Archives For Life

Alone in the dark

August 5, 2013 — 159 Comments

Over the past few weeks I experienced a particularly nasty bout of insomnia (which, fortunately, has resolved). It happens to me from time to time, for no particular reason. When it happens, I have plenty of extra time to think about all kinds of stuff. You may have seen this New Yorker cartoon:

Insomnia Jeopardy

I have played many, many games of Insomnia Jeopardy, and I’ve added a few more categories:

  • Every regret I’ve ever had
  • How much better my life would be if only X, Y, and Z
  • Why X, Y, and Z haven’t happened yet
  • All the things I meant to do that day but didn’t get around to
  • How will I die?
  • Is there anything in the house to eat that doesn’t involve preparation?

I used to get insomnia as a kid too. Even in those days I worried about a lot of things, including but not limited to:

  • Fire
  • Volcanoes
  • Spontaneous human combustion (actually, I still worry about this)
  • Sharks
  • Monsters
  • UFOs
  • Jack the Ripper

(Bear in mind that I watched a lot of In Search Of… with Leonard Nimoy.)

I’ve always had an odd relationship with the dark. I’m a night owl. I’m not afraid of the dark and I actually like it. Except if I can’t sleep, and especially if I’m the only one awake. Then I hate it. HATE IT.

When I was little, I’d lie there in the dark, afraid that I was the only person awake in the entire neighborhood. That terrified me. So I’d look out the window at the buildings across the street. If I saw a light on, or if I saw someone’s television flickering through the curtains, I felt much better. I felt less alone. If nobody’s lights were on, I’d panic. WHAT IF I’M THE ONLY ONE AWAKE??? I guess it never occurred to me that if something horrible happened, I could (and should) wake up my parents. Instead, I periodically peeked through the blinds to see if anyone had turned on a light. I’m happy to report that not once did I spontaneously combust. And nothing else horrible happened—not on my watch. No volcanic activity, UFO landings, shark attacks, monster sightings, 67-alarm fires, or murders by Jack the Ripper. I might have been only a little girl but dammit, I was vigilant.

I don’t really know why I still dread being the only one awake. I’m not afraid to be alone in general. There’s just something about being up while everyone else is sleeping that really unsettles me. During this latest bout of insomnia, I sat on the balcony every night and conducted a visual sweep of my surroundings, looking for signs of life, longing for the quiet companionship of fellow nocturnals. As usual, if I saw a light in a window or someone walking down the street, I was enormously relieved. Solidarity, friend. I’m here too. One night there were no lights on. No cars, no pedestrians, nothing. It was about 4am. That familiar panic bubbled up. Then I remembered the 24-hour deli and the hospital two blocks away. See, it’s okay. There’s always someone awake nearby.

And then I went back to bed and hoped I wouldn’t spontaneously combust.

By now I’m sure many of us have heard about this travesty of justice, in which a Texas man was found not guilty of murdering an escort. Under Texas law, a person is justified in the use of deadly force to recover property stolen as part of a nighttime theft—in this case, the theft of $150 that the escort allegedly took from the defendant. This is just one of the many What the Fuck laws on the books in the Lone Star State. Hence, the rant that follows…

————————————————————————————————————————–

So Ezekiel Gilbert has been acquitted. Phew, you boys must be so relieved. How tragic it would have been to incarcerate a perfectly good white man merely for the cold-blooded murder of a woman…a non-white woman who was working as an escort. Interestingly, another Texas man, who happens to be black, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for possession of a knife and stealing a $35 rack of ribs. Yes, the guy was a repeat criminal, but the key takeaway here is that a misdemeanor involving a dead cow or pig is far more of a heinous crime than the murder of a woman, right? I mean, who cares about human decency?

See, I’ve noticed that what’s really important to you folks is the legality of protecting your property by shooting to kill. Like that theft law, and your “Castle Doctrine” law that allows Texas residents to shoot intruders. But I have news for you: those laws? Not helping. Texas was #2 in the United States last year in the number of car thefts, overall property theft, AND burglary. So tell me again about how gun ownership deters crime. How’s that working out for you, dickwads?

3ur6bs

Seriously, assholes, fuck you. You already had some of the loosest gun laws in the country, to the delight of many gun nuts with itchy trigger fingers. But as of last month, you relaxed your gun laws even further. Well done. What’s next, giving each baby in Texas a Fisher Price My First Shotgun?

None of this should really surprise me; you draconian sons of bitches have never really had any use for anyone who isn’t a white, gun-toting, Christian, heterosexual male. You know the updated Violence Against Women Act that Obama signed into law a few months ago? Twenty-two senators voted against the act. Guess which state’s senators were among them? That’s right, yours. Both of them. I suppose that’s fitting, given that the incidence of violence against women is pretty damned high in Texas. You certainly wouldn’t want to do anything to curb that, would you. Texas ranked second in the country last year in the number of rapes. And in 2011, Texas ranked second in the number of calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Evidently you’re okay with that.

I’m not the only one who thinks you’re insane, by the way. Here’s a little article from Forbes magazine, in which one of your own citizens cuts you to pieces. Reading it warmed the cockles of my heart, but reading this one filled me with the greatest joy. Looks like a bunch of people have your number. Too bad they don’t all have the power to vote you out of office and make sure you never, ever return, you evil fucks.

Then there’s your governor, Rick Perry, who has a smile that makes my blood run cold. Rick, it’s obvious that you’re waging a war against women, gay people, and probably everyone else who doesn’t fit into your bizarre world view. You’ve signed legislation to close abortion clinics all over Texas, and in the few places where abortions are still allowed, you’ve signed another law that forces women to undergo ultrasounds before they terminate their pregnancies. You’ve expressed your disapproval of the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow gay scouts and in a stunning display of what I can only describe as chutzpah, you even likened being anti-gay to being anti-slavery. You opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I assume you won’t be signing any laws allowing same-sex marriage. When karma finds you, I hope it takes the form of a gay, black, Muslim woman, and I hope she makes your life a living hell. It will be good practice for when you reach your Final Destination.

There are other states swarming with fucked-up politicians—South Carolina and Arizona come to mind almost immediately—but it pleases me to give you special treatment today, Texas lawmakers. Maybe if you weren’t so gun-crazy, and such blatant, unapologetically misogynist, racist, homophobic cretins, you wouldn’t be on everyone’s radar. Maybe if you weren’t a disgrace to humanity, I wouldn’t feel the urge to rake you over the coals. Maybe if you weren’t hellbent on returning Texas to the 19th century, you wouldn’t be the punchline to a very bad joke.

Apologies to all the normal, decent people of Texas—because I know there are so many of you. I realize that this screed may offend, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

I think a lot about my beloved, dearly departed cat Pickles. Some of you who know me in real life had the distinct privilege of knowing the Divine Miss P. For everyone else, click on the image below for an idea of what she was like:

Equation

Pickles was unlike any other cat I’ve ever known. She was her own breed—a breed of One. Fiendishly smart, contrary, spoiled, overbearing, disdainful, and endlessly lovable.

I’d like to share a little of what our days together were like. Below is an example of a typical Saturday for us. The dialogue has been altered for creative purposes, but the events are all true.

4:00am
I’m sleeping.

Pickles:  Bored.
Me:  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Pickles:  BORED.
Me:  Zzzzzz–sngh?
Pickles:  BORED BORED BORED BORED BORED BORED BORED BORED
Me:  What the fuck? I was sleeping!
Pickles:  You were boring me. You will entertain me now.
Me:  It’s 4 o’clock in the morning.
Pickles:  I fail to see your point. You will entertain me now.
Me:  I’m not entertaining you now. I’m going back to sleep.
Pickles:  Suit yourself. But one day I’ll smother you. You’ll be sorry.

10:0am
Pickles is sitting on my lap. She peeks in my coffee cup and wrinkles her nose.

Pickles:  Is that coffee?
Me:  Yes.
Pickles:  I don’t care for coffee.
Me:  I know. We go through this every morning.
Pickles:  You insist on drinking coffee even though you know I don’t care for it.
Me:  I’m not asking you to drink it.
Pickles:  (sniff sniff)  What is that smell? It’s foul.
Me:  It’s toast.
Pickles:  NOXIOUS VAPORS. You’re trying to kill me.
Me:  Sigh. We do this every day, Pickles. It’s toast. It won’t kill you.
Pickles:  VILE!!!  ASPHYXIATING!!!!
Me:  Oh stop, now you’re being a drama queen.
Pickles:  You should cook whatever you made yesterday. That smelled delicious.
Me:  I didn’t cook anything yesterday.
Pickles:  Yes you did. That blue liquid you had in the kitchen. It smelled delicious.
Me:  That was Windex.
Pickles:  I don’t care what the recipe is called. I want some.
Me:  You’re so weird. You don’t like food smells but you like cleaning products.
Pickles:  Don’t judge.

This was how Pickles looked most of the time: annoyed.

This was how Pickles looked most of the time: Annoyed.


2:00pm

I’m about to go out to run errands. I can’t find one of my flip flops.

Me:  Have you seen my other flip flop?
Pickles:  No.
Me:  It was right there. You must have seen it.
Pickles:  I haven’t seen it. (Pickles shifts position, revealing what appears to be part of a flip flop.)
Me:  What are you sitting on?
Pickles:  I’m not sitting on anything.
Me:  Is that my flip flop?
Pickles:  No.
Me:  Yes it is. That’s my flip flop.
Pickles:  No it isn’t.
Me:  Pickles, I can SEE it. Get up, I need it.
Pickles:  No.
Me:  Get up. Come on.
Pickles:  No.
Me:  Don’t make me take it from you.
Pickles:  No.
Me:  Come on, give it to me. (Tries to slide shoe out from under Pickles. She takes a swing at me and her claw snags on my arm.) Ow, you drew blood! Give me my shoe, you rotten cat.
Pickles:  No. I’m keeping it.
Me:  Sigh. (Puts on sneakers instead)

5:00pm
I’m in the shower. Pickles is curled up on the bed, sleeping.

Pickles:  WAIL!!  BLOODY MURDER!!!!!!  HORROR!!
Me:  (running out of the bathroom and almost slipping and cracking my head open)  What??? What happened??? What’s wrong???
Pickles:  (sitting calmly on the bed) I want to go under the covers.
Me:  That’s IT? That’s your emergency? It sounded like your tail was being hacked off, the way you were carrying on.
Pickles:  I want to go under the covers. You will lift up the covers so I can go in now.
Me:  You know very well how to go under the covers yourself. You do it when I’m not home.
Pickles:  But you’re home now.
Me:  So what? You can still do it yourself.
Pickles:  Not when you’re home. When you’re home, you do things for me. That’s how it works. So lift up the covers and let me in. But if you don’t make an interesting enough tent, I will come right back out and you will have to try again. And stop dripping on me.
Me:  Sigh. (Lifts covers so Pickles can go under them. After three attempts, a satisfactory tent is created and Pickles is reasonably content.)

Post its

This sort of thing might explain why Pickles looked annoyed all the time. 


9:00pm
I have music playing. Pickles is sprawled on the couch. Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger” comes on.

Pickles:  This song is too loud.
Me:  It’s the same volume as all the other songs.
Pickles:  I don’t like it. Turn it off.
Me:  Maybe you’ll like this one. (Plays “Diamonds Are Forever.”)
Pickles:  No. I hate this one too.
Me:  What is it with you and Shirley Bassey??
Pickles:  I don’t like her voice. Turn it off.
Me:  No, I like this song.
Pickles:  TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF
Me:  Okay, okay. Relax.
Pickles:  Yes. This song is acceptable.
Me:  There’s nothing playing right now.
Pickles:  Yes.

Midnight
Pickles is taking up a disproportionate amount of space on the bed.

Me:  Time for bed.
Pickles:  Whatever.
Me:  Move over, you’re in my way.
Pickles:  Why can’t you sleep around me?
Me:  Because it’s not comfortable.
Pickles:  Yes it is.
Me:  I can’t ball myself up in a perfect circle the way you can.
Pickles:  Too bad.
Me:  Come on, shove over or I’ll move you myself.
Pickles:  (moving) I was going to move anyway.
Me:  Good night.
Pickles:  Good night.

12:15am

Pickles:  Stop that.
Me:  Stop what? I’m not doing anything.
Pickles:  You’re in my area.
Me:  I am not in your area.
Pickles:  Look at your arm. It’s on my blanket.
Me:  So what? It’s not in your way.
Pickles:  It’s on my blanket.
Me:  Big deal. You drape your tail over me half the time and I don’t get all bent out of shape about it. Or how about when you sleep on my head?
Pickles:  That’s different.
Me:  How is that different?
Pickles:  Because it’s me.
Me:  That’s not an answer.
Pickles:  Yes it is.
Me:  (long sigh)  Fine. I’ll move my arm. Is that better?
Pickles:  I suppose.
Me:  Good night.
Pickles:  Good night.

12:30am
Pickles comes over and curls up against me.

Me:  What is it?
Pickles:  Nothing.
Me:  You’re right up against me, you know.
Pickles:  I know. I was bored with my blanket and wanted to lie over here instead, that’s all.
Me:  I see. Okay. Good night.
Pickles:  Good night.

12:35am
Pickles rubs her face against mine, purring loudly.

Me:  What’s all this about?
Pickles:  I’m—my cheeks are itchy. I’m just using you to scratch them, that’s all.
Me:  Is that purring? You’re purring.
Pickles:  No I’m not.
Me:  Haaaaaa, you’re purring.
Pickles:  Shut up and go to sleep.

12:40am
Pickles rests her head in my palm.

Me:  You have your head in my hand, you know.
Pickles:  Just in case my cheeks get itchy again. That’s all.
Me:  Mmm hmm. Good thinking. (Kisses her on the head)
Pickles:  Stop that. (Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr)
Me:  Good night, little Pickles.
Pickles:  Good night, Mommy.

But she was still the best cat ever.

She was the best cat ever.

I love television.  I’m not ashamed to admit it.  From my earliest childhood, with  Sesame Street, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Captain KangarooThe Electric Company (the original, not that bullshit remake), Zoom (the original, not that bullshit remake), and a zillion cartoons, that big box has been a huge part of my life.

A lot of buzzkills argue that too much television is unhealthy.  My reply to them is, “Suck it.”  I learned to count to 20 in Spanish thanks to Sesame StreetSchoolhouse Rock taught me about the parts of speech, and I can still sing the preamble to the Constitution.  And raise your hand if, like me, you learned to twirl your arms from watching Bernadette on Zoom.  Now tell me that trick hasn’t held you in good stead all these years.

I have learned much from TV shows over the years.  I’ve also drawn very important conclusions from my recent TV watching habits.  I’d like to share a few of them with you.

  • Life insurance companies should automatically report to the police anyone who takes out extra policies on their spouses.   Per 48 Hours Mystery, Dateline, and everything else that runs on the ID Channel, this should be a no-brainer.  If you take out an expensive policy, you may as well be wearing a sandwich board that says, “I’m about to commit murder!!”  So just go ahead and report these folks to the police and save them some legwork.  (Note to Mr. Weebles:  That million-dollar policy I just took out on you is in NO WAY related to this.)
  • Similarly, people with Crazy Eyes should be summarily reported to the police. Check out the perps featured on the ID Channel.  They ALL have Crazy Eyes.  I don’t care what profilers and psychologists say—ocular creepiness is the most reliable indicator of criminal intent.
These are Crazy Eyes.

These are Crazy Eyes.

These are NOT Crazy Eyes.

These are not Crazy Eyes.

  • No matter what day or time it is, some version of Law & Order is always on.  ALWAYS.  I find this oddly comforting.
  • Any man who tried to call me “Baby girl” would get the asskicking of a lifetime.  Except for Derek Morgan on Criminal Minds.
  • There are a LOT of aliens, chupacabras, sasquatches, and other mysterious creatures around us.  Be careful out there.
  • Most ghost hunters are obnoxious dickwads.  They walk around allegedly haunted places trying to taunt the spirits by yelling, “Show yourself!!”  If I were a ghost, I’d scare these idiots so badly that they’d need diapers for the rest of their lives.  Just because you’re talking to dead people doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have good manners.

Surely, my friends, you have also gleaned crucial learnings from your TV viewing.  Please share.

The baby squirrel

January 30, 2013 — 218 Comments

It happened on my way home from work one summer night.  I was around the corner from my building.  There were about eight people crowded around a spot on the sidewalk.  I went to investigate.  They were all staring at this little creature, no more than 2 inches long, barely moving.  I couldn’t tell what it was.  A baby rat?  A baby mouse?  Then I heard someone say it was a baby squirrel who had fallen from his nest.  Apparently the squirrel’s nest was on a fire escape several floors above us.

Everyone was just standing there.  Nobody was doing anything to help this poor little thing.  Some evil bastard suggested that someone should stomp on it to put it out of its misery.  I didn’t know what to do but I was furious at how everyone just stood there, staring.  I wanted to scream at all of them:  “What the fuck is wrong with all of you??  This is a living creature who needs help!!”  I don’t remember what I actually said, but I yelled something as I shoved people out of my way to get to the squirrel.  I had some tissues with me and I gently picked him up and wrapped him up in the tissues to keep him warm.  He was so light.  His eyes weren’t open but he moved every so often.

So there I was with this injured baby squirrel.  Now what?  I frantically searched for a working pay phone (this was 1999, pre-cell phone days).  When I found one, I called the ASPCA.  I spoke with a very nice woman who apologetically explained that they didn’t accept squirrels.  I asked if she could suggest somewhere else, but she didn’t know of a place that might be able to help.  By this time I was almost hysterical and I was crying.  I didn’t want this baby squirrel to die.

Then I saw a woman who lived in my building.  She said, “Oh, you know who helps squirrels?  Bernie Goetz.”  Bernie Goetz???  The Subway Vigilante??  The guy who shot some would-be muggers on the subway back in 1984?  My neighbor said Goetz lived nearby and that he was known for rescuing squirrels.  Who knew?  I needed to get his phone number.  Back to the phone booth.

While I was on the line with the operator, I noticed that the baby squirrel had stopped moving.  I looked more closely at him and realized that he was gone.  I thanked the operator and hung up.

I suppose I wasn’t really surprised that the little guy died.  I don’t know how far he fell, but it was far enough that his injuries would have been severe.  I had hoped to get help to him in time, but I couldn’t.  At least he wasn’t alone at the end.  Even if it was a giant creature holding him in a tissue in her hand, he wasn’t alone.

I walked over to Washington Square Park and found a nice tree.  I dug a small hole and buried him.  I’m so sorry, little squirrel.  I wanted so badly to save you.  I’m so sorry you fell from your nest.  I hope you didn’t suffer too much.  I tried, I really did.

I said a little prayer over the tiny grave and cried all the way home.

A great injustice

January 18, 2013 — 221 Comments

I need to tell you about something that has bothered me for a long time.  It’s something that makes me want to start a grassroots movement to raise awareness and sensitivity about it so that people aren’t so quick to stereotype and condemn.  We all make snap judgments; it’s natural.  But we need to remember that our first impressions are not necessarily the truth.

I became aware of this particular issue when I was in high school.  I went to see Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Great movie, even though Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan really is the best one.  This is the scene that triggered my epiphany.  Watch and listen closely:

Did you catch the accent on the one guy?  I’m sure it’s supposed to be New York.  The actor does a really crappy New York accent, but it’s evocative enough that I get the point.  He’s a blue-collar worker, so he has a blue-collar accent to match.  Despite the fact that this movie is set in San Francisco.

The other day I was watching a rerun of NCIS.  The episode involved mob guys in Virginia.  They had New York accents.  (Does the Mafia even operate down south?  I have no idea.)

Fonzie?  Motorcyle-riding greaser in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  New York accent.  Same for Lenny & Squiggy, Carmine, Laverne, and Mr. Di Fazio.  Apparently dumb punks and Italians have New York accents regardless of where they live.  It could have been the influence of Garry Marshall, a New Yorker with an accent so thick you could slice it, but still.

I won’t even get into all the other movies, TV shows, and commercials where the cop, bus driver, cab driver, construction worker, waitress, criminal, hooker, or [fill in your favorite non-white collar worker here] have New York accents—no matter where they’re supposed to take place.  You’re casting for a movie where one of the characters is a two-bit thug?  Make sure he sounds like he’s from Brooklyn, even though the film is set in Texas.

Everyone associates a New York accent with a certain type of person, with a certain socio-economic level and intelligence level.  People do it with other accents too—the southern accent, for example.  But southern accents aren’t often deployed like that in shows or movies set in non-southern areas.  (Or maybe they are and I just haven’t noticed them as much.)  And over the past 50 years we’ve had four presidents with southern accents: LBJ, Carter, Clinton, and W.  Not one who sounds like Joe Pesci.

I mean, there’s nothing at all wrong with doing blue-collar work, but we can do other things credibly too, you know.  Imagine hearing a hardcore New Yorker take the Oath of Office as president, saying, “So help me Gawd”?  Doesn’t that instill massive amounts of confidence?  Wouldn’t you go all dreamy and swoony if you saw a production of Romeo and Juliet in which the two main actors spoke the Queens English?  Just think of how reassured you would be by a doctor who spoke in a Bronx lilt: “Ya got KEEAN-suh butcha gonna be foin.”

So please, the next time you hear a New Yorker talk and automatically think, “What an imbecile,” remember that we’re people too.  It’s just a matter of appreciating the unique beauty and music of our cadences.  As Shakespeare said, If you prick us, do we not say, “What the fuck, asshole?”  If you tickle us, do we not say, “Whaddaya doin’a me, knockit ooowahff”?  If you poison us, do we not say, “Shit, what the fuck didja put in here?”  And if you wrong us, shall we not cut you?  If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.  Fuhgeddaboutit.

If you’re reading this, the world hasn’t ended…yet.  The Mayans didn’t say what time the end would come, or in what time zone, but let’s assume we have at least a few more hours.  If the world does explode today, I want to say farewell with a Fuck You medley.

Fuck you, gun nuts.  ObamaFuck you and your arguments about how owning assault weapons protects us from tyranny.  The United States has the biggest arsenal on the planet.  If the government wanted to subdue the masses, do you honestly think a semi-automatic rifle would help you?  You could have a Howitzer in your front yard and it wouldn’t matter.  And you morons truly believe that arming everyone would prevent horrific shootings like the one in Newtown??  Rot in hell, you twisted, deranged scumbags.

Fuck you, cottage cheese.  I despise you.  I truly do.  If I were stranded somewhere and you were the only thing available to eat, I’d starve to death.  You’re disgusting.  You have icky curds and a funky aroma, and I still have PTSD from the one time I tried you.  People say you’re a good, healthy snack.  I disagree.  You’re nasty, and I hope you become someone’s prison bitch.

Fuck you, cancer.  StealthYou miserable fucking mutants.  You’ve killed millions of people.  You’ve tried to take out members of my family.  What is your fucking problem?  As long as I’m alive, I vow to fight you.  I will make sure everyone I know is vigilant about keeping you away and getting rid of you as fast as possible.  Drop dead.

Fuck you, Tom Cruise.  I hate you.  You’re a shitty actor and you’re insane.  And your voice annoys the shit out of me.  By the way, you’re about as suited to play Jack Reacher as I am.  Fuck you.  For the love of Xenu, go to the Scientology compound and stay there.  Permanently.  Do not speak or show yourself in public ever again.  You suck.

Fuck you, CEOs.  You’re greedy, evil motherfuckers.  You’ve destroyed so many lives with your callous disregard for your employees and your customers.  You’re soulless vultures who would sell your families for a few extra bucks.  I want to be there when the Universe doles out your karmic retribution.  I would mock you, laugh heartily, and eat popcorn while you suffered the slings and arrows of your outrageous fortune, as it were.  Blow me.

Fuck you, man sitting behind me on the plane.  Grumpy catYou couldn’t gently put your tray back up—no, you had to slam it into the back of my seat.  Were you trying to give me whiplash or was that just a bonus?  And then you grabbed my seat back to hoist yourself up every time you changed positions.  Asswipe.  I reclined my seat in hopes of pissing you off but you didn’t seem to mind.  That just pissed me off more.  If I ever see you again, I will cut you into teeny tiny pieces.

Fuck you, dickwad standing behind me on line at the ATM.  Do you always stand that close to people you don’t know?  What the fuck is wrong with you?  You should have at least bought me a drink or asked for my name before you crawled up my ass.  I have three words for you: Personal space, motherfucker.

(Also, I really will be blogging about my party with Darla, Calahan, and Joe—as soon as the dust settles from Armageddon.)

Demons and ghosts

November 16, 2012 — 169 Comments

(This is not a post about actual demons or ghosts, by the way, sorry.)

There must be something in the air/water/pixels these days.  Maybe it’s the colder weather, less daylight, the upcoming holidays, or a combination of things.  But everyone seems to be having a particularly rough time lately.  Depression, anxiety, life problems, etc.  Other bloggers have eloquently described their own struggles lately, and I wanted to be one of the cool kids so now I’m taking my turn.  I’m not writing this to elicit sympathetic comments; I’m doing it for myself, as an act of defiance, as it were.

We all carry demons and ghosts with us.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  The thoughts that cause us to doubt, fear, flee, self-destruct, etc.  The memories of awful events that cause us pain each time we recall them.  They live in our brains.  Some are louder than others, some are more powerful than others.

My demons have been with me for as long as I can remember.  Some have taunted me since I was very young, others have popped up only sporadically over the years.  The ghosts of people and experiences from my past appear over and over as if they were still real, to remind me of the awful things have happened—and could happen again.

Not long ago, I realized that these demons and ghosts, as destructive as they are, have been trying to protect me—in their own twisted way.

Don’t talk about yourself.  Distract people.  If they got to know you, they’d be disappointed.  It will only hurt you.

Don’t draw attention to yourself.  It will only make people aware of your flaws.  And they’ll end up hurting you.

If you take a risk and stick your neck out, you’ll just get your head cut off.  Don’t do it.

Everyone else is smarter, funnier, more interesting, more successful, prettier, thinner, and generally better than you are.  You need to remember this so you won’t be disappointed when you’re rejected.

This person reminds me of So-and-So for some reason.  Remember how he/she hurt you?  So stay away from this one so you don’t get hurt again.

When someone is mean to you or leaves you, it’s probably your fault somehow.  It’s not them, it’s you.  The only solution is to stay away from people so bad things don’t happen.

Remember that time?  This is just like that.  Get out of this before something bad happens again.

See what I mean?  They’re vicious.  But they’re worried about me getting hurt.  They base their information on my past experiences but they’re looking at everything through a really skewed, negative lens.  They know that telling me I’m worthless is upsetting, but they think it’s less upsetting than if I were to hear it from someone else.

I blindly obeyed them for a long, long time.  I trusted that they were keeping me safe from further pain and rejection.  It’s taken me a long time—and a lot of therapy—to look these demons and ghosts square in the eye and say, “I get what you were doing, and I think you meant well.  Thanks for trying to help me, but you have to go away now.”  They’re stubborn, though, and they don’t go quietly.  They’re also not the most rational things, these demons and ghosts.  You can’t reason with them.  The only thing you can do is forcibly evict them.

The funny thing is, if you met me in real life, chances are you wouldn’t suspect that any of this was going on in my brain.  I suspect I come across as fairly confident.  I don’t have much trouble asserting myself and I can talk to pretty much anyone.  And I really will cheerfully kick the shit out of anyone who truly deserves it.  I can do these things.  Probably because they don’t involve making myself especially vulnerable.  I guess there’s truth in the saying, “The best defense is a good offense.”

I won’t lie to you, it’s been a tough battle, exorcising these demons.  How do you assemble an arsenal to fight these little fuckers when you have “Creep” as your emotional soundtrack?  It’s not easy.  It means throwing away my entire operating system and starting from scratch, alone.  And understanding that self-protection—and self-esteem—are about building myself up and taking risks, not keeping myself down and barricading myself against things that might cause me pain.

So these days, I have to take it on faith that people aren’t scrutinizing me and cataloguing every single flaw—and if they are, then I need to tell myself that they’re the ones with the problem.  I have to remind myself that most people are basically decent and that they aren’t out to hurt me deliberately.  I have to trust that I’m okay, and that the demons are wrong.

Come to think of it, fuck you, demons.

Yeah, she paid us a visit. Dumb bitch caused a storm surge that flooded everything. Mr. Weebles and I had no electricity for a week and for several days we were trapped in the house.  Check it out: This was the scene outside my window the morning after the storm.  The Hudson River breached the seawall and ran apeshit.  We usually live about a half mile from the water.  I considered taking advantage of the opportunity to sell our house as a “riverfront condo” but the water eventually receded and ruined my plan.

For all of you living in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, I hope you weathered the storm safely and with minimal damage. May you all have much warmth, dryness, and comfort.

We were very lucky.  We had no property damage and lost power for a week—a loonnnnnnggggggg week, but still just a week.  There are many who are still waiting for heat and power, and I am incredibly sad and concerned for them.  Not to mention the people who experienced complete destruction of their property.  Awful.  Just fucking awful.

So my week sucked, but it could have been much worse.  And despite having no heat, I was warmed by the good wishes of you guys.  Margarita, Honie, Maggie, Nigel, Cathy, El Guapo, Mike, La La, Rollergiraffe, Sweet Mother, Michelle, Brian, Meizac, Fish, The Ringmistress, and of course, Le Clown—thank you so much for emailing. I was so moved by your kind thoughts and your offers of help and support.  And to all of you who posted to me on Facebook or sent along your good wishes via other bloggers—I can’t tell you how much the outpouring means to me.  It never really occurs to me that my absence might be noted, as pathetic as that may sound.  You are fantastic, caring human beings, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  As always, your kindness humbles me.

And you know, going through an experience like this teaches you a few things.  I want to take a few minutes to share some of the lessons I learned.

It is not a good idea to use your butane lighter to heat up your microwave popcorn.  Unless you really, really, really love those burnt kernels.  And setting your hair on fire.  And turning your house into an inferno.

Do not use your butane lighter to warm up your sex toys or your lube.  I cannot emphasize this enough.

It is considered rude to use a hospital ER waiting room’s outlet to recharge your laptop.  Okay, so they were on generator power.  But it’s not like I was pulling the plug on someone’s respirator or life support, for crying out loud.

Men really do need to have at least some light when they’re using the toilet.  If you choose not to heed this advice, do not go into your bathroom barefoot.  Consider yourself warned.

Pioneers weren’t better than we are, they were just bored as fuck.  That’s why they invented so much stuff.  Forget everything you’ve heard about our forefathers having enterprising spirits. These people weren’t driven by grand visions or a desire to create things to help humanity.  They were driven by mind-numbing, soul-crushing boredom.

Oh, little electrons, I will never take you for granted again.  Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever.

NOTE:  Let’s all send our love and good thoughts to Brigitte.  She also experienced power outage, and it’s quite possible that she hasn’t had her power restored yet.  In this cold, snowy weather, I wish I could do more than send virtual hugs.  

In honor of Bloggers for Movember, I bring you a selection of Hot Dead Mustachioed Guys for your consideration.  (Special thanks to Joe Hoover for the suggestion.)

In the Classic Hollywood Dreamboat category:

Errol Flynn, Montgomery Clift, and Clark Gable (especially for you, Sandee!)

In the Handsome Presidential Assassin category:

John Wilkes Booth

In the Ultimate Sweetness category:

Walter “Sweetness” Payton (special thanks to Mr. Weebles for suggesting this one, I forgot he had a mustache)

In the I Was a Badass Until I Got All My Men Slaughtered at Little Big Horn category:

George Armstrong Custer

In the President Most Likely to Kick Your Head In category:

Theodore Roosevelt

In the Yet Another Smokin’ Hot WWII Flyboy category:

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.—he gets extra badass points because he was commander of the first all-black fighter squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen

In the What Doesn’t Kill Me Makes My Mustache Bushier category:

Friedrich Nietzsche

In the Cloud City Cool category:

In the I Was So Good in Bed That Queen Victoria Never Stopped Mourning My Death category:

Prince Albert

In the My Father Was One of the Most Handsome Men Ever to Walk the Earth but I Was Okay Looking Too category:

John Cornelius and his father, Robert Cornelius (inset), the Greatest of All DILFs

All of these guys would have made sure to get regular prostate exams if they existed back in their day.  Even John Wilkes Booth—he was a fanatic but he wasn’t stupid.  And you just know Sweetness got himself checked out.

So gentlemen, get yourselves screened.  I know it’s not fun but it’s no worse than anything women subject themselves to during ob/gyn exams.  Please, take care of yourselves physically—and mentally, too.  And ladies, make sure the men in your life look after their health.

For more information on Movember, please click here, here, or here.