Explaining Sexism to People Who Don’t Experience Sexism Often

It really gets me worked up, and I hate that. I hate knowing that even if I’m lucky to live to be a little, old lady, men will still think they decide when women should offended by their behavior or words and what is sexist and what isn’t.

If you’re a man reading this now, I don’t feel like lecturing and teaching this. You do not possess the multitude of variables involved in being a woman any more than I possess those for being a man. So stop acting like you can just say what you’d do if you were a woman. You have no idea what that even means. So please STOP thinking you can just twist your mind a bit and make a call about being a woman.

Even I, as a woman, would not tell another woman that because we’re both women I understand what she’s experiencing. If a black woman tells me something happened to her because she’s black, not just because she’s a woman – there is no way I would try to convince her otherwise. Why? Because I don’t know that what happened to her didn’t actually have something to do with her race as well. I’ve never spent a single day as a black woman. How would I know?

I would be happy if when you encountered a woman explaining sexism to you or someone else, that you would be quiet and listen, and instead of saying, “That’s not sexist,” try saying “I didn’t know that was sexist until now.”

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I Was Here

A friend of mine touched on something I think has been essential to why loss, especially death is so hard to move on from. She quoted John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, which I haven’t read. It says, “The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”

That is what it feels like. I almost feel like the past few years of my life were a dream, something I conjured in my mind, because my reality right now is so drastically different. I can’t even believe it’s from the same life. It’s difficult to remember things happily because there is no one left to say “we were here,” “you said this and did that,” or “don’t you remember…”

Both of my co-remembers are gone. Although one is still alive, he might as well be dead. That person I knew is not there anymore. He chooses not to remember that past with me, even though we are on speaking terms, and friendly even. He treats me unlike someone who knows every single thing about him, and like all the awesome things we did never happened with me. The memories are replaced, or attached to something else maybe. Either way, they don’t seem to exist now. I would love nothing more than to remember out loud, and for us both to agree that those were actually wonderful times, some were the best of our lives, and laugh at each other and the people we were and still are in these ways. We will never be good for each other again, but once upon a time – when I was fearless and jumped out of kayaks into the sea and he learned about who he was – we were. And it’s ok that we were and are not anymore. I just want to remember because I liked who I was then, but I don’t remember myself that way anymore.

And so many of my memories with him include his uncle who I was still close friends with even after the breakup. He and I could talk about memories, all of them. He made me feel like I could be normal again. He wanted me to be me again, and he would constantly remind me of who that was every time it seemed I forgot. And then he died. Just like that. He died and took all these pieces of me that he remembered with him. There is no trace of us to be found. No matter how many times I return to the places we existed together, I can’t find any sign that we were ever there.

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Loss

The loss I’ve experienced in the past year and a half has been more difficult for me to get through than I ever imagined it could be. I have never had to struggle as much as I still am to achieve my own happiness before, only to come up with semi-happiness, or fleeting moments, or happiness that’s overcast with the brilliance of happier days.

I miss being deeply understood. There were 2 people who knew me best, and when I was with them I felt almost as content as I do when I’m alone with my own thoughts. One of those people treats me as though he doesn’t know me anymore. The other one, I watched die 7 months ago.

I thought the best thing for me to do now was to allow the happiness that comes from allowing someone into my heart to happen.  I am with someone now who only wants me to be happy, and does what he can do to make my life easier. But I am so utterly changed by the loss I’ve experienced. I don’t know how to be truly happy. I long to be known and understood so much that it keeps me awake at night.

I need for something so amazingly good to happen to me now.  I don’t know how to make it happen for myself. I have tried everything I can think of.  I am not ok.   And I don’t know how to be ok anymore.

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How Not to Greet People

This has nothing to do with real etiquette, just common sense.

Stop saying “How are you?” as a greeting unless you are prepared to receive a real answer to that question.

“How are you?” is a question, not an opening for a conversation about business or superficial shit.  I have always hated when people would say this, especially after having the year from hell last year.  How was I doing? Well, let’s see… I was one rung above being suicidal. I was stressed out and in pain all the time. I was broken and quite literally unwell. And I had no problem telling people either – mostly just to be a pain in the ass. I know what the required response to the question is. “I’m good, thank you,” followed by a reciprocation the same hollow question, which 75% of the time is left totally unanswered. So, I would tell people the truth and say, “I’m not doing so well.” And most people didn’t even know what to do with that.

Why?
Because you’re the cashier at the grocery store, the guy who answered my call at the bank, or a waitress I just met. I don’t expect you to care about how I’m doing. Let’s just conduct business, respect each other like human beings, and keep it movin’.

Here’s how ugly that phrase has gotten, and what finally burned my fuse to its base.  A guy calls where I work and says, “Hi this is So-and-so, how are you? I’m looking for some replacement glass for a…” Didn’t even pause to allow me to answer.

So when you’re about to say this to someone, and I know we all say it – ask yourself, “Do I actually care?” If the answer is no, don’t ask. If the answer is a genuine yes, fire away. You’re probably going to get a “good” as a response anyway, and when that happens, I suggest reminding that person that you’re conversing with him or her on purpose by using your own response. “That’s great. I’m actually having an awesome day/week, so I’m doing good too.”

If you find yourself about to say it without any thought behind it, make it a “How’s it going?”instead. I won’t give any more tips on what you can replace “How are you?” with because I hope you’ll slow down and think of greetings that actually suit your personality.  I’m just tired of pre-recorded conversations with brain-dead people who have stopped thinking for themselves. Don’t be one of those people.

 

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The Day The World Got Quiet

This will be long. I need to get this out of me.

I watched my close friend die a slow death after a stroke from Thursday February 9 – Sunday February 12 when at 8:04pm he was finally allowed to be taken off of life-support as would have wished, could he express himself at the time.  I’ve never felt so powerless and useless in my life. All I could do was sit there and make sure he never spent a minute alone in the hospital room. I remember feeling scared for him – so scared that he could stay paralyzed if he lived, so scared of coming to know a world without him if he died.

I stayed in the hospital for 27 hours Saturday – Sunday – the moment he was moved from his room to ICU to be intubated until the moment he took his last breath. I don’t know what compelled me to stay either, other than love. I was not needed. He didn’t know I was there. But I just couldn’t leave, had no desire to go home.

When I finally forced myself to leave just to change my contact lenses out, I was faced with a bitterly cold South Florida morning as I went to my car. I was dressed for warmer weather from the Saturday evening I had come in on. I couldn’t believe how cold it was. Suddenly, without any warning, my mind flashed to a scene of flying closely over the water of the Keys. I recognized it. I knew that instant that my friend was dead.  And if there was such thing as a spirit, his was free and no longer trapped inside of that body that lay 2 floors up in a bed with a machine forcing him to breathe.  I went home and could not stop crying. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t think. I just went straight back to the hospital.

I went back to support and be supported by his family. This was my family as well for the years I was Omar’s girlfriend. I came back to make sure he would be allowed to die humanely and to ensure that his wishes be honored.  I couldn’t make those decisions for his wife, but I could be one of many voices that reminded her of who he was, and that his worst nightmare was happening to him right now.  He was Atheist and didn’t believe in spirits. He never wanted to grow old and fall apart. He lived every day to the fullest. He brought humor, creativity and so much love with him wherever he went. He made people feel special just by hanging out with them and listening to them. He didn’t deserve to die this way.  He didn’t deserve to have a bunch of Christians (his wife’s friends and family) so hell-bent on making believers of us all that they could ignore the fact that he had been brain-dead since the day before, ignore what he specifically wanted, speak with utter disrespect to his family, and cause a scene in the waiting room. He didn’t deserve to be surrounded by strangers forming a prayer circle around his lifeless body while his family waited for a turn to go in.

When he was finally allowed to die, when it was finally finished, an eerie silence fell over the very full waiting room as we wept together.   He was a talker, a storyteller, but most of all – he had this electricity about him that I never noticed until he was gone. Even if months passed since we spoke, his buzz was always humming, and you knew he was making his usual mischief or doing something amazing. There is no more hum. Our ears have all gone deaf from the silence.

I spent the following week absolutely destroyed and stressed out waiting to hear if his wife would honor his wishes of being cremated or if she’d have his dead body put on display for all to see. She did both. I wish I had never looked at him that way. That was a face he’d never make.  Death is scary and ugly when you see it in this light.

But his family found a way to make it beautiful the following Sunday. This man was such an integral part of the family that we will never recover from this loss – ever. He was so loved that 38 of us coming from England, Colorado, and Jamaica piled into 10 cars and drove down to the Keys to send his ashes back to the sea he loved so much. It was finally done, and I could stop worrying about him now. For whatever reason, it was essential to me that I see him through to the very end.

And now I feel horribly alone. Despite having rekindled closeness with Omar’s family – I feel alone. My fishing buddy is gone. My trickster, joker, dancehall loving, camping partner in crime, friend when I needed him SO much is gone. The only solace I know is in going down to our spot in the Keys and visiting him.

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Things 2011 Taught Me

  • If something really odd happens at the stroke of midnight on NYE – the year that follows will be equally odd.
  • You can gain weight pretty easily when you’re too busy caring about everything else (school, making your failing relationship “work”, etc.) to care about yourself.
  • Someone can love you so much because of what you bring to his life that he is willing to destroy the very things he loves about you so that you will stick around. And it can take a long time before either of you realizes what’s happening.
  • Free spirits can be further liberated and later shackled by the same love.
  • Finding one of your “soul mates” is as awesome as everyone claims, and is worth the experience even after things fall apart.
  • People mostly don’t know what the fuck they want out of their lives. They just think they do, and they’ll spend immense time groping around in the dark.
  • I can do everything I ever want to do, even if it sometimes takes me longer than other people to do it.
  • Things can get so bad I will wish I knew how to give up, and stay down, and stop taking licks “like a man.”
  • I’m probably made of adamantium.
  • You can get a 25% raise after working in a place for only 2.5 months if someone really sees the value in having you there.
  • My health can fail me without any prompting from my lifestyle.
  • There is nothing watching over me, no laws of moral causation. And it’s ok.
  • You can’t disown me when I never wanted anything to do with you in the first place.
  • You can’t buy a relationship with me, not even if you already have your foot in the door by being related to me.
  • My real-life people are mostly terrible listeners.
  • My online people are supportive in ways I didn’t expect them to be.
  • I’m going to pretend I’m not allergic to mangoes until it becomes life-threatening or makes my eyes swell up again, and my skin all itchy.
  • I can be so low-key that people think I’m on pot…including people who’ve made their professional livings smoking, writing, and singing songs about pot.
  • Cool shit happens to me all the time.
  • I remind my girl cousins of our childhood, and it brings them some measure of comfort now that their mom has passed.
  • I will always want to run (figuratively, literally).
  • I will never be able to settle.

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Off the Face of the Earth

I would apologize for being away for so long, but I think it’s kind of silly at this point.  My real life continues to keep me busy. If you’re subscribed still because you hoped I might come back and continue to blog the same way that I used to, passionate about issues, it will probably be a year or more before I return to that.  If you’re subscribed still because you just want to keep up from time to time, then you probably won’t be too disappointed.

Since my last post I have:

- gotten a full-time job that actually pays a pretty decent salary, despite not being in my field.

- gone to California 3 times with the hope of moving there. The plan to move this year was derailed, but it’s not  off the table for next year.

- been looking for a new apartment.

- spent much of my time walking or running. I’m slightly lighter than I was when I first lost my weight, and in better shape.

- had 2 kidney stones. I’ll be having surgery tomorrow to see what’s going on and, I hope, to correct things should there be anything wrong.

- finally got the issue with my tooth and the multiple root canals taken care of.

- sorta-dating, but not really.

- spending time with people I’ve been out of touch with.

- spending time with myself.

I had a difficult time with the holidays, having spent several of them with my ex’s family. It was incredibly difficult not seeing them for Thanksgiving. And, to be honest, I spent much of the day fearful that he would try to “be nice” and text message me or send me an email. It would have been too much manipulation for me to handle at the time. But he was genuinely nice and honored his word to stop contacting me. I finally relaxed by the end of the evening.  It will make Christmas easier knowing he can handle not using the holidays as an excuse to say something to me and try to reignite his ability manipulate my feelings for his own needs.

I’m still not ok with getting involved with anyone “for real” at this point. I still feel like I just don’t give a fuck about anyone except for myself. I do allow my time with other people to sink in and feel nice. But lately, I have mostly attracted married men (I don’t mess with that), men who live out of state, or men moving out of state. In other words: unavailable men. Infrequently, I meet some who are too available, and they frighten me.  It just means I’m not ready yet, and I’m ok with that. Having a boyfriend ranks so low on the list of things I care about right now; sometimes I wonder if it’ll ever matter to me again.

I continue to have amazing, off-the-wall experiences, and meet incredible people. I’m content, even when I’m dealing with “stuff”. I might be back around soon with another update. Hope everyone else is doing well too.

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