Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I know a woman who is rather intuitive. Recently, she said that she has a feeling I will meet my life partner someday, but it will likely be a while. I, apparently, need to finish my self-reliance process first.

Now, I know this is not a prediction set in stone - it is something to be taken with a grain of salt. I find myself remembering that it has been quite a while since I've actually seen her, so maybe the timeline is skewed. But the bit about self-reliance has kind of lodged itself in my brain and I keep mulling it over and over and over.

I am an extremely self-reliant person. Just about anything that I need to do (or want to do) I can, will, and/or have done by myself. I've traveled domestically and internationally on my own. I shop alone. I go to movies, eat in restaurants, went to the ER after I fainted, hell, I even bought my car by myself. There is nothing that I feel I couldn't rely on myself to get done.

But then it occurred to me that maybe that's not the point. Maybe part of my self-reliance process is learning when not to be. I'm terrible at asking for help; I know that. I like helping other people and being useful, but more often than not, when someone offers to help me, I respond, "No, it's okay. I've got it." I forget that they like the opportunity to help and be useful, too.

I'm not going to go into why I have problems asking for help. I am all too aware of the reasons and this blog doesn't need to be a whine fest. But I know what the issues are. Don't worry.

So then life presents me with a broken ankle. What a perfect opportunity to practice letting people help me, right? It's a lot harder than one would think. When it first broke (I didn't know it was broken yet, just that it hurt like a mo-fo), the people around me offered to help me get home and to help me down the stairs and whatnot. I realized that I don't even know how to lean on someone who is helping me walk because I can't put weight on one leg. They kept saying, "No, really. Lean on me," and I didn't know how. How sad is that?

So I'm going to try to use this opportunity to learn how to ask for help and how to let other people do things for me. My first baby steps involve using the cane a coworker brought in for me, and calling the building guys at work so I can use the elevator to get up to and down from the third floor. Yes, I can get around without the cane, but it's nicer to use it. Yes, I can navigate stairs (I have to at my apartment), but if there is someone there who can help, I'm trying really hard to make a point of asking. Just so I get used to it and get over the associated feelings of guilt with asking someone to alter their normal schedule for my benefit. Most people are happy to help, and if they can't, they'll say so. Most people actually like you better if you ask them for help, believe it or not. So I'm practicing. I'm learning.

And I'm secretly compiling a list of things I would ask my Cabana Boy to do for me if I had one. Interested applicants should email me with qualifications*.

Tee hee.

*Nude photos are not qualifications, though a nicely sculpted chest is a requirement for the position.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Non-tradtitional Thanksgiving List

I am thankful for my need to diet because it means I have always had enough to eat.

I am thankful for the pain in my muscles and joints because it reminds me I am alive, I am mobile, and it is never too late to do something new.

I am thankful for my squishy tummy and round thighs because they provide a warm, happy sleeping spot for my cat.

I am thankful for the bullies who made my adolescence miserable because the freedom from them makes me appreciate my life now.

I am thankful for my acne scars because they showed me how to face the world even when I didn't want to.

I am thankful for every unkind word people have spoken to me because they show me what kind of person I choose to be instead.

I am thankful for the misery, frustration and irritation I face every day because it motivates me to learn new things, try new things, and push for a better future.

I am thankful for the sadness of loss because it means I loved.

I am thankful for the bad in my life, just as I am thankful for the good, because it is the combination of these experiences that have brought me to this place in my life and made me the person I am. And if I was not here, I would not know you. And mostly, I am thankful for you. Let me say that again.

I am thankful for you.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reclaiming Our Words

If there's one thing we've learned from the interweb, it is that the English language is kind of screwy. We pronounce things funny, our verb conjugation is all over the map, we make grammatical rules only to break them, and current popular culture dictates how many letters of a given word are actually even necessary to get one's point across. And for all of it's crazy, zany fluidity, I love the English language. I love watching it change and mutate and circle back around. I love using words that lots of people don't, or using them in an unusual context. I almost always say, "Morning," when I greet someone for the first time in a day, regardless of the time of day. I've gotten in the habit of saying either "brilliant" or "beautiful" before thanking people, as a sort of short hand  for, "You did a brilliant job. Thank you for your efforts." I love playing with my native language.

But for all of my love of this language, there are a couple of words that seem to have drifted far enough from their original meaning that we have to be very careful about how we use them now and that irks me because they are good words.

The first one I can remember that was given a new connotation I didn't like was "play." When I was a kid, we would call our friends on the phone and say, "Can you come play?" and it meant, "Do you want to go outside and frolic or come over and play a board game or in general pass the time in an innocent, pleasant manner with me while we perhaps use our imaginations?" It was an invitation to hang out with your friend and have fun. Then, sometime probably around third or fourth grade, when it became more common knowledge that girls and boys had different body parts, "play" took on a sexual connotation. To play with oneself was something you weren't supposed to do. Ever. And by extension, if you were to then play by yourself (a perfectly innocent action), your classmates might tease you for playing with yourself (our first foray into double entendre). To ask your friend, "Do you want to come play?" suddenly took on a tawdry meaning and you had to ask instead, "Do you want to hang out?" or suddenly, you were the class pervert, even though we barely knew what a pervert was or what true perversion entails.

How sad to lose the word "play" and substitute it with "hang out." "Hang out" conjures an image of sitting on a couch watching a movie and being generally apathetic. "To play" conjures an image of jumping and laughing and using one's imagination to create something completely new. How boring that the introduction of sex into our world as children robbed us of the ability to use the word "play" in polite society.

Around the same time, and for similar reasons, we lost the word "like." Like is a fairly simple word. We "like" things on Facebook as a sign of approval of the existence of those things. We like pizza. We like chocolate. We like lots of things. But when it comes to liking people, the word suddenly became horribly taboo. I would like to blame sitcoms in the 80's that pointed out that there is a difference between liking someone and like-liking someone. Our default setting seems to have switched so that liking someone automatically means like-liking them, or showing some sort of romantic interest. I know people who are as afraid to tell someone they like them as they are to use the other "l" word - love. Why? "Like" is a notch down from "love." To like someone means (to me) that you enjoy their company and would probably help them move if they really needed it. It should be a nice, low-pressure word. I think a lot of us default to liking people in general until we're given a reason to not like them anymore, like an "innocent until proven guilty" type of situation. So why has it become so terrifying to tell someone, "I like you?"

You know what? I like you. Doesn't mean I want to get married and have children with you, or that I lie awake and night thinking of what you look like naked. It just means that on the spectrum of how I feel about you, there are more positive feelings than negative ones, and I enjoy chatting with you from time to time. I would like to reclaim the word "like" as a means of expressing appreciation for the existence of another human being, with no sexual over- or undertones whatsoever.

"Relationship" is another lost word. The default meaning of "relationship" now is a romantic one. "I"m in a relationship" means "I dedicate a lot of my time to maintaining a sexual relationship with one specific person and anyone who is not that person should back off and not try to get to know me, do nice things for me, or expect me to do nice things for them." I don't know about you, but I have lots of relationships in my life, some good, some bad. Some more good than others. None of them (at the moment) is of a sexual nature. I'm okay with that. I still dedicate a lot of time to the people I am in relationships with and I make sure to do nice things for them and they do nice things for me. But none of these is an exclusive relationship that would limit either party's ability to meet new people, do new things, or dedicate time to others. I think it is rather dismissive to say I am not in a relationship because I am. I am in several. Whether or not I'm sleeping with any of these people is irrelevant to the fact that they mean something to me and require my time and attention.

I would like to reclaim the words "play," "like," and "relationship."

I am in plays with some regularity. I go to rehearsal and play with my characters and my fellow actors and my directors and the space we're in and we all create something wonderful and magical through having a safe space wherein we can play. Perfectly innocent playing. I want that word back.

I like you. I would like to start a relationship with you wherein we chat from time to time because I enjoy our conversations. This should not make you feel pressured or objectified. I want those words back.

Most of all, I want to bring back some of the innocence of our language in respect to words that really are innocent and lovely and non-threatening. In this great big beautiful language of ours, can we please reserve some words from the world of double entendre? Not everything needs to be tawdry or suggestive or sexually charged. Sometimes people just interact as people. I want the words back to be able to do that because there are some really amazing, brilliant, wonderful, intelligent people out there with lots to say and I'd like to be able to chat with them.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Four Lessons We Can Learn From Zombies

I know, I know, I'm woefully behind in my television viewing. I have just started watching The Walking Dead, and am only four episodes in. It's good; it's just not the kind of television show where I can watch an entire season in one sitting (like I can with, say, Doctor Who). It's just a different energy.

But I have noticed a few things while watching The Walking Dead, and I'm almost starting to think we've got zombies pegged all wrong. Sure, they want to eat your brain, but there are a lot of important lessons to be learned from zombie behavior that might actually help us non-zombies survive the apocalypse a little longer if we just paid attention. So here we go. It's a list blog! A list of the top four lessons we can learn from zombies.

4. Patience

I think this applies to both the slow-moving zombies and the super-fast ones. Zombies are patient. They may not get you right now, but they will get you eventually. And/or, if they just wait long enough, you're bound to slip up and make a loud noise or saw your own arm off, which will weaken you and make you an easier target. Yes, zombies may grunt and growl a bit if a meal gets away, but they're not really in a hurry. They know they'll get you.

Non-zombies, however, are in an almost constant state of panic and urgency. Get away NOW. Eat NOW. Kill the zombies NOW. Shut the annoying guy up NOW. Humans are much, much, much less patient than zombies and it often leads to their downfall. They forget to barricade a door, or they make too much noise, or they waste all of their ammo firing off useless shots at nothing. There is a lesson to be learned here - if you just wait a minute, slow down a little, take your time and think before you act, you will prevail.

3. Persistence

Zombies are nothing if not persistent. What else do they have to do? They want your brain, so they're going to come get it. If that means using a rock to slowly chisel away at the brick wall that stands between them and your brain, they will use a rock to slowly chisel away at the brick wall that stands between them and your brain. They have the time, they have the motivation, they are going to get what they want.

All too often, humans just plain give up. Oh no! The car won't start! Better abandon it and take off on foot. Even though it is highly likely that there is another abandoned car nearby that either starts or has the parts in it to be able to fix the first car. I think this goes back to point number 4, and humans being in an almost constant state of panic. This "starting one task and abandoning it as soon as it starts to get difficult" leads to sloppy work, an easy to follow trail, and an even greater sense of futility and frustration. Whereas, like with point 4, if humans would take the time to come up with a well-constructed plan and then stick to it, they might actually be able to accomplish something.

Granted, plans don't always pan out the way one would hope. In that case, adaptability is a good thing. But just because it rains on your parade once doesn't mean it will every time. A good plan is a good plan. Don't be afraid to revisit previous ideas that hit bumps in the road. The bumps may not be there the second time.

2. Teamwork

This might sound odd for an introvert to sing the praises of teamwork, but there are times when it is a useful tool, and zombies know this better than anyone. One zombie against a plate glass window does nothing. One hundred zombies pressing against a plate glass window is going to shatter the window and allow access to the sweet, sweet brains on the other side. And how often do we see one lone zombie in a field or a garden, ambling toward a house, get gunned down in a heartbeat? Whereas if you put twenty zombies ambling through that same garden toward the house, the people inside panic and run and trip and it's suddenly dinner time.

Humans have this tendency to think that they can handle things on their own. Or, that it's best to send one or two people off to fight the zombies while everyone else stays somewhere safe so even if those two people die, at least there are still some people alive. You know what? Those two people will likely die or get scratched and then what? Their loved ones back at camp are suddenly fighting to keep zombies alive or forced to shoot them in the face, neither of which is a very appealing option. Whereas if a greater number of people had been there to fight the zombies in the first place, the biting/scratching might not have happened.

No, it is never a pleasant thought to send people into battle, especially women and children. You know what? Kids are going to be scarred anyway. They've already seen their world fall apart around them. It would be nice to think that by playing games with rocks and sticks in the woods that you're still allowing them to have a "normal" childhood. Honestly, there is nothing "normal" about the world after the apocalypse, and you're not doing them any favors by pretending nothing is wrong. Why not, instead, offer them the opportunity to feel in control by learning to defend themselves, confronting their fears and prevailing? In the battle for survival of the species, every set of available, trained hands is an asset.

1. Focus

Zombies want brains. Simple as that. They will do anything to get brains. They are not bothered about personal hygiene, relationship issues, financial concerns, rearing young, or anything else that tends to distract the living. Zombies want brains, so they spend their entire existence in pursuit of brains.

Humans...well, humans tend to think that multi-tasking is a good thing. "While I'm fighting these zombies, I have to make sure I look sexy so Mr. Hot Pants over there will want to screw me when we have a free five minutes even though Mrs. Hot Pants has been dutifully doing our laundry for weeks." And then Mrs. Hot Pants finds out about it and there is a big "thing" that ends with Mr. Hot Pants "going it alone," which means he'll be turned, and then both you and Mrs. Hot Pants have to fight to decide who is best equipped to shoot him in the face now that he's a zombie and whether or not it is appropriate to shoot him in the face with his kid watching. You know what, people? Get over it! You're trying to survive at this point. Everything you knew before is irrelevant. There needs to be a new set of rules installed because it is a new society. And the number one priority is Make Sure People Don't Die or Get Turned Into Zombies. If that means you need to keep your libido in check, check it. If that means you have to figure out a way to deal with a cheating spouse that doesn't entail "feeding him to the wolves," per se, figure it out. If that means trusting the person of a different ethnic background who you're kind of scared of because you're a racist bigot when you have to choose between them and a zombie, trust the living person! If you clear all of the other stupid junk out of your consciousness and focus on Making Sure People Don't Die or Get Turned Into Zombies the way that zombies focus on obtaining your brain, you'll last a lot longer. Focus, people. Focus.

I hope that some of these tips will be helpful to you, should the zombie apocalypse ever happen. If it doesn't, though, you might still want to see how they could apply to your everyday non-zombie-fighting lifestyle. There just might be something useful in there*.

*Except the bit about training kids to fight zombies. Let's hold off on that one until it's absolutely necessary.