A friend of mine posted this article on my personal Facebook page, saying he immediately thought of me, which touched and flattered me, until I realized it was probably just because the article used the word “fuck” so many times. I kid, I know it was at least because he also sees me as a woman who also doesn’t give much of a fuck either.
I particularly liked the article description of one Lilian Bland: “Journalist and aviator Lilian Bland lived a life full of badassery. In 1910, she built her own plane in Ireland. She didn’t have a fuel tank for it, so she fashioned one from an empty whisky bottle and her aunt’s ear trumpet.”
And I thought about how I, too, have spent my life being a woman who has given zero fucks, and—if I may be so bold—living a life of badassery. I had a big ol’ life in Texas. I didn’t give many fucks there. I was a tomboy. I swore. I drank. I hung out with—gasp—homosexuals. I dated big, bald black men. I was a raging liberal who drove a little Toyota Tercel around during Dubya’s gubernatorial bid that was plastered with bumper stickers that said Don’t Elect That Son of a Bush! and I Didn’t Vote for His Daddy Either!
I had lived there since I was 5 and figured I always would I guess. But one day, at 25, I ditched a man, got fired from job the next day, and thought “Well shit, that’s a sign that it’s time to move on” and just sold all my crap and moved to San Francisco without knowing a soul or having a job or a place to live. At 30, I decided I wanted to see Europe, so I saved up my ducats for a year and backpacked solo through Europe by myself, as it turns out, in the wake of 9/11, which made for a very different travel experience. I called it my Around the World in 80 Lays Tour and had a blast in spite of the gloomy global zeitgeist. Man, did I ever put the ass in ambassador, convincing boys of several nationalities that all Americans weren’t total dicks as we started bombing Afghanistan.
I met a Turkish rug salesman that I liked well enough on that trip that I went back to visit the following year for a 7,500-mile booty call, met another guy, and ended up breaking my leg in a crazy motorcycle accident in Cappadocia, Turkey with a Bulgarian named Ozzy.
At 35, I met someone I was finally crazy about enough to settle down and marry, and I gave zero fucks that it happened to be a woman, even though I’d been a damn fine heterosexual my whole life. When you get a chance at the brass ring of love with someone that funny and kind, why quibble over genitals? That seemed like a silly thing to give fucks about.
Maybe I wasn’t building airplanes, but I sure as shit was living. I sure as shit wasn’t giving a fuck. I sure as shit didn’t care about what people thought about what I was “supposed to be doing.” I sure as shit wasn’t worried about health care coverage and PMI insurance and paying back my 401K loan.
I sure as shit wasn’t thinking about the searing pain in my feet all the time or clawing my way out of the deep hole of depression.
When my pain is at its worst, it really is impossible to think or or do much else, but I do think one of my biggest goals this year is to do what I can, when I can, to reclaim that life of badassery. Obviously backpacking through Europe in my Kofi Anan panties is no longer an option for me. But I can either allow myself to wallow endlessly about how unfair that is and how hard that sucks and the “why me?” of it all. Or I can get fucking creative and figure out other ways to live a life full of badassery.
Like starting a fucking podcast about depression. Or taking pictures of people in my community that maybe no one seems to care about and giving them a voice. Or loving the shit out of my wife and giving myself fully over to her endeavor, which I have not been doing in my heart of hearts. There is still plenty of badass shit to be done in the world, and lord knows the world is in desperate need of badasses these days. Of the non-dickish variety, that is. Some may consider shirtless Putin a badass, but the world doesn’t need another one of those asshats.
Badassery can take the oddest forms too. The other day I was out with the wife, my father-in-law, and two friends. The five of us each ordered five different cocktails. We got them and out of the five, three of them were undrinkable. I mean they were fucking awful. And we all just kind of sat there complaining for about five minutes, grousing, trying each other’s drinks, agreeing that, yeah, they sure did suck. And finally I thought, Fuck this. When the server came back, I politely said “Listen, my drink, her drink, and his drink are all pretty undrinkable, and we’d each like to order something else, but we don’t want to pay for these drinks.” She rolled her eyes at us and said “Well what’s wrong with them?” I said “Well this doesn’t taste remotely like a mojito, that one tastes like it’s been sitting on the bar for six hours, and that one is just—honestly, I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to be. Look, it’s not your fault or anything, and I’m not trying to be a bitch, but three out of five drinks? Come on.”
And in the end, we all got new drinks, plus an extra one thrown in just for good measure, and we didn’t have to pay for the shitty ones. And it may seem like a small thing, but everyone at the table was like “Wow, thanks for handling that. I never would have said anything. I would have just sat here and drank my shitty drink.”
Again, I realize this form of not giving a fuck isn’t curing cancer or stopping human sex trafficking, but for me personally, it’s symbolic of a way I used to live my life before chronic pain and depression—a manner of standing up to get exactly what I want—whether it’s a new life in California or a well-made cocktail. The key is not to do it at the expense of someone else or in a way that demeans or negates others. And for me, the key is starting again in these small ways, reminding myself that I used to be that chick that wasn’t afraid to get ballsy. What I’m learning is that pain and depression have turned me into a person most fearful. And living in fear all the time blows.
So that’s what I’ve gotta dig down deep and conquer—figuring out what the fuck I got so afraid of. Because fear leads to anger. And I’ve been hella angry since I developed this fucking pain, and that anger makes me give all kinds of fucks about stupid things I shouldn’t be giving any fucks about.
And that’s no way to lead a fuckless life of badassery, my friends.