Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I am a victim

I am a victim of labels. The words that make or break a human being. I have been called many things in my life. I've been a hippie, I've been a loser, I've been morbid and creative. I've been called evil and wise and offensive and compassionate. I've been called an introvert and brave and stubborn. I've been told I'm beautiful,  I've been told I'm ugly. My ability to love and care has been put in doubt, but then it has also been celebrated. My writing has been praised and my singing has been criticized. I am an entire catalogue of witty nicknames and misnomers.

They always say not to describe your child as anything but the best. Not to label your child or allow others to. Growing up, I was a very quiet kid. Everyone would say, "Ariel is shy. She needs to speak up. One day she'll come out of her shell." These people didn't know me.  They didn't know I loved performing on stage and screaming at concerts and that one day I would be the only one willing to enter the rehearsal room and kick out the people who were staying too long. They didn't know I'd travel the world alone and make friends with Chinese people and Greek people and people from countries no one knew existed. They didn't know I would stand up when no one else could or would. Or fight for my rights, my desires, my beliefs.... Nonetheless, they told me who I was. They defined me for the rest of the world. Words like "shy" and "weird", or even "crazy" would stick with me for the rest of my life. They're the first words I would think of when asked to describe myself. They're the words I let others staple onto my forehead and treat me as.

To this day, I get anxiety being with people. Maybe it's not because of some sort of social fear, but because of a fear of being "shy" again. I was always told it was a bad trait, that I had to learn to be someone else. I had to act like I always had something to say and speak up. That lying back and only speaking when spoken to was wrong. The person I was born to be, the person I called "me" was bad. If that "me" showed up in social settings, I had reason to worry. I was condemned to speak or once again be the bad "me" that no one liked. That was what made me anxious, that is what I was running from.

I bet you, whoever you may be, are also a victim. Maybe you are the mental kid or the fat kid or the kid who enjoyed math class a little too much. Nerd. You heard it too many times. I know you have heard it too many times because just once is too many. It is easy for others to say, "You're not a kid anymore. No one has called you that in 10 years!" That doesn't mean the words didn't sting and leave a mark in your mind. People are a product of their experiences. Those words and names that we grew up with were how we created our identities. What else did we have? We needed something to base our self-opinion on. As soon as your mother beamed at you and shrieked, "He's a big boy, but he'll outgrow the baby fat." There. There it is. You are now the big boy who HAS to outgrow the baby fat. Who else could you be? What else is there? The words "Perfect as he is" aren't even on the table yet. When you find that baby fat doesn't magically melt away at 14 or 15 or even 16, now you have failed to be the person you were told you were. You were supposed to outgrow it. You didn't, and now... you're just the big boy who didn't get less fat. You're the big nose whose face didn't grow into it. You're the neuroscientist's kid who didn't catch onto science. You're the tall kid who didn't get perfect with practice. As a matter of fact, you didn't even learn to enjoy basketball. What a waste.

This is not a message that has not been expressed before a thousand times in a thousand different ways. Everyone nods and agrees and wishes they could stop the insults and the bullying and the self-loathing. It doesn't stop, though, it won't stop. Not until every mother and father learns how to speak to their child, not until every child learns to love themselves, not until humans can look at other humans and really care and want them to be happy. Not as happy as they are themselves or happy on the exterior or pessimistically happy, but humans need to deeply and so passionately that it hurts wish for other people to live lives full of beautiful, wonderful things. Maybe life won't be a dream, sweetheart, and of course it's stupid to live entirely on the phrase "it could be worse!", but the first step is believing and wanting such gaiety to exist in others' lives. There's no room for resentment or envy, there's only room for a hug and telling someone, and I quote 'Almost Famous', "It's all happening."

We are the deities of our destiny.

Friday, January 10, 2014

I can be cute...

or, dare I say, adorable!

I never was the type to be romantic, let me just say that. I'm the "figure out I like you or hit the road" sort. However, recently that has changed. Maybe that is due to my journey, maybe that is me growing up, or maybe that's just me getting sick of missing out on good things. How do I know I've changed, even just a little bit? Well... I just applied for a job. Not just any job, I applied for a job at Sprinkles Cupcakes. Yes, I do love looking at pastries, but that's not why I applied. I applied because their number 1 special benefit of the job. One free cupcake a day!

Now, I can only eat their one vegan cupcake and my dog can only eat their one doggie cupcake, so what's the point? Well, first of all, a free cupcake is the best kind of cupcake, and second of all, I couldn't help but imagine some guy coming into my life and me being able to offer him a different flavoured cupcake every day of the week.

Sure, in my fantasy he's dressed as Dick Van Dyke in one of those movies I have never seen that Dick Van Dyke is in, and I myself am sporting a parasol and a hoop skirt, but that's not my point! My point is, I applied for a job entirely for the purpose of doing something ridiculously  ridunkadunk for a BOY!

I've written my share of depressing anti-romance songs and had periods of time swearing off the boy man figure sort, but never have I ever wanted to commit an entire job and every day of it to shoving a love-soaked cushy muffin of sugary puke into a fellas mouth. Not to mention, then watching as it took its effect and he got fatter and fatter, to the point where he felt he had to come rolling into my job one day and say, "Feed me no more cupcakes, my love, for I have grown beastly and undesirable", and as I shove yet another floury calorie cauldron into a stretch marked, veiny, heart attack threatening bod, I whisper, "More to love, my dear, more to love...." And then his blood clots, he drops to the ground, says, "Thank you, my love", and dies.

Something like that, at least. Not to say that that is what I desire, since I think it's gross to feed someone else, but you're missing the point! I want to take care of someone and show I care. WHO AM I!?

I feel a deep life lesson coming on...

See, my whole life I've struggled with affections and intimacies. I am not a hugger or a kisser or a toucher or a teller. I sit back and let the world happen to me. This is why I have been told on multiple occasions that I am the calmest person ever. It's true. I don't bug people, I don't complain or hate or really affect people's lives unless they come to me (Well, I do try to make people's lives better, but not individuals usually.) In general, I don't push myself into people's lives. However, sometimes they want me to or expect me to. I just never know that! Not because my self esteem is so low, but because it doesn't occur to me! I don't know how to human, okay?!

It turns out, you have to make an effort to keep people in your life! Be brave, be stupid, be vulnerable! I've realized, these are things one has to consciously decide to do, especially if it doesn't come naturally. Once in a while I have to remember, "If I don't step up, I'll lose this person".... There is a cause and effect and even if I don't want to feel stupid and "put myself out there", I guess if it matters enough, it's worth feeling stupid, or even hurt. Maybe I'll even be surprised what comes of it. Or just end up absolutely miserable and embarrassed and angry. It's like I've always said, though, we're on this Earth with absolutely NO other purpose, why not try things that may end poorly? Might as well.

Someone important to me said recently something that really stuck. Basically, he said, "When we meet someone, we are meeting a bodyguard for their 10 year old selves", something along those lines. At first I wanted to disagree, I tried to think of flaws in that logic, but... nope, it's true. Around 10 is when our feelings about others really start to form. As babies, many phobias come about and we never lose certain fears or dislikes, but for the most part, we are aware and start losing trust at 10 or so. That defense remains for the rest of our lives. However, what we make of it and how we take control of it is what matters. Personally, I never even tried to control my wall. I had it up there and I got so cozy with it. I had put up a painting and had a fireplace under a shelf with a goldfish bowl on it. I mean, I was living it up. On another part of the wall were burgundy and gold drapes that matched the brick perfectly. I had spent several years choosing that colour palette, but I was so proud of my choice. Even the windows themselves were perfectly wiped down each day. Not a streak in sight! I had put up a little wind chime to jangle when the winds were particularly rough and made their way through the slight space between the glass and the window frame. The noise was very woody and not metallic like most wind chimes. High pitched noises tend to bug me, so I was very glad for this. It was heaven.

That is, until one person stopped trying to climb the wall. This person threw out his hammer and his climbing boots and stopped trying to get over or through the wall. He simply chilled out in by the door. Occasionally he waved at me through the window, but he never tried to break the glass. This changed everything.

For the first time, I opened the window and I offered him a glass of water. I watched everyone outdoors and I felt the breeze and the sun. I wanted to be outdoors too! I wanted to go to a party with my best gal pal and tightly hold onto someone's hand so we wouldn't lose each other. Maybe I'd know the lyrics to a pop song and sing it unashamedly (maybe....) I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, I still think it's so cliche and goofy, but I think if I could lead this life for a little bit, just try it out, I could get to really enjoy it. I could make it part of who I am and how I live my life. Or at least I could integrate it into my current lifestyle. A little privacy and safety mixed with allowing individuals to get into my secret garden... that's not an innuendo, even though it sounds like one. At this point, it does seem worth a try, though. I think I can do it.

The secret is and was, that no one can convince me to do it. No one can tell me do it. That's just because I am a contrarian. I think most people are, whether aware of it or not. God, if I make one more life choice because my grandmother wants it or doesn't want it, I might have to punch a baby. I am SO over that way of living. If she tells me one more time to get my master's degree or marry a tall Jewish lawyer or... well, that's the only two things she wants me to do with my life. Neither are going to be up to her anymore. That's step one!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back in the atmosphere. Read this quickly and then move on.

I think of you all as a plain ol' Jane who never could fly, but... always could land? No. Not gonna lie- I can never remember song lyrics. Oh well.

I am back in the States! Back from my 4 month getaway to Israel. The land of milk and honey. Neither of which I consume. I shall refer to it as the land of Hummus and Bamba. I am back, though! I met wonderful people, I saw amazing places, I heard lots of Hebrew and I felt homesick, as well as at home. Israel truly is a mysterious land. A world of its own. It is indescribable and incomparable. A land of the chosen and hated people. The strongest, hardest working, some of the most dishonest, and some of the most generous people. The laws are lenient, the cops are absent but waiting at every mall and airport and center. The army is intense, the veterans are damaged. The land is barren, yet alive. The city is wild, yet quiet. The cats are everywhere, the dogs bark constantly, the children are self-sufficient, and those who are 30+ and single are failures. Religion is rampant, but most of the citizens are tired of it. Hostility is kept to a minimum. Everyone is running from something or somewhere or someone. Tons of refugees and not enough room. Not enough jobs or money or homes. From Sudan and Palestine and Ethiopia and the Philippines... More than 30,000 runaways, rejects, outcasts, scared women, men, children, homosexuals. Muslims, Christians, Jews, and everything in between. There is a fear in the air, but you can't ignore all the love, either.  Every loud noise. Every raised voice. Every screaming child. Is it a joyful sound or reason to run and hide and cry and hate? There are many walls and borders and patrols and semantics. Occupied land or just more land? Who is being given more care and money? Should refugees and Palestinians receive more money and housing than Israeli citizens? There is jealousy alongside the concern. They are friends, they are compadres, but is it fair? So much controversy over the land and who deserves what money and power and titles. Names, labels. If no one has claims to land or should own it, as some say, why are these same people saying Palestinians should have more land? Or less land? Or any land? Or all the land? Is a "Jewish" state sustainable? Is it anti-semitic to think not? Is it Zionist to think so? Do most people who talk about Zionism know what Zionism is? Does anyone care? Do people just read the newspaper and decide what country is right, what people, what government, what religion? Have they every spoken to someone living in the reality? Would it matter if they did? Are people just looking for something to be angry about? Are they right? Should a country kill children in order to protect their own children? Should a country protect their leaders by using children, knowing they will die? Do two wrongs make a right? Do we always have to choice to what is right? Is decency a luxury? A privilege? Yet, right there we find Muslim and Christians and Jews sitting together on a Friday night. Barbecuing together. Similar rules and laws and expectations. Families together. Ice cream trucks. Playing and chatting. The children don't know or care. Their parents are happy to make new acquaintances. The sea and the beach is for everyone. The holiday is understood. The food is beloved and shared. The customs are remembered and taught. The same buses, the same roads, the same fantasies. Knowledge of why things are what they are. They want peace. They all want peace. Their governments don't. Their extremists don't. The media does not. The conspiracists, war mongers, blood thirsty propagandists. The people putting children's dolls and toys and clothing among the wreckage. One side of the story. One lifestyle that will never understand another. A world far from our comprehension. My comprehension. Your comprehension. A reality. A lifetime, a history, a battle that must be fought. Is it a necessary evil, necessarily evil? Avoidable? Are we, they, someone fighting the wrong people? Everyone cries together. The ones who celebrate. You know who to point fingers at. The ones dying with pride. The people looking forward to Heaven...? Can love be universal. Is it truly what the world wants? Is the middle east our trainwreck? Is it our colosseum? Our boxing ring? Oh, the horror! The horror!

My trip. My travel. My lesson.

Now my absolute favourite monologue from 'Whatever Works'. A Woody Allen masterpiece acted out by whatshisname.... Larry David!

"What the hell does it all mean, anyhow? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nothing comes to anything. And yet, there's no shortage of idiots to babble. Not me. I have a vision. I'm discussing you. Your friends. Your coworkers. Your newspapers. The TV. Everybody's happy to talk. Full of misinformation. Morality, science, religion, politics, sports, love, your portfolio, your children, health. Christ, if I have to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day to live, I don't wanna live. I hate goddamn fruits and vegetables. And your omega 3's, and the treadmill, and the cardiogram, and the mammogram, and the pelvic sonogram, and oh my god the-the-the colonoscopy, and with it all the day still comes where they put you in a box, and its on to the next generation of idiots, who'll also tell you all about life and define for you what's appropriate. My father committed suicide because the morning newspapers depressed him. And could you blame him? With the horror, and corruption, and ignorance, and poverty, and genocide, and AIDS, and global warming, and terrorism, and-and the family value morons, and the gun morons. "The horror," Kurtz said at the end of Heart of Darkness, "the horror." Lucky Kurtz didn't have the Times delivered in the jungle. Ugh... then he'd see some horror. But what do you do? You read about some massacre in Darfur or some school bus gets blown up, and you go "Oh my God, the horror," and then you turn the page and finish your eggs from the free range chickens. Because what can you do. It's overwhelming! I tried to commit suicide myself. Obviously, it didn't work out. But why do you even want to hear about all this? Christ, you got your own problems. I'm sure your all obsessed with any number of sad little hopes and dreams. Your predictably unsatisfying love lives, your failed business ventures. "Oh, if only I'd bought that stock! If only I-if only I purchased THAT house years ago! If only I'd made a move on THAT woman." If this, if that. You know what? Gimmie a break with your could have's and should have's. Like my mother used to say, "If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a trolley car." My mother didn't have wheels. She had varicose veins...."