Tag Archives: identity

Closet Skeleton Pioneers

A friend of mine laughed at me the other day when I suggested that I was an “oversharer” on the internet.

“Hah! You? Oversharing?”

Yes, I know. Just a smidge. The thing is, I’m pretty good at toeing a line these days. I don’t tell you what I don’t want you to know. Pretty simple.

Learning how to toe that line, though, WHOO. I done fucked up on more than just a few occasions, s o much so that I jokingly referred to myself and those like me, who’ve been oversharing for years, as “Closet Skeleton Pioneers”.

By that I mean that everyone’s got skeletons in their closets — some lover they treated like shit, a job they stole office supplies from, a friend they betrayed, a speeding ticket, you name it.

EVERYONE has been a dick at one point or another. Dig deep enough and you’ll find dirt. (If not, you’re boring, live a little.)

Luckily for me, I hit the age of 21 before the internet got invented.

And my record’s been expunged. Hardy-har, right.

The point is, despite what you think you know about me, I consider myself a really ethical person and there are things I’ve done and said that I hope never see the light of day because I don’t want them taken out of context, since we all know context is EVERYTHING.

And that’s the problem. When you see a photo on the web or a snippet of a conversational exchange, context gets lost and objectivity goes right out the window with it.

We all know that’s true of many events in our lives.

Don’t we?

So who the fuck is doing all the judging?

Are you? Are employers? Is your lover?

Who’s doing the judging when my friend on Twitter reacted yesterday morning after he received an email after a husband found his wife “Facebook cheating” and sent the entire exchange out to their kids’ school’s parents mailing list? Ain’t just the hubby judging now, is it?

What were employers digging up that led Germany to introduce a new law that will make it illegal for them to do job-applicant background searches on Facebook? Probably they were digging up a lot of skeletons, right?

It goes without question: Things you say or do on Facebook, Twitter, and in other areas of the web can absolutely destroy your life.

But who is doing the judging?

There’s a reason it’s so damn hard to become a Saint in the Catholic Church, you know — perfection’s pretty fucking difficult to come by.

When I was a kid in Bible school, I was told a story about Jesus intervening in a stoning, saying to the angry crowd of sanctimonious rock-chuckers “Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone”, or somethin’ thereabouts.

Really: In 2010, who’s without sin?

I mean, the Catholic Church outlawed SPEEDING, for crying out loud. Everything’s a sin. The Pet Shop Boys had it right.

When I look back upon my life
It’s always with a sense of shame
I’ve always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin

Was Neil looking back at his life on the web? Woulda if he coulda then, I bet.

So, let’s just accept that everyone’s imperfect, and, instead, (like this guy here and his “degrees of evil” guide to killers), get ourselves a handy cheat-sheet of just what level of assoholic or just plain edgy social behaviour one is guilty of and how it ranks them on the Good Versus Dick scale, okay?

Such as:

  • Never emails or messages you back, but pathologically lurks and knows Everything That Happens every time you talk in person. Creepy but not mean.
  • Likes kinky sex and lets everyone know it.
  • Thinks “cleavage” and “profile pic” are synonymous.
  • Considers social media his personal dick-dipping pool and has more numbers in his contacts than the CIA does.
  • Just LOVES drinking wine and doing so liberally. While telling you all about it. Every single night.
  • Keeps getting caught in masturbatory lies that make them sound great, but you know through the grapevine that they’re barely making rent and are shopping at Thrift Stores, while judging others for doing the same kinda “posing”.
  • Has, like the majority of people over 21, tried marijuana or something else questionable at a party at least once.
  • Speaks frankly about their disgust for political figures or employers.
  • Has a spouse yet endlessly flirts with others, without boundaries, and in public.
  • Has a pulse.

I mean, seriously. Half the things I do on a daily basis would probably get me fired from most jobs, because I’d never keep my mouth shut about what I hate and why. My old employers got a giggle out of it, but I assure you — it’s an acquired taste.

Despite what you may think of my loudmouthed, in-your-face, drinks-too-much, full-of-innuendo online persona (and, yes, it somewhat exists offline, and without a backspace key), I’m a good person.

I’m a really, really good person.

I hold the door open for men and little old ladies. I say “please”, “thank you”, and “sorry.” I look people in the eye. I pay my taxes. I’m honest, I don’t steal. I’m a quiet neighbour, a good daughter, a great friend. I bake muffins for lovers. I pay back my debts.

So, if you want to jump to conclusions about me based on the image I portray on the web — knowing I’m a creative person with a gift for fiction — then you’re entirely entitled to do so, and I’m entirely entitled to think you’re a narrow-minded presumptive dick who’s not worthy of my time.

Or maybe I just see you as someone who needs to think outside the box a little more.

Who I am online might have hurt me in the past but it helps me now. I have something to gain from keeping this persona/point-of-view alive. There’ll always be a price I pay as a result of it, but I’m hoping that’s just the cost of doing business.

I’m not the only web-user with a persona, or with skeletons; I’m just hyper-honest about it.

As time goes on, though, all of us will have our skeletons exposed. Then, with more to compare and contrast, we’ll know who the real assholes are — unless, of course, none of it’s true.

And that’s the problem with reaching any conclusions based on the web.

How do you know it’s true? When everyone can enter information and nothing’s necessarily vetted on the web, how do you know it’s true?

Simple: You don’t.

Here’s how I operate.

I watch for how people actually are with each other, online and otherwise: How they argue, how they’ll never let up, how they want the last word, how they judge others, how they talk about others, how they scheme or gossip. Because it’s in their everyday words and behaviour that we really see who people are — special events, like parties with hijinks, are too out-of-context to really give us an inkling of who someone is.

Me, I’ve written a lot over the years, on topics about everything from drinking and drugs to kinky sex, but you’d be wrong if you thought I was particularly wild or exciting anymore.

I’m being boring nowadays. I just make it sound exciting.

And there you have the web in a nutshell, and why laws like Germany’s are long overdue — when it comes to the internet, you can’t believe everything you read. You certainly can’t dismiss it, either. But there are no litmus tests or polygraphs one can administer to online “personality” accounts to judge the veracity of their content.

It’s time people started realizing you really can’t judge any of us on the little you see of us online, and that the skeletons in our closet aren’t nearly as big or scary as you think they are, especially when brought into the light.

If you want to supplement what you know of someone by how they are online, and you can do so judiciously and with many grains of salt, then knock yourself out.

Just don’t be surprised when that spotlight hits your life, too.

In fact, some of your skeletons probably look awfully similar to ours. After all, dontcha know? It’s quid pro quo season on closet skeletons.

A Ramble: Valentine’s Day

This day, the 15th, is one of my least favourite days of the year for private reasons. I fucking hate it. So, I got to thinking last night as I smoked a joint and continued to write, and this is the rambling ode I had about being single on Valentine’s day, and I dedicate it to all those who rolled out of bed alone today and didn’t feel badly about it.

I’m at home on Valentine’s night. There’s a Dr. Phil show on, about how to “love smart.” It’s a primetime special. Ever noticed how the matchmaker sites go onto full boil around this time of year? Notice the fix-up services advertising more these days? It’s like the world conspires to tell you you’re a loser if a) you’re single or b) your lover doesn’t spend enough on you or c) your lover doesn’t put out.

I’m reveling in my singleness this evening. I made garlic bread. With extra garlic. And spaghetti with meat sauce, something the wise would never eat in front of a date. I’m wearing my cut-off shorts and a fleecy sweater. I’m having an awesome night of relaxing, writing, cooking, watching a little telly, and reading. And deep down inside there’s this niggling of “But they think you need a boyfriend. Do ya, honey?”

I know I had a moment of weakness last week, that’s what I do know. I seized a moment with someone and let things go further than they should have, but for that night, regardless of what the future did or didn’t hold, companionship sounded like a good idea. There are people you know you can trust, even if you can’t imagine really being with them for the long haul. And there are weak moments.

Ultimately, though, I do love being single. I admit, I am alone. I’m not lonely, though. Not usually. (Weakness, it happens.) And I resent Valentine’s Day (and the media and society) for seeming to think my lack of desire for a real, true relationship is anything less than healthy. I want a relationship, but I want the right relationship. Anything less than simpatico is just not worth my time, grief, or efforts. The right man, he gets it all. I’ll drop anything for the right guy, you know. I’m just a diehard romantic. But I scrutinize with the best of them, and I just want the right combination.

Otherwise, I’ll keep my Sundays for reading the paper in my boxers and a t-shirt. I’ll get up when I want, sleep where I want, eat what I want, and do what I want. I won’t have to check to see if “our schedule” is clear, I won’t have to worry about any of that. Like I say, when it’s right, it’s worth it, but when it’s not absolutely right, it’s infringing on my space.

That makes me very male in some ways, I think. I’m not sure why more men feel that way than women, but perhaps it comes down to how comfortable they are alone. It’s interesting, I’ve seen an increase in the media, people bringing up something I’ve long believed: One of the worst things you can say to a lover is what they said in Jerry Maguire, “You complete me.”

If you cannot be complete on your own, you are not a whole person. If you do not have a sense of self, you have nothing. If you cannot love yourself, who else can? These are clichés, and for good reason. They’re as true as they can be.

If you don’t know yourself when you fall in love with someone, you’re going to have the very, very rude experience of cluing the fuck in to who you are somewhere down the line, and that person you’ve committed yourself to is going to find out that they no longer fit the bill. Who you love must complement who you are, not complete it. We’re foolish when it comes to love, we put the cart before the horse.

I long ago discovered that my “fuctedness,” as one pal would say, needed solitude. Every time I got into a relationship, I lost more and more of who I was. I became this person who needed to have that approval from “them” in order to have that sense of self. Now, I couldn’t care less. I know that the right people, the ones I want around me, they dig me. The ones who don’t dig me, don’t get me, and won’t have me, and that’s just fine. Don’t fight it, man. Go with the flow.

But when you really learn to dig yourself, you don’t need anyone anymore. You see people for what they are: Icing on a fuckin’ fab cake, baby.

See, the difference between those of us who enjoy being single and those who do not is pretty simple. Those of us who enjoy it, we’re optimistic about love. We figure, hey, if the time’s ever right, if the cosmos ever aligns, then maybe we’ll come out of that with something/one we just can’t get enough of. Until then, we’re alone, and we’re going to enjoy it, ‘cos when that love comes, aloneness goes. And it’s more than aloneness. It’s solitude, quietude. There are some things you will never, ever experience if you don’t command your time alone. Some of the most profound experiences of my life have come to me in moments spent completely isolated from the world.

I moved to the Yukon for one year when I was 21, and it was a profound experience all the way around. Before then, I was a popular gal and always had plans, always was out. I moved there and discovered the true art of being alone and loving it, and it changed my life. I remember a night right around summer solstice. It was daylight then from three in the morning until two in the morning, just an hour of dusk in between… fucking sublime. Sigh. You could sit and watch the sunset followed by the sunrise in the time it took to slowly nurse a single beer. I was having one of these profound days – a day in between nights at the bar, preceding a long weekend away, where we’d be camping at the foot of Mount McKinley and Mount Logan, the continent’s highest peaks. I remember thinking, “I’ve got it pretty fucking good. This will be one of the best times in my life, and I will never, ever forget these experiences. But tonight I got to slow it down and keep it all to me.”

I packed up a few things… a joint, a couple of beers, some Robert Service poetry, and a sweater. I drove the car out of the city (of 15,000) into the nearby country, Miles’ Canyon, the Yukon’s mini version of the Grand, through which the Yukon river carved a wide and tumultuous path. I did a hike out to the edge of the canyon and found an isolated spot above the river where I sat leaning against an alpine fir and facing northward, where I could see the sun dead ahead, just slightly left of the magnetic north. It was midnight and the sunset wasn’t far off. The mountains lay before me to the north (and to the south and east and west) and the land was all reds and browns and greens and yellows with this beautiful deep blue sky. The light, as that incredible northern light is, was absolutely preternatural. There’s something angelic and sweet about the late eveningg summer’s light up there that bathes the world in buttery goodness. I did what I often do, I just sat there and watched how the light changed and shadows shifted on the landscape. There’s something profound about sitting there literally watching time pass by.

So all I did was sit there, consider my life, my place, the potential in my future, who I was and who I would become. To this day, that moment stands in my top twenty, if not my top ten, in my life experiences – and still, stacked up against international trips, true rites of passage, it holds its own, my friends. I was with no one. Nothing really happened. It was quietude in its finest. Not a human voice. Not a plane. Not a vehicle. Nothing electronic. No wires. Nothing. Just me, the gods, and the earth. And it was fucking incredible.

And when you’re afraid of aloneness, you miss out on moments like that. Moments when you sit around and connect with nature on your own time. A guy once said to me, Cities are built for distraction. Meaning, they’re there to help us forget all the things we wish for, that we’ll never have. So too are the wrong relationships, Valentine’s day be damned.

When you spend more time alone, when you get really honest with yourself about what you ought to be valuing, you gain this inner contentment about what it is you’ve got, and you often develop clarity about what it is you need, and how to attain it. These are things, qualities, that many of my fellow (wo)men need to find.

I wouldn’t say that being single leaves me in a state of nirvana, but I’m in a place that I really dig, and it’s because I’ve come to feel that I’d rather be alone than in a relationship where I’m not fully… I don’t know, what, plugged in? I’m charged, he’s charged, it’s all good? I mean, I’m damned good company, most times, so I’d really have to value a guy to keep him around, is what I’m saying. Life’s just too fucking short.

So, yeah, Valentine’s day. I digressed a lot there. Love’s hard enough without cheapening it with commercialism. If you want romance, celebrate it always. If you want love, keep it year round, not because a calendar tells you it’s that time again. And love ain’t about what you can buy, people. These expensive gifts… really. When did generosity become about the almighty dollar? When did it stop being a thing of spirit, of gesture? I just honestly find that buying into this Valentine’s day bullshit really helps to make people forget what relationships ought to be about. The little things: The qualities shared, the words said, the actions done. Not the things bought. Not the fancy places we go.

But the very best thing about being a content, whole person in the search of love, is that when you find someone who really does deserve a shot at fitting that bill, it’s so incredibly rewarding to just drink them in. They’re not fulfilling you, they’re just nurturing all that is good about you. Then, it feels like a gift, like something you should cherish. Something you want to cherish. Not a job, not an obligation. And isn’t that how things ought to be?

Thinking Too Much, Too Late

This isn’t really off topic… it’s masturbation of a sort. Literary masturbation.

Tonight, I can’t stop thinking of how I got from point “A” to this point of my life. I don’t know when this mood struck me. I made a comment in response to one of my readers earlier today, “It’s amazing, the footprints left when people walk out of our lives.”

It got me reflecting on some people I’ve known, experiences I’ve had – all that profound shit that shakes down from the tree of life.

I get a lot of emails from this site, people wanting to connect, forge something, interact, I don’t know. Sometimes it seems they want to know more about me, I get questions. They divulge deeply personal things to me, profound problems, fears, experiences. It can be daunting, but it’s very rewarding. I try to respond to everyone, to share a bit of who I am in trade for their confessions.

Another reason I’ve been thinking about myself is that I had this email sent to me about “Stop Internet Censorship,” a new-ish blog formed with a mission, that has a number of esteemed contributors. I was asked to join it, and have, because I think censorship’s bullshit. But it has had me thinking. How does this concern me?

Really, I’m not sure it does. Not yet. It probably will. But I’m pretty open about who I am, thus why I get really personal things sent to me, I guess. I leave myself vulnerable here, only because I feel invulnerable.

Everyone in my life knows I write this. They all know I do everything from sex advice and tips to ponderous deliberations. From my father and family to my employers to my friends, they all know. They accept that this is just who I am, and I’m not ever judged for it. I couldn’t much care if I’m outted tomorrow. It would impact my life little, I suspect. I’d flinch and grit my teeth because I’m a control freak and would rather decide on my terms when to let my identity be known, though.

A reader commented (on this posting) last week, and for all I know, hasn’t been back, that I was, essentially, a hypocrite. It pissed me off. It really, really pissed me the fuck off. So, let’s go with that for a moment. You know what you know about me because of my grace, generosity, and openness. It’s my gift to you, this intimacy with this stranger you may never know. I’m not being arrogant, I’m being honest. That is, in its essence, what blogging is. Allowed voyeurism, by we, the brave provocateurs.

Those of us who do this, who put ourselves out here in the raw – with the hurts, with the reality, with the insights – we do so for our own reasons. We have gracefully allowed you, the world, to be players in our mix. You’re the voyeurs we’re humouring by leaving our blinds up. You owe each of us the very simple respect of acknowledging we all have our stopping points. There are things that, for whatever stupid reasons we have, we do not wish to share. That is our right. When it comes to what it is we divulge, you have no say.

Those are the facts.

It doesn’t change much for me. I still plan to tell you a little more about who I am and how I got here. But just keep in mind that I have a line in my sand, and if you cross it, I’ll mince no words in telling you so. What I choose to tell is always going to be my choice. Fortunately for us all, I love to take requests. It’s just so spiffy and interactive, like a game. I do so enjoy games, after all.

Anyhow, most people treat me wonderfully around here, and I love it, and love those of you who it applies to. I do love to please a crowd. There’s just the occasional twit, and I wanted to say something this time.

But I do digress.

I think it’s safe to say we all know I’m a pretty introspective individual. My life has made me that way, through a variety of experiences. I’ve had a lot of strange encounters with death, a lot of struggle, a lot of experience, in all ways, shapes, and forms.

I guess it’s part of why I’ve been riding the masturbation topic this week. I’ve spent a lot of time alone in my life – I’d have to, to write as much as I do these days. But I love being alone. I can be the life of any party, and my personality, when I turn it on, can win over just about any person, any time. And though I love people, I’m protective of my space. That space is precisely what has seen me through all the struggles and hardships I’ve had. It’s also what makes me an engaging person to befriend and know.

Over the next week or two, I’ll be wanting to spend a little time taking a look at myself, and I hope to have an interesting post of how a girl like me gets formed. Not necessarily because it’s been a request, but because it’s my blog and I’ll do what I wanna. (Oh, I’m just playing. It’s actually something I do every spring… a stop-and-smell-the-self or something.)

I said earlier about the footprints left in our lives when people walk on out, and there’s been no bigger tread than that of the one left by my mother. Six-plus years have passed since her death and the loss still finds me from time to time, and this week has been no exception. Some sad topics came up when talking to my father the other night, and I’ll be expounding on that another time, but tonight it’s too much for me to think on.

I will tell one story, though, of one day spent with her that has profoundly affected the way in which I live my life today, something I hope the parents out there can learn from.

My mother wasn’t well educated, and I remember her getting her GED (high school equivalency) when I was in Grade 3, but she had the most common sense of anyone I’ve ever met. My father made me flush with pride the other night when he said that, then told me I got mine from hers, and took it further than she had managed. I’m proud I had her as a role model.

Something she forgot how to do as she got older, sick, and tired of the struggle in her life (the result of a bad menopause), was how to stop and smell the proverbial roses. But she taught us how to do it in our youth. I remember being in Grade 2 at a Catholic elementary school. We’d take the bus all the way from White Rock, out into the valley, and the whole thing would be a 45-minute ride, up and down the streets in the valley, before ending at that small school by the church.

I remember this morning in particular – a spellbinding onslaught of spring. One of those days after a warm rainy spell, when the April sky explodes in blue and light, and the world just comes alive. The birds sang, flowers bloomed big, the air was rich and aromatic. We couldn’t have been in class for more than a half-hour, when what should happen?

My mother arrives, tells the principal we have doctor’s appointments, picks us both up from class, and makes a beeline to Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park, which was carpeted with baby daisies and little purple flowers I’ve never learned the names of.

She took our shoes off, bought us ice cream before it was even lunch, and told us to play nearby after she hugged us both and told us it was a day made by God.

She then sat down on the grass with a sketch book, and began sketching as we ran wild all over the grass. I remember nothing of that day except the happiness and freedom I felt.

I learned then that life comes with a pause button. To this day, I never let things get too hectic without remembering I can say fuck it and stop it all. I did that again today, the second time in a week. I went for a long bike ride in the rain and just felt incredible.

That day, my mother just sat there, watching us. She looked so damned beautiful, but then, she always did.

Never underestimate the power of spontanaeity – not in life, not in love, not in sex. There’s nothing more spell-binding than a well-chosen change in plans. My life is richer today as the result of a seemingly innocuous little day at the park, spent at the whim of a woman who loved to hear birds chirping, and who’d been overwhelmed by a shitty streak of rain.

And never, ever underestimate the impact it might have on those along for the ride.

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll choose a couple more things that have profoundly shaped who I am, and maybe share with you the lessons I’ve come to learn as a result. Self-indulgent, but perhaps a couple people might find it interesting.

It’s fitting I end this post in the middle of the rousing chorus of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”