(I just posted this, and stretched my arms back because I’ve been chillin in Starbucks for like 2.5 hours. I looked down, and far too many buttons on my favorite shirt had become undone to reveal the obnoxious pink bow on my bra. I have no idea how long my shirt has been like this. That’s the problem with hanging out with literary characters…they don’t tell you this shit.)
I don’t know how these things happen. Perhaps it’s just that we are not all creatures of habit. Maybe it’s just that we all grow up. Maybe it’s that those of us who don’t grow up never get to experience it. Maybe it’s not growing up, maybe it’s just changing. Maybe we don’t grow and advance upward or forward, but we just move and shift across the spectrum of personality, across the spectrum of everything we could be. Everything we all could be. Maybe every decision we make doesn’t help us advance in life, but all of our choices just help us shift across the board of experiences.
Because baby, I’ve shifted.
When I was younger, all I ever wanted was attention and friends and laughing and talking. Now, I enjoy being by myself so, so much. I’m not sure why. I absolutely relish the times when I can sit alone and read my textbooks and drink coffee and walk around in the sunshine and listen to music and just be happy.
You know, I think that’s my key to happiness. If I can be happy with myself, then I can be happy regardless of everyone else. I don’t mean happy with myself as in proud and accepting of myself, but rather happy with just being with my own thoughts. Maybe that makes me crazy. Maybe it makes me narcissistic. Maybe it makes me a loner. But it makes me happy…
I love people, I really do. I think people are so interesting, and no one can survive alone. However, I don’t think anyone can really be happy until your happiness does not rely on anyone else whatsoever. This becomes problematic when you have to worry about things such as a family, but I still think it’s possible.
I got my ear pierced. Twice, actually. Right next to one another. And I love them. I think I am going to get a third one.
I have been kind of bothered lately. Bad things have been happening to good people. The kinds of bad things that make me think, “Oh, God…please just let that happen to me instead. They don’t deserve it.” The kinds of things that make me tear up in Starbucks. But I can’t fix it. I can’t fix the problems of the world. The inevitable tragedies. I can’t fix other people’s problems, as much as I want to. As much as I hate to see people I love struggle with heartache and loss and all the bullshit that shouldn’t be happening, I can’t do anything about it.
Maybe that’s why I am studying psychology – so that one day, I can help people fix one of the most common struggles of life – themselves. Maybe that’s it…that’s how I know that I will never be a “sellout.” Industrial psychology…no no. I’m in it for the gold, darling. I want that shiny prize of having actually helped people. And, I will not give up. I am far too proud to settle for less than changing someone’s life for the better. My ego would not be able to handle the trauma of not being a positive force that pulls someone from the gutter of their emotions. So hopefully, this college shit will all pay off (quite literally) and I will be successful at this.
I have some infixes to learn. Ta ta for now.
When I was in sixth grade, my seat in class was next to my best friend. I brought in sticky foam letters to pimp out our Crayola desk labels, and our desks were super fly. The next morning when we went back to our desks, someone had rearranged the letters to spell different words. Using some of my friend’s letters and my middle name, he spelled out “Marissa Cerone Is Gay” on my desk.
We both knew what douche bag had done that, and it was the only person who ever gave me a hard time about being best friends with the boy I sat next to. I had previously been forced into a group project with that tool, and I learned that he was actually alright, but that he was just extremely annoying. One day after the project, he asked me if I wanted him to go to the dance that weekend. I didn’t understand exactly what he meant. I told him that I didn’t not want him to go, but I had no particular desire to see him there, and that I really didn’t care at all about whether or not he went. So then he said, “So you don’t want to go with me?” Now, that was a different story. I knew for sure that I would not go with him, because he was a tool, and I told him that (probably worded a little bit differently). “So are you going with him (referring to best friend)?” I explained to him that he was only my friend, and that I was not going with anyone. “Well if you don’t like him, and you don’t like me, then who do you like?” I told him that I didn’t like anyone (in 6th grade, “like” is a loaded word. trust me.), and I am pretty sure I basically told him to piss off. “Well are you a lesbian?” I didn’t exactly know what that word meant (Catholic school for nine years hollaaa), but I had heard it before and I knew it didn’t apply to me, so I told him so. I then asked my friend what that meant, and he started laughing to the point of tears (not a rare occurrence…part of the reason we were such good friends is that he rightfully never took me (or anything else) too seriously.) as he explained to me that it was just what people call gay girls. (He was also the first person to seriously tell me to seek psychological help and to tell me what a bong was. He was impressively accurate for an eleven year old.)
So I knew exactly what tool had written that on my desk, and torn up some letters to make a G and an I because neither of us had any extra of those in our names.
I removed the letters and my teacher asked me why I was throwing them out. I told her that someone had rearranged and torn the letters and messed up our names, and that I would just use markers like everyone else. She asked me what they had written, and when I told her, she gasped and said not to worry, and that she would get to the bottom of it. I told her to chill (probably not in those words) because I knew who had done it, but that I didn’t really care. (At that point, I had just had a pretty big emotional outburst in class that involved me throwing a lunchbox across the room. There was a reason that my best/only friend was a boy. Eleven-year-old. Hormonal. Emotional. Disaster. So I did not want anymore attention.) She then told me that she had a zero-tolerance policy for name calling, and then I reminded her of what he had written. He didn’t call me a name or make fun of me, he just said that I was gay. Then she reminded me of how sorry she was about that, and she explained to me that it wasn’t nice to call someone gay. I then remembered hearing the kids on the bus using it like that too, but I still didn’t get it, so I asked her why it was a mean thing to say. “Well, homosexuality is a sin.” I highly doubted that. I mean, she wasn’t the brightest teacher I had ever had, and that was such a silly thing to say. But she was speaking quietly and she seemed uncomfortable, so I just told her who did it and moved on.
I mean, my uncle was gay, and he wasn’t a sinner? I mean, he was to the extent that all of us are, but he didn’t commit the kinds of sins that people have to whisper about? But…my parents didn’t like it either. They didn’t whisper about it or anything, but they were angry with him for telling my brother about it. I just kind of figured that out, but I figured out lots of things about people when they thought I wasn’t listening. Anyway, she couldn’t be right about this. “Gay” was just the word people used for people who love other people who are the same gender. It was just like another kind of love…Being gay could not be a sin. I would ask someone else.
I asked my friend, and he didn’t know. We never really talked about these things in a religious context, so I didn’t know. When we got to my English class, we asked the teacher, and she was a little startled. It was odd (was going to use the word queer- there is a time and a place, my friends) how she spoke quietly as well. She told us that homosexuality was taboo, and absolutely a sin.
In that moment, I felt a little sick, but more confused than anything. Only a few weeks prior I had learned that sex was more than a synonym for gender, and I knew what being gay meant, but I didn’t know it was wrong.
Maybe you could say that I didn’t think it was wrong because I didn’t perfectly understand the biology of it all, but I don’t think that’s it at all. I think I just didn’t understand it because it seemed silly. It seemed stupid. I wanted to know why it was wrong, but I could not ask my teachers. They didn’t seem like they really wanted to talk about it. I couldn’t ask my parents, because I was 11 and they were my parents, so I kind of just wondered until I was home alone and could Google it on the desktop in our kitchen.
What I saw scared me so much. No, it wasn’t porn. It was something about why it was sexually wrong, and I didn’t really understand a lot of it because I just did not know enough about sex to get how everything worked. It didn’t scare me because of that, but it scared me because it seemed really angry, and I still could not wrap my head around why it was so wrong. (I have tried finding the site but I can’t find it…it’s from pre-2007 so it’s probably in the depths of web somewhere that I do not have the time to delve into.) This was the first time that anything about my religion did not make sense to me, and I just assumed it was because it was about lots of things that I didn’t know about.
That was it for my curiosity for a while, because every time I thought about that I felt sick. I would get knots of embarrassment in my stomach whenever I remembered how I had unknowingly asked about such a taboo topic, and I was mad at that stupid boy for tearing up my letters and writing that on my desk.
The realization that “gay” could be used as an insult made me sick in the same way that “retarded” did. My mother raised me with the awareness of how hurtful of an insult that was, not because it’s not nice to the person you are referring to, but because it’s incredibly disrespectful and just cruel to the people who actually are mentally retarded. Imagine…people commonly using your condition as a joke, or an insult? My mom is particularly sensitive about these things because her sister has Down’s Syndrome, but she also told me not to judge people who use it because they probably just don’t know any better. As a child, I had a particular hatred for curse words, and I would literally feel sick when people used them around me. It wasn’t that I never heard them at home (obviously, if you know my parents, you know how that is definitely not the case, and I have since gotten over that as evident by these blog posts), but the fact that you would choose to use a word so horrible that I am not allowed to say it made me sick. Hearing racial slurs still puts a little knot in my stomach, because I feel like you are hurting someone that I care about. Even when used humorously, I believe far too much in the power of words to accept that something is ever “only a word” and that is cannot do harm.
When “gay” and “retarded” are used as insults and any kind of ethnic or racial slur are used at all, you are saying that there is something terribly wrong and undesirable with that group of people. “Gay” and “retarded” are different from terms in regard to race because the first two are not negative in their essence, and it’s fine to use them properly. However, most ethnic slurs are literally created as a means to degrade a group of human beings, and I just don’t know how we can call ourselves decent human beings while we still use these words on the regular. I am not a hippie who says that “Love is the answer,” I am not a Christian who is telling you to “Love thy neighbor,” and I am not a pretentious teenager (Well, I try) who thinks that I know the solutions to the problems of society. I am just a human being that believes that any kind of term coined for the sole purpose of putting down people that I love is a crime against everything I believe in, and that every time you make a joke and use those hurtful words, you are widening the gaps that so many individuals have fought to bridge throughout history.
I could think and write about that forever, but my point is that when I first learned that being called gay was an insult, it resonated a lot more with me than it probably does with most people for a few reasons. I was not raised in a house where that was an insult, so I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know that homosexuality was something that was so undesirable to enough people for it to become a common term of offense. And finally, although I hadn’t considered it so thoroughly by that age, I still had the awareness of the power of language and the societal implications of derogatory terms to know that either something was wrong with me, or something was wrong with everyone else.
If in my 11-year-old innocence and naivety I found it ridiculous that calling me gay was actually meant to hurt my feelings, then perhaps we should all just take a second to wonder where that little brat learned that calling someone gay was an insult. Bingo.
And don’t get me wrong, my parents do not think less of any human being regardless of that long list of things that make us all so vastly different. However, I even see in them the manipulation that is the result of hearing these words, making those jokes, and saying things that only harm. Even if you think something is hilarious and you just have to share it with someone, don’t. Because somewhere along the line that joke or comment will land on a pair of innocent ears. And what that child hears will shape his opinions about different kinds of people, and what a crying shame it would be for him to think it’s okay to think less of any group of people because of you. That kid admires you, and looks to you as an example of how he should live his life. “As long as it’s just a joke. I don’t really mean it.” Even if whatever you are thinking is fall off your chair hilarious, keep it to yourself. Every time you say something that degrades any kind of human being, you reinforce the idea that it’s okay to think that way, to place the worth of any group of human being below another’s. That kid is getting it from music, from his friends, from TV,…please don’t reinforce those bigoted influences with your own words.