(Ask Sami) Confidence

It’s so hard opening up to people who have a reasonable amount of confidence when I have very little. We just don’t think the same way and it feels…embarrassing. I’m not saying I’m an introvert idk. I think my confidence is lower than average. Like, self-hatred isn’t really being an introvert.

College Area

Hey friend,

I know we don’t know each other, but I say “friend” because I read your words and I feel a little closer to you. You are afraid of opening up, but with the shield of anonymity, you do so beautifully. I want to hear your feelings.

I took on this question as a challenge, because I think I come across as someone with “a reasonable amount of confidence,” most of the time. (Also related, my blog post: You’re not introverted, you just have problems.) You’re describing feeling lower than average while I feel above average, in confidence.

Let me reach a little toward the limits of my understanding. I recently went on a boat ride where I knew only one person: one of the two birthday honorees. I was excited, until I met everyone. I didn’t look like them. I looked from my over-zealous rain boots to their flip flops, my argyle sweater to their sweatshirts, my neon-orange side panel to their bleach blonde symmetrical haircuts, my drugstore shades to their Ray Bans. I felt like a nerd. I felt like the only gay in the village.

I actually thought about the confidence I usually have, told myself to count on it, and didn’t find much. Part of my confidence, I realize, is constructing a world around myself filled with people like me, doing things I like to do. It’s the key to how I survive San Diego. Anyway, I am not an unchanging and resilient goddess; I am a dynamic, sometimes vulnerable, human being. In this case, I was not confident.

A young woman with short hair who made my gaydar go “PING!!!” showed up, and I felt a little relief. By the end of the ride (alcohol helps), I felt a bit better and by the end of the “after-party” (cute dogs help) I didn’t feel glaringly out of place. Overall, I had a good time. I mean, boats are awesome. BOATS. Still, I took the experience as a validation that I should continue to nurture the environment I already love, and venture out of my comfort zone only sometimes (for example, when there are boats).

I see, however, my ability to empathize with you has limits. I don’t feel what sounds like a pervasive, low self-esteem. Even in my depression days I refused to turn my self-hatred inward. I didn’t dwell on insecurities, but rather, the way I felt — if that makes sense. I didn’t think, “I hate myself,” but rather, “I hate how I feel.” My therapist would have liked me to say it’s because I have a powerful streak of self preservation. At the time, quite honestly, I was just desperate to give my sadness purpose. If it wasn’t about me, if it was out of my control, if it was pure, then it was beautiful.

You say you have a hard time opening up to confident people. If I was at a party, doing my confident thing, this is what I’d want you to do. Ask me, “You seem so confident. Are you always so confident?”

Depending on my mood, I might respond with honest gratitude for this flattering question, or a playful, “Yes, 100% I am the most confident being. It is because I wear very tall shoes with spikes on them.”

Then, you could reply, “I’m not confident at all. Like way below average.”

Already, I would want to know more about this person who knows themselves so well, like that. And that is the most advice I can give, from my limited experience. I might even have more to learn, from you.

All my best,

Sami

P.S. Does anyone else feel similarly to the person who wrote in? Add comments below.


 

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Should I move to San Diego?

The people of the internet want to know: Why is San Diego So Boring?, and they want to know if it’s pointless to move here. 

I’m surprised I haven’t written about moving to San Diego before. Okay, no, I’m not surprised. I didn’t move here and I don’t care. I was born here, I’m stuck here forever, and the comings and goings of transplants is as regular and invisible to me as the movement of the tides of the Pacific Ocean. (It never fucking stops.)

downtown with ocean

I had to get a picture of the Pacific Ocean (and Downtown SD) from my friend Sarah Snow because I don’t have any pictures like this on my phone because apathy killed my soul and the beauty of my own city fails to ever move me.

Still, all the comments I’ve been getting on the boring-ness of San Di-ago make me wonder if I would recommend moving here to an outsider.

I live in Chicago. Born and raised and I have always wanted to live someplace warmer. Los Angeles was always my dream but after my visit there in 2009 I changed my mind because I didn’t like some things about the town and it just wasn’t what I expected. So flash forward to 2016 and I still have the desire to move elsewhere. The housing market in Chicago sucks and I cannot see ever buying a place here unless I want to live in the ghetto or burbs which I do not lol. Its also very segregated here but I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is racist though there have been discriminatory incidents. But anyway, I just want to leave mostly because of the weather and I’m just bored in general and need something new. I was considering San Diego but as I read an article about reasons to move here something prompted me to search for ‘is San Diego boring” because it kind of seemed that way as you never hear anything about the city. And that is how I came across this post. Though this is a small number of the populace confirming the city’s boredom, there has to be something to it if the consensus is the same right? I am an introvertish person but since I’ve lived in the city all my life I think I might miss the hustle and bustle and I do enjoy interacting with others. Plus I’m not married and don’t have any kids so I’d need friends to have a life. Oh well, back to the drawing board :-(

–Natasha

Side note: I don’t live where you live, but that sounds like racism to me. No need to mince words. Racists fucking exist in America (e.g. Drumpf with his anti-immigration rhetoric) and I think trying to minimize how bad it is contributes to the problem. Though, of course, Natasha may be a Person of Color and may have her reasons for minimizing the segregation she sees in her city.

The only person I got close to who is from Ohio now lives in Chicago. They lamented San Diego’s lack of dance scene to me, saying that people need cold and miserable weather to beckon them to move around in warehouses and clubs. However, I’m not sure they moved back homeward because of boredom per se — perhaps just of wanting to enroll in grad school.

You might find this place too boring, Natasha. You seem to be a rational person who knows herself well. So I’ll be straightforward. Given the cost of living, it’s a gamble to give moving here a try. I should also try to dissuade you from transplanting, as I am a “San Diego native” — I have a moral obligation to be territorial, I suppose.

As a sympathetic human being, however, I would say don’t give up entirely. San Diego is a great stepping stone to California, and California is fucking magical. Come here, see if you can find the friendly weirdos / weird friends, and if you’re missing the hustle and bustle… It’s a big state. Or coast. Try Portland?

Only in California do you use palm fronds to shade your garden

I love my life here, but I’m in a special place. I found my best friends, and they like the things I do. I enjoy the juxtaposition of the Oasis of Oddness I usually dwell in vs. the Sterile San Diego I encounter when I venture outside my friend-bubble. I feel part of something underground, and am constantly re-realizing, with amazement, that I’m in some kind of nebulous, breathing, self-perpetuating Art Collective with my friends. If I grew up anywhere else, my feeling of being a majestic odd-bird could have been threatened into submission. Alternative universe Portlandian-sami would blend in with the rest of the freaks and feel very normal and boring. I probably would only post in my blog 5 times a year, because what’s the point?

I also think, in a place that Keeps Weird,  I’d never have learned the value of a close-knit community. De-facto loyalty doesn’t work for me; I need to be actively attached and sharing passions to continue to invest in a person. I can’t just be lifetime buddies with someone because we picked boogers in kindergarten together. I need to live in the moment. The transplants that come and go here get all of me (until they leave, and then they don’t). A place with more hustle and bustle might not have had enough scarcity of people-gems to force me to hold on to my friends.

After ravenously sampling the social scenes of SD in my party-est years of 2011-2013, I found my people. Natasha, if you are willing to do this, you could love it here, too.

If you maintain only shallow friendships, tend to hole up alone (or with your cats) for extended periods, and expect to be able to step into a lively and engaging city on a rare whim to be social.. I think you’ll be sorely disappointed.

From my heart,

Sami

If you’re a San Diegan with a question, or you have a question about San Diego, ask me.

How to Survive Your Own Overwhelming Laziness

I took a Tuesday off, thinking, I can miss one post per month without having to say anything. Then, of course, I got hit by a nasty stomach bug that wiped me out for a week and missed another post. I couldn’t bear to eat anything with more calories than a shot of NyQuil. I did not find my diet of MLP and liquid flu medicine productive of anything more than fevered tosses and turns, let alone an entertaining essay to publish on the internet.

Apparently my cure to feeling like a lump for losing a week to illness is to lump around some more for an entire weekend. I didn’t go out. I just watched an entire season of a medical drama with compelling characters, solid plot, and surprisingly good cinematography.

I have a living cat blanket; I couldn't possibly move

I have a living cat blanket; I couldn’t possibly move

I’m not the kind of person who can ever feel good about wasting a day. Yet I do waste days. Endlessly. Perhaps if I berate myself, the guilt will compel me to quit reading Dear Prudence articles on my smartphone and sit in front of a Google Doc. Sami, sami — this is terrible. You just spent 1 hour and 45 minutes reading advice columns. All you need to do is crank out 750 words today to feel good about yourself. On a good day, you can do this in 26 minutes. So how can you justify 1 hour and 45 minutes reading DP? You’re not even going to retain any of that information! Not even well enough to retell a single story of a desperate and advice-needing life at one of your parties… Not even well enough to mention something you read as a useful anecdote. Sami. Why do you suck so, so, so much?

Of course, then I feel so very, very terrible about myself that there’s no way I can do anything at all. I must make myself feel better with an episode of Nurse Jackie.

Yes, I can often survive my own laziness with some self care and positive thinking.

  • Remember that one week you were, like, really fucking productive? You can do it anytime. It’s just not this week. This week, you’re watching Nurse Jackie.
  • Nobody is paying that close of attention to you. Just watch another episode of Nurse Jackie, it’s fine
  • Existentialism. Fatalism. Everyone dies. There is no afterlife. When you’re in the ground, you aren’t going to regret that you wasted most of a weekend watching Netflix, because you wont be able to feel anything, just like you won’t be able to feel the worms eating your flesh. So just watch another episode of Nurse Jackie, it’s fine.
  • You just got out of a breakup, man. Losing someone you were with for 5 years is hard. You should go easy on yourself and just watch another episode of Nurse Jackie.
  • Just one more episode, then you’ll go for an inspirational walk. I mean but, these episodes are only 26 minutes long. Who’s counting? Two episodes.
  • Today is a cheat day. Tomorrow will be better. All the episodes now, all the productivity later.
  • Once you finish the whole thing, then it can’t tempt you any more. This is a good plan.

If I ever figure out how to defeat my laziness and be the Sami that can write 66 thousand words in 8 months (she exists…in 2014) then I will let you know. In the meantime, I’m going to reward myself for getting my blog post done before 2pm. Nurse Jackie!

(Ask Sami) “How do I come out as a bi guy?”

Dear Sami,

As a bisexual man I frequently find myself at a bit of a loss in terms of how to identify myself to women I find attractive and might be interested in dating. Is there any way to avoid the “secretly gay” auto-dismissal?

Side question: how do you view the ethics of when to come out in this sort of situation? Being straight-forward (pun intended) is a recipe for being branded “best gay friend.” On the other hand, coming out later is taken as “deceptive creep.” Is there a way to be proud of who I am and still get a date?

xoxo,

A bi guy

Central San Diego

I reached out to a couple of my bi guy friends to help me answer your question. While I’ve used bisexual as a label in my past, the stigma for men and women are completely different flavors, as I’m sure you know. (Instead of being dismissed as secretly gay, I was just assumed to be mostly straight).

One friend prefers to be more strategic. He knows outing himself will change the nature of his interactions. Another said he likes to get it out there as soon as possible, because he wants to rule out bigots right away. Of course, the latter was talking about telling women during a first or second date, when he typically meets new women (usually from okCupid) — and he would presumably be past the point of gay-best-friendzoned. If you’re establishing yourself in a new friend group (with potentially datable women) who don’t know about your particulars, that’s different, too.

Ethically-speaking, it’s nobody’s goddamned business. Yeah, it’s shady to hide your past from a partner when things are getting serious, and it’s not a good way to build trust. Still, you should not be accused of being a deceptive creep just because you kept private things private. I think you should treat your past experiences with men the same as with women — if you’re bringing up the latter, then bring up the former, but don’t feel obligated to do so sooner.

Another point to consider: how you present information totally changes the reaction to it. The more you can coach yourself into showing your bi side as 1. not a big deal (which, besides being important to you and something to be proud of, it isn’t) 2. something you’d expect people to be understanding of (because they should) and 3. something that’s not going to be a problem (why would it be?)… then the more often your dates/new friends will take your social cues and react in kind. Look, it’s not your fault if bigoted people gave you some touchy hangups about your sexual identity, but it is your responsibility not to unload your baggage onto an unsuspecting love interest. Unless, of course, she’s a bigot and she deserves it.

Ultimately, I don’t think the paradigm of “am I doing the right thing?” is as helpful as coming at it from the perspective of, “what makes me feel best about myself?” My first guy friend is a little more private and starts his relationships more casual. When it comes time, he’ll unabashedly be himself, but he feels no shame for not bringing it up sooner. To him, it’s just not relevant until he feels it is. Maybe she has to earn his trust first. So, he feels fine about his strategy. My other guy friend is the type who is helplessly honest. It would be really weird for him not to share this part of himself. So, he’s happy with sharing as soon as possible.

You’ll figure this out. In the meantime, nothing replaces the support of a strong friend network filled with people who know the real you and get you. I have that. It takes a lot of the worry away about how my sexuality is perceived, and makes me incredibly happy. Find your people. That’s the mandate of this city.


 

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CAT SHOW!!!! (It happened in SD)

Last Saturday I went to the annual San Diego Cat Fanciers show in Del Mar. And. There were cats. Cats. CATS CATS CATS.

san-diego-cat-show-dumpster.jpg

 

Okay, so.

Imagine there is a Comic-Con. But instead of comics and re-sellers of cheap products from China, there are CATS! (And re-sellers of cheap products from China!) Just… rows and rows of cats. They live (temporarily!) in little cat tents with clear vinyl windows or sometimes cages. There are two judge’s tables where old men grope cats and determine what color ribbons to give them. And the cats (being cats) then play with the ribbons through the bars of their cages.

I really can’t describe how stimulating and exciting and overwhelming a room full of cats can be. Imagine you think something is going to be pretty good. There will be more than a dozen of your friends there and then your perfect, amazing, lovely roommate will bring all the supplies to make everyone a picnic lunch of PB&J. So you get there and then WHAM just…cats in your face. And everyone has to split off because there are so many cats. And when you eat your sandwich and your pudding and your chips and your string cheese, you want to cry a little because your friend is passing you an “old-timey glitter cat sticker.” You are 26 and this is how you spend your Saturday.

Question: What is Feline Agility?

Its [sic] like dog agility only done in cat’s unique style

sandiegocat.org

On the official website (which was designed and written by a cat) you don’t really get the full impression of what happens in the agility ring. By “cat’s unique style” they mean a human person tricks the cat into maybe going on top of some little steps or through a hoop by waving a feather toy enticingly. I have compiled a helpful gif:

cat-show-del-mar-san-diego-agility-ring.gif

This is one of the more exciting cat agility moments I witnessed (and sped up, too). Mostly, an agility cat wanders around sniffing the obstacles and the trainer yells their name a lot. This one was “Godzilla.”

Also, I thought I would be really clever and show up in my space cat dress (that I stole from my ex-girlfriend because it is mine, duh). That is, a cat riding a pony, in space, on a dress (with gold sleeves).

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 6.08.31 PM

I am used to standing out in a crowd (because I’m weird, not because I’m hot, but thank you for assuming I am that conceited (I probably am)). It turns out, however, that the kind of people who like cat fanciers shows also like space cats and I saw a lot of leggings with both cats and space (and neon colors wooo good idea!). And also there were a lot of Taylor Swift cat ear headbands for sale and also I saw a bald old man wearing them and so basically…

CAT SHOW IS = AWESOME YES (YOU KNOW IT)

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 6.15.35 PM

MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW

A Funeral for FOMO (from my list of Party Ideas)

tecatree and misletoecate

The Tecatree under the Mistletoecate

I keep a list of party ideas in a note in my phone. I have successfully thrown, “It’s a Very Tecate Christmas,” wherein we built a tree out of tecate cans, and look forward to, “Onesie, Twosie, bring me boozie.” Sometimes a party theme is just something to append to my signature text bolo* to intrigue/challenge the 40 or so friends who receive my last minute invite via their smartphones. How do I dress up for that? What does it mean? Is it even a real theme or is it just a joke?

everything-is-tubes-when-you-really-think-about-it

Sometimes, however, a theme warrants elaborate planning. For example…

“A Funeral for FOMO

Guests, dressed in black, enter my living room to see a small coffin, nestled in lilies, on an elegantly draped table. They are invited to write anything which has caused them FOMO in 2015, and place it in the coffin. Then, they should write any positive reasons they can think of for missing events and tape them to the walls of the room, and light a candle.

We sip wine and eat an assortment of tapas. I know I am supposed to be mourning the departed, but I am preoccupied with hosting. Maybe I am a little grateful for the distraction. The room starts to fill with the warmth of firelight and pleasant notes on the walls of, “I got to see my new baby niece,” “I went to Canada!” and, “Eating Milano cookies and binge-watching Fargo.”

At the appointed time, the pallbearers (there only need to be two because the coffin’s full of paper and probably made of cardboard, but we’ll have at least six because I want to be fancy, duh) carry their dutiful load out into the courtyard and place it inside a beautiful metal basin (our fire pit). It is ceremoniously doused with gasoline and ceremoniously ignited with extra-long fireplace matches.

After a poignant silence where we watch the coffin decay in the flames and contemplate the mortality of FOMO (and use the pyre to light cigarettes), Alexander Dial proposes a toast. He [says something really fucking elegant] while I pour out shots of whiskey. After we knock those back, we strip off our black outer garb to reveal “the brightest and/or shiniest shit you can find in your closet” (per the instructions given in the invitations) and go inside to have a dance party.

R.I.P FOMO


* Text Bolo, or text-message APB. In context:

Roommate: I want to have people over but I don’t want to do anything to make it happen please help <3 

Me: Nw I’ll send out a text bolo and invite everyone tonight

 

(Ask Sami) Blanking on Bowie Blues

Am I the only one who has no interest in David Bowie’s passing away?

Normal Heights

Short answer: I don’t know.

In the rows and piles of my father’s records, sometime in high school, I found Bowie. Maybe because of the many space references (and I was an alien princess), I instantly and always loved his music. I loved him among other rockstars, some dead. some living. I had no context, knew the music only by the words on the cover and its image. To this day, I prefer to listen to albums (and hand-picked playlists: the modern mixtape) over “discover new” or “radio” algorithms.

I did not share my peers’ fluency in the lives of their music favorites — the factoids of band member names, origins, relationships, birthdays. I have no mind for trivia, and cared to memorize only the lyrics by playing albums on repeat. I imagined I could discover traces of the artists in the order they arranged their songs, and listened for an arc of plot, a climax, a theme. To this day, I barely grasp the names of all the members of my favorite band — such a feat is not in my programming. It’s not how I enjoy music.

So, within this context (and being an alien with a poor grasp on reality), I assumed David Bowie was already dead. I mean, Kurt Cobain was dead and his band was my first rock favorite (circa 7th-9th grade). I think I discovered Bowie was still alive not sooner than three years ago. He has already been a Lazarus. Losing him again feels not piercing, but familiar.

There’s also my disinterest in celebrity culture. I enjoy the artwork, the content, the entertainment created by these cultural paragons — but they are not my friends. I’ve never spoken to them. I don’t want to simulate familiarity by learning about their breakups, their pet interests, their lineage. I’m interested in their stories insofar as they relate to their art, and no more.

So, while I understand a desire to be part of a greater narrative — to follow closely specific exalted beings and share emotional paths with strangers, acquaintances, the whole fucking world — my participation is hesitant. I can (and do) cry over tragedies, but he died of a terminal illness surrounded by loved ones at age 69. I don’t begrudge those that held him closer to their hearts a right to their own grief, but sometimes I feel like I don’t get it. I think that’s okay.

I see Bowie’s passing as a time for his significance to resurface in the common conversation. (I love this.) I re-listened to all of Station to Station and Ziggy Stardust and the tracks Space Oddity, Heroes, and Rebel Rebel (which my friend John sang to me on my birthday last month on a karaoke night at Redwing). I’ve enjoyed this occasion to revisit Bowie. I can celebrate, reflect, but I haven’t shed a tear. And I think that’s okay.

You appear to be even further removed than I am.

That’s probably okay.


 

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Meta Post: This will be the year I teach you to survive

I’m back.

During my month off, I considered restricting or shutting this site down. Movement at my day job made me wonder how long I could maintain somewhat of a personality schism — would my online reputation threaten my professionalism? I opened this website using my real name with the intention of not letting anonymity make me a lazy writer. Ultimately, I stand by my instincts that if being myself publicly closes doors, then I want those doors closed. My privilege of a safety network and specific upbringing entreats me to be myself, and I refuse to only make safe choices.

I have also chosen to put my real name on my writing. I have to hope this choice will make sense when I reflect back on my life… — Feb. 20, 2014

Snapchat-139652532149160977

New interest on an old post, Why is San Diego so Boring, gives me a mission statement for 2016; this is the year I pass on my survival lessons. I vaguely understood my calling to entertain bored friends, locals, and visitors of San Diego. Now, I’d like to put my “thoughtful” hat on again and push this blog’s tone in that direction. That is to say, I’ve recovered from some rough life changes and have the emotional energy to do more than vaguely insult my friends on the internet for laughs!

In 2016, I resolve to:

  • Examine my core tenets and how they are related to “surviving” in “San Diego”
  • Communicate these strategies in entertaining, or at least interesting, blog posts
  • Entwine this year’s posts into a larger, cohesive narrative
  • Find and listen to my audience

Here are some of my plans I might use to do this:

  • Answer questions from the community a la an advice column — which has the added benefit of making SD Survival Guide sustainable long term
  • Involve myself more in local projects
  • Be more conscious in my explorations of the city and subculture so that I can share them here
  • Probe the meaning of “story”
  • Create event series until I find something that sticks
  • Develop a themed posting structure, such as Week 1: “How to survive _____” Week 2: “A question from San Diego” Week 3: “From my list of party ideas…” Week 4: “So, this happened to me (in SD)” — or at least create recurring categories!

FOT28FB

I’m excited to renew this project (and stop being a lazy panda). I don’t know if that means I’ll be posting every week again, or if it still makes sense to do every other. I may even choose a different day (stats suggest Saturday @ 7pm). Regardless, I welcome your input via my “ask” box, email, facebook, text, inconvenient phone call, handwritten note anonymously stuffed in my couch during one of my parties…etc…

Thank you, my dear reader, for your priceless attention.

–sami

But the good news is I have 3 fewer teeth

I forgot today (er.. 2+ hours ago) was blog day. Perhaps it’s because surgery stole my weekend (==FOMO). I had my wisdom teeth removed – all three of them (I was missing one.. the doctor really didn’t want to talk about it.. she probably was embarrassed that science can’t explain that I am actually an alien and my fourth wisdom tooth is in fact my detachable spaceship).

image

I’m seriously considering taking all of December off and resuming posting in January. My heart just isn’t in it, and I’d prefer to give you better content than forced obligation posts at the moment (historically, forced obligation posts seem to keep ya’ll interested.. But I still feel like I ate nothing but ice cream all day when I write them (these past few days have taught me that ice cream is a seriously overrated food)). If this breaks your heart, comment / email / use compliments to guilt trip me. I’m really hoping, however, you all are happy to just archive binge for a month…

image

(whereas I just spent three days binging on pudding* because the inside of my mouth is a nightmare)

Thank you for understanding I am a real human and not a content robot and I’m really just winging it, all the time. ❤

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*well; pudding, the aforementioned ice cream, soup, and like a lot of sour cream. A lot.

PS I have discovered a new product and I estimate I have eaten 8oz of sour cream in just three days because of it.

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