now they have their chance. With zero repercussions. Say your hurtful thing and get out. No one will be the wiser.

We have a local newscaster in the Bay Area whose personal Facebook page is very popular. I follow him, and on Memorial Day, he posted a moving story about a woman with an infant who lost her husband in Iraq. I’d never once posted a comment on his page because if it’s one thing I’ve learned after spending years trolling the Internet is never post a comment in a public forum. But my comment was super innocuous, so I figured “Why not?” I wrote “It would be nice if politicians would stop sending young men and women off to war to die.” A nice wish for Memorial Day, no? Let’s stop creating more dead soldiers, yes?

Dear lord. You would have thought I posted a picture of myself taking a shit on a soldier’s grave with a dead bald eagle in my mouth while wiping my ass with the American flag. The hatriots came out in full force to call me all kinds of unsavory names, telling me how thankful I should be to all those dead soldiers that I even have the right to talk such blasphemy on this grieving dead widow’s Facebook page. (Never mind that it wasn’t her page, it was the newscaster’s page, but logic has never been a strong suit of the foaming-at-the-mouth ‘Murica types.)

For about three days, I got sucked into this stupid thread because of course I couldn’t bring myself to turn off the notifications, and so it kept popping up in my Facebook feed. And so I kept reading these tirades against me from seriously misinformed and just downright STUPID people that I had to force myself not to respond to because I knew it wouldn’t do any good. But I would walk around for those three days furious, composing replies in my head to their misguided arguments. It consumed me. I took it with me everywhere I went and let it spoil my days and make me furious at people in real life. I scowled, my pain levels were up. I didn’t feel like doing anything or being around anyone. Why should I? People sucked.

My point is, the way we behave on the Internets takes its toll on us IRL whether we think it does or not. Whether it’s getting on some thread after a tragedy and heaping blame on a bunch of kids for standing on a balcony and smoking so you can feel morally superior to them—(“God, what were they thinking, cramming 14 people on that tiny balcony! Stupid wankers! I NEVER would have been that idiotic when I was 19!”)—or fat-shaming a 12-year old with weight issues, or sharing a video on Facebook of a drunk girl passed out at a party with your mean comments attached, or piling hate on someone for wishing that war were a thing of the past, or just piling hate on anyone whose opinion differs from yours, or even ripping a celebrity to shreds for wearing something ugly, this “Mean Girls mentality” takes a little piece of us each time we do it, y’all. We take it away from our fingertips and our monitors and carry it forth into the world, and it affects how we see and interact with people in our daily lives.

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And I get it. It’s fun, it’s easy, and if you’re good at it, people will laugh at your wit. If stupid people weren’t there to shame, if celebrities weren’t there to mock, what would we do for a laugh? I do it all the fucking time. I need to put down the stones and pick up the Windex in my glass house, fo sho. Because I’m realizing the more I do it, the more it dehumanizes others, and the more it dehumanizes me. Then I walk around in this world with less empathy for people. And the less empathy I have, then I just start acting IRL like I do on the Internet—like any old asshole who can say and do whatever she wants without a thought to how it will affect those around me.

And I think society has enough of those people already, don’t you?

Guess What? I'm Not Sorry

The world is abuzz with the latest Amy Schumer skit that skewers the fact that we live in a world where women are constantly apologizing for, well, fucking everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Nobel winner, a brain surgeon, a rocket scientist, a world leader—if you are toting a set of ovaries, odds are you will find yourself moving through life simply apologizing for existing. I haven’t seen the skit yet, but I do know that Amy has been fucking killing it, man. She has spent this season targeting some serious sacred cows and not being the least goddamn bit sorry for it either.

A woman after my own heart.

This has been a long-running theme in my life. I have opinions. A lot of them. And boy howdy, do I have a mouth on me. And lord help me, I was raised by two college professors, so I’m one articulate motherfucker too. (Though, as my mother often bemoans: “All that money we spent on your education…I just wish you could express yourself with fewer four-letter words.” What can I say, Mom? Those fuckers in Hell want ice water too. Sometimes to get to the heart of a juicy idea, you gotta drop a few F-bombs.)

Growing up, my mom was the primary breadwinner in our family. She was a night ER nurse at the time, and my dad was working on his Ph.D. This meant during my formative years, I was raised mostly by a man. This was during the ’70s when there weren’t a lot of men out there doing the child-rearing. So in addition to learning how to throw a perfect spiral pass and sink a sweet jump shot from the baseline, my dad instilled in me a sense of fearlessness when it came to speaking my mind. Maybe fearlessness is the wrong word, but he certainly taught me to stand behind my convictions, not to back down, and never to be afraid to call bullshit when I saw it, even if the source of the bullshit was masculine. For example, when my Little League baseball team went on our camping trip in the third grade (because of course, my dad wouldn’t let me play softball with the girls—I had to play baseball), and the boys on the team wanted me to pull down my shorts and show them my pee-pee, I firmly crossed my arms and insisted, nope, not until ALL of them pulled down their shorts and showed me their pee-pees first. I’m still convinced I came out on top in that deal.

This led to me growing up being a tomboy, naturally, but it also taught me to stand my ground—in the classroom, on the playground, in a gym, in a lecture hall, and eventually in the workplace. I never identified it as not apologizing for my words or actions per se; I just didn’t move through my life as a second-class citizen or see myself as lesser in any way to the men around me. It never occurred to me that it was even an option. It never occurred to me that men would see me that way either. And I grew up in Texas! This is perhaps one of my father’s greatest legacies. We had a conversation once, in one of his many hospital beds, and I was able to tell him what an incredible father and role model he’d been to me, and I said “You taught me that I could do anything just as well as boys could.” He smiled his wan smile and rasped “Well I hoped I taught you that you could do it better.”

The end result is that I’ve never felt muzzled, even when I’d see people chafe at my brashness, my profanity, or my opinions. I have a saying: “I’m not for everyone.” And honestly, that doesn’t bother me one fucking whit. I don’t like everyone I meet in the world; why should I expect everyone to like me? And if they don’t, fuck ’em. There are plenty of people out there who do, and THOSE are the people I hang out with. Jesus, it’s not rocket science. Why waste your precious time on this planet trying to get people who clearly don’t like you to come around? Move on and spend time with the people who dig your gig. Don’t waste your breath apologizing for how you’re moving through the world, the things you’re saying, the thoughts you’re having, or the way you feel—seek out the people who respect those ideas and who cherish you for how you carry yourself.

Look, I’m not a social scientist. I’m not here to analyze when girls start to learn we “have” to tone ourselves down for society’s standards, and when we start muzzling ourselves to make ourselves more desirable to the opposite sex (or to other women for that matter). That’s for someone brainier than I. But I will tell you that if you find yourself with a partner or friends that you’re toning yourself down for or apologizing for your words, deeds, and thoughts, then it is time to get yourself a new partner and a new set of goddamned friends because that shit is all kinds of fucked up. Unless you’re fucking Hitler or Dick Cheney or the guy that invented the chastity belt, why should you have to apologize for existing? I realize you Canadians will have a hard time with this since you practically fall out of the womb saying sorry, but that’s more of an unfailingly polite thing and we’ll overlook it for now because you’re just such lovely people, and you did bring the world poutine. The rest of you ladies have no excuse. Hold your heads high, look straight ahead, open your mouths, and let those opinions out. And whoever can’t hang will leave.

I promise, you’ll be better off for it.

If Leo Can Dadbod, We Can Surely Hi Betty

I’m fat, y’all.

There’s no getting around it. No matter how generous you get with those height/weight charts, I’m pretty much supposed to be 7 feet, 10 inches tall to weigh what I weigh and be considered “healthy.”

I suppose I’ve always done that thing that funny, outgoing fat girls have done, which is to beat people to the punch when talking about her weight—mention it first before other people can. There, now it’s out there. I’ve talked about the elephant in the room and it is I! But the difference is—and this is key—is that while I might acknowledge myself as “a big girl” I will never do so in a disparaging way. I may show off my big butt, but I refuse to be the big butt of mine or anyone else’s big butt jokes. That’s where I draw the line.

The thing is, developing this wisecracking, quick-tongued, slippery-witted persona to deflect weight detractors ended up, in so many ways, shaping my personality. I had to be funnier and smarter than whatever knuckle-dragger was gonna take a shot about my ass so I developed a quick wit and an acerbic tongue, which led to hanging out with other quick-witted and acerbic people. So basically: gay men, black women, and drag queens; which, in turn, led to developing an even more outrageous personality (not to mention, just knowing more interesting people in general). In many ways, I look back at my life and can say I am who I am because of my weight. And since I like who I am, I’m starting to see my weight not as a burden but as a gift.

But gift or no, I’m not a robot. I am not immune to the slings and arrows of societal pressures. I still have my moments, just like everyone else. I still obsess, at times, about my “problem areas,” as that spa trainer said to Kelly on that one episode of 90210.

I fucking love to wear tank tops. I’ve got a killer rack and a nicely freckled décolletage, and nothing shows the girls off like a tank top. Unfortunately, every time I see my upper arm/underarm/armpit areas, I think I should be standing in front of a trailer park in a muumuu yelling at one of my eight children to run up to to the store a get Mama a pack of Virginia Slims, or that I should be standing in line for a passel of deep-fried bacon-and-tequila shooters at the Texas State Fair while hoisting up my tube top. Here comes that little critical voice that, no matter how much confidence I have, 45 years of imposed societal standards of female beauty come whirling around to smack my self image upside its head.

I call the flaps of skin under my arms, these water wings, these vestigial pieces of female foreskin, my “hi Bettys.” For these are the warm, fleshy flaps that jiggle unpleasantly with me when I hoist an arm to waive at my dear friend and call out to her “hi Betty!” from across the room to catch her attention. And fuck me if even me and my confident ass doesn’t stand there in front of the mirror in my tank top tryna figure out a way to minimize my hi Bettys each and every gotdamn day. I stand there, squishing and squeezing them under my arms, wishing there were a way to contain them within some sort of miracle armpit invisibility cloak so that the world weren’t privy to my love of late-night Hagen Dazs binges.

But then I read some super-duper, Grade-A, hella-huge bullshit that made me decide to throw my wobbly arms up in the air and say “two tears in a bucket, mother fuck it!”

Dadbods, y’all.

There is a new fucking craze sweeping the land called the “dadbod,” and now apparently the new ideal male of sexy is that men get to just walk around looking like old schlumpy homeless fartbags and that’s considered the new adorable. No word of a lie: dudes get to roll up out of bed like they just spent three days not showering and playing Call of Duty in the same pair of boxers with a big-ass gut and some nasty unshaven pubes on their faces, and ladies are getting all moist and making tumblr pages of this shit.

Ladies, I ask of you: how much more of this are we gonna put up with? First we let this egregious double standard slide past us:

Not only has our grooming gotten more elaborate to men’s tastes while they’ve been allowed to grow pubes wild and free on their faces, but notice how much skinnier the female ideal has gotten in 30 years.

And now this:

C’mon gals, we can lust better than this!

So I just decided, fuck it. If Leonardo DiCaprio gets to float around on a barge looking like something that biologists and oceanographers are getting alarmed about washing up on our beaches, and ladies are getting all swoony and shit over him, I’m gonna stop getting so worried about my damn arms. In fact, imma positively revel in my hi Bettys, dammit! Imma get Rosie the Riveter shirts reprinted, except Rosie will be proudly sporting hi Bettys. YES WE CAN…WEAR STRAPLESS DRESSES AND TANK TOPS!! TANKINIS FOR ALL!!

Or I have a better idea. Why don’t we all just stop giving a fuck about what everyone else looks like and then, inevitably, ourselves? Imagine how liberating that would be. Imagine the time and the emotional head space we’d free up.

When you get done reading this, go to your bathroom mirror, look at yourself up and down, and say in your loudest voice, “DAMN, I’VE GOT IT GOIN’ ON MOTHERFUCKER!” And for the love of god, believe it when you say it. Believe that you’ve got it goin’ on from the bottom of your hammer toes to the top of your thinning hair because who gives a flying fuck? We are all gross, disgusting, and deeply flawed. But better yet: we are all amazing and gorgeous. So own it.

Let your hi Bettys fly high, bitches!

I Kant Even

The last person I dated before I met my wife was the first woman I ever dated. Before that, I was happily heterosexual. Then I allowed this little dyke who’d just gotten her philosophy degree to move into my apartment in San Francisco, and for a while, things went smoothly enough as roommates, but after about a year or so she and her long-term girlfriend broke up, and she started aggressively pursuing me. I politely rebuffed her advances at first, citing both our differences in age (she was eight years younger and fresh out of college) and the fact that, while I considered myself to have a queer sensibility, I was by no means a lesbian. Or even bi. I mean, there had been the usual experimentation in college, etc. but it really wasn’t my cup of tea.

To make a very long and needlessly maudlin story short–we dated for two years, and it was a hot fucking mess. I let her get away with things I never would have let a man get away with, mainly because I kept thinking she would snap to her senses because no woman could be this stupid or cruel—that was masculine territory—but apparently she was just as capable of cold and wanton cruelty as any man. On her way out the door, as she gathered up her Kant tomes and her Concrete Blonde CDs (ugh, yes, really), rather than owning up to HER faults, she decided to make a laundry list of MY faults as to the reason the relationship was ending, as though I were the one holding the culpability bag in this mess of her own making.

I mostly tuned out her bullshit excuses, but as she packed her used textbooks into milk crates and inhaled her Camel Lights, she said something that I have never forgotten, not one single day since then. She looked up at me with her heavily-lidded eyes and shrugged, and said “I dunno, I mean, you say you you wanna be a writer, so I assume there’s some sort of internal dialogue going on in there, but I’m just not sensing it.”

The cruelty of that remark and the way it stung me then stays fresh in my mind today, a decade later. It’s a tough thing to be called shallow by anyone, let alone by someone who’s ripping your heart from your chest, setting it afire, then taking a shit on the ashes.

___________

I’m in the mind of all of this because it’s been a rough couple of weeks in our house. In addition to the corporate fuckery I wrote of in my previous entry, which has been an emotional drain of the highest order, and in addition to getting Eleanor burned off and dealing with the aftermath of that, The Wife is dealing with some challenges of her own. She had to let an employee go because he made a huge mistake. It was an honest mistake—one that anyone could make and one both of us felt horrible about him making—but it is a mistake that will cost us, literally, thousands of dollars, not to mention tarnishing our record and causing our insurance coverage to skyrocket for years to come.

So while it was an honest fuck up, it was a huge fuck up and she had to let him go, and given that there are only three employees at the bar, his absence has definitely been felt these past two weeks. The Wife has literally been at the bar for 14 hours a day for the last 10 days. She comes home to sleep and then gets up and does it all over again. We are two ships passing in the night. Oh yeah, and in the midst of all of this, both of us have caught The Consumption and are spending what time we are in bed together hacking up our lungs and trading cough syrup and pills in the night.

I leave tomorrow to stay with my mom for a few days then to stay with friends in Sonoma for the weekend. I’ll be gone for six days. My wife’s run ragged and her morale’s lower than I’ve ever seen it. I’m worried about leaving her for so long. This sounds overly dramatic, but she doesn’t do well when I’m away. So I dragged my burnt-skin, hacked-lung ass to the grocery store and shopped for a metric fuckton of vegetables and spent the entire afternoon in the kitchen chopping and dicing shit up so that she would have an array of fresh and healthy food packaged up into little to-go containers for her to take to the bar with her when she heads out in the mornings for her marathon days. And even though I felt like ass, I thought about shit like “I know how she likes everything to be the same size when she’s chewing” as I chopped up the broccoli and cauliflower and chicken for the grain salad. Or thought “Well the recipe called for two serrano chiles but she’s a spice weenie, so I’ll just get one jalapeño instead.” And I dosed everything with flax seed because she has high cholesterol, and I find sneaky ways to help bring it down.

And I don’t know why this puts me in a mind of my ex, sitting there on that day, all passive-aggressively, exhaling her wispy cigarette smoke, and pumping my brain with needless insults as she tore my heart into tiny shreds. I was in my mid-thirties then. I had no mortgage, no children, no real responsibility for anything or anyone. Just a big group of friends, a job that afforded me a glamorous enough lifestyle that meant an apartment in San Francisco and nights out on the town six nights a week. Sure, I was a party girl, or as I more charitably and pretentiously called myself, a bon vivant. I may have liked to spend most of my off time hanging out in bars, getting shitfaced with my friends, not doing much, not trying to solve the world’s problems, and certainly not staring at the ceiling and contemplating Plato’s Allegory of the Motherfucking Cave. I was too busy having fun.

And maybe that may have seemed vapid and shallow to someone who had suffered a horribly traumatic childhood, had a bachelors degree in philosophy (that was, naturally, being put to good use waiting tables in the Haight), who had the cachet of having an alcoholic father and schizophrenic mother, wanted to spend her off time thinking about the notions of truth and beauty, and wanted to consider herself deeper than the well Baby Jessica fell in. I honestly don’t know. And I guess, if I’m being honest with myself, maybe my brain was a bit of a hamster in a wheel at the time. Who fucking cares? I was just living and having a ball! Isn’t that what that time in our lives is for?

But I would have liked to think that even then, even with her, even in the midst of all my Sex in the City hedonism, I was the type of person who would have dragged my skin-cancer-sodden ass down to Safeway to bludgeon up healthy provisions for her should she have needed them in a time of her own crisis. And shame on her for not being able to have seen that quality in me after having spent two years with me. If that doesn’t make someone shallow, I don’t know what does.

Sorry y’all, I guess the events of the last couple of weeks are finally catching up with me and I’m feeling a little stabby today. I’m ahiight. Honestly, I’ve been pretty good about keeping my chin up throughout all these shake ups. The Wife and I are actually doing really well, taking it all in stride, tryna keep a sense of humor about it all. But I got Eleanor burned and scraped today, and I guess starting the day smelling your own burning flesh just puts one in a deep funk and clearly brings some nasty memories to the surface as well. Maybe there’s some weird psychic remnants of my ex lingering about in Eleanor’s hole, and I need to do some sort of sage oil cleansing up in there.

Did someone say sage burning? Mmmm…I love nature!
Here’s Jared Leto hugging a tree.

 

Fear and Loathing in Oakland

We start out our lives fearless. As children, we are blithely unaware of all of the horrible possibilities life can hurl at us. Unaware of life’s cuts, scrapes, and broken bones, we wiggle our way into abandoned construction sites and contaminated Superfund sites without a second thought of rusty nails, oozing petrochemicals, broken glass, or any of the other contaminants just lying in wait to puncture our outer armor and kill us with tetanus or cancer. We don’t think twice about creepy men in windowless kiddy-toucher vans cruising the neighborhood checking out our preteen bodies. We roll our eyes as our mothers shout warnings to us of sunscreen and insect repellent as we ride away on our Schwinns, determined to explore that huge muddy ditch full of mosquito-laden water we’d discovered on the way home from school yesterday.

Later, at the start of our teenage years and well into our college years, perhaps beyond, we are fearless in different ways. Perhaps slightly more cognizant of life’s larger dangers, yet still convinced we are invincible, we forge our own paths out into the world, make our own friends, start to make our own decisions, start to develop our own moral codes. Alcohol and drugs are experimented with. Tattoos are gotten. Bridges are jumped off of—not metaphorical ones, literal bridges. Questionable one-night stands are had. Even more questionable relationships are entered into and perhaps endured too long. Cars are driven home drunkenly.

In short, dumb decisions are made, but if you’re like most of us—the lucky ones—these decisions don’t have real, long-lasting consequences. For most of us, the one-night stands don’t lead to abortions, the jump from the bridge doesn’t lead to a broken neck, the bad relationship doesn’t lead to domestic violence, the drunk driving doesn’t end in a death. And so we manage to hold on to that feeling of invincibility a little while longer. And if you don’t have kids of your own to immediately start fretting over from the moment of their birth, if you’re lucky, maybe that feeling of fearlessness can carry you into your thirties. Shit, for some people that fearlessness never goes away. Those are the insane idiots you see parachuting off the International Space Station or trying to break the land-speed record out in Death Valley while driving a matchbox car made out of spit and tinfoil.

But for most of us, at some point, a slow-burn fear starts to creep in. For some it’s a fear of mortality that comes with, maybe, your first real health scare or when, say, one of your parents dies. Or maybe with the loss or your first “real” job and the fear of being out on the street. Again, for many, it comes with the birth of our first child when we suddenly feel terrified by all of the things in the big bad world we realize can suddenly harm our wee bundles of defenseless joy. Now we understand what our moms were yelling about all those years ago.

For me, my moment came with the onset of chronic pain. Once my body started betraying me, it did a number on my mind as well. I stopped wanting to do things. And I don’t just mean the minimal outdoorsy shit I used to do, like the occasional camping trip or whitewater rafting trip down the American River. I mean fucking everything. Going out to a big dinner with a lot of friends in a loud restaurant suddenly became an exercise in terror. How far away will we have to park? We’re a huge party—how long will be have to stand while we wait for a table? Will the restaurant be loud and crowded and hot? Will that throw me into a panic attack because my feet will start hurting? Will we be there too long, longer than I can handle it, so that I’ll start to get angry and snap at people and drag my wife away earlier than she wants to leave, which will start a fight on the way home? What will be the residual effects the next day? Will my feet hurt worse so that I’ll need to cancel tomorrow’s plans as well? Then I will mope around the house, which will cause a general bad feeling to settle over our domicile and my marriage?

And when your brain spends this much time thinking about these types of logistics, it fucking changes you. First of all, you don’t want to admit any of this to anyone. Illogically, you get embarrassed. Even though none of this is your fault, you suddenly feel as though people will see you as weak or as making this up or making a mountain out of a molehill or a million other irrational thoughts. You think somehow people will blame you for being the party pooper. The concept of sitting your spouse and your closest friends down and explaining to the them what is happening to you is so beyond your capabilities at this point because even you don’t know what the fuck is happening to you.

Fuck this shit.

So you bottle all of this up. You keep it to yourself. You don’t tell your family, you don’t tell your friends, you don’t even tell your wife about all of this. You just lash out and act like an angry asshole, furious because this is happening to you, furious because you have to spend 75 percent of your waking hours thinking about this shit, thinking about your goddamned burning feet, trying desperately to find a fix, something that will make it go the fuck away—pills, exercise, changing your diet, meditation, acupuncture, physical therapy, talk therapy, more pills, illegal drugs, an onslaught of doctors, so many fucking doctors, until you just can’t tell your story or talk about your symptoms one goddamned more minute.

Until it’s just easier to stay home, in bed, taking your pills, smoking a ton of fucking weed, passing judgment on the world via Facebook.

When I started this entry, I was going to talk about how I’d become this lame person who’d gone from being this crazy, fearless chick who sold off all her shit, left the world she’d known her entire life in Texas, and moved to San Francisco without knowing a soul at the tender age of 25 and how she’d spent the remainder of her twenties and early thirties fucking her way through SF, backpacking solo through Europe, not having babies, and generally doing all this stuff the world said that Nice Girls shouldn’t do—gone from being all of that to being this fearful person who was constantly worried about having enough money to cover every contingency, never going out anymore, always worrying about every evil out there, constantly fretting about the state of the world, and generally being a fucking Debbie Downer in life. But how I’d reclaimed some of that old me because I’d jumped off the cliff and QUIT MY JOB with no backup plan. And how I was suddenly strutting through the world with purpose again, how I’d gained back a bit of my old swagger.

I was gonna write about all of that. But then I went out to dinner with an old friend who simply wanted me to walk eight blocks through downtown San Francisco with him to show me a building he’d been the project manager on that had just been completed. I’d warned him of my feet, but hell, he hasn’t spent the last five years around me, he didn’t know. He thought “It’s only eight blocks!” And I thought “What the hell? My pain levels have been really low lately. Maybe I can do this. It’s only eight fucking blocks.”

The thing about chronic pain is how psychologically demoralizing it is, how it just fucking eats away at the pleasure center of your brain, until one day, after, say, putting one foot in front of the other with gritted teeth, it can make you look up and say “This is all there is for the rest of my fucking life. A lifetime of not being able to walk eight blocks stretches before me like a giant gaping whale’s vagina. The list of things I will not be able to do is so vast it’s infuriating and soul-crushing. Why bother with this at all? What is the fucking point?”

I spent two days in bed in a Vicoden and pot haze after that evening, sobbing because my feet were punishing me for daring to think I could be someone fucking normal again. And I am one of the lucky ones: I have an amazing wife who tended to my physical and mental wounds around the clock. She set up Salon 540 in our living room, which went something like this:

Her: “I’ve filled one of the beer coolers with some foot oils and salts and it’s ready for you in the living room. I’m going to wash your feet…like you’re Jesus.”

Me: Well that would make you that whore, Mary Magdalene. Ha ha!

Her: Obvs!

Then she proceeded to tend to my feet, bring me wine, and feed me cold gnocchi from the night before because “we don’t do any of that healthy cucumber shit here at Salon 540.”

The moral of this story is, my pets, is that living without fear is a constant challenge. There are so many enemies in our battle against fear—age, financial security, the safety of our children, death, infirmity, pain—but the battle must be fought. For it is our fears that truly hold us back in life, that keep us from doing what we we put here to do, whatever that may be for you. Whatever that nagging little thought has been for so long in the back of your brain that’s been telling you that that’s the thing you need to explore and pursue to get yourself into The Flow. Is it learning to kayak or rock climb? Is it quitting your job and becoming a goatherd? Only you know. But odds are, the minute you let yourself entertain that happy thought, your brain immediately comes up with a dozen reasons why you can’t or why it would never work. That’s that fucking shithead Fear talking.

“It’s behind me, isn’t it?”

Hey, I did quit my job—that’s an entry for another time—but I sure as shit hope I use this opportunity to conquer some of my fears. I certainly don’t have the generic “I don’t have the time” excuse that we all like to use. So I’m adding “fuck fear up the ass with a cactus” to my ever-growing list of mantras. Be Powerful, indeed.

I was not put on this earth to be a pussy, motherfuckers.

We Have Stared into the Eye of Eleanor and We Are Not Afraid

I have this nickel-sized hole on my back and her name is Eleanor Pribst. If you don’t know who Eleanor Pribst is, I don’t even know why we’re friends. She is this girl from Airplane! who, if you have any taste whatsoever in movies, you’ll remember is famous for taking her coffee a certain way:

“I like my coffee black, like my men.”

How Eleanor reached nickel-sized proportions is a story for another time, mainly because I don’t come out looking very smart or sensible, and it’s a story wherein my wife gets to say “I told you so!” a lot. And how we named my creepy back sore after a preternaturally mature little girl from a brilliant ’70s slapstick movie is an even weirder tale that is probably interesting only to a select few.

Anyway, I finally went and got her looked at this week, and the little cunt has turned out to be skin cancer. Fucking Eleanor, I knew she was up to no good back there. (Okay, okay, so my wife knew she was up to no good back there, shutup.) Fret not, Buddhafaces, for it turns out to be the most common, most easily lop-offable kind of skin cancer, with a 98 percent cure rate. Not that that has stopped me in the least from parading around the house and saying dramatic things to my wife like “Now that I have The Cancer, I’ll expect you to remarry when I’m gone.”

The doctor lopped a big chunk of flesh out of my back to biopsy, put a band-aid on it, gave The Wife and me instructions for the wound to be cleaned twice a day, and sent us on our merry way. And because we have the attention spans of four-year-olds in a bouncy house, we forgot that middle part and left the band-aid on for a couple of days.

Which is why when The Wife pulled the band-aid off this morning, she let out a “whoa!” in a tone usually only reserved for when we’re walking down the street and she’s seen, say, a homeless man having explosive diarrhea in the middle of the sidewalk and wants to alert me that something extremely alarming is occurring in our near vicinity. It is a whoa! reserved only for certain occasions. Oh, I knew what that whoa! meant, all right. It meant:

Let me just pause for a minute in this charming tale of open sores to tell you that 2013 and 2014 were pretty much the shittiest years ever for the two of us, personally and as a couple. She was going through a depression in 2013; I was going through one in 2014. We’d finally bought the house we’d always dreamed of buying, but the depression, chronic pain, anger, and generic marital bullshit turned our honeymoon chateau into a ramshackle lesbian Grey Gardens—the two of us stomping about our (albeit adorably decorated) bungalow full of resentment and gloom, throwing blame and hatred at one another like poop-flinging monkeys. Then, in the middle of all that House of Sad, we opened a business because apparently we were also gluttons for punishment and—Jesus!—why not heap financial distress atop all this dark, shuttered-house anger!?

Ugh, y’all, it was not cute. Every request of “Will you clean the cat’s shitbox today?” came with the unsaid Since you’ve ruined my life, it’s the least you can do hanging in the air behind it. Everything was about built-up resentments and blame.

But then, a miracle! We found the cutest little pudgy, Jewish, cardigan-wearing (and also possibly those yoga pants that look like dress pants too because it is Berkeley, after all and all shrinks here are pretty much clichés) couples’ counselor, and we started screaming at each other in front of him, and something crazy happened. Within, like, two months we started liking each other again. We starting communicating with each other again. We started acting like a team again and started working with each other instead of against each other. We managed to work ourselves out of our shitty rut we’d worn ourselves into. (Though, instead of a rut, he kept calling it “our cycle,” which totally made me think of periods, which then made me think of the opening scene of Carrie, and I then just kept imagining us throwing tampons at each other and screaming “plug it up! plug it up!” every time we got into one of our epic fights. Which, come to think of it, TOTALLY helped.)

And, oddly, all of this—this mess of 2013 and 2014—is what I was thinking about as my wife was using a Q-tip to scrape pus and goo out of the entrance to the Seventh Circle of Hell that had formed on my back. I thought about how we all go into our first marriages so goddamned blind. (This is the first marriage for both of us; I would imagine one would be less naïve the second or third time around.)

I mean shit, it’s not that we were naïve enough to think that every single day of our marriage was gonna be as blissful as our matrimonial day—at least I hope we weren’t that idiotic. It ain’t all smiles and blowjobs, after all. But it was just that for so long we were that couple—you know the one—the couple that in their goddamned eighties are still fucking adorable, and you just know that their life is and always has been a laugh-riot. Everything is an inside joke, every meal is like a backyard BBQ, and every night is like a constant slumber party. You just envy them because life is fun and effortless. And you just know they never fight about tedious shit like in-laws and property taxes and the hate you have in your heart for the throw pillows they picked out for the guest bedroom. We were thatgross couple.

So we were utterly unprepared for how those two years nearly kicked our asses, and lord how we floundered. We had no coping skills for being deep in the shit and the muck. But deep down, we knew there were still good times to be had, so we buckled down and did the fucking work because there was something salvageable there. We laid bare our ugly secrets to a stranger and let him pick us apart. And it was hard and it was ugly, and it was emotionally scab-picky, but goddammit, we did it.

And now here we are—me, The Wife, and Eleanor—all huddled together in the bathroom of our lived-in, fought-in, loved-in little house. The cancer has been exposed, examined, discussed, and laughed over. It is what it is. We know now that it must be dealt with, and then we can and will move on the next thing. But the bottom line is that we know we will face it together, however disgusting and open-holey, and gross.

And we will persevere in the face of its exposed nastiness, no longer afraid, for we have named it, and in doing so, made it a little less terrifying.

Feelin' Free as a Falcon's Fart These Days

I’m alive. I haven’t been ignoring you, my precious little buddhafaces. Life has just been busy as fuck, which is good, considering life usually consists of me spending most of my time lying in my bed binge-watching old shows. I guess that represents improvement. For me, busyness = happiness, I’ve discovered. Big things are happening. No, not THAT big thing. Yet. Gotta get my ducks in a row, as The Bobs say. Gotta get a few big-ticket items in our lives paid off first. Our car is shitting the bed, and we have two sets of plane tickets to pay for first.

In the meantime, I met with my good friend, Thor. Yes, I know someone named Thor and you don’t. Jealous? He’s an übernerd and and all-around good guy who is helping me conquer my fear of all things tech so that I can get the podcast started! So yeah, it shouldn’t be long before you’ll be able to hear my gentle, dulcet tones coming through your phone as you commute to work in the morning.

I’ve pretty much settled on a format where I interview a different person each podcast and ask them how they pursue happiness. I figure I will get some fucking great answers, especially in this neck of the woods. Whether it’s competitive hot dog eating, power knitting, running a cat cafe, going to a nudist camp, shooting heroin, playing bass in an all-female Kiss cover band, or doing capoeira while ‘shrooming, people around here are not afraid to follow their passions. And that’s what I want to explore. You ask the average person on the street what they want, and nine out of ten of them will say “I guess I just wanna be happy.” Yet so few people actually ARE happy, despite the fact that we spend billions of dollars in hundreds of different industries pursuing it.

And I figure there will be weeks where I’ll pursue my own kooky versions of happiness, so don’t be surprised if there are episodes where I take a field trip to a sensory deprivation tank or the horse track or to the School of Male Genital Massage and report on that shit because why the fuck not? My adventures are your gain. For me, staving off depression involves being out in the world and forcing myself to interact with my community and trying new shit. I was not put on this earth to lie in bed all day and watch life pass me by. That’s what I feel the shittiest about when my feet are hurting and I’m holed up in my house lying in my own emotional filth. So the podcast is a bit of therapy for me as well as an ego biscuit, I guess.

I’ll tell you what else is therapy for me. I leave for Florida on Thursday to lie on white-sand beaches for four days with my two best bitches, so I best wrap this up so I can get some actual work done during my short week. I hope you Buddhas are hanging in there. What are you doing to be happy these days? I’ve been really bad about meditating and exercising. And I’ve been eating like shit too. I’m doing the whole “I’m turning over a new leaf after my birthday next week, I promise…no for real” bullshit right now. I know y’all have been there with me. Next week it’s all kale and quinoa.

No. For real.

Update: I didn’t get this posted pre-Florida. Oops! It was pure lounging loveliness! A recharge. Plus, I spent the plane rides to and fro wooing the gay flight attendants into giving me all of the planes’ supply of Jack Daniel’s for free. Nice to know I haven’t lost my touch as a Fag Hag of the Highest Order.


Go Out and Get Yours

I’ve been coming to some hard conclusions about myself lately, y’all. And one of them is that I’ve become a person who lets fear dictate much of my life. That’s a hard realization for someone who has always prided themselves on being, you know, fearless. That’s a hard realization for someone who wants to live a life of general badassery. 

But I dunno…age, an ever-increasing paycheck, laziness, developing chronic pain that means I need good benefits, the fact that I now have a mortgage, who fucking knows…has made me complacent and—underneath all of that—fearful of change or upheaval. So I’ve stayed at a safe, comfy job that I’ve disliked for far too long. I’ve offered up a number of reasons for this, and those are indeed valid reasons—I needed good health care, my wife was starting her own business and quit her job, it wasn’t a hard job and I got to work from home and set my own hours—but in the end, what I was doing each day made me miserable. 

For a number of reasons I won’t delineate here because they’re boring and y’all won’t give a fuck anyway, I think I’ve reached my breaking point with this shit. My company is circling the drain, and I think I’m either being set up to be fired or they’re trying to force me to quit. The combination of these two things makes for a shit sandwich I can’t ignore. 

And so now I’m at the edge of the cliff. Do I walk the walk? When I say I want to live a life of general badassery, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean staying at a soul-destroying job for another decade. I’m pretty sure that involves figuring out what Happiness looks like to me and my wife in the shorter and longer term and then figuring out how in the fuck to get ourselves there. I’m pretty sure that involves filling my life with things that I want to be doing not things I have to. I’m pretty sure that involves fear and self-discipline and trying new things and forcing myself to reenter a world I’ve cocooned myself against in the last few years. I’m pretty sure it involves doing without and not knowing where my next paycheck is coming from and worrying about whether the engine on our car is going to make it another year and crossing our fingers that our 50-year-old plumbing doesn’t explode and cost us thousands of dollars that we now won’t have. 

And all of that shit is so fucking daunting. But is my happiness really coming at the expense of having a car engine and plumbing safety net? I’m not saying that kind of peace of mind isn’t important, but damn. Life is too fucking short, y’all. I don’t want to look back at the age of 65 with shitty hips and a bad back and all kinds of arthritis and think “Man, I wasted the last decades of the time when I could have felt really good and done all this cool shit being chained to a shitty fucking job inserting semicolons into technical documents for a company that was full of shit anyway.” 

I mean, I was once the chick that chucked it all and moved out to California without a job when I was 25. I once took a six-month sabbatical from my job to backpack through Europe by myself. I likedbeing that person, that badass. I wanna be THAT girl again. The girl I was before age and fear and obligations and complacency ground her down to some weird nub of a human she no longer even recognized. 

 

To be happy you have to do things that make you happy. And I don’t even fucking know what that is any more. That used to be hanging out in bars and getting drunk with my friends. That was enough. It was fun and it made me happy. It used to be floating down a muddy river in an inner tube with a beer in a my hand or ‘shrooming in Dolores Park. But I’ve moved beyond that and I’m looking toward the next thing or things. Life needs to be richer and fuller and more…contributory. 

So I’m listening to the part of my mantra that says Be Powerful. I’m reclaiming my life of general badassery. I’m gonna start doing things that make me happy, regardless of how scary they might be. 

Watch this space for big changes, lil Buddhas. Shit’s gonna be exciting. 


No One Likes a Fucking Eeyore: Being Positive

We all have that friend, right? That fucking Debbie Downer who, no matter how you steer the conversation, he or she is gonna steer it back to the fact that the planet is collapsing into a black and toxic, shriveled ball; the Middle East is ready to explode any second now; last week approximately 8,395 underaged girls were sexually exploited while you enjoyed your triple latte; and that meat you just ate definitely just gave you and the planet cancer. 

Trust me, I know. I am that friend. 

I obsess over that shit. Mainly I obsess over that shit because I’m a reader. I like being well-informed which, unfortunately, in this day and age, means getting fed a steady diet of doomsday media HOLY FUCKBALLS, YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE ridiculous messaging. No one’s just reporting a story with simple facts without an ulterior agenda, so it’s hard not to come away from your morning coffee and head into your day without a knot in your stomach and the fear that today will be your very last day on Earth. 

What’s more, everything that happens seems to have to be someone’s fault, even in situations that are ludicrous. Earth opens up and swallows a man’s home? It’s that fucker Obama’s fault! Tornados touch down in the Midwest? If those assholes in Congress would get off their assholes and admit that Creation should be taught in schools, this wouldn’t have happened!!! 

The desire to have the general populace afraid and angry was exposed long ago and has been long discussed in movies, books, and articles so I’m not gonna rehash it here. We know that it behooves Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC to keep us riled up. 

And I’ve tried, oh lord, I’ve tried to cull my Facebook of all the doomsday crap. I’ve stopped liking all the news sites, I’ve hidden all my downer friends, I refuse to get into stupid arguments with dumbasses on Internet forums. But I refused to stop reading the news altogether. I just didn’t want to be THAT uninformed. 

But now I’m throwing in the towel on that too. I’m saying fuck it to that as well. I’m joining the masses of Americans who cram their heads in the sand and get interviewed as part of those late-night, “man on the street” segments where they ask stupid questions to stupid people like “How many states are in the United States?” and some gum-smacking, tube-top-wearing teen twirls her hair and says “Um, like, thirty?” and then Jon Stewart shows the clip the next night and makes fun of how moronic we all are. Imma be that girl who mistakes Australia for Austria and thinks we should bomb the shit out of the Czech Republic when they start talking about the Chechnyan rebels. 

Honestly, Ferguson was the last straw, and I’m not gonna get into a rant about race in this country because we all know how productive that will be, but the entire thing just made me more impotent and sad than even the average American tragedy, and so I’m just walking away from the American news dialogue. I’m taking a hiatus for my own personal sanity. If you want to be happy, you have to do things that make you happy, and reading the horror story that is the news does not make me happy. Not just because of the topics being covered, but sadly, because of the way these topics are being covered. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find outlets that present news covered without sensationalism, without bias, and in a way that is trustworthy. So fuck it, I’m walking away. 

And maybe it’s the pussy’s way out, but guess what? Zero fucks given! I’ll use that time to read fiction. Or binge-watch some stupid show I’ve already watched, for all I care. All I know is that I’m not scrolling through my feed feeling the weight of the shitty world bearing down on my shoulders, feeling like people suck it super hard, feeling like I can’t do a damn thing about it, then going out into the world with loads of anger and sadness towards humanity. 

And the lightness of being I feel as a result? Meh, it’s bearable.