Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's Not *for* You, You Don' t Need One, Stop Complaining

I work in a clothing store for full-figured women. But, well, let me be blunt for y'all, in case you think I mean something like  this.

I work in a store for fat chicks.

The gentler ways to say it sometimes get people confused...? Why? I mean, duh. I'm not into saying "plus sized" when describing my store, though, because I get really pissed that an average woman is between a size 12 and 16 (and yeah, you could just say 14, but standardizing of sizes is so nonexistant that you really do need to provide a range), but sizes 14 and up are called "plus" and sequestered off to some tiny corner with selections that are extremely shitty, more expensive, and miniscule in variety in comparison to the rest of the ladies section. And my store? It starts at 14. We get a lot of women that aren't remotely "fat" in the pejorative sense, that need larger sizes because curves, not because they're gorging on cheeseburgers every meal. Never mind that some women (myself included) have medial conditions (sometimes more than one- again, me) that prevent them from getting what these judgy people would consider okay. Myself and tons of other ladies may exercize and diet like mad, and still be "fat." The smallest I've ever been since I was a kid was a 12/14, during a period of time (just before grad school) where I went to the gym for almost two hours six days a week and ate about 1000 calories a day, and my doctor told me to chill the fuck out before I moved out here because if I lost any more weight, given all the other stuff I have going on, I'd prolly end up in the hospital. Being that size was nearly unhealthy for me, but I was still getting "what are you doing  here?" eyes from women at the store when I was hovering around the XLs or looking at the back of a rack of something for the largest size there.

Fucking fat shaming.

Anyway, so we get a lot of mother-daughter duos in the store. Sometimes they'd  both be customers, sometimes one is just along  for the ride as the other looks for things that  would, you know, fit her for a change. Usually the thinner ladies are quite  kind and supportive of the heavier ones, but I do every now and then see the  latter get passive-aggressively poked at by the former. Things I've heard from the thinner gals:

"Are you done yet?  There's  nothing in here for me."
"Are you seriously  going to look at every single shirt? Just grab something, I want to look for [insert specific outfit/clothing article] for me now!"
"Wow, that's huge, it's a good thing you aren't that big yet!"

My reaction when I overhear it is often akin to this:

I've also been personally fat-shamed by some of the less curvy women as they waited for their companions to pay, try things on, etc. 

"So... you shop here to?" (or similarly, "Oh, I see you shop here, too. You must get great benefits.")
"I'm only  in here for my mom, all of the stuff in here is so ugly and frumpy." [as I'm wearing the style of shirt I'm also holding or standing  next to]
"Don't you think it's kind of silly they  even have this place at all?"

After a few seconds of this...

...I give some excuse to walk away, and do so quite promptly.

I had a real doozy last night, though. This time, the daughter was the thinner one (not always the case, by the way), and the mom was there for jeans. We keep ours against one of the walls, folded, and above them are some mannequins, as well as a few shirts and our current  selection includes some casual velvetten blazers with a really cute pinstripe lining  (grey and maroon on the outside, and if you fold the cuffs to show that lining, oh my gosh- adorable, really). So I was helping the mom decide what cut in the jeans to get and explaining that while we don't sell her length in the store, we have this great service where she can order it and have it sent to her house with free shipping, then return it to the store if it didn't work out. Mom was a little uppity that we don't sell Tall lengths, but I've had worse, trust me. Once she had a stack of jeans to try*, I offered to get her a fitting room. Her daughter, also tall, kind of aggressively positioned herself in my way to block me and said, "What's the smallest that comes in?" pointing at the blazers hanging high enough for her to reach  and look for herself (but not me- I'm 5'1", remember...). She went on, "I only see sixteens, and I really like that, can you get me a smaller size?"

I reached up, on my tiptoes to look and see if anything else was hanging there, as I started explaining, "Well, the smallest size we or any other Lane  Bryant is going to carry is going to be  a fourteen, and I was just in the back room, so I know for a fact that any blazers like this we have in this store are all out here right now. And it looks like the smallest left is a sixteen."

Let me just add, this gal was prolly about the same age as me, so nearly thirty. 

When I stood normally and turned to her, she was glaring, her nostrils flared a little. "Well that's not fair," she said sharply, then she turned on her heel and started stomping- literally, stomping, with her fists clenched at her sides- toward the fitting rooms.

I actually, and yes, to my shame, snortled a little.
You want to know what's not fair? The way heavy people are pre-judged as lazy, irresponsible, and a drag on society. The way we're forced to go out of our way  and then pay more for the same stuff, or for sub-par stuff, because society isn't universally designed, but rather structured to accommodate people not like us. It's unfair that I either can't buy stuff when out with friends, or have to go off by myself in order to do so, or that they have to wait for me to finish before looking for themselves again. It's unfair that someone saw the need to create a separate chain of stores like the one I work  at, amidst the countless other stores in existence, in the first place.

And now here's the kicker. I'm sure it's pretty easy  for you to understand why she's entirely clueless. Fuck, there are stores that deliberately do not sell clothes for women above a size 10/11. You've seen the signs that say "Women's Section" or "Plus Sizes" in stores. Maybe you even have a heavy friend that always has to walk away to look for clothes for herself, or that never buys anything when she goes clothing shopping with you, even offers to carry some of your bajillion bags for you because she's been unable to find anything (true story). And  hopefully, you at least understand why, and maybe it even gives you a twinge of moral outrage on behalf of your friend or any other woman like  her in that situation.

Well, let me blow your mind a little now, okay?

Just as how that gal complaining that it "wasn't fair" that my store doesn't carry sizes not considered "plus" was missing the point/misunderstanding the situation, the same  thing goes for men that demand a "Men's Center" in the face of a "Women's Center" on college campuses, or white people demanding a "White Cultural Center" in response to a Black/Native American/Hispanic/ etc. one. 

Just as how women like me get sequestered into our own sections in the stores we didn't design, and how non-heavy people often automatically draw negative conclusions about our characters because of our size, women and minorities in the larger societal context get marginalized and sequestered into places of lesser value, too. Women and people of color hold fewer executive positions, are lumped into lower-paying jobs in general, and are subject to every kind of violence- structural, physical, emotional- because of the fact that they are women and persons of color in the first place. 

Oh, Sir, you want a "Male Resource Center," eh? Go to the "Student Resource Center." Or the "Library." The strategies they'll teach you are catered to a male-dominant society and would be great for you, Sir, but oftentimes wouldn't help a woman. Women are taught how to deal with a society, field, etc. that is going to assume they're underskilled, their body isn't theirs, they don't belong there, etc. 

Oh, White Person, you want a "White Cultural Center," do you? Try the whole fucking campus. Or better yet, the whole fucking country. Your culture is the status quo, the norm, is so engrained in your everyday doings that you don't even see it there. Any resources a minority gets at their center are going to help them navigate through your culture, sometimes cope with how it devalues them as a person, simply because they're a minority.

I've also seen men get mad about places like Curves, and say that if the NAACP exists, there should be a NAAWP, too, so it's not like this only happens at college. Which makes sense- it's not like these issues fade away once college life is over. It's just easier to see on a college campus  because the power and room for grassroots organization is so much greater there than in society writ large; but that also means college kids are going to be uber reactionary and do shit like this or say stuff like the "Christina" in the comments  here without giving it a second thought. 

Now of course, there are caveats. Just as how some of my tall friends/ the tall ladies in my store from earlier, or reeeally short friends, sometimes have to look harder for clothes than my average height, thin friends, I realize there are axis of oppression that can make things hard for men and/or white people. Class, religion, sexual preference, gender, etc. But let's face it, intersectionality is a really complex issue, and to try and put it simplistically: Those tall/REALLY short friends of mine still have an easier time finding stuff in regular stores than I do. Period. Same difference with women/minorities in the broader societal context.

And, side note, "centers" for poor people, LGBTQ persons, atheists, etc., also exist. And they get the same reactions against them from rich people, straight people, religious people, etc. So what I'm saying here can really apply to any axis of oppression. I've just been focusing on sex and race because those are the most common ones with their own spaces.

"Centers" for  women and minorities (etc.) developed out of the fact that society is built in a way favoring men and white people (etc.). And no, I don't think  it's sexist or racist per se to think it's unfair for them to be created without a male/white equivalent, and a person demanding as such isn't inherently a bad person. I do think it means a person holding that viewpoint is missing the bigger picture. Be it willfully or genuinely, I don't know. But if they fail to see it's not about women/minority privilege, but rather the privilege of their (as in male/white) perspective, and that they aren't wronged by that center's/organization's existence, then they probably could use more education and better explanations. Hopefully, they'd be open-minded enough, receptive enough to understand how there's no need for a "Men's Center" or a "White Center." And hopefully they'd realize the centers they don't want around popped up because people saw a need for them- and that this need is itself kind of sad and something we should try to rectify. Hopefully they'd realize that by being male, being white, they are part of the hegemonic group(s), even if not in those exact terms.

And here is where I get into another complication. "Centers" often become places of exclusion. As in, sort of a, "Go be a woman/Black person/etc. there and get off my lawn," kind of thing from perrsons in the majority (men, white people). That is not okay, either. I think places like a Black Cultural Center are the most successful when they try to educate non-Blacks and promote inclusion in society. My store is great on body acceptance and showing that every woman is beautiful, no matter what her size; we may not sell stuff for thinner women, but we do promote solidarity among women in general in the face of a culture telling us we should be pretty in order to impress men- it's about women liking themselves for themselves, but yes, it is designed to help a particular type of woman that is told by  society even more than average that she's ugly. The various cultural centers on my campus seem to do alright- how well they do is directly correlated with their resources, though. Naturally, then, the center on our campus for Native Americans is the most isolated- they can barely afford to operate, so doing bigger campus out-reach is pretty difficult for them. But every now and then, they bring a speaker, show a movie, etc. They're trying their hardest, and that's what counts.

I don't want there to be a store like mine. Not because I want to run around naked, but because I want to be able to shop with my friends, stand right next to them and look at the same stuff. I don't want there to be a Black Cultural Center on my campus. Not because I don't care about Back people or POC in general, but because I wish they had the same opportunities and resources that white people do.

*Sidenore: She was also an example of the customer that asks for advice, takes something different from what's recommended first that ends up not working, then begrudgingly tries the recommendation and goes with that. For fuck's sake, you'd save a lot  of time  and me a lot of refolding and rehanging if you just went with what I tell you, ladies, UGH!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Forgetting (to Bring Home the Bacon)

I have a few methods, or non-methods, of shopping. Like most people, if I know precisely what I need and am not in the mood to browse, I'll head straight for whatever it is, grab it,  and get out. Surprisingly enough, this also applies to clothing (I know, hard to believe). Granted, I'm pretty good at dilly-dallying to no end in a retail store, but I really am quite capable of grabbing what I need, maybe trying it on, then heading to the checkout.

For example, my roommie and I wanted to hit Old Navy for the cardigan sale on Saturday, and even though  the Sephora was having a super-secret-preview day, I didn't buy any makeup; and at Old Navy, I only shopped cardigans for teaching (and refrained from a friggin' Chicago Bears one).

And I'm good at finding what I need in a desperate search- like a few years ago, when I was trying to find an outfit for my first real date (as in I met a guy, he asked for my info, and we went out a few days later kinda thing), I couldn't find anything at all the stores the gals I was with were dragging me to (because, well, uh, they were all petite ladies, and I'm, uh, not); when they finally let me go to the store I wanted after over two hours, it took me less than twenty minutes to find an entire ensemble, complete with earrings and bracelets, too. 

But groceries are another story. My roommate and I have this bad habit of going back and forth in the grocery store together- I don't think there has been a single food trip taken  together where we didn't have to backtrack at least once. Usually it's closer to four or five. I swear, I should start tallying it every time we shop and maybe we can set personal records or something together. 

I'll have you know, we do this even when we bring lists. We're awesome.

My mom is great at getting groceries, a total pro. She puts the stuff on the list in accordance with  the layout of the store. Granted, she doesn't do aisle numbers, but she doesn't really need to, she puts everything in the right order on the paper and gradually you see it getting crossed off if you peek over her shoulder. And this  is great, because  it means that very little impulse buying takes place- she gets everything on the list, maaaaaybe one or two extra things, and that's it. If only I were as awesome as that.

I've tried doing this before, but the grocery stores my roommie and I prefer are always changing  their layout, so what the frak? The only  things I can rely on are the produce and the dairy. Even the meat sections   have been shifting around (like I swear, the fish and bovine products swapped at our Payless last week).

Now, I could give a long, dry rant about how this is capitalism at work, a strategic ploy on the part of the evilgreedyomnipotent grocery store owners to prevent people like my mom from winning out. Because that's pretty easy to... buy.


You right now.
Oh, fine.

So today, I went shopping for the first time whilst driving my new car (aaaw yeeeeeeuh, totally baller*), and I did another thing I'm pretty terrible/good at: I left one of the bags behind. 

My only excuse is I was distracted by the prospect of driving my own car again, but I know the reality is I'm just a pragmatically terrible shopper. I could have probably put a lot more down on my car if I had been able to put the money lost to forgotten bags toward the purchase. And I usually feel exceptionally stupid and guilty when it's at the grocery store, because usually they chase me down in the parking lot, and 2/3 of the time when that happens,  it's some adorable and sweet old dude that looks like he's about to have a heart attack because I forgot my gorram refried beans. 

Also, I forgot to get bacon today, and I had plans to experiment with bacon, pasta, and cheese. And I also forgot gifts for some parties I'm going to this weekend.

I guess I'm saying all this because it makes me wonder. In the future, what things will I forget and not be able to go back for? Lotion is one thing; what if I forget someone I took with me? What if I do something drastic like forget a friggin' child? I've had nightmares where I left River at the apartment by accident before and come home to find her barely alive. I'd never forgive myself if something  happened to her.

And there are things I've forgotten, like anybody else- birthdays, deadlines, phone numbers. But why is it we can forget to do things like put the friggin' coffee filter in the pot before pouring the grounds (true story), and  why is it so easy to forget the good times, when we can't really force ourselves to forget the bad things? I mean, sure, we may "suppress" memories, but that's never a conscious thing- if there's something we want to forget, any conscious effort fails.

I wish I could forget some of the things that have happened  to me before. I have nightmares about forgetting River, but I have nightmares about my past, too. But in different ways, like they're sequels- dudes  that have rejected me are doing it again after first telling me they made a mistake before, dudes that have assaulted me are around and laughing and flirting with me as if it ain't no thang, family members  I'm on the outs with are cussing me out, but over something stupid like I left the Nintendo (NES) open (something I NEVER DID FOR THE RECORD). 

But do I really want to forget? Like I've said before, everything I've been through has made me who I am today. I'm not perfect, but nobody is. I'm a damn good person, at least. 

In the disability course I'm taking  online right now, there was a whole segment on "fixing" disability, and what I liked about it was that not every person with a disability interviewed for the segment said they wouldn't take a magic pill  to get rid of their disability- a lot of them, most of them, wouldn't, but two said no, I'd rather not have this thing. And this reminded me that we all grieve and cope and... deal... differently. And while I'd never change my siblings and remove their disabilities (which some people just can't fathom), I'd support them if a "cure" somehow came up and they wanted to go for it- as long as they could at least keep their memories.

Because I think our memories of our past are what shape our character in the present. How we remember, what we do with and because of those memories. It's not the thins themselves, it's what we do with them. So getting rid of the disability wouldn't change the person in the metaphysical sense. What would cause the change is how they reacted to not having a disability any longer. But
 blotting out or getting rid of experiences themselves, that's a little different. While I wouldn't want my siblings to experience any more of the hardships they've encountered, I wouldn't extract ones they've had already. That may sound amoral or sick, but those experiences have made them wonderful people that bring more joy to me and anyone else they know than the grief their disabilities may have caused. 

And so that's why I guess I don't really want to forget. It'd be nice if I could sleep, but when I'm awake, my past makes me a kind, loving person. 

I guess the cool thing is I can swing by the store again tomorrow at my own volition and get the stuff I forgot. And going back to the store is kind of like making the choice to be a good person and try to help people.  I can't change my past, and I can't make myself remember stuff like bacon any better. But I can shape my future, and I see a very delicious future ahead. It looks something like  this:

*I was FB chatting with a friend earlier tonight and tried using that word. I spelled it wrong. For a Native American chick, I'm so gorram white...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Well I Guess This Is Growing Up: Cars Edition

I love cars. When I'm rich someday, I plan on having enough cars to change them out the way I change out purses or shoes- cars to match my mood, my outfit, the occasion, the weather. Some styles I hope to have:

The Aston  Martn Vanquish, for those times I'm feeling
particularly sophisticated, cheeky, and/or British
Dodge Avenger, muscle car with  the same engine as the Charger,
at about 1/3 of the price, and  with a glowing endorsement
from Richard Hammond; for when I want  to feel tough
Ferrari 458, for those times when I'm feeling feisty or playful and just
want to have fun, dangit

Dodge Caravan, because I intend to have a litter of children,
but  want to drive something that isn't a POS when
lugging them everywhere
McLaran Spyder, for when I want to look like I'm
going faster than I actually am

A Mini Cooper, for going out with  my friends
Mazda 3, for everyday commuting, errands, etc.
And last but not least,, a Lambo Gallardi,
because it's basically the Goddamn Batmobile

In order to afford all of these cars, I'll probably need to marry Bruce Wayne. Not that I'd mind. I've dreamed it, myriad times, so literally a dream come true, amirite? Eh? 

You right now

Okay, sorry.

Confession Time: I didn't have a license until a little  over a year ago (and its acquisition, that's a fun story in itself). I learned to drive over the course of college, between college, and grad school. And how did I survive without a car, you ask? Well, in high school, my closest friends all had cars (or there were enough of with them going to whatever that carpooling wasn't a problem, and even ones with cars would "bum" rides). In college and during my two off-years, I either only had to walk a couple blocks at most to get to things, or lived with people that took me with them during grocery runs and the like. Then here in grad school, either the bus system picked up and dropped off literally right in front of my apartment complex or the academic building in which I work, or I had a roommate (or person in my complex) going to the same thing as me. 

So I honestly didn't need  a car. And since I didn't need one, I didn't bother getting one. Money basically stopped being a problem once I started grad school (kind of ironic, since I'm in the department with the lowest-paid students, 'natch), so I started dillying  with the idea of getting one eventually some time in the future before leaving Indiana...

Then my parents got a divorce and my mom and siblings moved to a place about a days' worth of driving away. Minnesota, to be precise. 

And remember, I have a dog, so flying her anywhere isn't something I was looking forward or, really, willing to do, anyway.

And then I got this part-time job at a clothing store (which I'm prolly going to have to start writing about because ohmygod retail). And it makes me feel positively terrible to ask my roommate to get me to and from there. And taking the bus is exceptionally icky- not that it's difficult, it just means I have to get up that much earlier, get home that much later, and I usually end up blowing at least an hours' worth of pay at the job waiting for my shift to start or the next bus once I'm done (because I'm either about to start a shift that runs through a regular meal with no break, or I've just come off one doing that and am thus either anticipating or fighting off Hungry Bear Syndrome).

So I started seriously looking for a car. I called insurance companies, I researched, I thought about the features I'd need, etc. I decided I'd prolly want either a Mazda or Subaru, for the hatchback and four-wheel-drive capabilities: I need storage for River's stuff (I swear to God, that dog's crap would take up a whole bedroom of its own if it wasn't spread around the apartment... I spoil her), good handling for everyday driving, and all-wheel drive for being in harsh winter conditions, as I'll be visiting Mom and the young-uns for Christmas and thus driving in fucking MINNESOTA SNOW. Color wasn't a priority, but I'd be happiest with silver or chrome because I just like those on cars the most (see above pics...). I wanted something under five years old (but I wasn't thinking new, either), with less than 70,000 miles. That seemed possible, given what I found online in the area, but nothing under like $18000.
So, loan time! 

And guess what? I got declined. Not once, but twice. I went to both my new bank and the bank I've been with for nigh ten years now, and both said my disposable income isn't enough. 
I also was told it had to do with my credit score- both banks said I was at a mid-level B. And the reason is some outstanding medical charges that have been kicking my ass since April when my insurance company started giving me the run-around on some tests I had done with my ladydoctor. I'm still working on them, but it's docking my credit score down a few hundred points. The banks did say I could move forward if I had a cosigner, though. But I basically resigned myself to a fate of working for the rest of the year at the store and saving up to buy a junker because I had no one to cosign with me. I mean, that's not the kind of thing you ask anyone but, like, direct family to do for you. I had a few friends hint they'd be willing, but I cut them off because no, just no. 

So as a last-ditch effort, I made plans to visit a lot over the weekend, just to see. I was aware that car dealerships are slightly less... uh... picky about financing, I was just trying to avoid it because the lots in town all advertised rates as "low" as... like 8% interest or higher. Ew, right? The banks were less than half that. My mom promised she'd get someone to pick me and River up for Winter break, but that wouldn't solve the work problem or make me feel any better. So, one more try. I got ready, arming myself with a few thousand I'd been saving  for this purpose to put  down to help entice the dealers.

Yesterday: As my awesome roommie and I started walking into the office at the dealership, which happened to be a Subaru lot owned by the one overarching company, I casually mentioned how a car we were passing was basically what I had in mind: silver, hatchback, 2011, Subaru. I told this to the gentleman that started helping me, and he took us outside to look more closely, and... well shit. Yeah, that is pretty good... We went back inside so he could run the specs and he came back saying, "Actually, I think this may be The Car for you." He went on to tell me it was only $14000ish and had only 60,000ish miles on it, that it had belonged to the wife of a man at the local Subaru  factory, so it had received pretty gentle use. So he went to the financing dude and gave him all of my info and took me and my roommie out to the car so I could test drive it. 

I loved it. It was smooth, quiet, and I felt very much in control. Other cars I've driven with either rear- or front-wheel drive feel like they're struggling against you- the steering wheel tugs and tries to turn itself. This car, I did all the work, and I liked that. It was my first time driving it, but I'm pretty sure the turns I made in that car were at least as smooth as my smoothest with cars I'm very familiar with (i.e. my mom's car, or my roommie's). With a little more familiarity with it, I could make turns smoother than  a baby's bottom.

Also, it's one of those models that comes as automatic regularly, but has a function where you can switch to manual. So while I said, "For people pretending to be badass?" aloud to the dealer, internally, I was thinking, "I can learn manual, ohmygodIwantedtodrivemanual and felt like a sellout when I learned on automatic!" I was warm and tingly the whole time I was driving it.

Yes, I wanted the car. 

When we got back inside, the loan dude still wasn't ready. And so, naturally, I started to cry. 

Because I'm cool like that. 

And I explained I'm sorry, I'm just nervous, I've had a LOT of crap to deal with in the past couple years, and I'm afraid my medical bills are going to make  this impossible, if I don't get a loan from the dealership now, I won't be able to get a car, period, etc. So the dealer, since I had mentioned I needed space for my dog, started talking to me about his dogs, and we spent the next like twenty minutes trading dog stories (with  help from my lovely, supportive roommie). Then the loan dude came out and said, wagging his fingers in a "follow me" way, "You, with me," and proceeded to some offices in the back. I about pissed myself when my roommie didn't follow. Ohmygod I have to do this part alone? Can't she be there to hold my hand as he tells me no?

"Is this good news or bad news?" I asked as he opened the door to the office we were going.

"Well," he said, "that depends on the kind of day you've been having. If you've had a great day, this is going to be about average. If you've had a crappy day, this'll be great news."

"Well, uh, it could get better...?"

"So then you'll be happy!"

I was so nervous, I didn't understand his cryptic way of speaking. "So, uh, what's going on?"

He laughed a little and said, "You've got a loan."

And a thumping good one, at that. For only 4.3% interest. 


I didn't get to take it home with me because insurance and it needs some tires replaced, but here, ladies and gents, is my new-to-me 2011 Subaru Impreza:

But man, being an adult and stuff SUCKS.

All of the paperwork I had to sign at the lot (which wasn't even all that much, since I had no trade-in or anything), all of the paperwork for getting insurance, all of the paperwork I'll do with the BMV... I mean... Damn,.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Too Nice?

I wish we lived in a society where  being nice wasn't taken as "creepy" or "weird." Where helping others, even strangers, was second-nature for everyone. Where niceness wasn't a barrier or rarity. Where being "too nice" isn't a possibility. Where having good intentions doesn't come across as weird or "creepy" or what-have-you.

Although, was I the only person that just
laughed during the whole 'Emo Peter' thing?
I'll start with somewhat of a disclaimer. I recognize that because of my appearance and physicality, I "get away" with a lot more than other people. I'm female, short, pale, heavy, dirty blonde, have a mousy voice, and just generally project a warm, soft aura/presence. Rather than pull their kids closer to them, parents that notice me noticing the kids smile and encourage the kids to interact with me more. If I had darker skin, or were a dude, it wouldn't be the case- and that's society's doing, not my own, just in case we were unclear. So it's probably a good thing I usually "get away with" stuff more often than not, because I'm so inclined to be nice to people I don't know.

But there are some things even I may do without realizing they could be taken as strange, crossing a boundary, or something. I know there have been times where I've reached out to people that I'm not all that close to, and they took it as strange, weird, etc. A few even seemed weirded out enough by it that they gently distanced themselves from me  henceforth. And that kinda sucks- all I wanted to do was remind them they're awesome, people care, and I'd be willing to listen. But it's not like I really blame them- we're conditioned not to trust one another. And  I'm not  even talking about rape culture- just generally. Exhibit A:

The whole Antoine Dodson  phenomena may have been funny, and we make light of what he said in the video, but that moment in our shared cultural experience is a reflection and response to the general self-preservation we're trained to maintain from the moment we can stand. We're raised to be cautious and wary of one another, to put up walls that can sometimes prevent real human  connections. We're raised to believe life  is  the way Hobbes describes it, "nasty, solitaire, brutish, and short," and  because we're all out to get one another and would just as soon stab each other in the FACE, rather than help one another. Or, as Oscar Wilde, said, "A true friend stabs you in the front." You know what?

So there's this woman in my apartment complex that lives by herself. She's not quite retirement age, but close. She has a cat, but before you get into the "crazy cat lady" stuff in your head, I want to stop that bs right now because that crap is crap and I'm fairly certain it's part of the paradox I'm about to present.


She lives in the apartment right next to a large patch of grass I sometimes take River to because it's closer to my own apartment than the bigger one she usually ends up at. So quite often, when this woman notices me and River, she'll open the glass door to her patio and tentatively start conversation with me, usually about how pretty River is or the weather at first, then sometimes we'll talk about other things. She prefers talking about me and gives vague answers when I ask about her. Overall, it's obvious she's trying to get some social interaction, but isn't quite sure how to go about it and doesn't wish to come across as self-centered.

I'm not under the impression her shyness is inherent shyness, per se, but rather she's so lonely, she has developed a fear of creeping me out- it's not social anxiety in the usual sense.And I think it partially comes from her awareness of those "crazy cat lady" stereotypes in the first place. Because it's obvious she lives alone with her cat. In fact, she's referenced that specifically and (vaguely) being lonely with me before. She has an aura of sadness and loss. So naturally I've made up this tragic backstory where she had a family that died in some horrible accident while she was out taking that cat to the vet or at home getting a surprise ready for everybody else. Realistically, I doubt it was that cinematic, but I intuitively sense that she had at least one person in her life that is no longer there- could be a parent, lover, I dunno. Whatever that loss is, it's still haunting her, and she wishes for some connection in order to at least ease the pain.

And don't ask me how I know this, I'm just really good at reading people and guessing underlying feelings. I'm basically an empath. Have been all my life, even as a little kid. Hence my Powers of Comfort.

So I'm sad that a lonely woman is afraid to be more outgoing with me, prolly one of the safest people she could possibly try to talk with, because she's afraid I'll think she's "crazy."And I really want to do something nice for her, bake her cookies and bring over stuff for tea so we could sit and chat and she could have a friend. And you know what prevents me? Fear of coming across as creepy!!!! 

Like  this guy
Isn't that ironic? I find it just so messed up. The benefits she'd get if it was successful would FAR outweigh any costs I'd receive if she thought I was creepy. And would the latter even harm her at all? I'd hope not- she'd just think, "Weird-ass young woman with her dog and her loudness and her nosy nature." She'd be irritated, but it wouldn't hurt her feelings.

So to go back to the beginning of the post, we're afraid of trusting others, and we're afraid of coming across as untrustworthy. And I hate both.

I know I've been hurt a lot in my past. And very, very frequently, it has been because I opened up to someone, trusted them, and they hurt me- either eventually, or right away. And one would think that would give me  reason to close myself off, turn  into, as a friend says, a teddy bear in a mecha suit. But  I can't do that. Because the way I see it, it the likelihood that I'd make the kinds  of valuable connections I have because I've put myself out there is slim to none. The good things in life are worth taking risks.

And you know  what? I also think it's pretty shitty that we would be justified in not trusting people. Because yeah, people are assholes. They do stab you in the back, throw you under the bus, send your heart back to the kitchen- that's a fact of life. Being a human with a heart SUCKS. Caring sucks.


But when it works? It's wonderful. I've  made connections with a handful of people in my life that I'm so grateful for, I cry. (Yeah, yeah, I'm a cryer.) I'd die for them. And, I like to think, they'd do the same. I wouldn't ask  it of them, but that's the point- caring for someone enough that you'd give your  life for them, but never think to ask the same, that doesn't happen often. And I know I have friends close enough to me like that because I've put  myself out there with  them. Because I'm "so nice." 

And while being  "so nice" has caused me pain- whether it's because people have walked all over me, have thought I was "so nice," they couldn't see me as anything  but  friend, or because  people betrayed my trust- I loathe the idea that anyone could be "too nice," as well. 

I get that a lot. "You're too nice!"
There shouldn't be  such a thing as "too nice." People  should just be  kind, caring, considerate, sympathetic (without condescension), empathetic. The  fact that  I demonstrate  these things every day and am somehow outside the norm and exceptional and rare is really fucking awful. And  the fact that I'm still single, and still have trouble finding people that won't hurt me, is just  beyond  fucked up. If I'm "so nice," why is it so easy for me to feel like  nobody cares?

Humanity needs to get its act together. Only through loving one another can we improve our own conditions- what value is there in being a greedy, selfish asshole? You may get a lot of stuff, but if you've stepped on too many people in your quest to get it, you'll be alone with all of that stuff, and then what? If that's enough for you, I feel sorry for you, and in earnest, because, well, my view on life is it isn't what you have, but who you have, that matters.  And a life all about getting stuff rather than helping people and forging honest, loving relationships, would be entirely empty.

So I'm angry. That the woman  in my apartment complex is  alone, and  may stay  that way because of social norms. That my being a good person is, gasp, so rare and special and praise-worthy, and yet, somehow, cause for people to retreat from me. That it's so hard to find people that won't break my heart or leave me  to the wolves.

I haven't seen her in a few weeks. I know she's around- her cat has teased River from the window a few times, and  she switched from her patriotic summer decorations to Halloween ones last week. I dunno. Maybe I'll make  some pumpkin cookies and take a basket to her door with a note. Because no, I don't want to get hurt again,  but  I just feel like this woman has been trying to reach out to me, and society's entirely fucked up system has cut her off from me. And I'd rather take  the initiative in the hopes that I can bring her some goddamned joy  than not and wonder if she's still in pain.