Let’s Acknowledge: The Self-Destruct Button.

When life becomes hard, there is one of two things we can do: fight or flight. In love, we sign the same deal. When it becomes tough, we can fight for our love or let it fly away. The situation with the latter is that there is always a lingering hope that it will fly back to you. But if you haven’t trained it to fly back, if it hasn’t a clue what to do once it’s released, then what? What if it flies into oncoming traffic? What if it gets sucked into an airplane? With this train of thought, without the hope or the coming back, doesn’t it become more of a self-destruct of your relationship than the letting go of it? Is this not the proverbial point of no return? Where does the line get drawn? When does the big red button become so tantalizing that the only feeling in the world is to press it and watch the fireworks come to life?

For one, it’s a much prettier end. To see the twirling embers in every color from scarlet to chartreuse light up the night sky, like a funeral pyre for those three years spent wondering if they’d propose, only to end your nights with lukewarm sex and a sweaty back. What better way to end a lackluster streak such as that than with a spectacle far more enjoyable than the ending credits of the fiftieth action movie you just watched? That, of course, is the best case scenario. But what about those moments you find yourself overthinking? What about those moments when the big red button is just an escape from a wonderful, yet emotionally difficult relationship? What if you just don’t want to fight anymore?

Thinking that it could be so much better, thinking that you want nothing more than to watch the fireworks twirl and dance, instead of spending one more day talking about your classes or work or how Patrice baked you the wrong kind of cookies when you were feeling down. What if, the need becomes so enticing, so comforting that you notice your hand begin to hover over the button. It’s bright and shiny and red, untouched and aching to launch days and months of work, devotion, and passion into the sky in a fashion that would entrance the most stubborn of audiences and frighten the most fearless of dogs? You get closer and closer and everything slows down; the sound of your heart pounds in your ear and you actually stop and think for once if it’s what you want to do, because to end something so abruptly isn’t a task to be taken lightly. You then begin making excuses, fabricated reasons to send rockets to the sky. How he licks his teeth, how he smells in the morning, how she scratches her armpit in a way that makes her look like an orangutan, or how the lack of texts means that they must be cheating on you. Lingering fears flood your mind and your gasping for air, the only thing in sight is the bright red button. I will briefly confess that this happens to me. Often. Why can’t you just push the thoughts aside? Let them lie still for once and realize that you have something special. Realize that someone is there for you. Realize that it could be something very, very good for you. Of course, if it really is something that is destructive or poisonous, then the best thing to do is go away, to push the button. Every love life is different and circumstantial. Please don’t look at my love life or your sibling’s, or your parent’s as a monolith for what true love is, because it’s different for everyone.

The fireworks are beautiful, I can tell you that now. They will leave you with awe and inspiration and life. But it’s temporary. The flames will fade and the smell of gunpowder and smoke will linger. The self-destruct button exists, but you can dismantle it. You can wish it away. You can control your life. So given the circumstance, what would it be: Fight or Firework?

Let’s Redefine: Strength, Tears, & Weakness.

I was a cry baby growing up. If someone stole my toy, I would cry. If someone hit me, I would cry. If someone made a joke at my expense, guess what? I would cry. All those tears shed, you’d be surprised how often I didn’t get dehydrated. It was permissible to be a “cry baby” as a child, because you aren’t expected to be strong. You aren’t expected to understand. But as I grew older, crying was seen as something negative. Something weak. When the hell did that flip happen? Where was I to approve of it? Thing is, that wasn’t up to me. For so long, I was told to not be “sensitive.” I was told not to cry. I was told to hold it in. So I did. I held those tears in, because I felt that in order to be strong, I couldn’t show this kind of emotion. In order to be strong, I wasn’t allowed to cry. I’ll say this now because it’s the truth: I wasn’t allowed to cry because I’m a boy. That’s the mindset society calls for in its male-identifying individuals: hidden emotion and shown physical strength. It sucks, I know.

To be honest, I can’t quite recall the last time I cried. Felt tears cascade down my cheeks and drip on to the collar of my shirt. Yet, I don’t feel any stronger having not cried for so long. In fact, I feel broken. Not being able to outwardly express these feelings makes me feel confined within the some invisible box of stoical masculinity that somehow inhibits my strength. At funerals, I wouldn’t cry and to some that may be strength, I guess? “He’s so strong, not letting his emotions get to him.” But I’ll tell you now, that at those moments of sadness and despair, I wanted to cry more than anything in the world, but my body wouldn’t let me. In the one permissible scenario where tears are allowed, more so expected, they didn’t show up. And I am so upset that I couldn’t.

As of today, I will say that I will allow my child to cry. I will allow my friends to cry. I will allow anyone who wants to cry to cry. Crying is a good thing. It isn’t a sign of weakness or submissiveness. It’s strength. To wear your heart on your sleeve for the whole world to see shouldn’t be weakness; it’s bravery. Few people ever dare to do that, so to those that do, I commend you and I strive to be like you. You embody true strength. One that is unbidden and unhidden.

Weighing the Options.

You do not truly understand stress, until you’re less than a month away from graduating college. Preparedness is a thing of the past and panic is a cruel punch to the gut in place of it. I’ll be the first to tell you (and definitely not the last) that the job hunt is fierce, difficult, and trying. It will test your patience, your morals, and your ability to not give any fucks, because you will undoubtedly give as many fucks as you’ve been holding back just to get an interview or even a rejection email. Think of backups and backups to those backups, they are essential. They will give you a peace of mind that could only otherwise be achieved through intoxication or an induced coma. If graduate school is your plan, then I commend you because you’ve obviously garnered some grasp of higher learning that I am only now delving in to. The options are hopeful, but the tuition is dreadful. I know I’ll make it through somehow. Sometimes you don’t understand or appreciate the process, until you’ve gotten to the finish line. Sweating and cramping, I will make it to the finish line. Just like I know you will.

Let’s Examine: Consent.

**I will admit: This post is inspired by a class I’m currently taking at school focused around social constructionism and popular culture. A quick caveat and preface: If you are taking a class at school/college/uni and the content is permeable between the realms of your social life and academic life, don’t take it for granted. That class will stick with you forever and you will look back and realize how grateful you were for that professor. So thank you, Professor Bucholtz. Here we go. **

As you have probably guessed at this point from the previous four posts that I am constantly baffled at the world around me. Baffled at the students that embody my school, at the decisions news outlets make and what they deem as “news.” But there’s nothing more baffling to me than sexual assault. Now, this post isn’t going to touch on this topic, per se, but the actual topic does seep in to it. Today (at the time of writing it is Monday, April 13) my professor offered us a challenge: Locate within popular culture (US and British television and film, primarily) examples of consent. It must be a verbalized question and not just a “look.” You all know what the “look” is, right?

It looks a bit like that. No words; just the glance, the slow motion, and the palpable tension between two people. I understand why this wasn’t an allowed option. For one, is it really consensual if no one says yes? Debatable. I began my search, writing up every last TV show and movie I can think of that can possibly exhibit some sort of vocalized consent. Anything! Please society, don’t let me down, I pleaded. As I went through, I began to notice a trend. Most of the shows I began to think of with any shred of consent were TV shows centered on young adults, banking on their first kiss. Even then, it was rare that something was even said. Even more interesting, were that these shows were released in the 1990’s! The ’90s! The upcoming generation wasn’t even alive yet! What does this say about the current pop culture that is floating around in society? What does it say for the future? Will my future child just pop out demanding sex because they feel its their birthright? Probably not, because they’re so fresh and new, but I’d give it at least until his/her/their tenth birthday. Moreover, my research led me to films which showed consent as either an awkward and comedic quip or again, among children (see Little Rascals [from 1994] or Frozen as examples). It was also very hard to locate any vocalized consent in relation to sexual intercourse. Almost impossible, but not entirely.

Why is it that pop culture and the media is so obsessed with “the stolen kiss?” Kisses taken mid-sentence, taken in silence, kisses taken by surprise. It’s because we’re taught that the stolen kiss is sexy. My take from this exercise? Society and the media don’t think consent will sell. They don’t think it’s sexy. They believe that what is sexy is for sex to be spontaneous, sporadic, long-lasting, and satisfyingly pleasurable. Which is not the case whatsoever. I think to limit to a vocalized consent is eye-opening because of its rarity. Think about it. Most sex isn’t scheduled. Most sex isn’t talked about. Sex just happens. That’s a dominant discourse in our lives. Sex just happens and we expect it to be amazing. Not the case. Even when you think of the term ‘consensual sex,’ it’s completely redundant. Sex should be consensual 100% of the time. If it’s not, it’s rape.

Next time, when you’re watching a TV show or a movie, try and look out for these types of things and notice how rare they are. Notice how much more difficult they are to find when you’re actively seeking them out. It’s headache-inducing, so I’d keep a few aspirins nearby. I don’t mean to ruin these things for you, far from it. To notice, is to be aware and awareness is a good thing. Also, when in doubt: Just ask. Maybe one day we can justly prove that consent is sexy. A final note that should be said:

Yes means yes. Anything other than that is a no. It’s as simple, and apparently as complicated as that.

 

consent is sexy

Let’s Examine: Moving On.

Let me start this off by saying: I’m not as bitter as I may be coming off. It’s just a side-effect of the externalization process that helps me examine my feelings. I am not bitter. But if I do appear bitter, please equate me to the bitterness of black coffee because it is something people rely and depend on.

Can you be friends with your ex? I feel this is the question that has fueled as many debates as Hillary’s announcement to run for the Presidency (Congrats, by the way. Totally rooting for you!). Alas, is this a question that can be answered with a definitive yes or no, or is it like most questions that warrant many different answers that is dependent on the person answering them? That was a rhetorical question, as well as a trick question because there is no such thing as a definitive yes or no. Moving on (see what I did there?) I have leveled this question up to a moral quandary for my personal experience(s) because I have tried and failed on multiple occasions (well, two occasions) to be friends with my exes. The first ex couldn’t get over themselves and the recent one is a huge enigma. You can try your best and be the friend you think you should be, but is it worth trying if there is no reciprocation? If you get little to nothing out of it, is it really worth the time? I suppose another way you can look at it is that you shouldn’t seek to get anything out of a friendship or a relationship, because being with the person is all that should matter. But if they don’t really talk to you or vent to you or act friendly to you, at what point does it just become moot?

Put yourself in the situation of a recent, “clean” breakup. You have parted amicably, shook hands, and walked your separate ways. Sometimes to move on you need relieve yourself from viewing any of their social media activities (and that is a fine thing to do. It is not evasive or childish or weak. for some, it is necessary) and so they “no longer exist.” But then there’s the dreaded phone number, you can block it sure, but there’s still the lingering knowledge that their number can be called or messaged at the drop of a hat. Instant reconnection, or lack thereof. Boiled down, do you want to have that number at your disposal? Is it necessary in the moving on process to become devoid of this person entirely? This post, like many of my past and hopefully future posts, are essentially me trying to work through these so-called moral quandaries in an open environment. Prone to multiple sets of eyes and points of views. Prone to criticism and praise. Prone to the trolls and the unicorns. Should this number continue living in my life or should it be blinked from existence, never to be utilized by fingers again?

This phone number isn’t just a set of digits to me. There are two ways I’ve seen it: as hope and as relapse. The hope in rekindling a flame and the relapse of falling back in to an addicting game of ups and downs. If you were in my shoes, what would you do, if anything? Moving on isn’t easy to do and those that tell you it is are either lying, haven’t been broken up with, or have practiced The Secret and are therefore much more skilled at finding what they want than the average person. If I hold on to this number, is it preventing me from moving on or is it making me stronger for not using it to rekindle this flame? Does it really matter? Should it really matter? Moving on doesn’t happen in a day, or a month, or a year, or a decade. It can take seconds and it can take a lifetime. But to be confined within a set amount of time is a prison I don’t want to be sentenced to.

Let’s (Begin To) Examine: Love.

Such a tricky thing, love.

What is it good for? Well, a ton of stuff actually. I can firmly tell you, my dear reader, with full confidence and very little regret that I have fallen in love before. I know, how can somebody at twenty-two fall in love? It’s unheard of! Not entirely. It was a love that was all consuming. It was a love that was numbing. It was a love that was never meant to last. Two weeks to be exact. But I wouldn’t trade those two weeks for a year of what we were doing, because in the end it wasn’t what was best for us. Why waste our time? Now this post isn’t to divulge unto you the intricacies of my love life or to bash this person with whom I have created memories that will last a lifetime, but it is to tell you what I learned and to examine it. Let’s dive in, shall we?

It’s weird to think of a relationship as something that can end. You think: once you have, it’s yours forever. The search is over! Happily ever after. Not always the case. In this particular relationship, I learned that when they do end (as they so often do), that doesn’t mean your world will end. I’m still standing here, one month later, telling you my ethereal reader that the end of a relationship is not the end of the world. Take your well-deserved sigh of relief and continue reading. There’s this saying that I am now going to quote and most likely butcher: people come into your lives for two reasons: to stay or to teach you a lesson. While this is a very essentialist way of viewing the people in your life, we’re just going to go with it for now. This person taught me to love openly, to speak my mind. But the most important lesson was after it was over, which was: to focus on me. It makes sense when you think of it. Can you truly devote yourself to another person if you throw yourself to the waste side?  If someone makes you feel like you owe them something because you’re together, do they actually deserve it? If you want to make someone else so happy that it comes at the cost of your own, is that truly love? Only you can answer that. Love is hotly sought after and so rarely achieved in actuality. Maybe it’s because we aren’t ready. Maybe it’s because we want to be like everyone else, so madly in love that the world doesn’t matter. We want to be numb to society because we’re so enveloped in our partners. Do we need someone to make us feel that way? Should we depend on another person for our own happiness? Did my point get lost along the way here? Yes. 

Love. It’s good for a ton of stuff and I can tell you now that there is still so much more out there to discover.

Let’s Examine: Spring Break.

I have noticed that there is always a lingering sense of finality in this world. The week always has an end. Our college careers are loomed over by graduation. We dwell on the fact that we could die tomorrow. So often have I been told to live in the moment, to see where things go. But when my life has been ruled by the fact that everything is so final, I can hardly focus on anything but that. For so long, I was obsessed with the final destination and not the journey. That’s why I took my final Spring Break to focus inward; on my life and my decisions. For three years, I have seen Spring Break defined as the time to let go of our inhibitions and get as drunk as our bodies will let us. I felt like my break wasn’t as good and couldn’t compare to my peers who were going out, blacking out, and losing teeth (literally). I thought that if I hung out alone and scarcely saw friends or went out or got drunk, that I wasn’t “doing it right.” Especially this being my final Spring Break, the pressure was on. Adventures were to be had every day and alcohol should be consumed at a minimum of 90% of the time, excluding sleeping hours. What was different this time around was that I realized that that notion was a reality; moreover a reality that I didn’t want to adopt because it just made me feel sad. So instead, I went out on adventures when I wanted to. Sometimes with friends, mostly alone. Alcohol was not consumed. And memories were made. My decision was to define Spring Break as something that doesn’t make me feel like a total loser. My decision was to do what I wanted and not let anyone else make me feel like I was less than. I’m not less than. Even better, I learned to own my decisions because to live with regret at the young age of twenty-two is probably something my doctor would highly advise against.

The Tools for Spring Break

One of the major things I had learned from this break is that things that you plan sometimes don’t work out. At that point you have a decision to make: let it go and admit defeat or make the best of it. I chose and will always choose to make the best of it. Failures are inevitable; regardless of that you do have the choice to hold back and reevaluate or move past them. Your life can be planned out and calculated, but the possibilities are still endless. Don’t let that deter you from achieving greatness. Adventure is out there if you seek it. It comes in different shapes and is experienced with different people or alone. It can have drunken stupors or sober epiphanies. It can hurt and it can heal. The world is what you make of it, don’t let someone else’s views corrupt yours.

Go forth and wander.

Let’s Redefine: Virginity.

Let’s talk about virginity!

My main question is: “Why has/is/will virginity be describe(d) only as penetration?” Think about it! If a girl wants to lose their virginity, the boy must go in and “pop her cherry” (that’s a hymen, for all you fifteen year olds who may or may not know exactly what a cherry is). Likewise for a guy, if he wants to lose his virginity, he must go into the girl “successfully.” Let’s also note that (in this dominant discourse of sex and virginity) it’s easier for a guy to lose his virginity, because it pretty much just putting it in anything. In accordance with this definition of virginity, I am definitely a virgin. I will now take any comments about me being a prude, or lame, or a fanciful prancing guy. None of the above apply and you are just extremely rude for even thinking those things. Go garner some manners!

Next point! When you’re in a non-heteronormative relationship (let’s face it, hook ups, partners, fuck buddies all fall under the umbrella category of relationships) things get muddy. Mostly because our minds have been saturated with this idea of “virginity” and how it would affect our lives and social standings (I would go in to how language is very much a social construct, but I feel that’s for another post that you won’t read). With non-heteronormative folks, there may not be a “penetration” or a distinct male-female dynamic. Being a part of this community and dynamic made me ponder the meaning of “virginity.” Over time, it’s become more of a “state of mind” than a “state of being.” There doesn’t have to be a penetration or something “popping.” For me, virginity is defined as the letting down of your guard to someone you truly care about. It’s an absolute trust in your partner and it’s something that doesn’t require a thrusting to achieve. It’s personal and something only you can decide to “lose” or rather “give.” In accordance with this alternative discourse of the word, I have definitely given my virginity.

All this being said, just because someone hasn’t had sex doesn’t make them anything but who they are. If they’re ready, then they’re ready. If they want to wait for the right man/woman/gender non-conforming individual to show up, then let them wait. It’s not really up to anyone else.