Your virtual reality

If I didn’t follow you on Instagram, if I wasn’t friends with you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, know your SnapChat best friends, read your blog, would I know you?

I’ve been thinking lately of our virtual realities, of the personas we create through our apps. This is me in pictures, this is me in words, this is me speaking into a large crowd with no specific intended recipient. How do these branches of our real lives, our digital identities, blend, supplement, add to or develop our actual selves? Do they?

I scroll through my intsa feed, and there are jokes I want to re-tell, clothes I want to wear, places I want to see up close, but also, mostly, people I’ve interacted with in a physical setting. I’ve touched them, smelled them, heard them. And of course, oftentimes, their digital personas are slightly a little less or a little more than who they were in the physical setting. What does this mean?

I think back to before the social media lifestyle, when it did feel almost like chance if you reached someone via telephone, when you ran into them at the grocery store, when you went on an out of town shopping trip and couldn’t be reached for hours. Did I know people better or worse then?

I think about the before and the afters. When a social media profile is the determinant of your liking, of your approval. The sole representation. And I think about when you know, when you’re fully aware of the artifice. And as we become more comfortable with our digital selves, we accept that some people are putting on a show via their devices. A self they can’t quite reach with all the noise of the real world. The pollutants fogging our vision. And what’s the difference? What marks it? What’s the fork where someone decides to represent their ‘genuine-ness’ and someone else their facade? What about when we blend the two? This is part me and this is real me?

Would I know you better or worse if I didn’t know your social media self? Should I take your social media self into account when I consider you? Would I value our interactions more or less? Would I read them differently? Is it right to allow the digital realm an influence on the physical? What is real and what is farce? Soon we won’t be able to tell, but then I joke with myself, who says we ever could?

Don’t Talk To Me About The Weather

Thought Catalog

Don’t talk to me about the weather. Don’t tell me about the forecast and how it calls for rain, or how you’re terrified that winter will arrive earlier than expected. I don’t want to hear your thoughts on the autumn chill, or your opinion on the season change. Instead, tell me about the changes you’ve seen in yourself. Tell me about how the rain makes you sentimental because it reminds you of your mother, or how you can’t stand to look at the sky because it reminds you of your best friend and how you never got to say goodbye.

I don’t care about your favourite colour. Tell me about the shades you saw in your lovers eyes when you told her you loved her for the last time. I want to know what it felt like to have your heart broken, and if you’ve ever cried just thinking about…

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A love letter to women

Dear incredible women who have recently come into my life,

I love you. I love your independent spirit, your character, your strength, your ambition, your ability to give a fuck about the exact right things. 

You, young woman I met today, it was so easy to talk to you. In moments I had dropped my new person facade and was speaking to you about real things, your passion for hiking, our shared love for going to the movies solo, your bravado when you decided to up and move to Austin with no future in sight. I like you. Be my friend. 

You, favorite colleague of mine, the hour I spend in your office is the god damn highlight of my week. When you had to cancel last week I covered up my sheer disappointment with understanding, but I had nothing left in me for the day after that. I see you and I aspire to be that in 20 years. You’re so…outspoken, straightforward, at peace with yourself. You don’t let the world shape you. You’ve found your space in the world and shaped it. If you leave, take me with you. 

And finally, you, lady of the Garden. You said you can read people, that it makes you successful. You said you were sure that I would rock whatever job you gave me. You rambled at me and were kind to me and correctly pronounced my name on the first try. You see a place for me and have faith in me. Me, a complete stranger. 

There are so many women who have given me hope, shown me the way, and I keep running into new women who have sought out endless options. And the way to be is limitless. There are so many of you out there who help me see we don’t have to live in a box. We don’t have to exist in a certain way. The world is ours for the taking. Strangers are lives I could have had. Thank you. 


If I had to eat one thing 

I met a man today. He was old. 

He told me all about himself: the different states he’s lived in, his sons, some of his jobs, his wife passing. When I got in his car he was listening to news radio and I felt a twinge of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. What if he’s one of those, you know, conservative guys. I braced myself. 

But I found myself chatting with this old man who was personable, amicable, even found myself wanting to tell him things about myself: the cities I’ve lived in, my siblings and their occupations, my job, my dreams. 

I found myself thinking of Richard, whom I wear everyday, mostly like a bracelet or a pair of studs in my ears, but today like a heavy sweater. And I thought of how capable he is in finding homes in other people. And I thought about how I am a crab, with my home on my back, ever ready to jump in, to scuttle away. A shell is small; it’s a home for one. And I thought about why Richard and I thought about how strange it is that someone I knew so briefly left such an impression on me. A dent, a space, a missing. And I thought about how fitting it is that he died doing something we both love. Something I have to think about every day from 8-5. 

The old man’s face lit up when he looked at me. And I wondered if I reminded him of anyone he’s known before. If I was familiar to him in some way. Even with my stammering and my choking. My words that don’t flow when they’re most requested. And he described his volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity and I thought, maybe he’s not a conservative freak.

I turned back to him as we walked our separate ways. He became embarrassed, realized I had caught him checking me out as my body came into his full view. I laughed to myself and I thought, what is it with men? 

“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground….the heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?” -Milan Kundera 

Please believe my lies 

I’d laugh but there’s no one around to hear. It’s still funny. You always feel like a kid. It’s always a little bit there, inside of you, but you learn to balance it all out, to sit still. You learn to let that kid learn. 

“Sometimes I get so lonely I forget what day it is and how to spell my name.”

Sometimes you watch a movie or read a book or meet a person at the exact right time that you should. And sometimes you don’t. Despite all this time, I am not used to being alone. And I try to think to when I really was alone before- and I realize I’ve never been alone, not really. A sibling, a roommate, a boyfriend, a neighbor, a friend. A social circle. And I realize even now I could be lonelier. How important it is to me, suddenly, to speak my thoughts aloud (how inarticulate I’ve become), how important it is to touch arms in the morning-to brush shoulders as we walk, to make eye contact during a laugh at a TV show or a movie joke. To share. 

And I’m alone in this world of people who aren’t. Who don’t want to be, who can’t be. We all get so lonely. And I realize I could go on like this if I want. I could just keep being alone. And the solitude stretches out beyond me. The timelessness of the proposal is so appealing. How much easier it would all roll off of me. 

Sometimes though to be seen with someone is enough. Look, I really exist. I matter. 

I want someone to dance with me–in the living room, in the shower. I want someone to stay up with me, despite our better judgment and watch the sunrise. A sit in the dew. I want someone to walk with me. I want someone to drop their worries on me, to have tea with me in the morning, to drive with me to close places, to make me feel self-conscious, obvious, and aware. 


my words my words 

I’ve been thinking lately a lot about how I’m perceived, how people form their judgments of me based off the words I say, or don’t. And we all do it, right? We all use language as our basis of judgment. 

I had this class senior year, last semester of college. It was an interdisciplinary class co-taught by two big time professors at my college. I didn’t know it then. I didn’t know much about my college while I was there. I went there because it was close to home and it was free. I was kind of an asshole when I was 20. Anyway, I had this class with these two female hotshots. I didn’t know. But they knew who they were and they expected me to interact with them with more…I won’t say diffidence but they expected something from me I wasn’t giving them. And I don’t want to downplay these professors. Because they’re incredible, intelligent, feminist women. But whatever they expected of college women that semester, I initially wasn’t it. I didn’t smile enough or I didn’t speak up loudly enough or I gave too many vague answers. I sat in the back of the room and walked in late and was the first out the door and just generally had a displeasing manner about me. I didn’t make friends. I don’t know. I wasn’t there to please anyone. I was there to get a fucking degree. Maybe it was the bitterness that set them off. 

I don’t know what turned them around. They went from tolerating me to genuinely seeming interested in me. Maybe it was the health issues that came up. Maybe it was the quality of the papers I turned in. Maybe it was the detail I eventually gave in my vocalized responses that rose above that of my classmates. Whatever it was, suffice it to say that eventually my brain won them over, as it has. As it does. 

I’m not a stupid person. In fact, I’d say I’m a relatively slightly above average intelligent person. I can even be quite charming and witty if I so desire. But my words. My lack of words builds this wall around me that new people are reluctant to penetrate. And they end up almost resenting me for it. In the meantime, they tend to think I’m stupid or young or daft. Some people who become great key people in my life start out sometimes thinking I’m worthless. Or at least that I’m lacking. And that’s okay. That’s a fact of life I’ve just gotten used to. I’ve made my peace. 

  • Sometimes I don’t respond right away. I need time to think. 
  • Sometimes I respond too quietly. The world is so loud. 
  • Sometimes I jumble my words. My brain works faster than I can talk. 
  • Sometimes I don’t respond at all. What I have to say isn’t relevant. 

I can’t make you happy with my words. That’s all on you. I just don’t think people should expect my words before their time. That’s all. Or if that’s what you really want, my words, then take them at face value. And don’t react to me.