Tonight I went to a punk rock concert. It was my first punk experience and not altogether an unpleasant one. In fact, it was surprisingly pleasant most of the time.
One thing that struck me about this new experience was how different I was than the people surrounding me. Most of the people there defined the "punk" stereotype with every hair on their head, every thread of their clothing and every puff of their clove cigarette.
I looked around at everyone and wondered what made us so different. We were all at the same concert, drinking the same beer, living in the same city. And yet to look at me and to look at them, you would think we were from totally different planets.
So what is it about that punk life that is so unusual that separates them from the rest of the mainstream? Sure, the hair, the clothing, the smoke habits. But what else? I'm sure that these people have ordinary, insignificant jobs like most of the people in the country. Software technicians, administrative assistants, teachers, even doctors and lawyers.
What I found myself contemplating is what these people looked like in their ordinary lives. Did they still wear their hair all messy and tangled looking? Did they still wear old vintage baggy clothes? Did they smoke cloves on their smoke breaks?
Probably not. Because our society is such that it demands a certain kind of uniformity. A certain conformity to the norms that are socially accepted and nonresistant to common conventions. These people may seem perfectly "normal" in their everyday lives, their "workday" lives, but on their own, at night, with the comfort of their friends and those like them, they express who they truly are. In a nonjudgemental environment, they are free to become themselves, however far from the mainstream that might be.
And in a sense, I think that we're all like that. We all have multiple personalities. We portray ourselves to be in one kind of light at a specific time around specific people. And at other times, when we feel more comfortable, we show our true selves. We let go of the social pressures and social responsibilities that dictate our public behavior, and we act freely. It is important to become aware of these personalities so that we can hear them when they are being unnecessarily muffled.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Tonight I went to a punk rock concert. It was my first punk experience and not altogether an unpleasant one. In fact, it was surprisingly pleasant most of the time.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
I was at the bookstore tonight, minding my own business, when I see before me about twenty copies of a TIME magazine special edition. "Love Keeps You Healthy." It was this in-depth report compiled with expert opinions and detailed research all about how being in love makes you live longer and stay healthier. I was appalled. As a single woman living in a society with constant pressures on getting married and having boyfriends, it becomes increasingly harder every day as every moment I'm getting older and moving closer to becoming an Old Maid.
This TIME special edition did not help. Telling me that I'm unhealthy and will have a short life because I don't have love. I mean, we've all heard of some reports saying that the more sex you have, the more energy you have and the more calories you burn. That one makes sense. Sex is exercise. I don't have sex right now, but I do the StairMaster a few days a week. Believe me, I realize it's not quite the same, but it does still give me more energy and burns calories.
There are also reports that say that having a pet will help keep your stress levels down and will help you to live longer. That one makes sense to me, and I do have a pet, so I'm in the clear there too. But not having a boyfriend is somehow making me unhealthy? We now have to work out, eat right, reduce stress and be in love? As though it isn't already hard enough to be single and alone without being reminded that not only might we die single and alone, but we also might die sooner. Great. Time is passing by and so is our opportunity to find love.
I was infuriated. But after thinking about it, I think I can see how some scientists might come to that conclusion. I think about the toll it takes on my body when I'm lonely. I think about the nights of not being able to sleep or the days of never really getting hungry. I think about the hours I've spent crying over lost love or opportunities that are now ruined. And I understand. I understand that it must be hard on my body if it's been so hard on my heart and my soul.
It makes me remember Split Aparts. Bear with me, this is a watered down version of one of Plato's theories. See there once was a time before evolution started happening when all humans were not humans, but were tiny little one celled organisms. And then we started dividing and getting bigger, developing into the people that we are today. We split in half. We split apart into two separate but equal halves. And after evolution and growth has taken place, we still feel incomplete and we spend our whole lives looking for our other half, our Split Apart.
If that theory is true, then TIME's theory that love makes us live longer could be true too. Maybe our bodies work better when they're whole.
And maybe we get weary of being alone. If we're searching for our other half, we could wear ourselves out with the waiting. My grandmother is alone. She was divorced about thirty years ago and has been alone ever since. I don't think she's a very happy person and while she has plenty of volunteer activities and numerous friends, I listen to her and I feel bad things turned out so different from what she hoped. Living alone, sleeping alone, having no one around for comfort and companionship.
But there's one thing that TIME forgot to mention in its special issue. Love comes in many different forms. Love can come from the comfort of an old friend's familiarity, the laughter amongst family, the tight grip of a friend's hand during troubled times, and the strength that you can draw from someone who loves and always supports can surely also lengthen our lives. The love I see in my friend's eyes and hear in their voices enrich my life in ways that I know a romance would fall short.
So yes, if you live without love, any love, your body may not be able to support the burdensome weight of your soul and your lungs may give out trying to fill up an empty heart. Before you start counting how much TIME you have left to find that special someone, try counting how much love you have in your life that keeps you going strong.
Posted by Penny Lane at 1:02 AM
Monday, January 19, 2004
I was taking a bath today when I realized I ran out of soap. Some girlfriends of mine had given me a "Naughty Girls Kit" for Christmas as a joke which contained a bar of "Wash My Sins Away" soap so I grabbed that and used it. I started thinking about the idea of being able to wash sins or mistakes away and start over again fresh, clean with new skin for a new future. Wouldn't it be great to have soap like that that could erase away any great regrets you have or any poor decisions you made in the past?
I don't know how many times I've wanted to go back in time to fix mistakes I've made. Sometimes a really bad mistake can change the course of your life forever. You think to yourself, "If I had only done this instead, things would be better now." Because we always think that different is always better. We are shaped by the choices we make. While sometimes we do something we may regret, in the end there's a chain reaction that helped to develop you into the individual that you are today. Still, all that optimism is comforting, but is it really true?
My mother says that I think I'm like a cat with nine lives. She says that I move around too much to different cities and switch jobs too much as though I think I can have a whole new life if I just change one thing around like geography. Perhaps it's my hope that there is some kind of magical soap that can give me a fresh start and make me a better person that keeps me changing my life around all the time.
I'm dissatisfied with my life right now at this moment so instead of working on whatever current problem may be troubling me, I think that if I change something, then I'll feel better about my life. I spend too much time thinking about how the mistakes I've made have affected my life in all these catastrophic ways and blame myself when things aren't going the way I think they should. And not enough time living in the present.
"Maybe the past is like an anchor that holds us back. Maybe you have to let go of who you were in order to become who you will be." Maybe that magical soap is a state of mind we have to reach to find peace with ourselves and our lives.
Posted by Penny Lane at 9:01 PM
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
I think I am psychic. I have always had that opinion, and now I am coming clean about it. Sometimes, right before something really bad happens, my stomach hurts. I know that sounds hokey and a little imaginary, but I am telling you, I know what the stomach ache feels like and it always prepares me for the worst. It's kind of a flip flop sideways feeling, like you get on a rollercoaster.
Once, sophomore year in high school, I got the creepy loopies in my tummy and what happened? Only a few short days after a magical evening at the Homecoming Dance which was concluded by an innocent little kiss, my date Nicolas...something or other dumped me high and dry. Said he just wanted to be friends. It was totally out of the blue, and I would have been unprepared to handle such a blow from Mr. Whatever-His-Name-Was had it not been for my psychic grumbly belly. And now I have progressed so far beyond that tragic moment that I have completely forgotten his last name.
My stomach woosies have proved themselves time and time again. An excellent example was a week or so before The Fire of 2002, or the day the living room died as some like to call it. That's a good 8 or so years of successful testing. Even the most scientific scientist would have to agree. It's just a fact now. My tummy can predict disaster.
Sometimes, though, I get that very same cosmic feeling in my gut, and I know (from all these tested and true experiences) that it's not predicting anything. It's only happened like that three, maybe four times.
I'm not quite sure how to explain it. It's telling me it's empty. No, not that I'm hungry because I can still feel it after eating four slices of pizza. It's telling me that I'm empty. That there's something missing. Something has made a hole in my insides, a cavern in my soul.
The worst thing about this kind of stomach knots is that they don't go away. They just sort of sit around festering and tormenting, reminding me that I've lost something important that I need to get back.
Ok, ok, sometimes it's a guy, but even when it is a guy, it's more than that. It's like a wake-up call, a call to arms, a call to action, my body is manifesting itself in order to get my attention.
Maybe the guy is gone forever and that aches on its own, but this other thing, this stomach thing, is telling me I have to change something about myself, I have to reevaluate myself and evolve. Pick up the pieces, put them back together again and move on. Guy or no guy, I gotta have me in place. I hope everyone has a wake-up call as unrelenting as mine.
Posted by Penny Lane at 2:27 AM
Monday, January 12, 2004
So I was watching "Sex and the City," the one where Samantha dates the guy with the really small dick. She adores him, but has to ditch him because physically he can't please her. I'm not saying size matters because, well, let's face it, I wouldn't know...yet. But I do know physical compatibility matters.
I have a friend from high school who converted to Christianity in college, which is wonderful, but I don't exactly agree with everything about the church she joined. They don't believe in dating. They believe in "courting." Which means no kissing, no touching, and no fun. I can understand the respectability and the morality involved in saving all of that for your wedding night (or the janitor's closet at the reception hall), but it's not for me. Or for most people. Because physical compatibility matters.
The thing is that it's all a mystery for so long. Sure, plenty of people rush to the sack before the first dinner and a movie date, but some time still goes by before the inevitable first romp in the sack. So much goes undiscovered until that first twisted night under the covers. This person might be your ideal. They might do all the little Puritanistic pleasures that you love like petting your hair, scratching your back or holding the small of your back to lead you into a room.
But that same person could make all your worst nightmares come true once you get them in the bedroom. Maybe you want to take some Nair to his back. Maybe she doesn't shave - down there. Maybe his penis is so small you wonder if it's even hard. Maybe her breasts are surprisingly tiny after she takes off her Victoria's Secret water bra. Maybe he bites your nipples...too hard. Maybe she bites your shoulder...too hard. You just never know that your perfect person could cause a perfectly torturous experience.
Then there's all the sexual qualities they need to possess. I mean, fellas, if women can have multiple orgasms, why are you just giving us one? And ladies, guys enjoy a little oral every now and then too so try to be as generous as you expect them to be. Certain skills are involved. Some men are bad at some things...like really bad. But by the same token, some women are pretty awful too. Practice makes perfect.
Why can't it be like ordering a meal from McDonald's? Would you like fries with that? Yes, super sized. I'd like a quarter pounder, hold the lettuce. Life would be so much simpler if people had sexual menus you could choose from. You know, just put it all out in the open posted so everyone could see and could pick exactly what wanted.
"I like giving blow jobs." "I once gave a woman seven orgasms. In 45 minutes." And you could give sizes too, to avoid any misunderstandings. 34 B. 6 1/2 inches. It would make things go so much more smoothly if everyone was honest like that. You wouldn't have to try out so many bad pieces of meat to figure out which one on the menu was right for you.
Of course...mistakes can be fun. And they make for great stories. Ohhh...fuck it. Let's just all get out there and make some more funny stories. As my friend Walter says, "Don't be dumb, get you some."
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Hello, readers. Welcome to my little world.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re lonely, life seems to slow down completely? You feel every breath as it comes in and as it goes out. You hear every tiny drop of rain fall. Every minute passes as you count each second going by. Maybe it’s not just when you’re lonely, but when you’re lonely because you can’t be with the person that you want to be with. Or because you’re weary of the search.
I don’t understand life. Or love. I don’t understand how people can miss each other like two trains running on opposite tracks. Just sliding past without a collision of minds or crash of hearts. How two people can feel two totally different things at the same time and feel the same exact feelings at two totally different times. Or feel nothing at all because they haven’t noticed each other.
When does it line up? When do we meet each other in the middle? When exactly is that supposed to happen? We live in a world of chaos, fast paces, quick meals, no breaks, no time to spare. The modern world is one of conveniences which challenge us and push us to keep up. We have more time now because of these conveniences but instead of enjoying life or taking things easy, we find more things to do. At some point, we lost something of ourselves. We’ve lost that which keeps us grounded in life. And the worst of it is that we’ve gotten used to it. And we’re terribly uncomfortable without it.
They say that people are getting married older these days than they have previously. If you take out all the girls in high school who get knocked up and married at sixteen, what would the average age be then? 30? And the reason is this is the world we live in. We live in a fast paced world that makes you hurry in order to stay afloat which causes you to lose sight of the small things that life has to slow down to enjoy. There’s no time for marriage because there’s no time for love.
So when is it that love happens? When do we slow down? When do we have that train crash into that someone? People miss each other every day. How do you really know that you haven’t met someone you could love?
Maybe you sat next to them on the subway and not even known it because you were too busy planning your schedule on your palm pilot. Or maybe you would’ve met someone at a coffee shop if you had taken the time to sit down and actually savor every last drop instead of running in and running out.
I just think that people should slow down every now and then and take a good look around them. Making the most of every opportunity may not be a motto encouraging new stock investments. Maybe it means that we should quiet down our world so that we can listen to the voice inside us tell us what to do. Shhhh.
Posted by Penny Lane at 1:01 AM