Three Miles

Putting pursuit before happiness tells us all we need to know.

Happiness is not a destination.

Happiness is finding a two-for-one cantina, a fruit stand, a field of flowers

On the side of Desolation Road.

I fell in love for about three minutes today with a bearded man, in Echo Park. He was wearing a huge white wedding dress and getting his picture taken. I smiled at him. He smiled back. But I knew he’d never love me the way I loved him. This made him ordinary, like so many other men, and I fell out of love.

I ran through the heat and sweat and blisters and burning muscles because none of that hurts as much as missing you.

And as I ended my third mile and “Wish You Were Here” seeped through my earbuds, I tried to imagine blue skies could be happiness.

But blue skies aren’t enough.

Because I wish, I wish you here. And I need you to stay gone.

Because you were not my destination.

You were a fruit stand on the side of Lonesome Highway.

And I break because the taste of you is fading.

And the sign ahead says “Next Rest Stop: Unknown Miles”

But I’m closer now

I’m three miles closer today

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  Flowers that bloom in the dark

The first kiss, still so unbelievable to me

Couldn’t imagine ever

You, anyone like you that is, kissing

Me, anyone like me that is, being kissed

The slight tinge of the bravery of beer

On our fumbling lips

Salted and peppered with the taste of our whispered fantasies

No, not whispered, out loud,

But buried in ambient noise

No one would ever suspect

You, anyone like you that is, wanting

Me, anyone like me that is, being wanted

Secrets so dark and delicious

The taste the smell the intoxication

A word like desire fails me

It’s more, it’s what I never even knew

But oh, how badly I wanted it

It’s all the things I never gave, but I wanted to

The firm push, the gentle pull

The quivering, whimpering

Better than frosting on warm cake

Filling us up as we starve for more

Why is it less now?

I miss

You, not anyone like you, that is, but YOU

I miss

Me, just me, that is, wanting to be missed by you

But the light doesn’t touch us

We flowers that bloom in the dark

Petals under sweet caress of moonlight

Never beneath the sun

We were beautiful, I thought, but behind closed doors

Because

You, anyone like you that is, blooms in sunlight

With her, anyone like her that is

And me, anyone like me that is, blooms in darkness

The only place where you, anyone like you,

Could ever see me

And keep me hidden

While still enjoying me,

The taste and smell still lovely,

Even on flowers unseen

Flowers like me, that is, that crave sunlight

But learn to bloom in the dark.

Saussurea Obvallata is also known as Brahma Kamal. It is a beautiful night blooming flower named after the Hindu god Brahma.

Saussurea Obvallata is also known as Brahma Kamal. It is a beautiful night blooming flower named after the Hindu god Brahma.

Rules for “Dating” in LA

A Handy Guide for Ladies Suffering the Unfortunate Circumstance of Attraction to Men

“Dating” is in quotes so that no one I’ve ever “dated” (translate: hooked up with, hung out with, seen, bedded, had sex with, etc., et al, in perpetuity) will think that I meant dated. As in, actually dated. I understand, it wasn’t even really “dating.” Because the first rule of dating in Los Angeles is: DO NOT refer to anything that resembles “dating” as DATING.

  1. Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances think that you are dating a man. Not even if he called you to schedule a “date,” not if he came to your door, opened car doors for you, drove you to a public location for something strongly resembling a date, held out your chair, bought you dinner and drinks, asked to kiss you before doing so, held your hand in public, not even if you’ve had sex while looking into each other’s eyes, slept in each other’s arms/beds, or if he even said anything resembling “I’d like to take you out some time.” It’s not dating.
  2. If a man who is putting his penis anywhere in/on/near your person introduces you to someone as a “friend,” you are not dating. (For example, he can’t just say “This is Marnie.” He says, “This is my friend, Marnie.”) If he feels he must qualify you as a friend, then he wants to make sure no one thinks you are dating and that you are nowhere near “girlfriend” or even “date-able” status.
  3. If he drops an “L” bomb on you less than a month in, he might think you are dating. But you know that is not dating. That is someone who is dying to put a woman in his “girlfriend box.” If you are unwilling to go in to the “girlfriend box,” he will just move you into the “whore box.” You will know if this happens because instead of “L” bombs, he will ignore you for weeks or even months, and then send you raunchy booty texts out of nowhere.
  4. Men have two boxes for women they fuck. Girlfriend and whore. Girlfriend is a high-status box which can in some cases, lead to the wife box. It fits inside, like Russian dolls! Girlfriends are adorable and can be introduced to friends and shown in couple-y pictures on Facebook. Whore is all-inclusive of whore, slut, tramp, skank, chick-I’m-hooking-up-with, friends with benefits, fuck buddy and so on. Whores get booty texts, dick pics, links to porn, and are generally kept in the shadows of a man’s life.
  5. If a man uses any phrase that includes “best sex ever” or anything remotely resembling that in reference to you, you are in the whore box. Not the girlfriend box. The whore box. Remember this.
  6. Even if you, as an intelligent female, firmly grasp the concept that there is a world of opportunity for two consenting adults to define a relationship however they please and in whatever way serves them and feels healthy and safe, know that a man who fucks you is eventually going to have to put you in one of his boxes. Girlfriend box. Whore box. Good luck with that. Both boxes suck. (Some men will also try to put you back into the “friend” box once they decide they don’t want to fuck you anymore but don’t want to sever ties, either because they are unwilling to completely let go or they are thinking later when they get a boner for you again you will touch it for him, even though you are “just friends.” Be wary of the “friend box” – being friend-zoned is bad enough before you’ve been intimate with a guy you like, but it is far worse AFTER you’ve been intimate with him and he discards you for greener pastures.)
  7. If you engage in anything kinky early on, chances are good you are going straight to the whore box. You are dirty and fun, but not girlfriend potential.
  8. Do not be fooled by a man saying anything like “I care about you,” “I’m not seeing anyone else,” or “I’m not bullshitting you.” What he means when he says these things is: “I care about putting my dick in you,” “I’m not seeing anyone else YET or right at this very moment because I haven’t found a better option than you,” and, “I am totally bullshitting myself so I think I’m telling you the truth.” Also, YOU ARE NOT DATING.
  9. If you catch a man in any lie, he will spin it back on you and make it all about how you misunderstood everything.
  10. Even if a man accidentally refers to anything you’ve done together as a date, you are not dating. If he slips up and refers to the two of you as a “couple,” you are not dating. Even if he says you are dating, it’s possible he is drunk or high or has a particularly persistent boner muddling his brain and later he will say “for the record, we weren’t dating, we were fucking.” Or something of that nature.
  11. Even though a relationship can be defined as a “connection, association, or involvement,” men have an entirely different definition of it and if you have sex with him, he will immediately try to subject you to his definition. It’s a man’s world.
  12. If he is putting his dick in/on/near your person and publicly claims he is not seeing anyone, or constantly talks about his single status on social media or directly to you, or compares himself to George Clooney, you are most certainly not dating.
  13. If you are “hooking up” or “hanging out” with a man who lives in Los Angeles, chances are pretty good that you are not dating. The chances that you are not dating increase exponentially with the number of years the man has lived in Los Angeles. If he was born and raised in Los Angeles, DO NOT DATE HIM, even if he asks you on a date. You will later find out it was not a date.

Here to Stay.

Of course the apparent suicide of Robin Williams punched me in the gut, like it did so many of us. Honestly, if it had happened 25 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have been all that surprised. Saddened, but not surprised. I figured if he’d gotten this far, he’d get through the whole thing. His whole life, that is. I wanted to believe that in the face of my own depression, that someday it would get better, or easier. That once I’m in my 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, perhaps that voice would stop. If you’ve battled depression, you know the voice I mean. The voice that repeats over and over and says, “End it.” As a total body advocate, I believe strongly in your body, your choice. You want to off yourself, it’s your right. But there’s a moral conundrum there too, because it’s not just you that is affected. Everyone around you is hurt. Some may be irreparably damaged.

Today I listened to this podcast http://trbq.org/stay/. In it, Dean Olsher interviews Jennifer Michael Hecht about her book, Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It. She also reads her poem, No Hemlock Rock (don’t kill yourself). When she gets to the part where she thanks you (yes, YOU) for staying, I pretty much lost my shit. I was weeping this choked, soundless weeping. My face was completely soaked, as if my every pore were leaking tears. The cat I’m currently sitting, Buster, curled up next to me in a strange act of comfort. After I listened to the whole 12 minute podcast (listen to it!) I got up and started down the stairs and my legs buckled under me. I could barely walk, I was so shaken up.  Once again, I found myself examining my own personal moral conundrum.

Do I have the right to kill myself?

As a teenager, I was already so jaded, so bitter and so cynical about the world and how much it hurt to live in it, that there were two things I was certain of: I would never have a loving relationship with a man, and I would die by my own hand. I just sort of knew that I wouldn’t be able to cut the mustard and that sooner or later I would have to end it all, because it would simply be too much to go on. I had very neutral feelings about it, really. I just knew that’s how I would go.

Then, when I was 19, a man I knew named Edward Reffel who was my roommate, my friend (when we weren’t in some hideous manic-depressive drug-induced argument), and the owner of the black-box theatre where I was popping my non-linear, experimental theatre cherry in Busch and Durang productions, suddenly died. Sure, he’d made numerous threats about taking his own life (after every bad break-up with every girl who dumped him for being abusive), but he’d already earned a reputation as a boy who cried wolf.  This time, however there was a wolf. He was found backstage, hanging over the bathroom door, dead from asphyxiation. The noose around his neck was a prop from the current production, Phantom of the Melodrama, in which he played the phantom.

Everything was a whirlwind after that, news cameras showing up to get the scoop on the dramatic death-by-suicide of a local theatre owner. The production of Phantom of the Melodrama (now starring Eddie’s understudy) performed to packed, standing-room-only houses and mourners lined up to say their maudlin piece at our Monday open mic night, called Ed’s Poet Society (and later referred to as Dead Ed’s Poet Society). It makes me cringe now when I remember it.

When I attended his funeral, it was surreal. It was like a celebrity had died. There were so many goddamn people. And when I saw his mother, and heard the horrible wails she made as her only son was lowered into the ground, I knew one thing for certain: I would never kill myself just because life sucks. Terminal illness, hell yeah, I’m outta here. And fuck off if you don’t approve. But life sucks? It’s hard? It hurts? Filled with despair? Can’t go on? Too bad. Go on. Take another step. And another. Until you get to the end. Because that sound, that wail of grief, that wall of hurt and confused people wondering why a handsome, talented, hilarious man of only 28 would off himself, that just wasn’t the kind of thing I was willing to be responsible for anymore. I was faced with a harsh reality in the face of Eddie’s suicide: I would have to live. I would have to stick it out. I would have to stay. I thank Eddie all the time for showing me how to stay. It is horribly sad that he showed me by leaving so suddenly and violently.

I have made a point of avoiding reading articles with headlines about Robin Williams’ suicide that I knew would likely have trolls and people lacking understanding and compassion calling him selfish or cowardly in the comments. I simply cannot abide that outlook. The thing that should be understood about depression is that when you are in it, you cannot always see a way out of it. Your logical brain may tell you, “this will pass,” but it may be impossible to believe. On top of that, the survivor guilt is lumped onto those of who are depressed long before we take our own lives. We are told that those who commit suicide are cowardly and selfish, so we know that is how we will be seen if we end our suffering.  We are told to think of “those we leave behind” and we learn to put them first. I have spent many of my darkest years living for other people, because in those moments I sure as hell couldn’t live for myself. I lived for my family, and I lived for my friends.

But there is something else about depression. Maybe it seems that it is braver to stay, but I think it can sometimes feel like an act of compassion to go. You see, my cruel inner voice, and I know I am not alone in this, not only says, “End it. Just finish this already. DIE,” it also says “everyone will be better off. The world will be a brighter place without you in it.” I feel like I’m at a party and everyone is laughing and having fun, and I’m just not in the mood. I’m a downer. I’m miserable. I’m morose. I’m bringing everyone down. If I just leave the party, everyone else will be free to have a good time. They won’t have to worry about fixing me, or cheering me up. They can just start the conga line and get on with the real fun.

I recently re-read Virginia Woolf’s suicide note.  You can read it here if you’re feeling morbid: http://www.smith.edu/woolf/suicidewithtranscript.php. It struck a chord with me because she talks of the great happiness that she shared with her husband, Leonard. I think non-depressed people think those of us who are depressed should be able to get by on this happiness, should be able to remember it when we are down to get through the sadness. But of course, it’s not that easy. And a big part of you knows, even though it might get better, that it’s only temporary. It will get bad, worse, horrible, and it will do that over and over and over again, for the rest of your life. And the people you love will be forced to go through it with you, or feel the guilt of abandoning you. Virginia Woolf says to her husband, “If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.” She feels that she is doing him a favor by putting both of them out of her misery. And I completely understand what she’s saying. She doesn’t see it as selfish, but rather self-less.

And yet, I choose to stay. Not because I’m braver or stronger than those that don’t. My heart will always seize up and weep for those that just can’t get through this hard, hard life. I feel their pain profoundly, but I choose to stay. There are times when I choose to stay just for the day, because that’s the best I can do. Today, after crying through that podcast, my legs so weak I could barely walk, I checked the clock to see that it was 2 p.m., which meant only 10 hours left of this day.

“You can do that, right?” I asked myself. “You can stay for ten more hours. You can stay. Today. Choose it. Tomorrow you can choose again.”

I promise. I will stay today.

 

Rest in peace, Eddie Reffel. Rest in peace, Robin Williams. I’m so sorry you couldn’t stay.

Pictured: Eddie Reffel, Tonie Roque Knight, Steve Hayden (sleeping) and me (Ed's arm around my neck)

Pictured: Members of Ed’s Poet Society; Eddie Reffel, Tonie Roque Knight, Steve Hayden (sleeping) and me (Ed’s arm around my neck)

The alien, the Fisher King, member of Dead Poet’s Society

Death and the Raven

This is very off-topic for my blog as most of my rants are about body image and women’s issues, but as my sensitivity to this event has caused me lots of tears, I wanted to put it down on paper. And by “paper,” I of course mean, the internet.

Last night I encountered a crow who was having trouble flying. (I refer to the crow as male, though I have no idea if it was a male or female crow, just seemed like a boy crow to me, which I realize is silly). On closer inspection – just the fact he let me so near clued me in that something was wrong – I realized his legs were bound together with twine. Somehow he had gotten himself tangled up and it was throwing him off. He would try to fly, run into walls, fall, and then walk with difficulty. In a somewhat comedic endeavor, I managed to follow him around, step on the trailing twine, clip it with scissors, and set his legs free. He seemed traumatized, but I had high hopes for him, even though I left him hiding behind a planter, which he didn’t want to leave. I know because he cawed loudly at me when I got too close.

 

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This morning I walked out into the street and found the crow dead. Completely flattened, run over, face crushed, guts spilling out of his mangled, broken body. By the white markings on his wings, I knew it was the same crow. Maybe he’d been disoriented from all the repeated head butts to the wall when he was trying to fly and couldn’t. Maybe it was just his time to go. But I cried nonetheless. Big, blubbery sobs. The futility of the 45 minutes or so I had spent trying to free him clawed at my heart, and had even perhaps propelled him to his death. Or maybe, like so many of my friends following his story on Facebook said, I had given him freedom in his last moments on earth and that kindness was worth something. When doing a Buddhist chant with a friend this morning, I chanted that the crow’s soul find peace and that his next incarnation is a noble one. I didn’t even feel ridiculous doing it, even though I’m sure plenty of people will think that is precisely what I am.

Haunted by the symbolism of saving a crow just to find it dead the next day, I combed my brain (and my external hard drive) for a dream I once had, and wrote down, about a raven. I wrote this many years ago, probably in the early to mid 90s, and I wrote it directly from the dream upon waking, so it’s not the best poetry ever written, but it’s eerie. More eerie now that the image of the dead crow I tried to save still burns the back of my eyes.

 

DEATH AND THE RAVEN

 

Death is the Raven flying right at me

Fear is the little sparrow

in Her grip.

Talons tear at sweet little bird flesh

Rip him from the known

And carry him to terror.

All he ever wanted was his sweet soft nest;

Little bird flying into Death.

Talons tearing open little bird breast.

Death, She is jealous

Of the Still Wind.

Somehow She knows

Peace is not for Her.

So She calls the Wind to fill Her wings

“Carry me to Fear,” She says.

“I want to take it Home.”

The Raven takes the sparrow

Higher than he’s ever flown.

“Is this Fear?” he wonders, “or merely the Unknown?”

Says the Raven to the sparrow,

“The Unknown can be Fear and

Fear can be Death.

There’s a price to pay for flying too high

And a price to pay for Rest.”

Little sparrow flies so high

to compensate for all the days

he was afraid to leave his nest.

Death is the Raven.

She tears open sparrow’s heart,

holds it high, bloody and torn.

The Raven flies right at me.

Why does She come over and over?

The sparrow’s body, bloody,

His blood is on my hands.

The sparrow’s flesh is torn,

My hands tear at my face.

I look into the sparrow’s Eyes and

I feel what Fear has done to me.

I see into the Raven’s Heart,

Where cold black blood runs hard

I can feel, I can see,

Death has chosen me.

Goodbye 2013!

I actually dig New Year’s Eve. Shocked? Sure, it can be depressing. It can be lonely. It can be disappointing. It can seem irrelevant to mark an arbitrary passage of time using something as silly as a solar calendar.

But all of that aside, I like to feel the end. And then the beginning. Most of all, I like to know I SURVIVED. I don’t always think I’m going to. I’m sure that sounds pretty bleak, especially to the kind of people who have mastered things like “positive thinking” and “gratitude.”  But survival is sometimes the best I can do. And I like to applaud myself for doing it.

I recently  read something that hit me very profoundly about how to cope with people in your life who are suffering from depression.

“Depression is an illness; not a perception.”

It’s not like this is really some brand-spanking-shiny-new thought for me, but I felt myself breathe a deep sigh of relief when I read those words.

I have an illness. I’m not just being negative, or looking at life in the wrong way. It’s not that I’m just a fuck-up who can’t master the art of positive thinking. It’s not that I don’t understand gratitude. It’s not that I’m trying to get you to feel sorry for me. It’s not that I’m just not trying. It’s that I am wired this way. If it was as simple as “changing my perception,” “thinking positively,” or “being grateful,” don’t you think I would have done it by now? Do you really think I NEVER thought of it? Never tried it? Never tried to do ALL of those fucking things on ALL of those fucking lists that tell you that happiness is a choice? If HAPPINESS was a choice, why wouldn’t I have made it by now? Am I really just overly attached to my misery? No. You may not believe me, but no. I am not attached to my misery. I don’t like being in pain. I don’t like being unhappy. I don’t like waking up almost every single day with the nagging doubt that I will even be able to get through it, but knowing I have to anyway because suicide is chicken-shit and rude. I don’t like reading articles like “10 Steps to Being Happier – NOW!” with pictures of women smiling on sandy beaches with their arms outstretched loving this wonderful happy new life that they DECIDED to have. That their deep breaths and gratitude jars and attitude changes somehow work for them in a way that they’ve never worked for me. That now, on top of being depressed, I have to feel like a failure, because I could be happy if I would just try harder, and do it RIGHT. Like this chick:

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I hate the implication that I’m not happy because I’m not grateful. Fuck you. What an oversimplification of a complicated mental state.

It’s like when I struggle with my weight, which is complicated by middle age, years of disordered eating and hypothyroidism, and people think they are being helpful when they give me completely inane advice. Really? Do you honestly think I don’t know what foods are healthy? Did you seriously just advise me to consider taking a walk? Really. A walk? Do you actually think I’m so fat and so stupid that I can’t walk or never thought of it? Oh really, exercise burns calories? OMG! Who knew? And on top of that, just because Zumba and green tea or gluten-free Pilates changed your life doesn’t mean it’s going to change mine.  Everybody is different, and I think one of the best things we can do for each other is be tolerant. I don’t know your journey, and you don’t know mine. But I think we can be respectful of each other’s experiences, and say if something works for you, great. If I’ve tried it and it didn’t work, believe me, I don’t need to hear the advice to try it harder or more or better. I need to find my own way.

So when I’m told to be more grateful, more positive or just decide to be happy, I feel like punching someone. It’s not that I haven’t tried it. I’m just tired of failing at it. All I can do is endure the bad moments, and know that sometimes, I really do get some good ones. They’re not all bad. Mostly bad, most of the time, but not all bad.

And though I don’t much care for getting older, it beats the alternative – and I don’t mean death. I can’t really judge death, as I haven’t been there yet. I just mean that the passage of another year means I did it. I SURVIVED. I ENDURED. I’m somehow still standing, in spite of my deep desire to go fetal in the corner. I’m a fucking miracle.

Maybe to those of you standing on beaches with your arms outstretched, smiling broadly as you feel overwhelming gratitude for the sound of wind, or the shiny taste of your new Paleo cleanse this sounds like I’m making excuses and giving up. But to me, it’s freeing. It’s freeing to know myself. I can outstretch my arms on sandy beaches too you know. Just not today. But sometimes. And I CAN be grateful. I can be grateful that I’ve learned compassion for others, and that I’m learning to extend that to myself.

I can pat myself on the back for surviving. I am hours away from completing another year. 2013 had some major ups and downs. Some really great stuff, and some really awful stuff. Some stuff so wonderful that I can’t wait to see what’s next. Some stuff so awful it’s impossible for it not to be lurking in the shiny new 2014, waiting for me to deal with it. But deal I will, because that’s what I do. Not by changing my perception, but by acknowledging exactly who I am. And I can be proud of myself. I feel like I am walking through this world with a handicap, a complete inability to have happiness come naturally to me, or even come to me with effort. When I laugh, smile, feel good or gleeful or hopeful, I feel triumphant. Like I pulled it off, even if it’s fleeting, I can pull off happiness in moments. If that can be enough for me, I don’t see why it can’t be enough for others. But I know it won’t be. I know people will get frustrated with me, some will cut me out of their lives and some will never see that trying to take another step is the best I can do sometimes. And that’s okay. I’m grateful for the people that not only put up with me, but love me in spite of all the dark, scary things inside me. Some people will “get me,” will know that when I say LIFE IS HARD, it is not my perception talking, it is my illness. I am just not cut out for this world, but I will warrior up and walk through it anyway.

Goodbye 2013. Like every year before you, I’m not sorry to see you go. You’re old news baby.

Hello 2014. I may not be happy to see you, but I’ve got some curiosity in my pocket…

9/11: War on Terror? You can’t win that.

Even now, when I see or hear some joke at the expense of “9/11,” where it is a punch-line of some kind, I still think “too soon.” I don’t think it will ever be funny to me.

Maybe it’s because I know people who were deeply, personally brutalized by the loss of loved ones.

Or, maybe it’s because even though it’s been 12 years, I can still remember that morning so vividly. My boyfriend at the time waking me up – which unless I NEEDED to be woken up for some reason, well he damn well knew better; it was expressly forbidden. Not to mention stupid. Waking Marnie up for no good reason is about as safe as sticking your hand into the cage of a starved tiger while wearing your new burger-scented cologne. So I immediately knew: this is bad. I was sure the building was on fire. I guess, in a way, it was. Just not the building I was in.

All he said, as far as I can remember, was: “Baby, wake up. It’s… it’s bad.”

It’s bad. An understatement, sure, but how else to wake me up? Screaming? “GET UP! THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!”

I could hear the TV going in the living room. He turned on the TV in the bedroom and it was immediate. The images, being played over and over, were like an ice-cold terror punch hitting me in the gut. Something really did change inside me forever then.  It was like my nonchalant and pretty surface-level knowledge of the world (the non-America parts) stood up and demanded I take notice. Say what you want about “Murrrica!” – we’ve still had it pretty easy compared to others. But every time I watched those towers go down, I felt my own American smugness dissipate. I felt like this was the moment, in the Movie of the Week, where the bully finally gets his. I worried that some countries would think we had it coming. Maybe we’d harassed one too many nerds, objectified one too many of the less popular girls and stolen our last batch of lunch money. Maybe it was time. Maybe we deserved a comeuppance. I felt a collective guilt. America had been the biggest, baddest bully on the playground for a long time. What now? Did we deserve a beat-down of this magnitude?

But I also felt frustration and helpless angst as the body count rose, and there was nothing, absolutely nothing we could do about it.  I knew, deep inside me, that as trite as it sounds, things would never be the same. Reflecting back on the last twelve years, I can say that sentiment is exactly right.

I travel a lot. I did before 9/11 and I have since. Things have changed. A lot of people insist that everything we go through at the airport is “necessary;” it’s the “cost of freedom,” and “freedom isn’t free.”  Some people actually feel safer about traveling now – safer, taking off their shoes, throwing away their water bottles, being scanned and groped, and putting shampoo in Ziploc baggies. I don’t feel safer. I feel a lot less safe. And it’s not just because I was naïve before, and now I know what horrible things may befall me. It’s because it’s all so stupid. I watch the TSA agents – many of whom are frankly, power-hungry jerks, and some of whom are really well-meaning people who just need a goddamn job in this shitty economy, and I don’t feel any safer. And god knows, I wouldn’t want that job for anything. It would suck – even worse than being a meter maid. They have to make decisions about which of us they will frisk, search, ask to step aside, and then dig through our dirty underwear.  If they search the guy with the turban, they are racial profiling. But I’ve watched them drag a woman who must have been over eighty years old out of her wheelchair and force her to walk – which she could barely do – through the scanner while they swabbed her chair for explosives. I’ve watched them pull crying babies out of their strollers for the same reason. Sure I guess it’s possible “the evil terrorists” could be smart enough to avoid looking “too Muslim or Middle-Eastern” and are instead planting explosives in granny’s wheelchair, or that the real terrorists here are white babies and their prospective MILFs, but I can’t help but wonder if we are really winning the “war on terror.” How can we? When all we’ve done for the last 12 years, is give more and more into terror?

One thing I’ve learned about Americans in my life is that Americans love fear. They fucking love this shit; love being afraid. Thrive on it. We love war. We go to war on goddamn everything. Blacks, women, gays, Chinks, Japs, Gooks, drugs, Commies, and I apologize for the racial slurs – but it’s a lot easier to fight a war on something you’ve stripped the humanity from, isn’t it? And when we finally ran out of things to go to war on, we just started a War on Terror! If we have nothing to fear but fear itself, how does fearing fear make fear stop? It doesn’t.  It doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. How can you fight a War on Terror and expect to win? You can’t. The second you fight fear with fear, you’ve already lost.

And now, as we face this bullshit situation going on in Syria, I think well, fuck it. Here we go. When all else fails, and you run out of wars, just go to war on war! That’s it! A WAR ON WAR! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Now I’m not just some hippie that believes violence never solves anything. Sometimes some people need to be punched in the face. But most of the time, you are creating a bigger problem.

I’m also not so anti-American that I can’t remember after 9/11 all the amazing people who stood up, here and in other countries, held each other up and stripped away all the things that defined them as individuals and acted like truly compassionate human beings. For a few short moments, we cried together, we prayed together even if we didn’t believe or know who we were praying too or were praying to different versions of God. Religious and political affiliations took a backseat to our own humanity. For a few moments, we stopped criticizing the President and the government and searched our hearts for answers. “Where do we go from here?” we asked, and never really got an answer.

After that, the War on Terror started, and every time I go to the airport I remember. The terrorists have won. They made us afraid, not just of what’s “out there,” but of what could be lurking inside our own borders, inside our very own toiletry bag.

When I flew back into the States via Miami about a year ago, and went through one of the numerous security lines, the TSA agent groped me without asking, in a way that was intimate enough that I felt a cold shiver of violation. Sure, it was a woman, but so what? Someone, from behind, just unexpectedly grabbed the flesh on my hips, exactly the way a lover might, and moved up and down the sides of my body with unknown hands, and I couldn’t do or say anything about it. If I objected I would probably be detained, maybe even arrested, if I was vocal enough about it. I was exhausted, angry and helpless. I just had to endure it. I started to cry as I walked away and felt stupid and ashamed. And weak. I did not feel safe. Or free.

Maybe freedom isn’t free, but it should be. Or maybe freedom is free. Maybe this idea that we have to constantly fight some scary OUTSIDER for freedom is total bullshit. Freedom starts in your own mind.

Freedom is the reason owners didn’t allow slaves to read – it might give them the idea that they could be free.

Freedom is the reason women needed to stay home in the kitchen – being out in the world might give them the idea that they were just as capable as men.

Freedom is the reason people who are captive or being assaulted can still imagine themselves somewhere else in order to survive.

Freedom is an idea that can only give up when you do.

Freedom is the reason I refuse to believe that I have to do everything I was told I had to do in order to have the life I want.

It’s the reason I’m writing this blog instead of working as an administrative assistant.

I’m not saying nothing ever takes a fight or any effort, but I am saying that without the idea, freedom cannot, and will not exist.

Go to a place, right now in your mind, where you are free.

twin towers

As for now, I will continue being a twisted pervert that makes all sorts of inappropriate jokes about all sorts of shocking things, but 9/11? Still not funny. Not to me.