Eat the Rice

I’ve never made a secret of my lacking kitchen skills, but this past weekend I really topped my worst efforts.

It happened the way most problems do: I got cocky. I thought I could cook rice and walk away. What a rookie mistake. It started boiling before I knew it and I hastily returned to my neglected post and turned the burner down to low, as is correct. The rice continued to boil for an abnormally long time after I did this, but I didn’t concern myself with the mysterious ways of water in a pot, I was too busy worrying about the fish I was frying in the oven (I know that’s not frying fish, but I couldn’t resist the metaphor). Simultaneous to these two events I’m attempting a stir fry (literally). After all, it’s Friday, the day for stir frys (stir Friday).

Quick story about my stovetop. I have only two burners that can function without smoking up the kitchen. The first burner I ruined was because I let all the water boil out of a whistle-less tea kettle and some of the kettle remains stuck to the burner and now whenever it heats up the smoke detectors go off. The second burner I spilled milk on a few months ago because I got a little excited about the macaroni and cheese I was making.

I decided to chance the tea kettle burner. Sure enough a smoke detector starts going off. It’s so much louder than I anticipate. Always. And I can never hear where it’s coming from. So of course I mistake the carbon monoxide detector for the smoke alarm and I tear that down ineffectually.

Alarm still blaring I drag a chair out out to reach the one over the entry way door and I manage to get that off but still there’s a smoke alarm going. I turn off the defective burner and move to the living room to grab that one, all the while wondering why I have so many smoke detectors in this not large apartment.

I huck the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detector into the deep recesses of the living room and go back to the kitchen, hungry and irate.

This is roughly when the third smoke alarm, which I had forgotten about, starts chiming.

At this point I fully expect my landlord, who lives below me to storm upstairs wondering why I’m so intent on burning down my apartment.

After lobbing this smoke detector also into the living room I go back into the kitchen and decide to check on the rice. Which is when I realize I turned a complete unoccupied burner on low, and never turned the rice burner off high.

I ate the rice the basically inedible, mostly charcoal rice. I was not about to let it go to waste. I’d waited a good 30ish minutes for that rice that I paid for out of a hard earned paycheck.

So in honor of my mother’s birthday, and in gratitude to the original woman who taught me how to eat around culinary mistakes and gave me a life lesson I’d never forget, thanks, Mom, for not being the best cook in all the world, but the most adaptable.

PS, for the record, I cannot remember my mother once having this amount of trouble cooking, but her small oops in the kitchen have been instrumental to me whenever I encounter the big oops of life, in the kitchen or outside of it.

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Forty Someday

“And I’m going to be 40!”

“When?”

“Someday!”

“In eight years!”

— Sally and Harry from When Harry Met Sally

Sally’s emotional outburst is one of those fantastically absurd, and painfully relatable human experiences. Whether we panic at the thought of turning 25, 30, 40, 50, 70…there’s an age we have in our minds when we know we’re supposed to “have it together”. We’re supposed to be living the grown-up, adult life. Perhaps purposeful, intentional. Or at the very least, healthier, more responsibly, satisfactorily even.

All the things we envisioned for ourselves in high school should be realities now, surely. A life on track. I’m 32 today and that panic Sally prematurely experiences recognizing she’s closing in on a milestone is something I can relate to.

I never saw my life going in a “typical” direction. But I did think that by my 30s I would have gone confidently in the direction of my dreams. But instead I’ve fallen victim too often to the same problem that plagues so many of us, we go blithely in the paths of least resistance. And there’s any number of silly and valid reasons to justify treading water and floating upstream.

But I have that secret knowledge, and you might understand, that I’m just not quite the person I wanted to be. It’s possible I have too high of expectations. Or that I’m a fundamentally unreasonable person. Or that I’ve seen too many movies where people who dream great big dreams inevitably achieve them through sheer will and force of personality — surely those are cultivated skills?

But mostly I have to acknowledge that younger me didn’t really understand what it would feel like to age. To have high school memories close to the surface of consciousness, and the ones from two years ago feel like ancient history.

I suppose I trusted too much in the confident and authoritative faces of the adults around me that conveyed a settled sense of direction and contentment that I assumed was the result of maturity brought about strictly by age.

Sally’s panicked about “someday”. The someday of waking up and discovering you’re not the you that you were meant to be, and that maybe you’re even fine with that now. You’ve settled in whatever way that means to you. You’ve lost the anticipation of the better.

I’m absolutely terrified of settling. But am I terrified enough?

I don’t mean, you know, terrified enough to rebound into a one night stand with Billy Crystal…

But that fear which recognizes what I’m doing perhaps does matter. That choosing a direction, even if it’s not perfect or ‘right” or what I’d wish to be fated might be for the best.

To quote an anecdote from William Goldman’s excellent Which Lie Did I Tell:

“The choreographer sat in the audience alone, his head in his hands… “I can’t figure out what they should do next.”

Mr Abbott never stopped moving. He jumped the three feet from the stage to the aisle. “Well have them do SOMETHING!” Mr. Abbot said. “That way we’ll have something change.””

But probably not a tryst with Billy Crystal.

Why Are You Still Single?

I have to revisit this question, “Why are you still single?” because it perpetuates so strongly most of what I believe is wrong with our perception of singleness. It’s counterpart are the teasing phrases “and can you believe, she’s single, folks!” and “It makes sense you’re single.”

In both cases our single person has made clear the lack in character that results in the loneliness of singleness. In other words, in order to “still be single” there must be something deeply wrong with you.

In most cases this lack is attributed to a basic unsociability, or antisocial tendency. This can take the form of rudeness, tactlessness, bitchiness, uncouthness, or any other inappropriate social misfiring. “Doesn’t work and play well with others” is to blame for your inability to catch a spouse.

Of course, there are those of us who are acknowledged  as “still single” because of our appearance. Our inability to dress to socially accepted standards, a lack of socially accepted personal hygiene, a lack of some physical attribute that naturally always ensures a successful romantic pairing. One can’t, for example, have bad eyebrows and expect to get married.

The analysis in the question “why are you still single” hits at a deep fear in society, a lack of control in an area we desperately want to control. We want assurances. We want to know that if we do everything correctly then we will have relational bliss and success.

Humans are fond of taking inexplicable things and forcing anecdotal evidence to function as causative proof. The reality is that plenty of people with major character defects are married. There are many “ugly” married people. Many people are married who have huge glaring flaws physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Being an attractive person with good people skills, healthy self awareness, and an attitude of moderation is no recipe for relational success.

And I do mean success here, because we singles understand that marriage is success in society. The gay rights movement has a critical hinge on marital equality. If you are single you are perceived, and may even perceive yourself, as unsuccessful. Lacking. Choice enters into this not at all, because we know that everyone wants to be married.

“Why are you still single?” is hurtful, rude, and inappropriate because what it so clearly indicates is that your obvious flaw is not visible to me, but I’m pretty sure you have one. I have to know what it is because I can’t account for you, this anomaly, in a world where by all rights you SHOULD be married. Your very existence alarms and unsettles my perception of the world.

What we are really discussing is a much deeper and more profound fear. We’re afraid of loneliness. And we see marriage as the correct avoidance of this condition. When we ask the question “why are you still single?” what we’re really asking is “I need confirmation that loneliness is only to be feared for an avoidable reason.”

But this unsettling fear is one thing you should live with, should wrestle with. It should transform your thinking to recognize that marriage is not a reward. It’s not a guarantee, it’s not a promise. It’s not the end result of being a good person. Marriages don’t stick together because both people promise to be “good people”.

It should unsettle you to recognize that marriage, an institution we run to often to avoid loneliness, is not a haven of companionship. We must think bigger if we take marriage to be a relational safety net that catches the deserving.

And as singles we must endeavor to work hard against our own fears about our singleness, and we must work even harder to confront the terrifying realities of loneliness by seeking out and carving whole communities that resolve not only our own fears of isolation, but those that exist in even the married and familied folk.

There is no remedy against loneliness but seeking out, or creating, healthy community, whether married or single.

What Can One Man Do?

Yesterday Oscar Gröning died. Gröning  was a former SS officer who was in charge of processing possessions and money at Auschwitz. The only reason he became famous, the only reason he was sentenced to prison for his crimes is because after the war he spoke out against holocaust deniers. Here is a man who could have, who did, return to a normal life in Germany after the war. He could have ducked his head and not flinched at the new philosophy of holocaust denial.

Gröning has said that he experienced involuntary guilt due to his indirect participation in the camp. He believes that because he wasn’t personally responsible for killing anyone, he can defend himself citing that he was only a witness to the killings.

What’s fascinating to me about Oscar Gröning is his choice both for action and for inaction.

In many ways his actions here are similar to a holocaust denier. Moral inaction can stem from a variety of complex emotions. Like deniers, the sheer mental gymnastics of reconciling the basest evils of mankind can create the safe illusion that whatever is happening can’t possibly be that bad. Until Gröning heard the screams himself, he seemed willing to assume the best.

Gröning’s ability to distance himself from any culpability is another coping technique, one holocaust deniers often twist to prove their heresies. The notion that surely, if it was truly bad, someone would have stopped it from happening. Someone would have stepped up. Surely an entire people group is not complicit in this evil, because they would have risen up to stop it from happening. Gröning himself seems content to explain his moral relativism in the same terms, though from a more ineffective position. He was not responsible for the actions of the murderers, even if he did help them. It wasn’t as if taking a stand against them would stop the killings.

Both perspectives here, seeing the common man as a hero or seeing the common man as ineffective, are flipsides of the same coin, two sides that don’t seem to hear each other. “What can one man do?” “One man can be a hero.” Both ideas are used to deflect the unpalatable idea that one man can — and did — contribute to the death of 300,000+ people.

The reality is that it happens all the time from the schoolyard on into our old age. Power and fear, coupled with current comfort and complacency, can be wielded capably enough to drive ordinary people, who would like to believe themselves to be “good people”, into utter inaction. “If it was that bad then someone else would stand up”. It’s always someone else. And when that someone does stand often we think they stood too early. We slip into the holocaust denier’s camp. “It couldn’t be that bad, humans wouldn’t have let it get that far.” Inaction is its own form of evil and always will be because it consistently aids the oppressor in oppression.

One of my favorite G.K. Chesterton quotes puts it thusly, “No man’s really any good till he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he’s realized exactly how much right he has to all this snobbery, and sneering, and talking about ‘criminals,’ as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away; till he’s got rid of all the dirty self-deception of talking about low types and deficient skulls; till he’s squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees; till his only hope is somehow or other to have captured one criminal, and kept him safe and sane under his own hat.”

Which brings us back around to Gröning. Why did he come forward to refute holocaust deniers? After all, the damage was done, what happened couldn’t be taken back and Gröning himself didn’t believe he was culpable. Why dredge up the past? He had nothing to atone for. I’m sure there are a number of reasons for Gröning to respond as he did, but I tend to believe it must be because once you have seen what you are capable of, what your fellow ordinary humans are capable of, what a regular person who thinks himself good can accomplish that is expressly evil, you cannot stay silent about assumed morality and decency. Because if we allow ourselves to think that in our inaction we are good, then we will contribute to and perpetuate true evils against our own kind.

Gröning after the war found himself yet again in a position to ask what can one man do? His actions are a helpful template for activism. He started small, replying to the author of one pamphlet and assuring him, “it happened. I was there. I saw it.” and when that was not enough Gröning did more. What can one man do?

At the very least he can, he ought, to do something.

“That’s Not a Knife” and Male Confidence

Last night I was watching in a black hole of youtube clips and I came across the clip from the first Crocodile Dundee (because we needed more than one of these) movie where Dundee thwarts a mugger. The famous “that’s a knife” scene.

If you’re unfamiliar, Crocodile Dundee is a fish out of water movie where an Australian more comfortable in the Outback comes to New York because of a beautiful New York reporter and has no trouble adapting to the big harsh city because his knife is bigger than yours. The scene starts with our New York heroine being terrified, and our hero being surprised by the mugger, but in an amused way, like how you respond when your drunk friend starts singing in public.

Despite Sue, our heroine being terrified, she keeps her wits, “Give him your wallet, Mick.”

“What for?”

“He’s got a knife.” She says with growing terror.

“That’s not a knife.” Mick says, scoffing at our mugger — TO HIS FACE. He then pulls his own knife out of a sheath strapped to his back and branishes it in front of the mugger’s face. “That’s a knife,” he says.

He slashes up the mugger’s horrifically vinyl? pleather? jacket.  The mugger runs, presumably just embarrassed to be exposed as someone with awful taste in jacket quality.

Mick turns to Sue, and says, “just kids having fun. You all right?”

She swoons, if not physically then verbally when she utters, “I’m always alright when I’m with you, Dundee.”

It’s a gem of an 80s scene: total camp and silliness. If I had left it at just that, it’s all it would remain. Alas. I love reading youtube comments, it’s such a fascinating look at people that share your same viewing habits, and this was no exception. The one comment that really caught my eye was from someone asserting that “women love guys with big knives”.

Naturally, I blushed at his (clearly a man wrote it) assessment of women. It was so obvious that Sue got all hot and bothered because Mick had a big knife, and as all women know, the bigger the knife wielded, the bigger the penis of the knife holder, and really that’s all women are impressed by.

Oh sigh.

Trouble is, I do like the scene though. And I do think of Mick Dundee as being very manly. Am I really sure that it’s not his knife euphemism that’s the draw? But the more I thought about it, because honestly when you’re just watching youtube videos until 1 am your mind really wanders, I reckoned there was a completely different, more compelling element at play.

It’s the “no worries” of it all. Mick’s a master of de-escalation. There’s nothing more comforting than being around someone who’s not bothered. This is an amazing quality that gives Mick a distinctly reassuring vibe. Everywhere he goes he’s interested in having people chill out. Even animals blocking the entire road just fall to the ground sedated. It’s such a refreshing change from the manic American approach to masculinity which seems to be centered around who has the most intense gun collection and who can get into a fistfight first.

But this is always the trick, confidence sits back and waits, it doesn’t feel the need to rush to action. Confidence sits and listens and then reacts.

The truth is that confidence in a man or a woman is incredibly sexy because it’s calm, focused, interested but not combative.

Confidence means you have a knife strapped to your back because you recognize a knife as a useful tool, not because you need a way to protect women on a New York street.

Confidence  also means, apparently wearing a crocodile vest in public. I don’t understand the full rules of confidence myself, and I’m definitely not at that advanced 80s level.

Or hey, maybe it is about the knife. Maybe it’s just really cool to see an Australian in crocodile boots pull a giant knife out of a special knife sheath on his back (that I didn’t even know was a real thing until this movie), and it’s the movies, and knives and Australians are cool. Maybe it’s that. Who knows?

How Small Is Your God?

I’ve seen the t-shirt or the sign going around the internet again, “God, how can you allow violence in school?” And the reply from God is apparently, “I’m not allowed in schools.”

The concept, so far as I can gather, is that God, in response to calls for public education to not allow elements of religion inside its walls, has decided to take his presence from all public schools. Either signifying that he has washed his hands of the proceedings in schools, or that his presence is not in these places, nor with the Christian students and faculty that spend the bulk of their days there.

The alternative view is that because public schools are now godless environs are we particularly surprised to discover gun wielding teenagers in these places. God allows nature to proceed without him, which is to say that public high schools are dens of iniquity where it should surprise us not in the least to discover violent children therein.

Bottom line: Atheists don’t realize they need God until massacres have already happened, and it’s their fault for taking Christianity out of curriculum.

This slogan is everything I find distasteful about modern Christianity.

  •        It’s smug – Christians who know that atheists are suffering because they don’t have Jesus don’t have to reach out in compassion, they can reach out with barbs instead. Suck it, atheists (and people of any other religion).
  •        It’s self-righteous – Christian kids at Christian schools don’t get shot because of Jesus. See? You see how Jesus is protecting us because we believe in him? You wish you were that special. I guess Jesus doesn’t really love all his children, huh. Wild.
  •        It’s petty – As a response to school shooting, this is not only a low blow but utterly unhelpful. What a time to say “boy, if only you guys went back to teaching Creationist theology.” It does nothing to meet grieving and fearful people where they’re at.
  •        It’s narrow – This is the most disappointing perspective of God I’ve seen in a long time. How petty is your God that because people don’t worship him he glibly abandons them to bullets? Or, to put another way, how horrific that you would assume that God would remove his presence from schools in the same fashion that he took his presence away from his Son on the cross. Sounds blasphemous to me.
  •        It pretends omniscience – School shootings are absolutely terrifying, but if you can pretend you understand why they happen, and in the same breath unequivocally state it won’t happen to your kids at their school, its a double win. And nothing does this double win better than assuming you know why God allows it to happen. You can apply this to natural disasters also with the general sins of the populace (note: it’s never your sin’s fault, you’re just stuck on a planet with these wretches).  Obviously obviously he allows school shootings to happen to people who don’t worship him so that Christians will be shone, by comparison, to be free of malicious violence. Unless you count the KKK, but I guess that’s one of those terror organizations we try to pretend doesn’t also claim to be Christian.
  •        It’s hypocritical – Given the sexual assault scandals that plague Christian institutions, there’s a lot of nerve here in asserting that the t-shirt wearer knows why scholastic institutions deserve to be shot up. Please explain to me why Christian institutions have so many sexual assault issues then. Surely there’s a comparable reason for why God’s allowing so many Christian authority figures to take advantage of their parishioners.

What’s the Christian response to school shooting, you may ask. I always figure it’s obvious, but apparently it’s not. If you can’t offer a constructive solution, keep your glib slogans to yourself.

Pray, love, care.

Pretend that you recognize that when Jesus was on this earth he came to bring salvation to everyone, not put people in their place because of “Christian karma”. Remember that Christian kids are in these school, along with you know, just kids. Kids who should never be part of your moral shorthand for what you perceive as God’s justice. Please also keep in mind that public schools around the world don’t have God in them and they don’t have schools getting shot up.

And please remember how Jesus responded most harshly to Pharisees, the most religious of the religious, who pretended to know the mind of God while completely neglecting His heart.

Gendered Idiocy

Gender’s a weird thing to ascribe to inanimate objects, isn’t it? How did colors become feminine or masculine? Why did I have to hate pink as a small child, just so people would understand I don’t like frilly dresses?

Why did I have to carry Lisa Frank folders? Wear lacy socks? Why did the kids think it weird that my dad was the one who gave me manicures? When we played on the playground, why were the boys always the dogs going to obedience school, and the girls the trainers with treats for good behavior?

That last one is probably a blog post for another time.

Since it’s come out that women need their own chips, and last night when I was on Amazon looking for a charging station and came across “charging stations for men”, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve gone too far. (Let’s note though that the men’s charging station comes with a jewelry box holder, so. Come on.)

I learned something new the other day, did you know that boys can like flowers? I had no idea men could like something so FEMININE. And yet at the same time, when did we decide flowers were feminine?

Why do I think dolphins are feminine but sharks are masculine?

Why are margaritas girly drinks, but beer is manly? Doesn’t beer have less alcohol? And why do I assume that less alcohol makes something more feminine, except when it comes to fruity cocktails??

Why is red wine more butch than white? Aren’t both of them girly? Why is rose the girliest of girly wines?

What are we doing, society??

I’d like to say that these are all just ideas of my own invention, but the reality is that whether we acknowledge it or not, we subconsciously ascribe gender to things that don’t need it.

And I still couldn’t tell you why. I could not explain why male deodorant smells like pine trees and female deodorant smells like clean linen. Or why women’s razors are less effective than men’s razors.

I’m sure you could give me some answer about marketing and etc., but I don’t think there’s anything that really explains this stupidity as well as the absolute laziness of humans based probably initially on easy stereotypical jokes that we then took too seriously, because we can’t agree on what’s funny and then suddenly I’m trying to figure out if I really need gendered pens for my lady hands.

Winning Against Luck

Ladybugs are lucky. Or so the story goes. People love them, at any rate. They think they’re cute. We count their spots. Even if you are disgusted by insects, there’s a good chance you think ladybugs are cute and harmless.

But not me. I am a ladybug mass murderer. I actively search out ladybugs so I can kill them. When ladybugs die they smoosh yellow and let out a stink. I assume all ladybugs, in the death throes, pee themselves from terror. And yet I go on killing the cute little bastards.

My apartment has a plethora of the winged horrors and I have found them in my pillow case, on my neck, in my sink, on my table, climbing on my pans, napping on my blanket. It occurs to me now that I’m a magnet for ladybugs.

This is encouraging on the one hand. Tiny luck-bugs are actively seeking me out.

On the other hand, what does it say about me that I ruthlessly assassinate them, these tiny heralds of blessing?  That my floor is littered with the speckled shells of deceased lady-lucks?

I don’t quite believe in luck, though. Never have.  Luck’s for people who think that life can be improved with little steroid shots of magic. Luck is for people who see just enough to recognize how extraordinary rare life can be, and find it terrifying. Terrifying to grasp that the sheer scientific odds of you existing as you are, the person you’ve become, are absurdly astronomical. Luck explains the unexplained for those that need an answer to everything.

Or to be honest, maybe the guilt of hundreds of homicides is weighing on my conscience and I’m trying to validate these innocent deaths through a tangential rant about luck.

Who’s to say?

 

 

Reunited and it feels so weird

I don’t know if you’ve gathered this from previous posts, but I am very awkward when it comes to social interactions. Awkward to the point of sheer discomfort and reluctance to socialize at all.

Now you know.

This past holiday season I was at the local roller skating rink, as you do (especially at Christmastime), and I chanced across an old high school friend and bandmate. Against all reason and judgment that my social ineptitude cautioned against, I drew his attention. He’s one of those warm, friendly types that make people like me comfortable against better judgment. I skated — let’s be honest — wobbled over to him and we caught up after he caught me from running into him on four wheels.

Honestly, this is mostly just a cautionary tale about going skating when you haven’t done in at least ten years, if not more, and you have at least one artificial joint.

At any rate, the only problem with the whole exchange was me. I couldn’t seem to cut out the self-deprecating jokes about my lack of a recognizable career, my lack of romance, my lack of having moved from home. Phrased in the exact wrong light, my life seems like one of those tragic tales everyone dreads in their own life. I have an awful tendency to sound like a dead end, especially on the surface of it.

If I could have another go at it, another go at explaining myself to old friends from high school, I might say something more like this:

I love my life. I’m happy in my small hometown, happy in my little perfect apartment that does happen to be within spitting distance of my childhood home. I’m happy with my job which consistently surprises me and challenges me. I’m extremely proud that I’ve stayed with the same company for close to ten years.

I have good friends, I have good family — by blood and by choice — and I am unreasonably happy not being married.

Trouble is, when you’re at a roller skating rink, wobbling around disproportionately sweaty to the effort put forth, there’s absolutely no way to say “I’m happy being single” without it sounding like I’m just completely lying to your face to avoid looking even more pathetic.

But I’ve been thinking a lot in the tail end of 2017 about my life and how fortunate and blessed I’ve been in the 31 years I’ve been alive, and frankly I’m sitting here now in my little apartment, drinking a hot toddy, putting away Christmas decorations and listening to Willie Nelson and I still can’t believe this is my life that I’m allowed to live.

Anyway, that’s what I would have said. But we said our goodbyes, hugged and then he hauled me to my feet because honestly I can’t even tell you how unstable I am on roller skates.

 

Ps It’s really important to me that you know I used to be really REALLY good at rollerblading. When I was ten I was ALMOST athletic.

Honest.

Happy Holidays or Seasonal Calamities?

I asked a friend for some assistance with writer’s block on a holiday blog post. I wanted to write about the struggles of single people during the holidays, but I couldn’t find an appropriate angle. Here are some of the unhelpful suggestions:

  • The silver bells have a ring to them but you don’t?
  • Children make snowmen but you can find no men to make children?
  • The weather’s as cold and dark as your heart?
  • There are lights on the houses but none in your eyes?
  • You really put the “miss” in mistletoe.
  • Now that your eggnog’s gone you’ve realized maybe your eggs are gone?
  • New Year’s Eve? More like two beers and leave.
  • Jingle Bells? More like Single’s Hell.
  • A reindeer can find his way out of the fog he’s in but you can’t?
  • Your credit card gets swiped right more than you do?
  • You get plenty of presents when all you want is someone’s presence?

In summary: it sucks to be single during the holidays for precisely the same reason it sucks to be single the entire rest of the year. You’re missing out. It’s just worse at Christmas because there are more puns.

If this holiday season is starting out on the wrong foot for you, if you laughed at the above list and then gave a quiet, sad sigh, I’m here for you. Me and so many others who know what it’s like to be alone and “without” at Christmas.

I’ve always found it amaing how many more Hallmark holiday movies are churned out during this month, movies that just reinforce and validate the “normal” standard of girl meets boy and they fall in love and live happily ever after. ‘Tis the season to be reminded that you’re unfulfilled.

Of course, Hallmark like so many other socially aware companies –jewelry stores, department stores, even car dealerships — can’t help but misunderstand the meaning of Christmas for their own economic ends. The unfortunate truth is that we all get suckered in because it sounds so much better than our lives actually are.

Like the above list we play either/or with our happiness and sadness. Either I’m a sad single or a happily married. Either i’m fulfilled in a relationship, or empty on my own. Christmas, and every other season of the year, is not a black and white look at celebrating life. It’s colorful, it’s vibrant, in a lot of cases it’s glittering. It should be reflecting the best life has to offer — in any way you find yourself living it.

Be a vibrant and colorful single this year, don’t make your life either/or. Don’t be content to be pitied. You’re a glorious showing of this life, a life that should inspire gratitude, and exude joy that comes from purpose truly found, not socially mandated.