Category Archives: Serious-ish

The Best Thing I Have Ever Written*


*This is how I felt immediately after writing this blog post. Upon reading it through a couple of times, I’m not so sure this is true. Nevertheless, the title remains.

You can feel it when you meet someone, when they let you in on their jokes or if you find they prefer to be the one making all the jokes or if they want you to entertain them, or if they expect something of you that you’re not going to give them.

Social interaction is a drug. It’s hard. It’s something most people have to do. It’s why humans are animals and animals are some of humans’ favorite things, because somewhere in there we’re laughing because what if we were the ones sniffing each other’s butts and isn’t that pretty much what’s happening at bars on Friday night anyways?

It can be wanting to be loved and cherished by everyone and wanting to get invited to their birthday parties, even the ones where you have to dress up and wear pearls and pretend that you like shaving your armpits because it’s better to have parties to refuse than no parties to go to at all.

It’s pretending to like people that you don’t like and pretending to hate people that you’re in love with and finding those people that you don’t have to pretend for, ever, and those are the best people of all. Because they’ll see you say something incredibly stupid in a crowd of people and know that that one statement isn’t who you are, because none of us are just one thing or just one sentence. And we have the lizard part of our brain and the dog part of our brain and the robot part of our brain and the iPhone and the troll and we’re all living together under one roof and sometimes it gets really crowded in here and a little smelly because – let’s be honest – we’re smelly people and the sheets have that human scent to them, but it’s kind of nice in the way that it’s a smell that reminds you where you are and signals to your body that it’s okay here, you can sleep with your mouth open.

And social interaction is everyone being the person that sleeps with their mouth open but only some people are allowed to know about that part of their lives even though if you took it one level beneath the surface you would see – and you would really see – that everyone has these embarrassing secrets that they only reveal to true friends and that we’re more alike than different even though we don’t know everyone’s names or their whole stories but that’s okay because sometimes words just get in the way of things and besides in 1,000-10,000 years all the words we use will be obsolete anyways and our Facebook pictures will have decomposed into virtual fossils that scientists will have to try to understand because our cultural customs – why are we always grinning at the camera – don’t make any sense anymore.

Photo credit: Subharnab, flickr

Photo credit: Subharnab, flickr

And the only thing that will be left after all is said and done is the feeling in the air and in the soul of every living thing that there were other living things here on this earth that felt things towards one another and created things together and despite their very thick skulls that kept them apart, managed to communicate something of who they were to another and were able to be heard. And it will be nothing more than an electromagnetic exhaust in the breeze, nothing more than a lurching in the belly of some kind of future-human with three heads and a heart bigger than the foot or in the aliens that have colonized us, but it will be there as sure as the sun is going to explode and as sure as the universe will continue expanding until all of us are asleep and no one can watch it anymore like a television left on after everyone’s gone to bed.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

What we talk about when we talk about adult acne

Photo credit: Genista

Photo credit: Genista

It gets better, they said. Just wait. Soon it will all make sense. Soon your hips will stop widening, your jaw and nose will grow in equal pace, you’ll understand bra sizes and stop being embarrassed when you buy tampons.

Soon you’ll understand how wonderful it is to be an adult, to choose your own breakfast and buy your own poptarts, if that’s what you want.

Chase your dreams, they said. Soon you’ll be achieving them. Follow your heart. Soon you’ll be making great decisions all the time and relationships will be easier and it will all make sense. Everything will make sense, even the fact that we live on one of 200 billion planets in our galaxy and that the universe is infinite, truly infinite.

And acne – soon the acne will stop. You won’t have to spend 121 hours every year scrutinizing your pores, determining which ones deserve to be squeezed and which ones must ripen.  You won’t be jealous of the girls in the Clean & Clear commercials or spend significant amounts of time imagining where you would send all the pus in your body if you could choose to just have one perpetual pimple.

And I won’t say I was lied to. I won’t say that I was deceived by those people 18+ in my life who knew exactly what was coming to me. I won’t say I was deliberately led to believe in a fantasy no more real than sea monkeys or the first moon landing.

I believed what I wanted to believe – I pieced together the various messages of my childhood and adolescence and came to believe that once I turned 22 or 23, I would have it all figured out. I – and everyone else – would be living our dreams, wearing clothes that fit and laughing together while eating pasta at a restaurant. And our skin would be clear. It would be completely clear, with not a zit, pimple, blackhead, whitehead, subterranean or squirter to have blemished it in many many years.

Photo credit: Garrette

Photo credit: Garrette

So when we talk about adult acne, we talk about the cruel reality of adulthood, the fact that we still don’t have the answers and know we may never have them. We talk about the fact that relationships are still confusing. We talk about how social media and technology has let us down in some unnamable way, and the despair, apathy, or vague outrage that we feel when we read about politics and the NSA and privacy and drones and the daily body count in Syria. We talk about wanting more in our lives, wanting clear skin, wanting a clear vision.

They told us to follow our dreams but never said that almost everything would be put in the way of that. They told us to make

a difference, but they didn’t say that society often villainizes or kills those who try. They promised clear skin, and still I have blemishes, and now I pay for my own face wash.

They didn’t tell us, but that’s okay. They probably didn’t know what they were doing. Now that we know more of the truth, we can move on, complain together about our acne, and get ish done.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Why Do We Woo?

woo_audienceWoo: a verbal affirmation of support, delight, or marvel, commonly used in performance contexts such as rock concerts, improv shows, and evangelical church music; a verbal high five or pat on the back i.e. “Woooooooooo!” Not appropriate for chamber choir  performances. e.g. “WOOOOOOOO! (dirty looks).”

A show just ended and my feet are sweating from the laughter. I’m buzzed from the truth in comedy and inspired to live the rest of my life. The performance demands a response. What do I do? Do I go up to the stage and give everyone firm handshakes? Yes, because I love handshakefulness. Do I go and give high fives? Also, yes, because high fives are incredible.

But mostly, I woo. Before anything, I woo. What a strange thing to do. A kind of shrieking or yelling, it’s slightly aggressive and varied in pitch. I go high but not too high, and I never go too low. A low woo is no woo at all, and middle range woo’s are for woo n00bs.

Could a woo also be called a cheer? In Elizabethan times, when the riff raff became excited by one of Shakespeare’s new plays, how did they give their verbal high fives? Were I to step back in time and become a gladiator in the arenas of Rome, what would I hear coming from the audience? A buzzing sound? Ooooo’s without the W? Unformed screams? Clacks?

Were I to risk everything and build myself a time machine out of old toilet paper rolls and search for the very first woo, what would it sound like?  A moo? Would it be to celebrate a freshly slain pantosaur or skirtcelops? Would it be in celebration of nature, a group of my great aunts and uncles looking at a full moon over the prehistoric forest and grunting or shrieking? And when the moon did nothing but moon right back, what would the response be? Even more grunting because of the mystery and unattainability of nature’s beauty? Or frustration and the first mutterings of doubt, wondering if anyone’s even listening?

Flying down a country lane in Bologna on a rented bicycle with my hair undone, I burst into song, unable to keep it inside. When the adrenaline’s pumping, when the energy is there – it feels good to scream, to belt something out from the gut, to make your internal bliss external and give it back, because if it stays it might grow into a watermelon plant.

Maybe the woo* is the most perfect form of human expression, uninhibited by the burden of forming words. Just imagine, after a particularly moving performance of any kind, rising and yelling, “I really enjoyed this! It was good because it was acted authentically and made sense in its own world! I feel I better understand my own place in the world as a result of this performance!”

That man would be sedated instantly. But the one screaming almost animal-like sounds, “WOOOOO….WOOOO…..WOOOO….” is normal.

The next time I read something true, my response will be “WOOOOO!”

The next time someone says “I love you” and I love them, my response will be “WOOOOO!”

The next time I eat a delicious breakfast, my response will be “WOOOOO!”

Tagged , , , , , , ,

OMG It’s a Sappy Father’s Day Post

Look at us goofballs.

Look at us goofballs.

I talked to my dad on the phone today. It was a 37-minute conversation, which is longer than usual. Happy Father’s Day!

I didn’t do anything else for him in the way of buying him anything or being sentimental, so as far as he knows, this is all I’m planning for Father’s Day. Hint: the “as far as he knows” was foreshadowing. Stay tuned.

In that 37-minute conversation, I spoke to my father about creative pursuits, and we were talking about how you have to make time for them, and how that’s not easy to do since flossing and an 80-hour work week take a lot out of you.

So I jokingly said that I was going to give him an extra hour every day for one calendar year, but that he had to spend that hour doing something creative like molding little figurines out of clay or making friendship bracelets with Mom.

Now, this is a gift I have no capacity to deliver on, especially considering the time machine I’m currently building is little more than a protein powder tub with a hat on it, but we all know that it’s the thought that counts.

But there must have been something of a boomerang in that thought because it came whizzing back and whapped me in the face just as I started to type out this very blog post.

If I could give my dad anything, what would I give him?

I’m at that time in my life when I can stop being a leech and contribute in a positive way to my family. In hindsight, it’s possible I’ve always had that ability, but starting late is better than never.

As someone on the receiving end of fatherhood, I’ll probably never understand what goes into it. I have, however, babysat a small child. This child did not trust me at first, did not even let me hold her hand and cried when she saw me. Three months later, I miraculously sung her to sleep and have yet to recreate the same sense of accomplishment in my professional life.

So maybe fatherhood is something like that, love and dependency and vulnerability combined. And it’s also sending your adult children pictures of Mom while on vacation in Colorado and encouraging them to write blog posts in pirate speak. It’s demanding to see boyfriends’ resumes and making sure family vacations aren’t too expensive and being the one to pack the car for road trips. It’s making/laughing at fart jokes and quoting Monty Python and Lord of the Rings and tricking Mom into seeing Hellboy and taking your daughters out to dinner. Maybe that’s some of what it is.

I don’t know what the perfect gift is for my dad. I do want to give him an extra hour a day for the next year, because he’s earned it. I want to give him yellow aspen trees all year round. I want to give him the same sense of joy he had when he was chasing my siblings and I on the playground and I want to go to his piano recitals even though they’re boring and watch him graduate and tell him that he can do anything, because he can.

And maybe, just maybe, the best way to say all of this is to buy him some athletic shirts with my sister, so when he’s at the gym at 5 am, he can remember his daughter(s) first thing in the morning and the fun we’ve had together and how much we love him. Happy Father’s Day.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Mask’s Inside, Dummy


Sitting at a café on Geary and 6th Avenue. I’m in San Francisco, dummy. This is the part of San Francisco that tourists don’t come to because Geary looks like a highway and is lined by things like lamp shops, which are uninteresting to the visitor but for people who like to read a little bit in bed before they go to sleep and also sleep nightly in the city, lamps are of a certain kind of appeal and necessity and knowing where to purchase one is even more crucial.

Last Saturday, I want to a masquerade-themed party in Oakland, at my friend’s house where there are trees outside every window and spiders weave webs wherever they can, and there are tubs of things like spelt flour in the basement. Freaking hippies. I made a mask by smearing glue all over a pre-made plastic mask from Michael’s and sprinkling sequins on it. It took about 5 minutes. My primary goal in every craft project is to finish it. I’m not great at crafts.

The party was fun, but it was surprisingly hard to talk to people wearing masks, not being able to see their faces or mouths moving, to calculate if they’re joking or if I went over the line with my last comment. We depend so much on everything besides words, so don’t you forget it. That’s why I thought I wouldn’t get the job at an interview because I was blinking too much. Did I seem nervous? Unprepared? Bizarre and/or inhuman, like the algorithm that controls my blinking was out of whack?

And then at the party I was talking to a girl/woman/lady/chick/gal about why I’d left the field of International Relations. She’s in law school, trying to decide between international law and intellectual property, and she wants to have a career she finds meaningful and help people. And she asked me “what’s Oklahoma like” and I droned on about obesity and chain restaurants before she got bored and wanted to take pictures with everyone else. I was bored of the subject too so I was glad to leave it but I was left with a taste in my mouth like doubt. She seemed so smart and passionate and should I go to law school and do something sexy like maritime law and defend the lives of refugees? Is that even what they do?

She was dressed as what she imagined to be a woodland elf and I got the impression she wanted to be that free-spirited-pixie girl, the one who is brilliant but also fun and spontaneous. Did she even know what it takes to be a woodland elf? Would a woodland elf go to law school and try to figure out what kind of legislation helps the most people? Would a woodland elf even care? Depending on how nerdy you want to go, it’s possible to theorize that because elves are immortal, they would view the suffering of others as so temporary as to not be worth their time. So there.

And my facebook status hasn’t been getting as much traction as I would have liked.

Is it about the journey? Is it possible to get to what you think you want to be, even when it’s proven that most people know nothing until they’ve turned 50 and it seems like it’s too late?

Join me over the next decades and we’ll find out!

Tagged , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: