Saturday, December 29, 2012

Immersion Therapy or "WHY YOU SUCK"

At times, life experience just makes us shittier people.

Operating under the premise that we are all born with blank intellectual slates, our thoughts/feelings/opinions are therefore shaped by a variety of factors. And while scientists continue the nature v. nurture merry-go-round, I am content to baldly state (with no offer of supporting evidence) that at least some of our beliefs are based on life experiences.

So if your life experiences suck - and most of us can boast a charming handful of "life suck" - then it's a pretty safe leap to say we garner some personal suck from the fallout.

"Bootstrap" folk will tell you to emerge like a phoenix from these hardships. To grow stronger. To persevere. To benefit from life's blows builds character, they say.

Well I say: SCREW. THEM.

To some degree, "bootstrappers" are right, but the premise that every incidence of life suck is an opportunity for life lemonade is horse hockey. And I'm calling it so.

In my decades thrice, I've seen myself, my friends and my family grow in some amazing ways. But - like an elm faced with obstruction - we've grown rather wonky and sort of to the left (me) or to the right (my parents, for example). And yes, that was, in part, a political reference.

But I'm mixing my metaphors. We are trees and life is a beverage and now we are all confused. So let me get simple. Examples.

I was a naive kid. As such, I believed everyone could be a friend and that everyone had my best interest at heart.

That my mother wailed on me and that my father allowed it -- well, let's just say these events "complicated" my innate belief. 'Cause these people loved me, but they hurt me all the time. The result? Complete confusion of boundaries and a series of unhealthy relationships. Awesome.

I went from a trusting soul that wouldn't harm a bug (Oooh! Pretty!) to someone who, in many ways, ended up hurting other people. Life? Made me a shittier person.

And guess what? YOU'RE SHITTIER TOO.

**Alright. Calm down my little elms! No sense barking at me over what - to everyone else - is easy to see. Just sit and drink your lemonade and listen for a while.**

Let's pick on someone else first.


He's gorgeous. He's talented. He's from Atlanta. So naturally, we hate on him. It's only fair.

But while we're hating on the singing, dancing, hometown hero, he's busy hating on someone else. Namely, his ex and some poor, innocent lovely that never did him a stitch of wrong.

In his song, "You Remind Me," Usher openly admits that he won't give said lovely a chance. Why? Is she a puppy-hating, Sandusky-supporting, card-carrying member of the Communist Party?


She just has the misfortune of resembling a woman who, in the past, broke his heart.

End scene.

Life experience? Screwed Lovely out of weeks of posh dates, stares from envious friends and sex on 1-million-count bedsheets.

Life? Fucked with Usher.

Now let's get back to you.


Weren't born with preconceived notions of what it meant to be masculine or feminine. What it meant to be beautiful or ugly. What it meant to be black or white. You weren't born knowing Mexicans came here to steal our jobs, or that Asian kids were smarter than everyone else, or that Muslims are all terrorists, or that the France was for pussies, or that driving a German car made you better than everyone else.

You LEARNED this. And you suck for it.

Growing up, my brother's best friend was Titus Wimbish. Titus was black, but I doubt, if asked to describe Titus, my brother could have or would have told you that. He may have described him as funny or fun or "he likes to ride bikes." But race wouldn't have come up unless asked directly. Why? It certainly wasn't because my pre-kindergarten brother was plying politically correct. My friends, it was because race simply wasn't a factor to a 4 year old kid.

Life somehow sees fit to make it a factor.

Like when race plays a role in the break up of your (admittedly) already-fucked family.

Life experience? It' a bitch.

And let's go with "bitch" for a moment.

Dogs will shy away from all men, once they have been beaten by one. To repair the damage takes years of patience and giving. Melvin? Now greets most men who walk into my house. But it took 9 years of a safe home with consistent care for him to do so.

And are we so very different?

Our Justice System doesn't think so.

When called to jury duty, we are asked a series of questions to determine our underlying prejudice. Among them, if we've "ever been the victim of a violent crime" or whether or not we attend a house of faith.

In jury duty selection, it's not a question of whether or not one has prejudices - it's just a process of attempting to weed out which ones we possess. Because the sad fact remains that, if you were robbed at gun point by a burly black man, you're likely to shy away from ALL burly black men you encounter. It's guilt by association. And we all do it.

Whether you burn men because one man scorned you, whether you see all fat people as lazy because your mother was fat and lazy, whether you get a pit in your stomach every time you see and Asian woman because Frank left you for an Asian woman, or whether a lovely who might have graced your 1 million count sheets is a 'definite no' because she reminds you of a girl that you once knew...

Well,'s made you shitty.

Welcome to the club.

Here's your badge.


My name is Erin, and my life experiences have shaped me into a monster elm...


Therapists will tell you that - as with dogs - the solution for human beings is the same as the cause.


Life experience.

If one guy or gal screwed ya (and subsequently screwed ya up), the solution to the fallout is prolonged exposure to many guys or gals that won't screw ya. (Metaphorically).

And I am certain this works. Because the power to change is not only a negative power. And countless people have learned to love more and suck less.

But it takes time. It takes effort.

Like 9 years of petting, walks, brushing, baths, and puppy chow.

Some of us would just rather suck.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Like you, I am a FaceBook addict.

And thank goodness! What a never-ending source of inspiration it is!

Today's inspiration comes from my friend, M.E. (which sounds like some sort of secret self-credit...but those really ARE her initials).

Seems Miss M.E. encountered a situation which many lovely ladies - including myself - frequently face: the unwanted "suitor."

"Suitor" being a generous term.

Now before all my male readers groan, please allow me to clarify: a well-placed compliment is always welcome. An innocent approach? Perfectly appropriate. But there's a line. And it isn't subtle.

Succinctly, if your approach contains the words "titties," "ass," "pussy," "daaaaamn," "fuck" or any iteration of a synonym, it's pretty evident you don't respect us. And for any self-assured lady respect is a must.

Which is where M.E.'s story comes in...

M.E. is married. Happily so. But this piece of information - and the sparkly rock on her finger - apparently act as no deterrent from unwanted suitors, who often take it upon themselves to offer her a "way out" of her (apparently confining) relationship.

That this "offer" reeks of a lack of respect for M.E., her relationship, and her choices is obvious...and therefore not my reason for this post.

My inspiration, therefore, comes from M.E.'s thoughtful and heartfelt reaction to such an offer.

Today, M.E. made the case for monogamy. And in a world of swingers, open marriages, and outright cheaters, I think it's an argument being drowned out by the noise.

I share with you her thoughts:

"I am happily married and monogamous. I understand that me being monogamous might come as a surprise to some people but its not something my husband forced me into, it is something I decided on my own. I am not looking for a way out, nor am I looking for another man to be with. My husband is the only man I want to be with. It is not appropriate to ask me what I'm down to do with you, or repeatedly asking me to give you a personal demo of what I know how to do in bed (barf). I don't care if you are drunk, and an apology wont be enough to make up for disrespecting me, my husband, and my relationship."

As M.E. so eloquently outlines, what's so wrong with monogamy?

Surely, every relationship is about personal choice...but as the world becomes increasingly more open to relationships that are...well...more open...there seems to be a counter-trend. Namely, that monogamy is "boring" and "a trap"...a situation, therefore, from which one would be lucky to escape.

My friends, this counter-trend is in direct opposition to freedom of relationship choice.

M.E. wasn't forced into a monogamous marriage. She chose it. She loves her husband. And, my friends, that's okay!


For the majority of my life, I've been terrified of monogamy and of marriage. I tend to be a monogamist in relationships, but that's always been with the internal understanding that my relationships are like car leases - you use the car when new and exciting, with the understood anticipation of trade in after three years or 36,000 miles.

This may seem a heartless approach, but, my friends, if you'd witnessed the marriage I grew up with, you wouldn't want any part of that either.

But recently I've changed my tune.

The change can be attributed to a variety of factors - among them, shared experiences with miss M.E.

I currently work in a "breastaurant" - an establishment that serves food for both the stomach and the eyes. Think "Hooters"...but with barbecue.

In any event, working in such an establishment often brings in the inappropriate suitor...but most are well-intentioned and immediately snap back to the realm of respectful when told they have crossed the line.

It's not these gentlemen with whom I have a problem.

It's the ones that won't relent.

The ones with wedding rings who tell me the wife will never know.

The ones who give excuses about needing an escape from the old ball n' chain.

The ones who, despite being told that I am in a relationship, insist that they can provide a respite from the monotony of monogamy. That they can please me in ways my man can't or won't. That no one will ever know.

What these men fail to realize - other than their obvious lack of respect for me, my decisions and my relationship - is that I am not looking for a way out.

What a revelation!

At 31, I have been around the relationship block. My friends, I have done it all, dating-wise. And that's okay by me.

Ever-curious, I had to know what each of kind of relationship looked like. I needed to know. Now I do. And now that I do... I've opted for monogamy.

Why? Because monogamy - especially with the right match - offers me everything I am looking for in the form in which I want to receive it.

I am not missing out on anything.

I am not itching for something new.

I am no longer curious about the path not taken.

I? Am happy with monogamy for the first time in my life. And my friends - THAT'S OKAY!

To some, this claim may ring in the ears like the "War on Christmas" -like some ridiculous whine-fest about a non-existant issue. But given the frequency with which I and ladies like M.E. are approached with "alternate offers," I cannot help but feel that monogamy is getting a bit of an unfair shake.

Sure, 40 years next to the same bag o'skin seems terrifying...but the face doesn't need to change so long as the person behind it continues to grow.

And THAT, my friends, is what I have learned.

That the incessant trade ins on my previous leases have not been indictments of that person or of monogamy itself. They've been the symptoms of the illness that was stagnation. Monogamy only becomes monotony when the person (or persons) in the relationship fail to grow - both individually and within the relationship.

I concede that growth is, by definition, a personal journey, and therefore unique to the individual. For some, this may require some form of open relationship. But for others, a single person may prove the perfect soil in which to plant.

There are many metaphors there...and I've likely over and understated my case...but my journey may well be one that shows monogamy remains a viable option for sustainable happiness.

And my friends, that's finally okay by me.

This one isn't funny. So here's a smiley face: :)

Intelligence - study, knowledge, learning - threaten, as they always have, the establishment.

With my Master's imminent, The Powers would tell you - as might Common Sense - that more doors will be open to me. That paths, previously blocked, would be cleared for me. That diligence and study, being virtues, would be rewarded.

They are not.

Power herself, it seems, prefers the company of those lesser minded but better endowed with backgrounds of privilege and pride. To excel, one must court her highness with gifts and flattering words. That these words are disingenuous? Matters not.

And it has always been so.

Unfailingly brilliant, Michelangelo was met with incessant criticism from those whose knowledge of art and architecture was as absent and inept as their churches were rigid and ostentatious.

We see it in his self depictions as Nicodemus. In possession of a then-illegal copy of Scripture, Michelangelo identified with the man who visited Jesus by night - the man who feared being found on his pilgrimage. Michelangelo knew what he believed. But, like Nicodemus, he could not be discovered professing it in daylight.

Forward thinking, it seems, has always fallen victim - at least in the short - to the staunch establishment.

Rather than embrace the enlightenment, we continue to insist on the comfort found in the pitch of The Dark Ages.

So what exactly am I saying? Do I stand here, a Michelangelo among the masses, condemning you for your inferiority to my unheralded brilliance?

The thought beings me a silly smile.

For I am no Michelangelo. I have no great skill or divine insight. I bear only the benefit of being able to witness the Michelangelos of our times. Those men and women who continue to struggle against The Establishment. Those friends whose thoughts, feelings, and natural inclinations so threaten Power as to elicit immediate stifling by way of The Pigeonhole.

My most brilliant and capable friends...those who are able to find work...are placed in positions far below their capabilities. Forced to toil over menial tasks and piss away potential via Pinterest or Spotify, my friends languish at the entry-level, while management/the status quo are "promoted to a level of incompetence."

As a six-year-old version of me would whine, "It's not fair."

Existing in an Era of Entitlement, one could easily claim that I am among those youth who expect the world to be handed over, silver spoon and all, that I might gorge myself while the proverbial African children continue to starve.

My friends, make no mistake - it's not that I don't appreciate my green beans.

But to call myself and my friends entitled is to completely discredit the hardships we've faced in our efforts to swim upstream. And, while I know of the personal struggles of those of whom I speak, I am only at liberty to expose my own personal struggles, which, I assure you, are not mine alone to bear.

The past four years have graced me with the loss of full-time employment, the loss of my home and the subsequent compounding of debt which could not and cannot be overcome by the acceptance of a litany of part-time jobs (the only ones offered me).

Again, on the threshold of my Master's, I openly admit that student loans are presently keeping me afloat. My car has not been serviced in years - which is also about the last time I saw a doctor or dentist. Without health insurance, (not offered at part-time jobs) I cannot afford it.

I type this on a computer given to me countless years ago by my brother.

My rent next month may be paid by my father.

But the resumes I have in circulation? Countless.

A Dean's List Scholar and former journalist, one would think my qualifications would make me a desirable hire. But I am told more often than not that I am an intellectual threat.

"You are overqualified."

"Yes. And I am also broke. Please just let me answer your phones."

And still, I know I have it better than some.

Those starving children in Africa? Yes, I know. I know. I haven't forgotten about them...

Like so many of my generation, Iw as raised to believe that "This is America, the land of opportunity" and that, if I just work hard enough, I will succeed.

But, dear friends, I have been working hard.

And if you are truly my friends, I know you have been too.

So I suppose there's just one thing to do: keep spinning our wheels until we burn out...and then join the others as we exhaustedly float downstream.

Or become the modern Michelangelos.

But then again, even Michelangelo relented to the power of the Papacy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Precious Things

I saw you again on the porch tonight; your hair tied up in a bun.

I know you did it in less than 30 seconds, messy.

You looked gorgeous.

You smiled and said hello to me.

My breath caught in my throat.

You'd just returned from Mexico.

I haven't left the house in two days.

Your bed is just below mine. It's positioned just the same. I saw it when I was there the other night.

We coexist in address.

Our lives?

Worlds apart.

Because you're the beautiful one.

And my smarts don't matter. They pale to your face.

To anyone else or to me.

I'd trade them. Every bit.

To awake from this nightmare in the bed downstairs.

But these are "Precious things."