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Archive for January, 2011

I have a friend, we’ll call him Buster, who’s in a marriage most people might refer to as “shitty.”  He’s got the bitter wife, the resentful kid, the budding alcohol problem, whole nine yards.   Buster caters to his woman’s every wacky whim and exhausts himself trying to put himself in her dainty shoes to empathize and bridge the divide.  For Buster, saving his marriage has become a second job.

Those of us who are his friends have mostly been in the “dude, cut your losses” camp.  When a good pal finds more comfort in Jose Cuervo than his wife, not a lot of folks pitch their tent at Camp Hang in There.

The recurring sentiment amongst Buster’s pals when we sit around talking about him is that he’s staying in the marriage because he doesn’t want to be alone.  Apparently nothing is more offensive to the average American than someone else’s fear of being alone.  I know lots of unhappy couples whose inner circle whispers about how their pansy asses stay together just to avoid ending up solo.  As if remaining single is a courageous act on par with traversing the surface of the moon.

However, I think I’m abandoning Camp Cut Your Losses.

Ever been alone for longer than, say, two years?  I have and I can tell you.  It blows.  No one wants to be alone.  What person prefers sleeping in a cold bed to snuggling up against a warm body?  Isn’t talking to your best friend better than talking to yourself?  Doesn’t life feel more consequential when someone else is watching you live it?  Knowing your mere existence plops another human being onto cloud nine?  That’s pretty rad.  And who wants to be on his death bed with some nurse he’s never met holding his hand as he transitions to the sweet hereafter?  I can’t think of a better incentive to work your tail off in relationships than to avoid being alone.

What are ugly are those relationships where folks have stopped trying.  Dead romances where people who used to love each other go through the motions of loving like state employees nearing retirement.  Should those people bail or just start noticing each other again?

Certainly, some circumstances call for hightailing it out of a relationship.  Like if your partner comes to you one day saying, “Wowza!  Two free tickets to the next Tea Party rally!”  Walk away.  This can’t be salvaged.  Otherwise, maybe put in the time.

Buster has a family and a woman who has known him for ages.  These are the building blocks for the one thing everyone wants most in life: forever.  Buster wants to grow old with someone and have his kids at his bedside when he kicks it.  He wants a satisfying relationship and contented family, and so will do what he must to make it happen.  He may also love his wife even if the rest of us think she’s Cruella DeVille.

There may come a time when Buster’s marriage should officially be pronounced dead and both parties should save themselves from being buried with it.  Until then, ain’t no shame in working toward forever.

[Photo of this completely awesome panda from rootsgpk.blogspot.com]

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There are two important truths to glean from this past week’s news: women are slowly taking over the world and movie stars are idiots.

Ladies first.

The University of Texas has released the results of yet another study destined to make women want to heave themselves off the Empire State Building.  Previous research done by the school suggested curvy women never marry and beautiful women cheat.  Now, they’re rehashing the “successful women have fewer mates available to them and thus will end up sad and alone” baloney.

Nowadays, the study says, women far outnumber men in American colleges by 57 and 43 percent respectively.  When they enter the workforce, women also make more money.  This has created a “boy crisis” and an “imbalance that tips relationship power in the direction of the men.  Instead of men competing for women, today women feel like they must compete for men.”  Since all men supposedly want is sex, young gals are offering easily accessible booty to bait them.  Consequently, men aren’t buying the cow when they can get the milk for free.

But wait a minute.  There are more women in college than men?  Ladies are the ones bringing home the bacon?  Maybe the hidden gem in this maddening study is that the balance of power has shifted.

I can’t wait to see girls sipping beers and surrounding the dance floor at nightclubs while men dance around hoping to get noticed.  Imagine groups of women describing how their husbands complain about girls’ nights out and spend all their money on Xbox games.  The times they are a’changin’.

The other insignificant but fun piece of news is Ricky Gervais getting into deep doo after making fun of celebs at the Golden Globe Awards.  I didn’t see the show because, frankly, there hasn’t been an interesting star in Hollywood since Clooney made it out of ER.  The last time I watched an award show, Nicole Kidman could still move her forehead.

Oh, how very Gervais of me.  Usually though, I’m against blatant meanness.  But with a few exceptions, I found lots of Gervais’ gibes to be spot on.

Celebrities, and we as their fans, suffer the illusion these people are special.  Indeed, some of them are extraordinarily talented, attractive and sometimes even kind.  But they are not above reproach or even ridicule if, while under our watch, they choose to make fools of themselves, abuse others or do their jobs half-assed.  If you get to make $20 million every time your mug’s in a movie for ninety minutes and we all have to pay $12 to see it, you better work your pretty little tails off to make it a decent flick.  If not, Johnny and Angelina, Ricky Gervais gets to make fun of you.

If you’re a pampered individual with several homes and enough money to take daily baths in champagne, best not be an anti-Semite drunkard who abuses every woman he comes across, from police officers to gold digging wives.  Mel.

Charlie Sheen isn’t some tragic figure trying not to end up on the street while battling an addiction.  He’s a spoiled party boy from Hollywood “royalty” who makes $2 million per episode of his show.  Then he blows it all on thousand-dollar call girls when he hits a rough spot.  Gee, poor Charlie.

How many sad saps out here on unemployment or in soul-crushing jobs, struggling to pay medical bills or put their kids through college, wouldn’t kill to live in multi-million dollar mansions while making a living doing what they love?  I, for one, am tired of superstars shoving their luxuries down our throats, including the luxurious ways in which they suffer and fail.  If they choose to invade our living rooms and our lives, they should show some level of decorum and gratitude considering the great blessings the universe has bestowed upon them.

My guy Gervais, whether intentionally or not, told these folks, “your vanity is offensive.  You’re the most admired people on the planet.  Step it up a notch.”

If Gervais is hosting next year, I just might watch.

[Photos from itsmsnikkitoyou.blogspot.com and tunai.sripengantin.com]

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OkCupid.com says men on their dating site are more apt to reach out to women other men consider ugly rather than women universally considered pretty.  Gals rated consistently attractive receive fewer messages than gals on whom opinions are split.  The site’s expert mathematicians postulate that if a guy assumes he has a good chance of snagging a girl because no one else wants her, he’s more comfortable making an approach.

Thus, suggest the experts, women on the site should play up “variances” by posting photographs which make them look different rather than typical.

“Minimizing your ‘flaws’,” they advise, “is the opposite of what you should do.  If you’re a little chubby, play it up.  If you have a big nose, play it up.  If you have a weird snaggletooth…”

I dig this line of thinking.  Rather than trying to fit ourselves into boxes or align ourselves with the average folks of the land, we should advertise the extremes in our characters.

If the “play up variances” theory works for looks, it must work for smarts, too.  Thus, women who date online may want to list their favorite TV shows as both Masterpiece Theater and Jersey Shore.  During a dinner date, describe how your leisure time is spent circling the Golden Globe dresses you like in the latest issue of In Style magazine while listening to NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Don’t let Mr. Right think you’re merely middle-class (how common).  At dinner, order the foie gras and reminisce about discovering it during your travels through Aix-en-Provence.  Then drink your Chardonnay out of a coffee mug.  When the guy drops you off at home, make sure you’re carrying a brand new Coach bag while walking into your basement-level rental apartment.

If he comes in for a nightcap, fawn over Katy Perry’s last megahit but make sure he sees the Coltrane vinyls next to the old stereo.  Discuss your undying allegiance to the Democratic party but admit that Palin gal “is one smart cookie.”

Finally, show you’re both intimate with yet healthily distant from family by talking about the brunch you have with Mom every Sunday.  But call her by her first name.

I’ve always believed the worst thing to be is average.  Conventional.  Mediocre.  Ordinary.  Finally, there’s some evidence proving I’m right.

[Photo from artsandopinion.com]

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Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.”

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Anyone else scared?

Every so often, a news item comes along that makes me seriously consider hauling ass and leaving the country for good.  Recent haul ass triggers have been the economy, the bailouts and the pop culture emergence of Snooki.  But this latest shooting in Arizona (and how tragic that shootings are so common in the States, each one of them can be referred to as “the latest”) breaks my heart in two.

A kid in Tucson goes on a shooting rampage with the goal of assassinating Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic congresswoman who, among other things, supported Obama’s health care bill.   The kid shoots her in the head at close range and kills six other people, including a federal judge and a “miracle child” born on September 11, 2001.  This, following months of death threats received by leading members of the Democratic Party.  Nancy Pelosi and her family were threatened over the health care bill, and last summer, some California dude got into a shootout with highway patrol officers because he wanted to start a revolution by killing ACLU members.

Have people become so mistrustful, so alienated from their government and life itself, so friggin’ nuts that murder becomes a viable option for voicing dissent?  At first, the message for politicians who leaned to the left was that they could lose elections.  Now, they could lose their lives.  I worry how effective this message will be.

Of course, all fingers are pointing to Sarah Palin, who until the assassination attempt, had a map on one of her websites indicating all the congress folk she wanted defeated in the midterm elections.  But she didn’t use check marks, or say, stick figures to mark the states in which her opponents reside.  She used rifle targets…in crosshairs.

Certainly, Ass Hat Palin can’t be blamed for the shooting.  But when you know a good portion of your supporters are card carrying members of the NRA, wouldn’t you consider it a tad irresponsible to use lock-and-load language to appeal to them?  As Illinois Senator Richard Durbin said, “the phrase ‘don’t retreat, reload,’ putting crosshairs on congressional districts as targets, these sorts of things…invite the kind of toxic rhetoric that can lead unstable people to believe this is an acceptable response.”

I love the United States.  Whenever I hear The Star Spangled Banner I get all weepy, unless Steven Tyler or Roseanne Arnold are singing it.  Because I’m a patriot in the way conservatives think we lefties could never be – I believe in those cutesy pie principles the country was founded on.  Y’know, the whole “everyone is welcome, everyone gets a chance, every idea can be heard and every belief recognized” thing.

The meanies on the right used to ruffle my feathers, but now I’m genuinely worried they’re successfully destroying us.  Through policy, through hateful though scarily powerful rhetoric, through stirring their constituency into a frenzy and letting the chips fall where they may.

Candlelight vigils are being held to show support for Ms. Giffords, her family and all the victims of the shooting.  If I lived in Arizona, I’d be holding a lit candle alongside my compatriots and would send a whisper up to God or whatever else is listening, to help them all pull through.  But I would also send up a hearty prayer that we get ourselves out of this unbelievable mess.  And soon.

[Photos from BackLinkBot.com and GlobalGrind.com]

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I take New Year’s resolutions seriously.  The opportunity to make a fresh start on an annual basis demonstrates the generosity an occasionally cruel universe can muster up.  Usually my list of resolutions takes days to finish, but this year when I sat down to determine my priorities for 2011, something weird happened.  In seconds, I wrote four things on a piece of paper then was immediately overcome by a soothing sense of completion.  First on my list was my boyfriend’s name.  Second was the working title of my next novel.  Third was “creativity.”  Fourth was “inner peace.”

No need to achieve X or accomplish Y.  All I want is to  nurture the love in my life and my soul.

Then again, zeroing in on those four priorities may require deemphasizing a whole host of other things and reconsidering how I spend my time.

Thus, in 2011:

–       I resolve to stop giving a rat’s patootie about celebrities’ lives.  If I’m on a roll writing my book, do I really need to click over to Yahoo to find out why Cameron Diaz is “trending?”  Can I live without knowing about Jessica Alba’s new haircut or the china Prince William and his chick picked out for their wedding?  All signs point to yes.

–       Speaking of celebrities, if I should happen upon Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, I resolve to punch them right in the kisser.  No thinking human being should have to live in a world where either of these pop monstrosities’ loud and incessant boneheadedness is heard on the airwaves sixteen thousand times per day.  However, I would recommend playing either “Bad Romance” or “California Girls” (excuse me, “Gurls”) on repeat as a form of torture in the war on terrorism.

–       I will no longer be taken in by magazine headlines offering to tell me how to find and keep love.  The articles – “The Scent that Makes You Appear More Slender” – and tips – “if your guy’s squared shoulders cave in when he’s chatting with you, he’s indicating that he feels secure in your presence” are absurd.  Have these people ever been in a relationship?

–       I need to learn to take compliments.  Well, more specifically, compliments on my hair.  I have thick, curly hair that, depending on the weather, either cascades in darling little ringlets to my shoulders or fuzzes up into the most tumbleweed-esque mass of frizz known to humankind.  Offering genuine thanks whenever someone praises one’s appearance is, to me, a sign of self-love.  But tell me my hair looks nice and I’ll say, “really?  ‘Cuz I thought I looked like Don King.”  No mas in 2011.

–       Lastly, I will continue to uphold my 2010 resolution to be kind to everyone who crosses my path.  Last year, I traveled halfway across the city to give a guy the wallet he’d lost and I’d found, and chased a bus for blocks just to complain about the driver who’d ignored a woman and her baby as they tried to board.  Then there were the smiles and friendly banter I offered neighbors, strangers and disgruntled bank tellers.  These acts didn’t fill my world with miracles and butterflies, but I did feel a sense of connection to my fellow human beings.  And in the end, isn’t that what keeps us all going?

With these few alterations to my daily habits, I’m certain to become the loving, serene, endlessly inspired person I hope to be.  In 2011 and beyond.

[Image from Amazon.com.uk]

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