Is This Real Life?

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

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

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

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

Tell me I’m wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg

No FOMO, or A Summer Without Facebook

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

El sigh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait, don’t go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg

Please Will You Not Be My Neighbor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg

Decal Matter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When did it become wrong to feel sad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is it right for me, doc?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg

Hey! Stop Blowing Me (off)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow me to speak from experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg

Manic Depression Is A Frustrating Mess

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-jg

Safety First, Danger Second

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

-jg