Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ordinary

As I alluded to in my post, ‘The Strangest Kind of Blessing,’ I am completely uninterested in the culture of celebrity; as a matter of fact, I kind of hate it.
Why people fawn over or even ‘love’ people who they’ve never met, or care about people who would never, EVER talk to them is something I don’t understand. There is even a name for such relationships in academia; they call it a ‘parasocial relationship,’ and it happens when one person knows so many things about another, but the object of interest knows nothing of that person and, to be honest, could probably care less about them.

Am I a celebrity hater?
No.
As a matter of fact, I do feel moments of deep respect for a celebrity from time to time, especially with writers or musicians. And I’ll even go so far as to admit that it was a bit cathartic when I shook a well-known musician’s hand, told him that his music meant something to me, then taught him what agoraphobia is upon his asking. There’s only one other person who I’d be interested in having a short conversation with, as I’ve enjoyed his writing, acting, and music composition since I was 14 years old, but even with him, there’d be no goo-goo eyes and nervous titters, because I know that this person doesn’t know me or care about me, and never will.

When you are able to let the fact that these people will never care about you sink in, ignoring all of the magazines, TV shows, and the people around us saying that we should all but worship these people, it clears some give-a-shit room for those who are in our lives…those who DO or WILL care.

I admit that there absolutely WAS a time that I, too, all but worshipped celebrities; it was years ago, but it happened; consequently, it was also a time when I’d never felt worse about myself. I’d ask the universe why I was the weight I was, why I didn’t have money, and why people didn’t think the world of ME and everything that I’d accomplished…why couldn’t I be like THEM? They were obviously doing something right, and therefore were deserving of my love and attention…and jealousy.

I wanted to be skinny and have perfect hair and be rich [fun fact: I had to retype the word ‘rich’ three times because my fingers aren’t used to typing it], and I felt bad about myself when I couldn’t be or have those things…worthless, even.

As I aged, things became different. I value different things, and I’ve essentially shut myself away from that stuff; I prefer cartoons to live-action TV. Seriously, if you were to come into my house at any given moment and the TV is off, if you turn it on, the channel is on ‘Cartoon Network.’
I FUCKING LOVE ‘CARTOON NETWORK.’

…Back to the point.
Two summers ago, I had a week or two off of work, and one of my friends logged into HBOGO on my phone with her account. I love me some vampires, so I spent the week marathoning ‘True Blood.’ After watching that show for a week, I looked in the mirror and thought I was chubby for the first time in a LONG time. The majority of the women they cast in that show are size 0, and I realized that by subjecting myself to those images, even temporarily, that body type (one that I will never have, as I’ve been a size 0 and still didn’t look like them) became the ‘standard’ body type, and it had a significant impact on me. Thankfully, that dysmorphic episode was only temporary, and I snapped out of it.

(Stay tuned for part 2.)

When has it been Easy?

Oh, blog…
Oh, my few but faithful followers…
I have neglected my blog yet, again.

I do apologize.

It was not an easy summer, nor has it been an easy fall…

To address the elephant in the room: I have had some personal projects in motion, and neither have been completed. No, I did not, indeed fulfill my fear challenge or my Jus Sanguinis stuff.

I DID do one of my fear challenges in August, but the other two…well, if you knew what had happened to me, you’d probably understand. Within 10 days, the life I knew was turned upside-down.
I learned who my true friends were, though.

When you have an anxiety disorder, it takes much longer to bounce back; speed-bumps become walls and bee stings become sledge hammer wounds. It takes all of an anxious person’s fortitude, every ounce of it, to pull it together and fight to put the pieces back together.

I fight through perceptions…perceptions of my own, perceptions of others, of what they think I am, of what they think I should be, of where I am, of what I should be afraid of, of what I should be strong enough to endure…along with reality. And, I fight with anger…anger at myself and anger from other people who think I should be able to do this, or should be able to do that and feel slighted when I’m not feeling able to do any of it.

And on top of it all, you need to somehow find compassion for yourself, because if you don’t, you may never find any.

I came to the conclusion tonight that I want to put my Italian citizenship ordeal to rest and find out what happened to my bisnonno. I need to stop running from the truth…to stop procrastinating.

Dear Fellow Caucasians

Dear fellow caucasians,

Even though it’s a rather infrequent phenomenon, there’s something that some of you (not all, but some) do to me that really pisses me off: You say things about other races that you would never say to somebody who belongs to the particular race you are speaking of to me.

While you may not feel that these comments are hurtful…as a matter of fact, many of you may be inclined to believe that they’re even harmless or justifiable…I find it hurtful that you are sharing them with me.

I do NOT generalize groups of people…the end, end of discussion, PERIOD. Not by their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, zodiac sign, whatever…I don’t do it. And I realize that calling you out on your own stupidity for doing so won’t change your mind. If you choose to hold onto viewpoints which are unfair to others or possibly cause you to miss out on wonderful experiences with those who you deem ‘different’ from you, that is your choice, and you’re free to think whatever you want. Yippee-skippy for you.

Please know, though, that when you categorize me as somebody who you can feel free to share these thoughts with, you are wrong. If you would not share the thoughts with a person of whatever ethnicity you’re about to talk about, DO NOT SHARE IT WITH ME. You aren’t ‘safe’ in sharing these thoughts with me; I won’t understand, I won’t be tolerant, and it’s not ok because you think of me as ‘one of you.’ I am NOT ‘one of you.’ I will be offended, I’ll most likely insult your intelligence, and I’ll lose respect for you. Please know that I AM the quintessential ‘mixed company.’

So, the next time that you want to say, ‘I would never date a [ethnicity here] person,’ or whatever kind of inane bullshit you feel the need to vomit in my direction, shut your mouth, instead.

 

The Things I’ve Never Done: Part 2

It was late on a weekday night.
I really needed some cartridges for my electronic cigarette, and I know of a place that’s open 24 hours a day that sells them: A gas station.
I trotted into the little store, not really expecting anybody else to be there, but sure enough, a man stood at the counter, talking to the cashier.

Coming up behind the man, I patiently waited for my turn, and as I did, I began to space out and look around.

If you’ve read the majority of my posts, you may already know how I have a deep affection for foreign cashiers who call me ‘honey’ or some other pet name like that. Well, this cashier is one of those. I’ve been there a handful of times, and people tend to remember me. So now, whenever I’m there, his eyes light up in recognition.

I digress.

There are many things to catch a person’s attention in gas stations because they’re almost always bursting at the seams with merchandise, but I just had to pause at a certain wall, which was the right and front of the counter.
It was filled with condoms. ALL different kinds of condoms.

Magnum Thin
Magnum Ecstasy

A strained smile stretched across my face as I choked on a giggle. It’s not that I’m so much of a child that I find large condoms funny, but it was thought of me, (this short, demure, pathologically polite woman) cavalierly plucking a box of Magnums from the wall, and tossing them onto the counter.
‘Hey. How ya doin’?’
I’d stretch my arms out, placing my palms on either side of the counter top, then tap my fingers, looking past the cashier.
‘Phfft…’ I’d make a long, obnoxious sigh while squinting to read the text of the tiny boxes behind him. ‘Gimme a box of V2 Reds, would ya?’

I wonder if he’d still call me ‘honey’ after that.
My smile was almost out of control.
Going to a gas station to get a box of condoms…who DOES that? I have never once done such a thing. I mean, how do you fail to plan for that? And if you did, could you ever show your face in the store again?

My mind went momentarily blank.

Ok, let’s pretend that you NEED those Magnum condoms. Your imaginary boyfriend’s in the car, waiting outside and…and the grocery store was completely out of larger condoms and he simply cannot fit into regular ones. Oh, and he totally decided to come and visit at random (he’s sweet like that) and you just went to dinner, and he was alluding to the fact that he wanted to make love to you as you guys were heading home, and you PROMISED him that you’d get the condoms, but you didn’t. So, it’s up to YOU to get those condoms…RIGHT NOW, do or die! What’re you going to do?

I looked from the cashier to the condoms…then back at the cashier, and the condoms, again. My brow furrowed in desperation.

Hhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllllooooooooooo…hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooooooooonnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyy…
His voice warbled in bass tones as the scene played out in black and white, slow motion in my imagination; his eyes traveled down to the black box I had laid on the counter. When they came back up, he stared at me in pained disappointment, as if he were silently saying ‘Say it isn’t so…’

White hot embarrassment shot through my body at the thought of it.

You’re 31 years old and you’re seriously too ashamed to buy a fucking box of condoms? REALLY? Just grab them and stop being ridiculous!

Try as I may, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

‘Hello, honey!’
This time, he was actually talking to me. Giving him a very big, but almost culpable smile, I came up to the counter, defeated.

I’d officially let my imaginary boyfriend down. I was ashamed of myself, and I just knew we were going to fight about it the entire way home.

When I got back into the car, the situation haunted me. I’d wussed out, much like the way I had with so many other things due to fear. Even though it’s very foreign to me, buying a pack of condoms at a gas station is something that’s relatively normal, yet when I pressed myself to do so, I prevented myself from doing it.

How many things are there that you’ve missed out on…how many ‘normal’ things have you missed out on because of your fear?

Well, I’ve decided that I should try to do some of these things. Like I said, they’re normal things, so no bungee jumping or anything like that, just, things that my panic or fear has prevented me from doing. And I’m setting a time limit for myself: August.

Here is my list:

1. Get a pedicure.
I’ve never had one…EVER. I wasn’t interested as a kid, I couldn’t afford it in college, and I was too scared to do it with my panic because I felt like I’d be unable to ‘escape’ if I needed to.

2. Do a home improvement project completely on my own.
I have not dared to even attempt this, as I’m terrified of screwing something up in my home. This is the first house I’ve ever bought, I’m not really very handy, so I’m scared that I can’t do it.

3. Go to a bar alone.
That’s right…alone. I’ve met up with people at bars who I’ve arranged to meet with before hand, but I’ve never just gone by myself. Besides, being in a crowded place and with loud people and no support is horrifying.

4. Make a souffle.
The souffle is supposed to be one of the most difficult dishes to make, and to be honest, I’m proud of my cooking skills…so proud that I’m scared of finding out that I’m not able to do this. I know…you’re probably thinking that this one is lame, but it’s scary to me, and that’s why I haven’t done it, so it’s on the list.

5. Buy condoms.
If you thought that I would let that one go, you were mistaken. It’s personal now, so there.

Five goals. Five months.
Hold me accountable.

3, 2, 1…BEGIN

The Things I’ve Never Done: Part 1

There’s something I haven’t revealed about myself on this blog before. I really want to come out with it now, but I’m not quite sure how to word it…

I guess I could say that I’ve suffered from severe agoraphobia.

Let me set the record straight on what agoraphobia actually is, because it’s a very misunderstood mental illness. Most of the time, people believe agoraphobia is a condition where a person cannot exit their house. Even I, before I had it, always thought of the heroine of the movie ‘Copy Cat’ whenever I thought of agoraphobia, but it really isn’t like that all of the time.

The literal meaning of the word is ‘fear of open spaces,’ but it translates into the actual mental illness a bit differently. It’s like this: People who are agoraphobic TYPICALLY (and I say that quite generously because there are some people who ARE literally just scared of open spaces) have a ‘safe spot,’ which is very often their home. If the person should attempt to vacate their safe spot, there is generally a radius outside of it in which they are free to travel without panic, and that’s IT. The safety radius could be up to the threshold of their front door, or it could be 30 miles from their house. Go past the oh-so-holy safe spot, and it’s pure panic, unending.

When I first became agoraphobic, I didn’t HAVE a safe spot. I had a SEMI-safe spot, but I didn’t have a true safe spot.
I panicked in my living room, bedroom, kitchen…and I had to take baths because I panicked in the shower. Hell, I panicked in my sleep; I woke up night after night, gasping for air. I almost did a sleep study to find out why I would stop breathing while I was sleeping, but soon realized that it wasn’t the case. This was in the Spring of 2008, and it all started with a stupid fucking vaccine.

Don’t freak out: I had had a panic disorder long before I got the vaccine, so I was predisposed to panic…it had just morphed into OCD while I was in college, which made it tolerable.

What had happened was I got a letter from my insurance company saying that all women who were younger than 26 were eligible for a free HPV vaccination. I remembered this one very tragic story I had heard about a woman my ex-roommate had known. If I remember correctly, the woman had just gone shopping at the grocery store in the middle of the day, and as she was walking to her car, she got pulled into the back of a van and got raped…and sadly, this horrible story doesn’t end there: It turns out that the rapist was infected with HPV, and passed it on to this woman. Well, it was one of the strains of HPV which causes cervical cancer, and she ended up dying from the cancer.

That put the fear of God into me, and I decided that I should probably take this free vaccine.

So, I went to the doctor’s office after making an appointment. You only visit a nurse or MA when you JUST need a vaccine (most of the time), and that’s what happened: I got my shot, and they sent me on my way.

Well, apparently, the protocol for administering vaccinations wasn’t being followed at my doctor’s office that day. I try my best not to be bitter about things I cannot change, but it’s exceedingly difficult in this situation, because if that mother fucking bitch had JUST FOLLOWED PROTOCOL, my life may’ve been COMPLETELY different.

The protocol for any kind of shot (for those of you who aren’t familiar with it) is to make a person wait 15-30 minutes after it is administered, because the person MIGHT BE ALLERGIC to what has been injected.

And SUPRISE! I fucking was.

The allergic reaction happened about three minutes after I went through the office door. I was driving home, when suddenly, it felt as if the world was closing in on me. It’s very difficult to explain the sensation, but it’s like you’re in an invisible box that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller…and I HAD to get out. Panicking, which I hadn’t done in YEARS, I called my mother, who is a nurse, and told her what had happened between the desperate gasps for air I was swallowing and saying ‘I have to get out of here! I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!’

Calmly, she explained that this was an allergic reaction, and that I needed to get Benedryl immediately. As we were speaking, I pulled into a left turn lane, which was packed with people in front of and behind me, with the lane to my right completely filled, and cars whizzing by in the left lane. If the previous sentence doesn’t sound like a reason to panic to you, imagine feeling like you are in an invisible box you need to get out of WHILE being in that situation. It was one of the single most terrifying experiences of my life.

I eventually made it to a store, and, paranoid as FUCK, found the Benedryl, ripped the package open, popped a pill or two, then paid for it. After making my way to the car, I sat there and smoked a cigarette (ahh, back when I used to smoke), and waited for this horrible feeling to subside.

And wa-la…it did. I drove back to my house and fell asleep on the couch with the cat, and when I woke up, I felt almost completely back to normal.

…So I thought.

Suddenly, I was panicking in stores, panicking while driving…panicking in my sleep, in my house…and the panic feeling was so scary, I would panic when I believed that there may be a situation I was entering that could cause me to panic. I became agoraphobic, and had to move in with somebody else because I couldn’t be alone…I was too scared.

…Hmm. I wonder if I could sue that doctor’s office.
But, then again, what’s the point? Even if I were to win, no amount of money could compensate for how much time I’ve lost.

Anyway…

I think the worst of it came in the summer of 2009, when I completely avoided anything that could trigger panic attacks, yet I still had them. 2010 was in no way fun, either.

I’m vehemently against being on anti-anxiety medication, as I am a staunch believer in cognitive behavioral therapy (I do have a degree in psychology), so I did try to get some help in 2010, but the therapist began to waste my time. He actually yelled at my once when he revisited the idea of medication, and I said something along the lines of feeling like he was violating my wishes in regards to that issue. I’m from New York; I’m used to people yelling, but it was relatively scary to get yelled at in the way he did it. It drove a rift between us on my end, and I no longer felt like I could maintain a good rapport with him, which was actually a very good thing. Having a rift allowed me to be more critical of his technique, and I soon realized that he had no idea how to implement CBT, and he was too lazy to actually go to the store or drive with me to teach me coping skills. The two last sessions I attended, he played movie trailers on Youtube and talked about nonsense for a half an hour before we discussed anything related to panic. I was officially done after that.

In the beginning of 2011, I moved to the town in which I currently reside, and I did a lot of research and found an anxiety specialist. This woman allowed me to do Skype sessions with her at first because I couldn’t drive to where she was; once she taught me the coping skills I needed to do so, she made me drive to her house, and stayed on the phone with me the whole time. She’s even driven with me. I also researched the herbs that are effective in treating anxiety, and I wound up on St. John’s Wort and Passion Flower, which are amazing. Should I find myself having depersonalization (which is FUUUCKING scary), I take two Passion Flower on the spot and I’m typically good within five minutes. There have been no side effects, and I’ve been on St. John’s Wort for about three years, Passion Flower for around two.

[By the way… Depersonalization: Feeling as if one is having an out-of-body experience or in a dream-like state. It can be a form of panic, and it feels like nothing is real or makes sense.]

Like I said, I do try not to be bitter. This whole ordeal has afforded me the opportunity to work out a lot of the issues I should have worked out in my early 20s, but I was so focused on school that I never made time for myself. Plus, being able to find the strength to complete my master’s while having severe panic is something I wasn’t sure I could do…but I did it. I had a lot of my freedom ripped away from me, and I’ve been trying to reclaim it. I’ve missed out on a lot of experiences because of my own fear, experiences that I feel like I really should have.

To be continued.

Italian Easter Bread

I’m not sure if all of you are aware of it or not, but Thursday was the Spring Equinox. I usually celebrate by making a small feast: A roast, roots, egg custard, salad with edible flowers…you know, that type of thing.

It should come as absolutely no surprise that the Spring Equinox reminds me of Easter, and I have a very private and sacred tradition on Easter: Watching ‘The Last Unicorn,’ and eating Pane di Pasqua (Italian Easter Bread) while I cry myself silly (in a good way).

Pane di Pasqua/Italian Easter Bread: A sweet, braided bread baked with dyed Easter eggs. It may also contain dried fruit and/or topped with icing and sprinkles.

I live in an Italian-American neighborhood, and there’s an Italian grocery store down the street from me. It’s wonderful! It’s one of two places I can actually find scungelli, and their bakery? Absolutely un-fucking-believable. They have stuff you can only typically find back home in New York or New Jersey…stuff like sfogliatelle (lobster tail pastries). For the last maybe…two or three years, I’ve gotten my Easter bread from them, but I’ve been itching to take a crack at making my own for a while.

So, since Thursday was kind of a not-so-great day for everybody else to celebrate Spring, I had my mini feast on Friday, and used it as an excuse to try baking myself some Easter bread for the first time. I figured I could stay up late on Thursday to make the bread so I had time to complete the food preparation Friday afternoon, and that’s what I did.

Here’s the thing: I’m a cook, not a baker. I love cooking. As a matter of fact, cooking is how I bonded with my mother. We both love to cook and love food. Most of my childhood memories take place next to my mother’s legs while she was cooking one thing or another, and when I was a teenager, my favorite thing to do on a Friday night was go to the grocery store with her.
While my friends ate frozen and canned food in university, I cooked my meals. I even fed my roommates. Hell, I sometimes flagged down my neighbors and fed them, too.
What can I say? I’m a little stereotype. I LOVE cooking so much.
But baking? Hahaha…

The only thing that I’m confident about baking is a simple French bread. It’s just water and flour and yeast with a bit of salt. Sure, it’s time consuming, but it’s difficult to fuck up. Anything else, and it’s a total gamble. I’ve burned bread…using a BREAD MAKER.

It’s quite difficult to imagine what a neighbor would’ve thought had they been able to hear what was happening in the kitchen last night:

Whir, whir, whir…
‘No, no, no, no, NO! What are you DOING?’
Thump…thump…thump…
‘You dirty son of a BITCH!’
Thud…slap!
‘You’re SUPPOSED to be satiny! WHY AREN’T YOU SATINY?’

I must’ve done something very wrong because my dough did NOT rise. Maybe the water was too hot for the yeast? Who knows. All I know is that somehow, I ended up with this:

IMG_1734

And yes, I’m boring because I didn’t color the egg.

It wasn’t a replica of the Easter bread from the bakery, as each braid kind of…rose up and separated from the others, but I was pleased to have it look half-way decent.

The next morning, I got up and worked on it a bit:

IMG_1737

The recipe I used for the icing said to mix powdered sugar and orange liquor. Not only does synthetic orange flavor make me gag, I thought lemon liquor would taste better with the bread, so I used Cavarella.

While the icing was perfect (so perfect, in fact, that I kept sampling what was left over and began to feel mysteriously lazy), the bread was dense. My guests did not seem to mind, as they went back for seconds, but I was a bit disappointed. But hey, this is why I tested it out before the day I really want it to go right.

I did learn something, though: Icing is a REALLY fun way to get drunk.

The Strangest Kind of Blessing

At the very end of last month, I wrote an email to a stranger.

It was a really emotionally trying thing to do, and to be honest, I put off writing it around a year and a half because I was terrified.

What were you terrified of, Luna?

I was terrified that I would pour my heart out to this person, and he would read my words and ignore me, maybe not even read what I had written, or think that there was some motive behind my email that simply wasn’t there.

What had happened was somebody had inspired me with his passion for his career, and it was at a moment when I was in dire need of motivation. The whole situation was so profound to me that I needed to share it with him.

So, when I tried to find this particular man’s email address, I found out that, well…he…umm…how do I put this? In his…field of work, he is kind of a big deal. Well-known. Bumps a lot of important elbows. He’s in such a high position, he could be easily used by fake people if he were to not be suspicious, and many people would want nothing more than to dialogue with him for their own gain.

Me being me, I had no clue as to who he was, and to be perfectly honest, I was so disappointed.
…Scratch that: Depressed. I was so depressed.

I figured that this man was just a ‘normal Joe’ who just loved his job.
That would’ve been a good thing…a very good thing.

If I’m honest, the idea of trying to talk to or form a relationship of any kind with a socially ‘important’ person makes me tired.
I don’t use people: Period. I don’t look at anybody and think:
Hmm…I’d better try to get into their life. Just think of what they could do for me…muwahaha…
But, I know others do, and without scruple. And because of them, there’d be an unspoken rule that I would need to prove that I’m not like that. Besides that, when a person is socially ‘important,’ it seems as if they can only make time for people who are like them; they don’t have time for ‘normies’ like me.

Here’s my take: If I’m not rich enough, important enough, or trustworthy enough to talk to, well…you can fuck right off. I don’t care who you are. I don’t treat people like that, and I sure as hell won’t tolerate being treated like that. The creatures who are important in MY world are important because they’re kind, genuine, and good. There is absolutely no sum of money or anything else that can serve as a substitution for a place in my heart, ever.

Wow. I think I really needed to get that out.

Anyway…
Once I realized who he was, I immediately figured any email I sent him would go unread, deleted, and/or ignored.

Why even bother? It would be a complete waste of time to put the effort and emotion into something he won’t even read or care about.

So…I dismissed the situation altogether.
The Universe, however, wouldn’t let the situation go.

I told somebody about what had happened (somebody who I knew WOULD care), just to get it out of me when I was on the way to work. I trotted in as I normally did, grabbed a box of unsorted historical records, and put on my white gloves to start working. The first thing that I grabbed that morning was an antique booklet, and when I opened it to a random page to figure out what the booklet was about, the man’s name was written in cursive on the top of the page.
“REALLY?” I screeched. “Fucking really?”

That’s just one example. I dealt with a freaking year and a half long case of the Baader Meinhof effect until I was forced to confront the situation. TO MY CHAGRIN.

So, I wrote the damn email. It took me about, oh, two or three hours to do, and it took quite a bit out of me, but at the same time…it felt good. And what do you know? His name and the name of his company stopped popping up everywhere. It was like being told that I did what I needed to do; I had a certain role to play, a wheel to set in motion, and I did it.

Oh, yeah; I don’t mean to be suspenseful. I DID receive a reply…an auto-reply saying that he was somewhere else and would get to answering emails later that day.

There was an unsettled feeling in me, despite the strong intuition that I’d done what I needed to do. So, I explored it:

Why are you unsettled?
Because I knew this would happen…I knew I would be doing something for nothing at all.
So, you’re unsettled because he didn’t reply?
Of course I am! Why wouldn’t I be? It feels terrible to share something important to you with somebody who doesn’t give a shit.
Why does it feel terrible? You’ve unburdened yourself, haven’t you? You told somebody about something they’ve done that touched you…how is any of that bad?
Because I feel rejected, ok? I stayed away from this whole thing because I KNEW he wouldn’t answer and I would feel rejected, and that’s exactly what happened!

OHH.
That’s what this was all about.

I thought of the previous times I had experienced rejection from others: How did it play out, who did it to me, why did I feel the need to put myself into those situations?
And the more I thought about it…I realized that the people who had rejected me…the people I had worried over and put up on a pedestal…they had turned out to be some majorly unhealthy people to be around. I would’ve landed myself in some very bad situations if they HAD accepted me.

It was as if my sense of logic had grown a hand and smacked me in the face: It was suddenly so obvious. This thing that I feared so much and tried so hard to avoid was actually my friend. This monster under my bed was helping me my entire life; it actually gets me away from the people and situations I’d be better off without. I should never be afraid of rejection; it’s an unlikely kindness….it’s the strangest kind of blessing.

It’s been nearly a full 19 days. I haven’t received a reply from him and I’m not going to. And you know what? I’m ok with that. As a matter of fact, I’m better than ok. I wrote one damn beautiful email that I’m genuinely proud of…I followed my intuition and did what I believed was right. I ran at my fears, knowing the consequences. But the most important thing that I can take away from this situation is that I’ve had a friend who I’ve been neglecting for far too long for all of the wrong reasons.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a plate of cookies to push under my dust ruffle.

Oddly Neutral

Even though I have come to accept my oddities and my unique-bordering-on-strange interpretation of the world and of people, I can’t help but sometimes feel like some kind of alien when it comes to interacting with people.

There are times when I’m with a friend, and we are walking around in a store, and my friend will whisper to me, “Oh my God, isn’t he HOT?”
I’ll usually lie and say something non-commital about the person.

He’s alright.
Not my type.
I guess.

In reality, though, I have absolutely no fucking CLUE as to whether or not the man in question is ‘hot.’ I just find it easier to placate my friends instead of going into the lengthy explanation of how my mind works when it comes to aesthetics and attraction. When I do explain it, my friends usually say that it couldn’t possibly be true…that nobody’s mind works like mine; either that, or they just don’t understand.

Frustrating.

Let me preface this all with an exception to the rule before I even begin explaining it.
I HAVE had certain experiences where I have felt a strange holy-shit-where-have-you-been-all-of-my-life connection with people I have never met before (at least, not in this incarnation). I have had another woman come up to me, and when we looked into each other’s eyes, we both began to cry, and I jumped over a table to hug her. As a matter of fact, I would even like to discuss a similar experience at length another time, but for now, I’m just talking about people who I don’t feel a bordering on supernatural connection with.

To me, all people are neutral at first.
This includes looks, age, clothing, and anything else that could be superficially judged.
NEUTRAL.
…Let me repeat that one more time: NEUTRAL.
If I pass by you in the supermarket or walk by you on the street, I probably won’t notice you, no matter how much you peacock or how ‘hot’ you are. You’re just neutral.

Now, when I start getting to know a person, their faces and bodies begin to slowly shift and move, and depending upon the sweetness or sourness of the personality, they either become increasingly attractive or increasingly yuck to me.

This is especially interesting when a person is very nice at first, and then they do something absolutely horrible; they go from beautiful to puke within seconds.

Conversely, I remember one day in high school, I turned to one of my friends and said, “I think you get prettier every time I look at you.” And I meant it; she gave me the biggest, happiest smile when I said that, and all I did was tell the truth.

If I fall in love with a person, they are literally the most beautiful person in the entire world to me (well…next to my Momma because I don’t give a shit who you are, NOBODY steps to an Italian girl’s Momma…NOBODY).

I guess I’m not expecting everybody to be able to empathize with me on this. I’m painfully aware of how strange I am. It’s just interesting to me that something so simple and private can make a person feel so out of place.

I Don’t Hate You

Something happened just a few minutes ago, and I felt so strongly about it that I just had to talk about it.

I stopped on my way home from work at a party store that is located less than a mile from my house. It’s one of those stores that I’m so familiar with that I know exactly where I need to go to get what I want inside, so I walked in and grabbed what I needed. The items I purchased were right at the cash register, and there was a woman buying a carton (plus a pack) of Misty cigarettes already occupying the cashier’s time.

“No! No, I don’t get charged for this!” she insisted.

Her words caught my attention, as I typically turn mentally idle while I wait, only turning back on when it’s my turn to pay.

I’m not quite sure what she was talking about, but the cashier caught my gaze: He was tall, slightly grown-out shorter hair, which was a medium reddish brown, and it contrasted with his vaguely olive skin. For some reason, though, what really caught my attention was the wooden rosary he wore around his neck. My first thought was ‘that’s not a necklace,’ as it usually is when I see somebody wearing a rosary like that, but I packed my nit-pickiness away and continued to observe this man. As he spoke to the woman in a gentle and nervous way, I could hear an accent in his voice. The accent sounded almost exactly the same as the rest of the people who work at the store.

I had always wondered where the people who own the store are from; I could never figure it out. My best guess was Albania, but I very rarely put any weight on guesses. All I was aware of was that I enjoyed their accents and how they spoke to me. To them, I’m ‘sweetheart’ or ‘honey’ or some other term of endearment that makes me smile.

Once the woman vacated her spot at the register, the man softly, gently sang “Thank you,” with a shy smile after her, looking sheepish.

Then, he looked at me, and smiled wider.

“Hello,” he said, warmly.

“Hi,” I said, cheerfully, giving him a friendly grin. “I just need these, please.”

“Umm, how much are those?” he asked, more to himself than anybody else. “Oh. $6.99, so…” He began to type the numbers into the register, and I felt my curiosity take over.

“Your accent is so pretty. Where are you from?”

“Huh?”

It was kind of loud in the store, so he probably didn’t hear me.

“Your accent is so pretty. Where are you from?” I repeated, louder and clearer, though sadly, lacking the amount of emotion from the first time I asked.

The man’s eyes went wide, and I saw a flash of terror for a fraction of a second before they dropped away from mine.

“Oh-uh…” he stuttered nervously. After a bit of hesitation, he finally came up with an answer. “The Middle East.”

“Where in the Middle East?” I pried.

Looking extremely uncomfortable and defeated, he offered me an unhappy smile and nodded his head.

“Iraq.”

OHH…

“Oh. Ok,” I said, casually.

But that’s not what I wanted to say. I wanted to say something like this:

You poor soul. You look like you’ve been emotionally battered and abused just because of where you come from…something you have absolutely no control over…and you’re so afraid that people who don’t know a thing about you will instantly hate you. Well, not this time; not me. I don’t hate you. As a matter of fact, I think you’re the sweetest, shyest, most endearing person I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with all day, and if I ever saw somebody go off on you for being Iraqi, I would hit them over the fucking head with a bottle. YOU are not personally responsible for our respective nations’ issues. The people in this country can be very ignorant and rude and mean-hearted, and…look at you! You were so scared to tell me where you were from, but it didn’t even occur to you to lie about it. Do you realize how much character you possess? You seem wonderful. So, please, don’t be scared of me. I don’t hate you…not even a little bit.

I just gave him a big, genuine smile.

“It really is a pretty accent.”

As soon as I said the words, a wave of relief seemed to wash over his face, and his strained grin relaxed into authenticity.

“Thank you.”

We said our good-byes, and as I walked away, I felt a heaviness in my heart. I mean, are we really that far gone, as a society? Are Americans really that prejudice, that vapid and self-interested that they don’t care about other people or think things through before they react? Surely, his fear was based in some sort of reality, whether it was born from his own or by-proxy, but are people seriously such assholes?

As I approached the door, I saw a girl wearing shorts and holding a smart phone who was about to enter the store. With the way she maneuvered her body, though, it was going to be awkward to hold the door open for her, so I completely exited the store, let out a short laugh at the silliness of the situation, and held it open for her.
To my shock and amazement, she walked through, not looking at me, or saying a word of acknowledgement, as if it were expected of me to hold the door open for her, like I were a doorman. Didn’t even reach out to help hold the door.

“YOU’RE WELCOME!” I shouted at her unresponsive form, as I let the door go.
And yes, she DID hear me, but I severely doubt she cared.

Yup. They certainly ARE such assholes.

Can we change assholes? Nope. We can’t.

What can we do, then?
Easy:
NOT be assholes.
We can call assholes out on their antics.
We can find other non-assholes and show them that we exist.
We can heal each other a tiny bit each and every day.
We can stand up for each other and our own values.
And we can place hate only where hate is due.