Archive for May, 2013

Lao Tzu – Philosopher For The Day

I saw this quote this weekend and it made me look up more Lao Tzu quotes. Dude was a smart, huh? Take a second to step back and look at your life differently. This only stuck with me because I’ve been having a lot of anxiety lately. Prior to that, I’d also been having a really hard time sleeping. Of course, the two were related. But here’s the weird part: I have nothing to be anxious about! My life, for the most part, is easy. I don’t say that in a trust fund-having, laying by the pool drinking fruity drinks sort of way. But I say it because my parents are still alive and happy together, my family has no drama and we all love each other, my friends’ only drama is self-inflicted (as opposed to things like illness or crappy luck), I’m not loaded by any means, but can live fairly easily on what I do make, I don’t have a boyfriend or children. And any sickness I have is also self-inflicted by not-great diet or a sedentary job. So, bottom line, I am living the dream.

But I’m anxious.

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The Greg Brady Effect

OK, before I offend anyone, specifically Barry Williams, I want to preface this by saying I came up with this effect back in high school when the Internet wasn’t really that big of a thing, and I don’t like to insult someone to make my point. That said, I don’t put much stock in looks anyway. It’s strange, but I never have. I mean, I get that people are physically appealing, but I’ve never thought good looks go farther than, well, looks.

However, that doesn’t seem to be true for many people. There are people who only date dark haired girls. Or girls who are under 5’4”. Or guys who are muscular. Or have blue eyes. I suppose it’s probably some weird continuation of the species thing. And I SEE people who are attractive and appreciate it. But I have never dated someone just because they’re good looking. In fact, my biggest pet peeve is when people start dating and the first thing someone asks is “Is he cute?” Why does that matter? Are only popular culture’s definition of good looking people OK to date? I always want to ask if he’s funny. Or is tolerant of different races, religions and sexualities. But that might be weird, too. So I mostly just say, “Tell me about him!”

This weekend I was watching Bridezillas, and a groom-to-be was with this awful, awful girl. His family and friends were telling him to not do it. And instead of giving some weird “she just gets me” thing that most people say he says, “The best thing about her is she’s beautiful.” And then he goes on to say that normally he gets bored with a girl, but even after six months he’s still interested IN HER LOOKS! What?! This guy is getting married because she’s pretty? And she doesn’t even care. She says, “I had a baby, and I still look like THIS!”

What. The. Fuck?

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Jodi Arias: Don’t Poke The Crazy

I generally shy away from calling people crazy. I think everyone (men and women, although I joke more about women, I genuinely am just joking) has some crazy in them. And when the right buttons are pushed, the crazy flares up. I think some are more prone to crazy, but generally the crazy comes from things like insecurity and unhappiness and feelings of unfairness. But I’ve seen friends who are generally level-headed have their buttons pushed until they’re about to flip out. And then they’re labeled as unstable. Are they really? No, I don’t think so. I think the situation and the circumstance and definitely the people make them crazy. Or crazier. The human spirit, ego and brain can only take so much stretching before it snaps. Some of us have more flexibility, others have more sense than to put themselves in a situation where you’re tested, and others seem to be better at acknowledging their actions are reeling off the deep end. Then there are the poor few who, despite these warnings, despite changes in behavior, despite having to know they’re being crazy, don’t turn their backs and jump in.

Is it strange today’s the first day I’ve read anything on the Jodi Arias trial? And my only real exposure to the trial is on Twitter, where, admittedly I follow mostly sports guys. Yes, men. Some married, some not. The variety is there, but I’m mainly following guys. So my perspective is, “This broad is cray!”

But this morning I decide to read a few articles on my own. Do I still think Jodi is crazy? Yes. And am I a huge believer in, “Don’t blame the victim?” Absolutely. I hate when people blame the parents of a kidnapped child, or the clothes-choices of a victim of rape, or the actions of a murder victim. But that’s what I found myself doing. And definitely not at first. At first I’m reading the stories thinking, “This girl is crazy! She’s obsessed with this guy after dating for less than six months?!” Then I read more and find out she converted religions for him. What the heck? And that HE baptized her!?! What the hell? And all that happened before they officially started dating.

Then I find out that they broke up and he started dating other women and she became obsessed with him and stalked him. OK, so crazy, right? Nope. Reading a few more stories it sounds like they are one of those couples that breaks up but never really breaks up but never really gets back together. This is one of the most damaging relationships you can be in. I’ve been there. It makes you insane. It makes you feel inadequate. It makes you feel insecure and paranoid. It makes you feel like shit, basically. Why do they want me sort of but not totally? Why will they commit to others, but not to me? Why do they chase and won’t let me go, telling me they need me, but it feels like they’re using me.

The answer is, these guys are being jerks. And girls. There are girls who do this, too. They manipulate their way into the lives (and generally beds) of the girl or guy who’s interested. They make you feel just wanted enough to keep re-trying. They’re vague and non-committal, and then when you think they’re really interested, they pull away and act like you’re imagining things. “I never said I wanted anything.” Even if they blatantly did say they wanted something. For a second. A fleeting second.

As sad as it is, the Sugar Ray lyrics for “When It’s Over” capture this phenomenon. The entire song, really, but the one lyric that catches the most is, “When it’s over, can I still come over? When it’s over, is it really over?” I hate to sound old, but I feel like this problem has spread like STDs over the past ten or so years. I mean, I’m sure it always existed. But before cell phones and Facebook and constant access to chatting, this crap wasn’t as prevalent. But now? I hardly know anyone who breaks up and the breakup is final. There’s too much access to too many people. Mark McGrath was ahead of his time. Weird, right? Back in 2001 I had a cell phone, and I remember texting. But you got charged per text, so it was more of a fun thing to do, than the only way you get in touch with someone. Hell, two years earlier I didn’t even have a cell phone! Or, if I did, it was one of those you only turn on for emergencies. I didn’t have MySpace. I had email, but all you got in email were things like forwards or pen pal type letters. No one searched their own name online, and while there were beepers, the only real way to communicate with someone was in person or over the phone.

A few weeks ago I laughed realizing back in the 90s, when you had a problem with a friend, they commonly showed up on your front porch to talk. Or they’d show up to see if you wanted to go do something. There was no mass-texting. And, honestly, it all sounds so exhausting. But that’s only because we’re so consumed with electronics and having virtual friendships. But the good thing was, there wasn’t a lot of booty calling after bars closed. Did it happen? Sure. But mostly people just went home, or went home with someone new. But it was even more terrifying to call someone who lived with his family, or roommates. These things sort of curbed the obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I get when you break up and you’re not ready to move on, it’s easy to want to go a little stalker to see if the other person is happy when you aren’t. Sadly, I’ve been that girl. But the one thing I was smart enough to do when I was 19 years old was say, “This is it. If we break up, we break up. We aren’t “friends.” We don’t still hang out. We don’t call each other. We don’t play the line between friends and more-than-friends. It has to be over. And you can’t come back. I deserve more. We deserve more.” And he was respectful enough to walk way, for real. Did it hurt? For me, more than I thought it could. And there were times I’d try to put myself somewhere just to see him. And I had friends who encouraged that (probably because I was so sad). But luckily, there weren’t cell phones. And we didn’t ever email each other. So aside from calling his parents’ house (wasn’t going to happen, I was too humiliated), the only way I could see him was to force chance and run into him. And even that was humiliating. I was like a drug addict, wanting just one last hit. But the truth was, if I saw him, I never said a word. And I’d generally run away before I did. And if he had led me on, I never would have moved on.

But that’s what it seems like every couple does now. They break up, but it’s never over. And often times, the one who is hurting more can be manipulated and used. And after awhile, that person tends to snap. “Snap” means a lot of different things to different people. Some people make a spectacle of themselves, getting really drunk and bawling publicly. Others will go to the new person in their ex’s life and try to warn them. Partially in an attempt to “help” the other person, but really just to hurt the ex. Others will post stuff online, true stuff, not-so-true stuff, private stuff, blatant lies. And the progression goes on. And there are times I see girls who have been used and lied to and manipulated and led on for so long, I wouldn’t be surprised if they snapped and tried to beat the crap out of the guy. Or worse, kill him.

And you know what? These guys know what they’re doing, but they think it’s her fault for letting it happen. In those cases, both people are actually victims. The one being lied to and led on is a victim while it’s happening. Then when they react and respond, the tables flip and victimizer becomes the victim.

No one wins in these situations. And in the case of Travis Alexander, he paid the ultimate price. And so did Jodi. She seems delusional, but is this really coming out of nowhere? Travis was allegedly very open discussing that he had a crazy stalker. Why did he keep bringing her into the fold? Why didn’t he move on and allow her to move on? Why did he keep her on the back burner? Or even just off to the side of the stove, warming the pot only when the soup threatened to go bad with food poisoning. Or maybe he didn’t care if the soup went bad as long as he could still warm it up occasionally and keep warm near it.

I hate to trample on the grave of a dead man. But I do think it’s important enough to see how something like this can get out of hand. We, as human beings, need to have more respect for the dignity of others. If you don’t care enough about someone to be with them, then let them go. Allow them to heal and move on. Don’t keep dumping salt and gangrene in the wound. Don’t keep tearing it back open at your leisure, when it’s convenient for you. Realize the person you have no feelings for has feelings for you. Don’t laugh at her expense or dismiss her as nobody. Don’t continue to follow her on MySpace and post on her wall about how she’s making the hotness factor of her new town increase just by being there. Don’t have sex with her and take pictures when she shows up unexpectedly.

Simply close the literal and figurative door on the relationship. The sooner you make the end clear and definite, the sooner everyone can move on with their ego and self-respect intact. And the better off everyone is.

Marathon Bomber: He Hated America – So Why Bury Him Here?

I’m hardly alone on this sentiment, but decided to write up a quick (ok, nothing I write is quick) little diddy about why I feel how I feel about burying the Boston Marathon bomber, what’s-his-name.

First, it’s important to footnote that I know a terrorist is just someone who instills terror. However, in this case, my definition of “terrorist” is the more modern understanding of the word. It’s someone who hates America and kills people to prove his (or her) hate. Sometimes these terrorists do it in the name of Islam, other times in the name of God, other times in the name of “fuck you, I’m crazy.”

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Expectations Versus Reality: Why Marriage Is Hard

I replied to this post this morning, but didn’t get nearly enough characters. That never happens, right? So here’s my expanded response. And beyond that, how I feel about marriage, and that it often comes down to an expected image versus the reality of what it is.

I think the issue with marriage is multi-dimensional.

First, women feel like they’re a failure if they don’t get married. Or like marriage is a goal. It’s not a goal. But many of my friends have been searching for someone, anyone to marry them. For some, they wanted to be married as soon as their early 20s (or even in high school, I guess). For others, they figured they’d be married by their late 20s, so as the mid to late-twenties creep in, they start to panic. Then, my favorite group of girls are those in their 30s. Clocks are ticking. Emotions are running high. “Why doesn’t anyone want me?!” The whole thing is absurd.

Ladies, you are not a failure if you don’t get married. It just means you haven’t found the right one, yet. You don’t settle for anyone who comes along. Or you’re running off the good guys with the crazy you’re carrying around, only thinking of marriage and children. Relax a little. I promise life’s not that much of an uptick when you’re married. Don’t you have any friends to witness? You do? Why do you think it’s going to be so much better for you?

Beyond that, “rewarding” marriage with this huge wedding that’s “the best day of your life” only exacerbates this issue. Why doesn’t a girl get “her day” unless she gets married? I think this is one of the stupidest popular things in the world. Don’t reward something you don’t want abused. Reward exercisers with an open to post all the time on Facebook? They’ll abuse it. Reward heroin addicts with “the best high you’ll ever feel?” They’ll abuse it. Many girls have dreamed about their wedding day since they were children (I can’t relate, honestly). But when you dream about something that hard and that long, you want to realize it. Stop making it about the wedding. And for Christ’s sake, parents, tell your daughters you’ll throw them a party for just them if they want it (this is assuming you’d finance a wedding anyway). Go all out, wedding style. Give them the same budget, etc. But tell them, “You get one wedding. Whether you get married twice, get married after your single party, etc. this is all we’re paying for.” Takes the pressure off. And maybe will make the wait worth it. Just like finding the right guy.

Second, I think there’s a huge image versus reality issue with marriage (and children). Mind you, this is also exists with things like careers, buying a house, etc. Throughout our childhood we’re overwhelmed with “true love” and “soul mates.” Almost as if it’s easy if you find “the one.” Is any relationship easier/better/more enjoyable if you find the right one? Yes. Obviously. But there’s no magic person that if you find him, marriage is easy. Some things make it easier like finding a good match who agrees on high-level things like beliefs (both what’s right and wrong and religion), how you want to live, money, traveling, etc. Do you have to match up perfectly? No. But if you agree on right and wrong, and approach life the same way, it’s a heck of a lot easier. I’ve met guys who get me, but they like do smoke pot on the side. I don’t have a social problem with pot, but since it’s illegal, it’s not something I’d want in my house (until it’s legalized). Does that make me a prude? Sure, but it’s something I’m not comfortable with. I don’t want to have a record or not be able to keep my job because of some casual habit. Again, I’m NOT judging the use. I simply don’t want it in my house. Therefore, it’s not really a compromise I want to make. The same thing can be said for religion, for those who are very religious. Do you need to have the same core beliefs? Probably if you’re going to raise a family together. It’s not impossible to raise a child Jewish and Catholic, but if you’re both very religious, it will be hard. I mean, look at Andrea and Jesse on 90210. That’s all they fought about until they both cheated. OK, they were also young. And annoying. Anyway, my point is, you need to have a baseline. Now that I’m older and have a financial process that works for me, I know I couldn’t marry someone who believes in credit card debt or financing almost anything except a house and maybe a car. I have absolutely no moral objection to debt, but in general, it stresses me out. I need someone who looks at money, saving, spending and retirement similarly to me. Or we’ll fight. Probably a lot.

But when you’re 18 years old, or even 22 or 26, you look for romance over compatibility, and yes there’s a difference. I had a boyfriend who did everything right on paper. He was so romantic. Grand gestures, small things, sweet things. The best thing that ever happened to me was him dumping me when he realized we weren’t a match. He will be the same “perfect on paper” guy for every girl he dates. And the girl he ends up with will be lucky for that. But he’s smart to have realized he could find someone better than me. And the good thing for me is I also realize how good a boyfriend CAN be. And that it’s not too much to expect of a 30 year old what I got from an 18 year old. So you learn and grow. And I honestly believe someone who really loves and is right for you won’t ever walk away. If he does, he doesn’t love you THAT much.

Beyond that, someone saying, “Marriage is work” doesn’t resonate with a 20 year old, who generally hasn’t “worked” at anything (I know I hadn’t). You don’t realize how hard it is until you live or witness it. I’ve learned a lot from simply getting older and seeing friends who had fun dating grow apart when they share responsibilities. It IS hard. It’s hard to raise kids inside or out of marriage. It’s hard to maintain a house or keep track of money or have a job. So sharing these things with someone else can sometimes magnify issues. When you’re alone, it’s all on you. When you share stuff, sometimes a messy person makes it harder. Or a less present parent. Or someone spending money you don’t want spent. But at the same time, you also have someone to work through issues with, hold the ladder as you climb onto the roof, or help clean up puke at 2AM. So it’s give and take. And having the right match in a person who truly loves and is committed to you is what makes marriage better than being single. But simply being married doesn’t guarantee that. It has to be the right person. And even then, there will be days it’s harder than others.  But try telling that to 20-year old me.

Finally, I don’t think saying, “You don’t understand how REAL commitment or covenant” works. That’s like the argument we keep having about abstinence. We’ve all found it’s hard to make that work. I mean, sure if you meet the right person when you’re young and both are on the same page, and both are mature enough to get married, it can work. Or if you have willpower of steel and can deny yourself basic human pleasures. Is it possible? Yes, everything’s possible. People give up gluten and sugar every day. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And honestly, when you love someone, it’s hard to say no. Especially when you’re a teenager or in your early twenties when you have so much going on hormonally. Much like I think we should be teaching kids to at least respect themselves, and be safe, and to wait until they’re actually ready (not pressured) and really love someone (don’t just want to get him to stay), I think marriage and relationships should be approached the same way. Can you white knuckle out abstinence? Yes. Can you white knuckle out a marriage? Absolutely. But who wants to? I think waiting for someone you trust and love is the more important thing. I have friends who have gotten married just so they can have sex, which is such a bad decision. And I don’t mean so they could have sex with anyone, but because they wanted to do “the right thing,” but waiting IS hard when you love someone.

And sometimes marriage actually makes people think, “Welp, married now.” like it’s a reason to give up or worse, as if you possess something. But I honestly think this is in the minority. People joke about this, but those first years, they’re always sneaking off to be alone because they want to be because it’s new an exciting. The “work” part is when the “new” becomes the “norm” and it seems silly to have a “date night,” but still totally necessary. As children come into the world, they have to be a high priority, but your marriage still needs to be first. Or at least your spouse shouldn’t feel second to the children, and chores, and work and whatever else.

I’m not expert, I’ve never been married. But I’ve witnessed a lot of marriages run the course. I’ve witnessed people being letdown with reality versus their expectations. I’ve seen people consumed with having children when they can’t, then being overwhelmed or let down when they do. I’ve heard people fight about things they knew existed when they were dating, but either ignored or it didn’t bother them because it wasn’t “forever.” Perspective changes as your reality changes. Expectations change as you live more life with a person. And when your reality doesn’t merge with the image you had of your future, it can be a big letdown. Those who move past this are the ones who realize not realizing your fantasy mate, life and future doesn’t mean you can’t still be happy.

Or that’s when you finally realize you made a mistake.