Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Rules

Everyone has their own take on what constitutes appropriate behavior, their ideas and philosophies regarding romantic relationships.  These can come from friends, parents, literary works, even television commercials.  I don't pretend to have the best or most unique view on relationships.  But I do have a lot of friends, and most of them come to me with their romantic problems.  Hearing my friends make the similar choices, have similar concerns and end up similar places, and also reading a lot of books on the subject, has given me a very pragmatic view on relationships.

1) First and foremost: People. Don't. Change.  A very dear friend of mine once told me that there is no such thing as a clean slate.  You can add to what you have already done, but you can never undo, unsay, or unthink anything.  In life, there is no Control Z.  That's why people who have been in AA for ten years still call themselves Alcoholics.  Its not that they no longer have the disease, they're just in treatment, and like any life-long disease, as soon as they stop treatment, the disease will rear its ugly head.

If you hate that your man can't hold down a job, you better change your mind about the job or the man, because no matter how much he wants to, withouth counseling or concerted effort, he can't change.  If you hate that your girlfriend gets crazy jealous when you talk to other girls, either dump your friends or dump your girl.  People can affect their behavior.  A deadbeat can get a job and a crazy bitch can take a chill pill, but they are who they are.  Those kinds of things are fundamental characteristics, the kinds of problems that take years of work, therapy, and most importantly, personal commitment.  No matter how much a person loves you, they can't change who they are for you.  And what's more, it's selfish to ask.

2) To that end, your Exes are Exes for a reason.  No matter who broke it off with who, who said or did the awful thing that was the clincher, the root issue is that you two simply were not right for each other.  You were people with fundamental differences that did not mesh well.  If you think you are different people now, please see Rule Number One.

3) Relationships are hard.  Even when they're going well, they take work.  It may seem like you and your sweetie have one brain, and don't even need to say things out loud.  You are wrong.  Just as you think 100 different things a day about the same thing, so does your partner.  They are just as insecure, crazy, needy, and affection-starved as you.  And here's a secret: so is everyone else.

What does Rule Three mean?  It means you need to work at love.  Tell your spouse you love them when you think of it, not when it's convenient.   Show them you care.  Everyone has a way that they best interpret affection, whether by words, gifts, touch, quality time, or favors.  Find out what yours are, and ask for them.  And find out what your partners are and give it to them.   Ask yourself, "How would a person who is In Love act right now?"

You'd be surprised how important that last is.

4) Allow yourself to be surprised.  We have control over every aspect of our lives today, and sometimes it's hard to let go of that control enough to see opportunites for what they are.  If you are in a relationship, you never know when your loved one is going to subtley express a need they have, or a desire you can fulfill.  If you are single, you really, truly, never know when love will walk through the door with a winning smile.  Falling in love is one of the greatest and most wonderful surprises in life, and sometimes you just have to let it happen.

So those are the bare bones of my philosophy.  I don't know if they'll help anyone, but they certainly help me.   I'd be very interested to hear everyone's opinion.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Turkey Day Poem

It's Turkey Day, a thankful time when families gather close,
A good time to reflect upon the things that matter most.
While shoppers plan to hit the stores in bargain-hunting sprees,
I’ll sit back and reflect upon what matters most to me.

I’m thankful for the internet, with all its trolls and memes,
And I’m thankful for John Williams, and the movies that he themes.
I’m glad Lucas made Star Wars, when I look up at the sky,
And I’m thankful for the prequels, though I couldn’t tell you why.

I give thanks for Batman, Spiderman, and X-Men too,
Thanks also for Mike Meyers, and the phrase, “Who throws a shoe?!”
Cheers for Frodo, Gandalf, and the Fellowship to boot,
And thanks for terrible pirates with only one shot left to shoot.

Thanks for World of Warcraft, for Alliance and for the Horde,
I’m thankful that with my Blackberry, I’m never really bored.
Thanks for robot vacuums, Netflix, BluRay and HD.
And thanks for gaming consoles where the controller is me.

Thanks for Rowling, Shakespeare, Wilde, Austen, and Tolkien,
And here’s to all the authors brilliant who’s works we haven’t yet seen.
I’m thankful that I live exactly here and now to see
All the things I’m thankful for, and that they exist for me.

Bust most of all, dear readers, it is you I’m thankful for.
I have fifteen whole subscribers, but I still could use some more.
So please enjoy your Turkey day, with food that never ends.
And if you liked this poem, well then please: go tell your friends.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

XBox! Make Dinner!

To my mingled dismay and amusement, my scruffy-looking nerf herder recently purchased an XBox Kinect, which now lives above my television.  And it's weird.

First of all, the thing moves.  On its own.  To watch you.  There is a feature built into the XBox Kinect where in order to better interpret the movements of the people in the room, it will tilt until it sees a face.  And oh yeah, it recognizes my face.  I walk into the room and wave at it, and it says, "Hello Self-Rescuing Princess".  Freaking weird.

Using the Kinect is a fun and interesting experience.  It uses movement speed and angles to determine force, and it's ability to differentiate between movements is accurate and a little creepy.  I've played Kinect Sports, Kinect Adventures, and a demo of Dance Central, and found them all to be fun and a good workout.  I'm not a serious console gamer, however I hope that eventually some story-driven titles are released.  It would be really fun to play Lara Croft and actually have to run, jump, shoot and kill Raptors.

...don't get me started on the whole "Killing Dinosaurs" thing in that game.  Seriously, it's a blog post unto itself.

But the very coolest thing about using the Kinect, at least for me, is the Voice Recognition software.  "Xbox, Next.  XBox, Play Disc."  I think my feelings on the subject are actually pretty well summed up by Gabe from Penny Arcade:

Seriously, I'm high on the drug that is absolute power, and I've only had the thing for three days.

All in all, it's a very impressive system, which I'm fairly confident will be replaced by an even more impressive system in a few years.  I have a feeling it's the beginning of a new kind of video game, one that is more immersive and challenging that previous games have had the ability to be.  However, there are other industries besides Entertainment that should take note of this technology.  There are hundreds of real-world applications to technology that recognizes the movements of its users.  No-touch and voice-only controls will no longer be reserved for the super-rich, government labs, and high-budget action movies.  Mechanized home appliances could very well be a feasible venture in the next decade.  And maybe, finally, I can get a robot to bring me coffee in bed the second I wake up.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sever the Writer's Block

I've been suffering from severe Writers Block for the past... twelve months.  I am typically an extremely prolific writer, of opinion pieces, poetry, and songs.  But for about a year now, I seem to have been irrepressibly stopped up. 

I've been happy though.  Well, for the most part.  I wonder if that's part of it, if my creativity comes from a place of angst and pain.

Nope, I reject that totally.  Not because it's unlikely, but because I refuse to accept it to be true.  Pain can not be the only impetus for beauty and art.  So there.

And herein you see a great deal of the reason for my Writer's Block.  Indecision.  I've been having difficulty focusing on one path or option lately, and in trusting that the decision I've made is the right one.  Maybe that's what all creative people go through when the muse abandons them.  Fear.

Fear of what, exactly?  A myriad of things.  Mediocrity, inpropriety, tactlessness.  But mostly mediocrity.  The idea that making an impact on the world, creating something so unique and so wonderful that they will be talked of years after they die, that all of that was nothing more than a dream.

Ironic, I think, that allowing that fear to take control is what makes it a reality.

Friday, October 8, 2010

An Open Letter to Anyone Born Between 1970 and 1985

Greetings, Peers.

I have heard many authors and journalists refer to us in different ways.  The Lost Generation.  Disenfranchized Youth.  Generation Next (or was that Pepsi?).  No matter how you phrase it, the verdict is in: we are trapped under the weight of those who have gone before us.  The Baby Boomers and the Hippies, the Revolutionaries, these are the great thinkers of our time, and we can't possibly live up to their standards.  We are burdened by our own destiny, a destiny of mediocrity.  Those ahead of us have created economies that can't support themselves, and those behind us are greater in number than our generation can hope to support. 

I have heard others of my generation agree with this prognosis, bemoaning our lackluster inheritance.  They express a desire to change the world, but an utter helplessness to do so.  My reaction to this sentiment has developed over the past ten years, varying from sympathy to despair, but as I round out the end of my twenties, I have honed my response down to a single, passionate, utterly descriptive word:


That's right, I am officially, publicly, and without apology, calling Shenanigans.  We have more information and resources at our disposal than our parents could have dreamt of fifty years ago, and we have more expanding and developing job markets than this muddy little sphere of a planet has ever seen.  Walt Disney would have wet himself to be twenty years old today, and he was an immigrant-farmer's son from Kansas, a high school dropout who was rejected from the Army. 

We do not have less opportunity than our parents, we have more.  Corporate giants are itching to latch onto the next great idea so they can say they had it first.  Technology has progressed to the point where we really can build anything we can dream.  And we have the added advantage over our parents of knowing that drugs are bad and will mess you up.

We have a chance to be the greatest generation of all, but we have to fulfill it.  Nobody is going to hand us respect and innovation, it's up to us to make it happen.  The achievement of others does not diminish our accomplishments, but augment them, giving them purpose and shape.  We will never emerge from the shadow of our parents and grandparents until we respect ourselves as much as we respect them.

In short, my beloved peers, it's time for us to grow up.  We have the power and the tools to leave this world better than we found it, but we'll never get there at this rate.  It's time to stop caring more about what other people think of us than what is right.  It's time to care more about being better than about looking better.  It's time to stop hiding in the back of the classroom, trying not to get called on because we don't want anyone to know how bright and special we really are.

So, to the members of the formerly lost, but soon to be found generation, I say: Tomorrow is here.  It's time to wake up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Modest Proposal

It can be assumed that, to remain unaware of the events which took place on and around the former site of the World Trade Center in New York City on September the Eleventh in the year of 2001, one must quite literally live under a proverbial rock. It can further be assumed that the resultant social unrest and political posturing and mud-slinging is also fairly inescapable, and especially since this collection of thoughts and suggestions shall be posited only in online venues, the idea that anyone reading this is unaware of any of the aforementioned events and phenoms is quite laughable. Therefore, I shall not, for the sake of brevity, ennumerate the many reasons I make the suggestions herein. I only present them as both solutions to the problems we seem to be facing, and also as motions in the pursuit of fair treatment of all, which opponents on all sides of this issue claim to seek.

First, there is the matter of the proposed Mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center, which has created much the outcry. Many sensitive souls cite the families of the victims, fearing that building a Mosque near the site would be a painful reminder of that terrible day. I couldn't agree more. In fact, I think it necessary that all painful reminders be removed from society.

Therefore, I suggest that all people of German Descent be required to dwell at least 5 miles from any people of the Jewish faith, whether those people are themselves Jewish, and whether those Jews have any familial ties to any Holocaust victims or survivors. Additionally, all churches within view of any African Americans must write a letter of request to the local NAACP chapter before erecting any crosses in their front yards, or purchasing any white robes for any of their religious figures. Also, all men must request forgiveness from all women for such historical inequities as have been perpetrated upon the "gentler sex" since the beginning of racial memory before engaging in any conversation.

After erecting such social boundaries between groups that have offended each other in the past, let us not forget further recompense. I understand there is a preacher who wishes to burn the Qu'ran in effigy of all terrorism. I suggest that he also schedule a burning of a Bible in effigy of all racism, the Consitution in effigy of all rebellion, and the Torah in effigy of greed. As those books and papers have as much responsibility for the creation of such concepts as the Qu'ran has for the existence of terrorism, it seems only fitting.

And finally, it stands to reason that since racial profiling has acheived governmental sanction, there are a few categories I would like to add to the current list of standard suspects. All white men between the ages of 40 and 60 shall be detained on suspicion of embezzlement. All persons between the ages of 16 and 24 shall be detained on suspicion of possession of marijuana. All women of marrying age shall be detained on suspicion of intent to prostitute themselves. And all persons over the age of 60 shall be detained on suspicion of being under the influence of prescription narcotics.

It is understandable that my proposal shall be met with some resistance, however many of these changes are necessary to promote the healing and safety of our great nation. I pray that they will be seen in the spirit in which they are intended, and with the earnestness I feel.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sister Act Philosophy

So here's the thing...

Ever since I was young, all I've wanted to do is sing.  Any day I get to make music is a good day, and any day I can't is a bad one.  I love singing.  Love, love, love it.

And I've fought it.  I've been told by more than one person how hard the industry is, how it'll eat me alive, how I'm too this or too that, not this enough, not that enough.  And after nearly 28 years of being told what I can't do, do you know what I have to say?  I don't care.

I don't care if anyone tells me I'm too fat to be seen as sexy, not clearly enough in a niche, not marketable.  I want to sing.  I want to be a singer.  I want my job to be writing and recording and singing and performing.  And I'm going to make it happen.  And if anyone tells me I can't, all I'll tell them is: watch me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I will freely admit that on occasion, I am a late joiner.  I didn't get into the Barenaked Ladies (it's a BAND, Mom!) until way after One Week had become a memory, I didn't start reading Harry Potter until I saw the first movie, and Buffy was in it's last season by the time I started watching it. 

Therefore, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I just started watching LOST.  I have a really good reason for waiting on this one though:  St. Elsewhere.  IT WAS ALL AN EFF-ING DREAM!  Firefly: Cancelled after one season.  X-Files: The first two seasons were REALLY good, then they made a movie and it all went to hell.  Angel: They cancelled it mid-season, giving what could have been a really great story arc the shortest shrift ever.   

Television, thou hast burned me before.  And at the time, I couldn't take it.  So, I decided I would wait.  No matter how long LOST was on TV, I wasn't going to start watching it until it was over and someone who had watched every episode (preferably someone who had watched it from the beginning for the entire run) told me they were satisfied with how it ended.

Well, as anyone who doesn't live under a rock is aware, the show is over.  Done.  No more.  And I have heard from several die-hard fans that they loved the entire show including the finale.  And so it begins.  My journey through the quandry that is The Island. 

PS - I just saw the first Locke-A-Riffic story arc last night and bawled my eyes out.  I agree Mr. Locke.  Don't tell me what I can't do.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

For Mama Zinni

The world is a darker place today than it was yesterday, having lost the amazing, the incomparable, the irreplaceable Frieda Paras-Jones.

I think what I will miss most is her stories. While I’ve been performing at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire for a few years, my experiences cannot compare to the body of knowledge that was Frieda. Her memory was long and detailed. She could recount what, at the time, seemed like the most insignificant coincidences to create a charming and hilarious story. And try as I might, I can never re-tell her stories just the way I heard them. That was a skill owed to her and her alone.

I met Frieda the first day of what was to become a 4-year “internship” under her tutelage. While the UCLA term ended long before my tenure as one of her assistants, the label, “smarter-than-the-average-intern” would stick with me for many years to come. I will never forget long days in the costume shop in the weeks before the Renaissance Faire opened, where the stories got funnier and the jokes got punchier as the hours wore on. She expected a lot of me, but never an inch less than she gave herself, and I know that many days she would make the long drive home and continue sewing there until the wee hours of the morning so that everything would be perfect for the Big Day.

More than a boss, she was a friend, a caretaker; like the big sister you always dreamed about. When Robert and I ran into financial troubles a few years ago, she took us in until we got back on our feet. When I fretting about getting cast as a Theme Character, she recommended me to Maggie. And at the end of my very first year, she recommended I go watch the Merry Wives at Rogue’s Reefe. I have so much to thank her for, but the most valuable thing she taught me is to always be true to myself, and never to let anyone walk on me for any reason.

There are some things I know she’ll be glad to have seen. Hanna as Queen for one thing. The brilliance of Commedia Volante for another. Frieda always joked that while she might not get into Heaven for being the nicest person, she knew she’d get in for best costume. I think we can all agree there’s no contest there. And one of the last things she said to me this year was, “Give ‘em hell, girlie.” I intend to, Mama. I intend to.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ettiquette for the New Age: Cell Phones

I was simply going to call this blog post, Ettiquette for the New Age, but I quickly realized that this topic deserves quite a bit more than one post.  I should make the disclaimer that I am neither an expert on ettiquette, nor am I completely free of guilt in committing some of the social "crimes" I will ennumerate in what I am sure will become quite an extensive series.  I'm merely someone who endeavors to see to the comfort of those around me, and who is just opnionated enough to share my ideas on the itarwebs.

And so, without any further apology or ado, I would like to propose that we agree on the following regarding that thing we won't leave home without; our cell phone:

1) My cell phone exists for my convenience, not yours.  No I'm not ignoring you, I'm busy, I have no service, or my phone is off.  And what's more, even if I am ignoring you, that's my perogative.  Oh and PS, the more you pester me, the more I DON'T want to talk to you.

2) Your friends do not live in your cell phone, and to spend most of your time looking at it is to suggest that the company of those around you is somehow inferior to the small plastic noisebox in your hand.  If you need to take a call or make a text, step away and allow your friends' conversation to continue normally.  Don't force your friends to sit in awkward, angry silence while you monopolize both conversations.

3) Try to keep cell phone conversations short when in the car with others.  In this situation, NOBODY can walk away.  Please try to respect the time of the people who actually care about you enough to be in your presence.

4)  Plays, concerts, movies, weddings, graduations, meetings, family dinners, religious services, court hearings.  What do all of these events have in common?  Cell phones should not be invited to them.  Ever.  Turn. It. Off.  Or it goes in the Champagne Fountain.

5) Don't be the guy who just lets his cell phone ring during any of the above-mentioned situations.  We all know it's you.  We've all forgotten at some point.  Just reach into your pocket or purse and silence your phone, and we promise not to throw you in the laser-shark tank.  If you're EXPECTING an important call, put your phone on vibrate so you can discreetly check call ID and excuse yourself if you need to.  Just don't disturb *everyone* by having the conversation in the middle of the event. 

6) Learn how your phone works.  Know how to turn it on and off, activate and deactivate your bluetooth, silence it, put it on vibrate, take and make calls, dial, put numbers in your phone book, and send a text message.  If you have a smart phone, become familiar with those tools as well.  Your cell phone is a powerful communication tool and there is no reason not to use it to it's fullest capacity.  Not to mention there's nothing more frustrating to a down-on-their-luck tech geek than someone who has the phone they want and doesn't know how to use it.

Alright, I think that's all the bile I have to spill on this topic for now.  In short, be considerate of others when using cell phones.  They are not leashes or replacements for face-to-face interaction.  They are only tools to aid with communication.

The End.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blue Frog

I was not what one could call a "popular" child.  I like to think that my different interests lent me a different perspective on life, but really, being a music geek and an only child, I had no social skills.  And every playground has bullies.  Even if a punch is never thrown, girls can cut you to the core without ever lifting a finger.  I will also remember one bully in particular, who was my albatross.  I don't know if she was particularly mean, or just particularly talented at finding the exact right words to cut me to the core, but boy howdy did she.

When my grades started to drop, my mom asked me what was up.  I told her that kids were making fun of me at school.  She asked me what kind of things they were saying, and I told her.  Her response, "well honey, it wouldn't bother you so much if you weren't afraid it was true.  If they told you that you were a blue frog, what would you say?" I told her I would laugh.

Her point was well taken.  I realized that I needed to become comfortable in my own skin.  That way if people said something that was true about me, I would know that it was a part of me that I accepted, and if they said something I knew to be false, it would go in the same category of "blue frog."

I lost the concept of the blue frog today.  Someone said something to me that utterly shattered my peace of mind.  And I realized that it wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't fear it was true.  So, magnifying glass in hand, I'm going to perform a little omphaloskepsis today and see if I can't either decide to put those words in the category of blue frog, or perhaps make some changes so that those words no longer apply.

In the meantime, I urge you all to find your own blue frogs, whatever they may be.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Happy National Star Wars Day

Since it's May the Forth (be with you), many SW fans have dubbed today National Star Wars day, I thought I'd share some thoughts about the movies.  However this will not be a recap of the movies, an analysis of their historical significance, or even a list of trivia about the movies.  This will be more of a montage of vignettes, my own personal memories of the movies and their significance to me.


I really don't know how old I was the first time I saw Star Wars: A New Hope.  There are pictures of me as a four-year-old kid dressed as Princess Leia, so I can only assume that it was very early on.  I do, however, remember the first MEMORY I have of watching that movie.  I was about six or seven, and my parents had been divorced for almost three years.  My dad had just bought a house, the house that to this day I still think of when I picture "home".  It helps that he still lives there...

Anyway, we had finished putting all the boxes in the right rooms, and it was late afternoon.  So my dad sets up the TV (the most important thing, after the fridge), and opens a box of VHS Tapes, and pulls out the tape on the top.  It has a girl and a boy in white on the cover, with the boy holding what looks like a glowing sword.  "What's that, daddy?"  "This is one of my favorite movies, baby girl.  Want to watch it with me?" "OKAY!"

And so, the music starts.  I'm reading just fine now, but the words are moving a teeny bit fast, so dad reads.  I'm not sure what "rebellion" or "empire" mean, but I'm hooked.  Pan down from the stars, and the movie begins...  I sit still and don't move from the couch for 2 hours, which I'm sure to any parents reading this is utterly amazing. 


It's 1999 and I'm a junior in High School.  And I can't wait to get out of school.  I'm leaving at lunch to go wait in line, because me and four of my friends are going with my dad to watch the midnight showing of Phantom Menace.  We pile in the van and head for the spectrum.  The place is a zoo.  There are news crews, documentary makers, and people dressed up as Original Trilogy Characters everywhere.  There is even one brave soul with an AMAZING Queen Amidala costume.  I mean, seriously.  I have no idea how she made it before seeing the movie, but she did it, and did it well.

My friends and I had a ball.  We had To-Go Cheesecake Factory food (because it was one of the few places in the mall at the time), talked to fellow Star Wars fans, and basically had the time of our lives staying up and out late at night.

After what was litterally seven hours of waiting, we get into the movie theater.  It's pure pandamonium.  I swear, it's like opening day on the floor of ComicCon.  People have props, stereos, costumes... And I got to be there...

Of course, then I actually had to sit through the movie...


When I was a softmore in High School, they began to re-release the original trilogy on the big screen so that those of us who had never seen the movies as they were intended to be could experience the magic ourselves.  And I had the hugest crush over on Paul Hollowel, a fellow sophmore and choir-geek who was a transfer from Diamon Bar High School. 

And then the magical thing happened: he asked me out on a date!  To see Star Wars! I was so excited.  So I got dolled up and got to go see Star Wars on my first date ever.  Geek, thy name is Claire.


Some years later, I had accepted my plight.  Not only was I a geek, but I was a lonely geek.  You see, I was a Star Wars fan, like all my friends.  However most of my friends were huge fans of Empire and Jedi.  No love for New Hope.

The thing is, that really is the best movie.  No, this is not open for debate, it's my opinion and better men than you have tried to change it, I guarantee.  New Hope was the first in the series, and was something of a lark for everyone in the production.  Nobody really knew how successful it was going to be, and the actors were all relative unknowns.  They had no idea that the project they were working on would inspire millions of people, and millions of dollars in merchandising. 

Anyway, so there I am, being all lonely in my love for New Hope, wearing my Classic Princess Leia costume to ComicCon and Halloween.  Just a lonely Self-Rescuing Princess looking for her Han.  And then it happened.  I met someone incredible.  He liked the Beatles, and Eddie Izzard and he was a HUGE geek.  I mean, epic.  As in, matches my geeky level.  I know, right?  And, amazingly, New Hope was his favorite movie.  But the most amazing part, was that he also liked me. 


So those are my best memories having to do with Star Wars.  What are yours?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On Emotional Abuse

This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart.  Well, it's near.  As an escapee from a few emotionally abusive relationships, I have spent quite a bit of my life licking my emotional wounds, and for a while I jumped from one abusive relationship to another, each consistently worse than the one before it.  It got to the point where I took a break from dating for years because I didn't trust myself to make choices that would be healthy, either in a partner, or in a relationship.  Put simply, I was such a mess I didn't think it was fair to inflict myself on anyone else.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I'm already at the end of my journey, and I haven't even started from the beginning.  The following is a list, gathered from several different sources which I will cite at the end of this essay, of behaviors that can be classified as emotional abuse.  To be clear, if any, or even a few of these behaviors have happened once in your relationship, it is not necessarilly an abusive relationship.  Just as with the determining characteristics in psychological disorders, abusive relationships require consistency and longevity in their determining factors.

Putting down your dreams and goals
Threatening to use a weapon against you
Name-calling and put-downs
Yelling and screaming
Intentionally embarrassing you in front of other people
Keeping you from seeing or talking with friends and family
Telling you what to do
Using online communities or cell phones to control, intimidate, or humiliate you
Making you feel responsible for the abuse
Threatening to commit suicide in order to manipulate you
Threats of violence and harm to you or people you care about
Threats to expose your secrets

Do you feel that you can't discuss with your partner what is bothering you?
Does your partner ridicule you for expressing yourself?
Does your partner limit your access to work, money or material resources?
Has your partner ever stolen from you? Or run up debts for you to handle?
Does your relationship swing back and forth between a lot of emotional distance and being very close?
Have you ever felt obligated to have sex, just to avoid an argument about it?
Do you sometimes feel trapped in the relationship?
Has your partner ever thrown away your belongings, destroyed objects or threatened pets?
Are you afraid of your partner?

I experience many of these things over the course of my addiction.  And it was an addiction.  I was addicted to the feeling that if I was just "enough," the abuse would stop and my partner would go back to being the person they "had been" or that I had convinced myself they were.  That's the hard part, is that most abusers are not inherently bad people.  Perhaps they have traumatic pasts, or emtional or physical problems that "make them the way they are"... well, sure.  If you believe that people are purely emotional creatures, entirely ruled by their emotions, and incapable of assimilating new input and information into their world views.  But on some level, every miserable person chooses to be miserable.  And of course misery loves company.

But it's never enough.  The problem with a relationship like this is that you feel responsible for the other person.  You feel like they wouldn't be so possessive or controlling of you if they didn't truly love you and need you.  So you keep pouring love and nurturing into the person, hoping to fill the void in them so that maybe one day, they'll give back.  The problem is that abusive people don't have any self-love to fall back on.  They feed on the love of others because they don't have any of their own.  They will never give back because they have nothing to give. 

At some point, something clicked in my head.  I  had gotten to the point where I was so done with the abuse and emotional blackmail that I just didn't care if my partner hurt themselves anymore.  And what's more, I realized that I didn't have to feel that way; that being miserable wasn't a part of life, it was a direct result of the choices I had made, and of my continued choice to stay in my current relationship.  So I did what any logical person would do, and called my dad.  Okay, so it was totally a cop-out moving back in with my parents, but it was one of the best things I have ever done for myself.
The healing process was hard.  At first, I was totally adrift emotionally.  I had spent so much time being told that my decisions were wrong, my dreams unrealistic, myself worthless that I had no confidence in my ability to make my own choices.  Then, I swung completely the other way, positive that my experiences had given me unique insight into relationships, and I saw abuse and neglect everywhere I looked.  Eventually, the pendulum swung back to center, and now I try to see the big picture in everything, but it was a long journey, years in the making.

What makes getting out of these relationships and staying out of them so hard is a general quality of the people who find themselves in them in the first place: slightly lower-than-average self-esteem.  For whatever reason, "fixers" and "nurturers" don't quite value themselves as they should, and so convince themselves that the only partners they're worthy of are, in some way, "damaged goods".  To further complicate the issue, "fixers" will often subvert their needs to their partners in the beginning of a relationship, establishing a precedent that in the wrong situation can become hard to break.  Self-love is not built in a day, and it isn't something that, once acheived, is a given. It is a consistently active process. Just like love between two people, love for yourself needs to be fed, and nutured in order to thrive.

But it is possible.  To escape, to rebuild, and yes, even to love and trust again.  Believe me, I know.

If you are interested in further researching this topic, these are just some of the websites I found:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Other People's Drama

I pride myself on being where drama goes to die.  I have surrounded myself with people in my life with whom I feel comfortable addressing problems directly rather than feeling the need to ignore their failings lest the friendship suffer, or worse, discussing the issues I have with them with other people at length and letting things fester.  This would make me, as one of my roommates in college put it, "a mean bitch."  You either like the people you spend time with, or you don't and if you don't, why spend time with them?

This is a great plan, but it has a flaw.  I am not an island.  My life invovles other people, as it should, and where there are other people, there are personalities, and life events, and yes, even flaws.  Flaws that aren't ignorable, but are part of them what makes them who they are.  Not to mention the fact that I am well aware that not everyone has the same ideas that I do about facing interpersonal conflicts head-on.  And so, with those people come their drama.

I named this post "Other People's Drama" because many times their conflicts and problems don't directly concern me.  A friend is losing their job, or breaking up with their spouse (who is not another friend of mine), or having issues with their children's school.  These are big issues, and hard issues, and I can listen to them, and cry with my friends, or tell them to get their head out of their ass, whatever they need. 

Then there's the drama in which I am indirectly involved.  My friend breaks up with her boyfriend and he becomes my roommate.  Another friend cheats on her husband with someone I'm seeing.  These are serious issues, and while I did nothing to cause them, they still affect me.  These are rough, because they involve people who are intrisic and central to my life.  And for the most part, this is the kind of  "Other People's Drama" I have to deal with. 

The hard part, though, is when I've hurt someone.  And the hardest part is when I've hurt someone without realizing it or meaning to, and sometimes just by existing.  Because what do you do?  The "wrong place/wrong time" for someone else is the absolute "right place/right time" for me.  I don't mean to get a promotion, a spot on an album or a lover over someone else, but I do.  By virtue of those things happening to me, it means it doesn't happen to someone else, or maybe even changes someone else's life.

We are often not given to know the cost of our happiness until it's too late to alter course.  And while my conscience might chaff at getting joy out of something that brings pain to others, who am I to question the gifts of fate?  I suppose in the end, I have to do the best with what I'm given in life and hope it's good enough, and try to minimize the damage my happiness causes to others.  I want the world to be happy, but I know that the only happiness I can truly control is my own.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Zombie Plan

I heard an "Off Air" tone coming from my neighbor's TV this morning, and of course like any self-respecting self-rescuing princess, my first thought was "ZOMBIEOCALYPSE!"  And so, I began to contemplate my zombie plan. 

Most zombie movies work on the theory that zombie-ism is a virus that takes at least 12 hours to incubate, results in death and then reanimates the infected, who now have no mental acuity and an insatiable appetite for human flesh.  It also assumes that somehow a significant percentage of the population will be able to survive an attack, escape, and continue to live long enough for infection to take hold.  Given this, if the virus is going to spread globally, the zombies will have to be roughly 25% slower or weaker than normal humans in order to allow incubation.

There is also the assumption is many movies that virus will originate in a majorly populated area that is a center for world travel, and is near enough to some sort of research facility where the virus will have originated as a (theoretically containable) biological weapon.  Given this, and given the fact that the US military is the only organization in the world with both the resources and the hubris to create something so destructive, that narrows the origination points to two places: The Pentagon and Area 51.  As many have tried to prove the existence of Area 51 and all have failed, the most likely city for the zombie virus to begin is therefore Washington DC.

Given this, we know two things: One, the US government will be all but non-existent once the virus takes hold.  And two, given the number of foreign dignitaries and private jets in the city, as well as it's proximity to New York City, is is very likely that the virus will have spread world-wide within two weeks, however, we on the West Coast will have between three days and a week to plan.

We know from Zombie movies that holing up in a mall or fortified bunker never works.  Eventually the food or ammo runs out.  Or some crazy power-hungry control freak starts killing everyone off because they're paranoid.  Or some stranger you've never met but suddenly have a great loyalty and affection toward because, well, they're not a zombie, does something stupid and you end up making some half-cocked rescue attempt only to be overcome by the ravenous horde beyond the confines of your makeshift fortress.

So, the most obvious solution is of course to remain mobile.  You can move from town to town, following the food and ammo, and keeping ahead of the ever-increasing shambling masses.  You'll of course want to skirt large cities, as the more largely traveled areas will have a higher risk of infection.  Theoretically, if you're able to assemble a fortified vehicle and plenty of guns ahead of time, you can keep moving for the time it takes for all the zombies to die of starvation.  There is a flaw in this plan, however, as eventually the food and ammo will run out.

My plan is a bit different, if unconventional, and that is to go underground.  Way underground, in a retired nuclear silo.  With enough preparation, you can set up a renewable food source, the details of which I refuse to share here, and even take a few friends with you.  And since you're about 40 yards below the surface of the earth, you can fortify the entrance back to the surface, and ensure that the mongol horde will never find.

So there it is, my zombie plan.  Now look into the end of this silver pen, I have to erase your memory...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An Open Letter to the Thorn in My Side

Dear Jerk-Face,

As a matter of fact, I am qualified to teach an acting class.  If you'd like to take that up with the UCLA Theater Film and Television Department, you're welcome to do so, as I am confident they will confirm both my credentials and my talent in the particular field of acting.  If you require further credentials beyond the University of California's scope, I can provide you with several references from professionals in the Entertainment Industry who's knowledge and experience are well-known and beyond reasonable question.

Your failure to see how said class might be beneficial both personally and professionally to those who were formerly your students makes me question the validity of your continued involvement in a program for which you have shown marked contempt and disdain, and in which you have shown a marked inability to administrate.  The amount of time I have spent, in the short time in which I have functioned in my new position, cleaning up your administrative messes is astonishing and disheartening, and I'm sure would prove very interesting to those to whom you are so quick to report what you perceive to be my own professional failures.

Furthermore, you are neither my direct report, nor the direct report of any of the instructors in said program, and therefore your continued involvement in my activities on-campus is therefore not only annoying, but also inappropriate.  I would also like to add that if you would like to smack me in the face for mentioning the class that brings me great joy in it's instruction, and brings my students great joy in learning, I cordially invite you to do so, and see what happens to your continued employment at the current learning institution which I am unfortunate enough to share with you.

On a personal note, I do apologize for the female gender that the best companionship you seem to find is in the cold hard metal of the various coins you obsess in collecting.  I have tried on numerous occasions to reach out to you on this level, but you seem to have an unwarranted contempt for me, the source of which I can only conclude has nothing to do with myself, as I have always endeavored to be both professional and polite to you.  In conclusion, I would like to invite you to kiss my proverbial buttocks, and enjoy the knowledge that you are both ineffectual and powerless to affect me or my continued instruction.  To use an informal-yet-fitting colloquialism: Bite me.

The Self-Rescuing Princess.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Re-Imagining vs. Re-Make

In looking at the top releases for the last few months, as well as the upcoming blockbusters, it would appear that Hollywood truly has run out of ideas.  I find this disheartening, not because I believe for a minute that every story ever has been told, but because I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a direct result of Hollywood's reluctance to take a risk with film-making.  Add to this the slow agonizing death of the popularity of Independent Films, and you have a depression view of the movie world to come.

Still, while Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, and the upcoming Tron, Iron Man 2 and Karate Kid (oh yes, that happened) might speak to deeper issues within the inner workings of the entertainment world, there is merit to be found.  Having seen both Avatar and Alice (and for that matter, Sherlock Homes), while the over-arching idea might be familiar, each of these movies presented a new perspective in storytelling or cinematography that is innovative and in the case of Avatar, will most likely influence movies of its kind for many years to come. 

Which brings me to my point.  I hate remakes.  There is no reason to simply make a movie again because some actor or studio wants to cash in on a previously successful idea.  While Mara Wilson is positively adorable, there was nothing wrong with the original Miracle on 34th Street, and remaking it is an insult to the shoulders modern Hollywood stands on. 

However, I ADORE re-imagings.  If you can tell a story we've all heard before and still make it interesting and compelling because of some new technique, point of view, or historical significance, I will watch and devour with all the voracity of a hungry bulldog inhaling his kibble.  And I will love you forever.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Early One Morning...

There's something wonderful to me about being the only one awake in the house.  I used to stay up very late in order to accomplish this, because I grew up in a family of early risers.  Now that I live with people closer to my own age, I find that early to bed, early to rise makes Claire infinitely happier.  I find myself quoting Emily Bronte to myself quite frequently: ""A person who has not done one half his day's work by ten o'clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone."

Never you fear, at first I found it terribly annoying.  "What do you mean I can't sleep past 7 anymore?"  But now, it's just nice.  I can clean, surf the net, write, or just... be.  It's a little slice of alone time that is infinitely valuable to me.  Perhaps it comes from being an only child.  I had so much time to myself then.  At the time it was a lonely proposition, but now I find myself craving those few moments that I can spend in the company of none but me.

Not to mention that early mornings in the Winter/Spring of California hold something wonderful and magical for me.  The crisp gray skies, the calls of the crows in the ever-present eucalyptus trees, and the utter rarity of the noises other humans make.  When there's so little going on, it stretches out everything into utter clarity, so you can hear as each person heads to their car to start their day, drops something two houses down, or hits their snooze alarm one more time...

This is the quiet time.  Late nights on the weekends are usually filled with socializing, laughter, drinking, what have you, but Saturday morning is truly a no-man's-land of activity, and I love it.  I'm especially aware that in a few weeks... well, actually in a week, I won't get to hear it's song anymore, as Faire starts up and begins to take over my life until June.  So for today, I'll just enjoy it and appreciate what I have now.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On Love and Valentine's Day

Amid the flurry of pressure to buy presents, amid the drippy pink and red decorations, amid the healthy protests of those who either have no significant other or cannot be with them on theday, amid all this, it's easy to forget why we celebrate the Feast of Saint Valentine.

All of Saint Valentine's deeds are not known, though we do know that he refused to deny Christ before Emperor Claudius, and also that he healed the daughter of his jailer of blindness and deafness.  Beyond that, his actions are unclear, and when Pope Gelasius set up his festival in 496, he described him as one of the Martyrs "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God."

But isn't that what Love is?  And I'm not speaking only of romantic love, I'm speaking of love in all its forms.  When we love someone, we gladly make choices and tiny little sacrifices they may never see, but we will know.  Like when you put the forks in the dishwasher head-down even though you know they don't get as clean, because your roommate likes it that way; or you spend 2 hours waiting in line to get a book signed by an author you don't care about because your cousin wants it; or when you painstakingly re-create your mom's favorite meal so she won't know you burned the first batch.

I am blessed to count many people I love dearly today.  People come and go from our lives, but they always leave handprints on our hearts, and we leave our own in return.  In fact, I think St. Paul had some very eloquent things to say on the subject:

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never dies."

And it's true.  I can honestly say there is a piece of my heart that still loves every person who's ever touched it, because love is not finite.  It grows and changes and deepens with each person with whom it is shared.  That is why, despite any shadows on my soul today that love unrequited, lost, and unanswered has left, I can say with a joyful mind and a hopeful heart: Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our Charter

Life can be difficult out there for self-rescuing princesses like us.  Many of us have to balance work and family, friends and lovers, and our need to be feminine with our desire to be respected and never under-estimated.  As we travel through this world of flakey princes, helpless fellow-princesses who don't understand us, and fire-breathing dragons who just want to eat us, let us proudly declare with one voice, our charter and manifesto, written herein:

I am a self-rescuing princess, and can solve my own problems, many of which are of my own creation to begin with.  I take responsibility for my life and my decisions, and the consequences of my actions.

I will seek out and nurture other self-rescuing princesses in my life.  They need love and understanding just as I do, and I will share my wisdom with them while learning from theirs.  Together, we will share our joy.

I will not swoon outwardly, no matter how dashing the smile. 

I will proudly embrace my geeky tendencies, no matter how "unfeminine" or "weird" they are.  Because after all, they are part of my charm.

I will guard my heart for the precious gem it is, and only bestow it upon the truly deserving.  That being said, I will work like I don't need the bitrate, love like I've never set my status to "it's complicated", and dance like nobody's tagging my photo.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Finding Hope

I am utterly bereft of a topic today, which can always prove dangerous.  Its when I have no creative focus that I start to turn inward.  And while omphaloskepsis can be useful in evaluating one's own character for flaws that can and should be improved upon, when one has recently had an emotional upset, it can become extremely detrimental.  Add to this a constant state of nausea as well as extremely poor sleeping habits, and you have what should be the making of some really fantastic creative material... right?

I would turn to poetry, but that kind of catharsis requires perspective, a luxury I currently don't have.  Songwriting seems the natural choice, except it generally needs to come from a place of joy for me, and while I hesitate to say I am categorically joyless, joyful is not a word I would use to describe myself at the moment.

What then?  Cryptic blog posts that hint at trauma but don't actually reveal anything?  (sorry)  Booze?  Tobacco?  Helpful potentially, but also self-destructive.  And while I have truly amazing friends, I don't wish to over-burden them with my pathos.  How, then, shall I channel my thoughts and emotions into something productive?

I think, just this once, I shall allow my over-abundant imagination to write its own happy ending.  It might not come, but sometimes we cling to hope not because it's realistic, but because we need it.  I wear a dove around my neck to remind myself that peace, hope, and love prevail, and I think its time to fulfill that.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happiness is a Decision

"Most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be." - Abraham Lincoln

I have battled depression my entire life.  Having a perfect storm of a high level of intelligence, a specific gift for music, and a childhood that from the time I was 4 until I was about 8 was in almost constant flux, I had some pretty serious emotional problems as a kid.  I had trouble making friends, trouble in school, and, as an only child, I spent much of my time in the company of adults or alone.

When I was about 19, things came to a head.  I got heartbreakingly, earth-shatteringly dumped right after my freshman year of college, then 9/11 happened, and then I found a loving and supportive group of friends... who didn't particularly place much value on education.  I dropped out of colllege and threw myself into this group, making a lot of different choices than those I had previously made, some I regret, some I don't.  But there is one choice that has changed my life forever.

At some point during all this chaos, I decided to try anti-depressants.  I had two solid weeks of being totally normal, and it was like a switch got flipped in my brain.  I suddenly saw how I had created many of the negative situations in my life, and furthermore, I realized what I should take away from them: how I could make sure things like that never happened to me again.

The thing is: life, on occasion, sucks beyond the telling of it.  Its hard, and its complicated, and the things that really shake you up always take you by surprise.  People die, plans fail, loves leave and hopes get crushed.    And that's true for everybody.  But it doesn't have to stay that way.  Sometimes I get so busy focusing on the ten careless words that momentarily hurt my feelings that I forget to remember the five that totally made my month.  

I haven't taken anti-depressants for about seven years, because that is the choice I made for myself.  I know the thought patterns that can lead to a depressive episode, and I choose to ignore them.  I know the activities and social patterns that will take me to "the bad place" and I avoid them.  And without medication, I am a healthy, functional adult.  And the very best part: its because I choose to be.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


The concept of Artificial Intelligence is one that has fascinated the world of science fiction for years.  Movies like A.I. and 2001: Space Odyssey are the most recent, but the concept existed in the general consciousness long before then.  Even the ancient Greeks were fascinated by the thought that their creations might be made flesh; Ovid wrote of Pygmalion, who fell in love with his own creation.

Pygmalion got his happy ending thanks to Divine Intervention, but it seems that we as a collection of storytellers don't think kindly on man's wish to create something living with his hands.  Stories where the brilliance of man leads to his creation of an artificial intelligence almost invariably lead to man's own destruction.  Still we continue to ponder our own ability (or lack thereof) to create life from the ether.

Why should this be so fascinating to us?  Perhaps it's something as basic as the desire to fully comprehend our own creation, our own "maker" if you will, whether you give it the name of science, evolution, or God.  For what better way to learn about the process of making life than to do it oneself?

Science has cataloged every step of the creation process of a human being.  And we believe that process is written into our very DNA, predictable because of its consistency.  However, the most brilliant minds in science have yet to explain why it works the way it does, and with such consistency.  And they also haven't explained why, despite astronomical odds to the contrary, any woman ever conceives at all.

I am not attempting to solve, or even to raise the debate of Science vs. God.  That discussion has been carried on for thousands of years, and by people smarter and more learned than me.  I merely point out that despite our best efforts, we are no closer to explaining the mysteries of life than when we saw demigods in the stars and believed that rotting meat turned into flies of its own accord.

Why then, should we not ponder our own ability to create life, or something like it?  If we can assimilate enough information about the human mind and how it functions, surely we can program a computer to think like a person... except we can't.  No matter how logical a system we can create, we can never fabricate that radical element, the ghost in the machine, the creative spark in the human mind that can leap from point A to point Q without passing through the points in between.  We can understand computers because we build them and understand how they function, but they can never truly understand us.

And it's possible that's our frustration.  While we can dream and envision a perfect form, we are crippled by our inability to perfectly create it.  Maybe that's why we continually tell ourselves the story of Pygmalion, with various outcomes, to laugh at our own ineptitude, or to howl at the skies, or simply to gather together and wonder: What if?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blame it on the...

It has come to my attention that Californians seem to develop collective amnesia every year.  Every year strange droplets of water fall from the sky, and instead of thinking, "oh, its raining," the average Californian seems to think, "OMGWTFBBQ!!  Its Armmageddon!  Stormwatch 2010!!!!"  This is not in anyway meant to minimize the people who live in the mountains or near cliffs who's homes are actually threatened by heavy rain and mudslides.  However, this does not apply to 80% of Southern Californians who live and work in the urban sprawl that is the LA Basin and Orange County, and who still seem to be utterly incapacitated by water falling from the sky.

Here's the thing, kids.  It rains in California.  In fact, it rains a LOT in California from about November until about the middle of June.  But here's what I mean by a lot... it'll rain for five days straight, everything will get flooded and people will complain about how awful it is... and then it stops for three to five weeks, and people forget that it ever rained.

The unfortunate thing about this perpensity towards selective memory is that since they don't remeber that it rains, they also don't remember how to drive in the rain.  It seems more fender-benders and morbid accidents happen in the five total weeks it rains in California than any other time of the year.  So as a Public Service, I would like to suggest the following to anyone driving in inclement weather:

1) SLOW DOWN - Visibility is low, and wet roads make for crappy traction.  It might add 5 minutes to your commute, but isn't it better to get up 5 minutes earlier than to get to work an hour later because you hit someone, or worse... to simply not get to work?

2) Increase Following Distance - Because the idiots in front of you are probably driving too fast.  They didn't slow down, like they should, so they won't see that stopped car, that bump in the road, that animal darting across the freeway; until its too late.  By adding a few more car lenghts in front of you, you give yourself a few more seconds of reaction time, so that two-car pile-up won't turn into a three-car pile-up.

3) Stay Focused - I'm aware that the "no texting while driving" law is the most abused traffic regulation since the speed law, but seriously.  Your friends would much rather wait to hear from you when you're home safe than go visit you in the hospital. 

4) Pump the Brakes - Okay.  So you didn't listen to 1, 2 and 3, and you were going 70mph following someone really closely and decided to text your roommate.  FOR SHAME! Now that you're trying frantically to stop in time, don't just slam on the brakes, because eventually your wheels will lock and your car will keep moving forward due to the slick roads and your car's own inertia and forward momentum.  Pump your breaks once per second.  Its just as affective and will keep your anti-lock breaks from getting you into trouble.

5) Turn your wheel - If you begin to skid out of control, or hydroplan, turn your steering wheel in the direction your car is moving.  This will get your front tires aligned with your momentum and give you some control over what direction you're headed.

Alright, that's about all the bile I have for now.  Until next time, drive safe and stay warm!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Driveway Moments

I had a driveway moment today.  Does anybody else have those?  Let me 'splain.  Driveway Moments are when Freebird comes on just as you're turning into your neighborhood, and you can't possibly turn the car off until you get to the end of the song, so you sit in the car, letting the music wash over you, thinking of the last time you heard the song, or the first, or just listening to the music, analyzing the sounds.

Ever since I started working as a recording artist, I've been much more interested in what the makeup is of the songs that I know and love, what instruments are used, what effects, what the levels are, things like that.  So when "Name" by the Goo Goo Dolls came on just as I made my turn on Cherry today, I knew I was going to have a driveway moment.  As I approached my house, I thought about the song, what it had meant to me 10 years ago when it came out.  And I became absolutely obsessed with trying to figure out what the instrumentation was.  So there I sat, having my first driveway moment since moving into this house, listening for the three seconds of the song that I knew would tell me whether it was a 12-string or a mandolin.

I miss having time like that.  Usually when I'm driving, I'm running late or just on-time, so I have turn off the car regardless of where in the song they are.  It was nice to just sit, process the day for a few seconds, and let the sweet strains tickle my nostalgia into remembrance.  I think I need to schedule more time like that into my days.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

On Safety in Group Situations

This was going to be a rant admonishing men for their bad behavior.  But after an evening of reflection, I've decided that a tutorial for the fairer sex might be a bit more apropos.

I see it all the time, especially at faire.  Girls get themselves cornered by the creepy, drunk, smelly guy (or girl, I've seen that too) and end up needing help from either a female friend or a male companion to escape the situation.  Sometimes in extreme cases, this can lead to everything from unwanted physical contact all the way up to rape.  If this has happened to you and you're fine with it... well, why the hell are you reading my blog?  If you're not okay with it, however, there are a few things that I have picked up from years of parties, performing, and living in LA that I would like to impart to all of you.  I would also like to add the caveat that these tips are in no way a replacement for good common sense, and I am in no way an expert.  I'm just a pretty, 5'3", 27-year-old that has never once been grabbed, kissed or touched when she didn't want to be.

First of all, always be aware of your escape route, and whenever possible, travel with a buddy. There really is safety in numbers, and even if you're just planning to meet someone somewhere and leave at the same time, at least there is someone else who is aware of your comings and goings.  When you arrive somewhere, note the lay of the land.  This will help you even in an uneventful evening, because you'll know where the bathroom is, and you'll also note any casual acquaintances that you can talk to if none of your friends are there.  If you must travel alone, make sure somebody somewhere knows where you are and when you're expected back.  Also, never leave a party, bar, whatever, without having your car keys in your hand.  The highest percentage of assaults against women are perpetrated when they are standing outside their car, digging through their purse for their car keys.  Don't be that girl.

Second, know how to spot your weirdos.  Your gut will generally tell you there's something not-quite-right about them.  Usually their body language or motor function is off, their clothes might be noticeably dirty or disheveled, but more than a visual cue, its that voice in the back of your head that says, "Danger!"  We're all equipped with this thanks to the glory of evolution and pheremones, and if you haven't cultivated the dialog between you and that little voice, its time you've begun.  If you are lucky enough to spot this person heading towards you, do what you can to escape the situation.  Cross the street, excuse yourself to the bathroom, find your group of friends and stand with them.  Anything to signal that you are not available to talk.  Try not to make eye contact if possible, because this signals interest.  Again, basic evolution here.

If you are unable to escape, for example you are already with a group of friends that don't want to leave, or you didn't notice them approaching you, watch your body language.  Make as little eye contact as possible, cross your arms over your chest, do NOT turn to face them.  If you can, pull somebody else (preferably male) into the conversation.  If you've done your homework and you have some friends with you or know which casual acquaintances are there, this can be done easily and smoothly.  Then, excuse yourself.  There are a million ways to do this, but the most important thing is that you remove yourself from the situation.

Sadly, sometimes this isn't enough.  And this is the point where things get scary.  They're following you, they're trying to touch you, perhaps they've grabbed you.  But 90% of creeps like this are not rapists or axe-murderers, they're just normal guys that have had a few too many to be able to read your signals.  Either way, your behavior in the next ten seconds will be the difference between marking you as a victim or or an adversary.  You want to be an adversary.  Stop, turn around and face them, hands crossed and look them square in the eye.  I am 5'3" and this works on 6'5" men.  I always do this with a smile on my face, because it tells them that they haven't even ruffled my feathers (even if inwardly I'm screaming), and say in no uncertain terms, "Back off."  If the situation is such that you need to be polite, you can say something to effect of, "I just need to get some air." or "I need to make a phone call."  Then leave the immediate area, find a friend, and stay next to them the rest of the night.  If you're there alone, find the host and ask them to walk you to your car, and go.  If you're too drunk to drive and you're alone... well, shame on you.  Call a friend and have them come pick you up, because its time to go.

Here's the thing ladies.  We are programmed to be polite and nice and not to hurt people's feelings.  This is what makes so many of us fantastic mothers.  But this will not help you when your safety is at stake.  I see so many of my female friends get cornered because they "didn't want to be rude."  Well, my dear gal pals, they were rude first by invading your personal space.  If you take nothing else from this article, remember only this:   Nobody's feelings are as important as your safety.  If you can keep this thought in your head, it will go a long way in making your social life less stressful and more fun.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

SRPs of the World UNITE!

Its funny, since embracing the title of "Self-Rescuing Princess," I seem to see them everywhere.  In television, literature, movies.  But the best, the most inspiring places to find other SRPs is in real life.

I see them in the single mothers who balance a job, a hobby, and spending precious time with their children and families, and always seem to have time for their friends.  I see them in my coworkers, who are strong, independent single women who just want to find a Prince worthy of their awesomeness.  I see them in the every-day heroines that inspire me to do better, be better, think better, to live up to my own potential.

Self-Rescuing Princesses are everywhere, all around you.  All they need is a little push.  The goth-girl who's holding down a steady job would blossom from a kind word.  The corporate Queen's entire day would be made simply by having the door held for her.  And the up-and-coming professional just wants to hear from her Prince locked somewhere in a tower.

I charge you all to seek out the Self-Rescuing Princesses in your lives and in yourselves today.  You might be surprised at the beauty and inner strength you find all around you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

10 Resolutions for 2010

1.  I *WILL* do my "Geekend Party".  Two days of the entire Lord of the Rings Saga and the entire Star Wars Saga.  Games, snacks, good friends.  It will be awesome.  Oh, and the Star Wars Saga, for me, starts at New Hope.

2. I want to cook more this year.  I didn't cook nearly enough in 2009.

3. I will finish my MBA.  I will not have another degree that takes me seven years to complete.

4.  I will catch up on movies that I really should have seen.  I will lean on my friends for this list.

5. I will work towards finding the balance between work and personal life.  This might mean cutting down a little bit of both.

6. I will continue to seek my joy, and create it when its not particularly evident.  I have a feeling I have some trials ahead of me, but I know that with a good attitude, an open mind, and a loving heart I will overcome anything.  God does not give us burdens we cannot bear.

7. Speaking of God, I really, really mean it this year.  I will read the whole bible.  As a student of the world's religions, its ridiculous that I've read the entire Dao Tse Ting but not the Bible.

8. I will remember to carve out time and happiness for me.  No, really.

9. I will keep off the weight I have lost, and lose more.

10.  I will make a new Faire costume and a new Caroling costume.