a drunken “i love you”

“Let’s go on the balcony, it’s cool out there.” He took my hand as we walked toward the shuttered door, but I still had to pat the couch so that I didn’t stumble in my drunken state. The base was muted and the flashing lights ceased as I shut the door behind us. The air felt lighter than the denseness of partiers’ breath that filled the not-so-well air-conditioned apartment. It was Nathan’s roommate’s twenty-first birthday and everyone was drinking like there was no tomorrow.

Six months ago I’d been standing on this same balcony while another party went on inside, only that time I was sober wondering what the heck I was doing. I had walked into an unfamiliar and, at the time, unpleasant world that night. All the young drunk men looked threatening to me. The alcohol looked immoral and the whole gathering unprincipled. But I came anyways to wish Nathan a happy twenty-first birthday and, moreover, to get a better idea of who he was.

Moments ago, or maybe an hour ago, a friend from school had introduced me to his new girlfriend he’d been raving about for a week. She looked a little scared, and stood stalk still next to him. I tried to make a good impression, but I could hear that I was talking too loudly and apologized at least once for touching her arm too much. It wouldn’t matter how many times I said, “Don’t let this freak you out, Taylor is a really good guy”, the party was still going to change the way she looked at him just as it had with Nathan back in May.

Even through my drunkenness, I was stingingly aware that I had become one of those people I had been scared of, I realized as I looked out over the balcony. I smiled because it was amusing and disheartening at the same time and nothing was to be done about it. If the balcony railing was shorter, just by a few feet, with the way I was swaying, I would probably fall over. Another deeply despondent thought that was somehow amusing now. The balcony door creaked open, the shutters clanging as it shut.

“Hey, what’s up man?” Or something to that effect was said. Jack appeared on the other side of Nathan as if by teleportation. He was a skinny, average height guy with blonde hair. When I first met Jack , he had seemed confrontational. Now I understood, or maybe just rationalized, his blunt and crass behavior as a defense to the world.

“You know that guy Juan brought with him?” Nathan indicated he was unsure. “The monkey looking guy,” a typical crass comment from Jack. “Well he was hitting on Kelley,” Jack’s girlfriend, “but I told him to fuck off and we’re good now”. I think that’s how the conversation went. At that point I was feeling dizzy and sick.

“Why didn’t he hit on me?” I blurted out. Jack leaned forward, his dilated pupils framed by a furrowed brow, though only after leaning forward with a straight face for several seconds; again the type of odd, somewhat obnoxiously intimidating thing Jack did. “Do you want him to hit on you?” Although I didn’t look at Nathan, I could tell he was angry by his not speaking.

Alcohol makes your inhibitions fade. You say things and do things you would normally only think about doing. I did not believe this before that night, the second time I’d ever been drunk. Nathan had told me it would happen the first time, but I assumed it was more of a social clearance rather than a real effect of alcohol. I didn’t want the Monkey Guy to hit on me, I just wondered why he hadn’t. Was there something about Kelley guys liked that I didn’t have? Was I not short enough? Were my boobs not big enough? Was she just all around cuter than me?

Jack left and I could tell Nathan was annoyed. “Why do you want him to flirt with you?”

“I didn’t! I just want to know why he didn’t.” I was bent over, looking at the concrete balcony under my Nike’s at that point. I think he asked again and I gave the same explanation. He remained miffed. I couldn’t care much right then though because I was starting to feel really sick. “Nathan, I feel sick,” I said a few times. “You need to throw up”.

At Nathan’s birthday party in May, while I was still bewildered by the flashing lights and loud drunk men, he’d introduced me to his friends. I didn’t remember any of them or their names because I was still taking in the whole thing, thinking about what it said about Nathan. I did remember one guy, Mike. As he reached out to shake my hand, he had diverted, throwing up all over the couch next to me. What a bum. How irresponsible could you be? Why would you drink to that extent? Is what I had thought. Now, ironically, I was that person at Mike’s twenty-first birthday party.

I felt the burning at the back of my throat and leaned over the balcony. It was all liquid, pinkish I think. “There you go. Keep going,” Nathan said. Why was he being nice to me, even now, while I was sick and ugly and he was still annoyed with me for what he was always bothered by, my looseness. A string of spit hung from my mouth, but I couldn’t take my hands off the railing to get it off, so I just tried to spit harder. I was disgusted and disappointment in myself.

We talked for a minute, but I can’t remember about what. Throwing up maybe. Then about the Monkey Guy again. “But you don’t even like me,” is all I really remember from that conversation, something Nathan had said many times. “No, I love you.” He didn’t say anything. My drunk self wasn’t concerned. I did. I really did. He was so accepting and open and steady. I’d never felt so strongly for someone.

It was only midnight or so, but we decided to go to bed. I walked past the beer pong table, into the kitchen, loosing Nathan somewhere along the way. Jack and Mike were bantering next to the kitchen table. “Jessica!” one of them shouted. They were both standing very close to me, yelling something. I tried to step away toward Nathan’s room, but a chair blocked my way and the table was at my back. I could feel myself starting to cry, so I squished up my face and forced my way through.

After stumbling down the hall, I entered Nathan’s room. It was quieter and calmer, but he wasn’t there. I turned around and started crying. Mike walked in, “Hey, it’s okay.” How obviously had I been upset in the kitchen for him to have followed me? He started hugging me loosely. I tucked my arms into my sides, “Why are you hugging me? Where’s Nathan?” I could hear how childish I sounded, but it was all just spilling out.

“What’s going on here?” Nathan’s tall frame was blocking the light of his doorway.

“Nothing, man. I just saw she was upset.” He put his hands up as if he was a teenager, proving to the store clerk he hadn’t stolen anything, and backed out of the room.

“No, Nathan, I was looking for you and you weren’t here.” He looked furious. Shit. He’s never going to trust me. He’s going to think I’m some kind of whore forever. Nathan still looked mad. I think I tried to hug him. We got in bed and he took my socks off.

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Kindness. Jesus. Altruism…. On Not being Selfish

I don’t like it, but I believe in equity and conflict theory, which are essentially the same thing, but that’s a different post. I believe every interaction with another person is motivated by the desire to get something out of the situation; every interaction is an exchange of goods. This belief has lead me to push away invitations, dates, as well as looking very skeptically at friendly gestures. Not an enjoyable way to live.

Taken to a more long term scale, a relationship depend on whether each party perceives their benefits to be at least qual to or more desirably greater than what they put in. The term “exchange of goods” might bring to mind physical goods like money or food. Or, if you have a more perverse mind like mine, you may think about a very physical exchange: sex. That is something that throws me into a foaming at the mouth, stinging at the eyes, puddle of a headache, which I’ve written about here.

In my eyes it goes something like this…

Friendship- I’ll listen to you if you’ll listen to me

Relationship- I’ll give you sex and listen to you if you’ll give me sex and listen to me OR I’ll listen to you if you give me sex

Fuck buddy- I’ll give you sex if you give me sex

This bothers me. It bothers me because we don’t often talk about it. We move through these social niceties and politeness. It would be crass to talk plainly about what each party wants. By not talking about it though, it creates a situation where everyone is a businessman for him or her self. Everyone is trying to close the best deal for themselves or cheat on their taxes to get more.

Although addressing this directly does help, I’m still distraught by this perceived situation of the world. More than other people trying to get something out of me, I’m disturbed by the way I can trace my own actions back to their motivation. I’ve been searching for a few months now to find what I’ve termed “true caring” or “true kindness”- actions that are motivated for solely selfless reasons – but I have yet to find any.

It can always be argued that the acting individual gained some social reward of praise or positive regard. It’s so engrained in us that we must be accepted in the group for survival that simply being accepted can be explanation for almost any action. This creates a post hoc loop that allows for the argument to be applied to every situation. If it is always true, the statement becomes somewhat null. Either my definitions need to change or I need to find a falsifying situation.

Death seems to eliminate most rewards. If someone died for something or someone, would they be acting solving out of selfless motivation? Even then, they may have been compelled to act in that way by social forces making them believe it was the correct thing to do. The idea that their name would live on and therefore they may continue to live in some way also means that they might still have sense of social acceptance.

Jesus. Jesus, this sounds like the story of Jesus. But that’s not the answer, I don’t believe. The answer to resolving this abhorrent situation is in myself. I need to find what true kindness is; what selflessness is. Or, find a way to accept that this is the way the world is. I keep asking myself “Is it that bad?” Maybe that’s just justification for my own selfish acts. And then the larger question “Why is it good to be selfless?”

 

Dainty & Strong

My mind paints two conflicting imagines in my desired identity as a women. It is starkly visible on two of my private pinterest boards: “delicate” & “fuck off”. One has photos of beautiful, slim women with small wrists and visible collarbones. The other, women with six-packs doing pull ups and boxing. This is the root of my dissatisfaction, or maybe more accurately undecidedness, with my body, my identity, my social roles.

The girl I long for a man to see is sweet. She is physically delicate and perfect in every way; pliant and graceful. She is a little frightened of the world. Her innocent ambitions consist of only to be safe and cared for. To be alone is frightening.

The girl I want the world to see is capable. She is physically strong. No one could take advantage of her, physical or otherwise. Her ambitions are clear and straightforward. But there is no sexuality to her. To be near someone is to be vulnerable. She can’t be sexual because she cannot be weak. To be alone is necessary.

When I met women or men I’m not attracted to, I strive to show them the strong women. When I met men I am attracted to, I strive to show them the delicate girl. Maybe it is purely out of fear, but I do not want to be weak. I have to be strong to avoid being taken advantage of. Being a women makes me inherently weak, which results in most of my frustration.

Being strong erases all sexuality for me. I don’t like it, but I have a very strong connection between being vulnerable and weak and sex. There is a very strong attraction to being used; ideally by someone attractive and caring, but still used, overpowered. Even if it annoys the heck out of me, I think this is a fundamental part of sexuality for most women.

Lacking physical strength is the root of feeling vulnerable which is something I strongly do not desire in my daily life on any level. However, this otherwise undesirable situation is an essential element for physical attraction.

I don’t have a solution right now. I don’t know that these opposing roles can be reconciled fully. Maybe they can be kept separated. That is still frustrating because it prohibits a cohesive person. For now, I am just working on being being physically strong. It’s a better solution than hurting myself, but it doesn’t solve the conflict.

Non-Attachment

I’ve been reading a book on budhism. Okay, I read the first quater of a book on budhism a month ago. A portion discussed how attachment causes suffering. Along the same lines, I have this buddhist quote on Pinterest as well as painted into my quote book that says something along the lines of “everything has a beginning and an end. If you can make peace with that then you will be happy”.

When I read about attachment causing suffering, my immediate thought was that I wasn’t attached to anything. All of my possessions could be burned in a fire and I would be fine because I would still have me. Last week I realized that it isn’t just attachment to things, it’s attachment to events and to outcomes.

I was in the yoga studio, which happened to be empty, in the middle of a nice practice when a hoard of kindergarteners came screaming into the room from the back door. This is a possible occurances in any of the YMCA rooms during the summer with summer camps and what not going on. Annoyance bubbled up inside me. I had no right to tell them to leave, so I rolled up my mat and grabbed my shoes.

This wasn’t the first time this had happened, and on the other occasions it had, it ruined my day. Well, at least it put me in a very bad mood. Why? Because I had planned on some yoga practice in that room for a certain amount of time with a nice view of the lake. I was attached to that outcome.

As I was angerly yanking my shoes laces together the connection between this anger and attachment became clear. If my attachment to that event was “causing suffering”, what would non-attachment look like? I tried to detach myself from my planned yoga practice.

“Okay, I can’t have the yoga studio. I’ll just go home and practice some yoga.” Our air conditioning was broken that day, so it made for some nice hot yoga and good stretching. Letting go of that event instead of clinging to it turned my day around. The idea of non-attachment makes even more sense to me now. However, it seems to clash with my commitment mantra for the coming years. So now I am trying to work out how these two can work together.

What do I value?

After writing this description of what my dreams were for my adult self at age 10, I’m beginning to reevaluate my values.

I don’t know what triggered my thinking about this past painting of hopes for my future. Probably a combination of my brother getting a “real” job and beginning to want to connect with someone on a personal level. It’s a strong image I used to think about a lot; a young women embarking on her life with bubbling confidence and thirst for life. The images are very specific and I recall conjuring them up often. Walking in the rain from the grocery store back to my apartment; meeting friends for coffee and light conversation; excelling in a job; painting and making beautiful things throughout my space.

I have realized that my values have changed drastically in the past almost-decade. I feel I have grown very hardened. I don’t believe in relationships of any kind. I don’t believe people truly care about one another. I think the end result is the only measure of value. I look at society with a very scientific, sociological view point that makes me feel like I have no control over my life.

A big part of this might be that I have still been seeing Steve. It’s been so on-and-off I haven’t bothered to write about the “relationship”. And that’s what it is, isn’t it? Even though we aren’t together in the sense many people associate with the word, our interactions constitute a relationship of shorts. Feeling that I don’t feel much toward him– or maybe feeling that I do feel something toward him –has commenced a rethinking of my views on relationships. It’s making me rethink the mantra in my mind “I don’t want to be in a (any) relationship”.

More than that, maybe kindness is more important than examination. Maybe people are important, and not just in the sense of propagating our species. Or even if they aren’t, isn’t it a better– no, more pleasant way to live life? To live without having to question every pretty idea. We might be insignificant and there might be pretty thoughts that allow for injustice, but that doesn’t mean I have to rain on everyone’s, including my, parade.

I want to believe in happiness. I want to be happy. Does that mean I have to be delusional and believe things I think are perpetuated only because it serves a social function? Is there a balance between analyzing (aka being cynical) and believing “pretty thoughts”?

Balance, balance, balance. Everything in moderation, right?

 

Feeling Evil

Maybe I’m evil. Maybe I’m the bad guy. I’ve thought that I may be a psychopath in the past. I’ve thought that because I’ve lied to my family, because I’ve faked smiles with peers, because I don’t truly care about anyone, and because I’ve done “immoral” things, I might not have a conscience.

The difference now is that I am accepting it. Being a psychopath made me unworthy of living before. Now I am more passively seeing that I am not a “good” person and accepting it. I cannot accept the socialized version of me as me and that’s okay. It doesn’t seem like a good thing to accept. But god it feels good to flip the world off and say I don’t give a damn.

I’m A Sexist, Raciest, Bigot: Comfronting My Own Biases

Henry A. Murry developed the Thematic Apperception Test during the 1930’s. You may have seen or read about it studying children’s social biases by showing them ambiguous pictures of different scenes and examining how they interpret what is going on in the pictures. Recently, I unknowingly participated in a real life form of this test by projecting my own sexism onto a news headline.

‘She’s getting violent’: Miami doctor suspended after attack on Uber driver was the title of an article published in the Washington Post which caught my eye. The thumbnail showed a women with her leg slightly bend, a rather bland expression on her face, and a male arm reaching into the side frame of the picture. The ambiguity of the photo forced me to interpret it using my own schemas.

Obviously it was a male doctor. He must have gotten suspended for attacking this poor female driver. I wonder if she is okay. Then I watched the video. The women was heavily intoxicated. Surely she was not driving in that state. So, she must have gotten violent with him and he got suspended for defending himself. Do a lot of doctors drive Uber cars? Don’t they make enough money? How would he have time for that?

You may not be as biased as me. It might be clear to you by now that the women was the intoxicated doctor and the driver was the male victim of assault. I’m embarrassed to say how long the video confused me. I was determined the doctor was a male. Before watching the video, based only on the thumbnail, I was sure the female was the victim, despite the title.

We have schemas about everything from certain situations, races, sexes, to professional positions. When I think about all the underlying biases that affect our every thought, my first instinct is to push these associations away; to try to make myself totally unbiased. But we cannot separate these associations from our experience of the world. By attaching certain characteristics to different symbols, we make the world easier to understand. At best, we can make ourselves more aware of our own biases by seeking them out rather than pushing them away.

This experience made me wonder what other biases I hold. So, I googled racial bias test and took the first one that popped up. The debriefing page at the end of the test, which felt more like a brain teaser than anything to do with race, proclaimed me morderately raciest! Well, it found that I had a moderate automatic preference for European American children over African American children.

Immediately I think the test is not accurate. Sure, the test was have been designed by Harvard, but it couldn’t be accurate because I don’t have racial preferences. Then I recall my shock at my own sexist interpretation of the Washington Post article. I would like to rectify these prejudices I hold about the world. How exactly, I’m not certain, but I think having the desire to become less biased and seeking out my own preconceptions is a good start.