Call Me Lonely Hearts, the Valentine Grinch

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In about two weeks, thousands of people, young and old, will be scrambling around looking to purchase items in pink and red.

Flower sales will rise as will the sales of greeting cards, lingerie, strawberries, poorly made stuffed animals and chocolates wrapped in heart-shaped boxes.

Children will be licking the frosting off of pink sprinkled cupcakes while possibly exchanging tiny superhero or princess cards with one another at school parties.

Many men and women will feel the heat, not from a deep meaningful relationship, but from the pressure of making sure everything is perfect on Friday, February 14, as to avoid the possibility of tears and a potential argument.

(Personally, I’ll be feeling the heat by graduating to a new belt in Taekwondo that night, which to me, is far more meaningful than a goofy eyed monkey professing his love and dark chocolate covered truffles, but that’s another story.)

Like many teenagers, people around the world will be adopting the festivities, without even an understanding of what this day represents, simply because other people are doing it.

Those who (think) they have found that “special someone” to share it with will have a night to remember. Whether the memories of the night end up being good or bad is also another story.

Which brings us to everyone else. The Naysayers. The Day O’ Love Grinches. The people who reject any form of romantic comedy. The ones who shuffle their feet in the dirt as they walk by mumbling their annoyances at all things cute and cuddly. The Lonely Hearts.

Which makes me think about and observe my surroundings. As I sit here, getting my oil changed, I witness the disconnect of the human experience. Customers are making certain there is ample seating space between them, staring at tablets or screens, creating a see-through shield, not unlike myself.

Suddenly, I feel someone staring at me. I look up to attempt eye contact with a smile only to receive the quick “Damn! She caught me looking” turn away in return. Uncomfortable, I decide to take a quick bathroom break.

Not even five minutes pass when I return to find my seat was immediately stolen by the customer who pulled the ol’ “look away”. There are plenty of available seats. He was sitting in one. Why did he get up and cross over and take mine? Was it some weird attempt to connect. Was he even looking at me in the first place? Perhaps he was coveting my chair the whole time? Maybe he just wanted to get closer to the old school western that was playing on the waiting room television.

Whatever the case may be, it’s irritating, I hate my new seat and I’m definitely not going to take his old one.

Regardless, my own hang ups aside, calling a spade a spade, I am equally as guilty as everyone else when it comes to wanting to keep to myself.

My inanimate screens have “got my back” for those awkward moments when I just don’t want to talk. They are a means of escaping discussions I know I shouldn’t have. They are a way to create the “please don’t approach me” line of invisibility almost, at times, as harsh as the old school “talk to the hand” gesture but far more passive-aggressive.

On the flip side, my devices have also been there for me, like a reliable friend, in the moments I felt ignored or not needed by others, acting as a safety net, a digital wingman and quick access to a willing person on the other side waiting to connect through social networking or texting.

Bottom line, I’ve felt the empty awkwardness of loneliness and being out of place, even when surrounded by many others who are seemingly having a good time.

It’s safe to say, we all have.

As of 2012, there are reported to be 7.064 billion people on Earth.

7.064 BILLION.

With so many people, how can I possibly ever feel lonely?

How can anyone?

Why are there people out there who feel so lonely that they can’t stand to live another day? There is always someone in close proximity to talk to, right?

Is it our obligation to at least try to make sure that extreme loneliness in others doesn’t occur? Should we be the ones to welcome others into our worlds, even just briefly? After all, everyone, at some point, just needs to be heard.

With 7.064 billion of us out there, surely we can take a few minutes out of our day to be there for someone, whether we know them or not, to let them vent, to let them cry, to make them laugh to help them smile.

We all have the ability to be sources of comfort.
Comfort for the young.
Comfort for the old.
Comfort for those who are like us.
Comfort for those who are not.

Regardless of our commonalities or differences, we all have one thing in common, we’re all human beings who feel lonely one time or another and the more we are there for each other the more together we’ll all be.

That being said, it’s amazing what five minutes of genuine attention can do.

“Awkward!”: A Piece of Fiction Inspired by an Awkward Fact

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We froze, staring at each other.  Him standing, me sitting.

A brief first encounter but not one I’d easily forget.

My gut and clenched jaw conveyed to me that I was being an inconvenience to him.

His face was incredibly stern, lifeless, what counselors would call “having a flat affect”.  I wasn’t intimidated, though I certainly should have been.

A sneaky grin, coated with sarcasm, curved onto my face as I innocently answered his first question, while shaking my head, “Oh no, the picture I took of you…it’s for Facebook. You know…to teach my friends a lesson, while learning mine.”

His initial silence spoke volumes as he handed me a thin piece of paper, “If you wanted my number all you had to do was ask for it?”

Without saying a word I crumpled it up and shoved it into my overly stuffed purse.

Hoping I would never see him again, I watched as he walked away.

Arrogantly, he stopped and waited for me to leave first. Determination kept me there but I finally gave in just wanting to be as far away from him as possible.

It took me a few minutes to be sure he was no longer near me before I felt safe.

Even though I couldn’t stand him, when he was out of my sight, he was anything but out of my mind.  For the remainder of the night, he was all I thought about, as I committed the structure of his face to memory.

Immediately, his stolen image was texted to my closest friends and of course, my status updated with it too.

What was he thinking stopping me like that? He knew it wouldn’t make me happy.

Sleep was the only remedy for moving
past our uncomfortable encounter.

The night seemed much shorter than it really was.  The vibrating buzz next to my head gradually brought me out of my coma-like sleep, my thumb putting my phone on snooze.

Ten minutes pointlessly felt like ten seconds, “Ugh!” I had to get up.

An oscillating fan blew my bedroom window curtain to the side, “Just like I thought…cold, dark and drizzling.”

There was always comfort when it actually rained, like visible drops of rain, but when it drizzled, it felt like I missed something big and only caught it’s miserable end.

I scratched my kittens head with the corner of my phone as he rubbed up against mine, “Time for me to go again, Fluffernutter.”

Having a mind of its own, my thumb sneakily slid to the photos app to reveal his picture once more,  “Like I really need to see that!?” Moving past last night wasn’t going to be easy.

An early breakfast certainly wasn’t going to happen, so rather than dwell on it, I darted out the door, covering my head with my hood, to shield me from the obnoxious “rain”.

Fourteen hours had passed since our cold encounter, but who was counting?

I was.

It took some concentration but as soon as I convinced myself that he no longer mattered and that I never had to see him again, there he was, insidiously behind me, like he totally knew I was going to be right there at that exact moment.

Did he know where I lived? Was he following me? Was I safe?

Pulling my cap as low on my forehead as I could, I held it’s brim looking down, ostrich style,  hoping he wouldn’t notice me, even though I knew he did and rolled down my window before he asked me to.

Extending my arm out to him, holding exactly what I knew he wanted from me, I shook my head slowly back and forth, still looking down, in shame.

He reached over, taking what he came for, “I clocked you in at forty-five miles per hour this time, Miss.”

Flushed with reddening cheeks I didn’t look up, “I am so so sorry.”

“Where are you headed, Miss?”

I continued to talk to my lap, “School.”

Three of his fingers wiggled in my periphery, “Well, I’m not going to write you up this time but three’s a charm.”

“Thank you.  You have no idea, I am so so sorry.”

He wished me well, “Be safe out there”, and like a champion, strutted away.

By this point I knew the routine and pulled out first.  The heat of his stare followed me from behind all the way to my next turn.

While coasting away, slowly, I beat myself up, not for getting pulled over twice in less than twenty-four hours but for not asking him to take a “selfie” with me.  You know, to continue teaching my friends a lesson as I continued to learn mine.  Lord knows that after being forced to go thirty miles per hour, I certainly had enough time to think about it.

 

 

 

“Insta” Gratification: QUICK! Read this NOW!

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Like most, I’ve become accustomed to the speed with which information is gathered, dispersed and received.

Technology has boomed so rapidly that it’s become second nature for me to constantly have my phone at my fingertips.

Even when I’m not using it practically I’m tapping it’s screen out of habit, and maybe even comfort, because I find the new iPhone OS to be quite airy and soothing.

Just looking at the apps “float” on the screen relaxes me especially when I choose an ethereal background image.

So yes, I’ll be the first to admit that I love my phone. I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m addicted to it too.

Certainly, it has it’s benefits with accessibility and functionality. It comes in quite handy when I’m on road trips and for that funny Facebook moment I just have to update about…immediately.

Even more importantly, I’ve sadly justified that my phone has proven to be beneficial while walking through parking lots because I’m always ready to wield my phone as a weapon if need be.

So, yes, there are many benefits to technology, granted, some unconventional ones like the one listed above or as Stephen Colbert once pointed out, using an iPad to chop salsa.

Any way you look at it, being “connected” is a double edged sword.

On one hand a pro is that I have the world and all of the people I know right at my fingertips. On the other hand…I have the world and all of the people I know right at my fingertips.

Currently, I’m using my phone to blog and listen to a playlist on Spotify while my brother is driving us to the beach. A text message notification from
a friend just flashed at the top of my screen only moments after I took a photo of everyone in our car that I texted to my father.

All of the above may be good and well but really when I think about it, my God, what a waste of time.

Instead of writing about the palm trees zooming past my window I should actually be looking at them.

Instead of talking about the music I’m listening to I should actually be listening to it.

Instead of blogging about the pictures I’m taking of my family I should be in the center of their universe engaging them in conversation.

Unfortunately, addictions are a bitch.
But admitting it is the first step.

So on that note, rather than enjoying the airiness of my iPhone I’m going to shut down my phone, roll down the windows of my car, breathe in the fresh air and soak up some real sun…right after I tweet about.

To Thine Own Self(ie) be True

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“Trust your self(ie). Create the kind of self(ie) that you will be happy to live with all of your life. Make the most of yourself(ie) by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” – My edited social networking version of a Golda Meir quote.

Selfies. Selfies. Selfies.
There I said it. Selfies.

First and foremost, I am capital G.U.I.L.T.Y. of the dreaded “Selfie”. Secondly, there are several words in life that I despise and “Selfie” is one of them. (Might I add that the word “Selfie” does not come up as an error in autocorrect and to be honest I’m not so sure how I feel about that.)

It wasn’t until recently that “Selfies” started to create quite a stir in the world of social networking. My Facebook newsfeed was littered with both comments by “Selfie Haters” and posts by “Selfie Players”. I saw “shares” of posts entitled things like ‘Top Ten Worst Selfies’, ‘Best Selfies of 2013’ and even ‘The Most Dangerous Places to Take a Selfie’.

Then one day, a private message from a friend, asking me not to be offended by the posts she wrote about hating “Selfies”, showed up in my inbox.

Next, on my newsfeed posts from people emphatically trashing people who take “Selfies” were woven between actual posts of “Selfies”.

And finally, discussions, compliments, insults, and in my opinion way too much time thinking about “Selfies”, started popping up everywhere.

That being said, my opinion of “Selfies” has been shelved in the back of my mind for quite sometime.

It wasn’t until a couple of days ago that the drama of opinions about “Selfies” actually made me think about taking the time to blog about them.

Essentially, a non-social networking friend of mine was stunned when the topic of “Selfies” came up. Said friend made a jab/joke about me taking a “Selfie” (or two…or three…) and the person he was with at the time had a difficult time grasping the fact that my friend had done that.

Though I wasn’t actually present during the conversation, it was my understanding that my friend was told that the joke about me taking selfies was a huge insult.

But in my world, I didn’t give a @&$^.

Self portraits have been made by civilizations since the earliest of times. For me, Self Portraiture started many moons ago, way back when, in the ancient world of the 90’s.

Repeatedly, throughout my years in Art School, I was assigned to make collages, take photographs, draw, paint, sculpt, write about, film, sketch, animate and create three-dimensional expressions of my external and internal self. Thinking about how I “looked” inside and out was a very basic and average subject when living a life studying the arts and the concept of “self” seemed even more important when obtaining a degree in Counseling. After all, if we don’t truly know ourselves and aren’t comfortable in our own skin, how on Earth can we know others.

Yes, one can argue that what I described above is art while snapshots from a smartphone is simply a snapshot of arrogance. But who are we to decide what is art and what isn’t?

Maybe the guy at the gym with his bulging biceps thinks his abs are canvas worthy. Maybe the tired mom, who has been taking care of five kids, finally had the time to get a haircut and some rest so she decided it would be a good day to snap a shot of herself before the bags under her eyes come back to haunt her. Maybe the person at a stop light had a really bad day and in that fleeting moment she finally felt good about herself because someone smiled at her before she got in her car and she wanted to capture that moment.

Perhaps the teenage girl in high school finally escaped a barrage of name calling, insults, verbal or physical abuse and sadly can only feel good about herself when her friends click a “like” button. The reasons behind a “Selfie” are endless.

For me, my personal self expression journey, via social media, started when I signed up for Facebook years ago, asking me for my name, location, movies I like, books I read, favorite quotes, interests, am I single, am I married, when was I born, where was I born, where am I now, who am I with, when did I graduate, where did I study, what did I study, do I have a job, am I still at this job, am I at a new job, what do I do at that job, how long have I been at that job, who am I friends with, who are they friends with and what’s on my mind? (To name a few).

And all of those questions were presented and answered way before a profile photo even came to my mind.

The way I see it, Facebook and all avenues of social networking are a form of self indulgent “Selfies” through and through.

When posting a link we assume people care. When we update our status we assume people care. When we talk about the successes of our families, their illnesses, births, deaths, graduations and pregnancies we assume that people care.

What’s the weather like where I am? Am I cold? Am I hot? Am I hungry, tired, having fun? Who’s with me? Did I have fun with you?

Here’s a photo of us having fun. Here’s a photo of you not. I’m at this store. I saw this movie. I liked it. I hated it. I passed a test. My kid scored in soccer. My daughter got married. I got divorced. I agree with this political view or maybe I don’t. I’m right, you’re wrong. The list of how social networking is all about us goes on and on…

So when my profile has my name on it and my profile knows more about me than I probably do, I see no harm in including a self portrait/snapshot to visually represent the me I currently am.

I mean you did just read that I was shivering in the cold, eating a turkey sub, while my sister was giving birth to triplets in room 405 at the hospital and since no one’s around I’d better document myself to go along with it. After all wouldn’t you rather see a picture of me than what’s currently digesting in my stomach and preparing to come out.

Agree with me or not, (feel free to post your opinion on Facebook in the off chance that someone actually cares) the way I see it, if someone else takes a picture of me and I post it online, it’s nothing but a “Selfie” taken a few feet away. All that matters to me is whether or not the person posting pictures of him or herself online treats others with genuine kindness and respect.

So “Selfie” away my friends because Lord knows that a great deal of people in this world care only about themselves anyway, whether they take pictures of themselves or not, probably because they are spending far too much time in front of a mirror.

Why Blades of Hope? Women Aren’t Accessories, They Just Wear Them

Women Aren’t Accessories, They Just Wear Them

The Write Paige

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Whether you call them comic books or graphic novels they often have something in common, women.  It’s no secret to most that comic books have a habit of objectifying women regardless of their hero status.

Rather than truly focusing on physical strengths, many comic book artists and writers have a tendency to focus on a female character’s physical assets instead, making it a point to have a woman’s super powers permeating from the curves of her chest rather than the  intelligence of her mind.

It’s safe to assume that the comic book industry is heavily populated with a typical male mindset, leaving most female characters in compromising positions and outfits.

The comic book industry has always stirred strong emotions in me due to the vast negative portrayal of women that pollute many comic book pages.

Knowing that male readers, young and old, are soaking up the myth that women are…

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