God, Vibes, and the Spaghetti Monster

Just a warning:  This is not my typical post.  This piece is more reflective.  Definitely not one of my usual topics.  Definitely more narrative.  Definitely a little more touchy than normal.  A little more all over the place than my usual writing.  But, I felt called to write it, and I can’t ignore the call!

A lot of people have noticed a change in me recently–including myself.  I’ve been letting stress get to me less.  I’ve been more positive.  I’ve been more focused on what is truly important.  I laugh more.  I smile more.  All around, I’ve just been happier.  Well, when people notice you’re doing better, they want to know how you did it.  I’ve been asked multiple times, in person, text, email, messenger, you name it, I’ve heard it over a dozen times: “You really seem happier… how’d you do it?”

Well, there is no easy answer to that question.  Or, I should say there is no one step fix I can offer.  It has been a process.  It has taken time.  It has taken work.  I’ve fucked up multiple times along the way.  This time, though, I didn’t give up or give in.  And there is definitely something specific I have to thank for that resilience.  There are lots of little pieces and lots of little facets to this new and endlessly improving person I’m becoming.  But, there is one thing I know has helped every step of the way: Faith.

Now, I know some people just don’t believe in God.  I feel you.  It’s pretty hard to believe in this apparently non-existent being who pulls off some wild magic tricks.  I mean, the dude pulled off the immaculate conception.  (Funny fact: I remember imagining telling my family I was a virgin if I ever got pregnant and telling them I was the second immaculate conception.  Yeah… not sure how well that would’ve gone over.)  It was his power that resurrected his son after three days.  My personal favorite is our homie, Jesus, turning water to wine.  I wish I could do that!  I would have SO much more money in my savings account.  Although I know it’s hard for some to believe, I do truly think it was my faith that saved my personal journey this time around.  Now, let me tell my story and then support my claim.  Then, you can think whatever you want.  Just let me get out what I need to get out.

I was raised Catholic.  Church every Sunday.  Prayer every night.  I was the master of the procedures.  I knew when to kneel, stand, and what words to utter at the right time.  Hell, my first job was at the church rectory for $4 an hour.  (Child labor laws clearly aren’t a thing in New Jersey!)  I never felt connected to Catholicism, though.  It was just how my mom raised me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the traditions that the Catholic church provided me with.  The only connection I ever felt with my church, though, was communal.  It was a super Polish church that many of my friends went to, so the community was pretty tight.  Much of my family went there too, so many of us would use after church time to catch up on our week and stay connected.  It was great.  That being said, the most important of my church experience was missing–the spiritual connection.  That is, until I went to college.

I went to college at Fordham University.  Fordham is a Jesuit university.  I genuinely did not know that when I accepted my spot at Fordham.  But, this unknown Jesuit aspect of my university quickly became my favorite aspect of my undergrad alma mater.  The Jesuit tenets quickly became my favorite words to live by and I finally began to feel more of that spiritual connection that I had always been missing.  It was better, with its community service and understanding tenets… but, it still wasn’t enough.

My faith quickly slipped when I didn’t have campus ministry or my mom around to remind me to go to church and just believe.  When I first moved to Vegas, church was not a thing.  At all.  I don’t think I went to church in Vegas any Sunday my first two years living here.  I had researched some churches, but never followed through.  Without that previous spiritual connection, I kinda felt like it was a waste to try yet another place.

That is, until this school year.  At the start of the school year, I was yet again complaining about not having a church since that was such a huge part of my upbringing.  Yet again, my school counselor and office manager suggested Central Christian.  It was close to my house.  They both loved it.  I just had to go.  (They had been suggesting Central to me since I started working at my school.)  It still took me some time to go.  I had no out when our office manager had me commit to a church date.  I guess she got tired of me asking and complaining, so on the spot she called her daughter, asked for the experience times, and we made our game plan.  I had no out or excuse this time.  Plus, I love spending time with our office manager so I figured at the very least it’d be a new experience and time with her.

A new experience was putting it mildly.  I had never been to a Christian church… but I had been to church and how different could it be?  Oh, cute, naive Nicole.  For those of you straight Catholics out there like me… Christianity is Catholicism’s super hippie cousin.  I had no idea what I was walking into.

As I’m pulling up, my friend calls me and I’m already in awe because the place is HUGE.  I had never seen any place of worship that big other than in Manhattan.  My friend came to meet me in the front and we went to meet her daughter in our spots.  I walked into the worship space and I shit you not, my first thoughts were, “Where the fuck am I?”  (Classy for in church, I know.)  The whole space was very dimly lit.  There were two giant screens on either side of the front and a stage with a full band set up.  There was a countdown to the start of experience going on the screens and people conversing all over the place.  My traditional Catholic heart was not prepared.

I am a hard person to catch off guard… ask anyone.  As a self-proclaimed empath, I am ridiculously good at reading people and situations and my hot mess of a life has taught me to be prepared for pretty much anything.  This place threw me wayyyyyy off.  It was too late to cut and run.  I love my friend, and the countdown was down to twenty seconds.  That specific experience is a blur, but I do remember having the time of my freaking life.  It was so different in all the right ways.  This post has already derailed way off from where I thought I’d be taking it, so I won’t sit you through all the details of that experience, but it changed me.  I finally felt something I hadn’t ever felt in twenty-something years worth of church going.  I felt communally AND  spiritually connected.  I wanted to go back.  Without my mom or aunt telling me to.  Without a specific holiday looming over my shoulder.  I just wanted to.  I couldn’t wait for the next week!

I’ve been going back to Central on and off (more on than off) ever since then.  I’ll never forget my second experience.  I went alone this time and I literally cried.  During the experience, Central Live sang a song and this was my breaking point.  I gave it all in, right there and right then.  I still remember the specific lyrics that hit me:

“I will call upon the Lord,

for he alone is strong enough to save.

Rise, your shackles are no more

for Jesus Christ has broken every chain.”

I felt called.  I felt a weight lift off of me.  I could write a whole other post about what shackles I needed to be freed from.  Those details aren’t important.  What is important is that I finally felt connected to something greater than me.  And, I think back to any of the times I slipped back into my “dark places” and they were times I let myself slip away from my weekly Central experience.   Times when I stopped feeling connected.

When we’re finally connected to something, we believe in it.  More importantly, we hope in it.  In my opinion, hope is one of the many keys to happiness.  (Here we go, I’m finally getting back to the point where this all started.)  I’m not saying you need to believe in God and Jesus Christ.  What I am saying is you need to believe in something greater than yourself.  It can be God.  It can be Mother Nature.  It can be the Universe.  It can be the Spaghetti Monster.  You can call it whatever the hell you want to call it, it just needs to be bigger than you.  To me, faith is the belief that something larger than you and your life is at work and your trust in that something larger.   No one should ever have dictated for them what that “something” is.  Believe whatever the hell you wanna believe, but believe in something.  I personally run on a solid mixture of Jesus and Vibes.  I shit you not.  My faith is currently rooted in the bible and the vibes you put in the universe.  I don’t think faith needs to be solely rooted in one thing.  We don’t have to be this or that.  Do what works for you.

I do think faith needs to be present, though,  for an ultimate happiness to be permanently present.  When we put all of our faith into the worldly, our faith will be shattered.  There is no doubt about that.  With our faith goes our happiness.  People let us down.  Things let us down.  Places let us down.  I think having faith in something bigger and having the faith that this “something bigger” is working in our favor is huge.  For me it has been at least.

Central closes each mass with a sentence from Romans Chapter 8… “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Substitute God with whatever you want and that statement remains just as powerful.  If you believe in something bigger than yourself AND you believe that it’s working in your favor… how can you be shitty?  If I put out good vibes and I truly believe that these good vibes are going to be returned to me, how can I waste my time with negativity?  Faith is a powerful force.  Where we put our faith is even more important.

Now, like I said, this isn’t an “I wanna convert you to Jesus lovin’ and make you drink drink the koolaid” post.  This post isn’t like most of the others I’ve written.  I still wanted to write it.  My faith is a huge part of my life and my happiness now.  I still laugh at people’s reactions when I tell them I go to church every Sunday.  I get it… I cuss a lot.  I drink a lot.  And I do a lot of other things that my family probably wouldn’t be proud of and doesn’t wanna read about.  I’m a sinner.  Reality check: Who isn’t?  With all of that, I still feel loved.  I still feel secure because I have faith that something bigger than me is working in my favor.  You don’t need to agree with this at all.  It’s just what works for me.  Happiness is composed of hundreds of little facets.  This is just one of mine.

You might scoff at this.  You may be incredulous.  You may be curious.  If there’s been something missing for you, I dare you… try it.  Don’t know where to go or where to start?  I’m here for you.  If you wanna try Central, I’d love to go with you and watch you say “Where the fuck am I?”

Believe or not.  Faith or not.  That’s your choice.  That’s really what happiness comes down to… a choice and a chase.

What’s so wrong with being alone?

But really, what is SO wrong with being alone? The other week I had a really strange experience at the Cheesecake Factory and couldn’t help but ponder this question.  So, let me lay out the scene for you…

I decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory by my house as a sort of “last supper” before starting my five day juice cleanse.  Normally, being a single party, I would just sit at the bar,  but it was a beautiful day and I wasn’t about to waste it sitting inside!  I went to the hostess stand and asked for my table for one–thinking nothing of it.  The host started a great conversation about my tattoos, walked me to my table, and told me to enjoy my meal.  My meal was amazing!  The surrounding company?  Not so much.

As my last supper before a juice cleanse, you can imagine I went to town!  I got myself a few drinks, ordered a few apps, and had more than enough to take home.  Since I had nothing but time to kill as I finished my last drink, I pulled out my planner and started planning my week ahead.  I was totally diggin’ my date with myself.  Throughout my whole time there, though, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being watched.  Now, this wasn’t my paranoia kicking in for once.  There was a party of 4 at the table diagonal from mine that just kept looking over at me, making comments, and giggling.  Well, when slightly noticeable whispers turned to plain awkward and obvious, I decided to just lean towards the table and ask if they needed anything.  The exact conversation went something like this:

Me: I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but notice you looking my way.  Can I help you with something? 

Them: Oh no! We just couldn’t help but… uh… notice that you are alone? Are you meeting someone?  Did they not show up?  That’s just horrible of them! 

Me: Oh! No! I’m not waiting for anyone. I’m here alone.  I enjoy my own company and wanted a nice meal outside.  But thank you so much for your concern! 

Them: Well, a pretty girl like you shouldn’t have to do things on your own. 

This ended with them slightly scoffing and continuing their quiet remarks while I returned to my planner, book, and most importantly, drink!  As an eternally single, independent lady and once again avid adventurer, I’ve gotten used to doing things alone.  I used to hate it, but I’ve learned to love my time with myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I have friends, I just don’t like to be reliant on other people’s schedules.  If I want to do something, I’m going to do it–whether there is someone with me or not.

After hearing their comments, though, I couldn’t help but think, why is there such a social stigma around doing things alone?  Especially for ladies.  Why is it automatically assumed that I’m being stood up when I’m dining alone?  Why shouldn’t a “pretty girl like me” have to do things alone? And why on earth am I being singled out for showing myself some TLC?

What’s so wrong with being alone?

Now, this brief encounter might seem like no big deal and super nonchalant… to the untrained eye, it is.  But being the social and reflection junkie I am, I couldn’t help but notice how socially problematic their judgement and comments were in some ways.  First, there was the assumption I was being stood up and the blatant discomfort they exhibited when I clarified that I was, in fact, intentionally alone.  I can’t help but wonder where their discomfort stems from…  Is it a general lack of exposure to people doing things alone?  Is it their own insecurities in not feeling comfortable enough in their own space to be able to do things alone?  Is it a safety concern that I was a female out alone?  Since I’ll probably never see these people again, I’ll never really know what it was for certain.  But I can’t help but wonder what made them so squeamish and judgmental about a girl taking herself on a date, enjoying her own company, and just straight up enjoying her life.

More problematic than assuming a person out alone was being stood up and then judging them for intentionally being out alone, was the one female’s comment, “Well, a pretty girl like you shouldn’t have to do things on your own.”  Yeah, maybe this is just something people say…. but I just need to make sure I got this right, you’re uncomfortable that I’m out alone, purposefully… but it would be acceptable if I was uglier?  So, you’re saying our outer appearances deem what is acceptable in social settings?  I call bullshit.

If I rob a bank, I don’t care how hot I am, it’s wrong.  That is an accepted norm.  Sure, movies might glorify the hot robbers slightly, but we still as a human population understand that stealing is wrong and against the law.  I don’t care how hot you are, if you get caught, you’re going to jail.  So if physical appearance isn’t a true deciding factor in that social situation, why is it in this one?  Where is the line?  Why are we still using attractiveness to support social claims?  In addition to that, as a supposed “pretty girl” am I expected to never be alone?  Am I supposed to go around with my posse all day err day?  Am I supposed to perpetually be dating someone to fulfill this social norm that pretty girls can’t be alone?  Did I miss the memo about only being complete when there is another person in my life?  When did that shit start?  I’m clearly way behind the times… or are the times behind me?  I know I have some peculiar outlooks on life and society and “social norms,” but shit man, is it truly that fucking progressive to go out to eat alone and enjoy my own company?

It has taken me for-fucking-ever to get to a point where I am comfortable being alone.

Fun fact: (Not many people know this actually…) Growing up, I had severe (and I mean SEVERE) isolaphobia or monophobia–it goes by both names: an extreme or abnormal fear of being alone.  I mean, BAD.  It baffled my mom.  I used to have to sleep with her every night, and I wrapped myself around her like a fucking anaconda to make sure she wouldn’t leave me for work.  I would throw SEVERE tantrums when she left for work.  It broke her heart every day and she told me later in life that she would drive to work crying because she felt so shitty for leaving me and watching me cry from the window.

It still hits me sometimes–twenty years later.  When I was in college, I wasn’t able to sleep in my dorm room if my roommate wasn’t there… I would always “accidentally” fall asleep on the couch those nights… or, I just wouldn’t sleep (can you say all nighters on my laptop or in the library?).  This phobia made certain social situations unbearable.  I first realized I really had to get over this fear when I moved to Las Vegas.  I was going to be living alone, in a new city, where I currently had close to no friends and absolutely no family.  I was (as I so eloquently phrase it) fucked.  My brother got me a dog, which helped.  But I didn’t sleep for weeks.  I spent all my time at work or hosting parties to keep the fear at bay.  I finally gave in and went to see an isolaphobia specialist (yes, those exist) and we started working through this phobia of mine.  Having anxiety is a major detriment to making serious progress, but this is my third year in Vegas and I’m finally seeing the growth.  My time used to be split 90/10 with people and without, now I would say I’m more at a 40/60 balance.  That may not seem like much improvement in two and a half years, but please realize I used to have panic attacks at the idea of having to do grocery shopping alone.  Yes, it was that fucking bad.  (And yes, I now realize how fucking absurd it is to have a panic attack about going grocery shopping alone.)

I think this is why this brief and minor interaction is bothering me so much.  I’ve worked so hard to overcome this shit, and then four random strangers are gonna judge my damn accomplishments.  There are social implications and personal ones in this brief contact with strangers.  I wish I had all of this in my head while it was happening so I could just ask them straight up and get some answers.  Because I would… I wouldn’t care if it made them uncomfortable.

What bothers me most is that for a brief moment, I went back to my deep isolaphobia days.  I went home and actually asked myself, “Well, what was wrong with what I did?  Should I have not gone?  Am I not enough?”  That last one is a question I plagued myself with for years as the result of some fucked up relationships, on and off daddy issues, and just straight up skewed outlooks on life.  I thought I had deleted that last one from my vocabulary.  I guess it just shows how easily our old demons and disasters can come creeping up.  We have to consciously choose that positivity and that light within us–every second of every day.

Am I not enough?  Fuck yeah, I AM enough.  It has taken me years to learn that.  I am so fucking enough, that I’ll go to the Cheesecake Factory alone, order my obscene amount of appetizers, maybe a have a few too many drinks, and enjoy every. fucking. second.

Happily alone,

#chillestgirlalive

Compliments from an avocado loving, messy haired man…

Cue music: Barcelona by Ed Sheeran

Camera pans out from a shopping cart at Whole Foods and goes into a wide screen shot of a blonde, twenty something woman doing her groceries in shorts, a crop top, and a snapback.

Enter a young man–a stranger to our main character–who walks directly to her cart.  Long, messy hair, wearing aviators inside, muscle tank, definitely the kinda guy that loves avocados a little too much.  Attractive, but not our leading lady’s type.

Man: “Excuse me miss?  Hi.  Can I say something that might sound weird, but I promise I don’t mean it to be.”

Me: “Uhhhh…. sure?  Go for it.”

Man: “Again, I don’t mean this to be weird, but I’ve seen you randomly around the store and every time I see you, I laugh or smile.  You are hysterical.  You really seem to be unapologetically yourself.”

Me: “I’m sorry? I don’t understand what you mean…”

Man: “I just mean, you seem so happy and it’s infectious.  You really just are yourself and don’t seem to give a damn what other people think.”

Me: “I gotta say, I’ve never had a stranger say that to me.  You got all of that from randomly seeing me around Whole Foods?”

Man: “Yeah, dude.  I’m not trying to hit on you, I promise.  But you’re really funny.  First of all, you’re literally playing your own music… at a grocery store.  And you dance to it… A LOT.  Like in the aisles while picking your food.  And you’ve smiled at every person you’ve walked by.  And I’ve heard you compliment at least 4 strangers.  And, you’ve started conversations with every employee you’ve walked by–and you’ve left them all smiling or laughing.  At one point, you actually started stretching in the Gluten Free aisle and then laughing at whatever joke you told yourself in your head.  The positivity just radiates off of you.  Your actions show that you genuinely care about people.  And you do whatever you want and don’t care if people are going to see and judge.  The vibes you’re putting out there are awesome.  I just needed to share that, because I believe positivity should be reciprocated with more positivity.  You are seriously, unapologetically you and you don’t hide it.  I don’t see many people do that anymore.  It’s refreshing.”

Okay, I’m done with the script style writing.  This conversation with a stranger was so unique and random, but so descriptive of where I feel my life is at right now, I had to share it.  Only in a hippie lovin’ place like Whole Foods would I find a stranger that would come up to me and say this, but it was everything I needed and more.

I’ve been a new person recently, and it is amazing to hear something like this from a stranger.  Only a few short months ago, a friend and role model was talking to me because she was worried I was suffering from a serious bout of depression.  She was worried by my constant negativity, the cloud stuck over my head, and just worried for my well being in general.  That couldn’t have been more than 3 months ago.  And now, here I am being told by a stranger that my positivity is infectious?  That is wild to me.  But, after reflecting… it really is true.

I can’t really pinpoint when the change happened, or really how, but I know why.  I started focusing on myself and what I needed.  I used to tend to thrive on interactions with other people, and I think I was so wrapped up in the fact that I no longer had much company from friends or family, that I let it turn me into a walking ball of anger and sadness.  I forgot one very important fact–my own company is more than enough.  I learned how to thrive without the constant interaction and reinforcement from my friends.  I learned to love my quirkiness and just let it happen.  If people are going to judge me, that is their prerogative, but if I’m having fun and loving the moment I’m in, does anything else matter? So yeah, I’m weird… and I fucking LOVE my weird.

I will be honest, I hated myself for a while.  I never thought I was good enough.  I wasn’t smart enough.  I wasn’t pretty enough.  I wasn’t funny enough.  I wasn’t working hard enough.  I wasn’t a good enough girlfriend.  I wasn’t a good enough friend.  I wasn’t a good enough sister.  I wasn’t fit enough.  I just wasn’t enough.  Now, I don’t say this because I want a pity party of compliments or anything.  I really fucking don’t.  I actually hate that shit.  I say this because I genuinely thought it was true.

I can’t tell you when it clicked, but at some point I learned to love who I was.  I learned that I was enough for me.  I am happy with myself and the woman I am becoming.   And does anything else matter?  Does it truly matter if I’m not enough for someone else, as long as I’m enough for me? If I’m not enough for someone, then they clearly don’t appreciate my worth.  And, they clearly don’t deserve to be in my life.  I’m finally owning my life.  And with that comes a natural happiness.  A natural joy that forces you to just be yourself–no holding back.  I have never laughed so much in my life, and I can’t imagine going back to being miserable.  I wasted months being miserable when I could’ve been living in joy.

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’m okay being alone.  Being alone used to be a major phobia of mine.  And now, I quite enjoy it.

Now, that shouldn’t be confused with the idea that I want to live a solitary lifestyle.   I still thrive on interactions with others.  I love my girls, I love my friends, I love my family.  It just means I am more selective with whom I choose to share my energy.  Do I miss hanging out with some of my girlfriends who now have hubbies, boos, and busier lives than before?  Of course.  But I can’t focus on the fact that they can’t love me the same way they used.  Rather, I choose to focus on seeing the joy in the way they still love me when they can, the best way they can.  And I substitute self love (and puppy love) where theirs used to be.  Do I sometimes miss the companionship of having a man around?  Abso-fucking-lutely.  But, I’m not going to get into a relationship for the sake of having someone around.  That’s not healthy.  And that was what I was doing before, which is why every single one of my relationships crashed and burned.  Sometimes even exploding in nuclear proportions.

People aren’t selective enough about who they choose to spend their time with and energy on.  As Ed Sheeran says in one of his songs on his new album (clearly I’m a little obsessed with Ed Sheeran), “Human beings are destined to radiate or drain.”  You are truly destined to do one or the other.  Which is it going to be?  I’ve finally chosen to radiate and not drain.  That is a conscious decision that I need to make every day.  It is so easy to slip back into a slump and start complaining and being negative.  But it is so NOT worth it.  At all.

My life feels completely different.  I’ve designed a life where good vibes are the only option.  That started with my own mindset and my own self love.  I know not everyone is there, and everyone gets there at their own pace, but God, do I wish everyone could feel the way I do.  I’m not gloating in joy, I’m just sharing how amazing my life feels now.  Nothing major has changed.  No new job.  Still single.  My dogs are still crazy.  My health is actually in the shitter.  But I’m happy.  Even when I get bad news, I’ve learned to accept it in a way that isn’t going to ruin me and my mood for days. I’m in an interesting place I don’t truly know how to explain.  But, apparently a stranger at Whole Foods can.  Avocado loving, messy haired man, thank you for helping me verbalize what I’ve been feeling for weeks now…

“You are seriously, unapologetically you and you don’t hide it.”

Nor will I ever hide it again.  I will continue to be the girl who plays her own music in the grocery store and dances while picking her gluten free crackers.  I will continue to be the girl who plays the penis game with her girlfriends in any bar we can, no matter how old we get and how inappropriate it might be.  I will continue to be the girl who cries when she needs to, but will do her best to spend double her time laughing and smiling.  I will continue to be the girl who sits on her patio on a beautiful day and writes blog posts.  I will continue to be the girl who flirts with her hot bartender and bullshits with the hysterical bar back–even if the amount of time she spends at “her” bar is probably socially unacceptable.  I will continue to be the girl who teaches while standing on tables and screaming, singing, and dancing.  I will continue to be the girl who cusses a lotta bit too much.  I will continue to be the girl who jams out a little too hard in her car while driving to work.  I will continue to be the girl who dances around her apartment in her underwear with her dogs as her dance partners.  I will continue to be the girl who drinks a little too much whiskey on nights out.  I will continue to be the girl who laughs and smiles her life away.  I will continue to be seriously and unapologetically myself and I won’t hide it.

Sincerely,

A new and improved #chillestgirlalive

 

The problem with sex is…

The problem with sex is that it is never equal–emotionally, socially, or (most problematically) politically.

Now, with such an alluring title, I hope you weren’t expecting some Cosmo style article on positions and strategies.  That is not what this piece is going to be.  Sorry to disappoint, but I promise this will still be worth your read.

Sex and gender cause problems–just watch a season of Sex and the City and you’ll see plenty of examples.  Emotionally everyone is just on different levels with sex.  9 times out of 10 one person cares more than the other.  And the lines get blurred.  Sex complicates… it makes everything a jumbled mess.  I’ve seen relationships–and people–fail, get confused, and crumble all because of sex.  Why does sex hold so much power over our lives?

Simple.  Sex is a power play.

We’ve all seen the movies and sitcoms.  People withholding sex or somehow using it to manipulate, get what they want, or hurt others.  We’ve been bombarded with it in media ever since sex became more mainstream and less taboo.  We’re letting mainstream media blind us, though.  By turning the power play of sex into a comical scene in a movie, they’ve made us forget that sex is being used for more aggressive power plays throughout the world.  We laugh so we forget or fail to notice things that should be intolerable.

Socially sex is ridiculously skewed.  First, and most obviously, there is the age old plight of the player versus the slut.  This one isn’t new to us.  A man has a ton of sex and he is awesome.  A woman has a lot of sex and she is shamed.  How did that rhetoric ever come to be and why for Christ’s sake is it still around?  And that whole idea that women have a lower sex drive than men?  I call bullshit.  I have been in a few relationships where the men had a significantly lower sex drive and the fact that I wanted it made me pushy and needy.  But, when a man wants sex all the time, it is the norm.  Although I can think of a million more examples, I’ll leave you with one more:  Plan B.  No, I’m not talking about my alternate plan in life. (Even though I definitely need to think about that too.) Female contraceptives are so much more expensive, extensive, and more difficult to get.  Have you ever noticed how male contraceptives can be purchased almost anywhere with a relatively reasonable cost.  The female counterparts need to go through some more exhaustive measures.  For us to get some form of female contraceptive, we need a doctor’s appointment, prescription, or to pay a ridiculous amount.  The “simplest” of all our options is the morning after pill.  This pill is usually around $50 a pop and we can’t even use it frequently because it can cause a lot of issues.  Then there is the shame involved in buying them.  I walk into Walgreens.  I go for the pill.  It is one of the only items in this giant plastic security box.  This ensures that I have to have an employee check me out and fumble with the clunky box, rather than being able to conveniently go to self check out and be on my merry way.  I’m told to own my sexuality, but then shamed when I do.  It is modern day, corporate slut shaming.  And it’s absurd.

Owning our sexuality has never been equal.  We claim to be a progressive nation.  Yeah, I’m definitely thankful we don’t have FGM (female genital mutilation), but we really aren’t as progressive as we claim to be.  Socially, it is still only fully acceptable for men to own their sexuality, whereas women get shamed and cast away.  I literally had someone leave a date with me (before it ended) after asking me how many people I’ve had sex with.  Now, I don’t want you to think I have this outrageous number and that’s what caused him to storm off.  For a modern woman, my number is pretty low, actually.  And to add insult to injury, he had shared his number with me moments before.  His number was triple mine.  Fucking TRIPLE.  But, I was the one having too much sex.  What is wrong with our society?  How am I being shamed and left at the dinner table for having one-third the sexual partners that my date had?  How is that still happening in 2017?

I’ll tell you how.  We faked ourselves into thinking that sex was a norm and that we were all on level playing fields.  TV shows like Sex and the City, True Blood, and Game of Thrones with their plethora of sex scenes and full frontal nudity gave people this false sense that sex was becoming more acceptable–for both genders.  The reality of it is that sex is really only more acceptable for men.  Sorry ladies, we’ve been played.

Socially, women are still being shamed, many of us just aren’t seeing the signs.  Even worse, though, (and what honestly scares me more) is that politically, we still aren’t being represented.  It is 2017 and out of 100 senate seats, only 20 are held by women.  Out of 435 seats in the house of representatives, only 84 are held by women.  So, you’re telling me that in America, where 50.8% of the population is made up of women, it is okay for women to only hold 20% of the senate and 19% of the house of representatives? We make up just over half of the population, but we still only represent less than  one third of our nation’s government. Wait, wasn’t our government created and meant to be a representation of the people?  I think we fucked up somewhere.  Or is it just me?

So all of these laws that affect the lives of 50.8% of the population are being created, decided, and upheld by the other 49.2% of the population.  How does that make sense? How can they tell me about birthing, when all they did was the easy part?  How can they tell me about sex contraceptives, when they can get theirs on sale and self checkout–avoiding breaking the bank and their dignity.  How did this happen?  I’ll tell you, because it isn’t a difficult answer, it’s just difficult to swallow…

we let it.

Like a semi-decent relationship we let the relative comfort outweigh the fact that there were major flaws in what was happening.  We chose being content over being equal, because hey, it could be worse.  Well guess what, it is getting worse.  The semi-decent relationship just took a left turn past What-the-fuck Avenue and is cruising down Shitshow Boulevard.  This is the point when the semi-decent relationship is turning to shit and we need to make the choice: Do we stick it out and blow up with it, or de we force a change?  I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t enjoy blowing up.  I prefer change.  I choose change.  This is the point in the relationship where we need to snap back to reality and make the other player get it together.

I get it, don’t hate the player… hate the game.  I do hate the game, but the players have created this systemic issue that makes the game never ending.  There is no final level until the players open their eyes.  Until then, we’ll be stuck at level 7 for the rest of our lives.  I’ve opened my eyes, so yeah, I think I’ve reserved the right to hate the player AND the game.

In a world where everyone is looking for balance in their lives, how can we ever truly find balance until we find equality?

To the man who spit at my feet…

To the man who spit at my feet,

Let me paint you a picture of how my day was going before you entered my life.  I woke up annoyed and confused.  I had gotten a text message from someone that threw off my vibes for the start of the day.  And you should know, I’m all about vibes.  I had been scrolling through social media and came across no shortage of articles telling me about what this new presidency was going to cut.  I was stressed about what that meant for me as a women.  This concern slowly extended for the rights of people all over America–women, children, poor, ethnic, you name it.  With this gloominess hanging over me, I dragged myself out of bed.

By the time I got through my morning routine, I had changed my mood and perspective on the day.  I chose positivity.  I sipped coffee, paid bills, and went through what I had to get done before my girlfriends came over later that day–all with a smile on my face.  I got myself dressed and set out to Costco, home of items in bulk and a fantastic selection of wine.  Now, let’s not forget one important fact… yesterday was the women’s march.  An event that has been in the works for weeks.  Everyone knew it was happening–all around the world.  That should have come as no surprise to you.  But let me try to be understanding.  Maybe you don’t have social media or cable.  Maybe you don’t talk to people who keep up with current events.  Maybe you truly didn’t know the women’s march was happening and our conversation came as a surprise to you.

Although I didn’t march, to show some solidarity with my sisters around the world, I wore a pink hat.  It wasn’t the march pink pussy hat.  It was just a pink snap back that said, “Team Bride.”  It was honestly the only pink thing I own.  While in line to check out with my bulk water and way too many bottles of wine, your wife asked me whether I was getting married.  I giggled, shrugged, and said, “Oh no, just a hat from a bachelorette party for a friend.  I usually only wear it for bachelorettes… I honestly don’t even like the color pink.”  Your wife and I giggled and I thought that was the end of it.  Until, you came into the picture.

“Well, if you don’t like the color pink and you’re clearly not at a bachelorette party, why are you wearing a pink hat?”

“Oh you know, for the cause.”

“What cause?  Girls? Ha ha ha.”

I should’ve known from your sarcastic tone and empty laugh that this was not going to end well.  In my most sweet and polite tone and with a small smile on my face, I responded:

“Actually, yes.  Today is the women’s march on Washington.  I’m not able to participate in the march, so I’m wearing a pink hat in solidarity and to show support.”

“Support what?  You guys have all you need.  I don’t get it.”

“I believe that you truly believe that, but as a woman I can’t help but disagree.  I think there is still a lot of progress that we can make.  There’s always progress to be made.”

And this is where it happened.  Where you took me back to the annoyed and confused state I was in when I woke up.  I don’t know what it was that set you off.  Was it my pink hat?  Was it the word progress?  Whatever it was, you thought that it was appropriate–in the middle of the Costco checkout line–to spit at my feet.  Not only does this show a lack of general manners for a person out in public…  But what’s worse, is your saliva, as it pooled next to my shoe, sent a very clear, very loud message.  I was worthless to you.  I was less than.  I was an empty space to be filled and covered.  Your own action contradicted the words you uttered just moments before.  No, sir.  We do not have all we need.  If we had all we needed you would’ve realized how despicable and unacceptable your spit was.  And, to top it all off, you followed it up with:

“Fuck you and fuck your rights.”

Your poor wife looked ashamed.  I pitied her for loving a man who cared so little about her basic rights.  Did I want to punch you? Of course.  Did I want to kick you in the balls?  Abso-fucking-lutely.  But I’m quick on my feet and I knew had I done that, I would’ve ended up on social media as the “violent protester  who was immature, unintelligent, and quick to anger” and somehow it would’ve been my fault.  Because that’s the world we live in, sir.  Where I go to Costco in a pink hat–no signs, no shouting–just to buy some water and wine and somehow hatred is spewed at me–and the media would make it my fault.  Because I’m young.  Because I’m a woman.  Because I’m an immigrant’s daughter.  There would’ve been some excuse made for you because you were born with a penis and I was born with a vagina.  

Thankfully, the handsome gentleman I had met in the wine aisle was checking out before me and he stepped in, leading to Costco staff kicking you and your tired wife out of their store.  I had to be walked to my car for safety purposes. (No matter how much I said I was fine and pleaded to be left alone.)  You’re 3 minute interaction in my life changed a whole portion of my day and projected me into a new future.  What you probably shrugged off in a matter of minutes, became an ordeal for me.  People asking if I was okay.  People offering their support.  People walking me to my car.  You’re nothing became my something.  

Now, I left that Costco angered, confused, upset, frustrated… you name it and I felt it.  And then, at a red light, as I sipped my iced coffee, I said to myself, “What the fuck is wrong with you Chmura?  You’re gonna let some idiotic douchebag ruin your mood?”  So I didn’t. I went home.  I cleaned. I played loud music and danced.  I drank wine with my GIRLfriends and we talked and laughed.  We talked about work, aspirations, futures, sex… all topics that probably would’ve made you very uncomfortable to hear six powerful and independent women talking about.  But I was happy.  You, even if you thought you did, did not have the power yesterday.  I had the power.  I refused to react to your hatred.  I refused to let you ruin my day.  I refused to let you make me feel inadequate.

But you did inspire me, sir.  You reminded me why I put on that pink hat yesterday.  You reinforced my belief that our fight has not ended.  You proved my point.  You made me think of what I need to do.  You made me create my next action steps.  You made me write this post.

You may have thought that you had the power yesterday, but really, all you did was empower me.

With a fire in my heart,

The girl with the pink hat at Costco

Wanted: Self Worth and Boundaries

Dear 25-38 year olds,

In the nicest way possible, I must ask… WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH US? Our generation is so temperamental and so easily offended.  Really, though, many of us deserve to be called on our shit… all of it.  And we need to just own it.  We are fucking insane.  Some of it is a good insane, but some of it just makes me cringe.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows I am in no place to judge-anyone.  I’m the definition of a hot mess.  But, it’s been a while since I went out and after the shit I heard last night, I can’t help but be disgusted by what our generation has stooped to.  We really have zero sense, rationality, and consideration for others.

Yesterday was a long day.  I had to wake up early to be at work for a training, then I went to a girlfriend’s house to decorate my graduation cap for my grad school graduation in two weeks.  I realized how close my friend lived to a bar that I frequent and love.  It had a been a while since I’d seen the staff I love so much, so I decided to stop by for a drink.. two max.

I got there pretty early–6pm.  The crazies weren’t out to play yet.  I love the banter the bar back and I share and the bartender provided some much needed eye candy, so I ended up staying a few hours.  By 8 or 9pm, the crazies all started making their appearances.  Somehow, at the bar I managed to get stuck smack in the middle of two girls on one side drinking wine flights and on my right two guys sharing a bottle of wine (later transitioning to dirty martinis).  The shit I heard was unreal.  I couldn’t make it up if I wanted to.

Let’s start with the ladies to my left.  They were attractive enough, but in hoodies, making it clear they didn’t want anyone to hit on them or mess with them.  As they sat down,  the first thing out of one of their mouths was, “We need to perfectly angle and coordinate our snapchats to make the dude I’m screwing jealous.  He ALWAYS checks my story.”  Wait, I’m sorry, you need to perfectly coordinate your snapchats?  Who the fuck are you, a video producer?  And for a dude you’re screwing?  Honey, get it together.  In the famous words of that horrible movie, he’s probably “just not that into you.”  I just want to throw out that about 30 minutes later, she looked at her friend and said, “Wait, he just text me… how do I sext from a bar?”   Sext?  From a bar?  …Self worth?  Boundaries?  Where did all of these wonderful things go?  Right out the window if you were born in between 1980 and 1992 apparently.

Now on to the gentleman to my right.  What a fucking trip.  As soon as they sat down, one looked at me, turned to his friend and said, “I ain’t buying no bitches any drinks tonight.” Thanks dude, but I am more than capable of buying my own drinks.  But thank you for making that clear with your cheaply tailored suit and nastily slicked back hair.  Is everyone else imagining the sleaze with me?  A little while later, they began swapping bar war stories.  Who they picked up where, how, and what they did once they left.  It was at this point that the one closest to me turned toward me and said, “I know what you’re thinking, but I’m really not a scumbag.” …Dude, a little hint… if you have to say that, then you’re a fucking scumbag.  You’re not fooling anyone.  From there he proceeded to attempt starting a conversation with me.  Thank goodness for my bartender in shining armor, who came to rescue me from this “non-scumbag.”

I saw and heard way more throughout the night, and I couldn’t help but think while driving home, “what the flying fuck is wrong with my generation?” Now, don’t get wrong, I am totally guilty of posting a picture or status or the like in hopes that someone will see it and see that I’m having fun without them.  But after talking to my friend who is the bartender there and listening to the shit he hears, I couldn’t help but shake my head.  What happened to the days of going to a bar with friends just to chill, enjoy the drinks, and have a good time.  Why do we feel the need to glorify and exclaim every sexual conquest to anyone who will listen, whether they want to hear it or not.  Newsflash: I don’t want to hear about how the girl you took home last week was a squirter.  I don’t want to know the length, thickness, and aesthetics of you faux boyfriend’s penis.  I want to sit at my favorite bar, with amazing staff, and enjoy my favorite whiskeys.  Without being bombarded by your sleaziness.

Now, don’t take me for some kind of prude who thinks sex is a taboo topic.  Yeah, right!
I love  a good sex talk as much as the next girl.  But there’s a time and place.  A bottle of wine with my girlfriends either at a table or at my place.  Or, over coffee and mimosas the morning after.  Not at a intimate, classy bar where every patron is going to hear every sorted detail.   Yes, I take pride in being pretty fuckin’ chill.  I mean, I swear by the hashtag #chillestgirlalive, don’t I?  But some people push it and need to get called on their shit.  Get it together 20 and 30 something year olds.  We’re a nasty generation.  Many of us need to start respecting ourselves again. Where did we go wrong?  When did we stop respecting boundaries?  Bar goers and bar staff alike don’t wanna hear your shit.  Wanna brag?  Find an audience that gives a fuck.  Until then, stop polluting my favorite bar with your bullshit and let me enjoy my Red Breast neat.  

Sincerely,

#chillestgirlalive

 

Social media and social impact

In light of recent events–well, hell, all of 2016 has been a disaster–I felt the need to to impart some opinions on social media, freedom of speech, and social impact.

I went to Cabo this past week for a friend’s wedding and as we were chillin’ in the infinity pool (I know, life is rough, huh?) a conversation about the recent elections came up.  A lot of comments were thrown around (luckily most of us had relatively similar political views), but one in particular really got me thinking… someone said something along the lines of, “Yeah, I’m just so tired of social media man.  Like I almost deleted my accounts because I’m so tired of people posting political shit and all of their social agendas.  Like it’s Facebook, you’re not gonna start a movement that way.  Plus, no one wants to hear your shit half the time anyway.”  Now, I get it… it can get annoying all the time looking at obnoxious Facebook posts, instagram pictures, and looking at all of the chaotic arguing in the comments section.

But… social media does have social impact.

Majorly.  

Movements have been started with social media.  Take the Egyptian Revolution, for example.  Even through blackouts, social media played a major role in connecting protestors, garnering support from outside countries, and supporting a movement that changed the country forever.  Social media helped them stay organized, fostered communication, and pushed the movement farther than it probably would’ve gone otherwise.  More locally, we’ve seen social movements pop up and gain traction–now, they haven’t been as organized as we’ve seen our international counterparts, but it is still happening.  So, although maybe you don’t want to hear your friends and acquaintances personal ramblings, but those ramblings might just spark something.  The truth is, you never know.  Social media provides a community some of us might otherwise have never had or experienced.  Lucky for me, most of my friends feel the same way I do about social issues, justice, and impact, so I enjoy most of the posts and collections of intelligent, thought-provoking, and stimulating conversation.

We live in a country where free speech is possible.  Social media has opened up a whole new wave that has left the possibilities for free speech limitless.  Just let it ride.  Free speech makes this blog post possible.  Some more ramblings, I guess.  Yeah, you also have the freedom to call my endless social justice posts annoying, but your freedom does not impede mine.  I still have the right to write those posts, no matter how annoying you might think they are.

Now, comes the other argument: “Well, yeah.  People have free speech and should be able to post whatever they want, but they don’t have to be annoying about it.  They post too much sometimes.”  How is a political post, or a post about a social injustice any different than someone obnoxiously posting pictures of their hubby or baby?  It’s the same difference.

You post because you’re passionate about something, it is just that our passions are very different.  I’m at that age where all of my friends, and I mean ALL, are either getting married or having kids.  My feed has an endless amount of engagement rings, baby videos, and the like streaming all over it.  Do I find it annoying? As a single, crazy dog mom no where near that phase in my life…abso-fucking-lutely.  But, that’s their prerogative.  They love their man, woman, baby, or whoever so let them share that love and passion.  If my love or passion is about the Dakota Access Pipeline, sexual assault, or mental health, then let me post about that.

I’ve been told on too many occasions my feed is too grim because all I post about are the “dark topics of the world.”  Well guess what, it’s the dark topics that I care most about.  I strive for a life where I educate, illuminate, and motivate.  So let me do me and I’ll let you do you.  You post your shiny engagement ring and bald baby, and I’ll continue to post my tirades about how sexual assault affects the lives of every 1 in 5 women in America (and that’s based on statistics where women actually admitted to being sexually assaulted, that number is most definitely higher).  We’ll both be happy sharing our passions and I’ll keep hoping that social media continues to foster, drive, and inspire change.

It’s just so sad.

“It’s just so sad.” 

A small string of words that have no true permanence.  In light of the last few weeks, I have remained equally quiet and outspoken.  I have tried to reserve myself for only the facts of what I knew to be true.  I have tried to keep emotion separate and personal beliefs out of the equation for friends and family as we discussed current events.  Yet, no matter how many people I spoke to, using pure factual statements, those same string of words were uttered from almost all of their lips, “It’s just so sad.”

Well, I tried to keep emotion separate… honestly, fuck that.  It is time to let emotions and personal beliefs run free like tears and blood have over the past few weeks.  I know the emotions I am about to list will be the same ones many of my friends have shared over the past few days, but still I feel the need to verbalize them and let them leave my body, even if it is only for the second I type them: anger. fear. despair. darkness. grief. confusion. silence. powerlessness. desire.  passion. loneliness.  emptiness. defeat.

These are only to name a few on the wide range of emotions I (along with many others) have been struggling with recently.  And in the end, even with all of those sentiments readily available at all times, most people will still verbalize it as, “It’s just so sad.”  Let me clarify, most LGBTQ+ allies will verbalize it as, “It’s just so sad.”

Humanity, wake UP.  This isn’t just “sad” anymore.  This is appalling.  This is unacceptable.  This needs to change.  Use proper wordage.  When 49 people who were out with loved ones celebrating themselves and each other get shot for love–yes, love–we can’t categorize it as “sad” anymore.  A dog dying is sad.  A child moving and leaving their long time friends is sad.  49 people being gunned down for no REAL reason is an atrocity.  It is an unnatural disaster.  It is chaos.  It is devastation.

Condemning it to the simple statement, “It’s just so sad,” is in itself an injustice.  We can’t categorize this as sad, because sad goes away.  Sadness diminishes over time.  People forget.  People stop talking about it.  So please, I implore you, stop calling it sad.  Address it for what it is.  A devastating disaster.  A devastating disaster that we cannot stop talking about until some real change occurs.  Stop tolerating anger and hatred.  Stop disrespecting the 49 lives lost by saying something that happened to them is just “sad.”  Expand your vocabulary.  Use adjectives that match the gravity and horror that has touched our world.  At a loss for words?  Let me help you:  horrendous. tragic. disastrous. devastating. calamitous. harrowing. destructive. despairing. fatal. deplorable. cataclysmic. catastrophic. ruinous. poisonous.

I can keep going.  But please, I beg you… stop saying it’s sad.  Because sad means we’ll get over it like a bad breakup.  As a society, we CANNOT get over this.  Because if we get over this and begin to turn a blind eye to such injustices, then we have failed.  We have failed our loved ones, we have failed our future, and we have failed the foundation (loosely interpreted) of what this nation is built on: acceptance.  We must move past tolerance.  You tolerate mosquitoes.  You tolerate pesky neighbors.  You do not tolerate blatant hatred toward a group of people who are just trying to express the most natural sentiment of all: love.  We do not tolerate a person’s ability to share the most beautiful experience us humans get to share with each other.  Love must be accepted, not tolerated.  You don’t tolerate the ones you love, or else that relationship is doomed for failure.  You accept them.  You accept them, no matter what… and that is when a relationship flourishes.  Without acceptance, as a nation we will be stuck at a standstill.  We have hit our peak, until we can truly learn to accept each other and disregard the outrageous hatred burrowed inside some hearts.  We need to accept things for what they are and not diminish them with basic vocabulary that sweeps it under the carpet.

My heart has been heavy these past few days trying to verbalize what I was feeling.  And then I realized what a luxury I have in being able to verbalize those feelings.  I am not silenced, and I will not allow myself to be silenced anymore.  But, I know that is not a luxury afforded to all.  Every day people stay silent.  They stay silent as they are abused by a partner.  They stay silent as they relive their rape every day.  They stay silent as they fear to express their ability to love someone.  And yes, I purposefully chose the word ability.  Loving someone isn’t a choice.  It is an inherent ability that we have no control over.  We are cosmically tethered to the people we love; whether that is family, partners, friends, the choice is not ours.  So please stop calling love a choice and refer to it as what it really is… an act and ability that we grow, foster, relish, and have zero control over.

Love is love.

As an ally, I stand by my LGBTQ+ friends and community in your resilient and beautiful ability to love.  Many of you have shown me such an outpouring of love that I have neither asked for, nor in many cases deserved.  Many of the lessons on love and how to truly love without limits I have learned, are from all of you and your amazing and wondrous community.  But, I know it is not enough to just stand by you.  It is not enough to sympathize and grieve and remember.  It is not enough.  Standing, by nature, is an inactive action.  It is solitary.  It is motionless.  There is no progress in standing.  Progress comes in moving.  Progress comes in doing.  Progress comes in action.  As an ally, I call upon all of my fellow allies… don’t just stand anymore.  Do.  Truly combat the hatred when you see it.  Stop using words like sad and tolerate and choice when they don’t appropriately describe the situation we have at hand.  Don’t just exist in the fight.  Be a part of it.  Support your LGBTQ+ community.  As an ally, do you know where your nearest LGBTQ+ center is?  Have you volunteered there?  Have you spoken to an LGBTQ+ community member about their true experiences with their ability to love?  What they have gone through?  Do you know what resources are available if a youth came to you with questions on LGBTQ+ matters and looking for support?  Have you done anything other than say, “I accept your ability to love.”  Because, I’ll be honest… I truly haven’t.  Up until now, I have been a faux ally.  An accepting person, who didn’t move to the next step beyond acceptance.  It is with a heavy heart and honest embarrassment that I acknowledge that the murder of 49 people had to push me to move beyond that, but it has.  Will you push yourselves beyond that?  Will you do more?  Or is this, “just so sad?”

Mediocre Ramblings, Modern Woman

 

I guess introductions are in order.  I joke at least once a week that my life should be a tv show.  At some point it will probably be at least a book, so why not start documenting the fun, the beautiful, and the crazy?  Although it would be ridiculously awesome if somehow this blog became wildly popular-realistically it won’t.  It’ll be writing that remains on these web pages, occasionally browsed by a stranger in some far off place. So, to be fair to myself, this will probably turn out to be the wildly well written mediocre ramblings of a modern woman.

What you can expect: pages of wit and sarcasm, ridiculous bouts of laughter, the occasional tearjerker that will tug at all of your heart strings, wild experiences, hopefully breathtaking pictures of miraculous views, some not so spectacular pictures of Saturday nights gone wrong, and all kinds of stories.  Some stories might just review a weekend I particularly enjoyed and some might stem from some deep inner questioning that leads to open-ended reflection.  My title and hashtag may seem quite pretentious (#chillestgirlalive) but that is not something that you should expect from any of my posts.  It’s just a joke that stemmed from yet another one of my ridiculous stories in life, so I go with it.

I ask one thing of anyone who reads whatever this becomes… go with it.

Oh, and my name is Nicole.