Dirty Towel

30 04 2014

blue_bath_towel_3d_model_8f9c1e4c-00a0-4578-b107-9f421c1f6559It was Saturday—cleaning day—a time I use each week to collect my thoughts through the repetitive motion of putting things in their proper place. It was time to clean my bathroom.

What does a towel say about who you are? My towels say I don’t give a s*** about who sees them. They are a mix of old, beat-up, absorbent wannabes that have no style or any inclination that they ever did. They are a mix of colors, ages, and textures; brands and sizes that range from the small useless hand towel, to the oversized and neon striped beach blanket. The short and messy of it was that my towels looked like they belonged to a man (or perhaps the cliché of one), a man who lives on the fringes of town—on the wrong side of the railroad tracks. You know, a renegades’ arsenal of terrycloth.

It was then that I realized an outsider had not seen my towels in some time. I don’t entertain much in the way of towels, and I guess I’ve never brought them to lunch with me. But there they were. Hanging in effigy as I scratched my head and wondered when I had become so shamelessly lazy.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my towels. But I was considering my boyfriend seeing them for the first time and wondering what he would think about them. In an effort to be the perfect host and girlfriend, I concluded that this just wouldn’t do. How could he possibly dry himself off with you, faded-green-blanket-of-absorbencies-past?

Then I started thinking about all the other stuff that I own that could also inflict some kind of damage. Are my sheets new enough? Do these decorative pillows accurately communicate my need for unconditional love? So what if I don’t have any matching socks. I don’t even like socks! Does any of this matter?

I stood inside Bed Bath & Beyond, contemplating the Beyond part. The towering shelves made my heart beat faster as I looked up to see items of the domicile spread out over a plane of frivolous marketing. I feared that one of them might fall on top of me—would I survive? I walked out. No need to have an anxiety attack over the simple task of purchasing new towels for my bathroom.

I walked next door to Marshalls where the shelves were more manageable. After comparing the quality of Turkish and Egyptian cottons, I settled on some no-name brand that was the proper shade of gray. A savvy shopper would never allow emotional turmoil to sway a purchase, but my mood was stuck in the middle of one of those self-realization moments, where you evaluate the black and white of things. Gray looked really good.

In some ways, confronting my towels was like closing a very long, single chapter of my life. When you’ve been single for as long as I have, you get comfortable with the idea that towels don’t matter by virtue of their privacy. I myself am an extremely private person. I like secrets. I like mystery. I like leaving a party when I feel like it simply because I’m tired. And I like not caring about my towels or my dirty laundry that too often prefers to be an area rug.

I would like to say that this introspection went deep enough—that I was able to deny the fresh cotton of department stores and my need to feel unabashed by my very, very personal space. But alas, I am only human and towels tend to come in pairs.

And so, they sit. Still folded in the bag, until I am ready.

 

-Stay Strange

 

 

 

 

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Sex on the Internet

18 09 2013

internet loveOne subject I will never get tired of talking about is dating—or in my case, mostly awkward encounters that make for hilarious stories—my college professor, the military assassin, random men named John and so on. Turns out, I can get kind of sentimental betwixt all the ironic humor and dangerous innuendo. The truth of the matter is I kind of like this guy. And what’s not to like? He’s my Internet boyfriend.

 

Trust me when I say I kept this a secret.

“What’s an Internet boyfriend?” my friends joked.

“Exactly what it sounds like,” I mumbled back.

For weeks I grappled with the idea. Why do I feel this way about someone who lives so far away? FaceTime is like, real life, right?

But it’s not like real life. Nor is texting a substitute for close couch conversations or two cups of really good coffee. I felt dirty. I was spending Friday nights Skyping with a vacation fling that in my opinion had plenty of summer left to live.

This isn’t normal. And it’s not normal. It’s awesome.

What’s better than a real boyfriend? A boyfriend you can literally put in your pocket—turn silent should circumstance require.  Travel sized—I can take him anywhere, talk to him anytime, and best of all, I don’t have to pick out his clothing.

It all started five months ago—after years of travel, jobs that took us very far away; we found each other, briefly, in San Diego. The rest has been recorded in more text messages, emails, Skype sessions and FaceTime encounters than I care to admit. It’s a real emotional affair—one that has brought great joy to the end of days, a time now specially reserved for him and our bastard love-child: technology.

Trust me also when I say, I never thought I was the kind of girl—the girl who gets caught up in something so fantastic, so seductively unreasonable and so impatiently void the tangible experience of entertaining a man.

“You’re an idiot. Don’t you know he is going to cheat on you?” my friend argued.

I guess that’s a legitimate concern for most people. Having a relationship dependent on technology definitely has its disadvantages. But I’ve seen people get bent out of shape over ambiguous text messages. I’ll take my chances.

“So, you’ve had sex with him on Skype?” she asked rhetorically.

I started to feel very old-fashioned the sixth or seventh time I had to explain this to someone. This question has become so popular in-fact, that I decided to write about it. The short answer is no—I’ve never done it.

“Why not? You’ve never wanted to try?” another friend pried.

“You know how you’ve never tried heroin?” I explained. “Well, it’s kind of like that.”

My girlfriends sat up straighter around the table as though I had just offended them. “Why not? It’s fun,” asked one gal.

“He’s never even asked you to try?” added a curious boyfriend. “He must be gay!”

Apparently, the only social moray that permits having an Internet boyfriend is becoming an amateur pornstar. Ergo, long distance relationships are no longer socially acceptable unless you have sex on the Internet. Could this be true?

My brain shifted through numerous books I had read, movies and experiences I had that brought this assertion into sharp focus and heated resentment.

Odysseus

This is Odysseus’s O-Face

The whole time I’m getting interrogated over how I spend my online time with this guy—who is now in Afghanistan—all I can think about is how different the world would be if Penelope, from Homer’s, “The Odyssey” was busy finger f****** herself in a letter to Odysseus who—instead of being a hero—decides to release himself onto the messenger that unfortunately happens to be a demon summoned from the underworld. Look out! Imagine  soldiers in WWII texting private parts to their lovesick wives. What would they have thought? Imagine it. I’ll bet she would have been pissed—probably wondering how the hell he has time to j*** off when Nazi’s are afoot! Just another wonderful byproduct of defeating the Germans: more time to masturbate!

Everyone complains that the word becomes increasingly less genuine as technology interferes more and more with our human interactions. Does taking naked picture of ourselves and sending them to people we care about really mean we care? What does it say about who we are?

And don’t try and turn this around on me. I won’t entertain any of that quasi-feminism-sexual-empowerment-free-love-bull-s***. This has nothing to do with whether I’m sexually empowered enough to have sex on the Internet. The better question is: am I empowered enough not to?

I’ve found that my Internet boyfriend is exactly what I need right now: someone to laugh with after a very long day of work—someone to listen and someone to miss. Not so long ago, people called this a long distance relationship—a term now so passé it requires virtual consummation. I’ve never been one for labels—or Greek mythology, really.

I prefer my Internet boyfriend.

 

For Cameron:)





Reality F***

13 05 2013

whitney-butler-funny-blog-newport-beach-film-festival-tupacI’m what you would call a realist. Walt Whitman once said, “I accept reality and dare not question it.” But I’m also an extreme escapist like my boy Tupac, who said, “Reality is wrong, dreams are for real.” I did drugs for years to elevate my state of mind, and while I’m continuously working on sobriety, from time-to-time I take cosmic leaps. What’s more, I believe reality is fundamentally linked to our perception—the way we choose to observe the world we live in. “Whatever you believe with feeling becomes reality” said Brian Tracy.

At times, reality seems as subjective as deciding on an evening cocktail—most of the time I prefer Mexican beer, but sometimes I drink my weight in champagne and things get pretty weird, pretty fast. Lately I’ve been totally consumed with reality: the reality that my friends are getting married and having children. That today, I’m closer to 30 than I was yesterday—that being a writer is dangerously unstable both financially and mentally. One the one hand, I am finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do—write…and wear whatever the hell I want to work. But on the other, less articulate left, there’s a part of me that looks for a road sign on the horizon to signal the right direction.

My perception is often experienced in waves of weird, unexplainable happenings that routinely make people laugh over casual dinner conversations. They shake their heads and say, “Wow, that’s crazy, Whitney.” And I unapologetically nod my head and agree, because I’m a realist. But then I’m off again—confusing the crazy with what’s real—if only for a moment, to escape.

SignLast weekend I escaped to Newport Beach for the Newport Beach Film festival. That seems relatively sane, right? But when I got to my five-star resort hotel, ordered my complimentary room service and sat on the balcony and looked out over Balboa Island, I couldn’t help but think how surreal the moment was.

In about 18 months, I went from unemployment to this—complimentary dinners with executive chefs, free travel, luxury accommodations, red carpets and cutting lines at social events because “I’m a writer.”

In the theater, patiently waiting for the film “Broadway Idiot” to start, a documentary about Green Day’s Junior album adapting to Broadway, I was star-struck when I saw The Real Housewives of Orange County coming down my isle—a row of seats that had the names of writers from all over the country: Esquire, Variety, the L.A. Times and then, of course, my name. I said hi to gorgeous housewife Gretchen Rossi like we were old acquaintances. She was very sweet. Gretchen asked if she and boyfriend Slade could sit in the clearly marked theater seats. I told her she could do whatever the hell she wanted. Meanwhile, Billy Joe and the Green Day crew took their seats three rows in front of me.

The PR company coordinating this press tour saw the housewives and ran over to kick them out of our seats. The perfectly dressed housewives were shocked and so was I. Smiling, I wondered which part of this weekend I would write about first.

Ethan-Embry-ethan-embry

Later that weekend, at another theater screening, I bumped into a guy on the red carpet wearing a man-purse. I poked fun at him as he bashfully tried to explain the “necessary things” inside, like his wallet and car keys. So, I opened my purse to expose its guts and asked, “Do you have tampons too?” As the lights went down inside, I saw the guys face up on the big screen. Turns out he was the lead in the film we were about to watch. I had asked Ethan Embry if he had any tampons in his purse. The crazy had struck again.

The reality was unavoidably obvious, but my brain hadn’t caught up with what was happening around me. It is, after all, easy to get swept up in the glamour of things when someone else is paying for your dinner. On Monday I went back to work.

SpanosThis week, surrounded by a camera crew and watchful publicist eyes I interviewed AG and John Spanos, owners and managing team of the San Diego Chargers. The brothers were smiling and joking with me about sibling revelries and it hit me: Holy s***! I’m a writer!

For the first time ever in my life, I felt like I wasn’t pretending.

As the photos clicked from the photographer’s aperture, I was higher than I had ever been before—it was psychedelic. Not only was I enjoying an exclusive interview, I had just seen a road sign. With every fiber of my crazy being I knew that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Maybe being a writer means the lines of what’s real and what’s in my head are blurred occasionally. To quote Tim Burton, “One persons craziness is another persons reality.”

So what happens when one person’s crazy is the same persons’s reality?  I guess I should to come up with a quote for that.

 

Thug Life.

whitney-butler-funny-blog-humor





A Little Bit Country

19 04 2013

It was Easter and I needed little travel-size bottles of Shampoo and toothpaste. The only store open on this particular Sunday was Walmart, a place I like to avoid most of the time due to crowded parking lots and the wild abundance of spandex. With my basket full of useless but adorable toiletries, I unloaded the loot to checkout.

“You must be going on a trip somewhere,” said Jodi, the pleasant Walmart associate. “Where are you going?” she asked politely.

Just as soon as Texas escaped from my lips, the gal behind me pipes up with, “I’m sorry!”

Confused, I look around to make sure she hasn’t offended anyone before I reply. I didn’t feel like starting any Walmart turf wars over something so stupid.

“You don’t like Texas?” I queried.

“Never been there. But who the heck would want to go anyways?” she asked rhetorically.

“Where are you vacationing in Texas?” asked Jodi.

“Fredericksburg. And it’s not a vacation. I’m working.”

I had never been to Texas, or anywhere particularly close to the South—though Texas is arguably large enough to occupy both northern and southern proclivities while still holding the same gun. I’ll also admit that growing up in California there does exist an unexamined prejudice towards Texas. It’s probably the same prejudice the woman in Walmart was expressing—the kind of chitchat that people use to relate to each other based on lack of experience and not any particular evidence. People do this all the time, but in my travels I’ve learned to curb my pubic opinions on culture, especially when that culture could beat the s*** out of me.

blue-bonnet-flower-whitney-butler-blog-Texas-wild-flowers

In the spring, these Blue Bonnet wild flowers cover the hill country.

Fredericksburg has a population of just fewer than 13,000 people. “The Hill Country” is what the locals call it, because it rises significantly in elevation about an hour north of San Antonio and 70 miles west of Austin. To me it looked flat, but one woman’s rolling hillside is another woman’s steep mountain terrain and I had come to Fredericksburg to figure it out.

Germany and Texas are an unlikely pair, but in Fredericksburg a heritage of German immigration is proudly displayed on windows, street signs and a determined effort to protect this history from being swallowed-up by American homogeneity.

In the early 1900’s German was the most common language spoken in Fredericksburg. Originally a Spanish territory, Mexico controlled the territory until a majority sought emancipation for slaves circa 1824. This pissed off a bunch of crazy slave owners but to no avail. The result was a new republic and Sam Houston became the first president of the Republic of Texas. He favored the idea of annexation to the United States, which didn’t actually happen until 1845, when Texas became the 28th state incorporated into the Union. While all of this crazy s*** was going on, there was a mass movement of Germans to the south and central regions of Texas. Many of these Germans came thinking they would take root in the Republic of Texas, but leave it to a bunch of crazy white people to mess that up.

 “Sorry German farmers. You’re all Americans now!”

Moreover, safe passage, farm land and the dream of a better life were all promises that some German quasi-company sold to these down-trodden German families in the late 1920’s—families that paid about $300 to board a boat for 2 months, get smallpox, and head for the new world.

Luckenbach-Texas

Bad-ass Texans in Luckenbach Texas, a famous dance hall and debauchery destination.

Bottom line, these German immigrants were total bada** motherf******. They were fighting off crazy Comanche indian attacks, disease, unpredictable weather and several unfulfilled promises—the amount of land they had been promised was dramatically exaggerated, and what land they did receive, they had no idea how to use. Thanks to some Mormon folks living around the corner, they learned enough to get through some really bad storms and survive through enough seasons to start developing a little town that would later become home to just under 13,000 people. Incredible.

History is so boring when it’s laid out like this. I hate linear paths and I think most people do too, which is exactly why people have to go to Fredericksburg to understand why—especially if you’re from California—you should learn to hold your tongue inside a Walmart.

Here are some things I would recommend in the “The Hill Country”:

Wine Tasting

wine

Prepare to make a day of the 290 Wine Road, and prepare to have someone else drive your ass home.

If you’re a lover of the grapes, Texas is boasting one of the fastest growing wine industries in the county. Today there are over 300 wineries producing Texas wine, which reflect many of the same complex flavors found in the Mediterranean or other vines that grow at this longitude. Fredericksburg is home to dozens of unique tasting rooms and several very large wineries off the famous 290 Wine Road, including Becker, Grape Creek, Rancho Ponte and too many others to list.

Napa Valley draws all kinds of attention for its prestige and sophisticated pallet, but Texas Tuscany is a more relaxed and comfortable experience. The growers, owners and families within these vineyards can be seen walking about the facilities, talking with customers—sharing stories about last year’s harvest. And while each winery offers a unique tasting experience you can bet that you’ll leave having learned something new from knowledgeable and the most hospitable wine pourers you’ve ever met.

My personal favorite was the Becker Vineyard, which had an amazing farmhouses and special event venues that would be perfect for weddings, corporate meetings or my 27th birthday party. Try a bottle of the Raven, for about $40 this concentration with essences of chocolate, toffee, dates, and espresso is a blend of malbec and petit verdot. I have no idea what that means but I’m planning an entire meal around the bottle I brought home with me—grilled pork chops with a raspberry and chipotle compote I scored from Fischer & Wieser, a famous canner of all things worth pickling, saucing or jamming. Sown and reaped in Fredericksburg, the Fischer & Wieser brand is so successful that you can find some of their products at CostCo—not so small town, is it?

I met the owner of the jelly company, who was a crackled old German man who told me nobody in town liked him. I liked him instantly for being so honest and wanted to know more. We talked mostly politics and infrastructure and how annoying it is when society doesn’t listen to you even when you have ideas that will change the course of the world. He had just returned from Germany and said he was jet-lagged and apologized for his political speech. I told him I would vote for him if her ever went out for County Judge again—a position he held many years ago.

 Museums and History 

Johnson

Command central during the Vietnam War.

The National Museum of the Pacific War is incredible. The only Japanese midget submarine still intact from Pearl Harbor lives under this roof. There are audio histories that can only be heard at the museum as well and letters from troops to their mothers that can be read clearly from beautiful and well-lit cases. The tickets are good for 48 hours and that’s a huge benefit to guests—one could easily spend days looking at all of the information, artifacts and priceless treasures from WWII. The Nimitz Museum is also one-of- a-kind in Fredericksburg. The late Navy Admiral was born and raised in “The Hill Country” and the town is damn proud of it.

Another major attraction is Lyndon B. Johnson’s Ranch in the LBJ National Historic Park and the Texas White House. When Ladybird Johnson died a few years ago in 2007, the Ranch home and its hundreds of acres were donated to the National Park Services. Only recently has the public been allowed to tour the former home of President Johnson and experience the incredible life story that is woven into the earth there. The president’s entire life cycle can be traced in this single experience. The foundation of his birth home is still present along with the original schoolhouse he walked to as a young boy. The home he raised his family in and commanded the American Armed forces is completely persevered as it was in the 1970’s. The original beds, chairs, televisions, phones, family photos—everything eerily stands still in time and guests are now allowed to tour this home and experience the still country mist of this presidential history. My personal favorite was the Johnson’s dual closet, which had not been moved or touched by anyone, including the first lady, after Johnson’s death in 1973.

whitney-butler-pasific-war

Original artifacts from the war make way for silence and strange reflections of a past that I never lived.

When I’m in San Diego, around my people, my places, my things, nothing surprises me. Everything is predictable, comfortable, and easier to generalize than people who shop at Walmart. It’s so predictable that perhaps sometimes—myself included—we pretend to understand things outside of this common sphere, and it’s the things we think we know—the people or places we like to pretend to understand from afar, that often are the most surprising, the most beautiful, the most unexpectedly fun.

So please, the next time you’re in Walmart, buy your useless toiletries and shut the hell up. Because we’re all a little bit country whether we know it or not. Texas is enormous, and at some point all of our histories cross. You don’t have to believe in the right to bear arms to appreciate the great things happening in the Lone Star State, but you do have to leave California.





Leave It To Portland

28 08 2012

Since I started working in San Diego I have been obsessively trying to mold myself into a business women the only way I know how: working insane hours for little pay, neglecting my social life and buying all of my work attire at Express. I knew I needed to switch gears and get out of my mind for a while so I decided to go where nobody knows how to dress like a business woman, Portland, Oregon.

Portland is the place young people go to retire. It’s pedestrian and creatively weird. Nobody cares if you wear makeup or how much money you make because in Portland people actually talk to each other, which means you had better have something to say about the social injustice article in last week’s Mercury. Their neighborhoods look like the streets parents talk about growing up on, safe and quite and sweet.

People drink beers on patio sidewalks and listen to street musicians that look like Kurt Cobain. It’s not for everyone but for this tired pony, it was everything. I drove up the I-5 and caught up with friends in Seattle, another hip spot, separated by the wealth that circulates in the IT industry. I think every person I met in Seattle worked for Microsoft.

My trip to Portland and drive through Seattle was a grand week of beer tasting, food indulging and unadulterated hipster style, exactly what I needed to realize the following things.

I am never going to write a literary work that changes the world, solves a problem or is used in a college class to discuss literary genius. It’s just not going to happen. I can see by the last few posts that melodrama looks about as good on me as a hot-pink string bikini. It’s really very simple, when I’m happy, my writing is better and I see more traffic on this site. Most of that traffic is my mother looking for errors and poor spelling but also, so she can text me at 11:20pm and say something like:

Do U have 2 say fuck so many timz lamb-chop? :/

To which I reply:

Fuck-yeah, mom! : )

This trip to the Pacific northwest allowed me to remember what I love writing about: People in places – particularly myself, but other people too. I have been so consumed by my attempts at looking like I belong in a black Express suit that I have lost my voice altogether. My perspective in San Diego is nearsighted. Everything up close is stressing me out because it’s all I can see.

In the foreground is a beautiful, diverse, crazy-big planet covered in rock and water and it’s fucking flying in ellipsis through an endless black void – I don’t want to debate if the universe is expanding or not, so just go with it. I know who Steven Hawking is, alright! And compared to the shit going on out there, my life is as about as uncomfortable as a brown leather La-Z-Boy.  So, thank you Portland, for being a hot metaphorical shot of heroin to my brain and waking me up from this comatose I’ve been in for the last 8 months. I didn’t actually do heroin while I was there, but the 90’s are alive and well in Portland.

On another evening, while drinking Rudy draft beer (subtle hint of apricot, very good) I decided I should be writing more humor.

Guy in baseball hat: You’re a lot of fun, really upbeat. I like that.

Me, between sips of my beer: Yeah. Life’s too short. To be. Downbeat.

I didn’t realize what I was saying until I said it and you know what? I’m fucking right! It is too short to be crying over spilled milk, bad haircuts, and dead hamsters, lost shoes, or being broke. The only thing crying is good for is making people uncomfortable that don’t like crying.

Dictionary.com says:

Upbeat

adjective: it’s nice to read an upbeat story for a change: optimistic, cheerful, cheery,positive, confident, hopeful, sanguine, bullish, buoyant, gung-ho.

It’s true; I am surprisingly buoyant in water, especially in a string bikini. I haven’t felt gung-ho or sanguine (who has ever used that word before?) in a long time. Case-in-point, My Personal Apocalypse. I’ve been more or less blarrug. That’s a word I just made up to describe my personal denial, irreverence for being an adult and getting a 9-5 job and extraordinary talent at hiding all of this from the world. It was very important that a stranger remind me that under all of my Hemingway inspired melodrama I’m actually fun to be around.

Happiness is not something that passively happens to people, well, at least not writers. It’s something I have to work at, and a huge part of achieving it means finding a space both internally and externally that facilitates a desire to be myself and feel accepted. I don’t think moving to Seattle, growing a mustache and dating a bearded lumberjack named Chandler is going to make me happy. But leave it to apricot flavored beer and a week away from my boss to reveal the simple truth that something isn’t working for me in San Diego.

And that leads me to my final drug induced realization: My ego is enormous, and not in a way that makes me pretentious or rude (well, we all have our moments.) It’s in a way that’s limiting only to me. I am so worried about appearances that I often won’t make risky but potentially awesome decisions because I am afraid of social, financial or emotional chaos.

Perfect example:

I drive a beautiful 68′ Mercury Cougar (how hip of me!) It’s the only car I’ve ever owned and I love it like a family member. I refuse to let her go so that I may purchase a more practical and economically feasible car because I am convinced that Edith is part of who I am. Driving that car has contributed to several developing aspects of my personality. I have learned patience in mechanical failure, how to change oil and I have street-cred in my city because she sounds like a bat-out-of-hell. It makes me tough and cool and different. While I’m sweating my balls off in the summer on black leather seats and no air conditioning, people pass in Prius’ often smiling and waving at me like there’s a huge golden retriever named Rex hanging out of the window. Driving in the car with a very happy dog means the whole world smiles with you. My car is like riding inside a happy golden retriever named Rex. It makes people smile and I like that. But it also makes people flash gang signs on occasion. Those I don’t like as much, unless the guy is hot.

Wes-side!

In Southern California this ego-bulimia is an epidemic. For a lot of us it’s just easier to shut-up and deep-throat all the dumb shit we have to put up with in business, finances and relationships, but never-ever good food, that will make us fat. I feel stronger than ever that I’m not deep-throating anything that doesn’t return the favor.

I have this weird fantasy now of moving to Seattle and becoming queen of the hipsters! One Hipster to rule them all! I would wear Ray-Ban sunglasses and not wash my hair everyday and only wear red lipstick and I would develop some weird special dietary need like being a vegan.

 

I guess that was another revelation.

I’m a total hipster.





Sex in the City

30 03 2012

I was anxiously awaiting inspiration for my next big story. Writing about my job isn’t particularly enlightening, nor at all the subject I usual revel in, which typically involves some sort of self-induced catastrophe. So where would I find inspiration? Where does one look? As life would have it, inspiration doesn’t wait to appear in neatly wrapped packages. No! It runs you down the sidewalk in four-inch heels. I’m going to have a very Carrie Bradshaw moment here. Sure, I don’t live in the big apple or wear Prada shoes, but I do smoke a cigarette from time-to-time, and I can often be seen staring out a window contemplating bad weather. Like a storm, inspiration may come with sudden force, and with the deliberate intention of bitch-slapping you across the face like a Telemundo star.

So, without further adieu

whitney butler

Relationships! What are those all about?

See! I told you I was going Bradshaw.

Good. Now that I’ve got the cliché out-of-the-way, we can move on.

That’s actually what I want to talk about: moving on…or the lack thereof when we insist on regressing in relationships. Why do woman go back? Why do men? Why does everyone believe their exceptionally illogical motivation is the exception and not the rule?

Why?

Through the various stages of a relationship: the awkward courtship, the crazy can’t-sleep-alone-because-I-love-the-way-you-breath beginnings, the comfort in establishing pet names, the messy break-up, the sexy make-up, the I-fucking-mean-it-this-time break-up, and so on, there often comes a time when someone witnesses a door opening, an opportunity that challenges loyalty, integrity, and above all, our ability to make a decision quickly and with conviction.

Him: I didn’t know how much I wanted to be with you until I slept with her.

Her: Oh, Dillon! I love you!

Me: (Smoking in a room with no windows) How white do you have to be to name your son Dillon?

But instead of being impulsive and making a quick, think Malcom Gladwell’s Blink, type of decision, we dance up to these opportunities and finger the edges, seductively stick a leg out to test the weather. It’s cowardice that keeps us from making the difficult choices, for better or worse, like not walking away when clearly there’s nothing left to pick up; not your self-esteem after he cheated on you, or your bank account when she spent all your money.

So why is it that once through the threshold, there on the other side, most of us look back at the door and wonder: can I go back in?

It was for my own pleasure that I contacted my ex several months ago. I wanted closure – whatever that means, something we never got because we moved a part so things fell a part, as they often do in those circumstances. But I had questions! I even thought his new girlfriend would understand where I was coming from, understand that my intentions were pure…if she were to ever find out, that is. Disillusioned would be an understatement. Because I should have known all along there was nothing pure about my intentions, nor could anything pure ever come from walking backwards into his arms.

Here’s the thing about regressing in relationships: you’ve already been there, it’s not new, there’s history, so we’re capable of manipulating and constructing assumptions that serve our self-interest instead of reason.  The motivation comes from a place of deprivation, regret, shame, embarrassment, and a list of other slimy feelings that inevitably reveal the second time around a calculated version of what once was. This week, I was accosted by his girlfriend who threatened to hurt me physically should I ever show up in her life again.

Besides feeling awful, I am embarrassed. I reached out to him, and he reached back. I wanted closure, but maybe a small part of me also wanted something else. Perhaps the satisfaction of knowing I could get him away from her. So, because I wasn’t brave enough to walk away, even after he had made me hurt, she’s hurting, and I’m half the reason. I opened the door and he stood there looking out at me, testing the wind with his finger; then she slammed the door in his face. At least she’s smart.

Going back to find answers, going back to fill a void, just going back facilitates only two possible outcomes, differentiated merely by the amount of time it takes to get you to the same conclusion: It’s not going to work. So when you  break up with someone, you shouldn’t go back. Period. I thought I needed closure. He thought he could get laid. I was wrong and so was he. Now, I’m just pissed off, looking out the window contemplating bad weather again. This time a little wiser.





Piñatas And S&M

16 03 2012

I may not speak Spanish, but I’m fluent in having a good time. My friend gave me a discretionary warning when he asked if I wanted to go to his niece’s birthday party.

You’re going to be the only white person there he said.

Yeah, okay.

I can’t be held responsible for what they say he said.

Sure.

My sisters might be mean to you he said.

Whatever…Will there be a Mariachi band!?!

No he said.

Damn.

I had always wanted to go to a real Mexican party. White people think that if you mash some avocado into a bowl, throw out some flour tortillas and drink margaritas, it’s a fiesta. I didn’t see any of these things on Saturday.

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There were children everywhere, running around the inflatable jump-house in the backyard, which kept the little maniacs occupied while the adults did what we do best. I think I might have been the only female enjoying a cocktail, or seven. But I’ve never been intimidated by a set of balls holding a Pacifico, so there was no need to slow my buzz.

The highlight of the evening was the piñata spectacle, something I thought might have been too cliché for a real Mexican Party, but wasn’t. I was holding my sides with laughter watching my friend work the piñata; swinging the rope like a drunken desperado. He controlled the smirk on his face while the kids got hit in the mouth with a swinging star of cardboard and staples. It was hilarious.

I guess all that laughter got me tense, because I made an appointment the following Monday for a Chinese massage. Everyone knows that eastern medical practices are far superior their western counterpart. They’re more natural and  seem more at peace with the earth or whatever. Plus their culture is like super old. So, I signed up for an hour with the oldest guy in the spa, he would surely be the best.

After the kids destroyed the piñatas and collected all the candy from the grass it was time to test my white girl pallet on the Mexican treats. Everyone stared curiously while they collectively picked out random candies for me to try, candies that didn’t even taste like candy because they were spicy and savory. Everyone laughed at the face I made trying to push chili paste out of a neon tube and onto my tongue.

My friend brought out a huge bottle of Tequila and set it on the table. Everyone played it off like taking shots of tequila was out of the question, but leave it to the elderly man in the corner to instigate some crazy shit. Next thing you know the uncles are buzzin’ hard, and I’m having deep conversations about the economy with the borracho next to me.

You know, you’re pretty cool for a wetback. It’s cool that you’re so open, one uncle said to me.

Huh?

Clearly I had them all fooled by my freshly colored blond hair. I had come to party. I was down for anything they could dish, minus the pasole, that had all kinds of animal parts in it. But as far as they were concerned, I was a wetback; for a converse moment the minority of an all too common exchange, and they had no problem letting me know it.

My sister and I went to our appointments early. I quietly looked around the spa, noting the books on meditation and ancient art scattered about the space with almost staged precision. I’ve never had a professional massage before but I figured it would go down similar to what I had seen on TV or in movies: calming candles, relaxing music and not a care in the world. But instead, the whole time this old man was rubbing my body with cold lotions I has fighting an anxiety attack over why the blanket was pulled so far down my ass. Why is so much attention being paid to my buttocks? Is that were I carry stress?

At one point it stopped being a massage and started to feel more like an S&M experience. He was hitting me, and grinding my shoulders so aggressively that I thought for sure I would look like I had been assaulted, which at this point felt pretty realistic. So much for Chinese medicine. I was going to need a doctor after this, probably a psychologist.

I almost lost my shit when he asked me to turn over.  Am I supposed to be relaxing? As he rubbed  my inner thighs I couldn’t help but feel totally molested, simultaneously wondering how I had let this eastern disguise fool me into thinking that I would feel comfortable with some eighty-year-old man breathing down my décolletage.  I could feel the blanket slip further and further down my chest as he worked. Holy shit. This is not happening right now. Millimeters away from a  nip-slip, it was over. I felt like smoking a cigarette. I didn’t say a word when I left the room and walked with my sister to the car. Inside her vehicle where it was safe, I had to ask her: So, what regions did your masseuse primarily focus on? Apparently she also caries stress in her ass. So much in-fact that the Chinese woman got on top of the table for better ass-mastery. At least my sister remembered to wear underwear.

We all carry assumptions about people that externally seem to come from a place dissimilar our own. But it fascinates me how easy it is to break through those assumptions when you just sit down and talk to people, drink a beer, or have them rub strange elixirs all over your naked body. It’s ludicrous to think that this Mexican uncle had never met an open-minded white person before. I know that’s not true, but the fact that he said it reminds me that just because I’m okay with being the only white person at a Mexican party doesn’t free me from my own biases, nor does it reflect a common disposition among my fellow gringos. For as ‘open’ as I am, I still thought there would be a mariachi band at the party.

I will never get a Chinese massage again.








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