What I have to say about self image

(this originally appeared as a reply to a friend’s Facebook Status. He posted a remark commenting on how different he thinks he looks in mirrors and photographs. I got on a bit of a rant and felt I had to share)

Looking in a mirror, it offers only one vantage of your body, which is how ever tall you are and where you are standing in proximity to the mirror. The angle from which is a photograph is taken can vary the image drastically. Think about force perspective. So when you look at a photo, it can be playing any myriad of tricks on your eyes. When you look at a mirror, you only get the one angle to view yourself from really, top down and more or less head on.

But it’s the one you see the most, the one you reinforce your feelings for the most. Every morning, if you don’t get up and decide you like what you see in the mirror, then you set yourself up for failure. You’ll be stuck waiting for that one reflection that portrays you in a way that you deem worth being proud of.

At that point there’s only one conclusion to be reached: Reality is based on unreliable data and that visual perception is a flawed and inconsistent sense which is not useful when judging any sort of worth when it comes to a device of mechanical purpose, like the human body.

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Quick thoughts on Confederate Statues

They recently moved a statue honoring a Confederate soldier from a public park to a cemetery. As a humanist and believer in equality over division, I empathize with the desire to tear down the symbols of oppression and racism. I simply wish to caution the warriors of social justice to be careful we’re not just blindly white washing history.

I imagine if you were to poll the average person who patrons the park, most probably didn’t even notice this humble statue tucked away against a bush. And if they had, a percentage less would have actually read the plaque. I’ve read it. Well I read it once. A long time ago. The only thing that surprised me was that it was a Confederate soldier. It made no claims that stuck out to me as racist or proclaiming white supremacy. He was also a good old Orlando boy who fought and died protecting his home and way of life.

I think we must remember our history as it was, we must know our past. I  fear a world where we forget that the US once operated internment camps and we pretend the Civil War was only about slavery. We have the tools to show history in full Technicolor, why do we insist in keeping it black and white? No war is as simple as good and evil. To the victor belongs the history books. I think we should humanize the villains of the history so we can understand them, so we can learn from our past so we don’t destroy our future. It’s time to stop fighting the feuds of our ancestors.

Musings at Sundown

Here I sit, staring at a blank page again. I’ve come to write, but what I don’t know. The painter has it easy. He can just start with some random strokes and see where it goes from there. Me? If I don’t start with an end in mind, then I’m stuck rambling till I stumble on to a story.

I have this word floating around in my mind. Offworlder. I want to use it. I want to attach meaning to it. I want others to recognize that meaning. No I want them to identify with that meaning.

Because I know I’m not the only one out there. That feels like this world isn’t quite their’s. We belong to a different place, different time maybe but can never feel quite satisfied in the current moment.

I think I’ll tell a story about a general who had come to this time of abundance and comfort to rest. Picked this moment specifically to lay down the tools of war and pass the time in peace. But the inhabitants of this time and place are all so disrupted. Anxiety, fear, stress, it’s all we ever think about. “Don’t you people realize you are what you think? If you think you’re anxious, then you are anxious!” in impotent rage.

Instead I think I’ll laugh happily and silently while I watch the dog try to get the cat to play by chasing her with a stick. This animal, as sweet and loving and empathetic as he can be, obviously does not possess the ability to think from another’s perspective. Neither does the cat. That trait along is what make the human species unique and alone. We are all so painfully alone.

 

At work, I was given a Mac book to use for my official computer. I have avoided using mac products since the domination of the iPhone became evident. I have resisted not due to dislike of the product or specific preference of the other. They are all ultimately the same. However, I do not believe in conformity and I will avoid it at all costs.

On the first day, I was on a deadline to finish a project and I didn’t have the patience to let learning a new system interrupt the flow I already had going. So I put it under my PC laptop and raise it up. The second day I made it a point to use it, to get the hang of it. I didn’t have all that much though that needed to get done so I really got the hang of web browsing. The past few days I’ve been using it exclusively, to the neglect of my Windows products at home. Now here I sit at home, writing for the pleasure of it and letting my fingers fly mindlessly over the keyboard, the skills of typing having been ingrained in me from such a young age that it exists in my mind like choreography. Each word is a box step, every commonly used sentence a well rehearsed tango. But my short cut keys. Copy and paste. Alt tab. Ctrl arrow. I keep stumbling, tripping on these once fluent movements.

The Mac.

I’m using the Mac hotkeys. The all powerful command button on the Mac keyboard is where my handy Alt button is on the PC. If it were the Ctrl button, this would be nothing, the buttons are analagous. But swapping Alt for a Command? This is subversion. There was no need to switch these! No efficiency gained.

Then I start to ponder, who actually did it first. Which standard of keyboard had been designed first? Is there some sort of patent matter that prevented the keyboards from being the exact same?

Maybe it was done to keep people from being able to jump ship so readily. Maybe the people who swear their iPhone is the best product on the market and refuse to ever stray from their beloved brand are simply brainwashed. They’ve tried other devices, but because there are slight, almost unnoticeable differences that would make an initial usage of an alternative product cumbersome and frustrating. That brief interaction can leave a lasting impression that the other product is somehow inferior because it lack’s the familiar product’s ease of use. Oh those subtle bastards.

 

Stolen Thieves and Shooting Stars

I never got a Pulse Tattoo.

June 11th of last year, I went to sleep in my bed tired and weary. I was defeated, emotionally exhausted, I had been involved in a very dark situation whose time to be spoken of has not come yet. My personal tragedy hung on my soul like a lead blanket. I went to sleep hoping things would seem less bleak the next day.

When I first saw the reports, the whole world dropped away. Stillness filled the morning. It was surreal. I remember feeling like I had after the Paris club shooting, survivor’s guilt of an event I wasn’t even present for.

But the show must go on and I had to go to work that Sunday. I had to put on black BDUs, dark sunglasses that obscured my face, and I had to carry an AR-15 into audience theater. The exact same weapon the shooter had carried. I thought of all the training I had to go through to be allowed this weapon. All the checks and balances I had to go through when handling the weapon. All the safety procedures and contingencies I had to learn. All he had to do was have enough money.

In the following days I vowed to do something, to get involved. I was going to go to the vigil but I felt like I would be out of place, I wouldn’t belong there. This wasn’t my club, this wasn’t my social scene. When I heard about the crowd size, I was relieved to know enough other people would be there and I could stay at home. I was going to go help make care packages, but I didn’t because I had to pick up a shift. My own personal trauma was an expensive one and I was going to have to dedicate my time to making money first. When I heard the Westboro Church was coming to make one of their ghaustly scenes. I went to the first funeral, to take a stand and show those rotten bastards their message was not welcome. They never did show but a mass of people did. It was quite the scene. There were experienced protestors and their lawyers there to make sure we were in no way endangering ourselves or disturbing the family. There were honest members of the community who had come out for the same reasons I did, to be on the front line. There were the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and they were fabulous as they could be. There were those who were there to satisfy their ego, to pat themselves on their own backs and to be seen.But hate never showed up. The funeral home was on a busy road and I remember feeling overwhelmed with a sense of connection and community everytime a vehicle honked in support. A lot of people honked and it was the first time I saw Orlando as a community and not just a collection of very separate tribes.

In the weeks following, my facebook feed was a wash of rainbow and pulse rate symbols. Every tattoo shop in town had back to back appointments of people trading money to be donated in exchange for permanent ink. Everyone had a tshirt. But it didn’t have the gross feeling of people trying to capitalize on the event, you knew it was all to raise money and to show on which side you stood. Orlando came out to say this aggression will not stand. Love shouted and hate could not be heard.

I never got a Pulse tattoo. I felt like I didn’t have the right to. While I know so many people in the LGBT community and I love them and support them, I am not one of them. From what I’ve observed, that particular tribe has some deep connections to each other, shared experiences I could never hope to relate to. I have not been rejected or oppressed in any fashion close to what they’ve experienced. I am a welcome guest in their world but I have not formed the bonds that they have with each other.

Press fast forward. Tonight I witnessed an expression of the mark this event has left on the artists. I attended “Stolen Thieves” a performance of the constantly evolving show, Varietease. The show’s creator, Blue Star, is the unofficial leader of the community, she has been a powerful voice for all the queer folk of Orlando and was brought into the national spotlight because of her position when the media descended on our town. If you’ve ever met this woman, you know she is a true queen but at heart she is an artist. She pours herself into her shows, her dancers become extensions of expression, each show represents a chunk of time in her world. I had been told she touched upon the Pulse event in the event, I wasn’t prepared for what she had created.

In the beginning, I wasn’t exactly sure of her message but I found the place I go to at the Venue where I stop trying to understand and capture everything and just experience it. The themes of loss, of fear, of anger became present. I became aware of how we are perceiving time throughout the numbers. We come to the moment of June 12th. The tone becomes aggressive as the dancers perform technically precise classical ballet movements to driving industrial metal. The dancers had worn black veils over their face, now they’ve come down to reveal just the eyes of each dancer. The all black costumes, flowing layers with utilitarian belts and buckles and straps have an oddly militant feel. For a moment I am reminded of the image of a middle eastern villain and I wonder if that is on purpose or my own conditioning showing. Interspliced throughout all of this comes the words of great leaders reminding us that we mustn’t cave in to fear and we must all continue to believe in the dream that all are created equal.

I’m crying. At first I don’t know why, then I decide it doesn’t matter. If I want to cry, I can cry and I don’t have to explain it to anyone. In the show I see the message I’ve been looking for. An understanding I’ve been coming to. It no longer matters what tribe you are a part of. If we are to heal, then we all must come together and stand against those who wield hate and fear as weapons. We cannot allow violent actions to spur us on to further violence. There are no easy answers now so what is the point in making things more complicated with lines in the sand. At the end, Blue announces to the audience this was about democracy, and it absolutely was. We mustn’t conform, mustn’t give in. We must be heard, but we must also listen. If we are every to stop atrocious acts from happening, we must stop holding animosity in our hearts. We make our enemies. It’s time to unmake them.

I realize now I’ve gone off in a bit of a rant. Sorry, I’m all worked up defending the Pepsi ad (that story to follow another night.) The point is, be the change. Get involved. Do more than pass around the same snarky articles about what an awful job the president is doing or how we’re all doomed. Democracy only works through participation. Those who participate make the rules. There’s a lot of different ways to participate, you just have to do it.

 

Sorry, this is a weak conclusion. I’m exhausted and loosing wind. Goodnight, offworlders. You know who you are.

It’s ok that you’re getting kinda fat right now.

Hey girl.

It’s ok that you’re getting kinda fat right now. I know I know, it could be better but it could also be worse. You’re fearful of ever straying five pounds one way or the other and that has a lot to do with expectations. Expectations that you hold others to, expectations you hold yourself to. You worry you will be betraying all the promises you’ve made to yourself and falling guilty to all the judgements you’ve made of others. But hey, it’s ok, really. You have permission to change, even if you don’t necessarily like that change, because you have to adapt to current situations. If you expected to stay the same, then you could never grow. Do not let self perception drag down your pride and confidence just because the physical image doesn’t meet the ideal preference; deep down we know we determine how we see ourselves.

It’s ok that you’re getting kinda fat right now. You don’t work out 4 hours a day anymore, nor do you eat perfectly proportioned, well balanced meals every single day. You’re not single and living with people who are also health nuts anymore, life is too complicated for that regimen now.

It’s ok that you’re getting kinda fat right now. It’s 7 days before your period starts and we go through this panic every month where I have to remind you that you’re not getting fat, that it’s just water weight and bloat.

It’s ok that you’re getting kinda fat right now. You’ve taken a dramatic change in lifestyle that is far more sedentary and extremely less physical. You’re not going to burn through calories just by living any more.

It’s ok that you’re getting kinda fat right now. You’ve been sleeping poorly, irregularly, and never quite enough. That happens when you work a varying schedule and so does your husband and you both also share a full size bed with an 80lb dog.

What’s not ok is beating yourself up over it. What’s not ok is thinking you’re a failure because you are not the living example of perfect health. What’s not ok is to train really really hard then completely gorge yourself under the excuse “it’s cheat day”

Time for some real talk. One day you’ll be an expectant mother and undergo some extreme body changes and good luck trying to fit a whole baby under those tightly toned abs. We are going to get over this attachment to physical image because I’m not going to put up with any of this “I’m fat” nonsense. No, you’re pregnant. After that you’ll have a mom body because you spend more time focusing on your family then on yourself. What’s important now is that we just keep incorporating an active lifestyle and reasonable eating habits into our new way of life. What’s important is finding what you need and then letting your husband know how he can help you. Sometimes food isn’t the best way to show love, even if it is an extra helping of macaroni or a smores quesadilla. If I want to have a family and advance my career and pursue my creative passion and also make more time for my friends then I’m going to have to accept that there isn’t time enough for everything.

What’s important is I stay strong enough to do my job, energetic enough to support my family, and calm enough to be the leader I aspire to be. There’s enough stress coming in from the world, why should I generate my own because I no longer look like a fitness model. I enjoy exercise and I will not have you making it into some sort of chore or punishment. I want to be healthy and that comes in all kinds of sizes and flavors.

(PS: Also, don’t be mad when you put off working out or sleeping or meal prepping or chores or anything like because you “got caught up writing”. When the muse comes, you have to listen. But now, go run, because it’s good for you.)

She is touring the facility…

Cake’s “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” is a wildly underappreciated feminist anthem. The lyrics celebrate the desirability of a strong, self empowered woman. The singer expresses a common male desire, a woman who’s got her shit together. A woman who has her life in order, a plan of action, and the will to conquer anything she sets her mind to. The song’s unnamed female protagonist is taking control of her own identity by dropping a diminutive version of her name in favor of a mature standard. She is determined, in charge, competent and confident. The song subtly fetishizes the idea of the dominate woman and one could argue that this detracts from any feminist message of the song, but in a world of constant submissive imagery, it’s a welcomed change of theme.

“We will meet accidently when she asks to borrow my pen”. The subservient male dreams that one day he will meet this powerful woman and will somehow be able to fulfil a need of hers. That’s the hardest thing for the male ego to swallow about the dominate woman. She does not need you, so you must find a way for her to want you. It wouldn’t be a stretch to presume that the male preference for a submissive woman stems from the primal human need to domesticate animals they need. Powerful women are hunters, they are not easy animals to tame. There’s not much you can offer her that she could not obtain herself. What does she need you for? Not safety. Not shelter. Not food. She doesn’t need your love to feel fulfilled because she loves herself. No, all you can offer her is the comfort of partnership. Take a few items off her checklist if you want to find your way into the dominate woman’s heart. She doesn’t need a knight to save her from the dragon, she is the dragon.

This song says a strong, dominate woman is sexy, desirable, preferable. It’s a song about a guy desiring a woman that I am ok with my daughter loving. It is a power song for every interview I walk into. I wonder if Billboard will ever have room for the women in short skirts and long jackets. Other than Beyoncé.

Internet Friends

this may be a weird concept, but I miss having internet friends. I had the most rewarding and genuine friendships when I was a teenager with people I primarily interacted with online. People who shared the same passion for a music group or people who frequented the same forums and chatrooms as me. I feel like with Facebook’s conquest of the internet, and my own distaste of what the internet was becoming, I lost contact with those people and a good portion of my “social” life. The lines between internet friends and IRL friends became messy and suddenly the person I could be online (free from all social anxiety) was disrupted by the intrusion of people from my real life. I couldn’t quite express myself how I felt because suddenly people in the physical world could judge me on the things that I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing with them. I think in this new world of constant and invasive communication I feel more cut off from my tribe than ever. What was once a relatively quiet place that I could escape to and be with the slim group I consider like minded, intellectual peers is now flooded with the whole damn world. I don’t know where to find my internet friends. Those that stayed on the net are still out there I’m sure, communicating on reddit and the likes but I feel almost intimidated now to jump back in and say “hey, I’m one of you.” I wonder how many felt like me, disconnected, and fell away from the net’verse. I had tribe once. We all met at a common space called myspace. We gathered to tell each other stories on livejournal. Some of us hosted webrings and brought the tribes together. They’re all out there together, going to cons and feeling relieved to be around the people who know them better than anyone back home. One day I’ll find them again, but I missed out when I said I had to leave. I couldn’t stay, I couldn’t keep up. There was too much changing, too many of these alien “millennials”. And now they’re saying I’m one of them? I don’t know, maybe I am. I just left the twenties and now when I look to those who are the twenty year olds now and I worry. I don’t think they’re bad, I think they are the children of the generation that has lost touched with what it was once like to be an animal. They are the generation that have not known war in the way that generations before have. Many of them do not have grandparents that remember the great depression. They haven’t had to learn basic survival skills. They were handed a plateful of empty promises. The even younger ones are coming from parents even less prepared for this world than them. They are all growing up in a time of rapid social change and unimaginable technology. Honestly, you can draw a line in the millennial generation if you want a real sampling of the demographic. That line is 9/11. Before the events of that day, I do not remember the world being such a dangerous place. I didn’t know there were so many villains to lookout for. I was 10 years old going into chatrooms and it was a kind and friendly place. Now they’re just shouting matches. Now you have to worry about everything you put out there, everything can be used against you. And I remember a life where you weren’t bombarded by advertising in such an unavoidable fashion. I dunno, I feel like I look at kids younger than me and feel protective of them. They’re all doing the best they can, failed by a world that could never have expected things to be the way they are now, despite all the warnings the writers and scientists tried to give us.
Does every generation go through these growing pains? Do we all look to the new youth and worry that they won’t have it as good as you did? I want to live a life where I can feel safe letting my kids wander for hours on a hot summer day and not worry about them. Is that something I’ll have to just come to terms with myself and undo the fear programing that has infiltrated our culture. I say now that if I give them with the skills and knowledge they need that they’ll be able to take care of themselves, but what if I don’t prepare them for everything. I want to be a part of the generation that makes up for the failed parenting techniques that have brought us the world as it is today. I want to be part of the movement that will be society self correcting and adapting for the new world, one that is interconnected and every line is blurred. There cannot be enemies if there are no borders and my friends, that time has come. We’ve run out of space, run out of places to steal, run out of excuses to conquer and divide. We’ve fought too many wars to end all wars. I want to teach my kids ancient knowledge and primitive truths. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that the way we think we have to live is the problem. The more we cling to the idea that money is real and necessary, the harder it is going to be to continue a free and just world. People who do not have something will always fight for something others have. Putting a “value” to that object will never change that. There was theft in barter cultures. There was still war in among people who did not believe in the ownership of land.
Maybe this is material for a whole other post, but why can’t people just do what they like and other people do what they like and we let that be currency. The people who want to farm grow the food, people who just want to make the food make it, and those who want to build can build for the people who people who make and grow the food and those who only want to eat can clean the dishes when everyone’s done. Why do we have to live in lots of different houses, only to leave them empty much of the time so we can go to other people’s houses? Why can’t I live in a big house or farm with some of my immediate family, another couple or two of child bearing age and maybe a few other friends who are happy to be a part of the family unit as “uncle” “sister” “cousin”? Because it’s weird? I don’t know about you but that seems damn efficient. I have a friend who isn’t interested in being a parent herself but loves kids and loves being a special part of a child’s life, and I know another couple with a young child. Wouldn’t this be a dream, which ever of the five adults wants to can be the one to get the kids up and ready for school in the morning, while the others can sleep in or get ready for work in peace, or take care of the animals. Then some adults can go to work, others can do the chores of house keeping or farming, and another is there to be in charge of the children’s needs for the day. What a crazy hippy idea that is! No, fuck you. It’s tribalism and it’s how we naturally want to live as humans. The fact we don’t live like this in America is why we’re fucked as a culture. We just keep growing more and more isolationist with each new generation. We are force-fed consumerism, lied to that capitalist democracy is our only salvation. I’m tired of trying to live like a Victorian rich bitch. Shit, what was I talking about again?
you know what, nm.
Also, I’m not formatting this. You guys are getting my thoughts, raw and uncut. Enjoy.