Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Don't get involved."



"Don't get involved, Erin."

I hear this all the time. I have heard this all the time most of my life. Why? Because, it's hard for me not to get involved. It's hard for me to walk away when I see something unjust. It's hard for me to walk away when someone is struggling or in pain. It's hard for me to walk away because, on some level, it always resonates with me. And I understand why my friends and family and acquaintances say, "Don't get involved, Erin." Maybe it's none of my business, maybe it's dangerous to get involved, maybe I'd only make things worse. And sometimes these maybes do prevent me from getting involved. But damn it, sometimes, against all better judgement, I do get involved, and sometimes, just maybe, it makes a small difference.

The past couple of weeks, I've been dealing with a neighbor, in my building, who is clearly struggling, struggling in a way that is a little scary and potentially (and probably inadvertently) putting others in harm's way. I haven't gotten involved because everyone keeps telling me not to do so. But, it's been bothering me to watch a person unravel and report the disturbing and scary things this person has been doing (because I am generally concerned about the welfare of others, myself included) and not have the guts to just ask this person if he or she is okay, if he or she needs some help.

What if that's what this person needs? What if he or she needs someone to just ask or just listen or just care?

Currently, this person is MIA, has not been seen for several days. If he or she comes back, do I stay behind my sunglasses, walking quickly past his or her open door, noting the chaos that he or she obviously on some level wants to show the world? Or do I get involved? Do I stop and ask a human, who is in obvious and startling distress, if he or she is okay, if I can listen, or direct them to some sort of services, or remind them that he or she matters?

This sort of quandary reminds me of how little we all do, how infrequently we get involved. I used to be far more involved and when I look at how much I'm doing on a daily basis to help, I think I fail. Sure, life gets in the way. Sure, we are all too busy. Sure, we have priorities that come first, like children. But, I want to raise a kid who knows that he should get involved, that he does have a social responsibility to open his eyes and not walk quickly by obvious signs of distress.

I get frustrated by people who post negative videos/articles/facts all day on Facebook. Because, other than complaining loudly, what are they doing? I've been guilty of it, I am sure. Instead of flooding the internet with opinions about how fucked everything is here or there or everywhere, go do something. Stop raising money for politicians who are kind of all the same anyway. Stop signing petitions and letting it end there. Stop thinking that marching in a protest is enough. You want to do those things? Great. But, what about actual people, living breathing people, who we pass every day on the street, people of all walks of life, with all sorts of pain.

Maybe go volunteer with a literacy program and help a kid (or an adult) learn to read who may not have parents willing or capable of doing so. Maybe go help in some way with one of the many organizations providing services for the homeless population. Maybe ask someone if they're okay. Maybe if we all were willing to get a little involved, there would be a little less pain in the world. Maybe that's where it all starts.

I don't mean for this to be a rant. I know we are all "doing the best we can." But, I think we can do better. I want to try to do better. I don't know what I'll end up doing about the neighbor. I guess I'll have to weigh safety factors, because of our close proximity and the level of his or her dangerous behavior. But, thinking about all of this reminds me that I could be/should be doing more. It reminds me that, in general, I'm not going to listen to you when you tell me, "Don't get involved, Erin."

If you live in NYC, here is a small sampling of where you can get involved. Many of these organizations have similar programs in other cities.

CASA NYC

God's Love We Deliver

Defy

Literacy New York

The New York Foundling

Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City

The Bridge


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

And some days...



...the whole world seems to be going crazy. Actually it's felt that way for the past week. And lo and behold, Mercury is in retrograde. I should have known! Now, I take all such astrological forecasts with a very large proverbial grain of salt. However, everything has been out of whack. Things have been getting lost, people on the streets (and in my building) seem crazier than usual, and all sorts of technology problems have been cropping up.  So, in the meantime, if you're having a week like mine, you can check out this survival guide or just dance....


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ask Erin and Adele!!: The Old "Catch 22," Going North Carolina, and Therapy for All!



Erin: Today, to kick off 2015, I have a special guest, the lovely Adele, who is joining me to answer the first batch of questions this year! (Full disclosure, a couple of these questions were asked last year, but what can I do, there’s only so much of me to go around.) Hey Adele, are you ready for this?

Adele: I was born ready for this. Thank you for having me. It’s an honor. 

Erin: These questions are kind of long, so let’s crack the first one open…





Q.

I feel like I'm wasting my youth. I'm 22 years old with just a semester left of college. If you met me in person you'd think I had no problem with meeting girls. I'm funny and charismatic, in great shape, tall, people tell me I'm a handsome guy. I did a varsity sport 4 years through college. I'm involved in acting and singing and would like to take a shot to pursue that in the next few years. On top of that I squeeze in time to play in a band. And there's my classes, but that's not that important to me.  When school was in session I'd always be very busy to really worry about anything.

Then I look back and I realize that even though I've been productive with my time, I've never been happy with girls. I've never had a girlfriend and I never go out on dates. I know girls find me desirable. I did one play that was mostly girls and by the end of it a lot of them became really attracted to my personality...unfortunately the one girl I was interested in the cast wasn't into me...talk about a catch 22.  I realize I can be picky and if I wanted ANY girlfriend I could have had it, but I want a girl I feel something for. Though, there have been plenty of girls that I was interested in that seemed to just fade out of my life or not give a damn about me. I've seen other people date a ton and it always baffles me how they do it.

When people talk about the teenage romances they've had or even just the lustful hookups, I always get down, because I missed out on that and there's no going back. I have one semester of school left and a whole year of living in this area before I move on, and I want to make the best of it - meet girls and go on dates. If something develops then great, but if not then I at least want a chance. I don't know where to start though. Do you have any insight? I'd appreciate anything.

Erin: The reason you see certain people “date a ton” is because their standards are fairly low. If everything you are saying is true, I am sure you could also be dating a ton. However, finding someone that means something is an entirely different and inherently more difficult venture. 

Adele: First of all, I think you should go to class and learn what a “Catch 22” is. My first instinct is that maybe this guy is not into girls. 

Erin: Oooh, I thought that, too. 

Adele: Going on the assumption that what he says is true, I think that the way people perceive of dating or hookup culture is largely based on movies and TV. The idea that college will be some pussy parade is kind of silly and there is still plenty of time. You have a lot of “youth” left. So, enjoy the fact that you have so many diverse interests. 

Erin: Yes, I made many many many poor decisions in college. And, well, after college. And those youthful glory days of dating are so not missed. Also, you have so many “hobbies,” if I met you at age 22, I might think that you were a sociopath, based on your long resume of things you do/things you’re good at. 

Adele: I have always been suspicious of people who have a lot of diverse hobbies, which I’m sure points to something wrong with me, because I don’t have any hobbies. But, I’m okay with that. 

Erin: Sorry, dude, you may just be a homosexual or a sociopath, or Adele and I are 2 jerks that you can write a song about with your band. What a “catch 22!” 



Q.

my ex of over 3 years and i broke up a month and a half ago. i went NC and at about the one month mark we met for dinner and he cried and said how much he missed me and thought about me every day, and we ended up hooking up (this was a little over a week ago). afterwards, i found out that he was already in another (rebound) relationship (with a married woman!!!!!!), and immediately went NC again. he has tried contacting me a couple of times via text, and even dropped off some pictures and burned me a CD. all the while, he is flying out of town to go stay with her. i have been really good about not responding to him until tonight. he sent me a text that says:

"i apologize for the inappropriate texts. after last week my level of confusion is heightened and my censorship is compromised. i think there are some words that we still need to share and that can be via the phone or in person, or if you feel, not had at all. but i needed to say that to you. i am sorry for the manner in which i've contacted you lately and promise it will cease. if we speak or not. i am sorry and i hope you are well."

i don't know what to do. i of course love him still. but he is so messed up. i found out through a mutual friend (that is one of his best friends) that he lied to her about hooking up with me. he told her that he told me the truth and that i was heartbroken but that he was trying to do the right thing because he really loves this new woman. so so sick. and i'm afraid that if i do talk or see him, i will break down, or worse, he will tell me that he is in love with her and can't talk to me anymore...but i also don't want him to hate me if i don't respond...

as you can tell i am very confused to say the least. any advice??

xoxoxoxo

Erin: Adele, let’s get in our time machine and head back to 2002, because who the fuck still burns CDs for people? 

Adele: I agree with you, but to be fair, I just remembered that one of the ways my current fiancé wooed me was by giving me a CD he burned on one of our first dates. But, I think it had sort of a vintage feel. 

Erin: I love that you referred to your fiancé as your “current fiancé.” :D My current husband emailed images of his brain scan to me, when we were first dating, so…. Like I have told many people who have written in and probably don’t want to hear this, he is doing you a favor. RUN. 

Adele: I totally agree. This one is easy. Go NC and stay NC. You shouldn’t talk to people you broke up with for awhile. 

Erin: Every time I see NC, I think North Carolina, like you should totally go North Carolina for awhile. And I know a surprising number of people from North Carolina and they are pretty awesome….

Adele: If going to North Carolina is what it takes to stay NC, then go to fucking North Carolina. But, Erin’s right, the best thing an ex has ever done for me is to be a huge asshole. Briefly hating someone makes it so much easier not to talk to them. 



Q. 

Friend's ALWAYS complaining!

I have a friend with whom I hang out with quite a lot. I enjoy it but she's always complaining! From her work, friends to family. Its been like this for two years now- and speaking to her is beginning to depress and annoy me now. I really don't know how to tell her.


Adele: I guess, be honest with your friend, and tell her that if she is not already in therapy, she should be in therapy, which everyone probably should be. It is not fair to burden one’s friend in such a way. Some amount of complaining is normal, but this sounds like too much. 

Erin: Yes, you should tell her, in a kind way, what she is doing. However, be prepared that she may cut you off, which sounds like it wouldn’t be the worst thing, because who the hell needs friends like that? 

Adele: It’s a win-win. 

Erin: When I find myself spending time with someone who talks about their problems or complains all the time, I tune out, completely, so what kind of friendship is that? The bottom line- tell her she’s complaining too much, suggest therapy, if you lose this friend, it’s not a big loss. 




I am so happy that Adele joined me today and I look forward to answering more questions/killing your dreams with her again! If you have a question about anything at all (no, really, ANYTHING), use the form on the top right of the page. Your questions will be answered (eventually) and with (some) care. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo


Monday, January 5, 2015

"Wherever you are, I hope you're singing now" (or Happy New Year, whatever works)



Hi, it's been awhile. It's a new year. And, there was a full moon last night, a "Wolf Moon," and I blame it for the very restless hours spent not sleeping. You know how sometimes when you can't really sleep, you'll fall asleep for say 15 minutes or so and have a weird dream, and then wake up with some song stuck in your head, and then lie in bed, awake for an hour, and then fall asleep again for say 20 minutes to an even weirder dream, and then wake up with the same damn song stuck in your head... And that cycle just repeats and you wonder if you are trying to tell yourself something...You know what I'm talking about, right? Well, I can't get said song out of my head....



So, what's this year going to be/mean/bring for you?