On Self-Deprecation


I am in a mood.

I’m gonna compose some letters. Not going to mail them, just let the words flow cathartic. I’ll print them on lovely stationary, then burn them, after I cross and cover names.

Yep. I’m in that kind of mood.

I’ll start my drafts here for your amusement. To accompany, a few of Dali’s beautiful heliogravures from his 1969 Alice in Wonderland series. Enjoy!

Down The Rabbit Hole, 1969

Dear Person Who Self-Deprecates When Attention Is Drawn To You:

Hi. I’m noticing what you’re doing and it’s annoying the hell out of me. First of all, you look old enough to be my mother, and that’s not an insult, that’s a demographic detail. Second of all, we’re in the same room together, about to face the same challenges. While I sit here in tune to what’s happening, you’re sitting behind me, disturbing the persons to your left and right, saying, “I hope [he] knows how stupid I am” and “They better have someone who knows what they’re doing with me.” Do you even understand that what you’re doing is completely self-absorbed? Your pretend self-flagellation is actually a form of grandstanding that you probably inherited from a lifetime of leeching off of the kindness and patience of others. Shut the fuck up you stupid leech; you’re here to do a job. If you feel you can’t handle it, there’s the door. We’ve got this covered.


The Chick Wondering How You And She Are The Same Pay Grade

Advice From a Caterpillar, 1969

Dear Person Who Self-Deprecates As A Form Of Emceeing:

Hi. You’re not a comic. If you were a comic, and this was a comedic venue, you’d so not be making me laugh. Self-deprecation is a source of humor only when you realize the joke is supposed to be on you. But if your job is to warm up the mic, try not to spend those moments between performers – who may be nervous or amped or prepared – to talk about how much of a talentless waste-of-space you are. When you do that, you diminish the starlight of the talent approaching the microphone after your sad tale. It’s like watching someone murder a puppy between sets: not only is it senseless, but it doesn’t fit the grand ideal of uplifting artists and showcasing their artistry. Get it together, or get another project.


The Chick Waiting For Her Turn On The Stage

Mad Tea Party, 1969

Dear Person Who Self-Deprecates In Order To Get My Personal Attention:

Hi. You done fucked up. I don’t do pity. I don’t do the pat on the backs and “there, there” acts. You’re phony and I smelled your phony the moment I saw your pinched shoulders and wavering eyes. You want to absorb my energy, I see it in your wringing hands. Are you actually telling me about your life problems without me even knowing you? Who am I, Barbara Walters? And don’t you DARE call me Oprah, or you will know my wrath. Get away. Grow up. Instead of coming to me about what you’re going to do, come to me about what you’ve already done, maybe then I can at least advise you. But your self-inflicted humility is not my charge, buddy. You’re an adult now. And if you’re an adult using lines like, “I can’t deal with adulting,” stay the hell away from me. I’ve got a life; get yours.


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Don’t Mistake My Listening To You For Caring About You

My disposition after another failed date.

The white webbing between his fingers stretched to transparency; his  knuckles, flattened into the hard flex.

His eyes were fishbowl large, his gaze, intense. The tightness around them signal extreme vulnerability, loneliness, fear of abandonment.

My eyes returned to his hands bracing his dinner plate. Pleading hands, but not for me.

For her.

For her to come back to him.

His meal is getting cold, but he hasn’t broke a beat yet. I smile a feint of solidarity.

Again with this shit??

Vishnu is laughing his blue ass off…

In the last few weeks, I’ve been on three dates; lady, guy, guy – 20s, 30s, over 55. And every. Single. One of them. All about the ex/maybe ex/whatever the situation. Mind you, the pretext was “we should hang out” “I want to get to know you better” “we haven’t had a chance to talk with everyone else around” so I was under the silly assumption that the date person wanted to, um, get to know me. Nope! Apparently I’m shaped as a dumping ground for relationship baggage, and here comes the frontloader with a hefty pile of bullshit.

I shouldn’t say that. It’s not bullshit. Each displayed sincere emotions towards the person that has “wronged” them. Unfortunately, I lack empathy, and while I know how to deploy it, I just don’t feel like exerting that level of energy on someone’s one-sided, unjustified boo hoo moment.

Girl date engaged me because I came off as strong and someone who can solve problems. One of the guys noted he could be himself around me. The other liked that I am an excellent listener.

Of course I’m an excellent listener. When you have representatives from the Department of Transportation sitting across from you explaining why a route expansion in a disenfranchised neighborhood would be a “difficult endeavor,” you become a skilled listener.

When a political profiteering group disguised as a non-profit organization pleads their case to earn a large grant that you’re tasked to distribute, you become a skilled listener.

When you’re eavesdropping on the two highest ranking officials operating a large campaign in your district, you become a skilled listener.

While I never will qualify to be a relationship expert, I seem to be an emotional intelligence expert. Every person who engages in a committed relationship with another person is going to experience emotional challenges. As the years progress, changes in values, ideology, philosophy will occur individually, and that may cause some fissures in the relationship. But once those values, ideals, etc. start veering away from the foundation of the relationship, well, it’s natural to feel you’re grasping for the ledge, as the fissures now widen to chasms, separating the two entities from each other, compromising the foundation to near collapse.

In other words, time influences commitment status.

Lemme dare to quantify it: for every 3 years into a commitment, vulnerability exponentiates by 2. So a committed relationship of 3 years won’t have so much of a vulnerability, but a relationship of 15 years would be heavy on emotional vulnerability.

Back to the dates…relationship length equals 3 years in, 6 years in, 14 years in, relatively. Me? Neither of them asked about my relationship status at all. And why would they? I could’ve been wearing a huge blood diamond on my left hand, dressed in a wedding gown, neither of them would’ve gave a shit. They were so into their problems, they didn’t realize there was an opportunity sitting across the table. A wee part of my insides bitched, this is so unfair.

The insecure person’s constant fonting is a popular method of clubbing the earfucked victim into submitting to pity sex. I don’t do handouts! So for each, the evening ended with their expression of appreciation for my listening, then a predictable offer I immediately refuse, followed by me going home, to my bed, alone…


I Love You, But…

I’m going to physically beat on you every night after I come home drunk, because I love you.

I love you so much, child, I going to let my boyfriend touch your private parts.

These are the extreme situations. This is NOT what I’m talking about.

Feeling like a captured unicorn.

I end every year with a reflective assessment of who I do genuinely love and who I’d rather not express love towards. Then I make a quiet offering to the Universe, and I contact every single person I genuinely love and let them know I love them before the clock strikes twelve.

Call me superstitious, but at this point in my life, if I don’t account for those few blessings, I just feel lost.

2013 ended strangely. I simultaneously gained appreciation from people I just started to know, and was blatantly disrespected by people who claimed to love me. It’s frustrating, really. I thought my attenuation of nonproductive behaviors would’ve been beneficial in these situations, but, alas, no.

Here’s the thing: I’m an emotionally intelligent, self-aware, multi-cultural individual. My curiosity drives what and who I engage with, and I proceed in life trying to have more fruitful engagements than redundant ones. More happy moments than dramatic moments. More friends then fucks.

I cannot lie to someone I’ve established a connection to. I cannot lie to someone I respect. In fact, it’s easy to catch me lying; I have a very expressive face, and the details are clefted and contorted, saving any verbal expression of what I’m really feeling. So instead of trying to adapt that behavior, I just don’t lie.

The problem with that is, the normals prefer functioning in a miasma of constant non-truth in order to feel fulfilled, and it seems those people are instantly drawn to me. It’s not something I induce; I’ve walked into rooms, reserved and observative, and people just glom on to me. Immediately I pay that person respect and a compliment while also trying to figure out the end game. Side effect of being a former bureaucrat; you just can’t believe someone thinks you have on a lovely dress unless they’re trying to get money or votes endorsements outta ya.

While these individuals are fun, charming, engaging, and very complimentary, they expect all of that back in return. Thus I spring the honesty on them. I’m emotionally indifferent. I’m not good at noticing things. I probably won’t be interested in that movie/book/performer. That doesn’t stop them, and to me it’s a relief, because, despite our differences, he or she finds me interesting, and I should honor that.

So we’re friends, we hang out, we collaborate artistically, time passes and the expressions ramp up to, ‘I’m so glad we met!’ ‘I love you so much!’ ‘What was I doing before we got together?’ All great compliments. My faith and my life experiences allow me to be open and giving, at the risk of being harmed, but I’d rather have those shining series of events then plan for failure.

Usually, 90 days into the blossoming connection, the ‘I love you, but…’ starts. The friendship/connection/love affair buckles under the weight of refrained concern. ‘You don’t compliment me enough.’ ‘How come you don’t like <enter a name>?’ and the all-time classic, ‘I can’t believe you did <something that occurred so long ago and didn’t seem like a relationship-crippling issue then, plus I’ve forgotten about it>!’

Where is this coming from? I wonder.

And that’s when it all comes streaming out. Everything this individual said they enjoyed about me, appreciated about me, is now detrimental to his or her ability to continue being connected to me. ‘You’re so confident and in control!’ turns into ‘You’re so cold and distant!’ ‘I love the way you carry yourself!’ turns into ‘You don’t care about me!’ ‘You’re such a talented artist!’ turns into ‘I can’t compete with you!’ And from there, forty-two specific points fleshed out in a never-ending critical analysis. I let him spout, because I know out of previous experience, this is the most dominion an insecure person can effect on another human being.

It’s my fault, really. Insecure, effeminate males and insecure, psychologically troubled females love to feed off me, and I let them. While I try to surround myself with talented, forward-thinking, entrepreneurial people, it’s the insecure ones whom blow the trumpet of dissonance loud and proud. And I have very sensitive ears. I coach myself through these I love you, buts by reminding their opinions of me are none of my business. If they express them, it’s because they need to feel empowered, and judgement is the only tool they have in the tool box. I don’t have the quantitative data, but I’ve been through so many of these relationships I can qualify thusly: the closer to zero instances of accountability over a population greater than four unrelated to the subject, the more likely the subject wields judgement as a defense mechanism.

Here’s my defense mechanism: I back away. The person is so invested in the drama he or she is attempting to dredge up between us, my presence is no longer valued. I’ve caused unhappiness by not liking the things they like. I’ve caused discord because I cannot connect with the people they insist I should engage with. I am not a good friend, because I’m not willing to sacrifice my comfort so he or she can feel special 24/7.

You knew this about me from Day One. Now it’s a problem, and I’m supposed to be accountable for all of it? No thank you.

Recent developments were so distracting, I lamented my frustration to a trusted friend. You know what he suggested I do? Lie. Tell white lies. Make people feel good about themselves, that’s all they want. I had to shake my head at him. I’d rather be the bearer of the ugly truth than dole out pretty little lies. Then you should be okay with being alone, he closed. Yeah, actually I am.

One of my tattoos sums my principle on social interaction: I’d rather be alone than miserable.