Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Shut Up and Let People Enjoy Things - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part - 10

Recently, the 10 bands meme swept through Facebook. If you missed it, it went something like this:
Ten bands I've seen and one of them is a lie:

1. Godsmack
2. Metric
3. Panic! At the Disco
4. Flogging Molly
5. Depeche Mode
6. Tina Turner
7. Joe Satriani
8. Muse
9. Tears for Fears
10. The Wind and the Wave
11. Foo Fighters

That is my list. I'm not going to give away the lie one so you'll either have to stalk my page to find out or try and guess again. I had fun with this because I got a chance to dig deep in my past and find musicians that sounded unlikely to give people a lot of guessing fodder.
I was actually surprised at how far-reaching this meme was. A lot of memes, I see going around in SCA circles is not terribly surprising if you think about it. Let's say I have 20, 30 or even 50 mutual friends with someone...They probably have a similar amount of mutual friends with other people though not the same, obvs as me. This really lends itself to the sharing of memes over. and Over. and OVer. and OVEr. AND OVER....ad nauseum. What was surprising to me is that other non-SCA friends shared this as well: my cousin in Indy, a friend from Toastmasters who only shares like 1-2 friends in common, and even people I've met only onc,e yet we friended each other because we were sharing a photo or something. This meme really made the rounds - so much so that it inspired counter-memes:

Apparently someone was so horked-off that they decided to make a meme that showed people just how annoyed they were rather than just siting silent and scrolling by.

Here's where my rant comes in...I read an article on this "Ten Bands" meme and *supposedly* the creator was tired of all the negativity on Facebook and made up this game to bring a bit of silliness and fun back to the social media site. Little did he know, it would actually spawn its own negativity.***

Why do people feel the need to ruin other people's fun just because they don't like the same things? Oh, I'm SO sorry that my post is causing you frustration. I'm sorry you cannot while (wile?) away the hours scrolling through inane crap, whines, memes and pictures of kittens without being forced to learn something about your Facebook friends. Friends is the operative word here, because clearly you don't actually care about what I have to say. You care more about asserting your opinion. Unfortunately for you, it's not called "[Yourfacehere]book". There are other faces out there besides yours.

Sadly, this is not just  a Facebook phenomenon, it happens in real life, too. When you say, "I like...X", there are certain people who, if within a 10 foot radius, will be quick to tell you how much they hate X. And it seems that the more inane and unimportant X is in the grand scheme of life-altering things, the more people feel OK in shit-talking it. Why?

Does spreading negativity toward someone or something make people feel better about themselves? Are they just jealous that the attention is not on them? Or do they really wish they liked the popular thing, but they just don't? Therefore, instead of just existing in their bubble of dislike, they want to make other people feel bad for liking it and maybe, hopefully, people will like it less? Is there also a difference between expressing your opinion and belittling someone about their opinion?

For instance, I really don't like Game of Thrones. I read all the books (out at the time) in college and each one progressively crushed my soul a little bit more. By the time the 4th one came out, I got about 1/3 of the way through it and things just kept getting darker and soul-crushing-er. I decided that I couldn't take any more torture and that no potential happy ending was worth this. So, I stopped reading. I did the same thing with The Sword of Truth, The Walking Dead, and The Wheel of Time series. They were all depressing, dark stories containing whiny characters who lived and awesome characters who died and all of them had no end in sight.

I also had found out that George R. R. Martin was kind of an arrogant asshole in person, so that sealed the fate of that storyline in my mind.

Then, Game of Thrones became a TV show, Walking Dead did as well, and they became HUGE. (The Sword of Truth was apparently also turned into a show or mini series in 2008 but it wasn't really popular and I can't talk about if it was actually any good but the rating on IMDB are middling).  Now, if you get me in a ranty mood, or if you try to convince me that these stories are quality literature or that the author is actually a genius, I will more than happily expound to you the reasons why you're wrong.

I really do not understand why people find these stories so great. How has GoT become SO popular that people all over the world are downloading episodes illegally and spoilers listed on websites receive completely trolly responses?  I do feel bad, I want to like GoT and Walking Dead. I tried...sooo hard...I watched the first season of GoT and WD. But, in the end, I just don't like it. That doesn't mean that I don't keep up with the storyline (yeah, I totally read the spoilers).

It also doesn't mean that I am going to go tell all you GoT fans that you suck or shit on GoT every time you talk about it. It does, however, mean that if you come up to me and want to talk about the latest exciting/traumatic/horrifying thing that you saw on the show, I won't be able to be as excited/traumatized/horrified as you. So if that's what you're looking for, it's probably best that you look elsewhere. I'm still happy to listen, however, and will nod politely because you're my friend and your emotional state is at least marginally important to me.

Also, I made this card for my boss's birthday that contained a bunch of GoT puns.

I also made this HI-Larious door stop:

Still don't like GoT. But, I've decided to play along. When I don't feel like talking about it, then I'm happy to ignore it and let my friends go about fangirling/fanboi-ing about it on FB.

I know sometimes your friend feed can get overwhelmed with the meme-du-jour (that "Xth photo on your phone" meme, just won't die) but it doesn't hurt you to keep scrolling. If a certain friend posts every meme out there and you don't want to see posts by that person anymore, you can also unfollow them...they won't even know it! But the last thing you should do (unless they are being openly offensive) is to troll their post with the above Batman meme or some other sarcastic, under-handed, passive aggressive post. Even if they are being offensive, posting a constructive counter comment on the post might open up a good debate/dialogue. (It may also lead to a flame war, but if that were the case, why are you friends with that person?!).

Also, please take things into context. Is it an inane bands-list meme that is annoying you or a friends love of sexist jokes? You can probably ignore the former, where you may want to stand up to the latter. If you are really that unsatisfied with life that little things like a polluted Facebook feed get you riled up, maybe you should go on more walks. Or get more hobbies. Or, you know, take a break from social media.

I generally try to encourage the positive posts on my wall by liking, loving, or commenting on them. It seems that by a natural course of doing that, the people that post negative things or things that I'm not interested in, seem to fade into the background. Also, I do find that people get encouraged by posts that have more comments and likes and try to replicate those posts in the future.

Which is good when they are writing about being happy, enjoying themselves, or loving life.

I am more than happy to continue encouraging that or, in times of annoyance in my own life, ignoring those irritating posts and trying to figure out how to make myself less annoyed. And, honestly, I feel that if people focused a bit more on figuring out why they feel the way they do rather than blaming their feelings on others, 1. the world would be happier in general 2. positivity would become viral.
This pic is from the Books of Adam. Unfortunately, I can't find the actual comic 'cept on FB, tho I do see his art appearing around the 'net.  He's pretty creative and entertaining. Check out his blog (tho not updated), Twitter, and Facebook!

***One other argument that told people NOT to do this was that this post may become part of a data-mining project but all info on face space is probably mined anyway and if a person is choosing security questions for their checking account, I would hope that they'd pick harder or more secret information anyway).

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Cost of Being a Woman (Hair Edition) - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 9

Tonight, I just got back from getting my hairs did**. See.....?
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It looks great...I know! I am in love with my hair stylist in every possible way. Even though I have done it myself, I prefer to go to a professional for my hairs for the following reasons: 

1. I suck at it.
I'm artsy but not coordinated.  I can't envision color very well and reaching each part of my head is equally different and frustrating in its own unique way. I'm also not Linda Blair: I can't see the back of my head. And I have no idea how to "lift" effectively and evenly. I also am very swayed by marketing so every brand becomes the best brand based on the convincing wording. 

2. It's messy as fuuuuu. 
It seems like no matter how careful you are, you ALWAYS end up with color everywhere - your face, your clothes, your nails, the sink, the counter, anything on the counter, the bathtub, the shower curtain, the floor, your cat, your dog (yes I've had color all these places). 

3. It's toxic as tits.
It seems to take days for the smell of some OTC hairdyes to get out of the air (and all the places you got dye from #2). 

4. I don't have the right tools.
Everytime I go into Sally's with the goal of buying hair dye accouterments, I end up coming out with makeup, face masks, and gemmy barrettes. 

5. It takes FUR-EVAR
I mean, it's pretty much an entire evening to setup, dye, clean up, shower, clean the shower and clean the cat. Not to mention the time it takes to actually go to a store and buy dye. I aqin't got that kind of time.

6. I'm afraid I will burn my hair off.
See #1. Plus chemicals. 

7. It's a major pain in the ass
Usually after a few attempts of unsatisfactory self-done color, I end up going to a salon anyway. Then it takes them twice as long to remove the crap I put into it when I didn't know what I was doing. 

On the way home, I got to thinking about my life-long great hair journey...

The name for this post was incredibly intentional. In using the term "cost" versus "price", I am attempting to emphasize that I am looking at more than just a monetary amount. I am referring to (one of) the financial detriment of being a woman ("pink-washing" apparently) and wanting to have great hair. 

First of all, before I talk about my own personal experience, let me present to you some "raw" data. I did a search for "hair salons" around my area in Thornton. Here are the results of 4 "top picks":

#1: The Station (Click for link)

Women's Cut.......$20

Men's Cut.......$15
Child's Cut.......$12
Color & Cut......$60

In looking through these pricing lists, you probably noticed that 3 of 4 have a common theme for haircuts - Women's haircuts are more expensive than men's. The last place doesn't list men's vs. women's (though, as it's a spa, you can tell that it is likely targeting mostly women), however it does list the difference between "stylist", "master", & "owner". 

Let me rant a bit about that. At Zandi, I can pay a lot ($30) for someone who is "fine", too much ($45) for someone who is better, or a ridiculous amount ($60) for someone who happened to have the foresight to buy a franchise. Ooh yay....! I can just imagine the conversation at the front desk;
Me: "Hi, I'd like your most mediocre stylist today." 
Salon: "OK, this is Blanca, she's been cutting hair for $20 years but never took the certification to become a master." 
Me: "I love Blanca!" (Tries to return next month) 
Salon: "Oh, Blanca took the certification test and has worked here 2 years, she's a master now."
Me: ".............................."
Or (I've had both of these experiences)

Salon: "This is Lacy, she just graduated from beauty school yesterday, but she's adorable, bubbly, and has nice tits. Hopefully she can make your hair look as good as she makes our shop look."
Stylist: "...Ooops, you wanted bangs, right?"
Me: "What?! No! I just wanted some layers!" 
Image result for squinty glare

Of the other 3, Tangles is the most reasonably-priced with only a $5 difference. What I don't understand here, is why are adult haircuts more expensive than children's? If anything, kids haircuts should be more because children are impossible to keep still! Maybe they're just operating under the assumption that  kid won't care if their hair is imperfect.... 

Platinum, which sounds the most expensive, is next in line with a $28 "Haircut" and a $25 "Men's Custom Cut". Talk about that wording! Why the hell do men get a special shoutout for a "Custom Cut" when women just get a "Haircut"? Is it inferring that if a man wanted a "generic" haircut he would have to pay $3 more.....? Doubtful. Many guys I know have 2-3 instructions and get the same haircut every time for their lives (see: my dad). Women are more often to try and change it up in sometimes very subtle ways.  Sometimes we don't even know what we want (imagine that! *sarcastic face*) until we chat with our stylist. (Note: these are just generalizations and when I say "women" I'm mostly referring to the "me, myself, and I" of this story).

The last salon that differentiates gender-priced haircuts is "The Station". To be honest, this is the place that sounds the most low-class. I feel like it should be a strip club, dispensary, or office-bathroom-products supply store....Maybe because I've seen the 1st two establishments named thusly and the last one...well that's just ridiculosity! Anyway....a $20 difference?! Are men's and women's haircuts so different that it warrants a $20? 

Let me be plain, I've seen many dudes with my type of haircut - hipsters, yippies, young professionals, gay guys, straight guys, metrosexual guys....even androgynous people. Yet, I would have to pay $20 more than a high-maintenance hipster dude who (also) uses a blow dryer and 5 products to style his hair? Out-freaking-rageous! Additionally weird is that if I had curly hair, as a girl I would actually not pay a higher price, yet a curly-haired guy would pay $5 more. Most curly guys I know generally keep their hair SUPER short for the stereotypically, guyly low-maintenance routine. Is this is a new form of discrimination (Maybe we should call it "hair-ist")? 

Maybe the rationale is that a woman's cut takes more time (because she has more hair), however, that's not true either. I have had my same haircut take 20 minutes or almost an hour. I feel that this largely depends on the stylist. Now, I suppose if you had 3 gallons of hair and wanted a million layers, then it may take longer, but in that case maybe just add a surcharge for time or sheer volume. 

Maybe they think that since men need a haircut every 3-6 weeks, they should get a price break b/c they come in so often. Versus women who get their hair cut every 2-4 months. Again, I usually go anywhere from 4-6 weeks between cuts (8 if I'm becoming slovenly).  That means that I just can't afford $50/mo. That's between $500-600/year or a plane ticket. Nope, nope, and nope...there is just no rationale to keep men's and women's haircuts separate.

Next, let's talk color. Here where I can see the difference in price based on how much hair you have (and thus how much product you'll use) and how complicated you want your color. Ombre on butt-length hair will definitely take more steps, more product, and more time than highlights on a pixie.  However, all of the above pricing structures don't take one important thing into account. The "starting at" price is not for short hair. Trust me, I have A LOT of experience calling places like the aboves and saying:

- "Hey, I just want 4 foils."
- "Well, our partial highlights start at $60".

What. The. Actual. Fuck. For 4 (count 'em) FOUR foils, you want to charge me for a partial highlight? Fuck off. At The Station, if you wanted to change your dirty blonde hair to red with bleach-blonde highlights, you will likely end up paying over $200 to start. How is it even ethically acceptable to charge that much? 

One other thing I noticed is that at Tangles, a cut is $15 with a color, but with a color & highlight, a cut is $20? What the shit?

Now that I have gotten you acceptably outraged, wanna know my secret? 




Wow, I could almost feel the gender-specific reactions through the Interwebs. (Again, generalizations are for emphasis). 

Most guys are probably like: "Heck yeah! $15 haircuts and $2 off coupons!"
Women, on the other hand, probably just shuddered and thought quietly, "I hope she doesn't ask for something too complicated." or "I went there once and they did a bad job". 

It definitely seems like much of society holds the impression that chain salons like Cost Cutters or Great Clips hire sub-par stylists, beauty school dropouts, or those that don't have any ambition to improve their skills. Some might even think that the only people who go to these places are dudes who want clipper cuts, children, or little grannies to get their hair set. If any "normal" person did have to stoop this low, they probably only needed a supes-basic trim or cut.

Well, lemme tell ya, I've had several good experiences at these types of places and here is why (honestly, these tips would work at any salon). 

1. I take a look at the people doing the hair. If they have good hair, fun hair, or a friendly personality they will likely know what they're doing and be willing to listen to you. 

2. Be specific for your first time. Bring in pictures, explain what you want/don't want. Tell them if you have cowlicks, or how you like to part your hair. Tell them what you've tried in the past that's worked or not worked. And if you don't know what you want, look at books and ask their opinion. If they tell you things that you like hearing, you're probably good. 

3. Pay attention to their reactions*. If they actually let you get through your lengthy description, providing input only on how they would achieve your desired result that's good. If they say "we'll figure it out as we go along," or "no, you don't want that, but I know what you do want." In this case, make like Flock of Seagulls and RUN so far away.

*This is a very important one. 

4. Don't worry about a shampoo or style. Plan ahead and wash your hair. If you're going somewhere after, usually if you mention that, they'll throw some product in it or blow dry it a bit w/o charge. And if you really want these services, you can pay a reasonable amount extra.

5. Hair grows back. For anything short of a Brittney-moment, It's unlikely that you'll have such a catastrophic fail at a salon. You usually can either fix it or wait for it to grow out. It's not like you're getting an eyelid tattoo of a swastika. And even for Brittney-caliber fails, they make wigs and hats. 

Now, here's my story: 
In 2014, my hairdresser decided that she hated me so I had to look elsewhere. 

I chose a punky, upscale, Boulder salon, Voodoo Salon, that I'd gotten a great style from for A&H's wedding a year before. All their stylists looked straight out of a rockabilly band. They charged $60 for a hair cut but they gave you a free glass of wine or a beer. Sadly, the woman who had given me the hair cut had either left or was booked up for 2 months. The closest opening was 2 weeks away. 

The stylist I ended up with was a guy who rushed me through the description of what I wanted and didn't even bother looking at the pix I'd brought as he was setting up his station. I said "I want to go short, but I'm nervous to go too short. Can you cut conservatively at first and then continue to trim down as necessary?" And he actually said to me, "Well, I can adjust it some, but I'm not, like [sic], gonna give you a second hair cut." I should've walked out right then. But I didn't.

I thought he knew what he was doing so I trusted him with my hair life. He didn't. This hair cut took almost an hour, somehow turned into almost $80 w/ tax & tip, seemed barely shorter than it was initially, and had been styled in a way that didn't complement any of my features. I actually left the salon feeling worse about myself than I had when I went in. I cried on the walk back to my car. I swore off expensive hair. The price may have been $80 but the toll on my wellbeing for feeling belittled, ripped off, an unattractive was as a Citibank commercial: Priceless (and not in the good way). 

I swore off high-end stylists forever. I decided that if I was going to feel mediocre to bad about myself after a haircut, I should at least save a lot of that money for consolation booze afterward. That was when I went to Cost Cutters and found Ashley. She is a bit (~10ish years) older than me, and has been doing hair for years. She has funky, partially colored hair, sleeve tattoos, dark makeup, boots, and black clothes. She talks fast, faster than me, and she's one of the biggest proponents of "girl power" that I've ever seen. She listens to my style, isn't afraid to take risks, has fun suggestions and takes my suggestions and adjustments seriously. She also recognizes that my hair is short and takes very little product so that she doesn't gouge me.  

She also recommends me addictive clothing websites, interesting TED talks, fascinating books and is in a band. She also says great things like, "Yeah, I don't want to work at a high-end salon. 1. I don't want to deal with the people in those places and 2. I want everyone to have good hair. Not just rich people." And, it's not just her. At least 2 of the other have followings and their own style and specialties. They both have also been cutting hair for many, many years (though I'm loyal to Ashley). 

Even if the haircut sometimes goes a slightly different direction than I want, I know I can adapt it for the next time. And regardless, I always leave feeling powerful, gorgeous, and (most importantly) as me. Not some poser, not someone else, not what the stylist thought I should be but me. And it's a "me" with just a bit less money in my pocket, who can still make her car payment and buy food. 

And ultimately, that is the most important thing, isn't it? 

 **The hairstyle above has 3 colors, a cut and a style. I also bought 2 products (BOGO 50% off). My whole total, with tip, was $101.00.  Suck it The Station, Zandi, Tangles, and Platinum.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Tell Me I'm Pretty - the Saga of Lyndsie - Part 8

All right, I'll admit it, I want to feel pretty. I want to be pretty. I want people, strangers, friends, and lovers to tell me I'm pretty.  Whew...I feel  like I have just made a huge confession.

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Recently, a friend posted an article on women's negative experience in being "pretty". These involved having their boobs grabbed w/o permission, not being taken seriously, having people think you're dumb, etc...My friend's comment started off with "To me, pretty is a dirty word. I am more than just pretty..." and then went about explaining all the things she was instead/in addition. Unfortunately, I cannot find the post now, and she put it more eloquently than I can but she included stuff like, "I am drinking all the tea. I am a mess while crying on your shoulder."

On many levels, I agree with all her statements. As a woman, a human, I am a lot of things. Some of those things have to do with my gender (yes, I am frequently more emotional on my period) and other of those things just have to do with me being human (I love animals). As a feminist, I want to also assert that my looks have nothing to do with who I am and that I am not trying to look good for anyone but myself. At least, that is what some modern feminism seems to want me to think.

The reality of it is this, yes, I want to look pretty for people. I want to look sexy for my partners and classy for my friends. I want my grandmother and aunts to be proud of my professionalism and my coworkers to respect me because of the way I dress and look. However, I feel bad for wanting to be pretty. I feel bad for men, who are now being taught (whether directly or indirectly) that they can't compliment a woman on her looks. I think the point here, is being missed.

Yes, for sure, definitely, that should not be the ONLY worth of a woman. It should not be anything that you base a relationship solely on. But, I think we need to be honest with ourselves and each other - looks are the first thing you know about a person if you meet them face-to-face. You know this about them before they ever open their mouth or do anything. And unless you knew them/of them before you met them, this is the only thing you know. Does that give you a right to instantly judge them? No. But do you anyway? Probably.

One of my friends is a big, body-builder type with a buzz cut. I met him in Toastmasters. The first time he got in front of the group to do a short Table Topic speech, I did not expect what would come out of his mouth. I did not expect him to be so eloquent, so charismatic, so intelligent. This was me judging him based on his looks. Now, do I still think he is not those things I stated above? Absolutely not.

THAT is the point that I think we really need to get to. We shouldn't completely write off looks. We shouldn't shame people for wanting to look good for other people. Even implying shame, is not really a great step. What I think we should do instead is to recognize that  looking pretty is not JUST for other people, it is for yourself as well. When I know I look good, it makes me feel good, too. Then, we need teach people that those judgement we make about people based on their looks NEED to change and evolve as we get to know those people. AND we need to actually get to know people, even if our first impression of them (physically) is a certain way.

Don't assume that all pretty girls are conceited. Don't assume all big, beefy guys are stupid. Don't assume that ugly people have no personality. Put stock into looks, but only superficially because, as it stands - that what looks really are. Superficial.

They are a part of you, just as every part so we should embrace them.

We should embrace every other part as well, physical and spiritual.

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Domenick Bellia: One Who Really. Lived. - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 7

When did all my friends get so old? (And I'm not talking about the lovely couple above. I will get to them in a minute). First, though, here I am in my early 30's am wondering why I'm all of a sudden hanging out with so many old people. People who are cancelling on beer outings, late-night dancing, house parties. People can't have more than two drinks because they won't be staying at a place long enough to sober up. And spending all night getting drunk...?....for-get it!...Now, OK, sometimes these people include me, so I suppose that I am part of this....problem.

Or is it a problem? Change is inevitable and as you get older, you do gain a certain knowledge and understanding of yourself and the world around you. What is the problem then?

People have started complaining that they're old and can't do shit. "I'm old, so I can't stay up past 9." Or "I'm old, so I can only drink 1/2 a shot of vodka on a Saturday night." or "I'm old, my body won't let me dance all night." Excuse me, but...No, sir or madam, You. Are. Not. Old. You are, like, in your 30s and 30 is the new 20 or some such nonsense like that.  And if you're old, then I'm old. My family doesn't get old...they age like whiskey.

You know what, if you act like you're old, then fine....you'll be old.

Many times, I think people do this because they think they have to. They think that now that they're an adult, they have to stop having fun. And sure people do have life responsibilities: kids, jobs, houses, bills, taxes, yelling at the utility company, "obligations". But does that mean that you can't play video games on your off-time? Or share a bottle of wine (or 3) with good friends? Or do something small and spontaneous, staying up talking till 2am? No.....

It doesn't matter what your physical age is..so what, you're 35, 40...50 etc. Who says you have to act old? Get over your shit and just have fun! I suppose if fun for you is going home and parking your in front of QVC, with a cat on your lap...then fine...just don't tell me that you do it because you're old. Be honest that you love it and watch the shit out of QVC.  Pet the shit out of your cat.

People say that adulting sucks for all the reasons that I list above and lately, I've been hearing people wishing they could go back to being a toddler or a teenager. I mean, sure, bills, and jobs, and actually dealing with your problems are definitely some speed humps in the road of adult life, but let's just think about this a second.

Image result for boss baby
I originally used the search terms "adult baby", but the results were too horrifying to post here.




Pre-teen: "I'm mad and I don't know why. Oh wait...I do know why. Oh wait...maybe I don't. I wonder if Jimmy likes me? Dammit I'm so hungry all of a sudden! I'M STILL MAD! (still no one is listening to me)."

Teenager: "I'm mad and I mostly know why but I'm too lazy or stubborn to try and figure out the root cause and solve it. And even if I try to solve my problems, I can only solve some  problems, and the other solutions are just slightly out of my reach. Damn adults are keeping me from solving those problems (and they still won't listen to me)."

College student: "I'm mad but mom and dad can solve every problem. Wait, what? I'm graduating soon? I have to get my own insurance? You mean, I have to actually sell myself to a company so I can make money? Wait..wait...you mean that money you used to pay for my college...I have to give it BACK now?! At least adults kinda listen to me, though they still think I'm a punk kid...."

Adult: "I'm mad and I can logically figure out why. I can then actively pursue a myriad of solutions in a wide range of fields and if one doesn't work, I can try another. This is because i have a job and make my own money. I have a credit card and a car. I also have a moderate to high degree of control over my schedule. And hey, if none of that shit works, I can always drink my problems away. Also, if I want to buy a collector's set of novelty precious metal spinning tops, I DAMN WELL CAN, BITCHES. AH WERK HAARD FER MAH MONIES!"

Ok, I admit that I am over-simplifying things it jussssst a little bit and there are some overlapping problems that one could face in any stage of their life, but for me, this is how I see it. The bottom line is that being an adult sure as hell beats being a baby. Why? Because, you can....REALLY. Live.

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Let me tell you about one person I knew who really. lived. My uncle, Domenick Bellia passed away last week (I am currently at a hotel getting ready to attend his funeral this week). He had battled cancers for 10 long years, the first 5 of those being in "remission" and the last 5 having it return full-force. Uncle Dom really loved life. When describing him, I always called him, in the most endearing way possible, "my drinking-est, smoking-est, swearing-est, uncle".

I remember on more than one occasion, during drunken after-wedding revelry, that he would somehow convince me (the out-of-towner) to buy the entire bar (which, at whatever late hour it was - 11pm or 2am - depending on the town, consisted mostly of my extended family + friends) a round of shots. Some of his shot choices were highly questionable....one particularly gnarly one was the peanut butter and jelly shot. Ugh...I still have flashback taste memories of that shot. Doesn't help that I just absolutely HATE amaretto. *shiver*.

I have to say, my head and my bank account didn't particularly like me for those decisions. but they did make great stories. My best memories of Uncle Dom involved partying, including sitting out front of our motel rooms with my parents and my uncle and Aunt Ellen in San Francisco, drinking flasks of whiskey in the sun. Or, hanging out in my grandma's living room, drinking G&T's that my uncle made - which were definitely much heavier on the G!

I remember my wedding, which I try not to talk about too much, because we all saw where that went, however, it was one of the best gatherings of my family that I could ever possibly ask for. Other cousin's weddings, too, where so many happy memories of the whole family come from - Memories where even the more "conservative" partyers, just went crazy. Most of them were egged on by Dom. Or my mom. Or me. Or his kids. But only because we were usually egged on by Dom first.

There were conga lines and bottomless Bloody Marys. seafood feasts and inappropriate jokes....

The caption on this one, from my aunt's Facebook, says "We never have ANY fun at weddings!"

He was always smiling. You could tell, even in the pictures of his final days, he was still enjoying life. He loved his family, and they loved him. I haven't been around during in the last few year, travel to the East has gotten harder with time off, personal life drama, lack of funds, and home ownership...However, I will never forget the last time I saw him 4 years ago. We were reunited, interestingly, for another sad time but for all the sads and tears, he was still there. We, all of us, bonded again as a family - this time at a bottomless Bloody Mary and Mimosa brunch (go figure). It was perfect.

The last time we talked on the phone was New Year's Eve. I happened to call my parents, not realizing they were at teh Bellia's. I got to talk to Dom, even then he warned me not to party too hard (I may or may not have already been a little drunk). I warned him of the same, and with his characteristic chuckle he said, "Don't worry. I never do. Not too hard, anyway." I kind of figured that when I said goodbye to him then, it may be the last time I got to talk to him...

Even then and from the pictures posted of him over Facebook, I could tell he was still laughing, joking, and smiling. My uncle Dom was younger than my parents when he passed away, but no one could tell you that any of those years had been wasted. Most of use, we always hope we can have more time, some of us do this because we are afraid of dying. Others, love living. And those people, they don't always want more time, they want the best they can have in the time they're given. My uncle was one of the latter.

I hope I can learn a lesson or two from my uncle. I hope I can continue to Really. Live. until my time comes. I hope I can egg people on to bring out their crazy, silly, boistrous (and maybe even drunken) selves, like he did. I mean, if I can even gain half the charisma that he had, I will be doing good enough. I know that through this whole ordeal, he would want, no expect, his family to be #belliastrong.

Uncle, I will miss you dearly, but I won't let you down.

**I wish I had more pictures available, but I don't store pix on my computer and my facebook (and apparently most of my relatives') are a disorganized mess. Also, it's 2am. So, thanks to my Aunt Ellen, who's Facebook page I stole these all from!**