For these things, this bitch was made happy today…

There are very few things in this world that make me happy. I’m not talking about people – there are people that make me happy. And ideas that make me happy, but really I’m talking about things. You know so much about the way we live our lives now is dependent on the things we have, and I believe that in a terribly materialistic world our happiness is dependent on how much stuff we have. Anyway, I don’t want to get too philosophical tonight except to say that I am not a materialist so rarely find happiness in my possessions. I have stuff because I need it or it makes my life a little easier. That’s about it … usually …

A few things, though, make me pretty happy to have. Just last week I was talking about reasons I should be on hoarders – those things make me happy that I hoard in mass quantities for seemingly illogical reasons. Notebooks. Chapsticks. Highlighters. Sweaters. Those types of things. Then there are things that I do not hoard but that also having make me happy. Today, I happened to experience quite a few of them and for these things, this bitch was made happy today.

New Shoes

Holy mother of God, do shoes make me happy. Today I went shoe shopping and I believe I had a shoegasm in the middle of the store. “Ooohhhh!” I moaned ecstatically as I tried on a new pair of Nine West brown leather boots with a zipper up the side. Amazing and half off, those made me happy. I also bought a new pair of Fergie’s flats collection – they are the classiest black and grey cloth-covered flats I have ever owned. New shoes make me happier than just about anything out there.

Mexican food

Before moving to California, I believe I could count on one hand the number of times I had authentic Mexican food. So obviously, for the last ten years since moving here I have been making up for it. I don’t eat all the crappy, heavy, fatty Mexican food either – I am perfectly fine with a light taco and some rice, or just baked chips with salsa. It’s the spice that makes me happy. It’s the “this is so hot I’m crying and my nose is running”-experience of shoveling bucket loads of salsa down my throat. Sometimes I think I could just drink the shit. Today I had some salsa and chips and it was like a party in my mouth.

Yarn

Knitting is a really new hobby I have taken up and I cannot get enough of it. It has been since about last November that I started, and it was simply a matter of someone putting needles and yarn in my hand and saying “GO!” I haven’t been able to stop since. I love doing it – mainly because it is relaxing, is a way to escape, and is something creative that I can do even when I cannot get anything else done because Good Luck Charlie is blaring in surround sound. But what makes me really really happy about knitting is all the yarn. I love it – it’s so soft and colorful and warm. Today I had to pick up some more for my completely insane knitting project of making a scarf or hat for all of my family members (insane because I am doing all of them in just under four weeks). And, of course, I bought way more than I actually needed.

Books

Another thing that I love doing is reading, and I don’t mean reading happy pappy crap – I mean good reading. Classics. Literary genius. Humor that is actually funny, not merely trying to be. I love words and reading so much, which is why I have always wanted to become a writer. I will never read the Harry Potter series. Nor Hunger Games. Nor Twilight. But there are so many books out there that I have yet to experience and I hope I have an opportunity to. Last year, I made myself super happy by setting a goal for the number of books I wanted to read in the year (forty), and I actually achieved it. This year I’m trying for fifty – accomplishing this will of course result in something similar to my shoegasm cited above. My point, though, is that not only does the act of reading make me happy, but buying new books is something I cannot stop myself from doing. Today I got two new books in the mail that I had ordered about a week ago: Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ and Annie Dillard’s ‘An American Childhood.’ As soon as I am done with this blog, I am starting them both.

I’m sure tomorrow I will be back to snarky and bitchy and being completely miserable. For today, though, I’m basking in the afterglow of my shoe, salsa, yarn, and book-gasms.

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Even B(itch)es Need Breaks

… now before you all get your party hats on and begin celebrating at the thought of me taking a break from B(itch)logging, think again. I’m not talking about a break from writing on my most spectacular blog of misanthrope and ridiculous encounters. I’m talking about a break from life.

That’s right, this b(itch) needs a vacation.

“But your life is a vacation, isn’t it Heather?” is what I am sure some of you are asking. I assure you it is not. Sure, I sleep until about 9 every day and have cocktail time around 3, but a cakewalk my life most certainly is not. Homeschooling and managing a household with a husband that is gone at work for a minimum of 12 – 16 hours every day (plus often on weekends) is tough work. Not to mention trying to write a book in the process of it all, I’ve been racing towards burn out for some time now.

Now I’m going on vacation for three weeks in just under two months, but at the rate we’re going right now I won’t even make it to that point. I’m not trying to pretend like my life is more difficult than others – I know in some ways I have advantages in ways others do not. But this does not mean that I am blind to seeing the results of burning the candle at both ends either. This past week I’ve been sick with a sinus infection and finally my Ear, Nose, Throat doctor has broken the bad news that it’s time to seriously consider sinus surgery. For years he has threatened me with this and only this time he has outlined to me how much worse my sinus and allergy problem has gotten in the last year or two.

I really don’t want to have surgery. I’ve had other operations in my life and they are absolutely miserable. So I’ve decided to go another route: I’m taking a break in hopes that a little R&R will clear my head (and my nose).

Of course things will fall apart if I just ignore everyone and everything, so I’m setting up some perimeters right now. I’ve also planned this entire week to prepare everything for me to take such a “vacation from life.” That means spring cleaning, purging our house of old things we no longer need, stocking up on bulk food items that we only purchase a few times a year, planning homeschooling for the remainder of spring, getting everything ready for the actual three week vacation that’s swiftly approaching, as well as a host of other things – all are happening this week. Getting all of that done is not what I’m worried about, though; what I’m worried about is sticking to my guidelines.

So here they are and I’m counting on you, my faithful blog followers, to hold me to them.

B(itch)’s Vacation From Life Rule Number One: the vacation will last through and including April 15th.

This is my 30th birthday. I know I’ve said this before, but I’m not taking the turn very well. It isn’t that I feel old per se, it’s that I used to hold 30 up as the year I wanted this laundry list of life’s achievements to be completed by. Even my short list revision that I made a few months ago probably won’t be finished in its entirety though. So why even bother – I’m vacationing until I’m 30 and it’s going to be the most relaxing remainder of “the 20s” that anyone’s ever had.

B(itch)’s Vacation From Life Rule Number Two: I will not tolerate people making me feel defensive about taking my vacation.

I’m starting to get a little sick and tired of people making me feel like I have to defend my lifestyle. One great example: we have a cleaning lady come once a month to do the real tough stuff. We have a family full of allergies and so it really is the best thing for us to do to make sure we’re as sanitary as we can be – and that lady cleans in ways I never could. In addition to that, one of those surgeries I mentioned above was a spinal fusion when I was only 15. That’s right, the B(itch) is robotic – I have stainless steel rods fused to my spine that corrected my scoliosis, and while I do a lot of physical work around the house, there is only so much I can do before my back starts causing problems.

But having the cleaning lady doesn’t mean I never clean, though. I live with total slobs – I’m constantly cleaning up after them, as well as cooking and doing all their laundry. And the old “I’ll do the cooking, you do the dishes” never really seems to have caught on quite as it was supposed to. Whenever the cleaning lady is mentioned anywhere, though, someone always feels they have a right to tell me that I shouldn’t have her coming (often my husband’s family).

Well on my vacation from life, I will not be tolerating that. If someone doesn’t like that we have a cleaning lady once a month, or that I’ve decided to relax a little rather than run around like a chicken with my head cut off – well, that’s the way it’s going to be and anyone that doesn’t like it can suck it. I’ll be telling that (in so many words) as well.

B(itch)’s Vacation From Life Rule Number Three: while on my vacation from life, I will not be doing any of the following…

1. Folding laundry. I’ll wash the shit, but I’m not folding it. Time for others to pitch in.

2.  Going to see children’s movies in the theatre. (I’m sorry, but it’s time for the husband to take a turn on these… I’m pretty sure none are coming out anytime soon anyway and I watch enough at home to make up for it.)

3. Driving more than ten miles to go to any family-related events (with the exception, of course, of when we are on our actual vacation).

4. Organizing anything. Everything is so terribly organized our place looks like a museum. If shit gets messed up, somebody else is going to fix it. Or it can wait until after April 15th.

5. Arguing with anyone. If something needs to be discussed that may turn into a disagreement, it’s going to have to wait until after April 15th as well. I don’t see this becoming a problem, but just so everyone has been warned.

6. I’m not doing any dishes, unless someone else does all the cooking.

B(itch)’s Vacation From Life Rule Number Four: I will only work on my book if I feel so inclined to do so. 

I will not work on my book because I feel I have to. I will not write for anyone but myself. I will not go to any writers groups, writers critiques, or share anything with anyone. I will not feel indebted to anyone to work on my book quickly. My poor manuscript is a little torn and tattered at this point and I feel it’s because I feel obligated to write, rather than doing so out of a genuine desire.

B(itch)’s Vacation From Life Rule Number Five: Internet and telephone time will be limited.

I spend too much time being available. Every day from 11 am until 3 pm, my phone is going to be turned off so I can do all the things I really want to do – read, write, have fun with the homeschooling projects we do, investigate the Korean Hooker Hostage, watch Desperate Housewives, among other things. And I’m only allowing myself to use Facebook, Twitter, email, and my blog. There will be no obsessively reading the news, no checking every social network out there. No Tumblr, no Pinterest. No LinkedIN. No networking.

So that about sums it up, faithful blog followers. As of this week, I’m on a vacation from life. But vacation from life sounds a little cliche doesn’t it? So does much needed me time (even though that’s exactly what it is). Earlier today I said that this next three months is “the three months of Heather,” but really I think “the three months of the B(itch)” has a much nicer ring to it.

So begins The Three Months of the B(itch).

What it Really Means to be Gay

Let’s get uncharacteristically serious for a second, here…

It was really hot last week.  I mean hot – like 95 degrees with humidity and no air conditioning-hot.  Usually when that happens, I have to leave the front door open to prevent the entire family from dying of dehydration; this time it was a necessity for most of the day and night.  On the third day, a group of punk ass kids were walking by outside and I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation, which was riddled with the term “that’s GAY.”  This annoyed me, because I’m almost certain that they were not referring to things that were actually gay.  So I thought it would be good if we established for everyone what it really means to be gay, once and for all.

(This might seem a bit simplistic for our usual discussions, but it is clear that this conversation needs to be spelled out as simply as possible.)  There are a few possible definitions of the term “gay.”

#1 Gay:  happy, a state of overjoy.  This is the more archaic way of referring to someone that is happy.  I remember when I was about six I kept asking my mom what it meant to be “gay” and she said “happy” so for a few days I walked around saying “I am feeling very gay today!”  Most people giggled, but the older folks were glad I was so happy.  There is nothing wrong with saying you feel gay if you mean you are in a great mood.

#2 Gay:  homosexual, or identifying with a group of people who prefer the sexual orientation of the same sex as their own.  In the “gay community,” there are many different factions:  lesbians, bisexuals, homosexual males, transexuals, etc., etc.  Sometimes when you say “gay” in the “gay community” you are referring to the man-et-man faction; other times you will hear lesbians and bisexuals saying they too are gay.  There is nothing wrong with saying you are gay if you mean you prefer the sexual orientation of the same sex as your own.

There are a number of things that the term “gay” does not refer to:

The term “gay” does not mean something is bad or stupid or unfortunate.  This is a direct negation of the first definition, which was “happy, a state of overjoy.”  Would you be happy and in a state of overjoy if you were in the presence of something bad or stupid or unfortunate?  I think not.

The term “gay” does not mean something is morally wrong.  No matter what your moral standard, “gay” does not mean something that is morally wrong.  If you mean overjoyed, there is certainly nothing wrong with that feeling.  Further, there is nothing wrong with being “gay,” as in homosexual, from a moral perspective.  Let me elaborate:  if you use religion as your moral standard, you cannot say there is anything morally wrong with being gay – unless you are so literal as to your interpretation of the Bible that you abstain from the entire list of things that are considered wrong.  This is including (but not limited to) driving on Sundays and eating shellfish on any days.  Do you drive to church?  Then you are not a literalist and you cannot apply your loose Biblical standards so fickly.  Every person that I explain this to goes on, then, to say that being gay, as in homosexual, is morally wrong because it is unnatural for a man to have intercourse with another man.  To that, I ask:  why?  Why is it unnatural?  Is it natural for women to give hummers to their boyfriends?  Is it natural for men to watch shark porn?  A personal preference in the bedroom is no more unnatural than preferring to add salt instead of sugar to your apple pie.

And while we’re at it, there is no such thing as “gay marriage.”  There is marriage, there is gay (happy), and there is gay (homosexual) – and I’m very sure that there are gay (homosexual) people that are married and gay (happy).  But there is no more a thing as “gay marriage” as there is “straight marriage.”  There is marriage, which is a spiritual, as well as legal and financial, union between two people.  Not a single person or law has a right to mandate who those two people can be – whether they are of the same sex or not.

Generally, when people try to use the term “gay” in a pejorative way, they do so because they think that underhandedly establishes a precedent for saying that gay people are bad.  All this does is make them sound ignorant, though.  How stupid do those punk ass kids walking outside sound when they say something is “gay” when we have established that “gay” either means happy or homosexual, and that there is nothing wrong with either one of those things?  “Dude, that shirt is so gay.”  Why thank you!  I thought it was happy-looking, I’m glad to hear you are overjoyed at the sight of it!  “Mrs. Steiner is so gay!”  I’m sure Mr. Steiner is not a woman, but if he were – what is your point?  To the punk ass kids walking by, and anyone else that believes “gay” means anything other than what we have established, shut the hell up.  All you are doing is making yourself sound even stupider and ignorant than you already are.  One day this whole “gay thing” will go down in history books as another blunder on the part of ignorant America, like segregation and racism against African Americans was.  Do you want to be lumped in with those ignorant hillbillies that were too stupid to read a dictionary?

I’m a loser, baby

If you’re like me, any thought of the 90s is immediately accompanied by a music flashback to Beck’s Loser.  I have many-a-fond memories of kicking back in high school and loving Beck more than life, itself.  Like many other teens during the dawn of teen angst, that song was my battle cry; and very likely, I was just as much a loser as the next kid.

So it should come as no surprise, then, that even hearing or reading about losers harkens me back to that song of my youth.  This morning, reading Darren Hardy’s How to Be a Loser blog post was no different.  The publisher of SUCCESS magazine, Hardy blogged with intention to look at what makes a loser from a satirical standpoint … a guide, so to speak, to becoming one of those many people walking around with the big L dangling from their forehead.

The thing about Hardy’s blog is that, while it raises some excellent points, it also is a bit too general to hit the mark on each point.  In one instance, Hardy says you can make yourself a loser by never setting goals and only taking things day by day.  Sure, this may be true in some instances, but it is so general and does not necessarily apply to everyone.  There is such a thing as getting too out of control with your goals; and for some going through major life issues (marriage, divorce, new baby, death in the family) day-by-day is the only way to survive.  Ultimately, I think the blog would have been more effective if Hardy had gone with a straight-forward approach; his backhanded way of talking about loserdome just doesn’t jive with the advise he is trying to give.

Beyond that, though, I think the idea of how to be a loser is still a good one.  This week has been all about balance:  the healthy way to live life to its fullest.  With that and Hardy’s blog post in mind, I decided to create my own list of ways to be a loser.

I’m a loser, baby #1:  

Lose sight of happiness in the name of undefinable goals

We all know someone that has done this.  Rather than let themselves live in the present, they are so far in the future and/or the past that they can’t even tell you what they are feeling right now, let alone whether or not they are happy.  And in many cases, they come to the end of the rope only to realize that everything they gave up was not worth it.  Goals and plans are important, but there is something to be said for being both emotionally and physically present in the now.  And hey:  you never know what could happen – you could leave for work tomorrow and get hit by a truck.  Laying on the concrete, dying, will you regret not having savored life now at least once in a while?

I’m a loser, baby #2:  

Always eliminate people and things from your life that deviate from the way you are

It is astonishing sometimes to hear people say that they broke up with someone because they saw things differently, or that they decided to give up certain things in their life because it got in the way with what was most important to them:  them.  Yesterday we talked about things the world doesn’t stop for... I’ve got news for you, faithful blog followers, you are included in that list of things.  Life is about both a give and a take; and the truth to the matter is there is not one person or thing on this planet that will see entirely eye-to-eye with you.  Some (myself included) might even go as far as to say that people who are much different than you are good in the sense that they offer a more well-rounded view of your otherwise closed circuit life.

I’m a loser, baby #3:  

Never take risks.  Ever.

I recently read Eric Sevareid’s “Canoeing with the Cree,” which is a true memoir about a 2250 mile canoeing trip up the Missouri River into Canada.  The trip took place in the 1930s and had never been done before, let alone by two 18 year olds, fresh out of high school.  The main focus of discussion at my book club (which the book was read for) was focused on this idea of risks:  that we do not take risks anymore, be it physical or emotional risks, like they did less than a century ago.  Life is about continual leaps of faith, and to think of anything as a safe venture is just foolish.

I’m a loser, baby #4:  

Don’t keep things in perspective

Ever talk to someone that blows everything so far out of proportion, and gets so caught up in the “what if”s and “I assume”s of the situation that it makes you want to stick a piece of dynamite in your ear and make your own head explode before they get a chance to do it with their incessant blathering?  This can go a lot of ways.  One is in the case of the overachieving idealist.  Sure, it’s great to have ideals and forward-thinking ways of living; but it’s another thing to not look at the situation realistically and pragmatically.  Another is in the case of someone that acts as though a minor event is the absolute end of the world.  It’s not, bitch.  Get some perspective.

I’m a loser, baby #5:  

Constantly blame other people for your problems

There are certainly a lot of things out of your control; just as a lot of times people around you influence you to do things you may have otherwise not done.  But enough with the blame-game, loser.  Nothing is more annoying than someone that cannot take responsibility for any of his or her actions; especially when they go as far as to suggest a change in the way things happened, or put words in people’s mouths or assign intentions in people’s minds.  Chances are, unless you are 15 years old or a complete douche, you were at least 80% responsible for the situation you are blaming others for.

Am I a loser, baby?  Some people might say I am.  I certainly try and avoid the five scenarios above, and in fact, I generally try and live by (at least most of) Hardy’s list too.  But then it takes one to know one, doesn’t it?

A Miserable Marriage

Today on Facebook, one of my friends posted a question “what is the key to a successful marriage?”  People were posting all manner of things:  honesty, communication, devotion, sex, similar interests … all of them relevant, timely remarks that logically seem to help in making a successful marriage.  But something about it didn’t really seem to hit right on the mark for me.

My comment was a little off the beaten path of the rest of the comments (big surprise, I know..).  Nonetheless, I think mine was the most accurate, which was:  reconcile yourself to misery.

This idea came to me after I thought about a popular quote about marriage:  “I can’t have what I want and be happy; you can’t have what you want and be happy; let’s compromise on misery.”  This is intended on being funny; that in a marriage neither person can have exactly the way they want things to be; each has to give a little to get a little.  The idea isn’t that we are actually going to settle on being miserable because we both can’t have exactly what we want, though.  In reality it just pokes fun at the idea that anything other than the exact way we want things to be is absolute misery.  The truth is it’s not.  Not having exactly what you want isn’t misery, it’s just not exactly what you want.  The beauty in compromise is that it is not a complete annihilation of one side in favor of the other, but rather a synthesis of the two in which there is an element of each side’s happiness present.  In reality, a compromise can be seen as the happiest of all possibilities, for it is the best of both worlds.

I think this reflects a current problem we seem to have found ourselves in, which is that we seem to think that we are going to find a life-partner that is exactly the same as we are, thus there will never even be a need to compromise.  We think that there even can be a person exactly like us out there, and that when we marry them everything will be pie in the sky and ear-to-ear smiles.  I can’t even count the number of couples I know that seem to think they will always agree on everything, and that if they don’t that may as well be the end of their civil or religious union.  This seems to be a wholly naive and childish way of viewing the world:  that there are two people who actually are so alike they will never disagree and need to find a middle-ground on which to compromise is (in reality) just plain stupid.

So what is the key to a successful marriage, you ask?  Why, it’s reconciling yourself to misery!  In other words, it is going in to a marriage realistic about the fact that no matter how compatible eHarmony said you were; no matter how much you seemed to have in common on those initial dates – there is going to come a time that you and your life-partner do not agree on something (and believe you me, it will be a big something).  Recognize that now, because it will happen.  No matter what you do; no matter how you try to avoid it – it will happen.  One day down the line, you will be asked to compromise (in most cases, many days and countless times down the line).  The key to a successful marriage is knowing that one day the need to give a little to get a little will be upon you.  Denying this is a way to make your marriage fail, because you will be destined to think that there is no way to reconcile something that you thought was supposed to be perfect.  In reality, nothing is perfect – marriage included.  Reconcile yourself to the compromise on misery, which really won’t be miserable if you just give it a try.