They killed my people

Armenians gather around the world to recognize the Armenian Genocide today, April 24th. Today, on April 24 1915, Armenian intellectuals were banished from the city of Constantinople, which is modern-day Istanbul, Turkey.

Approximately 1.5 million Armenians were brutally and systematically slaughtered by the Sultan and Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire, in what is considered to be the first genocide of the 20th century and one of history’s most calculatedly evil acts.

this was AD.  just 100 years ago.

The Genocide, in fact, was used as a model for the Holocaust just two decades later. Hitler himself was said to have remarked on the subject.

We are a diaspora community. Because of the killing of our people, we were forced to spread to cities and countries across the world, including France and the United States.

A note:

Out of every photo I’ve posted, this one devastated me the most.  

The phrase, “starving Armenians”, came from the Genocide, when so many generous Americans and Europeans donated money and provisions to feed young Armenians who were left orphaned and to die.

What devastates me the most is that this photo of little Shushan looks exactly like my mother when she was that age.  And that my mother’s grandmother fled with everything she had, from a land where little Shushans and Anis and Armens starved, to a giving land where my grandfather and my mother could be born.  To think of what my great-grandmothers thought when she saw my mother as a young girl, as Shushan, haunts me.

My ancestors were forced to flee their homeland and the only lives they knew. They entered the US through Boston and Canada to escape, changing their names in the event they were hunted down. They assimilated to American society, and started a new life in this land of opportunity.

They told the stories of the relatives they left behind knowing they’d never see again. Of ancient cities obliterated by an evil force, seeking to extinguish all things Armenian and Christian from the land. They hoped — they prayed — they would be able to visit those left behind. They would earn money in this new land, sponsor them to come.

Most didn’t survive. It took another 70 years for some extended family to escape from the then-Soviet Armenia and join their brothers and sisters in this new land.

Hemingway referred to the “Lost Generation” as those who grew up during World War I, “lost” meaning “disillusioned, wandering”. Armenians had a real “Lost Generation” – a majority of our population wiped out, obliterated from the face of the earth. Their potential, their contributions to humanity that could have happened were lost to history – doctors, scientists, artists, intellectuals.

Families.

Children.

The camera had come into more common use during the early teens, and the pictures of that time are an indescribable horror. If you’ve ever seen photos out of Auschwitz or Bergen Belsen – you’ve seen these photographs.

Despite every atrocity, Armenians have survived. For thousands of years we lived on blessed land that allowed us to experience the best the world had to offer, between Europe and Asia. But that left us vulnerable to attacks from every ethnic group who went through that area. Persians. Seljuks. Mongols. Turkmen. Russians. Azeris.

No matter what, we survived.

We rebuilt.

We started life anew.

We are the first Christian nation, established over 1700 years ago, before Rome. It is a part of who we are, an indelible hallmark of our identity.

Today, we honor those who could not make the journey with us.  The martyrs who died for their beliefs, for who they were.

To this day, we face an incredible obstacle.

The current Islamist government of Turkey does not recognize that what they committed was genocide. That word, one word, is anathema to them. They lobby with extraordinary force for the US and other governments to not recognize the Genocide.

Germany owns their crimes in full. It is a crime in Germany to promote Nazi ideals.

In Turkey, it’s celebrated. As this country seeks to enter the European Union and become a part of the civilized world, we must take pause. They are engaging in an ugly and systematic campaign of genocide denial. They are holding our American troops stationed in the country hostage, threatening to withdraw support and remove them from their base if we don’t comply to their terroristic demands.

It is a great shame that our country still cannot recognize the Genocide for what it was. That we must talk like children in euphemisms because a regional power puts the lives of our brave men and women on the line. It’s not an easy decision for those in our government to make. But the right decision always becomes immediately clear in the eyes of history.

So many have worked so hard to raise awareness for our cause. Of special renown in recent times is the Kardashian family, who traveled to Armenia and have rallied faithfully to have the Genocide recognized. They didn’t have to. They chose to.

It goes to show that support in times of need can come from the most unlikely places. It’s a lesson I’ve seen play out in my own life, and it’s one I hope to spread to others through mine.

On a day like today, we remember. We never forget.

In high school, I wrote a poem about the Genocide which was reproduced and which my parents proudly shared. I’m recalling it from memory here, with a few tweaks from the past decade.

Few remember that time

Horrible as it was

The pain, the suffering, the consternation

The screams that cry out of from a hellscape between life and death

One point five million lives extinguished

One point five million lives lost

Banished from this earth

Unrecognized by history

Forgotten to most

Forced to leave their homes, their every possession

Marched through the valley, of the shadow, of death

An identity reduced to a statistic

A century forward, the killers remain

Proud, arrogant, selfish

A paragon of evil in this world

The old ones remember

But there are so few old ones left

And the young ones don’t know

But let me tell you a story

From one generation, to the next

Let us always remember

Let us never forget

The millions of fears

The one hundred years

The sea of tears

My child dear

About Bobby Kristina

As I sit here watching the reports of Bobbi Kristina, Whitney Houston’s daughter, being taken into the hospital after being found unconscious in the bathtub, I can’t help but well up with tears.

It’s a sadness that’s unexplainable.

At once, I remember how I received the news about her mother being found the same way at the Beverly Hilton almost three years ago today.

I had the same reaction. I wanted to know more. I scoured every site for details, refreshed Twitter obsessively.

At that point, my mind flashed back to pressing the “replay” button on my mom’s car stereo every time “I Will Always Love You” came on.

How she hit those notes.

My God, how she hit those notes.

My mind would fast forward to the days after my mom slipped into a coma after her stroke. I would listen to that song and I wouldn’t make it to the end without crying. I still can’t.

The bond between a mother and child is one that can never be replicated or fully described. You come from this person. This person is everything to you — your protector, your incubator, your nutrient source, your entertainment, your world.

To have that person taken from you when you still have so much more to learn from them is devastating. It’s not so much wanting them to be there for the events in your life. It’s thinking about the laughs you miss, the shared moments that won’t happen, the times when life will throw you curveballs that you won’t be able to catch and you just want to run, you want to run away from everything and to that one person who you know will have a kind word, a warm hug, and will provide the reality-steeped perspective you need to weather the storm.

I remember later that day when we lost Whitney when Bobbi was taken in because she was suicidal.

I don’t fault her. Shock makes that happen to people.

For all intensive purposes, Bobbi appeared to be Whitney’s best friend. She was the only one who wasn’t in it for the money, or the namedropping, or to be the hanger-on.

She was the only one Whitney called ‘daughter’ and the only daughter who called Whitney ‘mom’.

When I heard the news this morning, my mind flashed through all the rumors I’ve heard and read the past few years about Bobbi’s out-of-control drug use. How she is spiraling down the same path her mom did. How she

February 11, 2012, the day we lost Whitney, also became the day that we were tasked with one thing: take care of Bobbi. Don’t let her story end the same way her mom’s did. Her dad has his problems. Her grandma is trying her best. But for God’s sake, don’t let her end up the same as her mom.

We’ve failed.

Of course she’s an adult. Of course she’s capable of making her own decisions. Of course we have to take care of our own and not worry about others.

But she’s one of our own. Her mother’s voice made so many important moments of our lives memorable: weddings, funerals, love, heartbreak.

We owe it to her mother’s memory to take care of the daughter she left us with, the daughter she loved so much.

What is our relationship with celebrity, anyway?

We treat them like zoo animals. We watch them incessantly, gawk at them, follow them, treat their every creation like a parent placing their child’s artwork on their fridge. We pay them, we get to know everything about them, we speculate on them, we send them letters and well-wishes, they become a part of a strange, disconnected extended family. We identify them, when we meet them we tell them how much what they do affects us.

We do everything but take care of them, and even that’s not true. We give them money. We pay the bills, keep the lights on, keep their kids in school.

So why don’t we try to help them?

These are people. They’re people just like us. They have their faults, and their faults get pasted on billboards while ours at most leak out over a beer.

If we can crowdfund to support a celebrity’s movie project, why can’t we crowdfund to help a celebrity keep doing what they do? Why can’t we crowdfund their bills? Their expenses? Their therapy? Their sobriety?

Unions don’t take care of celebrities outside of giving them expensive health insurance plans. Studios and record companies don’t care, they’re replaceable. Managers and publicists don’t care, they get 10% regardless of outcome.

Why don’t we care?

We’re the end user. We get a product. We get the fruit of their gift.

We invite them into our homes at our choosing. There’s a reason the industry is called “entertainment”.

It will be a milestone when the first celebrity uses a crowdfunding platform or similar to fund their medical expenses, their rehab, or their therapy. When that happens, we’ll have broken down one of the last barriers that exists between celebrity and reality.

We may not like the results.  We may realize these people are people just like us and abandon them.

Or we may gain a special appreciation that they’re people just like us AND they have incredible talent.

Reports currently show that Bobbi Kristina is stable. Someone was watching over her.

Now it’s our turn.

Scabs, existentialism, and Welch’s Grape Juice

I once got a papercut as a kid. I shiver to think about it now and immediately recall that part of Jackass, the only part I had to fast forward through multiple times and out of all the times I’ve watched the movie, I’ve only seen it in its entirety twice and with my eyes open through its entirety once. I got a fun Band-Aid on it though, and then I started putting Band-Aids on everything. They were magic. You’d put them on top with some Neosporin and…voila! You were Iron Man.

As I would get more cuts from roughhousing or playing outside or riding my bike, I got more Band-Aids. So naturally I put them all over my toy robot, because if I was going to have Band-Aids then goddammit, so was he. This event made my mother worry and it was definitely a topic of discussion with the child psychologist.

In 1st grade I skinned my elbow on the playground. It was on the concrete and blood poured out like an oil spill. It stung a little, but it formed this amazing, beetle-like thing atop it – a scab. The scab was crunchy and if you poked it, it hurt. And if someone bumped into it rushing through the hallway, it bled all over again. It was tasty too, like sand, but that’s another discussion.

But it was a sign of my mortality in the same way the Band-Aid was a sign of my mortality. Cuts and bruises went from being “things that heal” to “things that heal with a scar” – and that scar is with you forever.

Mortality – well, more specifically – permanence that was not of my choice – was obsessively fascinating. And soon — horrifying.

I didn’t see the other car coming and neither did my mom when it turned in front of us. All I remember was the sound of the glass shattering and my mom being more angry and scared than I’d ever seen her in my life. The nightmares were unbearable. That’s another story for another day.

At that point, mortality went from “fascinating” to “devastating”. How does it happen? Can it happen that easily? Does it happen to all of us? Will I die?

It went from being a mere mental exercise of existentialism to a complete panic breakdown reallyfuckingquickly. Forget mid-life-crisis, this was an end-of-life crisis and I had barely reached mid-elementary-school. Is there a way to not die? Is there a way to have some sort of eternal life?

I started becoming intensely religious. I dusted off those children’s bibles and read it. I asked my mom to go to the religious book store. I had to read more. More Chicken Soup for the [insert demographic here]. Prayers every night. So many rules to learn. So many things to not do. I never cussed before because I knew it would piss off my mom. But now there was someone else telling me not to do it. My religious beliefs supplanted my relationship with my parents. They were mortal and flawed, but this was truth. Seeing them as flawed actually made me love them less. Why didn’t they give me a religious upbringing like other parents? Did they not love me?

I didn’t have a religious upbringing, and resentment began to grow from that. My mom went to Sunday School, my dad didn’t, and while my mom and I would pray and I knew right and wrong, it just seemed like a whole other world of really-happy people who were all having fun while I wasn’t. They weren’t depressed about dying. They weren’t obsessed over non-existence in this life. They were happy. They were joyful. And they had structure. I wanted all of that.

I started self-flagellating over everything I ever said or did. If I thought bad thoughts, I’d scold myself for it. I’d mutter “sorry” under my breath if I expressed an undesirable emotion. I was this kid sitting outside the cafeteria drinking a box of Welch’s Grape Juice and crunching the mental scabs that grew over my fears over and over again. I withdrew from other people and wanted to stay home more. The world wasn’t safe and it was full of evil and I was evil and home was safer and while other kids enjoyed sports I became terrified of getting hit too hard on the football field and dying.

Everything I wrote and did, every project had religious themes. I wanted to be saved. I had to make up for lost time where I didn’t have a religious education or upbringing. I needed to go to Heaven because – what if I died? What if I was ejected from my seat on the drive home? What if something happened to my parents and I lost one of them?

As I went from 6th grade into middle school, I just wanted to be home with my mom. I literally cried at school because I missed her. I was afraid of losing her. I was afraid of getting lost. I was at this scary place where kids got stabbed (thanks, “Pay It Forward”, you horrible goddamn movie) and things were changing too fast and I was a mess of churning fears and anxieties. Of course, just as I started to get over all that by 8th grade, my mom’s accident happened, in a car no less, so imagine your own private “Sum of All Fears” while being tied to a chair and unable to stop it.

I miss being a fearless kid because those obsessions of life and death and morality and religion still exist. I used to slide-tackle people in soccer and get scabs during recess and loved it. I was a thrill-seeker but a smart one and a moral one– not the bungee-jumping kind, but the kind who wouldn’t be afraid of a fight. The kind who would laugh at a papercut.

You have two brains and you don’t even know it

I am in consistent admiration of those people who can seemingly get so much done in the course of a day.

Whether it’s a CEO that can hold 5 meetings and still find time to get out of the office and spend time with his family, or the mom who wakes up at 5AM to workout before going to work, it’s always one hell of a balancing act.

When I’m having a panic attack over realizing just how much needs to get done and the fact that it’s just not happening today and it seems like everyone around you is both trying their best and dropping the f*cking ball, I’m wracking my brain like Tara Reid’s plastic surgeon trying to fix that stomach – “HOW DO I FIX THIS?!?!”

DON’T LOOK IT IN THE EYE IT’S SENTIENT

I’ve heard from nearly a dozen people that “mindfulness” is the key. Be present. Live in the moment.

It’s the Hallmark card of psychology right now, and it doesn’t goddamn work. Sure, it can calm you down for one moment. And then the next moment the panic machine starts again and you feel even MORE anxiety because you screwed up at doing the one thing that was supposed to keep you from being anxious.

The key is to act like a camera aperture: be able to zoom into focus and zoom out quickly.

Anxiety, and by extension, anxiety attacks, usually come with the symptom of “tunnel vision”. You become so overwhelmed by stimuli that as a survival mechanism, your body focuses on literally what’s in front of you. If your eyes were camera lenses, you’d be blocking out everything around you and focusing on a pinhole because it would be literally all your system could handle.

It’s a learned skill to be able to focus on the minute but not lose track of everything else around you. Imagine if you’re standing on train tracks and you’re focusing on a piece of gravel next to the ties. You’d ignore the fact that a 100-mph locomotive is about to fricassee you into bite-size chunks.

Similarly, if you’re focusing solely on the train that comes, you won’t notice the penny on the rails that will derail the train hilariously.

I’m about to veer on the edge of science here.

You have two brains. You have a functional brain which manages your normal functions, and you have an uber-brain which manages your brain. If your regular brain starts going off the rails, you have a second brain to shout “CALM THE F*CK DOWN”. Otherwise, the slightest thing that’s off, from the rustle of a leaf to a crooked painting would cause our hearts to explode in panic. You have a body that can govern your sensibilities – that’s what separates you from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Hyper-focusing is the product of your regular brain. Predators and those at the top of the food chain have specially-attuned instincts and senses, like smell, that’s far beyond ours because their standard brains have developed the ability to pick up a scent from miles away.

“Big-picture thinking” is the product of your uberbrain. The ability to manage enormous amounts of input and stimuli, the depth of memory you use at your disposal that’s beyond typical muscle memory – that’s uberbrain talking.

And talking is important.

When your uberbrain can’t talk down your regular brain, or when you become lost in your uberbrain and lose what’s right in front of you, your body panics. It’s akin to a loss of consciousness. Overwhelming experiences, trauma, anything that causes you to faint – all of these are a sign that your system is overloaded.

But when your uberbrain can calm down your brain and tell it that everything will be ok, when your brain can see the steps in front of it and use that input for your uberbrain to function – you’re at your best. You can zoom in and zoom out like a camera aperture, and do it quickly enough to get two simultaneous pictures of what’s going on around you. It’s a muscle that’s responsible for this communication, similar to the corpus callosum which connects the right hemisphere and left hemisphere of your brain and allows them to “talk” to each other.

Like all muscles, it must be trained. And you can do it where you’re sitting right now.

Think of an emotionally difficult situation. Could’ve been a traumatic situation, a time where you experienced loss, an accident, or a bout of nervousness. Let your memory experience the feelings, the sights, the smells of that time. Focus. Engage your animal brain.

Your heart rate increases. You may sweat a little, shake a little. Your body is re-experiencing the traumatic situation.

Then use your uberbrain to rise above your body and look at the world around you. You’re sitting on the couch, or at a desk, or in bed. You’re not actually in a dangerous situation. Everything’s fine. Look at the big picture. Engage your uber-brain.

Let the animal brain talk.

Then let the uberbrain talk.

Let them talk to each other for a few minutes. Feel a little worry (“but what about THIS”) and let your higher brain calm it down (“you’re literally sitting in Triscuits crumbs watching Real Housewives—there’s literally nothing to worry about and you’re safe”).

You’ll notice your regular brain is picking up the stimuli around you (cat hairs, 72 degrees, soft blanket, comfy desk chair, novelty mousepad) and feeding it back to your uberbrain which is thinking about possibilities (what if the faulty accelerator pedal on my Camry causes me to drive through ANOTHER cupcake shop?) This is great progress, because it means your brains are talking and helping each other, using all functions of your body to both calm down and move your body and mind and consciousness through this situation.

What you’re doing isn’t easy. It feels a little like exercise, doesn’t it?

That’s because you’re exercising the muscle that communicates between your two brains.

The more you do this, the better you can handle what life throws you. Because it will throw you challenges and curveballs and completely unexpected holy-sh*t-the-world-is-collapsing-around-me-how-will-I-survive-through this situations that you’ll want to numb or distract from and you can’t. You can’t numb them all and you can’t distract from them all. You will never, ever be able to, in the same way you will never be able to just sit around in bed while everyone around you takes care of you for the rest of your life. You’re gonna have to get up and walk to the fridge eventually.

Train your brains.

Succeed.

Win at life.

And you’ll be happy.

I can’t stop biting my nails :(

There’s a Latin symbol of a snake eating its own tail called the ouroboros, pronounced similarly to a drunk Brit trying to say “outer boroughs”.

It’s supposed to represent how everything is cyclical, infinity, light/dark, feedback loops, and other things that a bunch of people who had nothing better to do than carve marble in the nude and get drunk on ill-prepared wine would come up with.

bro…bro…be cool

As a side note — can we stop acting like the Greeks and Romans were all that?

It’s been 2000 years.  Out of everything they ever created, you’ve got some crumbling columns and a few scraps of philosophical ideas.

If you had no Internet, no TV, mild to warm temperatures, and lived in an advanced city with a few decades to spare I’m sure that you could easily come up with a few of those concepts a week, let alone in an entire lifetime.

This was the best we could do?

Do we look back at hunter-gatherers in awe?

Or do we fetishistically pay homage to the Goths or the Vandals, outside of using both those terms in wildly different contexts completely removed from their original description?

*travels in time machine back to the 500’s*

IN THE FUTURE PEOPLE NAMED AFTER YOU WILL WEAR DARK MAKEUP AND LISTEN TO CRAP MUSIC WHILE MOANING ABOUT HOW AWFUL THEIR LIVES ARE

Of course not.

So Greeks and Romans should not be any different.  There’s nothing special about a bunch of lazy sunbaked alcoholics who decided to lick a few reeds together and scribble down some ideas.

In LA, we call that “Sunday brunch”.

By the way, if modern-day Greeks and Italians are any indication of what the ancients are like, I am not impressed.

Has there been any further or more disappointing fall between an ancient and modern culture than the Greeks?  They went from being the most advanced civilization in the world, the “birthplace of civilization”, to being unable to balance a checkbook.

I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FREE CRAP!

It’s like the stereotypical football star uncle who shows up to Christmas hoping he can ask for another loan every year because he’s got a “million dollar idea” and just “needs a few bucks to get it off the ground” and we can “go into business together” and “be partners” and “you wanna be rich, don’t ya?” and you smile and nod like you would talking to any other crazy person and stuff another roll in your face so you don’t have to respond how you want to respond and you’re hoping with the few remaining brain cells he has to rub together he doesn’t notice that you claimed to be gluten free recently.

And as he backs out of the driveway in his “bitchin” Fiero, you wonder — where did it all go wrong?

i don’t know uncle rico, how much of my money do you wanna bet you’re not going to pay back the loan I gave you last Christmas

An indicator of success for a civilization is initial hardship which also translates to individuals.

The Romans came from the Etruscans, an early and advanced civilization, the same way the Greeks developed from the Minoans and Mycenaeans, early and advanced civilizations.

There’s such a thing in life as “peaking” — getting too big, too quickly, and then having nowhere to go but down.

It’s why if family fortunes don’t get blown by the grandchildren, the great-grandchildren will most likely find a way to burn through all that Schlitz money realdamnfast.

This is why the British civilization became one of the most successful in history and to a degree, still is–they started off as a bunch of Roundheads and Viking nomads and just slowly, steadily built upwards from there until they basically created the modern civilized world.

Same with America.  The early settlers didn’t even know if corn was for eating, smoking, or hilarious warfare.  But gradually, we grew into the giant we are today.

in my search for this i found a dating site called “Native American Passions”, if any of you are interested

There’s also a shadow of success to live in if one becomes too successful, too quickly.

Look at the Egyptians.

The best thing to come out of there is over 5000 years old.

You know something’s old when Jesus is the halfway point.

In over 5000, five-thousand, cinco-thousando years, the best, BEST they have to show for themselves is a life-sized LEGO sculpture.

Even with their primitive tools, it took just 44 years to complete, or about the time we’ll finally get the stretch of bullet train between Delano and Bakersfield built.

it doesnt count as private development if you need a federal loan, xpress west

Even if they learned nothing, even if they used the same exact methods to the present day, they should have about 113 pyramids by now.

If it weren’t for them bringing people by their place to see a few artifacts like an aunt who harps on her ORIGINAL Thomas Kinkade painting (see?  he signed it.  SIGNED IT.  1 of 400) the country would collapse more than it already has.  More than 1 in 10 dollars is spent by a tourist, and more than 1 in 10 Egyptians is employed because of tourism.  They’re not Dubai saying “come and see our incredibly advanced cities of glittering skyscrapers and hotels shaped like boat sails”, they’re showing you the fruitcake from Christmas 1962 that they keep in the closet and trot out every year.

fresh as the century it was baked in

It’s effectively a society that’s cashing in its royalty checks from millennia before.  There’s no incentive to grow, advance, move forward, prosper, write a sequel (Giza 2: Electric Boogaloo!) or anything.

And speaking of no incentive, I need one to stop biting my nails.

My poor exasperated mother once offered me $100 to stop as a kid, which was like, 100 Hot Wheels.

I stopped for a few days.  I collected the $100.  I started again one day, completely unconsciously.

I’ve stopped for a week or two at a time but got the habit of just nibbling around the corners, or just testing the thickness of each nail with my teeth like a chef making sure the pasta is al dente.

When I’m anxious or hungry, it starts again, and happens so unconsciously that I usually am not aware of what I’m doing unless 1) someone points it out 2) I start bleeding.

I’ve tried manicures, I’ve tried polish, I’ve tried more addictive habits to replace it, and nothing works long-term.

see how cool smoking is kids

So please–if you see me, tell me to stop.

And if you have any ideas to stop, let me know.

Because I’m consuming my own tail here and instead of representing the cyclical nature of life I’m representing every failed civilization — literally consuming myself.

Photo on 11-11-14 at 11.43 PM

Being scared is not a way to go through life

I used to do this all the time and I still kind of do and I believe it’s more of a West Coast thing.

When something’s off, or unusual, I always say it’s “scary”.

Oh, your insurance premiums are going up?  That’s just “scary”.

Your dog came down with typhoid?  So “scary”…

Your house was broken into by the Bling Ring and they stole nothing because you’re a broke-ass b*tch?

“SCARY”.

But what does that mean?

Life can’t be filled with that much unrelenting fear.

You can’t be “so scared” all the time.

Most importantly–there’s a difference between *being* scared and *feeling* scared.

Feeling scared is a normal human emotion.

One of my favorite moments on Family Guy is in the episode where they make fun of the South:

Hi, uh, excuse me, you guys. Yeah, I’m here to pick up my son, Chris Griffin. Uh, he’s here to finger the guy who held up that convenience store. M-maybe you’ve seen him, his name is Chris Griffin. Oh, wait a second, y’know, I think I got a picture of him, somewhere…h-here you go. [gives the picture to the one who robbed the store] Yeah, you can go ahead and hang on to that, I got a ton of ’em at home. In fact, I was gonna throw that one out anyway ’cause Chris messed it up by writing his school schedule and a list of his fears all over the back of it.

We all have a list of fears, whether it’s something as innocuous as spiders or complex as commitment.

And let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than an arachnophobe that can’t commit! *takes drag off Virginia Slim*

You feel a lot of things that aren’t real.

You can feel nauseous on a car ride, but that doesn’t mean that your body is ready to undergo a dramatic explosion of brain matter.

You can feel full after Souplantation (if you don’t, you’re not American and didn’t get your money’s worth) but that doesn’t mean your stomach will burst, Alien-style, with focaccia.

And you can feel horny without tackling and furiously humping the senior citizen cocktail waitress with the wooden leg and holiday-themed press-on nails.

When your feeling enters a state of “being”–you’re doing something wrong.

Nobody wants to go on a trip with the person who wails about their nausea and wears it like a uniquely pathetic badge of honor.

Nobody wants to eat a meal with the person who unendingly b*tches afterwards about eating that last zucchini muffin.

And nobody wants to be around the person whose old-fashioned glass you have to monitor for fear they’ll titgrab the hostess.

This applies to all emotions.

Are you angry?

Jealous?

Sad?

Or are you an angry person?

A jealous person?

A sad person?

Or a scared person?

If you can’t tell the difference–find someone whose opinion you trust who will tell you *the* truth (not the truth you want to hear) and ask them.

You’ll likely be surprised.

What you see as that one incidence of anger or fear has likely been an aspect of your personality that you haven’t noticed.

And know that you know this–do you want to be that person?

An angry person?

A jealous person?

A sad person?

Or a scared person?

That judgment is up to you.

But the fact that you’re curious enough to reach the point where you can make that judgment shows you have demonstrated the initial willingness to change.

It’s the first step.

It’s the hardest step.

There will be hard steps down the road, mind you.

Changing is both the hardest thing you can do in terms of sheer will and the easiest thing you can do in terms of obstruction (really, there’s nothing that stops you from changing, ever).

Maybe it will be worth it.

Are you happy where you’re at now?

If you’re not, stop being scared.

Feel scared.

And change.

I have no chill

I’m not great at interacting with people.

For starters, I’m intense.

Not intense like “awesome!”, more intense like “will attack you with a battery of thoughts, words, and commentary and stop making noises by moving your lips in the figures of speech, because I’m still talking”.

I’m not for the weak. I pick up on everything going on—sounds, smells, cues, placement of objects, etc. I’m like your dog, but with night-vision goggles on.

we will fight fire with fire.

–cats

That probably puts off 50% of people right there.

People have different temperaments. Just think among your group of friends.

how was my day? it was fine, thank me

Half of them run at a slower speed. At the deepest end are the most unflagging of stoners, who can’t be bothered to move if they bong-lit the apartment on fire.

Then there are the casually-stoned, the non-inhalers, the leisurely, the relaxed, and the calm.

None of these people enjoy intensity. It harshes mellow.

The other 50% of people run at a faster speed. There’s the brisk walkers, the mild joggers, the sprinters, and the most unhinged of cokeheads.

YOUKNOWI’MGONNAGOBACKTOSCHOOLANDGETMYGED

YOUSHOULDDOITYOUSHOULDDOITROLLERGIRL

I’m somewhere right below “sprinter” on this scale. There’s a constant beat going and if things aren’t moving, I get irritable.

I do best around people who operate at about one half-notch below me in speed. If I’m convinced you’re keeping up with me but that I’m moving too fast, I can then slow down and be relatively comfortable.

But life doesn’t work this way.

And then I realized–I have no chill.

Lots of people have their meditations–golf, art, hiking, exercise, writing, glassblowing, underground gardening, whatever.

I don’t have those. They bore me and if I don’t get them right the first time, there’s little incentive to continue.

I have to spread my chill over the day to keep functioning, like a hummingbird who ingests sugar to stay alive. And as a result, I can be self-indulgent. It’s hard to stop at one chocolate because it’s the perfect distraction. Anything that can take my mind off what’s going on is a plus. My future office will have rhabdomancing acrobats in the background just to give me something to look at.

WHY ARE YOU JUST STANDING THERE?!

Also, I challenge myself in weird, spiteful, masochistic ways.

How many cups of coffee can I drink before I go for an intense run and be able to get back to work with increased intensity?

I only need, like 2 hours of sleep, right?

Of course I can get this writing completed in a crowded coffeeshop!

Unfortunately, my lack of chill gets taken out on other people.

Most people probably don’t notice.

But for those who do it’s visibly off-putting.

Who wants to engage with someone who’s consistently high-strung, hardheaded, and physically uncomfortable? If there’s someone shifting in their seats, I will bet you this half-filled jar of nail bitings it’s me!

There’s few people I can relax around, and I treasure those that I can. And to those that I can’t–I’m sorry. Not “sorry not sorry”, not “sorry BUUUT…”, not “sorry IF…”, but sorry.

Forget Gamergate, this is the REAL controversy

It’s been two weeks and no response from Trader Joe’s on their weird employee-unlocking-the-bathroom-door-and-walking-in-while-I’m-using-it-gate.

While everyone makes a big hoopla over some chick who slept with a Kotaku writer and how there’s a time-old tradition of the media being in bed (literally) with industry in exchange for favorable coverage, the real controversy is that Trader Joe’s has not responded to my message about what went down over their bathroom hijinks.

but what would #gamergate think about this?!

But the best response I got to it was as follows from “Zen”:

Let’s reflect: When you enter your favorite eating establishment or your favorite bar and you use the restroom, you enter a stall lined cavern. Each privacy stall is equipped with a lock. Is there also a lock on the main door? Please. Is that lock for you “the Prince of Bathrooms” to keep everyone else out? There is only to be a lock on the door when you enter a room with no privacy stalls surrounding the toilet.

You speak of legalities? You claim to be a “lawyer” in your bio? You should do your homework.

What should happen here is you should go apologize to everyone in that store for your lack of knowledge. I wonder how Trader Joe’s feels about you using images of their conglomerate and slandering them.

1) Like George Washington (or was it George Michael?) said, not all bathrooms are created equal. The one at TJ’s in particular has a stall with a small latch and an open urinal (what an ugly word) with a sink. It’s a one-person setup, and given the neighborhood, Trader Joe’s would probably appreciate not having two dudes in there at once.

2) I’m finally recognized as the “Prince of Bathrooms”, although I’d never take my throne because that’s just gross in a public bathroom and I’d have to have super-ebola to ever use it.

3) I claim to be a lawyer the same way Zen claims to be Zen.

4) You’re right. I should have gone to the manager and each of the cashiers and stockboys and apologized for not knowing it was ok for employees to unlock the bathroom door and barge in on someone else using it.

5) I don’t know how Trader Joe’s feels because they never responded. But they should feel comforted in the fact that through almost-daily purchases, I’ve individually bankrolled 85% of the next store Trader Joe’s opens in Southern California.

Anyway Zen, if you’re reading this, 10/10 would troll again.

I’d like to shake your hand and buy you a drink.

I don’t want to shop at this Trader Joe’s ever again

I love Trader Joe’s.

Let me repeat:

I have a passionate, undying, borderline-fanatic love for Trader Joe’s.

damn right it does

I shop there at least once or twice a week, sometimes once a day, because the prices and the variety are unmatched.

But I had an incredibly uncomfortable experience today at the Trader Joe’s on Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood that I should share.

I walked into the store to buy something for lunch and headed to the restroom–after all, they say you should never shop on a full bladder, or something.

There’s one men’s and one women’s restroom, so I ducked into the men’s which consists of a stall, urinal and sink–standard stuff–and lock the door behind me.

stahhhhhhhhp ittttttttt

As I’m washing my hands, I hear what sounds like a key opening a lock. As soon as I turn around, an older man with a Trader Joe’s badge proceeds to walk into the restroom.

I’m in shock.

What if I was actually, you know, going to the restroom right then?

never is a man more defenseless than at this exact moment in his life

“Uhhh…excuse me. I was using the restroom,” I say, hoping he’s either senile or they just discovered uranium behind the restroom wall or there was some other valid reason for the dude to barge in and not even knock and ask if anyone’s in there.

Unfazed and looking down as he uses the sink, he says “the restroom already has privacy and has a separate stall.”

Odd answer.

I ask, “then…why is there a lock on the door?”

“Eh, the manager from 9 years ago never changed it out”.

I walked out of there still dazed. What if I was a woman, how violating would this feel to have some stranger just unlock the door your locked while you’re using the restroom? What if someone did that to my mother or a friend of mine?

I picked up my “Middle East Feast” and paid, and asked to talk to the manager.

The manager was checking out another customer and sent over someone else to talk to me.

I echoed what happened, and the young girl didn’t understand which employee I was talking about. I didn’t grab his name because I was still in “wtf” mode of the situation but offered an accurate description of him. She shrugged her shoulders and said “yeah, it happens” and that was the extent of how far I got with her.

I left the store and emailed corporate letting them know the situation, got the confirmation the message was received, but no response. I’m pretty surprised by that sort of conduct–not only does it violate customer service etiquette, it violates human etiquette. If I did that to someone in my own home, they could likely sue me for sexual harassment.

So why would it be ok to have some strange employee just walk on in, no knocking, unapologetically, at a store where I’m using the restroom?

I don’t really give a damn about this kind of stuff, but idk what’s wrong with this Trader Joe’s store. This week alone I found plastic wrap baked into one of the falafels I got there and I’ve been shopping at Trader Joe’s and this store in particular for years without incident not to mention I’ve never found a foreign object in food before that isn’t hair.

I recommend Trader Joe’s to people up and down, but I’m not gonna go back to this store anytime soon.

your neon sign beacons towards sadness and despair

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis baby name revealed…

I’m not claiming credit for this, but

Mila and I would like to welcome Wyatt Isabelle Kutcher to the world,” wrote Kutcher. “May your life be filled with wonder, love, laughter, health, happiness, curiosity, and privacy.

Congratulations to the new family.

I met Ashton Kutcher when he first joined Two-and-a-Half Men and I had to deliver a Segway to the set for taping.

He was very intelligent, engaging, and polite, and joked about how the founder (well, actually, the guy who bought the company) died after falling off one of the machines.  I also helped John Cryer ride the machine I brought, and he was equally intelligent, engaging, and polite.

Well, crap.  My name went from being a last/family name to a boy’s name and now it’s a bona fide girl’s name.

Still, it’s nice to think that in a couple decades I can finally live my dream: marrying myself.