Thoughts on Solitude Sundays Vol. 2

24 01 2018

Being Alone Doesn’t Mean You’re Lonely…

and other likeminded cliches on Solitude

solitude_sunday_3

January 21st marked my third Solitude Sunday of the year. Inspired by The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Tale of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel I’ve been attempting alone-time at least once a week since finishing the book.

The main point of the exercise in solitude is to turn off my phone and computer for an entire day and try to turn inward instead.

In other words, I am Krystal, unplugged.

I have yet to experience a true day of solitude though as I live with roommates and also have woken up to another person in my bed on more than one Sunday morning.

So, I’ve had to redefine these Sundays of Solitude since I am not be able to be truly alone unless some rich person asked me to house-sit for them while they’re away for a weekend or I went out and camped in the middle of nowhere by myself (which I won’t do until the spring due to the fact that I enjoy feeling warmth in my fingers and toes).

What I’ve learned though is that the addiction is real.

Separating myself from my phone has been painful.

I can’t count the times I have looked for it while in one room or the other only to remember I had shut it off and hid it in a drawer.

I haven’t lost track of time during any of these Sundays of Solitude, but instead I often have had no idea what time it was at all.  It turns out that most homes, including ours, have a lot less working clocks in them these days.

I tell time by looking out my window. It gets dark and I think “finally I can go to bed,” then I walk into the kitchen and the one working clock that’s on our oven informs me it’s only 5.30 p.m. Could this be right? I have often found myself saying outloud to no one. This oven clock was accurate yesterday, so why wouldn’t it be today? It’s at that moment that I experience the crushing realization that I have an entire night ahead of entertaining myself.

I believe that was the biggest revelation this last Sunday.

When you disconnect from the outside world and have to focus instead of what’s around you, it feels as though you gain time.

Of course that’s not necessarily how time works; we don’t gain or lose it, time just is. Though I will say that without constantly scrolling through newsfeeds or texting friends all day, it often feels like I’m getting time back; I can recognize it moving at a pace that seems reasonable, seems like it used to seem back in the days of my youth when I lived out in the country in the middle of nowhere Kansas, prior to having access to the internet (it still barely works out there to this day).

Of course, this can feel boring at the same time that it feels refreshing. It can feel lonely at the same time as it feels liberating. It’s not for everyone. I’m not sure if I’d even recommend it.

What it’s done for me though is force me to slow down.

It’s allowed me to catch up.

Solitude Sunday has reminded me that interesting things are happening within just as much as they’re happening without. It’s made my return to technology feel less important. That scrolling through Instagram and Facebook aren’t necessarily wastes of time, but that I could do it less and it still mean just as much.

solitude_sunday_4

I’d like to explore something that could be equally interesting in the future, that is, I’d like to unplug with another person. I know that there’s still plenty to understand and dive into deeper with my own internal landscape, but I also am liking the idea of two people disconnecting from everyone else and instead taking the time to get to know each other without the distraction of our individual networks–because there is more to us than who we follow.

If you’re down to unplug with me some upcoming Sunday (and in Denver), send me a message (I get the humor in using technology to disconnect from technology in the future, but sometimes it’s the best way to get where we need to be).

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Has feminism gotten too trendy for its own good?

22 01 2018

Thoughts on the latest Women’s March.

Here’s the deal. As a feminist I feel like no matter what I do or what I say, someone somewhere will always be there to tell me how I’m wrong; they will be there to inform me that I don’t do enough for the cause. And you know what, fine.

I am wrong.

I don’t do enough.

The other night I fell asleep on my friend’s couch in Cap Hill, in the morning I awoke to the sounds of shouting and stomping and cowbells. I knew right away it was the Denver Women’s March. I thought, ‘good for them’ as I tried to go back to sleep. The noise continued. I realized the only way to get back to sleep was to make my way home, which meant I had to step into the noise.

womens_march
People who fight oppression all have different individual approaches, which I appreciate. When we know our own strengths we can utilize those skills to make a more lasting impact. Mad props for the 200,000+ people who showed up at the Women’s Marches across the country.

As someone whose strength lies in critically analyzing situations, people, things, media, and events, I have to admit that for over a year now I’ve been confused as to what the point of the Women’s March actually is.

According to their website:
The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change.”

Huh?

So, the women’s march is an ‘umbrella march’ for people to come and walk around yelling about whatever thing bothers them the most?

Cool.

Now what though?

When I left my friend’s place I only had to walk one block before being thrown into the thick of it. There were indeed thousands of people; they were energetic, their pink pussy hats perky with the possibilities of change; you could see the excitement on their faces as they screamed words that were only barely understandable; their well-made witty signs glistened waving hello to me in the morning breeze.

Because I’m still trying to understand the point of the Women’s March here’s what I hope happened.

I hope the women’s march left people feeling inspired, motivated, ready to go back at it and work to make the changes we need to live in a more well-balanced culture.

I hope that people learned more about how inequality, discrimination, intersectionality actually works etc. and what we can do to dismantle it.

I hope that the women’s march and everything that surrounds it isn’t just a liberal trend that helps feed capitalism in a different way (anyone else remember the 90s “Girls Rule, Boys Drool’ campaign?). Tired of these old white dudes? Support these women and people of color with your hard-earned money instead (as we still feed the same system that has always been in place).

I hope that we realize that sexual assault/harassment is bigger than Hollywood, that it infiltrates all the way to the lowly bottom of society and is taught in the homes and in the education system either consciously, subconsciously, or both and it will take the collective to overcome, that a new way of understanding has to be written.

I hope that the Women’s March and all the latest feminist discussion isn’t just about getting more Democrats elected into office, but that we all pay closer attention to the viewpoints and action-plans of ALL people running for politics and that those people understand that we are indeed ready for a positive paradigm shift and that we choose those who are willing to do the hard work to make this shift happen.

I hope that we learn how to dismantle the patriarchy in order to have a system in place where all people feel empowered, where all people have agency, and this isn’t just about flipping the roles of power.

I hope that one day there will no longer be marches at 10 in the morning on a Saturday when people could be sleeping in instead because there will be no need for such things.

I hope.

Which, is more than I was doing last year when I was more or less depressed and apathetic about everything.

womens_march_2
I escaped the throng of the pink pussy hat crowd and had made it several blocks away by this point; the white dude lit up on the street sign and I started to cross the next block. I made it about halfway when a large red SUV started to turn into me oblivious to the fact that a pedestrian not only has the right away but that a pedestrian happened to be walking across the street at all.

The vehicle’s window was down.

“Hey, yeah! I still exist,” I yelled.

The car stopped inches away from my body, I noticed a basic white bro in the driver’s seat.

I gave him my classic side eye.

“Sorry,” he mouthed.

I’m not sure if I believe him, but I, like the rest of the world, want it to be true.





The Day The Universe and I Have a Little Heart to Heart

17 01 2018

Over the weekend I was over at this lawyer’s apartment and I was intoxicated. I had met him for dinner a week prior, we had matched on Tinder months ago, we hadn’t not hit it off, though, we barely knew each other. I was there trying to get to know him. Let’s just say that I had somehow consumed a rare exotic mushroom and his bathroom wall became something more interesting to look at than pretty much anything else in his apartment, including him.

mushrooms

The thing is, if you slow down and pay attention, the universe will start communicating with you. In fact, the universe is always trying to communicate, it’s just most of the time we’re too busy to pay attention and we miss the signs.

In any event, we were watching music videos on Youtube from the 2000s. I had become restless. I had become slightly paranoid in that I no longer wanted to be there. I wanted to be with my friends. I wanted to be in bed. I wanted to be in bed with my friend who lived two blocks down the street, but I couldn’t be because it was 2 in the morning and I knew he was asleep and that his phone was off. I wanted to be pretty much anywhere else and I definitely didn’t want to be in my head anymore.

The Tracy Chapman song “Fast Car,” came on. The lyrics go something like,

“You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way…”

And it seemingly kept repeating those lines, “leave tonight or live and die this way.”

I started yelling back at the TV (in my head, not out loud). I was like, “Tracy, yo, I totally get what you’re trying to say, but if I leave tonight in my fast car I am more likely to die THAT WAY.” She nodded like she understood and the song ended.

I thought the universe was done talking to me, and yet it had only just begun.
To really drive the issue home, “A Simple Man,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd came on next. I looked into the reflection of the window, as I did I saw the man I was hanging out with, he was eating and in his intoxicated state dropped his food on the floor. He seemed rather goofy in that moment. Bumbling. Derpy. I knew I couldn’t be with him forever. In fact, I didn’t know if I wanted to really be with him for another minute. The song continued, basically informing me that if I stayed with this derpy guy I would have a calm, simple, (potentially beautiful) life. I contemplated the message because I was just sitting there doing nothing anyway.

It seemed too serene, it seemed such a dull way to go. Combined with Tracy’s message from earlier, I would have a simple life and then I would die that way.

No, I said. That is not what I want.

In any event, I freaked out.

First I made him change the music. We listened to Jim Croce. We put on “Time in a Bottle,” which I have decided is officially my favorite song. He tried to dance with me. I was like, I CAN’T! Then, I went and hid in his bedroom and pretended to sleep.

While I was in there, my brain unfolded many things about time, the universe, infinity, the meaning of life etc.

Here’s what came to me.

Breath is a drug more powerful than any other drug. We keep coming back for it,
not just moment after moment, but through infinite time and space.

The meaning is indeed 42 (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

Life is a fart in the wind.. aka a joke.. aka a long-ass joke. If you’re not laughing, you don’t get the punchline.

There is no need to waste moments on derps, if you do, so be it, but it’s better to allow people to come into your folds that make you want to sing “Time in a Bottle.” to them and truly mean it.

“I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with”

It doesn’t matter if you die. We die every day when we go to sleep. We die every time we take a breath. The end is never the end, it’s only the beginning to something else. And yes, we can indeed choose who we want to go through time with both here and later, but there’s no need to be so serious about it all. The punchline is always the same, it’s the jokes along the way that make the difference.





If a computer could determine the love of your life, would you want to know?

15 01 2018

In 2009, an underrated rom-com called TiMER was released. In this film, people elect to be implanted with a timing device that counts down to the second when they will meet their soulmate. The marketing tagline for the service was “Take the guesswork out of love.” At one point the main character Emma Caulfield Ford (of Buffy fame), says to her boyfriend of one month outside the TiMER offices, “What’s the point in continuing without a guarantee?” Then of course, she’s implanted and her timer is blank, which means her soulmate has yet to be implanted or could possibly not exist.

This year in the 4th season of Black Mirror, Episode 4, “Hang the DJ,” we meet Frank and Amy, two people who have signed up for an immersive experience to find “the one;” a program that has a 99.8% success rate. In this alternative universe, a computer uses its algorithm to collect data consistently in order to determine who belongs with each other by analyzing their every thought, action, experience, feelings. They’re set up with one person at a time, each date gets exactly that, a date in which the relationship will end. They are required to only spend that length of time together, 36 hours, 9 months, 1 year, etc. whether they like that person or not (because everything happens for a reason).

black_mirror_hang_the_DJ

In both of these storylines, people know in advance whether they are with the love of their lives or not. Not to give it all away, but it seems like only through the rebellion of not-knowing do any of them find what they think they’ve been looking for.

Is that what love takes? Rebellion against society’s norms? Could it even be considered “society’s norms,” when really it’s just that no one likes being told what to do, particularly when it comes to who they’re going to love (see pretty much every work of literature, poetry, film that exists).

Which is partly why the Okcupid algorithm doesn’t really work (and was supposedly all arbitrary anyway) but anyone who is supposedly a 99% match is not going to match well, because we couldn’t possibly believe that a computer could tell us what’s real more so than our own minds and hearts–so we all look for signs that the computer is wrong, and find them because humans are naturally all flawed in some shape or form.

While watching the Black Mirror episode I couldn’t help but think that having a time-stamp on the relationship would actually be rather refreshing. Of course, I have done these types of relationships before, gotten into things I knew would end because the other person was moving or what have you. It was never heartbreaking because the terms were clear from the start.

Most relationships do end; so is it so wrong to know when that end will happen? How does it change your mindset knowing? Could it not potentially allow you the opportunity to make the most of your time together, whether it’s a day or 5 years? Would you want to know if you could?

black_mirror_match_hang_the_dj

What about when it comes to your “soulmate”? Could a computer ever have the capability to actually determine that? At some point, someone somewhere would have to confirm that the concept of the ‘soulmate’ indeed is true and exists and not only that, but it can be found essentially through math , and the finding can be easily done to make a profit.

Yet, by knowing, do we put up a wall, do we not put our whole hearts into relationships when we know that it doesn’t matter, that it will not last? And is that why people who are in love have to rebel because if they don’t, it’s not truly love?

As Tom Robbins says:
“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”

In the end, the security of love never exists, knowing that a computer thinks you’re right for each other doesn’t make it right, only you know, and only time can tell.





Sex, Tinder, and More Than That

12 01 2018

On changing up my dating life patterns and getting something better than before

Since getting back on Tinder in October of this year, I’ve matched with over 300 people, had conversations with 30% of them, and gone out with maybe, maybe 10 different souls.

Love_Sex_Tinder

It’s strange to me because 300 seems like a pretty big number and yet, I feel more disconnected than I ever have in my dating life. It’s as if the more people I match with the less likely I’ll find anyone of quality.

I know, I know, Tinder was created specifically for quantity. It’s designed so you want to keep coming back because someone hotter and funnier and smarter could be just a swipe away.

 

I get that we’re all throw-away people to each other now.

 

That we find ourselves rating our worth on the number of matches we have.

Yet, even though 300 people potentially would fuck me based off of a couple of photos, that doesn’t mean any of them would ever like being around me.

Like many people, I enjoy sex. I also have a higher sex drive than most people, men and women alike. It’s often not difficult to find someone willing to sleep with me. Yet, no matter how much I enjoy sex, one night stands, fucktoys, fuckboys, fuckgrrrls (is this a thing?), no-strings-attached, friends-with-benefits–it’s all becoming rather tiring.

It’s time to go deeper with someone–not physically deeper–emotionally, spiritually deeper. It’s like we’re all afraid to actually get to know someone. We come with excuses that are worse than the ones that George and Jerry and Elaine always seemed to find. Hands are too small. Nose is too big. Beard is weird. He still eats Chef-Boyardee. She does this annoying popping thing with her toes. He texts too much. She doesn’t text enough. He sucks my nose when we’re making out. She pees a little when she sneezes. etc. etc.

 

But why the constant excuses? Is it fear? Is it FOMO? Is it actually justifiable and we should know they’re right from the beginning?

 

I’ve decided to slow down. To rid my expectations of other people. To attempt to learn something from everyone I meet. To stay curious and open to the exploration of other souls–and at the same time, my own.

 

The Tinder culture is addicting. It’s like junk food, it tastes delicious but it’s just a bunch of empty calories nothingness.

 

You keep wanting more but it’s not good for you. Instead of rotting your teeth though, it rots your soul. It makes you feel both wanted and rejected at the same time. It makes you think that the possibilities are endless and you should never settle. And of course you should never settle, but you should also not keep repeating a pattern that fails to live up to anything substantial or meaningful.

tinder_junk_in_and_out

I’m not sure if it’s a waste so much as a distraction. A tool that we use to keep ourselves occupied, to keep opportunity available, to see just how fuckable we are on a surface level. Because we all want the possibility of connection, even if it’s just for a night, but many people, whether we want to admit it out loud or not, many of us want something more, something with legs, something closer to longevity.

Maybe all it takes is putting down the phone and looking around, interacting with people in real life situations. It at least seems more fulfilling to talk to someone face to face, see if anything is there, and act upon it if there is, walk away (quickly) if there isn’t?

All I know (which isn’t much) is that I have to stop thinking Tinder is the answer. To be honest, I can barely even remember the question, but I think it has to do with how we uncover love in its long form.

My plan is to create new habits and knock off the bad patterns regardless of how long it takes or how hard it is because I want more–and I’m going to get it.





9 Random Thoughts: New Year, Same Me

11 01 2018

Random Thoughts Are Back, You Are Welcome!

1.
Part of my New Year’s Resolution was to get shit done even if I have a hangover. Now, as I’m getting shit done with a hangover I wonder if I’m possibly not so great at making new year’s resolutions and resolve to make better ones next year, like resolving to take more naps.
2.
Turned on the news and they keep yammering on and on about some lost secret spy missile. It’s like the media doesn’t understand what ‘secret’ mean; sort of like how Trump doesn’t understand what “genius” means.
3.
So, I’ve watched the first two episodes of the new season of Black Mirror. I’ve read a lot of commentary that says this season is dull. I don’t find it dull, but I do find the stories thus far to have things occurring in them that I’ve either read or seen in other forms. For example, some of the elements felt very George Saunder-ish and it made me realize how few satirical television shows exist. That’s something that would be great to see, someone capable of pulling off the humor of satire without making it too dark or too slap-stickish.
4.
There’s been this dead squirrel on the sidewalk along the path that I run for at least a month now. I have witnessed it withering away day after day, as I too slowly shed pound after pound helping to prevent my entire withering away a little while longer, at least that’s the point, right? In any event, the squirrel barely resembles a squirrel anymore whereas I thankfully still resemble myself.

squirrel
5.
Remember when you were a kid and you’d ask a parent how to spell a word and they’d yell “look it up!” So you’d get the dictionary out but then couldn’t find the word because you didn’t know how to spell it? Yeah. I bet that doesn’t happen anymore because, technology.
6.
Speaking of technology, what I love most about watching Seinfeld now is how they seemed to all survive without cell phones just fine. In fact, a many good episodes were created out of the lack of this connection. It would not / could not ever be like that now.
7.
Yada yada yada.
8.
The best part of a hangover is the following day when you are no longer hungover and you feel more alive than ever before, I can’t wait until tomorrow.
9.
It’s amazing how few thoughts go through your head when you’re specifically trying to think about random thoughts. Just try it. It could be the new way to “meditate,” because the mind goes completely blank. It’s quite amazing actually. I now know what to do when I need to clear my head.





Finding Solitude Within the Noise: Week 1.

8 01 2018

January Goal: Talk to People Less, Find Self More

solitude

Lone tree, hometown, Kansas, 2013.

After reading The Stranger in the Woods, I have been diving deeper into concepts of solitude discussed throughout the book.

In it, Michael Finkel writes:

“People who live in cities experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones. These hormones, especially cortisol, increase one’s blood pressure, contributing to heart disease and cellular damage. Noise harms your body and boils your brain. The word “noise” is derived from the Latin word “nausea.” (pg 113)

This stuck with me. I live in Denver and though it’s not as bustling and loud as some places like New York or LA, I am in the heart of the city where there is constant traffic and construction projects. In fact, they’ve been building a new house across the street from me for the last several months, and let me tell you, jackhammering at all hours of the day is definitely nausea-inducing.

There was a moment in the book when the author reflected on how long he had ever gone without talking to a single other person, including texts and phone calls. His was half a day. Mine? I couldn’t even think of a time. Had there ever been a time when I actually experienced ‘solitude’? Maybe once for a day in high school when my parents were gone before I had a cell phone or working internet and I decided to stay home “sick” from school, but that’s not a solid memory, just a thing that may or may not have happened.

Because I am so drawn to these ideas of quiet and because I can’t really leave everything behind and run away to the middle of nowhere to live in a tent (for one, I wouldn’t survive). I decided to attempt Solitude Sundays.

Through January, every Sunday (starting Saturday night before I go to bed) I am turning off my phone and my computer and I am spending the entire day alone.

It’s impossible to escape all of the noise, particularly when one has roommates, but cutting off technology at least gets me halfway there.

Baby stepping toward solitude.

Here are my thoughts from Week 1 of Solitude Sundays.

I went to bed early for a change on Saturday night shutting off my phone around 11:30 pm (this is early for me on a Saturday as I often stay up until 3-4 a.m. drunk socializing like an asshole).

I did not set an alarm.

I woke around 10 a.m.

Of course, one of the first things I normally do when I wake up is to look at my phone to see how popular I am based on how many people sent me texts and memes and shit (usually not very) but my phone was turned off and hidden from me.

Separating from my phone was much more difficult than I thought it would be. I knew I was addicted, but I didn’t know how bad it was until it was no longer there. It is my crutch. If I leave a room, even for a minute, I come back and check it immediately just in case I may have missed something or to see the time or to check the weather or to get on Instagram to depress myself by looking at how much fun everyone else seems to be having.

I had to rely on looking at a clock (shocking), stepping outside for a second to see how cold it was (wow!), looking within myself for entertainment or lack thereof (gee whiz!).

What did I end up doing all day? Not scrolling through Tinder I’ll tell you that.

I read.

I read a fuck ton of words.

I read short stories by George Saunders. I started Ape & Essence by Aldous Huxley. I went through my stack of magazines and separated everything I had read, didn’t want to read, wanted to read. I finished several Glamours. I read half of a New Yorker.

I re-read the entire introduction and section 1 of a book on Hedgewitchery.

I may or may not have done the first rite from that book.

I meditated.

I drank a cup of coffee.

I took out the recycling.

I planted herbs into a flower pot.

I finally raked the lawn.

I did nothing.

I longed to do more.

I had all these thoughts about the things I wanted to do with my phone, with my computer; ideas I wanted to look up, people I wanted to talk to. I even longed to call my mother to tell her how difficult it was to not talk to anyone all day.

I wrote down everything I wanted to do with the technology I chose to hide from myself onto a piece of paper so I could do them later if I deemed them worthy.

It was the smartest move I could make in that regard.

I journaled about my feelings (or lack thereof).

I went for a run. I took a bath. I ate some fancyass healthy food that involved quinoa and kale and tofu. My roommate came into the room and I had to say hello, which ruined the entire thing.

I didn’t let her get me down.

I stared out the window.

There were times of tremendous struggle. Times when I thought, “well, what if I just turn my phone on for a minute?”

I persevered.

solitude2

By the end of the time, I actually became anxious. I thought about how lovely it was to not have to talk to anyone and how the following day (today) I would have to start talking to people again. I begin to wonder how many days I could actually go before I went crazy (my guess is 11 days).

I wouldn’t necessarily call what I did “practicing solitude.” But it feels like a good step in that direction. My goal for next Sunday is to do less. I want to dive in deep to the inner self, see what I’ve been missing that’s been with me the entire time.

Alone?

Nah.

Not when I have myself.

P.S. I woke up, turned on my phone. I had missed three texts. One from a friend who called me “lame” for turning my phone off. And two from some fuckboy asking me to “69.” 

In other words, I didn’t miss anything (which makes me glad and sad at the same time).