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Things I’d Really Like to Say to People (But Don’t)

DISCLAIMER: This post contains graphic and offensive language that is uncharacteristic of my values and personality. Please excuse it for this post’s illustrative purposes.

Things-I'd-Like-to-Say

I don’t say curse words.  I don’t say offensive things.  I never insult people.  I don’t talk negatively about people behind their back.  I’m just a nice person. Who only says the kinds of things I would want said to me.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve never thought all the bad and cruel things possible.

I recently had a conversation with a woman I see on a regular basis at a certain place (I won’t name).  It was a perfectly calm and civil conversation, but it had a passive aggressive undertone that irked me.

Women are weird.  We smile and converse happily with one another. We compliment one another on our hair or new outfit, but underneath that sugary façade we are mentally destroying one another.  It’s horrible, but it’s a reality, even for the nicest, most Christian woman out there.  Society teaches it to us, and unfortunately, it’s a hard habit to break.

This is all preamble to how I felt while walking away from my encounter with this passive aggressive woman because the first thought that popped into my head was how much I longed to never have to speak to such a “dumb, conniving bitch” ever again.

I stopped. In shock! How could I think such a thing about a sweet woman who had never actively done anything against me or to hurt me? What kind of horrible person does it make me to even think that?  But then this train of thought led me to start contemplating all things I might say to people if I didn’t have a modesty filter emanating from my values and morals.

Like that guy who took it upon himself to be the judge and executioner of my personal business, of which he only knew about because he couldn’t help snooping into personal documents: self-righteous bastard.

Or a past colleague: I’m not your fucking secretary just because I’m a woman.

Or a lying, cheating ex-boyfriend: What the hell is wrong with you? Have you always been this stupid and twisted?

Or a backstabbing ex-best friend: You’d really choose those bitches over me? When I introduced you to them?

Or even my own parents: Do you know the horrific shit you have put me through? All for what? Because you needed emotional support from a child?

And then, I felt a lot better. Odd, isn’t it?  I shouldn’t feel better after thinking horrible, nasty things about people I care for or at least have compassion for.  But this is where I suggest the root of my discovery lies.

We all think and feel nasty things about other people.  Some of us are far more vocal about this nastiness than others leading to some embarrassingly foul mouths and sailor tongues.  I’m not here to say whether cursing is right or wrong.  Obviously if you’re a follower of the Bible, cursing is a big “No-No,” but then again we’re all sinners.  Even if we don’t say these things out loud, we’re going to feel them sometimes.  I think NOT feeling them might be worse than feeling them actually because it’s a form of repression.  And if we’ve learned anything from the burgeoning sexual freedoms for women and political instability after the Civil War, it’s that repressing any feeling or right for people leads to societal and psychological backlash.

I wouldn’t say that we should all wander around mentally murdering people either.  I just think that we have to find a balance between repression and moral revolt.  I’m not proud of thinking or feeling that way about people, but once I’ve faced that feeling head on and understood it, it dissipates, and I realize that ignoring these feelings will only make them more volatile.

So I don’t say the nasty things I think to people.  I still only think them.  But I let myself think them to a level I find appropriate and feel comfortable with.  Because life and people are going to make us feel nasty inside and desire to say horrific and cursing things.  And it’s perfectly acceptable for us to feel that way.  (Life sucks sometimes.)  It’s only when we let the words and feelings control us that it becomes a problem, and that can be accomplished by speaking our feelings or keeping them in our mind.  The problem is really when we lose respect for ourselves.

So respect yourself.  Shake off the nasties when you feel overwhelmed by them. (But don’t repress them).  And walk on, a higher being.

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Musings on the Time I Thought I Had Magical Powers

Magic Powers

I have been obsessed and enthralled by fantasy and magic for as long as I can remember.  I was plagued most by these fanciful ideas during my late elementary through middle school years.  I can remember clearly lying on the floor of my kitchen at eleven years old sobbing and screaming hysterically because someone had told me at school that Santa wasn’t real.  For some reason, as illogical as the reality of Santa Claus is, the concept represented the “unknown” and the “mystic” for me; therefore, if Santa wasn’t real, then how could the world contain any mysticism?  I was raised and still am a Christian. One would think that my love for “magic” and “mysticism” would conflict with my beliefs; however, to believe the stories in the Bible, it takes a great amount of faith in the unknown because in their own way they seem just as “magical” as a fairytale.  Somehow Santa not existing made me question the existence of God and fairyland and miracles and every dream I ever had in life.  It’s ridiculous, I know, but my eleven year old brain couldn’t comprehend having the world shrink to just the flat and grey landscape of reality.

Before this world-changing incident, I had discovered at a sleepover with a few of my girl friends in the darkness and silliness that comes with the night that if I ran my fingers over my sleeping bag, little flashes of light would appear wherever I touched.  At this point in my life, I had been convinced by all the Disney movies and fairytales I had mentally consumed that when I reached adolescence my magical abilities would start to make themselves known.  The Harry Potter series probably contributed the most to this belief so that even though I lived in the United States, I imagined that there had to be an American version of Hogwarts that would soon be sending my wizarding school acceptance letter by owl.  We were just a gaggle of giggling girls at the time, marveling over my newfound abilities, although the sparks of light soon diminished and we finally retired to bed with smiles but tugs on our hearts.  Would the flashes come back? Were my fingers really magic? Or was it just a weird three a.m. hallucinatory phenomenon?

I don’t know how or when I forgot about this incident—maybe I decided that my magical powers were too dangerous to risk exposing my secret to the world—but it was soon after the Santa Claus Debacle that I found the same phenomenon to be happening. I have never been so excited in my life.  It wasn’t a hallucination induced by too much sugar and girly sleepover adrenaline! Here I was in my bed alone at only 9 p.m. and my hands were lighting up my bedding.  I put on my glasses just to be sure and there, plain as day, were sparks of light emanating from my finger tips whenever I ran my hands over the comforter. I was ecstatic. I don’t quite know how I actually managed to go to sleep that night.  However, I mulled it over the next day at school and determined there was no other explanation than that I finally had begun to become magical—like I had always imagined I was as a child.  And here was my proof. For me to be entirely convinced though, my magical powers would need to go through one final test: my dad.

Now my dad is one of the most logical and analytical people I know.  He can do large calculations in his head, is incredibly interested in weather and should have been a meteorologist had the world been kinder to him, and can spot a lie a thousand miles away through a concrete wall.  He’s also the person I trust the most in the world (especially at that point in my life) in terms of deciding what is and is not true in the world.  Essentially, if dad believed it, it was true.

As a side note, I can attribute most of my intense belief in the great beyond and the mystic because of my father. Although he’s a rather no-nonsense kind of guy and firmly plants himself within the realm of reality because that’s the way he grew up, he’s always encouraged my imaginative and fanciful tendencies.  He carried on the Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy traditions for far longer than most parents would have.  Because of my intense reverence for his opinion and his lack of one on the matter of magical childhood traditions, my child brain generalized it to be that all magic could possibly exist even if I saw no apparent signs of it in my daily life.  Only time and experience has shown me about his beliefs otherwise.  He, in fact, can’t stand to watch any movie that involves magic.  For example, he can’t stand to watch The Lord of the Rings which has always held a special place in my heart.  Instead, he much prefers his mysticism to come in the form of science-fiction.  The “it-COULD-happen” rather than the “you-have-to-believe-for-it-to-happen.”  They’re both grounded in the same awe of the great beyond but are portrayed quite differently. Also, just so you know, I love science-fiction too!

With this knowledge, I faced my dad at the dinner table the following night and tried to gently turn the conversation over to my theories of magical ability development.  But my hopes were dashed quite quickly.  He played along for a little bit (because I never mentioned it being magic), but soon he started asking too many practical questions that began to debunk my theory.  What type of material is my bedspread? What season is it? Did I know that the dry air of winter coupled with the friction of rubbing my hands over a silky material like my bedspread could create static electricity?  And that sparks of static electricity in the dark could look like lights at my fingertips?

Static electricity.

STATIC ELECTRICITY?!?

Was that really the easy answer to my magical phenomenon? How could it be so simple? Shouldn’t I feel the jolt of the electricity on my fingertips like when I run through the hall with my socks on and then touch a metal doorknob? Why can’t I just be magical?

After only a little consideration of my father’s leading questions, it made much more sense for the bedspread light show to be scientifically explained as static electricity rather than my burgeoning magical powers, but I can’t say that I wasn’t exceedingly disappointed at this realization.  All my life I have wanted to be special.  I don’t know where I get my overwhelming sense of feeling unacceptably ordinary from (especially since my grades and personal achievements over the years would suggest otherwise), but no matter what I do or how “awesome” people say I am, I can’t quite escape the depressing feeling of being “ordinary.”  Maybe it comes from watching too many Disney fairytales as a kid.  Or having an overactive imagination.  Wherever it comes from, it has plagued my sense of self through my whole life.  Somehow “magic” became a synonym for “special” to me as a child and preteen so that I longed for what I saw portrayed in movies and books.  But today, with magic a whimsical memory of the past, where do I find my “specialness?”

It’s a tough question.  And one that I’ve been working on for years and will have to continue to develop.  Experience and schooling has taught me that “specialness” is all a mindset, but that doesn’t completely erase old habits.  It’s hard to believe you’re special when you’ve spent your whole life believing you aren’t and when society definitively tells you that you can never be.  Well, unless you buy these clothes and get your hair done this way or read this book and go to this university or get this job and become so famous.  It’s exhausting, you know?  All those societal expectations, they’re just people filling in the blank for “specialness comes from _________.”  I filled it in with “magic” as a child.  And sometimes fashion now. Or achievements.  But deep down, I know that that only thing that makes any of us special is something we can never lose: ourselves. We’re special by merely existing.  Think about the chances of YOU actually coming into being at this time and place with your particular history and traits. It’s like a one in infinity chance! I don’t even know how to calculate those odds.  But here you are. And me. And them. All of us here in this world and we have the audacity to call ourselves “ordinary.”

There’s absolutely nothing ordinary about our existence at all.

And that makes for an entirely new kind of magic.

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“All the World’s a Stage”: Why Social Media Has Changed How We View Our Friends

Shakespeare-Puppet-Master

When I was in grade school (which in reality, really wasn’t all that long ago) there was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or one of the hundred other means by which we now socially communicate with one another.  If you were lucky enough to have a cellphone, you could text your friends, but then messaging was usually charged per text so you were limited on how much you could send.  In the end, we were left to the timeless communication devices of calling the landline, talking to them at school, or writing them a fancily folded note. I imagine tweens of today would balk at the idea of any of these options.  What a horrendous idea to take the time to hand write a note and then have the courage to give it to your crush in person!

Oh, how society today likes to hide behind their computer screens!  Gone are the days where you needed multiple dates, note writing, and phone conversations to “get to know” someone.  Now you can meet them once, friend them on Facebook, stalk their photos, twitter feed, work history, friends, exes, and family and essentially learn everything you need in order to make an “informed” decision on their character and worthiness of being your friend or potential significant other.

This makes me sad though—to realize that society no longer values face-to-face interactions or learning about other people through the unfiltered lens of real life.  Kids are growing up now, not trying to convince colleges that they’re well rounded and acceptance worthy, but rather, building an online reputation they find suitable to their social needs.  From this, it can be concluded that we no longer believe people are entirely genuine in their online presence.  That they are trying to convince us they are something they are not—they’re happier, healthier, more wealthy, smarter, more romantically sought after than they are in reality—to the point that we are no longer able to distinguish between the realities and exaggerations that people put out.  Instead, we become fascinated by people’s lives.  On Twitter you can follow anyone unless they have a locked account and Facebook allows for the most distant connections to be made if you accept a friend request.  Once you have access to their information and status updates, an entirely new world is opened up as you can indulge in a life that is not your own.

I’ll be honest, I do this too. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who isn’t on a social media website that doesn’t.  Whenever I consider deleting my Facebook because I’ve become so annoyed by the drama or the stupid, overused memes or fickle people, I nearly have a panic attack wondering “How will I get people to watch my videos?” and then, more embarrassingly, “How will I know all the gossip of my high school and college friends? How will I get in touch with them?” Then I remember I rarely contact them to begin with so why would I need to be so worried about it. I bet I could find their phone number somewhere. Or an address to write them a (snail mail) letter if I was really desperate.  But then how would I be able to creep on my distant cousin by marriage who has a really positive attitude and awesome kids? Or my best friend from elementary school and her fiancé and life post-college?  It’s selfish. It’s vain. It’s utterly ridiculous when I think about how much of my life that I should be LIVING is wasted staring at a screen wondering how people I barely know anymore are living their own lives.  Lives which through the censored realm of social media may be rose-colored and much cheerier than reality.

I would suggest that the problem with social media is that through it we use and abuse people.  They become actors in a grand play taking place over the interwebs in which we all participate. We are puppet masters in an odd way.  Obviously, we can’t directly affect what people do, but our opinions and judgments affect how people chose to portray themselves to us.  For that reason, we pull the strings of our brethren while also being controlled by them in a never-ending game of “who has the better life.”  We are all guilty of this despicable crime, but also innocent to the point that we don’t know we are even doing it.  We simply try to continue living in this highly connected, technologically advanced world that makes us feel more distant from our peers than ever.

Our “friends” and “followers” are sometimes more competition than inspiration and more enemy than friend. It is an unfortunate fact that no one likes to admit.  Instead, we make an effort to try to call out “Fakebooking” and try to be more real with our posts and images, but it is a difficult road to travel and not everyone in your news feed will be participating.  Maybe divorcing oneself from social media is the best means to get control of your life back, but for people like me whose business is run through the internet and spread through social media, I don’t have much choice. So instead, I have to try to determine the fine line between fantasy and reality and cut the strings from the puppet master. And more than anything, I have to make sure I don’t become a puppet master myself.

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Novel Writing: Month 2, Chapter 2

writing

Another month has flown by, and my novel writing journey is becoming more exciting.  After finishing the second chapter in my novel, the all-around plot is really beginning to take shape in my mind’s eye.  Unfortunately, I tend to get a little ahead of myself so that while I’m trying to write chapter two, I’m mentally playing out scenes from chapter twelve or some other chapter much farther down the plot road.  While it’s exciting to have a far-reaching vision that gives me a sense of security (in that I know I won’t write myself into a hole just yet), it can be detrimental to my current writing process.  I’d much rather day-dream about action-packed, plot-twisting, or emotional scenes that are a ways down the writing road than actually have to form coherent sentences and storylines at my current place in the novel.  At this point—chapter two—I’m really starting to develop readers’ initial views of some of my main characters which is both thrilling and boring.  Since I am essentially re-writing many elements from nearly ten years ago, I can see how some of my preferences for characterizations have changed with time.

In this chapter, I introduce my main character, Piper’s, three best friends.  In the original version, though I desired for them to be three distinct individuals, they unfortunately functioned as one pining, puppy-dog crush character.  This time around though, with some name changes, a heavier focus on witty banter in the dialogue so each has a distinct voice, and a set-up to spend more time with some of them in upcoming chapters, I feel like the Three Musketeers are now very much differing characters with good and bad traits.

It might also be interesting to note that these three characters were at one time based on three people I actually knew, with their names changed, of course.  Coming back to write them again though, I found that I now know people with the names I had given two of these characters, and they even have similar personalities and physical traits.  It makes me wonder if I’m living in “Stranger than Fiction” or something and have the gift of writing people into being.  I certainly hope not because that would create a whole host of people with interesting backstories but nowhere to go in life because I never finished their story.  What a miserable existence!  Needless to say, I changed their names again and fleshed out their personalities even more so that they’ve become their own distinct characters now and not just shadows of people I’ve known—whether purposeful or accidental.

This all leads me to start chapter three in March which is where I consider all the action and mystery to really begin.  I still need to plot out the story path I want to take in this chapter, but I have enough major plot point ideas that I know where to begin and end (something I was lacking when I began both chapters one and two).  I also feel like once I’ve completed chapter three I can start lending out the first three chapters to interested friends for feedback.  Not editing.  I want to write “word vomit” right now and “murder my darlings” later but I have enough supportive friends now asking to read a sample I feel like I should oblige them.  So here begins another month of my writing adventure!