If you’ve at all been paying attention to popular culture in America, you know that there’s quite the media-fest over America’s second-most popular book, entitled Fifty Shades Of Grey. It’s only behind The Hunger Gamesin terms of overall downloads and purchases, but this book is getting a LOT more publicity, both positive and negative, than The Hunger Games has.

Why? Well, that’s easy. It’s because it’s about sex.

The controversy about this book centers around BDSM themes, and apparently all the cool celebrities are willing to come out and embrace their taboo side, showing themselves to be the rebels that they are by admitting in public that they read this book and they liked it. (I can’t wait for that to be a Katy Perry parody video, Key Of Awesome.) Of course, it’s not really terribly shocking to hear 35 year-old actresses are reading this book while their kids play on the beach, and when it’s the second most popular book in the nation, you’re not really shocking anyone with how open and different you are. But, I digress.

Dubbed “mommy porn”, people who disagree with the popularity of this book have mentioned it’s a sign that our culture has gone so far left that things that were once secret fetishes are now acceptable in mainstream pop culture. I have two observations to make on that front: 1) Have any of these people ever SEEN a Lady Gaga video?, and 2) That’s what you get when you want Mitt Romney to run your country. Put Bill Clinton back in office, and watch how quickly everything goes back into the closet, and society becomes secretly hedonistic but outwardly judgmental again. :P

I haven’t read this book, and I’m not sure I’m planning on doing so, but I do have to say that I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. “Mommy porn” has existed since the development of the printing press, and rose to popularity in the 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s with the development of the “romance novel” genre. I don’t read romance novels, but that’s not to say I’ve never read one. The plots of many of them are about as thin and predictable as any porn movie around, and are just a device to make the “romance” (i.e. sex) scenes flow together in a cohesive way.

Romance novels have been as acceptable as Playboy magazine for a long time. The fact that “mommy porn” is popular shouldn’t shock anyone. What appears to be shocking is the idea that not all women are busy fantasizing about romance, hearts, flowers, and happily ever after.

As it turns out, some women are busy fantasizing about whips and chains.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone. The popular plot devices in romance novels are mainstream, “vanilla” allusions to the world of dominance and submission. When you’re reading about the beautiful, half-naked damsel in distress being rescued by the overly masculine hero she hates through most of the book, the undertones are not Cinderella-related. And the reason “Twilight” made vampires decidedly unsexy for anyone over the age of 16 is because women don’t have vampire fetishes involving skinny, pale, glittery Englishmen asking “Is this really OK with you?”. BDSM-themes have been woven into “mommy porn” for a long time. Sometimes, a book is well-written enough that the story and the underlying BDSM themes appeal to both genders, which is why Anne Rice sold so many books. The link between the iconic vampire-figure and submission/dominance themes isn’t even thinly disguised, which is why books about vampires have been part of popular culture for centuries.

Even as far back as the days of the Marquis de Sade, who has penned some stuff that would turn the most open-minded of people into those capable of judgment and repulsion, women were reading “smuggled” copies of the stories under their embroidery. In fact, history has shown one of the reasons women of the aristocracy were not taught to read or to be educated in many societies, in many points in history, was the fear that knowledge would make them “worldly”. The sooner a beautiful, unmarried girl gets her hands on the exploits of the Marquis de Sade, the less likely she is to be content with the 60 year-old suitor the patriarchy has chosen for her, and the more likely she is to start experimenting with the alpha males in her social circle.

None of these attempts to keep “mommy porn” from corrupting women have ever worked. In fact, since almost the beginning of time, passing around something secret and scandalous between women is the number one way to make it the most popular thing EVER. Have you ever given a woman you know something really juicy and said “Don’t show this to anyone”, and believed that would be the end result?

Yeah. I didn’t think so.

Which, of course, brings me back to “Fifty Shades Of Grey” and the revelation that when it comes to sexuality, women are turned on by “kinky stuff” just as much as men. It’s culturally acceptable that women read “romance novels” and men watch porn. But, as soon as we, as a society, start addressing the idea that sex is a little more inventive, creative, and psychologically interesting than we’re willing to discuss openly, everyone starts getting really uncomfortable.

I’m willing to bet there’s not one thing in this book that shocks me. I’m also willing to bet it doesn’t teach me anything new. :P Granted, I may not be the best example of a person who needs to become more open-minded about these things, but I’m hardly an anomaly, or even the world’s most open-minded person. Which brings me to the point of the post: Is it this book that’s shocking and controversial, or is just the fact that someone dared to write it and make it mainstream that’s causing a fuss?

There’s really little that shocks me about people and their sexual proclivities, and for the most part, if you’re not harming other people and your choices aren’t affecting my life, I don’t really care what’s going on in your bedroom. However, I’m the type of person who is far less interested in what people do in their private lives than why they do it, and on a fundamental level, what that reveals aboutwho someone really is. Because of that, I highly enjoyed this psychologically insightful and analytical article entitled The Psychological Underpinnings Of Dominance And Submission”

If psychology doesn’t really intrigue you, or everything you know about BDSM, you read from reading “Fifty Shades Of Grey”you’ll likely find it a little tedious, but if you’re like me, and endlessly fascinated by insight into human behaviour, it’ll leave you thinking.

If you really want to start thinking about the relationship between human psychology, love, dominance, submission, and emotional vulnerability, may I recommend Paulo Coelho’s “Eleven Minutes”? In my opinion, it’s a book that every person who has ever felt physically or emotionally bonded to another person should read. Someone once important to me gave it to me many years ago, and I still think it’s one of the best books in existence.

And, feel free to leave a comment on Facebook or drop me an e-mail…is “Fifty Shades Of Grey” worth reading, or just a slightly-left-of-center romance novel? Some people have told me that the main character in the book is basically a carbon copy of Bella from “Twilight”, only instead of doing a lot of whining and striking emo poses, she experiments with sex. Frankly, I hate Bella from “Twilight”, and if I ever see a film adaptation of this book starring Kristen Stewart, I may attempt to slash my wrists with my Kindle.

So, please…don’t lead me astray. Will I make it through 50 pages of this book without wanting to do physical harm to imaginary characters?

On the other hand, this particular set of imaginary characters may enjoy the attempt far too much. :P

I suspect that if this is the second most popular book in America right now, I’m wasting my potential writing this blog about it, rather than spending my time writing a kick-ass book.

“Just for the record, one night with me and you’d remember it for the rest of your life. ”

“I’m sure I would. But, out of curiosity: how…exactly?”

“You’re a smart man. How do you think I landed such a rich husband?”

“I never really thought about it. You mean….”

“That’s right. I’m just that good.”

“Big Bang Theory”

Since today’s blog is about relationship advice, I will begin by saying that I am not a good source for relationship advice, unless you’d like to know more about the phenomenon known as feeling sad because you’re consistently being rejected by people you thought liked you. I am so good at this phenomenon, apparently, that my analytics tell me when people Google “You’re attractive, but you’re not my type”, they end up on this page.

I kid you not. Yesterday, I broke up with Domino’s. Today, I am now even being rejected by Google.

WTF, Google? This is how you let me know you don’t like me as much as I thought you did?

Anyhow, I’m blogging about love and relationships again today, because I came across one of those annoying articles on Yahoo! that people are so fond of posting, and women are largely fond of reading to remind themselves how they’re “working on their self-esteem” when truly, they’re looking for reassurance that “If I look hard enough, there’s a person out there like this that meets some of these criteria and will totally like me.”

Articles like this annoy the crap out of me, and I don’t know why, except there’s something formulaic and unrealistic about all of them. So, I’ve taken the liberty of rewriting the article to reflect my particular view on the “11 Things Every Woman (if you’re really a girl, you’re 16, and don’t need to be reading this article..it doesn’t apply to you.) Should Hold Out For.”

The first flaw in all these articles is that they’re written to a specific demographic, namely straight, monogamous, marriage-oriented women. No matter what your orientation or view on relationships, most women (and men, for that matter) want the same thing on a fundamental level: to be loved in the way they *should* be loving themselves (but probably aren’t.) So, I am replacing the typical “guy” with the more generic “person”. If you’re looking for more than one partner, the same criteria likely apply, and if you’re happily against the institution of marriage, never fear—”holding out” doesn’t mean waiting for the right person to marry. “Holding out”, in my definition, simply means not settling for someone who doesn’t bring the right things to the table because you’d prefer not to be alone. And, for all my poly readers, this applies to you, too: adding a secondary partner who is fundamentally incompatible with what you need from a relationship just out of novelty is demeaning to everyone involved. “Holding out” simply means knowing what you want, what you’re worth, and having a somewhat realistic view on human relationships untainted by chick flicks and advice columns. (hehehehehe…the irony!)

So, that being said, here goes:

1) A person who is truly interested in what you have to say. Every list you’ll ever read says a sense of humour is the best quality you can find in a person, laughter is the best medicine, and someone you find funny is much more endearing than someone you find smart, good-looking, or a great cook. Respectfully, I disagree. We live in a world of quips and one-liners, 140 character texts and “keeping things light”, and the result is that the more easy it is for us to connect, the less often we truly do it. If you find someone whom you find not only funny but intriguing, and who is willing to talk as well as listen, connect as well as superficially entertain, you’ve found a gem. This is number one on my list—if we can’t connect easily, or I find myself having one conversation and you’re hearing another, or you’ve shown you just don’t care about certain aspects of my life, my interests, or putting in the work necessary to click on some deeper level, it’s not going to work. Humour is a part of this, yes, but it’s like isolating one crayon in the whole box and saying it’s the most important. The whole range of emotion is significant in life. You want the whole box of crayons, even the garish neon colours.

2) A person who will “get” you. Sometimes, these articles get it right, and this one is on point. It’s not about finding someone who will laugh at your jokes or who can complete your sentences. It isn’t even always about finding the person who thinks just like you or feels just like you or acts just like you. That person may quickly drive you insane. When you’re on the same page in life as another person, it’s intuitive. You just know that you mesh, and it’s a step in the right direction. Nothing is more frustrating than a relationship where you’re constantly having to explain every thought or feeling. Innate understanding is cool. When someone “gets” you, you just know it. It doesn’t make it easy, but it’s a fundamental building block.

3) Someone willing to be involved in your life, and vice versa. “A Guy Who Will Attend Your “Lame” Things”? Really, Yahoo!? If you care about something, it’s not lame…it doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend’s wedding, a night at the ballet, a political rally, or whatever else you’re into. You should be proud of your interests and accomplishments, and you should run at the first sign that you’re with someone who minimizes them. Likewise, this requires you to be willing to be supportive and interested in someone else’s life. A relationship is not a fusing of identities, but it is a sharing of worlds. If you’re not willing to do that for someone, that person either just isn’t right for you (it can be really hard when you have absolutely nothing in common), or you’re not actually ready for the committed relationship you think you want. I remember once telling an ex-boyfriend, an architect, that I wasn’t interested in reading the books he gave me on the subject because they were “boring”. I realise now the level of immaturity that showed on my part (cut me a little slack here; I was 21 or so.) I also remember falling out of love with one person and immediately becoming infatuated with another simply because I met someone who shared my interests and cared about them, whereas I was used to someone stuck inside their own comfort zone. Bonding is powerful stuff.

4) A person who will do “nothing” with you…but will also expand his or her horizons. Some people are, by nature, less laid back than others. Some people need a certain amount of time to do nothing, where others always have to be on the move. Some people are constantly exploring, while others like a certain level of comfort zone protection. I’d argue that this goes back to finding someone who is on the same age as you are. However, if being around someone and not doing anything makes you feel nervous or awkward, or silence makes you feel insecure and unloved, you need to take a step back and evaluate your relationship. Are you really “connecting”, or just doing stuff together all the time? Trust me on this one. There’s a huge difference.

5) A person not afraid to express his or her feelings about you. Yahoo! says to hold out for a guy who will give you a gift or card, but years of reading on psychology has taught me this is BS. There are a number of different ways in which human beings express emotion comfortably, and in which they find it most significant to receive that emotion in return. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking for the person who was going to write me heartfelt and romantic letters, because that’s how I communicate, and that being constantly touched, hugged, or kissed didn’t evoke the same response from me. However, that’s simply a difference in how people communicate and feel love. Physical expressions of love don’t mean much to me; I largely distrust them. Yet, for others, they’re the cornerstone of a relationship. I wouldn’t discard someone who is a sucky gift giver in your eyes, because you value expression of love via objects. All it means is that person likely communicates love differently. Talk with your potential partner about how you communicate love, what you find romantic, what means something to you.

6) Someone who gives you a sense of security when it comes to being loved. Again, Yahoo! says “A guy who will say he loves you”, but it’s not always that straightforward. Some people are of the opinion that actions speak louder than words, and hearing “I love you” doesn’t create that level of trust and security. There are different ways in which different people express their love and ability to be loved. Knowing that about one another and understanding those differences is key. For instance, I don’t say “I love you”, and it’s difficult for me to hear. You have to know me better to know why. Does it make me any less loving or any less capable of being committed toward someone? Hardly. I’m one of the most loving people you’ll ever encounter. The fact I don’t say those words doesn’t diminish that in the slightest. It just means I have emotional baggage, and if you care about me, you should take the time to learn about that.

7) Someone for whom you have respect, and shows you respect on a daily basis. Most of the things people do to harm relationships annoy me because they’re plain disrespectful; lying, cheating, putting another person down, making someone feel insignificant, putting your own needs first all the time…they’re all synonyms for “I care about you, but I care about me more.” And while a certain little bit of that is healthy, natural human nature, too much of that means a relationship is becomes disposable, an accessory, something that exists for your benefit. It’s impossible to be in a healthy relationship with a narcissist. Don’t accept disrespect from anyone, because you can and will find someone who values and respects you enough not to treat you that way. And, certainly, don’t disrespect others, because taking advantage of someone else’s love is something that hurts you as much as it does the other person…and karma’s a huge bitch.

8)Someone with whom you have good chemistry. Like emotional connection, chemistry is elusive. You may want it to be there, but it just isn’t. When you gravitate toward another human being without wanting to know why, that’s chemistry. When you sense you want to sleep with someone you barely know, or aren’t even that attracted to on a physical level, that’s chemistry. Call it pheromones, hormones, biology, whatever..there are things that attract people to one another on a physical, intellectual, and emotional level. Beware any relationship where all three aren’t present. Chemistry is often the easy part. Understanding it and making sense of how it fits into your relationship with another person…well, that’s another thing entirely. There have been many people in my life with whom I’ve had chemistry, but the other pieces didn’t fall into place, or there were too many extenuating circumstances. That’s why I write poetry instead of mistaking infatuation for the love that’s going to come along and magically change my life. ;p

9)Someone who agrees with you on travel. This one, I have to give credit where credit is due. This has always been a HUGE problem in my relationships; I like a certain level of stability, but also the freedom to explore, travel, have adventures. I haven’t, in a very long time, dated someone who wanted to or was able to just get in the car one weekend and go on a random road trip. It has made me doubt all these relationships…because I know eventually, I don’t want to live where I live for the rest of my life. What a well-known personality tests calls “openness to new experiences”; well, I’m big on that one. Yet, I attract people who are very much the opposite. I almost always travel alone. It makes me a little sad; sometimes, I want that romantic vision of someone with whom I can see the world and share adventures. This is one of those topics that reinforces my worldview that perhaps I am the kind of girl who needs more than one “someone”.

10) A person with similar family goals. Anyone who jumps into a relationship where one person wants kids and the other doesn’t; one loves animals and the other is allergic; one has a family that doesn’t accept the other…well, it’s inevitably a no-win situation. Asking people to sacrifice fundamental pieces of who they are, or waiting for them to change, isn’t something you’re entitled to ask. There are people out there with similar views on these things, and you will inevitably find one. Don’t make the mistake of trying to mold yourself into another person’s idea of a soulmate. No relationship that works was ever built on illusion, or losing aspects of yourself in the process.

11) Yahoo! says “Wait for someone who sees you as you want to be seen”. I don’t know about this one. I’m with Victor Hugo, who said “The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves; or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” You may want to be seen as the most perfect person to walk the planet, but it doesn’t mean your soulmate is one who is going to feed your delusion. :P While you certainly should never settle for someone who sees you as less than you are, being blindly idealised is also a recipe for disaster. (see: muses and manic pixies.) If someone can see through layers of artifice and protective walls and proper behaviour and posturing to make yourself look as good as possible, and love the spirit that lurks underneath, that’s someone worth waiting for. Don’t be disappointed when you discover it comes around rarely, as most people can’t see through that many layers of crap, and most of us don’t want to be seen in a way that leaves us vulnerable. Find someone who sees you as you are, as you once were, and as you’d like to be. It’s probably one of the best keys to finding a soulmate that’s out there.

Why, you might ask, am I an authority on relationships and romance, when my own life has been one of chaos and colourful stories? I’m not married. I have plenty of relationship woes and dramas and unwise choices that epitomise my life. Why do I think I know people better than Yahoo!?

Easy. You don’t get to be this colourful without learning a thing or two about human beings along the way. Trust me, if you really want love in your life, it’s going to have to be a lot less pretty and a lot less bullshit-free than every dating advice column you’ve ever read. Before you seek advice, just as before you seek love, the old dictum of “Know thyself” is more than apropos.

Oh, and Google? I can totally do better.

I think this will be the last time I call Domino’s. Over an hour to get a pizza (estimated delivery time:18-22 minutes, my ass), and I call them, only to hear the guy doesn’t have the gate code. I included the gate code with my order. Pizza will undoubtedly be cold when and if it arrives. Worse yet, nobody in customer service seems to understand the concept of apologies.

When did it become so acceptable for us to accept sub-par service without so much as an apology, much less a discount? If I did such a crappy job at work every day, I wouldn’t keep it for long. Yet, it seems to be par for the course in the food service world that if you’re not happy with something, you can complain all you want, it doesn’t change a thing.

That is why, despite being a loyal customer for some time, I am breaking up with Domino’s. As I feel toward every person who takes my presence and support for granted, doesn’t show up on time for our scheduled meetings, is routinely an asshole without offering apology, and thinks they can replace me fairly easily, Domino’s is simply no longer worth the frustration and the anger.

I’m tired of being disappointed. I’m tired of being made to feel unimportant. I’m tired of my needs not coming first. I deserve much better, and if you don’t see how valuable I am, you’re the one missing out. I’m sure there’s another pizza service out there willing to appreciate what I bring to the table.

And, if not, maybe I don’t need pizza, anyway.

It’s been great, but this relationship is officially over. A one-night-a-week perk should enhance my life, not leave me feeling irate and hypoglycemic.

And, as with the end of every relationship, I’ll leave you with these parting words of advice:

You suck, and you’re really not as good as you think you are. With all the exaggeration involved, I expected more.

I absolutely loved this little graphic I found on Facebook today. It’s rather a good reminder of how I need to approach my life, and everyone else who chooses to be involved in it—or not, as the case may be.

Sadly, the thing that’s been clipping my wings the most lately is my health; physical issues, not emotional, although they certainly feed into one another.

You see, lately, I’d started to forget I was sick. I’d started to feel a restlessness, a need to return to my old, uninterrupted, pre-illness life. At some points, I’d started to have the same level of energy and stamina I did before the illness, which is quite a feat for someone on multiple medications that list “lethargy, drowsiness, and loss of endurance” as a side effect. Although the adjustment has taken me 9 months of my life, I finally started to feel as if I was getting my life back, piece by piece. Friends had even remarked how I’ve been more able to handle social occasions without difficulty, go to places I’d not be able to handle months ago due to the lights and noise, and would experience fewer episodes of needing to leave early due to dizzy spells or panic attacks.

Part of this, admittedly, has been thanks to a wonderful doctor who is not only well-educated and a naturally empathic person, but is a huge fan of naturopathic and “alternative” medicine. She had a full workup done on me to see if I could be ill due to some lingering nutritional deficiency, after I complained to her that the medications I was put on to manage my symptoms zapped my energy and caused me to gain nearly a sixth of my body weight in two months…odd for someone who has been roughly the same size since puberty.

Thanks to her intuition and knowledge, she determined I suffered from anemia and a severe Vitamin D deficiency, but more importantly, that I’ve had undiagnosed bouts of hypoglycemia for most of my life. Of course, I didn’t show many symptoms of this because a large part of my diet consisted of Coca-Cola and chocolate, as well as plenty of refined sugars and carbs. When they put me on medication that has a side effect of lowering your blood sugar and simultaneously told me to cut out caffeine and significantly watch my carb intake, I started eating foods I’d never occurred to want before; 3 pound bags of jelly beans, boxes of Cheeze-Its, bags of Cheetos. By the time they did enough tests on me to determine I was binging on junk food in order to keep my blood sugar stable, the damage had been done. I also noticed that when I stuck to my old patterns of eating twice a day, the medication made it impossible to handle that. My blood sugar would drop abruptly while waiting for dinner, making me so irrationally angry that I’d want to stab myself and others with sharp objects, and end up yelling at everyone. I didn’t understand it, but fortunately, my doctor did, and helped explain things to me.

Following her advice has helped immensely. I’m still on the drugs, and consequently, haven’t lost the weight (which is a sad and frustrating issue for me), but the frequency with which I have panic attacks and migraines has decreased considerably. I’ve even started with light cardio again, which is impressive for a girl who couldn’t go for a five minute walk without feeling dizzy and having an anxiety attack.

Yet, tonight, we went to play trivia at a place that seems to strangely provoke my symptoms, and remind me all is not well. Part of it is that they have lighting that bothers my eyes, and two different rooms playing music at club-level, although the restaurant is mostly empty. I started to feel exceptionally dizzy, and then irrationally angry and wanting to behave in self-injurious ways, so I had to escape for a little while and take an additional quarter of a Valium, hoping it would chill me out. I started to feel so much anxiety that my arm went numb, prompting me to conclude I was having a heart attack and needed to panic.

Extra Valium didn’t do anything. I’m pretty restrictive about the anxiety medications, knowing that popping an extra pill to “zone out” is a dangerous path to tread. Frankly, I’d rather drink, and I can’t do that if I’m on a higher dose of medication than I am now. So, I’ve managed to keep my Valium dosage at what my doctor considers a “maintenance level”; enough to help me deal with vertigo and other symptoms caused by the vestibular disorder, but not enough to effectively treat me for anxiety. (I was prescribed another drug for panic attacks, and frankly, that drug scares me, so I won’t take it unless it’s a dire situation…and I haven’t had to take that pill in maybe 7 months.)

What did help me, however, was sharing chocolate cake with pistachio ice cream with The Guy I Am Currently Dating. It’s like sugar is a drug that helps my body cope with stuff somehow, which is horrible for someone who wants to lose weight. Chocolate cake functions as a drug for me, and it’s really odd.

We got 1st place at trivia, and double points, but I left with a migraine and a sense of being emotionally off-balance. I’d been reminded I wasn’t “better”, and felt immensely discouraged. I wondered if I’d ever be “better”, and thinking about the doctors describing a “chronic condition that can’t be cured, but symptoms improve over time” was not something that lifted my spirits. I know when they talk about time, they’re talking about years…but I’m still the kind of girl for whom a month is an eon, and so much can change. Thinking about recovery in years is unfathomable.

It depresses me. What if I don’t have years to wait to get “better?” What if it just never happens, and I’m stuck with these limitations on my life forever? Am I just supposed to put my life on hold, waiting to see if I’m ever again the person I used to be?

I want to be free. I don’t want anyone placing limitations on me, specifically not my own body. All the partying and recklessness and attempts at self-destruction I engaged in throughout my younger years, it’s ironic that when I finally came to peace with the idea that I was an adult who was going to live past 30 without getting hit by a Mack truck or murdered by a crazy ex, a year later, I developed an illness that’s difficult to both diagnose and treat. It’s the ultimate in irony.

I trick myself into thinking I’m stronger than I am and pushing myself because I have to, because I want, and *need* to be better. I can’t afford to be sick, because who is going to manage my life for me? I can’t afford to lose everything because my body won’t cooperate, so I’ve forced myself past my comfort zone—with the help of people around me—over and over again.

Yet, when I encounter an obstacle that defeats me, it beats me down a little. I should be stronger than that.

Mentally, I am, because I stayed in the environment that caused me such distress and tried to force myself to deal with it. But, physically, I just can’t do what I’d like, and that’s hard for me to accept.

I just want to be better. I want my freedom back, even if it doesn’t change much about my life. Knowing that the world is full of possibility and adventure, and I’m not limited from allowing those things in, that inevitably makes a world of difference.

I have learned to soar in different ways during this time of illness, to develop other interests and pursue a career path and explore sides of my character and relationships with other people I’d had a habit of treating very casually. I’ve learned the virtues of approaching the world as an introvert. But, yet, I still am not…and too much confinement, too much limitation, throws me into a sense of loneliness and an emotional tailspin that leaves me feeling utterly lost.

I miss *me*. Perhaps I am a better, more substantial me because of this experience…but I am ready to fly again. I am ready for experience and adventure, and it’s hard to do that when you get dizzy or panic because you can’t stand the lights or noise around you.

I used to be able to sit for 24 hours on a bus or airplane. Now I can’t fly, and I have to break up my travel plans into manageable blocks, schedule time for me to rest. I used to love the summer, and now since the heatstroke issue last year, my body can no longer tolerate direct sunlight without very ill effects.

I’m not dead yet. I shouldn’t need to schedule “nap time” in my life. :( And I’m not a vampire…time outside shouldn’t kill me.

Someone, please unlock the door to my cage. I want out.

“You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.” – Sam Keen

I don’t really have anything of interest to share today. It’s undoubtedly a “blah” day. I’m not unhappy, but just..”blah”. I’m still sick, still terribly boring, and still not the world’s most fun or inspiring person with whom to spend time, or even with whom to converse.

Very rarely do I have those days when I am on the telephone with someone and there is an awkward lull in conversation, the inevitable “I don’t know what to talk about because my life really isn’t that interesting” pause. I used to think I was quite the boring conversationalist, because I had a friend— one who was later a romantic partner, who is now an acquaintance— and our talks would be filled with those pauses. They made me feel uncomfortable.

I am not uncomfortable with silence, in the company of the right person. There are times when silence, in the company of the right person, is indicative of a thoroughly magical moment or a connection not needing words or a mutual enjoyment of stillness and silence because you’re both in exactly the same space, at exactly the same time—physically, intellectually, emotionally.

In the company of the wrong person, silence is draining. It makes you feel dull and insipid, as if you have no tools with which to charm or captivate another person, and on top of it, so little in common that friendship doesn’t occur naturally. Silence can simply make you feel badly about yourself, and bored with others.

The telephone is one of those mediums that enhance that tendency, and, to come full circle, for a long time, I considered myself a boring conversationalist. Never mind that I had certain friends and lovers with whom I could easily chat for five or six hours on end, even via telephone. The fact that I knew this one person, someone who knew me better than anyone on the planet for quite some time, and we couldn’t converse for more than 20 minutes without awkward silence, that was enough to convince me of my conversational ineptitude.

As it turns out, I’m a perfectly charming conversationalist. It just doesn’t naturally happen with all people. It’s actually a good tool through which I’m able to judge my level of friendship and compatibility with another person. If 60 minutes on the phone seems like an eternity, something is missing. However, to this day, when the “awkward silence on the telephone” starts to make an appearance, I start to again believe that sadly, I’m really quite boring to chat with.

This happened today, for some unknown reason, and I realised it wasn’t simply the phone, or Facebook. Being trapped inside my house, inside my head, inside a body that’s too weak and uncooperative to do what I want it to do in life, it doesn’t give me much to share with others.

Hence, there’s no thought for the day, no blog entry. There’s simply a quote that someone shared on my FB wall, and I realised I liked very much.

I must work on becoming more interesting. Banalities bore me, illness keeps me from adventure, and some days, there simply aren’t any intense feelings or experiences to speak of…or if there are, I’ve required some time off from them. Maybe I’ll watch a movie tomorrow. :P

Dear Intuition,

You and I have been great friends for some time now, and for the most part, I have absolutely no complaints. In fact, you’ve been a better friend to me than virtually anyone I’ve ever known, and clearly have better judgment than I myself do. You’ve kept me out of some sticky situations; told me when to cross the street because the shady-looking guy was a mugger, got me out of NYC a day before September 11th happened, knew I should leave my apartment building even though the firemen said it was safe to stay, knew when a multitude of boyfriends were cheating on me or secretly had feelings for someone else, and even knew where to find the evidence to prove it. Even at my most reckless, you’ve kept me from getting into cars with psychopaths or having unpleasant encounters while intoxicated with people who turned out to be cops. You warn me about natural disasters and impending emotional distress by sending me into a tailspin for no apparent reason, which always turns out to be bad news that someone else knew about, and was hiding from me. You even tell me when someone is mad at me just by the way they say “Hello”, although it would be more useful if you’d tell me why.

I have a great level of trust in you, and that’s not something I deliver freely. I appreciate that you send me dreams warning me about dangerous situations, visions that are brief glimpses into the future (even if they rarely make sense), and let me know when a place feels “weird”, I should go a different way. It is because of you that I am alive and relatively happy today.

That being said, I’ve had to begin to doubt some of the messages you’re sending me lately. You’ve spent most of 2012 sending me weird and contradictory signals about life. You’ve let significant things pop up in my life that genuinely surprised me and sent me on an emotional rollercoaster, because I was not adequately prepared for them. You’ve brought people into my life that have changed my world for the better, but at the same time, did not give me the heads-up on the complex situations that might come along with these new friendships. You’ve allowed me to behave in an extremely presumptuous way when it comes to how others really feel about me or view me. In some cases, it’s clear you’ve totally misread situations and people, causing great embarrassment on my part. You even caused me to have a future dream that turned out to be wrong…or at least, not specific enough in detail.

Sometimes, it seems you’re encouraging me to make choices that may affect people other than myself, and to take a different path in my life that involves changes. I don’t know if these choices are truly in my best interest, because, let’s face it, you haven’t exactly helped me see the world around me, other people, and my own emotions as clearly as you usually do.

I know that you’re a perfectionist, and you’re going to say you’re not wrong. You’re going to say it’s not your fault if you’re sending me messages that confuse me or I don’t want to hear. You’re going to remind me that trusting my instincts is how I’ve always lived my life, and everything happens for a reason, and I’ve spent too long in a comfort zone that hasn’t helped me to be happier or move forward in my life, so you’re going to be kind of harsh and aggressive with tossing stuff at me.

I get this. I know you’re very good at what you do. You score impressively well on standardized tests.

It’s just that, well, I’ve been wondering if you’ve been slacking a little. If I’m wrong, please let me know. I’ll try to listen more closely. Maybe things are getting lost in translation. Maybe it really isn’t you, it’s just me. I’ve been saying that to people rather often lately.

All things considered, though, it would have been incredibly awesome if you let me know I had 18 assignments due tomorrow instead of the 6 my e-mail told me I had. Instead, I spent the day working on my own unimportant creative projects, when I could have been hard at work. You know as well as I do that we definitely need the money these days.

I’d really like to work to fix the breakdown in our communication. We’ve been really close for a really long time, and I value your advice. You’re a major part of my life. However, if you could help me stay on top of work a little bit more efficiently, keep me from repeatedly ending up in situations where I develop personal feelings for unavailable or disinterested people, and make it clear *why* someone is acting differently before I assume I made some huge blunder and have to apologise, I’d be hugely grateful.

Also, if you could please stop sending me dreams about cake, bread, and bakeries, that would be helpful. I really want more carbs than we’re allowed to have, too. However, it is likely we’ll experience less personal rejection and critical comments in the future if we eat fewer carbs. I think you know this.

I’m starting to think you’re screwing around with me on purpose as punishment for making you watch “The Real Housewives Of Atlanta”.

*~ Alayna

This is really just a re-post for those who don’t keep up with me on Facebook, but it’s time to pimp out another awesome blog. :)

Since it seems I don’t have that many close friends who aren’t either scientists, atheists, or part of the poly community…or a combination of all or some of the above…much love should be given to this blog. :)

Plus, Gina = totally talented, awesome Philly chick.

In other news, I am slightly improved today, but still sick. Not terribly enjoyable. :( I am, however, going to drag myself out to appreciate art and general literary awesomeness with some friends…even if it means I’ll be back home in bed with my stuffed animals by 11 PM.

Life gets more and more exciting as I get older and older….*laughs*

“To love purely and fiercely, without agenda, is the most terrifying and rewarding thing you’ll ever do.”—Gala Darling, from her Radical Self-Love Manifesto

It is no secret that I am a great admirer and supporter of a fellow blogger and friend called Gala Darling, and as time goes on, this woman’s awesomeness becomes less and less of a secret. She’s won numerous awards over the past few years for her innovative approach to “style blogging”, has been featured in a number of photo shoots and magazine spreads due to her quirky, iconic look, and in a relatively small period of time, has really taken off.

Of course, whenever you achieve success in life, there’s always the down side, which is coping with those out to break you. By the time you’re successful enough at whatever you to that you’re calling attention to yourself, you’d better be really comfortable with who you are. Viciousness and haters aren’t just for celebrities anymore; sadly, Gala has quickly seen every bit of her past life—true, untrue, and things that simply deserve some level of privacy and to which “no comment” should suffice—smeared all over the internet, and although she’s developed a loving, loyal, and creative fan base, the viciousness that’s surfaced along with it all reminds me of all I dislike about the world.

Anyhow, one of the interesting changes I’ve seen in Gala and her blog is the transformation from “international playgirl” to alternative Carrie Bradshaw to a strong and fearless woman who uses her space to speak up for women, and to help women reclaim the love that most of us—OK, virtually all of us— don’t get from the world. And, because we’re not getting it from ourselves at the same time we’re not being adored and validated by the world, female self-esteem isn’t exactly in great shape. Toss in the media and many billion-dollar industries that live and die by Photoshop and build empires on female insecurities, and it’s actually a rather difficult time to be a woman who accepts and loves herself, especially in America. (and, contrary to what you might think, the rich, famous, and beautiful are far from immune.)

Gala and I share a number of things in common when it comes to our stories, our life journeys (I only *wished* I’d been able to wear a spiked dog collar to school), some of the adventures and choices we’ve made…and simultaneously, seem to have arrived at the same place, where learning to deal with the past and healing from the past is essential to figuring out the future. (We’re also both ENFPs and share the same Enneagram number, so perhaps certain personalities are indeed predisposed to chaotic life stories.) I think she’s a strong woman who has found her independence and sense of self-worth, and has chosen to use her lifetime of chaotic choices to help others. I give her a ton of respect for where she’s been, and where she’s headed.

One thing we do not share is a devotion to “looking on the bright side”; I firmly believe that a repression or judgment of the negative or the pain in one’s life is as harmful as dwelling in it. Because of this, I reject self-help “bibles” such as “The Secret” and “The Law Of Attraction”, which have the potential to encourage a “blame the victim mentality”. ( I once ended a friendship quite abruptly by asking a friend intent on helping me change my life using these books if all the bad, horrible, unfair, painful things that happened to people in the world occurred because people just weren’t trying hard enough to be cheerful?) Religion doesn’t claim to have an answer for “why bad things happen to good people”, but the self-help books that purport that they happen because your thought processes were negative or you sent out vibes inviting the trauma…well, that’s where I draw the line. Not all self-help books are like this, I know, but for my own better mental health, I stay far, far away.

However, I think Gala is doing wonderful things with her Radical Self-Love Manifesto and subsequent boot camp, and women of all ages are being affected positively…and encouraged to be creative (many of the lessons seem to be exercises of which Julia Cameron would approve, without all the spiritual references.)

This video is of Gala giving a speech about Radical Self-Love at Carnegie Mellon. I have to admit to being a little amused…this is the most conservative-looking I’ve seen her, but she’s grown into a talented and immensely likeable public speaker. If you need a little pick-me-up, check out the video.

It’s a reminder to me that my Universe is populated by some really awesome people!

“Women are born with enough patience to stay and enough strength to move on. Don’t take her for granted, because you will regret it.” —Anonymous

I saw that quote on someone’s FB page today and liked it. Sometimes, the simplest things in life are the most important lessons to keep in mind.

Anyhow, back to Germs And Apathy. Wouldn’t that be a really cool name for a band?

If there’s anything that tops the list of “Stuff That I Hate”, it’s being sick. I’m not talking about the dramatic kind of illness that took over my life this past year, or some of the really serious ailments that some people suffer through on a daily basis. I’m talking about the kind of being sick where you feel like you want to curl up in a ball and die, but everyone says “You’re not really that sick”, so you’re supposed to suck it up and go about your day in a fairly normal fashion.

The interesting thing about being sick is that it enhances the level of apathy hormone in my body. If you know me at all, you know I’m not a laid-back person at all. I stress out over everything from work deadlines to how I’m getting along with friends to worrying about things I don’t want to do that are going to happen two months from now. If there’s a feeling that I can stress out about or blow out of proportion or make the most important thing in my universe that day, I will do it. It’s not even a conscious choice. It’s just happens. Any kind of bad news or tension in my life completely throws me for such a loop that I find it impossible to just “chill”. I am not, despite my collection of Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Bob Marley, and John Mayer, a “Zen” kind of girl.

I’ve tried a lot of things in my life to stop caring about everything in the world to the level that it becomes a national emergency, and to put some sort of screen over the intensity of my feelings so that everything is a little duller, a little less dramatic. Drinking is fun, but actually typically makes me more high-energy than normal, and amplifies whatever mood I’m in that day. Giving up caffeine had little effect. I got kicked out of yoga class for laughing at the obviously Freudian connotations of the teacher’s instructions. Tea is only good when it’s winter. The anti-anxiety medication I’m on isn’t a high enough dose to accomplish mellow (although I do have to say that taking doctor-prescribed Klonopin was the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like a totally chilled out, mellow person. It was kind of like having an out-of-body experience. Of course, they took me off of that right away because the “mellow” was achieved through being stoned off my ass.)

I’ve kind of had to accept that, by nature, I am not laid-back. Even on vacation, part of me can’t sit still for too long before I start thinking “Where am I going next?”

Yet, being sick turns apathy into overdrive. I am hugely behind on work (I let my boss know that this was because I was sick), and if I tried a little harder to get stuff done, I could improve that. But I’m really tired, so I haven’t done that yet. I started thinking about a situation earlier in the week that caused me emotional distress, and it seemed I no longer have any emotional distress response to something that affected me greatly. I think about my plans for the weekend, and am largely like, “Yeah, whatever. I just want to stay in bed.” I’m not really too concerned about anyone or anything today, and really just want to lay on the bed and watch Law & Order re-runs.

It occurs to me that some people are like this all the time, that it doesn’t take being overrun by bacteria to not take life too seriously, to just know that stuff will work itself out, the people who like you will be in your life no matter what, and if you really don’t want to do things, you don’t have to make yourself miserable out of obligation. Part of me is kind of jealous. I’d like to be that kind of person, maybe just for a week or two, see how much easier life is.

Of course, I would not like to have to be sick to accomplish it.

I don’t actually know what’s wrong with me, other than I have a fever, am very tired, apathetic about most everything, and have a head and chest full of ick. Last time I remember feeling this “mellow”, it turned out my roommate and I had both gotten bronchitis, and I went to the Northeast and partied anyway. (martinis apparently do not kill bronchitis.) I might have bronchitis. I might have a really nasty cold. I might have just gotten sick because my body objected to me planning a trip home to see my family and launched a pre-emptive strike against that idea.

I’m not too worried about it, mostly because I’m not too worried about anything. If I’m still sick tomorrow, I’ll fit in awesomely on 4/20.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”—Audrey Hepburn

For those who are genuinely fans of either me or my writing, I’ve decided to search for a virtual corner of cyberspace where I can stash the random bits of creativity I come up with, but never do much to make productive, and so rarely share with anyone. A very long time ago, I was a member of a group of writers called the Insane Poets’ Guild, which collapsed and disappeared into oblivion, and I haven’t managed to find an interesting community of online creative folks I really enjoy since that site disbanded.

Regardless, I joined two of them today, just to give it a try. I’m not sure, at first glance, I am much enamoured with either. But, it is a place for me to post new stuff that those who care might take the time to check out, and let me know what’s creative and worthwhile…and what just kind of sucks.

Visit me at either Booksie or Writer’s Cafe. (I’ve already posted more on the second site than the first, but I’ll let you know in a few days what I think.

Most sites out there that encourage sharing and feedback of creative work generally aren’t well-run, or aren’t user-intuitive. I wish someone might come up with a decent alternative for what appears to be a clear hole in the market. Some of us are simply too old for hanging out on LiveJournal and Deviant Art anymore, but miss the sense of community with other artistic folks.

On another note, I think it’s significant that I received an apology today.

Not from any of the handful of people who have hurt my feelings in the past week or so, mind you, but from an even older and better friend….Domino’s Pizza.

I really like their business model. When they screw up and you let them know about it, they send you a card that says “I’m Sorry”, with the cartoon of a guy crying, and it contains a code for a 50% off coupon.

If only all friendships and relationships worked this way, I think not only would people have less discord, but minor issues wouldn’t turn into serious problems that run seven layers deeper than the initial infraction. If only all arguments were solved by an “I’m sorry I totally screwed up; the next beer/pizza/Chinese food outing is on me” card, redeemable by expiration date, human beings would get along much more effortlessly, and forgiveness would be simpler.

Domino’s, you truly are my most brilliant and socially skilled friend. *laughs*