Friday, January 31, 2014

Why You Should Never Trust A Girl Who Writes For Elite Daily

People on the Internet get paid to write horseshit.

Here I am pouring out my heart in fonts and trying my best to relate to others while barely getting a few hits from Facebook friends while there are self-proclaimed comediennes who write drivel such as Why You Should Never Trust a Girl With No Girlfriends for Elite Daily.

The entire premise of the article is exactly the way it sounds. The girl who wrote it posits that girls who cannot maintain friendships with other girls are manipulative, conniving, fucked up cunts and puts these women into a few categories. All in all, the article makes her sound completely insecure and the exact kind of woman that makes a horrible friend—the exact kind that surrounds herself with women just like herself in an attempt to feel like people actually, maybe like her (but don’t).

For one, let’s look at the title. Why you should never trust a girl… I suppose that should be telling. The writer may have decided not to use the word “women” for a reason, but this article, as well as others by the same person, are all under the “women” category.

I have a hard time believing that anyone who thinks that a member of the female gender needs to be surrounded by other females in order to be a productive member of society should have a voice telling others all about women, how we think, what’s wrong us, and what we want.

Let’s just get one thing straight. There IS a “we.” This collective “we” should show solidarity on many issues especially sociopolitical ones, but when it comes to determining if a single person is trustworthy by how many close girl friends she has, there is no “we” in the equation. The author does attempt to mention that perhaps introverts should be left out of this discussion. Instead of actually using the term “introverted,” however, she decides to refer to those of us who prefer alone time to social hour as “loners who want to be misunderstood.”

There are women who choose not to surround themselves with other women for good fucking reasons. Be it small town life or maybe just the whole idea that having women around to contradict self-depreciating statements and “girl talk” is unhealthy, there are reasons that cliques are not necessary. There’s also something to be said about having good friends because they’re good friends no matter their sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, or any of the rest.

How ignorant can one person possibly be?

It actually gets even worse.

In another article, 47 Things All Girls Can Agree On, the author, if you can call her that, shows just how privileged and vapid she really is.

1. Leggings as pants. Obviously she never considered that some of us are not meant for leggings as pants. Women come in all shapes and sizes and some of those women aren’t the kind of shape that leggings would flatter. Thin privilege shouting loudly.

2. Tanning is not good so use the spray kind that way we all look orange. WHAT ABOUT WOMEN OF COLOR?! You just said all girls can agree on this, so why would you assume that all girls are fucking white?

3. “Waxing, shaving or lasering: Here’s how it goes depending on where you lie on the spectrum. You either A. Wish you could afford to get it lasered B. Have a steady boyfriend so you shave or C. you’re single and love your special one-and-only lady friend who gets to go down there once a month, which is more action than you’re currently getting from anyone else. You just wish you didn’t have to pay for it.” I don’t even know what to say.

4. Something else completely idiotic that actually no one agrees on or even really fucking cares about.

5. Quiche is awesome. And some people barely get to eat much less eat quiche. Some of those people have vaginas. Some people with vaginas or who are trans are fucking starving. Quiche? That’s what we all agree on?

6. Red lipstick is awesome and if you disagree you’re “jelly.” And, you, dear awful writer, are a moron.

7. Sororities are great ways to meet the best people. What a privileged fucking clown. 

8. More fashion bullshit that really isn't a topic anyone cares about. 

9. Birth control. It's all bad so let's hope you don't get pregnant. THIS is why Republicans think women use abortion as birth control. I'm all for being sexually active. It doesn't make anyone a slut to love sex. So, don't get me wrong, I'm not slut-shaming in the least, but if you're going to fuck around, be responsible. Make an effort NOT to get pregnant instead of just hoping. In my state alone, there are over 13,000 children without homes. This is not at all the issue that someone speaking for women should be callous about. 

10. Wearing a jacket to the bar. Because women be drinking. Or not. Some of us care about things other than fashion and getting drunk. Apparently, that never occurred to the author, however. 

And it goes on…Uggs, Kim Kardashian, the correct pronunciation of celebrity names, girl bands, anal sex (no, assplay isn't the only thing "we" like more than assholes. jesus h. christ), extensions, Real Housewives, drama, and more are topics that we “all” agree on. At every turn, her words scream “privileged” and “ignorant” yet she’s getting paid to be the voice of Millennial women.

When a website is so hard-pressed for material, that this is the kind of garbage they’re peddling for women, it loses any and all credibility.

There’s something wrong with letting this kind of clownish, shallow, unfounded opinion speak for any group.

And, there’s definitely something wrong with this person in general. If you ask me, I can, without a doubt, say that the type of woman you absolutely shouldn’t trust is one that writes garbage articles for the women section on Elite Daily.

Fuck her. Fuck her inability to see past her own privileged bubble. And, fuck Elite Daily for peddling this bullshit as something women actually want to read and paying her to write it. The site may as well do itself a favor and change the category to “Rich, White Girls" because looking at the rest of the topics in that section, they have no idea what a woman actually is. 

This is the photo from the 47 Things article. Kinda says it all, don't you think?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sammich Manifesto

Is it too much to ask to spell the word “sandwich” correctly?

Apparently so.

Any time someone does not agree with statements I (or any woman really) have made in a debate on any serious topic, it is has become absolutely fair game to say “Go make me a sammich” instead of actually making any factual point in regards to the topic at hand. 

By someone, I do mean dudes. There are some things which can be applied to both genders but are so often mistakenly applied to one or the other uniformly. In this case, however, dudes want sammiches instead of sandwiches, and dudes want to avoid actually having to use their brains by shutting conversations completely down with a sexist “joke.” 

What’s the difference between a sammich and a sandwich?

A sammich is two slices of desperation slathered with some self-identified nice-guy syndrome. Add in a couple shavings of misogyny. And, maybe some self-loathing, bad relationships, and a chronic masturbation habit for added flavor. There are no cold cuts. No sourdough bread. No mustard. No pickles. There is only a bad taste left in the mouth from having someone else’s declaration of what womanhood is shoved in your face.

We, as in women, need to stop taking this and ourselves so seriously right? It’s just a joke, right? We’re overreacting like women always do, right?

See, what you did there? See how you made a blanket assumption about all women and completely invalidated everything we feel when we hear one of these jokes by using a horribly weak form of gaslighting? Yeah. That sort of turns this whole joke thing into exactly what we thought it was to start.

When someone uses a hostile form of humor to jab at someone else because the joker doesn’t happen to like what that someone else says, it’s not really a joke. It may be an attempt to bring humor into the situation, but it’s more or less at least a half truth meant to ruffle feathers in an effort to dominate the conversation in a way that makes the joker more comfortable. It is meant to make the person feel subservient. To put her in her so-called place. To point out that this is no conversation for the likes of her so she should get back to the kitchen while the men hash things out.

Fuck that.

You want a sammich?


Your bad relationships are your fault. There are awful people of both genders out there, and the fact that you have chose, often, to fuck around with immature, ignorant women is not the fault of all women nor does it define all women. You only have yourself to blame for your choices.

The friendzone is a fallacy. It is your mistaken belief that if you want to fuck a woman, she is obligated to want to fuck you back. It is your idiocy that pushes you to believe that being nice to a woman until she refuses to sleep with you or date you makes you a nice guy. It is completely ignorant to assume that just because a few women actually value your friendship more than your dick that women, all women, only want assholes. If we wanted assholes, we’d be fucking you. Because when you are only nice to try to get into someone’s panties, YOU are the asshole.

Feminism is not your enemy. To think that just because a woman wants equal rights and equal pay, she actually wants to walk all over you and rise above men is ignorance. Do your research. Don’t you understand that when these outdated views of women as weak and as primarily mothers changes, that real strides can be made in arenas where men’s rights activists now work? When it is seen that men and women are both solid parents, men will not have so many problems getting custody of children when it is warranted. When women are not seen as too weak to be violent, men can make a real case for domestic abuse and/or rape. Feminism is not, in any way, synonymous with misandry. Do some feminists hate men? Sure. But, some feminists ARE men. Those men are informed enough to realize the scope of the issues.

At no time does your joke improve situations. Perhaps you have a steady relationship with your hand because you keep on making these jokes thinking that it’s going to get you somewhere. Perhaps the only choices you have are insecure girls who overlook these jokes or even, sadly, believe them and who subsequently do have stability issues. The truth, simply, is that no educated, confident woman wants to get into an intelligent conversation with a man only to be shut down in the middle of a controversial point by being told to time travel back to the fucking 40s and 50s. That, dear sirs, makes a vagina more arid than the fucking Atacama Desert. You’re not getting laid often because your jokes tell us you have issues with women. When you do get laid, it never turns out well because anyone with even a modicum of self-respect and a decent level of self-awareness would never, could never stoop to such a level.

I would gladly make a sandwich for my lover. I love to cook for someone. But, you can make your sammich filled with self-hatred and regrets.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Confession: I'm a Little Stormy

In March of 2006, I received a call I was in no way prepared for. My father called to tell me he had been diagnosed with cancer.

At the time, I really didn’t have much of a relationship with the man, and I had no idea what I was supposed to feel. There was dread, sure. But, there was also a numbness that had always been a part of the way I thought and felt about him. My father, you see, was not exactly what anyone would consider a great father. The man’s nickname was Stormy and stormy-tempered he was. That might have been, in part, due to the alcohol and drug use, but it was also just part of who he was. I know this because I have a short fuse myself that I constantly have to keep check on. It's hereditary. My brother's the same way.

In the weeks that followed that first phone call, we all learned that it was renal cell carcinoma; that there was a softball size tumor on one kidney; that it had already metastasized to other organs including the brain; and that without treatment, he might live two weeks while with treatment, he would have maybe six months.

Over the course of that 6 months, we spent some time together. I let him play with my son, his grandson, and I tried to find some forgiveness…to reconcile before the cancer won in the battle for his life.

I tried to forgive the times he called me lardass, dummy, and Crisco when I was an intelligent, normal-sized child.

I tried to forgive the nights I was scared for him to come home, the nights I was so quiet so maybe he would forget I existed and leave me alone.

I wanted to forgive him for not being able to let go of the drugs and the drinking so his children could have some semblance of a normal life.

I needed to forgive him for all the hurt, physical and mental, that he caused to me, my mom, and my brother.

But, it just didn’t happen. Even in the end, when he was too sick to talk anymore and he grabbed the phone to kiss it when I called because he couldn’t tell me anymore that he loved me, I still could not make that reconciliation happen in my heart. Even after it was over—after he was buried on my birthday that year, September 26, 2006, almost 6 months to the day after his diagnosis—I still couldn’t let go.

At the time, I had been reading Lisey’s Story by Stephen King. It was a story I could really relate to because of the theme of child abuse and how the character in the novel would travel to another world to escape that abuse. Because it was King, the kid actually traveled to some other realm, but for me, my escape was books. I would read to get away…a different book every day. I thought it was fitting to get the cover of that novel tattooed on my arm as my badge of courage for making it through such a shitty, scary situation, but even that didn’t help get me closure despite the fact that I included the cross from that cover for my father.

There was nothing I could do to force it. That’s what I didn’t realize. I was trying to make myself okay with everything that happened to make my childhood something out of a Lifetime movie, and I couldn’t. I pushed it to the backburner for awhile and moved on or thought I moved on at least. It was then, during that period, that I really began to find myself and figure myself out. It was then that I embarked on a musical evolution and began to find music that brought me peace once again after a bit of a hiatus. Music—music I like anyway--is my Xanax, Prosac, Zoloft. It elevates my moods. Harmonizes my emotions. Frees my spirit. It makes me more social, gives me goosebumps, and clears my mind of all the clutter of the day. Somewhere along my evolutionary road, I began to realize that Dad taught me all that. I can picture him clearly singing along to Don Henley's (from The Eagles) The Heart of the Matter. "I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter. But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter. But I think it's about forgiveness. Forgiveness. Even if, even if you don't love me anymore." He'd turn it up on that part when he'd have company over and tell them to listen to that shit closely. It's a decent sad-old-bastard song. I can still sing along to most of it even now. It wasn’t just that one, though. It was so many songs, so many sounds and genres and bands. He loved, breathed, needed, lived for music.

He introduced me to some greats. Janis, Jimi, the Allman Brothers, the Stones, Zeppelin, Cream, Derek & the Dominoes, The Doobie Brothers, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and more, more, more. Dad knew his shit, and it makes me smile to think back to him laughing, smiling, even tearing up over songs. I got my love of sharing music from him, too. I don't remember much about growing up....side effect of the childhood I had...but I do remember him making people listen to the different songs he loved and keying them in on the best parts while they had their drinks and whatever else may have been on the menu that day.

The realization that Dad taught me how to love music and really open myself up to it led me further. I got a lot from the old man; I’d just never been able to see it before. He gave me my openness, quick intelligence (he was a human calculator, no lie), my ability to speak my mind without fear, and my rebellious, non-conformist attitude—you should see pics of him in the 70s. All in all, so much of what I love about myself came from the person who also put me through hell growing up. Eventually, I saw the balance in things. He wouldn’t win a Father of the Year award, but he helped shaped me into the person I am today and in his own way, as evidenced by the kisses on the phone if nothing else, he did love me.


I would be much less of a woman if it weren't for you teaching me how much music could much it could move you and connect you to others. Thank you. It is about forgiveness, isn't it? I love you, you crazy sonofabitch.



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Life Soundtrack

One night in a Border's book store, I saw a copy of Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs sitting on a table. It was the name that caught my eye. I hadn't really heard of him at the time except that one of my friends mentioned that sometimes my writing is similar to his. It really isn't. I'm not quite that full of myself.

I loved the book though. I read the first page standing there in the store as that's usually a big factor in whether or not I'll buy it. I laughed so hard that I read another and another and another and had gone through most of the first essay before I knew it. I had found someone I could relate to on so many levels, and it felt good.

When he said:
"Do you know people who insist they like 'all kinds of music'? That actually means they like no kinds of music."
He totally had me. I finally found someone who got something I'd been telling people for years. That's not to say that someone who listens to a variety of music is incapable of truly appreciating music on any level. Not at all. I listen to a variety myself. But, when asked the question of what music I listen to, I'm going to have some very specific answers about how I grew up on Southern Rock, love the blues, both old and more modern bluesy garage rock, find peace of mind in sludge and doom, dance around the house to modern soul, and love, perhaps most of all, stoner rock.

To me, that's a much different response than "I listen to anything with a good beat."

To me, "I listen to everything" says that person listens to music as an afterthought. It's not a need like it is for me and people like Chuck Klosterman.

It also says that perhaps those people have never taken the time to find music that really moves them.

Maybe there are two kinds of people in the world--those who listen to music and those who only hear it.

When it comes to really being able to relate to other people, for me, it's important to me that those people see music the way I do--that it's just as vital to life as oxygen. I don't care what it is they listen to as long as it speaks to them on a very personal level and that, maybe, just maybe, even during a quiet moment, there's a song playing in their heads tied to a thought, a memory, or a mood. That's why I like asking people what songs (usually a small number...the smaller the harder the list is to make) might be found on the soundtrack if a movie was made about their life and why that person chose those particular songs. It tells me a lot about them and being able to share my own soundtrack, in turn, tells them a lot about me, how much I am willing to open up, and how I process music.

I have a tattoo on my leg of a quote by Woody Guthrie. It says, "There's a feeling in music and it carries you back down the road you already traveled and makes you travel it again. Sometimes when I hear music, I think back over my days and a feeling that is 50/50 joy and pain swells like clouds taking all kinds of shapes in my mind."

That's how I approach my soundtrack. These few songs are placemarkers to tell you where I may have been at a certain time. Sometimes when I make this list, it's the song itself or the band or the lyrics, but these are all songs that lay out a map of my life. This isn't just a list of badass jams to make me look cool. In fact, a few of them are pretty fucking embarrassing. It's been a long road full of ch-ch-changes.

1. Cyndi Lauper-Girls Just Want To Have Fun

I have maybe a couple handfuls of clear memories from my life before age 12 or so. As you may guess from such a statement, those weren't exactly easy years. My earliest memory is from age 3 or 4 dancing around the house to this song. Carefree. Innocent. It wouldn't last but those fleeting moments of utter girlish glee have stayed with me. Anytime I hear it even now, I can't help smiling and singing along.

2. Eric Clapton-Cocaine

This song is probably the best way to place those hazy years of being a young Georgia girl. It's fitting, at least, since my dad was arrested for possession of said drug. With intent to distribute. I was 3, maybe. I was also used as a sympathy inducer for the jury by being brought to court every day during his trial. Lawyer tactic. I was blonde and cute, so he got off pretty light. Still, it was a common theme for growing up with a father whose nickname amongst those "sorry sumbitches" he called friends was Stormy. That old bastard loved this song, too. I can still remember times when we'd be stoned together later on in life. He'd put this song on and start fist pumpin' like a champ. She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine.

Tough Enough to Bite Our Lips Til They Bleed, Girl

3. Hangin' Tough-New Kids on the Block

                      Are you tough enough?

     oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

Such complexity...  I was given a walkman knockoff cassette player with two cassette tapes one year for my birthday. One was NKOTB and the other Vanilla Ice. In restrospect, there are a myriad of other, much more influential, non mainstream albums I wish I would have gotten that year. I can't remember exactly how old I was but I figure 8 or 9. We're talking 1989 or '90. Both albums were released about that time. It was pop and poppy, white-guy hip-hopish stuff, but it could be worse. I could be reflecting on the importance of Garth Brooks' No Fences in my earlier years. Alright, stop. Collaborate and Listen. I don't think people who aren't from the deep South know what it's like to grow up with country, Jesus, and football being shoved down your throat all the time. To not partake in the bliss of one or all of those things is equivalent to denouncing the word of Joseph Smith in Utah. All of a sudden you're getting hate mail in your locker with crudely drawn dicks and cutout magazine letters. So, Hangin' Tough was my rebellion. My break from the hillbilly culture. It's disturbing, but still seems a step in the right direction. Considering the surroundings, I could have been singing "I'm a member of a Country Club....cuz country music is what I love" while Travis Tritt played in that walkman knockoff.

4. Nirvana-Smells Like Teen Spirit

For my generation, this makes me a walking cliche. I'm okay with that; it makes me authentic. This is the first cassette tape I ever bought myself with my own money. Side 1, track 1...Load up on guns, bring your friends. It's fun to lose and to pretend...  The lyrics were ambiguous, and I still don't really know what exactly mulattos, albinos, mosquitoes, and Cobain's libido have in common and there's not enough drugs in the world to make that clear. My parents were divorced or well on their way to being divorced and my mom was already seriously dating someone else (they've been married ever since but that's beyond the point). I was maybe 12 or 13 which puts it around 1994--the year Cobain burned out and made himself a junkie, rock martyr. Apparently, I was a little late on the grunge craze. With everything going on in my life, I was really entering a brand new world and with this purchase the same became true of my musical tastes. Evolution. We're talking about a major point in my life in all sorts of ways and this tape gave the perfect ambiance to my new direction. I think it's always been even more meaningful to me because I'd never really known anything about the band when I bought the damn thing. I picked it up on a whim. I like whims. People blame jesus and fate and destiny for whims but I sometimes think our brains function on a level we can't possibly understand. I grabbed that tape off a Kmart rack because it was exactly what I needed and because the cover pissed off my mom. 

5. Wonderful Tonight-Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton on here twice? I'm not even that big a fan. I mean I dig Derek and the Dominoes and Cream but twice on such a short list makes it seem like I might think this guy is some sort of god. I don't believe in gods so X that idea. The song choice following something like Smells Like Teen Spirit really does make me a cliche. Fuck it, you know? I am what I am and I know exactly why this song is on here. It's rare in life to find a friend who can accept you as you are with all your quirks and not be concerned about the possible negative consequences of associating with a social outcast back in the awesome days of high school. My family didn't have money. I wasn't a christian and didn't care in the least about football or country music. I committed social suicide early in life. It may have been genetic. I did have that sort of friend, though. She didn't much care what I listened to or believed in or how popular I wasn't. When she would come out to my dad's house, we would, invariably, listen to this song as some point in the course of the evening. And I would, invariably, make her slow dance with me. True friendship. And I still make people dance with me when it comes on to this very day. Whenever I hear it though, I think about her. We've gotten older and stay too busy to get together too often, but whenever we do, we always pick up right where we left off. She made a world of difference. I needed that kind of unconditional acceptance. Ironically, this song was written about Pattie Boyd who was married to Eric Clapton at the time he released it. However, prior to this, she was married to George Harrison, Clapton's best friend. I don't guess they had the same kind of friendship.

6. Glycerine-Bush

My first ever experience with sex happened by sexual assault. That's sad, I know, but it happened 14 years ago and I'm over it so we'll move on and not make a big deal of it. The first time I ever thought I wanted to have sex is a different story. I was introduced to this guy by a mutual friend (who ended up hating me for sleeping with him. she told my mom i was doing coke because of it. and i wasn't. i was just a pothead. that's ok, though. she never slept with him and now karma, if you believe in that sort of thing, has not exactly done her any favors). He was about 4 years older than me making any sexual contact between us completely illegal. He snuck out of his house and "borrowed" his parents' car. I snuck out of my house and got in said car which we drove a quarter mile down the road and promptly fucked in while Bush's Sixteen Stone played in the background. I sang along to this song in particular. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say and I realized as I got older I really wasn't ready for such a rendezvous. I didn't love him at the time but we remained friends for years and even had more sex sporadically. Sometimes he was incarcerated making sex impossible and I realize I'm not looking any better the further I go along. I still think fondly of him even now, though. We don't really talk; he's married and I can see why his wife wouldn't approve. The whole incident is significant, not because it was great sex--I somehow doubt it could have been, but because I feel it's indicative of my view of sex. Love was never a requirement. Maybe that can, in part, be blamed on the assault. Maybe it was being around my hippy father. Either way, there you go. The first time I ever chose to have sex, I snuck out of my house to fuck in the driver's seat of a Cavalier or something shittier like an Oldsmobile with Bush on the cassette player. I'm a hopeless romantic. I still sing along sometimes to certain songs if music plays in the midst of things sex related. I do have manners though; I don't sing with a mouthful.

7. Keep on Rocking in the Free World

This band I used to hang out with did a few covers. One of Weezer's Say It Ain't So. It was mediocre. The other was Rockin' in the Free World by Neil Young. Maybe I was always stoned but I think they actually did a good job on this one. I dunno. But I'll always think about them when I hear it. I wouldn't mind having it on my soundtrack while I'm at some Dazed and Confused style party at the moontower. My life was often like those scenes from that movie back in those days except I didn't have Parker Posey yelling at me to air-raid because I was talking to some nerdy guy she'd never dare to date. It was an awkward time of trying to fit in with people who really didn't give a shit whether I was there or not...and that's why I always identified with Mitch from that movie. This song is my period piece for that time. 

8. Loser-Beck

 For a little bit when I was 15/16, some of my stoner friends made "Loser" by Beck my theme song. I'm a loser, why don't you kill me? I was living in a rich neighborhood I hated; that was the reasoning behind the theme. I became a sellout because I lived near people we hated. I really loved the girl who used to sing it to me. She was funny and beautiful and she jerked me around. I'd also just moved back into my mom's from my dad's and I was having a tough time making the transition. After everything I'd gone through in the last few years, I really felt like a fucking Loser especially when I was with that girl, but she still made me smile. I was in this period of chaotically figuring out what it meant to wear my skin, and this song is a perfect anthem for that. 

Kill the headlights and put it in neutral....

I was really into a lot of 90s grunge music. Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden...I listened to a lot of what was termed "alternative" at this same time, but grunge was it for me. That's why I still love all those old songs even now. That style resonated deeply. Korn and Limp Bizkit and the whole nu-metal genre ruined grunge. I think Korn's first album--and the only somewhat decent one--signaled the end of it all. From the rise of rap-metal until the past several of years I spent a lot of time reminiscing about good music. I was stationary. No growth to speak of. I live in rural South Georgia. I had no idea what it meant to actually dig around and find things I loved.

I listened to Marilyn Manson (the first 2 albums) because of MTV2. And because I was weird and he was weird and I dug weird. I liked RHCP and POTUSA and REM and other bands easily described by capital letters. None of that ever really gripped me though on a deeply personal level. I can't even listen to the same Marilyn Manson songs now with any enjoyment. Counting Stars by Hum will always make me smile but there's no significance. I never lost touch with music but I didn't grow musically for a period of about 10 years. I was most often stuck on the same things and felt like I was missing something. Until I heard Baroness. But, back to the list. 

9. RHCP-Under the Bridge. 

Yeah, yeah I know what I just said. However, this song has very little to do with me personally. When I was about 20, someone I was pretty close to when I was in school was murdered. People might use the word "senseless" in talking about it but aren't most murders really senseless? Yes. Still, I took it pretty hard. This was the first person I'd ever had phone sex with and someone I, stupidly albeit, thought I was in love with for a few years. His dying young likely affected the memories I have of him i.e. I remember him with more fondness than I would have if he were still living. Somehow I still think he'd make the cut on this list if he had lived but he didn't. He was shot and left for dead after walking in on a home invasion burglary in his apartment. His death had an impact I've never really understood the depths of. It shaped my views on the criminal justice system and has influenced some of my career goals. I still go out to the cemetery at least once a year even going on 12 years later and I'm often drawn to people who remind me of him in small ways. I think this is why I dig jerks so much. Fuck me. I'm doomed to a lifetime of caustic assholes simply because the state of Florida has a completely fucked up criminal system that allowed two recidivists to continually get worse without any help until they finally killed someone. Anyway, he loved this song and all I need is to hear the opening bars to be flooded with thoughts of him. I miss that kid. 

There are 3 significant events/people in my life I don't really have songs attached to. It doesn't make them any less significant but I don't want to just attach songs to them in retrospect because it's sensible. I've done that before making this kind of list but in a way, that taints it. 

The first is the first guy I ever really truly loved. I will always think of him with affection and he's the only person I ever consider to have broken my heart. It was one of those couldn't eat, couldn't sleep situations. I've never been that way about another relationship or another guy period since then. I could choose Heartbreaker by Zeppelin simply because he sings a line "Some people cry and some people die by the wicked ways of love. But I'll just keep on rollin' along with the grace of the Lord above" and in some ways I totally feel that sentiment. It's the way I've always been except the whole Lord part. I roll along with the grace of my own strength. Ultimately though, fuck this song choice. If ever there were a movie about my life, the person lucky enough to play me would convey my heartache by those two days when I cried until snot flowed. Then I fucked this guy I knew and had previously wanted to fuck and the world was right again. Sex fixes so much. No songs about being broken and moving on are really necessary no matter how much this whole episode changed me. 

The second would be my marriage and separation. There's no song I attach to that guy or that time either. After he'd already left, he came over to pick up a few things and wanted to make a few cds. He ended up playing an AFI song called This Time Imperfect. I was standing in the kitchen holding our 2 year old and he came over and hugged us both sort of dancing. The three of us standing there in the kitchen slow dancing together in the face of this massive change and the sadness he and I felt about this failure is the sort of image that makes this all sound like a Lifetime movie moment and I suppose it sort of was. The lyics to that song say "I cannot stay here; I cannot leave. Forever haunted, more than afraid" and that really conveys how torn I was over choosing happiness for myself or choosing more financial stability for my son. But, I fucking hate that band overall. Have you seen that guy? Creepy. I still care a lot about my ex-husband despite the fact that he isn't necessarily doing the right thing financially right now. I don't harbor ill will about the failure of our marriage at all. I never should have gotten married in the first place. Marriage is a farce. I hate what happened and that we grew so far apart because that just makes life tougher for our son. As far as I'm concerned there's just not one song to denote every emotion I felt when all this happened. No song I knew of at that time that I fully associate with the relief I felt when it was all over. 

The third is my son. He loves music. Okay, let me rephrase. He loves "rockin' out" and as long as it's heavy enough or punk enough for him, he gets into it. And I mean he really gets into it. There's not just one song I could pick out to symbolize how music bonds us either. Sometimes we play air guitars and air drums while I sing songs in the kitchen sliding around in our socks. Sometimes we sing at the top of our lungs in the car. Sometimes we sing songs while we buy groceries. There's not really one that just stands out because we share so much. He's too awesome to pinpoint with just one song or one sound. He's so much impossibly more than that and I love him even when I am aggravated beyond reason with his precociousness. Besides, his favorite band is NOFX, and I just can't bring myself to include them on the list. I don't know, though...For the rest of my life when I hear "Don't Call Me White" I will always think of him singing it in the shower while I cringed and determined how best to explain that to someone who has yet to reach his 10th birthday. 

10. Baroness-Red Sky

A little over 5 years ago, this jerk I know told me I didn't have a clue what music is. He teased me relentlessly about what I chose to listen to and even when I bugged him relentlessly about what he defined as music, he wouldn't give in saying I'd fail to get it. It really pissed me off. He finally gave in though and told me to check on his music review blog for a band called Baroness and specifically the song Coeur which is off First, an ep released in 2004. I liked it and decided to check out some more from the band who had another ep, Second, released in 2005, and a full length album Red Album from '07 at that time. I downloaded all 3 albums, put them on a play list and hit shuffle. I was sitting with a glass of wine in an otherwise quiet house. Red Sky was the first song that played. I bobbed my head along from the start. By 38 seconds in, I suspected something great would come of this. By 1:31 of the 5:44 song, I was in a bit of lust. When the song broke into melody about 3 and a half minutes in, I closed my eyes, leaned back in the chair and enjoyed the ride. Everything seemed to fade into the background except that chair, my glass, and the sounds emanating from the computer speakers. It's been a good relationship. I dig their music and they keep making it (I should point out here that while I am not a hipster in my own mind, I am a music snob these days, and their last album blows dogs for quarters). I saw them live for their Blue Record release party at the end of 09 in Savannah, Georgia where they originated. They played in the bar where they first started and whose basement they practiced in. Most people I know have no idea why I like this band and why they led me on a new kind of evolution and I'm okay with that. I've never been the kind of girl who followed the rest of the herd. Everyone who loves music should find something that speaks to them on a level nothing else can and for me it's Baroness or at least the Baroness that produced the sounds from First, Second, Red, and Blue. I don't think it's a matter of l o v e. Love describes something so much less pure than what I feel as I type this listening to A Horse Called Golgotha. If love ever felt as easy and wonderful as a good song, I might not mind relationships so much. 

11. Rolling Stones-Can't Always Get What You Want

In a discussion on music, often you'll get a question about your preference of the Stones or the Beatles. By my inclusion of a Stones song on this list, my answer is pretty clear. Stones all the way. This song has a lot of possible interpretations with lyrics like "I saw her today at the reception, a glass of wine in her hand. I knew she would meet her connection. At her feet was her footloose man." It's funny the sorts of meanings people guess that might have including relationship bullshit going on with band members' girlfriends at the time. Or, one girlfriend at the time, Anita Pallenberg, who left Brian Jones for Keith Richards. (Whatever happened to bros before hos?) I don't care about any of that. The song is badass but for me, it's more about how life is just  a little tough but that's all part of it. You keep on going and working for it. You really can't always get what you want even when you have all the financial means to do so. But, you can, when you're willing to work for it, get what you need. Whether we realize it or not, that's often more important. When I hear this song, it's a reminder that I have everything I need. I'm where I need to be. Those thoughts form and I smile every time. 

Feel free to add your own list in the comments or in a message. This is a conversation I can't get enough of...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

10 Things We Don't Wish Guys Would Do More Often

Despite the name of this blog post, I have problems when people write an article/essay proclaiming to understand what every woman or man wants out of the group to whom they're attracted. I cannot claim to know what every woman wants out of men, and I think it's pretty silly to make that assumption. I read such an article today on Elite Daily entitled The Ten Hopelessly Romantic We Wish Guys Did More Often. The basic premise is that in these days of modernized, technology-fueled relationships where texting is more common than actually dating, romance can and should be part of the dating process. I agree. Romantic gestures can make quite an impact. When I read the list, however, I was quite literally aghast at the suggestions included. The article would have been so much better had it been written solely from the author's perspective instead of taking on the voice of an entire gender.

It also would have helped had the author actually had any real idea on what constitutes romance versus hygiene.

So, here's the list. My responses have been included and are highlighted in gray.

1. Hug us from behind

That initial surprise the moment we feel your arms touch that spot on our waist where our curves meet is always welcomed. It’s cheesy and we know it, but sometimes it’s nice to be enveloped in a man’s embrace. Wrapping us up against you is the body language equivalent of saying “I’ve got you” and it feels really, really good to hear.

Wait, what? It's not cheesy as much as it is fucking creepy. "I've got you" is the equivalent of kidnapping talk. It's the kind of things I imagine a stalker would say as he clasps a gloved hand over my mouth and puts a gun to my head. No, thank you. 

This is the kind of guy who would hug you from behind. 

2. Call before bed

Even if it’s just to make sure we’re not passing out in the hallway, a bedtime phone call is affectionate and thoughtful. You want us going to bed dreaming about you and not Lip from “Shameless”? You’ve got our numbers. #CallMe

For one, there are some people (me) who absolutely despise phone calls. I've worked in a retail pharmacy long enough that I would be perfectly fine if I never had to make another phone call for the rest of my life. For two, if I'm passing out in a hallway, the last thing I want to do or need to do is talk to some dude on the phone. For three, #don'tfuckingcallme

3. Give us your worn-in sweatshirts

Or if you can’t part with those, vintage t-shirts will do just fine as well. When you’re not around to cuddle, we like snuggling with your clothes instead. And we’re not going to pretend like we don’t feel cute wearing your oversized garments. Bonus points if they still smell like you.

I have my own clothes. I really don't want to go to bed in someone else's old pit-stained throwaway shirts. I mean, really... If it smells like you, it probably smells like your funk. I'll pass. 

4. Have sex during the game

That’s why they invented halftime right? After watching the Giants take 20 minutes to get a first down, we’d appreciate at least some heavy petting – which we’d like to note doesn’t require any attention except from your hands. So you can do it while Russell Wilson completes his pass. Think of it as a play for play.

I don't really date anyone so obsessed with sports that this would actually be an issue, but I mean, can't people do their own thing? I would be using game time to work on my own projects and get a little me-time in. Also, I don't feel the need to compete with a game or a sport. I'd prefer any sex I have not to be distractedly squeezed into a break between game periods while someone sings the national anthem in the background. Besides, if you end up staring at the tv over my shoulder, you're going to regret it. 

5. Pick us up

A spin really completes the move, just saying. Do you remember the last time someone lifted you up? I mean this literally. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s a dramatic moment that reminds us of your strength and your ability to sweep us off our feet, quite exactly. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the prince charming – he still comes with a sword.

Pick me up and I will fucking punch you. End of story. 

6. Keep your creepy porn fetishes a secret

We’re not saying we don’t condone indulging in whatever turns you on, but if you are getting off to anything we wouldn’t remotely try (like, I don’t know, say humping Ferris wheels or something) then it’s best to keep that information to yourself. We’re not judging, but telling us you liked watching “2 Girls 1 Cup” kind of stays with a person.

I mean, "don't tell us about your fetishes?" Really? Well, those fetishes may be a dealbreaker but not getting satisfied sexually eventually leads to infidelity doesn't it? I'd rather know now than really get hooked on someone only to find out he or she was humping Ferris Wheels with someone else because I wouldn't. That would sting. Badly. This is just sheer ignorance. Does this mean I, too, have to hide my fetishes? Or is this author operating under the assumption that only dudes have these sorts of odd fantasies? 

7. Wear suits… and then give us their jacket

Men in suits are the equivalent of women in oxford button downs. It’s just plain sexy. And when you give us your coat, it’s pretty much like foreplay.

Okay, I concede that suits are sexy. I cannot agree that having a guy's jacket is going to lubricate my vagina, however. It's not foreplay. It IS a bit romantic, but let's not get carried away here. 

8. Go for it – romantically or otherwise

We’re all for a woman making the move and feeling confident, but the high of being wanted by someone else is equally important. Don’t hold back anymore. If you’re feeling it in the moment, whether it’s confessing your attraction or pushing back a strand of our hair, just go for it. In such an impersonal world, we crave that flicker of human connection.

This is called being assertive. I don't think assertiveness qualifies as hopelessly romantic. Of course both sides of an attraction desire feeling wanted. It takes everyone involved, though. And, quite frankly, I haven't met a guy yet who really holds back on showing his attraction. I have the pics on my phone to prove it. 

9. Notice the small things

Maybe it’s the placement of your favorite freckle or the arch of your back when you’re lying together. When someone takes the time to appreciate your little features, it means something much bigger.

Let's be honest. This is only going to be romantic as long as the little thing being noticed is not something you're self-conscious about. As soon as that tiny little mole on your nose gets pointed out, you're going to go from "awww" to "pissed off" in 3 seconds flat. 

10. Wear a signature scent

The power of olfaction is a real thing. We’re all animals on some level and it’s in our nature to sniff you out. And even if it’s only for a night, we’ll always have your smell to remember you by.

Since when did being clean and smelling nice go from hygienic to romantic? If that's all it takes, I am romancing the fuck out of people all day long. 

Here is my own list. I only wanted to make my own to show that one person cannot speak for the attractions of an entire group of people. I invite you to think it over seriously and make one yourself in the comments. 

1. Make a mixtape. 

Nearly every memory I have is attached to a song or band. Attach a song to my thoughts of you. Every time I hear it, you'll be all I think about. 

2. Write an actual note. On paper. 

Handwritten letters are a forgotten art. Even if it's just a few sentences, it's a tangible compliment that can be kept and cherished. 

3. Brush my hair. 

Best thing ever. Enough said. 

4. Plan a picnic. 

That's right. Make me a goddamn sandwich. But, seriously, the effort will be appreciated even if said picnic takes place on the living room floor. 

5. Give me your arm to hold onto in public.

I think this speaks to itself. It's more dated than just holding my hand, but it feels secure and I love the way your arm feels in my hand. 

6. Read what I write. 

My actions say a lot about who I am. What I say will tell you more. But, my passion is writing, and unless you read what I write, there's no way you'll get to know me on the same level as someone who does all three. 

7. Remember what I take in my coffee. 

It's just a small gesture, but it shows you pay attention to those small things...that you care enough to do so. 

8. Read a book with me. 

The only thing about delving into a phenomenal story is sharing it with someone awesome. 

9. Tell me about your fetishes. 

Because two people need to be real with each other. I want to know these things even if I don't exactly jump on the bandwagon. I want to know the real you  not the facade people show in the early stages of dating. When the best-foot-forward version of you can no longer be maintained, I don't want to be left with a complete stranger. Being vulnerable by revealing these things IS romantic. Don't offer to jizz on my glasses on the first date, however There's a fine line between romance and being a douchecanoe. 

10. Slow dance with me in the middle of a store, in the kitchen, on a sidewalk...

wherever the mood strikes you. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

She's Truly Outrageous

A long time ago, in a land far, far away called the 80s....

I had a Jem doll.
Jem was one of those shows created around a line of toys (Hasbro) like GI Joe, The Transformers, and My Little Pony. The basic plot of the show involved Jerrica Benton, the main character, having a "secret" identity as a rockstar. By day, she owned a music company and a foster home for 13 orphaned girls. By different time of day, she was Jem of Jem and the Holograms, a rocker girl whose badassness could hardly be rivaled. The shows the band played were used to fund Jerrica's altruistic activities, and she always foiled the attempts of bad girl rival bands like the Misfits out of stealing her thunder. Bad girls, seemingly, never win even in the world of animated bubblegum pop rock...

Jerrica transformed from herself to Jem by aid of a hologram machine and a pair of nifty earrings which would envelope her in Jem's image. And, of course, no girl show is complete without some romance. Why is it that girls are seen as only being interested in boys and love with their toys and shows? I guess that's a longer question for another day. Anyway, in this case, the love interest was actually unwittingly digging on both personalities. What do you do when you find out your boyfriend is cheating on you with yourself?

I digress.

I also used to have this Barbie style family of dolls called the Heart family.

This was cute and gaggingly wholesome fun with a Mommy, Daddy, baby girl, and baby boy. Aw! Or not really aw. Not at my house anyway. In my imagination and in my 3 story dollhouse, Mr. Heart used to have affairs on Mrs. Heart with Jem.

That is correct. Before the age of ten, I made Jem into quite a "homewrecker." That jerk. Or, I guess I'm the jerk. Either way.

Don't let this fool you into thinking something negative about my perceptions of relationships at the time, though, or that, perhaps, my parents' relationship had my views skewed. My parents did get divorced by the time I was 12, but it had nothing to do with infidelity. I'm fairly certain neither of them were cheaters, and in fact, the extent of their problems centered around my father's abuse and drug use. I do have my own ideas about love and relationships now that are not exactly traditional, but at that young age, I don't think it crossed my mind too much. Besides all that, the affairs Mr. Heart had with Jem had nothing to do with the drama of a secret relationship and having forbidden fruit. They snuck around, sure. But, when they did, they mostly hung out on the plastic furniture after she brought over plastic fruit in full rocker costume. She never once saw him in her Jerrica attire. And here's why: in my mind, Mr. Heart simply thought Jem was the coolest girl he'd ever seen.

Jem was something completely different from his American dream family. She loved music and dancing. They listened to Cyndi Lauper and moved around the house singing along. Those style dolls really can't dance well, so moving robotically is as good as it gets. She made up songs just for him and dressed differently than his sweetheart wife. She also did her own thing and wasn't afraid to be an upwardly mobile woman of the 80s. Okay, so my mind at the time couldn't conceive the term "upwardly mobile woman of the 80s," but I knew she supported herself and didn't need a damn dime of his while his wife wouldn't have gotten a job if her life depended on it (and she'd end up living on alimony checks for the rest of her life). Perhaps this is where my parents' relationship dynamic was the influence. To me, independence was awesome. Who wouldn't want the cool girl with her own job who could sing her ass off, had flashy earrings, and dyed her hair pink? Mr. Heart just couldn't resist.

And, that's why the affair began. I thought Jem was bad-fucking-ass, so how could he not see her the same way?

The influence of such a character seems pretty small when your child is watching cartoons on Saturday mornings while you're doing the laundry or sleeping in, but here I am today with that influence still quite apparent with my love of music, self sufficiency, education, tattoos, unique style, and outside the box thinking. Fuck am I ever glad my mom never got the depth of a show like Jem...I imagine I'd be sucking down Xanax in massive quantities right now if my life were anything like that of the nauseatingly domestic Mrs. Heart.

On another note...

I wonder what would happen if these Misfits were pitted against the real Misfits in a Battle of the Bands....I also wonder who would spend more time doing their makeup. Would it be more involved to tease that pea-soup-colored hair and electrify those cheeks or gel that one strand into the perfect face blocking place?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Room of Recliners

Sitting in that room in a bright blue recliner surrounded by red construction paper hearts with a heating pad pressed desperately and firmly to my lower abdomen and tears drying on my cheeks, I wanted to shout out that I’d been lied to by everyone there. I wanted badly to demand someone take responsibility for being a dirty, lying scumbag. I did not, however, utter a word. I kept my mouth shut because underlying the anger I was feeling, I also felt guilt. Actually, there was a myriad of emotions bubbling under my pale exterior including sorrow, relief, apprehension, and shock. I sat in that recliner knowing I’d made the best possible choice given my history with pregnancy and labor but knowing that never once made having an abortion the easy choice.

See, when I had my first child, it was something straight out of an after school special that makes you seriously consider abstinence. Or perhaps it was more like a horror movie. Either way, the birth of my son was tragic and terrifying and has left me with enough insecurities to last a lifetime. That day, October 19, 2005, my doctor decided would be my son’s birthday. The boy was only a day late at that point, but the doctor thought it would be best to go ahead and induce. It had not been an easy pregnancy. I was tired. Emotional. Naive about the medical field. I went along with that choice without much concern or research into the matter. I trusted what my doctor was telling me and went with it.

When I arrived at 6 am and started the pitocin, I was nervous and excited. But hours later after I had been stressing to the nurses that I was, definitely, having contractions while they insisted I certainly was not , I was scared. Petrified. I tried so hard to tell them that I knew what was going on with my body while they failed to listen and treated me like I was a complete idiot. I was completely at their mercy, and they failed me in every way imaginable. 

Oh, you’ll know when you’re really having contractions they said.

I’m having them now, I said.

It took forever, it seemed, for those women to realize the monitor had been incorrectly placed on my pregnant belly and that, yes oh yes, I was having contractions…that I had been having contractions all along even as they decided to keep upping my dose of pitocin and laugh at me. By then, the pitocin had to be stopped.

It took hours more for me to finally see my doctor once he had seen all his patients for the day. The nurses assured him that everything was going fine, and there were no issues. But there were issues. I was crying from the pain I was experiencing that had nothing to do with contractions and telling the nurses something was wrong while they continued to tell me I could not be in pain because I had opted for the epidural. The doctor only had to look at me to figure out that things weren’t as easy, breezy as the nurses believed. When he checked himself, only one side of my cervix was dilating. He suggested a Cesarean which made me cry even more. That wasn’t what I wanted or expected to happen. He gave me 45 minutes to see if anything would change, he said. In reality, he gave me 45 minutes to come to terms with what was going to happen so I would not be so distraught in the OR.

By the time he returned, I was screaming in pain. I couldn’t hear. Couldn’t see. I remember being rolled away for the operation, but I can’t remember much else besides telling everyone in the room with me that something was wrong.

As the stronger dosage of fentanyl began to calm the pain I was feeling, I finally managed to tell them my chest was hurting. My blood pressure and heart rate had skyrocketed to dangerous levels. The doctor instructed someone to grab a shot of Inderal to force my heart rate down, but it ended up not being necessary. Right then, I heard my son cry for the first time, and things started to normalize on their own.
Afterwards, while I was still too shaky from side effects of the anesthesia to even touch my son, the doctor came in to check on me. “I thought we might lose you there for a minute.” That’s what he said to me.

It was this experience that had me sitting in that blue recliner with tears in my eyes reading the words of understanding and encouragement that women before me had written on their paper hearts taped all over that room.

I never wanted to be here. I had been a mother and held a baby in my arms and smelled him and watched him smile at me for the first time and say his first words. I had been there. I was already a mother. I didn’t want to do this…but I had to do this.

It was the experiences of that day, the day I had an abortion, that had me angry. So angry. I was angry that no one talks about this. I was angry that my friends kept telling me to think it over and be sure. Friends who I know have gone through this before would not step up and tell me what to expect, how it would feel, and how I would feel. Everyone offered to help if I’d keep it…people that didn’t even help me before when I there were times I could only afford ramen to eat. I was angry that people think this is all just a big fucking joke—that women choose to go through this instead of using condoms. I was angry that all the information I’d gotten from the clinic implied explicitly that it would feel like “bad” menstrual cramps and that I could return to work the next day. Nothing prepared me for one of the most painful experiences of my life.  And, I was angry that the receptionists were extra friendly to deceive me into believing I’d meet with an understanding staff and while most were, the most important wasn’t. The physician himself, the person responsible for vacuuming my uterus, was cold and condescending. He wasn’t the least bit concerned or attentive choosing, instead, to make the patient feel even worse about herself and the choice she made. More over, he was pushing open the cervixes of terrified women of all legal ages like he was working an assembly line he’d grown jaded with long ago while his assistant told us all to keep down our pain-filled moans out of respect for the others.

Despite all that, I still felt (and often still feel) like everything I felt and went through that day was some sort of cosmic punishment for having made this choice…that I deserved every humiliating, excruciating moment I had endured. Even now, I feel in so many ways, that it could never be punishment enough for making the choice I did. I will live with the fact that I terminated a pregnancy and what that means for the rest of my life, and I hope one day I can forgive myself.

Some of the girls sitting in recliners surrounding mine wore faces that let on the betrayal and fear they felt. 
None of us would talk or even make eye contact with one another while the shame and pain continued to wash over us. Personally, I have not talked to many people about this at all. In fact, only a handful of people know period and of those who do, only a couple know how I truly feel about it all. Talking it over is difficult when it seems impossible to truly express your range of emotions to someone who has never been in your position…even your partner is incapable, it seems, since they will never know what it feels like to carry a child or lose one by choice. To all the girls who shared my pain in the room of recliners, we shouldn’t have let each other sit there in stony silence. I, myself, could have used a knowing hug. We never should have let our mixed emotions keep us from reaching out to one another. To all my friends and not yet friends, I’ll listen and cry with you if you ever need an understanding ear. I won’t shut you out and I’ll be honest about what I went through myself. You’ll need it.  

And, finally, to all the people who think abortions are Sally the Slutbag’s version of birth control, you have no fucking clue what you’re talking about. Having sex does not make women into sluts. We had sex just as everyone has sex. In fact, people have sex and use birth control methods and still end up pregnant. It’s not all about irresponsibility and bad choices. Women who have sex are not impregnating themselves either. If you’re blaming women for having abortions, why aren’t you blaming the men whose sperm was needed and who also consciously made a choice to abort? Don’t say the dudes don’t know. They do. My partner did. It was OUR choice not just my choice. Also, knowing that women have had an abortion does not tell you our stories. We’re not in clinics every couple of weeks to “get rid of a problem.” So this is my story full of heartache, guilt, and fear. Here are my vulnerabilities and my wounds. When you read it, I hope you realize there are many more just like it. 

90210: My Generation, Baby

I have done quite a bit of reflecting over life up to this point in the last few years. I’ve become nostalgic for the days of my youth and filled my DVD library with cartoons from the 80s and 90s (When there's trouble you call DW. If you know what that's from, perhaps the two of us should get dangerous), and bought a number of toys I had or wanted when I was a kid. Yes, I sleep with Fraggle Rock characters on or beside my bed. So what? Yes, I have a Pound Puppy and still know all the lyrics to the Animaniacs theme song. And, I still have a crush on Raphael from TMNT.

Nostalgia led to reflection about my peers, and ultimately, I’ve become increasingly interested in the behaviors of these peers and in American culture in general—the drives and motivations of my generation or at least those so-called Millinneals born on the cusp of Generation X . Unfortunately, what I’ve found is a pervasive lack of humility, almost total self-absorption, a detachment from learning and knowledge, and rampant apathy. It’s not everyone, but it certainly seems to be a common, embarrassing trend. And, I’ve come to blame, at least in part, the primetime drama Beverly Hills 90210.

If you’re like me, you can open up your Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or whatever your social networking poison may be and find incredible amounts of bullshit. There’s constant complaints about every little change these sites make, for one thing. This basically amounts to griping about a free lunch which we all should know is a little absurd. In your feed, you’ll find relationship drama and hidden messages in status updates directed towards someone that the poster doesn’t have the guts or maturity to confront face to face. You’ll find people who make fake profiles to be able to escape unhappy relationships for awhile. Bragging about material possessions is as commonplace as gripes about not having enough material possessions. While, at least in my experience, someone with goals who is motivated to have a successful career, has a desire to learn, or has productive, enriching hobbies is very scarce.

I’ve also found that people my age, give or take a few years, seem to have very little success in relationships. I might know one couple who has been together more than a few years and is still happy, but more times than not people would rather be miserable with someone than learn to be content with themselves. Most people I know including myself are divorced, and the others fight constantly, do the breakup-makeup routine, or need antidepressants and/or drugs to achieve any sort of stability with one another. If you can't be happy, numb yourself until you don't care, right?

Here’s where the blaming begins.

Beverly Hills 90210 originally aired in 1990. I was born in ’81, so that puts me as a preteen/teen when the show hit its peak. The same is true for people near my age--20-somethings and 30-somethings alike. The show was marketed as  a primetime teen drama, the first of its kind. It’s since revolutionized television making these sorts of shows an entertainment staple for the last few decades.

The plot of the show focuses on a group of teens in “dramatic” situations set in posh Beverly Hills, California (as the name so creatively suggests). These kids are all attractive and live in upper middle class neighborhoods. These kids and their families have absolutely nothing in common with mainstream America. They do, however, represent an ideal which only succeeds in strengthening their appeal. The point, seemingly, was to have individuals who the common folk could look up to face a number of social issues such as unplanned pregnancy, AIDS, drug use, etc in an effort to help the viewing public cope with these problems more constructively in their own lives while simultaneously providing exemplary entertainment. The creators of the show really got this whole idea very wrong.

The characters of 90210 were supposed to be a very close-knit group of friends who all attended high school together. Apparently, said creators’ idea of close-knit friendship is vastly different from mine. I consider friends to be people who care for one another, strive to help each other, and who find enjoyment in each others’ company. To be considered “close-knit,” I’d say these friends would be as close or closer than family. On the show, these characters were constantly in turmoil with themselves. Friends became enemies and vice versa in an hour timeslot. Relationships began, ended, and became rattled with infidelity. Gossip was rampant, and the kids’ proved themselves to be spoiled brats. Not one of the characters that came and went over the years was someone a parent would want their child to idolize—something that was inescapable considering these are television characters who are beautiful, wealthy, and desired. In the season’s pilot, Brenda, the character played by Shannon Doherty, lies about her age to seduce a guy well into his 20s while she is just 16. The next episode shows the group to be extremely shallow and materialistic with Brenda in the lead. And the rest of the season involves characters who are liars, law breakers, and backstabbers. Then when the show actually tackles a social issue like AIDS, the discussion of safe sex only hints towards the entire group being sexually active, and by the end of the show, Brenda does sleep with Dylan (played by Luke Perry). In the very first season, girls were shown how to be vapid, manipulative, and sexually irresponsible at the very least. That’s not to mention the crimes, sex, scandals, emphasis on material wealth, lies, addictions, and more involving the other characters over the years. Nothing is taboo with this group from sleeping with your best friend’s boyfriend, to screwing your teacher, to breaking into a school to change grade with none of that coming with any real consequences

Is this really any different from daytime soap operas? No and yes.

Daytime soap operas have always been ripe with extramarital affairs, fights, backstabbing, manipulation, and overly dramatic bullshit. Everyone in the rather small casts would ultimately end up screwing everyone else unless the person was a known blood relative with no regard for anyone else involved. Consider Victor Newman on The Young and the Restless. He has been married to 8 different women sometimes multiple times and had various affairs with other women including with his own son’s former wife and the mother of his grandchildren. These shows are meant to be intensely dramatic for sheer entertainment value just as primetime dramas, but they’re on during the day and focus mostly on an adult audience, mainly housewives. Even primetime dramas like Dallas were focused on adults and had little appeal for younger generations.

With 90210 and the advent of teen dramas, the focus was drawing in a younger crowd, and they worked. Scores of young girls were able and more than willing to drool over Jason Priestly and Luke Perry while envying and copying the characters played by Shannon Doherty and Tori Spelling. The show aired after school was over and after homework was likely to have been completed but not so late as to concern parents about letting even their 10-12 year olds watch it.

Those early preteen and teen years —the years which my peers would have been watching 90210—are pretty impressionable ones. Personalities are budding, hormones are changing, and the brain is becoming more fully developed yet still not able to realize between an entertainment figure and a role model. Independence becomes more important as does the idea of romantic relationships. Being influenced by characters on a show like 90210 can make some major changes in the forming self. In my time reflection, I’ve seen how deeply that influence can cut.

I find I’m surrounded by a culture which approves of people keeping the tags on clothes to show off the brand and who are continuously trying to gain success and happiness through material possessions. Teen pregnancy has become a commodity which is glamorized on television. Teen moms make 6 figure incomes to act like complete white trash in front of a massive world-wide audience. Divorce rates continue to climb, and America continues to have the highest rates of depression. Children carry cell phones and spend their days eating spoonfuls of cinnamon for youtube videos instead of visiting museums. Jersey Shore gives us a glimpse of “reality” these days by proving people have become a real version of a 90210 cast. All in all, the things I see every time I open a social network are reminiscent of 90210 and the shows created in its image over the last 21 years.


What can be done?

Not much I’m afraid, but really I have to send a big thank you to Brenda, Brandon, Kelly, Donna, Andrea, Steve, Dylan, and David. Thanks, guys, for showing us the art of being fake.