Saturday, July 28, 2012
My brother and I were both born in Aurora, Colorado. At the time of our births, my dad was working as a cook at Aurora General Hospital, where some of the victims of this recent shooting spree were taken. My cousin currently works at the movie theatre where the shooting took place. He was unharmed.
More so than other shootings, this one has hit me a little closer to home.
I haven’t said much on the subject. In fact, I haven’t said anything at all. It certainly makes it exceptionally unnerving to be so familiar with the location where this kind of tragedy took place, but anytime something like this happens, it always causes some internal stress and pain.
My knee jerk response is to tell people, “See? Now can you understand why I don’t want kids?” But deep down, that’s not how I really feel.
I don’t usually write about things like this, but all week I’ve been hearing about what we need to do as a country to prevent something like this from happening again. It seems like the two most popular ideas are gun control and more police presence.
Cops? At the movie theatre? Please...
The gun control “solution” is what has inspired me to write this. This is, and will continue to be, an ongoing issue in our country. Those who love their guns will never give them up and those who hate guns will never stop fighting to take them. For what it’s worth, I am throwing in my two cents as someone who actually straddles this line.
I hate guns. They make me uncomfortable. I don’t like being in a house where I know guns are present. I don’t like the idea of going to the shooting range. Just seeing a gun in person makes my palms sweat and my heart race. No, I am not a fan.
So, one would logically think that I believe gun control laws should be enforced, right? We should not allow civilians to have guns in their home, right? We should make it impossible for John Smith to purchase a gun and/or ammo at his local gun store, right?
If there was one thing that will stick with me in the time I spent with Rob, it is being reminded of the respect I have, as an American, for my constitutional rights. Whether I “like” it or not, whether I’m “comfortable” with it or not, we determined, while building this country, that we would allow our citizens the right to bear arms. Our country was founded on these kind of freedoms. I get pissed off when people tell me I’m not allowed to say something because my constitutional right says I can. I become livid when Christianity is forced down my throat because it is my constitutional right to believe whatever I want.
It’s not any different with guns. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean I think they should be taken away from those who want them for security reasons, as a hobby or just because they think guns are cool. Disagreeing with how they feel is also my right. But that doesn’t mean we should take them away.
Why do you think Prohibition was such a fucking disaster. It’s like buying a child a toy, letting them play with it for an hour and then taking it away, saying they are never allowed to play with it again.
Which segues perfectly into my point of this blog.
Gun control is not the answer to what James Holmes did in Aurora. More police presence is not the answer. Holmes, McVeigh, Columbine, on and on... in my opinion there is one simple solution that no one wants to look at.
I don’t believe that people are born evil. I don’t believe people are born good. I believe that people are born blank. I believe that it is our primary influences between the ages of two and six that really shape who we are going to be as humans. Most of the time, these influences are our parents. It is their responsibility to take raising us as the most serious job on earth. Children cannot be an afterthought. They cannot be raised by television, video games or Twilight novels. They must be actively engaged with what is good and bad, right and wrong, true and false one hundred percent of the time. What we are teaching our children will be directly reflected in their actions during times of sadness, depression and anger.
Take me for example. I’m not a happy person. I’m just not. I have too many frustrations with the world, how people treat each other, how our government operates, the liars, the con-artists, the rapists, the pedophiles, the drowners of kittens. I hate that the world is built off of power and greed instead of honesty and love. I hate that people pop out kids so they can collect more money from the government or because they want a doll to play with.
Even with all the beauty in the world and all the good that is out there, it doesn’t satisfy me enough, knowing that someone is beating their son right now and some other child is starving because their mom decided to spend her government money on Meth. I even hate myself that I am giving away my cat because I don’t have the patience to deal with her needs. People don’t think before they act and the generations that follow not only learn that same behavior, they have to deal with the mess we left too.
Do you honestly believe things will get better before they get worse? If so, take a good look around you.
I’m off point... what I’m trying to say is that I’m not always happy. In fact, I go through periods where I’m sure ten out of ten doctors would put me on an antidepressant. As a teenager, I felt angst. I was made fun of at school. I felt awkward and strange and alone. I didn’t feel close to my family, my brother was a bit of a bully and my best friend slept with my boyfriend. I was a pissed off little girl as well.
The difference? I didn’t walk into a theatre dressed as a madman and shoot a bunch of innocent people.
It would be impossible to convince me that James Holmes grew up in a loving, caring, open and honest home. It would be hard for me to believe that his parents kept him engaged in sports, activities and social events that taught him compassion and love for others. You can’t make me think that he walked down the street as a little boy and hugged a fire hydrant because his sweet nature that was being instilled by his parents told him it was the right thing to do.
My parents did nothing but love and support me. Always. Even when I was being the shittiest of a little shit and bending over backwards to piss them off. They never turned their back on me, they never put me down, they never let me truly believe I was the piece of crap that I wanted to think I was. They were home all the time, they kept both of us active in social activities and supported us in school.
Does that make us perfect people? Of course not. Even with our primary influences being impeccable in their moral teachings, we have the rest of the world to deal with. And these days, it’s more difficult than ever to be bigger than the media. To be bigger than our sports heroes that fall from grace. To be bigger than violent video games. To be bigger than evil, lying politicians.
But we have to be. If we choose to be parents, this is something that can absolutely NOT be compromised.
I hate guns because they remind me of my own mortality. I don’t like being faced with the things I haven’t completed in life yet. It’s uncomfortable to think of how quickly things can change and how short life is. When I look at a gun, these are the thoughts that go through my mind. But don’t you dare take away this constitutional right that so many people take comfort in. If you don’t like guns, do what I should do and educate yourself. Educate your children. Take them shooting one time so they don’t have to wonder what a gun feels like in their hands.
Because I absolutely promise you, it’s not access to guns that make people want to kill other people. It’s the poor job you did as a parent to convince them that life is worth it.
Disagree? Don’t get mad. Go play with your kids.
Posted by Tina V at 12:14 PM
Thursday, July 19, 2012
I had a dream last night that my parents moved and, for some reason, I decided to move with them. As in, move IN with them at their new place. I had a big upstairs room with a gigantic walk in closet. I remember feeling really sad that I no longer had my little Las Vegas apartment. It was one of those dreams where, when I woke up, I was so happy it wasn’t true.
I love my apartment. I’ve lived here since December 2009. It’s the longest I’ve stayed somewhere since I lived with Eric in our Long Beach apartment. The only thing that unnerves me about my place is that it is managed by a huge property management company so every year, they raise all the rents. Luckily, I’ve signed long leases so my increases have been very minimal. But they also increased my rent when Bailey came along and that pissed me off too. What I thought was a great deal when I first moved in now sometimes seems a little too pricey for a one-bedroom apartment, but I love it so much that I suck it up. Still cheaper than my one room closet, er... “studio” that I had in Belmont Shore for a few months before moving to Nevada.
When I went apartment hunting back in November 2009, I was in a position where I wanted to move out of my parents’ place, but I wasn’t under any kind of major time constraint. I had also just started my management training program with Chili’s so money was stable. Therefore, I was able to be choosy with where I wanted to live. I had a few non-negotiables that determined whether or not I would even look at the apartment. For example, there had to be a washer and dryer in the unit. It had to be an upstairs unit. It had to be in the northwest part of town. It had to have good parking (not usually an issue in Las Vegas, but a leftover concern from living in Los Angeles).
After these things, there were some preferences as well that I considered. I preferred a gated community. I preferred a fitness center and a pool. I preferred a patio and good storage space. I preferred hardwood but, again, that’s more of a leftover L.A. desire. I preferred a walk-in closet and large bathroom.
I got really lucky finding all of these things with my apartment. Well, not the hardwood... but the linoleum in the kitchen and bathroom looks like wood so I figured that was close enough.
Prior to moving in here, I had been bouncing around between living with my parents and living with roommates. By the time I finally had my own place, I had very little to actually put in it. The only furniture I managed to hold on to included a bed, a small dresser, a desk, an end table and a couple of bookshelves. It was a little frustrating at first because the place was so cute and I really wanted it to look nice right away. But, I had a lot of work ahead of me to get the place in shape and I knew it wouldn’t be an overnight process.
Shortly after moving in, my friend Travis needed a place to stay for a while so my living room basically turned into a second bedroom for a few months. After he moved out, I was really anxious to get the place looking like an actual home. One of my stronger Cancerian qualities for sure.
I added elements little by little. I had painted when I first moved in, but wasn’t able to add furniture right away. Eventually, I picked up a small table for the kitchen and was fortunate to be given leftover couches, chairs, televisions and entertainment units from friends who no longer needed them. Not everything matched perfectly, but I managed to marry things quite nicely.
Piece by piece and a home really started to come together. And then a few weeks ago, I saw an old coffee table in my brother’s garage that I had sold him when I moved out here. I asked if I could buy it back from him. We were in the middle of a golf bet and he told me if my golfer beat his, I could have the table.
Thank you, Padraig Harrington!
My dad helped me clean up the table and re-stained the top of it for me. I brought it home, dragged it up the stairs, rearranged a few things in the living room and, bam! It’s like everything I’ve been working towards just came together all at once. It was the final element I needed to have the place I had been envisioning since I first stepped in the apartment.
A handful of years ago, I was in between relationships and, as I tend to do, feeling woeful about it. A friend of mine had made a suggestion. She said that when she was younger, she made a list of all the qualities that she wanted in her mate. She was very specific in what she wanted and created her perfect relationship on paper.
Years later, life happened... I might get some specifics wrong, but as I recall, she had gotten pregnant but had no interest in marrying the father. She had recently met someone else at the time who wanted to marry her so that she wouldn’t have to face her family as a single parent. She told me that, at the time, this person wasn’t really what she had pictured in her mind when she made that list all those years ago. However, given her situation, she thought it was the best thing to do at the time.
Many years and three children later, she found the list she had written in her youth. She told me that as she read through all of the qualities she had laid out, she began to get extremely emotional. She realized that, without knowing what she was doing, she had actually married the man she had created on paper.
I always loved that story.
My friend, Erin, recently reminded me that I had told her to make a list of qualities as well. She told me I should revisit this practice given the fact that I’ve been having such a struggle finding the right person for me. She and I agree that I have certainly been meeting good people, but being a good person with a good heart doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship will be the right one for me. She encouraged me to get specific and be honest with what I truly want out of a man.
Without him knowing any of this, my dad and I were talking about a week ago. He saw that my relationship status on Facebook indicated I was single again. He told me that he had a cousin that used to carry around a list of qualities that were so important, he wouldn’t even go out on a date with a girl unless she fit the position just right. They used to tease him over this list but he didn’t care. He knew what he wanted and didn’t want to waste his time on anything less.
When things show up repeatedly like this, I think it’s time to pay attention.
I’ve been wanting to write a blog that included these qualities but couldn’t really figure out how to go about it. I was originally just going to make a list of the first twenty things I could think of and then prioritize them. But that seemed too simple. Then I thought about drawing it out and doing a series of blogs explaining what I wanted and why I wanted them in better detail. But that seemed too tedious.
And then I had that dream about no longer having my apartment and how upset it made me. I spent a good amount of time making my home the perfect place for me but it took being specific with what I wanted and then being patient as I worked and waited for everything to come together. I woke up thinking - maybe if I approached my relationships the same way, I would have better results.
So I’m working on my non-negotiables. And my preferences. And as always, I will share them here because I like to be held accountable.
The most important thing I’ve been working on, however, is my patience. I have, more than once, made the mistake of jumping into a relationship quickly after one ends. I know a lot of people notice this and some even like to tell me. And often, I feel like it’s too premature as well. However, the void I feel after a relationship has ended, regardless of its length, is painful and lonely. Hating to feel that way, I try to fill the void as quickly as possible and I guess I thought the only way to do so is to find someone else to love me.
I’m learning that there are many ways to fill that void. I’m lucky to have a supportive family who is also fun to hang out with. I’ve been spending a lot more time doing social activities with my brother and we have truly become friends again. Friends and Family Fit Club keeps me busy and connected to a higher purpose. I’ve been working a ton and find that the more I work, the less I hate it. I’m very comfortable with my job now and there are quite a few people I genuinely look forward to seeing every day. Serving is an extremely unrewarding job if one constantly seeks recognition and “atta-boys” but I work to make money so for me, it’s quite fulfilling.
Cooking for friends, watching golf with my brother, reading, working out, saving money, coming up with challenges for Fit Club and reconnecting with old friends has really made the last few weeks of being newly single a lot less painful and lonely. Not to mention the train wreck that this last breakup became... a good reminder that entering a relationship flippantly and with no real intention is definitely not a positive thing for me.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll win my next relationship in a golf bet as well. I did take Tiger this weekend and he is WAY overdue to win a major.
Posted by Tina V at 12:21 PM
Monday, July 9, 2012
This Blog Has Been Rated R Due To Strong Language And Substance Abuse. Reader Discretion Is Advised.
I got called a cunt last night.
I’ve been called quite a few things in my past but this was definitely my first experience being called the C word. Funny thing is... I deserved it.
I busted my ass at work over the last two weeks to make rent and have money for my birthday. The day after my birthday, I told Rob that I wanted some time to myself and that I was not confident that our relationship was the right thing for me. What he heard was the nice version of “fuck off” and with a little reluctance and a departing, “by the way, I love you”, he did just that.
The “I love you” part confused me the most. It’s not that he didn’t act loving in our relationship, but given how new the relationship was and how truly disconnected it felt at times, I wasn’t expecting to hear these words from him.
After the confusion washed over me, I became angry. Is he fucking with me? Like the time he showed up late to my friends barbecue (after leaving me in a bar for an hour waiting for him) and then proceeded to ask me to officially be his girlfriend? I fell for it at the time... is this love thing his way of trying to hold on to something that he’s not ready to let go of or give up on yet? If so, that’s just mean. And this time, I’m not falling for it.
I don’t know who wrote the most recent comment on my last blog, but it’s probably some of the best, most productive feedback I’ve ever received. Mostly, I’ve been getting the good old “don’t think so much” and “quit trying so hard” shit which is the quickest way to receive a proper verbal lashing from me. I do try to take these words with a grain of salt. After all, they are most often given to me by people who are in working relationships. Fuck those people.
Okay, that’s just the jealousy and single girl talking. But seriously, it’s going to be hard to connect with me and how I feel when you aren’t “in it” like I am.
Contrary to popular belief, I am not looking for a guy to “complete me”. The positive changes in my life, my successful endeavors and my relationship with my family are three examples of things that make me feel very complete as a person.
I just don’t want to spend the rest of my life sleeping alone. And for anyone who has been in a relationship that wasn’t working, sleeping in the same bed with someone can leave this same feeling when the gap between both just can’t be bridged. Eventually, my relationships with men leave me feeling more alone than when I’m actually sitting by myself in silence.
Being freshly out of a relationship with these freshly frustrated thoughts (and a couple of really good belgian style beers) led to the cunt comment.
I got into an argument with a bartender last night. I think it might have started out as an attempt at a flirtatious exchange as he was acquainted with the friends I was with. But we both learned almost immediately that we were outspoken, strongly opinionated and slightly intoxicated people. So when the conversation turned to relationships, things got a little touchy.
In a nutshell, he ended a three year relationship with someone because she wanted to get married and he wasn’t ready to. This is not an uncommon story. I’ve had my share of commitment issues in the past. However, these days, because I want to find “the one” that I can settle down and create a life with, I’m a little more sensitive to the idea of chickening out of a relationship that you have invested so much time in because you are too afraid of no longer having the freedom to do whatever you want.
My argument was, why waste her time and give her false hope for three years when you never intended on staying with her for the long haul anyway? Why fuck with her like that when you could’ve given her those three years to find someone who actually gives a shit and wants to spend the rest of their life with her, treating her like she is the only person that matters? Why would you so selfishly rob her of that because you weren’t man enough to either a) admit she wasn’t the one or b) have the balls to realize she was.
I said that. Or some version of that. Probably more expletives and most certainly with some not-so-subtle righteousness. That’s when he called me a cunt. Because that’s definitely what I was being.
I’m not saying that I don’t believe in my argument. I absolutely do. But I’m having this discussion with some 27 year old good looking kid who thinks he has the world by the balls because he’s got a nice bartending gig in Las Vegas and knows a shitload about beer (seriously, it’s impressive). I don’t expect him to feel the way I do, especially given the lonely and disconnected week I’ve had.
These aren’t the kind of conversations most people get into when they’ve known each other for the better part of four hours.
But maybe they should.
After the argument was diffused and we each went to our separate corners to cool down, I stated to cry. But the tears were misunderstood by the friend I was at the bar with. I was mostly upset because in the middle of my argument with Kid, my friend’s girlfriend stepped in and began defending Kid’s side and I told her she couldn’t understand what I was talking about and to fuck off. It happened very quickly and I regretted the words as soon as they left my mouth. I was thinking about my other girlfriends in relationships giving me shitty advice all week about “thinking too much” and took out my anger on her. Luckily, she accepted my apology with a warm hug and I don’t think I fucked things up too bad with her.
Anyway, that’s why I was crying, mostly. I was also overwhelmed by the heated debate and how much emotion it brought up for me. I was startled at having being called the C word by someone I barely knew.
But also, I was crying out of relief that finally, finally, I had held a real and authentic conversation with someone who wasn’t trying to be agreeable, keep the peace, make me feel better, hit on me, convince me to stay with them, convince me to like them or try and calm me down. The words that were being exchanged were passionate and heartfelt. The arguments on both sides valid. In fact, I was most disappointed that he gave up the fight by calling me a name instead of staying in it with me. He may as well have called me a “stupidhead” and slammed the door in my face. That was the most unfortunate. Because up to that point, I was really enjoying myself.
If we hang out again, we’ll probably make out.
Ha! The point is, after a week of feeling numb, sad, lonely and disconnected, I finally felt alive and passionate. I felt like my old self, standing up for what I believe in and putting up a fight. For the first time in weeks, I was fired up about something. And God did it feel good.
I almost couldn’t write this blog fast enough.
It sucked that I hurt my girlfriend’s feelings and I think Kid might have actually left feeling bad about what he said. I hope he doesn’t feel too bad. He doesn’t realize the kind of affect he had on me and the gift of fire that he gave to me. Last night, he sorta became my hero.
I am certainly not suggesting that all of my relationships with people should be like this. But having that kind of authentic exchange with other humans is all I’ve ever wanted. And like Anonymous said in that last comment, I do need someone who is going to challenge me. This goes for friends and future boyfriends. There is nothing more boring than having the upper hand in a relationship.
Ah, the first time anyone ever called me a cunt. Possibly one of my new favorite memories.
Posted by Tina V at 12:28 PM
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
I know I’m supposed to be grateful. I know that I am lucky for the things I have. I know that happiness is a choice. I know these things the same way I know that every math problem has a solution.
But I suck at math.
I fear that I’m just an unhappy person. I never realized how “glass half empty” I was until Rob was driving me home, with me drunk as a skunk, after a day of birthday celebrating and all I could think of was all my friends who said they would show up and didn’t. Forget the friends who DID make the effort and spent parts of their day with me. The thoughtful gifts took a backseat to the endless texts and emails from friends with “Oh, I really wanted to come, but (fill in the blank with your best excuse)”.
But then, isn’t this what I expected? And by expected, I mean created?
I didn’t need to plan an entire day of events to find out where my relationships with people stood. I knew Whitney would be there. I knew Erin would be there. It didn’t surprise me that Cory showed up and I loved that my brother spent as much of the day as he could with me, especially with a sick little boy at home.
I just got really excited that so many other people said they were going to be there. But I’ve been down this road so many times and I know how it ends. Life happens, things come up and if it’s not a priority, plans get moved around.
It’s not just my birthday. Okay, I’m really going to get whiney and pathetic right now but I’m a little exhausted of trying to hold it all together so... here goes.
A lot less people are reading my blog. Perhaps it’s boring and stagnant. The same shit over and over. Perhaps people want to read either a) progression or b) a complete train wreck. I’ve displayed neither of these recently and maybe people have moved on because of it.
I care because I started writing as a way to express myself and, hopefully, make a difference in the lives of those that find my issues relatable. Now, I think people might just be tired of my shit. I know I am.
My teeth hurt. All the time. My brackets are constantly breaking off my back teeth because of my overbite and my dentists’ lack of experience in orthodontic care. He originally brought in a ortho specialist right out of school. I liked her, but she was really rough on my mouth. My favorite part about my dentist is how gentle and considerate he is. Unfortunately, he isn’t the one that works on my mouth most of the time. Anyway, the girl left and he has brought in a new specialist who I really don’t care for. I’m going in at least once a week for fixes and adjustments and it’s frustrating.
Rob isn’t the guy for me. I’ve been trying to ignore it because of our overwhelming sexual compatibility, but our interests and what we care about in life are very different. He doesn’t know how to be there for me emotionally. Just another guy who can’t figure me out, even though I try to be so honest about my needs and wants. My tears on my birthday were also because I am unhappy with my relationship with him. I’m pretty sure he knows it but I still get to have that conversation with him. It makes me sad, but I feel more lonely with him than I do without him. That cursed affliction that I feel in all my relationships.
So, what would the experts say - I must be unhappy with myself if I don’t allow myself to be happy with anyone else? Okay, I buy that... but I can’t figure out how to fix it. My friends say I am trying too hard. This is probably true... I imagine that it’s like drinking. I know I drink too much. But I don’t want to quit. Now that I don’t smoke pot anymore, I feel like it’s the only way to escape my racing thoughts. It’s not like I’m getting hammered every night. But I don’t like the idea of NOT drinking.
This is kind of how I feel about dating. I know I should probably force myself to not date for a while - to do my own thing and seek happiness on my own. But the idea of not actively pursuing that one thing I want more than anything makes me feel like I’m giving up. Even that old cliche of “you will find love when you stop looking for it” doesn’t really give me much satisfaction.
And this fucking blog. I want to quit writing it. I want to fall off the grid. I want to be missed. But I’m addicted to it. Whenever I write, I feel like I’m detoxing. But the idea that no one cares about what I have to say anymore makes it harder to stick with it.
Yes, I am feeling sorry for myself. Pathetically pitiful.
Family Fit Club starts back up on Saturday. I think this might be helpful. It will be nice to take off the weight I’ve put on over the last few weeks. Plus, having something else to focus on other than how much of a failure my birthday is going to be will undoubtedly be healthy for me.
To my friends who spent Sunday playing bar games with me, sorry for being such a douchebag. I am grateful for you and your friendship. I just suck at this optimism thing lately.
I did nothing on my actual birthday. I stayed inside like a vampire, hiding from the sun and all that was positive. I nursed a horrible hangover and puffy eyes. I tried being happy every time my phone buzzed with another alert that someone had posted Happy Birthday on my Facebook wall. I watched movies that should’ve made me laugh. I slept. And I decided that I would never spend a birthday like that every again.
So, I did one positive thing. I started a five dollar piggy bank. My dad made a wooden box for me - just like the ones we use in Family Fit Club. It must be physically broken to get what’s inside. I decided that for the next eleven months, I will put a minimum of five dollars in it every single day. That means one month before my birthday next year, I will have collected at least $1,675. This way, I can go back to what I know and that’s getting the hell out of dodge and spending my birthday somewhere else. The way I’ve always liked it.
I do have faith that I will figure out one day how easy it is to choose happiness. Such a strange statement, isn’t it? How does this come so naturally to some and not to others? Why is it so much easier to be sad?
Maybe it’s just that birthdays suck. Maybe I’ll give it a few days and everything will be good enough again.
Striving for good enough. Doesn’t get much more half empty than that.
Posted by Tina V at 4:12 PM