Reality Tears

RealityFriend

I’ve been watching a lot of Catfish and Suspect lately. They’re both shows on MTV and the plots are mostly focused on getting to the bottom of a situation. I’m pretty obsessed with the truth, so these shows are right up my alley. It’s easy to dismiss reality television as nonsense and garbage, but I don’t think all reality television is created equal. I’ve met a lot of people who revere documentaries and refuse to watch a minute of reality tv. Talk about pretentious. I’m happy to get my dose of real-life stories from MTV if that’s where the good stuff lives.

For those of you who don’t know, Catfish is a show that sets out to expose people who have lured others into bonding based on lies. To “catfish” someone is to convince them you are a person other than your true self and build a relationship based on that false persona. Sometimes people do it because they’re afraid of being themselves, sometimes they do it because they’re playing a cruel trick, and sometimes they just get caught in too many lies and can’t face the facts. But by the end of the show, the hosts figure it all out. It’s incredibly satisfying to see the truth rise to the top, like the feeling you get when you’ve been trying to dig a root out of the ground and it finally pulls free.

The show Suspect, led by one of the same hosts of Catfish, brings viewers that same satisfaction of uncovering a truth but does it through heartwarming stories between people who care about one another. Usually, one person is worried about the other and they’re using the show to figure out what they can do to help. There are a lot of tears on both shows, but there are way more hugs on this one. Also, the second host of this show looks at people with love-filled eyes and that warms my heart. Mostly, I like the fact that the truth can bring people together and build a foundation for support. It’s all just entertainment, but why not be entertained by something that ends with kindness?

So far, there has only been one truth-seeker who rejected the person they claimed to love. Everyone else has embraced their loved ones and accepted whatever struggle was headed their way. Really, we can all use a little more of this in our lives. Let’s open our hearts when someone tells us their truth, even when it’s hard to hear. And if there are cameras around, please don’t be afraid to shed a few tears. Some of us are enjoying your story from the comfort of our couches.

Clubbing as an Introvert

DancingAlone

I love to dance, but I don’t love to be around strangers. Usually, I satisfy my desire to break it down by turning up the music in my living room and shaking my booty in the comfort of my own home. I get to move it in style but not be groped by strangers who “accidentally” brush against me. It’s the perfect solution. Sometimes, however, I’m put in the awkward position of having to actually walk through the doors of a dance club and spend some time there. Then the inner turmoil begins. Do I give in to my dancing desires or do I stay on the sidelines to avoid obnoxious drunk people stepping on my feet?

I’m happy to break it down to all the jams the DJ plays, but I just wish everyone else would disappear. If I’m out on the dance floor, I’m constantly looking for a spot with some space away from people. Here are some tried and true methods I’ve found for clearing a space for yourself:

  1. Develop a signature dance move. Mine involves waving my hands to the side and stepping across as much floor space as possible. The more room you cover, the better. People will either be impressed or afraid, but they’ll step aside.
  2. Fart. If you can’t fart, just make farting noises. I learned this method last weekend when a nearby dancer decided to employ it. It worked and I moved far away.
  3. Start singing the lyrics to every song very loudly. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the words. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.
  4. Pretend to spill your drink on the floor and then make a really big deal out of trying to keep everyone safely away from the spot. Don’t really spill your drink though, because that would be reckless.
  5. Group your friends into a circle and then get in the middle of it to dance. I never do this one because it involves being the center of attention. I’m guessing if you have my problems with being at a club, you also won’t choose this option, but it’s available in an emergency stranger-situation.

So, if you’re an introvert with anxiety who finds yourself on a crowded dance floor, these tips are my gift to you. They can also be modified for use at an uncomfortable high school reunion or a grocery story on a Sunday afternoon.

 

Sweet, then Sour

JunkFood

One time when I was six or seven years old, my family took a quick trip to our corner drugstore. Obviously, we did this more than just that one time, but this story is about a particularly significant trip. We must have needed something urgently, because everyone on a budget knows you don’t shop at a drugstore unless you have an emergent need. So there we were, on the hunt for something—my parents, my sister, my cousin and I. As is the case with all our family adventures, a bit of controlled chaos ensued. My parents were trying to check everything off their list, my sister was asking for snacks, and my cousin was trying to entertain the both of us.

We finally made it through the aisles and my parents started to pay for everything. I was rummaging through the candy racks, because I can’t stand to wait in lines. At the bottom of the rack, I saw a broken candy package. A few things went through my mind in quick succession. First, “that looks delicious.” Second, “my parents will never buy me candy like this.” Third, “no one else will want this, because it’s already opened.” And, finally, the nail in my criminal coffin, “I might as well just take this.” I was so good at justifying bad behavior as a child. (Never as an adult though, duh.)

I grabbed one teeny tiny piece and stuck it in my mouth. It was red and tasted like sweet, sweet danger. I slipped the rest of it in my pocket.

I pulled the candy out again once we were in the backseat of the car and offered some to my cousin. Being older and having a stronger moral code regarding thievery, she was appalled. She asked me where I got it and, after hearing my answer, told me I had to throw it away. I thought about how incredibly wasteful that seemed, but when I popped another piece into my mouth, it tasted terrible. I felt so guilty, I threw the rest out the window. I was just happy she didn’t rat me out.

I learned one important lesson that day. Dishonesty makes everything taste bad.

Library Master

 

NerdPeople

I like to read popular YA series (that’s Young Adult, for all of you who are not nerdy tweens). The good ones have everything I need from an entertainment source—strong young women, innocent love, an apocalyptic universe, and a hard-fought triumph. Bonus points if there’s a group of manipulative, evil adults creating a disastrous world through which the teenagers must navigate.

I’m reading one of these series right now and am halfway through it. I’m in the middle of all kinds of drama. Which love interest will the main character choose? Who else will be attacked by gelatinous, dagger-wielding monsters? Will the group’s brains start devolving so far that they try to eat each other? These are the important questions. I’m pretty much uninterested in reading a book unless there are a few of these dilemmas present.

However, the library didn’t have the next book when I went there yesterday. Amateur move on my part. Any library-lover knows to request a hold before you get there, but I thought I’d just take my chances. Big mistake. As you all know, I’m obsessed with libraries—whatever the size. I’ve been a library-lover since I was a child, and I was particularly dedicated to the house of books when I was a tween. Because I wasn’t fighting monsters with magic or living as a world-traveling orphan or making friends with mannequins come to life, I turned to the next best thing: the place where all those stories lived.

So I’ve logged a lot of hours in the library, and I know my 12-year-old self was shaking her head when I walked out empty handed yesterday. I guess I’ll just have to wait a little longer to find out whether all these teenagers will be cured of the rampant, fatal disease spreading across their world. Lucky for me, that’s the beauty of a book—the story isn’t going anywhere.

 

Dumpster Diving

BirdHelmets

There are bunch of storks that live in Portugal and Spain when it’s warm and then journey to Africa when it gets cold, as migratory birds do. Well, the birds used to migrate, until they realized how much easier it would be to just stay in Portugal and eat garbage from a landfill all year long. Seriously, that’s what they’re doing. Now, we could all be depressed about how global warming and massive consumption has changed the behaviors of these birds or we can choose to appreciate that these storks have learned about the gloriousness of french fries and chocolate cake. They threw caution to the wind and decided to just live their best lives—history and evolution be damned.

Some scientists are concerned that once these landfills get shut down, the birds will be confused and not know what to do. But I think they’ll be ok. People are constantly creating more garbage and they can always fly back down to Africa. They might even find a new landfill covered in half-eaten hamburger buns on the way. We can only hope.

May we all find our personal landfills and start living the lives we deserve.

Angel Announcements

ReligiousCommute

Yesterday morning another person tried to get me to come to Jesus while on the Metro. Is this happening to anyone else every week? I’m beginning to wonder if these people follow me around because they know I’m such a heathen or if there really are that many people concerned with the afterlives of their fellow commuters.

This woman was very calculated with her Evangelical choices. I had just stepped onto the train when the conductor announced that we would be delayed at the station for an indeterminate length of time due to a request from the control center. The Metro service is notorious for its incredibly unhelpful broadcasts and this one was no different. We all groaned and picked up our phones. He also said that the train doors would remain open until it was time for us to leave the station. So, did this woman start her pitch once his announcement stopped? No, of course not. She sat there like she was just another slightly annoyed transit rider. Once the doors closed, she stood up and started talking about what we needed to do to save ourselves. I couldn’t hear much of what she said after the first few words, because I turned up my music immediately and drowned her out with a song featuring some empowered woman and a lot of obscenities.

When the doors opened, she got out and moved along to the next car to save those other tired souls just trying to make it to work. I was glad she left because my blaring headphones were started to give me a headache and I think I woke up the man sleeping next to me. Or maybe it was all her yelling about her lord and savior, I can’t be sure.

The next time this happens I’m going to stand up and make my own announcement. I’ll tell everyone, “Excuse me, fellow metro-riders. I’d just like you all to know that NASA has successfully completed a test on an engine they hope will one day bring humans to Mars. This is not an attempt to convince you that we will all need to move to Mars based on End of Days fear tactics. This is simply an announcement to inform you of something cool that happened in the world of science this week. Also, there’s a great sale on strawberries at the Safeway in Southeast.”

People will probably still avert their eyes and wish I would get off the train, but it will help in two ways—I’ll be able to pass on pertinent scientific news to fellow commuters and I might learn to sympathize with the Evangelicals who interrupt the dance parties in my head each week. Win-win.

Yeah, Toast

Toast

In our house, there were two cures for any ailment. Either you hustled through it or you ate some toast. Have a stomach ache? Toast. Feel a bit tired? Toast. Have a bad day? Toast.

My mother continues to suggest toast as a medication for any number of issues in my life. I’ve called her when I was curled up sick on my couch or when I was just too emotionally drained to be bothered with eating a real meal. The answer is always the same, “Why don’t you just have some toast?” It’s been so embedded in my brain that I now find an unusually deep comfort in a warmed, browned slice of bread—slathered with butter, peanut butter, or jam.

As soon as I get that first bite, I feel like everything is going to be ok. I sink back a bit and relax. It’s not necessarily the healthiest coping mechanism, but it’s better than crack. And, yes, that’s a standard I’m comfortable with, so don’t worry about it.

Of course, any toast connoisseur knows that you choose peanut butter for an energy pick-me-up, jam for an emotional booster, and butter for any health-related concerns. That’s Toast 101. And by Toast 101, I mean a new community college course that my mother is teaching on health and wellness.

Tiny Mistakes No. 2

Bananas

Not surprisingly, I continued to make a multitude of tiny mistakes last week. I like to think that they just keep me on my toes—remind me that although I’m awesome, I better keep my head on my shoulders and not get ahead of myself. Here are a few choice tiny mistakes that I think are worth sharing:

  1. Forgot to eat the banana I’d stashed in my desk for so long I could start to smell it
  2. Dyed my forehead purple in an attempt to dye (only) my hair
  3. Totally whiffed a soccer ball coming my way, resulting in mild embarrassment and a missed assist
  4. Burned my tongue on macaroni and cheese because I was too impatient to wait for it to cool
  5. Insisted we didn’t need to take the metro and got soaking wet from the inevitable rainstorm that followed that decision
  6. Tried to participate in a networking event with Dave and ended up telling someone their hopes and dreams were terrible
  7. Ran into a construction zone fence when crossing the street and was almost hit by a passing car (luckily, the “almost” part makes this a tiny mistake)

Also, I just remembered that I left that banana in my desk over the weekend. I’ll just add “angered my deskmates with rotting fruit” to next week’s list.

 

A New Friend

BondNorms

Three days in the row I have crossed the street and passed another girl walking in the opposite direction. We’ve seen one another at the same spot, at the same time, every day. Out of the mass of people walking down the sidewalk, I think we’ve noticed one another each time because we have similar feelings about unnatural hair color. The bottom half of her hair is dyed dark green and part of mine is dyed purple.

I only know a few things about this obviously awesome girl, but each one of them makes me want to be her friend. First, she has great hair—different enough to be interesting but not obtrusively wild. Second, she had a reasonable respect for traffic laws, but still started walking slightly before the light turned. Third, she moved confidently between the suited businessmen that barge their way through our city.

Yesterday, we gave each other a little smirk. Today, we might fist bump as we pass one another. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll invite her to eat some pie. I see a beautiful friendship blossoming between the green-haired, confident walker and me.

Just kidding, I will never speak to her because I would inevitable say something awkward and mildly offensive.