Decal Matter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When did it become wrong to feel sad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is it right for me, doc?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg

Hey! Stop Blowing Me (off)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow me to speak from experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg

En Garde, Ne Touchez Pas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

-jg

I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unless someone has stuck their dick in it.

-jg

FOMO, MOFO

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

-jg

Uncomfortable Comforting

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

-jg

Free Thought (with every purchase)

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

-jg