Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Kind of Tears do you Cry?

My friend Beth crying Daily Bullshit Tears combined with Tears of Elation after discover  she wouldn't be held entirely responsible for her recently deceased husband's thousands of dollars worth of hospital bills.

Have you cried today? This week? This lifetime? Crying is the most amazing internal pressure valve. An emotional baptism, a mental waterfall. No prescription required.

Here are your options:

Daily Bullshit Tears are pretty self-explanatory. These commonplace tears drop when your health insurance won’t cover an expensive procedure or when an old woman slams on her breaks in the middle of Route 72 and you know you’ll be held responsible (though it was clearly her fault). DBT's roll down your face silently with little fanfare while the officer hands you a ticket and swaggers away.

Bitter Tears sting and burn. They’re often birthed from scorned love and dashed hopes. The refrain “Why me?” pairs nicely with them. These tears are cathartic but can also contort a situation so you feel the maximum amount of victimhood. They’re most commonly released after a nasty break-up or upon receiving a careless zinger from a friend. Beware! These tears are increasingly caustic and can turn into Endless Tears. [See below.]

Endless Tears are the inspiration for tunes like “Stop your Sobbing.” These gushers seem to replenish themselves from a never-ending source. And while crying is a an amazing self-cleansing act, excessive crying can drown you. Dry those eyes and drag yourself outside if you find yourself overcrying. (The light of day hurts a little at first, so be prepared.)

Nostalgic Tears fall when a memory from the past floods you, making it feel like it just happened. These waterworks remind you of the breakneck passage of time. They can be caused by regret and remorse, for words never spoken, even for pleasant times that simply don’t exist anymore. Perfect to shed when revisiting a painful family memory or missing a dead pet.

Soul Wrenching Tears are released when dealt with a devastating blow, like a death. They often come with an animalistic cry meant to reach God’s ears. My mother cried Soul Wrenching Tears when she found out my father died. The sound of her cry is what I remember the most.

Hysterical Tears are rare and special. They manifest when laughter meets sheer terror. I experienced Hysterical Tears during a difficult rock-climbing adventure. Midway up a very steep climb, I looked down and became seized with fear. I couldn’t climb any higher. Above me, my friend urged me upward. I started laughing and crying at the same moment. Two crazy emotions clashing wildly together.

Empathy Tears fall when you feel the pain of others acutely. These tears are ideal while watching the news or seeing an animal in distress. They remind us that we all share similar pain and grief. By shedding Empathy Tears, we are for at one for a moment or two.

Misplaced Tears occur when you’re going about your business and something as stupid as banging your head causes an overflow of childlike emotion to gush forth. Misplaced tears are often provoked by something trivial but represent deeper internal shit that needs released.

Frozen Tears are often locked inside many men. We live in a landscape where they aren’t supposed to cry but are still expected to be emotionally available. Frozen Tears can lead to a wealth of health issues or a state of emotional deadness. Frozen Tears are often surprisingly easily dislodged by a touching movie or sad song, so there’s hope.

Tears of Elation are happy tears that explode right out of you. These sweet and salty drops wake up the little child inside all of us. They’re perfect when we’ve given up all hope and something magical suddenly happens. Or when romantic love prevails in the end. Or when a child is born. Tears of Elation heal the depths of our souls and give us reason to live.

Tears of Laughter. Saving the best for last. It’s amazing how a good cry feels like the emotional equivalent of a gut-wrenching laugh. But these laughs are often hard to come by these days. People just aren’t as funny as they used to be. Sometimes you have to rely on a funny TV show or movie.

How do you know if your tears are good for you? You should feel better afterward, not worse.

And remember, if someone cries in front of you, don't freeze up. Shouldering another person’s pain is a privilege. Hug them. Let them pull away first. Heal yourself by healing others.

Quotes on Tears

I cry a lot. My emotions are very close to my surface. I don't want to hold anything in so it festers and turns into pus - a pustule of emotion that explodes into a festering cesspool of depression.
~ Nicolas Cage (Bitter Tears)

Oh, I am very weary, Though tears no longer flow; My eyes are tired of weeping, My heart is sick of woe.
~ Anne Bronte (Endless Tears)

"Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
" ~ Dr. Seuss (Nostalgic Tears)

Where grief is fresh, any attempt to divert it only irritates.”
~ Samuel Johnson (Soul-wrenching Tears)

I always knew looking back on my tears would bring me laughter, but I never knew looking back on my laughter would make me cry.
~ Cat Stevens (Nostaglic Tears with a hint of Hysterical Tears)

"I laugh because I must not cry. That is all. That is all."
~ Abraham Lincoln (Frozen Tears)

"Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either."
~ Golda Meir (Tears of Elation)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Hazards of Showerheads

The Brothers are a rag tag crew of 3 young guys at the end of the street that have adopted me into their family. While I’m grateful to get a sense of what real brothers feel like, they often try my patience with their sheer idiocy/youthful ramblings.

A topic that is sure to incite an argument among us is their views on the differences between men and women. I try to remind myself of their age but also believe that if they don’t change their thinking now, those thoughts may cement themselves into their twisted little minds and never dislodge. It’s charity work on my behalf. For the world.

After we finish surfing at the end of our street last Sunday, I try to hurry off the beach and leave Clint and Kyle behind. I can often sense when their ridiculous thoughts are brewing and do my best to disconnect from them and run for cover. Kurt, the youngest, remains in the water, burning off his boundless and wild energy.

Clint: Beth. Wait up.

Alas, I have lost my window of opportunity. As we walk off the beach together, we pass a beautiful girl on the beach. They check her out intently.

Clint: Man, I can’t help it. I must be shallow. I just love beautiful women.

Beth: Clint, we all love beautiful women. It doesn’t make you shallow.

Clint: You love beautiful women?

Beth: Sure. Why not?

Kyle: I didn’t know you swung that way.

(Childish laughter ensues.)

Beth: (despondently) Yeah, you got me. I’m a full-blown lesbian. Ladies beware.

Clint: I just feel like I should be a little more...complicated or deeper.

Beth: Appreciating beautiful women doesn't mean you’re not "deep." It means you’re a 27-year-old heterosexual man.

Kyle: I don’t know, Beth. Now that I have a girlfriend, it’s just such a burden. I try so hard not to check out other women, but I’m a man and I can’t help myself.

Beth: Shut your trap. Now.

Kyle: Oh, here we go again.

Beth: Kyle, don’t date a woman if you feel like it’s such a burden. Undoubtedly she senses that. Or find an open relationship. Or a woman that you’re happier with. But don’t insult me – or your girlfriend - by telling me it’s just the “burden of being a man."

Kyle: Beth, I wish I could shoot some testosterone into you so you could feel what we have to go through on a daily basis.

Beth: Because women have no sex drive on their own. Because women don’t check out other men. Because only men have the market on being horny.

Kyle: Men are horny all the time. You just don’t get it.

Then something snaps in me. To be denied my sex drive after months without good sex is a profound insult to injury. My volcano begins to erupt.

Beth: No, Kyle, you just don’t get it! I haven’t had sex in 5 months! I’d have sex with that fire hydrant if it looked at me funny. I’ve done things with a shower head that verge on the dangerous. My bicycle seat turns me on and planting seeds in my garden has developed a whole new meaning. I’d fuck circles around you right now, Kyle. Circles! I do “get it” because I too am “horny all the time!”

I let out a giant sigh. At this point, we’ve stopped in the middle of the street and the boys are stunned by my outburst, mouth agape, surf boards dangling under arms.

Kyle: Okay, okay. You’re horny all the time. Just relax. I'm sorry.

Suddenly I feel on the verge of tears. I hate that I used the word horny. I don’t even like that word. I always found it coarse. My best friend Krissie used to say it a lot. “God, I’m so horny.” Even though she was my dearest friend, I would suddenly see her as a cat in heat. If I didn’t watch, she might rub her ass up and down my leg and begin yowling.

As we walk home in partial silence, I try to recover. Did I just have a sex-starved breakdown? When I reach my house, the guys continue on their way. I stand in the middle of the street, unsure what to do next. Maybe I should begin yowling. Maybe leg sex is in my future. I walk to the back yard and into the outdoor shower – one of my favorite places to hide out. I turn on the water and dream of carrot seeds and bicycle seats.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Cops Shots (or Tales of Self-Pornography)

Perhaps you will recall this photo. It's from a post a few weeks ago, entitled "I Miss Shoplifting":

This playful photo almost lead to my arrest. The threat of arrest is good fun, akin to swallowing a handful of straight pins. I suggest being surrounded by angry policemen at least once in your life. Its good for your constitution. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by cops several times in my life, so my constitution is rock solid. Well, sort of.

I wanted a photo for my blog entry about breaking the law. Why not shoot some shots in front of the local police station, methinks. I toss my camera equipment in my truck and drive a few blocks to the nearby precinct. Setting the camera on its tripod, I set my timer and began posing quickly.

I realize my jacket was bunching up in the back, so I take another chance; I unbutton the coat a little (black bra underneath for what its worth.) Since my coat is open a bit more, I decided to take a few more risqué shots.

Why do I take PG-13 shots of myself, I wonder. Then I quickly counter with a "Why the hell not?" I can make some guesses as to why I do though. I love sex. I love sexy. I don't have much of the former currently so I have fun with the latter. I think its called compensation.

Besides, I can do whatever I want. No one to answer to. Its one of the perks of being single and kid-free. If people think I'm some narcissistic self-pornographer, then gee, they just might be right. Next week, I'll wear a burlap sack and stick my head in a bucket of wet cement in deep repentance...oh, whilst knitting.

After about 5 minutes into my police car porn shoot, I hear the precinct door slam open and three cops exit the station quickly: one in plain clothes, the other two in uniform. Here’s what I look like when I see them:

Don’t I look kinda sweet? Unsuspecting? Slightly embarrassed but certainly not afraid. This smile will only last a millisecond longer.

The plain clothes cop descends on me like an angry dog. My coat isn't buttoned all the way up and I desperately struggled to fix it. But the buttons won't go in easily and my hands begin shaking. The plain clothes cop gets all up in my grill (that's street lingo for in my face, thank you.)

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, miss?”

“I’m a writer. I'm shooting for my blog. I'm writing about [nervous laughter] breaking the law and how I used to do it more in the past and I miss it and…

“You don’t toy with cop cars, ma’am. Why is your coat open? Are you shooting pornographic shots in front of the cop car?”

“NO! No…I mean, not the traditional kind. It’s for my blog…”

“I don’t know what the fuck a blog is. Open your jacket!”

“Absolutely not.”

My god, was I going to be arrested for pornography? Self-pornography at that?! Is it a crime even? I don't know. Why am I doing this anyway? Have I become a pervert? A weirdo? Are playgrounds and vans in my future? Just how bored have I become?

By this point, I am extremely nervous, realizing that this situation is suddenly getting quite serious.

“Show me your I.D. right now”

“I don’t have it. It’s at home”

I look over at the two cops standing off to the side, both of whom I know. Why aren't they helping me? Why aren't they saying something to this guy, confirming my identity?

“I live here. I’m a writer. I needed some shots in front of a cop car. Honestly, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Ron!

Ron, my cop acquaintance, off in the distance, shrugs his shoulders in as if to say, “What can I do? He’s my superior.”

After much explanation, the angry cop, in the blink of an eye, switches his trajectory.

“Sure. Okay, go ahead. Finish shooting. Hey, what kind of camera is that anyway? Is that an SLR?”

Oh, it's time for fucking small talk now? Well, why the hell not? Let's just talk about my Aunt Mary Lou's famous potato salad recipe next, shall we?

“Um…no. It’s a consumer…point and…shit. I don’t know.” My hands are still shaking but my jacket is finally buttoned.

“Yeah, I want to buy something like that for my daughter. How many pixels?”

“Um...I haven’t a clue.”

“Well, carry on then.”

“No thanks.”

Yeah, like I'm going to shoot more photos after that! As I walk toward my car, I begin reviewing my shots, not thrilled with any. Over-exposed, midday light. Oh well. Keep walking, Beth. Drinking early may be an option today.

Then I think about my blog post: how I wax nostalgic about law-breaking, how being a bit of a badass is in my nature and that's a good thing. I begin to wonder if my badass posturing karmically brought this trouble on, which seems sad. Was this a case of hubris and cosmic payback? I sure didn't seem like much of a badass, that's for sure. Shaking, stuttering, scared and very unsure what to do.

It was then I turned around and said:

“Okay, I’ll continue shooting. These shots aren’t what I want.”

“No problem.”

They walk back inside, chatting, easy like a Sunday morning. (My friend who works with cops explains to me that their aggro nature is second nature to them. It can be turned on and off like a light-switch, without all that post-adrenaline jitters that the rest of us feel.)

So that was as much badassness I could muster in that moment: to continue shooting in the face of a possible arrest and angry interrogation, even though my knees were shaking and my skin was white clammy.

Here's my last shot of the day, looking a tad different:

And now for the boring but helpful informational part of my post. If there are any corrections or additions, please feel free to add. I'm not an expert in this arena, by any means:

If you are ever in a difficult situation with the police, know these points (and remember, this could be you, no matter how law abiding you are. As Socrates once put it, "Shit happens."):

  • Do not, under any circumstances, physically resist the police. To do so justifies their use of force to compel you.
  • Law Enforcement Officers have the right to stop and question any citizen, whenever a felony has been committed and they have reasonable grounds to believe that the citizen may have been involved in that felony. If this should happen to you, your first reaction should be to cooperate fully with the officer. This is not harassment, unless the questions asked do not or cannot pertain to any real crime (“Open your jacket!”)
  • At your first opportunity, when you suspect that you are being harassed, you should ask, "Am I under arrest?" This forces the officer to inform you of your official status. If he or she does not formally arrest you at that point, then you are still a "private citizen" with all the civil rights thereof. You do not have to answer any questions or allow the officer into any premises for which he or she does not have a warrant.
  • Ask the officer, "What crime is under investigation?" The answer to this question should allow you to decide whether the officer’s questions are legitimate.
  • You should not volunteer information about any persons or incidents, no matter what is promised to you. Anything you say can be used against you and others, and could be used out of context to mean something you had never intended. You will not clear yourself by naming others or describing events. It is best not to say a word until you have legal representation present.
  • Sometimes you could be subjected to bigotry, insult or epithets from police who feel that intimidation will get them results from reticent subjects. Do not go into shock, do not lose your temper and do not respond in kind; it will could only make matters worse. If you can remember exact words and details, write them down at the first opportunity and talk with a lawyer about whether you have adequate grounds for a civil rights complaint.
  • The police may take you to the station to talk. If this happens, ask to have an attorney present. Then shut up. Don't say anything until the lawyer is there with you and speak only if your lawyer advises it.
  • If you are in a public place with a multitude of neutral witnesses, like an event in a public park, you can speak a little more freely. Just remember, witnesses can work against you, too, so watch what you say and watch your temper.
  • If you are at another's home when the police come in, remain quiet. Avoid incriminating your host. You really don't know what grounds are being used for the raid and you probably don't know they are innocent; so avoid incriminating yourself or others. In this case, the time to act is afterward; see an attorney.
  • If in your own home and the police ask permission to come in, the answer should be "No." You should step outside and talk with them. Offer to go with them to the police station. You don't have to let them in without a warrant. If you are asked, "What do you have to hide?" simply ask "What kind of question is that?" If they are not asking to come in, but breaking down your door, give way and let them in. Don't fight them or make any insults or threats, but remember all that is said and done, make notes, and get a lawyer.
  • If the officer looks frightened or angry, take extreme precautions not to do anything to startle him or make him think you are about to do him harm. This is a time of maximum risk to yourself, so be very polite and don't do anything that may be interpreted as a threat.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Nice, Safe Post

Because of all the negative feedback I received from my last blog entry, I have decided to write a sweet, innocuous one that no one can complain about.

I like vanilla pudding. Do you like vanilla pudding? I like it because not only does it taste good, it makes me happy. If you’re not feeling happy, maybe you should try vanilla pudding?

Puppies make me happy too. I wonder if they make you feel good? Some of them have big, floppy ears and that’s cute! Sometimes a puppy will bite and that's not so good. When puppies bite you, it can hurt! But it’s all right. That doesn’t make them bad puppies.

I like the people. They are fun and nice! When I meet another one, I smile and sometimes, if I’m lucky, they smile back. When they smile back, I feel warm inside. When they don’t, I still think they are special. I just don’t feel as warm inside.

The sun feels good!!! I like it on my skin. I wonder if you feel the same? If you don’t, that’s all right. You don’t have to feel the same as me. We’re different and that’s all right!

If I’m eating vanilla pudding in the sunlight, I’m extra happy. If a puppy comes along, well then I smile so hard, it hurts. But it hurts in a good way – don’t worry! I’m all right.

And Pearl Jam sucks.