In Which I Wax Poetic About Bus Rides

My ten-year-old niece died last week. 

I can’t look at anything in my house and not think of her. I can’t even watch Spongebob Squarepants anymore, because that was our thing.

She was at my house practically every day ever since she started school, so every time I was at home we’d lie in bed and watch cartoons. When I would inevitably get distracted and start mucking about on my laptop, she’d yank my face and make me focus on the screen.

We spent hours figuring out which Spongebob characters would correspond to the people we knew. She was always Sandy, because she thought gender-matching was a requirement. (Strangely, she thinks it’s okay that I’m Spongebob.)

I don’t think I really understood what grief was before now. To be honest I’m not quite sure I really get it yet.

Somehow I think my body just interprets sadness as exhaustion. The funeral was last Sunday; I came home after the service and just slept the rest of the day away.

The very idea of interacting with people was (is) unbearable, so I took the next day off and just stayed in bed and stared at the ceiling. The most productive thing I did that day was attempt to organise the contents of my kindle.

Talking was a chore. It kind of still is, really. The last few days had me mostly miming, talking only when necessary.

And if I thought regular me was already unpleasant, I wasn’t quite ready to meet this even worse version.

It seems like my exhaustion has gone beyond physical and I can’t even be assed to act halfway decent anymore. Did you know that grunting your answers earns you weird looks? I do now.

But life requires that I participate. Properly. With zest and vigor. I have to be out there, being all okay and shit when all I want is to stay in bed, get drunk off my ass, and watch reruns of South Park for the next five years.

It requires that I act like everything is fine, because otherwise I’m making everyone else not fine, which is inconsiderate.

And who wants to be an inconsiderate jerk, right?

The best part of my day now, really, is my morning bus commute. I know I complain about it time and again, but that’s only because if whining was an Olympic sport I’d have more medals than Michael Phelps.

Truth is, that hour and a half (or two hours, sometimes) of sitting alone in a rickety bus is the best thing ever. For a couple hours, no one talks to me. The most I have to do is bark my stop at the conductor and shove money in his/her hands.

Then… sweet, blissful solitude.

For two hours I don’t have to be anything but sad, and that’s really all I can ask for.

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In Which I Think Back To That Time I Got Cock(?)-Blocked By Friends

The title is inaccurate, really, since I don’t have a cock.  I couldn’t think of a better alternative, though, so we’re sticking with that for now. (Or forever, really.)

For no real reason this story popped into my head earlier today. Kinda odd since it happened more than a decade ago, back when I was a wee lass of 16.

It was senior prom, and I was totally head over heels crazy for a classmate.

He had this bad boy vibe to him, and I was just smitten.

[To be fair, he really wasn’t a bad boy. He was super nice. I just thought he had that ex-con vibe to him, which is dumb when you think about it because we were in high school. And he’d never gotten into any trouble. Apart from being tall, dark, and fucking built, there really was no reason for anyone to assume he was “bad”. I was projecting, maybe? I was also *slightly* disappointed when we became friends and I realized he was super decent and had no plans of breaking my heart. Stupid teen me is stupid.]

Anyway, let’s call him Floyd.

So Floyd was my seat mate, and we were friends, and I was just burning with this unrequited crush I had on him, right?

When senior prom rolled along, I came up with a cunning plan.

plan

Floyd had a van.

Well, his dad’s van.

So I figured I could ask him for a ride, and it would be like a date, right? My teenage brain figured it would go something like this:

  1. Get him to agree to drive me to the prom.
  2. Wear really hot dress.
  3. Make his jaw drop.
  4. Attend stupid prom where no dancing was allowed because Jesus hates dancing.
  5. Get him to drive me back home.
  6. ???
  7. Profit

There are a bajillion loopholes in that plan, but they never occurred to me. And I honestly had no clear game plan.

I mean, I was 16 and stupid.

I had no ulterior motives, okay? I just wanted to maybe spend some time alone with this guy I liked. The most I expected was flirting and maybe a kiss on the cheek. (And then maybe we’d be boyfriend and girlfriend the next day — obviously I have zero understanding of human relationships. Sorry. I’m now 30 and still have zero game.)

Seeing as I have trouble with people touching me, my plan really was just stupid innocent. I just wanted us to be sweet together and maybe start a relationship.

So I asked Floyd for a ride to the prom venue, and dude said yes. Phase one complete!

A week or so before the event, my friends were all talking about carpooling to the venue, but I was all gloat gloat gloat Floyd is driving me to the venue gloat shit eating grin.

I went about setting my plan into motion. I’d already roped him into driving me, so that was step one complete. Next I found a really cool dress that I thought made me look nicer than usual. Everything was set.

On the day of the event, I’m freaking out at home waiting for him and then he rings the doorbell and I’m like hell fucking yeah.

I run to the door and find…

…Floyd’s van filled with my motherfucking friends. 

Assholes.

Instead of driving themselves or carpooling, the bitches all talked him into driving them, too. I think they tried to explain that they’d all met in so-and-so’s house where he drove by to pick them all up before swinging by my house, but by then I was so fucking pissed I couldn’t hear them properly.

Motherfuckers.

I couldn’t even ride shotgun, because the van’s aircon was shot and he had this stupid rigged fan in the back instead. My friends were all “yay, come sit here with us” while I tried my best to convey my utmost hatred for them through my eyes.

I think I tried to blink I fucking hate you in Morse code, but they were all too happy chit-chatting to notice.

And you know what? They all knew I liked him. It wasn’t a secret. I’m pretty sure even his friends knew. (Did he know? I never asked.)

Now that I’m older I try to give them the benefit of the doubt and think that they were just really desperate for a ride that they didn’t realize I had a cunning plan. To be fair, I never told them about the cunning plan. Doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven them, okay?

To make things worse, when we arrived at the venue, he took one look at me and said: “nice dress…”

*pause*

“…but why are you wearing stockings?”

Short answer is because my mom made me. She didn’t like me showing my legs like some tart, so nude stockings I had to wear. This was in 2000, where the only people who still wore nude stockings were bank tellers and SM sales ladies. Stupid, stupid, stupid stockings.

I don’t remember much about prom itself. I think we ate stuff and listened to the school pastor’s sermon or something. Maybe we lit candles. I don’t know anymore.

The drive home was five million times worse.

My friends were not getting the hint, and despite me praying to all the gods in existence so that they may let Floyd drive me home alone… no dice. They all piled back into the van and started discussing post-prom shenanigans.

Which I couldn’t join because curfew.

And so they dropped me off at home, and Floyd and my friends had a merry time.

The end.

And that is the story of how I got cock-blocked by friends.

Dicks.

In Which I Confess to Shipping Bros

First of all: I don’t mean it that way.

Nothing against slash — if that’s how you roll, well that’s how you roll. Not my place to judge.

But that’s not the ship I’m referring to.

I like friendship fanfics.

I know, there are two controversial words in that four-word sentence.

(A) Friendship

As far as fanfic writers are concerned, friendship really is super vanilla. It’s boring. Right? I mean, I understand. If I had to write fanfic (and I have — Slam Dunk fanfic, if you need to know) I would want to write something a little racier or at least interesting. Friendship seems a little too ordinary when you can write about two men getting pregnant together (not that I want to, okay — my Slam Dunk fanfic involved zero male pregnancies, just to be clear).

(B) Fanfic

Ah, yes. Fanfiction. It’s not exactly “respectable”, but sometimes a girl’s gotta read what a girl’s gotta read. (Totally untrue, but sometimes reading fanfic is fun.) I try to avoid really out-of-character fics, or the ones that have atrocious grammar. I try not to read super smutty ones unless I want to induce heavy-duty shower scrubbing afterwards. But yeah, guilty as hell on reading fanfics.

Okay, then.

Obviously I like reading fanfics of my non-canon ships, like Draco and Hermione from the Harry Potter books/series. This is the only way I get to read the characters I like in romantic situations, so hell yes I am so reading these fanfics.  Plus, some writers are seriously freaking awesome that reading their work is enjoyable.

(Weeding through the bad ones can be a chore, though. Blurgh.)

But you know what my favorite HP universe fanfic is? This one, about Harry and Draco getting fucking sloshed at a Muggle bar. Yeah, it’s got a bit of Dramione, but that’s not the point.

The point is that the fuckers had such a fun time getting sloshed and disrupting Hermione’s peaceful life, and it’s just so fun. I like it a lot, obviously.

Admittedly, I like stories of drunken shenanigans so there’s that immediate appeal, but also I think Draco and Harry would be super awesome pals. Like, I just know they would like each other if they weren’t literally trying to murder one another. (That curb stomp bit in Deathly Hallows, though. Woof.)

I have no proof of them being super awesome buddies, but I stand by this friendship ship.

I ship Johnlock, too, but again — not that way.

I like how John and Sherlock are friends, and how Sherlock keeps pissing John off and how John has very little control and may one day just throw Sherlock out of the apartment they share.

I don’t want them to fuck.

There.

I just want them to be super bros, like they’re happy and chilling and having tea and occasionally attempting to murder one another. (Admit it: if you lived with Sherlock you’d think about murdering him maybe once per day.)

And then now of course there’s my favorite BrOTP: Rick and Daryl from the Walking Dead.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 12.23.35 AM

I have to admit I like the idea of Beth and Daryl (never bought the Carol thing — dude barely looks at her, come on) because it seems like something that could bcool even if they never went the Glenn and Maggie route. Just seeing them as really good friends who might be slightly more than friends is awesome enough for me.

But Rick and Daryl? Damn. Bros are bros.

When Rick went “you’re my brother”, I was like fucking yeah.

It’s just nice, I think, to have great friendships onscreen. Admirable ones, where they enjoy hitting one another occasionally but never lose sight of the bromance. It’s endearing.

Maybe it says a bit more about me than I’d like to acknowledge, but I find strong friendships a lot more interesting than romantic pairings. It’s a lot less angst, too, because mostly you have these bros just doing whatever shit they’re into and they love each other but they kind of won’t go into detail and it’s okay. It’s cool.

Is this a John Woo thing? I grew up watching Woo’s homoerotic Chow Yun Fat movies (Hard Boiled is my favorite, especially with the hospital blowup finale) and I think I always liked how these friendships were so much less complicated than romantic relationships.

I mean, they are friends, they sometimes bash each other’s faces in, but then they’re friends again after. That’s all I want in life. I want to have a friend I love so much that we can try to strangle each other but still stay friends.

Is that too much to ask?

(Corollary: did I also admit to wanting to hit my friends?)

In Which I Talk About Social Anxiety

It’s time to come clean, I think.

I tweeted this a few days ago:

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 7.48.04 PM

And this:

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 7.48.18 PM

So… social anxiety’s a bitch.

I hesitate to call what I have a disorder, because it makes it sound so official. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) by a real shrink, but we didn’t talk about social anxiety.

Claiming the “disorder” might make me seem like some sort of poser.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely how social anxiety works.

I have no fucking idea who most of you are, but already I anticipate how you might respond to my post. This is how it works for me.

This is my life.

Every single thing I do, every single word I say, every fucking text I send: I immediately wonder how people will respond.

If I tweet something at someone and don’t get a reply within two seconds? My scumbag brain  starts sounding the alarms and tells me that said person hates me.

Fucking hates me.

And there’s no logic to it, which is so very painful for someone like me. I want everything to be rational. I like things I can understand.

When my own brain fucks me over like this?

It hurts.

So when I text you and you don’t reply, or when I crack a joke and you give me a wan smile, immediately I run through a list of things I might have done wrong.

I’m not funny.

I’m not interesting.

I suck at this.

I suck at everything.

It escalates so quickly. It’s like my brain goes from “okay” to “absolutely fucking insecure” in the speed of light.

This is why I like to be alone.

Alone, my brain doesn’t give me this shit. I don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing, or doing something incorrectly. I don’t have to worry about people liking me. I don’t have to think about what other people are thinking.

It’s relaxing.

It’s also the reason why I rarely go out, even with friends I love. I would gladly make plans, talk to friends about trips, but then chicken out at the last minute with some stupid excuse.

It’s the reason why I dread events.

It’s the reason why I don’t like small talk.

True story: In grad school, I purposely went to class late all the time so I wouldn’t have to spend time doing the small talk thing with classmates while waiting for the professor.

People try to be nice and engage me in small talk but what I see is people being all fake and shit.

So classmate says, “hey, what’s up?” and my scumbag brain’s response is “she doesn’t really care so respond as awfully and awkwardly as you can

I mean, I don’t know that, do I?

I’m writing this person off immediately because she asks me how I am?

That’s just awful.

I can’t help it, though.

The thing is that over the years, I developed two main methods to combat social anxiety:

(1) I assume everyone hates me, so I hate everyone right back.

(2) I hide and stop interacting with people.

Option number 1 is wrong, because this is a very unnecessary and hateful road to take.

Option number 2 isn’t easy at all since I do have to work and live and all that shit. Plus, I’m a part-time teacher, so you can just imagine how much of a nightmare this is.

Weirdly, I can handle teaching because it feels like I’m detached.

When students start talking to me after class, though, that’s when things go to shit. I find my throat closing up and my chest hurts. It’s a disaster.

I do my best to stay away from people I don’t know. Short of growling at them, I think.

The worst thing about social anxiety is that I don’t want to be this way.

I know it’s cool now to be aloof and cold, but I don’t want to be that. I want to be normal and friendly and not get nauseated every time someone I don’t know talks to me.

I don’t want to worry about every dinner or coffee date like it’s a meeting with the fucking Dalai Lama.

I don’t want to flinch every time someone touches me.

(Weird thing among other weird things: I like touching people. I hug my friends. I like to lean into people and just mess with them. The problem is when they touch me. I flinch involuntarily.)

I want to be able to speak to people without wondering if my bitch face makes them hate me. I want to interact people without wanting to run away and hide.

Because you know what? Social anxiety is — among other things — very, very exhausting.

I want to not hate people in advance. It’s an unnecessary defensive position that makes every single fibre of my being hurt like hell.

But there’s kind of an unexpected silver lining to all this.

When you find someone whom you know loves you without question, it’s fucking incredible.

I’m not talking about family. That’s pretty much a given, but even then it’s an entirely different manner of social interaction.

I’m talking about friends (or more than friends for the luckier among us).

I have a friend named Mei, and I am often horrible to her. I mean, I am aloof and detached and cold. Sometimes when I don’t feel like talking I just respond to her texts with smileys. Nothing but smileys.

(Bland smileys, too. Not even cute emojis.)

But I am so confident in her love for me that even when she doesn’t respond to my text immediately, I feel perfectly okay.

I don’t get that nagging worry that she doesn’t like me anymore, or that maybe I said something to offend her, or that she’ll no longer want to be my friend.

It’s not that I like being horrible to her. I am just plain horrible most of the time.

I think what I want to say is that even when I’m at my socially inept worst, I can count on her to continue being my friend.

And that’s a wonderful thing.

So… social anxiety’s a bitch.

I don’t have a real solution in sight, except right now I’m lucky enough to have maybe a couple of people look past my social shortcomings and accept me still.

It’s a goddamn blessing is what it is.

Because I’m not really doing anything to get over this problem. I don’t like seeing shrinks. I would much rather drink myself into a stupor than see another shrink or go back to Buspirone. Shit makes me dizzy. (Dizzy makes me forget I’m anxious, so it sort of works.)

And maybe this is just it for me, and I’ll continue to function as best I can even when every single interaction with other humans makes me alternately scared, angry, or nauseated.

So here we are with yet another post with no useful or logical ending.

Sorry.

In Which I Think About Testosterone

So maybe the title’s misleading.

Also, this is going to be a real ramble. Sorry in advance.

I was raised on a diet of action films — mostly kung-fu flicks starring Gordon Liu, then a bit later Jackie Chan and Jet Li. (I didn’t really appreciate Bruce Lee until I was in high school, I think.)

I grew up idolizing Chow Yun Fat’s tragic Mark Gor, and I still have a soft spot for triad films. Hell, I still have the complete collection of the Young and Dangerous movies I bought from some shady vendor in Mongkok.

I like mindless action movies. Who cares about plot, really?

All I want is a solid two hours of guns blasting and people kicking each other in the face. That’s it.

Now what I realized recently is that I like movies with terrible, terrible, terrible female characters.

And it makes me feel awful.

See, I like to think I’m above and beyond misogynist bullshit. Women are just as good as men — some even better. I don’t like this “battle of the sexes” drama.

I tend to think we’re all equally awful, no matter where you fall on the spectrum.

We’re all people, and we’re all bastards.

(When I was in elementary I hated how teachers would always pit “girls versus boys”, and the idiots who would lap that up. Like who the fuck told you the genders had to be opposed? What is the point? Why are you reinforcing this shit? And then other kids would be all “girls can trump boys because we’re smarter hurr hurr”. Whatever.)

So why do I like these movies when all the female characters are either cannon fodder or stupid love interests?

Hmm.

I think I found the answer after reading the first half of Preacher.

There are some things in the comic book series that made me go “well, fuck”, especially in how Jesse treats gun-toting homicidal maniac a.k.a. Tulip.

The girl is a fucking gun nut with badass aim, and he’s all “I don’t want you to get hurt”. Get a grip, man.

(Anyway, as it turns out, Garth Ennis does have a lot of character development up his sleeve so you have to hold your judgment till you get to the end. Don’t let questionable behavior on cowboy Jesse’s part drag you down.)

That said, it made me realize that I only like tosterone-packed movies/books/comics when the women are almost invisible. I don’t want them to have female characters front and center, because they remind me of real life gender inequality.

Girls can’t have fun.

Boys can get smashed, drive around, fuck around, and generally act like fuckwads and it would be fine.

Girls? You stay the fuck home and knit a sock.

When I was younger I never thought about gender differences. I was every bit as good and tough as the boys I knew.

My dad never handled me (or my sisters) with kid gloves. We didn’t get princess bullshit, like we’re supposed to be dainty and quiet because we were born with ovaries.

We played with whatever toys we wanted (and could afford): dolls and robots, stuffed animals and toy soldiers, knock-off legos and fake cookware. Nobody ever forced us to stick to Barbies. We could do whatever and it was fine as long as no one got hurt (decapitated Barbies don’t count).

We did what we wanted, spoke how we wanted, dressed how we wanted.

Nobody ever mentioned gender shit to me at home, and thank all the saints for that.

It was much later that I realized society had so many dumbfuck rules on how women should act, and by then it was too late to rewire myself. (LOL, no. I am not rewiring myself to fit society’s fucked up standards for the females of the world.)

This is how you sit, this is how you stand. You don’t get drunk. You don’t smoke. You don’t cuss.

Well fuck you and your rules, sweetheart.

So that’s why I find it incredibly off-putting when real life issues disrupt my two hours of brainless machismo to remind me that it’s exactly this same machismo that prevents women from enjoying life to the fullest.

And then, I realized, that the only way I can enjoy these macho action things is by turning my brain off. When gender issues crop up, I am thrown off and reminded of all the shit women have to put up with in real life.

I know where I stand on feminism, but I don’t want it to stand in the way of me enjoying all-out brawls on-screen.

That sounds awful, doesn’t it?

It’s not about showing female characters as physically badass. It’s about seeing women who are just as stoic and fearless, because that’s how I was raised and that’s the sort of character I would root for. (I understand this reveals my personal emotional shortcomings, but so be it.)

And now I have no idea how to end this ramble.