P.S.A: Quit the Gimme, Gimme

Lying, spitting, and smoking make it to my Top 5 Pet Peeves list. There’s another that REALLY irks me, but I don’t hear too many others complaining about it.

Borrowing.

I got a lot of reasons to dislike this (and i’m fully aware I only listed 4 peeves). To the point where I’ve established a no-borrowing policy that I often re-iterate to those who ask me. Maybe you find this selfish. “But what’s wrong with helping others if you have it?”

I won’t say that I NEVER do it. I’ve grudgingly obliged at times when family members REALLY needed it. But I strongly believe against it and I don’t do it myself because I believe it’s a selfish thing to ask of somebody, ESPECIALLY since 99% of the time, they don’t REALLY need it.

Remember the current economic climate of our country, with the majority of us living paycheck-to-paycheck, and an overwhelming many collecting roommates and AirBnB-ing our extra spaces for additional income. A rich man likely won’t notice some missing funds; do they even online bank regularly? But if you ask the average American to borrow $100, it’s not exactly a small amount of money to temporarily part with. It’s exactly BECAUSE of our country’s economic climate that when emergency expenses pop up, we’re unprepared. Unexpected accidents, random government bills and unpredictable circumstances do arise, yes. And I get it; sometimes you just don’t have it and if your credit is also shot, you’re in a bad spot. Good financial responsibility dictates that one SHOULD have an emergency savings account for things like this, but understandably, it’s difficult to build one up. But I can count on one closed fist the amount of times people have asked to borrow money from me that were actual emergencies.

You’re going on a cruise and forgot to budget in your flight to the cruise so you can make it to your vacation? Not an emergency.

You want to visit some dude you’ve been seeing but don’t have enough money for the Metro North ride so you asking me? Not an emergency. (Why isn’t the guy paying for you??)

Your sister (who I never met) is asking to borrow money from YOU because she’s already borrowed too much from ya’lls parents and YOU don’t have it to lend her so you asking ME to lend to YOU to lend to HER? Helll nahhh, KEEP ME OUT THAT DAMN CIRCLE PLEASE.

When did we become so entitled to asking people to part with their hard-earned cash (and trust me, if you work in today’s world, it’s hard-earned) for our frivolities? And so selfish that we’re not even ashamed to do so?

Those who borrow like it’s nothing: How do you think the person who has the money you’re borrowing from, has it at all in the first place? Maybe they got this good ass job with an awesome salary so they have a cushy bank account. That could be it. But more than likely (since most of us DON’T have that), they’re practicing the good financial habits you’re not. They’ve put in the work to build up a savings account to have for emergencies. Their emergencies, not yours. They’ve cut back on the things you didn’t. They’ve stopped eating out as much or ordering take-out, made a conscious effort to buy less shoes and clothes, fancy lattes and liquor. They budgeted and went without some things they wanted to attain some non-paycheck-to-paycheck security for themselves.

THAT. SHIT. IS. NOT. EASY.

And this is why, when you come with your hand out after you bought all the shit we’ve restrained ourselves from buying, it’s a slap in the face. Because even though we know it’s easier to spend than save, we’ve done the hard part of sacrificing, not through magical superpowers but by exerting self-control, and you could damn well do the same too. But you choose not to because you’d rather have the things you want when you want them, without sacrifice.

Do you ever think that the person you’re borrowing $200 from now has $200 less to manage in their bank account even if they’re getting it back in a month or so? Probably not. But imagine someone came to you and borrowed $200. The fact that you have to borrow yourself, means you’d be in quite a jam and something essential probably ain’t getting paid that month. We all have the same bills. Rent, food, electricity, transportation. Some choose to have excess bills they can’t keep up with. Some WITHOUT these bills still find the need to borrow. The only person I’ve ever borrowed from really was my mom. And that was to help pay off my student loans. A decade ago.

I went through that struggling period that most of us do, where I was overworked on a $450/biweekly paycheck, making ends meet off a retail cashier’s paycheck. And not once did I ask to borrow some extra cash to “have a good time.” I saw coats I fell in love with that I couldn’t buy (damn you Hootenanny). Restaurants I couldn’t eat at. Events I could not go to. I sunk into a pit of depression, then worked my ASS off to crawl out it, because it was not someone else’s responsibility to make those things happen for me. And I didn’t WANT anyone to feel SORRY for me and give me a handout either.

Let’s not act not like we all don’t want to go on that vacation. Or get those shoes we really like. Or go out and be a baller one night on the town. We all deserve it. But we shouldn’t be asking people to fund that shit for us as a loan.

I had an ex who asked to borrow money from me for everything: weed, liquor, cat food, groceries, a new $200 watch to look good on vacation, dinners out, a cabin rental for HIS friends to hang out, a new video game that he couldn’t wait until the end of the month to get. I even funded multiple trips for us where I picked up the tab on everything up front (Universal, Otakon, Boston) simply because he didn’t have it. He never did. God forbid if I hadn’t been on top of my money and an emergency had happened (and there were a few) we would have been up shit’s creek without a financial paddle, screwed on rent, screwed on trips, screwed on life. I had to budget for “twos” at all times, as if I was the sole provider of the household and not dating another adult with a higher salary than me. That kind a silent pressure builds up like you don’t even realize the more you get taken advantage of this way.

Now I may feel strongly about this, but I’m not a tyrant. There are innocent reasons to borrow. Maybe you’re out with a friend and they find this *Insert Rare Quest Item* they’ve been after for awhile now and don’t have the money for it on them but goddammit IT’S ON SALE NOW. Perhaps you’re a parent and you find the season’s sold-out “Tickle-Me-Elmo” that will make your kid’s Christmas day in an out-of-the-way store and you can pay your cousin back on the next paycheck if they spot you for it now (that is love). Maybe there’s a trip/event/experience coming up that someone would LOVE, but they didn’t budget for because they didn’t realize it was happening and you want them to join in on the fun too. Maybe your cousin is just having a rough time with life and you just wanna spot them for the night and help them feel better.

But if you’re someone who makes a HABIT of borrowing from others on a consistent basis, you need to re-evaluate your situation because you’re living above your means and counting on others to help support your lifestyle. It means you need to look back and see what you bought the past month that you really didn’t need (and trust me, you WILL find things you did NOT need). And if you’re not willing to do that, and would rather burden someone else with helping you out because it’s the easier route, you are lazy and selfish and unwilling to sacrifice as an adult should.

It annoyed me to no end that my ex would order clothes, indulge in all the world’s vices, insist on ordering lobster dinners and $80 meals on Seamless, then ask me to fill in the salary gaps until he could make it to the next check (why the fuck wouldn’t you budget properly??). Now it’s never my business what others do with their own money (so long as you’re not coming for handouts after you recklessly spent your shit on something stupid). As long as you can handle your business, go crazy; spend all your extra cash on Amiibos, sunglasses, Groupon experiences, premium Patreon packages, whatever. But don’t count on someone else to help you make it through life because of it.

I like where I am in life right now. I work for an awesome remote company. I’m lucky enough to be able to afford my own apartment in NYC without roommates (oh thank God). I’m trying and maybe failing to build up a Roth IRA for the future, a savings account for unexpected expenses, and a checking account cushion so that I don’t need to count the days till my next paycheck. I avoid fancy restaurants, try to cook at home as much as possible to save money, and leftovers are my life. I don’t buy expensive handbags or shoes, and shop at places mostly when the 50% off sales are going on, unless it’s Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or Forever 21 (and I still go for the clearance sections there). I know when to NOT buy that $3 hot dog or soft drink off the cart vendors or at the gourmet deli because the cart or bodega two avenues down got it for $1-$2 less (Don’t buy sodas from 7-11 in New York, guys, it ain’t worth it!!).

I’m not jet-setting around the world (unless my job is sending me), but I try to plan a vacation on my own maybe once a year. And hell, that only started a year ago. And I’m not hitting the bars or clubs every Friday at the end of the week racking up $100 bar tabs. I’m frugal with my spending so that when I see something I REALLY want or something I would LOVE (or when the stupid medical bills come in from that thing you didn’t really need to go in for), the money is there for me. Not the person who wants to borrow it from me. I attained a level of independence for myself so I could remain self-sufficient and rely on no one; not so I could play the Monopoly banker making sure there’s enough for everyone else’s luxuries.

I never expect a standard from anybody that I don’t live up to myself. I live below my means so I don’t owe anybody shit.

Pun intended.

Remember that old line adults always told you growing up? “You can’t always have everything you want.”

We grew into adults and became borrowers and forgot.

~Tael

Pet Rescues? Or Militant Animal Gatekeepers?

Remember the days when you decided you wanted an animal companion in your life, so you strolled down to your local shelter, filled out some paperwork, gave an optional donation, and walked out the same day with the new pet of your choosing, ready to bond and share your space with them?

They gone.

I mean, you can still do this at the pet shop with hamsters I guess. But the way adoption processes for a cat or dog are structured nowadays, you may as well toss in an application for a chance at a black market immigrant child too. You’ll probably be cleared for the human before the animal enthusiasts deem your application worthy.

Those close to me know I was once the proud owner of a beautiful orange tabby who lived to the ripe old age of 19 years. Last April, he succumbed to a thyroid issue that robbed his ability to see, and finally, eat or walk. I syringe-fed him water during his last days and a final vet visit ended in euthanization.

I was devastated, yes, but I know it was probably time cause my cat was pretty damn old. I’d watched the rapid deterioration of both my grandparents (who’d been old forever because they’re grandparents) when their time was up. One minute they seem just fine, and the next, a simple cold or digestion issue destroys their weak immune system and results in their (timely, I guess) departure. It took until the end of the year for me to finally feel ready to adopt again, with the enlightenment one gains from being a previous pet owner. I wanted two this time. Kip had been a wonderful, vocal cat, who initially meow-meowed-meowed his way through the house, to the point where we wondered if he’d ever shut up and neighbors shoved meat under our door because they thought we housed a starving animal. Two companions would keep each other company and hopefully cut down on this, and I felt a bonded pair of litter-mates would do nicely! The idea of a dog crossed my mind (and I work from home so I’d be in the best position to have one), but two cats are still less work than one dog. I was READY.

Twenty years later though, the adoption game has severely changed with the millennium, and I was not ready for the evolved difficulty in the approval process. It seemed a bunch of self-righteous animal zealots now controlled a huge chunk of the adoptable animal population, only willing to release them to those considered deserving of an pet. Oh it SEEMS great on first thought; we all want what’s best for the animals and making sure potential adopters are responsible and bringing them into a healthy, non-abusive environment is a terrific idea. But it’s that arrogant zealousness to find the “perfect” match for animals that causes “Adopt, Don’t Shop” to fail. Slate actually has a superb article that wonderfully sums up how convoluted the process has become here.

Some rejections have nothing to do with how well you can take care of and provide for an animal. Take a look at one of mine here:

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So…ya’ll not tryna have some kittens go to forever homes cause ya’ll don’t FEEL like making the drive? THANKS LYNN. Great effort!

In my personal opinion, it’s pretty damn difficult to neglect a cat. Maybe because I’ve had pets all my life that I was responsible for (hamsters, mice, rabbits, turtles, cats) so it’s a little more ingrained in me that animals need taking care of. Dogs require a bit more effort, but at the bare minimum, you give a cat food and water, change its litter and play with it some. At the bare minimum, someone walking into a pet shelter or rescue organization looking to adopt knows they have to do this. An animal-hater is not going to walk into a pet shelter interested in adoption and pay the fees required, unless some really SICK individual wants to adopt a pet to secretly torture them, but sick individuals will always find ways to do their sick things and I’m pretty sure these guys are in the isolated minority. At the very least, with any adoption, an animal gets taken from a cage or enclosed space in a shelter (I understand foster situations are different, but still) and goes to a home where they get far more attention and room to roam. It is usually going to be a better situation for them to be in. Someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, scrounging for enough money to feed their children or keep the lights on this month, is likely not going to waltz into a shelter and add a new expense of caring for an animal, no matter how cute it is. But still, financials seem to be a huge part of the application process.

References are generally required now, which is fine, however, the world knows how references work. You pick the people who will paint you to be a shining star and say whatever required to make you glow. References are kinda one of society’s biggest B.S. schemes. Even shitty pedophiles have acquaintances who will vouch the high heavens for them if given as references. Mine were apparently asked if I was economically stable enough to own a cat. What, were they going to say NO?

But really, let’s look at the economic status of the nation as a whole. The majority of the U.S. currently lives paycheck to paycheck. :/ They find a way to manage, however, this does insinuate that only the small percentage of wealthy would fit the “perfect appliCAT” adoption (see what I did there?). Most applications ask if you’d be able to afford an animal’s vet bills, but let’s not act like in today’s times, finding affordable health care for HUMANS isn’t a large task in itself already, and many millennials simply go without it!

We’re living though.

Some applications specifically ask how much would be too much a vet’s bill for you. I started putting things like $3000 because I’m not sure what they were looking for. If you can’t afford a $3000 vet bill for your cat, does that mean you shouldn’t be allowed to have one? Because a $3000 doctor’s bill for a human would wipe most people’s savings. Does this mean we should be banned from caring for them? The richest person with an endless supply of fortune could adopt and give a cat a whole wing of their mansion, vet bills pre-paid, and still only be giving the bare minimum: food, litter, a home. Doesn’t mean they’re petting the cat on a regular basis or playing with them, or giving them love. Most hire nannies for their own children, so I’m sure said nanny or housekeeper would be caring for the pet as well. And let’s be real, the wealthy usually don’t saunter into the ASPCA looking to rescue; they find a pedigreed breeder and dole out a handsome sum for a certified, purebred, exotic prize.

I’ll be honest; I didn’t take my last cat in for yearly vet check-ups. I saw no need. He was an indoor cat, had all his shots, vaccinations, and got neutered within the first year of his life. I gave him good quality food and he was not only part of my immediate family, but my extended family too. Once in awhile he got sick, just as we humans do. But most of us know you don’t immediately run to the doctor when you get sick, unless it’s serious. In fact, 75% I’ve run to the doctor for a perceived ailment, I didn’t have to GO. It was something that would have passed and I ended up with a stupid bill, a prescription for some shit I could get from Duane Reade over the counter on my own, and a “This too, shall pass” diagnosis. When he had a REAL issue, I took him. The rest of the time, he got monumental love and support from all of us.

Let’s move from the financial aspect. Many applications ask if I have kids or plan to. Umm…shit, what if I did? It could happen in the future, as I am…an adult woman with working ovaries. Can cats and kids not live together? Do families not have pets? Okay, maybe they’re just screening so they can let you know which of their adoptables don’t do well with children. Understandable! But then they proceed to ask if you DID have a kid, what would you do with your cat? Umm I’d have my kid. And I’d have my cat? “What if you moved? Would you take your cat?” No, I’d leave it in the empty apartment and hope the super overheard the hungry yowls eventually. *Sarcasm alert.*

wallstreetcatguy“Will you ever let the cat outside?” I mean, in a carrier, unless I travel to a family or friend’s house that has an enclosed backyard maybe? What, you think I’m going to walk outside down a New York City block with my cat in my arms? Maybe someone who had a damn good trained cat could do that, like the one who used to show up around Wall Street. But most indoor cats would likely claw the shit out of you if you tried to take them outside in your arms amidst honking horns and barking dogs. Most owners know this. Why the hell would someone who lives in a New York City apartment let their cat outside unless it’s a bodega or apartment complex cat? Common sense. Sure, there’s the cat leash movement going on but I have only come across ONE urban cat-walker in my New York City life. Why are we asking this question like it’s a common thing lol.

“How many hours the cat will be left alone during the day?” Well that’s pretty easy to ascertain if the person has a standard fucking 9-5 job. That they’ll need to have in order to be financially stable enough to adopt the damn cat in the first place and afford those $3000 vet bills, right?

“We require a home visit.” This one may be the most invasive of them all. What’chu mean you wanna come to my HOUSE? And see if it’s SUITABLE for a cat? Some folk are sensitive about their small spaces, or day-to-day messies. What if the “inspector” is a Trump supporter wearing a red #MAGA cap and I have an Obama “Yes We Can” fleece throw on my couch? I’m probably not getting that damn cat.

One place tried to call my apartment management company to verify pets were allowed and ended up getting a new girl that gave her the runaround. I was surprised my management company even answered the phone. You know how hard it is for ME to get ahold of someone there? But trust me, I doubt most New Yorkers would be willing to take in an animal if they weren’t allowed. Especially when it’s rent-stabilized. We ain’t risking that. But what if someone rescued an animal off the street and hid it from their management company? More power to them! We can’t say it doesn’t help the rescue plight.

Through all this, you have the rescues and shelters posting desperate pleas for animal adopters and fosters NEEDED NOW, because the shelters are overflowing, and animals are getting euthanized or remaining unadopted for lengthy periods; all the while simultaneously calling for “A+ adopters ONLY and if you have to ask what it is, you’re not one” (because only the cream of the crop will do and we’re not really here to educate potential adopters >.>) or criticizing potential adopters for having preferences, such as color or age, which is RIDICULOUS! If someone wants an orange cat, let them hunt for an orange cat! If a person loves a certain breed and sees they’re available for adoption with you, what’s the issue? If they prefer a kitten over an adult cat like I do (because I prefer to raise them myself and have an earlier bond), are they less of an animal-lover because of this? And then the raging fan, and I’ll quite bluntly call them “dickriding” comments that back up these ridiculous critiques, solidify the existence of an entire Internet club of perceived cat activists, who must ALL be perfect adopters who take their cats (and they all BETTER have cats lol) for biyearly dental cleanings, consider Fancy Feast actual gourmet cat food, and live for putting down “B-” cat owners on social media.

“Adopt, Don’t Shop” is easier said then done, especially when potential adopters need to pass a figurative bar exam from the gatekeepers to adopt. They are looking for perfect adopters but “perfection” doesn’t exist. I was damn near ready to go through a back-alley CraigsList kitten transaction (because when you want an animal, you WILL get an animal) when a ray of light appeared in my path.

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I spotted this adorable little face on the ‘gram. And some brief reviewing revealed he had siblings! I DM-ed them to inquire and messaged with Holland, a sweet breath of fresh air who communicated with life and feeling and energy, unlike many of the of the short, brusque, almost exhausted-sounding responses from the other places I’d looked into. I was directed to their website, https://catcastlenyc.org where I filled out a simple, non-invasive application and saw that part of their goal is non-discriminatory adoption! She sent me pics of the little guy’s siblings and I decided I wanted his brother too, and within two days she showed up at my apartment to deliver the little darlings. While this could also be construed as a home visit, it wasn’t the same in my eyes, because I was already approved for the adoption, whereas other places use the home visit to further render judgment on your approval.

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Spike and Vash

I am now the proud owner of two rambunctious bonded brothers born with little bent tails, who I’ve spent the last week spoiling with holistic cat food, organic rotisserie chicken, more toys on the way, and that cat condo I’ve always wanted. For my cats. >.>’ We’re working on getting them comfortable being held while standing, but for now they crawl into my lap for cuddles, are no longer afraid when the front door opens, and tear around the house chasing and wrestling each other before falling asleep together in a kitty hug. I make them little aluminum foil balls to play with, tossed a blanket on the floor of my closet because I know they like to nap there sometimes, and now have to carefully roll my office chair out because they like to hang out under there while I’m sitting in it at my computer.

I don’t think I qualify as an “A+ adopter,” and I’m not sure I’d even want to. I’m much happier being the imperfect human I am that loves animals and takes damn good care of her pets, happily welcoming a saved life into my imperfect world. I love that Cat Castle NYC deviated from the drill sergeant adoption routine, and equally loved being able to support a warm, friendly, up-and-coming, humble rescue, who really just seem to want to sincerely help connect cats with homes, and not play militant adoption gods who collect multiple applications on single pets in their adoption arena to determine the winner. I highly recommend and encourage other potential adopters who know they’re responsible enough to take an animal under their wing without having a snotty judge referee with a static checklist whether they truly are to check them out!

~Tael

*See You Space Cowboy*

Christmas Gifts? Christmas Cheer? A Rant.

“It’s not about the gifts.”

Someone will say this every holiday season. That Christmas isn’t about the presents. That it’s about Jesus’ birthday (my family is Christian), time spent with loved ones, gratefulness to be alive and blessed and loved, appreciation blah blah blah and all those other sentiments we should already have every other day of the year anyway. Kinda like Thanksgiving, the holiday whose name implies that we should be spending the day testifying to what we are thankful for, but all anyone really cares about is where they gonna be eating. Really. I suggested this year for Thanksgiving that we all volunteer at a soup kitchen as a family and mom’s response was “Well, what are we gonna eat?”

But then, come Christmas, that line of thinking gets the 180.

For the past few years, my family has invaded Christmas tradition, attempting to unconvincingly downplay the gift-giving aspect, while continuing to request $100+ items or cash on their wish lists. We created a new tradition the past 8 years or so, where my mom and sister and I shlep out with my aunt and cousins to my godmother’s house on Christmas Eve, so that we can wake up Christmas morning as one big happy family and do all the Christmas things together like decorating the tree, watching Home Alone, wearing festive gear, fancy eating and liquor imbibing, general merriment, reading the Bible, taking a walk around town, napping, eating some more, then basically doing everything possible to avoid the gifts under the tree until 5 p.m. on Christmas Day…

Wait…

Somewhere along the way, this new tradition went awry.  Because the elders decided that since “Christmas is not about the gifts,” we should do everything in our power to pretend they aren’t in the next room over-appealingly packed under the tree like some sort of Home Christmas Special edition magazine cover, and act like some of us (not me of course, I finish shopping early) weren’t just maniacally racing around stores trying to find the perfect gifts for each other the week before, like we aren’t excited to see our loved ones open the shit we stressed out to buy for them.

Three “elders.” Three “somewhat” adult-children (because in our family they still call us “kids” at age 30), and one teenager whose Christmas rights are stripped away because even though we’re spending Christmas together as a family to make everyone happy, much of the the fun, happiness, and excitement is being sucked out of the deal by Holiday Dictatorship.

Sometimes my family will suggest not gift-exchanging at all, but instead donating the $$$ you would have spent on their gifts to a charity. Nice idea, although let’s remember this contribution still remains a GIFT, and something you are GIVING, so I’ll forever need elaboration that they’ll never give on what exactly about the GIVING aspect they’re against. In the most logical, Devil’s Advocate-sense, are they saying that since the people you love are better off than those who really need assistance, this means we are less-deserving of receiving ANYTHING from them? Why not just give both? Last year, after multiple years of someone always throwing this idea into the mix, I said fine. Let’s NOT get anyone anything. Give my gift to a donation instead. My cousins were not happy with my acceptance of this idea. I honestly was so tired of hearing it that I really did not give a shit at that point what happened. I ended up breaking the family tradition entirely, and instead spending Christmas with my ex-narcissist so that he wouldn’t be alone. What happened? My family ended up coming to my house later on Christmas Day, WITH gifts that we’d agreed not to buy! When I asked WTF happened to the plan, the answer was “Well we had to get SOMETHING to exchange on Christmas.” Well then WHY THE HELL DID YOU SUGGEST WE NOT IF IT’S NOT ABOUT THE GIFTS?

*Note to readers: My family is cray and their odd, illogical thought processes that don’t quite add up are the reason I can sometimes only take them in small doses.

My philosophy on gift-giving is I don’t like to give gifts out of obligation. Even if you’re receiving something small from me, I likely logged hours hunting online, recalling our past conversations, a joke we may have laughed about together, or something you may have mentioned in passing that you love (if you weren’t one of the few close ones who gave me a list) to apply to the purchase. I’m definitely one of those tailor-the-gift-to-the-individual kinda people who didn’t run to the mall the weekend before Christmas and scoop up some generic sweater/shower gift set/pajamas/hat-scarf-glove ensemble to hand out to everyone so as not to come empty-handed. I also despise gift cards, even if they’re asked for, because they lack that certain originality and creative thought that comes with gift-giving. It’s really just a I-didn’t-know-what-you-wanted-so-here gift.

And you know what? Because I truly do love to give, all that extra work doesn’t bother me. The stress of taking into account a person’s preferences and likes and dislikes and truly trying to incite a delighted reaction on Christmas Day from them makes me happy when I do find that magical side-quest item in the end. It does not make me scorn gift-giving. Scrambling to find gifts for my co-working team and smuggling them with me to Argentina so I could present them in person was a jolly challenge for me. Being counter-surprise-presented with a hand-designed t-shirt from my boss, who put hours and late nights hunched over her project crafting them for us before the same trip was a special reward to me. Shipping additional little gifts I found to friends in different states and paying extra shipment fees doesn’t bother me because I’m sending a bit of extra joy and thinking of them during this special season. When my current boyfriend suggested a gift he could get for his parents and slap my name on it so it would be from me, I childishly exclaimed “NO, I WANNA DO IT,” and dove into an interweb hunt for selections from my heart.

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And maybe that’s the reason why the gift-giving part holds a certain weight to me on Christmas. “It’s better to give than to receive” is another of your common Real-Meaning-Of-Christmas quotes. Well dammit, I like giving, and opening the things I was given. How often are we really given a chance to dive into a spirited gift exchange? It’s one day a year. I’m a freaking 32-year-old woman who wants to open the gifts she got from everyone on Christmas morning, or at least not after the damn sun has gone down, and in turn, watch everyone open what she spent the past month (yeah, I start on Black Friday) putting some real thought into. It’s EXCITING! Sue me!

I don’t forget the one Christmas a few years back where, come mid-afternoon, we “kids” literally sat on the couch doing nothing until we fell asleep out of boredom. It didn’t feel like Christmas at all. It felt like any other day; except more boring, because even on normal days when we see each other, we do shit and don’t just sit around waiting for the time to pass until the “elders” FEEL like it’s time to proceed with the main event. Meanwhile, I constantly received texts from friends and family asking “Did you open it yet? Did you like it?”

“Nah, we didn’t GET to them yet.”

“What the hell? What are ya’ll waiting for??”

Nothing. The answer is we’re waiting for absolutely nothing but an antiquated idea that suggests if you care about opening Christmas presents on Christmas morning, you’ve lost the meaning for the season. Maybe one day my family will stop vilifying gift-giving before our traditions crumble. Even the past couple of years, someone has thrown out a suggestion that we all travel to a tropical climate for Christmas instead. While in the past, I would have been vehemently opposed, this time I’ve said I was down. Instead it’s been my mom who’s screamed bloody murder that this would “break tradition” because there’d be no tree, gifts, celebration etc…

But…

I thought it wasn’t about the..

Free picture (Christmas Candle) from https://torange.biz/christmas-candle-15000I give up, ya’ll. -.-‘ To all my Christmas buddies who ignore the nonsensical, judgmental rumination on Christmas-giving that my fam tries to bring to the table, thank you for keeping me sane, and keeping that old, little-girl, Christmas spirit flame alive and dancing.

Merry Christmas!!!

~Tael

Platonicity

Ahhh, the age-old question: Are you capable of being pals with members of the opposite gender in a completely non-sexual manner?

OF COURSE it’s possible to “just be friends” with the other sex. And not just the non-good-looking ones either. Because, little known fact, you can actually acknowledge someone’s attractiveness without feeling any desire to sleep with them whatsoever. You know, like how a girlfriend can introduce you to her new lover and you rehash with her and the rest of the crew later about how cute he was. Cute meaning, you’re glad she has someone who’s not hard on the eyes, but not like you’d immediately like to hop in bed with him if he wasn’t off-limits.

Most can’t though.

I’ve seen a lot of people say, “Yeah, of course! He’s like a brother to me!” Then somewhere down the line they’re stammering an incestuous explanation of how they “accidentally” slept with the guy and “Omg, how did this happen??”

Depends on what your degree of platonicity was to begin with. Did you initiate a friendship with someone because they were cute and you were hoping something would happen, and it hasn’t happened yet but you’re still holding out that it will? In that case, you’d better damn well be sure your platonicity gauge is on point, because if they’re not feeling the same, you could be in for quite a blunder.

I have never seen so many previously-thought-to-be-platonic “lurkers” come out of the woodwork as I have the past couple of years. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t been single in so long that there hadn’t been an opportunity for them to send their darts flying. And miss the bulls-eye. But even DURING my last relationship, I had a long-time college buddy (over 10 YEARS!) basically ask if I would be willing to “entertain two suitors.” Newsflash: WE ARE NOT FRIENDS ANYMORE.

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My legit reaction to this request.

Not only was I extremely uncomfortable with this solicitation, but I was also highly offended! He’d known me for over a decade, had played Prince of Persia and Super Smash Bros. with me late into the nights, had been part of the circle of friends I’d embraced in my SUNY years, had shared numerous insights on sex and relationships as friends do, still connected occasionally on gamer memes and updates, and had NEVER made a pass at me WHATSOEVER. Now he was suddenly asking me to cheat on my boyfriend with him. This AFTER we’d had a lovely talk about our current romantic interests, sharing our stories about our feelings about them! WHICH WERE GOOD FEELINGS.

If you’ve known me for that long, you should know better than that. You should know my character. You should know that if we’ve been friends for THAT long, the sexual window has long passed and our relationship has solidified to an amicable closeness. And dammit your platonicity radar should be able to pick up the disinterest AND the discomfort as a result of the annoying, persistent come-ons.

It stings a bit when long-time friends are the ones making these requests. Because we believe those who’ve known you the longest should also know you the most. When I met up for drinks with yet another long-time buddy from college, one who I’d also spent hours with having deep conversations, gaming with, AND who had hung out with both me and my ex-husband together time and again, it was brought up whether I’d sleep with him.  I dunno about the rest of you, but I feel like most women have a deep appreciation for those situations where you can let your guard down with the opposite gender, connecting as fellow humans without fear of ulterior motives, like the sandbox days before we discovered the joys of sex. The comfort of an old friend with whom you’ve already established the boundaries of friendship and friendship-only so there’s no need to have the awkward “I’m not into you” conversation and possibly the lengthy “Okay here’s why I’m not and please stop trying, it’s not going to work” speech for the more aggressive pursuant, is a delight.

So when you have to push the old college buddy’s heavy, liquor-laden body off of yours as he leans in to make his proposition which, once again, has NEVER come up before now, you question these connections you made so long ago. The ones you thought were so secure because of the length of time you’ve known the individual.

Even one of my previously gay acquaintances (and I say “previously” because look what’s coming) of about 2 years admitted, as I was indulging him with my dating app tales, that he had always felt something for me and was interested in pursuing something now that I was single.

What…?

“I think you’ve misunderstood. I’m not GAY, gay. More like sexually fluid and attracted to energies.”

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NoOoooOoOoOOOOOOoO!!!!

Doushite? You can’t be my gay friend and then evolve to my formerly-known-as-gay lover. It can’t work like that.

Back to the friendships you created because you hoped something would happen. Maybe. I’ve done this. Twice. And I ended up in relationships with both of them. It’s great to be friends first before a relationship. However, my platonicity radar was on point each time. I felt the reciprocal feelings developing. But had I not, I was willing to take my feelings for them to my GRAVE. Because if the other person’s platonicity level is higher than yours, your feelings can become a wearisome burden for them. And if you aggressively try to push them, it’s even worse. So unless you’re a well-mastered vibe-artist with wizard-like intuition, and you know for a fact the buddy you’ve been into is also digging you too, DON’T DO IT…Don’t do it unless you know for sure where they are on the meter.

My cache of sandbox friendships with males runs low. Although I do know I can still count on at least one solid one who I’ve known for 18 years, who has been there for the relationship tears, the drunken chats, has met my friends and family, DESTROYS me at both Smash AND MarioKart (DAMMIT), who I probably suck unlimited hours of what should probably be paid IT work out of (gomen nasai!! >.<) and who seems to truly understand the bond of a comrade. And if he ever changes this, I will strangle him.

And while today’s social culture tends to burn the “friend-zone” concept at the stake, it makes me wonder…when did having a friend you didn’t sleep with become a problem? Why don’t we want friends anymore? Maybe I’m just getting old… -.-‘

~Tael

 

Do What You Want

Why do I feel like nobody says this anymore unless it’s in that passive-aggressive way towards a lover when you’re really not feeling their actions at the moment but don’t want to admit it? Today’s culture has become a very opinionated one. Or maybe it’s just because social media allows you to force-feed your viewpoint to the world, whether they want to hear your views or not. In the midst of witnessed heated debates galore on Facebook involving various topics such as gun violence, race issues, women’s rights, or what that rapper did, it’s like you can’t NOT give your opinion (well, I can…) and simply tossing it into the interwebs makes you somewhat of an expert over the computer.

What sucks is when you become entangled in the sticky web of suffocating perspectives from the world and forget that you too, have one as well.

“Follow your heart.” “Do what feels right.”

Those used to be really popular guidelines once upon a time. Now that everyone is an Internet expert on everything from politics, to relationships, to how to make the most out of life, have a fulfilling career, and make money from your couch totally legitimately, you rarely hear advice tailored specifically for the person being given the advice. Blanket recommendations repackaged and reposted for mass consumption are the norm, even though we’re fully aware that the same things don’t work for everybody. Even those you’re closest to may not offer you direction based on your character. For the past few years I’ve gotten encouraged to have a baby, despite my being divorced and without a stable father figure that would be around for the child, simply because I shouldn’t “wait too long.” I hear that “There are lots of single mothers,” and that, “Your mom did it.” Right, but why would I want to actively choose to be a single mother solely for the purpose of having a baby that you want me to have that I’m not even happy about making the decision of having? :/

I’ve never been the type to fear walking a different path from my family or friends. That’s the thing about pioneering. Someone has to clear that path that they didn’t find by following everyone else’s roadmap and set a new route. Sometimes you can’t give a fuck about everyone else’s opinion. Sometimes your opinion will be the unpopular one and that’s fine, because it’s your choice and it’s your life and you have to live it.

A few years ago I worked on Wall Street for an office that had just been bought out by a highly reputable, long-time respected company that brought us awesome health benefits, 401K options, and a stable future.

And I quit.

Poor management and extreme burnout severely diminished my mental quality of life. I would literally wake up every morning and think “This shit again…” Turnover was high, loyalty was non-existent, bathroom meltdowns by co-workers not uncommon. One day, shaking from anger and disrespect brought on by my manager on my lunch hour in an outdoor courtyard, I decided I couldn’t do it anymore, and that I’d rather venture into the unknown and learn a whole new set of skills than remain in my secure position clutching what little seniority I had with the company. So I sought out a startup with an uncertain future, took a pay cut, and haven’t regretted my choice one iota. In just a few short years I’ve surpassed my old salary in my current position, my company has gone remote, and my current boss is a wizard.

It’s a risk that many may not have taken. But having poured 7 years into my old job and endured the humiliating devaluation of my work ethic, I didn’t care who advised me not to do it. It was my life and I had to get out. Some risks are applauded and others are scoffed at until they pay off.

After a breakup, everyone tells you to “focus on yourself.” Which is stellar advice if you gave up everything you love in your relationship and forgot what it meant to do things you enjoy. But believe it or not, some people are fully grounded in who they are and don’t abandon their hobbies just because they’re with someone else. I didn’t hang out with my friends any less, and in fact explored new interests. My friends remain the same whether i’m in a relationship or not; married, with children, engrossed in graduate programs or simply living their own lives.

Maybe your circle advises you to stay single and sleep around (But I’m not too fond of casually sleeping around and prefer meaningful connections). Or don’t sleep around at all and do other things (But I LOVE SEX and I was doing those things anyway). So make new friends if your current ones are busy (Which is exactly how you meet new people and possible new romantic interests who pursue you). But don’t rush into anything (Have you tried online dating nowadays? First date — ANALYSIS. Second date — Is something gonna happen here? Third date — We sleeping together or nah?). I discovered I despise online dating because of the clinical and rapid pace you’re thrown into things. And that my mom’s dating standards are far different than my own, with car, apartment, and lucrative job weighing more than attentiveness, connection, and honesty (curse my Millennial-ness). :/

Despite what advice anyone has to give you, we are all going through life on our first try. Your own intuition should always be your best guide, while recommendations come second. Be bold and confident in this one life you have and wear that cheeky bikini or those short shorts, or that outfit that you second-guess whether it’s “appropriate” for your age (because apparently in non-American cultures, they dgaf). Go to cosplay parties even though you’re in your 30s, take handstand classes just because it’s random, bounce around with your cousins at a trampoline park until you’re exhausted even though it’s mostly for children, and take hip-hop classes because your family always told you that you couldn’t dance.

Fall in love as often as your heart allows, and don’t be ashamed at its capacity. You only have one life and you can spend it diving headlong into the unknown or tiptoe-ing the outskirts according to someone else’s standards. Take a spontaneous trip to Chicago for Pokemon GO Fest (WHICH I DAMN SURE WOULD HAVE DONE HAD THE TICKETS NOT SOLD OUT). Because sometimes you want to do something like fly out and get a hotel room for a night for a one-day mobile phone event. Yes, as an adult woman, you can travel with others who may not be the same gender as you that you met on Facebook, or Meetup, or Twitter. It’s okay.

And by the same notion, don’t do what DOESN’T feel right to pacify your circle or what the “Internet experts” encourage either. Ignore the pressures to cave to organized religion (because they discuss behind your back about how you should) or hop on the Brazilian wax bandwagon (because even bikini-waxing was too intense for my tolerance). Free-spirit your way through life without make-up and heels, and be the one in the family with the unconventional natural look, oblivious to trends.

The more life you live, the more you find that ignoring your intuition is a waste. Lupe Fiasco said you can’t take back words you never said, and the same goes for actions. You can’t take them back if you didn’t do them. If it’s going to make you happy and you’re highly sure you won’t regret it, do it. If everyone looks at you oddly because your decisions are different from what they would have chosen, good. That’s why they’re your decisions and not theirs. And individuals exist to operate outside of a hive mind. Don’t ever forget to be loyal to your true self first.

Because it’s not your best friend’s baby, or your co-worker’s relationship, or your mother’s job, or your family’s trip, or the world’s life, or the Internet’s happiness. It’s yours.

~Tael (Strong Intuitionist)

What’s Remote Life Like?

When my company announced at a meeting in the beginning of the year that we’d be going fully remote, I didn’t initially celebrate like I’d stumbled upon a winning lottery ticket. Instead I assessed the situation. Cautiously.

You see, I loved our office. We didn’t have the stuffy, corporate cubicle, drag-yourself-into-work-moaning atmosphere. We had a giant, airy, sunlit floor in a Tribeca loft. There was a shiny piano, an enormous comfy couch that made any homeowner envious (most New Yorkers probably couldn’t even fit it into their apartment), and dogs. Office dogs.

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Dogs in the office.

Working from home meant breaking a routine I was accustomed to (and I hate change) and forsaking the social interaction you may not realize you get on a regular basis by leaving your house every day. It meant I wouldn’t be able to indulge in Tate’s cookies or my normal lunch options as often (I’m fairly certain “lunch options” is an urban thing; I don’t know what the rest of ya’ll do, brown bag?), or run that quick errand on the way home from work because you’re already outside. I would most likely shower less and become a recluse. Would I be able to successfully transition without becoming THIS?

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Fast-forward. I am adaptable ninja. It didn’t take long for me to grow comfortable with my new setup. My desk at home is just as messy as it always was at work. A collection of napkins and paper towels, whatever the snack of the day is, scattered old cookie crumbs because cookies tend to be a frequent snack of the day, a birth control pack, and a light-up rubber alligator are currently the staples.

My CEO Ubered my work Mac to my house so yay, my laptop is actually used as a secondary computer for travel. It’s worth mentioning that since we went remote, he now has no real home base. He gave up his Tribeca loft and now travels at random, handling company affairs from overseas or whichever AirBnB he’s staying at in random time zones across the country. Likewise, my boss took the remote opportunity to leave Brooklyn (WAH!) and call an RV home base with her husband and cat, traveling the country and chronicling her journeys on her blog at https://readysetrv.wordpress.com/.

I’m more of a toddler than my work peers when it comes to travel. I thought I hated it. Until I actually traveled; like, did it for REAL. “Travel” and “vacations” in my life growing up generally consisted of long, cramped car rides (HELLO motion sickness!) to family members’ houses where you’d cram in a bed with 3 other relatives or stake out a spot on a lumpy couch or a blanket on the floor. Vacation indulgences were few and far between, expenses tight, and a rare motel stay was a paradise to us. This mentality certainly carried over when I entered self-sustainable employment on my own and couldn’t fathom parting with an entire paycheck for a trip that you wouldn’t tangibly own and keep for the future.

20170624_125014But remote work gave me my first opportunity to leave the country this past June. Our tiny team of about 6 employees all headed to Antigua for a week to work from a breezy island villa where a chef prepared our meals daily and we chose a different beach to visit every day after work. And there were dogs. Island dogs that visited us every day.

I think once you start, and really experience it, then you see the magic. Then you start to feel it. Next month will be my 2nd time leaving the country, and the 5th trip I’m taking this year. The impact of the travel bug is quite exponential.

With a newfound respect for remote culture and it’s perks, I do want to debunk some of the wrong impressions I’ve come across in regards to “working from home.”

I hate when someone responds to my revelation, “Oh, I need to go find me a remote job.” As if you’d simply take any old job you hate just because you can do it from home (although I’m sure there are those who would). As someone who’s been through some hellish work situations, my priority in job hunting was an atmosphere I could vibe with and a job that could provide me adequate challenge. As someone who used to be a “Weekend-Watcher,” one who wasted the majority of their life away anxiously anticipating the 2 days of freedom at the end of the week, it’s amazingly refreshing to no longer be in that mindset. I liked my job BEFORE it went remote. I just happened to be lucky enough to be on the ship when it took that direction. My mom sometimes asks, “Is your company hiring?” As if I’d ever admit to her that it was, lol. But it’s like the industry doesn’t matter to her. The position doesn’t seem to matter to her either or fact that the current abundant benefits she already has would be cut. She’s simply dazzled by the remote aspect. But she can’t do my job.

Which brings me to a more enraging pet peeve; the impression that because I’m working from home, my job is suddenly “easy” or not as challenging than if I’d had to go into the office to do it. Which is bullshit. Software support is not an easy job. The fact that sometimes I can run out of the shower with 5 minutes left to moisturize down before clocking in so I have to sit down and begin the work day topless and if there’s some sort of spyware lurking through my Mac’s webcam then Lord knows they’ve gotten quite a show is irrelevant. It doesn’t make the angry customers calling to complain any less angry because I’m in my house. It doesn’t mean the computer-illiterate need less hand-holding because I didn’t take the A train to help them. And it doesn’t make a poor communicator’s unintelligible explanation of their problem more clear because I have my Hylian Shield slippers on. Remote life simply means “non-conventional office.”

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Yeah, they’re real.

It’s not WRONG to assume I could just have friends over and throw parties while I’m working, because I COULD, but I’d rather not. It takes a certain kind of discipline to work from home and not stay glued to Netflix because it’s right there or be distracted by your cat or the laundry or the latest viral videos circulating on Facebook. My job in particular requires a certain amount of engagement and focus that I know will suffer if my best friend is here chit-chatting away at me about a nonsense situation that only she and will find funny. I mean, if it’s really slow, fine. But my role can get busy and when it’s really busy, I need absolute focus to juggle multiple chats, check in on a glitch that needs to be fixed, and answer the email from the irate woman who THINKS she’s chatting but is only emailing so she’s pissed that our response is not immediate. Exercising that discipline is essential in making sure your productivity doesn’t suffer.

If you don’t have focus, you’re probably not cut out for remote life. But if you are, it’s a great feeling proving that you can be trusted to get shit done without the micro-management of an office. A reward for being dependable. No more bathroom lines. An extra hour of sleep. Easier to incorporate a gym session on my lunch break. Saving money on transportation expenses, and from what I’m seeing in Internet news, MTA’s delays are only growing worse anyway.

As the end of my first remote year draws to a close, I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the benefit. And I plan to toddle my way into remote maturity while the world slowly improves their maturity in remote beliefs.

There’s a book about this. It’s called Remote: Office Not Required. It was our homework before the transition. And it’s a pretty good read. 🙂

~Tael

Waxing Experimental

Nope, I didn’t try a Brazilian. I’m not THAT fearless.

I did, however, attempt an ongoing wax-only regimen at the start of spring to those other places we ladies regularly shave: legs, underarms, bikini.

I’m not a stranger to leg-waxing. My best friend started me out way back in high school, on her kitchen floor, with my face jammed in a pillow to muffle the screams so no one would think I was being murdered behind closed doors. Since then, every summer I’ve returned to leg-waxing in my living room, convinced that I was reaping the benefits that come along with it, then gone back to shaving in the cooler months.

Only, if you do a quick Google search on Waxing vs Shaving and why one is better, you’ll find that you are cautioned not to mix methods and encouraged to leave it up to the professionals. The jillions of blog posts on the subject overwhelmingly agree that if you shave in between waxing, you’re erasing your waxing progress, and that the ONLY way to reap full benefits is to stick to a strict waxing schedule year-round, even in the winter when you’re not showing off your skin. Harsh, huh? Welp, I decided to drop the razor for awhile and try out some professionals while adhering to a schedule.

Fast forward to September. I’ve abandoned leg-waxing.

The benefits don’t outweigh the effort put in or the stress endured. A full-leg wax is the most expensive single body part order on any waxing menu, and it also takes the longest. It doesn’t seem like it’s possible to really get…ALL THE HAIR…Yes, I know about differing hair-growth cycles and how it takes a few sessions for them to catch up to one other in perfect alignment for a clean rip-off, but when you think about it, extracting every individual hair from one’s skin surface is a tall order, even for an experienced professional. Sure, I had one lady with an offer that if you discovered any missed hairs to come back within a week for a free touch-up, but who really wants to do that? No one ENJOYS this process. We just want it over with.

Another thing. You will find a general consensus that waxing lasts about a month. Yes, the wax does last longer than a shave, BUT, your hair also needs to be a certain length to be waxed again.

Week 1, you’re smooth.
Week 2, the hairs are growing back in, lighter and finer, yes, but they’re still there.
Week 3, oh they’re THERE and there’s nothing you can do about it because it’s too early for the next wax but it’s blazing hip-hop & RnB out there in the summertime so unless you’re covering up in pants or leggings and risking a heatstroke the regrowth remains exposed to the world. Lighter? Yes. But still there. I asked my bestie what do seasoned waxers do during this period. Her answer, “Pray no one notices, lol.”

Grrrrrr….

The last time I saw her, I observed her legs in the hair regrowth stage. After 10+ years of waxing, the hair growth is absolutely lighter and finer, but it’s still there. And going through a summer with halfway-hairy legs half of the time has not been an ideal experience for me, especially after sitting through an hour of rippage, coughing up a $125 bill each time, planning all your summer trips around your waxing schedule that you can’t break to shave, and hoping the guy across from you on the train can’t see your new growth under that florescent lighting.

I can’t live that life. Give me back my freedom of razor. I never had a problem with shaving. A Venus razor and shaving cream always gave me results that last a few days and no trouble with ingrowns. NO STRESS.

I WILL say that I IMMEDIATELY noticed a difference with underarm waxing and it changed my life. You barely notice the regrowth and even after 3 weeks you have to look closely to tell that it’s there. It also takes literally 5 minutes or less to wax and costs like $15. I will absolutely continue that, as well as bikini.

And I prefer this form of legwear anyway.

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Wackawackawackawackawackawackawackawackawacka.

~Tael