Friday, March 12, 2010

Death can kick up the Life back in Us!

My dad is having brain surgery. Again.
And suddenly I'm looking down at myself, oversized (let's face it, smelly) sweatshirt, yoga pants and the blankets that have adorned me for the past 6 hours as I've babied a hang over and..i'm thinking...i'm alive and Im making no damn use of it! I've been stagnant for hours. Oh my god, I need to change this!
You know you do this. But people do it to varying degrees.

You hear about a death. There is no sugar coated way to say it. Or, you hear about a surgery and suddenly you're forced to remember that the capabilities of our bodies don't necessarily grow with our dreams and aspirations. We are highly cognitive beings. We look up and out at the world around us, always scanning and scheming towards what we want but...we can forget that we are, inevitably, linked up to this thing of flesh beneath us that we don't often look down at.

I take that back. There are plenty of very vain people who look at their physical selves all the time. But we never think about the inner workings. There are intestines writhing around under your cute corset. When we're trying to look hot, we can forget our mortality.

When we are fashioning ourselves to be these unique beings...we forget our undeniable commonality..

No, not that...

I mean that we are these guys' #1 Client

So we are reminded of death and suddenly....

Why did I leave that last boyfriend? Why am I sitting in this cubicle? Why don't I go sit down at strangers' tables at a Starbucks and ask them their life stories?

Why don't I be a little bit more, well, Alive?! Because I was just reminded that I wont be forever! And possibly not for as long as I thought I would be!

We can be reminded for a moment that death has no regard for our plans, so we throw those plans out the window.

The moment I heard of my dad's surgery I thought of my boyfriend. We are on a break at the moment.
But when I heard of my dad's surgery I thought "this is silly! why aren't we together this very instant! what were we arguing about in the first place! God Damnit why arent our warm, ALIVE, bodies with each other right now!"

I'll tell ya why. Because that whole desperately loving-life high would last for about 8 hours, 10 at best if we slept in the next morning. There would be a great, emotional, I gotta have all I can of you sex-session, then there would be sleep. Then we would wake up and one of us would speak. Inevitably about something, anything at all, other than this looming-death concept. Because well...we're not dead. And there's coffee to make and appointment books to check. We'd still be alive. It wasn't goodbye. Those plans we tossed out are just sitting at the door waiting and so are all the frustrations we had before. And then we'd feel like fools.

I know it's said "live every day to the fullest" but....I say...
don't be a fool. If we actually "lived each day to the fullest" we would be doing crazy shit! Does going to work 5 days a week sounds like living life to the fullest? no. exactly.
so if we followed that logic, we would be broke and homeless within a month.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sex and Skeletons

* * * (Written two years ago)
“What can I do for you?” Dr. Michelle Warren eyed me over her reading glasses. Her question irritated me. She knew what I was there for.
“I haven’t gotten my period in 4 months.”
We went over the routine questions, making sure I wasn’t pregnant, didn’t have cancer, wasn’t doing blow etc…then we did some x-rays which finally determined, as I knew all along that:
“This is a nutritional problem.” Dr. Warren fanned out the x-rays on her desk like a deck of cards. “You need to get enough fat in your diet. You need to have enough fat on your body. Your uterus has shrunk immensely. If we don’t reverse this soon, you may have difficulty conceiving. Essentially, your body has resorted back to a pre-pubescent stage.”
No wonder I hadn’t been much fun with my boyfriend in the bedroom that past summer—no sex drive when you’re pre-pubescent.
Dr. Warren lifted her all-concerned tone. “They’re doing a study on this kind of thing at Columbia University. It’s becoming an epidemic. You would be a perfect candidate. They’ll pay you.”
Oh. My. God. I had become a statistic. I refused to do the study.
* * *
Back at my dorm, on my roommate’s bed a saw a recent issue of Mary Claire, and from a Marc Jacob’s add on the back, a girl lying naked in a field with only blades of grass covering up her privates peered back at me. She wore that exhausted look that has become so prevalent among models today. Her eyes were empty—starvation. I recognized this look from somewhere else…oh yeah, the mirror.

(Have we forgotten all the wonderful things our tummies can do?)

I began thinking about this epidemic--these girls who had shrunk and dried up their insides far before the conventional age of drying up. We were sexless. We had given up our sex in order to be sexy. The trouble is, the more the girls become
sexually desirable (skinny) the less they are able to perform when the show is really on—to satiate the desires they have induced in men. The more they become desired, the less they desire in return. Still I couldn’t help but notice that skeletal women were popping up all over magazines and music videos—places where they are offered for the benefit of men. Is this what men want now? I asked myself and, why?

In my high school psychology class, we watched a video on eating disorders. I remember one boy, completely dumb-founded, asking, “why would a girl want to look like that? She looks like a skeleton.” Our teacher offered the explanation that it is not how the girl physically looks that a man may be drawn to, but rather what that appearance says about her character. She explained that self-discipline is a trait that some people find appealing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Breaks are for the Weak!

Well...I used to think breaks were for the weak. To be clear, I mean breaks from romantic relationships. Because, really, who doesn't love a good Spring Break in Cancun? Or a bathroom break at school or the office where you actually call your friend really fast because you're dying to tell them something!

But when it comes to love...I used to think "taking a break" was for people who were too afraid to do what they knew they had to do. But I'm beginning to realize that "taking a break" simply means admitting, hey, I don't KNOW what to do.
It's ok--great, liberating, actually!--to admit you don't know the answers to everything.

I've broken up with a good deal of guys in my day. I thought that made me strong--deciding on the spot that this one was no good. I KNEW the answer...did I though? Or are we simply terrified of grey areas?

Something I'm learning recently, there are a LOT of grey areas. It's actually quite possible that the colors black and white don't even exist. Second thing I'm learning--I am scared as hell of grey areas!

I used to believe movement--constant movement, capacity for change--was strength.
What if sometimes staying is strength? This probably varies for everyone. In my case, I'm great at breaking things off with a guy, moving schools (I've been to 3 universities!) even deciding a friend is no good because they mess up once.
And my friends and family have always told me "you're so strong for making the changes you need to."
I could only smile and nod at this for as long as I needed to lie to myself. I knew deep inside that...I was weak for considering change and movement as my only option.

Some people of course (and we all know them) go on thirty "breaks" within the same relationship, stay at the job they come home crying from daily, continue to have lunch with the friend that puts them get the point. Some people are terrified of change and are willing to live constantly in the grey area.
And i'll say it again--the grey area is something that MUST be acknowledged. But then it must be worked through. And it's a job that I can imagine never really ends. It's a constant struggle but one that, I think (and hope!) brings a constant source of gratification.
Not necessarily gratification because everything turns out just the way you wanted--but gratification actually, from knowing you were able to consider all sides, able to consider the possibility of you being wrong...or, for some people, able to consider that the other person is wrong and hey, you're right about this one!

Just taking the time to consider, which can be a scary thing to do, is gratifying. Because it's brave.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What if Othello had seen a therapist?

I think some people believe in the notion of a tragic flaw. We probably all know someone who depends on this notion. Maybe an alcoholic, a perpetual cheater, let's say of the "high fidelity" sort, or someone who just can't seem to stay out of a good bar fight. And when we ask them why, Whyyy, do you continue to do this, they hang their head, maybe shake it slowly a few times for dramatic effect before looking up at us with those sad, exhausted puppy eyes (as if they are even exhausting themselves with their behavior) and say something like:
"Because it's just what I do."

A friend's boyfriend pulled out this line on me once. He was drunk (even though he had sworn to his girlfriend not to drink anymore because alcoholism ran in the family and he without fail did something he regretted each time he drank) and he passed the open door to a room I was sitting in, stumbled his way over to me, put his hands on my shoulders and said "I really want to kiss you right--right now" Did i mention this guy had cheated on his girl before?
I almost laughed (an angry laugh) and rolled my eyes (this was such old news) and asked, "why do you do this?"
and then he hung his head and did the whole above-described song and dance.
I wanted to smack that self-pitying look off his face and say "this is not a Shakespearean tragedy!"

I understand there are exceptions--some people really do have illnesses like nymphomaniacs and true, true alcoholics--but something rung non-genuine to me about this self admittance--this recognition and even articulation of what this guy was doing while he was doing it.

He had that line ready, "it's just what I do" as if I was just going to swallow it up. As if I was going to say "aaaah, this is your tragic flaw that leads to your downfall and you are a tragic hero."
NOPE! sorry.
I never thought I would bring my English Majoriness outside the classroom but, I can't help but recall the last scene in Othello when he is about to kill his wife and he says , "that i do groan with all, thou art to die." A.k.a...
"Oh baby it hurts me too to do this to you but, I gotta do it" and as we know he ends up thinking, "shoot! what have i done?"

What if he had stopped right there and said, "woah. I have issues. Desdemona, babe, I think we should take a break while I see a therapist and work some of this out."

Why do people fall back on these "tragic flaws"? Why do they choose to trip over the same stone every time?
My guess is this:
If they don't mess things up in the same way they always do then they have to--oh my god, could it really be--they would have to leave things to their natural course. They would make themselves vulnerable to something else messing things up--something unexpected, something out of their control perhaps.