An Open Letter

Today’s post was brought to you by Boyfriend.

Yesterday, while chatting to Boyfriend and bemoaning the fact that I had no idea what to post about, he mentioned that I should blog about the fact that I love him. You might think that’s a joke – but it’s really not. The exact conversation went exactly like this:

Me: I have no idea what to blog about.
Me: Also, I love you
Boyfriend: Blog about that then.
Me: Blog about the fact that I love you?
Boyfriend: Yeah

Of course, I agreed – and then spent the whole day pondering how I would tackle blogging about the fact that I love my boyfriend. How lame is that really? Dedicating an entire post to your squishy feelings for your significant other. It’s made worse by the fact that I’ve posted before about keeping your love life off Facebook – and therefore, the internet – and the fact that I just think it’s fucking lame and no one wants to read about the fact that I think my boy is the shiznit.

Then I decided…

If I want to dedicate a blog post to spewing rainbow flavoured romantic vomit about why the sun shines out of my boyfriend’s eyeballs, then I’m gonna do it. Fuck how lame it is. This blog is lame anyway. So here it is:

What Doubles as An Open Letter to Boyfriend: 
or why Ke thinks that Boyfriend is the greatest thing since Nutella covered sushi wrapped in sex, beer and cigarettes.

It’s going to messy and it’s mostly a ramble, but you know what? I donut even care.

So I’ve been pretty much head over heels for my boy since I met him just over a year ago. We met in a bar. Now, I’ve always been quite staunchly gay, only ever venturing away from the vagina when I was far too drunk to care about anything other than the fact that I was getting laid – and I’ve never really been emotionally attached to guys. They’re fun to hang out with, but I’ve always dated exclusively girls.

Then Boyfriend came along, with his awesome hair and his nose-ring and general adorkableness, and.. yeah.

Considering we talk more shit than an entire auditorium full of stoners, we often stumble onto some rather weird and weighty topics – one of them being, why relationships fail. Like any new couple, we’ve got our fears that one day, one of us will push the other over the edge and the relationship will go down in a catastrophic and fiery blaze of glory – something neither of us want. So obviously, we talk about it all the time. I think part of what I love so much about Boyfriend is that he seems to have a lot of the same fears that I do; not even just about the relationship – about life in general. Being able to share something as personal as fear, and knowing that whoever you’re sharing it with actually understands.. That’s a big thing.

The fact that we talk a lot is another thing I love about him. It’s obvious to me that he’s my best friend – because I don’t think there’s a single thing that I can’t (or don’t) tell him. Even the stuff I feel like I shouldn’t tell him, or the things I’ve never told anyone else… Big, scary things. He knows all of them. And we talk about the weather and war and poodles and why the sky is grass is green and billy goats and poetry and literature and art and photography and music and people and business and life and kids… We talk about everything.

We drink together, but we don’t need to be drinking to have fun – which has been a problem in some of my past relationships. I really appreciate the fact that we can have calm fun just talking, walking or go full-retard and just be childishly happy and chasing each other through the house. I like that there’s no pretence with us – neither of us needs to impress the other, or hide aspects of our personalities, or our behaviours. Whatever we do alone, we can do around each other.

I love his hair. I don’t think he realises just how much I love his hair.

I love it when he hugs me. I could hug him all day, and sleep-hugging is the best; falling asleep with his arm around me and my head on his chest is pretty much the best thing since… well.. ever. And when I’m upset – Jeez. There’s never been a  person who’s been able to calm me down so quickly with nothing more than a hug.

That’s another thing I appreciate about him – he can deal with me when I’m upset, and he actually makes an effort to understand what’s going on. Not even I understand what’s going on, but he tries.

And I love it that he can come to me when he’s upset – I love that I can help him deal with problems and that he actually listens to my advice. I love that he can be fragile around me, without putting up this macho bullshit barrier that all guys seem to have. I love it when we can sit and be calm and talk about what’s been upsetting us, or how our day is going, or who’s irritating us today or what was great.

I’m not even going to bother mentioning the smoking together, going out for sushi, drinking beer outside or standing on the train platform together, though I love all of those things too. I love that he takes the train with me.

I love that we’re similar, but totally different and that we can disagree about something without fighting. I love that we like the same music, a lot of the same foods and enjoy some of the same things. I love that we’re different enough to be interesting to each other without being totally incomprehensible. I fucking love that little crinkly thing his eyes do when he smiles at me.

I love the way he dresses – even when he’s dressing like a colour-blind hobo with no fashion sense and depth-perception issues. I love how comfortable he is around me, and how comfortable I am around him. I love that he does dress like a hobo – I’m not quite sure why, but I love that he’s just so uncaring about what other people think – without being aloof and hipster-like.

Sitting around writing and reading and watching television without ever worrying about whether I need to entertain him is great.

His hands. Dear lord, I love his hands. No, get your mind out of the gutter – they’re just fucking beautiful. I could write a sonnet about his hands.

I love that he lets me take pictures of him and that he spazzes to me about musicthings that I don’t understand and that he lets me ramble on for hours about photography.

What I love the most – and it’s something I’ve just now realised – is that I love him, because I love him so much that this blog post could go on for hours without me stumbling into something I would change about him.

I’m going to shut up now, because I really have to get back to work – but hey look; I blogged about how much I love my boyfriend. Okay, I blogged about what I love about my boyfriend – how much I love him is obvious. I’m going to go hang my head in quasi-not-really-shame and continue spewing mindless copy for the company I work for. Fun.

To make this post even more gag-worthy and covered in spaz, here’s another photo:

How to Enjoy Your Life

Yesterday, as I was scrolling through through my Facebook dashboard and contemplating the utter inanity of the things that some people post, I came across this little gem – posted by a friend who values surfing, fitness and general fresh-air shenanigans above coffee, morning cartoons and oxygen.

The first time I saw it, I just brushed it off – and felt a vague pang of hey, maybe I should stop spending so much time on the internet and take up kayaking or something.

This morning however, I realised something shocking: How does being outside relate to enjoying life?

I suppose it all comes down to perception – people have this weird tendency to assume that the way they do things is the right way, and that if you’re not doing things the way they do, it’s because you just haven’t tried their way yet – or if you did, you didn’t try hard enough.

No one seems to be cognizant of the fact that all of us function differently – sure, they know it, but they don’t really know it.

It’s like colonisation – taming the savages. Westerners figured that they had it down, and that they were more advanced; we’ll never really know for sure, because they forced their culture onto the so-called savages and stopped the development of the culture they thought wasn’t as good as theirs.

I think that saying you have to go outside to enjoy life is essentially the same thing – who’s to say that just because I spend a lot of time on the internet that I’m not getting as much out of my life?

DISCLAIMER: In no way am I endorsing being a hermit and shunning the sunshine – life is all about balance, after all. The human body needs fresh air, sunshine and a change of scenery now and then. What I am saying though, is that some people get more enjoyment out of kayaking, hiking and tanning while others enjoy sitting in the dark and listening to music; neither is more right – they’re just different.

I decided to Google How to Enjoy Your Life, because you always manage to find interesting points of view scattered across the internet – and I came across this.

From the WikiHow page on How to Enjoy Your Life:

1. Think positively and remain calm

Okay, you don’t need to be outside to be calm or to think positively. In fact, it’s easier for me to stay calm and be positive when I’m sitting in the cool darkness of my room, painting and listening to music. Sunshine hurts my eyes and makes me sleepy.

2. Stay healthy

Again, you don’t need to be outside all the time to be healthy – granted, some fresh air now and again is good for you, but I get fresh air and sunshine walking to work in the morning or taking a stroll around the block with Boyfriend.

3. Spend time with interesting people

It has been statistically proven that we become that of our company, or in other words, their behaviour has a great influence on us. So hanging around with positive people would encourage us to be more positive ourselves.

You definitely don’t need to be outside to hang out with positive people. You can hang out with positive people in bars, on the couch, at dinner, while eating sushi or watching a movie at home. Most of the positive people I hang out with only come out at night and tend to stay indoors anyway. Why do you need to camping or frolicking on the beach?

4. Get a pet

Obviously, you’d have to go outside to take Fido for walks – but if the pet is a cat, good luck putting them on a leash and strolling with them around the block; they’re also not particularly good at catching frisbees, or caring about frisbees – or caring, in general. Cats mainly just eat, sleep and puke on everything you love. So – pets don’t necessarily mean outdoors either.

5. Reduce Stress

Again we come back to the fact that you don’t need to be outdoors to reduce stress. Painting, reading, browsing blogs and listening to music are all ways for me to reduce stress – and those are all things you can do indoors. Of course, exercise reduces stress, but you don’t need to go jogging on the beach or hiking up a mountain to get exercise.

6. Find a Hobby

Whether you choose stamp collecting or kickboxing, hobbies and extracurricular activities are necessary in the effort to enjoy life.

Painting, writing short stories and playing chess are all hobbies that don’t require being outdoors.

Are we picking up a trend here? There’s nothing to say that being outdoors automatically equals enjoying your life. The rest of the list follows the same vein:

7. Eat Healthy
8. Learn New Things
9. Engage People

These are all things that can be enjoyed in the cool, calm of inside your house. Granted, I’m just using the WikiHow as one example, but my point still stands.

Actually, when it comes to learning new things, I actually find it easier to learn when I’m indoors – on the internet.

I’ve stumbled across so many interesting things on the internet that it’s actually sickening. I’ve found essays by Einstein, lectures from Kurt Vonnegut – I’ve researched anarchy and learnt how to do graphic design. I’ve spoken to people I would never have otherwise come into contact with and I’ve learnt how be a better writer. Just one example of how helpful being indoors and on the internet is, is this: 29 Semi-Productive Things I Do Online When I’m Trying to Avoid Real Work

Really, this is just another semi-rant on perception and the way different people see life. I’m not going to feel bad for preferring reading on the couch to surfing.

Throw-down: Beethoven vs. Skrillex

As I’ve discussed before, when it comes to updating the blog, I have the consistency of undercooked custard. Even though I’ve been meaning to get around to posting something for a few days now, I haven’t been able to think of anything even vaguely interesting to say. A few ideas have drifted around in my brain, but inevitably they’ve been sent to the blackhole that is my Drafts. I’ll get around to posting them eventually – most of it is just existential ramblings on living in the moment and shenanigans in the world of wanna-be adulthood.

Then, like a bolt from the blue, I realised that I might as well just blog about the thing that left me ranting, raging and generally frothing at the mouth like a pissed off honey-badger for most of yesterday and part of this morning:

This upsets me on multiple levels:

1. Who could possibly think that Skrillex is better than Beethoven?

Comparing Beethoven to Skrillex is like comparing Nutella to tinfoil. I’m not going to try to call Skrillex’s music into question, because that would just lead to a long, drawn out discussion as to what real music is.

Of course, it’s a matter of personal preference, but the genres their music fall into are totally unrelated, and saying Skrillex is better because Beethoven has no bass drops is… You know, I don’t even have words for that kind of idiocy.

2. How can you not know who Beethoven is?

Were you raised by wolves?

3. How can you spew your idiocy all over the internet without doing any research or even considering that you might be wrong?

Seriously – this is a big one. How can you so violently give your opinion without putting any research into it?

“I heard the same music in a rap song?” REALLY? You don’t maybe Google Beethoven before saying something this utterly retarded? You think you know better than your music teacher because you listen to noise with great bass drops? Sit down before you hurt yourself.

I just realised, I’m actually too pissed off about this idiocy to say anything coherent about it. Like Sheldon says, “… people are stupid and that makes me sad.”

It’s just like this fuckery. Who the fuck compares Skrillex to the Beatles? I could rant about this all day, but I won’t – you know what they say about fighting on the internet.

Sit down and let the grownups talk now.

*a small note before I begin today’s post:
Rather than attempt to settle on a single topic, this post focuses, in somewhat equal measure, on friendships, relationships and my irritation with dumb opinions – because obviously the three tie-in together in this case, and the idea was brought on by a real-life incident which I shall explain soon. While it seems wrong to blog about a topic that’s both so personal, and so complex and intertwined – I can’t really think of any other way to go about it, without leaving out parts of what I want to say.

THE INCIDENT

Last night, Boyfriend updated his blog. He posted about Thinking Vs. Feeling  and how he prioritises thoughts, feelings and experiences. The post is about his reactions in regards to me and to our relationship, but it’s also about questioning your values and how you live your life, and the intrinsic difference between angelic thinking and bestial feeling.

That’s the thing about a blog – some people are going to use it to convey thoughts and ideas, and other people are going to use it to talk about their experiences with life. Occasionally the two intertwine equally, but more often than not, a post is going to lean one way or the other.

What really started the incident was his friend’s comment:

I always try to read these things, but then every one of them gets to a point where it becomes about “le girlfriend” and I immediately lose interest and stop reading. BUT!! I tried 😀

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that snarky at best and insulting at worst. I do understand it though – if his entire blog was about nothing more than how happy and perfect our relationship was, it would be rather irritating. Fortunately though, that’s not all it’s about. Of course he uses his experiences with me to qualify his thoughts and experiences, but who doesn’t do that? You use what you know as a means of explaining what you’re learning. I’m what he comes into contact with most, who he speaks to most and the person (according to him) who is helping him to learn about himself – mentioning me in his talks of self-discovery have got nothing to do with the fact that I’m his girlfriend and everything to do with the fact that it’s the best way for him to explain how his discoveries came about. Also, his posts do tend to lean more towards life experiences than pure existential thoughts.

I digress though.

The friend’s follow-up comment was worse:

Oh now now you took that up all wrong 🙂 I don’t have a problem with YOUR woman… Especially since I’ve never met her… I’ve heard she’s quite awesome actually… I just don’t like the term “girlfriend” in general lately. It annoys me… Especially when it’s used excessively… That’s all 🙂

Not only does this comment reek of bad grammar, back-pedalling and an overuse of smiley faces in a misguided attempt at who knows, it’s one of the most childish reactions I’ve ever seen. My exact reaction, in fact, was “If you’ve got babyish opinions like ‘I don’t like the term girlfriend so I’m not going to read this’, you need to sit down and let the grownups talk”

From there, things just got worse. Comments ranged from the highly small-minded, vaguely pathetic and slightly desperation-tinged “Touchy touchy. Gosh. People in relationships.” to the highly insulting “My point was, I wanna be a supporting friend by reading your blog, but not when every entry involves one of the most annoying things on the planet. And it’s not uncontrollable… You do have a life beyond your relationship. Or… You should.”

Excuse me while I depart from any sort of formality:

Bitch, you need to get your retarded opinions out of my relationship and keep your small-minded, infantile fucking idiocy to yourself. 

I’d understand her opinions and her throwing them about if we were still in high-school – we’re not. Adult relationships are not about having a life for yourself and a life for your significant other – it’s about building a life together; that’s sort of the point. Again, if Boyfriend and I never went out, never talked to anyone else and sat at home cooing at each other, I would understand, but it’s not like that.

Again, I have to bitch for a second:

Attention-seeking whore has just got an issue because she’s not important enough to make the friendship cut. 

Right – so Boyfriend and I  do go out and see friends. Not often, mind you, but that’s mostly because neither of us are very social people. We go to shows, spend time with friends (occasionally) and I make an attempt to stay in contact with my friends – not that I’ve ever been very good at that.

The point is, you shouldn’t constantly have to pander to your friends just to keep them around. The fact that she could leave this next stellar piece of childishness just takes the cake:

And if I have no say in what happens outside your relationship, I guess it’s gonna go the same way it did when you were dating that chick in matric 🙂 If outside your relationship doesn’t include your so-called friends, then they aren’t your friends, and should give up on trying… If it isn’t obvious, by they I mean me. So. Once again. Cheerio Joe 🙂 I’ve had enough of faith in friendships that don’t exist 🙂

Now I need to make some comparisons to the people I call my friends.

The gin-swilling crowd: I love these bitches more than… well.. anyone. If I had to name my best friends, it would definitely be them. The thing is though, I hardly ever see them. We don’t talk on the phone, though we occasionally message each other on Twitter. On the odd occasion that I manage to show up for something, it’s like I’ve always been there. Granted, I don’t know how they feel about me, but that’s not really the point – I don’t think they’d ever cut me off just because I don’t text them every day and I’d still invite them to be part of the VIP at my wedding.

The-Ex: I don’t remember the last time I spoke to her, but I know that if I ever needed a friend, she’d be there in a heartbeat.

The Others: Again, we return to the fact that I hardly ever speak to people – I don’t often make phonecalls, or text them just to find out how they’re doing; though I will occasionally – but these people are still my friends. I could still phone them and go out with them and sit up all night chatting. They wouldn’t shun me just because I haven’t texted them in three months.

The Ex-Bestie: Though we’re not as close as we used to be, I could still phone this boy any time of the night and I know he’d have a sympathetic ear, shoulder and pack of smokes.

Though we don’t spend every waking moment with each other, or even speak very often – I can still count these people as friends. As you grow up, you realise that friendship is more about knowing that a person is there for you, rather than sleep-overs.

All of this brings me to a quote:

A friend whose hopes we cannot satisfy is a friend we would rather have as an enemy.

And this one:

Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.

When your friendships start becoming obligations, it’s really time to re-evaluate them.

I’m gonna leave this as it stands – I’ve run out of steam now that I’ve gotten the irritation out of my system. Honestly, all I want is a cup of tea, a cigarette and the chance to sit down and not think for a while.

A partial response to a post by Boyfriend

an alternate title for this post would be: in which Ke realises that humanity needs to sit down before it hurts itself

Considering the fact that I look at my stats everyday, I know there are people out there who are reading this blog. I see you guys, even if you’re doing nothing more than lurking.

The average reader’s attempt at stealth is not the point here though.

Anyone who’s ever seen even one of my posts will have noticed my frequent mentions of Boyfriend. While he may be an abstract concept for the purposes of this blog, he does actually exist outside of his usefulness as a springboard for launching my existential ramblings. In fact, he even has his own blog: rapscallionism.wordpress.com

Considering he takes up a good deal of space in my head, it was obvious that when I stumbled upon this quote, I instinctively thought of him and things he’s said in the past:

When Carl Jung introduced the concept of the “collective unconscious,” he was trying to explain why all humans are inherently scared of things like darkness and vampires—but net porn is the collective conscious. It’s where we all see the things people would never admit to wanting.

In one of his posts, he discusses the societal pressure humanity is under to conform and society’s retarded definitions of what’s acceptable – his post was actually a response to mine about the Tyranny of Slenderness. His is actually a good post to read; very passionate and with the highly inspiring title of Motherfucking fuck fucking you.He spoke mostly about society’s definition of attractive and how we’re told what we should like and what we shouldn’t.

part of me has been influenced by societal definitions ofsexy; it comes to mind that I once told Girlfriend about how, when we met, I felt like I shouldn’t have been attracted to her.

but then he mentions something else that ties in with the quote:

Meanwhile, our real sensibilities are often thrashing like madbeasts against this cage; you know the one – the one that tells us not to be turned on by “overweight” girls, and to shun stuff like bestiality and S’nM sex. Frankly I’m sick as fuck of this bullshit mentality that everyone has been buttfucked into agreeing with.

What I find funny about the quote in relation to Boyfriends post, is the new take it gives you on society’s definitions and restrictions. If porn is the collective conscious, but the majority of porn you find on the web is stuff that society would generally shun, then society is shunning itself – creating unrealistic ideals of what is acceptable and what isn’t. How’s that for utter stupidity?

No wonder you’ve got so many people buckling under the weight of the expectations placed on them – they’re totally unrealistic, but no one wants to fight them, because fighting against society is wrong.

Tell me though: who the fuck is society if a good portion of society rails against society’s definitions? Society needs to be slapped in the face and told to sit in the corner until it gets its act together.

I could ramble endlessly about the implications of this, but I won’t because I’d probably end up talking myself in circles.

Existing vs. Being Alive

“Mathematicians are the least expensive researchers to support. All they need is pencils, paper, and a wastebasket — and when they turn philosopher, they don’t even need the wastebasket!”

Reading that little quip about philosophers was a real mood-lifter for me this morning. It made me feel slightly better about the fact that I’m inexplicably drawn to frequent existential rambling, most of which makes little to no difference in the greater scheme of things. Which brings me to yet another quote in my seemingly endless supply of quotes:

I continue to believe that this world has no ultimate meaning. But I know that something in it has a meaning and that is man, because he is the only creature to insist on having one

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I find myself perpetually in the midst of what might as well be an existential crisis – it’s difficult to sit still and accept; to just carry on, because everything is constantly moving and I can’t stand feeling stagnant. It makes sense then, that I’m constantly questioning everything in my life.

Shockingly enough, I have a quote to make myself feel better about this constant need to question, and move, and be moved:

… please don’t let me stop thinking and start blindly frightenedly accepting! I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain, and never shut myself up in a numb core of nonfeeling, or stop questioning and criticizing life and take the easy way out.

– Sylvia Plath, journal, January 10, 1953

Granted, Sylvia Plath did eventually take the easy way out – but that’s not something I would ever do; mostly because life is far too wonderful and real.

I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.

It’s amazing how much I manage to ramble without ever really saying anything; this post actually does have a point, though I seem to be having a bit of trouble getting there. It seems rather unimportant in the face of everything else I’ve been thinking about this morning.

On Saturday night, Boyfriend and I made the mistake of consuming copious amounts of gin and delving into topics which are touchy at the best of times – add to the already tense atmosphere the utter idiocy and lack of filter that comes with addling your system with alcohol and you have a recipe for a disaster.

It’s actually difficult to explain why the conversation took such a painful turn, and why it was such a visceral hurt for both of us. Honestly, it’s difficult to remember what we were even fighting about – gin does that to a person. Really though, I think it boiled down to our views on life, and Existing vs. Being Alive.

The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent, but if we can come to terms with the indifference, then our existence as a species can have genuine meaning. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

Stanley Kubrick

Boyfriend talked about hating the meaninglessness of life, and described living as just plodding along.

What I don’t think he understood is how violently I’ve struggled with the same thoughts. Unfortunately, I haven’t always been the strongest of people, and thoughts on the utter pointlessness of my own existence are the only reason I’d ever consider taking the metaphorical easy way out. It’s got nothing to do with being hurt or depressed, and everything to do with the fact that the pointless terrifies me – why put up with all the difficulties of life and supply your own light when essentially it’s meaningless?

Hearing those words come back at from another person just drove home the point that maybe it is meaningless. It’s difficult to stick to my guns, ignore the darkness and look for the good, little things, when I know that I’m not the only person who feels that way – like none of it matters. Surely the fact that there are other people who feel the same way lends credence to the idea?

No; it doesn’t. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light. I don’t care whether other people feel the same way – the only thing that matters is that I can find some sort of happiness in my own life.

The other thing that really upset me was the fact that he refuted any attempt I made to argue with the idea. That sucked on two points:

  1. For the longest time, I felt like I would drown amidst that swirling sea of utter lack of meaning. It took me so long to get myself to the point where I can actually look at my life and be happy about the small things – like standing on an empty train platform, smoking a cigarette in the rain and dark. That’s a beautiful feeling, and when I get wrapped up in how pointless life is, moments lose all their meaning. For him to turn around and tell me that I’m deluding myself, that really, everything is pointless and that trying to see things otherwise is a joke – that hurt; that put me right back into a space I never, ever want to see again – a space that I fight tooth and fucking nail, every day, to stay out of.
  2. Though he accepts that we are shockingly alike despite our differences, and that our views on life are eerily similar despite our vastly different upbringings, he refuses to accept that maybe I know what I’m saying when I tell him that, as he grows up, his views will change slightly and that life will become easier to deal with. He refutes me by saying that we’re not the same, and how can I know how he’ll turn out; I understand that. No one wants to hear that they’re treading territory that’s been trod before. Unfortunately, I have been there – and my views have changed; it’s what happens when you grow up and start experiencing more of life. I tried to explain this to him, but it’s difficult to explain to even myself. The fact that he clung to desperately to the uniqueness of his pain was difficult to deal with, and only reinforced – in my mind – my point that he is still young.

The thing is, we’re both young. We’ve both got a lot to learn about living life, and dealing with it. We’re both still struggling to find our feet in a very messy world, and the fact that we’re both intelligent people who actually think about things – that makes things even more difficult. He seems to struggle though, with the fact that the measly few years that I have on him mean more because we’re young. By no means would I dare to think that his opinions are invalid, or that he’s wrong just because I’m older. Not at all. My only issue is that I know the passionate tinge your views take on when you’re younger – I remember, because I was there not too long ago. You cling to your ideals with such passion and desperation, and it’s difficult to grasp that maybe someone else has been there before, maybe things won’t always be this way. I’m still young and I don’t know how to explain that the difference between being nineteen and being twenty two is a big one, especially for people who grow as quickly as we do – who feel and think and know as passionately as we do – and that, possibly, I do have some vague inkling of the change of mindset that he’ll probably go through as he learns more about himself and about life.

It is difficult to believe that someone can differ from us and be right.

Maybe that’s just vanity though. I’m going to get away from the topic of the fight, because it’s too difficult to put into words all the thoughts and emotions and words that flew about.

I’ll move on to this, which still ties in with the essence of the fight:

Boyfriend and I are very similar, in our passion for knowledge and knowing and understanding.

Would you eat from the tree and have your eyes opened, or remain a happy child in the garden forever?

I’m an eat from the tree kind of girl. Even though I know how painful and difficult then answers will be, I’d rather know them. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I want to experience life – I want to know what it’s like. Why accepting it as plodding along or deluding myself is such a difficult thing to think about and why it sucked so much that Boyfriend could look at our lives that way.

I want to know what it’s like to buy a house together, or what it’s like to wake up on the first morning that we live together. I want to know what it’s like to sell my first photograph, have my first exhibition, see my child running through the garden I know I’ll have one day. I want to know what it’ll be like when we have our first serious fight or buy our first couch or adopt a dog or paint a fence or argue over whether we should tile the lounge or lay hardwood floors.

There’s too much in life that seems so fucking exciting for me to ever again call it plodding along. 

Really – the whole fight was so painful and pointless. The one good thing it did though, was renew the fervour in my voice when I say “fuck that”. I’m not going to let myself plod along – I’m not going to look at it as plodding along.

On that note, I feel I should end this little ramble – it’s becoming too much of a rant now. It’s been fun though.

The Tyranny of Slenderness

In a shocking turn of events, today’s post was brought about by another of the frequent, serious conversations with Boyfriend. Nobody could have seen that one coming.

We spend a lot of time talking about weight, sexual appeal and society’s perception of what defines attractiveness, and it’s something we disagree rather vociferously on; in fact, it’s one of the few things that we’ve come rather close to actually fighting about.

Before I start what will undoubtedly become a quasi-rant on the stupidity of society, I need to quote again:

“Under the current ‘tyranny of slenderness’ women are forbidden to become large or massive; they must take up as little space as possible. The very contours a woman’s body takes on as she matures – the fuller breasts and rounder hips – have become distasteful. The body by which a woman feels herself judged and which by rigorous discipline she must try to assume is the body of early adolescence, slight and unformed, a body lacking flesh or substance, a body in whose very contours the image of immaturity has been inscribed. The requirement that a woman maintain a smooth and hairless skin carries further the theme of inexperience, for an infantilized face must accompany her infantilized body, a face that never ages or furrows its brow in thought. The face of the ideally feminine woman must never display the marks of character, wisdom and experience that we so admire in men.”

— Sandra Lee Bartky  

The first time I read that quote, it just made me sit back and make that gaping like a fish, trying to argue but can’t face. This is exactly how society has raised most of my generation to think. I work for a company that advertises a lot of beauty treatments, and what you get most of the time is ultrasonic and laser liposuction, slimming treatment, anti-wrinkle facials, ultrasound facials to reduce the signs of ageing and weight loss treatments like wraps and strange machines.

What our customers are constantly being bombarded with, on some subconscious level, is that they should be more focussed on losing weight, getting slimmer and making sure their complexion is smooth and line free.

I understand not wanting wrinkles, wanting a smooth complexion and wanting to fit into the smallest jeans size available – but why?

Surely it hasn’t always been like this. The plethora of treatments and creams and rubs and lotions and wraps available on the market today are new additions. People haven’t always been so preoccupied with their appearance.

Of course, it’s easy to blame the media.

Vogue Italy ran an issue on plus-sized models, and what they consider plus-sized – a phrase that has rather negative connotations when you consider the tyranny of slenderness – is actually just a joke.

Granted, these girls are bigger than what you see on the covers of regular fashion magazines – of course they are. There’s a reason that being a supermodel is considered a difficult thing.

Before I derail myself completely and start frothing at the mouth over my utter and all-consuming hatred for the group-think retardation society has adopted regarding appearance, let me clarify how this topic actually came up with Boyfriend:

I am nearly incapable of intrinsically believing that Boyfriend could actually find me attractive. I know that I’m not a hideous monster, but, I don’t fit into the accepted definition of attractive – he’s told me this himself. Even knowing that I have certain attractive qualities, and knowing that I’m not obese; none of that helps – I’ve got some excess weight and that’s just not acceptable in today’s society. It’s not even like it’s a lot of excess weight – I’ve got all the right curves and the hourglass figure; it’s just bigger than most people are happy with. Lord knows that my weight has bugged me for my entire life.

Given that I don’t find myself attractive, and actually have to repress shudders of disgust when I think about being without my protective layer of clothing, I can’t understand how Boyfriend would ever want me. This is retardation and societal influence on a grand scale. Why am I assuming that he’s only allowed to find skinny, perfectly toned women attractive?

Of course, he told me once that when we met, he thought that he should be turned off by my weight – boy, did that hurt like a bitch.

Anyway. We assume that the only figure that’s attractive on a woman is the skinny, perfectly toned one that takes up as little space as possible. Those beautiful, sexy as a fuck women on the cover of Vogue are considered plus-sized, a label that automatically clicks the button in your mind that says “I shouldn’t be attracted to these girls”.

Besides the media, it’s my mother that’s played a big role in my vision of what an acceptable figure is for a woman. She really did a number on both my sister and I. We’re supposed to be raised to be confident in the way we look, and to pride ourselves on our brains and abilities, rather than our bodies. My mother can’t make it through a day without mentioning weight, how chubby I’m looking, how fantastic it is that I’m loosing weight or how fat that woman – who is smaller than me, mind you – is. With that sort of constant bombardment, it’s difficult not to internalise the fact that a woman’s appearance is as important – if not more so – than her brains.

David Wong said something interesting on the topic in his article on Cracked.com –

5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women

#4. We’re Trained from Birth to See You as Decoration

Her role in society or level of accomplishment doesn’t matter. Even if she’s a damned candidate for the Supreme Court, the female always has a dual role: to function as a person, and to act as décor.

How sad is that? It doesn’t matter how smart or successful you are – you’re going to be judged on how you look. The fact then, that you’ve got all the self-help sites and manuals and whatever talking about being confident no matter how you look, and how men say that the most attractive thing about a girl is confidence; you’ve just got to call shenanigans eventually.

Is it even possible to be totally confident in yourself when you know what society’s perception is? For me, it’s really not.

Of course, then you’ve got the really confident girls who just don’t give a shit what society says – those girls rock their extra weight; and they rock it hard. Then you’ve got people turning around and bashing them for being comfortable with themselves. Again, David Wong says it well:

Check out any article about a female celebrity who has gained weight. Here’s literally the first one I found on Google, a blog post about how fat Christina Aguilera has gotten. Check the comments:
“fuck her! I have a full-time job, go to grad school full-time, cook at home every night and still find time to get my ass to the gym. lazy ass fat bitch …”
Don’t get me wrong — if it’s a male celebrity in the article, you’ll get lots of people making fun of his fatness. If it’s a female, you get anger.

Think about Adele – she’s one of the sexiest women alive in my opinion, and she doesn’t conform to society’s definition of attractive. She also couldn’t give a shit about what you think – or, that’s what she portrays, at any rate; how can anyone ever really know what’s going on in her mind?

Whenever you see an article about a celebrity, especially down here in Cape Town; it’s always about how this one has picked up a bit of weight, this one is wearing a bikini and centimetre of extra flesh on her skeleton clearly means that she shouldn’t, this one looks like she’s got too much jiggle on her ass – it’s a constant bombardment of people telling you that any excess weight on your body is essentially an assault on their delicate senses.

… but in the same breath, and in the same magazine, they’ll start talking about how you need to be confident in yourself and not care what other people think.

The other thing is, it’s not just men who are turning around and bashing other women for not slimming down to the point of non-existence: it’s other girls too.

Granted, when men do it, it’s not cool. One of the guys who works in my office often looks at me like I’m not worth the dirt on his shoes, simply because he’s the type of guy who sees girls as ornaments. It’s awful coming from him. Even Boyfriend, who’s pretty much the sweetest, most awesome thing in the world – even he told me he should have been turned off by weight. That was beyond awful. My office mate doesn’t know anything about personality, so he’s judging me totally on my looks – for Boyfriend to do it, when I know he’s the type of person who should look past that sort of thing?

When women do it, though – I don’t understand it. Women should know the type of pressure that girls are under to always look good, so why add to the burden. It makes it easier to understand the feminists who refuse to shave their legs and generally just give society and their stupid ideals the finger.

You see it everywhere, the message that you need to be as skinny and small as possible; even the clothes in the stores are constantly getting smaller and smaller, catering mostly for body sizes that require more effort and maintenance than are rational. When did size 12 pants become a black mark? I’m not saying that I don’t believe in maintaining your body though – I just think that you should ‘diet’ to be healthy, and to ensure that you’re getting everything you need, including exercise, to function at your best.

Everything you’re greeted with; magazines, television shows, advertising, novels, comics – they all show women with the perfect bodies.

People can talk until they’re blue in the face about how they’re more fond of women with curves, or real women – I’ll believe it when I see it in the media, or when society stops bashing everyone who doesn’t fit their ridiculous ideal.

Life shouldn’t be about how you look.

To conclude this post that has indeed turned into a rant: being overweight is bad; purely for health reasons. It’s not good for your body to be carrying around a lot of extra weight. You should always try your best to be healthy; but if healthy means being a size 12, or heck, a size 16 – if healthy for you would be FAT on another girl – you shouldn’t give a fuck what other people say. Being healthy is more important than being seen as attractive by every goon who passes you on the street.

Of course, it’s not that easy, is it? That’s the point of this whole post. It doesn’t matter that being healthy or happy is more important than being skinny – intrinsically, I think we all know that. What’s difficult is keeping that thought in your mind when you’re constantly bombarded by the fact that society doesn’t accept anything but the slimmest, slenderest and most beautiful.

 

Life is nothing but our perception of it.

Despite the fact that I usually try to tie my posts in with something that’s occurred in my life recently – and given that Boyfriend and I are always talking about this topic – relating this particular topic to a singular incidence seems to almost diminish it’s value.

What I’m actually talking about is the fact that life is all about perceptions.

Considering my fodness for quotations, I figured that one of those might be the best place to start – and though I settled on two, I got very wrapped up in all of them, and each one of the many I saw struck a chord with me as few things do.

People see what they want to see and what people want to see never has anything to do with the truth.
– ROBERTO BOLAÑO

This is really the essence of my idea – there is nothing in life but our perception of it. 

All our knowledge is the offspring of our perceptions.
LEONARDO DA VINCI

Most recently, what’s got me thinking about perceptions is the serious discussions with Boyfriend that always seem to come back to referencing our frame of reference. It’s what we say to each other when we know that we’ll never fully be able to explain our point of veiw and want to avoid any miscommunication. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to crystallise my own ideas about perception, and there have been one or two times when I’ve tried to explain them to him – a difficult thing to do when you don’t really have a clear idea of what you’re trying to say.

Leonardo Da Vinci put it best, I think. We can only know what we perceive, because it’s impossible to see someone’s intentions, really. Logically, you can explain them to yourself, but you’re not in their head – your perceptions muddy the waters of your understanding.

A lot of my arguments with my father stem from a clash of perception and reality. I’m naturally a passionate person, and I become very vociferous and intense when I’m passionate about something; it’s got nothing to do with anger, or any emotion really – it’s just intensity. He can’t understand this. He tells me that I’m angry, or that I’m abrasive. Obviously, I know that I’m not angry, but because of his perception, my intensity is anger in his eyes – obviously, this makes him angry, which then leads to a vicious cycle of he’s angry, so I’m angry, so he’s angry – which leads him to saying that I was angry in the first place.

Most of my miscommunication with Boyfriend is a result of perception too; and it was the most recent occurrence of our frame of reference conversations. I think it boiled down to different ways of showing affection and love.

He’s a very expressive person, who likes to use his words and snuggles to show me that he loves me. If I love you, I’m more likely to make you a sandwich or bring you coffee than actually say the words. He also doesn’t prioritise the same way I do. Often, I’ll put off the things I want to do, because I know I’ll be able to do them later when he’s busy – he doesn’t think the same way. It won’t matter to him that I’m only around for another hour and that I’ll be incommunicado later – he’ll forfeit the time with me in favour of doing something that he wants to do. Obviously, because of the way I demonstrate affection, and my perception of this sort of behaviour, it seems like I’m not that important to him – a purely knee-jerk reaction.

I’m actually pretty confident that this is why a lot of couples don’t last, even though they’re very compatible. People want to be loved the way that they show love – and it’s all a matter of perception. As a rule, human beings think that their way of doing things, or their understandings of things, is the right one. Their way of showing love is the right one, and if you’re not showing love in that way, then obviously your love is not as strong as theirs.

It happened with my ex-girlfriend – from both sides. She craved a clingy sort of affection which I couldn’t provide – I needed someone who was comfortable with just being around me and who would understand me without smothering me. She provided clingy affection and I provided comfortable stability – obviously, it wasn’t what either of us wanted and the relationship ended.
 Your opinion is your opinion, your perception is your perception–do not confuse them with “facts” or “truth”. Wars have been fought and millions have been killed because of the inability of men to understand the idea that EVERYBODY has a different viewpoint.
– JOHN MOORE

Boyfriend and I use frame of reference to explain this to each other, and to explain away the clash that would otherwise occur from not understanding why the other is doing something we don’t understand. It happens more often than I anticipated – more than anyone would guess, I think. Seeing as our perceptions are really the only thing we have, it’s strange that not many people realise how important they are – and how important it is to attempt to put them to the side – when you’re attempting to understand something that falls outside of your frame of reference, and outside of your natural experience.

Something that I scribbled down on the train the other day is another aspect of perception that’s always fascinated me:

On the trains, or walking through town, you see all these people who don’t smile and it’s natural for  you assume that they’re just miserable. Considering that I try to make a habit of being as friendly as possible to everyone, even if that just means smiling, that’s always my first assumption: they’re miserable people. Sometimes though, I’m just tired or upset, and I couldn’t be bothered to smile – who’s to say that’s not how everyone else is feeling.

Anyway. I’m going to stop this ramble now – I actually have work to do, but I thought blogging would probably be a good idea. Lord knows if anything in this post makes any sense; but whatever – at least I’m writing again.

quotes about perception

I figured I should link to the quotations that had me so in raptures. Other people say things so much more eloquently than I ever could.

Quick and Dirty List of Tips, Tools and Hacks for Writers

Over the course of the past year, I’ve collected all sorts of strange links, references and resources that I use for help with grammar, style and general writing. Boyfriend and some other people are always asking me for information and style info, so I figured I might as well just make a list of the tools I use; better than let them get lost in my bookmarks bar.

1. Pain in the English

Essentially a discussion forum for the grey areas in the ever-confusing English language, but not in forum layout. Has some interesting information on the different uses for words, how to use punctuation and discussions of meaning. I think I stumbled across it while looking up the difference between Neither is vs. Neither are.

2. 50 Coolest Online Tools for Word Nerds

Exactly what it says on the tin; a bunch of tools and links for people who love words. Covers everything from dictionaries to etymology and word games.

3. Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

I love people who name their sites well; it really removes any need for me to have to explain what exactly it’s about. Grammar Girl has good info on everything from word choice, punctuation and style to general grammar. If they can explain a non-restrictive clause to me, they can definitely help anyone. Found this one looking up the difference between using Which vs. That

4. Descriptive Words

Seriously, it’s just a list of descriptive words for things like sound, texture and pattern.

5. Over 300 ways to say ‘said’

A list of ways to say said; deceptively helpful.

6. Synonyms for Commonly Used Words

A really helpful list of synonyms; there’s no better way to describe it really. Synonyms are one of my favourite things for adding spice to othewise bland writing.

Obviously this isn’t everything, but I’ll keep adding as I go along and as I stumble into more cool sites.

**UPDATED – 03/04/12

7. Daily Writing Tips

You’ll probably be shocked to hear that this is a collection of tips on how to write better. It’s listed under my bookmarks because I found a really interesting article on how to write more concisely.

8. Purdue Online Writing Lab

A collection of articles and tips for writing in both the general and academic fields. It also includes some info about citation, research and the writing process.

9. The Writer’s Handbook

Even more interesting articles on how to be a better writer; also includes some nifty tips on how to use punctuation marks like semi-colons and dashes – two of my favourite punctuation marks in all of punctuationdom.