Big People, Little World

How are you doing? Yes, you. No, not the guy sitting behind you in the fedora. I’m talking to YOU. How are you? It’s been a hard week, hasn’t it? If you’re feeling disheartened, angry, sad, embarrassed, or fearful – know that I am, too. Know that you’re not alone in your feelings, in your questions, or in your feeble attempts to move forward. I’m right there with you.

I’ve been trying to make myself feel better over the past few days, as I’m sure (and I hope) you’ve been doing for yourself as well. I’m realizing more and more that I am a part of two worlds. One world is the “Big World” – it includes my state and country and Earth, and everyone living within its boundaries. It includes the ideals and people within my profession. It includes the internet and social media. It encompasses all of the outside world and every person that I come into contact with, whether physically or internet-ly.

There’s also my “Little World.” It includes my job, and the coworkers and clients I see on a regularly basis. It includes close friends and family members. But truthfully, Little World is mostly just me.  It’s my body and my brain. Little World is me when I’m alone at home, when I’m driving in my car, and when I’m at the grocery store. It travels around with me, and is never separate from me.

On a normal day, I often find myself doing things to pull myself out of my Little World. It’s hard, because I feel comfy there. But I actively make myself participate in the Big World. “Come on self, walk with confidence. Speak with confidence. If you pretend you’re outgoing and assertive, you’ll come across that way. Stop pushing down your feelings – tell people the truth. Share your ideas. Advocate! Defend! Empower! Support!”

But over the past few days, it hasn’t felt safe to be in the Big World, has it? We went out and made the choices we felt were right. We believed we were advocating for the greater good. We were being big-hearted. We were hopeful.

And then, in the blink of an eye, our hopes were dashed. And it’s been painful. And embarrassing. And infuriating. And possibly worst of all, it’s been terrifying.

So while I normally encourage myself to break out of my Little World and embrace the Big World, right now I’m giving myself permission to do the opposite. I’m allowing myself to get small – which, I want to emphasize, is not the same as feeling small.

For me, getting small and returning to my Little World means that I’m steering clear of the internet and social media – with a few exceptions. Rather than psyching myself up to break out of my shell, I’m seeking safety within it. I’m quietly checking in on my feelings and needs. I’m closing the door to the outside world when I need to.  I’m letting myself feel disappointed and worried, without trying to logic my way out of it. I’m spending time with people who feel safe and comforting to me, and politely avoiding others.

And I’m also letting myself feel content and peaceful when those responses manage to bubble to the surface. I’m re-reading a favorite book that always makes me smile. I’m continuing to crochet new rows onto a blanket that has already gotten comically large. I’ve gotten somewhat sidetracked from my “Project,” but I feel proud of the work I’ve done on it so far, and I know I’ll return to it soon.

I even unleashed my inner weirdo long enough to send a gross picture of a centipede to my family and friends. And I felt inexplicable glee at their disgust.

I know I can’t stay here in my turtle shell forever, and I wouldn’t want to. Once I’m feeling grounded and steady, I may want to poke my head out of the shell and see what the Big World is up to. Maybe I’ll feel a little stronger and better equipped to take on new challenges. Maybe I’ll see new reasons to retreat back inside for awhile, and that’s okay too.

Returning to my Little World seems to help me a little. I don’t know if it will help you. I hope you find something in the next few days to bring you comfort and light and laughter, but I understand if you can’t. Know that I support you, and that I value your worth. Know that I see your hurt and confusion and fear. Know that I understand, and I feel those things too. Know that I care deeply about the fact that children are asking you questions that you don’t know the answer to. Know that I want answers, too.

Know also that we are together in this. I see you, and I am with you.  If I have to point out the ONE aspect of beauty in this horribly ugly situation, it’s that we have each other. You and me, and our brothers and sisters with similar goals and hopes and values. We’re not alone.

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Life Lessons from Jerry Springer

Recently, my “work wife” and I started a tradition where we occasionally go to my apartment over the lunch hour and watch The Jerry Springer Show. I’m not sure whose idea it was, or why we continue to keep doing it, but it’s a delightful custom, and I have learned many valuable lessons from it:

Life Lesson #1: Neck Tattoos Will Get You Far in Life

According to the episodes I’ve seen so far, in order to get on Jerry Springer, someone in your party MUST have a tattoo on the neck. Your “party” includes:

  • you
  • your baby daddy/mama
  • the person your baby daddy/mama has been cheating on you with
  • any other extraneous characters that you bring with you, like aunts, friends, strippers, or farm animals

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Life Lesson #2: Self-Defense Skills are Important

Normally, I would NOT be the right person to ask for instruction about self-defense. However, in every episode of Jerry that I’ve seen so far, there’s been some sort of scuffle between guests – and watching these fights has turned me into an expert of sorts.

Here are the tips that you must follow in order to do well in a physical fight – televised or not:

  • Take your high heels off first.
  • Rather than throwing actual punches, simply spin your arms around like a human windmill. This will make it much harder for your victim to dodge you.
  • If your opponent has a weave, you’re obligated to rip it off her head and then proceed to whip it at her.
  • Feel free to take a break from the fight in order to show the onlookers your twerking skills. This is completely normal fight behavior.
  • When you’re handed a cup of water under pretenses of “cooling off,” it’s imperative that you chunk this across the room at your opponent.

Life Lesson #3: Don’t Buy into Gender Stereotypes

Speaking of fights, the brawls between women on Jerry look much more terrifying than the ones between men. The women are brutal – they kick and punch and karate chop and pull out hair. Meanwhile, the men look like T-Rexes on muscle relaxers. There’s a lot of half-hearted clawing at each other’s faces.

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Life Lesson #4: Don’t Give Up on Love

Based on what I’ve seen from watching the show, love can endure all sorts of relationship disasters.

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No matter how many of your partner’s relatives you’ve had an affair with (or how many of their limbs you’ve stolen) – he or she will probably still take you back, if you sound convincingly apologetic, and say romantic things.

If romance isn’t your strong suit, these gems from the show should give you some inspiration:

  • “Even though I cheated on you with my own cousin, I want you back.”
  • “We have to make it work for our kids. Even though one of the kids isn’t actually yours.”
  • “You used to make me barbecue. I miss it now.”

And this one, which didn’t actually happen on the show (yet), but still sounds tempting:

  • “Let’s go off into the sunset and get our necks tattooed together.” Swoon.

And finally…

Life Lesson #6: Stay True to Yourself

Don’t let others’ judgmental ways keep you from making your dreams come true.

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You do you, buddy.

Some might say that The Jerry Springer Show is the cause for society’s decline, but I say that if you look really, really, really hard – and maybe get a little bit drunk – you can find all sorts of important messages. In fact, the show is like Aesop’s Fables, if Aesop had cheated on his girlfriend of six months with her uncle, and then gotten into a fist fight with his best friend on television.

 Has anyone else ever watched this classy show, or similar ones like Maury? What lesson(s) did you take from these shows?

 

Suicide and a Snowman

It’s no secret that I love the television show Friends. In a recent post, I even watched all 230+ episodes in order to figure out which character worked the most.

You might call that weird or pathetic, but I call it dedication.

Anyway, some of my favorite scenes in the show involve character Phoebe Buffay playing the guitar and singing from her collection of songs, most of which manage to be both brutally honest AND somewhat whimsical at the same time.

Some of her songs describe the ups and downs of love…

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Others attempt to make sense of death and suicide…

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A few serve as outlets of Phoebe’s fury toward specific people…

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And many are simply…unique

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With her songs covering such a wide variety of topics, I decided it’d be interesting – no, make that important – to figure out what word or idea is expressed the most often.

To answer this question, I employed some highly technical and skilled research methods:
• Step 1: Found a site that lists the lyrics to all her songs
• Step 2: Copied and pasted everything into a word cloud generator.

And here’s the result:

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…Not exactly what I was expecting haha. But now that I think about it, a majority of Phoebe’s songs ARE accessorized with “la.” My guess is she ran out of clever rhyming lyrics to use, but the syllable does seem pretty versatile – it can be sung with either a dark or playful tone, depending on the mood of the song.

(Is it obvious that I’m trying to defend the overuse of this non-word?)

If we excluded “la” and “bum” (the drum noise, not the slang for homeless person) from this list, it looks like the top words would be “little” and “sticky.”

So inspiring. So meaningful.

Even though I really thought “love” (or even “death”) would be the top result, seeing that huge “la” cracked me up. I guess not every Friends research study can have epic results.

Letter to My Cantankerous Computer

Dear Laptop,

As we approach our TEN-YEAR anniversary, I’ve been looking back over our time together. We’ve been through so much, haven’t we? High school, college, and grad school assignments, infinite Google searches (which you’ve never judged), and lots of illegal downloads of poor-quality Limewire music. (Sorry about all the viruses.)

You’ve truly done many amazing things for me.

However, there’s a lot wrong with you.

Your battery died a long time ago, and I not only have to keep you plugged in at all times, I also have to keep your cord in the exact correct position. You’re irrationally fussy about that, so I’ve had to TAPE your cord to keep it in place. For the record, that’s not normal. If it’s jostled even the tiniest bit, you instantly shut down.

That is immature, controlling behavior that marriage therapists would call “stonewalling.”

Further, do you know what you’ve put me through each time you’ve randomly shut off? Whenever you did this during my work on research papers, I got pretty angry with you. I considered setting you on fire more than once. When you’d take your precious time turning back on, my anger would turn to anxiety that maybe this was it – maybe you really were dead this time. Anguish would set in. I’d contemplate throwing myself on you and sobbing. And then finally, your screen would glow bright with technological health, and I’d feel a rush of relief.

You manipulative bastard.

Speaking of death, you’ve also completely crashed and died, and then been brought back to life – TWICE. I admit, I wasn’t innocent in that situation – because I didn’t use the right protection, you got some pretty serious viruses. But that was so long ago, and let’s keep in mind that my behavior was accidental. Can you say the same for yours?

Honestly, I’m not sure whether to be pissed at your flair for drama, or impressed by your ability to resurrect.

The most baffling is when you allow your “on” button to fall inside of the computer, and then I have to fish it out with a straightened paper clip. Why do you do this, laptop? Do you realize that this is a quick ticket to electrocution for me? I can’t unplug you during the procedure, because I need the on button to stay lit up so I can find it.

If you ask me, you’re just doing this shit for attention.

My feelings about you have followed the same predictable pattern found in human relationships. I was thrilled when we first met! We were both so young back then, weren’t we? Then after a little time together, once I learned all the great things about you, I was in love. Now, after years of your bad behavior and my shouting obscenities at you, our relationship feels a bit rocky.

But despite the tension, I recognize that you really have done a lot for me. You continue to store every picture I’ve taken and every song I’ve downloaded since I was seventeen. You helped me obsessively scour the Internet for jobs when I finished grad school. You’ve kept me entertained with games like FreeCell and Snake, and you’ve supported me through all that Facebook stalking.

So maybe, just maybe, I can overlook the fact that you won’t let me download the latest version of iTunes. You’re incredibly old (in technology years), and clearly, there are some things you just can’t do anymore.

Others see you, with your taped cord, and fragile “on” button, and they just don’t understand you. They want me to leave you for a newer model. But we’ve been together for 10 years – which, let’s face it, is probably longer than the average REAL marriage. You don’t end a relationship like that without good reason.

No, I could never just leave you, dear laptop.

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Unless your quirks start to outweigh your usefulness – then I probably will.

Sincerely yours,
Amanda