11) i hear you, do you hear me

My December to Remember: Day 11

Eventually, all echo chambers implode in on themselves. The reverberation of the same old shit will build up enough momentum to completely shatter whatever was built up inside. There has to come a point where even the most hard-headed among us flip the switch and have a thought that goes outside the groupthink. And what do you think happens when dissent occurs? All the echo energy focuses right on it, either crushing it in its tracks, or pushes them completely out the door.

I don’t want to only associate with those who think exactly like me. I want to hear from everyone. Yes, even those internet society has deemed ‘undesirable.’ Why is it a crime to hear someone out? Who decided that for everyone? Just because I listen doesn’t mean I agree. Plus, I can agree with someone on one thing, and disagree on another. Isn’t that neat?

There’s a big listening problem lately. Everyone wants to get their words out first and foremost and not even consider another option. And it’s time for this practice to come to an end. If we can’t find a way to actually communicate with one another, we’re toast. Sometimes I think we’re on the right track, and then one thread on Twitter derails my entire outlook.

They key to listening is really this: learning when to shut up. Fight the urge to want to say your thing first and foremost. It’s a kind thing to let people speak. It’s even kinder to let them finish before it’s your turn. Everyone can get a say once you realize the decent thing to do is wait. Just for a moment. Because everyone deserves a chance to speak. You’re not obligated to listen, but it’s better if you do. Nourish the mind with differences of thought. That never means you have to subscribe to what you hear. But if you’re ready to show the world you’ve got an open mind, this is the way.

Thank you for taking the time to listen.

full steam ahead

I like working on a news program. I feel like I have a front-row seat to all the madness of the world. And I get to comment on it. But it’s through someone else’s voice and someone else’s name. The scripts I write may partially be what I’m objectively feeling, but it’s not like I’m getting credit for it. That comes in the form of my salary, yes. But there’s no credits after each and every program to show you, the viewer, who it is behind the scenes. Who is in the engine room to make it all kick off. I’m not mad about this, as it’s the career path I’ve chosen. But I cannot ignore the feeling that I’d like to make a name for myself soon. To have my voice out there. To be influential in my own way, and steer us toward a path where real progress could be made.

And sometimes it feels like I’ve missed the boat entirely.

I’m not in therapy anymore. But when I was, we’d talk a lot about my feelings of frustration as a kid. I’m still working through them on my own, but they’re starting to be present more in my adult life. I’m grappling with this feeling of being an independent only child while wishing someone, anyone, would just take me or my word seriously. I didn’t have brothers or sisters to help chart the unknown waters ahead of me, and I wasn’t able to guide anyone who was rising in the ranks after me. I was left to fend for myself, ask my own questions with my War Baby father and Baby Boomer mother at the helm. It was a much different upbringing than what my peers had. I feel like an old salt who’s weathered beyond her years, impossible to connect with or connect to on any level.

It just feels like no one ever just lets me say my thing and leaves it at that. I always seem to get pushback on any one of my thoughts or ideas. Someone has already decided the right course of action, therefore any idea I may have is cast aside and dismissed as incorrect. I’ve thrown my hands up so many times that I may as well throw in the towel. I can’t mop up any more of my disappointment as I watch voice after voice get platformed and legitimized. Meanwhile, I’m over here waving my nautical flags, hoping to God they notice and send a crew to save me.

I don’t have the collaborative skills one learned as a child to interact properly. I’ve been told to go it alone, to be independent, to not rely on anyone else but yourself in order to make it in this world. While I’m glad I have myself to fall back on, it takes a team effort to batten down the hatches to prepare for the upcoming storm. I just may be on my own little rowboat, praying I make landfall soon. No one will notice, no one will care. And I have to start being okay with that. The tide can always turn in an instant.

We all desire a comfortable life. I have that right now. If I want or need something, I can go get it. I’m not worried about traveling, nor do I need to go out to expensive dinners or events. I can’t go to any of those in New York City without my vax papers, anyway. So I’ll just be this, alone in my rowboat, wishing and hoping and praying that one day I’ll crack the code and find a way for those to hear my siren song. Although I don’t ever wish for a shipwreck. Just smooth sailing on placid seas and someone who chooses to listen.

It all seems so attainable. And perhaps I’m not as silent as I think. Perhaps I’m putting the lid on myself instead of heading to the bow to chart my own course. I’ve got all the tools I need. I’ve checked the weather, I’ve identified the danger zones. Who cares if “they” don’t give me the chance I think I deserve? Is is up to them, or am I the captain of my own vessel?

I think I know the answer. But right now, I’m an admiral crewing a fleet of one. It’s been that way my entire life. I can handle a few more solo voyages. Like I said, the tide can turn in an instant. And we’re gonna need all hands on deck to fight what lies ahead. Past feelings are one thing. Paying attention to what’s in the present will keep us from running aground.

Bon voyage.

an update from one of the many rest stops along the way

I know what it’s like to be a loner. I am one. Maybe it’s time I admitted that to myself. I keep picturing myself as this flashy, well-liked social butterfly. I can walk into a room and everyone is just jumping at the chance to speak to me. Everyone gravitates toward me. I am the one they came to see after all. I’m dressed to the nines, outfit on point, ready to take in whatever stop this is on my journey thus far. And all the while, the smile on my face is genuine. I’m there because I want to be and because I’m ready to be. I can’t wait to hear whatever interesting tidbit everyone there has for me. I want to hear it all, from every corner of the room and beyond.

But in all these fantasies, there’s a good man behind me. Whether he’s with me at the event or waiting for us at home. And right now, I am simply not with that man. And these fantasies cannot exist without him.

And that’s fine. It’s going to be fine, anyway.

There’s no reason in the world I cannot have that life I’m dreaming of. I have a lot of living left in me. We traverse multiple landscapes while we’re here on earth. If we’re lucky, we could see eighty-plus years trying to figure it all out. I know I can do anything I want at any time in my life. Except have a baby, but we’re gonna shelve that discussion for another time. 

My life won’t be like that until I have something noteworthy to share. The thing that gets me on the map has not quite been discovered yet. I know the medium that will take me there. That’s why I have this space to write. I know I’ve been away for a little bit, but rest assured I’ve been writing more pages than I have in a while. There’s just no rhyme or reason to them. No need to be published. I’m just reporting what went on in my day, what’s going on in my mind, my pants, my heart, any old place. There’s a lot of words but no cohesion. And if I want to start bringing in crowds, I’m going to have to give them something that’s worth the price of admission. They all ventured out of their homes to come see me, may as well give them their money’s worth.

And the only way I can achieve these dreams is to get out there and learn what it means to fly solo.

I’ve been spending the better part of a week just sitting outside by myself. I bring my laptop out here and sit in various places around my neighborhood. Parks, seating areas, Columbus Circle. Anywhere I can spend a few hours after my post-work nap and just write until I’m tired of writing. Then I’ll head home and write some more. And do what I need to for work, of course. But I do wonder what people think of me. Just a random street lady with her laptop. I’ll get up and stretch then go back to writing. I take mental trips around and outside of New York. I look at people and compliment any dog that decides to inspect me. And I wonder what people think I’m writing. The next great American novel? A diary? My mischievous plot for world domination? Well, I hate to disappoint everyone, but it’s mostly just a buncha bullshit. At least I like what I’m writing, and I guess that’s all that matters right now. I at least made the effort and hauled my ass outside. 

Either way, this is what I like to do, especially in this season. I love summer in New York City. Being out here and restarting my stalled search for a bigger apartment has really made me appreciate how special this city is. There’s absolutely no reason in the world I can’t find everything I ultimately want here. I don’t need to go to another place, it’s already here. In this city. A city I love with all my heart. The city where I came into this world. But I think a lot of people will tell me that if I really want to go after what I want, I need to “put myself out there” if I expect to find it. That’s a little difficult in a post-pandemic world, especially for an only child who has no single girlfriends. Or at least friends she can see on a more consistent basis. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every chance I get with the people I love. There’s just a desire for me to have travel buddy of my very own.

Yeah, dating sites exist. Woo hoo, whatever. At this point, I’m past that stage. I can’t do it. I’ve done it. I’ve done well. But I know there’s another way that’s meant for me. And I seem to have chosen the most isolated and difficult path to traverse.

If this is what it takes to get me to where I need to go, then so be it. This is my path. I’m not forcing anyone to be on it with me. At least not anymore. 

Do I expect the love of my life to just see me and sit right down next to me? Not really. In the sense of “anything’s possible” then sure I believe that could absolutely happen one day. But that day is not today, and it probably won’t be tomorrow either. And I’m becoming more and more okay with that. I’m finding the rocky path to clarity is the one I chose for myself. It’s the one that makes the most sense to me. When winter rolls around, I’ll find another way to hone my craft, so that I can one day make it home with everything I’ve ever desired.

Whether or not I’m a crazy street person or the life of the party, I’ll still end up being just who I am. It’s inevitable. Just as how all our rides have to come to an end at some point. I may be in the driver’s seat or I’m just looking out the window and enjoying the view. All I hope is that I’m lucky enough to have the knowledge that we planned our trip together. I’ve grown tired of traveling alone. I’m willing to try something new. Plus, I hear they’ll give you a discount if they know you’re booking as a pair. That’s a win-win in my book.

Care if I talk?

There comes a point in our lives where it becomes necessary to examine our paths. We put every decision we’ve made up until this point under the microscope in order to assess our next steps. This happens when we realize things aren’t working out the way we’d like them to. A drastic change has to float our way, and it’s up to you to decide if you want to leap into the air to grab that opportunity. But it isn’t always easy to see it, especially if there’s too much negativity fogging up your route ahead.

Lately, I’ve been on a ‘caring’ kick. Not only do I want people to care about one another, I want to feel like I’m cared about. Don’t get me wrong, there are people in my life who absolutely do care about me. But sometimes it’s hard for me to see that through the veil of my own self-absorption. So what can I do about it? Besides remembering that I am cared about, not much. But in my own self-examination, I’ve realized this is far more of a foreign concept to me than I could have ever imagined.

I care a lot. I care about my family, I care about my friends, hell, I care about people who probably don’t deserve my care. The problem is, I don’t think I show this very well. I just assume people know how I feel. As emotional a person as I am, I have trouble expressing feelings in person versus here on a page. Everything just sounds fake and phony when I’m speaking in a one-on-one conversation. I don’t know how to rectify this yet, but I’m glad it’s something I’ve come to realize. I know more now that it’s a desirable thing to find people who aren’t afraid to show how much they care. Perhaps they can teach me a thing or two as well.

Sometimes, just feeling things isn’t enough. We have to be brave enough to say what we mean, especially if it’s something that can benefit more than one’s self. There’s no giving up unless all other options have been exhausted. And when someone is worth you caring about, there’s seemingly endless options to explore.

I see a shift in the winds. People are pausing and questioning things more. They’re wondering if their beliefs will always coincide with their morality, and discovering healthy discussions where there’s a divide. And sometimes, for a fleeting moment, especially in online interactions, you can find people who care about their cause, but care enough to let you have your piece too.

While there will always be the select few who throw all their care blindly at someone who is less than deserving, that pause will always come back the more information comes to the surface. Blind care and support can fall by the wayside the more people can poke holes in an already thin and flimsy facade. If your foundation is less than stable, it’s best to put all your care back in yourself first before everything crumbles.

Having space in your heart for more than one person is always a wonderful thing. Just make sure there’s enough for you too. Take care.

 

Standing up for what’s right

We have a listening problem these days. In a world swollen with big news report after bigger news report, it’s understandable as to why that may be. We’re swimming in a sea of stories that barely get resolved before the next big tidal wave hits our shores. So we’re expected to care about a long stream of events, all the while waiting for the floodwaters to recede. And one small slip down an internet rabbit hole can leave us submerged under the weight of things that are completely out of our control.

News is not opinion. Never has been, never will be. News is what’s happening. And these days, we have a multitude of options to get our news. But there seems to be a growing argument of which network or publication is “real,” and which is “fake” (or “propaganda,” which is rapidly becoming the word of the year). At this point, who’s to say what’s right anymore? Each ‘side’ has its own version of an echo chamber, and it’s getting to the point where we’re all accusing each other of doing things that our side is also guilty of.

It’s a confusing time for sure, and it’s not always easy to separate right from wrong. Instead, everything is starting blend into one another, with no resounding ideal to drag us back from the edge of insanity.

What’s right? What’s correct? What, if anything, is there to cleave onto as we wade through a never-ending cycle like the one we’re stuck in?

I think it’s time we err on the side of human decency to get us through the day.

We’re inundated by negativity with just one quick visit to any of the major social media sites these days. Someone is mad at a news story, or one internet personality is causing drama with another. We’re mired in misery, yet somehow told to pull through and look at all the good and historic moments happening in the country. I ask, how is that feat accomplished when no one seems to have a good word to say about their opposition? I’m not saying we need to praise each other blindly, but there’s not a sense of healthy competition anymore. It’s us versus them. You’re either with us, or against us. There’s no embracing of the similarities once we wick away our differences.

Of course, one counterargument to this proposal is people are allowed to be angry. But how that anger is channeled says a lot more about you than it does at the person you unleash it on. Are you content with calling someone a nasty name and flinging an ad hominem? Or would you rather express your anger at existing injustice that needs to be paid attention to?

I can’t tell you who is right or what to pay attention to, because that decision remains with you. You can stick to your convictions without being dismissive of the other line of thinking. That, in my opinion, is the decent thing to do.

Underneath the choppiness of the waves lies a calming depth that we haven’t even started to sink into. We don’t want serenity because it’s far more fun to bounce about in the chaos above the calm. But storms always pass, and attention out of negativity will always wane.

I’m tired of rocking the boat. We’re due for some smooth sailing. It’s there, past the horizon. You just have to want to see it.

Me, you, and you should too

Aziz Ansari is the latest Hollywood guy to be thrust under the “Me Too” microscope, after a woman’s blistering account of (what I would consider) a terrible date/hookup with him that ended in shame, regret, and a pervasive feeling of violation.

I’m not here to minimize whatever this woman went through, nor am I downplaying what his actions were that night. I’m simply stating my thoughts about this. Of course, in this climate we’re simmering in, you’ll hear tons of different opinions about what really went down, from calling what Ansari did “sexual assault,” to propagating that the #MeToo movement is a “witch hunt” against men.

I’m frankly surprised at how all this has unfurled, especially regarding someone who is as outspoken a feminist like Ansari is.

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What I took away from this account is a tale of misreading the room. Ansari allegedly did not respect this woman’s wishes to take it slow, though she did relent and eventually regret what transpired. No one is in the right, choices-wise, and what we’re left with is a whole bunch of people online trying to vicariously fix what went wrong. You get swaths of people saying “Well she did this so she obviously wanted it!” or “Well she should have just left!” or “She should have called 911!” or “She shouldn’t have said anything!”

What should she have done? It’s becoming more of a rhetorical question the more we discuss things, since we can’t change what was done or how past situations unfolded.

In any story like this, we can’t help but think back to our own experiences and tie it to this one. And, like many of us, I’ve had my share of bad hookups. Things that I knew in the moment I didn’t feel like doing anymore, but instead of stopping I just rolled my eyes and waited until it was over. But I do think it’s important to point out that just because it was consensual doesn’t mean I liked it. Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s easy to earmark what I should have done, namely saying “This isn’t working, let’s knock it off.” But I can’t change the past. And none of you online can either.

Alas, my experiences are not universal. People online are not shy about telling you that. Unfortunately, some of those same people have not yet learned that because a situation unfolded for you in a certain way, that doesn’t mean that it was like that for everyone else, or will continue to be like that for everyone else. And it’s much easier to tell another person what they should have done, especially when you think your reactions and world views are the be-all-end-all.

Everyone’s story is different. Everyone’s experiences are different. The best we can do for ourselves is not let one account define us as a species. Instead, we should perhaps learn from other people’s experiences, and know what we can do differently, should we find ourselves in another uncomfortable situation.

This story is certainly a cause for concern on many different levels for both men and women alike. In the end, I find it’s about the lack of respect we sometimes have for one another when our own desires take the reins. Finding the courage to tell someone when you’ve had enough and knowing when to back off are two important takeaways here.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s time for those we define as ‘woke’ to stop hitting the snooze alarm on their own wake-up calls. Here’s hoping 2018 will change that.

In defense of the indefensible

Happy 2018. The Year of Responsibility is already off to a good start. Sort of.

As you may or may not know, YouTuber Logan Paul has been under fire lately for posting a tasteless and shocking vlog from his visit to Japan’s Suicide Forest. In the video, which went out to a predominantly teenage fanbase, he recorded himself finding what appears to be a deceased man hanging from a tree, complete with a barely-blurred out face, laughter, and jokes about the horrific discovery.

He has since removed the video and apologized, twice, but what we on the internet are left with is a story in which many different reactions are not only appropriate, but necessary in order for us to process something of this magnitude. So let’s unpack. 2850229_1280x720

First off, I’d like to point out that I’m not defending his actions. There is no defense for something like this. You can’t sit there and tell me that there weren’t second thoughts about posting the video. It’s disrespectful to make light of, and essentially profit off someone’s suicide. Someone had to edit this together and give a final greenlight to upload it to YouTube. It’s, in my opinion, a soulless action and ultimately should never have happened.

But it did. And now we have to deal with how we feel about it.

Though we cannot necessarily control our first visceral reaction, we can choose how we share it. Shock, disgust, and dumbfoundedness seemed to cloud my Twitter timeline when the news hit. There was a lot of support for the victim, and outreach to those who may be experiencing depression. But a lot of the time, that got buried by snarky comments and outrage over how dumb Logan is for existing.

Still others brought it all back to themselves. “YouTube censors me but leaves this up???” I have to shrug my shoulders at that one, since I do not sustain a life via my internet personality. I can sympathize, but that’s about it. But there’s also the select few among us who feel like answering this perceived injustice with more vitriol. And this is where I have to speak up.

What does this accomplish, besides getting a ton of retweets and likes? Nothing. It’s just oneupsmanship. “You’re trash,” aka “I’m better than you.” Insults like this just make me think there’s a bit of projection at play here. People couldn’t fathom filming and uploading something like this, because most of us do not share every single aspect of our lives with the internet. And because it’s something Logan does to sustain a life, it’s given him a warped sense of values. It seems the only way for him to express any sort of empathy is through a video of his experiences. And I can’t necessarily be mad at that, I can only pity that.

Being angry is normal, especially after something like this. But choosing to share your anger so publicly is where I start to question your motive. I want to believe people will start taking responsibility for their actions, own up to mistakes, and move on. And in this day and age, that includes how we share our reactions. I just don’t see any point in firing back in this kind of manner. Criticize the action all day long, but personal attacks just end up taking you down a notch instead. Not to mention, there were myriad people telling Logan to “kill himself” and I won’t even point out the irony in that.

Ranting online feels good, but it’s only temporary. No matter how much anger we expel, something else is bound to come along to make us even more angry. The less we rant and the more we digest, the more we’ll be able to look at things through another life lens, or at least a more objective one. Take it from me. YouTube used to be my rant outlet. And it got old after a while.

Going forward, this may be a good lesson for all of us to learn how to pause before we give a record of our gut reactions, especially online. I know it’s easy for me to sit here and tell you not to do something, and ultimately I can’t control how other people express themselves. I can only comment on it. And perhaps step one towards minimizing our selective outrage is to stop giving praise to such negativity like Aaron Paul’s tweet above. Or stop going on Twitter altogether. But I’m not ready to snip that cord just yet. How else am I going to rant about how rants are getting old? Gotta take the bitter with the sweet.

Happy 2018.

Circling back

I’ve been out of the loop lately. Nothing is wrong, it’s just the holidays leave plenty of time to reboot and renew, and unfortunately for me that comes at the expense of my writing. I have been writing, just not here. And I hope I can change that as the new year begins.

I never seem to have a clear trajectory with things. When something piques my interest, I go all out, diving in head-first and putting my all into whatever task is on my plate. And things go very well for a while. But there’s always a tapering off. Consistency has always been my problem as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, and it’s something one must learn to harness if there’s ever a chance for success.

But nothing ever stays away forever. I always seem to circle back and revisit things. Everything seems to stay in the back of my mind, even when the forefront has other things to focus on. That focus lately has been on myself, and I’ve honestly been doing very well.

I’m worrying less about things, things that I spent all of 2016 crying about and 2017 moping about. Life is good right now. It’s cyclical. The earth never stops turning, and we never stop running forward full steam ahead. But we’re all running on a never-ending track, and we’re always going to loop around and revisit things. You just have to have faith that you’ll keeps seeing the things that mean the most.

2018 is right around the corner, and much of the outlook seems positive so far. I have to believe everyone’s uplifting vibes are finally coming together, and can really give us a year to remember. For the right reasons.

I’ll see you soon.

It’s good being me

Remember when I said Wednesdays were the worst day of the week? Well, maybe they’re not so bad after all. I had a great day today. Today confirmed there’s a lot of magic I’m working with in my life, and I have to be extra careful that I’m using my powers for good. Sound weird? I know. I’m not casting spells or purchasing wands or anything, I’m just riding a positive vibrational high. And it feels good. But I have to remember that with every up, there is a down, and I can’t be too overzealous with my newfound skill.

There’s a razor-thin difference between self-confidence and cockiness. And I think people are beginning to discovering that margin. It’s slight, but we can start to see it. If someone you once considered insightful and all-knowing can’t go one conversation without driving it right back to themselves, then you’ve got a bit of an egoist on your hands. And it’s not an attractive quality to possess.

This is something I constantly have to remind myself. Getting too cocky will always spill over into a hard crash. Thinking we can do no wrong will inevitably bite us in the behind if we’re not careful. No one is invincible. And no one is as perfect as their boasts may make you think.

But please don’t think I believe people are beyond any sort of help or growth. Anyone can learn about themselves if they’re willing to listen to helpful criticism. Notice I said “helpful.” There’s ways we approach people and speak to people. Words on the more pleasant side will fall better on people’s ears, and they may be more inclined to take your advice. But we can’t ever expect change overnight, nor can we expect one conversation to be the be-all-end-all-thank-you-I’m-cured.

There’s a lot on the horizon as 2018 approaches. I’m grateful I’m going into a new year with smile on my face rather than a grimace of uncertainty.  Feels good, man.

 

Can you hear me now?

Have you ever called someone and had them answer with, “I was just thinking about you!” It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. It’s as if you heard their plea to speak with you. It’s intuition. And not to get too guru gaga on you, but I believe this is the Law of Attraction at work. (You may close the browser now if you want.) It’s not like I subscribe to new age beliefs or anything like that, but I believe you get back what you radiate out to the universe. This is why in recent years, I’ve tried extra hard to be aware of my feelings, and not project the sour and negative vibe I’ve been giving off for the majority of my adult life.

We’re a lot more perceptive about our space than we give ourselves credit for. It’s why I can’t believe that we’re just living with nothing waiting for us after we’re gone. There’s a much greater force at play here; something that drives us forward and urges us to continue the journey, no matter how many potholes or roadblocks we find along the way.

For some, that greater force is a religious symbol. Others are motivated by power. Or money. But me? The key to the great beyond, as I’ve pleasantly discovered, is love. It’s something my father has been trying to teach me all my life, and I’m happy to announce that it’s finally clicking into place for me with each passing day.

When we find and accept love for ourselves, that glow can’t help but radiate outward. You see the contentment on someone’s face, and it’s infectious. A sweet spirit can recognize another, and knows how to avoid the dismal and dreary among us, at least for a little while. I do believe these positive vibrations are not just things we ask for from our Twitter or Tumblr followers. It can have a profound effect on your loved ones as well. Putting out good thoughts to those you care about will always make them feel secure and loved, even if you find yourself not speaking to them, at least temporarily. We can’t be available to one another all day every day, as unfortunate as that may be. But being in someone’s positive and loving thoughts can get you through the day without you even knowing it.

I believe we’re constantly communicating with those we love. We’re sending out good thoughts, hoping they’re doing well, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll receive that energy back. Though we do get snagged by negativity from time to time, it’s important to make sure the good outweighs the bad. Taking a deep breath and being able to count your blessings will send them back to you tenfold. Twentyfold. Millionfold. It’s up to you to call upon the good instead of ringing up the nasty.

I’ll leave you with this passage from Roald Dahl’s The Twits, which I still think about to this day, which is a good visual into what I’m trying to (un)eloquently get at. DRRKz-7XkAALKE8

Now that’s how you drive a talking point home.