What does the fake Brad Pitt letter says about how we view love?

What does the fake Brad Pitt letter says about how we view love?

we are each others lightIf you haven’t seen the so-called Love Letter from Brad Pitt to his wife then check it out here.

One thing Snopes notes is that the sentence structure and linguistic issues indicate it likely wasn’t written by a native English speaker. That might also account for the cultural weirdness of the final sentence: “ And then I realized one thing: “The woman is the reflection of her man”"  A feminist like Angelina would have his balls in her claws in a heartbeat with a statement like this.

Our culture is a little more than obsessed with this idea of the fallen female in need of being rescued by the strong male who showers her with gifts and love. We focus on the stereotypical gender roles but also the weird belief that showering someone with gifts and attention could somehow fix anything …. which ignores pretty much any psychological convention about someone suffering from depression.

But let’s remove for a moment that this is about Brad and Angelina and let’s remove the gender from the final statement: ”A partner is the reflection of their partner.”

There is some truth in the idea that misery begets misery. When your partner is suffering from depression it can be easy to get caught up in the cycle of sadness as they work through their own issues. When I experienced my occupational burnout I lost my entire sense of self and fell into a pretty serious depression. I was lucky – it took me from about August until November to work though it and find myself again. Once I did, I was prancing around to Katy Perry, cracking bad jokes like I always do, and working out every day. But for most people it takes a lot more time, work and pharmaceuticals.

The true measure of a partner is their ability to stick it through and be emotionally supportive and be loyal.  Dudes don’t exactly have the best reputation for sticking around when the times get tough and they don’t know what to do. I think that’s another reason a letter like this lends itself to virality. We prize the man and frankly woman who “does the right thing” and stands beside his or her partner that is a shadow of her former self.  Hell there’s a whole Tammy Wynette song about it.

By that same token, a couple can also serve as each other’s light. There’s an old philosophical idea that when you look at other people you see a mirror of who you also are. When we notice positive attributes within another person, we are seeing the same goodness that resides within ourselves.  Likewise, when we observe negative traits within another, we are witnessing those parts of ourselves that we do not like. So, it’s a trade off. Sometimes you need support and sometimes you need to give support.  I’m not saying be co-dependent, but just like friendships, you celebrate each other and find the goodness.  And when you see yourself through your partners eyes you should be able to fall in love with yourself in a way.

How is Success Defined? Part 2: Burn out

How is Success Defined? Part 2: Burn out
Friends in south caroline

Kate, Matt, and Sarah at a Barack Obama rally during the South Carolina primaries.

What do you do when someone you trusted and loved tells you that they find your lack of success and happiness in your career to be a problem for them?

If you ever have the not-so-good fortune to find yourself in a position to be demeaned and belittled by someone for your “status” in life, I recommend pepper spray. I find myself as a southern woman asking the question: who raised you to think this was appropriate to say out loud? But the reality is some people really truly view status and success differently.

After nearly 10 years in politics I recently experienced what many refer to as “burn out.” Some due to exhaustion, some due to a general cynicism with the way Washington works (See Sam Youngman’s piece in Politico Magazine) and it’s ever present disconnection to the rest of the country. I have achieved more by 31 with less education and less money than most people do with law degrees by the time they turn 41. I’m proud of my work, the money I raised for candidates (which by today’s standards probably looks minuscule), and the pieces I had published in The Nation, Mother Jones, and at CNN back during the 2008 Presidential campaign.  I have the blessing and misfortune of having peaked at around 27 or 28 years old.

And somewhere along the way, the work I was doing stopped being meaningful. It became more about making other people money than making a difference or helping get a law passed or preventing someone from something crazy etc. When I was writing stories I met people whose lives were forever changed by something important or they themselves were impacting the world doing something important and their stories themselves were meaningful.

I felt a kinship with Youngman, a fellow “southerner” who, I imagine, was raised with the same values and emphasis on humility that I was.  Like him, I was happier when I was traveling the country – mostly because I was with Matt Segal or a former co-blogger Mike Connery and talking and writing about our generation.

Several months ago Matt asked me why I didn’t write anymore saying he missed it. Some of it was that I was consulting for my friend’s campaign and I pulled down my website because I was afraid of any backlash she might incur because I’m “colorful” but some of it was that living in DC there are few stories to tell. Oh look!  Another cocktail party I am forcing myself to go to this week so that I look like I’m still in the beltway culture. It gets old when the most interesting stories you hear are from bartenders and escorts.

I don’t know what the solution is and I’m still struggling to find it, but Matt has asked me to go back on the road with him and I’m inclined to do it. I may never be considered successful in the eyes of the thoughtless individual who didn’t know my history of amazing and incredible accomplishments throughout my career.  But with friends like Matt and Jarrett, like my friends back home in Oklahoma who have been so motivational, thoughtful, and supportive maybe getting back to writing and telling others’ stories is in my future.

 

How is Success Defined? Part 1: Don’t write stupid books

How is Success Defined? Part 1: Don’t write stupid books

what success really looks likeI recently had a conversation with someone about a famous writer – we’ll say this is about 50 Shades of Grey. This writer is well known, has made tons of money, and turns stuff into movies. The person who knew this writer was not really well known, made decent money but not nearly what this writer did, and sure wasn’t getting any Hollywood contracts any time soon. I shrugged my shoulders and commented, “So? She’s a bad writer.” Interestingly the person replied, “But she gets six figure book deals.” I replied, “Yeah, but she sucks.”

This erupted into a very interesting perspective that I never quite realized that some people don’t share. Most of the people in my life are what I lovingly refer to as “do-gooders.” People who have dedicated their lives to something that is meaningful to them. My friend Clay who cares about farming and land conservation, my friend Melissa who has dedicated her live to bridging the income inequality gap, my friends Matt and Jarrett who want to do whatever it takes to change the world. We all share a common value of impacting the world around us for the better.

It turns out not everyone is like this even within your own political party. For people who measure success with acclaim or monetary benefits, the goal is really more about mass marketing and the McDonald’s-azation of our cultural understanding of purpose, meaning, and status. Do more, get more. Faster. More. Supersize it, bitches!

When I think about the writer, I make fun with my English Major my nose is turned toward the sky searching for a familiar Vonnegut book to thrust it into, or talking with friends about the upcoming Salinger short stories and novels being released. But the reality is that when a writer values the quality and impact of the written word – we see it as art. It might not be a painting or a sculpture, but literature captures moments in time and articulates them in ways readers have never quite been captivated by before.  These words aren’t merely pressed between two covers or scrolled on a screen while we sit on a plane, but if they are meaningful ….. truly meaningful, they live on forever as a representation of who we are as a people, as a culture, and as a world.

This poor woman’s books, will never, not ever, be meaningful. And that’s fine. We all consume the written word for a different purpose. Some people see it as an escape or an outlet or information. Not all feel compelled to read to be moved profoundly or to experience a novel to reach a higher plain of understanding or self actualization. Sometimes we just need to mentally masturbate to brain pornography. Some people just read trashy romance novels …. or Sarah Palin.

But I don’t consider this successful, just as I wouldn’t consider a star on a reality TV show  a “success.” If you’re not contributing anything meaningful then what are you doing? What is the point of your existence?

In my world view: If you’re capable of using your skills and talents to make a lasting impact on the world (or someone’s world) that continues long after you’re gone, then you will have been a success. If you think it’s about fame or glory or recognition or cash – you’re missing the point and purpose of life.

Having It Both Ways: Will you blow in my…

Having It Both Ways: Will you blow in my…

a drunk date is a bad dateRead more about the having it both ways project here.  And feel free to submit your anonymous dating nightmares by submitting them on my tumblr here.

Since I started this blog I have all of these friends and acquaintances heck even colleagues who come up to me wanting to tell me their insane dating stories.  And let me tell you… these are doozies.  Let me start out with one of my most recent favorites.

A middle aged single woman was approached by a friend and colleague about setting her up with someone that worked with her husband.  Hilarious guy, real life of the party, fun, engaging, hardworking, someone everyone at the company liked who just couldn’t seem to find the right person.  So the woman agrees to it and sets up a date, time, place, to meet the guy for drinks and dinner after work.

She arrives at the restaurant and discovers that he’s been there a few minutes and already had a few drinks waiting.  They start talking and getting to know each other.  Turns out they’re right, the guy is hilarious, but primarily because he’s a drunk!  The dude proceeds to get completely wasted while on the date.  The woman is sitting there shaking her head trying to figure out if the whole thing is a practical joke.

Finally, its over and they’re both leaving.  She’s parked near the door and goes for the car but the guy says that his car is far out in the parking lot and asks if she would mind driving him over.  Reluctantly, she says yes.  Takes him over to the car.  Before he gets out he turns to her and asks, “So.. can I ask you a favor?  Would you mind blowing in my….” and at that point the woman says her mind is racing as to what this guy wants her to blow in.  He uses some technical term about an “ignition interrupter.”  She says confused, “Excuse me?”  He explains that he’s had several DUI’s and has what is basically a breathalyzer on his car that won’t allow it to start if he’s had something to drink.  “I mean, I’ve had a lot to drink tonight, so it’s not going to start, but you haven’t so maybe if you blow in it for me….”  The woman tells him not in a million years.  But offers to call him a cab or take him back over to the restaurant so he could make arrangements for someone to come get him.

She goes to work the next day and calls the friend asking – what on EARTH she was thinking, and it turns out the friend and her husband had NO idea that the guy was a drunk or apparently that he’d had several DUI’s.  I guess this is just proof that no matter how well you think you know someone… you may not ever really KNOW them….

Where there is a flame Someone’s bound to get burned

Where there is a flame Someone’s bound to get burned

 

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try try try

You deserve to be in a situation where you don’t have to compartmentalize who you are. Where you can be valued for every part from flaws to fetishes and everything in between. You deserve to have it all at least once in your life.

We never know when it’s all going to be over. When the bus turns suddenly not seeing the biker or the ex boyfriend turns violent or the black ice sends us into oncoming traffic. It has happened over and over in my life and one thing I’ve learned is that regardless of who is holding our hand, we all walk through the emergency exit of life alone, with only our memories, our joys, our love for others, and our knowledge, adventures and experiences to accompany us. You deserve to have the chance to have everything you’ve always desired at some point before the end. We all do. And providing you with a small piece of it provides me with a small piece too.

I don’t want it to end. Despite my poor behavior and harsh words, I value you too much to let go when I’ve only just discovered you. But if you say no, I can understand and respect that. If you want to take some time, I will give you space.

With great affection, and hope for a new beginning.

The End of the World

The End of the World

the-end-timesWrote this for someone – and almost didn’t post it … so I did some editing so I could….

So string theory of course is the idea that at the source of everything there are these strings like fibers that vibrate at specific levels and whatever level they vibrate at determines the makeup of whatever they’re in.  So like – carbon has x number of strings that vibrate at y level… yada yada..  Well M Theory is this idea that there are larger versions of strings called membranes or “brains.”  When you think about the universe these membranes contain our universe and supposedly there are multiple membranes that are all lined up together undulating and squirming around at all times next to each other.  The idea is that when these membranes hit each other it creates such a huge amount of energy – like a collision of two cars that are coming at each other at really high speeds.  The crash has so so so much energy that you get the explosion and the bang of the crash, right?  Just like the collision of the membranes – when they collide the theory is that THAT is what causes the “big bang.”  And feasibly there are multiple “big bangs” happening all the time creating universes that are all over the place. . .

I remember reading Sagan for the first time.  The intersection of philosophy, religion, and science all wrapped up in a nice fictional package.  This is Contact not Cosmos – which is non-fiction. There’s a great chapter at the end of Contact where she’s in the hearing and they’re demanding answers from her and she very emotionally talks about the randomness of the universe.  That we don’t know how it works – we don’t know how things are created.  How weirdly arbitrary hell even accidental things are and yet… how precious and special we all are.  That there is significance – it isn’t just some fantasy we tell ourselves because we can’t deal with the misery of being evolved randomness.  And after millions and millions of years we have evolved so perfectly that I can be sitting here writing to you.  That I could have met someone by chance – and have connected and had such chemistry so flawlessly.  The randomness of that is astounding to me.  That our lives really are just one weird chance after another.  But one decision can bring something so remarkable.  A decision to question everything at an early age determined what amounted to be an entire life of me trying to find answers — trying to understand — needing so much to understand and ask why.  Why are we here?  Why are we the way we are?  Why did I quickly choose politics after my entire life wanting to be a writer and an editor?

And I guess if the end of the world does come, which I doubt it will, maybe there will be another universe created somewhere where it doesn’t end – and there’s a version of me there in a dark corner of the W hotel… an arm around me as I snuggle in … his nose in my hair and lips at my ear whispering….  And in that alternate universe every moment is perfect and the magic in the randomness is savored like an oaky Merlot from the Russian River Valley.  And maybe, just maybe, in that world there is a great sense of peace and understanding – where answers are easy to come by and while we all recognize tragedy and heartbreak, we’re somehow able to appreciate the experiences as they fly by … from the beginning of time right past us into the future… and hold it in our hearts where it doesn’t devour us from the inside out, but instead allows it to beat harder and more powerfully.

If tomorrow was the end its ok, I’m not afraid to die, not because I believe there’s something else or because it would be a transition somehow, but because I’m at peace with it. I’ve seen enough that I’m fine.  I still want more, but I’ll always want more.  I strive for more.  I ache for more and bigger and “let me see” and “but, I want to understand.”  But sometimes I’m pleased enough with the answers I’ve found and the adventure I’ve had trying to find those answers.

I’m so tired of your inaction

I’m so tired of your inaction

if our kids had gunsI tried to unplug all weekend and watch anything but news – go to the movies – do some Christmas shopping to get some stuff for my folks and my grandpa.  On Friday I was angry.  I watched the President wipe away tears and I was angry.  I woke up Saturday morning, angry.  I tweeted angry tweets.  And last night I heard the President’s prayer for families burring their children and I became even more…. angry.

I’m exhausted.  I’m so so tired of our country burring our children.  I’m tired of watching as my generation and others die in a holocaust of useless violence.  I’m tired of feeling the unnecessary suffering of our society each and every day and seeing it in the hollow eyes of people that walk past.  I’m tired of relieved politicians hugging their own children close this Christmas while others stick theirs in the ground.  I’m disgusted by the fear of elected officials to stand up to the gun lobby – as if they themselves are afraid of a round of political ammunition being propelled at their chests.  And I am sick and tired of their need to blame everyone except themselves while they slide their PAC checks into their deposit bags.

The thing that makes me sad is not the image I generated in my mind of those poor sweet faces that spent the night in that school while the scene was cleared, it’s not the furry of right-wing talk show hosts who pretended this wouldn’t have happened if every 6 year old had a glock in their lunchbox, nor is it the need for the gun lobby to insist this is all about mental health while not supporting mental health background checks…. instead its that this won’t be the last one of these we see.  This won’t be the end.  It doesn’t end today, it only continues today.  I have no hope that anything will ever really change.

Peter Daou wrote that until we all admit we’re morally culpable nothing will happen.  And he’s right.

When a pipe bursts in your basement do you try to fix it without turning off the water?  Turn off the water first, fix the damn pipe.  Instead, our country is too busy arguing why the basement is flooding while our children are drowning.

Having It Both Ways: Partisan Dating

Having It Both Ways: Partisan Dating

First Couple in freight elevator on Inauguration Night. Photo by White House Photographer Pete Souza.

If you’re looking for salacious stories of romance and torrid love affairs, I might share links to some at HavingItBothWays.com.

I was out having drinks with a bunch of Okies who now live in DC because a friend of ours was in town.  We talked politics and joked about people we all knew but inevitably the conversation turned to, “So… how’s dating going?”  But then the useful part of the conversation – the roommate of an Okie asked what I knew about online dating sites.  Ah ha!  My usefulness abounds!

The first question to ask is “What are you looking for.”  To which they all laughed, “A moderately sized bald man…” they joked. More laughter, “NO!” I said over them, “I mean what kind of relationship.  Just a random hook up, marriage, a buddy …. what do you want?  I introduced her to several different website possibilities that are free or cheap.  But then another of our friends told me I needed to set up a profile and run my “inspection” on BlueStateDate.com.

So… I did.  Here’s what I’ve got so far.  BSD seems to be a way for political staffers and like minded activists to come together around a mutual need to keep their love in the party.  Don’t go thinking its all inbreeding there’s a Red State Date too.  It’s like the Nation Builder of dating sites…. In any case, the profile is very political, asking you to go through and fill out a series of questions on domestic, social, and foreign policy to determine your level of conservatism.  It even asks you what campaigns you’ve worked on.

The idea is a great one – I’m all for it.  Especially if you buy a premium month now you get the rest of the year for free.  The downside?  When I searched for available people within 25 miles of me between the ages of 29 and 45 I got a whopping 7 guys… no women….. So that’s a fail.  I’ll play with it more and keep you posted, but at the very least I have a free year.

Having it Both Ways: Childless by Choice

Having it Both Ways: Childless by Choice

not having kidsCall now and you too can read more from the Having It Both Ways project in the comfort of your own home!

 

I have a handful of best friends.  We’re talking … people who knew me before politics, people who knew me “way back when” and who I have grown and evolved with over the years.  I called one such bestie the other day and she told me that she was about to call me because a recent trip to see her in-laws resulted in a discussion about when my friend and her husband were going to be starting a family and having kids.

This particularly bestie and I have long shared our mutual resistance toward having kids.  There was an interesting presumption with her in-law family, however, that it was her that was determined never to have kids.  Her normally easy going husband at one point piped up – “We’re not having kids…”  They were all shocked.  What Bestie realized about the in-laws insistence for them not to wait – was that they were way too old when they had children.  Such that the aunt had to endure huge amounts of hormone treatments and it was an all around nightmare to get their daughter.  Bestie said to me, “So while I’ve never ever wanted to have children, I realized I now have to either make peace with that or we have to talk about having kids.  NOW.”

We talked about how both of us have always been anti-kids.  Not that we blame other people of course, but many of the reasons that people say they want children are selfish reasons.  People want families for themselves, they want children that come from their genes not from the plethora of kids who don’t have good homes, we also talked about parents we’ve seen who love to live vicariously through their kids, or need someone to love them and idolize them.

We talked about how when you throw kids in the mix, your life is over.  Traveling for fun – forget it, picking up and going rock climbing on a weekend – turns out you can’t do it with a baby strapped to you, not to mention the first three years are filled with nothing but body fluids and screaming.  And the financial cost is tremendous.  The estimations once showed having kids was an investment, but now you run deficits with kids costing upwards of $250,000 from birth to their 18th birthday, and that doesn’t include college.  In the end is it more selfish to have a kid to complete you and your needs or is it more selfish to not have a kid because you have no interest in being a parent, raising someone, or disrupting your own life?

Remember back when I talked about The Professor and how he turned 40 and realized he needed to get married and have kids quick and to do that he had to find someone between 25 and 30?  I’ll never forget one of the people who commented on that blog post that I was a “selfish bitch” because I would rather not have a kid, which I still find hilarious.  There isn’t an argument for having a child that doesn’t involve someone being selfish and “wanting a kid.”  The fact is – people who want kids… want kids.  They want it for their own reasons.  While my Bestie and mine’s reasons for not having children are status quo – nothing changes with our decision and no one and nothing is impacted by a decision to not have a kid.

I’m at an advantage because no one asks me these questions because I’m not married and no one even sees me with a potential partner.  I still occasionally get the “when are you getting married” question, I don’t think anyone really expects me to have kids unless they come with a future partner.  But this whole discussion reminded me of the bizarre need for our culture to stigmatize couples who are childless, like there’s something wrong with them or one of them have bits that don’t work.  We’re so obsessed with this need to continue a DNA chain or have some image of what a family ought to look like.  The truth is, some people are different and want different things that aren’t traditional or typical.  If you want them, power to ya and have fun.  But all you Baby Boomer parents who are pissed at us because we’re not into it just need to calm the hell down.

Having It Both Ways: Breathless

Having It Both Ways: Breathless

washington dc kissingRead more about the Having it Both Ways project, just don’t tell anyone…..

So… something happened that took my breath away.  It’s been a rough week. First, I ate something that made me sick the other night… but the reality is for the last week I’ve been depressed about 50.  Not because it was a great loss, although I do feel a sense of loss, not because I invested a lot of time and energy in him, though I did, but more that I let someone get to me and I’m pissed at myself for being so stupid.  While talking with one of my best friends last night I explained where my “trust issues” originated, a story I actually haven’t ever shared with anyone before – not that it’s all that shocking, there are just certain times in your life where major events can impact you more and stay with you forever.  I digress…  So while talking to her about my trust issues I explained that it makes me want to shut down again.  It makes me want to hide and cower in a corner like a feral cat and scratch and claw at anyone who comes near me.  I know this is the wrong decision, but knowing what’s right and healthy for us isn’t always what we want.  Eat your emotional and psychological vegetables.

But then I got the surprise of my life.  I won’t go into great detail, but someone I’ve loved for quite a while that I realistically can’t be with but would like very much to be with… showed up at my apartment to surprise me.  It’s difficult to explain the amount of work that went in to making this happen and that I knew nothing about.  The email I got at 5pm read:  subject line:  come home.  email text contained a photo of the metro station near my house.  My eyes watered.  We’d been emailing all week about how angry and depressed I have been.  I really needed this.  I sprinted from the bar where I was meeting friends for drinks, ran across DuPont circle, leaping over the medians as the “don’t walk” sign flashed at me.  I slid through the doors of the train just as they were closing – then ran up the steps of the escalator… My eyes darted around looking but nothing.  Breathless, I took big fast steps walking fast up Connecticut Avenue.  I heard the voice behind me… and then the comfort and safety of our embrace……. and then…. of course…. the insane amount of making out that commenced in the elevator as we climbed the floors to my apartment.

I’m an expert at unrequited love.  I practically have a degree in it.  This is reciprocated love.  This goes beyond sex, although the sex is always great, it goes beyond trust although we both agree we’ve never trusted anyone more than one and other in our lives, and it goes beyond a mutual understanding that I’m much smarter (though I would argue not smart just more informed because I consume more information)…. there is such a safety I feel when we’re together.  I’m not afraid, or worried, or nervous, or anything – for once I can relax and let go.  Like when you were little and your grandpa told you to jump and he’d catch you.  I know I can jump … and fall softly in a lover’s arms.  And while we both know it never lasts long and we can’t be together; when we smile a goofy grin between kisses and talk of our dreams of the life we could have, nothing else anywhere matters.

Much needed surprise.  No one has ever done that for me before.