Hey, Pay Me. Also, WHat if I had a Pet Store??

I guess last Saturday was bleak because I spent it devouring the rest of Nurse Jackie, sipping on a gin & juice with my mind on my money and my money on my mind. Now, I’m nowhere near broke, but what I am is emotionally spent. Socially taxed. Creatively kaput.

You know what’s cute? People think I make money off this blog. (It’s very flattering, and) I’m sort of silly for not making that a reality until now! It’s always been my ideal career to just get paid for thinking thoughts and because people like me. So, make my dreams come true? Hey, pay me.

paypal.me/sdsurvivalguide

I now have a donate link! I appreciate the support SO, SO MUCH if you are able to contribute <3 <3

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Maybe I could make money patenting juice deliver system for birbs!!

Anyway, speaking of money… My current fantasy is to stop telling programmers what to do (that is my Real Job) and instead open a pet shop with my Pa. I mean, it will never be as exciting as the Free Zoo but perhaps it could be more conveniently located? Trendier? San Diego pet shops (F’Zoo excluded) sort of run the range of What If Whole Foods Ran a Pet $tore? to Holy Fuck This is Just A Closet Full of Dog Toys. Neither of these extremes really meet my needs, so I either go to Pet Kingdom or convince my roommate to go there on her way home from jewelry class to pick up a mouse for snakesnake.

Consider this my first exploratory effort. What’s lacking from your pet shop experiences? Do you actually like going to the pet stores? Who else is grossed out by PetCo? Send me a picture of your cat? Are there any animals in here?

Anyway, love you my readers. Less disjointed blog posts coming soon when I’m not being such a weird lil’ stress ball. LIFE IS HARD THO. I CAN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT IT ON MY PUBLIC BLOG THO.

PS.

Pay me?

paypal.me/sdsurvivalguide

No blog post this week..

…because I just got SCRIVENER! And now I’m obsessed with memorizing all of its features. With any luck, this will take all night, and I won’t even have to do any writing.

Hey, at least I’m not binge-watching Netflix..

(this is what I’m talking about)

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!

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

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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!

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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

Is NaNoWriMo Hard?

The answer is yes. Unbelievably, soul-crushingly hard.

I call this the "Write By Whatever Means..." strategy

I call this the “Write By Whatever Means…” strategy

Last year, I wrote my first complete book in about 10 months. A year later, I am certain the book needs extensive revision and does not make sense to publish now (my first book: a memoir? At age 25? Sami, you delusional, egotistical fool!). All the same, just 10 days ago, I still believed in my incredible abilities to write quickly and make it to the finish line.

That has hilariously all changed, due to the “borderline unsustainable”* schedule required to win National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. 1,667 words a day x 30 days = 50,000 words = screw my social life. I can write 750 words in 25 minutes! I reassured myself. Only if these 750 words are a stream-of-conscious diary entry! I strategically ignored myself.

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Today I am supposed to write 2,905 words. Due to my poor discipline, I am 1,238 words behind my schedule. Therefore, I am procrastinating with this blog post. Even my blog post is difficult, because 10 days of NaNo has changed me.

My inner editor and my inner drafter used to have a fairly loving, symbiotic relationship. Drafter would drag her feet just enough (a.k.a. constantly) to inspire Editor to soften her voice and offer timely, helpful feedback, and the occasional cheerleading. Now, Drafter is forced by the whip of word-count demands to write alone, desperately, sometimes with spelling errors (!). Editor does not take kindly to being silenced, so she lives in the margins of the Google Doc I use to write, leaving behind increasingly abusive comments and rows of yellow highlight.

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Inner Editor would like to point out the timestamps are completely inaccurate and Google Docs should be ashamed of itself.

Before NaNoWriMo, I liked my first “drafts” of scenes enough to often include them nearly verbatim in the final script. Now I hate them. I hate them all, I’m a terrible writer, and I should give up forever. Except…

Into week two, I feel myself approaching a membrane in my consciousness. Where, before, I saw the written word a narrow bridge for the tongueless voices of my thoughts to reach the ears of others, I now see a waterfall to burst a dam. Perhaps I will now, finally, immediately think in words (odd writer that I am, my natural state is to think in pictures and vague emotions, and the words only come after warming and thinning like syrup over flame). Perhaps I will short-circuit the connection between mind and keyboard.

A diorama I made for another writing project

Or, at least, I’ll train myself to draft like rabbits breeding and, at the end, my trigger-happy editor will have a maniacal slaughter.


*words of Kelly Lagor

How to Get Lost

I missed my blog post last week.

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I know what I really need to do is write those heartfelt things, those real things, the kind of writing that’s worth sharing, and not some bogus fluff entertainment. Although sometimes it’s time for that bogus fluff entertainment just to remind you that I’m still here. Every week, I’m still here.

But I haven’t been here. And I don’t know if I will be here.

This will come in starts and stops.

I think I’m losing myself? Maybe? I think I haven’t figured out yet if losing myself is something I do. You know, those sorts of things you maybe kind of do on purpose because your brain is so huge and it does things to organize itself, to maintain itself and grow itself. It takes you awhile to figure out if getting lost is just part of your process, or it’s some sort of crisis, or if it’s a one-time transition.

I’m not really sure if I’m changing, or just the world around me. Oh, I call it “the world,” but it’s really only my world. I look up and the people surrounding me are different people.

Stop. Start again.

There’s this image, this vignette, this set of ideas and sometimes the same words that I return to, and it is… Three years ago on a moonlight night under the oak trees of Pauma Valley, I landed, not with the sense of arriving somewhere new, but of coming home. You could say I found myself. I still have my soaring highs and my dipping lows but I feel chained to this precipice, this night of landing, that gives me this vista. I sit on the rock above the city (my city of self) and look out at purple twilight.

So, maybe, right now, I’m down in the brambles again, getting scratched, pretending to lose myself. Yet I can follow the secure anchor to my lookout, I can tug the line, I can know its there.

Stop.

I’m blurring over the part where sometimes I am so scared.

Start.

Maybe getting older is knowing how to get lost. After a quarter century, I know the mind that waits at home for me. So, I do something completely different. Despite my voracity for change, I falter in it, every time. This faltering is a risk I take, to learn something new — to learn if I am capable of this. I think I am.

My dear, sweet readers… I need to make a little hole. A space for growth. And that means sometimes I won’t be here.

Write to me, this time.

—-
New posting schedule: Every other week, with occasional answered questions or other filler in between.

P.S. I’m going pink for one week because I #StandwithPP

How to Find Your One True Friend

In a courtyard of an odd, multi-unit residential property (house and apartments) in Normal Heights, 30 or so people gathered on the flagstone, clipboards and drinks in hand. Periodically, one of them climbed a ladder to stand above the throng and announce pairs of names from a laptop computer, and a single question. The crowd swiftly reorganized and, nearly manic, shared their answers.

This gauntlet of extroversion lasted from 8pm sharp to midnight. Never before at a party had I connected with so many people so deeply, and, paradoxically, to find my one true friend. You see, we sought to answer the question:  “What if you could only have one platonic friend?” You could take on as many romantic partners and lovers as you want, sure, but pretend you only get one friend.

This whole party premise may just be a joke by and for polyamorous folk.

This whole party premise may just be a joke by and for polyamorous folk.

The event was called “Speed Friending,” and we referred this idea of our “one true friend” as our, “monoplatonic partner.” Much like in speed dating, we rated our time-limited interactions and organizers planned to use computer algorithms to crunch the numbers. (I’m told one organizer wrote the algorithm himself; if there is interest I’ll see if I can provide it.)  One of my friends potential monoplatonic partners disagreed with the premise of rating people he cared about with a number, and participated sans clipboard. “Really,” I had texted him, “the only ethical thing to do is burn all the ratings at the very end.”

For the questions, the organizers chose the 36 that are meant to make you fall in love. That is how I found telling someone that night a self-truism I’d carried with me for a long time, but not really ever voiced out loud, about whether I’d rather be rich or famous. (Seems like I’ve always thought I wanted to be rich, but everything I do seems more geared toward famous. Certainly not rich.) “So to answer the question, yes, I’d like to be famous. A famous writer.”

The rest of us, including myself, did submit the ratings after all. Blank ratings threw wildcards into the system, and some had to leave before data entry concluded and the results could be shared. I made a friendship bracelet while I waited. My monoplatonic friend, actually, was one of the people who left, and so I left that bracelet on a table. Someone seems to have picked it up when I wasn’t looking and, ostensibly, wears it now.

2 Years of SD Survival Guide

February 6th, 2015 was the actual anniversary, but it wasn’t in my Google Calendar so it didn’t exist.

Luckily today is poop and I don’t feel like writing, so the annual recap is perfectttt.

Links, pics, and excerpts for your enjoyment!!!!!!!!!!!!  The exclamation points are how you know I am enthusiastic and not just boring and sad :D

Snapchat-20140131100329Last year’s recap… Also uses the word poop. I’ve worn a few 2-dimensional identities in my life — the kind people use when they’re trying to describe you to a friend. They’ve varied from “Anthony’s girlfriend,” to “redheaded lesbian” and at least one unpublishable moniker in-between. Slowly, over the past year, “writer” has been taking over.

IMAG0487_1Giving myself excuses to be mean lol. Also viddygames & feminism. I’d like to give you some insight into the spiraling self-doubt that occurs for me whenever I say something remotely divisive on these social media channels.

Paranoia in the digital age, snapchat, and hangovers. Hangover is a philosophy, a way of being, in which fears and anxieties are either muffled, too heavy with the poison in your blood to run rampant over you, or they are amplified with the urgency of vomit.

girlfriend-in-party-hatOne of my fav posts: Crashing parties in PB. I met an incoherent philosopher. He made us give him really long hugs, but they were more drunken than amorous so I was fine with that. Maybe because he shared so many gooey-ooey thoughts about humanity I stole one of Katelyn’s cigarettes and traded it with a stranger who wandered up to the back wall for a high five.

Bad-feminist-fuck-itFEMINISM WITH RAD PICTURES. I saw an article, “5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having,” by HuffPo and got excited to get my feminist morning-read on, but….what was I thinking this is HuffPo.

tutu rave fishnets furry legwarmersRavetastic adventure. Event page said: “dress like Bruce Lee, get in free” which is a dumb and impossible, but Katelyn confidently put me in a cheongsam-inspired top and a tutu and said it would count.

I insult you on the internet because I love you or something like that. The truth is, for me, I’m just obsessed with all of you sometimes. I want to know if it’s okay to write about you. Picasso’s girlfriend probably didn’t tell him to hide away the portraits he made of her saying, ‘baby, what? I look so ugly, do you really think my nose is that big? My eyes are that..awkwardly placed in relationship to the rest of my face parts, seriously they aren’t even pointing in the same direction…??’

Party-planning-guest-listI’ve been obsessed with parties since childhood look read my diary. Candyland was the obvious choice for my “Sweet Sixteen” but I have to admit I was most excited about making giant lollipops out of balloons and cellophane.

If you take out a notebook and write down what a person says to you, they will fall in love with you.

Being Artsy Fartsy because Sports Bars…?? Draw a puzzle piece that’s open on all sides. Explain these connections happen to you all the time, that you’re easy. Explain you understand it was special for him, but it was common for you. When you hug him goodbye, he will recite his phone number into your ear.

I love birds. All of my snapchats are of birds.

I am the worst at nerd so I write an essay on why nerd is boring and I don’t need to try. Check out these birds tho. I understand, I really do, that having a common lexicon is a short cut to establishing shared experiences. But if you go on and on about Naruto, and I don’t know jack about Naruto, what am I supposed to do?

wpid-wp-1397760228272.jpegGood weather in SF means I am cursed. Trust me this makes sense. San Diego perfect weather is relentless. San Francisco sunshine is just a little bit delirious. I know I can’t live here because in my heart of hearts I know how inconsolable I get on a “blustery” day. I know this, but the Curse tricked me into thinking I can do these things.

Snapchat-20140417115114LOL fuck I fucked up my leg. Turns out if there’s a lump sticking out of my shin a terrifying extra 1-inch, my reaction is mostly jovial. This is a battle wound. Also, I had taken 3 Ibuprofen before the concert in anticipation of wearing my improbable shoes.

My friend Alexis found a live scorpion when she unpacked her luggage in America.

Went to mexico. Killed scorpion. Temporary veganism ensues. They are giving their bodies nutrients instead of Taco Bell and are rewarded with endurance and energy. I was trapped in a vicious whiskey / crunchwrap / gatorade cycle just trying to survive ’til next Friday.

EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE.

infantino-squeeze-pouch-for-babies-holds-2-shotsLifehack put liquor in these things and then in your pants. Infantino makes a squeeze pouch “feeding line” (are they children or are they livestock??) so that yuppie parents can package up custom applesauces, vegetable purrée, and other goo for their toddlers to quaff. … I will demonstrate in pictures how to alter this fine product to smuggle liquor in your underwear.

Sami is sad maybe party help? 

Dude my parents are super cool. As I’ve grown, I’ve discovered the joys of combining alcohol with activities I once hated, such as camping, sports, weddings, and now, socializing with my parents. If it is at all possible for you, I recommend getting to the point where you can get blasted with the people who made you.

Yes I am wearing a bunch of beanie babies I hot glued together as a garment.

Confidence. Let’s break it down. I am (usually) good at empathizing.  This makes it easier to understand other people’s actions and motivations and avoid blaming myself for things that aren’t my fault.

Sexual Predators :(

…So obviously feminism.

…And more feminism.

Dafuq am I doing with this blog shit got serious all the sudden? I could form an elite group of partiers who would descend on events like glitter locusts and leave kickbacks sparkling with glaze of alcohol and shimmer of sex-sweat.

This is where my parents met. Well, that's what K'nB Wine Cellars believed for the longest time.

In case you didn’t know, there are real neato perks to drinking at the same place all of the time. Go on Mondays because you need a beer to recover from the trauma of restarting your work week. Go on Tuesdays because you wish you came with an appetite on Monday and really wanted to try those sliders but, tomorrow, I’ll be back tomorrow.

Hi, the weather is great today in San Diego and also I am not your girlfriend.

Back to feminism because I give the people what they want. In a world where, “I’m a lesbian,” works less than half as well as, “I have a boyfriend,” we need more people who are willing to make it obvious that it is simply valid for a girl to reject a man because she says so. No explanation needed.

Le Butcherettes are worth driving to Santa Ana to see, apparently. I saw her pulsate and shake in a way that defies sexually-charged gazes. I dare you to objectify me.

Remember the space koozie I was so proud of....?

Burning man.

More burning man.space koozie after

Also burning man.

dairy-drought-takes-a-lot-of-water-to-make-happy-cowCows are causing the drought, I decided. Also shrubbery. Forget just turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth, the best thing to do is find alternatives to a lush green lawn. If your front yard looks like a sad, tawny shag of neglected responsibility, consider yourself the hero of this story.

Writing partyI’m writing a book!! I’ve started mentioning this wordy beast when people ask what I’m doing with my life. You know, because besides drinking, it’s all I’ve been doing with my life.

How do you speak up when it feels like it’s too late? I have been beating myself up recently for leaving things unsaid. Friends have said or done things that I was not okay with, and I pretended everything was okay and did not say anything.

Just when you think I’m done writing about festivals… I present this packing list. Things You Bring But Never Use: 4 extra friggin shirts; 2 extra friggin blue jeans; Book for “downtime” …

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 6.55.50 PMGoddamnit now this song is stuck in my head again. I “just don’t get” why the skinny shaming in Megan Trainor’s hit single is a big deal.

Unwanted sexual attention :c I often get some variation of, “If you weren’t gay, I would totally have tried to date you.”

Wanted sexual attention :) So, you think your lezfriend is smoldering hot. I’m guessing since you called her “lesbian friend” and not just “friend,” you’re either straight or bi/queer.

Resticles.Day.CloseUpHey look, burning man. And testicles.  Despite resembling hairy sacks of balls, they were very pretty.

matt-taylor-shirt-comet-landing-pensiveIn some ways it’s just a shirt, but really it’s so much more than that. This is what happens when an intelligent man is faced with his mistakes. He feels them more truly than those too defensive to see clearly. He sees the thousands of implications of his tiny, tiny, oh-not-so-tiny mistake.

Thanks drawingThanksgiving feels. I am imperfect. I am too afraid to join conversations when I imagine a response that will overwhelm me (Ferguson). I fantasized about posting a “cheat sheet” today for avoiding cultural appropriation, with cute drawings, timely for Thanksgiving, and posturing as if I have a clue.

Lost-panic-typewriter-drawing.jpgAt least some good writing comes out of my personal problems. I struggle with trigger-induced panic. Often, it is easiest to say I suffer from PTSD, though I haven’t been formally diagnosed and do not want to diminish the experiences of others who may have it worse than I do.

Jury duty made me miss my fun date to the Birch Aquarium so I sent her snapchats of "fish" all day.

JURY DUTY WAS A PARTY AND A HALF. And the prosecuting attorney was kind of adorable. He was soft-spoken, kept messing up what he was saying, and one time didn’t have his notes for a particular witness. “Uh, I’d like to request a sidebar..” he said when he realized he didn’t have them, “It’s kind of embarrassing…”

wpid-wp-1419367560968.jpegBeing quirky and mysterious is another way to avoid writing a serious blog post, lifehack. Go to the liquor store. Buy a cheap pair of sunglasses and an iced coffee. Go home. Drink half of the coffee. Write her name backwards in the the lenses of the sunglasses with a dry erase marker, and wear them.

I AM FROZEN I DON’T MEAN THE MOVIE. Friends of mine from places like Oregon *caughAlexDialcough* try to say that 44 degrees is not that cold. Relatively, no, it is not. But experientially, for us San Diegans, it is THE MOST TERRIBLE COLD WHYYYYYY

Creationism Museum Lol :D Proceed through the days of creation. Find animals. Exclaim, “Oh my god there is animals here!” Wonder if the docents have heard you take the lord’s name in vain.

Why do people treat me like a prostitute is it because I am a woman? *fake smile* kthanksbye North Park: Some guy will yell “How much?” at you from his car when you’re walking with your girlfriend to your car. It kind of ruins your night.

IMAG0150Inclusivity and cats. Recently I’ve gotten myself into a situation where I have a space and the agency to throw my own parties, so that’s added immediacy to my Responsible Friendshipping goals. I get to say who comes to the party and what the theme is! I’m also interested, however, in the bigger picture. Am I helping my friends move in a healthy direction in their communities?

Inviting people to parties the best way possible is something I think about a lot. Another strategy I’m considering experimenting with is masterminding a small groups rotation pattern. I will make it clear to friends that, to limit the size of the party, I will invite smaller portions of my larger friend base. If they are not invited to the current party, rest assured they will be invited to the next.

actually-happyGiving myself life advice on the internet and people liking, nice :) What better way to show I respect someone than to support their ideas? At times it verges on enabling, the way I cater to people’s fantasies, but I’d rather do that than be a source of discouragement for the people I love.

Wow, today is less poops. It was really lovely to remember that I’ve put all this content out there and that, for the most part, I’m pretty happy with it all. In other words, I’m rad and I deserve to feel rad :P

More importantly, thank you so much for your support and encouragement. It means so much to me when people mention reading my stuff. You make me feel heard :)

If any of you blog, please let me know! I’d like to start following more people this year.

*hugs*

sami

What I do on My Blog v. What I do In Real Life

So it seems like every time I say to myself, “Whatever, I need a week off from blogging, no one will notice,” I invariably go to a party or parties and 2-4 people will tell me they’ve been enjoying my blog. OKAY SERIOUSLY I FEEL GUILTY NOW GOOD JOB. One friend even said that when I miss a week, I often make up for it with a great post the next. JEEBUZ PRESSURE ON AUGH.

Anyway, it seems like a good time to give you a little Superman vs. Clark Kent insight on Sami the Blogger vs. Sami the Human. Also I need to point out it’s uncharacteristic for me to make a geek pop culture reference (even as obvious as this) and I’m pretty jazzed for myself.

A blessing for continuity (and my own sanity): my two personas subscribe to many of the same mantras. Yet, due to their different superpowers (or lack thereof), they wield these edicts differently.

Sometimes it’s Less Important to be Accurate than to be Kind

sometimes-its-less-important-to-be-accurate-than-to-be-kind Sami the Blogger: Yeah, okay, you’re trying to impress people with your brain and word powers and everything, but don’t fail to acknowledge those who disagree with you with compassion from time to time. (At least from a practical standpoint, you’re going to lose readers.)

Sami the Human: What better way to show I respect someone than to support their ideas? At times it verges on enabling, the way I cater to people’s fantasies, but I’d rather do that than be a source of discouragement for the people I love.

Intent isn’t Magic

intent-isnt-magic Sami the Human: I know that a person’s motivation for an action is somewhat unknowable and for the most fun I should give people, as much as possible, the benefit of the doubt. But if someone is bothering me, occasionally I have to let go of empathy and protect myself. E.g. stop worrying so much about why someone is doing something, and just think about if I want to be a part of it.

Sami the Blogger: People’s motivations are somewhat unknowable and I am more interested in examining the ramifications of their behaviors or mindsets which allow the behavior to continue. It doesn’t matter if someone was just trying to be nice, really likes me, or is socially awkward. If their actions have sexist or homophobic effects, then I will examine them.

 Perspective. Perspective. Perspective.

Perspective Blogger Sami: Taking the time to micro-analyze a behavior in a blog essay brings me great pleasure. I enjoy exploring the implications and subtleties of human behavior. Maybe I over-think things, but it helps me.

Human Sami: Time to zoom WAY out. I need to stay focused on the big picture. And the other picture. And the other, other picture. I will immerse myself in as many perspectives as possible so I won’t be phased by the strange or uncomfortable. Or so I try.

Holy Crap. I’m Actually Happy

actually-happy Human: As I sit on the glittery seat of my roommate’s red, diner-style bench, having just finished a meal of microwaved hot-dogs and fresh-picked arugula salad, my eyes unfocus and these words float to my consciousness, “I’m happy.” I am utterly incredulous that I am happy. After a history of depression, I still feel so strange and grateful that my default emotion is positive. Sometimes it makes it hard to be productive, because I don’t feel like I should be doing anything at all except basking in this hard-earned light. Yet it also means I am pretty damn free to do whatever my whims mandate.

Blogger: Doesn’t really matter what I write, if I do a good job, what people think, because at the end of the day I’m pretty stoked about how I feel and how well I’m doing mentally. Might as well keep trying to meet that weekly deadline and see what happens next. (Watching the views grow, well that doesn’t hurt either.)

Why share my thanks?

I grapple with making the expression of my gratefulness palatable. It is too dulcet to say trees are pretty, or I’m all full of glowy stuff, or whatever. I think what such effusions lack is empathy. People who gush without context freak me out a little and I want to ignore them.Thanks drawing

Still, to not be grateful is to dismiss the privileges of my life. I give myself permission to feel joy, solemn appreciation, and contentment, not despite of a cruel, hard world, but because in the face of a cruel, hard, world, not recognizing that I am lucky means I am blind. It is a strange vow of hedonism — a bargain that taking pleasure is compassionate.

And I am imperfect. I am too afraid to join conversations when I imagine a response that will overwhelm me (Ferguson). I fantasized about posting a “cheat sheet” today for avoiding cultural appropriation, with cute drawings, timely for Thanksgiving, and posturing as if I have a clue. I am not an expert, but I am a writer with some talent for understanding and some bravery for thinking my thoughts merit sharing (or really, that I am at all able to organize words in a helpful way for others). I have to believe that is enough. But, for this subject, I can’t just create something that I know will get me Google search hits.

Thanksgiving represents cognitive dissonance for me. I cringe at its public celebration, but find peace in my private participation. I think, it is similar to how I feel about the words:  “Merry Christmas.” I have no problem with people celebrating Christmas in their homes (except the occasional worry that they’re raising their children to be toy-obsessed, which is none of my business until they are 18 and obsessed consumers). It is when they say, “Merry Christmas,” in a way that they show their badge of assumption — that they project their rituals onto us all because they assume their holiday is everyone’s holiday — that I taste bile.

There is knowledge I do not yet have about the inappropriateness of Thanksgiving. I am not familiar with how different people of Native American decent feel about Thanksgiving. I am not aware enough of the historical nuances. I sense it is problematic, and I sense it is a colonizing holiday designed with colonizing intentions, to protect colonizing behavior (read: to overtake and destroy other cultures). I know I have research to do, history talks to have with those better educated, moments of listening to those with less privilege than me.

Yet, my political dissatisfaction does not move me to boycott the occasion. Perhaps my lack of disillusionment is a failing after all, but I think I might be doing okay. The way my family does the whole turkey-feast-football thing is still special to me. My grandfather is the grandchild of Swedish immigrants. There’s a lot of stereotypically Swedish non-spiritual, non-showy, non-sacred handling of Thanksgiving. We make a feast, with traditional things like cranberry relish and whatever, but also with our own weird food staples (some sort of jello monstrosity made with cubes of cream cheese, chopped-celery, and a can of coke). We gather, we eat, we don’t all go around and say our thanks. I think, what makes this holiday so peaceful is that my family leaves my gratefulness up to me. We all know we are reflecting on the subject, and it comes out in our words, ever so slightly, but it is private and real.

I don’t want to say, “Shut up about giving thanks.” Perhaps, at least sometimes, “thanks” begets “thanks.” I know it comforts me to read about gratefulness in the face of great trauma. But in this culture of defensive and duplicitous over-sharing, I want to ask, what are you really doing when you publicly/semi-publicly give thanks? And what do you ignore?

That is what I think matters: you must own your own gratefulness. You cannot pressure others to “say thanks,” — you don’t know them and you don’t know what they are suffering. You cannot expect them to inspire you, to give you a hint about how to feel, to lead you. You cannot feel good about patting yourself on the back when you do “thanks” right and others do “thanks” wrong. You cannot judge those who are not thankful, because you don’t know how much hell they are taking while all the while being told to be “grateful” for it. Similarly, you cannot boast gratefulness and expect reward. You cannot thrive on those “likes” and you cannot feel brave for simply saying the trees are pretty, or you’re glowy and stuff or whatever. Gratefulness is an intimate expression, perhaps better offered to yourself, your family, and to those who deserve your trust and whose trust you have earned.

Why do you share your thankfulness? Do you?