Tag Archives: essay

Please Don’t Judge Me for This Later

Is this what happens? They just keep dying.

She wasn’t even twenty-one. She was still trying to find the kind of eye makeup she liked.
First responders isn’t who’s on call, it’s the who’s sober call.
She was so young. She can’t be dead. Not again. She was making bad choices in life.
Goddammit. I talked to her about alcohol. Not that I could have done anything. That poor town.

Is this what we let happen? We just keep letting these accidents happen? Again and again. You forget which cake you made for which funeral. They come in threes don’t they. It means they have one more.

And the people there are still sticking it out. What has to happen to get really angry? When do you say, no, I’m done living? What has to happen? One more fisherman dies because he doesn’t know how to swim? One more girl drinks herself to death on the beach? I guess it’s good you guys are so bad at giving your daughters protection, because with all the kids you’re losing, you’ll need to make a lot more one way or another.

So what she shouldn’t have been dating who she was dating? So what she made trouble and hung with the wrong kimono-wearing crowd?

She died and she didn’t make the news. Why would she? She wasn’t anyone special. She was another native girl from the villages. She didn’t get out. She wasn’t stupid behind those eyes. She was a slow kind of alive. I didn’t really even know her. I knew her enough to say hi at the airport. Enough to say hello. Enough to keep her secrets. Goddammit. So what? She was brought into this world to get taken advantage of by older guys? Then left without an education or tools, with the liquor bottles open on the counter. And we let it happen again? That’s it. I’m done I’m so done.

She wasn’t old enough, she wasn’t old enough to fall in love with things, to have a passion to learn that you can be passionate about something.

She didn’t know that could happen yet. She was too young still, to learn about herself, to do anything other than pay attention if she had to pass her classes with c’s.

I remember that age, when everything is terrible and you think you’ll never find a passion, or something to get excited about. But she was so even. So calm. Maybe it’s that calm that people who are drinkers get who haven’t gotten drunk yet that early in the day.

I can tell you her father was a drinker. I can tell you she’s a victim of her society. I can tell you she’d seen it happen and knew it was a possibility. I can also tell you how experimental she was with the way she looked, how she carried herself with a solidness you don’t often see in young women. And then I run out of things to say. Because I didn’t take the time to know her better, she was too young. And I was too old, and too nervous about myself.

And like most of the people, you accept and you keep going, not changing, just acknowledging that’s what happened.

Do I donate to her go fund me page, so her family can pay funeral costs?

What do I tell my friend, the first responder? Do I tell her I’m sorry? And what do the people I know tell me? They’re sorry. Geez, a lot of people you met in Alaska die. Then they wonder how long they have to talk about it before they can change the subject.

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Assume You’re Wrong

I wrote to my father today in a letter I’ll never send.

I have lots of thoughts Dad, but you know, the one that keep coming up is that, it’s kind of your fault.

You and my roommate are very smart people, but you both have a tendency to dismiss people out of hand which is not only snotty and superior, but also a cause of real harm.

When someone says they’re voting for Trump, you say he’s nuts, and turn them away with a brush of the back of your hand. You don’t say, “How come?” Then explain yourself. You assume you’re right, but you only get away with that because you’re educated.

I’m coming to realize I’m alone in always thinking I have something to learn, which means, sometimes, I get to hear someone else’s reasons before I say I’m right. And If I’m sure of something, I have proof and lots of evidence – which you both have. But I share it. I say here’s what I think, and why. Then leave it up to them to decide. I don’t tell them they’re stupid, or what to think. I present what I know and how I feel and leave it at that. If they’re a good enough person, who I can argue a point with, who won’t take it personally, then I’ll argue the point. Try to see it from how they see it.

When my old roommate comes across racism, she doesn’t get upset, she says, “lets talk about it.” Which I love. That’s how you build understanding – through calm smiles.

But I don’t know. Maybe this is naïve. Maybe this only works because I know so few people, so many of whom have so little power. And I like to hear people’s stories. Maybe that’s why I can get away with it. Maybe I’m being self-righteous. Anger and business and busyness are taking the place of community. The eff it, I don’t care, it won’t matter to me, at least I can be contrary if I choose this one – that’s what happens.

We don’t know what democracy means, because everyone smart assumes we learned it the same way they did.

Maybe my friends are right. Maybe I’m an over-explainer. You don’t think you have to explain yourself. You don’t give a why. You know you’re right, and how could no one else understand what you just learned five minutes ago.

I’m starting to think that the swath of insecure, quiet, shy people have nothing wrong with them. Nothing to be fixed. No necessary, mandatory self-confidence lessons. Because they take the time to understand, under the assumption they’re always wrong.

Love

I Still Want to Be Cool

I wrote this on the back of a scrap piece of paper at work yesterday

It somehow seems cooler to have gone through tough grit in your past. Why can’t I accept who I was, how I was raised? I used to think I was the most boring thing in the world, because everyone lived that way. Everyone was always going to perpetually fear being stuck in the middle their whole lives, never really excelling.

I want to have bad stuff happen so I can have a past. But that’s a bit rude to the people who actually did. I think about it too much. I think I just want attention. I passively want attention. I also want to be funny without being a smartass. It will never be.

The things I’ve gone through are unique to me. I can only write about me. What I’ve gone through, who I’ve become. My oddities.

I remember our Spanish teacher would ask us questions – we’d go around the room. We’d have to answer in Spanish. He asked, once, is your family normal, most would answer yes, then he’d ask follow-ups and it turns out, no, they’re not normal at all. I think he was trying to get us to think about what normal means. Instead I left feeling like we’re all weird, but I’m the weirdest. He asked me. I said no. We’re not normal. He moved on.

That doesn’t mean the pain I’ve suffered isn’t true, or my experiences any less valuable to myself, just that they’re not cool “going through something” and just like the kids from the slums, I’ve been through crap I thought was normal, that anyone else would have thought was a horror.

First Time Feeling Adult

I remember the first time I felt like an adult. I was reading Call of the Wild. I didn’t have to look up the big words, I already knew what they meant. I read most of the book standing up near the tall bookshelves in the back, in study hall, in eighth grade. Now that I think of it, that was the last time I took a study hall. I felt like resting would be a discredit to my father who put himself in debt to put me through good, private schools. But, in part because of those schools, I could understand the sentences as a whole, that included words like imperious and intolerable and imperative. That feeling of understanding makes me feel like I belong.

I was so happy I belonged. I started using those words in my speech, my everyday speech. I was told I sounded like I was trying to be smart. Now I’m ashamed; ashamed when I make other people feel inferior. I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to be smarter. Because I don’t think I’m smarter. It had the effect of telling someone they have a strange smile. You won’t ever see their laughter again. Unless they’re stronger than I am. And have that magical ability to not care.

Losing Filters: Thought for the Week (6/10)

We are ourselves only when we forget. It might only last a minute, but I’ll forget I’m not supposed to slouch and rest my boobs on the table. I’ll forget not to toss my head back with my mouth open and laugh. I’ll forget not to point my finger at the person across the table. Then realization will come, like remembering two steps after I walk out of the house I’ve forgotten my keys. I’ll say, “wow this isn’t like you.” It’s so sad to recollect, I’m not being myself. I have to sit up straight again. I see the same self-catch in my brother. He’ll let go for a moment, and be the little kid I remember who used to eat mashed potatoes with his fingers and not be self-conscious about his bulk. He’ll tell me a story he hasn’t recognized as embarrassing or inappropriate. And I love him for it. I have to be careful, then, to keep him in that crooked-shoulder state, and not become my mother. She would make you remember instantly. “It’s so nice to see you smiling again.” That’s what she’d say.

It means, I can’t control when I get to be myself. I can’t consciously turn the filters off. What happens when I don’t turn the filters back on? I think that would be the true test of strength in myself. If I ever became confident enough to not hold back my tongue, oh God the filth would fly. It’d be fun to watch, from a spectators standpoint. I would be a god to myself.

To My Sister:

You have what you want right now. You’re married. By some miracle you seem to still like your husband – the bigger miracle being he still likes you. You are getting a degree doing what you want to do. You like where you live, you like the groups you have. Be depressed. Because you have everything you want and it’s not enough. Go for it. Embrace the dark, head-in-oven holes of despair. Think of sunshine as absence of the moon. Dream of sleep, and hope that sleeping lasts forever.
But, for the love of God, stop pretending you’re happy. You’re not; I can hear it in your voice. It’s fine. I like you better angry and caustic. You’re more fun to talk to. Let loose that vitriol so confined, that pure disgust of everything, it makes me laugh. It makes me love you for more than just our common mother and father. I won’t call you a type. I won’t compare to you an actress on that show I like that sort of reminds me of you. You are you. I know the you when you’re not covering, furiously sewing that deceptive quilt of “I’m okay.” You have greatness, right there.
God, be depressed, but do it like you used to do everything else. Flare it up. Shout it, scream at it, in its totality. Say, “I’m so depressed I can’t think of a reason to get out of bed today.” Say, “it can’t be that hard to hold my bladder for that long.” Complain with your whole soul. Be sad. Let yourself be sad. Stop trying to make yourself better. There’s nothing wrong with you that’s not wrong with all the women in the family, (you know exactly what I’m talking about, that sharp lack of compassion for failure, accepting that we know we can destroy anyone we know with just a couple sentences) we’re all horrible people. Cuddle with it. Know it.
Stop telling me how good, fine, and well, you are. Tell me instead of how miserable you are. Tell me how the universe will never know you. Tell me how you’re scared to be forgotten after you die. Tell me all the awful things you hate about gossips, then tell me all about the horrible people in your office. Be brave with your hatred. Be brave with your depression. Yell at me so I know you can still feel. Please? It’s so much more fun to have someone to be funny-honest, cutting mean. Frank conversations on death and sugar skulls make me smile. You make me smile better when you let yourself be. Turn off the flashlight, and smile in the soul-eating, teenage lack-of-future, this can never get better, Miyazaki black goop of our minds.

Same as You Are: Personalities Traits Online

i had myself a bit of a rant

I consider myself a fairly reasonable person. I want to understand both sides; it’s part of how I make sense of the world. If I enter an argument online I do it the same way. I don’t change a fundamental part of my nature because I become anonymous. I am the same.

I often hear, or read, that people online are so awful. I hear that anonymous users online say the worst things. They contribute in the nastiest battles. They terrorize. They group together to yell. They say things they would never say in real life. They’re worse humans. They look at filth; they are filth. But, this, is not so.

People do not suddenly change their compositions, their natures, because they’re in front of a keyboard. The same person who types from behind a wall of identity protection also speaks the same way in a bar. It is not two different people who sit down to type and sit down to eat with their families. Like in all things humans alter their course with circumstance, mood, attitude, and ambiance. But to say you’re not responsible for your actions online, or to say people are worse online, is ridiculous. It dodges the same moral responsibility as saying the drunkard bears no blame for his crimes or the angry for their words.

Those who are rude and belligerent online possess those same attributes offline as well. One might feel freer with one’s speech or actions. For the same reason flings seem easier on vacation. You know these people will disappear, and you don’t have to deal with immediate consequences on your immediate social circle. In the same way a casual comment about the vlog poster’s hideous shirt gets voiced. There can be no personal confrontational repercussions. There are rude people everywhere. The internet just keeps better track of them with the written word. Imagine if every bar fight was transcribed to a chatroom, there might be calls of indecency or rudeness, calls for bannings of bars.

Quit telling me people online are worse because they don’t have accountability, or they think they’re untouchable. If people act socially reprehensible online, it’s because they are acting socially reprehensible. They’re breaking the social guidelines of the website just like they would be breaking cultural norms if they were speaking their minds to their friends. The medium of the internet is their outlet. Those people get banned or called out, and rarely lauded, just like in normal crowd settings. The difference between the internet and face to face interaction is that anyone can see it, so it’s all up for grabs, instead of selective communities only hearing what their friends have to say.

I know this is an immensely complicated issue, because it deals with complex social-cultural interaction. I’m dealing with a small aspect. I’m just tired of hearing, the internet is a horrible place when I’m watching news video footage of bombings from all over the world.