I asked someone for help this week, and the most delightful thing happened.
They said “No.”
Yes, you read that right. They declined. Took the high road. Waved me off. Said hasta la not bloody likely.
Oh, yes, they did.
And it was w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l.
A nice little note: “Life’s overwhelming. You’re great, I’d love to help, but life’s having its way with me.” Or something to that effect.
WONDERFUL. FUCKING FANTASTIC.
Thank you for acknowledging I asked! Thank you for being real! Thank you for saying you simply can’t!
I’m an adult. I get it. Hello, resident of Planet Earth here — you can reach me Care of: Overwhelmed Nation.
I’m just happy to get a letter back!
You know who you are, you passive-aggressive motherfuckers.
“Oh, sorry, never got the email.” Or, worse, they just never reply — then you email again, text, and then the message is loud and clear.
I’ve had people AGREE TO HELP ME, say “thrilled to help!” and when I send the follow-up email, they’re gone. When I text, no reply. When I Facebook, I might as well be invisible.
You PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE MOTHERFUCKER.
(Ed. note: The above passage is aggressive-aggressive. Feels fucking great.)
Okay, so you’d rather flush the friendship than have the balls to say it’s not a good time? Yeah, screw you too, you lily-assed pussy.
Look, I asked for help because THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS DO. If you can’t help, SAY SO. It’s FUCKIN’ COOLIO, BRO.
If ANYONE gets being overwhelmed by life, cold-cocked by fortune, slapped-silly by suckage, IT’S ME. I wrote the book on it, took a pass on the t-shirt.
I don’t understand this whole trend if “If I pretend the email (and text then follow up email and voicemail) never came, then I’m off the hook.”
You can LIVE like that? Seriously? Were you bred to be an under-the-table crawler, he-who-hides-in-corners? What the fuck is that about? Wow, must suck to live in your skin.
Saying NO is the coolest thing anyone’s done for me the whole month. It’s honest, real, and refreshing.
If you don’t have the balls to say no, grow some, because anyone WORTH YOUR TIME will RESPECT YOU for it.
And the people who DON’T RESPECT A NO aren’t worth your time.
It’s really that simple.
There you go. Life lesson #302: NO is a good thing. At least it’s real.
But ask anyhow. All people can do is say no, and the ones who do, keep them around for the future, because you know they’ll be straight with you. The ones who say yes and deliver, keep them too. Everyone else, put on probation.
The ones who dick you around, they’re instantly disposable.
Come morning, everything always changes. New. Nice. No fuck-ups yet. Yesterday’s badness has fallen away, but it’s left me in thought — not surprising, given I dig thinkin’. And here’s the thinkin’ it produced on humanity in general.
Sometimes we get unfortunate reminders of just how far-ranging humanity is. Good people, bad people. Ugly-ass people.
It’s like that moment from the creepy ’50s sci-fi movie where the scared teen boy looks in the camera and whispers, voice shaking: “We are not alone.”
A popular poster of a reliable friendship.
People bring out the best and worst in each other. We feed or flounder off whatever is projected at us. Here on the interwebs? Hoo-whee! We get schooled but good on humanity here.
Anonymity is the greatest thing to ever happen to cowards.
Some people thrive from hurting others, get adrenaline from it. We shake our heads and mutter “I don’t understand.” But what’s there to understand? They’re nuts.
There’s crazy then there’s The Crazy, as my bi-polar friend says.
It happens. Hate happens. Shit happens. Life happens. It happens.
One of the haters from this past weekend sent a bunch of extremely personal emails to the presenters, using our open lives to launch their attack.
I won’t indulge the meglomaniacal jerk’s wish to get limelighted. There’s a reason I moderate comments, his will never be published.
Stupid fuck, as if. Waste yer time if you like, pal — no blogspace for your hate!
But, boy, it reinforces my thinking on people.
I’ve always been that person who knows, if I have five REAL friends when I die, I’m a lucky gal. Most folks just walk away. That’s reality.
Trust me. Wait until life gets hard. Most people will walk. The ones who don’t, they’re keepers.*
The best thing that can happen to you in adversity is to find out who’s real and who’s not. At least then you’re on sure footing. Look at the lemonade you’ve made from those lemons: Now you know who’ll take bullets for you.
And don’t kid yourself, you’ll be surprised when the sieve of life separates the real friends from your illusory ones. It’s often not who you think it’ll be that makes the cut.
Here’s what I know: Good people assume most people are good. Sure, they are. But, the bad, they take up more real estate in our lives.
Have you ever heard the saying about retail, that 80% of your customers take up 20% of your time, but the other 20% take up 80% of your time with their bullshit? That’s kinda like people in real life, too. That 20% of people really know how to dial up the angst, betrayal, lies, and fear.
That consumes us, it takes over. If we let it.
Most people in life have serious flaws. Just remember that. Remember your own imperfections. Most don’t have it in them to give “true” friendship to more than a few people. Don’t be surprised if you don’t make their cut.
You’ll have a few real friends in your life. But not many.
Welcome to Realityville.
Hey, your dead-body-removal crew should never have more than 6 people in it anyhow. That would make it too difficult to kill those who know your secrets. Too many to bury in your average backyard. Hardy-har-har.
But, seriously, it’s true. There’s only so many people you can rely on. Everyone else, sooner or later, will fail you. Most fail in small, meaningless ways, but sometimes in huge ways. We dismiss the small failings, but they should serve as indicators for The Bigger Things, because some chances hurt too much to take.
That penchant for flaws is not some price we pay in modern life. People have always been flawed. We just like to dupe ourselves into believing everyone has our moral code.
But they don’t.
And we act all shocked when we see this. Really? You didn’t suspect dickheads roamed the planet? Nazis? Killers? ZOMBIES?
I’m really not surprised some asshole spewing vitriol has emerged from this weekend. I’m only surprised they’ve been sitting around making notes for months, trying to create a destructive picture of who we are out of snippets we’ve revealed. Oh, yeah, there’s a healthy life.
That’s what I’m surprised about. Takes a special knack to be this pathetic for this long.
The rest of it, it’s just life as usual. Like great writers say, betrayals come in love and war, and every other time of year.
I’ll smile and chat with most people, pass a few moments in their company, but when the crunch-time comes, I know they’re not who I’ll be calling.
When the word comes down, handshakes are exchanged, tallies added up, I remember: I never would’ve called them for that dead-body haul anyhow.
Would those you’d call still come when asked?
Then you’ll be just fine. Forget the rest. Seriously.
*And people walk for myriad reasons, not all of which deserve your judgment. Sometimes our own battles don’t allow us to be there for others. We have to make our choices. Don’t take it personally all the time. Take it for what it is: Revealing who WILL be there. Don’t judge too harshly those who can’t be.
There’s a couple that have been long prominent in Vancouver’s web community, and last night came the heart-breaking news that they’re ending their marriage.
How did the news reach us all?
They both changed their Facebook relationship status to “…from married to single” within moments of each other, and with one simple “Yes, it means what you think it means”, the cat was out of the bag and their entire friend/peer community knew.
Gone is the era in which they’d have to have uncomfortable dinners or stilted conversations with one friend after another after another, gently breaking the news that their friends are gonna take hard, making them feel even shittier for having a marriage fall apart.
Now, boom, everyone knows. Just like that.
It’s terrible, in a way, the idea we can all receive so quickly and casually such perspective-shifting news affecting people who have genuinely touched most of our lives.
There’s something disjointed about reading one small system-generated line of “X has changed their relationship status from married to single” among a newstream filled with political news and shared videos of a cat dancing.
These “small” tidbits about our changing lives float in “newsfeeds” now, as if they’re just another piece of fascinating trivia we’re supposed to digest while we absently surf the web in sneaky moments on the job, or distractedly click through those social sites where we just vicariously absorb the coolness of others’ lives.
Facebook isn’t just a revolving door of meaningless status changes. It really is a way to keep us all connected.
In all the nauseous sadness that came with the suspicion that, yes, those two relationship status updates really did mean what they looked to mean, I thought “Thank god they can tell everyone so easily now.”
Dissolving a marriage? Oh, my god. I can’t imagine the shattered illusions and sadness that comes from having to admit it’s over, the horror and fear that comes from making the first step to end the possibility of all those dreams you once made together, the feeling of perverse betrayal and anxiousness at telling friends and families the union is over.
It’s unquestionably going to be one of the worst weeks in the lives of both of those people. And here, bang, pow, all of a sudden they have everyone in the know, offering support, and just saying, “We’re so sorry, we understand, we’re here.”
As if any message could mean more to either of them today.
Say what you will about the flash coolness of the internet and how detached it makes us from each other — always plugged in via vicarious tidbits, thus able to stay comfortably at arms’ length while we busily carry on with our modern mad lives — but there are times like these the internet is like a lifeline thrown to troubled souls.
Never has it been easier to rally the support of those who love you, or to just put a desperate plea for understanding, help, or time out to those best able to deliver.
As a society, we need to learn to share more with each other, to use each other as crutches through hard times, and we have to learn how to react when our friends express themselves.
I’m sad for my peers today, for what they’ve lost, and for what I know they face in the coming year as they try to re-find their place in their newly-single worlds, but I’m very glad their choice of being plugged into an online community (that has really strong roots in real life, locally, too) will get them through this time with support and love.
That’s the power of the internet — it holds the ability to unite us, inform us, and keep us tuned into every passing minute… not just globally, but interpersonally.
It’s a good power. A life-changing, life-saving power.
Yes, I’m sad for my friends today, but I’m proud of them for having the courage to know when it’s time to change things. What a difficult, but important step. I’m happy to know they have friends who swear they’ll be there, I’m glad to know they have a place to ask for help.
A friend posted this tragic story on Facebook yesterday. Another friend commented about how/why bad things happen to good people. I found the whole exchange fascinating and full of questions and observations.
The most obvious observation, of course, is that it’s a terribly sad story. The gist?
“A man’s plan to propose to his girlfriend on a mountain in the US ended in tragedy when the pair were struck by lightning, it was reported today.
Richard Butler and his girlfriend, Bethany Lott, both from Knoxville, Tennessee, were hit as they hiked in the North Carolina mountains. Lott was killed, while Butler suffered third degree burns.
Butler, 30, had driven Lott, his partner of a year, to Max Patch Bald, near Asheville, saying they would be going for a stroll.
He had planned to present her with an engagement ring at the top of the mountain.
When they reached the peak, lightning struck three times, with the third strike hitting the couple .”
The tragedy bleeds humanity and irony to me. If you go on to read the story through, it ends stating her last words were: “Look how beautiful it is.”
Can you imagine that being the last thought, the last feeling you ever have? To die in that state of grace?
That’s a gift, that.
For him, of course, well, the horror of it will probably never be erased.
To live knowing that a moment of perfect beauty can be shattered forever in such a finite and reckless way? To know that a moment of perfect hope filled with dreams of the future can be split by a flash and turned into what then seems an endless nightmare?
Yeah. That’ll fuck him up for a while.
But then it comes down to the what if’s. What if he was about to propose and she would have said no? What if then their lives would have split and he had to watch from afar on Facebook or some shit as she found a new love, lived the life that should have been his, all the while wishing for that moment back when she said “Look how beautiful it is” before he popped the rejected question?
Or maybe she would have said yes, and they’d have gone the way so many others go — from an idealized love of “we likes stuffs”, where you’re young and in the same places, so a life together makes sense, to the eventual realization that you knew shit about life and even less about the kind of lover you needed for the longterm. One day that divorce comes, and presto, just another statistic. What if, indeed.
A life lived after “Look how beautiful it is.”
The irony, of course, is that that moment probably never had a Happily Ever After in the first place. Statistically speaking.
But it had the possibility. It had the possibility of sunshine and roses, picket fences and breakfasts in bed. It had the possibility of rockers on a rickety porch and their fallen grey hairs mingling on pillows. It had the possibility of a life together, the dream of forever.
Sometimes, we’ll trade a lifetime just for that moment of possibility.
The chance to love forever, to be a rockstar, to be immortal, to have everything we want — just so long as we had the chance.
It really is an epic sad story. Love ended on a mountaintop by a freak lightning storm, moments before a marriage proposal. It sounds like a 14th-century ballad or something. Stories wistful mothers tell sad-faced romantic daughters.
But, for one guy out there, it’s not a story. It’s not a hypothetical. It’s a sick and twisted new chapter of his life, his waking surreality. Love-of-a-life snuffed by lightning moments before his asking her hand in marriage, story at 11.
So sad and unlikely, it’s almost funny.
The journeys we all walk, man. Everyone’s got a trip to take. Pack some glue or duct tape, ‘cos your heart’s gonna get broke time and time again on those travels. Maybe not with such drama as our mountaintop friends, but it’ll happen.
If that errant lightning can find them in that moment, never question the tragedies that can find you. Or when.
What a thing: Chance.
I don’t know what terrible instances lie before me. I don’t know how I’ll go out.
All I know is, I hope it happens in that split instant after a smile spreads over my face when I look at something amazing and whisper “Look how beautiful it is.”
In 2006, I asked my doctor about getting my tubes tied so I wouldn’t have to worry about exploding with toddlers.
I was 30. He said no, that if a woman hasn’t had a child already, they typically won’t tie tubes when a woman’s under 35.
I’ll be 37 this fall and nothing has changed: My tubes are untied, I’ve never had a child, I never want one.
Moments, however, pass.
For a fleeting second, I’ll see a mom and her daughter, and the exchange is so silly and cute, that I smile fondly and remember my own mother and the bond we shared. I’ll never have that?
Yeah, I know. I’ll never have that. Yes, it’s a choice I’ve long made, and, yes, my choice sometimes saddens me.
But I know why I’ve made my choices, and I’ll stick to them. I’ve NEVER wanted to have a kid. And after life got hijacked by bad times, well, I want to sacrifice whats left of my life to a kid even less.
Even as a kid, I didn’t pretend my dolly was “my baby.” I’ve always liked kids, never wanted one.
This, unfortunately, makes me pretty unique.
Last night, some Twitter friends were caught in a debate about this news story out of Ontario, in which a young family has decided they’re full up on tykes. They don’t want any other kids beyond their two. Part of that young family is pictured here.
But she’s 21 and her husband is 23, so doctors won’t let her do a tubal ligation. She’s too young, too much life can happen, they say.
Now, I’m a woman, so I guess I should agree with the mom and dad, right? A woman’s body, woman’s right?
But I don’t.
I see their point. It makes great sense. And in a perfect world where parents have kids and kids grow up healthy and strong, it DOES make great sense.
But it’s not a perfect world. Marriages end, families split. Kids get sick. They die.
This mother could conceivably have more kids until she’s double her age. DOUBLE. Are her choices are coming from the right place? Is she just agreeing to a tubal ligation so they don’t have to risk having more kids, so they don’t have to buy contraceptives and fuss around?
Because getting tubes tied is no guarantee. A woman can conceive after a tubal ligation and it can be fatal. My former sister-in-law almost died when she had a tubal pregnancy — it happened so quickly, too. Like a flash, she was hemorrhaging on a table and likely to die, leaving a 2-year-old boy to mourn her.
Luckily, she was saved. Miraculously, she reversed the procedure and, a decade later, has a new baby. With a new husband.
It’s not that no woman can make this decision and be sure, it’s that decisions like this are often made too lightly — even by “older, wiser” types.
Should it be allowed for young women to say, “No, I know what I want, and it’s not a KID” so they can have their tubes tied off? What do YOU think?
I’m torn. Yes, it should be allowed, but it should be a very hard decision to reach, and should be scrutinized by all involved, including a mental health practitioner.
Personally, I think a 21- and 23-year-old don’t know shit about life yet, so to think they’re “all done” is cute, at best.
But I get it. I understand.
Still, their ages aren’t in their favour.
I’ll be the first to admit I know what it’s like to be 21 and pissed that everyone thinks they know more about life than I do. I was a very wise 21-year-old and I took it personally when people questioned my age-appropriate wisdom.
But now I’m 36 and I’m telling you, I knew jack shit about life then. I had some ideas, but I’ve had a whole lot of years of confirmation and debunking since. When I’m 50, I’ll likely be able to say that about the age I am now, too. That’s life.
We grow, we change, we learn.
At 21, I’m pretty sure this woman has much to learn about life. And maybe she’s right and she’ll never have more kids.
But maybe she’ll be another marriage statistic with a broken home. Maybe a tragic accident will take the rest of her family from her.
Tragedies don’t just happen to OTHER people. Life doesn’t go according to plan. We’re stupidly naive little humans.
The doctors know this. It’s certainly worth their considering — especially when they spend 15-30 minutes tops with us for each appointment.
And if the only avenue doctors have is to say, “Well, you’re 21. SERIOUSLY,” then there you go, maybe we need to hang onto that — because the wise among us are rare, and most people make decisions with knee-jerk considerations, not the gravity matters deserve.
For everything I’ve published this week, four have gone into the depths, filed under lock and key, not fit for sharing. Too personal, too exploratory, too unconnected, too any-number-of-things.
A lot of what I batted around regards my relationship with sex: Where it’s been, where it went, why it changed, why it matters, what it means, why my voice is relevant, and why I feel I need to re-enter that sexual fray.
Back in the day, when I was tapping sex blogging regularly, I was really onto something.
I’ve really enjoyed revisiting all my work. I see where I went wrong. But seeing where I went right? Empowering. I know my perspective has grown. Exploring that’ll be quite the ride.
Last night, I wrote something, then hid it from you– a bold, in-your-face statement of what I think I bring to the sex-blogging world and why I feel relevant.
There’s a time and a place for that, but it’s not today. I need to update my sexual manifesto some day soon.
My first year of sex-blogging, I’d hit nearly a million page views, had ridiculous stats on Technorati and Alexa, and landed myself with raves from everyone from Nerve.com to Salon.com, with frequent spots on Gawker’s Fleshbot, and more.
Part of that appeal was the flavour I brought sex-writing.
I brought social anger, for instance. Defiance.
I was outraged I had to defend my sexuality after a lifetime spent in private schools and in semi-religious surroundings. This was 2006 & the peak of George Bush Administration’s attempt to divert scrutiny from the Iraq War by turning the country into a religious-morality battleground. Ideologies and politics clashed constantly. Church and state, indeed.
It was the time of Terry Schiavo, of adultery becoming punishable by life in prison in Massachusetts, of sex toys being made completely illegal in Mississippi, and of academic blackballing against professors who showed liberal sexual views privately while teaching in post-secondary institutions.
It was a time of growing fear, all because of what it took consenting adults to reach orgasm because of how THEY were hardwired, in that horribly socially-susceptible spot: private bedrooms.
I was outraged. I channeled that, and I channeled it well.
But I think another area that really cemented why my voice was (and is) relevant in the white noise of the web was pretty simple.
In a supposedly sex-positive online world, the industry keeps talking about wide, wide issues under the larger “sex rights” umbrella. And everything’s about the extremes of black and white. All the time. Like, rights for sex trade workers.
While I support sex trade workers, the reality is, the average person isn’t one, they’ve likely never used one or known one on a first-name real-life basis. The AVERAGE person.
And who decides the cultural, ethical, political, and sexual future of our society? The AVERAGE person.
How are you going to draw that “average” audience in if every message immediately identifies its author with extreme kinks, or really wide-ranging BDSM life-styling, or has them aggressively advocating rights for sex trade workers?
Where’s the in-between? We shades-of-greys want our sex, too. Where’s the eroticism and issues-exploring for the not-so-big-in-Japan crowd?
Just because the average person might not want THAT much edge doesn’t mean we need to be churning out Cosmo-level copy on sex.
The average person, from 20 – 45, is more savvy, open-minded, and curious than ever. They’re open to aggressive debate. They like subjective commentary. This is The Daily Show generation, whether they’re into vanilla sex or not.
We can hit topics harder, push more intellectual agendas, and even open the door into kink by taking the intimidation out of it.
Until you soften the “heavy” agenda and temper its frequency, and until you realize that extreme kink and “core” lifestyles daunt and unnerve some who might consider dipping a toe in less-deep-and-scary kink-waters, then there’s a whole audience looking for sex insight that might just balk at your all-or-nothing approach.
I don’t want to shrug and say “Well, that’s their problem” because I was one of those people, and I’ve since bought the ticket to ride.
The odds of me ever going out and buying a ball-gag are pretty unlikely, okay? A riding crop, though? Giddyap.
The line between a ball-gag and a riding crop is a bigger ideological chasm than most seem to realize, I fear.
There’s a limit to what I’m willing to try to cross, and I’m not alone.
There are insecurities I’ve had to rise above, and I’m not alone.
There are apprehensions I have had and do have about behaviours, and I’m not alone.
Being sex-positive doesn’t mean everything suits my tastes, and I don’t/won’t apologize for it.
I write about what interests, angers, and inspires me. That doesn’t include the entire world of d-i-r-t-y sex, and never will. If I’m not interested in it, I’m not gonna lie.
I write posts that say “that’s not MY thing, but go ahead. ” When I say that, every reader has permission to not only like it, but to NOT like it.
Like with this not-so-lifestyle posting, where I confess that blowjobs aren’t my idea of a good time.
But… I wrote the GUIDE on blowjobs! I wrote an INTERNET CLASSIC on how to give mindblowing blowjobs, a posting that’s been plagiarized more than a high-school hall-pass!
Uh, yeah. Yeah, and I’m still saying I can think of better things to do than saying, “HEY! It’s FRIDAY! I need a cock in my mouth!”
Do I then fail as a sex writer? Fuck, no.
I’m strong, passionate chick who knows what she needs to do — and wants to do — to make a man happy. That’s when it’s not about the act itself, but about what it causes, what it leads to, and since happiness and satisfaction are beautiful things, why not? It’s an exchange, trade, barter. It’s wonderful.
But it’s not just about having a cock in a mouth, and that’s what gets me when I see simplistic sex writers breaking things down to only the barbaric and the basic.
Sex is so much more.
For all of history, arts and passion are born because of what makes our hearts swell and break. Wars and uprisings and cultural revolutions wage because of matters of the heart.
But little sister over there wants a cock in her mouth.
Oh, sorry, she wants a hard, dripping cock in her mouth. Much better.
Yeah. Fucking right my voice needs to be in the mix.
We need more than just the academics on one side and the rock-n-roll pornstars on the other.
We need people in the middle who aren’t your meek, mild-mannered “average” people. We need strong, unapologetic voices that are willing to own their “vanilla” or not-so-vanilla ways and stand up for biology wanting what biology wants.
Sex shouldn’t be some social status card like it is now.
I don’t need be a fan of burlesque in order to be sex-positive. It doesn’t require me to be bicurious, kiss a girl, love swinging parties, be polyamorous, or even be promiscuous, in order to be a really big fan of orgasms and being dirty and having fun with a lover.
I enjoy what gets me off. That’s never been my problem. And I’ve closed the door on nothing sexual-taste-wise. Sex should lead where sex wants to lead — so long as precautions are taken, consent is given, and consequential ignorance isn’t a factor.
That’s the voice I want to have.
I want it to be okay to like it however way you want to like it. I want to be the voice that gently-but-bluntly encourages people to embrace surprise and take chances with new pursuits. I want to employ brutal truth and stand for what I feel is right when others would quash freedoms based on narrow world-views.
That’s my voice. Here’s where you’ll find it.
PHOTO: From chagrin.tumblr.com, no photographer or originating site listed.