Not the greatest day

Except for the fact that I have the kickiest of kick-ass husbands, who loves me and tries to make me laugh and usually succeeds in spite of my [unhealthy] desire to hide behind a computer screen. He comes in and pretends to “climb” the screen, or he takes an elevator to the top of it, or pretends he’s an old-fashioned typewriter head moving back and forth over the top of the screen. SUCH. A. DORK.

But I love him. And thankfully, he loves me.

9/11 was a tragedy….

…the possibly premature end to a career in professional baseball is not.  But tell that to a sports journalist.  This morning, on my drive to work, the sports guy on the radio station I was listening to referred to the torn ACL and meniscus of Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, and how his career may be over at age of 42. The age of 42…not 24.  He’s had 18 seasons in the Major leagues, countless honors and awards, and is considered a lock for the Hall of Fame.  I’m not saying it’s not sad, and I’m not saying it’s not an ending that would take adjusting to, but calling it a “tragedy”.  Really?  The man has spent 18 years PLAYING A GAME and getting paid MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.  He’s respected and admired in his chosen profession.  And he’s still a young man.  Not by sports standards, I know, but by just about all other standards.  I adore Tim Duncan.  By basketball standards, he’s old.  He’s well-respected, received many awards and honors, etc.  And if he suffered a career-ending injury tomorrow, I’d be sad, both for him and for the Spurs, but I wouldn’t describe it as a tragedy.  Not by a long shot.

This got me thinking about the other words we abuse.  “Hero” comes to mind. The biggest misuse of the word again comes from the Sports arena.   With a great stretch of the imagination, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant (gag), or Dwane Wade could be characterized as heroes in the Homeric sense.  In that context, a hero can be defined as “a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability”.  I’m down with special strength and ability, but courage?  It’s not like they have to make a drive to the basket amongst sniper fire, people.  Welles Crowther was a hero.   To call a multi-millionaire basketball player, even my Timmy, a hero cheapens the word.

Another word we misuse, perhaps more than any other, is “love”.  Among the definitions of love are:

  1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

These days, we use the word “love” to describe our feelings towards our cars, shoes, smartphones and, sometimes, family.  I had to stop myself from using the word to describe my feelings for the Spurs and for Tim Duncan, though at least I’d be referencing human beings.  I do have affection for the Spurs and Tim Duncan, for their sportsmanship and humility, their skills and their loyalty.  I don’t know how profound, tender, or passionate it is, except maybe during the playoffs, when it’s a tad more passionate (“Manuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!”).

I’m gonna head a bit deeper into the pool and share this from The Guardian.

We are not born with our values: they are embedded and normalised by the messages we receive from our social environment. Most advertising appeals to and reinforces extrinsic values. It doesn’t matter what the product is: by celebrating image, beauty, wealth, power and status, it helps create an environment that shifts our value system. Some adverts appear to promote intrinsic values, associating their products with family life and strong communities. But they also create the impression that these values can be purchased, which demeans and undermines them. Even love is commingled with material aspiration, and those worthy of this love mostly conform to a narrow conception of beauty, lending greater weight to the importance of image.

Let’s not forget.  Tragic is a child dying of cancer, or thousands of people murdered by planes turned into missiles.  A hero is someone who risks or sometimes gives their lives to save someone else, and love is what we should feel for our spouses, our children, our parents, and our friends.

Now I’m off the to Apple store.  Tragically, my iPhone, which I looooove, has died, and I’m hoping the tech will be my hero and restore it.

Whitney Houston, we have a problem

I can’t really say I was a fan, per say.  I’ve never bought one of her albums or really gotten into her songs, though I know many of them.  In fact, “I Have Nothing” has been an earworm in my head since I heard of her death.  I did appreciate, however, the beauty and strength of her voice, and know that many people in her life loved her very much and are devastated by the loss.

That being said, troubled people die prematurely all the time, most of them without the talent, success, and money that celebrities enjoy.  I know, I’ve said before that what is viewed from the outside is merely superficial, and we can’t really know what’s going on in someone’s life to understand their suffering.  I only refer to these things because the average citizen doesn’t always have the means to seek treatment for their ailments.  And non-celebrities don’t get eulogized on national television when they succumb to their demons.

It can be argued that Whitney Houston’s death affects a larger group of people because her music affected a larger group of people.  But, come on, folks, she wasn’t working on the cure for cancer or anything.  The truth is, in our celebrity-obsessed culture, we weep at the premature death of a singer, but don’t even notice when hard-working, well-meaning doctors, scientists, nurses, engineers, teachers, etc. pass away.

Sadly, what needs to happen will never happen.  As a society, we need to ask ourselves why there are SO MANY people who are so unhappy they seek chemical relief.  Not just singers and actors, but cops and garbage men, crossing guards and dentists.  Only about 5% of alcoholics and drug addicts live on skid row.  95% have homes, careers, families.  I know when *I* quit drinking, I found it cathartic to tell people I was an alcoholic, for I had lived with a great deal of shame at the double life I was living.  I was living a lie, so telling people the truth about me was therapeutic, yet I’d often be told by the person I confided in, “Alcoholic?  You?  You’re not an alcoholic!” I didn’t fit the image of a homeless drunk drinking whiskey out of a paper bag, so I couldn’t possibly have a problem.

Too many people are expending too much energy trying to convince everyone they are okay.  The pressure gets to you.  And we as a society, though we can be sympathetic, love to see people fail, especially those as public as Whitney Houston.  We LOVE to feed on the corpse of a dying person/career, then we LOVE to “forgive” the person who claws their way back.  Everyone watched Robert Downey Jr. torpedo his career, go in and out of rehab, and jail, and we ate it up.  As an addict myself, I know the fact that he’s been sober for something like 10 years, well, I cheer that, certainly, and it makes me appreciate his talent all the more.  I’m rooting for him.  When Charlie Sheen went off the rails, people couldn’t turn away from the car crash.  People made jokes about it, yet what we were watching was a mental breakdown.  The man was showing signs of being very, very sick.

We don’t connect with each other.  We don’t show love for each other.  We instead compete with each other, try to best each other.  We like to watch other people fail or act crazy, because it makes us feel better about ourselves.  How else does one explain the success of reality television?  Think anyone would watch any of the Housewives, or Jersey Shore, or The Bad Girls’ Club if healthy, loving, supportive people were on them?  If there were no back-stabbing, narcissistic, addictive behavior to feel superior to?

So I’ll take a cue from Ghandi.  I’ll try to be the change I want to see in the world.  To those who have commented on my posts, either in person or on this blog, I thank you for finding my words valuable enough to reach out to me.  I thank you for listening when I needed to give voice to my pain. It’s truly been helpful to me to be able to share these thoughts and feelings with an ever-widening audience.  I still have to work on being open and loving *in person*, but, baby steps.

Whitney Houston died far too young.  I feel such pity for her daughter, and hope she makes it through this difficult time.  But there are so many people who struggle with many of the same issues.  We rely on chemicals to make us feel good about ourselves and try to convince others we’re okay when we could expend that energy making ourselves stronger.

We don’t love each other enough, and we don’t truly love ourselves enough. And that’s the biggest tragedy.

Wish I was you. Or not.

When I was a freshman at Holmes High School in San Antonio, Texas, I met an obnoxiously tall boy named Will.  Something about this gawky kid made me crush on him immediately.  Three years later, he’d ask me out after a blissful two week flirtation when he suddenly became aware (or decided to act on) a crush he, too, had on me.  He stood me up, and ushered in my first major depression.  For a solid month I’d come home from school and cry until dinner, when I’d wipe off my tears so my mother wouldn’t see I was upset and ask “what are you crying about!?  I’ll give you something to cry about!” (sadly, this was often her reaction to my tears), eat my dinner, then return to my room to cry the rest of the night.  At this time, one of my good friends was Laura, who I would lament to about Will and my broken heart.  Summer break came, and when I returned to school for my senior year, I sat next to Laura in my creative writing class.  She quite sheepishly informed me that she was now dating Will and that, oddly enough, he had stood HER up on THEIR first date, too.  She let it go and they tried again, and were now a couple.  I secretly kicked myself for having called him up and chewing him out after he had stood me up, for I now realized that I had blown my chance with him.

For several months after that, I found myself trying to dress more like Laura, as if my suddenly wearing long flowing skirts and being more girly would make Will notice me again.  I soon abandoned the desire to “be Laura”, for I realized, while I may have wished Will back in my life like that, I didn’t want Laura’s life.  Laura’s life would come with her past, her experiences, her family.  At that time, I preferred my own life to hers.

I’m now at the stage when I don’t necessarily prefer my own history to someone else’s.  I’ve recently discovered Jenny Lawson, and am apparently the last to do so.  She’s wickedly, hysterically funny.  She struggles with depression.  She lives in or around San Antonio.  She’s married and has a daughter.  This morning I realized, I’m close to wishing I was her.  I don’t *think* I’m entirely there yet.  I think what I’d most like is to have her chutzpah.  How is it she’s struggled with so many of the same issues I’ve struggled with, yet she’s been brave enough to put herself out there?  Now, for all I know, her lifelong desire is to be a world-famous tap dancer, and her life as a blogger/writer is her gilded cage but, still, how did she push past her fears to become…fabulous?

About Will….we remained friends for years, but for at least 10 years after high school, I had a monthly dream about him that somehow involved the lost opportunity I had with him.  Finally, about 10 years ago, we were both visiting our folks in San Antonio and decided to go out on that date.  I arrived anxiously at the restaurant and waited for him out front.  My heart leapt as he turned the corner and approached me….and sunk as I saw the expression on his face change from happiness to horror at the site of me.  Though he was the same tall, lanky boy he’d been in high school, a back injury, chronic depression, and an ever-increasing dependence on Jim Beam had left me 100 pounds overweight.  Watching that disappointment register on his face completely crushed me, and it was the most painful date I’ve ever had in my life.  We no longer communicate at all, and I no longer dream about him.  It took me a while to get over, but somewhere in my subconscious mind it must have registered that if that prick was so shallow as to discount me due to my weight, he wasn’t worth dreaming about.

I lost a good portion of that weight prior to meeting my husband.  I put some of it back on and at one point was the heaviest I’ve ever been since we married.  The entire time my husband has adored me. He’s stuck with me through back surgery and childbirth (though he fell asleep briefly while I was in labor…grist for the mill right there), through morphine drips and alcohol withdrawal, gallbladder attacks, the death of my grandfather, two beloved cats and a dog, and recurrent depression. And he gave me a beautiful, funny, smart daughter who makes us both laugh and our hearts smile on a daily basis.

Though I aspire to be braver like so many of the people I admire, I do not yet wish to actually be them, because if I were, my husband would not be in my life and my daughter would not exist.  And that would be a greater loss than anything I’ve experienced.