Posted tagged ‘love’

Reality Bites

September 4, 2009

Yes, reality bites. And you know what? As each day passes and I see more and more people of my and the upcoming generation taking all the riches that our American world has to offer for granted, I start to seethe.

After watching the movie, Reality Bites, I was compelled to write the below. If you haven’t seen this movie, it is basically a monument to the drowning cynicism and complete arrogance of the early nineties.

It is slacker personified.

reality bites poster

The last time I saw this movie I was 18 and I thought it was profound and edgy. Now, 8 years or so later, I am just watching this train wreck of my generation’s pop culture with my mouth hanging open. It is not cool to abstain from being a productive and hopeful member of society! Why did we ever subscribe to this ridiculous way of thinking?

To be fair, the movie is a parody of sorts on just this kind of thinking. It is pointing the finger at itself as much as anything else. However, in the midst of the sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek fun, a real message starts to come through. Try as they might, they weren’t able to escape the sense of entitlement and the too-cool-for-school cynicism that marked the early nineties…and only gathered strength as the years rolled on.

The characters in this film are an inherent contradiction. Through all their artistic pessimism, sharp wit and clever lines, they are still filled with hope. Hope for the future and full of ideals they try to pretend don’t exist for fear of losing their put-upon edge. Hope born from irrepressible youth and  dreams, near tangible in their clarity. To quote a different movie, they are,  “Hope dancing in stiletto heels…

The invincibility of youth is a powerful drug that rockets you to the highest highs and keeps you company through the lowest of lows. It is a beautiful ride, filled with dizzying drops and heart-stopping inclines. The comedown, however, can be a terrible thing. If you haven’t been paying attention, if you haven’t learned to look outside your self-centered bubble; it will give you a nasty, but nelife isn't fair mugeded wake-up call. It sneaks up on you around 24 or 25, give or take a few years contingent upon your personal level of maturity, and where you are in your life. The comedown is being forced to look at your future as it relates to reality. Remember when your parents repeated ad nauseam that, “Life isn’t fair.”? They were right. Again. Get used to the idea now, because it becomes a louder litany for every year you gain. Nothing is what you thought it would be and life is even harder than you knew it would be.

Let us review…

Love.

Love is not patient, easy or kind. It is usually fleeting, risky and painful. You can invest your heart over and over again, and more often than not, it is returned with a negative balance. The true love story ends with Romeo and Juliet. They were two ignorant star-crossed lovers that weren’t old enough to know anything about life. If they had actually been able to realize their dream of being together, they would’ve most likely ended up poor, ostracized, arguing about money and loathing the sound of each others chewing. Don’t get me wrong, kids, I’m not saying love it is an impossibility; I’m saying that love isn’t a certainty. It’s not a given. It can be work, like anything else. The only people that have to love you, are your parents – and even then…

Life.

Life (adulthood) isn’t just difficult because you have to work hard, pay constant bills, care about people who hurt you, let tightly clutched dreams go, or take responsibility for hurting people that you care about. Those things are just bit players on the stage of life.

It is the moments in between that shoot your hair with gray and line your face with wrinkles.

Looking in the MirrorIt is looking at yourself in the mirror every single morning and reconciling what is inside you, with what you see. It is in the fading but still visible scars that tell a story about a mistaken, drunken night. It is the very first time you fall in love with a child, protect them with all you have, then one day realize you may never see them again. It is facing your mistakes naked, with a cold and unforgiving eye. It is real cynicism, borne from life experience, that you fight with every bit of the child left inside you, because somehow you know that letting it take over would be like daily taking a little arsenic with your morning coffee. In the beginning, there are barely noticeable symptoms akin to a general unwell feeling and then, one day, you die a terribly painful death.

It is the final, full acceptance that you absolutely will die, anytime and anywhere, for no reason at all. It is the death of one or both of your parents. Learning to live in a world where the people who made you no longer exist. It is caring for your elderly at a nursing home and knowing that it could very well be you, sitting alone in a darkened room refusing to shower one day… if you’re lucky that is. That is when life is truly hard.

The heroes in this life are not the cynics, the artists and the empty, all-too-human, glittering celebrities we worship. The heroes are the people who take these harsh realities of life and turn them into a positive, even when it seems impossible. The people who find a reason to smile through adversity. The Gandhis, the Nelson Mandelas, the Martin Luther Kings of this world are the people to exemplify.

Or the everyday hero. My personal favorite.  The woman who still finds steel in her soul that allows her to smile and be gracious through the funeral of the only man she ever loved. The mom who loses her child but stays strong for the remaining ones. The fathfunny-pictures-cat-says-thank-you-to-his-fireman-rescuerer who goes to work every single day at a job he despises just to feel fulfilled when watching his children reap the rewards of all that hard work. There is such nobility in willing self-sacrifice.  The bottom line these days is so much more centered around instant gratification or the pursuit of happiness. The simple but moving stories above are becoming less and less, fewer and far in between. The people who turn their constant worries into valid causes, that look at obstacles as an exciting challenge. . . these are the people who inspire and shame us all. The heroes rise above the pain of reality and do something about it.

Not so are the people who embrace the cynicism, wearing it like a security blanket for all the world to see. Making jokes about hard working men and women struggling to feed their families, as if what they do is somehow less because they accepted the daily rat race or because they weren’t “cool” enough to get some job painting pictures for a living. You know, we can’t all be artists. Who would be there to appreciate that piece of work then? I think every self-labeled artist should profusely thank the average man and woman every day, because without them, all they’ve accomplished is putting some color on canvas or words to music that no one looks at and no one listens to. If we didn’t go to the movies, read books, drink wine, or attend museums… well, then where would the artists of this world be?

So, to abstain from the rat race, to pursue culture, to be an artist is all well and good – great even! – but don’t for a second believe that it makes you better in some way or that you are nobler somehow. We all come from the same Earth, we all will return to it and we all make a difference in some small way. And I tend to believe that the humble, rough farmer does a great deal more than the Picasso’s of the world.

I am not one of these heroes I mentioned. I am somewhere in between. I would like to say though, I do hope to be one someday…

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Hand Holding and Sex

August 21, 2009

I shocked a male friend of mine the other day when I was telling him about a terrible date I had about 7 months ago. The date wasn’t the part that rocked him, it was a throw away comment I made regarding the date that did it.

My bad date, a.k.a Mr. Riddles due to his proclivity for insisting on leaving me riddles to solve each and every time he left my presence, did a great many things to bother me during that interminable evening we spent together, but nothing was quite as uncomfortable as the hand holding. Oh dear, the hand holding.  I’m gesturing wildly while telling my friend about how Mr. Riddles and I ended up wBad datealking around the town square at one point, heading back towards the bar and the welcome effects of numbing beer…and then he did it. Mr. Riddles reached for my hand.

I pause at this point to tell my friend something a lot of people don’t know about me.

“You know, I think hand holding is almost…well, it is more intimate than having sex.”

“What?!? You do?! I’m surprised to hear that, especially from a woman.”

I shrugged. What else can I say? It’s the truth, I do feel that way. Rather strongly. I didn’t even realize I felt this way fully until that date. Setting aside that topic for a moment, I went on to describe the several attempts Mr. Riddles made to procure my hand that evening  – not taking the hint each time I yanked my hand back to play with my hair, pick at my nails or even when I did nothing but stare. It is unlike me to be so obviously off-putting, but apparently boys from Boston are dense…or just incorrigible. Maybe both.  Regardless, Mr. Riddles never got the hint and I eventually had to forcefully pull his arm from around my waist and say firmly that it was time for the evening to end.

My friend began to question me about this hand holding issue mid-story though, so he missed out on the ending. It’s a doozy of an ending, but I’ll save that for another time. After being asked to rate my comfort level with hand holding against other forms of intimacy, my answers continued to surprise my friend. As far as intimacies go, hand holding is right up there at the top. I’ve dated and kissed my fair share of boys and men, but I’ve only been comfortable holding hands with three. They were serious relationships; in each one marriage was either proposed or very seriously discussed and/or we shared the same dwelling.

I’ve explored this more since that last discussion and realized that I’ve always just taken for granted that others feel the same way as I do.

For me it is so simple and clear -when you love someone, you hold hands.

You know when you’ve bholding-handseen in a relationship for long enough that you can predict your partner’s order at any restaurant? When you are comfortable enough to leave the bathroom door open and he uses your deodorant because he’s in a rush for work and you just smile because you know he’ll smell like you all day? When you come home from work and the kiss is perfunctory because you’re both rushing to get the pizza/living room ready ready to watch your new favorite HBO show? And when you finally settle into the couch together your bodies fall naturally into routine patterns, twisting until you find just the right place – his arm around your shoulders, her head on your lap? That is the deliciously sweet spot.

It is then that you entwine your hands together, fingers falling naturally into place, (someone’s thumb always in front, the other one’s pinkie always last) without even thinking about it. You stand in line at the grocery store together, your hands stretching apart, fingertips still grasping each other lightly when you lean away to check out the impulse items that always snag your attention. He tugs you back to his side and gives you a mock stern look that says, “No. You always regret this.” You giggle in agreement and silently nod, not a word spoken aloud, now leaning against each other…still holding hands. Or perhaps someone loud, crude and potentially unstable is ahead of you in line and you instinctively reach out to grab your significant other’s hand, only to find them already grabbing yours.

That is hand holding. Anything else is pretend and I just don’t like it! It gives me the heebie jeebies. One-night stands are almost commonplace these days. Ask anyone who watches even the commercials for Sex and the City.

One night hand-holdings are far rarer.

So, my friend’s final question to me is this-

“So, you have to choose, sex or hand holding. Which one is truly more intimate?”

I hesitate and tilt my head questioningly, making seesaw motions with my hands.

“You’re serious?!”

I nod. He laughs. We grab another brewski and talk about bleu cheese versus smoked gouda.

Am I alone in this? Is it that odd?

SuperStock_1654R-5914-1

Deeply Virtuous People Scare Me

August 17, 2009

While on my lunch break at work the other day, an article in one of our many magazines caught my eye. I had just finished a fascinating piece on Stonehenge in the National Geographic and was looking for something a little lighter to chew on. So I picked up one of the more woman geared ‘zines and began to flip idly through it, while absently sucking down mass amounts of water and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The article that snared my attention was one of a series on love. Love always catches my eye because, well for one, I am a GIRL and two, because I think the topic is such a timeless one; still surprising, full of pitfalls and naked with emotion. In this particular article, the woman writing was discussing her honest and tumultuous journey to “true love”.lolcats love ahhhh

The reason this woman stood out to me was not only the similarity of thought processes I seemed to share with her, but the unabashedly forthright tone she used to tell her story. In a way, the article was not just about her personal love story; it was advice to those of us making our own way through the humbling, sometimes heartbreaking and often terrifying journey of love. She’d found her perfect man on the third marriage (third times a charm, no?) and had learned enough along the way to know this was the one. In her own words,

“…Deeply, Determined Virtuous people scare me. As it turns out, I prefer the full boil to the long simmer and I wish I’d known it sooner.”


I couldn’t agree more.

One particular paragraph was so quotable to me, I immediately rushed to copy it down.

She said,

“Know Yourselves.

Be real and unashamed, even of your faults. I do truly know what he’s made of and vice versa. We are both people who want cutmen and foxhole buddies; we see life as wonderful and difficult and requiring energy and stamina and, occasionally, guile. We don’t mind any of that. We are both bossy and demanding and largely unrepentant. We don’t mind any of that. We yell. We apologize profusely. We are idiosyncratic in our tastes, and we are both quite confident that our taste is better than most people’s (including each other’s). We take sex and family and food seriously and organized religion not at all. We are hard to embarrass and we cry like babies. We are each what the other hoped for.”

Couldn’t possibly have said it better myself. My heart thrilled to this. Every single word rings true for me. This is what I, and perhaps many people, truly want out of a relationship. A place where your faults and your triumphs are met intensely by your lover, where the battleground is Life and your Love is there, staunchly by your side to fight the battle with you, not against you.

If you’d asked me a little over a year ago, “Could you ever love again?”- I would’ve said no. And it would’ve been an emphatic no, knowing full well every single cliché out there about broken hearts and the dramatics thereof. But this time it was my heart that was broken, my unending pain and I couldn’t see even a glimmer of light at the end of the long, lonely tunnel.

I had something tmanwomanboxinghat, on the surface, seemed very much like the above quoted paragraph. Underneath the moments of bliss, it was a horrid situation where two people were trying desperately to force a square peg into a round hole. We both wanted a foxhole buddy but I think it ended up being like two professional boxers wound up and stuck in the same ring. Although I would have to say I was boxing far outside of my weight class, in this particular case.

Finally making the decision to leave rocked my entire world. I’d been in my fair share of relationships and learned many things about myself along the way. Nothing quite like this, though. I was in unfamiliar territory. Maybe, as a friend said to me once, that had more to do with me than the actual relationship. For the first time, I’d let down my walls. I consciously did this, at his request, and opened up completely and warmly to Trust – a foreign concept for me. Although this went largely unrewarded in the end, it was an amazing feeling to invest so willingly and unreservedly into someone without a single thought of the return. I was without guile, without selfishness. Not necessarily my M.O.

So, what did I learn from all this? I have a giant capacity for love. I have a warm, generous heart and the ability for great sacrifice. I do love children (it was questionable for awhile with me) and I am never going to hide who I am again. I learned that being feisty is more than okay, to look out for “numero uno” and to never, ever let myself become completely dependent on another human being.

I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and just knowing it is there lifts my heart and mind to higher hills. So, if you ask me now, “Could you ever love again?”, I would have to say, I certainly hope so. I just know what I’m looking for now. I’m looking for my foxhole buddy, my cutman, who believes that sex, family and food should be taken seriously, and the rest of Life should be taken with a grain of salt.

Engagement Announcement – Tal Williams and Laura Love

June 3, 2009

editors note: Tal is not marrying the pooch.
editors note: Tal is not marrying the pooch. That’s Laura and Tal’s dog, Tegan.

Getting Married!

I never thought I would say this but I’m getting married. I feel old just typing it. I’m also surprised that I’m excited about it. I’ve known for a while that I found the right person and we have talked about marriage before but we started talking about it Saturday morning and decided to do it. I think we both asked “do you wanna marry me?” There was lots of giggling involved, not because it was a joke or a whim, just simply because we were happy.

There was no getting down on a knee, no violins, or flashing JumboTron proposals. We are way too cool for that or so we pretend. There is no diamond ring. Laura received many requests to reveal the diamond and had to explain that she doesn’t wear jewelery and spending 5k on a rock to wear on your finger is not really her style. It’s not my style either and I’m relieved as hell that we are on the same page. I’d rather buy a piano or a guitar or a synthesizer. But those things would be for me, so that’s probably a no-go, what about a bigger TV? We are going to get wedding bands though, platinum for her and copper or lead for me. You may be shocked to know that in reality I don’t need a ring to keep the fairer sex at bay, my irresponsible sense of humor and awkward social skills will take care of that. Wearing a ring will be strange. I’ve never worn a ring of any sort, maybe one out of a cereal box, but only for five minutes and then I ate it. I will probably have some weird allergy to the metal and lose the finger. Maybe I should get “MARRIED” tattooed on my forehead.

To maintain the contrarian motif we aren’t having an extravagant wedding with red carpets. There will be no melting ice sculptures of cupid or post coital fowl. There will not be a Ferrari Cake at our wedding. I had one at my super sweet sixteen and someone tried to drive it and I didn’t get a piece!

We will likely get married in the most romantic way possible, paying a visit to the Justice of the Peace! We are going to have a small reception for family and close friends so don’t get butt hurt if your not invited : ) If you are invited and don’t show you will be dead to me and I will cast a spell on you I learned from the real Harry Potter, not the kid in the movie. You will never enjoy cashews again.

On second thought a Ferrari Cake would be way super awesome!

Tal Williams

Tal & Laura Love

Tal & Laura Love

* For more on Tal and his exploits, check out his blog at http://talwilliams.com.