It started with The Yellow Submarine. Continue reading
Three quarters of my family can make anything grow, anywhere. And then there’s me.
I’m not actually a good person.
I know this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who really knows me, but it sneaks up on me sometimes. And it’s a particular kind of bad person that I am, and it’s all at odds with my image of myself as someone who’d lay down their life for a friend, who has your back in a fight (physical, verbal, or metaphorical), who’d absolutely punch someone who called you a racial slur or said something shitty about your body, and who’d go out of their way to correct more general stuff that people say that contributes to the stuff I really hate about society. You know, like calling out misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, reminding people that humor should punch up instead of down…
But I’m not always that person. I’m also vindictive and petty AF and there are days I just have to own it and go surfing through Facebook for my schadenfriends.
Yeah, schadenfriends. People I personally know or have known whose misfortune delights me. People I know well enough to have access to entire archives of online photos, posts, old livejournals. I like to think I have good reasons for hating them.
Really, though, I’m keeping them around for the endorphin rush I get from watching them suffer.
The ex who kept a friend so stoned for six solid months that he lost his job, who undermined him at every turn and told him he wasn’t good at doing things so she’d do it for him, under the guise of martyrdom. The ex who did, in fact, end up fucking him. The ex who was a six-foot tall redhead when I dated her… and who now looks like somebody’s Nonna, grey and round with square jowls. She’s 50 years old and I think she still delivers pizza (and pot). Hi, baby, I upgraded but damn that’s a bad picture Tim tagged you in!
The ex-friend who I gently tried for years to convince that LGBTQ folks were people too, who should probably be allowed to get married, and that if she was as good a friend to them as she thought she was she’d support that too? The one who used to be a ballerina, who was lifting weights and running with me? Well, since she joined this hate enforcement group working to legislate against the rights of my family and friends God has been literally striking her down. Still single, still overweight (which, you know, my body positivity ends with the people I hate and honestly I think maybe I’m still ok with their bodies but I enjoy watching them be put down by society in all the ways you can be put down?), now wheelchair bound for no medical reason the doctors can find. God is striking you down honey. You’re that religious, learn to read a fucking sign.
Not everyone has what it takes to be a schadenfriend. Some people pretty much exist to be blocked. Nazis. Nazis are boring. MRAs are boring. There’s no real pleasure to be had listening to the tickertape of their thoughts. Even their misfortunes are boring. No, it takes a special something to elevate yourself to schadenfriend.
- Be terrible.
- Make me think you’re not terrible
- Suffer misfortune
OK, maybe it’s not really complicated.
I’m pretty good at real life revenge. I’ve peed on cars, I’ve written shady recommendations, and I’ve definitely gone behind a boss’ back to warn an organization that he was courting about him.
But it’s not like the satisfaction that you get when you feel like the universe is taking revenge for you. I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning. It smells like justice and just for a moment, just for that one, shining glittering moment as I make sure I’m not clicking “like” on that shitty photo they’re tagged in… I can believe that the world has balance and that sometimes the good guys really do win.
I think we all need that.
I was thirty years old and in the middle of Legal Writing II when the last remaining fuck I had to give left my body. Continue reading
There’s a church on my street. Continue reading
The case for lovely
“You’re beautiful too, in your own way.”
“She has an.. inner beauty.”
“You’re not fat, you’re beautiful.”
I think we can all see the problem in the last statement there, but let’s pick it apart. Down to, if you’ll forgive the extended metaphor, its bones. Besides the implicit statement that fatness and beauty are mutually exclusive, it does the same thing wrong as the other two statements: it treats beauty as synonymous with worth.
Let’s take a sharp left turn here: I am not beautiful. I am not “a beautiful person” or “beautiful inside.” My insides are a hot mess of bloody guts. My brain is smart, not beautiful. And my outsides do not conform to societal beauty standards. That’s right. Beauty is (for the most part) a societally-agreed-upon set of visual characteristics. Characteristics that most people find pleasing.
The concept of beauty is not malleable, nor should it be.
Frankly, it doesn’t need to be. Beauty isn’t a measure of intrinsic worth. Acts don’t need to be “beautiful” to be valued. And telling people who – let’s be honest – already know they’re not beautiful that they are? Undermines everything you are trying to do with that compliment.
It’s not beauty’s fault that it’s been overused.
At some point we as a society lost track of all the things we can value about a person. And, you know, let’s not put lipstick on a pig here: I don’t mean “a person” I mean “a woman.” Sure, men have societal standards of beauty that they’re supposed to conform to, but they’re not punished for nonconformity to nearly the extent that women are. They don’t have to insist on their own beauty to be seen as having worth.
But let’s explore a radical thought for a moment: What if instead of listing all the things we find “beautiful” about our friends and family, we listed all the things that we actually value and ascribed value to those things based on their own qualities rather than some imaginary beauty currency exchange? Imagine, for a minute, what that world would look like.
“Ok. Can I get a hand with my sink later today? You’re really good at figuring out stuff like that.”
“She’s so pretty!”
“She really is. And she helped me fix up my bike. Hey, can you show me how to do my hair like yours? I love the way it doesn’t get in your eyes but isn’t just a ponytail.”
What if instead of describing intelligence or interest or intriguing and unusual characteristics as “beautiful” we used words that accurately described those things? Anecdotal evidence: there was a great exchange I witnessed a couple days ago, where a couple friends were joking around about their userpics. “You just like me for this picture – it’s not even me.” You know the style. The conversation took a turn for the real when a friend replied “But I know you’re lovely.”
On the surface, a synonym for beautiful. Yeah? Maybe not. It carries a weight to it, lovely. Worthy of love. It says more about the quality of a person’s thought and actions than it does about their physical characteristics. It sums up the way these friends have interacted, the things they’ve observed about each other without ever seeing a real physical characteristic.
Maybe it’s time for beautiful to go. Maybe it’s time to relegate it to its original meanings, to accurately describe physical beauty. Physical beauty is an incredible thing. It’s a whole lot of fun to look at, for one thing. But there’s no real need to compete with it. Not when it’s only one of many attractive qualities and you probably have other ones that you’re overlooking because you can’t cram them into the framework of the word “beauty.”
Attractive is a synonym for beauty, if you ask the thesaurus. The thesaurus is again only sort of right.
Attraction is the quality of coming together. Sure, physical beauty may create an attraction. But so can a smile, a laugh, a turn of phrase. Attraction can be entirely independent of beauty. And there’s no need to call the qualities that attract you to another person “beautiful” when you mean that they attract you to the person.
“I don’t care – I think she’s beautiful” is a lazy way of saying “I’m attracted to her.” And a defensive one: we’ve built a society where it’s only considered appropriate to be attracted to things that are beautiful, because only beauty has value.
Maybe it’s time to let go of all that.
Maybe it’s time to bring back lovely.
It’s a familiar, if unwelcome, weight on my hip. And it’s cold as hell against my skin, no matter that the holster’s supposed to keep that from happening. The new holster, I should call it; I’m still trying to find one that fits both me and the gun. Continue reading
Put on your combat shoes. We’re going.
Not your combat boots, although I’m not judging you if your combat shoes are boots but when I say combat boots, you hear the bravery of men, to walk toward death, unflinching.
And your combat shoes, your combat shoes are a different kind of brave.
The brave it takes to get up every morning and walk away from death toward life even though you know life is full of sharp edges and rusty nails, even though you are pulled toward drowning by the weight of it. Those shoes will get you through that mire, through the thousand mosquito bites and over the rotting logs, and you’ll look fucking fabulous.
Your combat shoes are the shoes you borrowed from your roommate for the job interview, the job you got, and she said you could keep them after that. The shoes you took to Dorian’s Shoe Repair down on sixth and he asked you lady do you know you’re spending fifty bucks to keep a pair of twenty dollar shoes and you said yeah but they look fucking fabulous.
Put on your combat shoes, the red shoes you bought when you didn’t really have the money but there they were in the window and you could not walk by them One. More. Time. And you ate rice and ramen but you looked fucking fabulous.
Put on your combat shoes and spike-heel swivel-hip down the street past men who want to remind you that you are small but in your combat shoes you are not small. You are not small.
You – Are – Fucking – Fabulous
In your combat shoes you look fucking fabulous and nobody has to know how hard it was to crawl out from under the covers to face this day and shout into the wind of it, into the constant pressure of voices, to be heard, to stand up and to walk with your head held high. In your combat shoes you never give way.
In your combat shoes, they get out of your way because you are walking here, you are taking up space and you are fucking fabulous.
When I said “Marry me” what I meant was:
I want to wake up next to your words every day for the rest of my life, to roll over and trap your letters beneath my arm, to tangle vowels in my fingers and taste your sleep-breath when you type. I want to hold your hand in these pixels, to selfie together and Photoshop the parts of ourselves we don’t like with each other’s regard instead of an app.
I want to hear all your voices, all at once.
I am part of this Voltron of Us, one big entity, so big we’re ALLCAPS big, and I want the world to know it. I want to marry you with this bouquet emoji, ring emoji, an 0 for a garter toss. I want to smash our names together into ‘ships of fanfic. I want to smash the patriarchy with you.
I want to speak with your words and hear you speak with mine.
I want us to retweet each other until we reach inception. I want to be your meme.
I would PayPal you five bucks so we can Skype coffee together on our way to work in the morning. I would FaceTime happy hour with you so you never drink alone.
I want to be in love with you. No, I want to be in yuri with you, to slip into your skin and be the cool things you do. I am more of me when I am part of you.
This thread, you guys, this thread. I crack up every time I read it. I am dead. I have died and my ghost wants to marry you still.
I grew up in the desert. Not the desert you’re probably thinking of, with sand and lizards and cactus, but the arid high desert of the West. Ok, we had lizards. We also had a well that produced, at its most generous, 1.5 gallons of water per minute, which sounds like plenty until two people in your family want to take a shower on the same day. Continue reading