Your Chocolates Would Have Been Discounted, Eventually.

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

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

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

I know, I’m just making shit up.

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

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

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

How much do you really love your wife???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For you to eat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let that one soak in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg

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

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

FIFTEEN BILLION DOLLARS.

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

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

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

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

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

Kah?

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

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

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

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

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

Our team.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“… it was 5 bowling lanes long”

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

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

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

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

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

You’re welcome.

-jg

 

 

What Was I Theenking??

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

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

But what is the fucking point?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Won’t it?

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

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

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

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

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

Clearly I wasn’t worth remembering. 

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

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

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

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

-jg

 

 

 

The End of Good Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me explain.

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

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

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

-jg

Opening My Fourth Eye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love thy butthole.

-jg

MisterRogersMamaRu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg

The Feverish Brain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg