Words Mean Things

Buenos Diaz!

I’d like to first thank each and every one that “Liked” my Facebook page! Last week I reached the 100-like benchmark (pops collar), which to a more seasoned page-owner may be kids’ stuff but for me was cause for a full blown dance party in my car (to Beyonce’s Grown Woman, in case you were wondering). I got the news from a weekly email from the good people over at Facebook reporting on the overall status of the page, i.e. number of likes, popularity of individual posts, and figures on reach and engagement. It made me think. Well, it made me dance, but then it made me think. 

As a good friend put it earlier this week, “Every post, every like, every share, every comment reflects its creator and become his or her brand.” That brand has enormous visibility thanks to the power of social media.  It would seem that more often than not, people are aware of their primary brand- i.e. the one they actively manage at work, at church, amongst loved ones in everyday life, etc. It is the secondary brand, the one created on social media whether consciously or not, that is too often not considered or given enough weight. 

It used to be just the young’ns that I thought needed reminding of this concept. I try to give these kids out here a lot of leeway because I was young and silly once too. I for sure posted more than a few questionable photos in my late teens and early twenties: pictures of my “face” or my (yikes, blonde) hair but hey! look! boobs!, shots of me getting’ low on the dance floor of some house party with a beer in hand and a giant sombrero on my head and other ratchetivity. I’ll also be the first one to tell you that a) I was young and young people do dumb things, and b) I had major self-esteem issues as I suspect many of today’s youth do as well. Still it seems like the images filling all of our timelines and feeds are increasingly revealing, attention-seeking and sexualized, each day a little more than the one before. It’s all about the “like,” all about the Vine, all about breaking the internet.

Case in point: after-sex selfies. Yeah, you read that right. Selfies. After the sex. Online. I spent several minutes last week asking myself whether or not it would be super creepy to look up the hashtag. Alas, a certain disgusted curiosity got the best of me, and as my mother would say, “Santa Madre!” It’s real, it’s disturbing, and it’s a good thing I’m not a mother with a kid trying to pull this crap or I’d be forced to coin #aftermymamakickedmyassintonextTuesdayselfie.  Go ahead- look it up. Behold aaaaaall the users who know nothing of privacy settings (or propriety, or life). You’ll find captions like “Guess what we just did?” and “Sorry not sorry.” You’ll also find some hilarious jabs at this stupidity like one of two cats lounging by a fire. As for the ones that truly appear to post-coital shots- Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. These kids need Jesus. 

It’s not just people’s own photos or videos either, but those of other groups or individuals that they turn around and share. I realize a lot of people spend their day gawking at adult film stars making real friendly with plumbers and pizza delivery guys.  I’m sure tons of folks got a kick out of Floyd Mayweather’s trashy-ass video where he’s posted up in his draws amid 10 strippers twerking. To the guy that came across a photo of three US soldiers who appear to be brutalizing a Middle Eastern woman, you should absolutely feel disgusted by this atrocity if it is what it looks like. 

It’s the part where you say, “By golly, I will share this with everybody else!” that demands a second thought. Yes , you are the scum of the earth if you violate a woman. Blasting the photo of the act on the internet to bring shame to the perpetrators, however noble your intentions, is insensitive on multiple levels. Would she want that photo to be seen, or would it force her to relive the horror and the pain and the shame? What about other victims of abuse that are unexpectedly accosted by this image in their feed between pictures of friends’ babies and cat videos? There are primary and secondary affects to our actions, as well as a time and place for them; just as we should think before we speak, so should we think before we share and know both our audience and platform.

Then there are the actual words that people post, and I’m not even talking about proper use of the English language (Girrrrrrrl, please. Don’t get me started). Some of this I write off to immaturity- the way too many drunk or soon-to-be drunk photos captioned with some variety of “turn down for what?!?,” the frequent rants airing out child-support woes or baby-mama drama; the “fuck this, fuck that, fuck you and your little dog too” tirades. I like to think that these are the follies of youth, but too many of the guilty here left youth behind many a moon ago.

This brings me to a major pet peeve, one that forces me to contemplate hitting that “Unfriend” button a few times a day: people who insist on sharing articles and commenting on them passionately when it is blatantly clear that they read only the headline and not the actual body of work. As a lover of words, this feels like an attack on my spirit. Leave my spirit alone please. What’s that you say? You did read it? Oh, then you just don’t care what words mean. Got it. Well, you and the folks who only read the headline can go sit in the same corner together because you’re both equally working my nerves.

An example- if you’re going to make political commentary, please, oh PLEASE try not to live up to the stereotype of the ill-informed American. Just a couple of weeks ago, I came across numerous posts slamming the hell out of Barack Obama, unleashing the sound and the fury on this man for saying that moms choosing to stay at home with their kids is not a choice he wants Americans to make. Pero…. no, dude. I watched that speech! What he really said was:

… Moms and dads deserve a great place to drop their kids off every day that doesn't cost them an arm and a leg. We need better childcare, daycare, early childhood education policies. In many states, sending your child to daycare costs more than sending them to a public university.  And too often, parents have no choice but to put their kids in cheaper daycare that maybe doesn’t have the kinds of programming that makes a big difference in a child’s development. … And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”

Make no mistake: I am not telling you that you have to like ol’ Barack. I’m not saying you need to agree with his views or support his policies or get a dog like his or dress like Michelle.  I am only saying you should be well informed before you go on a hell-bent rant that holds no water. He did not say that mothers shouldn't choose to stay at home; he spoke on the unfairness of current policies affecting mothers, the often exorbitant cost and sparse availability of quality childcare, and the difficult choices that mothers are forced to make as a result of these contributing factors.  I respect any cogently formed opinion whether in line with my own or not, but please for the love of all things holy-think, read, digest and understand before you hit “Share.”

As Crissle from one my favorite Podcasts “The Read” will tell you- words mean things. Your words, other people’s words, words in general. And as my favorite blogger Vanessa will tell you, so does everything else you put out into the universe. You’re free to like what you like, hate what you hate and do what you do- these are some of the many wonderful rights afforded to you in this great albeit imperfect nation.  There is however a consequence to your every action, that’s just a fact of life no matter who you are, where you live or to what deity you pray. What you say and do on social media is a reflection of you. Not just the other party-goers, not just your deadbeat baby daddy, not just the lady at Sprint that may or may not have just been doing her job when you cussed her freaking face off- YOU. Craft thine image carefully, and don’t be afraid to make changes.

Bookishly yours,


Casual Obervances, Volume 1

Buenos Diaz! (Except now it's buenas tardes). Sometimes you have a story to tell, an inspring or at the very least thought-provoking message to share; other times, you just feel like writing about all the random things in your head. Today, fueled by a beverage called "Twisted Tea" on a lovely San Diego summer evening, I have opted for the latter. And because my spidey sense doth tell me that this will be far from the last of these musings, I have named this installment of random thoughts: "Casual Observances, Volume 1." More to come at a later date.

I Am A Terrible Wing Woman
So... I have no game. None. I'm a terrible flirt and I know it. my friends know it, my family knows it, Anderson Cooper know it and Edward Snowden know it. So you'd think I'd have some appreciation for those brave souls who do possess this elusive game-spitting talent. 

Haha- no. First of all, very few people truly do have this game thing down pat; it takes skill to communicate to another human being that you are interested in them without coming off as creepy, cocky or completely insane. And I get it, its challenging to try and decide in what manner to approach someone that you find attractive. But seriously, if you're going to hit on me (because soooooooo many men do), you should know that I hate pick-up lines and contrived attempts at "sexy" banter. Game for me is unnecessary, really. I respond well to intelligent and organic conversation (a piercing set of blue or green eyes and some full lips never hurt either), but not so much to some forced and flowery compliment about my plain brown eyes or some tired soliloquy about the feeling I allegedly gave you when you saw me from across the room. Blah. 

This is why I am possibly the world's worst wing woman. I just don't have a very high tolerance for bar pick-up situations. Yes, I am legitimately one of those girls who is out because I want to enjoy an evening with my friends. I live in San Diego and my five best friends live in Los Angeles, Boston and soon to be Santa Clara; when I go to visit them, we often do the dinner & drinks thing. Some will find this standoffish of me, and I won't claim that it isn't, but I become quite the eye-roller the minute some creeper begins the song and dance. 

I proved this point quite well last weekend when my buddy Daisy and I hit the town. We first had dinner at The Second Story, an amazing little gem hidden inside The Belamar Hotel in Manhattan Beach. It has a great happy hour and some amazing food- I highly recommend the pancetta-wrapped pork in the mustard and white wine sauce. We then headed over to Hudson House in Redondo for a few cocktails and promptly ordered a round of spicy watermelon margaritas (holler). It wasn't long before a slightly portly gentleman asked if the seat next to us was taken, and we politely advised him that the seat was indeed vacant and his for the taking. 

It's the part where guys don't read signals that signals a total shut-down in me. The second Daisy and I let this guy know that the seat wasn't taken, we turned inward towards each other and resumed our conversation. The message we were sending was clear: yes, you can have the seat because no one else's ass is sitting in it, now please kindly excuse us while we go back to talking about boys, work, and anti-wrinkle eye cream. It wasn't rude or obnoxious in any way, we just went back to dishing the dirt on each other's lives like we'd been doing before this guy got there. 

But the man not only couldn't take the hint, he was annoying in his approach. Daisy admits that the guy was a pain in the ass, she's just nicer than me and indulges people's annoyingness whereas I choose to loudly sip from my drink and look bored. I will always be polite at first- I'm not stuck up or anywhere **near** attractive enough to take for granted that anyone is hitting on me. But once I say "thanks, but no thanks" and establish that I am not interested, why can't we leave it at that?! At one point, the guy kept offering to buy us warm nuts, which we declined, but he bought the nuts anyway. Then not only did he say the word "nuts" about a thousand times and clearly try his hardest to get us to say it too, but he repeatedly tried to get me in particular to eat them. I'd politely advised him that while his gesture was appreciated, I didn't care for any since they were mixed in with a selection of olives which I happen not to care for at all. I hate olives, all of them. If you know me, you know this, I can't stand them in any of their varieties. I'd finally had it when the guy tried for about the 10th or 11th time to please, just try his warm, salty nuts. I ran all out of "no thank yous" and my polite smile (ok, polite lack of frown) vanished. I believe was flew out of my mouth was "I don't want the nuts. I told you I didn't want the nuts. I don't want your f*#%ing salty nuts that are soaked in some nasty bitter olive juice, so stop asking ok?" I received an epic under-the-table leg kick from Daisy, but I'd had it. It's a good thing Daisy has a boyfriend that she's madly in love with, because I sure as heck wasn't doing her any favors with this chump had she been single and interested. Sorry. Like I said: don't ask me to be your wing woman. You've been warned.

Selfie Nation
I recently posted on Facebook about my confusion and distaste for this odd phenomenon. I'm all about photos, I have no problem with you putting up 1,000 pictures- as long as they aren't all of your own face and you weren't the one taking them of yourself. Now I get it, we all do it sometimes. Like I said on FB, I see nothing wrong with you snapping and sharing a quick pic when you change up your haircut or color; when you've lost tons of weight and want to show off how hard you've worked to get there; when you're promoting a product or when you post occasional full-on "selfie" if you were just really feeling good that day. If you have a fashion or makeup or jeweley blog, then by all means post pics of your outfit! Tell your readers how you came up with the look, explain where you got each piece or product. It'ss this phenomenon of you constantly snapping photos of your face here, there any everywhere for no good reason that kills me! My criticism isn't aimed at one person in particular, tons of people that I do and don't know alike have latched onto this trend. And I just. Don't. Get. It. 

I really do try to be objective and see both sides of every argument, so I tried for a brief moment to convince myself that I should be envious of these people's confidence. Lord knows when I look in the mirror, I just don't see enough of a beauty staring back at me to merit posting pictures of, you know? I'd be concerned not only of being seen as dreadfully conceited but more of appearing pathetically deluded! I don't care what people think of me in a myriad of ways, but let's be real- I don't want people to think that I think I'm hotter than I really am. The phrase that comes to mind is "Que no tienes verguenza?!" Ha. 

Apps like Instagram have made it sooo easy though. I see all these females (looooots of tweens, and a few dudes, no lie) posing, cropping and filtering their way into a Selfie Nation daily- why?! Like I also said on Facebook, don't kid yourself just because it's all in cyberspace- your selfie addiction is the modern day equivalent of standing on a corner and handing out Glamour Shots. "Excuse me, miss? Hi. Here's a sassy one of me in some Enzo pumps before dinner last week. Oh, sir! Yes, over here. I was on my way to the bookstore here. Hashtag: I love books, right? Ok bye!" They're everywhere- you on your bed. You in your car. You at work. You at the gym. You in class. You at the mall. You in court. You at the supermarket, at the gyno, in the hallway, in an alley. And I can't. 

Candy Crush and CrossFit
I have nothing against video games. If you have a powerful penchant for slinging chubby red and yellow birds at little green pigs or lining up jewels or candy pieces in groups of three, hey! More power to you. Enjoy. Nor do I have any problem with fitness. Whether you're trying to get in shape or stay in shape (or find a shape, period), I tip my hat to you for wanting to be your healthiest, strongest self. 

However. What the hell is wrong with you crazed enusiasts?!? I almost named this little segment "Candy Crush, Crossfit and Crack Cocaine" because for some of you, each of those things is exactly like the other. I get requests to play this candy crush chingaderas on the daily and hear people having these supposedly clandestine conversations wherein they beg each for lives. Tell me you don't look like a meth-head when you're cowering in some corner with your phone pressed to your ear and you're pleading in a lowered voice, "Hey, so like, look. I need some lives. Just a couple, man. That's all I need. I'll get you back, I swear. Ok cool. When?" My Facebook feed is full of frustrated status posts concerning this wretched game (apparently level 65 is a real bitch?) and everyone from my cousin to my manicurist has at some point checked out of a conversation because they've been engrossed with it. This status post had me rolling: 

I don't know what I find more appaling: the terrible grammar or the fact that this woman has been so persistently accosted for candy crush lives that she had been forced to make an announcement on social media of her inability to keep up with demand. In any case, let this be a fair warning (sorry for the f-bomb):

As for CrossFit- I don't even know what to say about this. I am indeed genuinely impressed that you can bench 67 million pounds, mazel tov to you. I just want to fit I to a smaller size jean, myself. You should be proud of your strength! But am I the only one who feels that entirely too many CrossFit junkies have begun to exhibit cult-like behavior? It's like Fight Club meets the Illuminati except you can talk about it and its not as hard to join. Me, I'm sticking to my trusty elliptical and Nike Training Club app. I'll throw in a little Zumba for variety.

Gymnasium Etiquette 
Speaking of working out... If you're at the gym, in particular at 5am when I'm there, I almost don't have the right to judge you. Getting to the gym five days a week and at that hour takes dedication and effort! It's a tough routine to keep up, one that I admit I abandoned for a while in the name of carpooling to work and saving myself a heck of a lot of money on gas. But I'm back at it again, and I really do applaud all of the early risers joining me in my pre-sunrise sweat session.

Buuuuuuut some people's gym behavior is just too odd not to be commented upon. There are the weirdo chicks who wear makeup at the gym. It's 5am, honey. Why do you have Katy Perry eyelashes on and why are your lips glossy? Then we have the people wearing flip flops and JEANS on the cardio machines. Why?!? You can't be comfortable. How about the women who wear a regular or even no bra to work out- are you flipping insane?! With the possible exception of the truly, absolutely, without a doubt flat-chested gals, you are bat sh*t crazy if you aren't wearing a sports bra while you hit that treadmill. It's not attractive, it has to be uncomfortable, and your stuff is sagging, lady! Walk your butt over to Target, they have some lovely options for you for $15. Finally- the gym locker room is not your house. You can undress and get in and out of the shower, but you don't need to *stay* naked. You especially don't need to stay naked if your nether regions are decidedly Amazonian or if you're going to sit on a bench, prop up your leg and clip your toenails! Please don't bust out the box of Clairol while I'm blow drying and proceed to color your hair- this tiny room is not and humid, now you want to kill me with the fumes from your hair dye?! 

Gees. I mean, glad to see you working on your fitness. But come on, now. 

Liam Hemsworth
That's a good looking dude. That is all. 

You all have a great rest of your Saturday while I go work on my Aussie accent.