Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week 26 of 52: Biting other people, cool or not cool?

So it has been an interesting couple of weeks in AndreaLand, as most of my time has been occupied with the 2014 World Cup. I love football, what can I say, mostly I love it because it is so random, kind of like me :)

My love of football is extra random because I really hate sports in general. My love for the game emerged during the 2010 World Cup, I reluctantly started watching and I was hooked. Some people think it is because I want to watch super hot athletic guys run around for 90 minutes but obviously those people don't know me very well. As my favourtite thing to watch is me. Seriously! Have you spent any time with me near a reflective surface?! If so, you will catch me checking myself out more than listening to you, I assure you, I do find myself way more interesting than you.

One thing I like about the World Cup is you can learn a lot about a person and not obvious stuff like what countries they support. No I'm talking really interesting stuff like how one feels about biting other people. Apparently biting is the lowest of the lowest forms of expression, so I have read non-stop since the Suarez repeat biting incident during the Uruguay vs. Italy game on the 24th. Yeah people are pretty upset about this biting incident, I'm not sure why exactly it because this isn't Suarez's first time biting, is it because kids bite and adults punch people in the face or is it because of that whole cannibalism taboo thing? We may never truly know what is so upsetting about it but here are my thoughts on the whole matter...

But first a disclaimer: Ok seriously dudes! you know that content warning you had to agree to before entering my blog? You know the one that suggests you may come across sex if you read this...well this time if you do read this whole blog entry you will see some scenes of graphic violence and sex that is just short of x-rated...I'm using these scenes purely for entertainment purposes so if you can't handle that, please go away and stop talking to me because you are lame.

Back to my thoughts on whether or not it is cool to bite other people...

Ok, yeah, biting someone instead of elbowing them in the face is obviously not cool, especially when you get caught doing it on camera in front of an international audience. I don't know, I'm just saying if I was going to bite someone, I would have the common sense not to do it in front of an audience. It's not like I'm condoning biting as a valid form of expression, i would just maybe try talking or punching someone in the head first before I resorted to biting. And as you know, I am one who believes that telling someone that you would eat their dead body is one of the highest forms of flattery you could bestow on said person, so I'm not really sure where that leaves me on the whole moral continuum of things.

I do think in some instances biting makes sense, like if I was being held down and raped, I'm pretty sure I would try biting the rapist's nose or ear off, as a last resort of course! And I think that would be justified...I'm not sure how hygienic the whole biting people thing is but I'm guessing it is up there with other risky behaviours, such as having unprotected sex with some random dude in a dark back alley up against a dumpster...just in case you need a visual of that, here is a clip from The Last Seduction, a kick ass movie filled with many killer sex scenes...

So now that we have dusted ourselves off after that clip back to the issue at hand, biting, cool? or not cool? I'm not really sure I could classify biting as cool but what I can say about biting is that some of my favourite movie scenes just happen to contain the act of biting.

I'm not sure what that says about me as a person other than the obvious, that I have excellent taste in film.

I know you are dying to know, so here you have it, my favourtie biting moments from movies:

Godfather 3 - lots of people said this was the worst Godfather of the 3 but I don't know how that can be when someone has their ear bitten off! For me that made Godfather 3 the best Godfather EVER!

Watchmen - Ok, seriously peeps, if you have not seen the watchmen you must stop everything you are doing and go watch this movie. Possibly one of the best movies ever and based on an equally awesome graphic novel. OMG! Love this movie so much. I heard some people found this movie disturbing (who are these people?!) and this is possibly one of those scenes that upset people the most, why? Biting!! Seriously though, this is a disturbing scene, so if you are all sensitive and shit just skip this one...

And then one of my favourtie cult movies of all time...Ravenous...OMG love it! This whole movie is based on the premise of eating the flesh of other humans to gain their power and become stronger. I thought this movie was one of the best dark comedies ever! Awesome actors and excellent music and lots of biting!

I suppose my love of biting, purely for entertainment purposes, would explain my long standing love of vampire movies and television series. I thought it was all about the blood but maybe it was always about the act of biting?

So in sum:

biting for entertainment purposes (fictional movies and television series) = COOL

biting as a form of defense (when all other forms of defense have proven ineffective and one's life is being threatened or one is experiencing severe bodily harm) = COOL 

biting other people (who may or may not be infected with some sort of contagion) in front of an international audience while being filmed = NOT COOL

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Week 25 of 52: My argument for the development of the Kanye West Yo app

The other day I was introduced to the Yo App by my friend J. And it went a little something like this...

All stylish people have the Yo app!
J: So you know Yo?
A: Yo what?
J: Yo. The Yo app?

I had no idea what the fuck J was talking about and I was pretty sure she was messing with me, so she filled me in on the deets. I guarantee the following description may make you want to move to the country and sequester yourself on a compound.

Yo app enables you to say "yo" to your friends. Confused? Don't be it is super simple. It's like sending texts to your friends but without the breadth of the English language at your disposal. Basically it is the quickest way to communicate because you don't have to worry about what to say because you can only say yo. It's kind of like poking on Facebook but instead of sending a poke, you are sending a yo.  The Yo app received $1Million in venture capital funding and as of last week, apparently it made it into the Apple IOS Top 10 Free App list. No, I'm not joking. This shit is real yo!

Once the shock wore off, this news got me thinking that there really should be a Kanye West Yo app (naturally). What's that, you ask. Well basically it would be the same thing as the yo app but instead of just receiving a text message that reads yo, you could enable your notifications to have Kanye West say yo every time you receive a yo message.
Agreed! And I choose you to say Yo to the masses!

I know right, how cool is that? Fucking cool! Now before you get all, that's ridiculous no one would want that. Let me remind you that we are talking about the popularity of an app that only texts yo. And Kanye West could sell anything to anyone because he is, well, he is god. Case in point, Kanye West designed his own plain cotton white shirt, priced reasonably at $120 and it sold out instantly! So obviously the Kanye West Yo App would be popular times infinity! Bling bling motherfuckers!

I bet you are wondering how I came up with such an awesome idea. Well it is hard to say for sure as my brain is complex and neurons are firing all over the place it is really hard to know how I get form one thought to the next sometime. It's not like, I'm Madonna and can say that my best ideas come to me while I'm sitting on the toilet.

As an aside, I don't really understand toilet inspired ideas. When I sit down on the toilet, I'm thinking more about what shape and consistency my bowels will be this time. And how said bowel shape is a symbolic representation of my internal constitution at that exact moment. I could go into all the different types of bowel movements and what they mean in terms of my inner being but then this would be a really long blog post and apparently blog posts are supposed to be shorter than dissertations. 

So moving on...basically the inception of the Kanye West Yo app started with me watching the world cup in a public setting. Seeing as I don't own a television, I miss out on commercials. And it was while watching football in public and being exposed to commercials that I got to view one of the most amazing World Cup Adidas commercials ever! And this is where it began (watch youtube video below).

Dude! This is like the most coolest commercial ever right? And while I pondered the greatness of Messi, and admire the artistic direction and cinematography of the commercial, I think what is that song playing? The song, it brings it all together, it's perfect. I love this song. I can't stop listening to this song.

The God Google tells me the song is by Kanye West and the song is called God Level. Obviously!
That would be one stylish yo motherfucker!

So as I obsess about the song, and how I can't get my hands on it because it isn't officially released yet, I buy myself Kanye West's Graduation album off iTunes to comfort me. I love Kanye. I almost forgot how much I love Kanye, which is like forgetting why you go to Church every Sunday. Kind of strange really.

And as I thought about my love for Kanye and how listening to his music brings such joy to my life that's when it hit me. Why is there not a Kanye West Yo app?  How better life would be if I could just receive a yo from my friends in the voice of Kanye West.

So if we all pray really hard, maybe the gods will answer our prayers and deliver us the Kanye West Yo app. Oh! I really hope so!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week 24 of 52: And to Follow-up on Last Week's Blog Post...

In typical Andrea fashion, after I posted last week’s blog post, Through the Looking Glass, I was left with a completely different impression than everyone else who read much for group think.

Not surprising, I felt pretty good about last week's post from a writing/therapeutic perspective but other people who read it felt...what is the word I'm searching for...concerned. So I'm here to say, it's all good my lovely loyal blog readers! I'm good, I love you, thanks for your concern but I truly am good.

Maybe you are thinking, why is Andrea so good when what she is writing about such depressing stuff? Sure the last 3 blog posts were leaned more towards the morbid side of things but like all things in life, nothing lasts forever. 

I don't think that's an appropriate use of one's teeth!
Sure when you are in the shit storm it feels like this morbid outlook will last forever but it never does. Why am I so sure about that? Because I have been through many shit storms and have survived every single one of them. It's how we grow people. I'm sorry but it is painful and it has to happen. Think about when a baby's first teeth come in, that fucking hurts, I know this to be true because there is a lot of crying going on and looks of anguish on that baby's face. I can only interpret that as pain. And no that pain does not last forever and over time that baby grows up and gets all these awesome adult teeth and now it can eat all sorts of food with them.

So let's not kid ourselves here people. Life is pain. You are not living life if you do not experience pain. But do not confuse pain with suffering. Suffering is optional. So let's make a choice, shall we?

So last week, there was some suffering going on, brought upon by my critical gaze of myself. But I know this about me, I've known this about me for awhile. So yeah, me fixating on my form while running just made my critical self manifest itself, in this particular instance. I have previously posted about this tendency of mine, you know the one where I relentlessly beat myself up when I find myself in an evaluative situation. So if you are keeping up with the posts here, this should not come as too much of a surprise that I would react this way after seeing my Coach.

It occurs to me, while writing this, that perhaps the concerning part is reading what I say to myself. Yeah, it is not pleasant. Maybe try to think of last week's blog post as defining, in very graphic detail, what I mean when I say "I beat myself up." 

This is good though. Yes, because up until 8 months ago, a lot of this negative self talk was happening under the radar. Now with regular meditation I can slow my thoughts down and catch many of these bitchy ass statements I say to myself. And let me tell you, it makes me concerned too that there has been this negative chatter floating continuously throughout my mind without me even being aware of it. 

So subversive how it just lives in us, undetected the majority of the time, and to only reveal itself to us in certain this point I hope you take a moment to reflect on the nasty shit you say to yourself. Because we all do it. And if you think you don't, try staying sober for 48 hours and let me know how that works out for you.

Yeah, that looks painful.
So yeah, this self-exploration may not sound like fun. And maybe fun would not be the word I would use to describe this self-work. It is valuable though. And not everything that is valuable is fun, most of the time it is fucking painful. So try to look at it this way, this process may be painful but in the end it is valuable because it allows you to experience fun and to experience life without having to be drunk or high or whatever coping mechanism you are using. Running? Watching TV? To just experience fun by just being.

So a fun/valuable mindfulness technique for you is to be aware of your teeth the next time you eat. Aren't those teeth awesome how they let you bit into that big juicy beef burger so effortlessly? Yeah, they are pretty cool. Now think of the process of how you got those teeth. Pain. That's how. 

Life is pain free, until humans get hungry!
Remember pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Oh and something else to remember, the pain you will experience will be far less painful than the cow who got a nail gun to the head in order for you to enjoy that beef burger. 

Just putting it in perspective. Now let's go get ourselves a big juicy beef burger, shall we?



Sunday, June 8, 2014

Week 23 of 52: Through the looking glass

This past Friday, I met with my Coach so we could video my run form and see if there were any areas that needed improvement. Basically, my Coach was concerned that I was bouncing up and down too much when I ran and he would much rather like to see that energy translated into speed across the horizontal plane.

Me too, Coach. Me too.

So of course, I jumped at the chance to meet with my Coach and have him evaluate me. Because there is nothing I like more than picking out my flaws and making a list of all things I would like to improve about myself. By now, if you are keeping up with this blog there is no need for me to tell you this is foreshadowing, you know where this is headed...into the trenches I go!

So I meet up with Coach after a 35 minute easy run in 16 degrees heat. Yes, that isn’t that hot but to me, when I run, add 10 degrees. And let’s just say when I’m out in the heat, I can be a bit irritable. And that is a nice way of putting it.

This is likely a new experience for you, as you’ve probably never had yourself filmed while running before. Coach offers up.

Nah, I say, I’ve had my friends video me before. It is like I just met this guy 5 minutes ago or something. Does he not know what a perfectionist is? Does he not know me at all!?

Sometimes I think my Coach actually believes I’m more put together than I am. Which is kind of surprising, seeing as I did have a meeting at a coffee shop with him last March where I preceded to cry uncontrollably about how awful I felt my running was. And I don’t just cry, oh no, I snot a lot when I cry, so it is kind of a hard visual to forget. Especially when it’s 30 minutes long. Granted the next day he saw me and I had done a complete 180, with in-depth analysis about why the emotional outburst happened. So maybe he bases one’s level of togetherness not by the frequency of breakdowns one has but by how long it takes for them to get back up and keep trying. And if that is the case, yeah I’m put together pretty well. Yeah, it doesn’t matter how many times I fall I keep getting up. I’m like one of those puppies that keeps bounding with enthusiasm towards their owner, filled with love and adoration, despite the fact that every time they see their owner they get kicked in the face. Yup, I’m one tenacious motherfucker with a distorted sense of optimism. I think now, I would just like for the emotional breakdowns to be a little less frequent.

Anyways, I ran a bunch of times for him, I think we collected about 6 videos. And yes, I did send him a text later demanding he send them to me later that night so I could “review” (read: obsesses over) them. Funny you should ask.

No, not funny, just painfully obvious really.

At least my hair looks good, right? I joke after we review the videos and finish critiquing them. He may have thought I felt he was being critical, which is interesting to me because he is the least critical person I know. Well at least when it comes to how he deals with me I feel he is not at all critical or negative. He just has this way of providing feedback that is so gentle and kind, all the delivery does, is make you want to agree with him and try harder. I’m almost certain there is not a mean bone in this guy’s body, not even his fascia is negative. Oh no, I make these jokes for me, I need to tell myself my hair looks good because all I see is negative when I put the evaluative gaze on myself. I need to pull out something positive, and the hair is a good one, because it is pretty fucking fabulous.

Really the only thing of note in my form, was that I seemed like I was holding back in my stride. Like I was running as if I didn’t want to get hurt. He made a comment as we were parting ways that he would like to see me become “un-hinged”. And that word brings forth a bunch of emotions in me. Because it isn’t just running that I needs to become un-hinged, it’s everything in my life. Right now I find I’m uptight a lot of the time, overly cautious and tend to over think things to the point of failure to act. I know this is happening because I need to control what is going on around me. When I need to control myself that intently I know things are not being perceived by me as going well in my life. My need to control is a symptom of my failure to accept things for what they are…just things...and accept where I'm at right now. 

Right now, in this particular case, I’m scared of things that occur in the future. And yes I’m aware that I can’t know what will happen in the future. But you don’t understand, because this future I see is happening. In this present moment I’m living in the future because I have already experienced it in the past. I'm sorry people, but time is not linear here! The future is now and it is so visceral, it makes my heart race with anxiety. So palatable, I can taste the bile rising out of my stomach into the back of my throat. Kind of reminds me of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Oh, wait a minute! It reminds me of PTSD because it is PTSD.

Clearly the topic for another blog post. Moving on.

Un-hinged. The word reverberates in my mind. Connections are being made, events are being linked together and new meanings are being created. 

Maybe I should get drunk and go for a run, I suggest. 
He laughs. 
Well it worked for golf maybe it would work for this. 
I’m not serious, I’m feeling powerless. Drinking used to relax me, now what relaxes me? Running did at one point, now I feel dread when I think of running. It’s not fair to running, I love running, it is good for me, it is my mind that is fucking this all up right now.

I’m so lost in my thoughts, when my Coach leaves, I can barely remember saying goodbye. I’m upset. But only a little upset. I define it as a little upset because I did not cry the 'tears streaming down face' kind of crying, but more like the 'tears welling up and stinging the eyes' type of crying. And no, I did not cry in front of my Coach (again-I’m trying to space out my emotional outbursts with him), he had already left to go on his run at this point.

The sadness in me reaches its crescendo as I watch my Coach several blocks down the street. Running. His form, his whole being is so beautiful- lovely and graceful. I feel so defeated, so imperfect, so damaged right now. I want to crumple onto the curb, melt into the concrete and get flushed out to sea with the rest of Victoria's sewage. 

Instead, I keep walking, breathing deeply and meditating on what is actually going on here. I can’t possibly be comparing myself to my coach, that is a level of ridiculous I would never joke about even doing. What is it about this moment that is so upsetting to me?

As I meditate on that, I keep walking. I can’t run, so I just walk. After a few blocks of walking I’m able to run the rest of the way home.

By the time I get home, I need to absorb what just happened. I lean against my front door and slide down until I plop down onto the floor. I sit in silence, unmoving; I feel the imperfection. It feels like I want to vomit. My head feels like it is swimming in a haze of self-hate. I put my head between my knees take a few deep breaths stand up, walk to the kitchen and grab something to eat.

The next day I tweet to my followers “To run pain free…sigh…kind of a dream of mine.”

One of my follows tweets back at me “Saw you yesterday morning, form looked good if that helps at all.”

I laugh. Yes, that helps, it helps a lot.  

Sometimes I need that reminder, that my perceptions, no matter how strong the emotions are that are attached to them, are just that, my perceptions. Perception is not truth. No one else shares these perceptions with me. No one else sees what I see in myself. And sometimes I wish, I could just catch a glimpse of myself through the compassionate gaze of an other. Then I could feel what it is like to look at myself and truly love what I see.
To gaze upon myself with compassion.
One of my goals, 
and it may take a lifetime to achieve it.
But it’s worth it.
And so am I.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week 22 of 25: into the trenches this blog post goes

 “It’s like a man in the trenches
again: he doesn’t know any more why he should go on living, because
if he escapes now he’ll only be caught later, but he goes on just
the same, and even though he has the soul of a cockroach and has
admitted as much to himself, give him a gun or a knife or even just
his bare nails, and he’ll go on slaughtering and slaughtering, he’d
slaughter a million men rather than stop and ask himself why.”

Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Yes, this week's blog post feels like we are going into the trenches. What does that mean anyways? "To go into the trenches?" I always took it to mean, that what is happening right now is not going to be pleasant. After all, the trenches are the front line of battle. The place one is most likely to get hit by some shrapnel and die a slow and painful death.

Coming up with a topic to blog about this week feels like I'm dying a slow and painful death. I just can't seem to get a topic off the ground, as in sustain the idea for longer than 250 words. I know you are surprised because I never seem at a loss for something to talk about. And you would be correct, it's not that I don't have anything to talk about, I'm just not sure i have anything to talk about that seems blog worthy this week. I got lots of stuff written that is not blog worthy!! But that doesn't exactly help me, now does it?!

Don't believe me? Well here we go...let's start with some Carl Jung...the shadow self..."its nature can in large measure be inferred from the contents of the personal unconscious...the shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance. Indeed, self-knowledge as a psychotherapeutic measure frequently requires much painstaking work extending over a long period." (Aion: Phenomenology of the Self, II The Shadow).

And a more simple way of saying this...
Yes, my path of self-knowledge has been taking some interesting turns lately. I've really started thinking about my relationship with pain. The idea to explore this relationship came from my acceptance of the fact that I enjoy, to some extent, inflicting pain on myself. One day, I looked around and noticed I was surrounding myself with a lot of people who like to "run through the pain". I mean I'm spending time with people who run on sprained ankles and run with pneumonia (a little messed up, yes). Then I'm listening to stories of runners finishing races with dislocated hips. And then I look at myself and think, how many times have I "run through the pain"? And why is this acceptable pain? But me say cutting myself is unacceptable pain? And why do I even need this pain in the first place? What is my attraction to this physical pain?

Well, next thing you know, I'm headed to the used bookstore and picking up a bunch of books on addiction and recovery theory because I'm convinced that running for me, and many of the people I associate with, is an addiction. And you maybe are reading this and thinking, yeah but it's a good addiction, this running, so it's all good.

But addiction is just not good no matter what it is. And last week's blog post, I made light of my addiction to the pain but this week, I'm feeling way more serious about it all. And me being serious, does not lead to popular blog posts but I'm going to ignore that statistic and keep on this messed up tangent because there is a competition going on and I refuse to give up just because I have nothing light and fluffy to write about! Damn you Chris! (fist shake to the gods).

I don't want to run through pain because I want to keep running as long as possible, and so when I take breaks from running I need to find my pain fix elsewhere. And let's face it, this isn't going anywhere pleasant. Hence the name of this blog post! So WTF is with my need to get my fix on by inflicting pain on myself?

Well, if we look at addiction theory, most addicts form addictions as a replacement for social bonds, which are lacking from their life. To be clear, social bonds of the unconditional love variety. The bonds that are necessary for the healthy development of a child. As all those monkey studies showed, you know the one where the baby monkey were given a mom to hold them, one group was given a fake monkey mom to hold them and another group was given nothing to comfort them. And guess what? The monkeys with no one (real or fake) to comfort them and give them warmth ended up going nuts and killing themselves. Or bashing their heads into their wire cages until they crushed their skulls (which was interpreted as going nuts and killing themselves). Whatever the outcome, it wasn't pleasant. Much like how this blog post is turning out.
Fake love is better than nothing!
Anyways, my point is, we are not monkeys. No we are much smarter than that. See we don't kill ourselves or bash our heads into oblivion (ok maybe some of us), no we substitute the warmth and comfort with an addiction. And hey, maybe the best we can hope for in life is this poor substitute of love. That is an addition to ___ (you fill in the blank with whatever suits your needs). Is that running? Well hey, that's better than crack right? Yes, but unlike you, my perfectionist self demands a hell of a lot more out of me. I do not want to settle for that poor substitution of love!

Honestly, it can be exhausting being me. But I actually prefer me, because as I watch you drink yourself stupid again, just because it is a Saturday night and you are still alone and unhappy, despite all the Saturdays you go out drinking and trying to pick up, I just can't help but think, that your life, what drives you to drink and be with anyone (your automatic adherence to life's rituals of getting wasted on Saturday and trying to find a partner), I so don't want that. What can I say, I've never been one for the herd mentality. Yeah, I was always good with just getting wasted whenever I felt like it, it didn't matter what day it was really.

I bet when you are fighting in the trenches it doesn't matter what day it is either, you just fight because you have to.

And that is my point! (yes there is one, and I'm getting there!) You are an addict, and you can make up whatever little social rituals you want to justify your addictive behaviour, but that is what you are and maybe now is the time to admit that. Or not. I guess you don't have to either. I can't force you into a quest for self-knowledge. Maybe you enjoy running around this life, stressed out about stuff that is going to happen anyway and cope by self-medicating with whatever socially acceptable norm is available to you in your lifetime. I don't know. I'm not sure why one decides not to explore why they do the things they do.

All I know is that me and my shadow self are getting acquainted over here.  And no it is not the champagne cocktail bubbly awesomeness that we all thought it would be. Actually, I think as we saw in the above quote, that no one actually thinks this self-exploration is going to be good times. In fact this relationship building with the shadow self is to embrace the pain inside you instead of resist it (like a normal self-medicating person would!).

Hey! My shadow self is kind of hot! Sweet!
So where am I at right now. I'm embracing the pain. I'm done resisting it. There are no coping strategies being used to mask the pain that is me. No more drinking, no more running through pain, no having a boyfriend to distract me from myself, just the pure unadultrated pain of accepting myself for who I am.

Mortal. A human being.

So I say bring on that painstaking journey of self-knowledge. It's going to be a long, at times hellish, but overall a fascinating and rewarding ride.