Culture

About the Vagina: 25 Facts You Probably Don’t Know

For many men (and a depressing amount of women,) the vagina is a mysterious cave of wonders that can provide great treasure (the greatest in fact; life itself!) Unfortunately due to the outdated and historically ignorant beliefs of various groups and facets of society, the mystery comes primarily from embarrassment or even shame. Whereas men were often celebrated or gauged by their virility, the opposite was true for women. The concept of female virginity as a sign of purity only served to further alienate women from their bodies.

To this day, far too many boys are still more interested in what the vagina can do for them, rather than understanding how it works. But let’s change that. Guys, if you know how things work down there, you’ll be better in bed and we all know you want that. Meanwhile, ladies, if you understand how your body works, sex will be better for you. It’s a win for everybody. So, in the spirit of education and better sex (for anyone who has or likes girl parts,) here are 25 things you might be ashamed to ask about vaginas!

1.  The clitoris has more nerve endings than any other part of the body.nerves1.jpg

There are about 8000 nerve ending in the clitoris with the single awesome purpose of arousal and orgasm (which, scientifically speaking is to encourage procreation.)  It turns out that number is right around double the nerve endings in the penis.

 

2.  The vagina actually expands for sex.  

In their relaxed state, vaginas are typically about three and a half inches deep (which helps explain why there’s often less room in there for a tampon than, say, a penis.)  As a woman becomes aroused, a process called “Vaginal Tenting” occurs which causes the interior of the vagina to increase in length and width by about 67%.  The message here is that more foreplay = a vagina that’s better prepared for sex, and that’s always a good thing.

3.  Vaginas come in different layouts and sizes (all of which are normal.)

The vulva, labia, and even the color of the vagina can vary greatly from one woman to the next.  The distance from the clitoris to the vaginal opening is (usually slightly) different on every woman.  Further (and often an issue for the self-image of young ladies,) the size of the labia can vary by over an inch.  Porn and cosmetic surgery have given a false “ideal” to the appearance of the vagina, that is both destructive, and false.    

4.  The vagina allows for different types of orgasms. OrgasmType

Depending on how you look at it, the Vagina and all its nerve-filled goodness is capable of 2-4 different types of orgasms:  Clitoral, Vagina, Blended, and multiple.  Blended and multiple are a result of the first two, but have their own unique traits.  Even if you only recognize two, that’s twice as many as a penis gets.  With that said, over 70% of women do not orgasm from vaginal stimulation alone, so make sure to cover all the bases until you know which one(s) you’re dealing with!

5.  The vagina cleans itself.

As a sophisticated biological system, the vagina maintains a specific balance of good bacteria (though far less than your mouth) and is actually slightly acidic.  The pH of the vagina is right around 4.5, putting it on the same level as such wondrous substances as beer and wine (and also tomatoes…  but 2 out of 3 isn’t bad.)  This, by the way, means that douching or using any non-prescribed “vaginal cleaner” is a really bad idea as it will throw off the balance.    

6.  The clitoris is actually a lot like a penis. 

VagPenis.jpgThe clitoris has a glans, foreskin (the clitoral hood,) and even a shaft that hardens when a woman becomes aroused.  Though some swelling may be visible in the size of the clitoris, it mostly goes unnoticed because the majority of the clitoris is buried inside the vagina.  It also isn’t just a “button” externally.  It extends down past the vaginal opening in a wishbone shape, helping increase sensitivity there as well.

7.  Kegel exercises really do a lot for your vagina.

You can exercise your vagina, and doing so has a lot of benefits.  The strengthening of vaginal muscles improves sexual response for both partners (through better contact.)  In addition, when she has an orgasm from said sexual response, the added muscle means it will be longer and more pleasurable.  For those interested, the stronger contractions also mean a higher likelihood of female ejaculation.  Finally, the stronger the pelvic floor muscles, the easier it is for the vagina to bounce back from childbirth.

 8.  Multiple. Orgasms.MultipleOrgasms

Multiple orgasms are distinct in that they literally happen one after another (“like a machine gun”) and generally are exclusive to vaginas (sorry guys!)  The laboratory record (that’s right, for science) for the number of orgasms in an hour is an insane 134 (over two per minute!!!)

 

9.   The Hyman is absolutely no indication of sexual activity or purity.

The perpetuated myth that a hymen represents untouched female purity is just that: a myth.  In fact, some women are born without a hymen to begin with.  For those that are born with them, they range in thickness, toughness, and amount of coverage, meaning there’s no way to determine any sexual information from a hymen check.

10.  Feeling like you need to pee during sex is pretty normal. 

HaveToPeeEven if you pee just before sex, it’s normal to feel like you need to during the act.  This can be a lot of things, but it’s primarily the result of the urethral sponge swelling. That, combined with stimulation causes nerve cross-talk from the clitourethrovaginal complex  (basically it’s misinterpreting the new pleasure delivery) and makes your brain think you need to pee.

11.  Not getting “wet” doesn’t always mean you’re not into it.

Probably the closest thing women can experience to erectile dysfunction is when they are totally into a sexy situation and fully consensual, but for some reason, the plumbing just isn’t cooperating.  No, your subconscious isn’t (necessarily) trying to tell you anything.  It turns out natural lubrication can be affected by a multitude of things from birth control, to breastfeeding, to menopause.  Estrogen levels have a lot to do with the female physical sexual response so anything that messes with your estrogen levels can mess with your lubrication.

12.  Lube makes the vagina happier.

lube.jpg

The good news is, even if your sexual response is good, recent science says that a little bit of lube will do nothing but make it better.  Water-based lubricant increased the sexual satisfaction of literally every category from partner sex to solo play, and (no brainer) anal sex.  It also cut down on the collateral damage to the vagina from sexual encounters.  So if you’re planning to do a lot with your vagina in a short time, best to lube it up.

13.  The vagina communicates with you.

The extremely complex environment of the vagina is designed to give regular status updates. (Like Twitter, but more organic.)  Changes in the smell, discharge amount, consistency, and off-period blood spotting are all indications of what’s going on in there (and not always a bad thing!)  For instance, when a woman is most fertile and ovulating, discharge increases and cervical mucus becomes more transparent and stretchy in consistency. 

14. The Vagina is not a straight line.

Vagangle

Contrary to the belief of many, the vagina is not a straight line pointing in the direction of the stomach/heart/head.  It actually tilts about 130 degrees (towards a woman’s back) and can change as she gets older.

 

15.  The vagina stretches to over THREE TIMES its normal size for childbirth.

Most people have an idea about this one but it’s definitely worth mentioning.  When having a baby, the vaginal opening can stretch to between 9 – 10.5” in diameter to let the new little human out.  While childbirth can alter a vagina’s look, the interior size and “tightness” usually has no noticeable difference after recovery (which can take six months to a year or more.) 

16. The word “vagina” comes from a Latin term meaning “sword holder”.Sheath

Right… well…  let’s just remember that many scabbards are the prettiest, most distinct parts of the sword/sheath combination.  They also protect the sword from rust and damage.  And damn the patriarchy for this one…

17.  Vaginas and sharks have something in common.

The vagina secretes a compound known as squalane as a natural lubricant.  Since it is lighter than water, it is also naturally found in shark livers and contributes to reducing their density.  When harvested from a shark, this compound is often used as a component in moisturizers and cosmetics.  Let that sink in for a little while.

18.  The vagina can fall out of a woman’s body.

Prolapse

Though extremely rare, the condition is called  “Vaginal Prolapse” in which a section of the vagina literally hangs out of the vaginal opening like a sock.  Fortunately, it’s not only rare but also not typically fatal and completely reversible.

 

19.  Vaginal “farts” are basically unavoidable.

Also known as “queefs” or “varts”, these are the inevitable result of air being trapped, and subsequently released from the vagina (usually due to sexual activity.)  They are generally harmless, clean, carry no odor, and whoever trapped that air in there has absolutely no business complaining.

20.  Consistent or multiple sex partners will not make a vagina “looser.” SexPartners

The myth that is “virgin tightness” is just a myth.  If not appropriately aroused viaforeplay, it’s possible a virgin will feel tighter, but that’s only because her body has not finished getting ready for intercourse.  Otherwise, a vagina will feel the same the first time as it does the 50th time. The only case in which a vagina might feel realistically “looser” is during the recovery period after childbirth.  Sorry guys, none of you are near that big.

21.  Like everything else, the vagina can sag with age.  

A sad fact for almost every part of the human body (assuming you’re human…)  The ways to combat this are the same as the rest of your body: Avoid smoking, keep your body in shape, and do muscle-specific exercises (in this case, kegels!)

22.  Most of the vaginal nerves are located within the first two inches of the opening.

The next time you hear a guy brag about how long his manhood is, let him know that in general, sexual satisfaction comes from girth.  Conceivably, a 4-inch penis with a 3-inch girth will give more pleasure than a 10-inch penis with a 2-inch girth.

23.  Orgasm is more likely right before or during menstruation.

MenstrationOrgasmsJust before and during her period, the blood flow to the woman’s pelvic region (specifically sexual organs) is increased, therefore dramatically increasing sensitivity.  As long as there are no negative feelings regarding sex while menstruating, orgasm is achieved easier, with more intensity.  Sexual activity can also help reduce cramping and shorten the overall duration of menstruation.

24. The Vagina has some serious muscles. 

In 2009, a Russian woman set a world record by lifting 30lbs attached to a wooden egg held by her vagina. With that same strength, it’s actually possible to clamp down on a penis so hard that it can’t be removed.  This is called “Penis Captivus”, and while rare, is a real (and only sometimes intentional) phenomenon. 

25.  What you think is the vagina, probably isn’t the vagina.

ActualVagina

What most people refer to as the vagina is the entirety of all the female sex organs.  But it turns out all of the external components (clitoris, vaginal opening, labia, etc.) are actually what is referred to as the vulva.  The vagina is actually the muscular passageway that connects the vulva and the cervix. (That said, correctly specifying for this article would’ve been far too complicated…)

 

 

You can’t say this wasn’t at least a little educational, I’m willing to be nobody alreadyknew all 25 (I didn’t before I did the research.)  This is a shortened list, as well.  The vagina has many more wonders for us all to discover.  But in the meantime thanks for reading!

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A little perspective after a long time

*Note: There are some elements of this entry that some may find disturbing, or possibly even trigger-worthy.  Read (or don’t) with caution if you are the sensitive type.

I know, I know… I’ve been gone a long time.  Life is like that;  It ebbs and flows.  It’s probably a good thing I don’t write professionally (at least not on a creative level) or I would be accused of following after a certain author of thrones.  Anyway, It took a couple years for this cycle to settle, and now that it has… everything is fine.  And that’s it.  Nothing is wrong, and new stuff happens from time to time, but for the most part, I’m just doing my thing; day in and day out. My companions from my previous cycle (and even the “adjustment” period) have almost all fallen away.  Some will come back eventually, and some will not.  But for the time being I have my new cave by the lake, my work in the contrasting enormous palace nearby, my cats, some friends I see every so often (whom, I’m growing a greater appreciation for as others move on) and… me.
It’s not about time any more.  I have time.  I finally caught up on The Walking Dead (holy shit…) and I’ve been addicted to certain mobile games involving hunting small creatures in the real world and fantasies that are final at home.  So time is there… money is still in recovery but improving daily. What I realized is missing (much like in my personal relationships) is passion.  I don’t feel inspired by anything.  The world is beautiful, and I am privy to exceptional sunsets on a daily basis.  These bring me peace, but they do not light a fire.  There is no fire.  I’m not depressed, things are generally good, I’m just… here.  It’s kept me from writing because I need to have something I feel strongly enough to write about.  It’s kept me from photography because I’m still backlogged almost a year (sorry Jess.. I put some more up yesterday but I realize my pace is horrible…) and while I love the photos I put up when I do work on them, it’s honestly a struggle to get myself to sit down and focus on them.

JCamBW

At least sometimes I look alright doing it…

I know, this is a lot of whining and problems that are really not problems.  A year ago at this time I was trying to figure out if I was going to have a place to live next month, so I understand that I’m not really having real problems.  Ironically, it might be the intense focus that work requires of me that keeps the inspiration from showing up at the end of the day.  Chicken or the egg?  Be that as it may, I am virtually alone and uninspired at the moment, and while I’m making an effort to branch out a bit, it may be some time before life picks back up again.

With that said I want to share a story with you.  This story makes all of the above whining seem even more ridiculous.  The point is not to shock you or make you feel bad, the point is to help people like me, who are really doing pretty okay, keep perspective and be grateful for the blessings they have, even if inspiration feels a little short.  Having time to worry about inspiration or passion IS a blessing in itself.

As mentioned above, I work in a literal mansion.  My boss is such that he parks his seaplane (yes, seaplane) in the back yard, on the very nice lake that is shared among the local (rich) community.  Though it is not the point of this article, I want to make a point of assuring you that my boss is 1. Generally a good man.  2. Gives a GREAT deal of charity and pays a great deal of taxes without complaint.  -and- 3. Does not come from a wealthy family.  He’s built and earned what he has, more than once.

Anyway, as his Executive Assistant (you can call me Alfred) I assist in running his business, finances, calendar, estate, grounds, etc.  So as mentioned I spend the majority of my time in this huge, immaculate home.  Another staff member of ours – let’s call her Jan – comes once a week with an associate of hers to do a full cleaning of the house, laundry, etc. She is originally from Jamaica, in her late-40s, and her and I have a friendly, joking, semi-abusive relationship.  My boss has known her for over a decade (before he even moved into this mansion) and has treated/paid her well consistently.  He is even looking into the best way to provide for her retirement in the future, as she has never had her own means of obtaining one.   Not that she’ll need it anytime soon, because while she’s easygoing and friendly, she’s also tough, I mean really tough.

tumblr_m01jkv5IyZ1qb0oluo1_250

Our cleaning lady would kill you son.

I’ve visited Jamaica before via cruise ship.  I know, I know, that’s not the “real” Jamaica. But all you need to do is book an excursion that takes you out of the tourist area and if you’re paying attention you very quickly get an impression of the reality many native Jamaicans face.  While there are most certainly well-developed, colorful, historical towns, hotels, and restaurants, just outside the walls of the tourist area in Falmouth, things get progressively bleaker until the reality of literal poverty is staring you in the face.  They make the best of it; You could see people smiling, laughing, and living, but they have adjusted, or have never know the extent of the comforts and security we have here in the US (despite us needing to be made great… again…)

Jan, and her family are from that kind of life.  She’s happy to be here with her longtime friend, making a life for herself and her daughter here in the US that would be near impossible for the rest of her family back in Jamaica.  She sends them money and support, and shows me pictures of the gatherings she attends when she goes to visit them.  She is especially proud of their Sunday clothes, when they get dressed up for church.

The other day she pulled out her phone and was showing me pictures of her son and some of their extended family still living in Jamaica.  She has never married, and when I asked her if her children were intentional she just smiled at me as if I were Jon Snow and knew nothing.  In this particular photo set though, I commented on her son’s sense of style.  Even by US standards, he was decked out in a dark suit with a light purple tie, matching vest and sunglasses to complete the look.

Purple Style

That style.

That was when she casually showed me the next picture.  It was of a young boy (I think she said he was thirteen) hanging from a tree by a rope tied around his neck.  Her nephew had decided that his life there wasn’t worth continuing, and… before they took him down, they took photos.  She continued that her son was wearing his best to that boy’s funeral because he had been like a brother, and it was the best way to honor his life.  The whole time she spoke casually and easy about this, as if this were just another part of life like a thunder storm or the flu.  But then, for a lot of people in the world, possibly even the majority, it is.

Many of us in the US live blessed lives.  Absolutely we have poverty, I’ve shared with you before that I was homeless at times growing up and have memories of getting food from the food bank to eat.  But much harder than I ever had it is the racism that is still coming to light, when growing up as a minority here (especially if you’re poor) can be, literally, deadly.  And while a lot of us see it on the news here, and it is wrong anytime, anywhere, in some places it’s so common that it’s not even a headline.

My point is not to say that we don’t need to get better as a culture in the United States (or wherever I end up should Emporer Trump come to power,) because we do.  We have to be better because we have infinitely more opportunity than so many more places in the world.  If there’s anything the human race is good at, it’s squandering its available advantages by focusing on trivial things (like… not feeling inspired…)  But that photo of the boy hanging from a tree, because life was actually very hard there and he couldn’t make it, is something that reminds me of this responsibility.  It gives a lot of perspective to how blessed the majority of us are here and reminds me that, at the very least, first and foremost, I (we) need to do our best to not be a part of the problems in our own culture.

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This.. should be appreciated.

People like Jan can come here, and work hard, and probably never have a life as decadent as my boss (or possibly even me.)  But because she has an inherently different perspective, and the appreciation for the many things we take for granted (including our way of life itself,) there’s a good chance that she may often be happier than those of us that lose our perspective from time to time.  Happiness is relative.  That’s why people with far more money than a windbag like Trump are secretly (or not so secretly) miserable.  Meanwhile those who give away what little they have beyond their own survival enjoy happiness that eludes the majority of the world.

There’s no recipe for it either. It’s individual… relative. Giving away everything or becoming a monk won’t make everyone happy.  Nor will winning the lottery (as people have demonstrated over and over) or becoming famous.  I believe the secret (even if I’m having trouble with it currently) exists in curbing your expectations and being as grateful as possible for the blessings you have. We deserve the good things that happen to us, on whatever level (so long as you do not intentionally harm somebody for those things.) There is no need for guilt, just gratitude for whatever good things come (as opposed to the trap of being sad about what does not.)

It is an unavoidable truth of this world that some people live through horrible circumstances, and maybe the silver lining (no, I’m not saying it’s ever worth it…  it never is) for those who can overcome those things is the ease with which they appreciate simple things that others might well take for granted.  Everyone has a story, and sometimes by learning about others, it helps you put your own in perspective.

A Story Of Sluts

A friend of mine recently messaged me for my opinion on a subject she’s (ironically) contributing to a blog about.  She asked me for a male’s opinion on “the difference between a woman who is labeled a slut and a woman who’s comfortable with her sexuality.”  She said I she thought I would be a good person to ask, naturally I’m inclined to agree.  However, I would be lying if I said that I believe I represent the general male population’s opinion on this matter… which is most typically unfortunate.

With that said, I really don’t like the word “slut”.  I don’t use it, and it only ranks a bit lower than the “C-word” used toward women, or the “N-word” used toward African Americans… both of which make me extremely uncomfortable.  I have no business using either of those words, and I don’t think males in general have any business calling anyone a “slut” (though, admittedly, I can type that word, whereas the others I really don’t want to.)  Men who label women as such are usually HUGE hypocrites (for example my post back in August back about the “Downtown Alpha Male”) and are using the term to belittle women for the very thing they celebrate for themselves.  It’s ridiculous and just another example of men historically treating women as possessions.  Basically, “Shame on you if you let too many guys get a ‘piece’ of that which is obviously yours.”

maths_1

About that many I think.

When it comes to sexuality, people get all freaked out about numbers.  Specifically: “How many people have you been with?”   I literally scared off a girl I was actually interested in dating once because of my sexual history, and my “number” isn’t nearly as high as my reputation might suggest.  (Truth be told, I did stop paying attention at some point… so I would have to sit and think about where I’m at now… but I digress…) Regardless there are huge flaws in judgement based on said numbers.  First of all, you’re over-generalizing multiple, specific situations with details that are important.  Second, you’re making broad assumptions based on very little evidence/fact (even if you ask questions.)  And Third, you’ve got no pre-established parameters or reasoning by which to quantify measuring the statistics on which you are basing your judgement.

For instance, what if a specific girl decided she didn’t enjoy vaginal sex?  Technically she may have only been with one or two people in the ten or more years she’s been sexually active.  But, maybe she’s one of the few women that really enjoys anal sex.  Does that count?  Depends on who you ask.  Further, what if instead of anal sex she really, really enjoys giving blowjobs?  She’s had intercourse with two guys, but probably given a hundred times that many blowjobs.  Does that count?  What if she didn’t swallow? Then does it count?  If she gave YOU that blow job, should it add to that number?  Or does it not count because you know you’re better/cleaner than anyone else?

What about women?  If a girl’s sexuality includes women, and she has been with over a hundred women in all sorts of awesomely kinky ways, but has only been with one guy, is she a “slut”?  Or are you just envious of her far supirior ability to woo females?  What about group sex?  Does that count as one encounter?  Or should we count each penetration?  If so, which penetrations?  If we count all of them a girl could rack up double digits in just a few experiences compared to another girl who has had sex hundreds of times but with only nine guys since she became sexually active.  The point is, any “criteria” is flawed to say the least, and depends on the individual and their (very often flawed) beliefs.  There is no correct way to quantify who is or isn’t a “slut” because it’s a highly subjective term (which really shouldn’t even exist.)

However, for the sake of answering theSlutwalk Aims To Raise Awareness Of Sexual Assaults question, I suppose I’ll come up with the most obvious differentiation I can based not on the general actions of said women, but whether or not they are using their brains.  It’s time for a story of sluts.

Subject A is a junior at the University of Washington.  She did her first two years at community college, and is eager to mingle on the university level, but also focused on her future.  She’s always been intelligent, level-headed, good in her studies, has a great attitude, and is a finance major.  Let’s call her “Monroe” (please note that these examples are based on my personal experiences, but NOT any specific people.  I chose that name because I literally don’t know anyone who has it.)

Subject B is a high-dollar, celebrity level escort of roughly the same age as Monroe.  She’s always been blessed with good looks, and she comes from an (unfortunately) typical broken family.  She did the best she could to get through high school, but was forced to go to work to support herself and her younger siblings whom her parents otherwise neglect.  She went to work at a strip club because it was the best money she could find in a tough job market and with no vocational education or schooling.  Through her looks and street smarts, a chance meeting  introduced and groomed her into high dollar escort work through which she was able to become financially independent while providing for her family.  Let’s call her “Chastity“.  

So, I ask you, which of these ladies is more likely to be called a slut?  Seems obvious that would be Chastity.  But let’s continue with our hypotheticals.

girl-silhouette-vector3Monroe is pretty and has had little trouble making friends in class, but her studies keep her from going out too often.  However, she is being courted by various sororities and and is invited to an event known as a “mixer” with an associated frat house.  Though she was never really the party type, she’s excited to “live her life” and decides to go with her new friends.  At the party, she has a great time, and accepts drinks from a succession of very attractive and charming men in the fraternity.  They don’t seem anything like the obnoxious stereotypes she’s heard; these men are intelligent, charming and very nice to her, all while bringing her drinks so she doesn’t even have to leave the dance floor.  One thing leads to another, and she finds herself alone in the room of one of these charming young men… David.. she thinks..  Though she’s not been drugged, she’s already drank more than she should have and makes the poor decision to go along with this young man’s advances (he’s very pretty.)  But when they finish up (or rather when he does… he put a condom on.. she thinks…right?) he makes a remark about how the night is young, and they should rejoin the party.  Thinking they will follow-up later, Monroe agrees as she is hurried out his door.

Chastity:

Meanwhile Chastity is having a good night, there’s a convention in town with a lot of very rich executives looking for company.  She’s decked out in a Gucchi silk chiffon gown and her power heels – Christian Louboutin.  It’s only midnight and she’s looking for her fourth (and probably final) client of the night.  She prefers her regulars – much more comfortable and fun – but scoring four big pays in a night is well worth any initial awkwardness.  The last guy was aggressive and she liked that until he tried to shove himself inside of her bareback.  Fortunately she knows her business and was able slide out of position while giving a coy purr that said “you’re forgetting something big boy…”  he complained but all she had to do was give the serious look and hold it up for him to get the message: “No condom, no more playtime.”  That’s one of the first things you learn as a sex professional; not matter how clean and intelligent they seem, every guy is one shitty decision away from fucking up your life permanently.  The profession is risky as it is, and Chastity is proud of her many negative testings.  She plans to keep it that way.  Finally she spots her next potential… time for him to buy her a drink.

So at this point Chastity is up on numbers for the night (we can pretty much assume she’s up on numbers forever…)  So that would label her the “slut” of the two, right?  I mean, sure Monroe has made an obviously stupid decision, but Chastity has been with three guys and is not done yet.  Let’s see how the night plays out.

Monroe:WK-0612-teenagers0_3127905b

The world is blurring a bit for Monroe.  Drinks keep happening (though it seems like they are
spaced just enough apart to keep her from being sick…) and she’s feeling good.  She lost track of that first guy.. Daniel.. (he was so nice!) but now Michael has been dancing with her and has the prettiest eyes.  She’s afraid she’s going to hit attention overload… never in her life have this many hot guys been this into her.  Michael says he has to tell her something and leads her back to the rooms.  He tells her that his little brother in the frat, James (oh! he was cute!) has had his eye on her all night, but is not very confident.  He says his plan was to bring her back to the room and introduce them so he would talk to her.  But James isn’t here, and Michael tells Monroe that he feels a connection with her… she thinks she feels it too… but that could be the vodka.  There’s been a lot of vodka…  Now Michael is kissing her.. his hands are warm as they make their way down her back.. they feel good but she’s still blurry… “maybe this isn’t a good idea..” she thinks.. but fuck it, it’s not like this is normal for her, let’s have some fun.  Maybe there’s a connection
there…

Chastity:

This guy was tough.  The prostitute stigma was strong with him and he’d really liked her.  Sorry champ, no freebies for being cute.  He kept her for a while, she accepted more than one drink (one is her typical rule before business), but she knew she was still totally in control.  She started to walk away and he’d stopped her, disgruntled, and asked what her time would cost.  He said he wasn’t concerned about the sex, but that’s only because he didn’t know what he was in for.  He agreed to compensate for time – the same price – and dinner was excellent.  He asked if he could call her another night (sorry champ, I said no freebies) and that maybe he could support her in exchange for her allowing him to court her legitimately.  She told him maybe, but she knew it was a no.  He wasn’t the first rich guy to offer this, they all think they are different… better than the other guys.  The truth was she actually preferred the guys who were straight up for the sex… much neater and less work to get around their emotional hangups.  Her magic charmed them for whatever they were looking for, it was her job to steer them to what she was willing to give.  Nobody was going to own her.  If someday she decided she wanted something more, she would bring it up on her terms. But she doubted it would be a client, most of them already had somebody waiting at home anyway.  Chastity was a fantasy, and she was a damn good one, but when business was done she would ae8e1ff54665d9f8ad11f7e16e17275a1lways say goodbye.  By the end of the night he had champagne delivered to his hotel room.  “Nothing is going to happen” he said.  Bullshit.  She could see he was already trying to hide a raging boner.  She unzipped his pants… it took her fourty-five seconds to finish him the first time.

So now the score is two to four in favor of Chastity.  But who is the slut?  The naive college girl making multiple poor decisions?  Or the call girl who is totally in control?  They are both having sex, so how do we judge them?  Let’s wrap this up.          

Monroe:

Naked.  They are just laying there, but at least he didn’t push her back out to the party again. Granted the party is dying down.  It’s… what?  3 AM now?  Where did her friends go anyway?  It’s okay though, despite a whirlwind of a night, Monroe isn’t upset or afraid.  Nobody has been mean to her and sure, they’ve been forward, but she wasn’t forced at all.  They are really hot guys and she enjoyed herself both times.  Both times.. wow.. that wasn’t something she was expecting.  She turned and felt the wet spot on the bed near her groin.. there’s no way that was all her.  “You used a condom… right?” she asked.  “Yeah.. yeah I did.”  he paused “But you know, sometimes they break or something.. so maybe you should get the morning after pill just in case.”  The first twinge of frustration hit Monroe.  She wasn’t stupid, this dude lied to her.  But before she could say anything, he sat up and let out a deep sigh. “Shit… I’ve been stupid…”  At least he admitted it… but he continued “This wasn’t supposed to happen.  I was going to hook you up with my little bro and I got greedy.”  He seemed genuinely remorseful and for a moment Monroe actually started to feel bad.  “I’ll talk to him.” she said before she realized what she was saying.  “Maybe he and I can hang out, bring him out of his shell a little.”  Sure.  What’s the harm in that?  “We can keep this between you and I.” she assured him.  Thier connection was faded now, and she didn’t think she was going to see Michael like this again.  “Alright cool.  You know, you’re a pretty cool girl.  I mean, you’re hot, but you’re also cool.”  He handed her the drink she’d carried in with her “Finish that up and I’ll go grab us some more.”  It was three-quarters full.  “No no, no more for me.” she said.  It was still hitting her and any more would make the world spin out of control.  “Alright.” he said “Just finish that and I’ll get you some water.”  Well fuck it, it’s the last one anyway.  She emptied the cup and laid back down while Michael life for more drinks.  For a little while the world went black.

“Holy shit she’s naked…” a voice whispered.  Shocked to consciousness Monroe scrambled to cover herself.  She looked up to see the shy (but cute!) one… what was his name.. James peering down at her with Michael behind him.  “Wait.. did you?  Did you already fuck her??” James asked.  “No no bro, we were just talking and got into it a little… I just warmed her up man!  Look at her!  She’s in your bed, ready.” Michael said.  His bed.  Shit.  His room?  Thier room.  It was harder to think straight after her nap.  “Look, I’m sorry…” she started to say… she had no intention of hooking up with James tonight, no matter how cute he was.  She started grabbing her clothes and then she heard James say “I can’t do this… she’s not here for me.  She doesn’t even like me!  Why did you bring me up here?  She doesn’t want me, she wants you.  I’ll go find somewhere else to crash.”  Shit.. she’d let herself go with Michael on this poor guy’s bed and now she was going to ruin his confidence.  Michael was looking at her now.  He was pleading with his eyes and motioning at her.  Fuck.  “Hey.. uh.. James!” she said.  She wished she wasn’t so fuzzy… damn you vodka.  She sat up on his bed and motioned next to her.  “Come here, let’s just talk for a little while.”  “Are you going to put your clothes on?” he asked.  What a gentleman! “Do you want me to?” she asked playfully (she was already naked on his bed after all…) “N-No.” he replied. “You look hot like that.”  Well fuck it.  She was already here, might as well be naked.  But she was absolutely not sleeping with James tonight.  No way.  Michael left with a smile on his face and James sat and talked to Monroe for a while.  She got sleepy and they agreed to lay down and “cuddle”.  She was still naked, and before he laid down he was too.  It wasn’t long before she felt him hard behind her.  He started kissing her neck and in her sleepy haze it tingled a bit.  He had been sweet to her and they had talked for nearly half an hour before they laid down… she couldn’t bring herself to reject him now and hurt his feelings.  So when his hand made it’s way between her legs, she allowed it… she was still very wet, though somemaxresdefault of that might not be from her.  Hormones took over and she tried to say something about a condom before he could push his way inside her.  He reached over and grabbed at the nightstand drawer.  Then he was behind her again, and she felt him.  Did he put it on?  It seemed too quick but everything was a blur.  She told him to be gentle, he was and she enjoyed herself despite a bit of soreness.

Morning came with a headache and more soreness.  James was gone.  The room was empty.  Monroe couldn’t believe she’d had such a night.  It was a little exhilarating, but also way out of control.  That wasn’t happening again.  As she made her way down the hallway she passed by some of the brother’s rooms.  She vaguely remembered the faces, but all she got was a few amused smiles.  She looked like hell and had to get back to clean up before class.   After class she went to get the morning after pill.  She felt gross about it, but she knew it was the smart thing to do.  Days passed and nobody called, she didn’t see any of those guys again for a while.  She thought she saw Michael once, but when she went after him he had vanished.  Probably better, what was she going to say?  “So, I fucked one of your frat brothers the other night, then I fucked your little after I fucked you.  Good times right?”  It was tremendously embarrassing and part of her hoped she never saw them again.

Unfortunately, they haunted her anyway.  First in the burning sensation when she peed three days later, and then with discharge and something worse than cramps.  Her doctor told her she a combination of a UTI and Gonorrhea.  She was lucky it wasn’t herpes or HIV.  Those assholes!!  But it didn’t stop there, she finally ran into her new friends from the sorority that had been courting her.  They hadn’t contacted her since, but she approached them and was met with awkward looks.  They knew.  In fact, they told her “everybody” knew.  She was the slut that banged three frat boys in one night.  Those guys were 361298283-sad-alone-crying-girl-on-bedhigh-fiving and telling everyone that came to their house how they passed her from brother to brother.  The girls told her they couldn’t have her in their sorority, it wouldn’t look good to have such an openly slutty girl associated with them.  Monroe was understandably livid at the boys, but she
was more upset with herself.  She was depressed for a while and kept to herself and her studies.  Eventually though, she started to feel normal again.  Fuck what those people thought.  She didn’t want anything to do with greek life anyway.

I would like to say that was the end with a lesson learned, for some people it is… but months later she was invited to another party at a different house.  A friend of hers in statistics that was very smart and very handsome invited her along.  Some more alcohol, and some very pretty boys happened.  They had heard about her from some friends of theirs in another frat house.  But that’s another story.   

Chastity:

He had asked her to stay the night.  She usually didn’t but he offered extra.  Money talks.  He wouldn’t try to fuck her again, she’d worn him out and she knew it.  Sometimes it was nice to not rush off, and the sheets at this hotel were to die for.  She woke up to an empty bed and an elaborate gourmet breakfast.  He’d left his number on a card on the tray.  Very cute.  But she knew the game.  He wanted her because he couldn’t have her.  Prostitutes are looked down at because the perception is that anyone can have them.  But a high-class escort knows how to turn that around.  They got what she was willing to give, on her terms, and nothing more.  No matter how they tried.  She sometimes had referrals or friends of previous clients who would tell her that somebody had fallen in love with her or that they would treat her like a queen forever.  But Chastity was her own queen, and she liked it that way.  She gazed out the marble atrium with it’s floor to ceiling windows on the 72nd floor as she ate breakfast and smiled.  Not a bad life.

When she had more than enough money to do so, Chastity enrolled in college.  She required no loans and saw some of her regulars as time allowed for spending money.  She avoided frat parties and that sort of life because she had zero patience for the ridiculous attempts those young boys made to get in her pants.  She tried it once, and all they did was attempt to feed her alcohol and get her alone.  One guy even tried to guilt-trip her into sleeping with his “little bro” who was shy with women.  Please.  One look at the shy boy and she knew that he knew exactly what he was after.  He was no stranger.  Howsport many stupid girls had fallen for that?  After that she kept to her studies and went downtown when she wanted to have fun.  Her company was classy and on her terms, just as she liked it.  

Chastity graduated with a Masters in Business Management and a minor in Accounting.  She went on to become a highly sought after business consultant and developed a reputation for being a no-nonsense problem solver for many fortune five-hundred companies.  She eventually hired an assistant, a cute college dropout who desperately needed a job and had a background in finance to help her manage her accounts.  She was very bright, and had a pretty good attitude, but you could tell she’d been through some things… she was a little rough around the edges.  Chastity hoped she could help her rise above it as she had not so long ago.  But that’s another story.

So what’s the point of these long, drawn out stories?  Well, for one thing, apparently I like to write semi-fiction.  But  the other thing is that either of these girls fit classic examples of “sluts”.  They are both rather extreme cases, but it brings us back to the question my friend asked me: What is “the difference between a woman who is labeled a slut and a woman who’s comfortable with her sexuality.”  The actual answer is: not a damn thing. (Because it depends on the subjective veiwpoint of the person labeling them.)  But again, since we’re making an attempt to differentiate anyway, the difference is based on the choices that are made, the process, and the results.

A woman like Chastity can sleep with literally hundreds of men, in control and smart about every encounter.  Meanwhile a woman like Monroe can sleep with three in one night, out of control and making bad choices.  If somebody put a gun to my head and said “label one a slut or you die”, I would have to go with Monroe.  She made poor decisions, and allowed people who’s sole purpose was to have their with her do so without asserting herself.   That said I would not fault her, or anyone, personally as I know that some frat houses are a well oiled machines (as I tried to illustrate) designed to take advantage of naive women. But the fact remains that I have personally watched a situation like this happen in a far less understandable way than Monroe’s, with a girl who was not nearly as naive, and that sort of blatant bad decision making and irresponsibility qualifies somebody as “sluttier” in my mind than a woman who has intelligently and cleanly slept with many men.

In closing I want to reiterate what I said in the first place though.  The word “slut” is a ridiculous double-standard. The question put to me was specifically in regards to women, so I focused on that angle, but the majority of the time, that word is simply a tool used by men (like those frat guys) to shame women that they previously had no qualms about trying to get with.  It’s just another representation of the still-present archaic societal misogyny that would be better off killed with fire and forgotten forever.

 

Let’s Talk Politics…and Trump… Fuck.

I’m going to swear a bit this post.  I don’t want to talk about politics.  In fact, I really, really don’t like politics.  There’s only one good reason I pay attention to any of it: I’m going to do my duty to vote, and I want to make an informed decision.  But I really hate talking about it.  You know why?  Because politics, along with sports (I’m looking at you Cowboys fans,) online PvP video games, money, sex, and love, have the ability to cause normally rational, intelligent human beings to completely lose their fucking minds.  Granted, in the case of love (and let’s admit… to a lesser degree great sex…) the insanity might be worth it.

But politics… no.  Especially with the oh-so-supportive social media aspect if full-force, politics brings out a shit-ton of negativity that will, for the most part, accomplish absolutely nothing good.  I’m not talking about the people using it to fuel Bernie Sander’s “grassroots” campaign.  That’s “good” social media, and I applaud the proper use of the medium to send a positive message.  Instead I’m referring to the vast majority of armchair patriots that talk endless amounts of shit and spam Facebook with all the baseless, bias, and very likely completely unresearched articles they can find.  The more you argue with them, the more rabid and less reasonable they become.  People who are normally friends say unspeakable things to each other, families are divided, and even the workplace can become tense when you boss’s politics do not align with your own (I’ve had personal experience with this… fortunately not currently.)

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Okay… you got me there…

But this election season, shit is getting real, and it’s damn scary.  I’m not going to be able to progress much further without talking about my stance, so I should tell you that historically I’ve been moderate (you know.. the “grey area” after all..) but I lean toward the democratic side pretty much because I love women and want them to be able to do what they want as equals to men (which… they always have been… why it is taking so long for the world to figure that out is beyond me…)

This season choosing a side between the right and the left is easy.  Because this season the republican side is all kinds of fucked up.  Not since Sarah Palin have we seen a group of candidates so utterly disgraceful and representative of the republican party’s need to dismantle itself and remember what it’s supposed to stand for.  Say what you want about G. W. Bush’s handling of 9/11, the fact is he brutalized the economy and led us into a severe depression.  But that pales in comparison to the potential damage that the current republican candidates could do…  Especially Donald fucking Trump.  All of these guys, especially him.. make Mitt Romney look like a shining, angel-winged beacon of hope if only based on the fact he came across intelligent, articulate and capable of being reasonable.

In fairness, some of the candidates we started with could have proven themselves.  John Kasich hasn’t appeared utterly insane, just too quiet.  And at one point before he dropped out, I was appalled to find myself thinking that Jeb Bush was the most reasonable and feasible of the lot… another fucking Bush…  But none of that matters, because of Trump.

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He actually looked a little less douchy…

A little over  a decade ago (ugh) I liked Trump.  The Apprentice had just gained popularity and my girlfriend (at the time) and I would travel to our friend’s house to watch his tough-guy image and signature hand gesture as he fired that week’s failure.  It was television, but it had some valuable lessons about doing what it takes to survive in the real business world and managing your resources.  At the time you could almost see Trump as a guru-style, hardcore businessman that you could learn from.  Over time, however, the shiny innovation wore off and the gimmicks they attempted to freshen up the show only served to make them look more desperate.  Perhaps that should’ve been an early warning.

Four years ago, Trump talked about possibly running, and people thought it was funny.  He had gained some political notoriety by questioning President Obama’s birth records, but neither he nor anyone else thought it was a serious gesture.  To his credit, he tested the water and perhaps that time he knew it was too cold for his taste.  So he took a back-seat in the political arena for a little while.  Later he said he regretted not running and that he could’ve beaten Obama “easily”.  Sure Donald.  Regardless, it was all a funny “what if”.  Nobody seriously thought he would run, and even if he did there’s no way he’d be successful in the political arena.

Oops.  We completely underestimated the number of racist, xenophobic, hate-filled, ignorant, scared, easily manipulated, complete fucking idiots that populate the supposed “greatest country in the world.” (Yes, I also loved the speech from the opening of the Newsroom… for the 501st time when it was posted on Facebook “new”… again… Aaron Sorkin is a genius… moving on.)  I’ll give Trump credit for this: he knows his audience.  He is preying on all those that are alienated when we try to move ahead as a society.  Equality for people of color?  Fuck you, I’m voting for Trump.  Women are equal to men!?  Fuck you! I’m voting for Trump!  Accept those terrified, starving, fleeing, refugee TERRORISTS into MY country!?  Fuck you!  I’m voting for Trump!  Basically anytime we’ve given a stupid white (often) redneck male a reason to feel like he’s not the king of the world, Trump is stepping in to be their savior.

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When not talking about the size of his peni..err.. hands.

And I only wish that were his only demographic… but there’s a number of other people, who I can only assume are either evil businessmen in league with him or sheep-like people that feel scared and/or weak that are drawn to his strong bravado.  But it’s false bravado, and anyone with a brain can see that.  He talks “YUUUGE”, but anytime he’s asked a question requiring substance… a political plan, or international relations, or even his stance on white supremacy (seriously…) he balks.  If he doesn’t have something offensive and strong to say that will support and fuel his masses, he tries to talk around the question with pure nonsense.

But it doesn’t matter.  Trump has tapped into something primal: hate.  Initially, the republican party got behind it and rode the wave of his popularity.  They assumed he’d ride out his fame and settle into their ranks.  But as is the case with many a horror story, they created a monster, and the monster outgrew them.  Now they are faced with a very difficult choice; Let the monster have his way, or revoke their support and draw the ire of his legion of followers (the majority of whom were originally republican voters.)  They know Trump will turn his followers on them, he has grown very, very good at inspiring and feeding hate… to the point now it has begun to become violent.  So now those that fed him are at his mercy, watching in horror as he strikes down each of their other champions until the only one remaining is as comparably frightening as Trump himself: Ted Cruz.  I wish I could say this is bad as it gets, but it’s still in it’s early stages.

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Or.. you know.. launch nuclear missiles…

If Trump wins the republican nomination, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I will be legitimately afraid of the outcome of the presidential race.  Sure, in the past I haven’t agreed with certain candidates, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt like a candidate represented everything that was wrong with humanity.  If he becomes the leader of the “free world”, then I honestly believe the free world could be doomed.  He will almost certainly destroy our ties with long time allies such as Mexico (you know… the giant wall and all…) and the majority of Europe (who already hate him.)  Further, it’s not unrealistic to see him forging ties with China and Russia, not for the sake of peace or creating a better world, but for the sake of money.  Assuming that doesn’t create conflict through infighting and power struggle,  it could very quickly turn into intimidation, invasion, and oppression of countries that posed any sort of threat to the new “Axis of Evil..err.. Greatness”, and a very ugly, very nuclear third world war that could change life as we know it… forever.

Now I realize that escalated quickly, and it sounds very far fetched, but look at what has been incited by this man so far.  We’ve got him offering to pay the legal fees of his people who attack anti-Trump protesters at his rallies.  The situation I described above is just a massively amplified version of that.  What happens when Canada says “Hey there… you’re being a dick to your people and we are cutting off trade with you.”?  He’ll retaliate, and he’ll encourage his people, his country, to violence.  Here’s the thing folks, as soon as we give him those codes, as soon as we put him in that house, it only takes one moment of defensiveness and false bravado for him to make a decision that will literally change the face of this planet.  That shit is real, and it is scary.

Maybe I’m overstating the situation.  I really hope I am.  Some people say that Trump is just saying all of this to win the popularity contest and as soon as he’s elected he’ll change his tune.  But I don’t think so.  I’ve seen him in the board room when the people are watching him.  As President, he would know the people, most importantly his people, will be watching him, so he’ll act “strong” even if somewhere deep down the last of his moral compass is telling him it’s a bad idea.

q49d7dtThat’s the long and the short of it: Trump is already in over his head.  He doesn’t know how government works, he doesn’t know political leadership, and he sure as hell doesn’t know constitutional law.  All he knows is that the USA is one big business and if he’s the leader he has to keep lying and acting tough.  So he’ll try to dismantle the parts he doesn’t understand and shape it into something that lets him make all the decisions like he has in his (arguably) unsuccessful corporations.

I saw a movie once where another leader came to power and did the same thing.  That leader’s name was Palpatine.  Unfortunately, the real-life version we’re faced with now is just as evil and greedy, but not nearly as powerful or intelligent.

So for the love of god people, vote for anyone other than Trump.  If he wins the republican nomination, and you’re a republican, then I ask that for the sake of your party and your country, you vote for the democratic candidate (either is better… and maybe we’ll get into that in a future post.)  The republican party has already all but denounced Trump unofficially, so if you vote for the opposing candidate, at least you know your party has time to regroup, develop a new strategy, and maybe unify into something that better represents the conservative people of this country.  This round was a disaster, we all know it, but if you vote for Trump on principle (or don’t vote at all…) the country as we know it may very well cease to exist, and the republican party might not get another chance.  How’s that for the lesser of the two evils?

Always Be Honest With Yourself (And Others.)

“To thine own self be true…” – Shakespeare

“Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.” -Freud

“If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule – Never lie to yourself.” – Coelho

This reoccurring theme throughout the ages is simple, but they don’t tell you have fucking difficult it actually is.  I say this with no bitterness as I’ve been focused on keeping myself honest for almost a decade now. Though I feel like I’ve shared a bit of that backstory with you already… for those of you just joining us, long story short, I was a lying, manipulative asshole from my teenage years all the way up past the quarter-century mark of my life.  I paid for it, learned from it and the one shining lesson above all else that I embraced was as stated above: Be honest with yourself first.

At first it was easy.  My lies exposed, my life had shattered and come crumbling down around me.  So many lies over so many years meant I didn’t even actually know who I was.  Through all the attempts to be whatever I thought people wanted me to be, I actually began to buy into my own bullshit.  And so, when said bullshit was cleared away, there was simply nothing.  A husk, an empty shell stripped bare, an empty barrel with any trace of identity laying somewhere in the bottom of it.  The easy part of this phase was that I had nothing to lose.

When you don’t care about anything, there is no reason to lie.

You always know where he's coming from.

You always know where he’s coming from.

So I went on for a while as a non-filtered, brutally honest asshole.  Abrasive, uncaring, broken.  I severed ties with people whom had similar habits in lying that I had.  In fairness I did try to educate them in the futility of that lifestyle, but like any drug it’s an ugly and destructive habit that is not so easily escaped.  But I absolutely could not stand to be around it any more, so I left.  After a while on my own I found those that respected and had the resilience for my abrasive honesty, but only some of them could actually handle it.  The others felt they needed to change me, to fix me.  The truth is I did need fixing, but not the way they thought.  In the end it backfired on them because everything I represented came straight from the source, and when you’re in touch with your core like that – a direct link – nothing gets skewed.

But although that sounds ideal, it was miserable.  Brutal, abrasive honesty with nothing to lose is lonely and broken and mostly incapable of operating in our society.  Eventually I began to value things and people in various ways.  Not (to this day) on an ideal level of love, but they became important nonetheless, and I was able to at least partially convey that to them (admittedly, some attempts went better than others.)  I began to develop a filter.  I still would not lie, and to this day I keep that tenant.  But I began to withhold things for the sake of others, and maybe (without realizing it) for the sake of myself.

Many say that withholding is the same as lying, but I can’t quite get behind that.  It’s situational, it depends on what you withhold from who, and why.  It’s a grey area.  Obviously if you are withholding relevant information from somebody that trusts you, then it is probably as destructive and deceptive as lying.  So yes, in that case it’s along the same lines.  This also includes “protecting” somebody from being hurt when they have every right to the information you have.

On the other hand, withholding information that falls into the lines of gossip about another, or exposes the secrets of somebody that trusts you is a virtuous thing.  You have the information perhaps because you were involved or because they confided in you, but their secret is not yours to tell, even if that means that you must also withhold something about yourself that you might not normally.

But like all grey areas, all of those rationalizations are a delicate balance… sometimes only a step away from falling back into the habits of lying and deceit for the sake of self.  This balance must be carefully maintained, and in every case it must start with you.

Situational... but clever.

Situational… but clever.

It is easy to say “I’m honest with myself, and I’ve proven it so I can relax.”  But that’s a trap, and one I believe I may be falling into.  Don’t get me wrong, I still abhor lying outwardly and choose to be (at times) uncomfortably forthcoming.  But inwardly I think it’s easy to become careless and I might very well be experiencing the results of that.

You see, the key to remember when endeavoring to be honest with yourself is to remember who you are.  But the complicated aspect of that, is that who you are changes. Often. Sometimes gradually, sometimes near-instantly (and with an abundance of cosmic energy if you’re especially cool.)  Being honest with yourself is a constant exercise in checking yourself against who you are, and in order to do that, you have to be ready to consistently accept some really unpleasant truths about yourself.  Then, once you’ve pinpointed where you’re weak and ugly, you have to be willing to accept and then be outwardly honest about those faults through both words and action.  This is the process of improving those things and therefore making yourself a more balanced, ultimately happier person.

On the same turn, you need to be really honest about what you like about yourself and what your strengths are.  You would think this would be easy, but insecurity has a way of diminishing these attributes to you.  It’s a defense mechanism that your mind puts in place when society starts teaching you that it’s bad to be different, or to like certain things depending on who you are, or any of the five billion other idiotic standards society tries to program into you from a young age.

So what’s the point?  Why put so much effort into checking yourself when you could just act naturally and let that be who you are?  Well, as I’ve been finding out through a number of difficult situations lately, if you don’t pay attention to who you are and what you’re about right now. You fall into the trap of personal rationalization.  Instead of rationalizing your thoughts or actions outwardly, you do it inwardly and in regards to who you actually are.  So you create this ideal image of who you are in your mind without the gut check.  Instead of paying attention to how you feel about a particular situation or action you take, you create a persona and begin to check yourself against that as if it’s who you are.  This is the lie, and one that many people intentionally fall into.

fine,honest,hurt,life,quotes,sad-cda72d0c8b592856321a43478cf8d32f_hBut the problem with believing your own persona, is that who you really are deep down doesn’t go away.  If you’re really, really lucky it might adapt itself to your persona, but the vast majority of the time, it will instead sabotage it. If you don’t face it, the person you really are will sabotage you.  Have you seen when seemingly powerful people have massive breakdowns?  What about celebrities that have it all and then abruptly crack or even die?  This list of causes is endless: Drugs, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, or general crazed, reckless behavior but it all comes down to the fact that those suffering in those cases were lying to themselves.  About who they were, where they were weak, how they felt or what they needed help with.  Celebrities are extreme cases because they live in extreme circumstances, but none of us (not even me) are immune.

So, for your sake, take some time to get to know you.  Explore how you feel about things, people and the world completely separate of what anyone else thinks is best for you.  Once you’ve done that, make sure you keep doing that as you change and grow and feel differently about things.  Don’t lose touch with who you are and absolutely do not fall into the trap of rationalizing who you are – to yourself first – and then to anyone else.  There is no rationalizing who and what you are at your core, you simply are. Though it takes some balance to know what to allow to the surface for others to see, you must accept yourself within raw and unfiltered.  When you have a foundation of honesty such as that, it is both liberating and empowering.  You know who you are, and nobody can take that from you.

Uber Tales: The Downtown Alpha Male (Douchebag)

This is a totally true, cautionary tale for you ladies that frequent the downtown nightlife.

So I’ve been meaning to write on the different levels in which the vast majority of stupid, misogenistically-programmed men ruin it it for the rest of the halfway decent heterosexual males out there and I had a few ideas, but around a week ago I was given a prime example that not only prompted a bit of introspection, but left me with a few questions.

Around midnight or so I received an Uber request at a nightclub in Orlando called “Gilt”.  This particular club was formerly known as “Roxy” and is one of the few major nightclubs that is not located in or around the downtown area of Orlando.  (At least the only one that’s not an actual strip club.)  It turns out I was passing nearby after another drop-off so I literally pull in to the parking lot within a minute of the ride request and pull to the side to await my riders.  The club was not closed yet, so I expected it would be easy to spot the people waiting for their ride.  I observe the valet and security staff talking to a couple of guys in the parking lot in front of me when one of the security guys points at me, prompting the two guys to turn around and head for my car – easy enough.  The men – let’s call them Bob and Steve – confirm I’m their driver, exchange some pleasantries, and Bob gets in the front while Steve gets in the back.  They ask me to head downtown towards Wall street.  I know it well and we’re on our way.

Close Enough.

Close Enough.

Bob and Steve are well dressed, well groomed, relatively attractive men in their late twenties to early thirties.  Bob is especially muscular and probably spends an above-average time in the gym, whereas Steve is not as obviously “swole” but still defined and in shape.  It becomes obvious very quickly that Bob is an alpha – type A, outgoing, attention seeking and a strong personality while Steve is a / his follower (though not necessarily “weak” but less controlling in the dynamic of their friendship.)  Steve is very likely also a strong personality among other groups that he runs with, but Bob is clearly running the show this night.

There’s a lot of typical talk about the club we came from and it quickly becomes apparent that these two are the all too common (read: shitty) men who by their discussion see women as objects meant solely for their pleasure.  Apparently the crowd at Gilt that night had not impressed them and they were ready to use the remaining ninety minutes downtown to salvage the night.  The highlight of this enlightened exchange is when the two start to go back and fourth regarding STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases.)  Up until this point I had mostly tuned them out, but this particular section of their discussion was especially disturbing:

Bob: “The only STD I’m really concerned about getting is HIV you know?  Obviously that’s the one nobody wants to get..”

Me: “I don’t know man… I mean that’s the worst, but any of them would suck and once you get Herpes there’s no cure for that either…”

Steve: “Yeah I was going to say you don’t want to end up with Herpes man… and a lot of people have that!  You know, that’s just people who get cold sores and shit.”

Bob: “Oh I’m not worried about herpes, who cares about that?  I’ve probably already got it anyway.”

Steve: “Dude you would know if you had it.”

Bob: “I know that, I figure if I’ve had open sores for a few days that probably means I have it.”

Me: ……….

Bob: “That’s just what happens when you fuck these bitches downtown without a condom… that shit just happens man.  But as long as it’s not HIV you’re not going to die or anything, so fuck it.”

Steve: “Yeah man, you should try to use a condom downtown.”

For the love of god downtown folk... please?

For the love of god downtown folk… please?

**Note: If I need to elaborate on the many, many things wrong with this dialog, it’s probably too late for you.  What kills me though, is that this is not atypical for the kind of guys that frequent clubs downtown (I also realize there’s SOME good ones)… and it works… you ladies actually go for these guys or whatever persona they show you… mind blowing… regardless let me continue. 

What followed was more or less them continuing to talk about the “action” downtown.  Bob asked me how it looked down there that night and I responded that it was busy, but only average for the night, not overly packed.  Then came the more interesting part:

Bob: I bet you see all kinds of action in here man!  How often do you get blowjobs from the bitches you pick up?

Me: Actually I’ve heard those stories and I’ve seen some things, but never anything like that. Drivers try to avoid touching their riders in general… you know, liability and such.  Besides, even if I had a rider that wanted to do something like that, think about the liability involved there.  What if later on they decide they were drunk, regret it and decide to tell Uber they were harassed?  Then, at the very least, this is no longer an option for making money.

Bob: Oh yeah man, you can’t trust drunk bitches… but what if they want you to come party?

Me: I’ve been invited along a few times, but honestly by that point, they’re pretty much done for the night anyway and I still need to work, so I haven’t taken anyone up on that yet.  If I wanted to do something like that, I’d pretty much have to be done for the night so nothing that happened would have anything to do with Uber.

Bob: Tell you what, why don’t you park the car downtown and come out with us.

Me: I can’t man, I have to work.  (And.. you’re essentially the LAST guy I would care to hang out with..)

Bob: How much you think you’ll make tonight?

Me: Probably around $200?

Bob: I got two bills right here for you.  Come out, relax, I’ll buy drinks, then we’ll find some bitches at the club, go back to my place in 55 West and at the very least you’ll get your dick sucked.

Me:  You’re serious? ( I should’ve given a higher number…)

Bob:  Yeah man I got you, let’s have some fun.

What's the worst that could happen...?

What’s the worst that could happen…?

From that point on I more or less avoided the question, and Steve regurgitated some of what Bob had said.  When we finally reached the downtown area I pulled up to the corner of Orange Ave where they close it off to traffic.  As I ended the fare, Bob was disappointed that I wasn’t going to go with them and the condescension was pretty obvious.

But as I drove off to gather my next fare I wondered if I had made a bad decision.  Obviously, I had no intention of making decisions as bad as Bob and Steve undoubtably did, but at the same time I had passed up a story… and adventure… and honestly more money than I would make that night.  Had I kept things on my terms and gone along with them, it might’ve been fun and maybe I would’ve met somebody worthwhile downtown.  If things had gone south, it would’ve been a simple matter to break off and head home (possibly even via Uber had I been too drunk to drive myself.)  Part of me wondered at what point did I lose my sense of adventure, of new things and new experiences?

I resolved that I didn’t know those men beyond that things they said that were nearly the opposite of how I view things.  To be associated with them, and somewhat inebriated at the mercy of them downtown and especially at his place did not seem like a great idea.  There was more potential for discomfort and possible disaster than there was anything promising and deep down I knew that.

Admittedly, it’s possible over the last year or so I’ve become a bit more introverted.  We all grow and change and though I did have a great time at an EDM club in Seattle earlier this year, for the most part my days of weekly clubbing are long past me.  It’s on my mind though… the fear of leading a boring life and not being open to new experiences.  Frankly, at this point I don’t have the resources for such things anyway, but when I do, I’ll have to pay a bit more attention to finding my groove again… without any assistance from the Alpha Douchebag.

Maintainance and Placation

I think I mentioned before that show season is a very busy time of year.  As such it’s been ten days since my last post.  The majority of that time has been spent working very long hours in Atlanta and then Athens, Georgia.   The upside is the paycheck that will come from it.  The downside is the near total lack of social or any other sort of life outside of work.  It’s a season, only a few weeks out of the year, after which it becomes easier to balance living with working.  In the meantime though, it can take it’s toll and sometimes in unexpected ways.

This is the awesome sort of communication show season is made of...

This is the awesome sort of communication show season is made of…

Communication has evolved a lot over the last few decades and it makes staying in touch when long distances away much easier than previous generations.  However, with that evolution has come what I like to refer to as “connection maintenance”.  Essentially it’s that infrequent check-in that says “Hey!  I still think of you sometimes so we’re still connected and should hang out.”  Over the years I’ve used it to maintain a number of connections of varying nature with a fair amount of success.  No casual relationship (essentially, any non-committed relationship) should be forced into communication requirements.  But there’s a flip-side to that too.  What happens when all your communication becomes maintenance?

Over years people grow apart.  Interests change, situations change, people change.  Because of that, relationships of all sorts require work, or maintenance to keep from breaking down.  But like anything, as time continues to wear on those connections, a little more than just maintenance becomes necessary.  The problem with solely maintaining a relationship is that over time the personal touch dissolves.  Sure you text regularly or exchange dirty snapchats, but all the while personal familiarity is diminishing.  Technology cannot imitate all the subtle, subconscious messages that pass between people and it cannot reinforce the personal connection that develops when you spend time with somebody.  It can slow the process if used properly, but ultimately the only way to keep such a connection going strong is to actually connect – in person.   There is no better way to communicate, and no better way to relate to another person.  And though this most certainly applies in terms of physical relationships, I also speak of friendships that can be forged and reinforced through hours spent talking over coffee, wine, great food or netflix binging.

"You again!?"

“You again!?”

What’s more dangerous is when maintenance turns to placation.  Over time, as connections diminish it’s very easy to fall into a mentality where you simply humor or do what you feel you need to in order to appease your relationship with somebody.  You don’t really care, but instead of talking about it, you respond out of some outdated feeling of obligation to whatever you were before.  But it doesn’t work like that.  Almost everyone knows when they get to that level.  When a connection who once really cared obviously no longer does, physical visits basically disappear (as do the attempts to plan them) and their messages become robotic, thoughtless and eventually non-existent.  As the connection continues to erode, you never hear from them unless you instigate communication and even then your attempts often go ignored.   Attempts to connect personally are thoughtlessly and ambiguously agreed to, but plans are never made and if group plans are made, they probably won’t show for you.  We’ve all been there, I’ve seen it happen cycle after cycle and have always accepted it as another finite example of life.

There has to BE a relationship first...

There has to BE a relationship first…

But this time something is bothering me.  Before, I was a bad guy and frankly when you’re the villain, you lose people.  It’s a selfish and self-destructive path that naturally pushes people away.  Lies and betrayal can utterly destroy some of the strongest connections, and even those that remain are changed forever.  But this last time, I was alright.  I certainly haven’t been the most moral person in the world and I never will be, but I feel like for the most part I did good by the people I called my friends and connected with.  So then, when
those connections began to diminish and my attempts to maintain them were ignored, I developed a major dislike for this situation.  For the first time in as long as I can remember, I began to take being ignored personally.  Further, even those who didn’t ignore me were simply placating me out of some long-passed loyalty or connection they once felt.  I realized I really hated being ignored or placated.  Not necessarily because those connections were fading, but because some of those I was once connected with didn’t have the heart or personal strength to talk to me about it and admit it.  It’s frustrating when people that you used to feel important to act as if you’re no longer important enough to even discuss the state of your connection with you.  They’d rather mindlessly respond or simply ignore me and get on with their lives. It feels weak to me… and I don’t like weakness (especially my own!)

Eventually I realized that being sensitive about it only made it worse and came to terms with it, but it’s a sad thing to simply watch connections you might like to keep diminish.  In some cases it seems it’s meant to be and that’s not to say that some won’t return stronger one day.  But I submit to you that it’s a good idea to pay attention to the connections you have now in whatever form and decide which ones you want to do a little more than maintain.  Some relationships are worth keeping, nurturing and investing in so that they remain through the cycles and grow stronger.  Even after we leave this world, some of those connections remain in the form of memories and legacies they create.  Sometimes, with a little more than just maintenance, relationships really can last forever.

The “Hook-Up Culture” Myth

I keep hearing the term “hook-up culture” and it being used in a derogatory manner.  They say that it’s causing “the decline of meaningful relationships” and indeed if you look at some of the statistics compared to the days of yore it can be twisted to reflect such a message.  But the fact of the matter is that it’s bullshit.  In fact, the term “hook-up culture” is just a way to generalize a much broader concept: sexual self-reliance.

“I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone...”  (Hell yes Emma!!)

“I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone…” (Damn straight Emma, you tell em’!)

The most common story comes from those crazy college kids these days that are just getting together and having wild drunken sex parties.  But they act like this is something new.  This is not new, it just keeps getting better. Looking beyond the filthy bullshit that is male entitled rape culture (I know it’s a bleak reality, but I’ve ranted about that already and that’s not the point here…) and what you have are individuals that aren’t afraid to be individuals.  But to say that this is a college thing, or that it’s a new concept is ridiculous.  I literally read an article yesterday about Emma Murano, a woman who is one-hundred and fifteen years old and do you know what she credits her longevity to?  Raw eggs and being single since 1938.  Do you think she’s been celibate since 1938? Hell no.

The truth is that “hooking up” has been happening forever and the current time frame isn’t even the first time it’s been given a name.  In Roman times it was a common occurrence (especially among the higher classes.) Hundreds of years later in the 60s and 70s it was “free love”, but then many referred to it as a “counter-culture” made up of “dirty hippies”.  That’s basically what happens now.  Certain groups of narrow-minded people that fear the concept try to generalize and degrade it with labels.  The same goes today with those trying to label and put a negative spin on “Hook-Up Culture”.  You don’t have to look far to read about how this culture is “destroying” things like “traditional dating”, “modern romance”, “Love as we know it”, “Gay youth culture” and even an entire generation.  I mean.. shit!  Who knew the power of getting it on with somebody you probably don’t want to be with forever was so potent!  Next time we got to war, instead of sending the troops over and dropping bombs, let’s just send some “Hook-Up Culture” ambassadors to their country to fuck the love right out of their whole generation!   It’s a crisis!

...and sending that text when the mood strikes...

…and sending THAT text when the mood strikes…

What has really happened is that with the power of the internet and support that was previously too hidden or distant for us to see, individuals have found that they don’t have to conform to outdated and gender-bias/misogynistic traditions or rules to run their romantic life.  Instead, they feel more comfortable wanting what they want and the fear of god/society/etc no longer keeps many of them from acting on those desires.  Now it’s okay to be a successful unmarried woman with a healthy sexual appetite (we have shows about this now!)  Likewise you’re not a loser if as a man you don’t have or even want a wife or family.  We’ve gotten to the point where we can talk about men hooking up with men, women hooking up with women, and gender-neutral people hooking up with both, or none, or whatever they prefer.  “Hookup Culture” isn’t about hooking up at all really, it’s about people deciding they are going to sexually be what they want, fuck who they want (as long the partner is willing…) and not have to conform to meet expectations.   There’s no more hooking up than there ever was before (trust me.. your parents had just as much sex, they were just afraid to talk about it.)  We’re simply being more open, educated, intelligent and accepting of it all as a part of our lives.  That scares a lot of the more traditionally conservative people to death, so they feel the need to slap a label on it and cry doomsday.

But you know what?  Love is still happening.  Marriage is still happening.  Kids are still happening (granted Japan is in a bit of a population crisis… you might wanna make a few more babies over there…)  If the birth rate goes down a little in the US or even the world, that’s okay for a while.  We have a pretty serious global over-population issue as it is and a lot of quality human beings with a great deal of potential that need adopting.

Go ahead and try to tell me those children don't have a beautiful family life. :)

Go ahead and try to tell me those children don’t have a beautiful family life. 🙂

Speaking of which, thanks to hook-up culture, we have a new breed of successful singles that don’t have to be married but want kids.   Those folks along with the growing  government acceptance of gay marriage (which is also simultaneously “destroying” most of the things Hook-up Culture is…. along with the “sanctity of marriage”) are giving a lot of those kids who need adopting really amazing homes and families.  I’ve personally witnessed better parenting from some of these singles/couples than I’ve seen from a great deal of heterosexual parents that either accidentally reproduced or did so under pressure from their non-hook-up culture (when they didn’t even really want children.)  Who’s going to be the better parent?  The ones who feel forced to have kids they aren’t sure they want, or the ones that have to deliberately apply and invest in a very thorough process in order to raise children they actually really want?   Which of those family situations is more likely to produce better-rounded contributors to our upcoming generations?

If “Hook-up Culture” is a real phenomenon and things are truly changing so drastically, then it’s for the better.  Perhaps the traditional marriage rate is dropping, but if that’s true, then I would wager the majority of the marriages that aren’t happening would’ve been the unhappy ones.  The truth about culture now is that it’s becoming the sexually and romantically liberated culture.  People are learning that they can have sex, and it can just be sex.  They can have love, with whoever they want.  They understand that sex and love do not have to be mutually exclusive (but they still certainly can be, if they want it to be.) Most importantly they are realizing that there’s not a damn thing wrong with any of that.  

Oh my god you're right!!  LOVE IS DYING!

Oh my god you’re right!! LOVE IS DYING!

Love and romance cannot simply be killed off because somebody got a boner for a girl he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life with and she liked how his abs looked when he was shirtless, so they did their thing and got on with their lives.  I like to think love is a bit stronger than that.  I’m also pretty certain that both “Generation Y” and “Gay Youth” are doing better than before because of the shift towards acceptance of individual sexuality. (and honestly we still have a long way to go…)  In the end, “Hook-Up Culture” is just a label that will be used and abused as propaganda (which is almost always false.)  If there’s been a cultural shift, hooking up is a product of it, not the reason.

I wish I could help you all.

Everyday I see you.  On Social media, passing by while I eat lunch and even interacting with me on various levels.  Everyday I see a new reminder of somebody that feels like they are missing something, somebody, anything to fill that hole they feel.  They feel trapped, restrained or empty.  I get it, because I feel it too sometimes.  But what makes me sad is that you’re wandering, searching, and you don’t have the slightest idea for what.  You grasp at straws over and over thinking “Maybe this will fix it!”  “Maybe this will make me feel better!”  Sometimes it does.  But it’s usually only temporary.

2014-03-26-alone_man1440x9001When I read, see, hear or otherwise encounter you… it’s one of the few times I wish that I could say “I’m sorry.”  I’m arrogant enough to think I know what you need, and I believe that if in some cases you knew me, and trusted me… or in other cases I was willing to compromise myself, I could give it to you.  But in those cases you do not, and in other cases I cannot.

I am fortunate that the universe moves me along the path to intervene in the lives of those where it sees fit.  It is, in fact, an honor to have a lasting effect on any individual’s life.  But when I see so many others suffering, not because they deserve it, but because they believe they do… it makes me angry.  I don’t want to talk down to those people.  I, too, have a darkness and emptiness I wrestle with regularly,  so it’s not pity I feel… it’s kindrid.. and it’s resentment toward the hard lessons people have to sometimes spend their whole lives learning.  It’s not fair.

Ahhh.. but as I said, I am arrogant.  To speak as if there isn’t a reason.  I believe there is, a greater reason to a greater system.  But that doesn’t mean that now, in this moment they deserve to feel like this.  These are good people who only hurt themselves (not literally.. most of the time) and harm nobody.  They have good hearts, better than mine, and yet are subjected to harsh lessons and robbed of their ability to flourish.  Now, perhaps it will make them stronger and they will flourish even more down the road. I like that hope… I like to think everyone gets theirs in the end…In this life.

3620046579_d56a212c10

This isn’t them, it’s the fear and hate of the ones before them, but they may never escape it.

But they don’t.  That’s the reality of this world.  In order to get what you deserve in this world, you must first believe you deserve it.  But often those closest to you rob you of that belief, that hope, from day one.  This too makes me angry.  Society is broken, humanity is broken.  From generation to generation scars are passed down often in the forms of blessings.  Repression, restraint, control, greed, helplessness, wrong.. “you’re wrong because…” This is what assaults you from the womb, from day one, and often from those you’re supposed to trust the most.  Their wounds bleed on to you and you suffer their sins as they suffered the sins of those before them because from the beginning you’ve always be taught that if you don’t do what they think is right, whatever they’ve been programmed to think is right… then you’re wrong.

THAT is where that hole comes from.  THAT is where the emptiness begins.  The ego is chipped away and insecurity wreaks havoc on your soul.  This damage keeps you from feeling complete because you can’t be complete if you don’t feel right being you.  It doesn’t go away either.  It resurfaces over and over again and if you can’t fight, it consumes you.  Sometimes the people who helped put it there tell you that they know what you need to fix it.  But you don’t need to be fixed.  You’re not actually broken, you’re just afraid of who you are, so you can’t be who you are.

I believe in love.  I believe in people that belong together and compliment each other’s lives perhaps even into the next life.  But I don’t ever believe that a relationship is two halves.  It’s two wholes.  And the best way to find your other whole is to do your best to make yourself as whole as possible.  But you’re really, really afraid of that.  In fact, you may not even realize it’s what you Over-Parentingneed.  But I promise you, no matter where you come from, what your beliefs are, or what your heritage is, the one thing you need more than anything or anyone in this world, is to be you.  And be the you that you were born to be, and be so fucking happy about who you are and what you represent that nothing anyone can say or do will convince you that you need to be anything but who you are.

Don’t ever let your family, friends, teachers, pastors, boyfriends, girlfriends, strangers or (for the love of god..) media tell you who you are or what you should be.  Don’t let ME tell you who you should be.  Nobody has to, because way deep down you already know.  And THAT is all you need to listen to.  That is the voice of you in the universe telling you that you’re perfect being you (flaws and all.)

I don’t care about a lot of things… or maybe on a different level I do.  But what makes me feel… what makes me sad, is when I see good hearted, talented, intelligent, amazing people restrained, self-loathing, depressed, repressed, hurt or otherwise abused because they’ve been infected by this thing we call society.  What’s supposed to help people by bringing them together now traps them in shallow lies, evil intentions and empty promises.  It makes them scared to be who they are, and makes them hate themselves because they don’t fit what only a small percentage of people in this world believe is ideal.  These people who could potentially save the world… the entire human race… are squandered because of false pride, rampant ego, and the fear and insecurity that has controlled those before them since nearly the beginning of civilization.

Most of us have been there.

Most of us have been there.

I see it.  It makes me angry.  It makes me sad.  Even though I am privileged enough to know that in a very large picture, even suffering has it’s place, it’s reasons… it doesn’t mean that it’s fair.  The system is balanced, and it will balance itself and we are only a part of a much greater system.   But I see the individual lights.  I see you, there at night alone and afraid to face yourself.  But you have to face yourself, you have to fight all the wrong that been crammed in your head that tells you you’re anything but magnificent.  And I wish i could help you.  I wish I could help you all.  I wish I could help you be you.

Work / Life (Im)Balance

I’ve struggled with the concept of a good work/life balance for many years now.  I’ve always been a very firm believer in the line between personal life and what we do for work.  As the saying goes, we “work to live”, not “live to work.”  But then there’s the other philosophy that says if you love what you do, then it won’t feel like work.  To this day I struggle with where the right balance is, and what sort of lifestyle is worth the work you put in.  Can you really love what you do so much that it doesn’t feel like work?  (Especially when you’re as inherantly lazy as I am?)

As an Executive Assistant (what I do when I’m not writing long-winded blogs) my hours can be fairly erratic.  When I was serving my last Chairman I was salary (the norm for this sort of position) which made the extended hours a bit upsetting at times.  Now, I’m hourly (no overtime pay but still a step up…) and my current CEO demands (as nicely as possible) I put extra time in.  This last week especially I’ve had a lot on my plate and found myself taking it home.  Great for my paycheck, but not so great for having any downtime.  Downtime and decompression time are very important to me to the point I often take extended lunches to remove my brain and start on my blogs.  But when you find yourself struggling to get enough sleep and having little “you” time, at what point do you decide if it’s worth it or not?  There’s no real standard, and I’m NOT complaining about where I am in life, but I do seek the balance for the sake of myself and my employer as I believe many people do.

Executive Assistant Life

Executive Assistant Life

So what’s the solution?  It’s said that you have to work hard and put in your time in order to improve your lifestyle and make money. But is the money worth it if you don’t have time to enjoy it?  I know that I’m not willing to give up my lifestyle at this point, and I want to build on it, so the most logical conclusion is to keep my nose to the grindstone, kick ass, work the long hours and reap the rewards….eventually.  But I’ve always believed it’s a mistake to put your happiness into a far off goal or dream.  It must be a balancing act that involves working toward your eventual dream (I’m not even sure I have one…) while taking the time and providing yourself with the experiences that make your life worth living now.  Regardless of how much you work, you have to be happy!  Sometimes that means pulling yourself away from the grindstone and investing time in you or those you love.  If only it were as easy for us to be as happy at work as many company founders want us to be!  But you can’t blame them for not understanding why you aren’t.   

I’ve spent years working for company founders now.  One thing many of them don’t understand, and that you may not realize is that it is psychologically extremely difficult (if not impossible) for you to have the same level of connection / ownership to the company that they do.  You may care deeply about your company, you may even “love your job”, but the person who brought that idea into the world built it out of their experiences, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and even some of their imbalances that you will never have.  It is an extension of them, and therefore when they are investing time in the company, they feel fulfilled in a way you essentially can’t because they are actually investing time in themselves.  It’s not impossible to try and mimic this mindset, but when you go home and open that laptop at night, neglecting personal time to catch up on your e-mails, it simply won’t feel the same to you, because for them, even if they would rather be doing something else, catching up on those e-mails IS personal time.

So, assuming you don’t want to give up your lifestyle and become a wanderer, your options boil down to four or five situations:

If you can't stay rich on that, you made some bad choices.

If you can’t stay rich on that, you made some bad choices.

1.  You win the powerball or get rich quick somehow.  Come find me so I can help you think of awesome ways to both manage and make the most of the money while using it to perpetuate your own happiness and that of others.  Thank you and your welcome!

2. Start your own business.  This is the only way to experience the “founder” level of ownership and satisfaction in your work. However, the founders that I speak of and who are employing you have already “made it” to some extent, and thus are in the phase where they can actually enjoy it on some level because they (obviously) have employees and income.  I never said they didn’t earn it (in most cases anyway) by working harder, smarter or both.  In the beginning and even well into the green (profit,) owning your own business can come with huge levels of stress that can make that personal connection to your company very difficult to handle.  There is a reason many of the very successful founders and CEOs you hear of are often quirky, odd, eccentric or sometimes straight-up batshit insane.  They have to be in order to be obsessed enough with themselves and their company to push it to astronomical levels.

3. Do something easy that you “love”.  When we’re teens and young adults we often joke about doing what we perceive as super fun to get paid for.  Acting, starting a band or writing a best selling book (or god forbid.. being a reality show “star”.) Obviously, some people really do achieve this, but it’s not easy at all and often requires a lot of sacrifice.  For instance: a lot of late teens/early twenties (especially but not exclusively guys) joke about doing porn because who doesn’t want to get paid to have sex!?  But naturally the industry often doesn’t live up to the fantasy image in some people’s head.  Beyond that, many quickly find that once they are forced to do whatever hobby/activity they really enjoy casually under “professional” guidelines/circumstances (another example: Video Game Tester,) it loses it’s fun pretty fast.  A few weeks later it’s no longer a dream career, it’s just another job that’s making you not want to have sex or play video games on your own time any more.  That said, some types people are cut out for those respective industries and it doesn’t ruin it for them (usually because they can drastically differentiate the two in their head,) But either way,  work is still very much work and for those average people it will put a damper on their outside life too.  So, while “doing what you love” is a great idea, it’s harder than it sounds, takes a lot more work than one would think and is usually tough to find/break into.  Even after you get there, it is impossible to know if it will be as fulfilling as you hope. That said, for some people it IS worth it, IF you can really make it.

Literal.

Literal.

4. Set a goal to become something difficult that you “love”.  This falls a little in line with starting your own business in that it really can pay off the way you hope it will, but you will have to go through hell and high water to get there (and I mean years of it.)  As an example I have several friends who grew up wanting to be veterinarians.  I’m happy to report I personally watched some of these people become the 1% of 1% of 1% or something like that.  They achieved their “dream” to some extent.  I say it like that because some didn’t end up doing what they envisioned themselves doing, some fell massively into debt and the others that really made it did so by sacrificing years of their time working and studying (long AFTER the hell that is Vet School) at really odd hours under immense amounts of stress and pressure to finally, finally emerge somewhere close to where they wanted to be.  The reward is that yeah, they are most often better off financially and more fulfilled than your average Walgreen’s clerk.  But it’s still work, and sometimes they get up in the morning (12:01 AM) and don’t want to do it,  but they still have to.  I should also point out that some of these people end up owning their own business.  So, essentially a different path to option 2.  That said though, if you can make the investment early on, this is arguably the best, most consistent outcome beyond the powerball option.

5. The rest of us.  Circumstances happened, and we’re not where we wanted to be or thought we would be by now.  Hell, some of us didn’t even know where we wanted to be and still don’t know where we’re going.  But we’re still adults, and we haven’t given up and become vagrants just yet, so work happens and bills gotta get paid.  This brings me back to the importance of enjoying your life along the way.  Because with this option, if you don’t, you’re probably miserable.  The work/life balance in this situation is essential because you don’t have the ownership and you don’t have the long-term dream that you achieved.  You are working to live.  That’s really okay so long as you don’t lose sight of why.  The balance isn’t always about a set amount of hours, it’s about whether or not your work allows you to do what you enjoy.  That means both the time, and the resources to be happy in your life outside of work.  It doesn’t have to be everything you dreamed just yet, it just has to be enough to have fun, be happy, and make progress.  So working those extra hours is totally worth it if it makes you feel better about your work and gives you the extra funds to treat yourself and/or those important to you.  But if you feel like a slave to your job and go home miserable only to crash and repeat the next day; get out.  No amount of money will save you from that, and the more you make, the more of that scarce life they will ask for.

Don't be THOSE guys.

Don’t be THOSE guys.

This brings me to a few guidelines for maintaining that balance (be realistic):

1. Don’t be afraid to say no.  Draw your lines, draw your boundaries and don’t back down from them.  Do NOT allow a job to corner you into making compromises that will make you miserable.

2. Know what you are worth and ask for it.  If you research and feel you deserve a specific wage, ask for it.  If they won’t work with you to at least make a plan to get there, move on.  The same goes for benefits you need for you and your family.  Often these are arguably more important than base wage.

3. Ask for the time you want in advance. Know what you are willing to give and not to give and barter that time as needed to be certain you have the time that is most important to you.  This can be a specific schedule or specific days.

4. Along with number one, be honest and communicate about all the above needs.  If you aren’t seeing what you want, give your employer a chance to accommodate you before you just get fed up and leave.  It looks better on both parties even if something can’t be worked out.

5. Have a contingency plan.  We’d all like to be “lifers” with a great company, but shit happens, and it happens fast.  Make sure that you have the cards up your sleeve to be willing to walk away from the table if you need to.  Feeling trapped in a job you don’t want to be in is a very quick way to demoralize yourself.

Finally (and yeah.. this post got long…)

6. Make sure whatever you are doing for work leaves room for you to BE HAPPY about your life outside of work.  This means having time to have a life outside of work, having enough money to enjoy your life outside of work and having a job that doesn’t make you feel bad about you your life inside or outside of work.  The work/life balance isn’t about a specific number of hours per week or a wage you make, it’s about how it enables you to live, and how happy you can be in the process.

Errr...Maybe Allen is hollow inside? ^.^;;

Errr…Maybe Allen is hollow inside? ^.^;;