Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fairy Tale

Most girls romanticize their wedding day.
They imagine themselves smiling big, surrounded by everyone they love.
& everyone they love is dressed like they stepped out the pages of a fashion magazine.
They see gorgeous waiters and waitresses walking by with sparkling glasses of champagne and fancy hors d'oeuvres.
White linens and music.
Shimmering lights blinking against the evening sky.

I know something is wrong with me because this more accurately describes what I anticipate every new years eve.
(My vision of my wedding is a dismal affair full of drunk Latinos I don't know who my mother insists are my relations and my gown stained with barbecue sauce while my new spouse cries in the men's room, in case you were wondering.)

I blame the movies for this romanticized idea of what new years eve should be.
Dammit, how come no one in romcoms ever sits at home drinking Andre with their divorcee mother while she eats lucky charms straight from the box and thrills you with stories of the many elderly Jewish men who hit on her at the synagogue every Saturday? Because that's fucking reality. (Or mine, at least.)

Every new years eve is destined to be staunch failure for me since I have this idea in my mind every year that this will be THE year where I look fucking radiant in my cocktail gown and sip martinis in a room full of swanky strangers who adore me. What is wrong with me?




Sunday, December 25, 2011

Out of Touch

Perhaps taking my mom to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Christmas Eve was a bad idea.

It's not that I didn't enjoy the movie, it's that it sparked something in her; the opportunity to use the film as evidence for her argument that people with tattoos are damaged, broken individuals who self mutilate rather than deal with their repressed issues.

& so the foundation was set for one not so merry Christmas conversation between my sixty year old mother and I:

Mom: Why do you do that to yourself? It's so ugly.

Me: Do what?

Mom: That. *Points at one of my tattoos*

Me: Oh, I like the way it looks.

Mom: I don't. I think it's ugly.

Me: So you've said. Mom, I can wear a sweater so you don't have to look at them.

Mom: One day you'll be my age & you'll regret having tattoos because you'll be ugly.

Me: I'll be ugly anyway.

Mom: Tattoos tell me that the person with them is depressed. That person is basically slitting their wrists but just getting tattoos because it's socially acceptable. They're emotional cutters trying to deal with repressed pain.

Me: Where did you get that? Is this because I took you to see that movie yesterday?

Mom: No. The doctor I work with said it & I've been thinking about it & I think he's right. You need to see a therapist to work through your issues.

Me: I'm fine. I'm not depressed, I'm not damaged. I just like tattoos.

Mom: People like you rationalize that you like tattoos to make it okay.

Me: & maybe people like you rationalize that the only people who get tattoos are damaged so that you can cope with a world run by a generation you don't understand.

Mom: What?

Me: You're old and stubborn. Instead of looking around and taking in the fact that tattoos are a social norm of my generation, you excuse us all as damaged and depressed instead of facing the fact your view of the world is no longer relevant. It's outdated.

Mom: If I'm wrong, tell me why people your age get tattoos?

Me: Your generation painted this picture of what we should be: what's proper, what's right, what's ideal. I think my generation thought your idea of what we should be was repressed and fucked up. It's counter culture.

Mom: Being counter culture is just another way of being part of the culture.

Me: Maybe so. But by us being counter culture, we've changed the whole look of someone in our generation and made it our own. We are abrasive, we're nothing like what you expected. & it's all because one person decided tattoos were cool and we all agreed.

Mom: I'm not having this argument with you. It's not worth it. I wish I were a better mother, maybe that's why you're covered in tattoos.
---

At the heart of this dialogue is the fact that more than not understanding my generation, I just think my mom doesn't understand me. I know this problem isn't unique to anyone; how many people can say their parents get them at all?

But you know, whatever.

It's still better than this past thanksgiving where our mom gave us her thanksgiving speech while simultaneously shooting herself up with insulin and telling us she thought her diabetes was spreading to her feet.

Merry Christmas?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All Over The Place

"& in the end, you have to put the individual ahead of their actions."

This was moral of Chasing Amy, a Kevin Smith film where our protagonist combats feelings of inadequacy when confronted by his beloved's slatternly past.

I'm going to be brutally honest to the point that I not only embarrass myself, but where YOU, my beautiful reader,  actually start to reconsider your opinions of me--and not in the good way.
I stalk the shit out of girls who once dated or fucked my boyfriend.
(& if you just so happen to be stalking me because I now date someone you dated or slept with; or because I have dated someone you once slept with/dated, or are currently sleeping with/dating--you have my permission to do a little touch down dance & thank Baby Jesus that you're not the only crazy fuck out there.)

Whenever these girls turn out to be complete 180s from myself (as I'd like to think so many are because I'm a gawddamn special snowflake), I start to wonder whether I'm even my boyfriend's type...
As you can imagine, this gives rise to insecurity (May I present to you, from the vaults of yore, Exhibit AExhibit B;).  So this film really resonated with me, is what I'm saying. I'm about to take a wide left turn, but before I do, here's why this paragraph is relevant: 

So to tie this all up in a nice ribbon before I move on, I'm going to say that whenever we date someone we should let their past stay in the past. Digging up the past & harboring resentments from acts long committed and dead can end relationships.

Here's the part where I go kamikaze: this doesn't just apply to relationships!
Aha! Way outta left field, what did I tell ya?

Ok, so I was in college the first time I realized something really important: sluts can be good people, too.
I say this with confidence as someone who was in a sorority & had intimate friendships with many a sorostitute, see definition 2, & as someone who was unfairly and wrongly accused of being a whore in high school.

Promiscuity is not and should not be considered a good indicator of whether someone is intelligent, has a good heart, or is a reliable friend.

& on a side note, it's really fucked up that in our society, we create this correlation between a woman's value and her chastity. Republicans, Conservatives, Fundamentalists--take note; the day this government tells me that I can't get access to birth control is the day me & all the unashamed sexually active women in this nation (AND the guys they're fucking) take the streets pitch forks & torches in tow. That's a cause I believe in, motherfuckers.

Anyway, where I'm really trying to go with this is to say that often times, we are illogical when it comes to judging the character of others; we make irrational conclusions about who they are based on the most illegitimate of criteria & rather than focusing on one negative and irrelevant aspect of a person, we should strive to take people on the whole.

To tie this into current affairs, I'd like to bring up the recent Lowe's controversy, wherein Lowe's pulled advertising from a tv show about Muslims in America after being bullied by Christian Supremacist groups, who fail to understand that being Muslim is not a good indicator of whether someone is a good American. The reality of a person's religion tells us nothing (despite what some may argue) about whether someone is a kind neighbor, a dutiful citizen, a valuable part of the community.

We are all a collection of mistakes and bad choices, I think we need to keep that in mind before we jump to undeserved conclusions about other people and ruin friendships, relationships, or even advertising opportunities.


Friday, December 2, 2011

places & adjectives

I once made a girl cry at a party. & then she left.
It was her party.

& though it may sound like a humble brag, readers, I want you to know that I'm not proud of this fact.

I'd like to back up and say that this exchange took place at Texas A&M University.
& if I may understate a fact about this school; there were when I went there, and still are, a lot of white conservative students. A lot of racially sheltered youth.

Case in point: the first friend I made at A&M was a Mexican girl from a neighboring town who later told me that she befriended me because she mistook me for a Black person and found the prospect of her first Black friend thrilling. I never asked her if she was disappointed when she found out I was also Latina, Afro-Rican, if you will. It goes without saying that she had not met all that many Black people prior to coming to college.
But I digress.

Getting back to the story I began this post with:
I made this girl cry because I knocked on the door of the restroom she was inside. As she exited the restroom & passed me, she called me ghetto.
I will never be sure why this unraveled me to the extent that it did.
But unravel me it did.

For some long forgotten reason, on this particular night in 2007, I was wearing a pleated skirt & a neck tie. I'm thinking all the Avril Lavigne jokes I endured that evening as a consequence of this fashion choice had worn down my patience and then this tiny white girl calls me ghetto...

I spun around so fast, I gave myself an acute whip-lash & before I realized it, I was shouting at her,
"Come back and call me ghetto to my face!"
She froze. Probably out of fear.
& maybe I could sense her fear.
I generally wouldn't classify myself as confrontational but I really carped the fuck out of this diem; I walked up to her, looked straight into her pretty green eyes & said, "Tell me to my face that I'm ghetto. And afterwards, tell me why. And it better be not be because I'm brown."

I'm not really sure what I'd expected from her in that instant.
Maybe I'd hoped she'd feel embarrassed or maybe I was looking for an apology.

I definitely didn't expect her to cry.
Or leave.
& I felt pretty shitty moments later when someone told me it was her house & her party.

The worst part is that I've come to realize that in that instant,
when I shouted in this strange girl's face,
pleated skirt & all,
I was playing into her expectations.
She'd unjustly called me ghetto. I'd suddenly become uncharacteristically confrontational.
I think being at A&M long enough had created a chip on my shoulder; a chip where I stored away resentment towards white people. Or maybe I was just a racist.

Anyway, lately I've been getting yelled at by a lot of Black women.
Sometimes, I'm baffled.
I retreat into my mind and retrace all my steps: I look for the exact place where I warranted their sanction.
(The most recent times, strangely enough, had to do with dogs).
In these instances, it's as though these women can sense my intimidation; comparable to the way bears can sense apprehension and menstrual blood.
My a fore mentioned non-confrontational instincts usually mandate that I do one or more of the following:
1. Not pee;
2. Apologize--prolifically;
3. Play dead (this one is generally reserved for actual bear attacks but I keep it as an option, just in case).

Once my aggressor is gone, I often shamefully recount to myself all the things I wish I'd said in my own defense. Or berate myself, "Must you be such an inexcusable little bitch?"
The most recent time this happened, as I was talking into a mirror pretending my reflection was my verbal assailant, I stopped when I realized that I'd called this girl ghetto (in my mind & to myself, of course).

I once heard someone I dislike say, "the ghetto is a place, not an adjective." At the time, I muttered something back about places and adjectives both being nouns and topped it off by calling her a cunt...
but in retrospect, there was something to what she said.

Ghetto is an ugly thing to call someone;
it's accusing groups of people of being inferior or less than people because they're impoverished.

Of all people, I know that poverty is not a fair way of measuring characteristics like kindness, good manners, or intelligence (though it CAN and often is a wonderful way of measuring perseverance).
I know this because both of my parents grew up in ghettos.
Both of them had to work twice as hard to fulfill their dreams and THREE times as hard to make sure that my brothers and I would be free to chase after our own dreams, unencumbered by obstacles like hunger or obligations.

The word, ghetto, was first used in Venice to describe places where Jews lived.
In World War II, it became a term used to describe camps where Jews were confined and often killed.


For me to use this word is doubly insulting to my parents because my mother is VERY Jewish.
So Jewish that she hates everything and her tears are actually ocean water from the Dead Sea.

But also, it's disgusting because ghettos were places where those who were considered to be less than people, to be vile and unworthy, were forced to live.

To call someone ghetto as an insult in the contemporary context is to presuppose things about their family background, to equate them with being less than a person, & overall, to say that the poor aren't people (insert overgeneralized Republican/GOP candidate joke).
Just thinking about it right now leaves a bitter taste on my tongue.

We can lie to ourselves & think it's just a word.
But in truth, this word has racial connotations. I've never heard anyone wield this insult against someone unless the person they meant to insult was more brown than they are.

I think that subconsciously we can all feel the ugliness of this word & that's why we lose our shit or become erratic when someone directs it as us. But acting out over this word should reassure anyone it's being hurled as an insult against of a few things:
1. The person who just called you ghetto is an ignorant cunt;
2. You've just made the wrong move. You don't go around killing people to show that killing people is wrong (unless you're Dexter, a vigilante, or the American legal system). In this same way, you can't beat a bitch for calling you ghetto--the moment you do, you know what happens? She's not just an ignorant cunt anymore, she's an ignorant cunt who's just become self assured that she was right to begin with.

Point being: I'm not going to say it anymore, damn it.




Just a thought

Have you ever noticed how babies all have the same deceptively cute button nose?

I've never met a baby who had an actual nose bridge.

I'm pretty sure it's because God knows we wouldn't like them so much if we knew how ugly their noses would be when they grew up.