Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Absurdity

The day a good friend of mine died, the lead Yahoo! News story involved two actresses who wore the same dress.

TV: A Poem

TV
cigarette, lung function
smoke Away™
or your money back
hair loss doesn’t have to
hamper your style
daily moisture formula
DSL
Instant replay
I love my digital camera!
now it’s easy
the unpleasant duty of gaining weight
for occupational purposes
the must-have
bust of all-time
exclusive
business suit, bathing-
suit

Mourning Ideas

In life, we don't just mourn the death of people. We mourn the death of things that don't live up to our ideals. Situations that we originally conceived of one way but ended up blind-siding us when the true reality becomes apparent.

How do you process this "mourning"? It depends on whether you're a thinker or a feeler. Everyone is a little bit of both but we all tend to have a dominant mode.

I'm a feeler. When I mourn, I experience it as a feeler experiences it. It is an acute emotional pain. I feel it from every angle. I feel it from the perspective of all parties.

My husband is a thinker. When he mourns, it is primarily on a logical, rational level. He processes it in terms of facts. He processes the "mourning" faster than I process it because he understands it on a fact-based level. He doesn't have to sort through the emotional complexity that bogs me down.

Mourning is not optimal. But mourning is inevitable.

From the Outside: Asking the Right Questions

In the last post, I wrote about being an outsider and how as outsiders we tend to define ourselves by what we are not. We are not them but that doesn't necessarily mean we know who we are. We continue to ask, "Who Am I?"

Looking back at journals from 10 years ago, it is apparent that I have been asking this question for quite some time. But, now, a decade later, I realize that I've been asking the wrong question. My framework is completely wrong. Outsiders should not be asking ourselves who we are-- we should be asking ourselves who we want to be.

Within certain limits, we control who we are. It might be easier for others to direct their path because they have been born with more resources, biological factors that make their journey easier, or maybe because they have merely lucked into certain circumstances. But ultimately, we do have a significant ability to control our outcomes. We have the ability not to answer, "Who Am I?" but to become who we want to be.

How can we be expected to reach the right answers if we are asking the wrong questions?

Who do I want to be? What are the qualities that make up my ideal self?

That is how the outsider gets off the side of the road and determines the new path. The only thing left is the courage to follow it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From the Outside: Introduction

Our planet brims with these creatures, the ones we call "homo sapiens," the ones we more commonly call "humans." A large percentage of the 6.94 billion are too starved, too oppressed, too destitute to ask the questions I'm about to ask, to contemplate the things I'm about to contemplate. It is a privilege of relative wealth and prosperity to ask these questions that I will ask.

Of the 6.94 billion, a little over 1 billion live in the developed world. Of these 1 billion, most are sheep. These are the ones too afraid, too tired, often too ignorant, to question. These are the ants marching along a path that has been cleared away for them. A path that leads to the proverbial slaughterhouse. And as the sheep sluggishly march toward their inevitable end, there are the few that have pulled over to the side of the path. We are all born on the path, but the question remains: who will get off the path? It is the outsider who will get off the path. It is the outsider who then decides whether to make a new path, to get back on the path, or to remain at the sidelines.

Before we begin to understand what makes one an outsider, we must have a clear and concise definition of the word. Words are slippery; a word may mean something different depending on your perspective and frames of reference.

The following Free Dictionary definition of "outsider" best fits my understanding of the word:

"One who is isolated or detached from the activities or concerns of his or her own community."

The outsider (again) has been removed (I.e. detached) from the community. The outsider is outside the path, not inside.

The outsider is defined, then, by what he/she isn't. But then the outsider must ask: "If I'm not them, who am I?"

And this is the question I have asked over and over again.

This is the question that plagues me as I sit on the side of the path.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Breaking Down What's Been Decided in Advance

There's the hero. There's the journey. That's the tale that little boys are told. One day, you can grow up to be a hero. You can have your own journey. You can own it. It will be yours.

It troubles me that little girls are mostly not exposed to heroic, female archetypes. And I am talking about heroism in a broad sense-- not movie clich├ęs or even old-time mythologies-- heroism in the sense of courage to take a path that is your own. I'm talking about the idea that you can make something of your life that means something to you. And it doesn't have to be what you're told you must do or should do. It doesn't have to be through traditional institutions that you make your meaning.

You don't have to trace along the dotted lines to form a picture.

There is possibility beyond what you might imagine-- beyond what society has imagined for you.

And that's the thing. Most peoples' possibilities--men's included--are severally limited by what society has imagined for them, in advance, before they even had a chance to question its validity. There's the default. But the default does not have to be accepted.

For women, not accepting the default--making your own journey--is scarcely depicted in any type of media. Quite obviously, the media has an enormous role in shaping reality. If you don't see it, will you believe it? You might. Or not.

As a little girl, I was not exposed to female characters on their own hero's journey. And for me, a real hero's journey is about having the courage to make your own meaning that surpasses all the bullshit society has thrown at you. Throw off your tired old baggage and set yourself free... As Joseph Campbell put it, ""I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive."

And women are scarcely told that they can find the experience of being alive. Instead they're told to sacrifice. To have quiet little voices and not to question. And this makes me incredibly sad.

But the problem lies in the direction of my thinking. It is outward when it should be inward.

"When we talk about settling the world's problems, we're barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It's a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives," said Joseph Campbell.

To reword Campbell, the world is an asshole.

But, it's not over for me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

bullshit pathetic elementary school sob story

This blog was never meant to be about "me." Yes, it was meant to give me an outlet for my thoughts about a variety of topics. In that sense, of course this blog is about "me." But, it was never supposed to be about "me" personally... it was supposed to be the musings--and mostly cynical thoughts-- of an outsider without an outlet.

Even as I write this, I second guess the validity of even venturing into this realm. For the very idea of writing anything personal is antithetical to my core persona. I have been shielded for a long time. I have been restrained-- I do not--and have not-- been eager to show anybody what goes on inside my (overly and needlessly self-aware) brain.

I have been carrying around a shield and a shitload of heavy armor. But I'm not a fucking warrior. Not even close. I have never gone into a proverbial battle, but have always sat on the side of the road, burdened with armor and hiding from imagined enemies. And that armor is heavy. It takes a lot of strength to carry it around. All that expended energy. All that WASTED energy. Used up for nothing. Defending the imagined threats invented by a little girl. A little girl with a two dimensional understanding-- she was hurt and she felt pain and she didn't want to feel pain anymore and she put on the heavy armor and she hid under that armor from anything that "might" cause her pain. She was a little girl... she didn't even have a fully developed brain. She could only understand it using a simple sentence:

People hurt you.

She was little girl.

She didn't get it.

And so she hid from people, almost everyone with few exceptions. She decided that all humanity was a potential threat to her delicate, infantile little bullshit ego. Like a cowardly little piece of shit. She wasn't running toward anything; she was hiding from everyone.

While her peers dreaded the thought of moving from their happy little homes, she fantasized about moving away from where she lived. But she was already hurt, and moving wouldn't have made a difference, but she was too half-brained (literally) to realize that. Yeah, I know, pretty pathetic, over-the-top, dumb bullshit here.

It didn't matter that she had loving parents. She only remembered the hurt. Because everything is amplified when you're a child. Well, not everything, mostly just the garbage that's thrown at you. The good stuff, you tend to forget because humans are pretty much assholes in that way.

But don't feel sorry for the little girl. Really. Don't. That's not reverse psychology. She's gotten enough pity.

But I am a woman. I get it. I am not a little girl. I have "gotten" it for a long time, but like the little girl, I have spent so much time hiding under heavy armor. I did nothing about it.

The time has come to do something about it.

It hurts to do something about it. It hurts to crawl out from under all that massive armor-- to stop hiding. And you know what the fucked up thing is? Even though that massive armor has served as shield in some ways....in most ways, it has been totally ineffective. You might feel numb under all that armor....but you will not be happy-- unless of course you're deluded which I have not been because I'm an overly self-aware little asshole.

And you close yourself off to so much goodness with your pathetic asshole complexes. And that's fucking stupid.

And I am so self-aware that I drive myself bat shit fucking crazy. When I was hurt, I turned inside myself. I had only my overly self-aware thoughts, my self-doubt, my animosity, my pride in my misanthropy, all playing on a constant loop. So, an intense self-awareness was born. I had only myself. I knew only myself. I was afraid to know anyone else because I was hurt once, and I wouldn't be hurt again. And of course, no one (with the exception of my spouse) would be allowed to know the real me.

And here are the thoughts of the little girl....

Her stupid little simperings...

She would not let them see her cry.

She would not let them see her weak.

But inside all that was left was a weak little girl hiding under some shitty armor.

A weak little girl afraid of her own pathetic little shadow.

A weak little girl afraid to reveal even the things she liked about herself.

A weak little girl who believed if she did, they'd cut her back down to size.

I hate to quote it but I have to. There's a U2 song with the lyric, Always pain before a child is born. That's how I feel at this moment. Except a child does not need to be "born." I need to be "born" and the only way I can free myself of the weak simperings of a child is to kill her off. The story is still being written, and her character's getting on my nerves.

So, that's it. That's my bullshit pathetic elementary school sob story. It was hard to even write this because I'm such a self-aware, freaked out little asshole, that letting anyone see the real me still terrifies the ever-living fuck out of me. Maybe someone will read this and relate. Maybe no one will. It doesn't matter.

Now we've come to it...

This is the scene where the little girl dies. It's not a sad scene. She's the whining, high-pitched child character that everyone secretly wants to see killed off.

Smush.

-posted by Astrid (Master of "Culture Rash")

Saturday, September 3, 2011

All the Difference (My Ode to Bryan & Colleen)

All the Difference (My Ode to Bryan & Colleen)

I heard them as I slept. They spoke in low voices but I could clearly hear. They spoke of their plans next. What they intended to do. It all sounded so normal... their grand plans. And I thought, "what is wrong with normal?" Everyone else does it....

They would eventually go back home. Familiarity is important to them. They would secure work that would end up as their careers, settle down, buy furniture, mow lawns, and eventually raise a family. But I thought to myself, "raise a family to what?" Where will you both take them? What will be their purpose? What is their cause besides the perpetuation you have begotten from your own parents?
And I thought of vanity. Hubris. The self satisfaction that goes with creating in one’s own image.

The difference between us is in the fucking. My fucking happens inside the head of the world. Their fucking takes place between thighs with cock and pussy in movement......But it is a short movement. It begets 9 months of growth before delivery. They will fawn. Attention will be heaped. Attention will die down. Life will go on. More furniture will be bought. Puzzles will be framed. Yearly vacations will come and go. Arguments will ensue. Boredom will settle in. Faith in family will keep them blinded. They will go on and on like they and theirs have always done. More fucking will occur, mostly from boredom and hubris. More images will be made. But It will not soften the blow. The whisper that life gives that they both refused to listen to will eat at him. He will sleep one day and wake up realizing that he once thought he heard something. He will not know if it was just in a dream. But it will bother him. It will fester while he drinks. When he sleeps. When he has those quiet moments of reflection we get in older age.

She will be impervious. She will repaint the walls for her difference. She will play with the children. She will be the oldest child among them.

His sore will grow. And his fear will grow with it. He will reason his children as his purpose: "You can’t understand unless you have a family". He gives it all up for them, yet gives them nothing. They will be as carbon copies of their parents. Except with differences in the details. Different house. Different paint on their walls. Different names for their children.

I will remember him as one who may have been willing at one time but whose fear held him in check. He may argue with me. But I know he is smart enough to know better.

Robert Frost wrote:
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.

-L. Truman Daley-Douglas
Guest Contributor

Friday, September 2, 2011

Planning Your Escape... by L. Truman Daley-Douglas

Crispin Glover wrote this: "When you join in conversation with strangers, do you openly discuss any idea whatsoever without fear of conflict? Or do you restrain yourself from discussing certain things for fear of offending people and then becoming an outcast?"

How many times have we quelled what we think? Have we subverted our own thoughts? How is it that the stupidest among us have no fear in speaking while we bite our tongues? That they can proudly voice their opinions that mirror the status quo while we sit back and cringe? They face no outcast. They cement their stupidity and are rewarded for it. They are good citizens. They are the majority.

Throughout my life, I have been obsessed with the construct of slavery and freedom.

Slavery is defined as:
1. (Law) the state or condition of being a slave; a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune
2. the subjection of a person to another person, esp in being forced into work
3. the condition of being subject to some influence or habit
4. work done in harsh conditions for low pay

My definition of slavery is a bit different with elements of the above definition included though. To me, slavery is a mindset. An acceptance of the way things are. The inclusion of yourself into this acceptance. A castration, a defeat, a surrender.

Some people can rid themselves of certain social shackles like religion. They can see the folly and silliness of it just through rationality. Some people question further into the idea of what a family is supposed to be. They can question what society says a woman's role is supposed to be. They are able to loosen bonds that are unhealthy and not just submit to their parents due to some societal obligation. Some people are able to question the concept of marriage and what that is supposed to mean and entail. Some people even question what "age" means and stop "acting their age" for age's sake. All the "supposed to be this way" ideas, ideas about homosexuality, formal education, children, and a entire host of other social constructs can sometimes be retooled in people's minds with new constructs to replace these old "societal constructs". But not so much with the idea of slavery. On some level, it's because of the fact that people have to make money to survive. And a JOB, i.e. working for someone else, allowing yourself to be exploited by someone else for their unequitable greater gain, is ONE way to make money. After all, they came up with the business. You didn't, despite the fact that you now make their business successful and reap only pittances compared to them. You think to yourself, "Well, I am free. I can quit anytime." Of course, this rarely happens. People stick in these jobs they hate. They have to make money after all. They have to eat. I get that and do not hold anyone blame for this way of being. It's their thinking I don't get.

I hate slavery. I hate the mindset that slavery puts the best of us in. It's not the "job" itself that I hate. I know we need to make money to afford the comforts we want, to pay our bills, to take care of the family. It's the state these "jobs" put us in. The thinking it changes. Those who worked at Burger King while young saw it as "making money". There were no illusions. We weren't in our careers. We didn't care about benefits..it was short term, even if it seemed to last for years. It was a way to just make money. We didn't take it too seriously. We still had our dreams.

I saw college like that. It was just a short term thing even though it had lasted 9 years. I saw law school and getting my MBA the same way. It's just something I went through. I didn't take it too seriously. I knew my dreams were still waiting for me. I saved my seriousness for them. I'll enjoy their benefits. But something happens to most people I know. They got into a "job".

It had nothing to do with what they really wanted to do. It was a way to make money- at first.....But then they began to see it differently. It became more long term. They wanted the benefits and other things outside of just making money through it. You got a new car that you probably shouldn't have got. Things that you really didn't need. Well, I'm working after all you think. This is the way life goes, you think. The job sucks but everybody has to work. My bosses suck, but all bosses suck. The system is unfair but what can I do about it? So you participate in that unfair system. It pisses you off daily but you succumb to it. You dread the end of the weekend. You dread the shit you are forced to deal with every work day. All the same time, knowing you could do things better if you were the one in charge. But you accept, submit, belong. After all, you just aren't the "master type". You could never do what they do because you'd do things differently.

An accepted "job" slowly changes the way people think. It enslaves them. It is no longer "I have to make money"- it becomes "I have to have this job." It is a small distinction but the language behind it frames the reality of the situation. By seeing the situation as no longer doing work to "make money" and allowing the situation to become "having a job" and all that entails, they lose their freedom. It sets in that slave mindset. And that mindset traps them, allows them to become true slaves. It's no problem you think-everyone is like you, they have jobs too. They have to submit too. They have bills to pay too. It's okay. You can conform. You must conform. You have responsibilities. You can shelf your dreams. You must shelf your dreams. They did too. The ones who even had dreams, goals, and ambitions to begin with. And that makes it okay. The standard is lowered. After all, everyone "has" to have a job. Everyone else is a slave as well.

And there are benefits in slavery and the slave mindset. When Moses freed the slaves, only 1/3 left with him. It's easier to just accept things the way they are. To think you cannot be your own master. That requires a lot of confidence and intelligence to do after all. But damned, most of your bosses were idiots. Huh? We'll just ignore that, you think. They had rich daddys. Bigger penises. Some magical business person quality.

That always freaks me out. How much people of all ages are so alike. To think outside the box, you have to be outside that box. It's not enough to be in your office cubicle and hate being there. YOU ARE THERE. And that's okay...we all seem to get there somehow at some point. There is no shame in that. Society is powerful. Conformity and its expectations have a way of pulling us all in at some time. I was there too. But I got out. What are you going to about it? Are you going to sit there and plan on how you are going to use your employee benefits? Or will you be heroic and begin to think how you are going to get the fuck out of there and pursue your dreams? Because whatever you think while you are in that box, you are just wasting time.

If your thoughts are not directed towards your freedom and the dreams that can only come true through this freedom, that box becomes your prison. But even then, it's okay. Being in a prison has two options. You either accept your sentence or you start to plan your escape. Because otherwise, you will have a lifetime sentence there. I think for the most of us, fear is what holds us back. BUT more so it seems that laziness keeps us back. How many times has a good idea been forgotten because of this? How many days do we wait when we can act now? How much do we discredit ourselves when we know better, when we know we can do things better? How many times have we quelled what we think? Have we subverted our own thoughts? How is it that the stupidest among us have no fear in speaking while we bite our tongues?

SLAVERY pisses me off. It pisses me off when I see what should be a free man putting on slave shackles. It pisses me off to see slave collars in the forms of neck ties around their necks worn with pride. Slave watches that remind them of their bind to time and they don't even realize it. How many times do you look at your watch when you are at your job and wait for your freedom?

FREEDOM has to be earned. True freedom won't come by sitting in that cubicle box and waiting to the clocks strikes your "off hour". That's not freedom. To be free, you must first free your mind but then you have to do something else. YOU HAVE TO ACT on what you know, not think, to be right. It has to be your "right" and not theirs. How many of your thoughts are really theirs? William S. Burroughs said "Language is a virus." I think what he meant was how we communicate to ourselves spreads within ourselves. For most of us, it enslaves us, but for others, we can earn freedom through it. Change the narrative and act on it. Be free. Plan your escape. I promise you, it's better on the other side.

-L. Truman Daley-Douglas
Guest Contributor