Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Illusions of Time and Reality of Love

We measure our lives in time. Whether it be the smallest second or decades we only know this unit of measurement for telling how long it has been sense an event has occurred.

The problem with time is it is not accurate. Sure you know technically how many minutes or days have passed but when was the last time when you were waiting for time to pass that it felt accurate?

We have all lived through the two hour second or looked back on a single year and were unable to fathom how you could do so much in just a year. Time really is just an illusion.  It is what we do in that time that is real.

Today, for me, 10 is the number that matters. Ten years to be specific. Ten years which marks almost 1/3 of my life. Ten years which encompasses so much more than that measure of time can describe.

Ten years ago today I said I didn't care about pretty dresses or girlish dreams. Ten years ago I said that all the fluff and trappings didn't matter.  Ten years ago I said the only thing in the world that was important was being married to my husbeast come days end; and it still is the only thing that matters.

Since that night ten years have passed but I am here to tell you that it has been so much more than that. Truly I feel that a lifetime has passed in this time. I can not wrap my brain around how we have shared so much love and so many adventures in such a short amount of time.

I know there are people who would argue that a decade is a long time. Surely in an age of famous celebrity marriages that last barely a month ten years really is a lifetime. For me though it seems like a drop in the bucket.

This last decade has been hard at times but more often it has been good. Together in this time the husbeast and I have gone on many great adventures, done many scary new things, and laughed enough to power the world for ten generations to come. I don't know how we managed it all in just ten years.

What I do know for certain is that time might not seem real but everything that has happened is certainly the real McCoy.  It doesn't matter how long they took it just matters that they happened.

You say ten years. I say an immeasurable lifetime.

To my love, my friend, my husbeast; here is to this lifetime and so many more to come no matter how it gets measured.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An Open Letter to Everyone Everywhere

Dear Everyone everywhere,

Where have you gone?

I find as I look around myself you are nowhere to be found. I can remember a time when you were so vibrant and real, living in the world with such enthusiasm for life. You were always creating such wonderful ideas, joyful music, and even melancholy prose at times. I could never miss seeing you as you would not be hidden by even the largest of shadows.

Now you are gone. Now you seem to simply exist on the surface instead of being an active part of this fragile fleeting thing we know as life. You have been reduced to shared infografics, marginally accurate personality quizzes, and cat memes. Your original content has been lost in some faceless algorithm which now defines you more than a poorly thought out profile bio.

Even when we are together you are not there. You are trapped behind a wall of pixels and the shackles of free wifi. The non goings on of a society of robots takes the foreground to reality. An electronic thumb symbol has replaced a genuine smile or simple touch.

I watch as you lose your empathy and grow your narcissism with every vain selfie that you vomit up. You try and show yourself to the world by removing yourself from the here and now with every snap of the lens and Instagram filter.

Perhaps I am to blame as I too have disengaged. I am just as guilty of hiding behind the home row on my keyboard eagerly awaiting the next bit of digital voyeurism to come my way. I too have found the safe malaise of what we have come to accept as life.

I want to be better, I do. It is just lonely here now. You have all gone away and I am not sure you even realize it. I miss you.

Please come back to me and to the world. Say your own words instead of puppeting back the seemingly profound words of others. We have stopped creating anything new, and it is destroying all of us. Make your own music, write your own stories, be your own philosopher.For your own good. For the good of the future.

Start living again. Do not be a slave to your job and to your life; live it. Even if it is only in the small moments, live it. Make the most of everything you can because it will all be gone far too soon. In the end you won't lie waiting for your last breath thinking of silly cats, annual incomes, or whether you are thin enough. You will remember a gentle kiss, joyous laughter, painful tears, and smiling faces.

Make sure you have a full lifetime of these things to remember.

Please come back to me, I promise I will be a better person.

Sincerely,

Me

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

All You Need is Love

After my last post on friendship I had a very dear friend of mine come to me with a request to write my next post on the subject of love. I enjoy getting requests and a good challenge, as well as adore this friend, so I happily agreed to write the post. Love, after all, shouldn't be a difficult topic to write on. I have plenty of practical experience so this should be a no brainer.

I should seriously learn to not underestimate the depth and breadth of a subject. I have been pondering on this post for almost two weeks now and I still haven't come up with a satisfactory answer to the question of 'What is love?'.

Here is the problem; love is complicated. I think that love is perhaps the most complicated simple subject in the world. I could give you the Webster definition of love but after reading it I realized that it is completely lacking in accuracy. It makes the whole concept far too simple to be a true definition of what love is.

English uses only one word for love, which is a problem in some ways. We use context clues, inflection, and adjectives to determine the type and severity of love instead of mucking about with multiple words to mean love. Most other languages do the opposite and assign a different word for different types of love; Sanskrit, ancient Persian, Eskimo, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Arabic, and the list goes on. 

What all of these languages point out by having multiple words for love, is the fact that love is very complicated. There is not just one type of love. The love you have for your significant other is different than the love you have for your children, or for your parents, or for a friend, or for a book series, or for your pets, or for those really cute sling back sandals, or for cheese.

When it comes to love of a person  you can love someone but not be in love with them, which adds an entirely different layer of complication into the entire love scenario because loving and being in love are two different things completely. Of course it is hard to explain the difference to someone who has never actually been in love with someone before. Quantifying the concept of being in love will typically leave you with analogies to bright lights, fuzzy feelings, butterflies in your stomach, radiating warmth, contentedness, and joy, but nothing truly concrete.

So what is love?

Love is unpredictable. Love is messy. Love is caustic. Love is terrifying. Love is one sided. Love is fickle. Love is fleeting.

I bet those were not the things you were expecting me to say. Allow me to elaborate.

Love is this ridiculously complicated emotion that has no real rhyme or reason to it. You feel love towards people and things generally because they make you happy and feel comfortable and good. This is a wonderful thing. The problem is that just because you love something or someone does not mean that your affection will be returned. It is a total crap shoot.

Whether it is love for a friend, a family member, or a lover, there is absolutely no guarantee that they will love you back or that their love will remain true. This is why relationships end; people fall out of love all the time. Those warm happy feelings that we initially have for people can fade over time. They call time a test for a reason people; not everyone passes that test.

This is a very sad truth about love that you have to be willing to accept. It is not all sunshine and lollipops and if you don't accept that, you will someday be in for a very rude awakening. At some point in your life you will feel the bitter sting of lost love.

And that is enough from the cynical realist side of things.

Once you move past the downfalls of love (which I desperately hope you can move past them) you are left with all the good happy things. Love is a wonderful thing that fills you with joy and happiness. At its most basic form, that is all that love is; happiness. Loving someone or something means that they make you happy. Easy peasy.

I had a friend in high school who used to get freaked out when I said I loved him. It was the truth, I loved him. I was not IN love with him, but I loved him none the less. I come from a family that is very big on loving people and letting them know that you love them, so sharing this affection with others is in no way weird to me. He wasn't from such an open background.

We finally came to the conclusion that there is love (with a lower case l) and then there is Love (upper case L). Lower case l was designated for love of a friend and far less serious (in his mind). If you used the upper case version of the word it was more romantic and toward being in love with someone. He was comfortable with me saying I love you once we gave it strict definitions. In the end I would just say 'little l' and he would get the idea.

Some people don't choose to designate the feeling they have for their friends as love, and that is fine. Again I was raised in a family where loving your friends was just what you did. I heard the words 'I love you' so constantly that it is second nature.

It never devalued the term to me though. Just because I love lots of people does not mean that the love is any less. I do not have a certain quotient of love that I have to dole out in a lifetime. If I choose to love lots of people the love won't thin out and become smaller. True I might love some people more than others but that is just dependent on our relationship.

Love is also not something that is made less valid with time or distance. There are people that I love without question that I have not seen or spoken to in years. Love has no set expiration or use by date, it is not a dairy product. Much like friendship does not have to be constantly engaged for the friendship to remain valid, neither does love.

Love still is not always going to be reciprocated. I have friends that I love dearly who would not share that sentiment with me. They would say they are fond of me but love is not the emotion they would choose to describe our relationship. This is perfectly fine. I have no intention of defining a word or an emotion for them. It doesn't change how I feel about them though, that isn't how it works. I can love them even if they don't love me back.

So love is a risk, and it can end terribly, and cause pain and a whole host of messy problems, but love is completely natural and totally unavoidable in the end. Despite your best efforts love is something that will creep in when you are busy doing other things and slap you upside the head so hard you see stars. You can deny it all you like, but it will be there.

In the end I have come to the conclusion that love is not something you should define or control. It is a force that defies words and logic and simply exists. The best we can do is embrace love, cherish love, accept love, and try and find it in as many places as possible because in the end love is the most wonderful thing in the world.

In the immortal words of the Beatles:
In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Friendzone

The question has been raised to me of late as to what makes a friend. When it was first posed I thought the question was a little silly. What do you mean what makes a friend? How can you not know what makes a friend? It is one of the most basic and prevalent relationships most people have. Still I decided to sit and ponder on the subject and found that the answer really wasn't all that simple.

First of all everyone's definition of a friend is different. It is an incredibly subjective term seeing as how different people need and want different things out of people. With that in mind I started with a broader look at what a friend is supposed to be.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary the definition of friend is as follows:

1friend

noun \ˈfrend\
: a person who you like and enjoy being with
: a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity)


The first definition makes things really simple. Someone I like and enjoy being with. Going through a quick mental list of people I call friend I find that they all fit that description. I mean sure there are times I don't enjoy being with my friends, but that is part of being human. No one likes any one person 100% of the time. 

The second definition I do not think was intended to so much refer to an actual personal relationship. I think it is more meant to cover things like 'Friends of the Arts' or other such titles. Still it is a good definition to apply to friendship on a personal level as well. If a person is your friend it should be someone you are willing to help and support and vice versa. 

So there we have the basic definition of what a friend is; someone you like and enjoy being around and are willing to help and support when needed. One would assume that this works both ways in a friendship but we all know that is not necessarily true.  Sometimes being a good friend is a one way street.

That is where the thinking got a little more difficult; being a good friend. We have already established that simply being a friend isn't particularly hard or heavy on requirements, but what about being a good friend? Shouldn't that really be what we are looking at here?

So what are the qualities of a good friend? The dictionary doesn't have an entry for good friend so I was on my own for filling in that definition. This is where the subjective part of the process really comes into play. What I consider to be a good friend might not fulfill another persons ideas of a good friend.

Do you have to talk to your friends every single day? No. Hell I only talk to the husbeast every day because we share a bed. I have friends who I love dearly and would give an internal organ to and I haven't spoken to them in months. I have friends with whom the bulk of our interaction involves liking one anothers Facebook posts. 

This does not make us any less of friends. Constant interaction is not required for friendships to be valid. What matters is that when we are together we enjoy being together and are good to one another. What matters is that we are there when we need to be.
For me a good friend is a good listener. When I need to rant and vent they are a person who will sit quietly and let me get all the vitriol out. They will allow me to say my fill without interruption. They never make me feel burdened for wanting to ramble on and on about whatever it is I need to get off my chest.

My friends and I have a phrase we use when someone starts to vent "Do you want me to fix this or just let you vent?". Sometimes you don't want your problem analyzed and fixed. Sometimes you just want to scream about it until you feel better. Good friends can do whichever you need at the time.

At the same time they shouldn't be judgmental. They should try to understand where I am coming from as much as possible and be as supportive as they can be. We don't have to agree on everything or have the same ideas and beliefs, but they shouldn't be there to make me feel bad or guilty about who I am or what I believe and think. 

They should be someone who is willing to help me in my crazy schemes or be the voice of reason when I get too out of control. They should be willing to try and talk me down from my total crazy when it is needed. Good friends help keep you out of jail whenever possible, or at least are ready with bail money when necessary.

They should be willing to help in any way possible when they are capable. No person is superhuman and can help everyone with everything all the time. We don't have the money or emotional fortitude to see all of our friends through every crisis. Sometimes we have to prioritize our helpfulness and a good friend knows that this isn't selfishness it is just life. They know that you are giving as much as you can at that time. 

After much reflection these are the basic things I came up with. I am sure there are more things on my list, but these seemed to cover the high points. I know that they also sometimes seem a little contradictory, but I think that is again part of human nature.

I am not always the best of friends. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by life and I can't manage much of anything in the good friend department, but we all have moments like that. That is when we need our friends to be good to us knowing that when we are out of the slump we will be good to them. 

Friendship, like any relationship, is a growing shifting changing thing that requires attention and effort. All relationships are work at some point or another. No friendship is without its rough patches, but the good normally outweighs the bad in the long run.

Good friends are a precious commodity. They are people you should not take for granted or write off too quickly. Friendship is a two way street and that is all too often forgotten.

When it comes down to it though, a friend is just someone you like and enjoy spending time with. Remember that, and the rest should fall in line. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mirror, Mirror

Every morning I crawl out of bed and stumble stagger my way through my bedroom, trying not to trip on a cat, into the bathroom where I fumble for the lights. I stand there on unsteady legs a moment while I squint bleary eyed into the suddenly bright light that surrounds me. The world slowly comes into focus as my eyes adjust to both being awake and all the blasted light once again. As my vision clears my eyes lock onto the mirror and my own reflection is the first thing that greets me causing me to frown.

I would love to say that my negative reaction to my own visage in the mornings is due to the fact that I am just being cranky about being awake. I would love to say that it is caused by the way my curls have matted down to one side of my head while the other side is standing up at strange angles making me look a little like Yahoo Serious. I would like to say that it is the pillow lines that are still set into my cheeks that cause me to frown.

I know that none of that is true.

I know that those excuses are just that; excuses. I know this because I have a similar reaction pretty much any time I look in the mirror. I know that typically the best I get out of an encounter with a mirror is the thought of 'Close enough', 'This will have to do', or 'As good as it is going to get'.

Most of the time I stand in front of a mirror it turns into a time for me to catalog my flaws. There is the obligatory gut check where I suck in my gut as much as humanly possible, turn sideways, and then with a breath let my gut back out so that I can lament how fat I am. There is the fingers brushing through my hair trying to adjust it so that it looks somewhat flattering and less like the mess it is. There is the squinting at my face where I notice every bump, blemish, line, and the increasingly dark and puffy circles that live under my eyes.

Now don't get me wrong, sometimes I look in the mirror and am satisfied with what I see. Some days I am having good self esteem, and good hair, and put a lot of effort into my makeup and outfit, and I think 'Damn I am fabulous'. Some days that happens, just not most days.

I know that I am being stupid. I am being completely ridiculous when I look in the mirror and judge myself as harshly as I do. I know that I can step away from the mirror and feel good about myself and who I am and how I look. When I can't see me I can have confidence which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

The thing is that we are always our own worst critics. Every single person on this planet suffers from this problem. If you show me someone that looks at themselves in the mirror every day and sees nothing but perfection I am going to call bullshit. They are lying to you or taking so many mood altering drugs that they are chemically blocked from thinking negative thoughts.

Time and time again I hear my friends say that if anyone treated them the way they treat themselves they would beat them up. Most of us would not stand for someone constantly telling us that we are fat and ugly and imperfect. Most of us would tell that sort of person to take a hike. Most of us would call that sort of relationship an abusive one that we should get out of.

Of course we can't break up with ourselves. We can't end a relationship with the person in the mirror without suffering some sort of psychotic break. We have to learn to accept ourselves, flaws and all, and learn to love what we see.

I am not certain this is a task that we are truly capable of once we are adults. All the self hate and loathing and judgement is so ingrained in us that it seems like an impossible cycle to break. How do you love yourself when all you have ever been taught is hate?

At faire, as costumer for the cast, I inherited a lab called Smoke and Mirrors. The purpose of the lab is actually to share tips and tricks with the other women on cast about how to make it through the hot sweaty day of faire and look picture perfect the entire time. It is a lot of talk about hair product, makeup, and chafing prevention.

The surface maintenance is not the only thing the lab covers. The lab goes deeper than that with one simple exercise which always proves to me that women don't love themselves or see themselves clearly. I do not know who started this exercise, but it is truly a thing of beauty.

We all stand in a circle facing in. One person is picked to begin and they turn to the person on their right and tell that person one thing that they find physically attractive about them. You can tell them anything you like about them as long as it is a physical aspect of the person and is positive. The person receiving the compliment has the harder task of simply saying 'Thank you'; no more, no less.

Taking a compliment and just saying thank you is so incredibly hard. Our instinct is to deny what we are being told. Our instinct is to make excuses for what they say. You are told you have perfect skin? You want to tell the person that it is actually really oily, or that it is just the makeup you use. You are told that you have amazing hair? You want to tell them how it takes hours and tons of product to look like that, or point out that it is frizzy and you have terrible split ends.

Simply, we do not want to accept that other people find us attractive without any questions asked. To simply say thank you without making comment or excuse makes us accept that at least someone appreciates us for the way we look.

The things that are said always amaze me. You sit and watch each person and think to yourself 'well what would I say to her?' You think that they have the most amazing eyes in the world and are certain that is what this person will say, but are shocked to find out that they are admiring her lovely high cheekbones. Then you look and think, 'Yea her cheekbones are sort of amazing'.

Even more amazing though is to see the reactions of the women in the group. Women that I think are stunning with their sleek hair, dusky exotic skin, wide sparkling eyes, gentle warming smiles, graceful swan like necks, adorable button noses, and cheek bones of the Gods, are rattled to the bones by these revelations from their peers. Women who I would be certain have to be happy with themselves because they are so beautiful burst into tears because they are just as insecure as I am and are struggling to believe these things to be truths.

There is always a lot of hugging and crying at the end of this exercise, but I like to think we all come out of it a little stronger. I also love that months later, when I am trying to brush off a compliment, that my girls will fix me with a stern stare and parrot my words from the exercise; "What do we say?", "Thank you." I reply sheepishly knowing they are right.

Our society is overly focused on physical beauty. We are fixated on what people look like and trying to fit everyone into set ideals of what beauty is. In doing so we have irrevocably damaged ourselves to the point where no one thinks they are beautiful. Even women that are considered the most beautiful women on the planet are airbrushed in photographs to make them more perfect. We are always striving to meet an image in our minds that isn't real.

We should not be teaching our children that beauty is what is on the cover of the magazine. We should be teaching our children, and ourselves, that beauty is what we see in the mirror every single morning. We should be teaching ourselves that there is no 'ideal' beauty or proper mold. We are not little plastic figures coming out of a factory in Taiwan. We are humans and we are all so vastly different which is precisely what makes us so amazing and beautiful.

It is our differences and our flaws that make us desirable and attractive. When we all start looking like carbon copies we become ordinary and boring. In nature it is the brightest feathers that attract attention, it is the flower that is just a little different than the others that draws the eye. We shouldn't want to blend in, we should want to stand out.

So when I look in the mirror in the mornings, or any other time, I should not frown and be unhappy with what I see. Yes I am fat. Yes my hair does not behave in any way shape or form. Yes I have circles under my eyes from not sleeping enough.

However...

I have long thick lashes that frame my slightly exotic shaped eyes that are a strange color that shifts with my mood from the brightest of greens, to the softest of greys, to the deepest of blues.
I have the most adorable little button nose.
I have perfect bow shaped lips and a warm inviting smile that reaches all the way to the corners of my eyes and lights up the room.
I have insane curls that induce jealousy and a widows peak that gives me a dramatic and classic look.
I have skin that needs little to no assistance from make up to look stunning.

I am beautiful and unique.

I know it is not what is on the outside that truly matters, but I know that what is on the outside matters still. I know that I am beautiful even if I don't always like what I see in the mirror. I know that I am seeing myself through tainted lenses and that when my friends look at me they see the truth. I know that they are the mirrors that I should be looking at for the truth.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?

I am.
You are.
We all are.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Future!

I was sitting on the couch last night watching TV with the husbeast before bed when a commercial came on that caught my attention. I am not one to typically pay attention to commercials. I am the type who will fast forward through them on the DVR and get up and get some water while watching live TV. This commercial though managed to catch my attention.

Now one would think that the ad would have to be something spectacular. Perhaps it was something clever and cute like the little kid in a Darth Vader costume trying to use the force and failing until his dad uses the auto start feature on the car. Or maybe it was something amusing like the Mayhem commercials from All State. Or perhaps it was just for a product I actually care about.

You would be wrong if you guessed it was any of those things.

Actually the commercial itself was unremarkable. It was a car commercial and I can't even tell you what brand car it was for. I can tell you absolutely nothing about what cars they were showing or what they said were special about them. I vaguely think it might have been the one where the guy is trying to talk about the car without naming competitors and the text above the car is doing it for him (very rudely) causing him to throw a fit and walk away. Or maybe it was a completely different ad, I have no idea.

What caught my attention was actually the voice over at the end of the commercial where they talk way too fast about APR and exclusions and 'well qualified leasies' whatever the hell those are. It was in that rambling mumbo jumbo that no one ever pays attention to or can understand, whether from speed or use of legal/car jargon, that I was caught.

"Special financing on gasoline models available."

I looked up from my laptop to the TV slightly slack jawed as that sentence echoed in my head. Let me say it again for you:

"Special financing on gasoline models available."

Gasoline models.

It shouldn't have struck me as so very odd, but it is. It suddenly occurred to me, even though I was already perfectly aware of this, that we live in a world where you can buy a car that is not solely reliant on gasoline to operate.

This is the sort of thing that still sounds a little absurd to me. I know the technology is not really new or anything, but the idea that it is being used is still a little fresh. I mean even until very recently having an electric car was not a normal thing. Now these commercials are talking about it like it has always been an option.

After a moment of being dumbfounded by this nugget of knowledge I turned to the husbeast who was diligently doing something on spreadsheets in space...I mean Eve Online.

Me: Did you just hear that?

Him: Hear what?

Me: They said 'gasoline models'.

Him: (A little confused) ...yea...

Me: Like as in gasoline models because there is totally another energy option readily available for your car.

Him: (Still looking confused) Well yea.

Me: We live in the fucking future!


He laughed at me, but in the end nodded in agreement.

This is the future!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Radio Silence

These past few months things have been very quiet on my end and I honestly feel very bad about it. While I have never been the best at keeping a set schedule here, I have always tried to get at least one post in a week if not my preferred two to three posts. Lately I have simply failed in this and left you, my minions, in silence.

It is not that I have become bored with this blog, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is I still love this blog and blogging in general. I want to write things and post them, I just haven't been doing it lately.

I have been telling myself that it was a matter of not having the time, but I know that is completely not true. I have plenty of time to write if I would just make myself do it. Of course normally I get my blogging ideas while I am sleeping, driving, eating, or pretty much anywhere I can not write, so that doesn't help matters.

The real reason I have not been writing is that I have found it increasingly difficult to remain positive of late. When I started this blog I resolved to keep my posts positive. I could get passionate or even angry on a topic, but I wanted to keep things in a positive light. I wanted to highlight as best I could the good things because we all seriously have enough negative in our worlds already.

When everything with my job got really bad last summer and continued through the fall I found it close to impossible not to say ugly and hateful things in this forum. I wanted to whine and bemoan my situation and share my general misery with all of you. Only I didn't.

Those nine months sucked so bad, but I didn't throw it out for all of you to wade through. I kept my chin up and put on a good face for everyone here. I used this platform as a distraction from the hellish job environment I was living in.

It was exhausting. Staying outwardly positive when you are inwardly miserable takes a lot more energy than you would expect. By the time the new year rolled around and my job was fixed I felt that I had used up all of my reserve positivity.

After my job righted itself I should have been happier and more able to keep the positive posts flowing, but of course nothing ever goes that smoothly. As my life at work came back to normal, my life everywhere else began to upend. No such thing as smooth sailing for me.

Faire was packed full of pointless stupid drama this year. People showed their worst side and purposefully, and seeming perpetually, hurt the people I love. Suddenly all of my energy was being focused on fending off the slander while remaining professional.

Once again I wanted to rant and spew vitriol all over the internet, but I knew that was not only not what I really wanted, I knew it was completely unprofessional. So I remained silent. All of my positivity reserves that were left were being put to good use in my day to day life.

Now I once again find myself in a place where the dust is settling and I seem to be on even ground again. I admit that part of me is just waiting for the next great upheaval. I want to think that this will be a nice deserved calm, but I am always cautious about what is next to come.

I am hoping that this will be the end of the quiet times. I have so much I want to write about and share with all of you, I just need to find the energy and resolve to do it. I know it is in there somewhere.

So thank you all for sticking with me this long and hopefully for some time to come.