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:)





Year-Old Coffee

5 09 2013

Every morning I make two pots of coffee. The first one, I brew at 7:00am. It’s what motivates me out of my bed and into an addictive routine Monday through Friday. The second pot I brew in the office at 9:00am. It’s a shared pot for people I have grown to understand and respect, despite moments of paralyzing frustration.

One year ago, today, I started this job. In the beginning I did not make coffee. A year ago I was too scared I would make it wrong, use someone’s special roasted beans and start some kind of vendetta against me. And now? I don’t ask anyone if I can brew and I use whatever creamer I want.

It seems out of respect for time—and my ironic sense of humor—that at least noting the occasion in this ubiquitous cyber space is both emotional stabling and spiritually necessary. Because if there’s anything to be said about dreams or goals, prophecy or destiny it’s this: Whatever you think is going to happen will happen. And not ever the way you think it will, but nevertheless. One day you will wake up and be exactly where you thought you would be—if only you try. Or in my case, write it down.

Many people have asked me how I got the position I have at a magazine. I’ve stumbled over the answer a hundred times because some insane part of brain believes that the conversation should sound like this:

“How did you get your job, Whitney?” asks anonymous friend.

“Well, I graduated from Berkley with a degree in journalism and I was writer for the newspaper briefly while I saved children from burning buildings. Then, I applied to be the editor of the magazine and after no trouble at all I was hired,” I reply.

But the truth is, I was in the right place at the right time. And the truth in that truth is I lied on my resume. I said I had experience I didn’t have, inflated my reputation and glorified every bit of minute, inconsequential b***s*** I did between age 7 and 25. A year ago, I wrote about my first day at work:

This could very well be one of those stories where a downtrodden girl finally gets a break to do something really cool: fashion shoots with real models and coordinating an entire look from start to finish. Who am I to pick hair and makeup looks for models in a fashion magazine? Our character struggles to keep her phony identity a secret while she gets help from a friendly office-mate who shares her love of American muscle cars; keeping her secret safe as she rises to the top only to tell her boss three years later: “Yeah, I had no idea what I was doing when you hired me.” But by then she is too fabulous to get fired and she lives happily ever after.

Or, in a separate but entirely possible parallel universe, she gets fired and finds a new job.

The point I want to make here is that I was scared—I was terrified that I didn’t know anything about my new job or how to do it very well. I was hired to be a graphic designer and am now the editor of the entire magazine. When I had less to give in Photoshop I didn’t curl up in a ball and cry about it. I found other ways to add value to what I was doing, made sure that if I didn’t know how to do something I asked despite the pain each time my pride was stabbed, again and again, until pride was irrelevant because I had a job to do and that was more important. I stayed late, worked hard and above all, I made coffee.

I’ve watched the company grow this year, watched my team get bigger and our voices get louder in the 8th largest city in the United States. Working in media is an incredibly competitive and relentless task and I’m damn proud to be here standing.

And tomorrow when I go to work, I’m going to make the people in my office coffee because it reminds me from time to time that every story has a beginning, though every beginning isn’t as glamorous as we would like.

A few weeks ago, my boss walked into my office.

“Man, you’re really not a very good graphic designer are you?” he asked.

“I was wondering when you were going to catch on.”

 

 

 

 

 

 





Life’s a B**** in Vegas

25 08 2013

Las-Vegas636_0Las Vegas. An oasis in the middle of nowhere—could be anywhere, depending on how much tequila is in those yard-long margaritas. Visit far away places: Paris, New York, Italy or reproductions of the like, and experience the world through a city made of stardust—one that sparkles at night from the glitter of one thousand strippers—the reflective quality of vomit, as one frat boy from Kentucky learns how to drink like an a**h*** for the very first time.

Strangers from all over the world come to get strange for a million different reasons that all too often begin with a bad idea: The bachelor party; The 21st birthday; EDC and ecstasy. Shall I continue? The girls’ trip is an altogether different kind of animal. One that should be feared or taken more seriously when one drunken girlfriend chimes up at the neighborhood bar:

girls trip“Hey! You know what? Like, we should all go to Vegas! Girls’ trip!”

Collectively, women are far more dangerous in a group than men are. Women are smarter, better looking and way more creative when it comes to rejection.

The expectations of a girls’ trip to Vegas are pretty simple: get as much from as many people as you possibly can.

For women, the thrill is all in the details—the details of looking hot. It’s looking as good as you can so that you can get as much as possible for free. Free drinks, free club cover, free food, free, free, free, free. Las Vegas validates one of the many quasi truths in our society: that young pretty women are important for being young and pretty—and in Las Vegas, women cash-in big on this nightmare to an excess that would make any reasonable man questions his gender and the superstition that men are in-fact superior intellectual beings. Case-in-point:

The nomadic girls’ battle battalion consists of several strategic players—girls that individually are less valuable but collectively are the sum of an impenetrable circular force on the dance floor. Only as good as the weakest link, the girls’ group strives for balance in circumstance that is inevitably imbalanced—as men and women fight for control in a seemingly out of control city.

The Body.the body2 Every girl group needs a super hot, grade A piece of a** to bring men down from their hotel balconies and into the pool. The hot girl has one of the hardest jobs—she’s usually the reason men show up, but she’s also the reason they leave. Body babes are cold and usually not very interesting by virtue of their hotness.  But they’re meat on a hook that maintains a successfully lethal girls’ group in Vegas.

the brain 2The Brain. Who hasn’t had a run in with the police or security in Las Vegas? The brain is easily marked by her sobriety. While everyone is taking shots, she is having a relatively good time sober—watching out for the herd, making sure no one takes off their clothes. She can talk the group out of bad decisions; talk them into worse ones if it so pleases her. But don’t let her sweetness be distracting—this girl will bite. The brain is also the girl that gets into fistfights at the bar over feminist theory. Don’t ever try to explain to her why women can’t fight on the front lines in Afghanistan.

the boss finalThe Boss. The leader—the girl with more experience than the rest. She is spontaneous, the life of the party and usually the first person to disappear with a guy—and then reappear with someone else. The boss usually does most of the strategic talking after the body has pulled a bait and switch. She’s witty and uses innuendo to entice weak men into dilemma. She enjoys watching men cry and believes she is doing the world a service by taking advantage of their checkbooks. She is confident and interesting but deeply disturbed by her inability to trust people.

the brain

The Boyfriend. This girl somehow always manages to find herself in Vegas when she is in a deeply committed relationship subjecting her morality and commitment to tests with serious consequence. This gal usually will try to reason with the others over why going to a strip club is a bad idea when it’s clearly an amazing idea. Everyone makes fun of her for being so lame though in reality the rest of the girls are secretly jealous of how happy she is. “Why did we bring her?” No one will ever really know, but the girls’ trip wouldn’t be complete without someone in the bathroom FaceTiming their boyfriend at 3:30 in the morning.

THE HOUSE BUNNY

The B****. No need to explain this one. If a gal isn’t a body, a brain, a boss or a boyfriend, chances are, she’s a b****, which means she is doing whatever the brain or the boss says the group is doing. She’s there to make-out with random strangers so that other random strangers think they stand a chance and get in line to buy shots. She adds girth to an otherwise slim girls’ group, and for men it’s all about numbers, so the more drunk girls the better. Don’t be ashamed ladies—b***** really do make the world go round.

So the next time you go on a girls’ trip to Las Vegas, make sure you’ve got all your bases covered. Push your tits up, spray on some sweet perfume and have a blast making fun of how stupid being young and stupid actually is. But don’t take my word for it—take a look and see for yourself!

Rainbow





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.





The Bridal Bizarre

31 01 2013

 

Leave it to a writer to create one the largest romantic scams of the 20th century. In 1947, a young copywriter employed by N.W. Ayer & Son—a prominent U.S. advertising agency—worked late into the night meticulously searching for just the right words to evoke romance, desire, and eternal love. This project, commissioned by one of the largest monopolies the world has ever known, continues to thrive yet struggles to shake the blood stains and controversial legitimacy in our post modern family society.

american-gothic-parody

 

I’m sitting in a room of women at my best friend’s bridal shower. Navy blue, white and gold decorate the tables, napkins, flower arrangements, candle holders, decorated cookies; suspend from the ceiling in delicate tissue paper balls. Everything is beautiful and I am jealous of my friend who is about to get married.

But instead of tears of happiness, I experience waves of depression as I learn—for the very first time—about the progression of bridal ceremonies that mean more to the average American woman, than any other single experience she will savor.

From outside the glass house of her engagement, I am holding stones feeling overwhelmed by so many contradictory feelings that I pretend to wonder if Mary of Burgundy, the first recorded female to ever receive an engagement ring, was surprised when the Archduke Maximilian asked for her hand—probably not. Centuries ago, marriage was a way to unite kingdoms, gain property or sustain noble bloodlines. It was all business—romantic love and bachelorette parties had no place in the process. Today, we are no longer  in the business of uniting kingdoms so much as we are watching them rip a part. My kingdom, for example, was split into two nations when I was fourteen.

I listen to three generations of women talk about boyfriends, husbands, sex and children and I’m looking for a reason to get up and clean something. Now I’m jealous and about to be sick.

The grass looks much greener from where my best friend is standing. It makes me happy to see her so happy, but as I search for the same kind of fulfillment I am increasingly more depressed by the realization that Walt Disney fucking lied to me as a girl. In colonial America, women wore thimbles as a symbol of betrothal. I find this almost as amusing as watching one blindfolded grandmother hold a broom between her legs while another granny directs her to insert it into a cardboard toilet tube held by her crotch.

Maybe I wouldn’t feel so perplexed by these wedding traditions if I myself were in love—whatever the hell that means—or maybe if I felt like there was any credibility left to the ceremony itself. But instead I’m totally hallowed, searching for something meaningfully romantic to fill myself up with. I look to books, great movies, art and music to ease my confusion—but even these can’t be trusted.

In the 1930’s diamond sales were down. In the original 1949 Broadway production of “Gentleman Prefer Blonds,” Tony award-winning, Carol Channing, introduced women to the idea that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” A few years later, the quintessential blond of the 1950’s—Marilyn Monroe—took the song and its proverbial meaning to the masses.

The night before my friend’s bridal shower, I attended a wedding—it was a very bridal weekend. I listened closely to the couple’s vows from inside the museum where they stood under a flowered arc. I really wanted to believe. I wanted to know that what the bride and groom were saying meant something real, and I wanted to believe that love is as easy as The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Maybe I had just missed the words that were supposed to mean forever? So, I listened closer. I tried to be optimistic, but that became more difficult a long time ago: when I leaned that Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Full House were all just make-believe.

And than I thought about that damn writer, a young girl named Frances Gerety, who wrote the words that would have an impact on women of future generations the world over. Circa 2000, Advertising Age magazine named De Beers’ “A Diamond is Forever” the best advertising slogan of the 20th century. There is something to be said about the relationship art and reality play in our perception of love. Art has done a great job of providing the example but the reality is less romantic than Shakespeare. But even art can surprise us by being particularly poignant. Read “The Death of a Salesman” if you don’t believe me. Nothing says true love and the American Dream like hallucinations, adultery and suicide. Or listen to “The Civil Wars”, beautifully depressing love song, Poison and Wine.  Don’t worry about my dark-humoured soul burning in hell, that’s make-believe too.

I can overlook uninspired drunken speeches, bad wedding food, and to an extent, uncomfortable heels that match my dress. But I draw the line at love. Because every time I hear about someone getting married, it ignites my confusion and begs every man and woman of my generation to defend their choice and prove me wrong, that all of this bizarre bridal behavior isn’t all just a bunch of bullshit. In my opinion love and marriage are mutually exclusive. And don’t think I didn’t try to persuade myself otherwise, I read “Twilight” okay!

How can I pretend that any of this makes sense knowing that some girl with a pen arbitrarily changed the world of romance with carbon? I don’t think anyone who get’s married today really thinks their diamond will really last forever, so much as they need it to last long enough for people to think they’re happy. In my—not so humble—opinion, happiness is seriously overrated. Forever is an impossible standard to assume; especially from within this room of divorced women, widowed wives, married women and one cynical bitch wearing black. It’s almost as if we love to hate being married, because loving it might lead to bitter disappointment. And when love is lost, what else is there besides frozen wedding cake smashed in the back of the freezer saved for a forgotten anniversary?

I know, I know, I sound like a bitter old maid, but I’m actually the maid of honor.

 





Women’s Work

9 01 2013

We grew up

with paper cups,

promises leaking out the sides from too much sun.

Then mom cried

when we got the carpet wet

becuase a woman’s work is never done.

Daughters cry back,

said we were sorry

as daddies scoop us up,

kiss our soft forehead and say:

It’s okay little girl.

I love you.

You’re perfect.

A girls’ peace of mind leaves the day her fist learns to fit down her throat

to purge away the parts that make her a woman.

It becomes a woman’s work

to find her reflection in broken mirror depictions of what a woman should be,

what they see

while we,

struggle.

It’s women’s work

to defend our choices turned black and blue,

saving our lives at the price of a person

by choice.

It’s work!

Pretending everything’s okay when he asks

because it’s uncomfortable to cry in the arms

of a man that is not

a father.

Our grown bodies

tied to a tide of frustration

that waves red twelve times in a year that we count in seconds,

waiting for the moment that someone might not be afraid of this cycle…

might think…

it’s beautiful.

Might not think it’s strange that a woman can bleed for five days and live to become

a mother.

No longer a slave

to her ambition

because a mother’s work is never done,

and a woman’s just a girl

that believed she had the power to make a choice.

She

will be praised for her sacrifices and shunned for her success until she is broken.

She

will destroy her self-esteem and pick it up with strong arms that project from his body.

She

will replace the woman with more girls inside her belly.

That’s a woman’s work:

To deny the struggle of sisters and daughters, mothers and women.

To chain the choice and be anything other than

woman.

To teach young girls to believe in their dreams

then clip those white wings with sharp scissors.

She

is now part of this world.

So we pray

and we pray

that she

will some day

be better

than women’s work.





Smells Like Teen Spirit

4 01 2013

 

My New Year’s Eve celebration was a metaphor in a long flash of intoxicated vignettes all laid out in a neat line. Inside the belly of an old bar I waited for something to happen.

“It smells like a strip club in here,” said Raymond, enthusiastically. And because I’ve never had the pleasure of watching naked girls dance, I believed him.

There wasn’t enough room to entertain myself on the dance floor, so I played a game with my glass, emptying its contents as quickly as I could swallow. And when boredom became overwhelmed by brute intoxication, I went about introducing myself to strangers while wearing a glowing New Year’s crown. In this crowd of sweaty people no one thought my behavior odd.

On the way home and from inside the car, my sober company could hear the sounds of my game splashing onto road pavement. You know something needs to change when you find clarity in vomit. I had indulged — taken too much of too much, and now my salutation to 2013 was covered in vodka.

Yes. I’m sure this all reads like the first 15 minutes of every Intervention episode ever recorded, but sadly no, I am not an alcoholic. Please pardon the dark satire, but you must understand that sometimes I think addiction would be much easier to deal with. At least with addiction you can look at the problem square in the face and tell it to fuck off. You can hug a 12-step program and find meaning in worship, and when you finally figure out your life, you’re a better person. I know lots of happy people like this.

I have no problem passing on a beer, missing out on casual drinks with friends or taking time off from whatever scene I happen to be associated with. I drift. I’m so comfortable being alone that from time to time I force myself to be social. Shit. Maybe I am an alcoholic, and this is all just a dream within a dream. At any moment Leonardo Dicaprio will burst onto the scene and tell me I have to save the world. To which I will stoically reply, fuck yes.

I’m not going to list off a bunch of ridiculous resolutions here. No doubt the blog-o-sphere is full of that bullshit and I don’t care to waste your time. Besides, your problems and goals are probably wildly different from mine. You probably need to work on sobriety and I encourage you to do this. I do too, I guess. But more importantly I need to work on listening to my instincts. I knew I would get out of control at that party, because I knew they would let too many people into the building, thus crushing the dance floor. And when I can’t dance at a party, I get bored. And when I’m bored I come up with solutions, all of which are illegal, none of which are a good ideas.

I remember kissing a man with a beard and long hair at midnight. It could have been a girl with a beard I guess, but like I said, the night was more a metaphor than a real experience. Like this anonymous person I will never see again, I don’t really know or understand what my problem is, so I can’t very well stare it in the face. Are you a boy? Or, are you a girl, strange addiction? I don’t know, but you tasted like alcohol.

dignity-dignity-drunk-girl-smoke-cart-demotivational-posters-1326566912

Happy New Year 🙂

 

 





Under Covers

24 12 2012

What holiday inspired blog post would be complete without a dash of ironic melodrama? Not this one! That’s for sure.

I was sick this week. Well, not really. I said that I was sick so that I didn’t have to go to work. But as seven rolled into noon, from the comfort of warm bed covers, I thought, maybe I am sick.

I wasn’t contagious, but my silent revolt from work and worry alarmed me. What am I doing?

Struggling to manage several writing projects, holiday events and fussy clients, I was so buried in frustration and Scrooge-like feelings toward the season, that I was now hiding from my cell phone yelling annoying melodies at me from under the pillow. The anonymous phone numbers flashing across the screen felt like strangers attacking and I was paranoid. They’re all trying to get me! So, I slept.

I slept for two days, and on the third day I forced myself up, tried to caffeinate my mood and headed back to work with apprehension, uncertainty and guilt that I had lied. I still don’t know precisely what caused my personal incarceration.  I even began to think I really was getting sick, but like my paranoia, it was all just a dream.

Some people struggle to deconstruct their stress. Mental breakdowns are socially uncomfortable and marginalized by people who appear to have their shit together. The truth is, we’re all stressed out to various degrees of insanity and paralysis. I take everything too personally, I take myself way too seriously, and my work is often the only thing that matters — causing a kind of blindness that hurts those closest to me. And when something doesn’t work out, if my efforts to provide perfection are capsized in the storm, I feel like my entire world is collapsing. My body shuts down, I can’t think clearly and all I want to do is isolate myself from people. It’s a very real and very tangible reaction to stress.

Luckily I have moments of unbelievable clarity. I feel blessed to have gained introspection that allows me to see the world in dimensions, casted by shadows and light through a symbiotic relationship that forever keeps the world turning round and round and round. It reminds me of that kid from American Beauty, watching that dumb plastic bag dance in circles on the wind.

Ricky – “It’s like God is looking right at you, just for a second. And if you’re careful, you can look back.”

I’ve seen incredible beauty in this world, more regularly than I can ever remember standing in the dark. When the shadows take over, I hide in my bed until I can’t bare it any longer; I step out into the sun, just hoping that I don’t get burned, and sometimes I do.

Sometimes I’m on fire, everything is going my way, my head begins to swell with pride and personal satisfaction, and I get totally burned. I fall down, I hide and I cry. And just when everything seems lost, I’m cooled by the shade. I find clarity in the brilliance of night skies, standing next to the ocean, guidance from those who share this struggle.

I live with an anxious drumbeat that pounds out a cadence pushing me faster and harder, and it never stops. And in the wake of this intense rhythm, I fall apart, stay alone in bed for days, hide and rise to thank the universe for affording me the kind of human circumstance that allows me to do this with absolutely no consequence.

I am thankful for those shadows that keep me strange and attract dark thoughts on the brightest days. They are the reason I find love and beauty in a world that at times pushes me to maddening bouts of hysteria. It makes me sad to think that my experiences happens to other people. What’s worse, that those people would rather ignore the internal fire than find refuge in the truth. Were it not for the polarizing effect of this discomfort I would inevitably miss those subtle nuances in life that evoke the best of me, the parts that make me want to connect with others these shared experiences that all too often are left untouched and unloved. I enjoy the broken, the sick, the strange and the struggle, and I will continue to keep my eyes open for plastic bags catching the wind as I prepare myself to get swept up by the season and the coming new year.

I know my character can be challenging for those who seek comfort in normalcy, but my intentions are good and I promise to always do my best. To my friends and family who love me unconditionally from under the bed covers, thank you for letting me be who I am without apology. Often the uncomfort I feel is merely a reflection of the amazing things happening around me: the love and compassion of my closest friends, being acknowledged for a job well done, the sun setting just behind the cliffs as purple and pink flash into twilight — I’m just struggling to take it all in.

whitney butlers blog

Ricky – “It’s like God is looking right at you, just for a second. And if you’re careful, you can look back.”

Jane – “And what do you see?”

Ricky – “Beauty.”





Dear Gabby: A Letter to Myself

6 12 2012

Dear Gabby,

I’ve recently been hired as an editorial assistant and graphic designer. I love to write and I really want to generate more opportunities to grow within the company so I can one day have a column like yours!  Do you have any advice for an aspiring media professional?

 -Eager 2 Please

Dear Too Eager,

First things must always come first:

Media is inherently about making shit not stink. Whether we’re talking public relations, broadcasting, print advertising, marketing, media is about delivering a message through a medium and crafting the public perception of an idea, product or service. Effective media makes people agree to like it, want to have it, buy it, and tell a friend about it. For young media professionals, all these same rules apply to career advancement.

For those seeking employment in media, I would recommend that you stop now and do something entirely different. Media is by far one of the most competitive, ridiculous to points of maddening hysteria professional spheres on planet earth.  Everything appears to glitter like gold from the ubiquitous bandwidth mass media so effortlessly controls.

As I writer myself, I know all too well the strain afflicted by this intensely creative space. Media personalities are astringent and unforgiving.  Sometimes I wish I could cry myself to sleep were it not for all of it being too ridiculous to cry over. So, if you’re like me, incapable of tears, then you’ll likely need some guidance through these trenches. It’s a difficult industry to navigate alone as academics have yet to quantify or articulate the kinds of bullshit that make-up the professions of mass media. Students of this discipline are in my humble opinion: SOL. Most won’t ever make it to the proverbial promised land of fame, wealth or influence media entices; but if your passion to succeed overrides your fear of failure, than I welcome you to the struggle.

First, you must believe with every fiber of your being that your message, creative vision, words, art, music, design -whatever it is that you love to do- you must whole-heartedly believe that you’ve got the right stuff and that the rest of the word needs your creative vision to survive the rapture. Egoism and media go hand-in-hand. If you want to make it, you have to believe your production is worth the attention of an audience. In few words, believe in yourself. Even if you’re new to the space, maintaining a silent but steady confidence in the work you produce is critical. If you don’t love what you do, aren’t obsessed with producing it because it’s your God-forsaken gift to share it with the world, than you need to reassess your priorities. Media is no place to ride the fence on creative vision. This is a place for people who have egos healthier than a five-year-old child. If you don’t think your work is awesome, nobody else will either. If you don’t love your shit, trust me, everyone will think it stinks.

The next important rule: Always volunteer. When your boss starts loading a bunch of shit onto your plate, never ever under any circumstances say no to an opportunity to do more shit. You will learn faster, you will save money because you won’t have a social life and you will learn that your threshold for pain is much higher than you first realized.

Media spans such a large spectrum that most people who first decide to give it a go likely don’t know where their strengths are until they get their hands in it. By making yourself available for several different jobs you’re also setting yourself up to discover your niche. Being a generalist in media is great for some people, but those roles are few and far-between. Being a specialist and being great at it means better-paid positions and lucrative referrals.

The other advantage to volunteering and being the go-to person for extra work is trust and reliability. In media, everyone is full of shit. They say they are going to do something and they don’t do it. Setting yourself a part as someone who get’s shit done and does it well, is a huge advantage in an industry full of shit. If you can build a reputation as someone who can be trusted to get the job done, you’re one step ahead of all the assholes who have only fulfilled the easy step: being a conceded asshole. You’ve got to have the shit to back-up the shit. So deliver, over-deliver, every time, no exception. And that might mean staying late, working on the weekends and not getting paid. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it takes. Just get it done.

Another very important rule: be good to everyone you meet. Your shit doesn’t stink. Remember? But never let that get in the way of being a good person and treating everyone you meet with respect and kindness.

For one huge reason, networking. If you arrive on set at a photo shoot or PR event covered in shit, everyone will remember you as someone they don’t want to be around. However, if you walk into team projects, events and the like with a positive attitude and warm personality, people will remember you for all the right reasons and not because you reek of bodily excretion.

In media, it’s all about who you know. You will likely get your dream job through a referral, someone who knows you well enough to know that they like you and that you work in media. You might not even be as well qualified as someone they interview for the same job, but knowing someone and being able to put a name to a friendly face is a huge advantage. So, always, always be on the lookout for opportunities to be nice to new people, make yourself seen at a party, for the right reasons, and try to make a positive, lasting impression on people. It will serve you well in the future.

Another important reason to be kind: immunity from shit talkers. Nothing is more fun than talking shit about the person who sucks at their job. Everyone does it. But rising above this and taking the high road will save you tons of bullshit later on. Being a bitch and imagining that it will somehow protect you from seemingly lesser co-workers, a rude boss or the competition, is stupid. The only people who like bitches are men that have weird abandonment issues. Being a good person and staying out of all the drama will stop haters from trash-talking you when you’re not around. Niceness is totally underrated. Television shows glorify powerful men and woman as hard-to-work-with-bitches, this destructive illusion then brings doe-eyed little boys and girls to the gold media doors with a big sack of assumptive shit that really does stink. Always be good to people, because you never know who will, or wont, Photoshop your zits away when you appear in the social scene pages of a magazine.

Last but not least, always do the best you can. Mediocrity is horrible regardless of the industry. However, while mediocre hamburgers are just a bad meal, mediocrity in media is unforgivable. Because the landscape of media is constantly changing, it’s important to understand that professional work can appear sloppy by simply being average. Average is and will never be good enough in media. If you want to make it big in media, as a writer, photographer, web designer, editor, news anchor, whatever: mediocrity will get you a one-way ticket to nowhere.

Like media, a professional in the industry must constantly grow, learn, change and evolve to effectively compete on the cusp of what’s happening right now. Media professionals live in the present tense of verbs, the suggestive motion of good photography, breaking news, and every social media channel available to man. It’s your job to be ahead of the competition at whatever the cost. And that’s really what it’s all about: competition.

You will make it in media so long as you ascribe to this final bit of advice: Never give up. You will fail inevitably, make crappy mistakes and talk shit about the guy in the office no one likes; and you will forget the deadline and make spelling mistakes on a million-dollar ad campaign. Shit happens. The only difference between you and the person who does all of that same shit is that you won’t ever give up. You will keep trying until you get where you want to go and your shit does in-fact, not stink.

I’m sorry to sound so bleak, Eager 2 Please, but the reality is that you’re likely full of shit too. So, do yourself a huge favor and prove me wrong.

-Gabby








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