Posted in growing pains, hehehehohohohahahawheeeee

Blaisey, can you hear me?

I’m trying to more positive and carry less hate in my heart.

It’s a fuckin struggle.

But I was recently moved by a quote I heard: “To understand is to forgive.”

I couldn’t remember who said it, but google tells me it’s some guy named Blaise Pascal who was French and enjoyed a mullet with his receding hairline. He was a child prodigy who grew to be an influential mathematician, inventor, physicist, and philosopher. The only thing he wasn’t excellent at was living past the age of 39. He sounds like a great guy, one who encouraged kindness, empathy, and experiencing God through the heart rather than through reason.

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“Evil is easy, and has infinite forms. You like my fashion cape?”- lesser known Pascal haiku

He also sounds like the friend who’d annoyingly suggest a meditation app when you desperately need to vent about your asshole downstairs neighbors.

‘Cause my neighbors.are.monsters. When I hear them snore, fight, or loudly belch beneath me, I feel my heart shrivel just a little more, threatening to turn, once and for all, to stone.

But maybe my hatred for them would lessen if I could do like Blaise Pascal and find a way to understand, maybe even forgive, their wretched existence.

I’m gonna imagine Blaise and I are buddies, chillin’ with some wine and a baguette, having an old fashioned gab sesh, and see what wisdom he might impart.

Here goes.

Me: Blaaaaiiiiisssseee, you just don’t get it! These people are torturing me with their awful relationship!

Blaise: All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

Me: Exactly! Anytime I try to sit quietly and read, they think it’s time to have a deeply disturbing fuck-fest that makes me believe sex is just Satan punishing people. And normally I’m, like, Captain Sex Positivity!

Blaise: Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

Me: So you agree that they’re evil?

Blaise: Kind words don’t cost much. Yet they accomplish much.

Me: Yeah, Blaisey, I know I should be nicer. But it’s not just the gross sex, which actually sounds like he’s scream-vomiting on her, by the way…Oh God, maybe he actually is vomiting on her.

Blaise: Hey, different strokes, ya know?

Me: ….what?

Blaise: I mean, man’s sensitivity to the little things and insensitivity to the greatest are the signs of a strange disorder.

Me: I’m only sensitive to the sounds of him puking on her because I think it’s symptomatic of their entire relationship. He’s always yelling at her! They fight non-stop! And the only time I’ve ever heard her voice was yesterday when she held out the “you” in “FUUUUCK YOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU” long enough for me to wonder if she’s a trained singer or oboe player ’cause that breath control was fire. I’m a trained actor, and I can’t even do that.

Blaise: Do you wish people to think well of you? Don’t speak well of yourself.

Me: Look, this isn’t about my amazing career, ok? Their relationship is really unhealthy and there is no way that they’re happy.

Blaise: Love has reasons which reason cannot understand.

Me: Ugh….I know. I mean…I’ve been in some pretty unhealthy relationships myself. It was just a few years ago that my neighbors were probably thinking the same things about me. Not the puking on someone during sex, that doesn’t suit my particular needs, but…. my neighbors were probably praying that my boyfriend and I would break up so that they could get some sleep without being interrupted by yelling and door slamming. I think that’s why my downstairs nieghbors’ fighting makes me so sad. And repulsed. ‘Cause I know it’s not gonna get better between them and they’re just going to make each other (AND ANYONE WHO LIVES AROUND THEM) miserable. I want her to get the hell out of there and start making a happier life for herself.

Blaise: Time heals griefs and quarrels, for we change and are no longer the same persons.

Me: You’re right, B, I do feel like a different person than I was back then. And maybe she’ll come to her senses and they’ll break up soon and I won’t have to see that creep around my apartment building anymore. Did I tell you he looks like a bull-dog and a hippo got smashed together?

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Him on his best day.
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Accurate depiction of my downstairs neighbor having sex with himself.

Blaise: I maintain that, if everyone knew what others said about him, there would not be four friends in the world.

Me: Good point, I guess that was pretty mean of me.

Blaise: But you’re totally right, that dude is garbage and you have every right to hate him forever.

Me: Thank you!

Blaise: Il n’est pas certain que tout soit incertain.

Me: Absolutely. Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?

Blaise: Did you just get that from Moulin Rouge?

Me: …Oui.

Blaise: Do you know what it means?

Me: Finis.

 

I feel more virtuous already.

 

 

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Posted in growing pains, i meant for this post to be funny

Dipshit, or why whisper when you can yell.

In the midst of full-out yelling at the older gentleman in the orange puffy coat in the lobby of the Evanston movie theatre, the thought flashed through my brain: I guess this is me now. I am a person who engages in screaming matches with strangers inside respected places of business. In the moment, I couldn’t tell if I was proud of or disgusted with myself, and over a week later, I still can’t.

My boyfriend and I went to see the documentary “I Am Not Your Negro.” I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read any James Baldwin, but I wanted to learn about him and his life and we’d heard the documentary was excellent. We made the trek up to Evanston because 1. the only theaters still playing it were either downtown (fuck that parking sitch) or in Evanston and 2. we’d recently learned if you have a SAG-AFTRA card you get 2 tickets for $FREE.99 any-got-dang-time.

When the previews had ended and the actual movie began, 2 college-age women in the row behind us began to whisper. I wasn’t that bothered by it, but my boyfriend LOVES movies (he’s a filmmaker, going to movies are church to him), and he did the head turn universally acknowledged as “will you kindly shut the fuck up I’m trying to concentrate on the movie and not your opinion of/questions about it.” They kept whispering, and then he did the dreaded shush.

In general, I hate the shush. Always have. It makes panic rise in my chest and my breath catch in my throat. I know it’s faster than turning to someone and having a respectful tete a tete, but there’s something about that shushing noise that just feels so kindergarten teacher controlling a room full of jabbering kids. It feels…condescending. Insulting. Also, my fight or flight instinct is super sensitive, and I always feel like the shush is 2 wrong moves away from getting called a fat/ugly/dumb/hysterical bitch or being punched or shot (I recognize what I just said may seem extreme, but when you are a woman, you are trained to believe violence is a very real consequence in confrontation, ’cause guess what, for many women it is. Isn’t this blog hilarious?).

The women continued to whisper for another few seconds, and then like decent people, they stopped and watched the movie.

What did not stop, for the entirety of the movie, was the running commentary by two middle-aged men  a little down the row from us. They did not whisper. They talked with abandon, their bass-y voices vibrating throughout the theatre.

My boyfriend did the head turn. I did the head turn. My boyfriend shushed them. They were undeterred.

“I Am Not Your Negro” is a spectacular film and James Baldwin is a superhero of calm yet impassioned expression in the face of wildly ignorant adversity. I adored the film, but as the lights came up at the end, I was pissed. These ballsacks knew they were disturbing fellow patrons, they just didn’t care.

We saw one of the men leave the theatre (let’s call him Dipshit) while the other one gathered his things (let’s call him Dumbfuck). Once outside the theatre doors and in the hallway, my boyfriend walked up to Dipshit and said, “Sir, I hope the next time you go see a movie, you’re more respectful and don’t talk the way you did tonight. You’re not in your living room.”

“What are you talking about?” said Dipshit. “I didn’t do anything.”

Now normally, I would have begged my boyfriend not to say a word to the obviously unstable and entitled man because 1. I doubt it would make any difference 2. my previously mentioned fear of being punched or shot. But this time felt different. This was not a horror film, where part of the fun is being vocal with the rest of the audience. This was a documentary about a man’s life work of battling racism while watching his friends literally be murdered for their activism. This deserved some respect.

Also, Dipshit and Dumbfuck were white. This matters when watching a film about a black man having to assert his voice again and again in a world that systematically tried to talk over/silence him. If you’re a white person watching a film about James Baldwin, MAYBE SHUT YOUR MOUTH FOR 70 MINUTES AND JUST LISTEN FOR A CHANGE.

“You talked through the entire movie,” I said.

“Oh please. We’re allowed to laugh in a movie theatre,” said Dipshit.

“You weren’t just laughing, you were full out talking the whole time. Next time, just watch it at home where you can be as loud as you want.” I could hear myself getting louder.

The next minute and a half is an emotion-enduced blur, but here are snippets of what I remember:

Dipshit says something really patronizing and rude and starts to walk away.

Awesome boyfriend: “Sir, I came to listen to James Baldwin, not you.” Damn, he’s a good one! That was a salient point!

Dipshit yelling from down the hall: “You have no idea what you’re talking about, and you obviously don’t understand what you just watched!”

Me yelling: “You obviously don’t understand privilege!”

“You obviously don’t understand-” He said something else here, but I don’t remember because all I was thinking was bawhajusscameoutmyhole??

“Privilege” doesn’t even make sense there! The word I was looking for was entitlement! GAH why couldn’t I be impassioned and have facility with language instead of just yelling the first political buzz word I could find?? AND I’m wearing a winter hat with a big fuzzy pompom sticking out the top and it’s hard to be taken seriously with a huge pompom on your head! BAHHHHHHHHHH.

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Dipshit then starts walking toward us really quickly and I think, “This is it. This is where my fears come true and he punches my boyfriend and calls me a pompom-bitch-whore.

“Why are you walking really aggressively toward us, sir? What are you going to do?” It’s the most clearheaded thing I said all night.

Dipshit turns and walks away, and from down the other end of the hall a voice says, “Hey, don’t get arrested.” It was a young black man passing us on the way to the bathroom. It seemed like he meant it.

As a woman, my learned fear of standing up for myself is derision and/or violence. A black man’s learned fear is being arrested for doing nothing wrong (along with derision, violence, being shot by police, again isn’t this blog a laugh riot?). That orange-puffy-coated-middle-aged-white-man feared nothing.

My boyfriend and I turned to leave and saw the two college-age women who had been sitting behind us. We hadn’t noticed that they had stopped to watch incident. As we started to walk away, they walked next to us.

“We were thinking the exact same thing the whole time,” one of them said. “Yeah, good on y’all for saying something to him,” said the other.

It felt nice for them to say that, but I didn’t feel good. In the heat of the argument, I wasn’t able to say what I meant. I didn’t have facility with language under duress. I felt clumsy and inarticulate, and I had shown my own privilege by never once fearing that I would be arrested for yelling at someone in a movie theatre. My fears are different because I’m white.

My favorite part of “I Am Not Your Negro” is a clip of James Baldwin on a talkshow. A white, old-ish Yale professor is also a guest and basically tells Baldwin, “I don’t know why you have to make it about race all the time. It’s not about race. It’s about what we have in common. I have more in common with a black man who is an academic than a white uneducated man. You shouldn’t be so focused on race.”

Baldwin listens. He looks the man in the eyes. Then he takes a drag of his cigarette and calmly yet passionately eviscerates the Yale professor’s painfully ignorant argument. I’m paraphrasing, but Baldwin explains that until he and other black people are no longer afraid for their lives when they walk out of their homes and on to the streets, until black people aren’t concerned for their physical safety just by existing in public places, the races are not having similar experiences. That he was only able to become a writer because he went to Paris, a place that allowed him the mental energy to focus on something other than the daily act of survival. That to deny this chief difference is to deny reality. Baldwin was clear-headed and unapologetic. He fuckin schooled that guy, and he didn’t yell once.

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I’ll give you a moment to rethink what you just said.

I doubt I’ll ever have that kind of eloquence under fire, but I want to get better. To take a lesson from Baldwin, look Dipshits in the eye, take a drag on my imaginary cig, and find the words to truly mean what I say. Maybe it just takes practice.

*If you encounter an obvious Dipshit or Dumbfuck in an orange puffy coat in Evanston (oh man, I just realized how many people probably fit that description), tell them how rude they were during “I Am Not Your Negro.” Maybe, collectively, we can haunt them with their own bad behavior forever.

Posted in hehehehohohohahahawheeeee

Ball Pit Psychologist

A few years ago, I binged on the The Up Series documentaries. If you don’t know what they are, OhMyJebus get ready to spend a day on the couch, transfixed by the grand and cruel mystery that is the process of aging.

Here’s a description of the films, stolen from professor Wikipedia:

“The Up Series is a series of documentary films that have followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old. So far the documentary has had eight episodes spanning 49 years (one episode every seven years). Every seven years, the director, Michael Apted, films material from those of the fourteen who choose to participate. The premise of the film was taken from the Jesuit motto “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.”

The last film made was 56 Up, so you can watch those kids’ lives from age 7 to 56! It’s like that movie Boyhood, but real. It’s brilliant and heartbreaking, and skillfully examines what role class and privilege plays in a person’s life pursuits. It also asks the question: “Do people really change?”

As I watched their baby fat morph to middle-age slack with impossible speed, it made me contemplate my own mortality and whether I’ve changed all that much since I was a kid.

Mostly, it made me think of ball pits.

My first part time job was working at A Kid’s Place, which is basically a poor man’s Discovery Zone (RIP DZ, we didn’t deserve you). I was 16 and trying to save enough money to go see the Dave Matthews Band live (the most embarrassing sentence I’ve ever typed.) I spent most of my days at A Kid’s Place (of my two weeks working there before I was fired for “laziness and insubordination” UGH WHATEVER I’M WAY DIFFERENT NOW) staring through the mesh netting and out the large windows to the Cici’s pizza across the street, willing myself to forget Jonathan Waldrop and how he didn’t love me, while children pummeled me with brightly colored balls.

If you are a person who doesn’t have children or has never worked around them, you might assume a ball pit is a sanctuary of playful joy and innocence. Something like this:

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If you have kids, or god forbid, have worked as a “ball pit supervisor” like me, you know it is actually more like this:

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Shit gets real in the ball pit.

That colorful, no-rules, mini-hunger-games arena attracts all types of kids, from the gentlest flower to the most maniacal Marquis de Sade. I saw (and smelled) it all. And after just a few days “supervising” that Lord of the Flies nightmare, I became convinced I could tell what kind of adults those little terrorists would become based on their behavior in the balls.

So now, inspired by the motto, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” I give you slightly altered, updated version:

Give me a child in a ball pit, and I will give you the asshole adult. Which one were you?

  • The secret pee-er. Did you know a ball pit is full of pee? It is. I never did the studies to prove it, but I hypothesize a ball pit is 70% pee. You might think that cute little kid smiling in the corner is taking a break from the game of “who can throw the ball the hardest directly in to Cynthia’s eye from a point blank range,” but she is not. She has subtly removed her pants and is working very hard at peeing out more urine than you thought could be contained in a 40 pound body, all while maintaining eye contact with you. She will grow up to work in event planning, shoplift from boutiques, and whisper “All Lives Matter” when encountering a protest.
  • The rule-enforcer/fascist. This little jerk walks in like he owns the place, even though he doesn’t even know the birthday girl. His favorite stocking stuffer he got last Christmas is a whistle that he wears around his neck at all times (this guy’s parents are the worst because they got their budding authoritarian a goddamn whistle as a way to punish the world). He revels in his afternoons of laying down the law, screeching “YOU CAN’T DO THAT,” and “YOU’RE OUTTA THE GAME,” and “EVERYONE HAS TO SIT DOWN FOR THREE MINUTES, NO TALKING.” He physically escorts kids to timeout corners, and he already has deep permanent frown lines. He will grow up to be a front desk security guard who, even though he sees you enter the building every day, will not let you in the morning you forget your ID badge. Or maybe he’s a politician who thinks women who have abortions (he’s trying to pass a bill to make them illegal, duh) should be forced to hold funerals for their non-babies. He likes to be dominated in bed.
  • The kid who’s already over it. I feel deep sympathy for this little one. There is a moment when this 5 year old looks down at the (undoubtedly) urine covered, low-grade plastic ball in her hand and thinks, “what’s the point?” She pats her little brother on the back, envious of his blissful ignorance, and walks slowly out of the mesh to join the adults bored on the sidelines. She will spend the next 15 years in near constant existential crisis, experimenting with as many religions as she does sexualities, all while feeling nothing. She will be the one to tell all the other kids that there is no Santa Clause, “of course there isn’t. Everything we know is a lie.” Boys will chase her, weak in the presence of her world-weariness and boney-shouldered shrugs, but she will only see them as momentary distractions from the banality of life. She will become addicted to and then give up smoking, alcohol, and hard core drugs by the age of 26. She will become an artist, drinking colored soy milk and then vomiting it up on canvass. She will experience a brief period of fame when Prince Harry buys ones of her “paintings” and falls head over heels in love with her. On the eve of their royal wedding, she will disappear without warning into a quiet life in a tiny house commune in Montana.
  • The Hero. You would like to find fault with this little champion, but damn it, you just can’t. She wears a different superhero t-shirt everyday, and most of them even have capes. Grass stains cover her patched jeans, and she laughs with total abandon as she jumps from the towering squishy square cushions and lands directly in the middle of the fray. She makes friends with the kid who is standing all alone and probably has some kind of learning disability. She’s neither rude nor kind to the ball pit supervisor, she’s too busy living her best life to be bothered. On Halloween, she dresses as Amelia Earheart and looks badass in a bomber jacket. She becomes Michelle Obama.
  • The preteen who is honestly too old for this. You shouldn’t put money on exactly how old this “kid” is, but his approximate age is Too-The-Fuck-Old. He’s got a little mustache and you’re pretty sure you’ve seen him smoking outside of the junior high. When the Kids Place front desk attendant asks him how old he is (’cause there is an age limit, sir), he says “working my way to 10,” with a little wink. He doesn’t seem like a total perv, but he’s not not creepy. He mostly practices throwing balls a little too hard at the large cushioned pyramid in the center of the pit (he’s being recruited for college baseball already). In his mid-twenties, he will still attend high school parties and get a 17 year old pregnant. He will never move out of his hometown and constantly refer to Europe as “so gay.” After three failed marriages and 8 kids, he will insist he’s found “the one” and marry a 21 year old who’s a friend of his oldest daughter. He is Mel Gibson sans tuxedo.

Obviously, this is an abbreviated list, but I’m guessing you could sort yourself into at least one of these primary colored categories. And don’t just say you’re the Little Hero, we wouldn’t all be in Gryffindor.

I went to that Dave Matthews band concert, by the way. I cringe to think what category of permanent asshole that makes me.

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