I have written both music, and advice columns that covered a wide variety of topics, such as: relationships, communication, lifestyle, business, and life (coaching)
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Illustration by Jim Cooke
How do we feel about sex?
Based on my experience of pop culture, television, music, literature, movies, and so on everybody seems to want to talk about sex all of time, but we’re timid and unsure of ourselves, and of the conversation. I don’t think most of us really know how to feel about being open about sex, and I think we’ve, kind of, tiptoed towards the topic in different directions hoping that somebody else will bring it up so that we might have a reason to talk about sex.
It seems that most of us have found a place somewhere in our minds and our homes where we can allow ourselves to be open about sex--at least to a degree--a lot of people still have trouble sharing their likes and dislikes even to those that they are the most intimate with, and I think that-that is, in part, because we still do not know how to feel about sex; people behave as if sex were this occult vice that we candidly pretend to ignore, like the weird little dances we do or yelling at the TV screen when Jeopardy is on or when the LDS drink hot coffee, behind closed doors in the privacy of our homes.
I think that the way that we have popularized sex, in society, is an example of our lack of comfort surrounding sex, and I think Gender Norms are a big (I.E.) bullet point under that heading. The way that we have been conditioned to believe how men and women talk to each other about sex and how sexuality has developed commercially, there is an underlying systemic idea about how men talk to other men, and about how women talk to other women about their sex lives, and how we are supposed to be talking about our sex lives.
It is important to acknowledge, also, in any discussion about sex and sexuality that there is nothing inherently sexual about the human body, wearing clothing that shows skin does not warrant or demand attention, that is completely nonsensical. That is a manipulated justification that has been fabricated to rationalize abhorrent unwanted and dangerous attention. Women, as a primary concern, are not sexualizing themselves, women are being sexualized. Any confusion that might exist only exists because society, on the heels of the porn industry, has spent decades creating and normalizing the concept of sexuality; sex is a human condition, sexuality is entirely man-made.
The idea, I think, is that sex is what the porn industry—as well as other “sex sells” industries: Hollywood, Fashion, etc.--have decided that it is, and the general public has, kind of, accepted it, and then taken the loss. We talk about sex suggestively, with innuendos scattered laxly throughout popular culture…sex exists in every aspect of our culture except publicly. It isn’t likely that you will pick up a book, watch a TV show or a movie, listen to a song, etc., without running into a sexually suggestive, angst riddled reference that we all get and quietly enjoy, but rarely ever reveal. We all still, kind of, secretly yearn for someone to bring it up just so that we feel like we can talk about sex in the elegant, idealistic way that sex merits.
Still, we want to be able to talk about sex without feeling like we are social deviants or are being led cabalistic into the contradictive bowels of perdition, but how do we do that? People really want to feel like they can comfortably talk about sex outside of the deeply rooted contextually aroused abyss that is the porn industry.
Just like any fear or doubt that you have the only way to face it or to feel comfortable with it is to confront it. Sex is not the sloppy, three-way, wet, fish-eye, point-of-view crap that some might want you to believe that it is; sex is, however, exactly whatever you and your partner want it to be.
I’m pretty open about my interests with my partners, and I have been open to experiencing different things although I really don’t over-complicate sex: I don’t have animated or cosplay type fantasies, I don’t need to perform in drawn out over-dramatized personal Rom/Sit-Com’s; your interests, curiosities, likes, dislikes they can be vanilla or dramatic it doesn’t matter, you do not have to have a series of imaginative fantasies to talk about sex, you just need to understand that it is not wrong or immoral, it does not make you a deviant or sinful as long as you are respectful and understanding, and you acknowledge the conceptual and regardful difference between sex and commercial sexualization, but it is important to talk about sex, and to feel comfortable talking about sex, even if you need to oversimplify the act with “Flowers & Watering Cans.”
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Health care is complicated, we’ve heard both Obama and Trump express these truths in their own elegant ways, at different times. We have to stop trying to model healthcare off of an outdated, unworkable template. You can’t just tweak a sentence here or there—it’s the same reason our education system is in steady decline--we’re not actually trying to reform or even evaluate the problems, we’re just kind of putting unstained wallpaper over another slightly worn layer of moderately aged wallpaper that we have marginally refreshed every eight years or so since the 1930’s. And the system doesn’t work. So there are some people trying to create an intellectual model based on socially progressive countries all of which are a third (or more) the size of the United States, which also cannot work if for no reason other than the sheer size of our country.
But because our representatives are not willing to actually look at the problem—because looking at the real problem would mean objectively cutting corporate special interest groups and big pharma profits—they are not, in actuality, preparing to reform anything; revising our current healthcare system is fundamentally absurd because designing, and maintaining such a large socialist program that also puts billions of dollars into the pockets of insurance and pharmaceutical companies while simultaneously helping hundreds of millions of American citizens manage a decent standard of living is systematically impossible, and yet that’s the template that we continue to base our healthcare system on. The question of “reform” then becomes, “Who are we going to cut?” either people are going to pay or people are going to get cut, when we start with our current healthcare system as the template the only resounding question is who and/or what gets cut. Health insurance requires a pot of money for everyone to dip their hands into, and if we want to cover everything for everybody you’re going to pay a little more or people are going to lose either their insurance or their healthcare.
A large number of people will recognize that someone having little to no healthcare is a global problem, they might argue that “it is our responsibility to care for those that are not capable of caring for themselves,” while another large fragment of people might maintain the illusion that the American Dream is somehow Randian centric, in its entirety (This is a clause word, it implies that Randian philosophies are contextually applicable) –which is quite simply the equivalent of lacking empathy, and compassion—and these people have, essentially, lost their humanity or, and maybe more appropriately, political dissonance has become more important to them than their humanity. However, either purview is afforded with the standard that affordable healthcare requires medical insurance. And that is ingenuously untrue.
There are no clauses that we can add or remove and there is no amount of reform that will appeal to our humanity, at least to the degree in which our society, as a whole, is willing to accept. So, we have to start from scratch; our government and the American people have no choice but to completely, and unconditionally reinvent our entire healthcare system.
Fortunately, it really isn’t that complicated; the only problem is that insurance and pharmaceutical companies stand to lose, well...everything. Autonomous healthcare: we privatize healthcare. Completely. Our government has been attempting to reform healthcare based on the concept that health insurance is the foundation from which to build, that does not work. We need a system where medical professionals have to compete for our business. Let me say that again: Doctors would be competing for the benefit of the sick. This is the foundation from which we need to develop our healthcare system. The A.C.A, the A.H.C.A., and the Better Care Reconciliation Act do not work because they were all developed from the foundations of a system that disregards the needs of people.
With that said, it is importance to recognize that Universal Healthcare is an unrealistic concept for The United States of America. Our government is too big, too corrupt, and too conditioned to draft such an idea. First and foremost we have to “repeal and Replace” health insurance companies and to start anew, with the impression of capitalism. The most affordable healthcare for those who need it the most will only come by it when healthcare is owned and operated by medical professionals, not insurance companies or politicians. We can complain about it and we can “Repeal and Replace” our healthcare every four years until the American people lose whatever lingering trust we have for our crippled government, but until we recognize, as Americans, that we have forfeited our democracy for apathy ‘they’ll’ get better-and-better at signing, drawing, labeling our emblematic body casts.
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There are a number of issues that present themselves pretty aggressively every now and again when triggered by an event or a happening, these issues, depending on our own personal experiences with them, affect us a great deal, and yet time always seems to numb the impact and the influence that they have on those less experienced, and the issue fades away until another, similar, event again triggers the response.
We all know of the phenomena I’m referring to, and although many of us tire of the banter that rises up, the static that always interrupts the conversation (and the policy) that never seems to happen we need to recognize the necessity of these conversations. It’s become so consistently, and loudly disregarded that many people are tired of the noise, but not because the issue in-and-of-itself is not important to them but because the noise is so deafening; again, it has got to be time to address these issues. But we have to understand too what it means to “have the conversation,” because many people—those that are resolute in their resounding sameness or helplessly afraid of change—do not understand what it is that the rest of us are trying to say, well maybe not necessarily what we’re trying to say but how we’re trying to say it.
The people on the both sides of any issue tend to be loud, and the word revolution can be tossed around a good bit; I do think that it is important to recognize that how loudly one supports ones issues is not a reflection of social permanence, for example the LGBTQ community and the issue of same sex marriage tends to be a topic that is loudly discussed, but those of you who may not understand: any movement that has, and continues to gain traction needs a spark of immense light that will become a flame that will continue to burn, that does not mean that-that flame will burn with a ferocious heat forever, it just needed something to ignite it so that it might continue to burn with the same social unanimity as the rest. An issue has to be bright enough or loud enough to disrupt our circadian routines long enough for us to refine our foundations.
This post, however, is not directed entirely towards the LGBTQ community, or is it targeting Gun Control (which has been another important issue with social inconsistent ripples), no I’m using this time to bring to light our stigmas of mental health, and most notably: Depression.
Depression still harbors stigmas of fear and doubt and disbelief. We still have a hard time, as a society, recognizing things that we cannot see and that influence our daily lives in a way that challenge our behavioral constitutions. I have suffered from depression my entire life, I didn’t begin to understand it until I left home, for the first time, and challenged myself to start my life, as an adult, in a place that was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. And, until then, I didn’t know that my father had also suffered his entire life from depression, and my sister was going through similar transitions as me. My dad spent several years in therapy and adapting to a medication that would eventually change his life, while my sister would spend the next several years on a cocktail of medications that would ultimately take years and years for her to perfect and to accept. I would spend the next few years on-and-off a handful of different meds and multiple therapists and multiple therapies.
It’s interesting to me how people who have never suffered from depression cannot relate to the world in the same way that I can, it’s hard to put yourself in someone elses shoes particularly if you never actually take the time to try. I have noticed that there is something about suffering from depression that allows people to experience the world differently than others, and I don’t mean the obvious symptoms. There exists a sense of empathy that depressives cast that others have a more difficult time relating to, it’s easier, as a depressive, to walk in somebody elses shoes and to want to feel what someone else might be feeling.
What is your experience with Depression? How does Depression present itself in your life?
Different levels of depression exist for different people, and maybe that’s why it’s so difficult for others to understand, or possibly even to believe. But we all relate to our emotions differently based on our own life experiences and intellectual purview, so it makes perfect sense that two people might relate to their depression differently.
For me, for a long time, when the waves of depression would consume me I would lose myself in a sense of overwhelming hopelessness. Even today, as far as I have come in managing my depression, I can stare out a window and get lost in how simply pointless everything is. I eventually learned to manage my depression on my own without the help of therapy or drugs, although the hours that I have spent in therapy probably weren’t a total loss.
I was sitting on my couch one afternoon completely consumed - it felt as if my connection to whatever it is that does bind us to one another had been severed, and not only was I alone, but my existence in-and-of-itself was...not meaningless, necessarily but just: pffh, smoke. It wasn’t that I didn’t matter, it was that to matter was a concept completely lost on me, it was a contrived standard invented to sell us on our own existence - so I was sitting on my couch staring out the window there was some movie playing on the TV, I often kept movies playing so that the voices of others would help to make me feel less alone (it was on all the time, especially at night), and instead of feeling sadness, like usual, when my mind would interrupt itself to remind me that I needed to “accomplish” something, whatever that something was, I just stood up and I did it, and then I did another thing, and another thing, and another, and every time that depression swallowed me, I would force myself to do something. It wasn’t easy, but it got easier. And now although I do still get depressed it no longer controls me. It’s almost like John Nash finding a way to live with schizophrenia by recognizing the difference between what was real and what was not, and then making a real effort to walk in the direction you want to go.
I think an important thing to recognize for those of you that do not suffer from depression but who have relationships with people that do, and I know how easy it is to get frustrated and how badly you might want to help, but helping someone with depression does not present itself, as a labor or a reward, in the same way that other efforts might present themselves: the only thing that you can do is let them know that you are there, and then to continue to be there. Whether being there is a few simple words every day, or on a fairly consistent occasion, or texting them videos of amazing music videos, or removing yourself and them from the routine, every now and again, in whatever way that you can. Don’t force it, just reinvent your relationship with them a little bit, because over time every little bit changes things by rebuilding the standard a little higher, and with a little more hope then before.