Choose

What choice did I have?

I’m sitting in a torn, bright red, faux leather booth

with photographs of the same old, white man painting a wall splattered on the table.

I do not want to flirt with this long haired, slightly high-pitched voiced Brazilian in front of me.

But what choice do I have?

When it’s an early fall, newly crisp night and your roommate (your sister) invites a “friend” over and you share a bedroom wall with her

I spread my choices out in front of me: ways to meet new people when your sister is banging a guy on the other side of your wall and your friends are all moving to California and leaving you gone with the wind

I download Tinder

What other choice did I have?

I swipe like a good millennial woman, earn my 100 likes in 10 minutes with an assortment of 9 semi-curated self portraits of ease, and no consequence, and pretty-without-trying, and white skin

My brain eats the matches up, aware of the dopamine yet succumbing happily to the little moments of pleasure and validation and rush

What other choice do I have when algorithms have already pierced by face in my last 100 profiles; what good does deleting a profile do?

I walk with the Brazilian man down Bedford Ave and he doesn’t know I live four blocks away (thank goodness he does not know I live four blocks away) and how grateful I am that he took a 30 minute bus to get here instead of me

First impressions, big breaths at the end of his sentences, maybe he is nervous? Maybe I look different than my photos, too? Then he lands, “But enough about me, this is a date. We should get to flirting.”

I thought we had agreed to start with friends and go from there; I thought that was “your philosophy”; I thought I knew you after our 5 min text-app conversation.

My therapist told me dating would be good for me.

And what other choice did I have? As I am walking down this dark street the shadows get darker and I become more aware of my heartbeat and my keys in my left pocket and his substantially larger frame, I tell him, “That’s not my philosophy.”

Sitting on the subway counting the number of people sitting semi-miserably, half conscious staring at a smart phone, most likely an iPhone, playing games and reading texts and scrolling and liking and scrolling and liking, I know the advertisements are still there, both above their heads and in the palm of their hands. I thought I chose another path when I bought this darn Verizon flip phone

I swipe on my old 5C with WiFi and one of my matches chats me up, “anti-capitalist immigrant…let’s talk shit and play with each other’s hair,” recognizes my cis-women luxury to not have to message first even though I used to (before I remembered this was a game and why am I trying so hard?) a cat meme, waving hello

He does not understand my philosophy.

He eases in towards me, brushing my shoulder and my hand – and I back away, tell him I’m a Capricorn, I like the land, I am grounded, and yes I am serious.

I smile as I say it, feel the imprint of the key zig-zag on my finger and finally agree to turn around back to where the bars are, away from north Bedford shadows and whispers of old Tinder date conversations

I gave my sister some privacy (check) this is worth it this is worth it this is worth it

How did I chose this? I don’t even like bars. Or strangers. Or small talk. When we settle in the beer stained, still somehow red booth, I tell him my philosophy is to use the first date to decide if I want to flirt with this profile come to life, an actual, flawed human being.

I tell him that if he gets anything out of meeting me he should check out “Stealing Your Feelings” and that gets me thinking about data and capital and democracy

and choices

that some Silicon Valley giant made for me when they curated my choices for the night, plugged it into our collective conscious, and eased me into paying $11 for a watermelon margarita and a Saturday hangover.

 

In all seriousness! You, too, should check out https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2019/09/23/introducing-stealing-ur-feelings-an-interactive-documentary-about-big-tech-ai-and-you/ but don’t worry, I won’t force you to

October 12, 2019

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Too Much

So –

do you think this neighborhood is too

gay

for you,

maybe too

poor 

for you

and oh, that means too

dangerous 

for you?

Are you just so

uncomfortable

when you see people

who are

not

like

you

because you’re not gay –

gosh, no;

and you’re not poor,

not gonna steal some stuff

off some other soul’s back

because you were left behind

to feed a mother and two kids-

no way.

 

You are just a person,

after all–

you shouldn’t

have to deal

with these feelings,

these

difficult

thoughts.

No —

you can just leave them outside,

let them blow away

in the blizzard,

land on someone else’s

snowy, white

front step.

 

 

January 3, 2018

Carry On

Tell me

what type of wind

would have made you stay,

tempted your shallow roots to grow

and adventures to remain

silent in the mind,

considering the heart instead–

talk about vulnerability

when all you see is mastery

even a mindful soul can grow lonely

what bit of sun-dipped skin

did you need to see,

prepared to acknowledge that freedom

is free to think about

but a lifetime of hurt to know

that “fate” is just a word,

“choice” a guarantee

unlike thawed flowers in spring

you’ve uprooted–

away from my heart, from possibility

and “we” becomes “me”

I continue the journey.

 

I learn to carry on.

 

January 2, 2016

Forever Love

The final drop

in the bucket,

knowing it does not exist

that all expands

and contracts

and realizes its impermanence

simply by being free.

A free love–

it is all I could ever wish for.

..

My hands on your cheeks,

tracing your smile

and the etches of your mind

that I once thought to be unreadable

.

I want you

to flip through my pages

and learn my story,

to write it with me:

our forever love.

November 29, 2015

The Story

It’s what we write every day and, whether we are fully aware of it or not, it’s the grandest story of all:

The Story of My Life.

From the news and social media, to conversations at work and on the street, stories make up the “stuff” of our lives.  I truly believe that we are more than all of this “stuff.”  When you take it all away, there is only the simplicity of life churning away through our veins and souls, connecting us all to the universe.

And yet we still live here, on Earth.  We are always in the midst of other people and countless narratives.  We can’t just run from them.   The world will keep turning.  Even if we close off all our senses, the stories that make up society aren’t going to go away.  Yes, we can shape our personal narrative by stating: “My life is more important than my life story.” And you’d be right!  I am solidly in that camp.  But we are still responsible for our stories.

What do you tell yourself, about yourself, every day?  How do you view your relationship with others, with yourself?  Where does your self confidence fall based on these guidelines?

If I have a problem, I like to think about it in broad terms, considering the evidence of one truth versus another.  By doing so, however, I put a lot of pressure on myself (and my brain) to get it right.  As if I have all the answers!  It’s insane, and yet this pressure follows me day to day, allowing myself to identity with both intelligence and inability.  So when I ask myself the question, “Am I capable of changing how I tell my life story?” I doubt myself.

Do you have any doubts about yourself, about your abilities– about your story?

A wise friend of mine told me today that fresh starts are precious: not everyone can have them, and you can do whatever you want with them.

They symbolize ultimate freedom.

Today, as I find myself in the beginnings of another “fresh start,” I’m taking a stand.  I want to claim responsibility for telling my life story–  to the world, to others, and (most importantly) to myself.

In more ways than not, I am whatever I want to be.  I am whatever I believe myself to be.  There’s no pressure to know everything or for everything to be perfect.   But I’m the main character in this play, as well as the audience.  All I can do is balance the tragedy with the comedy and know that, in the end, my “life” under my “life situation,” my “life story,” will always be there.

***

So, hey you!  You’re a person with a story.  Go out there and write a good one.